Our Rut

Her:  So many voices talking over one another, all competing with a TV that’s never off; it provides the nonsensical background to our (my) increasingly ridiculous and frenetic lives.  Lyrica, Target and Cadillac resonate, provide counterpoint, to my worrying and bellyaching.  Mother tells me I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I guess it’s pretty much what I’ve always wanted.

It’s almost paradise- except without the relaxation or rest.  Lol.  I guess I’ll rest when I’m in the rest home.

Just kidding!  These kids better never put me in a rest home!

But, this version of paradise has plenty of poop, a garbage disposal that seems to eat my wedding bands and the hand-me-down microwave’s leaking out.  Braden has a tooth that’s grown in black (and that’s just one thing in a whole list).  We all need new shoes, new undies, new teeth, new everything with no end in sight.  It all costs more than it should.  And everything’s made so cheaply- I swear manufacturers have a genius for keeping that income flowing their way.  Forever.

All my children (and I include my husband in this) are so needy.  I mean, good Lord!

Needs: we all have them!

And my advice to you, if it isn’t already too late, would be to get them met before parenthood and wifehood and rope and hood.  Because, Lord knows… it isn’t happening now.  Good thing I come from strong, long-suffering stock!

But, I was born to be a mother, and, you know, realistically, what else should I do with my time?  A career?  Pfffffffffffft.  Careers are WAAAYYY over-rated.  I mean how many people have to have a heart attack in one family?  A lot of people don’t realize that ‘Mother’ is the most important job in our economy- some would say ‘the backbone’ of the nation.  I would say ‘the pelvis’.  The problem is, most folks put everything else before their families.  All this ruckus and for what?  As far as I’m concerned, raising families and communities is one of the reasons God put us here.  It’s supposed to be a beautiful thing.  To do anything different would be disrespecting the divine plan: blasphemy in a way.  And, that’s not something I can endorse.

My family?  Well… let’s just say I love them but I don’t always like them.  Emilia being the exception, but she just turned one five months ago.  But Braden?  He’s exactly like his father.  Boys.  I’m pretty sure he’s been jealous ever since his sister was born; he so badly wanted a brother.  The hubby doesn’t seem to care one way or the other.  I don’t think he was that thrilled either time I got pregnant, to be honest.  This is probably why I feel I have to seal myself away in the bathroom and blaze my brains out on Frankling County’s finest hydroponic indo or drop a few bars during the day.  Dr. DiOrio’s very kind and liberal with the scripts.  She doesn’t seem too worried about me getting hooked.  She’s expressed more concern over my slipping back into that post-postpartum complex and we want to avoid that at all costs..  Since the boy’s gained full autonomy, found his willpower, it’s a daily battle.

I wonder: when it all ends- when the kids move out at 18 or 22 or 30- will the silence- the lack of need and inactivity- well- will it kill me?  Will I be dead long before that?  It doesn’t matter.  The thing is, I never felt useful until they came along.   Life’s purpose is raising a family, in my opinion.  I mean, really, what else is there?

The thing is, I want a few more.

Four sounds good.

Maybe five.

If I’m going to have more, I better get busy… sexually speaking… and get him on the program.

The bio clock turns into a doomsday clock after you hit thirty five.  I keep seeing these news segments.

This is one of the things I don’t want to think about that I think about all the time.

I’ve always wanted a big family.  I think I wanted this to make up for what I never had… or was.  I only had one very stupid brother who died last year in Syria.  Mother was a floor mat for my father: just insane enough to hang in there with him because I guess she liked feeling controlled.  ‘Like’ probably isn’t the correct word.  I think it’s similar to how kids need strict structure; the need carries over into adulthood for some people.  Like Mother.

The husband?  What to say about him?  He used to be fun.  He used to be so considerate.  You know, when you get used to somebody there’s a point where it all loses that luster.   That magic of illusion that new love has- it’s hard to sustain.  And, like all illusions, it’s fleeting.  That’s when the luster gets reassigned to strangers and acquaintances.  It’s happening with alarming frequency.  I have to seriously tamp it down and redirect it.

