Thursday, June 01, 2006

Rain as Drama (Or Clutching the Steering Wheel and Squinting into the Mist)

Rain greets them as they start their journey north on I-45. The huge statue of Sam Houston appears out of the woods like a devotional figure for trail blazers. Alabaster and thirty feet tall, the shape emerges from the forest land as the road curves gently to the west. There is a park and information center, but he and Monkey carry on. The rain is beginning to increase in intensity, and few of the other drivers have on their headlights. It is a precarious situation.

Just south of Dallas, the skies clear. They stop at a McDonald's (the first time in years) and temper Monkey's hangover with a double cheeseburger. He is happy enough with a Big Mac, but all he is allaying is his perpetual sense of hunger. Back on the road, they listen to John Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. He contemplates plural marriage. She contemplates plural proper nouns.

Lake Eufaula, almost yellow with clay and mud, reflects the midday sun and shadows the clouds in the late-May sky. She dozes. He shakes his legs, rubs his face, and sings quietly along to Centro-Matic. The cruise control is set to 78--eight miles over the posted speed. It's a two lane highway (they're now on US 75), and the traffic is well-behaved. Passing is easy, since few cars are riding the left lane. They are making good time.

Through Oklahoma and into Joplin (I-44, now), all is well. Monkey rouses. She feels good. He senses home and has his second wind. The skies begin to darken ahead.

He turns on the radio to catch a severe thunderstorm report. They roll into Springfield and the heavens open up. Over the interstate and to the south, the sky is black and the rain is pelting the earth and everything on it with heavy droplets of late-afternoon rain. To the north, the sun shines fiercely through the driver's-side window. The wipers silently clear his line of vision for split seconds at a time.

In Lebanon, the rain has stopped. The sky is looking dramatic, and north of the Kum and Go at the Route 5 turn off, a double rainbow arches up to the blue-grey couds. They gas up. The wind is frisky. They head north to the Lake.

More rain in Camdenton, but nothing like before. The sun has marked the horizon and night is falling. Each mile they travel feels less like a mile than the one before. Home seems to be receding with the daylight. His eyes feel weak and itchy.

After over fifteen hundred miles without incident, he is pulled over at the lake for speeding. Tired and longing for an end to the journey, he is not upset. He was speeding. Not by much, but he was. Oh, well, he thinks, as the officer decides to ticket him, let's just get this over with so we can get home.

Which they do, at ten that evening. They wearily pick up Ripken from Aunt James and Uncle Joe, unpack (a little), and descend, slowly and fully, into sleep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do believe I may have been with Monkey at her last McDonald's run: June, 2003 (or 2004???) along I-70 somewhere east of KC (you know, near that Krispy Kreme place) on our way to Columbia. A long cycle to break, indeed.

Kum and Go? $3!

Sucky suck about the weather and the speeding ticket too. Especially when you are just so rule-abiding when it comes to driving. Unlike me. That isht just ain't fair.

OK, so this is post number 1 of the many I need to catch up on now that I've returned from Italy to cyberland and the DC area. So that's what I have to say about that.

And also: bubyhjop!