I'm in the middle of the five eastbound lanes of the 8 (we live in SoCal, where the freeways have definite articles), doing about 75 and starting to think about moving over to the right in preparation for my upcoming exit. I check my right side-view mirror, then do an over-the-shoulder head-check to make sure there's nothing in my blind spot. Textbook, Driver's Ed circa 1983.
I can't see anything coming up on my right, and I click the turn indicator on. As I do, I become aware of something gaining on me to my left. It's a noise.
The unmistakable sound of tires screeching grows louder on the left, and finally its source becomes visible, first in my side-view mirror, and then through the window. It's a sleek black Beemer, going fast enough that it's about to pass me. Sideways.
I move over one lane to the right as quickly as I can, careful not to get all squirrelly with panic. I'm sure that the Beemer is going to launch off of the asphalt and roll like a kicked-can, but it doesn't. The last I see of the mangled car is its taillights as it slams against the median barrier.
My wife, in the seat next to me, gasps. She's a gasper.
"It's all right," I say, in an unconvincing staccato. Probably 2 seconds have passed since I first heard the tires screech.
But now, out of the corner of my eye, I see a white smear hurtling towards us. It comes into focus in my rear-view mirror: an SUV in mid-spin. I'm also aware of a red vehicle pinballing back and forth behind that one. Like the Beemer, the white SUV seems to be gaining on us, even though it's going backwards. I accelerate for all my little minivan is worth and move over the two more lanes to the shoulder.
"It's all right. It's all right," I keep saying.