If you haven't do so already Read Metastatic Carnage: Another Meatspace Adventure - Part I
Part II begins here.
Trembling as I step out into the 20 degree night I almost pitch forward and fall out of my car. My gut heaves acid into my lungs and I am half blind with Subcon trying to crunch the particulars. Half of my thinking parts are still screaming that I was already stopped and that it wasn't fair.
Part of me wishes that my mind would howl with lusty violence and make me grab something sharp so I could hack up the nearest thing with a pulse. There's no point in lying.
All I feel is the cold jagged edges of the world tugging at my skin. I'm a puppet, dangling from garrotes just over the brink of a poisoned world.
"Are you ok?" That's Bill talking. He was in the Red Charger. The front of my car just got real intimate with his back end. He's unhurt, doesn't even seem shaken. Lucky for him someone else absorbed the brunt of the impact.
"I can't stop shaking," I tell him but even I don't seem too interested in that. Instead I look at the guy who hit me. Some dumb fucking redneck in his 40's or 50's. His big white truck, a dualie, is dark and quiet. Both his headlights are toast and the engine is off. I found out later his battery cracked and they had to tow his truck all the way to Mooresville.
Poor thing. Bless his heart.
One quick word about Southern expressions. 'Bless his heart' is as much a condolence as it is a knife in the back.
Before freak out any harder I pick up my phone and tell Natalie that I am not dead and that I will call her later. I glance at the trunk and realize that even if I can open it that it will never close. All my tools, parts and my gun are back there. I walk back to the driver who hit me.
"You ok buddy?" I ask. He just looks at me with disgust, like somehow it was my fault for being the car in front of his slow ass reflexes.
"I'm fine," he gripes at me. "Wish I could say the same thing for my truck." Nice. Real nice.
Don't ask me how I am you piece of shit. Someone needs to call the cops.
I ask around. Of course no one has called the cops. Interestingly enough there's a wreck ahead of our 4 car smashup. Both of the drivers are doing just fine. They haven't called the cops either.
"I'm gonna let you do it," one of them says to me. To me. I just got the most brutal treatment out of all 8 cars and I have to call the cops. Lovely.
The 911 operator takes down my info. It's heartbreaking, she tries to patch me over to Highway Patrol but can't. After 5 minutes of trying she just decides to call it in herself. I wait as the others piece together what happened. Eight cars are arranged in linear misery along the highway. Just as I feel like the piano wire holding me together can't cut any deeper a passing trucker pulls them taut.
"Y'all need to slow down," he screams. His big ass tanker grumbles along up the road. Later I'll think about putting holes in the big tanker with my 10/22. For now I just look at my smashed up trunk and feel like crying.
EMS and the Linwood Volunteer Firefighters beat the highway patrol on scene by about ten minutes. I have to sign a paper saying that I decline medical treatment. There will be time for later if need be. I can barely hear or think or do anything except convulse in the freezing cold. When the cops do show up they start from the front and work backwards collecting ID's and registrations as they go.
While we wait Bill confides in me that he's taken a picture of the redneck's license plate.
"So if that fucker takes off he's not getting away," he says. Bill is pure venom. I envy his reaction because he just seems cranky. He's as defiant as I am defeated. Some part of me feels dead and my Subcon seems to have taken a long coffee break. We wait and wait. Natalie calls and I have to try and explain what happened through crackling static. It's the only time I
feel like screaming that night.
Minutes pass, some of the firefighters take an interest in my car. I give them my perspective of the wreck.
"So you were already stopped with your foot on the brake when that guy hit you?"
"Yep." They look meaningfully at the 8 feet streak of rubber on the highway.
One of the cracks up and slaps a hand on my shoulder.
"I know you're pissed, man. But as hard as you got hit . . . Just be glad your brain is still in your head." Oh, I am. Doesn't make the world a nicer place. We have to move off the road soon. The engine seems fine, one of my lights lost its housing but none are out.
The cops block off traffic and we move to exit 85 then park in order we all got fucked. White truck has to be towed so that stays behind. There are two cars behind me, 4 in front.
Now here's the kicker, and it took much discussion between me and the gentlemen in front of me to piece together what happened.
Cars #1 and #2 bumped into each other as traffic was slowing down and the lane count shrank from four to two. Car #3 saw the first accident and pulled over so he could be a witness. Car #4, the Red Charger driven by Bill, had to stop suddenly to avoid smacking into Car #3. I had to stop to avoid Bill and the White truck, Car #6 pushed my car into #4 which collided into #3. Behind us a young girl stopped to avoid our pileup and was rear ended by an older gentleman. No one from me forward bothers talking to them.
