At the first intersection it dawned on me that I wasn’t exactly sure if the brakes worked properly. Benny flailed and tumbled in the passenger seat; praying in a pagan language to ancient deities that hadn’t seen the light of day since the Spanish Inquisition. The music thumped a fast paced base line with emphatic pulse rhythms that hit the back of my skull. Assuring my companion that all would be fine, that our path was divine and righteous did nothing to reaffirm his belief in me; doubt was significant here, doubt would be our downfall.
We hit the highway at eighty miles per hour. I commanded the vehicle, passing my way through and around idle pedestrian drivers that were obviously too afraid of their lives to face death proudly.
“Benny!" I proclaimed. "There is nothing to fear. Trust me. I know fear, I live with it, have sex with it, its there when I wake up and there when I take a crap. Trust me. We don’t have to fear.” The car embraced the emergency lane to avoid a slow moving Chevy with a white headed Presbyterian at the wheel.
His knuckles were turning white. “When was the last time you took you meds?” The question came with a forced endearing tone of someone who’s horribly disguising his true feelings.
“I’m offended. You seek to have me sedated and tranquil in a pharmacological haze of blissful ignorance?” I pulled the car out of the emergency lane in time to avoid the concrete barrier.
Benny began to recite his lineage and saintly patrons in a foreign tongue. “That’s not it. You know that.”
“You don’t understand, Ben, my boy. This is freedom! I will not be constrained; nothing is getting in the way of freedom! If you don’t like the ride, keep in mind you asked to come along.” In my vindication I was neglectful of the slowing traffic before us.
The car protested as I yanked it across three lanes and it jumped onto the off ramp. I cut the wheel to avoid the cars parked at the light,slamming on the brakes, the car raked a two-foot concrete curb and bounced onto a parking lot of an abandoned meat market. With one foot on the brake, the car rolled and Benny screamed his wife’s name along with the rest of his pagan heritage.
The car painfully crawled its way through the lot, a metal grinding noise burst from underneath. The steering wheel, turned to the farthest point right, yet, moved straight line. My eyes fixed on the landscape before me; witnesses on foot and in their cars watched from a rosy perspective of normalcy.
My fingers peeled from the steering wheel with sharp intakes of breath as the joints and muscles were snapped back into position; I hadn’t been aware of my own fear till now. The engine had cut off somewhere after the jump. Throwing the car in park abruptly ceased the rolling with a harsh convulsion. A homeless man, stood a few feet from the front of the car, stared at us in contemplative astonishment.
I removed my cell phone from my pocket, throwing it onto the Benny’s lap, removed the keys from the ignition and dropped them to the floor. “Call your wife, whoever, you’ll need to get home.” I stepped out and realized a dark puddle forming beneath the vehicle.
“Wait! What are you doing? Where you going? You can’t leave this here!”
“Why not?” A sense of neutrality over the whole situation washed over me, why not indeed.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. It’s a good day for a walk.”
“Wait, this isn’t right. We’ll call a tow, they’ll pick up the car, there’s nothing to worry about, we didn’t hit anybody or anything…”
“Benjamin. Go home. Go home to your wife and kid.” I looked around, nothing looked familiar. I took to the road on foot immersing myself in the traffic and humidity of exhaustion.