My New Jobbym_storyman_x©
I know opposites attract, but unfortunately they don't always have a tendency to play nice together. That was pretty much the story with my wife and me. We love each other but over our twenty years of marital unbliss we argued, fought and nit-picked our way to a divorce. Not that we don't love each other, but we realized that we just couldn't live together; and with our only daughter away at college with no plans to return "home", we decided it was time to go our separate ways.
We're still very good friends, which is probably what makes our divorce unusual. I care a lot about her, and I want her to be happy, and I know that no matter how hard I tried I could never quite change myself into what she needed or wanted.
It was actually the day before our twentieth anniversary that I got the final papers in the mail. That turned out to be a tough year. Six months later the company I worked for as an engineer was bought out by an international organization and the engineering department was hacked from thirty development and manufacturing engineers to two....yep two. And no, I wasn't one of them. After eight months of looking I gave up and took a job as a high security courier. My new job was about as far from engineering as you could get. I drove around the country picking up and delivering extremely valuable and extremely "hot" packages. That's what I was doing as I headed down I-44, carrying a very expensive and delicate piece of equipment in my practically armored truck. It didn't look like an armored truck. In fact, it looked very ordinary, which was exactly the intent.
And the day was an ordinary one as well...sunny, not too hot, mid afternoon. The kind of day that makes you sleepy as you drive. But then, when you are driving for a living you're supposed to not get sleepy and distracted. You're supposed to be aware of your surroundings at all times, which was exactly why I was running at only sixty two in a seventy, intentionally not getting close to the truck ahead of me. The way he was floating from line to line in his lane I had no intention of getting between him and the concrete barrier separating the steep downhill side of the interstate from the equally steep uphill side.
I followed that truck at my reduced speed waiting for a straighter more open stretch of road to pass it. Unfortunately the limo behind me wasn't as cautious and decided to try and zip past the both of us. I don't know if the driver was stupid, inexperienced, tired or just plain had a death wish, but trying to pass a flatbed semi loaded with sixty thousand pounds of stainless steel, slowly floating across the lane divider was definitely one of the above. I saw it happen even before the two vehicles touched, and I was on my brakes slowing down even before the right front fender of the limo bounced off the left front wheel of the semi. The limo, being significantly lighter, bounced away, pounding its left front fender into the concrete barrier. A really good driver could have caught it and held it along the barrier, but the barrier did exactly what it was designed to do. It tossed the front of the car about a foot into the air and then bounced it back onto the lane rather than letting it cross over into oncoming traffic.
Had it just been the limo it might have just made a nasty mess of its fender and then careened over to the shoulder and down into the long grass embankment. Unfortunately there was that pesky truck. When the limo hit the tire, it caused the front wheels to be pushed into a tight left turn. After bouncing back off the barrier there wasn't anywhere for the limo to go except into the truck again, making the problem even worse. The tractor of the truck was pushed at a harder angle, digging the front bumper into the concrete, turning it completely sideways. The limo, completely out of control, slid on an angle under the trailer, loaded with six huge foot diameter stainless steel ingots that were probably ten feet or longer.
I watched in horror as the tires of the trailer blew, rocking it back toward the limo, the round steel ingots breaking tie downs not rated to hold that kind of load through that kind of maneuver and rolling off the trailer onto the limo, practically crushing it flat. By the time the two vehicles stopped moving they were pressed into one nasty mass of bent and tangled steel.
Two more cars, paying much less attention to the road than I was, smashed into the mess and one more creamed into the back of my truck, almost pushing me into the carnage. This went from bad to worse as the fuel from the leaking diesel tanks on the semi started to burn as it flowed down the steep slope ahead of us.
I bailed out of my truck and ran to one vehicle after another, checking to see how many, and how badly, people were injured. My long training as a volunteer fire fighter and first responder kicked in, driving me methodically to assess and sort; and determine who needed immediate help and who could wait. Thanks to the modern safety device called the airbag, all of the vehicles except the limo appeared miraculously to be only minor injuries and a few possible broken bones. Nothing particularly life threatening.
