It's not always fun and games in the Sun. Sometimes it's doom and gloom, fear and uncertainty, worry and concern...
Mineral, Virginia. One-hundred nineteen miles south. It's 5:30 in the evening. I've been on the road since 4:45 this morning, during which time I've gone from upstate New York, through Pennsylvania and into Maryland – about 262 tiring miles. If I can hold 50 mph, I'm looking at an 11:00 PM arrival.
Back roads are cute. Okay, poor word choice. Nice. Interesting. Fun. All of the above. None of the above. As my father always said, whenever I asked a particularly difficult question: It all depends. At night they're dark. No, make that Black. They have a penchant for making tight sweeping turns; right angle turns, and – in small towns, two "U" turns: one u-turn to get you going back from whence you came, then just fooling, one u-turn to once again head you in the right direction.
And there's nothing out there beyond the feeble beam of your brights. Even less than nothing if you are foolish enough to lower your hi-beams: just two lanes, one in each direction with a painted line down the center.
When you're tired, hungry and chilled from lack of bodily fuel, the road becomes, if not hostile, at the very least, indifferent. "If you make it, fine. If you don't fine. Makes no difference to me", bounces back at you from the glare of your lights.
So you stare into the lighted roadway, watch fearfully as the trees at the edge of your beams grow closer together until there exists nothing but a solid wall of thick menacing entities, whispering to you words that stop just short of your hearing them. Are they words of encouragement, or portends of dangers yet to come, just ever so slightly, ahead.
Deers are nocturnal. Well, really, they're Moon-turnal: up with the Moonrise. Where is the Moon now? Is it up, and thus, so are the deers? Or is it and its horned friends resting?
You stare even more diligently, waiting for that instant when you are not alone on the road, but hurtling at warp speed toward two red circles that hover at eye's height, just at the edge of your beams reach.
Suddenly, on the right side beyond the trees, in the middle of the woods, there appears a huge light. Big, round, brilliantly white. And it's coming at you.
How can that be? It's the forest.... Your tired hands scramble for those levers that read "Stop", and you frantically start squeezing, your body pitching forward violently, yet still the light moves toward you, faster and faster and then....
It's a train, running on tracks that parallel the road, separated only by the thick line of trees that decide which is road and which is track. The eye swishes by, its body following madly behind, "ca clack, clackidy clack, clack, clack and clack. And gone.
And so it goes, minute after minute, hour after hour. At 12:20 AM, I turn the key, kill the engine, kick the kickstand down, and slowly unwind from the seat.