Party Row --- Life is better on the back row. Sat, 24 Mar 2018 19:08:39 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The Dreamer The recurring dream explained.

When you are an over-the-road trucker you will find yourself with no shortage of time on your hands. A guy can't drive a truck for more than a couple of months without getting bored with music and looking for a radio show that is more interesting to him. Some guys turn to sports talk, others to news. More than a few drivers can be spotted with a stack of audio books on their dash board. Paul found his attention to be captivated by the paranormal. He had been driving for only a couple of weeks when he stumbled onto an all night show that addressed topics like ghosts, aliens, and demons. 17 years later he still tuned in every night that he was up late enough to get the opportunity. This evening he wasn't driving late, but he had been waiting for this episode ever since the host had announced it and he wouldn't have missed it for anything.

The topic was dreams. The guest was an expert on the subject, and was going to explain what some common aspects of dreams meant. Paul waited patiently through the first three hours for the listener call in segment. He had experienced a recurring dream as a child, and he wanted to tell the guest about it and get some kind of an explanation to what it might have meant.

He was lucky enough to get through to the busy switchboard. That was step 1. The second part was making it past the screener. Another success. This was followed by the biggest challenge of all. Detailing the dream in an accurate yet concise manner so the expert would have all of the information she needed to explain the dream to him. Again, Paul shined. He wasn't even nervous as he spoke. He had done such a good job of it that he didn't mind hearing the click of the host cutting him off after he had laid it out there. He turned on the radio and waited with baited breath for the insight from the expert. What a letdown.

"This is a dream of premonition. A dream that was there to warn you of changes that were coming. Changes that would distance you from your family. Changes that were good and positive for you, but ones that would none the less pull you away from them and out of your comfort zone."

That was it. What a letdown.

The show re-aired immediately after it had completed, and Paul laid in bed listening to the first hour again trying to quell the disappointment so that he could fall asleep, but it was tough. On more than one occasion he wondered if he would be awake to hear the call again. He didn't need to. He could remember everything he had said. In fact, as he lay there now drifting in and out of sleep it was almost as if he could hear his own voice. But something didn't feel right. He woke up with a start. He was hearing his own voice. He tried to sit up but a staggering pain shot through his chest. He had never felt a pain like this before, but the thought of a heart attack came into his head before the pain split like a stab wound down his arm. He tried to yell out in agony, but his voice made no sound. All he could hear was the now eerie calmness of his voice coming over the radio speakers.

"Thank you for taking my call. I was looking for some answers about a recurring dream I had as a child. I had the dream at least ten times but no more than twenty, all of them between the ages of about 12 and 16. The dream was set in my kitchen as the family was eating dinner, and in the dream the setting was exactly the same as it would be in real life down to the seating arrangements with me at one end of the table, my mother and brother sitting to the left side of me, my sisters to the right, and my father at the opposite end. Behind him the door was open and I could see out into the back yard through the screen door."

Paul could barely move. He couldn't yell for help, and nobody would likely hear him anyway. He reached for his cell phone on the shelf beside the bed, but his fingers had gone numb and he clumsily knocked it to the floor. "<em>You're going to die here</em>" he thought to himself. "<em>You're going to die here listening to your own voice on the radio.</em>"

"In the distance I could see what looked to be a fog or a mist spreading out and approaching the house through the yard. It was moving at a steady clip. My father would be talking, but I can't recall what about. I was the only one who could see this cloud approach. As it grew closer I could see it more clearly and I realized that it appeared to be a cocoon spinning and growing as it spread towards the house. I sat calmly without any fear and watched as it pushed up against the back of the house and came in through the screen door."

Paul looked around desperately, unable to move much more than his eyes... his eyes which now settled on the red button on the dash board. The panic button. If he could reach that it would send an emergency signal to dispatch. He summoned all of his strength, and leaned upwards and rolled to the left at the same time. His head hit the cabinet by his bed as his body crashed to the floor of his Kenworth. Without even trying to turn his head to look, he focused all of his efforts on reaching with his right arm for the dash. It took him only a second to find the red button and push it.

"The cocoon came through the door, but not in a destructive kind of way. It seemed to just push against the door, which resisted at first buckling inward, but then seemed to be swallowed up by it. The spinning continued at the same speed, but the thing seemed to progress forward at a slower rate upon entering the house, as if consuming the door had spent some of it's energy. Meanwhile, nobody in my family seemed to notice it's presence except for myself. I would continue to eat while I watched it approach from behind my father."

