Road Kill

Now that I’m dead I guess there is no harm in telling my story, although I cannot be sure anyone is listening. But it’s okay even if I am just telling this to my own mind, or whatever remains of me for purposes of thought. I also don’t know how long this will last, not even sure how long I have been, well, deceased, so let me stop stalling and begin.

It was one of those intensely gray Boston mornings. The weather was in the mid-thirties and it was drizzling and raining off and on, the sky the same color as the pavement and the remaining snow along the highway morphed into a gray guard-rail coated in road-dirt. The kind of day where you wished it would snow but knew it would just remain blowing and wet. Days like this, the highways are pretty crowded; people with the luxury of an available car and access to a reliable parking place are not going to stand outside waiting for a bus, train or commuter rail, particularly as the public transportation system in Boston was designed without shelters by someone who apparently lived in Dallas or Miami and had only read about sleet without ever having experienced it outside of a Disney movie.

I drive in the right lane. I drive my drive, ya know. Particularly on a bad day when everyone is angry and in a hurry because the roads are so crowded. Also, don’t tell anyone but the right lane usually is faster than the other lanes when there is a back-up. People have the habit of drifting into the left lanes as soon as they feed into the traffic and pick up speed. They are the higher-speed lanes, right? And you avoid the risk of accidents in the slow lane; people don’t cut in and out to pick up a couple of car lengths.

Except for the green Tesla coupe. Pretty car, came up on my left side fast. I always leave a little room in front of me—why not, where am I going so fast anyway? Over the cars in front of me? Not likely. So here is this modest space and this Tesla comes right up the bumper of the car in front of him one lane to my left and, zip, he’s in my lane, and braking to not hit the guy in front of him and I am hitting my brake to keep my distance but, if you drive every day, you learn not to get upset because everyone gets to the same place at the same time, more or less, anyway.

Besides, why pick a fight? It only leads to bad things, right? Accidents, a bad attitude when you get to work, and every once in a while you hear the freak story of someone offing someone in one of those road-rage incidents, where some guy does something dangerous and dumb and there it is on page 5 of the Globe in the morning, some driver in Memphis is shot dead by some nut over a driving thing.

I mean, there are a lot of crazy people out there.

So I have re-established my spacing with this new green car in front of me and I am driving along, really slowly all over, and I start to chuckle to myself because the middle lane, the lane this green guy swerved out of, it starts rolling pretty well and the cars are passing me regularly. Mr. Green sees this also because next thing you know he makes a sharp left swerve, cuts off a car in his old lane, and off he goes with the flow and for maybe two or three minutes he is out of sight.

So I am listening to the news on the radio, particularly the part about a couple of inches of cold rain freezing at night so watch out for black ice on the way home, and I don’t really pay much attention but it seems like my right-hand slow lane is moving pretty well and all of a sudden this green flash cuts me off and slips into my lane and of course it’s Mr Green and his shiny Tesla. Probably saw me coming in his mirror and said to himself “I’m not gonna let that guy who I got in front of back there come along and get in front of me again, that spells failure” and then he likely said to himself “this dingleberry always leaves a shitload of space in front of him, what a turkey, he’s probably some old fart of 90 or maybe some woman, even worse,” but there he is in front of me again. I shake my head; what can you say or do, some people are slow learners.

Not sure how long I have left, like I said, so let me keep this short. Same thing happens. Two more times. Back to the middle, then back in front of me, back to the middle, back to my lane. He’s still a hundred feet in front of me, going nowhere, but he’s damned near killed me and the people he’s cut off in his own lane also. Someone like that deserves a signal, make him aware of the danger of his activity. Everyone in the morning is distracted; who wants to be on a rainy road with a streaky windshield and the big semi trailers waffling in the wind and kissing the lane markers in the wind so you think any minute you’ll be sideswiped.

I ought to write the registry of motor vehicles about this guy. He’s a real danger. I look at his license plate, worried I will not be able to remember it, but it is one of those vanity plates, easy to recall. Good, I stick it in my head.

Just before a particularly tricky part of the highway, there is a patch of fog we drive into, this guy now next to me, and he all of a sudden starts to swerve into my lane. I damned near hit the guard rail and I give him a good loud horn and he bounces back in the lane but he could have crashed into me, the idiot. He needs to be slowed down, he really is going to kill someone. So I pull even with him and roll down my window and give him a polite signal, just to alert him you know, my arm is getting soaked but I am okay with that as I am performing a public good, and I slowly signal him to slow down, I wave my arm up and down, palm down, sort of in a “cool it” kind of gesture. Just to make him aware, you know?

So down comes Mr Green’s passenger side window and he’s this young guy with face hair, thin, nice tan leather seats I am looking at, and he flashes me the universal middle finger like I did something wrong. And his arm is going up and down, up and down, and he turns to face me for a few seconds and he is yelling something I cannot hear but his face is in a knot and he’s red and he’s really not happy with me. And I am just sitting there and he spurts a half-car ahead and cuts me off so sharply that I have to hit my brake, and then he slows down to about five miles an hour for a while so that all the cars behind me are honking their horns, and at the last minute he takes a downtown exit with a jerk of his wheel and a final finger out the driver side of the car and he is gone.

I cannot believe this guy. This guy is dangerous. I know I have long resolved to avoid getting upset if I am driving my car in commuter traffic, but I have to do something. At lunch that day I walk over to the Registry office and fill out a formal report and complain. They will send a notice, hold a hearing, will I be willing to attend? You betcha. I ask his name. They are not supposed to tell me. I look around, the place is pretty quiet. I take a twenty out of my wallet and place it on the desk. The woman is about to object, I can tell, she is putting her hand on the bill and pushing it back towards me and I hold up my hand to stop her and I drop a couple of more twenties on the desk because after all, I am incensed, right? And this woman she stops, looks up at me, writes something on a piece of paper and hands it to me as she slides the twenties towards her. We do not say a word and I turn and walk out of the office.

I can find this guy on Facebook. He has all sorts of stuff on there, including a picture of his bright green Tesla and him with his boot on the front fender with his baseball cap pushed back on his head. Looks like a dumb punk to me, gotta say. I go on line and it doesn’t take long to find his address. I write him a letter, I tell him he is a danger to everyone, and that the police will be contacting him and I will be testifying at the hearing and I hope he sees what he is doing because he is going to get someone hurt or killed and for what?

Well, some short time after that, I remember going to work a couple of days after that and the highway was clear and there was no rain, and there was at least one night in there because the football game was on the tube and Harry and me we went to the Irish Whiskey, that’s our favorite local bar when it’s a work-night because you can walk there and you don’t waste your time getting downtown and then having to haul back when you’re dog tired—well some time after the trip to make the complaint and my email to this guy, I am walking into my apartment house and I hear someone call out my name, “Hey Steve” I hear, and I turn around and I see a green car and then someone with a beard and there’s a loud noise and that’s all I remember until now. Just now. A few minutes ago. Or so it seems. And seems I am dead.

Go figure.

I hope they catch the guy and take him off the road. He’s a real menace to good people, ya know?

Man, there sure a lot of crazy people out there.

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