But. he has a FANTASTIC job that can fully support a good sized family  It allows me to stay at home (where mothers really belong). But, like a lot of other moms, I don’t receive much real help.  He’s too tired and distracted when he’s home, and it’s just easier to do it whatever it is, myself.  Especially if it needs to be done correctly.  The guy’s smart but for some reason he CANNOT properly wash a dish or clean the toilet that he and our son pee all over.

Now, this is embarrassing, but he hardly ever touches me. Now that childbirth has strip-mined my former cheerleader body… I just don’t feel sexy.  I’m only 30 but feel like 40, so I just started Pilates.  I’m praying this helps.  I can tighten it back up with a little support.  Maybe Jeanne can go with me.  He sure won’t.  I don’t get much support there really either.  Don’t get me wrong: he’s been a GREAT breadwinner and is still very hot.  Hotter than I am.  We just… like I said… we’ve been in a rut… for a while now.  And, I feel like this rut is wearing away our desire.  Maybe this is just how it’s going to be.

Life’s like a TV show in so many ways, but, not in any of the good ways.

Unfortunately.  I mean… no love is perfect.  Better this than die lonely.  Oh now I’m just getting morbid like mother never stops saying.  ‘Why you insist on entertaining those bleak thoughts is beyond me.’  She tells me: ‘You should fill your head with productive things.  Lovely things.  God-like things.  Then you wouldn’t need to be on those pills.’  I suppose she’s got a point.

Now that Braden’s long past the cuddling stage and Emilia’s getting into the toddler stage, the timing’s perfect for a baby that fits, just so, in my arms again; it’s an indescribable feeling to have a newborn at your breast when you’re laying in bed with your man spooned against you.  While it’s true that Motherhood’s the hardest role I’ve ever played, I live for those moments.  Those moments are eternal.


Him:  Blacktopped road unspools before my machine like a ribbon through these fertile valleys.  The open vista comforts and teases me with its promise, with a wild threatening in the sky.  Calling me away… in a voice as real as my own… far away from here… pulling me in through a dream frequency.

The mushrooms are kicking in.  I took a tiny dose half an hour ago.

I’m exploring greener pastures: like those at one and eleven o’clock.  Like those whizzing by.  I’m getting further away.  Lost in abstracts.

I wish I could live my life in the abstract.

God, this feels so great.

At what point did I degrade into a simpleton.  A workhorse?  A mechanism?  A sex prop or stud service?  A fixer-upper and a calmer downer?  A prize stallion?  In the rear view mirror, I see my eyes sinking and lines forming in my fucking forehead!  Everything is getting sharp.  Severe.  I guess that’s what happens when you establish a career and family right out of your teens before taking the time to figure your shit out.

Everybody always says what ‘great catches’ we are.  People will say what a good woman she is: totally invested in our kids, always put together, everything in place.  Invested in me.  Fact is, I sort of fucking hate being a parent… the domestic life in general.  Only, ‘hate’s’ the wrong word.  There’s something cosmic that shifts in parts of you, as a man, when you become a father… a dad… like with the awareness that your seed’s hit its mark and is growing.  When the bump forms.  I’ve been shitting my pants ever since.  It’s like, I love that little boy- more than I’ve really ever loved anything.  Only, he’s too much like me.  I can’t even look at him sometimes. And then, when I do, I want to smack the dog shit out of him.  Genetically, he’s got no choice but to be great-looking.  Unfortunately, he’s going to be a stupid little shit (my wife hates when I use that word… or the way I’m talking, in general, right now).  Trust me, I know what Braden’s in for.  At four, he’s a manipulative little asshole.  And Emilia?  She’s only now developing a personality.  She’s going to be a lot like her mother, though.  I can see it.  Thing is: I’m being hounded to have another one.  I mean… seems like Emilia just came out of the oven.  Neither of them is even finished, yet.  I don’t feel finished yet.  But, I’m pretty done.

If I’m not careful… well… fuck.  I got a long haul in front of me, I guess.

I’m driving to some pop up joint Josh told me about.  Josh is in a band and D.J.s, too.  He isn’t married.  We’re the same age.  Smart asshole.  He’s holding out as long as he can.

As the sky darkens into a giant bruise ahead, and the sunset streams through the rear windscreen, I remember last night’s dream: I was suffocating.  Struggling like I’d forget to breathe if I didn’t exert some serious, conscientious effort.  The air was thick, hot.  I was sitting in a conference and all the sudden the paralysis came over me.  Nobody seemed to notice.  Other than that, I can’t remember the context.  Only the feeling.  It went on and on and on.