The sound of an incoming message interrupted his voice on the radio. He couldn't have gotten up to read it if he had tried, but he knew what it was. He had accidentally pushed it before, and an automatic message had come through informing him that if he did not respond within 60 seconds emergency services would be dispatched to his location. All he could do now was lay there and wait, listening to the sound of his own voice.

"The cocoon continued to move towards him. In each dream it would seem that my dad would finish a sentence just as the cocoon began to envelope him. He would be taking a bite of food, seeming not to even notice it wrapping around him. My family members wouldn't notice either. One of them would be speaking in response to something he had said, the rest eating peacefully, oblivious to this monster in the room. Yet through it all, I myself would remain completely calm, never attempting to yell out or warn the others. Just eating and watching."

The same sense of calm had begun to creep over him now. The situation was out of his hands. He would either make it or he would not. He had done all he could do. In the distance he heard what he thought was a siren. As it grew closer, he became sure of it. Was this his ambulance? Would it arrive in time?

"The cocoon would continue to spin and grow. I would continue to eat and watch. The remaining family members would continue to ignore it as they were one by one consumed by it. First my mother, and my sister sitting across from her. There was no blood, no screams, no recognition of it's presence as they would just seemingly be wrapped up in a thin layer that would spin and grow until it had pulled them inside of the cocoon which was slowly advancing towards my seat at the end of the table."

The siren was growing louder. Paul managed to turn his head towards the front of the truck as he noticed the red lights of the ambulance reflecting off of the truck parked beside him. "<em>Hurry up. Hurry.</em>" He hard the sound of the sirens abrupt cut off, and heard the doors of the ambulance opening and slamming shut. He heard the paramedics fumbling with the door to his truck. It was locked. He felt the rig shake as one of them climbed up on the steps, shining a flashlight through the glass so they could assess the situation. He heard a mans voice yell "He's on the floor. Break out the window! If you can hear me sir, cover your head. There's going to be some..." the last word was cut off by the sound of the window breaking.

"The cocoon would then devour my brother and my other sister. It would continue to spin just inches away from my face. Still, I was unafraid. I would just sit there eating my food and looking at it. At this point I would wake up. Do you have any idea what the dream means, or why I would have it so many times?"

Paul's voice over the radio grew distant and faded out as the technicians pulled him from the truck and on to the stretcher. Now he could hear the voice of a woman who was apparently at the end of the stretcher behind his head. "Let's go, we're losing him. Stay with us sir!" They pulled him into the ambulance.

He was vaguely aware of a needle penetrating the skin of his arm but he felt no pain, barely a pinch. He was distracted by a fog that was pushing in across the row of trucks parked behind the ambulance. It was spinning forward towards him. He felt no fear, only calm. He was keenly aware of the longer droughts between the beeps of the heart rate monitor. The nurse behind him yelled something out to the other medic. The man at his feet was fumbling in a bag looking for something, oblivious to the cocoon that now enveloped him. The female behind him had now moved beside him, and she stood over him with a set of something he suspected was a defibrillator. It didn't matter what it was. "Stay with me!" Paul took the words in knowing they would be the last words he would ever hear. The cocoon had moved inside of the vehicle now, but she didn't notice it. The beats of the monitor turned into one steady beep as the line went flat. He looked into her eyes as the cocoon swallowed her, and felt nothing but peace and calm as his entire world went white.


Steve Parry
Sat, 16 Nov 2013 18:57:28 -0600
The Hang Out Hanging out in The Trucking Zone

In July of 1998 I took a job with a small trucking company in Inman South Carolina. They gave me an old T800 Kenworth to drive, as I was one of the new drivers. The owner had a couple of newer W900 Kenworths, but those were reserved for the guys who had been with him for a longer period of time. One week after I started working for him, he offered me one of those trucks... with a catch. The driver who had it had stopped at the I81 Auto Truck Stop in Max Meadows Virginia and gotten a motel room. Some time during the course of the night, he had gone into the bathroom and hung himself. I could have the truck so long as I was willing to take a bus there on Saturday, retrieve the vehicle, drive it back to our shop in South Carolina, and inventory and remove the drivers belongings so they could be returned to the family. I agreed to these conditions.

