"No," I answer.Did you know you can smell the alcohol in someone's blood? You can."No skid marks, either," the deputy sighs, pointing his flashlight back up the road. "Shenever even hit the brakes. Besides, she was a responsible kid. I'm thinking she fell asleepat the wheel."
"You knew her? I asked.
"Yeah," he says sadly, his shoulders sagging. "My daughter's the same age. We go tochurch with her family." He clicks off his flashlight and places it back in the holder onhis duty belt, looks absently back up the road. "Wrecker oughta be here in a few minutes, then I'm gonna have to go tell her Daddy. Damn."PTP looks at him for a moment, hands still clenching and unclenching, veins still bulging in his neck. Then he marches purposefully to the ambulance, opens the reardoors and climbs in. A moment later, he emerges carrying a folded sheet and carries itover to the wrecked Honda Accord. He unfolds the sheet and carefully, gently covers her body with it."Sun's coming up," he grunts in explanation and I nod my understanding. "I don't wantpeople driving by and gawking at her." As if on cue, a pair of headlights appears over the crest of a hill and grows steadily closer. The deputy removes the flashlight from his belt and signals the truck to goaround us. As the pickup pulls abreast of the scene, passing just feet from the deputy, hefreezes. The truck continues on for a few feet, and then skids to a stop with a screech of brakes. A man and a woman bail out of the truck and run back toward the wreck. The deputy intercepts the man, and PTP and I are left to deal with the woman. I step in front of herand catch her before she reaches the car.
"That's my baby!"
she screams frantically as I try, and fail, to wrap my arms aroundhers.
"Let me GO! Let me see my baby!"
she screams as she flails at me impotently.There is nothing I can say to her, so I lower my head and let the blows rain down. Noneof them do any damage anyway. She's not trying to hurt anyone. PTP moves behind herand tries to grab her hands.I look over her shoulder and see the deputy with his hands on the father's shoulders,forehead to forehead, saying something I can't hear.PTP and I manage to walk the mother over to the front of our rig, and she collapses in aheap, still crying and screaming "
" hysterically. PTP's eyes are moist and his jaw muscles bunch as he kneels next to her, one hand laid gently on her shoulder as she wraps her arms around her chest, trembling violently.