I had no illusions that the limo would fare as well. A quick look told me that the area where the driver's seat used to be was uninhabitable. I tried peer into the crushed space and saw enough to tell me that the driver didn't make it. Now all that was left was to find out if any passengers made it. I climbed onto the trunk and peered into the back window and was surprised to see that there was a surprising amount of space still survivable, but I didn't see anyone in it. I was about to give up and decide that there weren't any passengers when I saw something move, something definitely not mechanical. There was someone in there and they were alive, at least it seemed that way. I slid off the trunk and tried to reach in through the windows, but the roof was crushed down too far. I was actually kind of surprised the rear window hadn't completely blown out. I looked around for something to take care of the window, and quickly found one of the broken chain binders.
One quick swing and the rear window was reduced to a shower of tiny glass fragments. With the glass gone I could see that the space was incredibly small, the only real space being the gap between the seats that ran along each side of the long limo. I saw the movement again, toward the front of the crushed space. I slid in head first and wiggled along as far as I could. The roof of the vehicle was smashed down almost to the seats, but not quite. There, on the left hand seat was a leg, a long slender female leg.
"Hang in there. I'm trying to get to you." I grunted as wiggled through the tiny space which opened up as I moved forward of the crushed spot. It was fairly dark so I dug out the mini-mag light I always carried on my belt, and shined it around. There was a slender woman laying on the seat, covered in blood, her right arm disappearing into a tangle of metal and interior parts. "Almost there." I said to her.
"Help me!" I heard her whisper.
"Easy. I'm coming." I answered softly, forcing myself to keep my voice calm and businesslike, a tone I had practiced at hundreds of emergency scenes over the years. I wiggled into the space closer to her, whispering reassuringly. "Ok. I'm going to touch you to check for injuries, ok?"
"Ok." She answered in a high pitched whine.
I let my hand slide up her legs, checking each one gently before letting my hand begin working up her torso. I felt the wetness of blood along her rib cage and shined the light up to see what I could. She wore a long dress, bunched up around her waist, exposing a pair of very tiny, delicate white lace panties. I tried not to stare at her practically exposed pussy before moving the light farther up, and finding a large red spot below her right breast.
"I still can't move my arm." She complained quietly.
"Does it hurt?" I asked over the sound of the approaching sirens.
"Yes. It hurts, but only if I try and move it." She answered.
"Okay, for now don't try to move it. I'm going to have to cut your dress so I can get to where you're bleeding." I said quietly, as I dug with my free hand for my Leatherman.
"Ok." She whimpered.
I worked my knife through the satiny material bunched around her waist before carefully cutting up the front of her dress, finally working the blade up between her breasts. I spread the material apart, surprised at first that she didn't have a bra on, and then trying hard not to stare at her perfectly formed breasts. Each round firm breast was the size of half a coconut perched on her trim muscular body. I shook my head and wiggled closer to try and examine her wound. I could see what appeared to be a broken rib sliced through her creamy skin.
"Well, this doesn't look too bad." I lied as I tried to cut a part of her dress to use as a compress. I gently pressed the cloth over the spot trying to seal it off and stem the blood and prevent any further air being sucked in.
"Hey Buddy. You need to get out now." I heard someone holler into the car.
"Can't do that." I responded loudly.
"It's about to go up." He shouted.
"Don't leave me...Please!?" The woman pleaded in a whimper.
"Don't worry. I'm staying with you." I whispered reassuringly before I turned to shout back to whoever was outside. "If I were you I'd find a way to get the fire out, because I'm staying here with this young lady."
"This is EMS!" A different voice shouted into the car. "What's the situation?"
"Female passenger, approximately thirty years old, conscious and alert. Has her right arm trapped in the debris farther forward of where we are. She has a broken rib protruding. Not much work room here but I recommend getting a line started and then hustling with the extrication." I called back.
"Got it. Are you trained?"
"First responder, but it's been a while." I answered.
"OK. Better slide out and let one of us in then." He called back.
"No. Don't leave." She pleaded, grabbing my arm with her free hand and squeezing.
