I remember it clearly. Satan’s 18-wheeler.
At the time I was living about as deep as one could get into the heart of the Catskills, past notches and kills, ancient places the Dutch named based on misinterpreted native words. Floods and bad snows could cut you off at a moment’s notice. One time I came around a curve to find an SUV upright in the branches of a fallen tree, its young driver in tears that he’d wrecked his parents’ prize vehicle on the way up to their second home near the ski areas.
You know how big trucks light themselves up at night? It’s an exhibitionist version of the tendency that pushes truckers to create bordello-like chambers behind their drivers’ seats. The truck of Satan came up in my rear-view the way a horror-film meme slips into your dreams. Lost in driving thoughts, music playing loud as I neared the comforts of my pad, orange-lit eyes and an evil S, mirror-reversed, showed themselves.
I saw that truck a half-dozen times as the snow melted into scary freshets that troubled April many years past. And then it was gone.
Just the other evening, though, I once again saw the truck of Satan leave the Thruway and head into town at twilight. It seemed perfect for the times. No sound other than the dystopian reports of All Things Considered chiming quietly. The dog whined in the back seat, head out the window, as we headed for a park walk. I nodded to my son to check it our once I saw that mirror S in the rear view.
“What’s that mean?” he asked.
The news rattled on: Dr. Fauci’s warnings to Congress, the president’s warnings about Dr. Fauci. Economists’ calls for more stimulus, and Mitch McConnell’s retort that the time wasn’t right for more deficit spending. Obamagate.
I started telling Milo about my posting sightings of the evil 18-wheeler, as well as my years writing a rural column under the guise of one Mike the Cabbie throughout the Radical Right’s rise during the Clinton-Gingrich years. Suddenly I shifted into the exit lane. The truck roared by to the left of us.
“Change of plans,” I said, flustered. “Let’s just say that means a change of plans, for now.”
On the way home via back roads we stopped at a wide field with views to the mountains on one side and views towards the river on the other.
Time for the dog to run.