Blog number 13 – March 23, 2020
Hey there, Jaye Hawks. Holy hell, has the world gone upside down!
These are terrifying and sobering times, the likes of which we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. Cocooned in my shelter-in-place bunker, JC sends out the sincerest of sincere hopes and prayers that everyone out there stays healthy and safe. Please, heed the dire call for social distancing. Nothing is more important if we are to subdue the horrific scourge ravaging our planet and our peoples.
Stay home! Bond with your loved ones! Make sauce! Make cookies! Make Love! Read a book! Read my books!
Shutting off super-scary things for a wee while, I am dragging my bones away from the harrowing news to plop down at keyboard and transcribe a few memorable high notes of my recent and lengthy auto excursion: The regretful but necessary culmination of a glorious extended “writing hiatus” spent down South. And what a journey it was… This fraught, 24-hour expedition stretched all the way from the balmy, sunshiny climes of Florida to the hazy gray skies of a mid-March New York State.
My “Damn, all good things must come to an end” sojourn was undertaken (with significant trepidation) solo, with only sweet tuneage and my even sweeter fox terrier Hazel along for companionship. A tricky trek, maneuvering 1,286 miles of highways and byways amidst a mass exodus of similar-minded folks, all intent on getting their sweet petunias back home.
Two days. Eleven hours (plus) of driving each day. One in-and-out overnighter in an all-but deserted Carolina hotel. A harrowing little news story of my own, in a wholly personal and white-knuckle kind of a way.
Here’s hoping the following highlights will bring a chuckle, ʼcause Lord knows we can all use the levity these days…
- Gold Lincoln Man.
GLM was encountered early on in my travels, just south of Tampa. Good thing, too, for had I crossed paths with this stubborn old goat later in the trip when my nerves were fried, frayed, and frazzled, I suspect things wouldn’t have boded well for the white-haired senior.
And why’s that, you ask? Allow me to clue you in. Ensconced in his fancy-schmancy Goodfellas mobile, GLM proceeded to hog the left lane of passing traffic for over 100 miles. You heard me right: over 100 miles. This, despite vehicles of all makes and models bearing down on his shiny bumper, laying on the horn, flipping him the bird, cursing out their windows, and cutting his clueless ass off, often to the point of near-collision. I’m talking big rigs, sportscars, mom wagons, campers, crotch rockets, you name it. Didn’t faze the geezer an iota; this Scorsese-extra would move for NO ONE.
The last I saw of the man and his gleaming chariot (before I thankfully exited onto another route), he was being hounded by a mammoth, double-length Walmart semi. I had to look away, it was that close. Truthfully, I almost threw the ol’ boy a quick prayer, but in light of all the torment he put me and hundreds of other motorists through, I figured the jerk didn’t deserve it. I just turned up the tunes, reeeal loud. You know, that Walmart rig, and all…
(*If I wanted to go in order of awfulness, I would now make mention of the two-hour delay near Savannah GA, due to heavy construction. But since those endless ticks of the clock entailed not much other than me squirming on my numb butt wishing to Sweet Jesus I’d stuck those chocolate/caramel power bars in the front and NOT IN THE TRUNK, I’ll skip it.)
- Hot Z.
Hot Z was an angel-in-disguise oil tanker truck, whose bulbous silhouette and snazzy crimson logo emblazoned on his backside I followed for many a nail-biting mile in the great state of North Carolina. It was HZ’s guiding taillights that led me through swaths of dense fog and ribbons of pitch-dark roads at the bracing hour of 4:45 am—crouched over my wheel, pulverizing the poor thing with sweaty fingers.
Side note: I’m quite certain Zee found the NYS license shadowing him so closely more than a mite bizarre, considering his rig maintained a consistent, below-speed pace, obviously unable to pick it up. Fine with me! As huge behemoths with lighter loads roared by us to the left (thank God GLM was nowhere in sight), I stuck to my chugging savior like glue, loathe to lose those calming beacons.
This happy caboose continued on for an hour and change until, tragically, Hot Z pulled off onto a weigh station ramp. Distraught, I pressed on, grateful that at least the pea-soup mist had lifted, and daylight would be breaking soon.
But not grateful for…
- The Two Dueling Beasts.