"Don't worry. I won't." I answered. I turned to the gap and shouted back out. "Looks like I'm staying. Better send in the bag."
"Ok. You should know that the fire is not yet controlled. Fire is still on the way and we've exhausted our extinguishers. Bag is coming in." He shouted back.
"I have to get that bag. I'll only be gone a second." I whispered, trying to pull away.
"No, don't!" She pleaded.
"I promise. I'll be back in just a moment. I need that medical bag." I said softly.
"Ok... Just a minute though." She wined softly, fear saturating her soft voice.
I let go of her and wiggled back out to get to the medical bag and saw the EMT leaning in through the back window.
"Dude. You better get out of there. I don't know how long before this truck goes up, but it's not long." He said quietly.
"I hear ya." Muttered, taking the big medical bag from him and turning back to go under the low roof into the void again.
"Hey young lady, what's your name?" I asked as I wiggled back in.
"Amanda." She answered softly.
"Well, Amanda. It sounds like things are a bit ticklish out there. We should probably see if we can get you out of here."
"Ok. But my arm is still stuck."
"I understand. I'm going to see what we can do." I said as I wiggled up as far as I could. I slid my hand along her arm until I found the problem. Her arm was definitely broken and intertwined in some of the structure from the vehicle. I could only assume that shock was keeping the pain from being unbearable. This was not going to be easy to get out, and I could already smell smoke curling into the compartment. "Amanda?"
"I need you to listen. We need to get you out of here and I'm not going without you. But to do it it's going to hurt a lot." I told her.
"Is my arm broken?"
"Yes." I answered with a nod.
"I thought so. What happens if we wait?"
"Well. I think we only have a few more minutes."
"Ok." She answered.
"What's the status on Fire?" I shouted out to the EMS guy.
"Seven or eight minutes." He answered.
"How long?" I asked, knowing he would understand.
"Not that long." He answered just loud enough for me to hear.
"It's bad, isn't it?" Amanda asked softly.
"You're not going to leave me are you?"
"Nope. We're going to get you out." I answered firmly. "Now. I'm going to try and lift this with my shoulder. When I do I need you to pull with your arm. It's going to hurt like hell, but you have to do it, ok?"
"Ok." She answered, a little tremble sounding in her voice.
I rolled over and put my shoulder on the roof section and pushed with my arms as hard as I could. I might have moved it a half an inch at most, and I doubted it was enough. "Pull!" I grunted, putting everything I had into lifting.
I heard her scream in pain as she pulled and hoped she got her arm out before I had to release the roof. I twisted so I could see and was relieved to see that she had it out and was cradling it across her body.
"Time to go." I whispered, helping her roll off the seat on top of me. "Now just hang on." I whispered as she looped her good arm around my neck. I slowly worked the two of us under the crushed roof and out into the more open space by the rear window. Several hands reached in through the window and quickly pulled her up and out of the car. By the time I got myself out she was already on her way to the ambulance.
"Well, that doesn't look good." I said as I turned to see the whole hood area of the car on fire and slowly working its way to where we had just been.
"You hurt?" One of the EMT's asked, checking me over.
"I don't think so. It's not my blood." I said wiping my hands on my pants.
I spent the next three hours sitting on the interstate until they were able to get the highway open and the police reports done before they would allow me on my way in a somewhat damaged but drivable truck. Unfortunately the accident damaged the equipment I was transporting, which made my bosses and the insurance company pretty upset, but at least I didn't lose this job.
Four days later I got a phone call requesting me to show up at the hospital in St Louis. I showed up and found a smiling and charming woman waiting for me, looking not one bit like a woman who had so recently been drug from a destroyed car on my chest. She had bandages in multiple places, a cast on her arm, but she had lightly applied makeup and the most colorful hospital gown I had ever seen. She thanked me for saving her life asked me to sit with her and chat. We ended talking for over an hour before leaving, about me, how I came to be there, almost as if she had a desire to know as much about me in the short time we were to have. I didn't know when I crawled into the car that she was worth millions, or that she was thirty five, only a few years younger than I was, and I didn't know that she was single, or that the dress I so quickly cut away cost more than I was used to making in a month. I did however know all these things by the time I left. I wasn't sure why she needed me to know these things, but it seemed as if it were important for her to tell me these things.
