On the way home from the concert
the wind assaulted his little car
she buzzed the window a third of the way down
grabbed her food-stained copy of Annie Dillard’s A Writer’s Life by its pages from out of the backseat
and tossed it into the crack
She turned her head to look
but the book had already been swallowed by the night
“My brother died on a night like this.
he’d had a few drinks
anyway, I occasionally toss something his way,” she explained.
“When I’m out on the highway,
I mostly give him reading material, but I have gifted him a pair of ear muffs, his favorite baseball cap, and at least one hamburger.”
the woman shifted nervously in her seat as a throng of flying trash slapped against the headlights.
The man, her friend, had lost his mother five years previous to her own car accident,
hadn’t tossed one thing out the window to her since she died, though
She’d, no doubt, think it a colossal waste of money
“I’m not sure what I would toss to my mom — maybe some warm clothes. She was always cold, I mean like even after she moved to Florida. Have you ever run into someone who looked like your brother on the street?”
He didn’t let her answer the question.
“Three weeks afterwards I thought I saw my mom on a street downtown
long, unkempt, black and gray hair
a blue hooded sweatshirt covered in cat hair
she had my mother’s zombie-like walk too.”
“What’d you do,” she asked.
“I went right up to her and put my arms around her
and pulled her toward me
the great thing was that she did not pull away
only waited until I was finished.
‘you looked like you needed that’
Isn’t that awesome?
I think I got all of the crazy out of my system right then.”
The woman laughed at this, and together they sat in silence for a few minutes, listening to Lou Reed rap along to “Walk on the Wildside” from the tape deck
“Do you think I’m nuts?,” she suddenly asked when the tape went blank and they remembered how close they were to death outside
“Nah. Everybody has their own way of dealing, I think.”
“How do you?”
“I don’t know. I tried to pick up marathon running.”
“Seriously? Did that help?”
“Not really. I guess though, I cope by hanging out with people like you.”
The wind seemed to finally subside and he picked up his speed to around 85 mph
He imagined what his mother might tell him in a situation like this.
Something cheesy like “slow down Speed Racer —
you’re gonna kill us both,” no doubt.
But the funny thing was
she died doing 102 on a road not unlike the one they were on