Friday, August 29, 2008

Interstate Commerce

This short short was composed on I-470,1 the stretch of West Virginia that exists for recovering addicts and the impatient to connect Washington, PA to St. Clairsville, OH. It bypasses the more interesting parts of Wheeling. There are no signs for the casino. The old bridge with the newer parts is hard to see. You don't go through the tunnel. No artifacts:2

A Weirdo fell out of the sky. He started speaking in expletives that the less discerning on-lookers would no doubt imitate, but the general impression was that he was upset. He should be paste. He hit hard enough from high enough that his flesh-padded bones impressed concrete. He should be dead. Bald, the kind of beard that says I haven't worried about working or buying food for years, 5'10", one-hundred fifty maybe one-hundred seventy pounds. I can find him in the Registry.

The woman asks him if he's okay. What happened? Where was he going? Is there anything she can do for him? What kind of car should she buy? Is it all going to be alright? I love you. Won't you take me away from all this, you exotic and yet mundane thing? I follow them because it's what I do. Sky-Weirdo seems to have a picked up a flock of cholesterol-sluggish sheep outside of McDonald's. It's good cover.

My sister was a Weirdo too. The day I found out I was driving fast for Mexico.
"I think I'm going to ask Inara to marry me," I said. My sister and I had agreed that speakerphones and unlimited roaming are important inventions for the Spirit of Independence.
"Thus the trip to Mexico, Mal?" my sister asked.
"Thus the trip to Mexico, Zoe," I said, "The diamond capital of the world. Nay, the universe. More diamonds go in and out of Mexico than fluids out of isotonic cells."
And there was Kaylee, talking to me about animals cells bursting and shriveling.
"You know," Zoe said, "I don't think this is such a good idea." The breach of security is one thing, but not knowing is different, more filthy thing.

I've been tracking this TransAtlantic Virgin Captain during his stay in the hospital. He has visitors. Lord Saks, Pradator, Joan Deere, even Zoe once, though she's going by Many-Eyed Cerebral Investigator now. Standing by his side, crying incessantly, is Kaylee. It's really too much. The fanfare. Now one of them can't do one of his tricks and it's high drama. Bah, pageantry.

There are three maybe four occasions when I use the word "kid." Most frequently it is modified by a possessive pronoun. Someone I know has acquired a strange, habit-forming, snot-dripping child and whenever I want to ask them about it, or talk about them and their resource-gobbling ways behind their backs, I talk about you/him/her/them and "your/his/her/their kid." Sometimes I say nice things. Sometimes I talk about goats and their offspring. Sometimes I use that as a clever metaphor for people. I like goats. And sometimes I meet people who remind me of things I did when younger and less experienced and quickly dub these people "kid" before they can do anything to defy my characterization of them.
I drove home today. The three hour trip took four because this kid rear-ended me. It was raining. I don't blame him/hate him/feel slightly overjoyed that I have his contact information and a truck with which to run over his now destroyed car. I do, however, fault him for calling the police. In first-person present land, here's what happened:
There are three lanes. They are all full. And we are stopping. Why are we stopping? Why should anyone stop on the interstate? This is a farce. What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck was that? Pull over, get off the road. Ok, everything is still sticking to the truck.
Where's the other car? Why wouldn't he pull up behind me? That would make sense? Follow the car you hit Mr. John Jerkface. Oh, there's a car over there. On the other side of the road. I wonder how long it takes me to drive across this stretch of road while I'm going seventy miles an hour. His car is a total loss, in my professional opinion. How fast he was going?

How long can one person talk on their cell phone?

"Hey Skinny Guy who has a name I will probably never learn because I don't expect you to stick around despite evidence to contrary," I more or less say,"are my parents there?"
"Yes they are, you fat over-entitled leech," he says, though I may have imagined the leech part, "which one would like to speak with?"
"Whoever's least busy."
"No prob," he says, "take 'er easy"
"hey, you too."
I tell my dad about the accident and the more or less pristine state of my car.3 I point out that his car is completely fucked. My dad points out that that is completely someone else's, possibly the person across the street, talking on their cell phone, concern. All I need is license and insurance. My dad has not played frogger apparently, or would have made a joke about splatting.

Finally the kid finishes talking to whoever of the seven people he's had to call. I yell at him and try and sign out my phone number.
He doesn't get it.

Get back in the truck. Drive across three lanes of traffic, just to stop, get out and walk, walk, walk back to the kid, ask him if he's alright, try not to think about branding,4 how fast he was going, was he high, and etc. Then it turns out that I have to wait for the cops.

Which is great.

Because I got to sit in the back of a squad car. And see a sign that says "we are recording your actions and conversations" the same way a sign in a taxi says "Please tip" or "Driver has no money." OH, and today I was asked if I had a bomb, knife, or gun. They ask everyone. I'm not offended by procedure. But guh.

I could have been home so much sooner.

I could have still gotten hit and still gotten outta there.
McDonald's is modernizing. In case you didn't know, McDonald's is the source for anything you'd probably like to eat or drink. It's important to stay up to date. I bought a southern-style chicken sandwhich and a mocha coffee.( and a large french fry to keep it all in context) The drive-through lady has a very wide smile. The kind you can talk through, so you do.
"THANKS FOR STOPPING!" she says as she hands me my coffee, and then the door shuts with a "WUNCH." Swings it back open with the same sound and says with the same smile, "Thanks have a nice day come back soon."

Hypothetically, if I had the opportunity to critique her poorly concealed insincerity, what would I have said?
-Cheer up, at least your working right?
-Do you think the Mocha is better than the Cappuccino?
-What's the matter? Was your boss not getting "sincere but deadpan" greetings and farewells?
This just in: There is such a thing as pineapple upside-down pie. It is everything you want in pie plus pineapples.

1 This is half true.
2 A semi- did try to merge into my truck. Artifact is not always great.
3 My bumper has a new dimple and maybe a piece of his car. It could be a piece of my car that's gone through the rubber.
4He was wearing Nike sandals, Starter shorts, a Sublime Tee, and an Ohio State beanie. Fairly unobtrusive clothing articles. Are they subsequently vehicles for the brand? What would leather boots or purses look like if they were branded? Oh wait, I know.

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