Two days later her personal secretary, who had flown in from Detroit to help her boss, showed up at my apartment with a thin manila envelope. It contained a single sheet of paper offering me several times more money than I had ever made, or been offered, to be her personal driver. Her secretary, Trish, explained that she wanted me to move to Detroit, travel with her where she needed to go and act as a driver.
I hadn't ever thought about being someone's schoffuer. I was at heart an engineer, although an unemployed one. Trish had to do a masterful job of selling me on the position, but she finally did. That was seven months, twelve countries and countless cities ago. She has kept me close to her side almost seven days a week for the whole time, providing so much more than just driving. For reasons I haven't understood and she has never told me, I have become driver, friend, confidant and protector. Even Trish, her personal secretary isn't privy to some of the thoughts and secrets she has shared with me.
Trish's standing orders are that when Amanda travels I am to be booked in first class next to her and into adjoining hotel rooms. We sit together in the nicest of restaurants, and if the dinner is a business dinner I am always seated at a table close to hers. She seems to derive great comfort in being able to look over and know that I am there.
But seven months had become a long time, and the job much more strenuous than I had imagined. I had complained to Trish one time about missing time to go out on my boat, which sat in storage in a warehouse Detroit, and just fish and relax. In short, I missed having my mini weekend vacations. A week later Amanda announced she needed a break and asked if would drive her up to a small cabin on an upper Michigan lake. The request was a politeness we shared, for she knew that I would drive her anyplace she requested. It was, after all, my job.
But something was different about this trip. Instead of sitting in the back of her Mercedes working through the never ending pile of papers required to keep her company running, Amanda sat in the front seat, enjoying the scenery as we wound along the tree lined two lane highway, not a paper or briefcase in site.
"So, Michael." Amanda said without turning from where she was looking out the window.
"Yes ma'am?" I replied politely.
"How long have we been working together now?" She asked, turning to look at me, twisting in the seat to put her shoulder against the door and lift one leg slightly to rest her knee on the center console.
"About seven months." I answered.
"Seven months two weeks and one day to be exact, and I still haven't gotten you to stop calling me ma'am. I'm not ma'am, I'm Amanda." She said as she toyed with the hem of her short silky dress.
"Yes ma'am." I answered.
"Ok. I order you to stop calling me ma'am. Please!?" She almost pleaded.
I looked over at her face and saw that her red lipstick painted lips were pursed in a fine line that I had learned was her signal of frustration, but her eyes were glistening as if ready to cry.
"Ok. Amanda it is." I answered softly.
"Thank you." She said quietly. "Michael, I want you to be completely honest with me about something."
"I always am, your orders, remember?" I answered, holding in a chuckle. She always started this way when she wanted to broach an uncomfortable topic.
"What do you think of David?" She asked abruptly after several long seconds staring at me. David was the gentleman, a term I use loosely, that had been dating her for the last month.
"I don't think that's my place." I answered with an almost imperceptible shake of my head.
"On the contrary, I need a man's perspective and you have spent some time around him. I want to know what you think."
"Brutally honestly. I can tell just by your body language that you don't approve."
"I don't. I think he's a stuffed shirt that more interested in bedding his secretary and marrying you to get at your money." I said stiffly. "Sorry."
"Don't be sorry. I asked." She said, turning slightly to look away from me. "I trust your opinion more than any other."
"Ma'am. Er, Amanda. I honestly don't know what I could have possibly done to earn that kind of trust. When you hired me you knew almost nothing about me."
"On the contrary. I guess I need to confess, I knew a lot more about you than you did of me. I had my investigators go over you with a fine tooth comb. What I learned is that you are a caring, dedicated, intelligent man that was doing his best to make do in rough conditions. And before you ask, yes I knew about the divorce and had personally talked to your wife."