It's fucked up that it happened and more so that the initial accident propagated a series of events leading up to our crash and the one behind us. Worse the wreck happens at 6pm and we don't get to break off until 830pm. Both of these do not compare to the real shit kicking detail in this whole mess.
Accidents happen and the world does not always punish the wicked. Just before the wreck another vehicle swerved 3 feet into Car #1's lane. In order to avoid hitting this person Car #1 had to slam on his brakes and let car #0 pass him by. Car #2 was unable to stop although he and the driver of #1 swear he hit the brakes as hard as he could.
So three discrete accidents involving 10 other people (Cars #3 and #8 had two occupants each) were caused by someone's mistake or malevolence and this person did not even slow down. There is no justice in this story, no grand comeuppance or any flavor of narrative goodness. All we got was fucked in the cold dark night with absolutely nothing to show for it. No one says it but misery is a socially transmitted disease and people are pretty promiscuous with it.
Natalie hugs me as I get home, 3 hours late. I notice that putting my arms around her causes a sharp pain in my left arm. I try to ignore it as she tells me everything will be ok. I know eventually this will pass into legend but for now the cancer is already spreading.
I have to work for three hours before I can sleep. Medusa's PC is a real pain. At least it works. Ironically the noisy hard drive won't even spin up but otherwise it's ok. Reloading XP at 1am after being up for 17 hours is a pretty fucking rotten way to cap it off. I barely hit the pillow before it's morning and I have to drive back up.
Paperwork and ugliness latch on and ride the miserable wake of the accident. Filing the claim is dreadful and of course I opted not to go with the rental car reimbursement. Curses. Lucky for me the white truck driver's company accepts the liability so I just have to drop my car off and wait to speak with the adjuster.
Christmas and Christmas day pass sometime between the wreck and my trip to the collision center. At least the guys are nice and professional about it. I'll be getting a call in the next day or so. It's Friday, December 26th. Work is hell but I still have some sympathy points since my life got fucked with in such random fashion.
I punch out early and take Natalie's car out to The Land.
Yes I capitalized it, The Land is a figure of legend.
Before I was born Mom and Dad bought 50 acres of woodland out in the countryside of Concord, NC. They were going to build a house and someday retire out there but haven't committed to it yet. The Land is a refuge and wilderness.
Trees grow thick and every Fall a carpet of orange and crimson covers the rotten brown mat from last year. In Winter it's just brown, cold and wet. Loose dirt and leaves are like teflon under my tread free sneakers.
There's an entrance from a country road but you can't drive more than 30 feet before dismounting the vehicle. I sling the rifle over my right shoulder and haul my shooting bag in the left. It's stuffed with goodies and targets. Over a thousand rounds of ammo lay nestled among various odds and ends I have collected for destruction.
Several years ago when my younger brother and his friends would throw bonfire parties at night there was a clear and well kept path down to the bottom land. Now I have nothing but gravity and memory to guide me. No one really needs a path to find the right area you just walk perpendicular to the road until you hit the creek. If the water's high you hang a right until you hit the fire pit. If it's low you travel upstream, past the beaver dam until you reach the pit.
My first shooting trip was a bit like the kids coming back to Narnia for Round II. Everything had changed. Lines we left were gone, trees we felled had rotted away and even the fire pit moldered into lumpy ring of quartz jutting out of the layered biomass. There are pictures from my childhood, just after hurricane Hugo (circa 1989) of me and the brothers standing on a huge thick tree that fell across a broad gully. I recognize the tree, though it's nothing but termite food and heartwood now.
Christ I feel old.
Reaching the bottom land at least puts the brain at ease. All the woods, the former path included, seem anonymous and nondescript but the bottom land carries a lot of memory. It was leveled 20 years ago and you can still tell.
Ground cover isn't quite as thick, grasses grew tall and wild where the sun fell between the few remaining trees.
You could tell there had been a flood recently, the leaves here are piled into drifts where water cut paths along the flood plain. It's not a big creek, call it 12 feet wide and as many inches deep. (That's a little under four meters by 37 centimeters for my international fans) Maybe that's why Mom and Dad never built a house here.
Stranger still on the opposite bank of the creek a strangely regular looking pine forest stands about 20 feet off the ground at a weirdly uniform height and spread. Some kind of blight necessitated harvesting the timber from that side of the stream. My last experience on the other side was a stroll through tall brush and tiny trees. You couldn't find anything taller than a runt christmas tree just a few years ago.
Nature owns everything we have ever done or will ever do until the Singularity.
