Old Dogs

ELLENSBURG


cruising
along the banks
of the Yakima
working my way toward
the low mountain pass
wind whipping the car
around a bit more
than was usual
every lane change
or curve in the road
an uphill adventure
for control

I didn't need
the added aggravation
after driving all day
and drinking heavily
the night before
I was exhausted
physically
mentally
and spiritually
no longer capable
of competently dealing
with any additional
complications

I muscled
the old
heavy heap
tentatively
over the top
then pointed it down
to the valley
below
every slight deviation
from a linear path
a contest between
my decreasing will
and the relentless
atmospheric opposition
hampering my
motoring progress

while trying
to keep my head up
to avoid brushing fenders
with better controlled vehicles
I noticed a group of trees
and was struck by the fact
that all of their leaves
were practically motionless
shooting holes
in the wind theory
I had been nurturing
for the last
few hours
forcing me
to reevaluate
my serious lack
of steering
stability

to Hell
with it
all too much
for my atrophied mind
to handle
only a few
more miles
and I would be back
topographically
at least
on level ground
where I could assess
the situation at leisure
in the next town
if I were able
to make it
that far

within
the city limits
I fishtailed wildly
into a the first
available parking lot
as if on ice
on that late
summer afternoon
past the point of caring
not worried about the car
concerned only with finding
rehydrating liquids
and a simple
quiet
comfortable bed
in which to hide
my fragile sensibilities
from the torments
of reality

finally
I was reclining
in a motel room
curtains tightly drawn
sucking on a quart
of green Gatorade
TV tuned
to the local
time
temperature
and want ads
the innocuous audio
of an easy listening
FM station
drowning out
the hectic noises
of the exterior world
and drawing my attentions away
from the psychic miasma
swirling
in my brain

sun set
night passed
morning dawned
meager life extant
I showered and dressed
Seattle now within
several hours
of drive time
hoping that
once settled there
I'd be able to resume
the comfort
of alcoholic bliss
and thoughtless
ease

I glanced
out the window
to see the old Buick
at an uneasy tilt
knowing in my gut
that a flat tire
was the cause
and wondering why
I hadn't considered
that possibility
the day before
or why
none of my fellow travelers
had ventured to point out
my inflational deficiency
and wondering how
with a soft tire
at seventy miles per
I had made it
up and back down
that mountain range
without killing myself
or any other poor souls
who might have been
a bit too close
if I had met
my demise

too much
to worry about
in my weakened state
I slowly changed
the faulty tire
replacing it with
a balding spare
whose road life
a conscientious
service station attendant
had once warned me
was limited to only
minimal low speed miles
emergency use only
you understand
sir

I managed
to survive
the trip up
and over
the Cascades
and down
to Puget Sound
looking for a cold beer
and whatever else
fate might
provide

a new tire
could wait
until
another day

I finally
got one
in Amarillo