Death of a Freeway Flyer
In which I relax after a hard day.
I sat in the holding cell, having flashbacks and wondering if that was the right word for them. There was no visual component, you see, and, teaching rhetoric and communications as I do, I have learned to be very precise about words. The recurring sensations were mostly auditory: the sound of music coming from my car radio coupled with the drone of the engine. In fact they had been auditory alone, almost a recurring melody, and no cause for comment earlier in the day, when I was fresher. Well, fresher wasn’t the proper word, either, but one inconsistency at a time, please.
Now there were moments when I could almost feel myself in the car. As I attended to the sensations, I noticed definite tactile and kinesthetic elements. I could feel the steering wheel in my hands and the sagging bucket seat under my- - -self. I could feel the shape my body assumed during my commutes. And was there smell as well? What did my car smell like? I spent half my life in it, anymore, and I cannot, at the moment, recall how it smells. For some reason, that seems significant.
Looking back, I’m fairly sure that I was trying very hard not to think of things. I was trying, for instance, not to think of Harry Eyeball (not his real name), bludgeoned to death two classrooms away from where I should have been diligently overseeing a midterm at Yuba College. I was trying not to think about being a suspect. And I was trying not to think about my companions in the holding cell, some of whom were from Yuba College, but others of whom were not. The smell from some of them would be something I remembered clearly for some time.
Those were the understandable, almost laudatory things on my list of things to try not to think about. Mostly, though, I was trying not to worry about the class I was missing at American River College (which meant rescheduling the midterm there, because today was supposed to be the final review), worrying about how I could ever manage to re-give the midterm that had been interrupted (since writing it the first time had taken me two weeks), and worrying about my wife, Dolly (short of Dolores – I’ll explain later), who would be calling around and begging a ride to get the kids home from school (since I had the car and would not, now, be back in time).
I was also, heaven help me, worrying about whether being a suspect in Harry’s demise would kill my chances for occupying his recently bestowed and now sadly vacated position on the tenure track at Sac State. Not a laudatory thought at all, that. I was so worked up with not thinking about all of those things that I homed in on the vibration and sway of driving over the West Sac Causeway and fell asleep before I could decide whether flashback was really the right word.
A Sheriff’s Deputy, or maybe just an aide, poked me awake. As I untangled myself and swayed to my feet, a damp chill on my shoulder notified me that I had been drooling in my sleep. One more ray of light in a day that was, in the immortal words of Dan Akroyd playing Jimmy Carter, “screwed, blued, and tattooed.” Not all literary references are highblown. If literary is the right word.
I adjusted to consciousness as I followed the blue suit with the clipboard down a hallway. As I walked, my mind welled with images from television cop shows. I wanted Jack Soo to take my statement, I decided, and wondered if Ponch was still flogging fortunes. It had been years since we had locked the TV in the closet, but the images persisted.
[Two whole pages. A freeway flyer, by the way, is a young teacher who works part time at two or more colleges at a noticeable distance from each other. It is cheaper, you see, for a college to hire part time, temporary teachers, who just teach one or two classes and whose contract does not need to be renewed if attendance wanes. Some of them also put together classes for businesses. Those can vary from one or two days to six or eight weeks.
Of course, part time means no benefits. Part time at three or more colleges also means less sleep than a person strictly needs.]