Tuesday, May 08, 2007

That Lonely Texas Landscape

During my first long distance drive, my car died between Denton and Forth Worth, on the same strip of highway that Henry Lee Lucas frequented for years in his killing spree, burying dozens of girls in that lonely Texas landscape. My car had cost a little less than a thousand dollars and was a brilliant gold color that gleamed in the sun. I couldn't go anywhere without alerting people from miles around thanks to the awful screaming noise that it made while it was running. As I drove into that particular night, I could see my headlights getting dimmer and dimmer and a cold stake of fear drove itself into my body. Ever since my rape, I had the odd feeling that if I prepared for anything, it would happen so I drove around without any money or protection. These were the days before cell phone and the nearest filling station was at least twenty-five miles away. The car died and so did a little piece of my sanity. My only choice was to flag down a car or crawl into a ditch. After a long minute of pounding my head into the steering wheel, I got out and a car stopped. I hoped not to see Henry Lee or his evil twin cousin Frankie Lee or any asshole with three names. Three names almost never indicates anything good.
This story has such a happy ending I could have never written it. The man who stopped drove, I shit you not, a black Porsche. He had stood up his date so he pulled a good Samaritan move to improve his karma and drove me back to the nearest town so I could call my dad. He let me choose the radio station. "I felt so bad, but I couldn't bring myself to see my girlfriend again. It's over and she's going to hate me. I wonder if she's still at Bennigan's?" I thanked God over and over under my breath, leading my new friend to probably wonder at his luck at picking up some crazy muttering loon. I never saw the man in the black Porsche again; he dropped me off and told me not to worry about it, that he was glad to help. I would drive that strip of highway hundreds of times over the years, and now it's a lot more built up than it used to be. But there are still lonely stretches where nothing is on the horizon except the kindness of strangers and the ghosts of girls who, as they say, weren't so lucky.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Wherever you are, we must do the best we can. It is so far to travel and we have nothing here to travel, except watermelon sugar. I hope this works out." Richard Brautigan
Cocktail Hour
Drinking documentary suggestion: Jesus Camp
Benedictions and Maledictions
Congratulations to my beloved Pistons for crushing Chicago last night!


TV Guide said...

Twenty-six more days until the last day of the Sopranos!

the walking man said...

Ahhh now there it is in succinct detail the random act of kindness from a stranger, hell maybe an angel from God in a black Porsche. Was it a 911 or a 928?

A.J. Soprano said...

I felt lonely like you did on that road when my financee broke up with me. I got depressed when we broke up and I had to go to a shrink because my family was worried about me, Michelle. But my dad came up with the idea of my hitting some parties and the ones at the Bada Bing club and at some fraternity friends of mine got my mind off my problems with my ex, Blanca Salgado. I had a real nice redhead do a lap dance for me at the Bada Bing. And my frat buddies took me along(I drove)when we showed one of their "friends" what happens when you don't pay back money you owe. We poured sulphuric acid on his feet. I actually kind of liked it and it did get my mind off Blanca. So things are kind of looking up. Thanks for your support of the Sopranos, Michelle. As you know, there are only four episodes left.
A.J. Soprano

Detroit Native said...

Go Red Wings!!!Beat da Ducks!!!Win the Stanley Cup!!!

Jon said...

Another one of those wonderful stories from everyday life. There's no way a person could have written that as fiction and made it have the impact of reality that you describe. Real fear. A real hero. A happy ending. Fiction would have had the two of you outrunning the killer in that black Porsche. Three named killers drive Taurus sedans and their neighbors all say what a nice quiet man he was. Your truth is better than that fiction.

Paul said...


Robin said...

Your heart must've been pounding out of your chest that night! Reminds me of that Richard Ford story, Rock Springs.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Your good Samaritan may have been a copycat wannabe, but he just couldn't pull it off that night. His story about the date was his way to set you at ease. I can't help it, but I'm always looking at situations a tad bit different than most folks.

Charles Gramlich said...

Love the last line. You do these so well. A memorable experience to say the least.

Susan Miller said...

Yes, yes...you and last lines. I'm glad you made it, Michelle.

whom it may concern said...

Not everyone on this highway is a thrice christened stranger, thank god. I really like this spring of optimism that you display--between your sympathy for what could all-too-easily become unsympathetic characters and your continued strong faith on many levels, you've shown yourself to be a very sensitive and increasingly subtle writer. Indeed, it must be optimism.

Ha. Your regular not-so-chipper stories should be twice as great with this kind of added depth that I've seen lately. Can't wait to read them on that beautiful, rainy day.

Wish I could have read this this morning and wrote back. Checked my mail and made a last grasp at relief from exhaustion before 11 hours in the big greasy flaccid useless pizza hell that is under-employment at it's least titillating. I would have had a much better chance to get lost in thought and gloriously fuck shit up through blissful inattention--a brand of inattention that only a writer can have for a non-thought intensive business.

In my natural writing state I am an oblivious morass of happy and terrible thoughts being arranged on an imaginary word program. I should not be handling money, let alone knives, high-powered cheese graters or a 500f oven.


Writing can help, but just as often it can further hurt the wounded psyche, a little like reading Catcher in the Rye if you think you might be having a nervous breakdown. I own that experience mortally. But when the lips of the abyss were pursed high above me, I dug deep, reached that blessed therapeutic strata, a vein so rich that it pulled me right back in to the kingdom of artistic creation and back to friends a writer can relate to.

Relating to others is a theme you worked well today, drawing lots of tension. Relating to others is such an issue with writers, especially because relating to others can be so strange an experience in itself after, say, three weeks of constant work and sequestered writing. I hit the bar as much as I can when writing, which is as social a valve as I have. I see people that I've indeed met before and even love or respect or cheerfully dislike. But after a week of concentration spent on one sorry story, I sometimes can't help but feel like everyone may quite possibly a three named predator, waiting for their chance to hurt and not be hurt. I feel like I have been searching for that one special place to rest, away from everyone who brings me low, only to find that I have stepped into the lion's den, and I'm no Daniel, not by any stretch.

the concerned party said...

Don't know if it came across in my response, but your post today was excellent.

Wonderful pic!

Sheila said...

I absolutely love this post michelle! It's so emotional... so detailed that I could see it running past my eyes like the silver screen. I'm glad that it turned out with a happy ending! Beautiful picture as well. You are very photogenic.

realbigwings said...

Wow, beautiful.