It was 8:30pm on a Friday when I strapped myself into the aging, soon-to-be decommissioned U-Haul along with all of my earthly possessions. Not that I have some other-earthly possessions in a storage unit somewhere out in the astral realm. That would be a great episode of Storage Wars.
Anyways, I remember the time because I was already running an hour late. I had to arrive at my destination by 11:00 am the next day. It was going to be tight if not impossible. Certainly improbable. I had 930 miles to cover between now and then, from Austin to Atlanta. I would only have time to stop and gas up this cantankerous old beast of a moving truck along the way. No stops for food, relief or sleep. This was the hour of ass-sweat and eye-glaze. This was my journey into the dark recesses of the South; twisting and turning along the many back roads of the brain.
I took a quick inventory of my supplies. Phone, headphones, phone charger, 8 pack of 5-hour energy drinks, 16 cans of Red Bull Zero (I’m watching my figure), a single pack of Doublemint gum, a mini-fun bag of Funyuns and a complete collection of Fran Drescher stand-up “comedy” recordings. Everything I needed to keep my blood pressure spiked and my eyes open for the next 16 hours.
I plunged the key into the ignition and summoned the beast from his slumber alongside the fire lane where I had illegally parked and loaded him up. I’m assigning the truck a male gender, because I don’t like to think about those kinds of noises coming out of a woman. He coughed and groaned before landing on the steady sound of an old, fat man breaking wind in a massage chair at Brookstone set to maximum vibrate.
I shifted down to D and felt a tremor throughout the cab as if a really important piece of the truck had just said “fuck it, I’m out.” I popped the parking brake and miraculously the truck began rolling forward. It felt more like falling forward actually, like I just opened a door a drunk man had been leaning against. But it moved. I could feel the mighty 6-mpg engine pulling me and my shit inch after inch further into the East.
As we approached the first red light, the beast whined a little before resuming its flatulent grumble while idling behind a silver prius. I remember sitting there in the cab, illuminated by the red LED filaments thinking if the prius in front of me was sentient it would feel an awful lot like it was standing in line for the bathroom with a sweaty 400 lb. man behind it doing the potty dance. Notice I did not assign the Prius a gender. Because let’s face it, Priuses (or is it Priusi or Pri-i), if any car on the road, would be gender-neutral.
Did I mention that I’m following that Prius for 930 miles? I am. Because it’s full of animals and a human that are also making the trip with me. But we’ll get into that later. The important thing is that I’m following it for the entire trip, and I’m in the truck by myself. Undulating with the engine and my foot on the precipice of release, I began to stare into the ass of the Prius, thinking that the brake lights, bumper and license plate kind of formed a rudimentary face smiling back at me. Jesus. I was already tired. That’s not good, my little silver-faced friend. The Prius only smiled back before some of the light went out of its eyes and we were on our way.