From his office, Stan drove east on Mercury Boulevard, away from the setting sun. He was on his way home after another tooth and nail dog eat dog afternoon of pushing cheap real estate.
Stan let his mind drift, loosening his tie and pulling it off over his head. The wind played havoc on the few remaining strands of hair, that Stan desperately combed over, trying to conceal his balding scalp.
The wind peeled back the tension in layers as complex and many as that of a sweet Vidalia onion. Stan stopped at the Ricondo Lounge, the same way he did every evening on his journey home. Tonight would be no different than any other.
He had sweet talked and bullshitted five more unwitting couples and a naive single mom to boot. Stan even sprang for lunch at the English Hound steak house with a particular pair. They were young, in their mid twenties, very polite and well mannered. Also he had been starving.
No breakfast. Nope, no breakfast for Stan. Not for many years now, unless you would classify four double shots of Johnnie Walker red label and as many pints of Guinness Stout, A nutritionally, well balanced meal.
Now, sitting on the visibly aged and well worn wooden bar stool, he was completely at peace. This was where Stan felt the most relaxed. The lambent light from overhead fell easily through the scotch filled highball, refracting in a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, which danced smoothly across the highly glossed surface in front of him.
Stan was on his fifth or sixth round, maybe even seventh, he didn’t really know. That was all relatively normal in Stan’s case, he usually lost count and concern at this point in the evening.
The acumen of any rational thought or intelligible conversation at this stage of the game had been reduced to a pitiable level. With no chance of any meaningful (or even unmeaningful) co-habitation being served up on his menu this evening, Stan called it a night.
He dug deep into the front pocket of his second hand chinos and produced, with only a little unnoticed difficulty, a thin roll of bills. Stan paid his tab, leaving an extra ten-spot under his empty glass, for the man behind the bar.
Out in the semi-dark parking lot, there were only a handful of vehicles for Stan to pick through, before he happened upon the familiar dark-green, heavily rusted, Ford Pinto station wagon. After only two halfhearted attempts, Stan was able to unlock the driver’s side door.
Even half shot in the ass, Stan was sure that he adroitly handled the wheel with all the grace and elegance normally held in reserve and bestowed upon your Formula One drivers. Stan’s bravura was simply staggering. According to Stan, there wasn’t any other vehicle on the road today that could unfurl the asphalt adventure that lay before him quite like his ’79 Pinto could.
The little hatchback acted as if it had a mind of it’s own, a virtual auto-copilot, if you may. The mere pressure of Stan’s foot upon the accelerator seemed to breathe new life into the mechanical monster. Stan simply could not err in his ability or performance once behind the wheel of the feisty four-speed.
Stan made it out of the parking lot in one piece; luck was undoubtedly on his side tonight. He pointed the nose of his machine south and sent his alter-ego toward the bridge and home…..he hoped.
The stereo was factory, but it sounded good to Stan. He reached over and cranked it up as Blue Oyster Cult belted out the classic “Godzilla.” The music fueled Stan on as he worked his way fluidly through the gears omitting the use of the clutch on the final two.
Racing through the night, his timing was impeccable, hitting each and every traffic light green in succession. Stan passed a three block row of flashing orange barricades, stringing them along into one solid line of amazing color and brilliance, reflecting itself vibrantly off the passenger side window.
Stan was doing every bit of ninety when Deep Purple graced the airwaves. Ritchie Blackmore tortured the strings on his red Les Paul, ripping through the intro in a frenetic frenzy, beckoning Ian Gillan to the microphone, where he vocalized the urgent and pressing need for all of us to get on our bad-motorscooters and ride.
Stan was approaching the bridge at break neck speed, his right foot firmly mashed down on the accelerator. The Pinto screamed, with the vivacity of glory years gone by, as it raced through the night.
At the base of the bridge the barber pole barrier had already started its torpid descent. The red warning lights flashed in a staccato assault on the blackness ahead. Halfway down and moving with renewed quickness now, as if sensing Stan’s approach. His right foot, clad in the latest cross-trainer athletic shoe to hit the market, pushed on the gas pedal just a little harder. The aging Ford flew under the closing gate with only inches to spare and bounced crazily as it received the elevated portion of roadway.
The caution lights were a blur now, yes, Stan was stepping across the void. There was no ground visible on the other side, only a gossamer of thick smoky fog, rolling gently underfoot. The Pinto was pointed skyward, increasingly so as the bridge continued to open its asphalt jaws.
The new blue shoe attached To Stan’s right foot had seemingly become as one with the accelerator, as he tried desperately to smash it through the badly rusted floorboard. The mechanical roadway was now tilted back at a wickedly rakish angle. Its mouth now fully open, ready to accept the oversized steam vessel that navigated the choppy waters of the Yukon River far below.
There were nothing but stars and the endless blanket of black, that made up the parameters of time and space, now visible through the dirty windshield of Stan’s personal vessel into hyper-reality. Stan felt the pavement beneath him give way as he fully stepped through the invisible doorway to what mysteries lay beyond. He could feel the cool mist on his feet and between his naked toes as he was leaving all tangible existence behind.
The weightlessness embodying him was incredible, Stan thought, how beautiful and bright it was here on the other side. Stan reveled in the freedom of mobility that he now had, the cleansing sensation of his inner sanctum made him feel light-headed and giddy. That was when all went BLACK……………….
The large blue and gray stepvan pulled slowly to the curb at the corner of Gardenia and Vine streets. A young boy in a brown corduroy jacket leaned out and deposited two hefty bundles of newspaper, each neatly cinched with coarse thread packing twine.
They made a deep bellowing sound as they smacked the sidewalk in front of Jim Olsen’s Coffeehouse and Café. Jim came out when he heard the big van pull up. It was a cool and humid morning. The fog lingered in the low lying areas of the small Alaskan village.
Jim bent down and cut the bindings on the nearest stack with the box cutter from his red and gold striped apron. He picked up the copy on top and was about to fold it under his arm when the bold print on the front page caught his eye.
Jim held it out at arm’s length and read the intriguing headline: “Car drives off the Winnepasago Bridge. Crashes into coal transport vessel two hundred feet below”. Underneath the reporter stated that even after an intense search by the Coast Guard and local authorities, that went on throughout the night, still no body had been recovered. The reporter went on with all sorts of speculation before noting at the end, that the only thing to survive, the twisted burning wreckage, were a pair of light blue Nikes, still fully laced and tied.