Friday Firesmith – Paranoia Starts Here

Traffic is one of the metrics I use to gauge my mental and emotional health every day. If traffic bothers me, a lot, I know I’m not grounded. Let’s face it; there is nothing productive you can do to make traffic better other than mount a fifty-caliber machine gun to the top of your vehicle and pour money into ammunition if you intend to start blasting away at every idiot on the road. I’m not advocating violence here because it would take more money than the Mexican wall and more time than explaining why a porn actress seems more credible than a sitting president.

Traffic is light and I have classical music playing, a collection of songs from various artists and each song is over ten minutes long. The first song takes me into Quitman, and the second is just beginning when a semi truck brakes hard at the railroad tracks, even though nothing is coming. It’s a truck with a big brown box looking thing for a trailer, with all sorts of numbers and lettering on it. I pass it because this is a four-lane, and I know it will catch up with me soon, and sure enough, it does.

But instead of passing me, the guy gets behind me and stays there, in the other lane, and we’re both doing about forty-five because we’re still in town. I keep thinking he will speed up and pass me but he doesn’t and I remember the very instant that I thought, “This is weird.” I kick it up to fifty-five and he changes lanes to get behind me but doesn’t speed up. Very weird. A few minutes later and he’s way back of me now. This is odd because I’m still doing double nickels and most trucks are in a hurry.

Finally, about the time we’re getting into Valdosta, he passes me, fast enough to get about one hundred meters in front of me, but not fast enough to gain any distance, and he stays there, a steady distance ahead of me. Now, things have gotten downright strange.

I began a short story once about these meth heads that decided to hijack a semi-truck by stealing some road construction signs and making their own detour. They get the truck off the main road and hold the driver at gunpoint and open the trailer and… I never finished it because I struggled with the cargo. Humans? Riches? Aliens?

But for some reason, the truck that is now ahead of me makes me think of a nuclear weapon, and feel free to explore the nature of a man who thinks of nuclear weapons in traffic, but the reality is I would rather be this close to Ground Zero of a nuke than twenty miles away.

The truck slows down once we get into the part of town where there’s a traffic light every other block, and to my horror, once I catch up with the Nuclear Kenworth, he nearly crushes two cars changing lanes to get behind me again. Was this guy sent by Facebook or something?

I make a right turn and he follows, and now I’m just trying to put some distance between us. It’s a forty-five but I lay down at fifty-five, and he’s dropping back. You know, this exactly like the story of the headless horseman, written before this country was born, I think. A traveler on the road is beset by a mysterious fiend and… wait. Where did he go? I check the rearview and there is no truck at all. He must have turned off somewhere.

This is just an odd coincidence, the Nuclear Truck and I having the same path for a while, even if it was over twenty miles of it. Yet the story does not end here, for once at work I got into my work truck and headed out. There, at the intersection where the first light I have to go through sits the Nuclear Truck. He was making a left turn, away from me, like a shark circling in the water, searching for its prey.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
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