A Long Drive Over a Short Distance

Location: Roadside Inn and Suites, Shreveport, Louisiana
Miles: 14540.7

The day woke up before I did, Friday somehow, Thursday missing. Sneaky little Thursday, slipping past without notice, a skunk of a day, a cowardly, conniving little day afraid to show its face when Real Men are checking their calendars. Now it’s time to move on. Past time, really. I wake up antsy. I need the road. I turn down the bike ride so I can pack up and get going.

First, of course, I have to dial in and see how my media empire is fairing. I haven’t been doing that regularly while in San Angelo, but now that I’m returning to my uproots I’m getting back in synch with the blog. It’s funny the care and feeding required. While I am at Bill’s computer the day gets darker and darker. Soon it is dumping rain. Oh, grand.

Rain in San Angelo I’m still not sure what route I’m going to take. Louisiana sounds good, but I need to check a map. The car is at the curb, so during a relative lull I dash out to grab the atlas. No time for shoes, and even had there been time, I don’t think I would have put them on. Splish, splash, out to the car. Open the door, grab the atlas (luckily in plain view) stop to see if the water in the street is going to come up higher than the door. Looks good, so a soggy dash back to the house.

The concrete on the front porch is much slicker than the the walkway. I slip in true Three Stooges fashion, feet sailing up into the air. Luckily I don’t get my arm down to break my fall, or I would have broken my arm. I land hard on my hip and my back. Saying a few choice words I lie on my back, catching my breath and taking inventory. And getting wet, but that’s not important now. The hip is the early contender for being a problem, but seems to be working out. My left little toe hurts. Apparently when the rest of the foot let go, it tried to hold on. Poor, brave, little toe. The world was going to shit but that toe held its post to the very end, trying to stop the inevitable 165 pound disaster.

A toe toast is in order. Tooooooast!

Limping, shambling, I load the car, bid Bill a fond farewell, and off I go, into the teeth of the storm. Actually, I don’t know about teeth so much, but it sure as hell drooled a lot. Maybe the lightning was the teeth. There was plenty of lightning.

The speed limit was 70, I was doing 50 on average. Out there on the highway, rain positively bucketing, windshield wipers largely ineffective, I crept along. As the wiper blade passed in front of my vision I had for the briefest of instants a view of the highway ahead. I could see the tail lights of the cars in front of me, however. That is, until I meet some numb-nuts idiot driving a silver (rain-colored) minivan with no lights on. I start getting the feeling that there’s someone out there in front of me, and I peer extra-hard through the rain to try to get a fix on the stealth vehicle. Sure enough, someone’s out there, poking along at a safe-and-sane speed but completely hidden from his fellow drivers. Once I think I have a fix on him, I follow so no one else would ram the guy assuming no one would be so stupid as to drive in those conditions without tail lights. When the rain gets particularly peltilicious, I wonder just how much the guy will slow down, and if he stopped on the road, would I see him in time. He seems like a stop-in-the-road kind of driver.

Finally we reach a town. Dearly I want to pull up next to him and catch his attention. I want to get him to roll down his window despite the conditions so I can scream at him “Turn on your lights you f%#ing stupid m#%^@ f!#$%!! Turn on your lights before you f&#%ing kill someone, you dumbass [email protected]%*head! (I like cartoon swearing.) I am not to be satisfied. Instead I pull over for gas and brunch. Getting out of the car reminds me that I am not in top shape. I drag myself up, standing in an inch of water, felling my socks saturate, to discover that the gas station is closed. I don’t figure this out right away; the pump is still powered up. No gas comes out is all. Painfully I climb back into the car and move on to the next place.

Suddenly the rain has stopped. The dumbass is somewhere up the road, unaware of his fuming guardian angel, placidly going on his way. Motherfucker.

The delay puts me in Fort Worth and Dallas at the peak of rush hour, compounding my behindness. Somewhere along the way I had managed to put the top down, but in the stop-and-go I must put it back up to keep the now-gentle rain out. Not a problem. I find a radio station that sucks less than the others and creep along, thinking about the New Pantheon and how the pain in my toe is shooting through my foot now.

I leave Dallas behind and as the night closes in I get the feeling. The road feeling. The air is heavy and damp, and the moon shines down. All around me the frogs are singing, punctuated by the occasional rasp of a cicada. The trees are real trees now, the forests dark and mysterious places in the deepening dusk. I interrupt the Mighty Mighty Bosstones covering “Detroit, Rock City” to listen to the night. This is why there are convertibles. I am in the night, smelling its pungency, hearing its raucousness, tasting its mystery. This is the South. A South we didn’t invent, but must come to accept. I am here now.

7 thoughts on “A Long Drive Over a Short Distance

  1. Tooooooast! The toe toast, that is. Let’s imagine bellowing our Tooooooast battle-cry over the canyon way beyond the end of Los Pueblos Drive, down at our christened drinking ground, marked by the bulbous rock formation dubbed “the tit.”

    Of course, it isn’t “way beyond the end of Los Pueblos Drive” anymore — it’s *at* the end of Los Pueblos Drive, in Spencer’s dad’s backyard, as near as I can tell. I skulked around back there, and think I found “the tit.” Much less impressive with age. Ah, when geologic secondary sexual characteristics start to sag, you know you’re old.

  2. Old brings to mind drooling, which brings to mind your story about Texas rain. Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we get a lot of the drool, but almost none of the teeth — we simply don’t have the climate for thunderstorms.

    But as droolers go, the storm of a few days ago was quite the geezer. All told, it wasn’t a particularly destructive storm — but that’s mainly because it was the first measurable precipitation after the typical dry summer. The ground was dry (by local standards), and most of the rainfall was absorbed. But my horrifically designed driveway can’t absorb water, no matter how dry it is, and at the height of the storm the four-inch drain in front of the garage door couldn’t handle the run-off from roughly 400 square feet of driveway.

    Simply told, the damned garage flooded. I was there, frantically trying to clear the driveway drain, and then finally giving up and bailing like a demon, throwing water into the side yard. Okay, a 40-year-old demon, but I worked up a sweat to match the rain that worked its way through every zipper of my REI Gortex(R) shell, and tossed a hell of a lot of olive oil… sorry, a hell of a lot of water through the gate.

    My middle-aged back sympathizes with your middle-aged toe.

    One more inch of water in the garage wouldn’t have done any more harm, and then I could’ve opened the back door and simply let it flow through.

  3. This morning my toe hurts less. It’s fat and the purple goes right on up my foot. It doesn’t like moving and it doesn’t fit in my shoe, but I can push the clutch.

  4. Ah, I remember, Toooooaaaaaassst!

    Alas, middle age has hit me too. Things that didn’t use to sag, sag now. And any thermostat that is adjusted to the comfort of everyone else is randomly either too hot or too cold for me. Sometimes even both at the same time.

  5. For a while it looked like my road trip was going to start on my birthday and end on yours. Not quite, now.

    Whoop it up Oct 31st, because at midnight the real fun begins…

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