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The Original Title of This Story Was Bad, One Throne Magazine

"Crazy Driver Dude" by Alex McCabe.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.

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THE ORIGINAL TITLE OF THIS STORY WAS BAD
by Chris Cover

 

After my Grandma and I talked I had a drink and went upstairs and slept like I hadn't slept in months. I woke up refreshed and ready to drive 1,200 miles in two days. We got breakfast and I hit the road. My Grandma reminded me of a little stand a ways up north from her place that I should stop at, buy some goodies for the road. I kept that in mind.

 

I got to the stand in a few hours. I picked up a sack of grapefruits and told the lady that was all, then I saw a pint of fresh blueberries, picked them up and said these too. She wasn't sure of the price, so she walked over to where her husband was, which was about fifty yards away around some bushes and small trees. He came out from the trees wearing one of those bee masks and walked with his wife to me. I looked at the stand again and found rows and rows of honey. I had bought honey there before but all I had in mind this time were the grapefruits. Then I thought of her.

 

The owner, the beekeeper guy, approached me and took off his mask. I had picked up a jar of honey and said I'd like this too. Good choice, he said. That's the best we have. If you eat it all at once it'll make you fly. Good deal, I said. I looked at his arms. The hair on them was clumped together with honey. There was a bee on his ear that wouldn't leave him alone. He kept swatting at it as though it were a lock of hair out of place. I paid and loaded my goodies into the car and bolted off. Two days, I thought. Fuck that, I'm getting home tonight.

 

I felt good leaving, the air coming through the window was warm and the sun hot against my arm, like it was burning me. I had my favorite CD playing loudly. I was zooming by. I had to make the time.

 

That feeling dissipated quickly, as they often do during long drives. I got hungry and started eating some blueberries, and thought about things. And more things, then so many things that my anxiety kicked in and I couldn't stay still. I was uncomfortable, felt like throwing up, then I looked for a pen.

 

The only thing I had to write on was the envelope that contained the money I was paid for the job, getting the car home. I took the money out and ripped the envelope open and began writing on the middle console. At 80 miles per hour with one arm on the wheel and the other awkwardly writing I had to focus. Focus. Focus. It was working, it was coming out. I was able to get more out when I passed through a small town on the way to the next highway, at slower speeds, and I couldn't afford to lose the time to stop anywhere. Once I get going I've got to go hard until I stop.

 

I hit the highway again, 80mph, and stopped writing and said to myself, Just fucking pull over, Eddie. Find a coffee shop or a diner or something. No, I said. I've got 900 miles to drive and I can't stop. I've got to get home. So I kept driving and writing. Then I ran out of envelope to write on. I panicked, looked all around the car for something. Nothing. I took a breath and accepted it. The feeling passed, then more came. I looked at my left arm and started writing on it. The inside of my forearm, my hand, up my arm. Tattooed poetry of pen ink. Then I stopped writing and smoked a cigarette. That good feeling came back. I rolled down both windows all the way and hit the gas harder, hitting a steady 85mph. Cruise control.

 

Hunger struck again. It had been a good five, six hours since I had eaten breakfast. I was getting weak. I went after the blueberries again. Popping them in my mouth like Skittles. With the windows down my hair was a wreck, greased up from not washing it, and blueberries were missing my mouth just as much as they were hitting.

 

The cars on the highway were packed tightly, moving like a school of fish, streaming down the open road. I led at 85mph. I was doing all the passing, not moving out of the left lane, music blasting, hair stretched out of my skull as though my body was plug ged into a socket, the socket the car. Juiced. WE'RE ROCKING NOW, EDDIE, I'd yell as though I wanted the rest of the little fishies in the pack to hear. One of them did, because he pulled from the center lane hard on my ass and into the left. I took a glimpse at him in the mirror and he was smiling. I smiled back and sped up. 90, 91, 92. The lanes cut back to two and we entered a tunnel of trees with little room on each side of the road. Only strips of gravel separating the cars from the grass, then it dipped a few feet and met the trunks of the trees. If there were sharks around they'd have to catch me.

 

The Hoss on my tail stayed there. I played with my speed, dropping it down to 80, then back up to 85. He stayed with me. I moved to the right lane then immediately back to the left. He shadowed me, keeping his distance safely. A partner in crime.

 

The tunnel of trees continued for what seemed like forever, straight as an arrow. I kept my eyes on my mirrors, checking the school being me, floating on the road. My Guy still behind me in his car of the future. I'm driving a beast, I thought, taming it with soft, slight touches, movements, stuffing my face with blueberries and smoking cigarettes like it was cool again.

 

Then down again, the road dipped and the trees dispersed. I was leaving the school behind for faster speeds. Nipping at 100mph a few times, just me and my new friend. Then he slowed, I punched it, topping out at 115, followed by blue and red flashes in my mirror. I said Fuck.

 

I pulled over and all my nerves moved into my belly and throat. I retrieved my license and registration and waited. The Shark sat in his car for a few minutes, leaving my thoughts and feelings to sink into black and cover my body with its disease. Deep breaths kept me alive.

 

He came to my window and looked at me, saying nothing. He looked the car over and stared at me some more. He took my license and registration. Did his thing. Then:

 

I don't know what to say, he said.

 

What?

 

Jesus, man. Have you seen yourself?

 

Not recently, no.

 

You been boozing?

 

No, Sir.

 

Then what's all over your mouth?

 

I don't know, what? I checked the mirror and saw. Oh, the blueberries. I just ate a pint of blueberries, I said.

 

You OK?

 

I don't know, Sir. He saw the writing on my arm. Read a few bits. Turned his head to see some lines clearer.

 

What's all this? he said.

 

Notes. I ran out of paper.

 

Where are you heading?

 

Pennsylvania.

 

Jesus, man. You've got a long way to go. Just fucking slow down a bit.

 

I know, I said. See that honey back there?

 

He checked, then saw.

 

Yeah, he said.

 

It's important.

 

He looked me over again, smiled, then walked back to his car. He said something that I couldn't understand. I waited for him to drive past me, then waited some more. It was still early, though it felt as though I was almost there.

Chris Cover is a writer and storyteller of short fiction, poetry and nonsense. An adventurer at heart, he enjoys traveling, gardening, beer and warm, pretty nights on the porch. He is currently writing a travel novel about Costa Rica. He and his girlfriend live together in Pennsylvania. Twitter @heyyochris.

 
 
 
MORE FROM ISSUE 1 (SPRING 2014):