I was trying a new experiment. I started buying whole LPs on ITunes instead of just individual songs. That way when I drove long distances and had time to listen to a whole album, that's exactly what I would do.
I also decided that I would start with those albums that are universally argued to be among the best ever. For the initial test drive, I decided on Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. I had played it the night before, emptied out my mind and focused on the music alone.
I went into a kind of musical trance of the sort that I haven't experienced since I was way younger and always went to sleep with my headphones on; the trance ended just as the song Eclipse was coming to an end. The sound of the eleven o'clock train rolling through town gave the music somewhat of an otherworldly effect.
I blotted out all unnecessary thinking and used the music as a soundtrack to the life outside my car windows. I've always had this slightly insane belief that you could find hidden patterns in life by doing something like that, as if you could coax out these little magical moments where the random happenings of everyday life were brought into alignment with the music.
It worked pretty well for a while. The music and lyrics of Breathe (In the Air) were perfectly suited for grey, overcast drizzling sky. I saw a crow sitting on the wire and the motionless dignity of the bird seemed to be perfectly attuned to the music. Then I saw a great flock of sparrows flow across the sky before me in a zigging and zagging motion choreographed to The Great Gig in the Sky.
Looking further down the road, I noticed a large splotch of bright orange color lying across both lanes. As I approached it, I could see that it was mucky mass of oranges that had been dumped in the middle of the road at the intersection of Road 36 and Road 232. The oranges were lying right in front of the little home made altar someone had placed at the side of the intersection to mark the place where a loved one had been killed in a wreck.
The oranges had already been smashed into a pulpy mess by the many others cars and trucks that had passed through earlier that morning. I slowed down well before I met the mess and slowly followed the trail of the other vehicles finally rolling to a stop at the intersection.
I had only been stopped for a couple of seconds when a truck traveling behind me struck me in the rear. Shaken, I looked in my mirror and could only see the hood of large white truck. There were a line of cars behind me, so I slowly made my way across the intersection and pulled over to the side of the road. I reached and opened the glove box to find a pen and paper so that I could exchange information. Then I exited the car and waited.
While I was looking for something to with which to write, the truck turned right and sped off as fast as it could move. I was left standing there holding the pen and paper at my sides. I hurried back to the car and jumped in, drove a few feet forward to a safe place in the road and made a U turn. I came to the stop sign and saw the truck was already a long ways down the road, but there was a car still at the other side still waiting to see what transpired.
I had been in a wreck six months before when another white truck had blasted through a red light and clipped my front end. I was worried about what the insurance company was going to say, so I opted to get a witness rather than engage in a high speed pursuit of a truck with a sizable lead.
I pulled over on the side of the east bound road and the lady in the car pulled behind me. She was a woman somewhere near to my own age and was very beautiful possessing long black hair, dark brown eyes and smile so alluring I went weak in the knees. She said that she was so stunned that she forgot to get the license plate number. I mumbled, "Me too."
She began talking about a similar incident she had had a few months prior at this same intersection. While she was talking, I noticed that the one crow I had passed on the road earlier had flown down and taken a perch on the wires by the telephone pole behind the makeshift altar. Then out of nowhere, the dancing cloud of sparrows returned flowing back and forth in the sky above my head.
As she handed me back the paper with her contact information, I blushed like a school boy with false bravado asking a girl for her number and getting it. I asked her about her wreck, and at that moment, I swear I could see, or at least it looked like, the statue of Mary turn its head and smile while the gray clouds over the west horizon opened and the huge thumb of God thrust through the break in the clouds with a thumbs up gesture.
In some cultures that hand signal was interpreted as meaning to shove something up your ass, but I chose to see it as God was happy. And all at once, I understood what Tolstoy had written in War and Peace about how all the individual circles of humanity interacted, bumped, impeded, and jostled against each other to carry out the wishes of God, and I understood right then and there that this angel's path had interdicted my own for a divine purpose.
I somehow understood that God had used an absentminded driver's addiction to his cell phone, a mashed up pile of oranges, Pink Floyd's haunting masterpiece, and my own efforts to pull some magic out of the air in order to bring about this meeting of two souls, and I understood to the very core of my being that I was meant to marry the long haired, dark eyed, sweetly smiling Bianca.
As this realization hit me with all of the charging force of a Crimson Tide linebacker the music on my car speaker switched from Pink Floyd to the The Logical Song from Supertramp's Breakfast in America.
"When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, playfully watching me
I saw the song as a message from God. Bianca had asked me a question, but I wasn't listening, so I didn't know how to answer. She was looking at me anticipating a response. I didn't know what I should say. My thoughts were like crackhead rats caught inside a maze; I couldn't think straight.
So, I dropped to my knees by the side of her silver 2018 Sentra and proposed.
I didn't have to wait too long for an answer. Her eyes grew wide and frightened, and she reached out of the window and violently snatched the paper with her contact information out of my hands. The driver's side window zipped upwards into place. Tiny flecks of orange peel sprayed across my face as her tires spun a bit before biting the dark wet concrete of the eastbound road.
And there I was on my knees in the muddy dirt looking at both my crushed rear bumper and the fleeing red tail lights of a silver Sentra disappearing. I also saw pieces of torn white paper come out of the driver's side of the car, some hanging in the slight breeze some floating gently to the road.
I turned around looked for the big thumb in the sky, but it was gone. I guess that God had changed his mind and unliked me. I looked at the statue of Mary and there was not even a slight trace of a smile, only tiny bits of orange peel on her sad and somber face. Even the crow on the wire chose to reveal its true nature as it started dancing up and down chattering at me.
I thought that it was being rude, so I gave it a two finger salute not worrying about if flipping a bird a bird carried some kind of special significance. The crow gave me a dirty stare which irritated me even more, so I shouted in its direction, "Nevermore, Fucker!"
I think it took umbrage at the Poe allusion, or maybe it might not have liked the poem itself. Anyway, it hurled a final expletive at me and took off in the direction of the dancing sparrow-cloud, which could still be seen heading northwest toward Hanford.
I then walked over and retrieved a napkin out of my glove box and went and wiped the flecks of orange peel from Mary's face and then my own.
I got back in the car and belted up then shut the car door. I knew I had to make a decision because they were required at moments like these. In the state that I was in, it only took a second. I reached and turned the volume up on the radio, turned the car around, turned right at the intersection and headed north as the the trampy angels sang.
"But at night, when all the world's asleep
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man
Won't you please tell me what we've learned."
"Nevermore," I mumbled in reply, "nevermore."