I arrived at the truck stop with out any complications. I was told the keys to the truck would be waiting at the fuel desk. The clerk provided me with the key and also a small bag containing the personal items that the driver had brought with him into the motel room. I got in the truck and immediately drove down to the shop. As I was tired from the trip, I went home and went to bed, returning on Sunday morning to empty the truck and inventory the contents.

Among the items left in the truck was a small black leather bound journal. Please don't think less of me for this but I felt compelled to read the entries made by the driver. At first I mistook this compulsion for a sheer morbid curiosity. I fought the urge, placing the journal in the first box I removed and adding it to the inventory I was taking. By the time I had finished with the job, I could no longer resist the urge. I felt that the book was calling to me, as if it held some secret that needed to be discovered. The following entries are copied directly from that journal, and do in fact reveal a rather surprising story that must be told. I have not included any entries that were not directly related to this story or any that were not necessary to the integrity thereof. Please forgive my invasion of the decedent's  privacy. I'm sure you will soon understand why I felt compelled to share this information.

  • July 28 1997 Today is my first day on the new job. I'm pretty excited about it. I got a better truck than I was expecting. The driver who had this one must have quit or been fired or something. I asked the boss why I was getting this rig and he said that the other driver who had it was no longer with us.
  • July 31 1997 For the third morning in a row I woke up at 4am. Stupid alarm on the dash goes off at 4am no matter what time you set it for. I was able to remove the battery and disable it so hopefully I will sleep better tomorrow.
  • August 28 1997 I'm still enjoying this job, but maybe trucking isn't for me. I feel like I love driving, but I just haven't been that happy lately. I'll stick it out a little longer. Maybe something else is giving me the blues.
  • September 4 1997 Called the boss for a load today. He answered the phone and I said "What do you know good?" He asked me why I said that, and I told him I didn't know. He said that the last guy to drive that truck used to say that every morning when he called in. Strange, huh?
  • December 10 1997 Can't wait for the 20th. The beer plant is closing for the holidays so we will be off for 2 weeks. I really need the break. Can't seem to kick these holiday blues.
  • January 9 1998 Had a totally weird moment today. Got home for the weekend and dropped my trailer at the yard. I drove home, only I didn't. I pulled into the driveway at this big white house across from the Texaco on Rutherford Road. I have no idea why I went there. I've never lived there nor do I have a clue who does. I was almost in a trance or something. Guess I need to get more sleep.
  • March 13 1998 Had another dream about that girl Linda. I can't for the life of me figure out who she is or what these dreams might mean. Maybe I'm losing my mind.
  • June 27 1998 Good news. I haven't dreamed about "Linda" in a week. Bad news. Got drunk last night and woke up with a tattoo on my arm that says "Linda." What the hell is wrong with me? Called the tattoo parlor and the guy said that I insisted on the tattoo and told him that she was the love of my life.
  • July 8 1998 Dreamed about Linda every night this week. Linda. Linda. LINDA! Who the hell is Linda?
  • July 20 1998 I love Linda. I have to meet her. I feel like I'm going insane. I can't talk to anyone about her because I don't know who the hell she is.
  • July 21 1998 Fuck this. Fuck you. Fuck everyone.
  • July 22 1998 Whatever. I feel a little better today. I'm gonna get a motel room tonight. I don't want to spend another night in this truck. I feel like this stupid rig is the cause of all my problems.

The coroner removed him from that room on the morning of July 23rd 1998. I removed the journal from that truck on the morning of July 28th. Under the bunk I found some items in a bag that must have belonged to the previous driver. In the bag was an envelope from a paycheck. It was addressed as follows.

Charles Heywood
3300 Rutherford Rd
Taylors S.C. 29687

I drove to that address. It was a large white house directly across from the Texaco station. This got me so curious that I went to the local library to search the Newspapers for anything about one Charles Heywood. I found the following entry dated July 23 1997.

Taylors Man Found Dead Of Apparent Suicide

Police officers responded to a request for a welfare check last night and found Charles Heywood hanging in the bathroom of his Rutherford Rd home. Sgt Dan Harmon of the Greenville County Sheriff's Department said that the decedents wife Linda called and requested that officers check on the well being of her estranged husband. "She said that they had a discussion about her moving back in and she told him that she needed more time. She said that he told her that he didn't have more time."
Officer Harmon says that the woman became concerned with the nature of his comment after she got off of the phone. She tried to call back and there was no answer. "She thought that he might have been too upset to answer, so she waited an hour and tried back. She called us around 10pm after she had not heard from him for over 3 hours." Officers arrived on the scene at around 1030, and Charles was pronounced dead when the coroner arrived at approximately 11pm.
Charles is survived by his wife Linda and two sisters. There is no word yet from the family on when memorial or funeral services will be held.