I find comfort that until the sun goes red giant and cooks the water off our little planet that life, in some form, will continue to thrive and persist until it is literally impossible for it to do so.
These thoughts bring brief comfort, I start loading magazines and thinking about what I want to shoot at first. The local beaver did me a courtesy by proving a most convenient bench to work on. (Perish the thought of me doing harm to any woodland critter) My middle and forefinger on the right hand turn gray with lead residue and later blacken with spent powder. I always notice but forever forget to care.
Rimfire cartridges, which is all I shoot because 3 cents for a bullet versus 40 or more is the only way to shoot the kind of volume that I prefer. I usually shoot copper jacketed high velocity but today it's nothing but dirt-cheap jacket-free Remington Thunderbolts. Take a good look at one, the projectile is a perfect miniature of something our great great grandfathers shot at each other with during the American Civil War.
Finding myself the victim of a violent act and then turning around to violence on the world strikes me at an odd angle. While I feel no desire to do harm to the guy that hit me, or rednecks in general I still feel an urge to smash and destroy something. The accident sobered and scoured me clean. Oh but the treatment is already sliding back to entropy. I feel the primal voices welling up like adrenaline laced bubose that froth and roil like boiling bloodthirst. Part of me wants to smash something with a club and then fuck it.
But I already mentioned that the local beaver came to no harm. Interpret that as you will.
I load 110 rounds and set up the first round of targets. Among the first are a handful of christian dating advice CD's that I procured at the YMCA courtesy of some local ministry. I've only tried to listen to them once but after a few minutes of laughing disgustedly I got bored. Preach abstinence to me and your media gets penetrated with high velocity lead. Shut it, Freud.
Also included with today's lineup: Five head-sized paper targets featuring Sarah Palin's stupid shit-eating mug. I hang them in front of an old 35 MPH sign that somehow ended up in my parents' shop. It's nice because I get to shoot holes in one of the dumbest women alive and hear a nice metallic thud. I imagine a small caliber bullet bouncing off her head would sound more like shaking a paper bag with a small rock inside. After a round of shooting the paper targets are nicely perforated and the back of the sign is puckered enough to grate coconuts.
Time for the main event.
After another reload I roll out a trio of beat up propane tanks. These are not the grill sized monstrosities, just little tanks with busted O-rings so they can't safely power a cooking stove or blowtorch. The metal's about the same thickness as the sign, maybe thinner but it's steel and not aluminum. I fire a single shot from about 40 yards and giggle at the spray of liquified hydrocarbons as they burst forth. Boy am I glad I brought the camera.
Bolstered by the success I decide to escalate. Well first I put about 40 more rounds through the now empty canister because it sounds awesome and the swinging canister makes for an unusual challenge. I still hope I never have to shoot at *moving targets* but you can never be too prepared for the apocalypse.
Now that I know even naked lead will sail through a propane tank I hang up another, newer can with a blowtorch head affixed to it. I light the torch. Seeing the flame causes the fiend to pop his silly head up for a moment. I scream him off and and set up my shot and the camera.
Ever since I was a kid I wondered what would happen if you shot a hole through a blowtorch as it was running. The obvious answered seemed to be: it blows up. But I always wondered if the sudden drop in pressure would cause the flame to go out before it could ignite the escaping gas.
It wasn't anything too spectacular but still pretty gratifying. After letting the tank cool down I pulled out the last tank and decided to modify the setup.
Surprisingly the torch still bellowed out blue fire so I slung it up and let fly.
Bingo, one huge fireball. You have to love that. It really beats the shit out of shooting clays, bottles and monochrome portraits of the dumbest woman in public office. Oh and for the record I would no sooner shoot that moose-fellating bimbo than I would do harm to the local wildlife.
And now we do the post climax tidying up.
I bust up some more clays and a few beer cans that are still lying around before packing up. At this point I still don't know that my car has just been declared a total loss, that the amount they will pay me is not enough to cover getting the same model without spending extra cash, or that I will have to drive back out to see Medusa in just a few short days.
For now I have a fleeting grip on contentment and enough to make a few youtube videos and complete my latest story.
So I leave The Land with a smile on my face and a weird sensation at the joy a little destruction I got to mete out on the inanimate world.
When it comes to destruction I find that it's better to give than to receive. And though I doubt you will ever find this in a psychology text but a little violence can be quite therapeutic.
The ride home is a little scary I am still paranoid about following too closely and every car in the rear view might as well be flying the jolly roger. Fear aside it's beautiful rural countryside and the setting sun turns the scattered clouds into a bolero of pink and orange radiance.
Be sure to check back in the next few days for another Meatspace Adventure. Who knows what will happen next.