Night Sequence

by dschapman

I’ll drive that goddamn Mercedes until the day it wraps me itself around a tree or a telephone pole. I’m a speed demon. I have a nightly vigil that I make, a pilgrimage, and it is cathartic and self-assuring, and it reminds me of James Agee, and then I want to cry; I do not cry; I roll the windows down, I lower my seat; Billboard Top 20, cold and self-assured.

I drive gently and civilized when in the presence of anyone else but in the dark and isolated wilderness of my lonely listless desperate path I settle back low in my cool, black rocket and descent like a wraith on the road paved before me at very high speed through the cotton fields and cotton fields, the forests and the pecan groves.

The world remains largely undiscovered. Night is not well understood; the emotions of night are not well understood. I move like a wraith through the countryside of my childhood, afraid of nothing, confident I’ll see no one. I was not a child here. I was a child in a different place… I can never go back to that place again.

I go back roads. There are not any cops. There is not any oncoming traffic. There are no streetlights – time is standing still, the trees on either side form tunnels, heavy-laden leafy limbs. There are mountains and in the distance and deserts and there, past the levee, is an old, tired river. The river of my youth was raving mad and frozen over, frothy currents full of ice, winding and immaculate.

I am carried away by my thoughts… Vengeance, unholy discord; our fathers’ fathers, sacred vigils, rainswept stormy nights. Words take on monstrous forms and assault me. Inadequacy digs its heel in my spine. Insignificance licks my face and neck. Uncertainty peels off my fingernails and Anxiety beats me in my eyes. My eyes go dark and lifeless. I submit; Submission consumes me.

“Get out of my head!” But there is no one in my head.

Sometimes I turn off my headlights and becoming blackness hurtling through perfect blackness for a moment, and it refreshes me. Sometimes I envision a pale figure standing in the middle of the road around the next bend in the middle of the woods, it will have limped from the forest with its hands to its face, hollow-eyed and horrifying. I would run the bastard over.

I even have a gun in my dashboard because I am feeling goddamn drastic and I am being proactive. I have been low and I have been lower still but now I am reaching new lows, overburdened and insolent. I am both prideful and terrified and my brain and my heart are in paralytic discord. I am self-paralyzing. I don’t know what will happen next. I do not really know what is around the next bend. I have seen some very strange sights at night, and I have hardly scratched the surface.

There are worlds within worlds and everything is crystal spheres. Something is in my head. I am being controlled by some terrible fate. I have been infested. I am a little blue-faced boy looking in from your window, born out of hell frozen over, and I am tracing the letters help me in the frost on the glass.