I drove that truck for the first week and I experienced nothing out of the ordinary. That weekend I informed the boss that I liked my old truck better and asked if I could switch back. He scowled at my request, most likely because of the strange nature of it, as this truck was much nicer than the one I was requesting to transfer to, but he granted my request. Two weeks later he hired a new driver for that truck, and that driver drove it for the next year and a half that I was with that company and reported nothing out of the ordinary to me. Perhaps it was all a coincidence, but I was not taking any chances on a truck that had driven that far into The Trucking Zone.


Steve Parry
Mon, 02 Sep 2013 17:45:59 -0500
The Rest Area The first rest area in The Trucking Zone.

Jeff slapped himself in the face again in a desperate attempt to fight off the sleep that was trying to invade his brain. He wasn't in any particular hurry to get anywhere, so this was a problem of his own making, but it was none the less the situation that he was in. In trucking there were two ways to stay awake when your body yearned for sleep. Clean and dirty. Make no mistake about it, Jeff wasn't above a chemically enhanced 72 hour driving binge, but the altoids box in the glove compartment of his 2010 Freightliner Cascadia was completely empty. Wasn't it? He reached across and opened in to check, not that he expected to find anything, but out of the realization at how stupid he would feel if there was something in there and he fell asleep at the wheel. Better to pop a pill and avoid the scene of the accident than to try to explain why it was in there to the cops and why he hadn't taken it to the drivers that would take pleasure at his misfortune when it was retold later at countless truck stops across the country. “Had a co-driver* right there in his glove box but he fell asleep and rolled her over right in the ditch on I 70. Fucking idiot.” The rumble strip jolted Jeff back to reality. He jerked the truck back into his lane and slapped himself again. No pills in the box.

All of the tricks of the “clean” trade were being employed at the moment yet he was going to have to stop soon. He grabbed his pocket truck stop directory. He had to find somewhere to park this rig before he ran it off the road, that was for sure. The radio was on full blast, and he had sung along with the songs at the top of his voice until he had gone horse. It was early November, and the weather was not cooperating. Not that he was a fan of snow, but Jeff would have taken a blizzard at the moment just to get some cold air blowing though the truck to cool him down and wake him up. His air conditioner had gone out two months ago and he had made the calculated decision to wait until next spring to get it fixed. “Won't be needing that any time soon” he had told the mechanic at the shop. It had been 42 degrees that day in mid September. Today the high had been 72, and the bank clock he had passed 2 hours or so ago told him that the darkness of the early morning had only cooled the local air to 68 degrees. He focused back on the directory. The sound of the rumble strip told him he had drifted again, but he allowed the truck to cruise on top of the rough pavement to keep his line. The next truck stop was a little mom and pop 15 miles away. There would be nowhere to park there for sure. Another 13 miles down was a larger chain truck stop. Could he make it a half hour? He was going to have to.

He eased up off of the rumble strip and back into the lane of travel, tucking the directory back into the netted compartment above his head. “Roll On” by Alabama came blasting through the speakers. It was one of his favorite trucking songs, and he sang along desperately trying to fight off sleep. He was so focused on staying awake that he almost missed the sign that said... wait a second, did that say “Rest Area 1 Mile?” He was pretty sure it had, but he didn't know of any rest area on this stretch of the highway. He kept his eyes peeled ahead. Sure enough, about a half mile down, he spotted the exit ramp for the facility. “Probably won't be anywhere to park” Jeff muttered to himself, turning down the music. He switched on his blinker and eased on the the ramp. When in doubt, check it out. Even if there were no spots, he might be able to pull out of the way enough to at least get out and stretch. Maybe even run into the bathroom and splash some cold water on his face.

“Apparently I'm not the only trucker that didn't know this son of a bitch was here” he said to himself as he rounded the driveway at the back of the rest area to a wide open truck parking lot. Not a damn soul was there other than Jeff. He pulled into a spot about halfway down the lot and laughed at his fortune. “Did they just build this damn thing?” he asked even though there was nobody to answer him? He set the brakes and climbed down out of the cab, looking at the lines on the ground. Sure enough, they were freshly painted. He headed inside to check out the facilities.

