Driving Under the Influence
Aaron Parecki

Dr. Robert Jones always enjoys a Double-Tall Latte from Starbucks on his way to work in the morning. That's the first thing he does after he takes a shower and gets in his VW bug. The Starbucks is only two minutes away from his house, which leaves him just enough time so that the caffeine wakes him up by the time he gets to the hospital. He always felt his driving wasn't at its peak until his morning cup of coffee.
There are hardly any cars on the road this morning. This makes for an easy drive around that one tricky ledge. It is a beautiful day. The sky is bright blue with a few wisps of clouds, adding to the splendor. On mornings this wonderful, he almost enjoys driving carefully along the ledge.
It is a slow day at the hospital. Not much for him to do except catch up on some paperwork, which is almost relaxing. Towards the late afternoon, the only other doctor decides to go home early for the long weekend vacation ahead of him. Soon after he leaves, all of a sudden seven or eight people are rushed in with gunshot wounds.
The nurses with their green coats are all busy with the fresh batch of patients, putting them in beds and keeping their wounds from bleeding too much, while Dr. Jones goes around from person to person and fixes them up as best he can. He works very carefully, removing the bullets and closing up the skin. Some patients' wounds are deeper and take more time. He works straight through the night and into the next day because he is overwhelmed, but he manages to close them all up. He takes a lunch break, but that was the first time off work he's had since the morning of the day before. He takes a drive to the local coffee shop, which is having some trouble staying in business with Starbucks closing in on all the towns in the area, and picks up another Double-Tall Latte to keep him going the rest of the day. He has to get back to the hospital quickly, so he takes his drink in the car.
As he is driving and drinking his coffee, his mind is racing as best it can with no sleep for more than a day and a half. Questions about his recent surgery are flashing through his head. What if he forgot to sterilize that one... that one... tool thingy? He was beginning to forget the names of things he used every day. He looks at his cup of coffee and sees it is empty. He was shocked he drank it so fast. He starts to worry about where to get off to get another cup to keep him awake. After a mile or two he sees a sign for free coffee at the next rest stop. Figuring it will do the trick, he relaxes. His eyelids begin to feel heavy. He has to struggle to keep them open. He is imagining himself sitting at home on his comfortable blue sofa surfing through the channels on his TV. Suddenly he hears a honk of a horn and wakes up to realize he has drifted into the oncoming lane. In a panic he jerks the wheel to the right, but at that point he reaches the tricky part where the road curves to the left at the "cliff". As his car careens off the edge, it does several flips before landing on a sharp jagged rock, cutting through the roof and into the empty passenger seat beside him.
He tries to pick up his cell phone, but his right arm won't move. It is completely paralyzed. So are his legs! So with his left arm he struggles to reach across his bruised body and manages to get to it. When the 911 operator picks up the phone and he speaks, he hears a strange sound echoing back from the cell phone. The operator asks him to repeat. When he talks this time, he knows that no understandable sounds are coming from his mouth. Realizing he cannot talk to the operator, he is stuck waiting there until someone finds him.