The International Writers Magazine: All Silk- A Dreamscapes
For a pure moment trucker Rene Destot
had felt above it all, above dawn at its tatters, above the voice
coming at him from days edge. King of the throne he was,
king of the hill, the road having slammed under him all night
Trucker experiences a very close shave
The 475 horses loose
in the trucks Caterpillar engine sounded their endless music,
hummed under his seat bottom, talked lightly to his wrists. (Controlled
rampage, the voice had said long before he used to think about owning
a Kenworth, Earth-mover, star-hauler.) House-big, highly modified for
cruising, a Caddy in a sense, the Kenworth T2000 went over the crown
of the hill. He froze on the edge of the seat.
Had the voice had been talking about this? Night has justice. Day has
none. What curve in the road?
Gray skies to the north were releasing massive shapes, taking on lesser
ones. Night was crawling away on hands and knees. Rene, not yet bleary-eyed,
knew the thievery of it, the moment, the uncertain reigns of clarity
that can fall into ones hands as night departs. In obstinate pieces
the pre-dawn had been talking to him in the scary way it manifests intonations.
Some days pass easily. This one will not. Hearken. Night is a beginning
and an end. Even knowing it was his own voice did not make it any more
reflective. He had heard it before, sometimes operatic, then in whispers,
but not on the road.
Never before on the road. Not behind the wheel. The road, with a justice
all its own, has a demand all its own. Now, in that clarity at hand,
sudden sunlight scattered ammunition out there on the road in front
of him, sudden flares of chrome flashing in every direction. About another
day he thought, odd and rampant shrapnel loose at dawn, detonation and
combustion everywhere, decisions at hand, Sgt. Rumney at his feet and
crying, metal from their own high angle devils still burning its way
through his body. A scant 50 or 60 yards ahead of him a car was broadside
in the road, the sun almost breaking down the catalogue of the vehicles
parts. And though there was apparently room on either side for safe
passage of the rig, he thought his tires would take an unnecessary beating.
He identified a 98 Crown Victoria, slammed the gears in downshift,
feeling the weight pushing at his back, popping the rig towards a slow-down,
the gears abruptly humming their mesh of music, just like the back row
of the orchestra at a Copland night at Symphony Hall. Forces, as always,
were all around him. It was like stopping the world to get off, some
kind of carousel, centrifugal. Remembering a French horn destroying
a note one night deep in his past made him think about the way the crew
packed the load back at Swantons Ridge, not at perfection, thinking
it might start shifting, daring to stand on its feet, threatening to
jackknife. Then he saw the woman step from behind the car and dart to
the side of the road. In his mind was the converse turmoil of a lady
in distress and the cost of new truck tires. There was feeble juxtaposition
to contend with.
The rig slid by the left side of the Crown Victoria. Gravel and shoulder
waste and perimeter-loose asphalt and pebbles sang under his wheels,
pinged away as if from a hundred slingshots and he could feel the rig
momentarily hang in the air. The woman, young, trim, hair proud-red
and like a ball of fire, was waving at him as he veered by. For scant
seconds the trailer, potentially a deserter, AWOL in promise, tugged
at his backside. From his lungs a pocket of air came loose with a bang.
Gears shutting down into lowest low, the cargo still threatening movement,
morning suddenly full of other energies, the huge Kenworth and its attachment
came to a stop.
In the side mirror the woman was waving at him. The voice, talking again,
Dropping down from the cab, the demanding rigors of the road fully in
his mind and having been in worse spots, he checked the tires on his
side. He walked back to the young woman and the car. She was not in
panicsville, though her cheeks were flared red. Instantly, with a quiet
daring, her eyes measured his eyes, the depth in them, the span of his
shoulders, his hipline, the bleached impact of his worn but neat jeans.
Rene, at 37, slim and rugged from a decent regimen and a usual tussle
with weights, even out on the road, was aware he had certain attractions.
Ease, supposedly, was one of them.
