a winsome life, till one began
to fashion evils, that field of hell.
Grendel this monster grim was called,
march-riever mighty, in moorland living,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
the hapless wight a while had kept
since the Creator his exile doomed. -- Beowulf
I think there is something in the water. On my way out of the hotel this morning I took the complimentary bottle with me and left it in the rental car. After the presentation I come out of that office, pumped up with excitement, and I need a drink, and even though it's warm by now I crack it open and down it almost all in one gulp. Then I'm sitting in the car, wondering if I should call Kate and tell her how well everything went, and suddenly I notice that an hour has gone by. I feel strange and a little bit dizzy, and I think I actually passed out. I sniff the bottle, but there's no smell. So I figure my blood sugar must be low and that what I really need is a good meal somewhere. By now it's late in the day, and the sun is setting. I keep thinking of Kate, but I keep pushing that thought out of my head, because I want to keep this good feeling going. Kate can wait. Ha.
I drive out of Hampton and over the bridge tunnel toward Norfolk, and just to get off my regular path I take the first exit onto Ocean View, a strange mix of freshly painted beach cottages and cheap motels with broken signs. Then dizziness comes back in waves. I am just about to pull off into a 7-11 parking lot and wait for it to pass when I realize I am flying towards a stopped car, way too fast, and I am about to hit it. I am practically standing on the brakes, and already I know it's not enough. I crumple the back end of the car in front of me, hard enough to fishtail it to one side. For a long moment I sit in my seat, wondering if I'm okay. Then I notice the driver of the other car has gray-white curly hair. She seems to be an old woman, and I feel terrible.
I get out of my car and run towards hers. She is staring straight ahead, gripping the wheel, but I can't see blood anywhere. I tap on her window.