The past haunts a man until he finds an escape in the lines.
|He stared at the dotted lines as they whizzed by him. It was the easy way to pass the time. Radio was monotonous and the sights all looked same after this many months but a person could find solace in the white dashes that led to each and every destination. A sort of hypnosis sets in after while, one that allows for an almost meditative state. This is what let him find peace, what let him cope. It only weighed on him when he stopped. He almost never did.
He’d left his home, or what was his home before this truck had become home, two months after the accident. He’d lost his job three weeks before and was running out of options, and hope. He knew he had to do something, he would need money eventually but first he just needed a distraction. His chance came as many do, late at night through bleary eyes and television static. The ad was simple enough:
‘Need a job? Like travel? Be a truck driver!’
He called the number right there. He figured that it wasn’t much of a life but it was one hell of an escape and that was exactly what he needed.
Two days of truck driving school later and he was on the road. The first week was torture, long hours and heavy loads driving with D.P. D.P. was as disgruntled as they came. He was in his late forties but looked every inch of sixty. Salt and pepper hair, a five o clock shadow at nine a.m., two packs of Camel Wide 99’s every day and a weathered look to him that was usually reserved for abandoned barns.
It wasn’t all bad; D.P. spent most of the time bitching about his ex-wife, or the company but mostly his ex-wife. The travel great at first, he got to see a lot of different parts of the country that he hadn’t before, new places, new people and always an amazing local delicacy to sample; BBQ in Kansas City, gumbo in Louisiana, cheese steaks in Philly.
It was the nights that got to him, those in between times where everything got quiet, when the dark crept up and the silence allowed his thoughts in. It was in these times that the past still haunted him. He would see their faces, smiling, laughing, happy, just like he used to remember them. Then the flash would come and the screaming started and the terror would descend on their faces and his soul. Then the scene would replay, over and over until his body, exhausted, would overtake even his pain and allow him some rest.
It was the same terror that eventually cost him his job back home. They encouraged him to take some time off after the accident but he went to work. He had to be doing something. He would see the looks of pity that his coworkers would give him. It took him two weeks to figure out why, he looked like hell. Not sleeping for weeks wears visibly on a man, the bags had formed under his eyes, he lost weight, even showered and shaved he didn’t really look presentable. After a while it started to affect his performance, then his bosses talked to him and a few weeks later, he was done.
A week on the road with D.P. and they kicked him out on his own. One man, one truck and thousands of miles of road. At first the silence killed him. There he was again, alone with his thoughts. No D.P. to distract him from the terror and the pain. It was the second week that he found the lines and the peace that came with them. Relief washed over him much as his tears had on the first night. The flashbacks to the accident, to the path, to the rushing water, they all stopped as long as he had the lines.
Soon he found himself driving more and sleeping less. With movement came solace and with rest, terror. A driver from Tennessee had set him up the first time. ‘One line and you’ll drive all night like it’s nothing,’ he said. That was all it took. Soon he was driving for twenty hours or more at a time. Twenty hours became a day and a half and a day and a half became two. More and more the lines on the mirror helped him find the lines on the road.
It was on one of these long stretches, two days since he’d left North Carolina, stopping only for fuel and cigarettes that it happened. The lines quit working. He suddenly found himself there again. On that path above the river, watching his wife and daughter laughing, running, slipping, screaming, falling, dying. He shut his eyes to block the image and he didn’t see it. The lines on the mountain pass turned and he didn’t. In the blink of an eye, the roadside barrier was flattened and he was flying, falling, screaming…