Mr. Bezos, open that locked gate... Oh, wait. You already did.
The Winter (Spring, Summer, and Fall) of My Discontent
By D. C. Chester
Copyright © 2014 by D. C. Chester
Dark. The winter sun was still below the horizon. The highway was slick in spots from freezing fog. Coming up the on ramp a full size, beat up, Chevy van accelerated, trying to wedge its way into traffic.
He watched the van. Bridges freeze first, he thought. He took a quick glance in the rear view mirror. Two semis behind, maybe running a tad too fast for conditions. His eyes darted both ways, looking for trouble. An SUV, driving too cautious, just ahead of his passenger door, nothing on the left.
For an instant the atmosphere inside the car crackled. Something felt wrong…for just that instant.
And the heavy, awkward, shitty van started its skid sideways on the black ice of the overpass. Because that dumbass driver didn’t know how to drive. And the SUV hit the brakes. Because that dumbass driver didn’t know how to drive.
He took his foot off the gas. Ignored the brake.
The SUV continued to slow but stayed in the lanes of traffic.
Get over, he wanted to shout at the SUV. Wanted that fool to get out of the way of everything closing in on them from behind.
But he didn’t shout anything. Just kept watch on the traffic as the van continued spinning full circles across the bridge. The semi was on his bumper but he couldn’t move over. For a moment he contemplated sideswiping the SUV out of the way to the right. Wanted to move away from the five ton trucks bearing down. The spinning van was crossing back into his lane. The gap between shitty van and SUV closed. It seemed smaller than the width of his car.
Like a disinterested observer he heard himself call out to his wife sitting terrorized in the passenger seat.
“Hold on, baby. Hold on, baby.” Over and over as the head-on crash closed in. “Hold on, baby. Hold on, baby.” As he searched for a solution.
The semis, both of them, had horns blaring as they tried to slow their massive inertia.
Headlights lit the inside of his car as the van continued its spin on ice. The SUV was slowing but still in the center of the road.
Nowhere to go. Head on.
And then the van was coming to the end of its wild ride, the body bobbing up and down from a wobbly suspension.
He tightened his grip on the steering wheel, calculated the width between van and SUV one last time. He faded slightly to the right and accelerated, shooting through the too narrow space before that damn van could close off everything. He shot past the SUV out of the way of the heavy trucks behind him. Out of the way of any carnage coming from behind.
He continued at highway speed up and over the arching roadway away from bridges and on ramps. He glanced at his wife. She held her hands over her mouth, fear frozen. She started shaking, maybe still expecting a collision.
He looked in the mirror. In the dark everything looked normal back on the bridge. The two semis appeared unscathed. Both driven by…real drivers.
Finally, she said in a small voice, “We almost died.”
“Shhh,” he said. “We’re fine.”
A near head on with a full size van, directly in front of two massive trucks. She was right. We almost died.
They rode in silence for a few minutes and then she started crying as the adrenaline faded away.
Almost died, he thought. With so much left undone.
She was still crying and he put his hand on her leg.
“Shhh,” he said. “Everything’s fine. We’re alright.”
She looked sat him and even in the dark inside the car he could see her eyes. She was hoping that he wasn’t lying just to calm her down.
“Everything’s fine, Toma. We’re fine.”
Now, anyone who’s at all familiar with my writing recognizes Toma’s name. I talk about her incessantly. And those familiar also know I’ve never used her name for a fictional character in any story. That makes the short tale above real.
What follows in the original 1st draft of this blog post. Before the icy bridge.
The morning sun filters through the barren branches of the tree limbs stretching up and over the garage roof. It splashes against the kitchen windows leaving streaks on the dining room table where I’ve set up an impromptu office. It reminds me that I’ve got to get outdoors and clean all those damn windows.
Winter is here, after not much of a summer or fall. And not much of a productive year. My planner for 2014 was an exercise in futility. Over the course of this year, almost gone, I’d planned on publishing four novels, and one, if not two, collections of short stories.
Fire Dust, my first YA thriller, was released earlier in the year, and…that’s it. The first of the Dissymmetry short story collections is still incomplete.
All the other novels for 2014 are still works in progress. (Along with the twenty-three other novels waiting in the wings.) I’m so far behind I won’t even discuss the plots of the intended 2014 releases. (I just checked my Amazon listings. Charcoal was released in September, 2013. Seems like yesterday.)
I’m both angry and concerned that almost a year has passed with almost nothing finished. Almost a year, almost nothing. But, at least I understand the machinations of this massive fail.
It’s not an excuse, just a reason. The excuse is laziness. The reason is Day Job. My day job has consumed me because work has always consumed me. Unfortunately, most of my life, the “work” has always been inside someone else’s company. And I did it again. Spending my precious time on another man’s company.
And my own company, 1008 Productions sits practically ignored. My last blog post was in August, 2014. But 1008 wasn’t the only thing I shuffled off to the side because of the Day Job.
Here’s the litany for 2014.
Games of golf – one.
Days in Las Vegas with Toma – zero.
Days in Chicago for R&R with Toma – two.
Books read – one. (One for crying out loud.)
Date nights with Toma – not sure, maybe three.
The main point of all this is that everything Toma and I want to achieve is wrapped up around 1008. Everything we want, the way we want to live our lives, is wrapped up around 1008. When I registered the company as a sole proprietorship, way back when, the plan was to quickly reach a point where we could afford to incorporate. That way Toma could have co-ownership, and all the copyrights of the stories could be shielded from the byzantine mess of estate law. But 1008 Productions is still a sole proprietorship and it automatically dissolves at my death. (Not that I’m dying faster than anyone else. Icy bridges, notwithstanding. Cough.)
I used to have this vision of my life. Toma and I sitting poolside at the Mirage Resort, Hotel, and Casino in Las Vegas. We’re both reclining in comfortable lounge chairs under the shaded canopy of palm trees. It’s lunch time and we’re having fresh fruit, good bread, and iced tea. Toma is reading, and I’m writing my next novel.
And while that vision seems sweetly lazy, I’ll say that when I was writing full time it was Full Time. To the tune of seventy hours a week. And that’s okay, because I love writing. And I want that back.