Friday, November 26, 2004


Trip Planners Suck

The guy on the phone had said the road was straight. The map said so. No curves, nothing to go around or over. No way to get lost—hell, take a nice nap while you’re driving, he’d said. You won’t miss anything or hit anything. It’s the big empty.

So, sure, he believed it. Wasn’t it the job of maps and professional trip planners to know these things? Get on Hwy. X, take a left and straight on until morning; if you go 60 mph, you’ll be there well before they stop serving breakfast. Yeah, straight after the turn. Right.

But his eyes wouldn’t confirm it, even after five cups of strong black coffee. There was another curve, right there. It was going around a cow. A huge cow, sonofabitch must be as big as a Volkswagen, standing there munching on some greasewood shoots. And then straight again. And then another curve, around a group of drunks huddled by a fire in a trashcan. Must be twenty of them, passing bags around and then roasting their hands over the flames.

Why don’t they put this shit on the maps? He wondered. And why didn’t the folks at the trip planning service mention it?

See? Right there, a huge red cloud. God-DAMN it! Fucking thing came out of nowhere. That happens again, I’m gonna leave the road, and… ummmm. Where is the road? It was here a minute ago.

What am I holding? A piece of uncooked pretzel dough? It won’t turn. It just twists and sticks to my wrists and fingers. I can’t steer with this! Steer on what—? There’s no road.

Stomp the brakes. Gotta stop this trip.

Of course, his foot went right through the floorboard and into the sand. What else could have happened, right?

It created a pivot and the vehicle spun around and around, like a pinwheel and then like a kaleidoscope, shattering in orderly ways until his sneakers disintegrated and the spinning went faster and faster around the axis…

Until the vehicle was spinning at 186,000 miles per second. Or even faster, fuck the physicists. And then he was there.

After his head stopped spinning, and he’d puked several times out of the open window, he saw the neon sign on the wrought iron gate. It sizzled, said “Everyone welcome here. No firearms past this point.” He opened the creaky door of the old truck slightly and croaked, “Who’s there?”

The gates groaned slightly, and opened. The road past them was straight and dark, two moonlit lines going to the edge.

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