My all night drive home.
Within the barracks wall closet doors was heard slamming. The showers were flowing for a few men cleaning up for a night out. Blaring conversations in progress throughout halls was of the inquisitive nature of what, where, and sometimes with who. The air was filled with the noises of the beginning long weekend. My adventure was a twelve hour drive for a home visit. I loaded up a small bag with enough clothes to get me through the four days. Secured all of my loose belongings in my room. Costly lesson was learned that roommates with sticky fingers will steal from you, even when your asleep or away.
Walking outside into the crisp, cool North Carolina air reminded of summer evenings at Fenway Park as a child. I loaded my bag into the so called trunk of my MR2. Closed it, and glanced through the parking lot making eye contact with several comrades on same mission but going in different directions. I exchanged a few good luck nods then entered into my two seater rice rocket.
The MR2 is a good single’s vehicle. With only two seats, fairly good gas mileage, and a supercharged engine. The car was economical and fun to drive. A babe magnet ? Maybe, but I never used the car for that.
Checking my tape case to see my arsenal of music I had tapes of Metallica, Megadeath, Van Halen, and of course Iron Maiden. David Lee Roth had a solo tape out that I meant to get but had no time. I thought to myself, Van Halen would never be the same. A box of Viverin occupied one slot in the case. It’s my first stop jolt to get me through the night. Everything seemed in be in order so away I went.
Leaving the compound of Marine Corps Air Station New River I headed west chasing the sun. The sun felt warm and good on my face. A little bit of a face tan on the way before turning North on I-95.
Just before the on ramp to I-95 I pulled into a filling station to get a cup of coffee. Usually strong and bitter the coffee was needed to keep me going.
On I-95 my cruising speed was just under 70mph. No more than 5mph over the legal limit. I always believed that it was safer knowing what was coming up than someone coming up from behind. The night slowly taken over the day. I notice trucks parked in the breakdown lane. More than usual, I guess their get a break for rest. I read a story a week or two ago when a motorist fell asleep and run up behind and under a stopped tractor trailer, killed instantly. The Highway Patrol should get these trucks move if not broke down.
Everything seems good until just before the James River. Two hours at crawling speed I came up to a massive traffic accident. Tractor trailer on it side with sheets of glass spewing out from the top of the trailer going down the highway. The road sparkled in the night from all the glass. How extraordinary that was, and now I was behind by at least two hours.
The feeling of cruising was changed more into urgency. Increasing my speed now to 75, sometimes 80mph. I zipped down the highway toward Washington D.C.
My fist stop was a town called Newington. I filled up and raced in to get a cup of very bitter coffee. Back on the road I felt uneasy. Maybe anxious to make up lost time? Something was not correct. My mind was telling me something.
It started to hit me between Washington and Baltimore. The view was getting fuzzy and dull. I would shake my head and choke down coffee. The dash white lines in the road were now blending into one................ I jerked, shook my head, and inhaled a quick breath. How did I get to Baltimore already ? I didn’t remember the last half hour. The lights of Baltimore kept me going and I finished what was left in my cup. Cracking the window to allow a rush of cool air across my face I felt OK.
Baltimore was now behind me along with its lights. Rushing into the darkness my next major city was Philadelphia. The reach of my headlights into the darkness was only a couple hundred feet. Thinking, I could put on my high beams but it would not be fair to blind the oncoming traffic.
Music was loud. I concentrated on the road, lines, passing trees, grass, road, lines, fuzzy lines....... A Snake !!! A snake is hanging from the sun visor!!!!! I couldn’t tell what I was but it needed to be out!!! I couldn’t see the head very well or the markings, it was all gray. I look like a coral snake. My left hand reached for the window crank. My right hand is on the wheel but soon was going to smack the thing out the window. Thrusting myself back deep in my seat the serpent disappeared. Breathing heavily, and shaking I realized it was a fatigue hallucination. Fully awake I pulled off the next exit. I got me another cup of coffee and walked around getting my circulation going. Fifteen minutes later, feeling ok, I was back on the road.
Philadelphia was now on the west of me. I was doing all right. Next major mile stone would be New York. Another long stretch of highway to go before my next fill up. My mind started wandering about work, and what has gone on in the week. Wandering about fishing, visiting some friends, and........... A trailer!!!!! I’m going 85mph down the breakdown lane and I’m 20 feet from eating the rear of this trailer !!! I’m dead, I’m dead!!
15 feet. I’m too late to brake or steer !!!!!
10 feet. This is going to hurt !!!!!
5 feet. God Help Me !!!!!!
No sound but the engine hum, road noise, and pebbles popping the wheel wells as I continued down the breakdown lane 85mph. I pass through the trailer that was not there but in my mind. Fully awake again, I slowed and veered the car back on the highway before I really get into a accident. Another hallucination set off alarms that I need to pull off the next exit.
This time I spent 30 minutes at an all night McDonalds walking around, using the rest room, and bought me a large coffee. The coffee was very memorable because I took a big sip and scalded my mouth, scorched my throat, and now my belly had a low burn going on. Very hot was an understatement. I was slightly bent holding my breath, grunting as the pain slowly subsided.
The dangerously hot beverage was put in the cup holder until it was cool enough for drinking and away I went.
It must have been no more than fifteen minutes. I was concentrating on the oncoming lights when trees filled the median blocking the traffic. On the right side was a granite wall towering at least 75 feet high where the road was cut through. My attention was back on the dark road. From out of my peripheral vision a dinosaur lunged from out of the wall !!!! My knee jerk reaction was to swerve the car left. Then realizing the extinct beast was not there. I swerve the car right. The McDonalds cup tilted over, spilling coffee across my leg. Now that was so very real. This has never happened before. What was going on?
A mile went by and I was coming up to a weight station. The area was fully lit. I inspected the inside of my vehicle as I was zipping by. Coffee on my tape case. My right hand cleaned it off and I open the lid to see the inside. O’no. The letters stared at me V-I-V-E-R-I-N. I forgot to take some 6 hours ago. No sooner did I read the box I popped 3 pills in my mouth and chewed. It was my way of getting the caffeine quickly into my system. The taste was horrid and bitter but I did the trick.
The same amount of caffeine as six cups of coffee hit me and I was wired. I had no problem going around New York. Filling up again almost into Connecticut, I could feel my nerves doing a low vibration. Walking out of the store after paying the sky was a few shades lighter. It amazes me how the whole sky lightens up but I never knew when it happened.
Connecticut was a breeze and now I was into Massachusetts. Soon I’ll be home and in the bed for a couple hours of good sleep. My body was still vibrating. Seeing familiar landmarks of my home area, my heart uplifted like seeing a good old friend. I didn’t know at the time how many hours I been driving. The last 10 minutes couldn’t go by fast enough.
Finally, I pulled into the drive way. I turned off the car and in the silence I could almost hear my body still vibrating.
Quietly, I entered my mom and dad’s home. My family was still asleep. My room was upstairs. The house being over 100 years old it has it’s fair share of creaks. I knew how to sneak up the stairs without making a sound. Came form years of practice. Now in my room I closed the door, sat on my bed and laid back. I could hear a low vibration. Looking at the ceiling tiles I thought of my journey. How I rushed and forgot to take Viverin. That trailer seemed so real. The tiles begin to blend together. I closed my eyes. I chuckled thinking of the dinosaur I tried to miss. I listen to my body still vibrating. I wondered, when was the vibration going to sto.........