A Deposit

Driving down the highway on your way to deposit a check. Walking to the car, you noticed the air was so cold it was coming in through the teeth of your jeans’ zipper. Now the turn signal lever is (apparently) frozen in the down position. You look up and see an eddy of white powder blowing off the top of a building and it looks like Mount Everest.

You’re thinking about the coldest thing you can think about (a high, dead tree branch stirring in the wind, a tattered flag, concrete) when an 18-wheeler appears in your rearview, so close you can read the expiration sticker on its license plate. You slam the accelerator, but a cold-started Honda Civic in fifth gear at 45 miles per hour has the pickup of, say, an aircraft carrier, so it actually feels like you might be slowing down a bit.

And then it hits you. The truck. Hits you. At whatever speed it was going minus whatever speed you are going, multiplied by some formulas no one remembers. And your silver-gray ass goes spinning off in a graceful half-circle, away from the (cold) concrete dividing wall. The next lane over is blissfuly empty (for now), which gives you time to appreciate the true silence of a catastrophic-event-in-the-making; that is, the silence that happens when your brain stops processing what your ears are transmitting. Funny how every January sky looks like this, you think. Didn’t I pass a state trooper a second ago?

Sounds have started fading back. You hear someone sliding a pick down the strings of an electric guitar, which is really your tires squealing as the car moves down the highway at a perpendicular angle. Then some low drums, like toms maybe, which are the truck’s air brakes shuddering. You car shudders too, for a moment, before it starts rolling. Voohmp. Voohmp.

The truck’s trailer says something about ‘fastest payouts in the industry’ and ‘$0.44 cpm’ as it jackknifes into the right lane. You can’t see this because, for one thing, your airbag has deployed, and also, it knocked you unconscious. But a red-tailed hawk perched on a light pole sees it, and rightfully takes off, because it’s coming his way.

Can you even imagine how little a juvenile red-tailed hawk cares about your car flipping down the highway with a semi-truck chasing behind?