After a long day I drive into a shit storm of flashing lights, police barricades and EMTs. I blow a sigh and twirl the wheel.
Life of a reporter, it never ends.
I approach a rosy-cheeked rookie, too dumb to hold back unconfirmed details. The main thing I want to know is if anyone’s dead. We don’t do fender-benders, we follow the grim reaper.
A pedestrian got flattened by an SUV, the rookie tells me. Jesus, I say, because what else is there to say.
Any witnesses? I ask. I need color. He gestures at an old babe leaning against a squad car, bawling her eyes out.
I go over and talk to her. I take notes, even though I won’t forget what she says. Forty years on the beat, I don’t forget much.
An older cop I know comes up, gives me a probing look. Sam, he says, what are you doing here? My job, I tell him. He leads the witness away by the elbow.
I’ve breached protocol, but I don’t give a damn. I go with what works.
I have enough, so I head for my car. On the way, I see a shoe on the pavement. A lonely tennis shoe, wet with blood. The kind of detail that separates the cubs from the vets.
I try calling the story in on my cell, get a disconnected message. The paper’s phone system is on the fritz. Again.
I drive downtown. My card key won’t let me in. Again. I pound on the back door, but it’s after hours. Whoever’s still around is up on the third floor. I’ll have to email the story from home, a lousy place to work since Maggie died.
I turn around, nearly slam into a street person. Ain’t nobody in there, he says, jabbing a lit cigarette at the building. Paper’s been shut down over a year.
I nod and keep walking. I’ve dealt with every school of crazy in my time, best to ignore them. The lights on the third floor, best to ignore how they’re out.
Sliding into in my car, I think follow-up: charges against the driver, reaction of the victim’s family.
It never ends.
Bio: Sally York has worked for many years as a reporter and lawyer. Her stories appear in The Molotov Cocktail, Foliate Oak, Every Day Fiction, Skive Magazine, and MicroHorror, among others.