66 MPH through the Mississippi DeltaSubmitted by Tom Sorrell at 2014-01-22 14:13:55 EST
Rating: 1.8 on 5 ratings (5 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
The car was a cherry red 1968 Ford Mustang and belonged to Jack Thomas, the 27 year old man staring out the windshield and gripping the wheel. He’d been on the road a while and his body was driving, but his mind was elsewhere. He was thinking about the accident.
One year earlier Jack had flipped a four-wheeler on himself while going up a steep hill and had landed on his head. When he woke up on the ground he saw stars, but was able to get back to his house. For a while, everything seemed normal, then Jack started to notice repeating numbers and color patterns. At first he chalked it up to random coincidence and odd synchronicity and had ignored it as best he could. He had a life to lead, after all.
Jack was with a woman who was shy, but sweet. They’d been together for years and he was comfortable with her. They were friends. He cared about her … maybe even loved her, and Jack didn’t love anyone but himself. After the accident, however, the two of them had started to grow apart. Jack helplessly watched her eyes turn sad. After a month or so he stopped looking at them altogether. It hurt too much. He’d changed and they both knew it.
Over time the strange occurrences increased and began to slowly drive him mad. Jack figured he needed time to sort things out and decided to take a trip from the source of the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico. He couldn’t think of anything better to do, plus he was a big Mark Twain fan, so Jack left Minneapolis at 6:30 PM on a Saturday and went east to Duluth, where he’d merged onto Highway 61 and headed south.
13 hours later he was in the heart of Mississippi. The rising sun burned his heavy eyes and he slapped himself to stay awake. He turned on the radio, but very few stations came in clearly. It was the Delta, after all. The last town he’d passed had gone by in 38 seconds. He knew, because he’d counted each of them in a desperate attempt to occupy his mind and stay awake. He clicked through the stations for a minute and finally heard a sad bastard country song he recognized from television.
“Ugh,” Jack said, to no one. “Why can’t I get rid of this asshole?”
He chuckled to himself, realizing the absurdity of this statement, then laughed louder, threw his head back like a maniac and screamed, “Why can’t I quit you, Conwaaaaaaaaay? Oh Conway! Conway Twitty! I hope you’re enjoying Hell!”
Jack cackled and pulled the car to the side of the road for a moment to stretch his legs. A cow looked at him strangely as he walked along the gravel lining the road. Jack nodded at the cow, leaned through the passenger window and changed the station. The tin-pan sound of an old blues guitar came through the speakers. Jack grinned and turned up the volume.
“Is this Robert or Tommy Johnson?” he yelled back to the cow.
The cow blinked once. Jack tilted his head.
“You think it’s Robert?
The cow blinked again. Jack nodded.
“You’re probably right. I always get them confused, seeing as how they both made the same deal and they’re both from the same time period. They kind of sound alike, too, huh?”
“Moooo,” said the cow. “Mooooooooo.”
Jack grinned and laughed.
“You said it, buddy,” he said. “You’re pretty smart for a cow.”
The cow stared at Jack without blinking. Jack nodded again and walked back to the car.
“I’ll see you around,” he said, as he opened the door. “Try not to let those crazy fuckers kill you and eat you. They’re maniacs, you know?”
“Moo,” said the cow as it turned and walked back towards a shabby wooden barn a few hundred yards off the road. Jack started the engine and pressed down the accelerator. The Mustang pulled onto the pavement and took off towards a small town in the distance. A few changes of radio stations earned him only frustration. Nothing was on, so he turned it off.
Eventually Jack pulled into the town. It was called Greenville and unlike most of the burghs he’d passed through this one had a red light. As he was waiting at it, an old man in a gray flannel suit opened the door and sat down in the passenger seat. Jack looked over in surprise as the man inhaled deeply and grinned.
“I love the smell of a red horse in the morning.”
Jack frowned and rolled his eyes.
“Does it smell like War, Robert Duvall?”
The man nodded and chuckled to himself. He’d probably been called that before.
“That’s clever,” he said.
Jack nodded and grinned.
“Before you ask, yes, it’s working well for me.”
The man seemed confused. Jack frowned.
“Oh bullshit. You know exactly what I mean.”
The man shook his head as the light turned green. The car didn't move.
“Are you going to drive?” the man asked.
“Yep. Right after you get out of my car.”
The man grinned and looked out the window as the sun went behind a cloud.
“I'd rather not. My feet hurt and it looks like rain.”
Jack tilted his head to the side. The old man motioned forward.
“Please? Just let me ride along for a minute or two.”
Jack sighed, annoyed, and stomped the accelerator. The car rocketed down the road through a block of boarded up buildings. Jack looked around and motioned towards the decay.
“Why is this downtown so dead?” Jack asked. “It’s just … dead. Totally dead.”
The old man nodded.
“Yes it is. Sam Walton and his minions murdered it,” he replied, shaking his head angrily. “They killed Greenville and Monroeville and Middletown and every other downtown in this country. They’re all dead and no one cares or even seems to notice. Meanwhile, Walton and his cronies get as rich as possible off the backs of everyone who works and shops at their stores.”
Jack rolled his eyes.
“Can we not talk about Wal-Mart? I’ve heard all this before.”
The old man nodded and looked out the window, motioning at the strip of modern buildings further down the street.
“It’s a shame, though. This used to be such a nice place. Now look at it. Pawn shops. Liquor stores. Cash advance shops. Mini malls. Fast food joints. Look around you, there’s concrete everywhere! Not a tree to be seen. Not a bit of real life. This is all prefabricated bullshit created to keep you in check. You have to wake up and see…”
“Ok,” Jack said, pulling the car to the side of the road in front of a McDonalds. “Seriously, get the hell out of my car. I can’t listen to this preachy bullshit for another minute.”
The man raised an eyebrow. Jack pointed at the restaurant.
“And make it quick so the smell of that shit doesn’t seep in here.”
“I’ll make you a deal,” the old man replied. “I won’t talk about any of that anymore. Just let me ride for a while.”
“No,” Jack said. “Get … the hell… out.”
The man smiled, politely, and nodded as he got out of the car without a word. Jack gunned the engine and left him in a cloud of dust as the sun came out from behind the clouds and burned his eyes once more.
A woman standing on the side of the road pointed.
Jack grinned as he passed her. He saw a group of children on the side of the road. They laughed as he passed.
“I am neither yellow, nor a pollo,” Jack said to himself as he unwrapped a Mars bar and took a bite. The car passed through the last few buildings and left town, headed for the Gulf of Mexico, its turquoise water coated with oil thanks to B.P.'s epic failure. Jack sighed and took another bite of candy.
“But it's quite possible I'm in Hell," he mumbled with his mouth full.
Choose your caption - 1. It doesn't always look like this. 2. Y...M...C...A. or 3. STFU Sorrell..jpg