Cliff walls and trees rise and fall outside her tinted windows.  I slam into fourth gear and punch her peddle to the floor.   Manufacturers are eliminating stick shifts because I guess folks have to be able to drive with one hand.  I’m mad as hell about this; frankly, I’m pissed about a lot in life.

The speedometer surges past 97 MPH.

The only one who really understands me is my lady: this late model Dodge Viper.  She was more expensive than I can even justify, but she’s soooo fine and I deserve something just for me, that I don’t have to share.  I named her ‘Maria’ after the robot in Metropolis- a movie that really freaked me out when I was a kid.  Even today I can relate to it and it still scares the shit out of me.  Maria, though, was sexy as hell.  I know, I know.  That’s almost as fucked up as masturbating to a cartoon character.  Which, I’ve totally done.

This Maria… my Maria… she’s a stick all the way.

She’s so many awesome things and so little trouble, really: not like a human woman.  I know I’m shit for saying it, but that’s my life.  Listen, I don’t know where my home-life is headed, but, I’m gonna hang on to this ‘gynoid’ for as long as I can.  She’s taking me into the future at 105 cresting this hill.  That queer feeling hits the pit of my stomach as we catch air for a moment, better than an orgasm… maybe.  She handles my rough desire like a champ.

I live for moments like this.

Maria gives such power… such a complete sense of freedom… that it’s easy to verge out of control… presuming I was ever in control to start with.


Her:  Honestly, I don’t even know if he’s ever adjusted to fatherhood.  I’ve read that guys have more difficulty transitioning to that level of commitment, of drive; they get squirrely when the responsibilities of their in-the-moment actions pile up.  I mean, he still wants to hang out with his creepy high-school buddies a few nights a week doing Lord-knows-what.  And… I mean… sometimes he just takes off to who-knows-where leaving me to pick up the pieces.  I don’t mean to diminish his contribution.  I’m glad I don’t have to do what he does.  He works hard, too, in that viper pit of an agency- he’s entitled to blow off steam.  But, I need a breather… he’s been gone for going on two days, now.

I could call my sister to help, but I’d have to listen to her trashing him the whole time, and I can do that- in my head- all by myself.

I didn’t even know he was going anywhere this week!  Do you know that that jerk didn’t even bother to tell me he was going away for a whole week?  When I called Sheryl, his director, she said, ‘When he submitted his RFL, he told us younz were going on a family road trip to the U.P.’.  I’ve never been to the U.P.   Heck… I’d like to get away, too!

But I’ll tell you this: he better not be drugging and driving!  Because, I won’t bail him out.  Really.  I mean… I don’t know.  I guess I’ll have to.  I mean… obviously we can’t really afford for him to lose his job.

Being a mom and wife is fucking hard.

I don’t know what else to do so I’m praying that out there- wherever my husband is- God talks to him.  I’m asking God to send him back, safe.  But, before that, I hope God has a really good talk with him, puts some fear and wisdom into his soul.  Maybe God will make the impression that others, me and our kids in particular, can’t.

I’m looking out the  kitchen window and notice greenish gray clouds darkening  the sky.  I go turn on the TV to see what’s happening.  A front’s moving in and it looks like we’re in for a heck of a storm.  Emilia’s asleep in her jumpy seat and I’m listening to Braden gaming in the dining room.  Meteorologists are predicting severe weather and he’s terrified of lightning.  I circulate through the house drawing all of the blinds so he can’t see what’s happening.


Him:  75 miles from the nest.  I have to pull over to get gas, but mainly because the shrooms are giving me bubble guts and I need to let off the pressure.  I’m afraid to fart.  This gas station smells like burnt coffee, blood and bleach.  Maybe I’m imagining the blood odor.  Everything looks contaminated here- in various stages of decay.  The florescent light’s sickly green: it makes the college-age kid behind the counter look even more like a zombie.  His sunken eyes, too dead for his age, don’t help.  He looks at me like I’m a fly, obviously a little put-out he has to set his iPhone down.  I approach, and he quick nods me and stares like a bird, one-arming-it on the counter.  He’s got some half-assed mustache and goat-chin-whiskers.  Kids.  It wasn’t so long ago and I’m really glad I’m out of that phase.