Not soon after I lost my buddy HZ, a ghastly event unfolded. Creeping along at a snail’s pace in the cauldron-black predawn, I spied in my rearview a bone-chilling sight. A pair of monstrous transporters were fast approaching through the darkness, headlights neck and neck in some diabolical devil’s race.
Did you ever see the movie “Duel?” I have, many a time. Not good, because as these demons drew closer, I saw they were the splitting image of the Peterborough Special that drove the hapless Dennis Weaver insane. A matched pair of looming, rusted steel on wheels—sporting menacing front grates and those huge double-pipe thingies, spewing noxious fumes all over the place.
Freaking, I broke a couple molars watching them speed ever closer, neither willing to concede the other the lead as they roared straight toward me, Hazzie, and our piddly little ride. At the veeeeery last second, when I was sure we were going to be flattened like a flapjack, one of the lunatics relented: screeching on his direct-from-hell brakes as he came within inches of me and my snoozing pup.
Car shuddering from the near-impact, I wrung out both palms on my handy-dandy “panic towel,” gasping and trembling in the lonely gloom as their big lights faded away.
But, Hawks, this is not the end of the TDB Tale… Far from it. Half an hour on, sky still black as Hades, I came upon a horrendous scene, dotted by a phalanx of cop cars, blue lights a’ flashing.
Jaw agape, I stared at the side of a steep, rocky embankment, where DB One and DB Two lay entangled on their sides, mangled and smoking. I scarcely had time to process this hopefully-not-fatal catastrophe and pray for their speed demon souls before another eighteen-wheeler was gaining on me, pedal to metal, blaring his everluvin’ horn off.
Oh, dear God in heaven. Are you serious with this shit? I still had ten hours to go!
- The Camera Crew.
Let it go on the record that following such memorable Kodak Moments such as the ditties described above, the call of nature oft beckoned. Unfortunately, due to severe and numerous Virus precautions unfolding, all those convenient roadside rest centers we all know and love were closed down nice n’ tight to stop the spread of infection.
A wise plan, yes, but this does not for a happy camper make. Particularly when yours truly was about to piss her panties over that pretty scene she’d just witnessed. Well, times like these call for inventive back-up plans, people. (You do understand all fast-food joints were locked and barred as well.) Summoning up the remaining particles of my road-battered brain cells, I fashioned a tidy plan consisting of my “panic towel” for privacy, a wad of tissue papers, and a Hazel poop bag. (No, I didn’t have to do that, only pee. And by pee, I mean bad!)
Soon enough, the next shuttered-down mecca appeared. I zoomed in, choosing a spot in the Siberia of parking slots. Not that I had to worry; there were literally three cars in the entire lot, and they were all planted a good distance away, in front of the deserted “WELCOME TO WHEREVER” building. (Fools! Like these dreamers actually thought they were gonna get through the doors and take care of business the normal way.)
Magnanimously, I took care of my furry sidekick first, treating her to a brisk walk, some H2O, and a handful of kibble as I struggled not to piss the contents of two bottles of water and an unsweet tea down my leg. Once she was squared away, I hastily flung front and back doors open and grabbed my supplies, ready to squat between discreet metal screens and uncork the deluge.
But, wait. Just as I was tugging down the ol’ yoga pants, a late-model Chevy separated itself from its mates and began rolling backwards, right toward You Know Who. I blinked, wondering what in tarnation the joker was doing, since as everybody knows, these relief stations were one-way. In from the highway, out to the highway. What the eff actually gives, dude?
Ignoring the large arrows stamped on the road, El Idiota weaved all over the place in reverse, driving like he had horse blinders clamped to his skull. As I stood with hunka Kleenex in hand, the guy eventually reached his goal. Which happened to be directly alongside me, give or take three feet. He then exited his ride, accompanied by whom I presumed to be his not-so-lovely bride. Tipping me a jaunty “Top ʼo the morning,” these unwanted interlopers proceeded to offload:
A four-foot-high tripod. And a large, professional-looking camera.
This paraphernalia they laboriously set up, aiming it smack-dab toward my need-to-go-now lower extremities. Can you even believe it? I guess they were some sort of local film crew, documenting the closed facilities. Or maybe not. Maybe they were just bonafide weirdos, searching for out-of-town bare rumps to document for their personal archives, instead.
