Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Night and The Road


The last bits of evening sun fell only on the lake. Every wake, cats paw, and ripple was dark black against the color. The trees and the hills smudged into the background. Pinks and Purples and Oranges of every variety ripped across the clouds. No time for the camera. I was driving a heavy load of glass. Mirrors or something bound for Arizona.

By the time I crossed the next valley the light is gone. There is nothing but flatness in North Texas. I can see towns in the dark from miles away. Streetlights twinkle across the valley; like spilled marbles.

Driving along, I gripped the wheel like a skeleton in some cave, clutching an obelisk. The dry sinew creaks and cracks as Indiana Jones, or some other intrepid explorer, pries it from my boney fingers. In the dark, I see a doe on the shoulder of the highway. My senses crackle to life. Where I come from, deer travel in pairs. Miles later a coyote skitters across right in front of me. I remember my dogs running around the kitchen. I imagine, if I could have heard him, his coyote toes would sound like that on the tarmac.

So many bugs out there on the plains, plastering the windshield, the road becomes something I sensed more than saw. I had stopped to wash the windows at a little truck stop. The handles were so short on the squeegee that I opened the hood and climbed up on a tire to reach. Hanging on a frame member and stretching over the churning diesel, I just spread bug guts around. Not much better than I had been getting from the windshield wipers.

I slept through Memphis as my trainer was driving. Probably not much to see from the highway. Tomorrow we cross New Mexico. Tucumcari is one of the first towns. Tuc is in a cool song called "Willing." It's a Little Feat song, but I think I've heard a Steve Earle version. Everyone should listen to more Steve Earle.

It is a different life out here. Another version of vagabond, so I'm comfortable, but it's tough to do normal life from the road. Trucks can't go on just any road. Shopping becomes difficult. Ralph calls grocery shopping "marketing." I love that. Marketing is tough from the road.

The night is surreal, but its also just a job.

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