the Dinner public domain

It was Sunday. My boyfriend and I decided to go for a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Culver City. The evening weather called for a light jacket, but it wasn’t really cold. The restaurant seemed to have been there for ages, dark and old with the signs of Chicano history and culture lining the walls. The lighting was dark even in early afternoon. There were stained glass windows and in the day, the sun shone through with a murky illumination. It was a small restaurant with booths lining both sides of the walls with a row of tables and wrought iron chairs in the center. The restaurant was more narrow than wide. The place was almost half full. Everyone was talkative but kept to themselves.

We sat in a booth. It was a period in our relationship when we were growing apart and conversation was an effort to create, let alone sustain any given topic. We were discussing our day, mine on a television show discussing the politics and his about his auditions with no fruition of his efforts in near sight. We chatted with the waitress and afterwards observed the people around us.

Toward the end of our dinner, we heard a sound that made everyone in the restaurant look up and away from their plates. Eddy and I looked at each other. A waiter ran past us and out the door to see what had happened. No one stood up, all the patrons just sat there waiting for news. It was as though we were listening to a speaker who had been interrupted and with bated breath the public silently waits for the next word of wisdom.

The waiter ran back in and said, “There are two dead people on the street.” Everyone was shocked. No one moved. Eddy and I paid our bill and went outside. The car was directly in front of the restaurant. It was very dark and no crosswalks in proximity. A woman with blond hair was trapped underneath the driver’s side of the car, under the wheel. Her head was split open and it appeared her brains were partly outside her skull. I went and stood one foot away from her. I had to look. I admit to having a morbid curiosity and the sight of a dead person… fascinates me. I stood there wringing my hands while I looked at her. Her eyes were open. She was about 35 years old and had shoulder-length blond hair. The life was already out of her eyes. She was pinned horribly under the wheel. A few feet away lay her companion, a man stretched straight out, but his head and shoulders were under a parked van. His eyes were closed and he was about 50 years old. I don’t know how long I stood looking from one to the other. I became upset and worried for the loved ones waiting at home for them, if there was anyone home.

A yard more, or less, behind the car were a pair of perfectly aligned shoes. She was blown right out of her shoes. I have heard of the expression “blown right out of your socks” but I have never witnessed it. The shoe size was small and they were next to the dividing line separating the car lanes. Not too far away was a bag with a carton of milk and other items. I stood in front of those shoes for quite some time. Wondering. Wondering what if they were my shoes.

The driver was nowhere in sight. Someone had seen him run away. His car would not have been able to move unless he was willing to drag her body for a long distance. I didn’t blame him. It was a horrible accident that the driver will have to live with for the rest of his life. It was dark, few streetlights far apart from each other. The man and woman were dressed in very dark clothing and had jaywalked. The driver panicked and ran.

When we first heard the sound, there wasn’t a screech preceding it. It was just a very loud “THUMP”. For three days I was scared to enter a car.

This accident happened almost nine years ago. I will never forget the look on the woman’s face or her perfect little shoes.


Written by Jo Ann Rodriquez

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