"Will the engine start?" he said, looking at the crown of
the hill he had just come over. She was trimmer than he thought at first.
"No. Just died on me," she said. One shoulder shrugged. "Theres
been trouble with it the last few days." The shoulder shrug was
the universal one, her head tipping to meet it, eyes shifting color.
Her legs were marvelous. She looked clean as a new napkin, but her eyes
darker at the moment.
"You watch for traffic," Rene said. "Ill try to
get it out of the road." Noting her slimness again, how her red
hair glossed against her neck, he advised, "Wave something. A sweater,
a pocketbook, anything. Wave something."
He dropped into the seat, kept the door open, and keyed the starter.
The engine coughed and jerked and he did it a second time. He tried
it again and popped the gear quickly into neutral after catching a minor
thrust from the starter, and with one foot pushing got the Crown Victoria
rolling on a slight grade and coasted it off the road.
"I can give you a lift down to Crawford. Its about twenty
miles. Theres a garage there. Probably help you out."
"Thats great. Let me get my bags. Only a couple." Her
eyes, chameleons at work, were as green as a lagoon ought to be. She
spun away with a youthful twist, energy riding off her frame. Other
forces, the voice said, are about.
Back on the road, the Caterpillar touching him in the wrists again,
in the seat of his pants, Rene caught her from the corner of his eye.
He knew she was identifying the music on the radio, low and quiet. Her
legs were remarkably elegant, even, he thought, for the cab seat of
a Kenworth. Hed saved for eight years for the rig, elegance itself,
and here was more elegance sitting in his cab than he had ever dreamed
"Thats lovely," she said. " Thats Nessum
Dorma and Im Lila Endwell." Musically she said it. "I
was heading home to Ossipee, to see my family. From college. I teach,
a half professor. Do you always play that kind of music when youre
driving?" Lila Endwell had turned to face him. Her eyes he caught
first, now of another hue, not lagoon green, not as dark as earlier,
and then her mouth. He could taste her mouth, the serious red lips.
It was in his eyes.
"Youre blushing. I like that kind of honesty in a man. If
you screw up, you screw up. Thats really charming, courageous,
and extremely sexy. Oh, my brother Tim says Im too damned direct,
but lifes too short to be otherwise. Things need doing. My father
is godawful overprotective, now, but hes the one should watch
out for himself. Thinks he owns half the world and wants the other half.
Its going to kill him. I tell him hell be sorely missed,
but thats only a mere caution."
"Whats he do?"
"That much and that simple." If youre going on to Boston,
well be going right by his place. A long ride by. Its like
a border, like you need a passport."
"The owning killed her. I got out. I still love him, in some way,
but I got out. She worked forever for him, at anything, and when she
wasnt there any more, neither was I. She used to slip into my
room at night, barefoot, smelling nice, and tell me stories. Sometimes
she kept me up looking at the stars, the moon, telling me stories her
mother had told her. About witches and sadness and losing the moon when
you wanted it most. And he was downstairs doing the books. We knew the
difference, and the parting. We all parted before we knew it. As a kid
it was all done. Before she died it was all done. Can you reach something
"Yes. If youre looking for something besides the trucker
response, Ill find it for you." He could have harrumped,
but let it go. "I guess its like notes in music that come
up in one place but you know they belong someplace else. Only if you
really listen, nothing else in your mind, absolutely no taste in your
mouth, no beauty in your eye, nothing to touch. Even the composer never
knew it. All things arent what they always seem. My pal Eddie
drives a Diamond-T and he knows every damn word of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Every damn word."
"Thats wild! Im sorry for the unintended aspersion.
Are you a composer? A Musician? A music buff? Love Country and Western?
Blues besides the longhair? Where does Jazz fit itself, on an edge?"
Each of them realized that she could go on much longer, but was being
temperate, allowing her eyes to change again.
"You keep talking like that and Ill remember you a long way
down the road."
