Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand
After noon I was feeling restless so I drove to the nearest coffee shop. Well, not the nearest exactly, but the closest place I could think of that had the atmosphere I was looking for – crowded, dark, a little too aware of itself.
The streets were drowning. Wet, cold rain. We’ve been under a deluge since last year. The rain shows no signs of stopping. I skidded my car through puddles and jockeyed with zig-zagging traffic. I don’t like to think too much when I’m driving – being locked behind the wheel is one of the few times my mind shuts off – but safety demanded it so I thought.
Of course I thought about the other cars and the slippery road, but I also thought about family and how many miles I am from home.
Pulling off the highway I saw a car on the side of the road. It’s lights were off and it was halfway in the lane. It didn’t look wrecked but it hadn’t ended up like that intentionally. Driving by, I peeked in the driver’s side. There was a young guy and I couldn’t tell if he was moving.
I drove to the cafe a couple blocks away and idled in the parking lot. The dead-still driver stuck with me. I played a few scenarios and none were convincing. He’s fine, he’s not fine. But what could I do about it?
I think a lot about my responsibility to my community. First off, I’m not sure what to consider my community. Cary, I guess, but I only live here. I don’t know this place. It doesn’t know me.
I got sick. My gut knew better than my head. So I turned the car around and drove back to the exit ramp. I parked in muddy grass along the roadside and walked to the guy’s car in light rain. When I waved, he opened the door. He looked real worried. He was about my age. He was smoking a cigar. He says:
“Your car break down too?”
I say: “No, just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
But he told me the engine had just overheated and everything was fine. I didn’t need to worry. We shook hands and I walked off. I got back in a dry driver’s seat and locked the doors. Smoke burned out his windows. Fleshy-red tip of a cigar.
When I finally made it to the coffee shop, I’d never felt so calm before.
Novel Count: 25,842
Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
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In a sense the car has become a prosthetic, and though prosthetics are usually for injured or missing limbs, the auto-prosthetic is for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale.Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking