Run, Boy, Run
Terry put on his left turn signal, eased into the fast lane, and accelerated his Toyota sedan past the 65MPH point, until he had passed the sluggish-moving pickup truck, before swinging back into the right-hand lane, allowing his little Camry to drop back down to 65. He was returning from the city, and was on that two-lane stretch between Cloverdale and Hopland, heading north on the 101, on a night completely devoid of light: no moon, no stars, all obscured by the March overcast. He reached over and changed the radio station, and was delighted to encounter a favorite ditty by Charlie Daniels, a song that he always associated with his wilder days when he was still young and bursting with vim and vinegar.
He turned the music up just a touch, “The devil opened up his case and he said, ‘I’ll start this show.’ And fire flew from his fingertips as he rosined up his bow. And he pulled the bow across the strings and it made an evil hiss. Then a band of demons joined in and it sounded somethin’ like this.”
Almost immediately, as though the radio were a guiding force, a pair of headlights bore down on him from behind, the intensity of the high-beams making him squint in order to be able to maintain his position between the white lines before him. He waited for the vehicle to swing out wide, and pass him, growing annoyed by the prolonged presence of the xenon headlights, considerably more blinding than its conventional cousin, the headlights that come stock on most cars.
He maintained his speed momentarily, assuming whoever it was, would continue past him, so he could get that glare out of his eyes. Christ, that was bright. He flicked the dimmer knob on his rear-view mirror , giving his eyes some relief, when he became aware that the guy behind him was so close, that the headlights were practically on top of him. What on tarnation was this clown trying to prove? If he wanted to go faster than 65, then he should knock himself out, thought Terry.
By now he was beginning to get hot under his collar, and everywhere else, too, as he took his foot off the accelerator, and allowed his little Toyota to begin to slow down. This shouldn’t take long, he thought.
And just like magic, the vehicle swung wide and stormed past him, getting ahead by less than a car-length, before whipping directly to the right, and ending up right in front of Terry, when the driver unexpectedly hit his brakes!
“What in the flock are you doing, a-hole?” hollered Terry out loud, so startled was he by the actions of this lunatic. At the same instant his mind registered the fact that the marauding vehicle was the same beat-up pickup that he had passed a couple of minutes before. Only instead of being some powerless antique, it was a Dodge Ram from the early eighties, and it had a 440 cubic inch engine in it, about double the number of horses, he had under the hood of his little Camry. Let’s face it; he didn’t have to be anywhere in that big of a hurry, that he needed anything more powerful. Until now.
“When the devil finished, Johnny said, “Well, you’re pretty good old son, but sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done.”
Terry reacted more than anything else when the madman hit the brakes. He veered back into the fast lane, and floored it, not stopping until the little Camry had topped ninety miles an hour, faster than Terry had ever pushed it. He just was not into speed.
“Fire on the mountain. Run, boys, run. The devil’s in the house of the Rising Sun. Chicken in the bread pan pickin’ out dough. Granny, does your dog bite? No, child, no.”
Now, as he sped along at such an insane speed, he was momentarily overcome by panic, his heart leaping into his throat, and his gut seizing control of his attention, long enough for him realize just how crazy the whole thing was.
Crazy? thought Terry. More like deranged. But he would quibble with terms, as soon as he had extricated himself from this devil’s clutches. Instinctively, his foot had let up on the gas, as his eyes raked the rear view mirror for those high beams. Inexplicably, the rearview mirror revealed nothing.
It wouldn’t, of course, because the demon had flipped off his headlights, and was now bearing down on the little Camry like an owl on a mouse.
The truck hit the Camry going at least ten miles an hour faster, sending a surge of palpable fear coursing through Terry’s body. For the first time, it occurred to him, that this was a deadly game, from which he was uncertain, he would emerge in one piece. This was a real unfortunate time to make this realization.
Or, maybe it was the best time, because Terry was not ready to cash in his chips. He had way too much going for him to allow that to happen. So he stepped up his game.
“Fire on the mountain. Run, boys, run.
The impact of that truck hitting his little defenseless sedan, sent a bolt of anger, lightning-quick through his body, as he fought to maintain control of his forward progress. He had plunged his foot down on the accelerator pedal again, realizing that to do anything else, was to allow the fiend to smack him again. But that Ram truck was not ready to let him go so easily.
Terry could see it maneuvering into the fast lane, still again, as the fothermucker slammed his boot to the floor again, and the roar of that engine dwarfed everything else. Terry knew what the imbecile was trying to do. He wanted to draw abreast, and then force Terry off the road. Terry needed to send this monster a clear message that he was not to be trifled with-anymore, that is.
Sitting on the floor of the passenger side beside him, was a four-pound mall, that he had tossed in the car the previous day, when he’d gone to the park and set up the horse shoe stakes. Reaching decisively for it, and then hitting the electric switch on his window, he acted within the few second window of opportunity, as the truck bore down on him, to heave the mall backward, and to the left, gripping the steering wheel with his right hand, to maintain control. Any thought that he would have to answer for his actions down the line, was completely removed from his mind. He was bent on surviving this most immediate test of his endurance, before he worried about the next. Besides, as he saw the flames of the wreck behind him climbing high into the dark night sky, he doubted whether his fingerprints would survive the heat.
“The devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat. And he laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet. Johnny said, ‘Devil, just come on back if you ever want to try again. ‘Cause I told you once you son of a bitch, I’m the best there’s ever been.'”