Jeff was by no stretch of the imagination a fan of some of the new Rest Areas that States had been building along the highways. In this economy, there was no excuse for building some of the elaborate edifices he was seeing pop up all over the place. A rest area was good for one thing, and one thing only. A pit stop. All you really needed was a bathroom, some vending machines, and a place to park and take a nap. There was absolutely no need for a museum for wind energy, a tourism center, or an expansive jungle gym for the couch monkeys to climb on. Yet that seemed to be the wave of the future when it came to roadside stops. Gone were the days of the simple but efficient rest stop. But as he entered this building, he couldn't help but notice that this one didn't seem to fall into the new norm. Perhaps he had been wrong about this being a new one. Maybe they had just repaved the parking lot or something.

First off, there was no automatic door. No button on the wall to push. You ether pulled on the handle, or you stood outside. He opened the door and walked in. There was no lobby with statues of State heroes, or paintings of local celebrities. Just a simple hallway that led either to the left or to the right with a large wooden sign on the wall that had been stenciled and painted in red by a less than skilled craftsman.

<----- Men    Women ----->

Underneath the sign hung a large framed map of the State of Indiana, with Interstate Highway 70 highlighted in red and a large star on the map with the words “You are here” written in the same red marker that had been used to chart the highways progress across the state. A white border around the map had the words “Welcome to Indiana” written across the top and “Thank you for visiting us.” across the bottom. Again, the same red marker. Underneath the map was a simple porcelain drinking fountain. That was all. He admired the simplicity of the place as he turned to the left and headed down the short hallway to the Mens room.

The designer of this particular facility must have liked the color red. The mens room was guarded by a large, heavy metal door with a solid brass folding arm fixture at the top to pull the door shut after someone had walked through it. The door was painted red. The stalls in the bathroom were red as well, as was every other tile on the checkered floor. The smell of freshly sawed wood and paint lingered in the bathroom, despite a small window above the sinks that had been propped open to air the place out. His initial observations had been correct. This was an entirely new facility. What surprised him about the place was how it looked so old and so new at the same time.

The stalls in the bathroom were made of plywood. The builder had elected to make them himself as opposed to using pre-fab stalls like most of the newer bathrooms had. He had also clearly been on a tight budget, as the doors only came low enough to hide one's knees and didn't rise high enough to conceal the head and shoulders of even a modestly tall occupant who stood inside. Once in a stall, he could literally look over the top of the wall and down to the toilet in the stall beside him. He was suddenly glad to be alone in this place. Privacy was not the aim of the designer.

Having finished his business, Jeff headed over to the sinks. His initial joy at seeing that the sinks were not the new automated kind was replaced by disbelief at the old style of the faucets, with each sink having a separate spigot for hot and cold water. Did they even make those things anymore? He washed his hands, and turned to the wall. No hand dryer. Not in this place. A metal box hung on the wall with a large blue towel protruding from the bottom. Unbelievable. He hadn't seen one of these cloth towel contraptions even in the most run down truck stops in at least ten years. He found himself almost longing for one of the modern rest areas he had been loathing just minutes before. “Fucking Indiana,” he muttered to himself as he headed out the door and down the hallway. At this point he didn't care anymore. He just wanted to get out to his truck and succumb to the sleep that he had been fighting for hours. He opened the door to head out to his truck and a gust of cold air hit him. He shivered against it. “Where were you when I needed you a couple of hours ago?” he asked the wind. He got no response except his own shiver as he headed around to the back of the building where his truck was parked.

The cold wind was hitting him hard now as he rounded the corner of the building and lost what little protection the structure had offered. He began to regret leaving his jacket in the truck, but that notion seemed silly as it had been so warm when he stopped. How cold was it now? It felt like it was around 30 degrees, but it couldn't be that cold. It had been in the high sixties not more than 15 minutes ago when he had stopped. He was now on the back side of the building and the wind was hitting him full force. It wasn't a strong wind, just a cold one, and he lowered his head and shivered harder, putting his hands in his pockets and pulling his arms in to try to retain his body heat. His steps quickened as he neared the truck, he pulled his keys out of his pocket, and looked up to find the key hole in the door of the truck. It was the wrong truck. Someone must have pulled into the lot while he was inside. He looked up at the drivers window to see if he had been observed. There was nobody visible inside. He laughed to himself as he rounded the truck, but his laughter was cut short. There was no truck on the other side. He whipped around looking back the other way down the single row of parking spaces. No trucks except the one he had mistaken for his. His rig had been stolen.

