For three days now I have been followed by an ambulance. I first noticed it while I was driving home from a lecture I gave at a museum. I am not an artist or an art historian. I work for a company called Safety Net. We help employers figure out if any of their employees are shoplifting, embezzling, or planning heists. It is my job to teach the employees how to spot colleagues who might be stealing or planning to steal. I also teach the employees how to resist if any of their colleagues try to rope them into some sort of scheme. All of our teachings are based on Christian principles, but we don’t tell them that. Not everyone believes the same way, and I accept that.
I was driving home to spend the evening with my wife. We have been having some trouble lately. She would like to have a baby. As I was pulling out of the museum parking lot, an ambulance loomed behind me. I wasn’t sure if I ought to pull over, but the lights weren’t flashing and it was moving, as I was, slowly through the snow. It followed me all the way home, never more then half a block behind me. I couldn’t see the man inside of the ambulance. Through the lightly falling snow, I could only see that there was someone there.
When I arrived home my wife had left me a plate of Uncle Tim’s Wild Rice Concoction. She left a note that she had gone square dancing with her sister and that I should not wait up.
The next morning I was supposed to give a lecture at Inland Janitorial Services. Someone had been pilfering harsh cleaning solutions from the loading dock. As I turned from my street onto Blackwood Road, the ambulance appeared behind me again. I slowed my car to a crawl. He slowed. I sped up. He sped up. I pulled over into a Short Stop Convenience Store parking lot. The ambulance crawled on, but when I pulled out of the lot, there it was again. My heart jumped in my chest. Snow was really falling now, and I was late for my lecture.
I am not a man who panics. In an emergency I can be counted on to call the police, perform mouth to mouth respiration or escort a drunken man from the premises. But I was sweating, a sticky uncomfortable sweat that smelled terrible. I rolled down the window to let the icy air in. I tried to turn and wave to the man in the ambulance, but I saw no movement from him. No response. I was terrified. I didn’t know what was happening but it could not be good. It can’t be good to be followed by an ambulance.
I called my supervisor and told him that I was ill. I told him I’d become ill in my car. I don’t lie. I am not a liar but I felt that I had to get home. I needed to go inside and lock the door.
When I got there my wife was asleep on the couch. She had come home towards dawn. I found her sleeping there in the morning. She didn’t smell like she’d been square dancing.
I went to the window to close the blinds.
The ambulance was sitting outside, blood red against the white. When I looked out an hour later it was gone.
This morning I drove my wife to the airport to go see her mother. And there it was behind me, the ambulance. I dropped her off and kept driving. I just kept driving.
Written from 12:26 to 12:47 (I got a phone call for one minute) in my awesome windowless office.