It was nobody’s fault, really.

The transit company that owned the trailer had furnished it with retread tires because they were the cheap option. The rig owner wasn’t about to replace them given how slim her margins already were, to say nothing of the punishing schedule that had her in Seattle Sunday night and Atlanta Monday by the stroke of twelve AM.

The forecaster had called for high temperatures after the front blew in, but it wound up being a cold snap. Even in early spring, it was bad enough to turn patches of rain into black ice. Nobody who had been on the road during the unseasonable warmth was ready for that, and there had been fog enough that prepared or not they were unlikely to see it.

So when the retread peeled off the semi’s rear wheel on a bridge outside of town, the driver had no way of knowing that hitting the brakes would lead to a jackknife. And the cars in the other lane, coming around a blind corner onto ice, never had a chance.

Anyone who read an ounce of malice into the truck driver, the transit company, or even the weatherman was just lashing out, looking for scapegoats in an unpredictable world. And, given the murders that followed, I have to believe that’s exactly what happened.