You, or Someone Like You

I am in the black Saab, having pulled onto the dusty shoulder of Mulholland at Franklin Canyon Drive. The top is down, it is a spectacular day, almost no smog, and I have decided to, why not, repair a bit of makeup. I apply some lipstick, mat it down with my lips. Burst out laughing at myself. A fifty-four-year old woman acting like an ex-actress driving into Bel Air. (Howard would have a field day, were he in the car. But he’ll be at home, and I’d like to look a bit less windblown when I arrive.) My head tilts up with the laugh, and just beyond the mirror I catch sight of a rusty Toyota pulling up from the Sooky Goldman Nature Center, an occluded exit. My fingers run distractedly through my hair, cut mid-neck length and recently highlighted. The Toyota’s driver, a white man in his late thirties, clean-cut (even at this distance, I notice he carefully gels his hair), leans forward over his steering wheel with a frown, trying to see one way, then the other. I could put the Saab in drive again, continue toward the 101, but as if I know the scene will be shot here, I don’t. I begin to watch more closely as the Toyota pulls out into the far lane, then cuts across the shoulder of the road, where a gardener appears from behind a six-foot-tall mass of dahlia, huge purple flowers and dark green leaves (my mind will light on the variety: Pierre Chaumier), and the old Toyota slams into him. The Toyota’s right front fender just above the headlight plows into the man at waist height, toward the hip. I register the jerk of the car, how it stops like a confused animal, and the brief, awkward arc of the man’s body flung to the ground.

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