Honestly, all I could think was: Only. Me.
Well, whatever. As mentioned, I had to go, worse than bad. (Shameless book plug!) So, I did. I’m quite sure the shutterbugs caught it all through that honkin’ big lens of theirs, but at that point I didn’t give a rat’s ass if they did indeed film my ass. Or the endless stream of liquid decorating the pavement, trickling down to (hopefully) soak into their dorky white sneakers. Or that single wad of Kleenex I left lying there.
Yeah, I know it was littering, but I figured those bozos deserved it. I mean, hello! How about some friggin’ privacy, here?
- The Twists n’ Turns.
Unlike the examples above, I knew this evilness was coming, knew it damned well. This is why I dreaded to make the drive solo. This is why I cursed the Gods and this COVID-19 thing, causing Hubby to nix the “Original Plan” to fly down and drive us back together. (Can’t say I blame him. You couldn’t pay me to get on an airplane these days, either.)
This is why the ever-present “panic towel.”
I of course am referring to the never-ending curves and switchbacks of VA, NC, and PA. Hours upon hours of high hills and descending dips, hairpin curves and blind turns. I ain’t gonna lie: These suckers instill in JC insta-panic and crushing fear, rendering this gal a quivering bundle of tense, damp uselessness.
You know that person you’re driving behind that is constantly riding the breaks? The one who’s crawling way below the speed limit, causing you to almost crash into her poky ass? The one you sneer at as you buzz past, shaking your head as you mutter snidely “Get off the road, loser!”?
Yup. That’s me on the Twists n’ Turns.
It’s kind of nuts, really. On a flat, open road, I can cruise like the best of ʼem: cranking a solid 75-80 mph, no problemo. But the second a “TnT” rears its ugly head, all bets are off. I instantly morph into a huge, irrational scaredy-cat, prickles of hysteria springing out all over my skin. It’s like my cerebrum urgently informs my right foot if I don’t slow down, I’m going to lose every shred of control over my vehicle in a single, over-the-cliff-I-go nanosecond, ending up like minced liver pate.
By the way, this is nothing new. Nuh, uh. This paranoia has always been an endearing little foible of mine, but I must concede it’s gotten worse. Way worse. Way, waaay worse. Perhaps it’s the state of the world, or impending old age. Or lack of oxygen to the brain in high altitudes.
Whichever, I’d like to take this moment to apologize to anybody that had the shitty misfortune to be stuck behind my 40-in-a-70 jalopy before they were able to switch lanes. (40? Ha. Lemme tell you, on some of those steep mothers, that was going fast.)
Me sorry. I probably should have let the dog drive during those parts. Odds are good the ol’ girl would’ve done a whole lot better.
But, hey, cut me some slack. At least I wasn’t planted in the left, like GLM!
- The White Maniac.
Once I was (finally) back in my grand home state with its refreshing lack of hills and straight-shot highways, I foolishly thought the remainder of my asphalt sentence would be smooth sailing.
A mere hour to go, just past Erie, I encountered a torturous length of “Making New York Beautiful” construction; the I90 down to a single lane as far as the weary eye could see. Nooooo… (Thank heavens I’d recently taken another car-side whiz break, this one with no Camera Crew in sight.)
Resigned, I chawed on a handful of sawdust-dry crackers, sending a quick text to Hubby to GET THE GEE-DEE WINE READY. It was then that the White Maniac made his appearance, to liven up what was turning out to be a real bore.
He came out of nowhere, careening down the torn-up shoulder at approximately (this is an educated guess) 85 mph. And when I say torn-up shoulder, I mean the gouged pavement resembled what a driving range looks like after I’ve hit a few buckets of balls, except grayish-black instead of mud-colored.
Eyes wide, I tried to rationalize that maybe the man had a medial emergency, or his wife was in labor, seconds from popping out his sure-to-be-stellar offspring. But that was before I saw the cretin’s grinning mug, the beer can tipped to his lips, and the way he offered up his third digit to every driver he passed, honking at him in outrage.
Oh, and the jarringly-loud “music” blaring out his open windows. Rush. “Fly by Night.” Ughhhh. I frigging hate that band. In fact, now that I think on it, the smirking weasel bore an uncanny resemblance to Geddy Lee himself. Hell, maybe it was him, hightailing it to the Canadian border before they shut the sucker down.
