Okay, this is outta sequence (right, like there's a sequence, jackass), but I'm having some technical problems getting my hands on the stuff in between, so, yeah, here it is. If nothing else, it's new, and a couple of you have been asking me if there's anything new going on. So, yeah, there is. Just remember, you asked for it.

And, as always, if you're new here, just go ahead and start reading. It all comes together, kinda, if you've got some patience.



When I’m stuck in traffic going across, say, the Whitestone Bridge, I have these daydreams about the vast open roads of the American Midwest. Endless highways stretching from horizon to horizon, smooth blacktop painted with vibrant yellow lane markers, fresh white paint straight-arrowing along the shoulder. I picture these roads as pristine temples to the gods of transport and travel, hallowed ground where a dedicated young man, with nothing but the most noble of intentions, could lay down the hammer on a finely tuned automobile and blast straightaway to his destination without the distractions of slow civilian traffic, frost heaves, construction zones, poorly marked road signs or tollbooths built so close together that you can see the flashing lights of the next before the last has left your rearview mirror. This is a simple dream, really, reinforced by the mythical qualities of Midwestern folk have been awarded by the peoples of the East and West Coasts. Folk that are meticulous and hardworking and very serious about things like roads and signage, about making sure that everything is safe and clean, that every box that could be checked has a tick in it, that everything is as perfect and five-by as mere mortals can make it.

Which may well be true. I’m not well traveled enough to know. But this little jaunt was making me realize that Pennsylvania isn’t technically in the Midwest, really. The East Coast, up in the Northeast corner of the country, you get this perspective that everything west of Jersey and east of LA is one big lump of Middle America, and that all those millions of square miles are working with the same mindset. And then you actually get out there, and Jesus fuck, brother, you get a big heaping wad of realization shoved in your face.

This I-80 thing that’s winding its way through Pennsylvania, it’s like what roads in Europe must’ve looked like after WWII was done with, but before everybody blinked the dust out of their eyes and got everything fixed so that BMW’s and Porsches could fly around the continent at a hundred miles an hour. This road is nothing but ripped-up blacktop, endless lanes of naked dirt and oily gravel paralleling a single passable roadway that’s made up of nothing but fresh asphalt patches laid over old asphalt patches. This shit goes on for twenty, thirty miles, running along a corridor of concrete barricades and giant LED arrows warning you about sudden curves in the road ahead. And this I-80 thing, it’s the major highway going from NYC to Philadelphia, so if you’re stupid enough to be traversing it in the middle of the night, you’re just a mouse trying to run in a herd of tractor-trailers, packed in tight between a Freightliner in front and a Mack in back, and those guys are just barreling along, kicking up dust and gravel and making it impossible for you to see anything and every time you hear a tok on the windshield from a pebble kicked out from under a monster retread you wonder if you’re about to lose a windshield. So you slow down, but then the Mack behind you crawls up on your bumper, ‘cause, y’know, that long-haul motherfucker’s got a load of Ikea furniture or Old Navy jeans that’s gotta get to where-goddamned-ever right fucking now, fer Christ’s sake, and you’re holding up the whole parade.

But, really, it’s not my fault, this whole slowing-down-midnight-commerce thing. It really isn’t. The wagon’s dying, and I’m somewhere between the Jersey border and East Stroudsburg, hoping that it’ll galump along for another twenty or thirty or fifty miles, until I find the dropoff spot and dump the package and start to find my way home. But I’m not really counting on it.

Which is bad, really, ‘cause I haven’t got more than fifty bucks in my checking account, and that’s not even going to begin to cover getting my soon-to-be-smoking-heap towed from wherever it breaks down in one of Pennsylvania’s endless construction zones to whatever shitty little garage out there waits for out of staters to break down so they can gouge them for new transmissions and rebuilt engines.

That fifty bucks is maybe enough to get a bus to the dropoff point, and there’s an ever so slight possibility that I could convince someone back at the base to break me out an early paycheck, run it over to the bank for me, get me some accessible cash. Which still leaves me kinda broke and stuck three states from home with a busted car and no immediate options for work.

Which, of course, is nobody’s fault but mine, right? I mean, really, on my massive salary of half-a-g a week I should have hundreds, thousands sitting in a savings account, accruing interest and just waiting for some kind of accident. At thirty I shouldn’t be hovering on the razor’s edge of financial destruction, just waiting for one major wrong thing to tip me into a chasm of bankruptcy and destitution. I hear my father’s voice Godding down at me from upon high.

Don’t mind me. This is the kind of whiny self-reflection you’re bound to run while barreling down a packed interstate in the middle of the night with a slipping transmission and the smell of overheated coolant wafting in through the window. Because, of course, nothing’s actually my fault, right? I can inflict all the Catholic guilt on myself that I want, but I’ve been behind the 8-ball since I was born, since mom and pops decided to get it on and boogie out a little boy named Davey, a little boy who never did anything but smile and try to please and somehow still found himself with the world stacking the chips against him. It’s not my fault, goddamn it, that I’ve got this shitty job where I need to buy shitty cars and then depend on them not shatter into a thousand pieces when I push them too hard. It’s not my fault that I fucked off in college and ended up barely employable. It’s not my fault that everything wrong in the world is finding its nexus in my weak little body.

Which doesn’t change the fact that I’m currently watching my speedometer drop down from ninety to seventy to fifty and that the front left tire is beginning to squeal in a way that means the bearings have begun to spin free in their housing and that I’ve got maybe another hour or two on the road before something locks up, falls out or just grinds to halt and I’m gonna go from a motorized messenger to a walking civilian with little money, no friends and big mean dark world ready to eat me alive.

How wonderous.


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