I will forever have that day burned into my memory.
This was back in a time where Internet was dial up and online college classes were a ridiculous notion. I was on my computer, working on a paper when my computer made a faint "thump" sound "now what?" I muttered as I reached for the mouse to check my connection. The phone rang and I jumped a bit. Caller ID wasn't picking up where the call was coming from, I picked it up "hello?" There was a quiet female voice on the other end "Liz?" She asked "yep" I muttered. I was getting irritated she kept giving long pauses in between words "you don't know me but I need to give you some info, Buck is dead, he passed away on Saturday night" the breath caught in my throat but I managed a small "why?" "I'm not entirely sure right now, something about being hit by multiple cars while running onto the freeway" what?? That doesn't make sense. She continued "I can call you with the funeral info if you want" I told her that would be great and thanked her before slumping down on my couch in shock.
How is this possible? Why would he be running on a freeway at night? This has to be a mean joke. I got up and reconnected my internet and did a search on his real name. A newspaper article popped up. "Unidentified male was hit by multiple vehicles while running down the freeway on Saturday has been identified" well this is freakin interesting. My next search was that freeway.
FOUR MONTHS EARLIER:
I was 19, it was summer break and I had survived my freshman year. I had recently moved into an apartment by myself, my building was next door to my cousins apartment building so we used to hang out a bit. She invited me to a party at her friends house a few blocks away, I hurried home to change and get ready before we left.
We got there and there was a few people hanging out in a dining room area drinking some beer, the house had a haze from all the smoking but I scanned the people for a familiar face, not seeing any I settled into a chair and people started introducing themselves, they were playing a drinking game and asked me to join. Of course I did. About 2 hours later, a tall guy not much older than me with shaggy sandy blonde hair and big blue eyes walked in. The woman who owned the house introduced him as her brother "Buck" we made eye contact for a second and I went back to the game. Pretty soon he sat down next to me and started playing too.
We talked and talked like no one was there when we realized it was pushing 2am and people were disappearing. "Where do you live?" He asked, I gave him a distrusting look and he quickly said "I'm not comfortable with you driving home like this, I just wanted to offer you a ride home"
Then it begins, he was Buck, he was 22 and not the actual brother of the woman who threw the party. He had a tattoo on his right forearm of the Tasmanian Devil playing pool, and one on the other arm that looked pretty amateur, it just said "Buck" haphazardly. He worked in landscaping and moved around from hotel to hotel depending on where there was a job for them.
Now you have to remember, I was 19, I grew up in a tiny town and had a very sheltered life. I was incredibly naive and trusting. We spent every free minute we had together (so I thought).
September rolled around and I started classes again, about halfway through the month, he calls me and asks me to meet him at his hotel, it was important. When I got there, he gave me a hug and a kiss and said "I need to tell you something, we accepted a new job and I have to leave" "ok...where?" I asked. He paused for what felt like 30 minutes, which made the room start to close in on all sides. "Seriously, where is the job?" I asked again, not really sure I wanted to know. "Colorado" he said finally. "But it's a short job and I shouldn't be gone longer than a month or two"he added. "When do you have to go?" Another long pause, this guy had a flare for the dramatics. He finally cleared his throat and gave me a sheepish grin "in the morning"
"What? Why so soon?" "My boss just told me today" he replied, taking a seat next to me on the small couch. "It is supposed to be a quick job, I should be back by November, at the very latest the beginning of December"
The image that has been burned in my mind for 16 years is driving away that cool fall day and looking in my rear view mirror, as he stands in the parking lot waving good bye". We just didn't know it was forever.
He did not return in November and on December 2nd, 2000 around 10pm mountain time, he was running on the freeway, bus ticket to Minnesota in his back pocket, and was hit by 15 different cars. That's all I know, there was no information on WHY he was running down a dark freeway or why no one stopped when they realized they hit a person.
I never got the call about the funeral, just a service pamphlet after the funeral. There were no further reports on the incident, it just disappeared. No one talked about it and no one could look me in the eye for months.
Now on New Year's Eve, a little over a month later, something incredibly disturbing happened. I had been a shut in for most of December, so one of my friends came over and we were going to hang out for New Years, but we had no plans so we drove to a casino, two hours away. We hung out till midnight, did the countdown and hurried back to the car to beat traffic.
We didn't want to go back home yet and we weren't sure what to do so we ended up waiting in a long line at a Hardee's drive through. While we sat there, I decided to check my messages on my answering machine (I know, out dated technology lol). I skimmed through them, mostly my mom or one of my friends checking up on me (there was a lot of that during that month). Then I got to the last one.
At first all I could hear was a crowded room, people talking like a party was going on, then a male voice, asking if I was home. After a couple seconds of silence, another male voice tells him that I am not home right now and would he like to leave a message. All the air sucked right out of my chest and I froze. I knew that voice and was someone in my apartment? I didn't have a roommate so what just happened? I played the message again and hit speaker. We agreed we needed to get back ASAP.
Arriving back at my apartment, we quietly sneak in the front door. Everything is how I left it, no one is hiding anywhere. I go straight to my answering machine and listen again. "That's him! That's his voice. No I must be going crazy" yes I was talking to the answering machine. My friend comes in and tells me to stop listening to it before I drive myself crazy.
That message stayed on my machine until I moved a few months later, but I can still hear the voice just as clear as I can see him waving good bye from my rear view mirror.
It still haunts me 16 years later...
Published by Liz Zemlicka