Every morning he thought: I can’t do this one more day. Often by the 5 offramp where a line of buses switching freeways made a bottleneck behind a blind curve. He’d be going fast around the bend and suddenly slow buses like a herd of elephant. Behind them an 80’s Jap pickup with six extra feet of steel pipe hanging out the back. Sometimes with a red rag tied on it. Sometimes not. Drivers from lawless places.
Pipe right at eye level and once a week he almost got lanced in the face like a jousting accident. He’d read about a woman killed by a flying manhole cover. She was driving and an oil truck bumping over it set it spinning like a giant Chinese star. Through the windshield into her eyes like the Simpsons’ dog with the frisbee. My luck it’d just make me uglier, he thought. Ugly blind and retarded. Then I’d step in the manhole.
It was Valentine’s day. He’d dated a hooker once. Her busiest day of the year. The johns all wanted to talk. How do you have so many lonely men and 9/11 only happened once. So many lonely men yet science spent billions finding zero calorie sweeteners. Nothing on growing teenage girls in axolotl tanks. Billions spent to make a robot kick a soccer ball when who the fuck asked for one more soccer player. Drones controlled from a storage unit outside Vegas precisely target tables at Yemeni weddings but the killer at the joystick can’t get a second date. They made a movie about Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with Siri. Hey Siri, he said. Do you want to talk to me. I’m sorry– I don’t understand that.
The way she said “that.” He could sense contempt. He thought about ramming today’s Mexican truck pipe. Maybe gripping it two handed like something out of 300, forcing it all the way through his brain. Instead he went to work. Around one he realized he forgot his lunch at home.