My shorthand skills are the only interesting thing about me. Watch me bamboozle you with my useless hieroglyphs. Your open mouth speaks of amazement, and I am smug. This is my proudest achievement of the past year and it means nothing, other than my determination to complete. We never completed Chicago. By the end, onward galloping, but three and a bit weeks now away, I will have completed America, but I won't have finished. NYC is a Russian winter and too many waysides fell by like waysides fall. All the sideshows were missed.
Is this anything more than an accomplishment, one too tick off that endless To Do List? Identity destruction is not something to be proud of. This is no spiritual quest for a self I can hold on to, and it was never meant to be. All my old selves are dying out, though, and crocodile tears won't bring them back. The road trip is a demarcation point, a placer to the future, a lighthouse. I mistook truth for accuracy, sketching false words on gold leaf pages. Trust these words at your peril. All I know is - I am alone and I always will be. A romantic blueprint for my future that I already knew.
The tidemarks on the toilet and the drool patch on the bathmat speak of a night spent caressing the tiles. Bacchus' fingers are rammed down her throat. We never made it out of Arlington Heights - sprawled around on sofas until we head to the golden glow of the projector. District 9 is the same plot told in an interesting way and for that it is to be congratulated. Script needs some work. Only eating Frosted Wheats means I pour popcorn into my mouth until my stomach starts to protest. I am empty and I am full. The synthetic butter flavour has turned my tongue into jerky- salty and dry. Old arcade games give me an RSI, flicking my wrist to reload and destroy the endless zombie hordes. Time Crisis has a broken gun and Mario Kart is loose. Jurassic Park, Star Wars, shooting games. Such choices, such little time. The first McDonald's is no longer open, just a historic relic, a glass fronted neon lit little hut. The only history in America is corporate history. The same ghosts every night.
When we grow up we won't laugh at the Jiffy Lube stores. The Gaylord Indian restaurant will raise n'erry a snigger. And Normal, Illinois will not seem as quaint. The cars ahead flick their lights on - the sunlight has disappeared behind a thick marble of grey clouds. Wipers cajole the water away too slow and we have to pull over, hazard lights flashing. The sky is flashing purple every 10 seconds, thunder following too closely behind. Storm is near, above us, low hulking rainsmothering all around. I have no idea why I'm not scared, sitting on the hard shoulder hoping everyone else can see me, wind whipping horizontal water and rocking the car. Further on and the sky is split, a flat high black line dividing, blue and orange sunlit land off to the east; the deathly marble westwards. Barns and masts are silhouetted against, a wind farm looks doomed. The twenty metre high corporation signs mark the town out. We can't see anything more. This is my favourite weather. Storms calm my soul, balance. Sixty miles per hour we emerge the other side, splatter splash descending into spitspot drizzle.
They wave goodbye from a congested parking lot as she leaves to meet other friends. A large part of me knows I'll probably never see most of these people again. I am a minor ripple in an overlarge pond. The pebble sinks to the bottom, never to be seen again, mixing with all the other mottled greysmooth stones.