“Don’t even think about it!” I yell readying myself to sabotage the other driver’s move to overtake and cut me off on the freeway.  My hands clinch the steering wheel; my foot is “pedal to the metal.”  Adrenaline surges through my arteries when that car almost clips the front of my car.  Immediately, I back off the accelerator at the sight of a jumbled mess of cars fully stopped and blocking my exit.  As I slow my approach to join the off-ramp chaos, my adrenaline fix dissipates allowing me to reflect yet again on my tendency to road rage.

I’ve got to slow down.  What is it about driving that turns me into a risk-taking fiend?  For heaven’s sake.  Maybe I should go mountaineering or take flying lessons.  Now, that would be exciting.

I inch my car forward to stop–and-go down the off ramp located like a deep chasm between “naturalized” earth sloping down from the elevated freeway.

Same old same old.  Traffic.  Wouldn’t it be great flying a plane through mountain valleys instead?  Or, a helicopter?  The improvised mix of music blaring from open car windows becomes a soundtrack to my fantasies.

Movement on the artificial hillside attracts my attention.  Several small, black creatures roam around the scattered young shrubs and litter of fast food bags.  Getting closer, I recognize them as foraging crows.

What in the world can they find to eat here?  French fries!

A profound sadness washes over me after my initial jubilation matching that of the crow, as it brandished in its beak a French fry as though a trophy.

Animals on the edge of existence relying on our garbage to stay alive.  Then, there’s that guy, again.

Standing on the median at the stop light is a man with a stance and facial expression perfected to elicit pity and money.  He holds a roughly written sign of torn cardboard specially composed for us captives of the red light.

It’s a scam.  Just like my panhandler brothers use to pay for dope and alcohol.

As I drive past the beggar to turn left, I roll up my window and ignore his existence.

But, first they stole from our whole family and me.  They only wanted money.  Now, my rule is that I don’t give handouts.

Driving up to my next turn, my mind switches gears and readies for a parking spot search at the junior college I attend. Entering the parking lot, I first see the short, leafy-headed trees planted in narrow, bare dirt medians that separate the rows upon rows of parked cars.

Ok.  Here we go.

Driving slowly up and down the rows of parked cars, I hunt for the flash of white reverse tail lights or someone walking towards a parked car.  Spotting a woman walking onto the lot, I trail her hoping she will enter a car in my lane.  I see a fellow driver who has the same hope on the other side of the parking median.  Ready to speed up and grab her parking space, we both monitor the woman’s movements.  The woman gets into her car in my lane.

The parking gods are on my side.

Page one excerpt from Road Noise Short Stories To Thrill and Chill  2016 © Belinda A. Allen

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