When a butterfly flaps its wings, it sets a chain of events in motion.
Our story begins with David and Anne. They have been married for 5 years. David, aged 30, is a legal consultant for a major advertising firm. The money is good. He also has a second job as a freelance law consultant for small businesses, and depending on the turn of the market, sometimes makes almost twice as much as his real job. Anne, aged 29, is a senior executive assistant to a CEO at a large global transpiration firm. She also has a part-time job as a personal travel agent who only gains clients via referrals from her other clients. David and Anne work, on average, 60-90 hours a week each. The money they both earn has amassed a small fortune, since they live wisely, and Anne is especially good at finding bargains and gaining favors from clients. Right now, however, they are spending a 3-day vacation in Neuvo Villarta, in Mexico.
As they sit on the beach in their reclining beach chairs, both of them do not speak. Anne isn't thinking about her vacation. She's trying to think of ways to impress a wealthy Saudi businessman who is one of her travel clients. If she succeeds, she could stand to make a six-figure bonus over the next six months. She will succeed. David, on the other hand, is thinking of nothing. His left hand is stretched over the armrest of his chair, holding onto the tense right hand of Anne. He knows she is thinking, but does not feel concern. For the last year, business has been good.
Which is a shame, because David will be dead in 5 days.
Blissfully unaware of this, David and Anne later retire to a local 4-star restaurant to discuss their trip back the following morning. Meanwhile, David's death is starting to unfold back in their home city.
A man by the name of Charles is working in a kitchen of a fine restaurant in Boston. Charles has just been chewed out by a rather demanding customer who seems upset that Charles has an accent. Charles is Puerto Rican by birth, but the woman has just called him a "thieving Arab." Charles is a good man, but in a moment of self-involvement, he drops a salmon steak on a dirtier part of the kitchen floor. Because he doesn't want any more problems from the management tonight, he discretely puts it back on the plate, and serves it to a customer he never sees. This man is named John Park, and he is a CFO of a major law firm. John eats his salmon, thinking the odd taste and texture is from the vinegar and pepper, but in reality, it is grit from the floor containing germs that will, in a few days, cause him minor stomach upset and a weak and dizzy feeling. It will pass a few days later, with no after affects, and will be forgotten by David's funeral.
In another part of town, a cab dispatcher calls in a cabbie, and despite his lack of manpower for his company, fires a man because he has been accused of stealing gasoline from other cars on the lot. This causes him to be so short of staff, he hires the next applicant who claims he can drive. This man's name is Omar, and Omar is an alcoholic. During David's funeral, he will be in a hospital's intensive care unit.
When David and Anne return from their vacation, Anne gets a message from her Saudi client that states he would like to schedule a six-month contract with her to charter over 500 guests across multiple locations in Europe. This will take all the skill and efforts of Anne to pull off, especially because she is having trouble with reliability with a Swiss company that charters the planes the Saudi requested. For the next three days, she sleeps in 2-3 hour increments, on the couch by the phone at night, and at her desk during lunch break at her main workplace.
David, on the other hand, is scheduling a meeting with John park, the CFO of a major law firm. John has hired some freelance consultants to review a series of city contracts up for renewal. They agree to meet at a restaurant in 3 days during the lunch hour to discuss what needs to be done.
When the day arrives, 40 miles away from where David works, a delivery truck driver named Scott has been asked by the delivery center to turn back on a route, because a woman had complained no one delivered her package. Scott had gone to her door, but no one answered. This will mean he will be late for all his packages all day, and have to work extra hours. He had wished to be home in time to watch a new sci-fi series on TV, but now that's not going to happen. Ever since Scott was a little boy, when things went wrong in his life, he drifted into a fantasy world where he was a martial arts master, delivering vengeance for those that had wronged him. His daydreaming fantasies have never hurt anyone, and apart from his best friend in elementary school, no one is even aware Scott thinks these things. Today, this will change.
John Park is not feeling well. He hasn't felt well since two days ago, which he attributed to his ulcer, but now he feels feverish and dizzy. He certainly doesn't feel like eating, so he leaves a voice message for David and the other people to have the meeting at his office about three miles away from their original meeting place. All call back within 20 minutes to confirm. Including David. David has never been to this building, so he decides to arrive early to account for possible time lost looking for it. In his haste, he doesn't latch his briefcase properly.
Omar is not drunk, but he is seriously hung over. He doesn't even remember his last few rides, or if they paid him or not. But he's awake enough to see David's hand flag him down. "Where are you going?" asks Omar. David tells him, and even knows a shortcut. Omar takes the shortcut.
Scott is now downtown. He's still angry about the woman who complained about him, and sure enough, she didn't answer the door the second time. The delivery center had to call her, and it turns out she was at her neighbor's, drinking tea. Scott is so into his fantasy about beating the woman senseless with Ninja-like speed, that he doesn't notice the light had turned red at the intersection he's about to cross.
Omar is in a hurry. De doesn't think David has a proper shortcut, so he makes a cut through an alley. David is not paying attention, because he's on the cell phone with Anne, telling her that he's going to stay late to avoid the rush hour traffic. If Anne was more alert, she would have thought to tell him to write down the number of someone who called him at home. But instead, she hung up, and THEN remembered. She decided she was too tired to call him back right away, and she went to to her company kitchen get another cup of coffee.
When David hung up his phone, he noticed they had just cut through an alley. He asked Omar what he was doing, and Omar said he knew a better way. Omar turned sharply out of the alley, and noticed the light of the intersection turn green. He knew this light was very short, so he gunned the motor to make sure he would make it. This caused David to fall back into the back seat, and his cell phone banged on the improperly closed latch of the briefcase, opening it, and contents began to spill out. He leaned into the left side of the back seat to prevent a disastrous spill all over the cab's back seat.
The moment Scott realized it was a red light, he was in the middle of the intersection, about to hit a cab. By habit, he slammed on his brakes. Had he sped through, he would have almost missed the cab entirely, only clipping off the front bumper. But his braking slowed him just enough so the full impact of the vehicle crushed the rear half of the cab.
David's head was on the driver's side of the cab in the rear seat. The last thing he saw was the shadow of a delivery truck grill inches from the cab window. In impact crushed David's skull into his spinal column, compressing it and breaking it like a strand of raw spaghetti, killing him instantly. If he had been sitting upright, still talking on the phone, taking down a number Anne was supposed to give him, he would have suffered massive injuries, but survived.
Anne was in the break room, drinking coffee, when David died. Her thought at the time were how she really wished she could convince the Saudi client to charter a better service from Italy.
The cab driver was badly injured, and rushed to intensive care. He survived, and while he lived another ten years, he eventually died from liver disease.
Scott was also injured, and never regained the full use of his legs. He now teaches physical therapy at a camp for handicapped children.
John Park was over his illness at David's funeral. Anne was quiet and steady, but didn't speak much. The money David and her saved up, plus the life insurance, plus the legal damages placed on the cab company for allowing a drunk man to drive a cab, gives Anne enough money to retire a year later. She would later remarry, and have two children.
Sometimes, a string of small events can culminate into one large one. And so a butterfly's wings can also end in a hurricane.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000597.html