Rideout road ran generally east and west. On the east side, it met with the four lane. On the west, it met another road that went somewhere. Along about the middle of this meandering way, Fischer road, which ran mostly north to south, intersected it. Near the intersection was where Jeb lived. His home was on the south side and faced Rideout.
The little boy sat on the edge of his porch peering out toward the four way stop just down the road. There never had been a stop sign there until last week. Then state workers came out, pulled up the stop signs on Fischer road and put in new ones at the intersection on all four roads. Jeb was glad. His dog, Big Red, didn't chase cars but he would chase Mrs. White's cat and he would chase it all the way across the road. Even if a car was coming, he would chase that cat across the road. There used a be a Little Red but she was dead. She chased cars.
Mrs. White lived up the road a bit and on the other side. She was a widow. Jeb's grandfather was courting her. He would visit her and he and Mrs. White would sit on her porch swing. Jeb had seen them sitting there, talking and every once in awhile they would laugh. His Dad said they acted like teenagers. Jeb thought they were old wrinkled teenagers and he would laugh. Sometimes Mrs. White's cat would show up and hop up in her lap. Most of the time it was not on the porch though; it was out stalking something. Hardly a day went by when it didn't kill something. Jeb thought from the cat's point of view, a day without killing was like a day without sunshine.
Jeb's mother was at work. His father worked the night shift and had been asleep when the accident happened. Jeb had witnessed the entire event. With a mixture of excitement and worry he had flung open the front door and yelled, "Dad, Papaw's been in a wreck!"
Mac didn't take time to put his shoes on. As quickly as he could he pulled on the jeans he had worn to work the night before. All the while he kept muttering, "I told him, I told him he didn't need to drive, he can't see. And that new stop sign, damn it, I knew there was going to be a wreck." His heart beat furiously as he ran out the front door. It slowed somewhat as he viewed the wreckage from a distance. There were three vehicles involved but none looked severely damaged.
Jessica Davis was on her way to work. She always carried a cup of coffee with her and usually finished it just before she got to where the Crowes lived. That was good because the road was straight there and she could apply her lipstick after finishing her coffee. She had just done this and looked back at the road when she saw the stop sign. "Oh shit!" she exclaimed. She had forgot about the new stop sign. She slammed on her brakes and skidded sideways into the middle of the intersection. A big dog bounded in front of her just as she got stopped. It was miracle she hadn't hit him.
Jonas Crowe was on his way to see his girl friend. He had her on his mind when he saw something streak across the road in front of him with Sarah's cat right behind it. He swerved left to miss the cat. With a sudden sinking feeling he knew he was off the road and tried to ease the steering wheel right as best he could while accelerating just a bit to pull him back on the road. It all happened so fast. He couldn't get stopped in time and rammed into the side of a SUV.
Mark Hubbard was on his way home from working the graveyard shift. He was tired and sleepy. He took little notice of the SUV coming from the other direction until he saw it skidding to a stop in the middle of the intersection. That's when he realized...the stop sign! His impulse was to swerve left and miss the SUV. He couldn't go right, there was a big drop off. He eased on his brakes as slowly as he could considering the situation. Then an old Ford car plowed into the side of the SUV! Just as that registered, a big red dog came running and barking loudly in the middle of the intersection between him and the Ford. The dog barely escaped getting squeezed as the pickup slid sideways into both the Ford and the SUV.
Mac paused just long enough to dial 911. He talked to the operator as best he could while he ran to see if anyone was hurt. His father was still sitting in his old blue Ford, just sitting there and Mac jerked the door open. "Pop, are you hurt?" "Nah, I'm alright," came his reply. Mark had already gotten out of his pickup. Breathing hard, he was rasping, "that stop sign, that friggin' stop sign, when did they put that up?" Jessica had gotten out of her car too and was crying, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! It was that deer!"
Pop interjected, "It was a rat, biggest damn rat I've ever seen! And it was being chased by the ugliest little ol' dog I've ever seen. I took my eyes off the road for just a second...
"Yeah, old man" Mark sighed, "long enough to run off the road. I would've seen that stop sign if I hadn't been watching you."
Jessica somewhat angrily said, "you couldn't have stopped. I was looking right at you and you were coming way too fast to stop."
Pop put in, "yeah I think I saw that deer."
"There was no damn deer, it was a dog. You people need to get your eyes checked," Mark shouted.
The bickering continued until the police showed up and began taking statements. Mac realized his tender feet were in bad shape and hobbled back to the house. He sat down beside Jeb on the porch.
"Dad," Jeb said, "they were all lying. Even Papaw was lying"
"Son," Mac said, "everybody lies. Your Papaw knows how much you love Big Red and how much Mrs. White loves that cat. He didn't want to get either one of them animals in trouble. What matters is what people lie about."