Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway
Chapter V: White Flag Flying
A sharp piercing in my chin jolted me from a deep sleep and my heart was beating as if it would pound out of my chest. I heard Misery thump against the sleeper wall and realized that she was responsible for the incident. While I was sleeping she evolved into a playful mood and, not using her better judgment, saw my chin as the opportunity for cat play. If I had risen any more rapidly she would have been airborne at a greater rate of velocity resulting in her untimely death. She was scolded, which seemed to fall on deaf ears as she purred around, bouncing side-to-side, ready for combat. I reached across in my attack and grabbed underneath, flinging her over. She frantically clawed and bombarded my hand with playful bites.
It had always seemed rather silly to me how people could talk or confide in a pet or stuffed animal. Now I was discovering you could get a sense of love from a pet. The cat had become my responsibility to care for and though it seemed silly it actually put a sense of worth in my life. It made me feel needed and wanted in a small way.
What funny thoughts occupy a lonely man's mind at times. I laughed at myself for having a pity party for these last few months. Then I wondered if I would ever have the nerve to call Alice or even stop and see her again. I had grown accustomed to not having a relationship with another, yet fantasized of marriage, children and a home with a woman that I had only met for one day. If only I was with her now, sitting in that booth, looking into her eyes and watching her smile.
At least I was heading home for a few days. I needed to catch up on sleep and civility after being on the road for five weeks. I found that being out so long puts the feeling of emptiness in your mind--empty as the house you left behind. I arrived at the town I was scheduled to deliver at in the morning at eight. It was good to know that, once empty, there was less than an hour and a half to be home. Arriving early in the evening, I thought I would just sleep in and show up at the gate around seven-thirty.
When I walked in the truck stop I felt brave enough to call Alice. I dialed the number several times, hanging up each time at the last moment. I was just about to hang up once again when a frustrated hello was on the other end. It was Alice. I froze for a moment knowing what type of idiot I would appear letting the phone ring then hanging up before it was answered.
"Hello, Alice?" I asked.
"Wally?" she asked surprised. "Have you been calling here and hanging up?"
"I was having trouble with the phone and didn't realize it had gone through," I lied in a fabricated and frustrated voice. It surprised me that she had recognized my voice on the phone.
The phone call was very disappointing. I weaseled out of the conversation by pretending to have left something at the hotel and asking whether she had seen it. Was I supposed to actually blurt out, "I want you to be the mother of my children"? I wondered how she would react to such a statement. Probably the same thoughts I had about myself. An idiot! Now there was no hope of a future relationship with the girl who preoccupied my mind these last few weeks. Defeated. The white flag was flying in the air mentally, knowing that defeat would be the only fate for this poor soul.
The disappointment soon faded when the other drivers and I began to share stories in the driver's lounge. They were the kind of stories where you strain to keep a believing face while under the surface you quietly say that this guy is full of baloney. Then you wish to yourself that trucking was actually as interesting as the stories you hear and tell. Each telling evolves them into greater and more unbelievable stories as they are polished and decorated. I sat there wondering if the movie on the other side of the smoke filled room was more interesting then the story forced upon my tired mind. I was restrained, not by the intrigue of the stories, but by guilt. Guilt of wanting to squeeze away from the stories instead of listening to show humble respect for those caught victim to my stories in times past. The telling of personal stories painted over with superhuman qualities and surrealistic backgrounds.
I always wondered if the historians practiced such methods when they recorded the history of the world. Were the happenings that made history actually mistakes and flukes painted as superhuman situations? Did George Washington just need to stand to stretch his cramped legs on the boat crossing the Delaware? Or was he really a fearless and superhuman character leading his men against the foe?
I found myself asking Misery such questions as I fell off to sleep. Silly? I was talking to my pet!