GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A Moment of Gravity

At 11:20 that night I decided that I needed to go to Dallas. I packed some clothes, toiletries, a couple of books and by 11:26 I was leaving Oxford.

The summer heat still hung in the air, a heaviness that came in through the open window on ponderous wings. I was sitting in a 1973 Dodge Maverick, tan with white stripes, "The Grabber" tatooed on its hood. Some 430 plus cubic inches of engine rumbled impatiently as the three speed kept clutch use to a minimum. The light chassis didn't cut through the air so much as it surfed, and the miles dropped away quickly.

The highway became a dual two-lane affair heading almost due south towards Jackson. The median area was a grassy river that seemed gray and deep in the midnight hour. My speed kept creeping up, passing 80, then 90. I was going to Dallas. I was in a hurry.

Trees would pop up as boulder islands in the river. The stars ahead were twinkling madly and I wondered if it would rain before I crossed into Louisiana. At times the highway curved, gently. I passed 100 miles per hour and felt at ease, though The Grabber was shaking like a palsied hound.

Clouds moved in and a distant rumble crept into view. I closed the window a bit, the roar becoming a howl. Stars winked out, covered by gray cotton in mindless flotation. Somewhere, I passed 110.

The highway was now a promontory, a ridge, and I was the greyhound fleeing atop. My eyes were drawn to the arrow-straight path of the northbound lanes and in the vaguest of manners I saw a yellow sign try to tell me what I needed to know.

As trees broke the silhouette I wanted to follow, I looked ahead. And the road was gone. The yellow sign flared in my mind, an arrow bent at 90 degrees to the right. I glanced down: 122. And the road was running out.

I plunged the clutch to the floorboard and thought of downshifting. My mind was filled with a scream and in an instant, a now moment frozen in my memory like a snapshot of lightning, I pulled the stick back, released the clutch and turned into the curve like a suicidal hawk.

The brake barely cut the speed and I pumped twice, again, then a last time. The steering wheel fought to break my grip. I was leaning against the door, my neck stiff as stone as I kept the wheel steady.

By instinct, a moment of lucidity or insanity, I jammed the brakes again then shoved the accelerator down, the engine's ignored roar exploding into the night. I felt the wheels slip, grip, lurch, grip and then as if slung by David the Shepherd, The Grabber was rocketing down the highway again, straddling the center line.

I whooped! I hollered, yelled, screamed, howled and shouted my laughter to the night. The clouds parted, stars emerged and with a vicious grunt, I slammed on the brakes, fishtailing the car until it faced my immediate past. Unconcerned about traffic, I drove back to the right-angle, parked on the narrow shoulder and walked until I saw the first signs of fresh rubber.

I traced my path, eyes glued to the ground like a tracker. I could see where the brakes had bit into the road and as the edge came near, how the skidmarks ended. Dust and gravel showed me the track, the tires cutting a message of speed in the gritty surface.

Only to disappear at the edge. Two interwoven tracks continued unabated, but the other ones, on the left, were halved. One track slashed to the edge, the mesa above a twenty-foot drop into a veritable wall of pine trees. The other track just stopped at the edge, a lone voice of surrender to the improbability of friction overcoming such inertia.

I stood there, in awe. Then I followed the emptiness of one line to its completion as two, then four, the tracks disappearing as I had started to straddle the center line.

I thought of leaping and cavorting, of punching the air with the power of beating the odds. I thought of it, the power surging like electric waves. I thought of it.

The moment passed. Back in The Grabber, I turned around and cranked it up to a steady 90. Well before noon, I was in Dallas, my brush with the law of gravity long forgotten.


Post a Comment

<< Home