Saturday, January 17, 2015
OVER THE EDGE IN ARKANSAS
This is a continuation of my two previous posts.
The drive from Texas to Tennessee took longer than expected.
"I'll get there in two days," I bragged. "I'll only need to stay in a motel one night."
It in fact took me three and a half days, and I stayed in motels every night.
I opted to travel on I-40. It was the most simple route, even though it forced me to drive through all the big cities. I arrived in Oklahoma City during rush hour and the traffic scared the living jeeters out of me.
Got a motel room in Shawnee. This time my next door neighbors were two lesbians. They had a huge St. Bernard dog that ran into my room as I was bringing in the luggage. If my cats weren't caged there would have been trouble.
All in all, things were going very smoothly and I was in a mellow frame of mind. Until I got to Arkansas.
I have no qualms about Arkansas. Lovely scenery. Nice people. But.....
.........rotten roads and highways. Haven't been repaired since Betsy Ross was sewing the flag. All right. I'll admit I'm being vicious.
In late afternoon the weather takes a turn for the worst. By nightfall it's pouring rain. I want to stop but there are no motels. No rest areas. No signs of life.
And no signs. Not one damn sign to let me know where the heck I am.
I don't like night driving. I have bad eyes. Night blindness. No exaggeration. I've had surgery on my eyes, but I won't go into that.
As if torrential rain and bad eyes aren't enough, major road construction begins. And detours. The highway narrows into one harrowing lane.
The deluge becomes Biblical. I don't need a vehicle. I need an ark. The rain is pounding so hard that my windshield wipers are useless.
No lights along the highway. Pitch blackness ensues. No white dividing line on the pavement. Nothing to guide me. There was a feeble smattering of reflectors along one side of the road, but suddenly they vanish.
Absolute blackness. Relentless rain. Nowhere to pull over or stop. I'm gripping the steering wheel with both hands, riding the breaks, crawling 10 MPH.
Literally driving completely blind.
You'll never make it, Jon, you're never going to make it.....
As I'm breathing these ominous words, my car is suddenly airborne. I'm flying through nothingness, like a NASCAR Peter Pan.
It's a crappy analogy, but what the hell...
It wasn't until I hit bottom that I realize I went over a cliff. Landed in a very thick swamp of mud. And water. And oozing Arkansas goo.
The impact was brutal but the mud saved my ass. And my car. And the cats - who were ruthlessly tossed in their cages. Cat food and used kitty litter is everywhere.
It takes all of my strength to push open the door against the resisting sea of mud.
Let me mention that I'm wearing a brand new pair of leather boots. Brand spanking new and beautiful. Only wore them for three days.
As soon as I squeeze out of the car, I sink up to my hips in mud. I'm immediately drenched with pouring rain.
There are times when reality is so harsh that it abandons us. Everything seems completely unreal. I'm drifting in the outer realms of the Twilight Zone.
How the hell am I gonna get outta here?
I have a cell phone, but who can I call or text? And what will I say? Hello, I just went over a cliff in Arkansas and don't know where I am.
I suddenly look up at the steep embankment and realize that the highway is at least 50 feet above me. Vehicles are zooming by, seemingly in the heavens.
I decide to abandon all sense of dignity. I start waving my arms and shouting. Can it get any worse than this? I've sunk to the lowest rung on the Ladder of Humanity.
My pathetic pleas were eventually seen and/or heard. An Arkansas patrol car is on the scene.
"Are you hurt?" he shouts down to me.
"Only my pride," I yell up at him.
And I'm thinking:
there is a God. He's punishing me for all my past sins.
"Better get back in the car, " the officer suggests. "You'll get wet."
Get wet? Is he joking?? I'm covered in mud. I look like the frickin' tar baby in Uncle Remus.
The tow truck finally arrives. The driver is like a reject from a casting call for Hee Haw.
His southern accent is so thick that I can't understand a word.
My car is soon chained to his truck and he's plying me with instructions as he performs the extraction.
"Torn th' weeel rait!"
Turn the wheel right.
"Ain seen nutin thes baid inna loong taim."
Ain't seen nothing this bad in a long time.
The crystal clarity of his pronunciation astounds me when he finally quotes the fee for the extraction.
"Three hundred dollars."
No accent at all. I understood every word perfectly.
Fortunately I had cash.
Being extracted from the depths of hell and the agony of humiliation was well worth any price.
This isn't the end of my adventures, folks. There's more to come.