Sunday, January 24, 2010
Up The Road
A rear-view Jesus on a plastic crucifix spins and swings and flips. A boy and a black cloth ceiling and a cracked mosaic blacktop and a blurred yellow line and an old man and an eight ball stick shift and dizziness and warm glass and a sideways Jesus on a plastic crucifix and a long black bonnet with a gilded scoop and power poles skewering tawny earth and a blue sky and the sun.
The boy's brain bangs against bone inside his skull. Dry air pops and snaps against his ears. He traces the word Camaro in raised silver across the glove box. His tongue finds cracked lips and he bites off a piece of loose skin.
"Sixty-eight," says the old man.
The boy's eyes creep left. Silver hair splays and rises from a balding head. A barnacle blisters across a droopy earlobe, porous and yellow and brown like a dried dollop of spicy mustard.
“Where are we going?”
“Crazy,” says the old man. “You ready?”
“Where is that?”
“Just up the road.”
Up the road, the road boils and bubbles a blurry liquid mirage.
“I have to pee.”
The man nods, stretching and deepening the fissures across the back of his neck.
They stop at a gas station twenty miles up the road. Along the right, a row of semi trucks and trailers line the lot: Peterbilts. Macks. Freightliners. Volvos. Kenworths. Myriad colors and chrome grills and pipes gleam beneath the desert sun.
The car comes to a stop and the old man removes the keys. Stillness follows and fights to find its way inside their rattled bones as they leave the car.
The man holds his hand as they cross the sliding glass door entrance and into the cool air.
Is that thing on his ear catchy?
They boy jerks free and says, “I don’t have to go anymore.”
“Well, I gotta piss like a double-dicked racehorse. You wait out here,” says the old man, fingering hair across his bald spot. “We can get you some candy and a cold soda for the road.”
The man disappears into the bathroom and the boy darts for the parking lot.
He finds a Peterbilt, the same bold red as his bicycle, and scales its silvery steps, his sneakers squeaking across spilled coffee as he climbs inside.
A faded school photo of a gap-toothed blonde girl is taped to the dash. Cigarette ashes sprinkle the seats and plastic floor. The cab smells of smoke and old french-fries and spray deodorant.
The boy climbs into the back and hides beneath piled blankets and soiled laundry, ready to go anywhere but crazy.