"Oh, youll remember my good legs and thinking about the oral
stuff, the way you guys do. What do they say, every five or six seconds?
My God, how can you drive? I think it comes with the equipment, doesnt
it? Part of the spec sheet? Au naturel. My God, Id be running
all the red lights!"
He realized there was not an edge to her voice. It was the way she talked,
so utterly natural. And for kicks the air caught a small grasp of a
new aroma, an essence of personal identification, more than newly cut
grass or a vast salty marsh or a whole mountain cleansed just after
rain. It said, for that moment and forever, Lila Endwell. He didnt
know if he had said her name or the voice had said her name. He pretended
"Head on and no red lights?" His thumb hit a switch on the
wheel and Eddie Arnold, somewhere in a corner of the huge sleeper cab,
was about as sad as one can get, the kind of song Sgt. Rumney had played
and leaned on all the time.
"I like Country. I like him. Its what the traffic bears,
but no adjusting of personality. I like myself sometimes. I love my
father, I guess, but I dont like him. I liked my mother and loved
her, barefoot, smelling nice, the moon in the window like colored glass.
I think already I like you. You come this way often? Where from? Where
"Ill go by three more times in the next week and a half."
He looked at a small calendar on the visor. "Then maybe not again
for three or four months."
"Will you blow that crazy horn, if you have one, when you go by?"
"Id rather you stopped and knocked at the door, if you could
"What would your father say with this rig at his door?"
"All he has to dictate is his will, and I think hes done
that by now. Im on my own, up to my own. The critters in my puddle
are the ones I float with." She popped fully sideways in the seat.
"Youre coming back this way, right?"
Her knees shone at the back of his eyes, a field of white, expansive,
compelling. If he saw much more of her, hed explode. "Tomorrow,
back over the same route."
"Lets drop in, say hello, get the car squared away, and then
Ill go to Boston with you. Ill treat you to dinner. Im
He understood the aegis of her argument. "I wont leave the
truck for very long. And never in the city if I can help it. The investment
is enormous." If he ever needed the voice, now was the time.
"Then well party here. After, you can bring me back home,
and when you leave you can blow that crazy horn." Standing up beside
the seat, she slipped into the back of the cab. In half a yodel she
said, "Hell--o." There should have been an echo. "Its
like a damn gymnasium back here. I saw you looking," she said.
It was not coy. Did not come across that way. "Theres nothing
but silk under there. Nothing but silk."
They had stopped, met her father. She kissed her father after showering,
steered Rene out the door, left her father on the huge porch in the
exhaust of the Kenworth, in its shade. His shoulders were slumped. Rene,
remembering later, swore he could hear her mother telling a story in
three rooms, in the huge hallway, in the dining room, in the den where
they had a glass of wine. It was another voice, at least.
His cargo was delivered, a new load put on for a return trip. There
was dinner for two outside the city. A few glasses of wine. Later, a
bottle of Madeira she took from a small case she brought with her. They
made love in the Kenworth cab, parked in a rest area with a dozen other
trucks holed up for the night. Rene Destot fell in love after they made
love, after she showed him there was nothing but silk under there. "Its
the wave of the future," she said. "Its our call,"
as she explained how she shaved herself.
He was in Vergennes, outbound, when he found the suitcase on the lower
bunk under a pillow and blanket. The neat blocks of currency were piled
like Leggos in the case. He counted to a million and fifty thousand.
There was no note, but he could smell her, like he could hear a high
note left on the air.
When he drove back to the mansion, the police were there. There was
noise, static, the sound of sirens. One trooper told him a woman had
killed her rich father, and then herself. "No note," he said.
"Strange, you have to admit. Had everything going for them. Or
so it seemed." His voice was distant, like coming down a long tunnel,
night behind it, pushing for all it was worth.
It all came back. Some days pass easily. This one will not. Hearken.
Night is a beginning and an end.
© Tom Sheehan October 2005
email: tomsheehan at comcast.net
on the Sausage Run
Travel from the word go
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