Aug 24, 2010 | Albuquerque, NM
Aug 24, 2010

Traffic was stopped for over an hour in both directions on I-25.

A camper heading south and carrying a family of five had flipped over the median and slid down the other side of the highway into oncoming traffic.

It was a real mess.

We were about the fourth car from the front when we got there, so our timing was nearly pretty bad.

The dark desert road was lit up with sirens, but other than the sirens — which were red, white, and blue — everything was black because people had turned off their headlights, maybe to save power or maybe as some kind of vigil.

After a while there was a light in the sky which was the light of a helicopter which circled around and then landed on the road just in front of us and just beside the former camper van, which now was not a camper van but just a piece of metal.

There were eight of us in the airport shuttle. The woman riding shotgun was from Rye, New York. She was talking about people she had seen die.

"Last week a woman in my building was gardening on her balcony," she said. "She was on her balcony and she slipped and fell four stories, right into the lobby. She went splat on the tile floor."

"God," said the driver.

"Well, it's certainly dramatic, but it's a pretty good way to go," said the woman sitting next to me, who was from Massachusetts.

It sounded strange when she said it.

"I mean, you go quick," she clarified.

"She was actually alive for a while," said the woman from Rye.

"Oh," said the woman from Massachusetts.

"But I think her neck was broken," said the woman from Rye, "so she probably didn't feel anything, you know?"

"Right," said the woman from Massachusetts. "Kinda lucky though."

"Lucky?" said the woman from Rye.

"Kinda lucky she didn't hit anyone on the way down, take them with her," said the woman from Massachusetts.

"I guess," said the woman from Rye.

Up ahead of us they were pulling a man from the camper and putting him into the chopper. We couldn't see if he was dead or not. A few people had gotten out of their cars, to creep up through the arroyo to get a closer look at the wreck. They were like hyenas closing in on a carcass.

But the lights were so bright and the night was so dark that you couldn't really see anything, and there were cops all around anyway. There was lightning in the clouds on the horizon every few seconds, but up above it was clear. Other than the wreck, the night was very beautiful, and even the wreck was a little bit beautiful, with all of that dark and all of those lights putting you into a trance. I was out there for a while and then I went back to the van.

"It's a full moon tonight," said the driver. "Or wait — maybe it was last night?"

He rolled down the window and put his head out, so he could see the sky.

"Nope, it's tonight alright," he said. "Full moon," he said.

"The hospitals and insane asylums go crazy on a full moon," said the woman from Massachusetts.

"That's what all the cabbies say," said the driver. "They say they see it in their passengers. But the scientists say it's bullshit."

"The moon controls the tides," said the woman from Rye, "and we are like 98% water, so why wouldn't it control us, too?"

"Makes sense," said the driver. "I have to say, it does make sense."

Then we stopped talking and you could hear crickets.

You could hear them through the window the driver put down to look at the moon.