Saturday, 10 January 2009

09 January 2009

sped, Neal bare-chested, I with my feet on the dashboard, and the college boys sleeping in the back. We stopped to eat breakfast at a diner run by a white haired lady of the land who gave us extra large portions of potatoes as churchbells rang in the nearby town. Then off again. “Neal don’t drive so fast in the daytime.” “Don’t worry man I know what I’m doing.” I began to flinch. Neal came up on lines of cars like the Angel of Terror. He almost rammed them along as he looked for an opening. He teased their bumpers, he eased and pushed and craned around to see the curve, then the huge car leaped to his touch and passed and always by a hair we made it back to our side as other lines filed by in the opposite direction and I shuddered. I couldn’t take it any more. It is only seldom that you find a long Nebraskan straightaway in Iowa and when we finally hit one Neal made his usual 110 and I saw flashing by outside several scenes that I remembered from 1947---a long stretch where Eddy and I had been stranded two hours. All that old road of my past unreeling dizzily as if the cup of life had been overturned and everything gone mad. My eyes ached in nightmare day. “Ah shit Neal, I’m going in the backseat, I can’t stand it any more, I can’t look.” “Hee hee hee!” tittered Neal and he passed a car on a narrow bridge and swerved in dust and roared on. I jumped in the backseat and curled up to sleep. One of the boys jumped in front for the fun. Great paranoiac horrors that we were going to crash this very morning took hold of me and I got down on the floor and closed my eyes and tried to go to sleep. As a seaman I used to think of the waves rushing beneath the shell of the ship and the bottomless deeps thereunder---now I could feel the road some twenty inches beneath me unfurling and flying and hissing at incredible speeds and on and on across the groaning continent. When I closed my eyes all I could see was the road unwinding into me. When I opened them I saw flashing shadows of trees vibrating on the floor of the car. There was no escaping it. I resigned myself to all. And still Neal drove, he had no thought of sleeping till we got to Chicago. In the afternoon we crossed old Des Moines again. Here of course we got snarled in traffic and had to go slow and I got back in the front

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