COLUMN SIXTY-TWO, AUGUST 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 The Blacklisted Journalist)
Trapped in the car, the
traffic going nowhere. It's
Friday, 4:30 p.m., everyone is in a rush to get out of the office, head to some
lake, river, or at the very least, a cold shower.
This is the dance of the nine-to-fivers and somehow, I'm stuck on the
middle of the floor?
I bought this car against my better judgment.
The guy at the dealership told me it was a real bargain and for five
hundred bucks, I guess he wasn't all that wrong.
I drove it three blocks on the test drive and decided what the hell,
I'd take it. So what if the
windows don't roll down? It was
what passed for winter here on the island, raining like a bitch.
Non-rolling windows weren't an issue, then.
Besides, it beat taking the bus " or so I had thought?
But after a while, the car started to piss me off.
The carb died and even after I had it replaced, my little Datsun was
still a temperamental bitch to get started in the morning.
Even so, I enjoyed the drive to work in the morning.
I could sleep in an extra hour. Tell
me who doesn't like that, am I right?
But as for right now, I'm wishing for a hammer to smash
out one of the windows. If it's
27 outside of this rust bucket, it must be close to 38 inside.
'this is the kind of heat you hear about on the news that
makes people go snakes," I think to myself.
'the kind of heat that enrages people, makes "em think funny.
The kind of heat that gives the redneck the excuse to go home and beat
the wife and shit for brains kids. The
kind of heat that addicts feel under their skin that makes them sweat and itch
for dope. The kind of heat that makes your lungs feel as if they're
full of insulation and broken glass??
I wipe sweat from my forehead and smear it on the passenger
seat. 'shit, this is gonna go on
forever," I say to no one in particular.
After what seems like an eternity, my lane gets the go-ahead to move up a
whole block before hitting a red light.
My tape deck is broken, yet another example of what a
bargain this hunk of shit car really is. At
least the FM works " kind of. The
only stations I get are CFUV, the prissy university station, and an All-Hit
Country station out of Seattle.
So I take the priss channel and listen to some shithead
disc-jockey go on about how "Whip It? by Devo is a good song.
Country music has been known to make me violent.
I guess that I could turn it off, but then I'd be stuck with my mind
for amusement and in this heat, it's just not a good idea.
My mind is on autopilot. Green light. Another block. Red light. Stop the car. My
'Suitcase Frank' because
he was always coming back
knuckles turn white as I grip the wheel harder.
Sweat pours down my face. My
shirt sticks to my skin. My tie
feels like a noose. I'm thinking
that a cool breeze would make my nipples hard.
There's a bumper sticker on the Volvo ahead of me that
reads: "One Day At A Time".
I remember the expression from my Uncle Frank, a twenty-year veteran of
Alcoholics Anonymous. Frank seemed to hover at around three month's sobriety and
was known "in the Program? (as he called it) as 'suitcase Frank? because
he was always "Coming Back".
This gets me thinking about beer, Old Stock tall-boys, with
beads of condensation rolling off of their steel skins and onto my fingers.
Right now, I could swim in the vats of brew, drink cool beer after beer
until I drown.
"Oh, if the ocean were whiskey
And I were a duck,
I'd swim to the bottom and
Never come up!"
I haven't thought of that song since I was a kid.
'this fuckin? heat," I think.
Suddenly, a wanna-be hippie steps out into the road between
our cars. He's filthy, has knots
in his hair that I assume are supposed to be dreadlocks, a pair of baggy jeans
and no shirt. Around his neck is
about forty pounds of hemp string, seashells, trinkets and beads.
He kinda reminds me of Mr. T with all that shit around his neck.
I'm sure that if I was able to get out and stand beside him, he?d
probably smell like pit sweat and patchouli oil.
I get thinking about how much I hate that fake Rastafarian shit that so
many people are cashing in on these days.
He starts screaming something, but the Devo song that was
blaring has switched to the Fugees (how goddamn appropriate) and I can't hear
what he's going off about. I cut
the radio off with a twist of the knob, which (of course), comes off in my hand.
"FUCKIN? DIE! FUCK
ALL TRANSIT! I HATE DEATH MACHINES
AND SO DOES MOTHER EARTH! AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!"Hippie-Boy screams.
At the same time, the light turns green and I want to get
out of here, but this idiot is in my way. Suddenly,
the guy from A.A. slams his car into reverse and hits the gas.
I barely have time to brace myself as Hippie-Boy's legs are crushed
between our two bumpers. I actually
hear it, all wet and gushy, then the clang of metal on metal, breaking glass as
our bumpers collide. I piss my
pants, but with all this sweat and a little luck, no one will notice.
As I get out of the car to wait for the police, another A.A.
expression comes to mind. What was
it? "Live and Let Live??
Hmm. Must have
been the heat. ##
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