14.

Lyle spun around, one hand shooting out and the phone going flying as he continued to spin and slam on the ground. He felt the hard and sudden shock against his side, ribs straining to adjust to the sudden shift of pressure against them, struggling to bend not break. From the corner of his eye, the only part of his vision that wasn’t blurry and a flash of painful light, he could see the other man.

Flying.

Tumbling, the car screeching to a halt as the other man landed hard, the angle all wrong, Lyle thought to himself rationally, an odd thought to have at the moment when so much of his body was shifting into repair and survival mode, letting blood flow quicker and muscles slack until they could give no more, hoping that the body would just gently lay there, instead of skidding and thudding the way it did.

The other man landed wrong enough, a sick crack when there should have been a thud, and Lyle knew the fall had broken something, at least. Good, good, he thought, they needed him out of the way, somehow registered in a system, something to throw off his digital invisibility, and a costly hospital stay over a broken limb was perfect for that. The yelling though, the yelling was still going on, too much, he thought. They were yelling too much for two guys caught in a car accident, and then the screaming was replaced with “Oh God,” and that rational part of his brain started to put it all together.

That wasn’t a crack of broken arm or leg, an injury that’d have the other man howling in pain. It was the crack and crush of cervical vertebrae, of neck bones splintering inside his body from the force of the blow.

“We’re okay,” he could hear himself mutter, the thickness of a swelling mouth making it almost incomprehensible even to his own words as people around them screamed, a woman hysterical and a man shrieking at the cab driver.

“We’re…we’re okay,” he repeated, meaning it for someone else, for the older black man in the tan overcoat.

At the sidewalk, that tan overcoat stopped, picking up the black smart phone the other man had dropped, the thin but solid rubber case protecting it, letting it drop, vibrating with an incoming call, into an inside pocket, walking away as dark black shoes and blue uniform pants started to herd the crowd back onto the sidewalk.

Lyle watched it from the street level, one eye dark but he could feel the pulse of blood and the flutter of his own eyelids, and relaxed knowing that the eye was just swollen shut and not blinded, seeing the bottom of that tan coat as the cops and firemen and someone yelling that she was a doctor kneeled around him, knees and concerned faces blocking his vision.

“We’re o…”