Soon enough he'd find himself behind the wheel of a parked car again, the location as inexplicable to him as it was irrelevant, the sound of gravel still rolling in his ears. A dark little patch of the world, the moon something he was vaguely aware of, a faraway place where he wished he lived in an Airstream trailer and floated each night above the formica tabletop, playing solitaire.
He wouldn't be able to find the right song. Communication of any sort would be out of the question. There would be things crouched just behind his eyes that he was determined to avoid forever.
He might well sit for some time mulling that curious phrase: Out of the question. He would, you can be sure, come to no conclusions. Though he was something of a specialist in conclusions (even, or perhaps especially, spectacular ones), he hated them all the same.
All the same: there was another one. If he allowed himself to sit still long enough the language would tie his head in knots he might never untangle.
If he made any kind of choice --however insignificant-- in this state of mind, he would regret it immediately.
State of mind.
His mother, who had kitchen cupboards full of canned tuna fish, had recently said to him on the telephone (he was paraphrasing): You look up from your knitting and another world has been swept away or smashed to pieces. It breaks your heart.
He supposed she was right. Yet shouldn't he have felt ashamed to find a sort of consolation in the thought that somewhere at that very moment a train had likely come off the rails --not metaphor, but true catastrophe, with body bags heaped like cordwood on the embankment?
In response to his mother he had said: These days contagion seems to arrive by the strangest damn delivery mechanisms.
To which his mother had replied: I don't know what you're talking about.
I don't want to argue with you, he had said, which was the truth. What he had meant, though, was this: Birds.
Wherever it was he would soon find himself, he'd recognize that he was a couple weeks away from tacking another year onto his age. He was more than halfway through his life, and he would wonder whether he really felt up to completing that journey, which he honestly knew better than to think of as any kind of a journey.
He might encounter a bell tower looming across the fields, and upon investigation discover that this tower was now empty.
He might think: Not the cold ground, but the consuming fire. Not the slow decomposition, but the swift conflagration.
If he was lucky, and still willing to look for such things, he might see, far out in the country, a steaming white horse rolling on its back in the moon-jeweled frost; a horse that, though obviously very much alive, appeared nonetheless to be on the verge of burning, trembling at the very threshold of combustion. And if he still had any sort of perspective left he would think, Look there. That is as good a demonstration for how one should live in this world as I am likely to see. Maybe it’s not too late. Keep driving.