Anyhoo, as bad as this was? Don’t you know some other high-IQ holder (in a studly Prius!) decides to pursue “Geddy” and show him he wasn’t the only one who could be all bad-ass and shred his Goodyears to ribbons. Yippee… Two numbskulls for the price of one… Bonus! Munching on my dry repast, I whiled away a few moments stuck in purgatory watching these muttonheaded morons drag race down rutted roadway.
This of course didn’t last too long. Nope, the fuzz was on the scene lickedy-split, curtailing all the entertainment. And would you believe I didn’t even get to snap a pic for prosperity? The very instant I pulled up alongside the commotion, an immense tractor thingie spewing hot tar sidled up alongside me, blocking what would’ve been a primo shot.
God dang. Talk about crappy timing. I didn’t even get to flip Geddy the finger back!
- The Barbie Doll.
I was literally fifteen minutes from home when I pulled up behind a top-of-the- line Mercedes SUV, shiny and black. Traffic was horrendous, and I couldn’t get away from what I presumed to be an elderly motorist, puttering along at a molasses-like speed, veering all over the ding-dang place. Well, that, or mayhap someone who had a problem like moi, except their “issue” centered around bumper-to-bumper congestion, instead of hairpin curves. Naturally, I tried to dredge up a soupcon of sympathy for my fellow nutcase. But this wasn’t easy. I was soooo close to home, and this driver was going soooo slow…
I cannot tell a lie. There wasn’t a whole lotta sympathy hanging around at this point. Baby needed her bottle, and I ain’t talking milk.
Finally able to overtake and pass, I glanced right, swiftly realizing I’d been sorely mistaken. For the operator of this snazzy number was neither old nor infirm, but a young lass looking to be mid-twentyish. Resembling a shellacked Barbie Doll rocking a peroxided hair helmet and ridiculously phony eyelashes, this creature was brandishing phone to face as she appeared, at least from my vantage point, to be simultaneously texting, troweling on thick quantities of makeup, and taking multiple “selfies” of herself in various fish-pouted poses.
Irritated, I tooted on the horn, hoping to shame her into actual “driving,” (how novel!) but this was a fool’s errand, since TBD was obviously lost in space. Lucky me got to travel alongside her for roughly a mile or more, unable to escape, mightily fearful the bim was going to sideswipe me on mile number 1,280, with a mere six left to go.
Wouldn’t that just freaking figure?
Grinding my teeth and hoping for the best, I observed this hot mess A) lovingly apply multiple coats of mascara to those spider-leg lashes, B) rapidly text what looked like a War and Peace-length tome to some favored recipient, and C) carefully floss her chiclets, relinquishing neither mascara wand nor cell. All the while swerving Daddy’s gift on four wheels all over the highway, oblivious as a newborn.
Was I vindicated when some big burly dude on her other side lowered the window of his beat-up pickup and bellowed in a thunderous tone, “LEARN HOW TO DRIVE, BITCH!”?
You betcher sweet bippy, I was.
In addition, I was also really glad that scowling individual wasn’t behind my ass back in VA or PA. From the look on his puss, I’m thinking this hothead would’ve rammed me, for sure.
“I SAID DRIIIIIIVE, BITCH!”
Oh, hell yeah, no question.
Well, there you have it, Hawks: my South-to-North journey in all its non-glory. Notice I didn’t even mention all those TEXTING TRUCKERS IN THEIR TWO-TON DEATH RIGS, AS IF REGULAR-SIZED CAR TEXTERS AREN’T BAD ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!! (Sorry, had to.)
The good news is I’m home, safe and sound. The bad news is what’s going down in all our lives at present. Let’s face it—this shit is crazy, and this shit is scary. Real scary. But I have faith. It’s not going to be fast, and it’s not going to be easy, but working together, we can get through this insanity, I know it.
Stay sane. Stay positive. And above all, stay safe.
PS: On a lighter and dirtier note, Need It, Worse is out! Woohoo! You seriously need to check out Tansy and Gash, and their super-hot, filthy/sweet love story. These two will help you take your mind off dismal things, that I can guarantee!
Okay, bye for now. Remember to check JC out on the following platforms, and to share the love amongst your like-minded buddies:
In humor, lust, ‘n’ love,