I don’t smile at the kid because, to be honest, he bums me out.  It’s almost like I can feel his sickness telepathically even though I don’t believe in that shit.  This kid might just be Braden in 17 years- give or take- burnt to a crisp because his dad’s a resentful, repressed, normie fuck-up and his mom’s a clingy, emotionally needy control-freak.  And they’re both addicts.  I offer the clerk what I’ve come to understand is the white-guy smile, which is a tight sealing and widening of the lips.  No curls at the edges.  Any pink disappears.  It’s one of the least sexy expressions ever.  Not that I’m trying to be sexy, now.  I got a hot, nervous cramp of a crap brewing.

“Hi… I need some gas, but I have to use the restroom first.”

“It’s employee’s only, but it’s back there.”  The kid hooks his coat hanger arm toward the back of the store, a dark, damp gap between the slushie machine and the hot-dog warmer.  The nauseating smells of gas, oil, organic waste, bleach and fake baked-goods mash together.  Why would the only gas station in miles have an employees only restroom?  And if it’s employees only and you’re going to let everyone use it anyway, then what’s the point of saying it’s employees only?  As I pass the warmer, I look at the sweaty dogs twirling on the rotating cylinders and feel like I can relate.  This whole place is a bummer.

I still smell blood.  And the smell of sewage as I get closer to the bathroom.  Not terrible.  But there.  Like any public restroom has, with rare exception.

I step into the humid room, and it’s just like the average household bathroom except there’s no tub and no cover on the toilet tank.  There’s no soap or towels or even toilet paper.  This glorified outhouse seems to serve a dual purpose as a stock storage area, like chips, snack cakes, a tower of pop crates and a shelf of jumbo packages of napkins.  I already decide I’m going to break open that jumbo package of napkins to wipe myself when I’m done.  It feels apocalyptic in my guts.  I drop trou and hover- like four inches- over the bowl and scalding streams of crap shoot out, loud as fuck.  I mean, the kid at the counter has to hear this.  I fire off another three rounds, too uncomfortable to care about the volume, stink or mess.

Where the hell am I headed?  Exactly what am I doing again?  Stupid existential questions keep popping up between super-volcanic buttsplosions.  I look down… holy Christ… and finish.  I stand my wet, cold ass up and puncture the napkin motherload.  I pull another smaller package out of a larger package housing a couple dozen of the same.  Packages within packages.  A distinct hatred for the consumer marketplace surfaces.  We’re all responsible for our waste- our convenience.  The fact that I’m as lazy and coddled as the next American makes me lose even more self-respect, a commodity harder and harder to come by these days.  I sling my foot up onto one of the shelves and start cleaning myself.  The napkin paper is coarse and bits of it stick to my sodden ass-hair.  I wipe until I’m sore and the bowl is filled with crappy napkin paper.  That zombie-kid could’ve warned me about this set-up, about the lack of amenities.  I know napkins aren’t flush-able, but what else am I going to do?  Throw them in that tiny, open waste-basket?  I’m trying to flush as I go along, giving another shot with the ballcock, shaking it, pushing, whatever.  Why is there no fucking flush handle?  There’s just an empty hole where the flusher should be.  I stick my hands in the tank to manually adjust the float device hoping that this will flush it.  No dice.  I notice a dial on a box attached to the bowl.  It looks like any kind of knob with setting marks.  I think, ‘There it is’, and twist.  A stream of water shoots out like venom from a cobra’s mouth, hitting my crotch, soaking my lower half.  I violently twist the dial back to its original position, nearly ripping its housing off the bowl.  “HOLY FUCK-OFF!”  This is disgusting.  My pants are fucking wet now, my ass feels worse than swampy.  There’s the horrible stench and sick in the bowl and no way to flush.  I somehow render a judgement that the clerk deserves this for being apathetic, for being part of the digitally programmed, pixelated generation.  It’s what I tell myself in order for me to be able to look him in the eye and genuinely smile at him after what I just perpetrated in this bathroom.  Maybe I’ll buy something factory-sealed and get out of there.  Get some gas somewhere else.  It’s not like I’m a hundred miles from another gas station or on E.  Speaking of which, I really wish I had some.

