STONE AND CANVAS©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
#36 YOU IDIOT!©
I had so many quiet, warm, dry, comfortable private opportunities to light into G.B., instead my GRAND EXPLOSION occurred somewhere between Kingman and Ash Fork in the desolation of the newly completed I-40 freeway link. I stood with only bandages and the forlorn soles and straps of my Birkenstock sandals between me and deep cold snow.
G.B.’s mechanic’s helper Ish and his wife Sharon were driving the company pick up and G.B. and I were returning to Ash Fork with the venerable master mechanic Bob, in his vintage pick up. For some reason which totally escapes me now, we were towing the Buick.
When we left Los Vegas, where the men had been repairing the pickup in a truck stop, we had been up twenty hours and everyone was quiet and subdued, fighting off sleep, especially the mechanic who was in his late seventies.
The plowed black freeway cut through deep white snow and we drove silently through the dark icy night headed toward Ash Fork. Every time Bob’s attention appeared to waver, I coughed loudly enough to waken our driver, while I clawed through fabric to skin on G.B.’s thigh. There were moments too, when G.B. felt anxiety and snorted softly, “Way’ll hay’ll.” But he respected and trusted “Ol’ Bob” and couldn’t say more . . . besides he knew Bob would never let him take the wheel of his treasured relic.
After hours of night driving on the frosty road, the first glow of dawn lightened the sky and the welcome sun rose behind cinder cones and mountains.
We drove over the brow of a long straight hill which stretched down to a Santa Fe railway overpass and Bob pulled over to park behind three diesel trucks. Ish and Sharon in the pick up and all subsequent traffic lined up behind us.
“NOW WHAT?” G.B.’s “melodious” voice shattered the hypnotic silence.
“G.B.” Bob replied calmly, slowly and precisely, “The sun’s rounded the mountain. You can see where it’s starting to melt the ice on the road. The hill’s too steep G.B. That’s black ice. As soon as the hill’s shadow is clear, the road’ll be wet and safe to travel — fifteen minutes at most.”
“No damned ice is a-gonna tell me what to do. GO!” G.B. commanded and to my distress Bob reluctantly pulled onto the freeway lane. I wanted to say, “Stop, let me out!” but to my everlasting shame, I was silent.
The chilled sleepy freeway drivers watched as the little antique pickup crawled all the way down the hill in third gear with the Buick in tow. At the bottom of the long yawning slope I realized I’d been holding my breath so I gasped in a deep breath of air knowing we had made the run safely.
Bob shifted to another gear and slowly we were crossing the long, broad deserted overpass, when the Buick decided to pass us and in its attempt, spun the light little old vintage pick-up toward the cement segmented edge-guard, then drove us straight at it.
With the weight and momentum of the Buick behind us, our vehicle slammed into the edge-guard heading us into a dive down onto the railway tracks below.
I screamed to G.B. “You’ve killed me. I have to burn again!” And I froze in terror.
The edge shifted but the weight of the Buick dragged enough to stop the two vehicles.
I reached wildly across G.B. and released the door lock.
He yelled, “STAY WHERE Y’ALL ARE! CARS ARE A-COMIN’ AN’ WE GOTTA STAY OUT’A THEIR WAY!”
“NO!” I screamed. “YOU IDIOT! GET OUT OF MY WAY — I’M WALKING HOME!” Then adding his favorite word I screeched “Now, MOVE!” He did not move one muscle so I crawled over him and limped into the deep snow by the road’s edge — heading for Ash Fork — forty miles away — afoot!
Ish had driven down the hill to offer help and he was followed by others who braved the treacherous hill in order to see for themselves just why a woman was ranting about in the snow. I knew one of them would stop in at Alice’s and describe the tall insane red head and the entire town would know some version of it all, before we arrived home.
Having never before seen this majestic rage and frenzied fear in me, G.B. gave up and stood bewildered and helpless. Ish pulled up beside him and Sharon got out. She came over to me, put her arms around me and softly said, “Charle let Ish drive you home. It’s okay with G.B., he just wants to get you home safely.”
“No,” I wailed as she walked me close to the open door of the company pick up and then I screamed “I can’t. I can’t trap myself in there.” And I was off again limping through the deep snow.
As adrenalin subsided, it began to penetrate my mind that I had trudged fifty feet and I was failing fast. I was not going to make forty miles — before dark.
Still drunk with unaccustomed rage and power, seeing G.B. reduced to nothing under my enraged attack, I demanded that he would have to crawl the pick up at a slow roll on the shoulder. If he promised, I would ride with him. If he show any sign of gathering speed, I would jump out. I had the man in the palm of my hand.
It was a strange ride home. Every time he weaved out toward a truck in the curb lane, I would gasp; “Ahhh!” and G.B. would growl “Hay’ll.” Each time we hit an icy spot I’d lean forward in fear and he would snort. Every time he speeded up to twenty miles an hour or had to go onto the freeway due to a soft and deep snowy shoulder or an overpass, I’d grab the door handle, prepare to jump in response to which G.B. would mutter, “I’m in this danged pick up too. D’y’all thank I’m fixin’ to kill myself just so’s I can scare the Hay’ll out’a y’all?”
Finally I saw how funny it was and my laughter began. But that did not lesson my fear or my reactions, it just punctuated each comment G.B. made until I was nearing hysteria and G.B. was close to driving off another overpass on this freeway through “Hay’ll” just to shut me up.
At last he rolled the vehicle into the carport and I rolled out onto the ground. I spoke with deep earnest feeling, “I’m safe. I survived! I am home.” Then from the ground I let fly with one last indulgence in rage, “NEVER AGAIN! I WILL NEVER GET IN A CAR WITH YOU DRIVING AGAIN! Do you hear what I am saying G.B.? Never again!”
I tried to rise and G.B. reached out to steady me as I stood and then he held me close.
“Its okay Sweetheart, ever’thang’s okay. Y’all were just scared Suga. Later this evenin’ I’ll drive y’all out to the Crookton overpass, an’ we’ll look fer antelopees.”