RTA Ch.11: Time Out of Mind

road trip to alberta persuadeo

Time slows. Instead of noise and distraction and all this stuff I’ve been doing, what I see are two cars sliding in, pushing in, crowding in from my right and left as I cross Bixby. My Taurus doesn’t feel like any sort of armor now, it feels like part of me, like the body and tires are my legs and feet. I’m watching the crash approach, instead of watching the road, as if I could gauge some way out of this jam, as if I need to see the angles and vectors to escape when all I can do is press through the pedal to the floor even harder.

I want to know if this is how it ends, because a new thought is overtaking me, one I have not had before. And Grandma, I’m sorry. I’m sorry if this means we’re not making it to Alberta, to my brother’s, and get you the death with dignity you want and deserve. I tried.

Chicken University pops into view, below and to the right of the stoic red light. Did Soh Juh and I talk about the black box there? My god, that was where –

Focus. It’s a red light. Push harder on the pedal. Funny how there’s no other warning, just this quiet bulb of light. Stop, yo. Details. I hear a dog bark. Hegel?

But the question I’m asking myself, this new thought, is I’m wondering if I did my… my best? I’ve never really considered this, not really.

That’s when I see something else and not the road and the cars: I see faces, people in my life. I see Soh Juh and Mwin, but also Gila. I see the players at the Endboss. I see players I barely know, like The Roach, his arms crossed and beefy as always.

My friends, I guess? This is probably the end. I’m not sure they care. I’ve never been dramatic, I’m a down to earth, hard-working, regular kind of guy, and this is more than I can handle.

Not the faces, though, but this thought: have I done my best?

The funny thing is, I don’t see my ex-wife. Or even our child. And certainly not Grandma, silent and stricken.

(In fact, if you had looked at her, she would have been silent and serene as ever, maybe even smiling.)

That’s when I come back to the moment.

“Grandma, hold on to something?” Between you and me, I don’t usually put her seat belt on.

Man, I really just don’t do my best, do I? Things always just worked out for me. I never thought it would end like this.

For fuck sake’s, I’m headed to Long Beach when we’re supposed to be in Utah or some other city at least! The white tumult of cloud against the coming sea’s blue and the grey street of a friendly place –

That’s my final thought before I hear the Sound.

The Crash Sound. It’s horrible, metallic, and above all, loud, loud, loud like the thunder of applause.

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