Daily Archives: December 30th, 2010

I have inches to go before I sleep

The streets were cold, dark and dreary. The skies completely overcast, gushing forth a slushy rain that was just on the verge of becoming snow. It was still dark out, that twilight time when day was scrabbling to establish a foothold but night was stubbornly refusing to let go.

I was at a stop sign waiting to cross the street. I checked for traffic to the right. Then left, then right again. The street was clear so I eased down on the accelerator and entered the intersection.

Something tickled the hairs on the back of my neck and caused me to look to the right. There, where only moments before the street had been empty, was a dark gray car, headlights off, barreling down in my direction.

Many questions crossed my mind in a very short period of time. “Why is he driving so fast? Where did he come from?” I realized the car must have been there but perfectly blended in, especially with his lights turned off. Somehow I had completely missed seeing the car and had pulled out right in front of him.

Time was up. I was vaguely aware of the skidding of his tires, in vain, on the wet asphalt and watched, in proverbial slow motion, as the car slid in approach to join up with mine. I only had time for one last thought before everything went dark for the very last time: “Fucking asshole!”

This little piece of fiction is inspired by actual events and actual assholes.

I still remember the incident above. It actually happened one dark morning on my way to work. I tend to look very carefully before crossing streets so I was mighty surprised by the magical appearance of a car rolling in out of the darkness and bearing down right at me. It scared the shit out of me.

The second response came a few seconds later. Why was this fucking asshole zooming through residential streets at a high rate of speed (much faster than the posted limit) and with his mother fucking headlights turned off? His car was effectively invisible. I had looked right at him yet seen nothing.

I’m not kidding. If you have the right conditions and the right color car, you might as well be a friggin’ stealth bomber. Super heroes and the military should be pursuing this technology.

People seem to forget that the act of transportation is a deadly one. For most of us driving around in our cars is so routine that we fail to give it the attention is deserves. These days “texting while driving” hogs most of the media spotlight but other things, like turning on your headlights when it is still dark out, are just as important. How many of us really concentrate on the act of driving? Personally I like to think about death the entire time I’m behind the wheel. It tends to keep me focused and on my toes. Fuck daydreaming, fiddling with the radio, cell phones, conversation, the kids in the back seat, etc. If something else needs my attention I’ll find a place to pull over.

Just the other day, on the highway right by my house, a grown adult person just a few years older than me was killed while trying to cross the street on foot. Perhaps he was trying to get his mail. A lot of people who used to live on rural roads seem to have attitude about that when that road turns into a fucking highway. Whatever. That’s just speculation on my part.

The press release from the police said pedestrian killed was dressed all in black. It was night. It was raining. The driver never even saw the fellow and was not cited by the police. This pedestrian forgot that the act of transportation, even while on foot, is a deadly business. Perhaps he assumed the driver would see him? If so, he assumed wrong. He won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon.

For some strange reason, people around here seemingly get off by not using their headlights. It’s the damnedest thing. I guess some of the small-minded think it is “cool” or something. “I’m too damn cool for headlights!” And you’ll see these cars with headlights off in all sorts of weather and times of day. And when I see them I mentally spit in their direction. Why the hell would you deliberately try to increase the odds of being in an accident? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

This morning I had just dropped off my wife at work when it happened again. I watched a dark sedan materialize right out of thin air and right in front of my very eyes. Dark conditions, dark car, rain coming down, poor visibility – and here is this son of a bitch driving with his lights off.

I momentarily had the urge to follow the bastard and show him the light, if you know what I mean. Instead, I merely shrugged and drove home as the opening paragraph to this post began to write itself…

I just don’t get it.