Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Won't Ever be The Same.

           Tonight on the ride home, I followed a big Dodge Ram dually diesel pick-up.  It was lifted and had two big smoke stacks rising up from behind the cab.  This truck screamed redneck at full volume.  The only thing missing was the fake nut-sack dangling from the trailer hitch. 
            It was around Lodge Farm Road
that he spotted my running lights and started playing.  It should be noted that I drive a Ford F350 diesel pick-up.  Sure it’s big (four doors) and has a leveler on the frontend so it looks lifted; but my truck is understated and almost classy, if that is possible?  It skirts the redneck line only because of its size and noise.  Most times, the boy’s running stacks will nod as we pass, but I know that in the back of their minds they’re thinking to themselves, “Pussy, big truck, mostly stock; that boy needs to stretch his legs a little.”  It’s a queer bunch that drives big diesel trucks.  It’s an unspoken club.  I am a member, but don’t attend the meetings and have never grasped the intricacies of the secret handshake.
            So Trucky-boy in front of me starts speeding up and slowing down as we get closer to the straight-away that runs through Todds Farm.  It is here where these good old boys wind it up and let it out in impromptu drag races; diesel vs. diesel on a mile long stretch of straight road that dumps you into Fort Howard, my home.
            And Trucky-boy is really pushing my buttons.  I’m coming off of a twenty hour day in Philly.  I’m beat.  The crane operator crushed my hand twice; and the second hit broke one finger and fractured another.  Everything that could go wrong with a sky-job did, and we still managed to complete our task and limp home back to Baltimore, broken but intact; and comforted by the realization that we might have made a difference in a world that seems so determined to prove us wrong.  I have a twenty-four ounce cup of cold black coffee in the center console, and there’s only grounds and mud left in the bottom of the crappy cup; and I’ve rationed these out and have been munching on the remains for the last fifty miles.  I am beaten and delirious, and now some asshole wants me to drag race the last mile home?
            Fuck him.  Seriously, fuck him.  Right about now I want to slam on the brakes and let the fucker ride up my rear end.   But he’s looking for a race and swerves out into the left hand lane.  We’re running side by side now, at a cool fifty.  The window of the Dodge rolls down and this is what I am greeted by…
            “Com’on muther-fucker, let’s see whatcha got!”
            It was that simple, the race was about to begin.  I said nothing.  I just looked over at the fat fuck in the passenger side and sneered.  Fuck you, asshole, I just tempted fate for the last twenty hours.  Your little test of manhood is piss in a bucket.
            So we dance.  Punch it, pull back, punch it; until we hit the main straightaway.
            And then I see her.
            Fuck me.
            There’s a rabbit sitting in the road just six clicks ahead.
            “Come on sweetness, get a move on.  You can hear and feel us coming.  It is two freight trains coming your way.  Get off of the center line and go.”
            But she doesn’t.  She just straddles the line.
            I mash my brakes and start to drift.
            The asshole with something to prove just hammers down and winds it out.
            And he clips her.
            It is so silly and unwarranted.
            He never slows down.
            It’s like he never saw her.
            I watch her careen across the tarmac.
            She tumbles
            And rolls,
            Like a projectile
            Fired from a cannon,
            That looses speed over distance,
            And gives in to inertias unpredictability.

            It’s like watching a wet rag,
            In a mini tornado.

            Fuck me.
            I’m now grinding to a sideway’s halt.
            I can feel the suspension and frame of my truck twisting and bending under the strain of a controlled and sudden stop.  Behind me there is a black patch of rubber that looks like a licorice stick in the hands of an infant.
            And I stop.
            Just like that.
            Aching metal finds peace.
            I look in the rear view mirror.
            And in the twilight and mix of the amber glow of my brake lights,
            I see her stir.
            She is broken,
            There is no doubt,
            Broken beyond repair,
            Of this I am certain.
            But I just can’t leave her there.
            Nothing should go out,
            And away,
            So suddenly
            If someone was there to notice.

            So I pull into the hay field before Avenue C, and park.  I grab the flashlight and start walking back to where she laid. 

            When I get there she is still moving.
            Her tiny body is still trying to run away from the chaos that crushed it.
            Timing is everything, and her timing was way off.

            I kneel down and touch her side.
            I can feel everything broken inside her.
            It is like running your hand along a thin velvet balloon filled with broken glass.
            I slide my hands beneath her and cradle carry her to the side of the road.
            In my hands, I imagine I am carrying the Hope Diamond shattered into manageable pieces.  “If I can hold it all together, maybe I can salvage its worth?”  In my heart I know, that I am carrying a 1000 piece Springbock puzzle that is about to unravel and fall apart at great speed; and I will never be able to put it back to right, put it back together again.
            There is a wooded glen just off the road.
            I carry her there.
            I hike in just enough, so that passing cars and people won’t know we are there.
            I sit down upon the bed of leaves, and look upon the life in my hands.
            It is fading.
            It is fading fast,
            I can feel the heart beats,
            Speeding up, and slowing down;
            In an uneasy cadence.

            And then she was gone.
            Just like that.
            It is amazing to hold life in your hands,
            No matter how small and frail;
            And then to feel it just quietly disappear.
            But it never goes quietly,
            If you really care and believe.

            If you are connected,
            The loss,
            Of even the tiniest of things
            Is like the echo of great thunder in your heart.
            And if you happen to really care,
            There is a flash of light
            That blinds your soul.

            So I sat in the woods,
            Just off of Avenue C,
            Blinded and deaf.
            A twisted and broken rabbit
            In my hands.

            When I gathered my senses,
            I went back to my truck,
            Grabbed a shovel,
            And began to dig.
            A hole, just off Avenue C,
            In the woods, far enough,
            Where small simple things could find peace.

            And I dug.
            And I kept digging.
            Until I realized,
            That I hadn’t just dug a hole for a small, broken rabbit;
            I had dug a hole big enough for me.
            So I laid her down;
            This small, frail, broken creature.
            And I filled the empty space around her
            With night flowers and green
            That I gathered from the woods.
            And then I rolled the earth back over.
            And just like that it was done.

            And I sat in the cloak,
            Of the woods,
            Just off of Avenue C,
            Sobbing at first,
            Then keening,
            And then just sleep.
            The morning sun awoke me
            Where I was.
            I was different.
            And I won’t ever be the same.

1 comment:

  1. I am ashamed to say I was in a situation like that once, only I was not strong enough. We kept driving, and I wept in the car for not having enough courage to go back and help the creature, a cat whose eyes I still see on the side of that road, end its broken life in peace.

    Yesterday we were driving home, and another cat literally jumped in front of our car. Husband was able to hit the brakes in time, and although she grazed the side of the car, we saw her walk away unharmed in the rearview mirror.

    It takes an extraordinary individual to be able to do what you did. Your sign is not the sign of death for nothing. But I guess I am not telling you anything you don't already know.