The New Light

by William Nesbitt

Charity, Dave’s girlfriend, Airport Dave, has her birthday.  She gives me ten bucks for gas (which in these days bought ten gallons of 93 octane) and wants to ride around with a few of our friends. I have a cherry-red restored 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass with dual exhaust, a quadrajet, and a Rocket 350 that disproves the scientific law that says nothing can exceed the speed of light.  I can succeed light.  I have become The New Light.  We cruise around Fern St. and other areas in The Bottom, laughing, blasting music, doing no harm.  Every light is ahead of us.  Each light is green.  Everyone else moves in their locked shuffles.  Even the people on bicycles, their wheels don’t seem to turn.  No one can be us, and us not wanting to be anyone else.

Then we head out of Thomasville out to Metcalfe, an unincorporated sort-of-town hiding in the outskirts.  There is a two lane highway and heading back there is a stretch of road going downhill straight for about two miles.  Few people drive on it.  You can ride right to the end of it, no roads converge or turn into it and I only saw a cop on it once and he was probably lost.  I know he was lost.  Someone suggests we see how fast we can go.  I can never go fast enough; I can never get past myself.  I accelerate and the needle hits the 120 mark and goes a bit beyond before it pegs out.  The needle bounces up and down.  We are a blurred hyphen of red.  A drop of blood pulsing through a blue vein of country highway.  A blurt of light, a command firing over the spine of asphalt.  A finger urgently pulling down a zipper.  I press the accelerator down farther.  Still, there is space between my foot and the floorboard.  Dawn suggests we see how long we can hold it.  I can only hold it for a few seconds because we are running out of road and as we roar through the lowest part of the road, move up, and come over a hill, I can feel the car beginning to lift off of the ground.  I slow down.

I wonder what have happened if I kept going.  Could we have floated up, denied gravity, and flown away?  Left the road, the city, the world behind?  Watching the forest beneath us turning into heads of broccoli, and then tips of green felt pins?  The city lights, stars beneath us while we sail through endless night?  Could we become loose collections of atoms without definite form or substance, a new element, something Kosmic?   Moving beyond time, beyond space, beyond matter, beyond all recognizable form?  The way I am moving on this page, from the present, into memory, and through to a place past memory?  Still, the margins contain me and the bottom of the page watches me.  Will we always be someplace?  Can we ever escape all that has happened?  Can we get past the past?  Will we always be from someplace?  Is today the master of tomorrow, today only a yes-man to the day before that, and so on back through an endless bureaucracy of time?  Who runs it?  What rules it?   How do you break time?  Does time break you?  I am here.  I am from here.  The was that was is.  I am yesterday.


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