...what just happened again?...
..return to the source...
main page

Neverland & Indians

~click here for black & white display~

The rest of Utah, after a day of stealing gas and running out of water, had passed me like a weaving two-trailer truck, leaving everything tame to the point of blankness. I had enough money left to keep the tank full until L.A. swallowed us, and my increasing fear of what might happen there told me I would make it.

At some point that evening I took an exit ramp into a landscape like a space station under the black sky of a red asteroid. To the left, south of the freeway, scattered yellow construction machines had frozen in the act of creating a road leading into the wilderness, a frenetic and empty still life. It was like seven, eight o'clock, and I needed to make a couple of phone calls to high school friends who'd already made it to the edge of the ocean, and for once I thought to call them before midnight.

Off to the right, four desperately hopeful lanes slid from underneath the freeway and then after a few blocks shrank shyly down into two lanes. Truck stops, gas stations and restaurants that stocked antifreeze and fan belts had sprouted along the too-wide road like gray-blue spots around shower tiles, and I knew I'd find a phone wedged between the buildings and fields of light.

Pressing the numbers set into a chrome telephone face that had been badly mottled by the air, or rain, I tried the number for Liz, in L.A., but only her answering machine was talking to me, and I answered it vaguely. I called Daya in Berkeley, too. He was home and he sounded happy to hear from me, which cheered me up a little bit, and I said I'd try to come up from L.A. and visit as soon as I could.

I bought the juice of an imaginary fruit inside the gas station attached to the phone I had used, and I drove for ninety seconds back the way I'd come. Instead of immediately getting back onto the freeway, though, an adventurous impulse struck me and I drove through the underpass, where the ramps had not yet met the incomplete road, so the concrete ends stuck out over the car, over empty space, demandingly.

There were five or six construction machines silhouetted in a random circle around an enormous ziggurat of dirt. I turned the car around, ready for a quick exit, killed the lights, shut off the engine, got out, and then the wind immediately forced me back inside to retrieve my jacket.

Outside again, the tips of my feet triggered little avalanches down the surface of the mound as I climbed. The dirt had been flattened at the top, almost on a level with the cars rocketing across the slight arc of the freeway. I wanted to smoke a few hits off the charred end of my dwindling joint.

The distant hills at the very edge of the sky were boring, unsuggestive, but in front of them the blocks of concrete people had erected were hideous, and I was alone. The stars were too far away to put your fingers up to, and a cold, envious wind laughed until I grew smaller. I felt sad that I wasn't going to stop these nightmare pests who liked to fuck nature in the ass, and what was your plan again?

The wind tried really hard to eat any flame it encountered. I finally stuck my head partway inside my jacket, and got the end of the joint to glow, even in that wind, and then I didn't feel ashamed. I knew what I wanted to go away.

The freeway that cuts across the bottom tip of Nevada is just dead rocks flying by, and crazed monkeys in metal boxes in every direction.

I stopped, because I had to piss, at the official rest stop that officially welcomes you to Nevada, and sat in the car for a second looking at the road atlas. Between me, in the parking lot, and the urinal, inside the officially closed welcome building, was a man in tight, dark blue, ill-fitting designer jeans that must have been borrowed permanently from a one-night stand at some point in the steadily receding past.

This person pressed himself against the doorway of the men's room, and the fluorescent orange light crept over the edges of him. His remaining hair had been flattened against his scalp, which shone alarmingly. As I walked toward him, right before I walked through the door, he looked down my clothes unpleasantly, and his blank, anxious expression afterward filled me with a kind of queasy shock, that he'd chosen this lonely place to degrade himself, and that he expected me to help.

When I got back on the freeway I felt relief, that I hadn't said anything unkind which might trap me there with him, in some other place or time. Driving soothed me, even alone with the shapes in my head, because I was transporting a car, one I might never be able to buy; I was completing a task foolishly entrusted to me by an otherwise responsible patriotic corporation, and it seemed like I was getting away with it, and that this thing was new.

Later, having learned my lesson, I pulled off at an exit that drifted away from the freeway into a landscape of dust. I urinated openly at the side of the empty dirt road, like any mammal in discomfort, and thought about the ideas inside of me, all of us, that nobody asks for.

The car sailed smoothly, gently, over the crest of a rock, a plateau, whatever, and there was suddenly a blanket of glowing white specks creeping toward me across the black floor of the desert. The parallax sped up the specks of light into a code, alien blueprints revealing a chaotic machine, processing raw quixotic desire into refined, pure control.

The drivers at three in the morning cutting through the core of Las Vegas, so drunk they literally floated out of their seats, swerved across the freeway like they were being tortured at the wheel. I felt I had descended into a mouse trap calculator that could erase me in a moment, at the touch of a button, and neither of us would notice.

I drove until I was stupid, through to the other side of the glowing lights, turning onto a dirt highway, and then noting the lack of warning signs, hoping the owners ignored their land, I slowed to crawl, bumped down a rutted track for a few minutes, climbed into the back seat, and shivered until I was asleep.

...what just happened again?...
...section four...
story index - iv