Driving Desperately

by Jason Gerdsmeier

I take a sip from my drink and let it burn its way down than place it back on the passenger seat. As I turn the key starting the ignition, LED lights turn the stagnant cigarette smoke blue. I breath in deep, sinking into the bucket seat and twisting my grip on the steering wheel cover. The car grumbles and shakes slightly from the broken exhaust. Taking it all in, I let my thoughts go and begin to finally let myself be.

It does for a moment cross my mind that I am drunk and shouldn't drive but I've only thought that cause that's what they've told me so the thought quickly disappears. The music penetrates me while I move the shifter backwards next to the "R". I back out of the drive way with my right arm over the passenger seat than aim the vehicle down the road. I stop the car fully before pulling the shifter even further back to the drive position, paying attention to each push and pull of momentum the car has on my body. Adding pressure to the accelerator makes the car growl lightly and build forward momentum.

I start off slow, going only as fast as the slow rhythmic guitar on the radio, allowing the car to dance in the night in perfect unison with me and the road. The pothole ridden road becomes the stage for a demonstration of grace as the car weaves in and around each one as if playing a game of cat and mouse with them. The headlights on the road signs make them shine the most vibrant shade of there original color with my focus so intent on driving however, they become to me secondary beauty.

The potholes clear and I push the pedal harder. The sound of the engine overpowers the radio for a second before shifting and becoming quite again. The speedometer steadily climbs on the back country road. Forty...forty five... fifty... fifty five... then letting off the accelerator slowly, the car coasts into the inside of the corner. My heart jumps a little at the tightness of the corner. The car just barely takes it smoothly. Any faster and the tires would have squeeled but, just as quickly as my heart-rate increased it again lowered leaving me focused even more intently on the road and my vehicle. I keep my foot off the gas pedal so I don't jump the hill ahead. Again I coast, up and over the hill like a roller-coaster ride than press the pedal hard. The next corner is gradual, I speed up half way through till I reach sixty miles per hour. I see the intersection ahead...I know the intersection ahead...I don't see any headlights...I floor it! I see the reflection of my headlights on the stop sign for just a second as I blow by at Seventy.

I lower my speed as I circle through town so as not to wake anyone up. Back out on the main road though, I open up the throttle letting the car run free on the freshly paved straightaway. The engine screams, hastily shifting through all four gears. The car reaches one hundred and five as the world flies by. There is nothing left except for me, the car, and the music in the background. I am going...nowhere, I am racing...nobody, I am completely...free.

I take my foot off the pedal and the car coasts down to ninety. Pulling the wheel slightly to the left puts me in the opposite lane ready for the corner ahead. As I enter the turn at eighty five I cut the wheel hard to the left, loosing traction. People say that in moments when your life is on the line time slows. I think its not that time slows but, that you notice what was already there but we're too preoccupied to notice. I cut the wheel back to the right and steer through the corner while slightly adjusting the accelerator, feeling the car pull me in the opposite direction it's going all the while confident I'm in control. The corner ends and after a few corrections I'm speeding down the road to nowhere once again. A glimpse at the dashboard though tells me I'm low on fuel and gives me a destination.

I pull up to the fuel pumps in the parking lot and after stamping out a cigarette, choosing a grade, and taking off the gas cap, begin pumping. Leaning against my car I listen to the fuel pour into the tank and to late nighters talking over ice cream. I can smell the octane and although it's unpleasant, I let it be. The air is chilly but I let it frost my nose and fingers. Half-way through my fill up I notice it again. I notice the weight, the unease, the tension, the pressure to be something, I find it unbearable. I need it to go away, I am trapped by my need for freedom.

Back out on the road I take a breath and at the peak of the guitar solo push the pedal to the floor. I drive for an hour screeching through corners, speeding through stop signs, and pushing my car to its limits. At each close call I can feel the heat from the fire I play with.

Thinking of nothing I come to the beginning of a windy hilly road...and I press the pedal harder. I don't want to die but, I accept it as possible. Maybe if I did then I'd see what ever it is I seem to blind to. Halfway through the first corner and down the hill I press the pedal hard while turning the wheel for the second. After the delay from the cars computer the cars engine screams at full capacity pulling me up the hill and through the second corner. At the next straightaway ahead again I floor it.

The car takes the gradual hills smoothly as the governor kicks in. It feels like floating in the ocean, riding the waves. As I pass a cut-off I see the glow from the yellow stripe in the corner of my eye and then the red and blue lights, I decide its time to go home and barely lower my speed through the next corner.

Coming up to the intersection of my road I almost loose control trying to brake too late but, I just barely keep control and as soon as the car has made the ninety degree corner, floor it once again. The road is very windy and I hope I don't kick up too much dust for the cop to follow me. After making it home I park the car in the field so the cop won't see it and take a swig before lighting up a cigarette.

I can still notice the nothing in my mind as I look up at the stars and notice there vastness. I hold the calm, I focus on each inhale and watch the smoke with each exhale. I want nothing but this moment and as I start towards the house, I begin to contemplate better ways of finding it.

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