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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Highway Guilt Trip

Component to my new book A Wild Introduction


“And if that’s what you believe, that’s what you believe. What you’re doing is trying to put a definite on something that is entirely open to interpretation."

"You're saying the afterlife is open to interpretation? C'mon.."

"Aw hell, it aint just God, you know. We are swimming in specters, clawing through ghosts."

"Now, I don't know what you think this is sir but WRTO is a radio station that cherishes the gospel, cherishes the satisfaction that, after life, good Christians will join their savior Jesus Christ in Heaven ... I don't like where this is going. Good day to you sir and God Bless...Next caller, Mary in Menasha. How you doin hun? Welcome to Words Of Worship."

"Hi Jim. Now my sister Celia has been seeing this man down in Rockford, there's something evil stirring in that city, let me tell you..."


George Thurston turned off the radio and drove down south from Marietta. His son’s Matty and Chuck rode in the back seat. They didn’t speak. Matty thumbed a few Lego’s his mother had given him. There was a red one and a blue one but they weren’t put together. He rolled them in his hand.

Chuck stared out the window of the Eldorado and watched the northern hills and Valleys rise and fall, the earth stabbed neatly with windmills and silos. He was the quieter of the two boys. He spoke when spoken to. The sun was falling.

It would have already been dark if George hadn’t insisted that he and the boys head home. It was always hard to leave his mother’s house but George understood. She had started the whole deal; him the kids, the houses , the car, the kisses and misses and everything. Since the divorce he watched his mother's expressions fight themselves as he and the boys would leave the house and head home. He saw her hide her pity for his solitary life. She would smile and make a joke but the edges were there, George could see them.

He didn’t worry about his own driving; he worried about other drivers and galloping deer busting through the windshield.


It happened when George was younger. Twenty years back, he was working in Iowa and drove to meet his parents at his aunts in Cedar Rapids. He was thinking about the cold days spent laying cement at the site of the new plant and the long nights in empty motel rooms.

He was thinking about the woman he met in Atkins and spent the night with in Betram. She was twenty five years older than him and had a kid George's age. Her husband had a heart attack in the drivers seat of his rig a couple years back. So he was dead.

George was driving along that night pondering, and a doe darted out into the road and slammed through his windshield. It didn't come through on his side but its two front legs stuck through the passenger side, kicking the seat, running in place. Lucky for George the road was empty and he was alone with the trapped deer.

He opened the door and walked to the front of the car. The night was a hard cold and the fields were silent. The deer was beating its broken neck and head against the hood. George went to the trunk and got the tire iron and killed the deer. He pulled it off the hood and made it to the next way station. It was a hell of a thanksgiving story.


Today George drove along with his boys in the back seat. They stared and got in each others space and complained and asked a few questions. He used to long for things like being home, having a cold beer, uninterrupted showers, night at the movies, meatloaf, sunday football, saturday fishing and then Jo-Ann split. She found out what he did and left, no questions asked. He wanted to undo it all. That was it, he couldn't long. He wanted to have it all back.

But he did what he did. He knew there was no undoing. She was living with Steve now, he had to split time with the boys. That was that.

Two semi's swam like whales on the highway in front of him. Wind busted against their sides and they buckled and shone in the sunlight. George sped up a little to get around the trucks.

The truck buckled just as they rode along next to it. The trucks trailer detached and toppled onto the Eldorado. It crushed George Thurston and his boys to death.

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