I was up along the lake front of Lake Erie, driving around a sleepy small town there with its shady yards and closely packed colonial houses and its patchwork streets of brick and asphalt and stone. I was cutting down a particularly narrow side street, and there was a garbage truck sitting along the curb on the other side of the street, and the garbage men had jumped down and they were collecting the bags and cans that had been left out on the curb for them. As I approached the spot where the garbage truck was sitting, an old red pickup truck came growling out from behind the garbage truck, and it was running straight at me in my lane. I had to swerve off the road and run aground on someone’s front lawn to avoid the collision.
I started pounding on the horn with my fist and flipping the man off, waving my hand out the window and high in the air like a declaration of war. The truck slammed to an abrupt stop as it came alongside where I had wiped out in the yard. A man with a grizzly white beard shoved his face out the window and started screaming at me. He told me that he was a house painter for something and sons company or whatever, as if that excused his actions, as if to say that he was someone important in this town and he could drive in whatever lane he wanted and whichever direction he wanted. I yelled back that he had almost hit me, that he had made me wreck my car. I pointed to the double yellow line that ran down the center of the street, clearly indicating that passing wasn’t allowed. None of this made the slightest difference to the man. He just huffed and gripped his steering wheel like he was going to tear it off the dashboard and hurl it at me.
People all around began to appear, in doorways, up on balconies, from around the back of their garages. They all stared at me with the same hostility as the old painter in the truck, and I saw that they were all with him. I guess he actually was considered someone important in the town. They all began to gather on the scene. But I wasn’t worried. I could just put the car back into drive, hit the gas, and be clear of the situation in a matter of seconds, spraying mud and grass from the turfed up yard in my wake.
But just as I went to do exactly that, I found that my hand reaching for the gear shift was grabbing at nothing but air. The car had disappeared out from under me. Now I was on foot. Now I was in trouble. All the angry town’s people were closing on me. Even the garbage men had left their cans laying all over the yard and were coming down the street towards me. I faked this way and then that, and then I sprinted towards an opening where I saw sunlight down at the end of a shady boulevard of trees. Everyone fell in behind me, chasing me as a group, sweeping more people into their mob as they went along by the sheer gravity of their anger and their energy.
I came to a busier section of town and I ducked into a cramped little town store that sold cigarettes and lottery tickets and beer. The man behind the counter was alarmed at the way that I rushed in, and he started yelling something, but I was already out another door on the other side of the store before he managed to get out much more than an couple of loud grunts and angry noises. The other door let out onto a park of some sort where there was a sloping field with a grove of trees, and past that, running for it with all my strength, I could see the beach and the waves and the boats riding the thin blue line where the lake met the sky.