Half asleep, I hastily grabbed a bag of pretzels I planned to consume as dinner during my drive. I hadn’t time to sit down. The little I could steal was for a nap, which came higher in my hierarchy of needs. I was grotesquely aware that I was not eating food, but a product. I had never really noticed the bright, explosive letters on the soft plastic packaging but it glared at me now with a renewed fervor with the exciting promise of sodium. “Clancy’s” the brand read in red. The name asserted itself as if it meant something. I felt less human for eating it.
I drove fast. Zipping past the suckers, I zoomed calm and steady. Drove my misaligned car 85 or 90 down the four-lane artery. Cars flow around slow trucks, a man stuck in the leftmost lane, blinker on for half a mile, missed his exit, the golden glow of the blinding sun, another Tuesday in great Moloch’s outer loop. Not a soul in sight but taillights of cars, scars on asphalt scraped by heavyweight machines and ripping and shipping and dropping of rocks. Life moves on at high speed, like clockwork on the beltway, clockwise to work and counter-intuitive.
And walls of cars. Some jackass crashed. Just before my exit, too. He may have died. I was stuck for an hour and a half. Traffic grew and sirens blew, now flares and merging lanes. Number one pushes forth. I called my mom and gushed forth news of redundant nothings, nothing’s changed, the same to-do’s, the room, the car, the rent, the cat, the rude, the cold, the creeping isolation. She’s the only one I trust. Self-serve stations stole my last crush, condemned to surf the web in search of love.
The traffic cleared and I crossed three lanes, all the people in my way now not. Now off the ramp, the cramped road, the stoplight, and the dirty, drinking, stray. I looked away. Not to say I don’t care – no, I don’t trust. I’d fumble and rummage for change if it mattered. I reasoned within that the negro is freer than I, and ought to pay me. I drove free from the pain and the domineering poverty and off to my destination.

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