“Mars and Venus.  That’s what it is Allie.  After four years with him, I should know,” said the thirtyish woman to no one in her Mercedes; she was alone.  Speeding, she was driving it illegally in the freeway carpool lane to avoid the commute traffic.  Causing her to sweat, her suit jacket began to bunch up behind her back.  Fearful of wrinkles and uncomfortable, she performed a complicated gyroscopic move to safely remove her jacket at 70 miles an hour.  At the same time, she was attempting to hear a disembodied woman’s voice barely noticeable above the road noise in the car.

“What was that?  Alison!  Speak louder.  I can barely hear you!  Damn it!” Teresa shouted before abruptly swerving out of the carpool lane and braking to a screeching stop behind a backed-up pack of commuter cars trapped by the freeway.

“Are you leaving him?  Can you hear me, now!” shouted Alison in the quiet of the now parked car.

“God, Allie.  Stop shouting!  Now, I hear you fine,” Teresa replied.  She exchanged glares with the driver in the lane at the right of her.  He pretended to scratch the side of his head with his middle finger, so she could see his annoyance with her driving moves.

She silently mouthed at him, “Asshole.”  Then, grumbled, “Men.”

“What was that, Terry?”  Her friend’s voice filled the car’s cabin.

“Just some asshole,” growled Teresa.

“Well, if you think he’s an asshole….Leave him, for God’s sake!” an exasperated voice characteristic of Alison rang out.

“Not Jason, silly.  It’s the asshole driver next to me giving me the finger,” Teresa continued, “I’m going to be late to work on my first day.  This traffic is horrible.  It was nothing like this five years ago.”

The clog of cars began to loosen, allowing Teresa to speed past her insulter.  Cars in the carpool lane were zipping by faster than the posted speed limit.  She scanned the freeway and felt relieved to see a police officer giving a ticket to a young driver.

She half-way listened to Teresa yammering on about “Let’s get together.”  “…..hike Tilden…”   “my house” as she made her move to abruptly wedge her car between two fast moving vehicles in a small dynamically changing space of the carpool lane.  She barely heard her friend ask, “How about Sunday?”

“OK, what time?”  She gripped the steering wheel, prepared to slow or speed up to prevent or dodge cars not signaling left.  Suddenly, in front of her, a car swerved into the carpool lane from the now stalled fast lane.  She deftly braked then sped up to close the gap in front of her car.

“Ten thirty. K?” was her friend’s response equal in volume to the rumble of chassis noise and whine of the windows.

“K. Gotta go,” were Teresa’s parting words as she pressed her Bluetooth Off button.  She focused on maneuvering across three freeway lanes of slowly moving cars to exit her off ramp.  Loud electronic rave music replaced her friend’s voice energizing her for the upcoming meeting she hoped would usher in a new life for her.

Ten thirty….Ten thirty….ten thirty….I’ll input it later.  Just gotta get to that meeting.

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

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