HIGH TIMES IN TRENTON!!!!!!!!!!!!
The week before Christmas.
Y’all know what that’s like.
I had high hopes and tingled all over.
Could I have foreseen the conclusion
to such a glorious day,
extruded through the answer to a question, repeated over and over,
and freeze-framed in the shock
of her mindless penetrating gaze?
“You just killed my son in law”.
And spilling blood soiled the periphery
while making soft, a poignant symphony
of wailing sirens in the background.
My alarm clock rent the early morning calm.
I was sucked back from a deep-corpse sleep
at the crack of dawn.
Greeting the cock’s-crow was a daily occurrence in my profession,
as the hand of Lucifer
was nefariously realized in the form of my
very loud alarm clock
which alway got me up and going. Pronto!
A flood of golden ray’s
from a brilliant bright blue Virginia sky,
poured through my window,
and coerced me out of bed.
Christmas lay just around the corner
and I was returning home after months on the road.
I'd been working my way around the east coast, but now all images of piping diagrams
and valve flows in my mind
were replaced with highway routes,
miles per gallon and other such items
in my itinerary for the day.
The first thing on my list though,
was to brew a strong cup of coffee
followed by a brisk shower.
I wrote a short goodbye note to Brian and Karen. They was in the back of the house,
sleeping off a goodbye party
we’d had the night before.
Brain was my oldest friend
and Karen was his newly-wed women.
I gathered my belongings
and stepped into a cold sunny winter’s morning.
My pick-up truck sat deathly still
beneath a blanket of frozen crystals
which snapped and crackled
as I opened the driver’s door.
After starting the motor
I scraped a thin sheet of frozen sky
from the windshield while my Detroit big block warmed things up under the hood.
I had a long drive ahead of me
but I was exited never the less.
I was meeting Consuela.
We’d arranged a luncheon date in Manhattan,
which I was determined to keep.
She was graceful, intelligent
and extremely good looking.
The day promised high adventure for a young man raised in a place named after four stop signs,
smack-dab in the middle of nowhere.
I had no idea of the carnage that was to follow.
I drove through the suburbs of northern Virginia still bewildered by the photo copied houses
in neat little rows,
repeated on down the line,
as far as the eye could see.
After stopping to tank up with gas,
I made my way to the interstate
and began my journey northwards
through the megalopolis of Americas east coast.
I'd planned a detour along the way,
to the Philadelphia museum of modern art
for an exhibit
of one of America’s premier blacksmiths.
It was closed when I arrived,
but I'd always liked Philadelphia,
so I didn't mind the detour.
You could say that of all the eastern states
south of Manhattan,
I liked Pennsylvania the best.
I grabbed another cup of coffee
and proceeded uneventfully
through Maryland and Delaware
As I entered New Jersey
I felt a shiver of premonition,
or perhaps it was only a jolt
from the strong coffee
burning a tunnel down my throat.
Since my childhood
I’d had a bad feeling about New Jersey.
As a youth I can remember that my eyes
were glued to the train window
as I paled within the brutal squalor of Trenton
while journeying with my family
to our yearly summer retreat to my grandparents
on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.
As viewed through a train window, northern New Jersey with its run down,
and devastated urban landscapes,
were a far cry from my home in
New England’s natural beauty
along the Connecticut shoreline.
At some point around Trenton,
the interstate is routed onto the Kings Highway which was bustling nervously
with last minute Christmas shoppers.
I was suddenly wrenched
from my intensly focused driving
by a strong wind
whipping though the cab of the truck.
I hurriedly began to roll up the window. Surprise! Surprise!
The windows were already tightly shut.
I had a sick feeling in my stomach
and felt slightly dizzy.
I drove along for another mile or so before pulling over and stopping.
I stepped out onto the pavement
and walked around to the shoulder of the road. Something wasn’t right.
I moved into a squat position
with my head between my knees
and gulped fresh cold air deep into my lungs.
In short time the world began to right itself.
I stood erect, entered my truck and proceeded on with my journey.
It’s said that some people can hear colours.
I can’t say that I ever have, (not on that day anyway) but I did see the colours of smell.
Not very pretty ones though.
More like brownish yellows;
like bile in the stomach of a dead man.
I bit down hard on the taste of burning chrome
before slipping into a great black nothing,
while time stopped short.
I have no clue
as to how long I was in this state of no-mind.
In retrospect though,
I do know that my foot was still on the pedal
of a very powerful Chevy pick-up truck.
The next thing I did know,
was that I was floating
on celestial wings and soft feather pillows.
I had never felt so warm and safe.
Waves of tranquillity
rolled gently up and down my body and soul.
I began to see warm colours
and heard wonderful sounds.
I don’t know where I was,
but all my life I have longed to return
to this place of wonder.
Without drugs I had attained
what every heroin addict seeks and never finds.
“You’re license please, Sir.”
I was groggy and didn’t appreciate having my shoulder rudely jostled.
“You’re license NOW, Sir.”
Gradually my rippling tranquillity
was overpowered by a chilly draft,
entering my now open window.
My eyes were gripped in their upwards glance
by the crisply starched uniform
of a New Jersey state trooper
demanding my licence.
I quickly fumbled around for my wallet, withdrawing my license and handing it over
and into the officer’s impatient hand.
I was confused
and the next question caught me off guard.
“Have you been drinking sir?”
“No,,, I haven’t been drinking!!!”
I answered his question
and followed up with one of my own.
“What’s wrong” I asked,
like a village idiot from Mars.
“It appears that you’ve caused an accident sir and two men are seriously injured”
The sky’s opened up and crashed down around me.
I swam between heaven and hell.
To put it more succinctly,
I had just slipped from confusion,
straight into a turbulent raging shock.
I might add
that shock can alter ones state of mind,
equal to any hallucinogen found in nature.
Time slows down and speeds up all at once. Feelings are suppressed
beneath an implosion of synaptic activity.
I registered a blur of uniform which crossed
the periphery of my ever shrinking universe
(which was at this moment was reduced to Officer Reilly standing before me),
flowing into Officer Reilly's right ear.
“Sargeant, one just died
and the other one looks to be close behind”
I couldn’t have imagined that things
could get much worse, but,
in an ear shattering nano-second
my nightmare had ripped into high gear.
“You’re under arrest sir,
as you appear to be injured,
we will be transporting you to the hospital”
All this went by me in a surreal bubble.
I found myself pulled from my truck
and subsequently led to a waiting ambulance.
What happened next
has remained with me to this day.
Was it a mistake?
An error of judgement?
Or were they simply lacking in ambulances
on that fatefull day?
The mother in law of the man
whom I had just trapped between
the bumper of my pick-up truck
and the now crushed trunk of the car before me, (separating his body into two pieces),
had been placed in the same ambulance as me
just moments before.
We stared at each other
all the way to the hospital.
A bridge formed in the void
between our dilated pupils.
We were sucked into each other.
Nothing broke the symbiotic thread
of our mutual incomprehension,
except for an endless tapeloop,
running over and over.
”You just killed my son in law.”,
running over and over, to this very day.