The Mailbox

by Niles Reddick

Nadine got a ride home after her outpatient back surgery. She hoped the procedure repaired a disc and sciatic nerve that half the time ached, and the rest of the time made her leg numb. Though awake, Nadine was groggy and planned to go home and sleep. When she woke three hours later, she didn’t recall much about surgery or the ride home, but she craved barbecue.

Nadine knew a shortcut to The Barbecue Pit that meandered through a massive subdivision, and while she often had to dodge kids on bicycles, joggers, and even dogs, she avoided driving on the four-lane highway. A mile into the subdivision maze, Nadine didn’t recall if she should turn right, left, or go straight. She turned down a dead-end road and circled back, turned down another side street and damned her late husband Mack out loud for having said all roads were connected for the last forty years they were married.

She wasn’t sure if she had turned the air conditioner knob in her Rav4 to high because of a hot flash or if she nodded from the lingering anesthesia, but she hit something hard, noticed her side mirror was missing, and figured the right front tire was flat or something was caught. She stopped in the middle of the street, noticed landscape lighting highlighting brick and sculpted flower beds, and she realized she’d veered off the road and plowed into the metal mailbox post.

She worried she shouldn’t be driving, might be arrested, and rather than confess, Nadine panicked and drove away, pieces of her fender skirt, side mirror, and headlights littering the front yard along with the mailbox and its metal pole. Her barbecue craving had passed.

Meanwhile, the neighbor across the street had heard the crash and watched the scene unfold from his garage, dialing 911 to report it. He couldn’t read the license plate or see who was driving, but he could tell under the streetlight that it was a silver Rav4 and immediately assumed it was a young driver who had been texting. He told the dispatcher, “So texting, the wreck, and then leaving the scene should be enough to revoke a license.”

The officer arrived, made the report, talked with neighbors, and drove the neighborhood to find the Rav4, but didn’t, and because of the larger crimes in the community, he wouldn’t proactively go to repair shops in advance of the car being brought in for repair.

The next morning, and after a night of guilty tossing and turning, Nadine drove back to the scene of her crime, rang their doorbell, apologized for her behavior, and offered to pay for their damages. She told them she’d become confused in the subdivision maze. The couple accepted her offer and told her they were happy she hadn’t been hurt. They were so happy not to pay the high insurance deductible that they forgot all about notifying the nice officer who wrote the report.