squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven;
conscious of his fleeting time here."
Right in Two - Tool
The sky flashed, illuminating thick, rolling underbellies. Veins of red and deepest black traced those surfaces like a fatty vital organ. Bilboy peered out the rain-speckled windshield up at the magnificent display of nature’s wrath. An old-time country song crooned to itself on the AM radio. The Ford sputtered, recapturing Bilboy’s attention.
“Just a few miles more,” he muttered to the rusted behemoth.
There was this reoccurring dream: It always ended before his inebriated mind could wrap its arms around the true significance. Clouds overhead. Weak headlights stabbing vainly at the gathered night. Indescribable shivers puckering the old Semper Fi tattoo on his right forearm.
The reflection in his big-faced Timex watch, then the old Ford would sputter, just like that. Bilboy’s mouth twisted downwards and he rustled a bagged beverage clinging to the driver’s side door sill in one of those plastic half-circle cup holders you could get at the Speedy-Stop outside of Wilmenco.
This night drew up viscous memories of cold fluorescence, the stench of spilled gasoline and the tight red-burn of rope-bound wrists. It wasn’t too long ago that those scars’d faded to silver, just under the deep chestnut hairs. Spiderwebs skittered over those bones and canvassed the tops of his hands where the skin peeled back, like an old dirty sock.
Thunder announced just behind the cab making the old man jump in his seat. No seat belt—a ¾ Tonner didn’t have those kind of rules. He took a bitter swallow of piss-warm beer and fumbled in his breast pocket for a Camel, thumbing the lighter in the dash. It never worked; he never remembered that until it’d pop over and over again, only to hold it in til he could feel the heat radiate outwards from the inch-diameter hole.
The spiral of bright orange illuminated the end of his cigarette and guided the lighter back home. The Ford dipped two tires off the paved road onto the shoulder, and Bilboy corrected with a reflexive jerk of the gigantic steering wheel. The other two tires screeched in protest as the empty bed of the truck swung around to meet the front.
Bilboy growled as he attempted to hammer the brake into submission, spilling his beer down his leg and finally the floorboard as both hands clamped on the steering wheel.
Lightning flashed over the slick pavement, strobing the scene as it unfolded before his eyes, but it wasn’t this moment in time.
It was the dream. That same damn dream that jerked him awake, sheathed in chilled sweat and trembling like a newborn calf. The dream of what happened when the Ford really did leave the pavement and fall afterwards.
Snap of thunder. Blaze of fire. Gasoline.
It was his time, but he didn’t believe in that kind of thing. He didn’t believe in anything except Pearl, (who’d gone on fifteen years before) Pabst beer, Winston-Salem and that number 45 car, whose driver was a distinct asshole but he sure did get the job done.
Bilboy threw his arms up to cover his face, but the glass melted through his skin. The old 302 wormed into the cab to greet him, partially severing his right leg in a searing instant. The rain saturated his dry skin as he stared up into the face of his Maker.