Jake had been under the truck for at least an hour. But, he based that guess on the height of the sun, and truth be told, he really wasn’t sure how long he had been out. The sun was dipping towards the west but there was still a lot of daylight left. He took stock of his situation. He was on his back under the truck. He was sore all over and he couldn’t move his legs. He could feel his legs but he couldn’t move them, he thought he must be pinned somehow. He remembered picking up the block of ice from the ice house. He’d watched Lester load it into the back of his truck like it was nothing; as if it were light as a feather. He recollected getting on the road back towards the farm but then he had seen the Widow Perkins. She was picking her way across a fresh mowed field going somewhere – God knows where. In her one hand she held the leash of that damn skunk she kept as a pet. He was prancing along next to her looking all high and mighty. In her other hand she held a bright pink parasol, keeping the sun at bay. He was distracted and had begun slowing down to watch her walk.
Yes, Jake thought to himself, Widow Perkins was a handsome woman. She held herself well and she won a lot of blue ribbons in the cooking contests at the fair every year. A man could do worse than sporting the Widow Perkins on his arm. She was affable too. Only problems Jake could see were that she was deaf as a post and she kept that damn skunk. Maybe it reminded her of her late husband. Jake resolved that he would call on her in the fall after the harvest was in.
With that decided; he reached forward and cranked open the bottom of the windscreen on his ‘Model A’ truck. It was a fine summer day. Maybe a mite warm, but a fine day nonetheless.
No sooner did he get the windscreen open than he heard a slight noise that he didn’t recognize. It seemed to be coming from the engine. Listening to it, it grew louder, until it sounded like a passel of giggling 12 year old girls. Then it popped; it didn’t explode, per se, just popped. He thought it sounded like a champagne cork might sound, but having never heard a champagne cork he couldn’t be sure. Steam began to billow out from the truck’s radiator. It blocked his vision and the front tires veered hard to the right. The tremendous impact that resulted from his collision with the tree drove his chest into the steering wheel and the block of ice through the back of the cab before the truck rolled over. Before he lost consciousness he watched the Widow Perkins, as she kept walking away. Of course, Jake thought, she hadn’t heard the accident. She couldn’t hear the accident and when he woke, she was gone, so was her skunk.
Jake was now remembering some of the details of the crash. He turned his head and looked towards his feet hoping to see what had his legs pinned. He saw that it was the heavy block of ice that held him down. He thought that might be lucky, I simply have to wait for enough of the ice to melt and I’ll be free. I’ll have to walk back to town. There’ll be no traffic on the road, but I’ve done that before. He settled in to wait and he must have dozed.
He was chilled when he woke, but there was still light so he knew he hadn’t slept too long. He figured it must be near 8:00. He looked down at the still large block of ice and tried to move his legs. He managed to rock the block of ice a bit, it won’t be long now. When the ice moved Jake felt an almost liquid warmth move along his leg. He reached down to scratch behind his knee. When he brought his hand back up it was stained crimson, covered with blood. He sat up as far as he could and looked. Both his legs were gone from the knee down. The block of ice must have taken them during the crash, and then it had served as a compress to staunch the flow of arterial blood. As it melted it would gradually become a less effective tourniquet, and Jake knew he would bleed out. He was going to die under a rolled over pickup truck. Killed by a big block of ice in the middle of summer and there was nothing he could do about it.
He didn’t panic though. His first thought was to ward off the chill, so he felt around for that piece of old horse blanket he normally kept behind the seat. He found it and covered himself. It was only about half a blanket but it covered him from the waist up to his chin. That feels better.
He thought about Belle and how she and his daughter had died in childbirth. He thought about how they now lay next to each other on the side of the hill, back o’ the house, with a hand carved stone marker being all that there is to testify to their very existence. The baby had been stillborn and Belle followed her straight away. At first he’d been angry with them both but eventually he had come to terms with it. It hadn’t been their fault. It had just happened. Who knows why?
He was getting colder and closed his eyes, maybe just a short nap. He thought about the Widow Perkins and wondered what had possessed her to take up with a skunk. Wondered how come, nobody ever knew why.