If I Ever Catch Up To You
A fast road cut through the little town where I grew up. It was a boondock highway, deadly Route 3.
Speed limit 55. Which meant one gloomy pervert went 55, and everyone else enjoyed the gut-toughening roar of the 70s and 80s.
The ditches on either side of Route 3 were filled with obliterated animals, the domesticated and the wild lying together headless and mashed in the same mass grave, their social status meaning nothing now. They had been touched in half by the great equalizer.
If cops doused Route 3 with their forensic blood light, their eyes would boil in their heads from the brightness. God, if he happened to look down, would see an explosion of light, a long, ugly vein in the forehead of Earth, its poisonous shine beating with the rhythm of hit-and-run homicide.
It’s a haunted road, damned for sure, a countrified and frozen-over River Styx, and we the little children peddled our bikes along this road, shuddering with glee.
It was horribly wonderful to feel death shove by at 75 and only four feet from your chubby, little shoulder. Death made your handle bars tremble. It made you remember your sins. You blurted them out. And the big-rig logging trucks, loaded high with the weight of entire forests, snorted and blew off your baseball cap, sending it floating and fluttering like a boy’s ghost into the ditches of the dead.
But we had to ride that road. It gave us a straight shot to Tobey’s General Store, where the beef jerky hung and the orange soda flowed.
In childhood, if you can achieve sugar and teriyaki ten minutes earlier, you will gamble your life and gamble it again, for what is life if you’re not living it?
One time, my friend Michael and I were riding the route, enjoying the refreshing breezes of Ford, Chevy, and Dodge karma, when we heard a particularly loud engine coming up behind us.
We looked back. A pickup truck the color of a mudpuddle filled with blood was on the way, only a few seconds from racing by like everybody else.
The difference was, the truck had a guy leaning out its passenger window. Violent wind turned his…