Roadside Assistance

I was driving along a desolate stretch of freeway in the dim, early morning mist.  My car started to buckle and hiss and clunk and shake.  The word “emergency” started flashing in red on the display in the middle of the dashboard.  I pulled off onto the shoulder and looked to the display for more information about what went wrong.  The display showed the graphic of an engine with a spinning fan on the front of it, and the fan seized up, the blades going all twisted and crooked, and smoke rose from the graphic of the engine.  After a few puffs of smoke, cobwebs appeared all around the engine along with a few curvy tendrils that represented tall grass.  As the graphic of the engine began to shake and sputter and sink into the ground, sharply outlined birds flew from it in all directions.

Once the birds had flown from the screen and the engine had sunk completely out of sight, only the lines representing the grass remained.  They seemed to waver in the wind.  And then, from the right of the display, a graphic of four horses came galloping, drawing a covered wagon behind them.  A skeleton sat at the head of the wagon, whipping the horses and driving them on.  It turned its head to look at me, the skull grinning, the teeth gnashing.  Then it drove the horses and wagon off the left side of the screen, and there was just a graphic of a puff of dust left in their wake.  This puff of dust stayed on the screen, pulsating and flashing red.  I wasn’t sure what any of this meant, but it definitely didn’t seem good.  It was pretty clear that I needed to call a tow truck.


7 thoughts on “Roadside Assistance

  1. Oh, my car does that. It just happens sometimes…I never know why. 😉

    For some reason this reminded me of William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming – 'and what rough beast, its hour come around at least, slouches towards Bethlehem (aka the White House) to be born?'

    Maybe the tall grass and birds means that once survival mode kicks in you'll make a fine hunter-gatherer in some post-apocalyptic tribe. Good luck!


  2. Sometimes I obsess about something being wrong with car. In the dream I was frustrated and upset, feeling like, “I knew this would happen!” But when I woke up and wrote about it, it made me laugh. It was so elaborate. It had everything except a little digital graphic of a priest coming out to read last rites over the engine.


  3. Ha!
    Maybe it's your writer's soul that makes you obsess about things sometimes. 🙂
    I thought this was a funny coincidence, because the other night my son's car broke down in the parking lot where he works. Took until 2 in the morning, but my husband finally MacGyvered the throttle switch with some tape and one of my hair rubberbands. Following behind our son the whole way back on the interstate I kept saying stuff like “OMG I hope it doesn't lunge forward into the back of that truck!” Later I felt ashamed and I apologized to my husband for over-reacting and I told him I was proud of him for knowing it needed a t.p sensor. One thing about him, he's a good mechanic. I'll give him that.
    But yeah, I obsess too. Not because I have a writer's soul like you…I just do. It annoys the family sometimes. Hey, but what are moms for.


  4. Last time I tried to describe this kind of engine code to the kid at Autozone, he just looked at me like I was insane.

    I guess this is what happens when you hire teenagers who haven't even SEEN a covered wagon outside of the training manual.


  5. “Yes, and how many birds were there?” *clicking away at keyboard* “How fast would you say the horses were going?” *three quick taps of the mouse* “I see. I see. And the skeleton? Was is just a standard crypt skeleton or was it a reaper of lost souls?” *stares meaningfully at the screen for a long minute* “Yeeahhh, it doesn't look like we have that part in stock right now.”


  6. Yes, it turns the anxiety into comedy – which is what comedy is for.

    But also it reflects today's world where increasingly we depend on a screen to inform us of reality.

    For example, to find out what kind of day it is going to be – how warm, the chance of rain etc, so that I know how to dress & whether to take an umbrella – I could step outside and make my own judgement. What do I do, though? I look up this site which tells me the forecast weather in my own town, hour by hour. Or what are the shop's opening hours and do they have the thing in stock.

    & Karleen was saying, “can you imagine if the Internet was suddenly destroyed, world-wide?” It would be a big adventure. A lot bigger than Brexit. Somehow I trust that whatever will happen will be for the best. Irrational? Not if one believes in God. So perhaps I do.

    The above paragraph of course is not so much about your dream, more about our recent discussions at my place.


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