October 06, 2010

Late night ride

I was sitting there on a Friday evening with nothing to do and had run around the channels on the television for the four hundredth time when I tossed the remote aside and headed for the car. I was feeling on edge, had been for several days and needed something. Back then I had 1985 pontiac fiero gt, a purchase I made in direct response to having been chauffeur for a group of friends for several years... I was actually surprised I could fit in the damn thing. It was small, fast, and only had two seats. Having driven that thing for a few months my habits behind the wheel had changed.. I moved from a 1981 chevy malibu four door piece of shit that topped out around sixty five on a good day to the fiero and my average cruising speed went from forty to seventy.

I was working north of Atlanta at the time and driving in the interstate free for all every day had honed my abilities quickly to an almost professional level. We've all been there, late night runs on the interstate just to feel the wind blowing and have the radio loud. I headed for I-85, but when I got on the bridge I did a U-turn in the middle of the road and headed back to jump on the south bound lanes... I drove the north bound side every day... time for a bit of a change..

The fiero had a six cylinder engine in a car that weighed next to nothing, the speedometer topped out at eighty five but with the power it had it would run smoothly around one hundred and twenty. When I reached the middle of the ramp I floored it and hit top speed with the needle quickly passing the eighty five mark to drop straight down and shimmy with that "you might be able to push out a little more speed" wobble.

I had gone up to what was then exit ten and was headed south. When the sign came for the Newnan exit I moved over to the left lane and maintained the gas peddle to the mat. When I reached the Moreland exit I suddenly had a destination in mind... I exited and hung the right turn with hardly losing any speed as I headed for sixteen toward Griffin. Normally that is a deer killing route to take late at night, but for some reason I never thought of either deer or police as as I pushed the car back to interstate cruising speed.

The only time I slowed down was when I reached the city limits of Griffin. I made the first stop at the gas station there by I-75 to fill the tank, then I hopped on and continued my way southward... The radio was loud and the wind was screaming through the cockpit of the little airplane I was flying down 75. I remember thinking "I will go to jail if I get caught" as I never once slowed down going through Macon.

I felt my front pocket as I exited onto 16 to make sure I had enough supplies, and it was full of quarters... excellent...

The next stop came in the town of Dublin when I exited to fill up the tank again, Dublin has the cleanest restrooms on 16 so it's the only place I stop. Once back on the interstate my senses got back to normal after having been assaulted by the fluorescent and neon harshness of the gas & sip.. My speed got back up to a good level again as the smell of the pines wafted in and mixed with Mr. Marley's songs coming from the cd player. As the median became wider and the land flattened to its monotonous soul sucking desolation, the trees began popping up between the north and south bound lanes. I thought about the way the cops liked to hide in the trees all through this stretch, yet I said fuck it and kept the speed going.

The signs started the count down as I headed south and with each one I would look at the clock and time the next few hours out in my mind.. It was looking good. The air coming in through the windows was growing more humid with each passing mile and I was starting to relax. Then I saw it..

The interstate dropped me off on the familiar streets and a sly smile broke across my lips when I saw the first palm tree my eyes had beheld in months... With no thought at all I traversed the well worn path over to Bay street and started the twenty mile per hour ride down to the islands expressway..

I took in the smells and sounds of my surroundings but didn't look at anything except for the tail lights of the car in front of me. When I was next to Bull street I put the windows up in anticipation of what was to come. I spared a look and quick nod to the old haunt on my right as I dropped off Bay street and started on the ride over to eighty... I actually laughed out loud when I went over the little grated bridge that raises straight up for the boats to pass under.. I was almost home...

I made the left turn onto eighty and gassed the car up a bit faster than I should have, but I was ready to get there... The first bridge came into view and dropped the windows to let that salt marsh smell fill the car. I breathed deep as the one hundred percent humidity and ocean water smell washed over me.. damn this was nice...

When I reached the traffic light I looked to my right and saw the flood lights on down at the shack and laughed again.. they were coming in.. perfect timing... I swung the car to the right then back to the left and drove down the little road to the dock. I got out and stretched, then walked over to the little building, Knocking once as I walked in.. I was met by the blood shot eyes of a man that had skin the color of a walnut and almost as wrinkled..

"You got anything in I could get?"

"How much you want?"

"Give me five or so.."

He reached in a cooler and handed me a bag, I tossed him a few bucks and headed back to the car, dropping the bag in the styrofoam cooler in the little trunk, I looked at the threadbare quilt next to it & smiled again...

I got on the road and headed back out. I crossed onto the island and took a deep breath just to let the world get tossed off my shoulders with the air coming out my lungs. I stopped in the first "chu's" I came to and got a bag of ice for the cooler and a single red stripe for the wading. A street or two to the left later I pulled in and parked next to a meter... I got out, fed all the quarters in, grabbed the quilt out of the trunk and started up the wooden walkway over the dunes.. I laughed again as I shook all the sand out of the quilt, there was no reason at this point... I made my way half way over to the pier and tossed the quilt on the ground next to the swing.. I kicked off my shoes and walked down to the water.. I didn't stop until I was knee deep. I took the red stripe out of my pocket and popped the top off. I stood as the sand slowly moved from under my feet and I drank deep of the beverage, almost as deep as I drank of the smell of the water and the womb like sound of the waves breaking around me. I stared up at the brightest moon I had seen in a while, then would look out as far as I could see to the tiny lights of the ships coming in from all over the world...

When the drink was gone I turned around and made my way back to the swing... I sat down and timed my movements with the waves coming in. When I began to nod a little I stood up, stepped over and dropped into the old quilt on the sand, that's a sleep that you can not beat...

I was awakened a couple of hours later by the sounds of people making their way out to the end of the pier for fishing. I stood up and brushed the sand off me as I sat back down in the swing and waited for the show.... A little while later I watched as the sun rose over the horizon... There is just nothing to compare... When the sun was blazing and the morning joggers started to show up I grabbed the quilt and made my way back to the car...

I drove down the street to the arby's and parked the car. I grabbed the cooler out of the trunk and started down the little side street, passing by all the rental properties until I saw the old two story house I was headed for.. I laughed as I always did when it came into view.. People passed out on the porch, Nets and shells all over the place, cars parked haphazardly with no thought of geometrical arrangement.. I walked up the steps, moving through the bodies... The smell of coffee met me as I dropped the cooler on the porch by the huge kettle and propane tank, then I walked through the screen door... The laughter that greeted me was full of cigarettes and a long night as I reached for a cup..

"I thought I would see you soon... You got the shrimp?"

"They're on the porch ready to go..."

"Well, lets get at these eggs before those fools wake up then we can put them on and wait for lunch..."

Damn... it was a good idea to go for a drive...

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