And, smiling I am as I pay cash for my pickle flavored Pringles, four 211 Malt Liquors a super sad looking Italian sub, some Magnum condoms and two packages of Jack Link Teriyaki Jerky.  I’m paying for everything in cash.  You have to if you require discretion.  I guess, more and more, I’m requiring that.  I can tell dude’s looking at the wet spot down my front; he seems amused.  I want to smash that smirk into his brain pan.  I drop the stuff on the counter and, mustering even more of a smart-ass smirk, I say, “Sorry about the bathroom.”  That turns his sneer upside down, making him look even dumber.  My eyes drop to his pale arms, the incompetently tattooed latticework of guns, numbers, skulls and crosses.  How much did that shit cost him on this bangin’ salary?  What a fool.  I’m wondering if he’s apathetic enough to avoid cleaning my mess.  I’d be willing to bet he ignores it.  I’d bet a paycheck, because I know guys lazy and entitled just like this clown and when they’ve had similar jobs, they totally ignored the restroom for… the… entire… shift.  They’d take a leak- or cop a squat- outside.  If they had to.  Just to avoid the extra work.  And, those guys I know like this?  Well, it goes without saying, they never have jobs for long.  They live that transitory slash transitional life.  I’ve had my job at the insurance company since I was nineteen and haven’t really done shit but worked.  I’ve got kids and a wife.  I’ve traveled with the job but nothing exciting.  These guys?  All cliches just like me.  Except their cliche is work as little as possible and live with mom and dad.  Maybe, if they’ve got a little something going on, they backpack around Europe or follow Pretty Lights or Insane Clown Posse around for years.  Man… it’s fun… but, you can’t retire doing that.  I mean, can you?  That sounds fucking stupid anyway.  Stupidly awesome.  But, seriously, what the fuck?  I’ve still got to hand it to them: total mooches and 100 percent fine with it.  Mooching off the system.  Society.  Their friends and whatever family they’ve got left.  It’s all good.  No worries, man.  I hate that I wish I had the lack of self esteem or whatever to do that.  I mean, despite how good I look on paper, and in the mirror, I know I’m a piece of shit.  But, I have a family and career… so what difference does any of it make?

As the zombie-boi takes my money, I tune back into him.  Really look at him, again.  This kid with his grey teeth and bitten nails definitely comes across as the free-spirit type.  The hustler type, I guess.  Do I even really know what a hustler is?   My eyes focus more closely on his tattoos.  I notice a black and white portrait of two babies on the inner meat of his left forearm.  It’s terrible like the rest of his tattoos.  Names are written above and below their heads.  Angelique and Serenity.  The renderings look haunted.  Or like the undead, the kids from Village of the Damned.

I pay more than the stuff is worth, but that’s America, God bless it, and I’m on my way.  I feel filthy, but 20 lbs. lighter.

As I’m walking back to Maria, the air smells wet and it’s spooky quiet.   The damp chill highlights my wet crotch and legs.

Goddamn this place.

Inside Maria, I change into another pair of pants I brought.  Thankfully, I have a bag of party clothes.  Much better.  Flashes go off on the horizon line, like the paparazzi is here.  It seems I’m heading into the storm.



The Viper, mixed media on canvas, 2000 copyright GPD


Her:  Emilia wakes up screaming from the thunder and lightning.  My head feels like it’s splitting open while I try to calm both kids.  I *quietly* freak out- internally, of course.  This damned headache woke me up about fifteen minutes, half an hour, before the storm hit.  Now, I hear sirens.  The kids have climbed into our bed, latched onto me like chiggers, but after listening to the updates on the local station, I carry them down to the southwest corner of the basement, like I was taught.  I keep trying to call him: it keeps rolling straight to voicemail.  I curse him to myself (using words that I’ll go to hell for) and trying not show the children my stress, my fear or my anger.  I don’t want to die this way, alone with them.  I banish the thought, knowing if it’s our time, it’s just our time.  There’s a plan for all of this.  This is also something I was taught.

