Thursday, June 2, 2011

Driving in the Dark

I have no idea what's going on here.  Inspired by watching The Matrix and then driving my dad to the train station on a foggy night.


Driving in the Dark

I rolled to a pause at the parking lot exit and glanced both ways before heading out onto the side street.  It was easier to see here than it was the rest of the drive home.  The lights on the elevated platform, paired with the antique lamps on every corner, created pollution so strong, even Mother Nature couldn't overcome it.  Billy Idol blared from the local classic rock station's broadcast, sounding otherworldly in the quiet of the night, the closed space of a car interior with windows rolled up to the outside world.  I paused at the next stop sign, long enough to silently curse the stupidity of the businessman in a dark suit darting across the street in front of me, and then proceeded on my way home.

That was when I noticed the headlights, about a block behind me.  The fog hung heavy over the pond, shrouding the incoming double-decker train on the tracks on my right and above, and I couldn't see the road ahead of me for more than ten feet.  I relied on memory as I glanced in the rearview again.  The lights were still there, fuzzy in the fog, giving off a yellow-white glow into the gloomy night.  They seemed innocuous.  I knew better.  I could only hope he'd missed Dad and would only come for me.

I indicated my turn at the corner and stopped at the sign, just to let him crest the hill and spot me again.  He would know I was making it easy for him; he'd known all along that I'd be on to him.  And, more frustrating, he'd always know that I'd take the bait.

I turned and went just above the speed limit, down the block and past the sleepy suburban homes.  He followed.  I slid to a stop at the stop sign, one of the last to stand between me and the safety of home.  Not that I minded - it was this game that made life more interesting.  We both lived for it.  That's why he stopped, nonchalantly, a full car length behind me and waited for my next move.  That's why, no matter how I loathed him, no matter how I wanted to be rid of him, I always took the bait.

A car flew by on the main road.  Another came from the other direction.  The stoplight in the distance turned green and cars crossed in the intersection.  I pulled forward and paused, looking to my left, my right, my left.  Two cars to my left, far enough away to beat.  I held my breath and leaned forward.  The seatbelt caught; the other cars drew nearer.  "Fuck," I whispered at the malfunction.  I yanked at the seatbelt and checked my right again - all clear - then glanced to my left and sped across oncoming traffic with mere inches to spare.

His car growled angrily at his insistence, then leapt forward after me.  The light was red, but the five-way intersection was quiet.  It was eleven on a Thursday; normal people didn't get into car chases for fun.  I saw one car cross my line of sight and ignored the rest, hitting the gas for all I was worth and cutting the fog at seventy.  A car horn blared behind me, then another, a chorus.  I hit the bump on the other side of the intersection and let out a shriek of delight.  I was airborne - had to be - and losing control and in love with it all.

I slowed to forty-five but ignored another stop sign, a waiting car on a corner.  I glanced in all three mirrors to make sure he was gone.  He was.  I smiled.  But I wasn't hard to find.  He'd be back.

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