Do you believe this? Traffic creeping along at two miles an hour. It’s thirty minutes from my exit at sixty-five miles an hour as is, and all five lanes are blocked. Are we seriously being rerouted to Highway 675? I’ve never been this way on 675. And, I’m low on gas. Something told me to get gas earlier in the week. Now with every minute passing⎯and still moving at two miles an hour⎯the dashboard gas meter is warning me. Yes...I see you. I’m in a situation here if you haven’t noticed.
I shouldn’t complain there could be a fatality up ahead. Someone could have just lost a brother, sister, mother, a close friend. I should be rendering a prayer for the family and friends of the deceased⎯ God continue to bestow on them peace that passeth all understanding. That’s what I should be doing instead of complaining about shuffling along focused on the sports highlights I planned to watch once home...complaining focused on what I was going to stack on the sandwich I was going to make. Focusing on what potato chips to choose...If I have any.
Could be...it’s not as bad as I’m thinking. Someone simply may have spun out, hit the wall up ahead, then careened into traffic beside them. Traffic behind them ran into them causing a chain reaction. Simply could be a bevy of mangled cars with injuries ranging from a sprained shoulder to a deep gash in someone’s forehead. I’m not imagining the scene as much as recalling the scene.
I was a couple of cars behind on the highway when the car in front of me slammed on the brakes. The car in front of it spun into the lane beside us facing the direction from which we came. There was no traffic in the lane to our immediate right. I swerved into the lane avoiding the car in front of me. This vehicle in front of me was not so fortunate. It slammed into the car that spun out. I’m imagining the injuries. I don’t know the details of what went on inside the cars in front of me.
My imagination is running wild simply imagining what went on on this day up ahead. We’re still floating along at two miles an hour⎯there I go complaining again⎯what else did I expect. Someone to run up to my window and deliver that sandwich I planned on making and a can of Lay’s chips. Freaky Fast Delivery, Jimmy Johns? Yeah. Well, get through this.
And so here I am on 675 headed toward Ellenwood. It’s almost 9:00 p.m. It’s not so far, Ellenwood. But at this rate, I won’t get there until two in the morning. I’m simply looking to get there because it’s the next town where I can exit and head in the opposite direction to the interstate. And from what I can tell from this side of the highway it’s everyone else’s idea. And I’ll continue to float at two miles an hour from what the white orbs are telling me moving in the opposite direction.
If it takes me forever to get to the next town to turn around which is only a handful of miles away, how long will it take me to get home? I was at work at sunset will I still be on my way home at sunrise? Will I have to function at work on three hours of sleep? Whatever happened must have recently occurred. Accidents are cleared quickly on the regular. Even after the damage is done the flow of traffic, though slow, moves along at a respectable pace.
I listen to music...sports radio, listen to talk radio...to catch up on the election. I try not to speculate on what happened, but I hear nothing about any accident that would have caused police and fire to reroute five lanes of traffic to the two-lane highway. Can’t say I ever did find out what happened that night. I know the news stations arrived on the scene at some point with the shut down of a major interstate. They no doubt got plenty of calls with all that time we spent glaring at brake lights and license plates. I heard nothing. I didn’t bother watching the news when I got home. I guess I didn’t really want to know.
Or maybe I was too fed up to find out. I had other things to do besides sitting out on that highway half the night. Okay, again. I have to remember somebody may have died. It wasn’t as long as I expected. I wasn’t out there ‘til two o’clock in the morning. Traffic continually crept along at a snail’s pace, but somehow I found myself on the other side of the highway heading away from Ellenwood back to the interstate.
And it hadn’t taken three hours to happen. I was now a set of those white orbs I was watching from the other side of the highway. But I was still staring down brake lights and license plates wondering what happened up ahead. We would come to a full stop and some people couldn’t take it anymore, or so it seemed and turned around in the emergency lane and spinning tires returned to the exit.
They decided to wait it out in the shopping plaza I drove by after I got off the exit. Or they found an alternate route to home or to work. But one after another did they zip by me standing still hoping beyond hope that we were going to pick up speed to at least twenty-five miles an hour. The traffic picked up the pace for about 150 feet and then came to a screeching halt. Well, not screeching, but back to a dead halt.
The rain always gets a bad rap. The roads were slick. If the temperature hadn’t dropped after that shower none of this would have happened. It was black ice. The silent killer is what it is⎯ you never see it. Like the leopard in the tall grass, it gets you in its grip and you don’t get out; rarely. Speculating on steroids is what’s happening here. Or is what happens without the facts. Maybe the better phrase is making guesstimations. What one does when inching along in traffic with the burning desire to know what happened up ahead to bring about this madness.
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Thank you, Ari. I'm learning thanks to awesome authors like you and everyone else on reedsy, all poetry story star to name a few. Keep up the good work.