The Deaf Bridge


On a Tuesday evening in San Francisco, after meeting with a team of high-tech angel investors, Nick Livermore shifted his BMW 335i into third and told Amanda to hold on. Tonight was Jeff Ellison’s TurDunkIn dinner party and they had to pick up Ryan ASAP. But Nick was tired right now. He’d already worked twenty-eight hours this week and he didn’t want to work anymore. He just wanted to go home and plan his trip next month to Big Sky, Montana.

“Can you text Ryan?” Nick said and merged left. “Ask him to wait outside.”

“Sure,” Amanda said.

“Where’s your phone?”

“Next to yours.” Nick smiled. “Don’t you remember?”

“Oh yeah,” Amanda said, smiling back.

“You should remember better,” Nick said. He noticed that tonight, Amanda’s hair was puffier than usual. Maybe it was the dim light from the setting sun behind her sharp profile or maybe she just needed a new hair stylist. Nick had been dating her for eight months and he figured that she was the one. She was fit and clean and, yeah—she would be the one.

He turned onto the Embarcadero, where ahead in the clear distance was the Pacific Ocean, the Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge, all melted together like a permanent castle. Each of the bridge’s towers seemed thicker, stronger, than anything else around, and Nick suddenly wondered why no one was doing anything special with the Bridge. What if he found a way to do rent it out? Maybe for a concert or something like that. He’d be set for life. What if he strung glow-sticks down each tower and held a giant rave where all of the college kids paid a few hundred bucks to come in? He could easily make a seven-figure profit on an event like that and he’d be able to quit working for Baine for good.

“How much do you think it would cost to rent out the Bridge?” Nick asked as put his hand on Amanda’s thigh.

“Rent out? Like for a party?”


“Really? Seems kind of crazy to me.”

“No way. I bet we could make a ton of money.”

“It’s cold up there, isn’t it?”

“I’m going to do it. I just got to get Mayor Lee on my side like Twitter did and then it would be a done deal. That’s how we could become Noe Valley rich.”

And just like that, Nick had a new dream. Not only would he be the first guy to ever rent out the Golden Gate Bridge, but he’d be the first to throw a rave on the sucker. No one had done such a thing, not even Zuckerberg. Nick knew this and this was what life was about: doing the impossible, doing something no one had done before; having dreams like this, like when he dreamt of working for a Top 5 venture capitalist when he was in high school in Chicago.

He stared at the bridge, at the tourist-filled cars that were clogging its lanes and taking pictures of the sexy beast, and then looked back at the road and turned off the Embarcadero and onto Filbert, where Ryan lived five blocks ahead.

But between Nick and Ryan—between being on time to dinner or not—was a bicyclist, who rode directly in the middle of Nick’s lane. The cyclist moved forward in a perfectly straight line that did not meander in any direction, which meant that there were no opportunities to pass. This was not okay because the middle of the road was the car lane and not the bike lane. Didn’t the guy understand basic traffic rules?

Nick honked his horn, but the cyclist did not move. Instead he continued to pedal on his bike that had a cheap plastic rack and a faded yoga mat.
Nick honked twice more and said, “Come on, man.”

Amanda looked up from her phone. “Seriously, so ridiculous. Like what if there was an emergency?”

Still the cyclist didn’t move over.

“Fucking guy,” Nick said and stretched to look up Filbert and at the oncoming traffic.

“Maybe just go around him,” Amanda suggested.

“I’m on it,” Nick replied. “Watch this.”

He looked ahead once more, then quickly merged into the oncoming traffic lane. As he sped up, a white sedan pulled out of a driveway. He jerked his wheel right, but clipped the front end of the sedan, shooting his BMW into a 360 that turned into a 440 that turned into a 520 that stopped rotating headlight-first into an oncoming truck, and they collided immediately, releasing hard airbags into Nick’s face and neck and chest, hitting all three like a runaway refrigerator, whipping his head back into the stiff leather headrest, then back forward into his lifted arm. Everything collided like striking fire sticks, seeming to mold together into one numbness, one emptiness, one cracked bone.

The spinning stopped and they came to rest and now running blood leaked from under Nick’s eye, onto his compressed chest. He felt his heavy breath, then opened his good eye and looked out the driver side window at jagged pieces of broken glass. He couldn’t feel either of his arms, and he wasn’t sure if either were still attached. Blood continued to leak from his forehead, now entering the corner of his mouth and he spit what tasted like bitter metal and slowly closed his eyes and pretended that this was all a bad dream. Noises—from all directions and growing louder—made it impossible to fall asleep, to make this just go way like he wanted.

He opened his eyes again and looked beyond his broken window at a nearby grey house. He saw the bicyclist standing on the home’s front door. The cyclist was making frantic gestures with his hands to a man at the door. The cyclist did not speak, did not open his mouth, but rather continued to make signals to the man. The man began to nod his head, then pulled out a cellphone and started to dial. The cyclist continued to move his hands in a formulated way that seemed to be revealing a story, one gesture at a time, one deaf letter at a time. The man and the cyclist were now nodding to each other as if they were finally in agreement, and the man continued to talk into his phone. Then the man hung up, and the cyclist mouthed “thank you” in an awkward, forced way.

Help was on the way. Help would be here soon. Nick needed help right now because the numbness in his arm and chest had turned into a painful squeezing as if his bones were being clamped together slowly by something that wouldn’t stop. Amanda groaned gently next to him, which meant she was alive, although her condition must have been worse because the passenger side airbag had not released. A group of people behind Nick’s car argued whether or not they should wait for the paramedics or try and pull the people out of the BMW themselves.

Nick tried to open his month but the pain was too great. He looked at the cyclist, who was sitting on the curb now. Nick wanted to say something. He wanted to say “fuck you” and “thank you” at the same time. He wanted to kiss the guy and then throw him on the ground and beat the shit out of him for causing this nightmare. He wanted to say something, but all he could do was taste more blood. He swallowed and then swallowed again and more blood again. He closed his eyes and things began to fade away. He wished he were back home in Chicago playing ice hockey with his best friend, Lee. Remember that? He did. East Side City Championships, twelve years ago, third period, three minutes left, down one goal, Lee the best player on the team, pushing the puck down the right wing, Nick crashing down the middle for a tap in. Lee! I’m open! Send it over Lee! I’m open. Lee! Ice stretched across a blank rink and suddenly Nick was alone out there, pushing his skates on the coldness toward an open net with the puck, shooting, scoring, celebrating, his mom cheering, his dad there, too, his dad before he’d left for California and two new girlfriends, his mom before her brain tumor that was getting bigger now, before he forgot to call his mom last week and then forgot again tonight, there she was: cheering.

He felt his breath again. Amanda placed her hand on his shoulder. She rubbed him and started to say something, but none of it made sense. He tried to ask if she was okay but he couldn’t. He looked outside again. The sirens were gentle now. He tasted more blood and thought about nothing. He let go of his steering wheel and relaxed his grip and eased into his seat and on a Tuesday evening in San Francisco, Nick Livermore passed away.