The drops swept up the hood and down the windshield. The wipers went slap-slap-slap in the only dance they knew. The blur of the night rain, diffused by the accumulating fog on the inside glass only intensified the drivers wheelgrip as he came to the realization that his perceptions of the world beyond his speeding bumper were shaky at best. It was fortunate that at that moment he did not think to factor into his growing but ill-defined anxiety the matter that his tiny car had no bumper.
The car itself is nothing special except that it seems this little machine does indeed have a sensibility inherent somewhere, maybe under the hood or in the cramped cockpit. Certainly the motor is under-powered and the styling is unexceptional but something seems to come to life when it roars its wake-up burble. It seems to achieve some heightened awareness motoring a byway at 40 miles per hour and it inexplicitly shares this self-assurance – even cockiness – with its driver.
Without warning a lurking sedan bolted from a side road launching straight toward the rain washed roadster. The driver’s eyes leaped at the impossible vision. His hands suddenly prepared to take whatever action could minimize the inevitable catastrophe. His brain had already imagined the intersection tragically littered with car and body parts, the downpour drowning his anguished cries, the responders stoically dragging the gurney as the red lights flashed off the wreck and the blood stained victim… except there was no lurching car. Instead the driver was safe, he was dry – but for the leaky ragtop – and tearing down the highway with an awareness suitable for a jet fighter pilot.
What is this remarkable mechanism he wondered? From where do these fantastic imaginings with their penetrating detail and vivid effects arise? This was certainly not the first time for such a stunning hallucination. Years previous he would imagine; actually experience in an eye-blink, as wood exploded in his very hands. It happened with eerie frequency. Working to cut lumber in the shop he would push the stock forward, the blade whirring madly as it began to chew a kerf through the piece. Without warning the exploding moment would come then evaporate and the sawyer would proceed with a heightened awareness and all of his digits intact. Eventually he became convinced that this repeating psychic intervention was a defense mechanism against inattention, bad technique or the effects of fatigue.
Later in life the driver speculated on other moments when his mind played tricks to snap his wandering soul back to the here, the now. It was true that time he wandered on the edge of the canyon back in Texas. It worked repeatedly like, when driving hard home from western Michigan, the eyes glazed over near Sarnia when the image of the threatening eighteen wheelers brought everything in focus. These experiences bestowed a perhaps unwarranted sense of invulnerability to some days and some moments. Was it at that point that some intimates would refer to him sardonically as “The Gift”. That label seemed to some as cruel, to others as comical and still others as pretty accurate.
It was at this point that the driver, now in full control of his roadster, peered through the glass to notice the glistening wires high above the road strung like Christmas tree tinsel as oncoming traffic lit them dramatically. The spirit in the car’s cabin had switched like magic from tragic to reflective. Now confidently back in fifth gear he surprised himself by speculating on his magical protective imagination and where in his years it may have failed him. Why hadn’t his powers saved him from the train wreck of the dissolution of his first marriage? How about that winter night in his twenty first year when he was curled up in bed seeking solace from the cold and the raucous sex play of his housemate and his nurse friend in the room next door? His helpful magical imagination could have conjured a picture of his pathetic parochial training exploding before they burst into the room with a saucy invitation
Where was the exploding wood phenomenon to help him ward off the impending oppressive darkness that followed the loss of his dear ones? Scooting back toward the city the rain turned up its intensity and the driver turned up his collar as the roof leak intruded on his melancholy. He plunged ahead into the darkness while muttering to himself Be Here Now.