The police wouldn’t allow them to leave. Within minutes of the crash, several ambulances arrived, and Mark was hustled towards the EMTs. As a man the size of a grizzly bear fussed over his hand, Mark scanned the crowd. Ashton was behind a barrier speaking with a police officer. Mr. Cross was nowhere to be seen.
The burly EMT wrapped his hand in gauze with a speed that showed he was no novice, and asked when his last tetanus shot was. Mark shrugged. He couldn’t be bothered to remember at the moment. The cut was shallow; he could flex his fingers and make a fist. No real damage that he could see, and he refused to be transported to the hospital. The driver of the truck was loaded into the back of an ambulance along with a uniformed officer, but he appeared to be the only one seriously injured.
When his hand was bandaged, he was sent to the barriers to speak with the police officer.
“That’s the guy,” Ashton said, pointing to Mark.
“You saved this man’s life,” the police officer said. “Very lucky you were around.”
Saved his life, Mark thought. Why? Mr. Cross was still hadn’t appeared. The police officer began to ask him questions. Mark tried to answer as much as he could. Luckily, the officer didn’t bother asking why he was on King Street, or what made him rush across the street to tackle a stranger. As the officer was taking his contact information, Mr. Cross hustled into the crowd.
The old man was out of breath and in the strobing lights of the emergency vehicles, very sickly looking. He clutched at Mark’s arm and wheezed, as if he had run all the way from campus.
“Sir,” the officer said, “are you all right?”
Mr. Cross coughed and nodded.
“Do you know this man?”
Mark nodded. “He’s…my grandfather.”
“Maybe you should have him checked out.”
Mr. Cross shook his head and struggled to stifle another wheezing cough. “I’m fine. Tell him I’m fine.”
“He’s fine,” Mark parroted. “Can I go now?”
“I’ve got your info. If we need you, we’ll be in touch.”
Mark took the old man’s arm and led him away from the crowd. He made a cursory search of the area, looking for Ashton, but the other man was gone. He put it the back of his mind to focus on his older self. Mr. Cross leaned heavily against him as they moved away from the scene. Mark worried that he was on the verge of a heart attack. If Mr. Cross died, would he die? No, that didn’t make any sense. He was the younger version. He had years ahead of him. If saving Ashton Miller’s life didn’t shorten it.
“What happened to your hand?” Mr. Cross asked as the stumbled past the trendy clothing store.
“Cut it. Glass on the ground.”
Mr. Cross paused, forcing Mark to stop after taking two more steps. The old man held up his own hand, and gazed at the palm. “Huh.”
He turned his palm towards Mark. “No scar.”
“It isn’t very deep. Maybe after sixty years it faded away. What are we talking about scars for anyway. You have some explaining to do.”
“Yes, yes,” Mr. Cross said, leaning against Mark again. “Let’s get some food and I’ll tell you a story.”