THERE BE DRAGONS…

28 Mar

 

The pistol fires, the tape falls, the rat race is on. I’ve packed the cheese, combed my whiskers and stroked my tail. Time and tide have grown impatient and I hasten to the cage aux folles of the gainfully employed. Traffic’s hellish, congested with all the other eager beavers and animal metaphors scurrying to find their own particular hole in the economy. Enchanted by the silent lilt of Hamlyn-pipes we rush and scamper for our lives – fat ones, thin ones, old ones, young ones, graceful runners and old grey plodders; another day on the wheel of life.

 The freeway is brutal and I crash into the tsunami that is the morning commute; the ebb and flow of the cordially invited, the coalition of the unwilling that lubricate the gears of modern American society. Cogs in a machine, the vital components of daily life; champions of capitalist commercialism insuring the smooth progression of financial largesse. 

A mad dash through the surf towards corporate Normandy beaches, ready to take on the daily fascist and blood our swords in support of free market enterprise. Pamplona participants determined to outrun bull markets and maintain the status quo of Americanism. It makes one proud to breathe the same air as working men, rub shoulders with fellow wage slaves, communally commiserate with the subjugated and the oppressed. Dreamers and chancers lost on the American way, battling to fulfill long neglected aspirations. The opportunity to shovel coin into gaping bank accounts, refloat Poseidon-adventure mortgages and brood upon retirement nest eggs. It’s what we do; it’s what the man expects.

Joined by the common bond of fast tracked disappointment, an ethereal element binds early morning insomniacs. The dull ignition spark that illuminates the massed machinations of a mobile zombie nation. The specter of imagined freedoms that prevents us from gargling the bleach and stampeding to the exit. 

…ARBEIT MACHT FREI!!! 

A little common courtesy from one fellow road user to another makes for a degree of cordiality. A wave, a smile, a blinkered well thought out mirror-signal-maneuver that’s to the detriment of nobody and the benefit of all. No man left behind as we leave the home fire hearths and venture onto the field of labored Elysium. A checkerboard of chance, we throw ourselves into the game of life and hope for the best. Demanding fair play but prepared to exceed and bend the rules of the game at the drop of a hat.

 The factory clock quickly counts down the period – twenty minutes until the steam whistle blows. With jobs on the line and hungry mouths to feed, the rock stars of industry ignore advisory speed limits and push their chariots ever faster on the hippodrome of necessity. I grip the wheel, depress the gas pedal and whip my horses to fresh exertions. Flooded eyes are purged dry by the Arizona wind as I shed tears of regret, despairing of the warmth-of-wife and the extra ten minutes spent in bed. No matter I’ve done this before, this isn’t my first Ben Hur rodeo and I dig my spurs deeper  into my plated steeled German thoroughbred. 

Checking the mirror I’m cautious of the gate keepers who patrol the underworld, wary of the demons that lurk beneath bridges and behind road signs. Slick bounty hunters whose only mission in life is to separate me from the hard earned shekels in my pocket. They never rest, never sleep, always on the lookout for day breakers and chance takers. My urgency’s too great and I disregard my sixth sense, choosing to ignore the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. One nervous glance and I realize my mistake. Far in the distance, yet gaining ground, I see the fiery reds and blues of the beast’s breath. Unable to hear its siren’s song I feel compelled to ignore the obvious. It has caught my scent, noticed my mad dash for cover and is homing in for the kill. Sensing an easy victory and a federally mandated meal the beast grows larger in my rear view. Realizing all is lost I bolt for cover, turn off the engine and hope that darkness cloaks my nefarious activity. 

The overheated engine plinks, acting as a beacon to the bat like senses of the persuivant.. I feel the dampness, smell the angst. Fear chokes my throat.

Shadows lurk around the car, the beast is close. Maybe, just maybe he hasn’t seen me. 

I foolishly lower the shield on the passenger side of the chariot, squint into the inky blackness before recoiling in horror as the tractor-beam of cycloptic curiosity scans the vehicle’s interior. Now is the moment, now is the time, to run with desperation at my heels. Too late the beast mutters and trembles, spittle rolls down it chin, its scales glinting like wet leather in electric light. 

I’ve heard people speak, heard wise men tell, seen children cower closer to parents, but now I’ve experienced it first hand. If I survive I’ll spend moonless nights around countless camp fires telling and retelling of how it came to pass that I escaped. 

 I brace myself, the end is nigh… 

“License and registration please!”

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