Somewhere in Imperial County, California, 2014

The years disappeared while I drove, my life red-shifting as catastrophes streaked across my windshield and cars zipped past me, their drivers clutching tiny screens flashing the latest news. Strange how we’ve become so hellbent on speed rather than slowing down. Maybe it’s a knee-jerk defense against decay, the senselessness of entropy. They say evolution occurs most rapidly in body parts that attract lovers and frighten rivals, but what’s the reason for the grey in my hair or the creases across my forehead?

Chattanooga. Kansas City. Los Angeles. I wanted to admire the flash of plastic and neon, the synthetic gloss of interstate life. Instead, I found myself squinting into the sprawl, thinking of a time when this was a wilderness of women and men raising feeble lamps against the darkness and calling out to God.

Wichita. Newark. Seattle. It felt like one big meeting with the same metal chairs, the same fleshy carpet, and the same voices fumbling for a grammar to describe the kinks in the soul. A halo is only six inches from being a noose. I folded myself into the back of church basements and joined a shambling collection of retail workers, grandmothers, nightwalkers, software developers, mystics, teenagers, blackjack dealers, and cops who spoke in aphorisms and numbers. They smiled politely and told me I must humble myself if I hoped to find anything resembling peace.

This is the tenth episode of Interstate Scenes, a fictional collection of homeless paragraphs, remixed and upcycled bits from the past, and bloopers from the stories I’m writing.

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