SECTION SIX

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COLUMN SIXTY-TWO, AUGUST 1, 2001
(Copyright 2001 The Blacklisted Journalist)

HEAT WAVE

HEAT WAVE

Trapped in the car, the traffic going nowhere.  It's Friday, 4:30 p.m., everyone is in a rush to get out of the office, head to some lake, river, or at the very least, a cold shower.  This is the dance of the nine-to-fivers and somehow, I'm stuck on the middle of the floor?

I bought this car against my better judgment.  The guy at the dealership told me it was a real bargain and for five hundred bucks, I guess he wasn't all that wrong.  I drove it three blocks on the test drive and decided what the hell, I'd take it.  So what if the windows don't roll down?  It was what passed for winter here on the island, raining like a bitch.  Non-rolling windows weren't an issue, then.  Besides, it beat taking the bus " or so I had thought?

But after a while, the car started to piss me off.  The carb died and even after I had it replaced, my little Datsun was still a temperamental bitch to get started in the morning.  Even so, I enjoyed the drive to work in the morning.  I could sleep in an extra hour.  Tell me who doesn't like that, am I right?

But as for right now, I'm wishing for a hammer to smash out one of the windows.  If it's 27 outside of this rust bucket, it must be close to 38 inside.

'this is the kind of heat you hear about on the news that makes people go snakes," I think to myself.  'the kind of heat that enrages people, makes "em think funny.  The kind of heat that gives the redneck the excuse to go home and beat the wife and shit for brains kids.  The kind of heat that addicts feel under their skin that makes them sweat and itch for dope.  The kind of heat that makes your lungs feel as if they're full of insulation and broken glass??

I wipe sweat from my forehead and smear it on the passenger seat.  'shit, this is gonna go on forever," I say to no one in particular.  After what seems like an eternity, my lane gets the go-ahead to move up a whole block before hitting a red light.

My tape deck is broken, yet another example of what a bargain this hunk of shit car really is.  At least the FM works " kind of.  The only stations I get are CFUV, the prissy university station, and an All-Hit Country station out of Seattle. 

So I take the priss channel and listen to some shithead disc-jockey go on about how "Whip It? by Devo is a good song.  Country music has been known to make me violent.  I guess that I could turn it off, but then I'd be stuck with my mind for amusement and in this heat, it's just not a good idea.

My mind is on autopilot.  Green light.  Another block.  Red light.  Stop the car.  My


They called him
'Suitcase Frank' because
he was always coming back


knuckles turn white as I grip the wheel harder.  Sweat pours down my face.  My shirt sticks to my skin.  My tie feels like a noose.  I'm thinking that a cool breeze would make my nipples hard. 

There's a bumper sticker on the Volvo ahead of me that reads:  "One Day At A Time".  I remember the expression from my Uncle Frank, a twenty-year veteran of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Frank seemed to hover at around three month's sobriety and was known "in the Program? (as he called it) as 'suitcase Frank? because he was always "Coming Back".

This gets me thinking about beer, Old Stock tall-boys, with beads of condensation rolling off of their steel skins and onto my fingers.  Right now, I could swim in the vats of brew, drink cool beer after beer until I drown.
 
  "Oh, if the ocean were whiskey
  And I were a duck,
  I'd swim to the bottom and
  Never come up!"

 I sing.  I haven't thought of that song since I was a kid.  'this fuckin? heat," I think.

Suddenly, a wanna-be hippie steps out into the road between our cars.  He's filthy, has knots in his hair that I assume are supposed to be dreadlocks, a pair of baggy jeans and no shirt.  Around his neck is about forty pounds of hemp string, seashells, trinkets and beads.  He kinda reminds me of Mr. T with all that shit around his neck.  I'm sure that if I was able to get out and stand beside him, he?d probably smell like pit sweat and patchouli oil.  I get thinking about how much I hate that fake Rastafarian shit that so many people are cashing in on these days. 

He starts screaming something, but the Devo song that was blaring has switched to the Fugees (how goddamn appropriate) and I can't hear what he's going off about.  I cut the radio off with a twist of the knob, which (of course), comes off in my hand.  Great!

"FUCKIN? DIE!  FUCK ALL TRANSIT!  I HATE DEATH MACHINES AND SO DOES MOTHER EARTH!  AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!"Hippie-Boy screams.

At the same time, the light turns green and I want to get out of here, but this idiot is in my way.  Suddenly, the guy from A.A. slams his car into reverse and hits the gas.  I barely have time to brace myself as Hippie-Boy's legs are crushed between our two bumpers.  I actually hear it, all wet and gushy, then the clang of metal on metal, breaking glass as our bumpers collide.  I piss my pants, but with all this sweat and a little luck, no one will notice. 

As I get out of the car to wait for the police, another A.A. expression comes to mind.  What was it?  "Live and Let Live?? 

Hmm.  Must have been the heat.  ##  

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