I try him again on the cell.  I get an eerie message that all circuits are busy.  It probably wouldn’t be so spooky if this other situation wasn’t happening, but my heart’s pounding even faster now.  I haven’t heard a message like that since my folks had a land-line.  Sometimes, I don’t even know why we’re married.  I’m really scared, and, now, Emilia isn’t calming down.  When she doesn’t stop screaming, Braden covers his ears and shouts at her.


I slap Braden’s mouth- I’m losing control.

I feel like I forced all of this on him… my so-called life partner: marriage, kids, a steady job.  That’s why he takes every opportunity he can to get away from us.  I mean, I don’t necessarily feel this way all the time, but, when he goes off on one of his… things… I don’t know what else to call it… one of his benders… I can’t help but feel abandoned.  Look… when he plugs into his online games and plays until he collapses- dead zombie- into bed, I don’t know how else to feel but ignored.  He works like 60 hours a week and then he goes off somewhere without us.  I mean, last year he went with his druggie friends, that idiot Josh (a guy who lives in perpetual adolescence), on a two-week trip to the Bahamas for some festival.  I don’t think he told me the truth about it, and, quite frankly, don’t even remember the lie he told me.  It hardly matters, now.  I’m starting to see how we’re living two increasingly separate lives.  I’ve never been to the Bahamas.  Hope I can get there before I get too old to enjoy it.

The lightning and the hail sound like war.  Emilia’s inconsolable.

“Is daddy OK?’  Braden asks.

“Your daddy’s fine.”  I pull him close and squeeze his shoulder.  “He’s safe at his motel.”  Wishful thinking.  Prayerful thinking.  He buries his face in my belly, his hot breath dampening my shirt.

Then I hear it… like a train… coming straight through our living room… landing on top of our house.  The awful groan of wood on steel being sheared away, and a great whoosh of air leaves me gasping as I gaze up into the splintering joists.  My heart feels like it’s going to jump out of my chest as the hole appears above us: an opening mouth with an ear-splitting inhalation.  The pressure causes my head to pound in time with my heart.

And, suddenly, the air’s gone.

The house screams above me before all sound stops- sucked into the place of no sound- a vacuum into which our sobbing disappears with the collected pieces of us, followed by the siding, floorboards and furniture in no specific order.  I hold Braden and Emilia under my arms, crushed to my bosom.  I am the only shelter we have left, I think as another deafening roar triggers an avalanche of kitchen appliances overhead.


Visibility is shit and tennis ball sized hail starts nailing Maria, so, I have to get her to shelter somehow.  I come upon an overpass and park her underneath; I don’t know what else to do.  She’s got divots covering her body, which I can plainly see now that the sheets of rain aren’t obscuring them.  All I can think about is my family so I pull my phone out of the glovebox: no bars.  Even so, there’s a severe weather alert that’s popped up.  I turn on the radio; it all sounds like bad news.  There’s a tornado.  I don’t need the radar to tell me that because I see the rando shit catapulting through the air, sideways.  Flashes in the sky create a backdrop for an enormous dark spirit belly-dancing across the fields.  On the opposite end of the horizon, the smoke coming from factory stacks is sucked horizontal… shotgunned into the whirling demon.  It may be a trick of the lightning, but when I catch a glimpse of it, fucker’s about a mile away and looks to be five miles wide.  My ears start popping.  Branches, planks and garbage sail at the car and the sound of shrapnel pinging her chassis is deafening.  Thwack!  Thwack!  Popopopop!  She’s getting so fucked up, despite the overhead coverage.  A speed limit sign rushes by barely missing the driver’s side.  Barely missing my head.   I check my phone again.  I don’t want to see what’s happening outside the windscreens, because… if something’s going to slice me in half then… I don’t even want to see it coming.  It’s better that way.  Maria’s rocking and rumbling and I half wonder if she’s going airborne.  I picture us being carried off, sucked out and up into oblivion.  I think about crawling out the passenger side window and sliding up the cement incline- on my belly if I have to- to huddle where the graded concrete meets the beams.  When I try to open the door, a wind tunnel effect has it immobilized.  The door won’t budge despite smashing my shoulder, my weight against it.  It’s probably just as well at this point.  Through radio static, an alert tells me that multiple tornadoes have touched down, with two in Licking County: specifically Pickerington- where we live.  Sitting here, waiting for whatever happens next, I stare at my useless cell, my hands, my lap.  I feel tears coming.  In the strobing flashes, my watery eyes make out a car rolling side over side, diagonal, across the freeway.  The panic I feel is very real, almost as deafening as the elemental engine churning the horizon line.  My heart’s in my throat, thudding in my ears as Maria jumps again from where she sits.  Wind currents whip and rock us with more ferocity each second.

