Death may come for Sean more often than for other people, but it evens out because he’s so damn hard to kill. I only have this one shot at the world — when Death comes for me, I’ll crumple like a lily in his black-gloved hand.
Riding out of a torrential rain along the coast this morning and making a sharp right-hand curve, Sean slipped into the other lane right in front of an oncoming car. I saw him put his foot out and then try to go around the other side of the car on the shoulder, but then he shot off the road into a ditch and disappeared; I saw his body get tossed up for a second and then tumble out of sight. I thought, this could be it.
But he was fine when I got there and we spent the next 20 minutes wrestling his bike back onto the road, possibly burning out some of the clutch in the process. He’d been thrown free of the bike but couldn’t remember exactly how; the bike wasn’t even in too bad a shape, just a bent rollbar, broken mirror and turn signal, some scratches, but we had to have it towed to Dartmouth for the clutch. The impact had been cushioned by a lot of little evergreen trees. If he’d been going another five mph he probably would have gone right into the saltwater pond just a couple feet away.
It was about a half hour later that it occurred to us that we’d been able to push the bike back out of the ditch along the same path that it went in because the bike had been lying in the ditch facing the wrong direction. Since I hadn’t seen it spin sideways, then it must’ve flipped end over end. Sean had mentioned he’d felt something fly over his shoulder — that was it.
Having a sandwich down the road, waiting for the towtruck, we met the woman who’d been driving the car. She was very nice, and we talked for quite a while. She said she’d be haunted by Sean’s face as he came around that corner, the look on it, for weeks. I told her that lots of people are haunted by Sean’s face, even without an accident.
The sky gets closer the farther we go. Maybe if you go far enough, north of the Arctic Circle, it’s just all sky and you can walk right through it. Or maybe it’s not a function of latitude, but just of how long you ride.