March 16, 2007
Russellville AR (deep in the Ozarks)
Big rigs: Totally omnipresent on the blank stretch of I-40 from Arizona to New Mexico to North Texas to Oklahoma to Arkansas. They come out at night like thugs, crowding the highway and making little wittle cars tremble and falter and search for a safe warm parking lot somewhere to hide until the big scary rumbly things have gone away with the sunlight. Or at least petered out some.
We crossed four states two days ago, and one yesterday, only growing uneasy and pulling over to find a cheap-ass motel when we’d had enough of the shoulder-tightening effects of the roaring vehicles of a free market society at work.
Momma ordered us not to drive at night — nor do we want to, really. Not anymore, not since October 14, 2004. We’re nocturnal, but it was in the pre-dawn hours when Cyclecide was slammed from behind by a drowsy truck driver going 85 miles per hour. We were going 55. Sleeping in the benches, head toward the back, up against the wooden headboard.
We won’t say life was ruined for the next few years, because we’re alive, and so are all our best friends and we escaped without any major, major injuries. But still … yeah, we’ve got this little sign on the wall at the house that Redwine DJ TOPH ONE gave us … it has an outline of SF’s Sutro Tower above the fog, with the words QUIT COMPLAINING elegantly spelled in cursive. Also, there’s nothing like a brush with death to make you gloriously happy every morning to wake up and still be alive.
Plus, we’ve been nervous around tractor-trailers ever since our paternal grandmother (“Mamaw”) put the fear of God in us, tensing up and slowing down every time one cruised up beside her on the highway. Then she’d speed up or pull over or do whatever she had to do to get away from it. We wonder what kind of post-traumatic stress disorder she was harboring about bigrigs. We’ll have to ask her when we see her in Mississippi.
Not to say trucks, and commerce, aren’t wonderful. We’ve got mad respect for anyone who drives for a living — our own dad does. Not trucks, but still. It’s hard. We feel sorry for the guy who hit our bus. Most likely he was overworked and trying to earn some extra cash, just like the rest of us.
We passed a billboard in Amarillo that read “YOU NAME IT – A TRUCK BROUGHT IT.”
Speaking of billboards … certain portions of our 11 hours’ driving yesterday on the 40 reminded us of the final scene in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Wall-to-wall ads.
And speaking of people who drive for a living … when we’re on tour, Jarico, Cyclecide’s fearless bleeder, also doubles as our ship’s captain — second in command being either Laird, Big Daddy, Jeremy, Paul, or Kris.
At the helm of the bus, late at night, Jarico will invariably drink way too much coffee and smoke way too many cigarettes and rock back and forth like a person with neural damage or a developmental disability. We gently make fun of him for the rocking thing — or we did, but we won’t, ever again, because now it’s clear why he does it.
White line fever is a bitch — and the lines don’t hypnotize you quite so much if you rock, because they start moving in gentle waves and circles.
Over the 40 and through the rigs, to Grandmamaw’s house we go. Through the forest of crosstopped tankers. Tiny little car. ::deep breath::
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