Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wonders of the road

"Hear rocks sing!" proclaims a billboard on Interstate 81 in Virginia near the exit for Luray Caverns, which has a "stalactite organ" inside.
Amy sees the ad as she drives on by. The idea of a stalactite organ strikes her. It's quirky, poetic. Didn't her family go there when she was little? Or was that the Endless Caverns, not too much farther north, with the Hollywood-esque white letters on the side of a mountain?
It's something other than McDonald's and Sheetz billboards, so she notices it. "Stalactites," she thinks. "They cling to the ceiling."

The sun is going down, and she makes herself find beauty in the orange-sorbet light on the greenness: the mountains that slowly decrescendo as you head northeast, the rolling grass and clover. Queen Anne's lace, honeysuckle. She thinks that would make a good bouquet for a wedding, if you wanted to have a country-style wedding: clover with its purple flowers, Queen Anne's lace doily-heads mixed in, honeysuckle twined around. Someone should do that in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, in that bouquet section they have, she thinks. Boring thoughts, on and on.

Suddenly she puts into a sentence something that she has suspected all along: There is no meaning in anything, so all I have to do is keep myself entertained. The minute she thinks this, it's true for her.

She passes a pick-up truck tugging a horse trailer in the right lane. A chestnut-brown horse butt and swishing tail are visible from behind as Amy's car passes. Somewhere inside, chocolate-brown eyes are probably peering through a slit in the trailer. On the trailer are the words: "Queen of the Rodeo." How quirky, how entertaining, Amy thinks.
On a hill: three crosses, a gold one flanked by two white ones. Cows munching grass indifferently nearby. An Arby's billboard.
If there's no meaning, and no one's watching, and it's all random chaos, why should you behave, Amy thought?

At twilight, a big-rig truck pulls up in the right lane, the driver peering down into Amy's car. She sees a lecherous face, tongue wagging. The trucker honks his horn.
Amy looks up at him, at his greasy mullet, his sun-beaten face, his baseball cap. He thinks he'll get a rise out of me, she thinks. He thinks I'll flip him off and speed on ahead.

Oh no. No I won't.

Amy thinks she is going to play this little game, too.
As if it matters.
She gives him a crazy, lascivious grin. She lifts her pelvis up and above the seat and makes sure he can see her, as she drives parallel to his truck. She ostentatiously unbuttons the top button of her jeans, unzips them. Shimmies them down to her knees. With his giant side mirror and his excellent vantage point, he can see her cunt.

How about that? Didn't expect that, did you? No one is watching. Zero consequences. Robust mammals, glee at reproductive organs, no meaning. A zoo with no visitors.

She touches herself. He hoots and honks his horn in appreciation, nearly swerves off the road -- thank God for those treads that make your tires whine when you veer off-course.

Amy looks up at him every few white dashes in the road. He's some stupid scuzzy trucker. Not that all truckers are stupid and scuzzy, but this one is. He'll probably CB his buddies about this, maybe give them her license plate number and tell them to keep an eye out for her.

He's laughing, thinks it's the best, funniest, wildest thing he's seen in a while.

Dully, her body responds to the familiar movements of her fingers until, driving without once hitting those warning treads, in full view of the trucker, she comes.

Taboo, dangerous. I am not like other girls. He's watching.

He honks twice in jubilation, and she lets him pass. She slows way down, taking the exit for the Exxon that's just across an overpass as he drives on down the Interstate.

She has pulled up her jeans. She sits in the parking lot, now dark, mosquitoes under streetlights, cicadas.

She goes inside the convenience store part of the gas station. Where's the bathroom? The attendant gives her a key, hooked to a large wooden slab to keep it from getting stolen. Amy goes inside, one bathroom for men and women both to share, so it's filthy, even for a gas station.
She wants to look at her reflection in the mirror above the sink. She wants to look into her eyes, to look into the eyes of someone who would do what she had just done. To look for a sign of... of what? Of remorse? Of shame? Of a soul?

But there is no mirror.

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