Stuck In Neutral

Adrienne isn’t back yet.

After work I tried to rent a movie. I went to the store and spent all of two-and-a-half minutes walking past the rows of DVDs before flipping them off and leaving.

I went to the bookstore, walked in, walked past all the magazines, walked past all the photography books, walked past all the computer books, and walked back out. Total time spent in the store, 4 minutes. On the way home I stopped by Wendy’s and bought what had to be my sixth combo meal in eleven days.

I felt like I had to do something, but I never did. At 1 a.m. I went for a long drive up the canyon. The only cars I saw at all were 4 cops, lights flashing, chasing a car that showed no sign of slowing. Music playing, windows down, cold air whipping past my freezing ears and warm air blasting from the vents. Not much thinking, just driving in the dark and feeling the curves of the road and listening to music and the roar of the wind.

I drove forty miles up the canyon road and back again, passed my house and drove on. I downshifted as I started down a huge hill and felt something snap in the clutch. I lifted my foot and realized that the clutch no longer worked and that I was permanently in neutral. A 45 mph car is surprisingly hard to stop on a steep hill when you have no gears resisting it.

3 a.m. and a couple of miles from home I set out walking, the street lights cast three shadows and I watched phantom feet pounding the sidewalk ahead of me. Home, frustrated, and tired, I undressed. I pulled my shirt off over my head, felt a sharp slap and realized I had stuck my hand into the quickly spinning ceiling fan.

I lay in bed cut, bruised, and car-less, staring at the ceiling. I thought about the road and the wind and the music, and drifted off to sleep.

11 responses for Stuck In Neutral

  1. dave says:

    this story rivals those that I’ve seen on the tv mercials with the blonde lady in the glasses asking for money for the starving Africans in Zimbabwe. I once had the ceiling fan strike me in the fore head and that’s a true statement. Usually it makes a squeeky noise but this particular night it was either silent or I was deaf, probably a combination of both. I lay there choking back sobs and hoping that my wife would soon walk in and see me in my pathetic state.

  2. john says:

    If anything can shake this — this has go to be it:

    Pixies To Reunite

  3. adrienne says:

    It was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

  4. Chels says:

    I love the fact that Adrienne said that, because I say it often. :) Also, I don’t mean this in any offensive sort of way, but I hope I have a husband someday that falls apart when I leave home. No greater love!

  5. john says:

    I lived in fear of the ceiling fan in our bedroom — i no longer fear our ceiling fan. we moved, our fan now is about 20 feet up. Come hang out, you’ll be safe, we’ll watch for a new pixies album. Maybe Cory (however you spell his name) could get ahold of Frank Black and suggest a song about ceiling fans — or was that what Wave of Mutilation was about?

  6. Raymond Chandler says:

    Nice writing. But forget the ceiling fan,”when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns”.

  7. Jory says:

    Good Heavens, Josh! Glad to hear you didn’t like, roll into traffic, though.

  8. adrienne says:

    Chels: It’s not offensive to say you hope your husband will fall apart when you leave…it’s the whole reason you leave in the first place! Because then he realizes how much he loves you, and he makes you a nice mix CD to listen to on the way home from the airport, and he cleans up the house and buys you a present and does all kinds of great stuff and is extra glad to see you. The feeling was of course mutual. Not that I’d leave all the time, but I have to admit to being very flattered and feeling very happy and lucky. Now if only we could cure our little boy of the severe daddy-separation anxiety he’s experiencing. He honestly doesn’t want Josh to leave his sight. While we were gone he told all of his toys daily about how “Daddy’s in Utah” and he frequently made Daddy a part of his play. First it started with a mismatched set of a daddy horse, mommy horse and a “tiny horse” (in quotes because that’s what he always calls it). It progressed oddly to a long strip of ham on his tray at lunch, which he called daddy as he played with it. Ditto for an extra long green bean at dinner. Though for my part, I was included as a shorter, wider green bean. Lucky again.

  9. andrew says:

    great writing, josh. it made me think of that yo la tengo song where he sings, “did i tell you about the dark lonely road, i was counting my steps as i made my way home, days are nothing but time on your hands, weighing on me…” oh and also that “who let the dogs” out song. but that’s just stuck in my head.

  10. old prof says:

    Kick it back in gear and lets have another post.