Max Sloan

More conversation and more drinks and the night begins to blur. I’m seated, resting on a table. I’m watching beer drip off the top and onto cement. Fingers graze my neck. Someone’s talking to me and I’m responding. Then we are heading to the car, gripping arms and slapping backs and sharing euphoria.

And we’re in the car and in the passenger’s seat I toggle my iPhone until finding The Passenger by Iggy Pop because that makes sense, and we ride and we ride and we’re a few blocks away from the party and we’re all talking and now I’m a little tired so voices dim and my interest shifts to Vermont Avenue and I gaze outside. My glazed eyes fix on the window, on crusty excrements forming scattered islands. I connect the dots with my finger and smirk at the darkness behind the glass.

My face smacks the window as we screech onto the freeway and everyone laughs and I’m back inside the conversation as Riley grabs my shoulders and chuckles haha bro we’re going 70 on the on-ramp bro, we’re going 70 haha and I go woah and everyone laughs and I have no clue why it’s funny but I do know it’s funny and at 80 everyone chants 80 and we all cheer as the car begins to subtly sway from side to side. I’m not really sure why the car is swaying and I look at Jay and his lone arm on the wheel is steady and he says there’s something wrong with the steering as the car subtly sways from side to side at 85 then Adam yells ha we’re wagging the dog man we’re wagging the dog ha and I’m not really sure what that means but I know it’s funny and we all chant wag the dog! wag the dog! as we hit 90 and cheer 90! and I glance behind at Adam who looks forward and roars 90! and I ask Riley Riley, Riley? but he’s drifting in and out of sleep so I spin around and start clapping clap clap 95! clap and this is a blast and Adam grabs my neck and says here comes 100 here comes 100 and we yell 100! and I’m clueless as to why we’re wagging the dog but we sure are wagging the dog as the car sways more than subtly and we zip past La Cienega and the laughter can’t be stopped nor the good times as Jay keeps pressing pedal to metal and we all keep smiling and cheering as we pass 105 and it all makes sense living and drinking and good times good friends loud music Los Angeles and wagging the dog and fists pump as 110 approaches and a glorious yell of 110! serenades the milestone. Then utter silence. Nobody says a word. No gasps to be heard, nothing, silence.

We grip tight and hold on as the car careens into the center divider. Smack the front smack and we hear silence and say silence and breathe silence as the car spins and spins and Jay squeezes the wheel and we spin past white lines past white lines keep spinning until smack the front again smack the twenty foot wall at its knees and we think silence and hold strong grip tight and keep spinning past white lines slow slower and stop.

We’re in the middle of the freeway, facing oncoming traffic, stopped. The collective exhale and a draft picks up inside the car and sober hits us in the face. Jay guns it to the left and we pull to the side of the I-10 and thank the late hour for giving the sparse cars behind enough time to slam brakes and watch this sputtering wreck limp to a final halt. We’re on the shoulder of the freeway and the silence is finished and I can hear everything, everything and I can see the emotion before shock, a pre-shock on all our faces, this pre-shock that reigns inside the wreck for what has occurred occurred too fast, then our brains click alive to gradually register the crash and it molds our mouths and brows and we’re stuck until I say,

“We’re okay. We’re all okay. We’re always okay.”

And they know exactly what I mean.


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