I heard the car coming before I saw anything. Well, what I really heard were its brakes. It was early morning and I was out walking my dog Joe, like I always do, before my meeting. Helps me get my thoughts together to be out walking. Taking care of Joe is part of my steps. So I am in the program in case you were wondering. Working on 2 years. Taking it one day at a time. Getting straight isn’t easy, but it’s the only option for me now, with 2 strikes and all. Anyways, me and Joe are out on this cold morning doing our thing, when this car comes screaming down the hill. I turned to look and see the car start to fishtail. Next thing I know its going sideways and headed straight for the intersection at the bottom of the hill. Its still winter here in Missoula, and even though there isn’t snow on the street, there are spots where the sun never shines and the ice never melts. So this joker hits the black ice, looses it, stomps on the brakes, which makes him spin out. Not good driving. Must be someone from the city I think to myself.
The car is fancy, some kind of foreign car from Europe that they don’t even sell in Montana. It is painted black and the windows are also tinted so I can’t see who is behind the wheel. I see the light blue plates from Washington. Yep, city slickers. Lucky for me Joe was doing his business on the grass, otherwise we’d be toast. The car keeps sliding and now he’s going backwards down the hill. Here’s where I start to realize what’s going to happen. You see, at the bottom of the hill there is a street you can turn either left or right on, but if you go straight you’re in the Bitterroot river. And it is not tubing weather if you catch my drift. It being February and all, the river is mostly ice on top, and real damn cold below.
When he hit the wooden guard-rail the thing just collapsed like it was made out of paper, didn’t even slow the car down. For a second I could see the face of the driver through the windshield and I swear I could see that sucker grinning like he was on some kind of roller coaster. At this point I started trucking it down the grassy slope towards the river. For some reason I was still hanging onto Joe’s leash and I don’t think he wanted anything to do with the mess that was going on, but he’s a good dog and came along anyway. By the time we got to the edge of the embankment the car was already out on the ice. He’d gone in ass-backwards, and that’s probably more what saved his life than what me and Joe did. See when the car hit, it kinda jammed itself in at an angle so the nose was sticking up to the sky. The force of the impact broke that ice into big old chunks which were slowly breaking loose and beginning to flow downstream.
Now I know that the river is cold but for some reason I just walked straight in to get out to that car. It was only about waist deep but water that cold doesn’t need to be deep to make you hurt. I always wondered why ice-cold could feel like fire-hot. So I hop myself out to the ice chunk and what do you know but here comes Joe
just right behind me into the water. Like I said he’s a good dog. When we got to the car I went straight to the drivers side door and yanked it open. The smell of booze hit me hard, giving me pause. I could even tell it was the stuff I liked: bourbon whiskey. But I could feel the ice moving beneath us and knew it was only a matter of time before the whole thing broke up. I reached up into the car where the now passed out driver was and reached for his seat-belt (lucky he was from the city where they have laws about seat belts and he probably wore the belt out of habit). By the time me and Joe got him back to the banks of the river the ice broke beneath that beautiful black car and it sank like a seal into the black water of the river. I could hear the sirens and knew the someone had called in the accident. I made sure the drunk driver was alive and still made it to the meeting in time for the prayer. Step 12 says maybe I should have given him the address of my meeting… but I wasn’t ready yet to be anyone’s savior more that once in a day.