No one ever knew who had hit Arlene Mertz.
Her son, Phil Mertz, hadn’t been aware his mother wasn’t sleeping in her room until the police woke him at three a.m. to inform him she was seriously injured. “Hit and run,” the young officer said. He looked shaken, pale. “She’s just across the street, there,” Officer Tambule pointed. “Morning ma’am,” he tipped his head as Phil’s wife, Patty, squeezed into the doorway. “Where the ambulance is, see?”
“Jesus.” Patty inhaled.
Phil squinted at the scene across the street. A layer of frost had settled over his mother’s small, still form. Her frost-covered body sparkled in the headlights of passing cars, making it look as if her body was bursting into a million stars.
“What’s that beside her?” Patty asked.
“An opossum, ma’am.”
“A what?” Phil asked, thinking the shock must be affecting his hearing.
“An opossom, sir.”
Phil heard the answer, but the words didn’t register. He was watching the paramedics lift his mother onto a gurney. Then he noticed the nervous looking girl standing across the street, holding something against her chest.