In my earliest reoccurring nightmare, my mother is driving. I suddenly see a child in the road. Unable to speak, we pass over it.
All these years later, it is impossible to know what part of my nightmare was true. A child, in our neighborhood, had crawled out of his window. I certainly thought it happened. And every time I had the nightmare, I felt guilty.
Recently, I inquired with Sgt. Chris McNeary of the Astoria Police Department about the death of Todd Kirn. I wanted to know if the driver who hit him received a citation. According to the law, it seems, the driver was completely faultless, because Todd was in dark clothes and wasn't using a crosswalk.
I don't know why the reduced visibility of night doesn't require people to drive slower. Drivers are allowed, it seems, to assume there is nothing dark in the darkness, and if there is, and they hit it, the outcome, based in part upon their choice, isn't their fault.
On the night of the day I spoke with McNeary, I was driving west towards Seventh Street, along the bay. I looked ahead, to where some trees blocked the moonlight. I said to myself, and to McNeary, in my head, if I drive the posted speed, and there is something dark in that darkness, I might not be able to keep from hitting it. So, I slowed, but had a moment of … deer!
Of course, I didn't hit them. Of course …
MICHAEL A. "SASHA" MILLER