These three events happened to me in the last month. One of them happened in a dream, the other two happened during wakefulness. Teachers of creative writing will recognize this as a variation of a popular in-class writing exercise. Discuss.
I was driving on a rural two-lane and there were cars ahead of me and I was moving too fast. Raining lightly. Suddenly the car ahead of me slammed on its brakes and to avoid hitting it I had to pass on the right shoulder, half in the ditch when a kid ran past me and I just missed hitting him. The car felt like an out-of-control ski run just after you catch an edge and you’re just hanging on before the inevitable crash, even though sometimes you can pull out of it. As I slowed to a stop I could see in the rear view a cop chasing the kid into the ditch and hauling him back across the road. The kid was bloodied. It was hard to tell what kind of event was in progress, and whether I was going to be ticketed for speeding, reckless driving, and god knows what else. I turned the car off and waited for the cops. But they didn’t come and I realized that whatever was going on had their full attention and I didn’t really count in that story, so I started the car and rolled slowly onto the next town looking for a place to get a cup of coffee.
We were staying in a modest hotel by the airport after a climbing trip on which no climbs were successfully completed. Since we were leaving the room super early we were completely packed. The mood was less than jubilant. Outside it was raining hard. In the middle of the night I was awakened by some kind of domestic commotion. I poked my head out the door and there was guy holding a woman down and punching her, yelling with each punch, “Gimme my money bitch.” I start yelling at him to stop and debating to what extent I want to get involved. I am in standing in the rain in my underwear. The man, too, is in his underwear. The woman is fully dressed. “Gimme my money bitch.” Stop, I yell, the cops are on their way. “Gimme my money bitch.” Before I get to him, still uncertain what I will do when I reach him, a cop shows up. The woman from the front desk is yelling, oddly, at the woman, to give the man his money. It occurs to me that the woman is known to both the cop and the hotel person. It occurs to me that the woman is a prostitute. I leave it in the cop’s hands. It’s quiet, except for the rain, but I do not fall back asleep.
The phone rings. 2:30 a.m. Good news is never delivered at this hour. My son has locked his keys in the truck, do I have a spare? Yes, but it’s at the office. Figure it out, I tell him and hang-up. But then I call him back and tell him I’ll go get the key. When I finally arrive at the truck it is pouring rain and he is standing under the eaves on his crutches. He is three weeks into a broken ankle. Fuck. I have brought the wrong key. Back to the office and return with the right key. Over an hour has passed since he first called. Then he admits that the key fell out of his pocket and he believes that it was found and stolen by some hopped-up dudes who pretended to help him look for the keys. As he was starting the car a woman wrapped in a blanket, barefoot, approaches. “Can you give me a ride?” She asks, “I need to get some shoes and shit.” Can’t help you, I say, feeling bad. Before I leave, I say to my son, ”Don’t give that woman a ride.” He looks at me, like, no shit, and I drive off.