This definitely isn’t worth it. 

I close my eyes allowing the rumbling to consume everything.  Rattle my teeth.  Take me sideways to wherever.  The radio pop and static fades in and out over the howling and metallic sounds of debris scarring Maria’s body.  I’m hoping God has pity on me.  More than that, I’m worried about their safety: my family: back in Pickerington.  I can hear my wife’s voice in my head.  “Why worry now?  It hasn’t ever worried you before.”

It worries me now because this feels different somehow.

Maybe I’m getting too old for lost weekends/weeks.  I’m begging for this storm to subside, and find myself wishing I hadn’t taken that dose of mushrooms.  I’m about to lose it.  I feel like this could be it, and what am I doing?  Sitting here tripping (slightly) and drunk (slightly) with no pants on, preparing to die.  I am a dumb fuck, in the middle of nowhere- the middle of the night-  driving to Pittsburgh for some pop up, where I’m going to drop E and more shrooms and probably do some blow and probably get into trouble with some random anime girl.  Or some juggalo chick depending on the scene.  Or, hell, if I mix enough drugs maybe overdose or get a life threatening STI.

Outer space is the limit with a guy like me.  Guess it’s because my inner space is so fucked there’s nowhere else to go but away.

With the giant looming closer, I go over possible scenarios, but it turns out I’m fresh out of ideas.  A flash blinds me and the immediate crack of thunder makes me jump and crack my head on the overhead light.  My life starts replaying, unexpectedly.  I think back on the past two decades, the bulk of my life.  I see my wife holding Braden and Emilia.  Think about all the times like these that I’ve just picked up and left, thinking maybe I won’t come back.  I feel a tsunami of guilt.  That’s a lie.  I feel like a royal piece of shit.  More than that, I feel like I should be shot… destroyed by this tornado.  I’m over-reacting because of the shrooms, more than likely.  This is how I justify it.  I’m letting it slide.  I’m letting it all rot and the lightning’s showing me all of the rot inside me.  The rot of boredom and frustrated dreams, futile ambitions.  But, that’s not totally fair because I never really had dreams or ambitions.  So, how can they be frustrated?

Thwack!  Thumpthump.  Pop!

I think about starting Maria up, turning her around and driving my butt back to Pickerington right now.  Pushing Maria’s V10 to the limits all the way.

Then I think about the rolling car and look at it, where it finally stopped, down the foreslope and into the ditch.  The trunk and back wheels are the only visible parts now, perpendicular to the road.  One of the turn signals is still blinking.  I wonder if someone’s trapped in there?  I’m trapped.  The feeling of death, of finality, is so strong sitting in this driver’s seat that I have to take a dozen deep breaths to not totally beat my brains out against the steering wheel.  ‘I just have to wait it out.  Nobody’s dying today.’  Is the last thing I think (and say out loud) before the fence post shatters the windscreen and I’m peppered with a spray  of glass nuggets.  Instinctively, I close my eyes, but my face is cut up.  I can feel it.  Wet and stinging.  The howling is earsplitting.  Holy fuck.

(This act of God has to be covered under my policy)

Through the howl, a voice on the radio warns those on the road to pull over, evacuate their car and crawl into a ditch.  “If you’re on the road, NEVER park under an overpass”, the weather guy says.  I grab for my phone knocking glass crumbs off with a shaking hand- the device is completely dead now.  I take stock of the damage… the way the windshield wraps and grips the post like a stick shot through a web.  The fucking post punctured straight through the seat.  My throat is so tight I can hardly breathe… and there’s no air.  No fucking air.

I need to know everyone’s safe at home, but I just have to wait it out.

I have no choice: not going anywhere with this windshield caved in.

‘The storm seems to be calming’, I find myself repeating, my face soaked with tears and blood.  Nobody’s dying today.  The storm’s calming.  Calming is the storm.


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