The car broke down in the middle of the night, in the middle of a long stretch of nothing. We were on Route 40 between Flagstaff and Winslow, on the old Route 66, and nothingness was all there was here. We’d put miles and miles of flat scrubby desert behind us, and still had lots more to go.
She immediately started to panic, as she’s known to do. When was she ever known to keep a level head? Especially during an iffy situation? Just yesterday she almost had a coronary because her gynecologist cancelled her appointment. Doesn’t take much to get her going, never has. A long list of all the imaginary and evil things that could happen started streaming from her mouth. And she started in with that annoying thing she does when she gets all lathered up, calling me by my first and last name over and over: Trevor Jackson. Trevor Jackson.
Couldn’t stand it.
“You know everything’s gonna be just fine now, really,” I said, trying to console her. I held her hand and it was clammy and shaking. “We still have some power in the battery and I’ll keep the radio on, okay? And we have the dome light here, see?” I turned it on. “Everything’s gonna be just fine, I promise.”
She sat there quietly with her head hanging low. Other than her anxious breathing, the only sound was that damn Association on the oldies station going on and on ad nauseum. Cherish is the WORRRRRRRRRRDDDD…
It was hours before dawn and pitch black too. We were miles from any sign of anything. People are scarce this far out, that’s for sure. Now what the hell were we supposed to do? It’s not like someone’s gonna happen upon us who could help anytime soon. And the battery still worked sure, but it would be dying soon, wouldn’t be long now. Then we wouldn’t be able to see a foot in front of us.
I put my hand under her chin, lifting her face to see me.
“Hey,” I said. “It’s gonna be okay.”
“We’re gonna die out here I know it Trevor Jackson,” she said, murmuring and whimpering under her breath, “you’ve done it again Trevor Jackson you always know how to get us into a SITUATION,” getting louder, “we’re gonna die out here, Trevor Jackson. I can’t even see anything Trevor Jackson. I gotta get out of this CAR Trevor Jackson!!!”
She stepped out into the black. I opened my car door and jumped out.
“Hey, where are you going!?”
I heard her feet stomping around on the pavement, but couldn’t see her. Where was the moon? I walked toward the noise, but couldn’t get my bearings for the life of me. I couldn’t tell up from down.
“Come on now, get back in the car!” I yelled.
Far away and getting steadily closer, I heard a low hum coming down the road. Sounded like an 18-wheeler. I turned and could see headlights cutting through the night, coming at us from over the horizon. The glow of the lights started bringing the surrounding panorama into view along its way.
She yelled from the dark, her voice now quite shrill. “You’ve never done anything worth anything, see that now Trevor Jackson!? We’re gonna die out here I tell you. DIE in the middle of nowhere! I shoulda known it’d turn out like this with you Trevor Jackson.” She paused for a second. “You’ve always been a loser, Trevor Jackson, you ain’t never done nothing right!”
The roar of the wheels of the 18-wheeler got louder. I turned toward the sound and saw it barreling down the middle of the two-lane highway, coming our way. I looked back in the direction of her voice and she came into view. I could see her running and wobbling and stumbling down the road. At least she was running in the direction of Winslow. I couldn’t help but think that she looked like some befuddled participant in a long distance marathon from an old B movie.
“Hey, get outta the road!” I made a bolt for her, yelling at the top of my lungs. “Mom! Mom!”
The 18-wheeler never saw her.