Tompkins said “We’re gonna be late for the meeting.”
Lulu, behind the wheel and behind schedule, swung the car sharply to the left, away from the long line of backed up traffic. Riding shotgun, Tubby Tompkins threw her a questioning look. It morphed quickly into a look of “You wouldn’t!”
She would. Just like the car on that ridiculous commercial. She cranked a hard right onto some sort of construction embankment adjacent to the railroad overpass. The car shot up a worn dirt trail leading to the rails above. From the backseat I could hear the rumble of the 8:03 express racing smoothly past the stalled traffic below.
“Lulu,” shouted Tubby, “what are you doing?”
“We’re not gonna miss that meeting,” she said.
She gunned it past 75 at the very top of the embankment. The car flew through the morning like Shaun White on any day not in Russia. I could see the top of the train stretched out below like an aluminum runway. Not a familiar sight. Nor a calming one.
In the memory bank a filmstrip clicked on, running quickly through my life to date: achievements, disappointments, loves, likes, dislikes, seething dislikes, those too brief ice cream moments of joy and those unending parsnip hours of Cicero and Cataline in Latin II.
The car ultimately obeyed the law of gravity and, with only a slight bump, dropped onto the back of the speeding train. Had Lulu done this before?
For a few minutes we rode like the wind on the back of that train. My breakfast donut stood at the edge of my mouth along with last night’s chili and the tuna on wheat from lunch.
“Uh oh,” said Lulu, looking in the rear view. “Cop.”
Indeed, a motorcycle cop, red beacon flashing, siren wailing, pulled up alongside.
Lulu slowed to a stop, although the train kept on keeping on. The cop came to the window. His opening salvo: “You know why I stopped you?”
“Because,” said the cop in disbelief, “that car commercial specifically said ‘Do not attempt this at home.’”
There followed one of those awkward moments of silence. In it I recognized all around us the blurred boundaries separating unreality from February. The faster the train went, the further behind lay today and tomorrow.
“But I’m not at home,” said Lulu.
A proper answer, I thought. As did the cop, who let us off with a warning. We drove on, Lulu expertly jumping the car onto another fortunately placed embankment. We parked in the company lot, ten minutes early.
“Iggy,” Tubby called to me, “you’re talking to yourself again.”
I looked around and recognized good old frozen February.
“You mumbled something weird.”
“Sounded like Cicero,” said Tubby.
Up ahead a light turned green and the traffic began to move.
“Never been there,” said Tubby. “Never been anywhere in Illinois.”
“We’re gonna be late,” said Lulu.
But she drove very fast and we made March with weeks to spare.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2014, all rights reserved.
I don’t know if ther is a word for what you are so good at – and use it effectively here is the verbal misdirectiion. And of course anyone who has taken Latin II knows Cicero kows it is in upstate NY. Come on March and its madness,
Urtzie, thanks for the comment. I like the idea of verbal misdirection although now that I know what it is I do, I’m afraid I’ll be self conscious and just direct people to verbally stuff it. Yes, Ciceros everywhere. Poor Cataline. He gets no love.
Vitium est. Id est Catiline.
You even spelled Catiline right.
Quod sic, feci. Sed in musca tua, Patricius.
Reminds me of the song “Fly Away.” Why don’t you?