cock-a-doodle-do all day

I’m barreling down the back country roads with my muffler tied to the car by a coat hanger, thinking about the seven stages of learning, the melting polar ice cap and ensuing arctic landgrab when I realize I’m about to run smack-crunch into a group of deer.

I’m still vibrating from an adrenaline rush caused by a fight with the rooster. The rooster is new, and is confused. It cock-a-doodle-fuckin-dos all day, with no sense of time or decorum. The sound of its crow is throaty and strangled; a high, warbling, obnoxious cry of indignation enough to send anyone to the booby-hatch. I had whacked at it with a broom, ushering it back into the coop, shouting at it to shut up. It’s the kind of rooster you want to blast in the head.

After the rooster, piloting the old Honda down the gristle curves of the country back roads, I’m jouncing and clanging over the vestigial frost-heaves and Spring culverts, over steel deck bridges spanning bright, burbling water, past horse-crossing signs and trucks where loggers dig into the forest edge. My “check engine” light keeps blinking on. I manually shift the automatic transmission, dropping it into third gear to take the hills, careening down the other side in fourth. To get rid of the “check engine” light, and to temporarily resolve whatever sensory problem or rocker-arm issue the engine is having, I kill the power and coast. After a few seconds, I fire it back up and try and recover some speed. My stereo has a short in it so the song on the radio goes out over one unavoidable pothole, comes back on after another. This. Is. Driving. With no muffler, the rapier sound of the car is like a maniac motorcycle. I pitch into the turns like a motocross driver, leaning into the curves, slaloming the orange road safety flags, blurring by the moose-crossing signs now along the shoulderless edge.

When I see the deer, my heart flips. I’m coming down a hill at a pretty good speed, about to rocket out into a straightaway. The back roads are a series of hairpin turns, and when you get a straight stretch, you give her all she’s got, captain. The deer are right smack in the middle of the road, halfway down the stretch. It’s a mother and two twin spotted fawns. I hit the brakes and my car shakes like it’s having a seizure. This is normal. The rotors squeal and the brake pads thump. This too is normal.

Along the sides of the straightaway, spires of dead pines stab into the baleful sky. Crows fly off from squashed carrion already there on the pavement. The trio of deer, the doe and her two fawns, don’t move. My Honda shudders and jerks and squeals as I work to slow it down in time. I pump the brakes for fluid, but fluid isn’t going to help. I’m closing right in on the deer; this is all happening in a matter of seconds. For some reason I picture the head of the rooster blowing up in slow-motion. Ka-PLATT. But these deer aren’t going to blow up if I hit them. They’re just going to get messed up. So’s my car, maybe so am I.

The brakes are smoking now. I think of having just passed Union Falls, and what a pleasant moment that was, with the shushing water, the sundappled waterdam pond. My knuckles are white on the steering wheel. The stereo jumps to life, music blaring. I tell you, it would have been something if the song playing was “Bodies” by Drowning Pool or even “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff, but it’s not. It’s Neil Young singing, “Old Man.” Finally, the car stops. I’m only yards away from the deer. The mother looks at me. She hadn’t sprung off the road, she hadn’t moved. Only now does she nudge her fawns forward so that they bob off into the underbrush and disappear. Along the dirt edge of the road she takes one look back at me, as if to say, “That’s a beater car, you asshole – get a job,” before slipping into the forest herself.

I sit for a moment. I turn the music down. After some time, I lumber on again, the Honda glubbering forward. I sort of lose track here, not thinking of anything, just calming down. At some point, the music cuts off again. I get up some speed, but not as much. I continue along this sunbaked tracery of roads that aren’t on any Google satellite map. I reach the corner of Rock Street and Alderbrook Road where a nice, modest home sits with log-siding and what look like goats or small donkeys grazing inside a fence. There’s a mixture of homes along these roads. From vinyl-sided ranch-style, to squat log homes, to more ambitiously sprawling rustic.

I move slower now, yeah, but I’ve got to keep the car alive, got to get to my destination. As it is I get to a steep hill and chug up, going as little as fifteen miles per hour at one point. When I get to the top of the hill, I get going a little, bring it up to third, and then to fourth, and start barreling down the next hill again. I swerve a little to avoid a pothole, clip it with the rear tire, and the radio pops back on. I smile. This is driving.

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3 Comments

  1. Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

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