Not wanting to believe his eyes, Jeff retreated towards the building. It was impossible. He had locked the truck, he was sure of it, and in his hand was the only key. For a moment he forgot about the cold. He ran around to the front of the building and went inside rushing into the mens room. He opened the door and yelled “Hello!” There was no response other than his voice echoing back to him. Had it been a woman driving the other semi? He rushed to the ladies room, banging on the door and yelling “Anyone in here?” No answer. He opened the door. “Hello?” Just his voice echoing back. It too was vacant. He left the building and went around the other side. The lights above the vending machines illuminated the area well, but nobody was there. The other driver must be back in the truck.

Jeff couldn't ignore the cold any longer. His body shivered hard as he jogged back out to the parking lot, his haste half an effort to catch the other driver before they took off and half a failed effort to stay warm. As he reached the lot he was relieved to see he had succeeded on one account. The truck was still there. He tried his best to gain his composure as he approached. He knocked on the door, but nobody answered. He moved back beside the sleeper and knocked harder. Nothing. “Sorry to bother you,” he yelled as he knocked, “but my rig was stolen from the lot while I was in the bathroom and I need some help.” Still no answer. He gave up, and headed back towards the building. He cursed himself for leaving his cell phone in the truck. “Phone! That's it.” He yelled out and laughed. There had to be a pay phone by the vending machines. He changed course for the far side of the building and was relieved to see it right there between the coke and the snack machines. He ran over and picked up the receiver to dial 911. Nothing. Not a dial tone nor a beep like the phone had been off the hook too long. Silence. He looked behind the phone at the wires that were capped off on the back side. It hadn't even been connected yet. Jeff retreated to the building to try to warm up.

He stood by the door at first, cupping his hands and blowing into them. He looked around for a heat duct but saw none. He remembered the open window in the bathroom, so he went in to try to close it. The window was too high. He couldn't reach it. He went back to the hallway to wait for someone to pull in, but he couldn't even see any headlights of cars passing by on the highway. Where was everyone? And what in the hell was going on here?

Jeff had been fighting sleep for what he guessed to be about an hour as he sat huddled inside the building, his arms pulled inside of his t shirt trying to get warm. It didn't do much good, as the wind had found a nice tunnel to blow through between the drafty front door and the open windows in both of the bathrooms. He had been trying to keep his eyes open for traffic going by on the highway or anyone pulling into the rest area but he had seen nothing. Unwilling to surrender to a night of sleeping on this cold, hard floor and aware that his truck and trailer loaded with televisions and dvd players was getting further away by the minute, he decided to go try to wake up the driver parked out back again.

As he approached the truck he paid closer attention this time, and realized that it was an old truck. “Who in the heck is putting the time and effort into keeping this old beast on the road” he thought to himself as he knocked on the door of what appeared to be an early 70's model W900 Kenworth. There was still no answer. He tried knocking on the sleeper again, but to no avail. He checked the door, but it was locked. He walked around the truck and took a measure of his situation. Behind the rest area was a field that had been green with corn just a few short months ago, but now it had all been plowed under for the winter. Off in the distance he could see some lights shining on the other side of the field. Was it a farm house? It had to be. They would have a phone there. He could call the police and start the search for his truck. Maybe even call his dispatcher and get him to set him up with a motel room for the night until all of this was resolved. It was his best, and most likely, his only shot at getting out of this mess tonight so he fought the cold and started walking through the field.

As he walked the snow began to fall. Flurries at first, but picking up to a thin dust visible between himself and the farmhouse a few acres away. The cold was ripping through him by now, but he tried not to pay it much attention. Those lights were all he needed to focus on. As he got closer, he could see a big white barn behind the lights. On the other side of that barn would be a house. Inside that house would be a family that would sympathize with his plight. They would invite him in to use the phone, and perhaps even fetch him a blanket and a cup of coffee to help him warm up. The thought gave him energy and he walked faster. He could throw a stone and hit the barn now. The snow began to fall harder and his shivering returned, wracking his body. He half walked, half jogged towards the lights and the barn, around the other side to where... “Son of a bitch!” An old semi trailer that had been converted to a portable storage building and another plowed under field. No house. No phone. No coffee and blanket. He looked back towards the rest area. He couldn't see the lights through the snow. He looked out across the field. No lights. Just snow.

Panic began to set in as he jogged down the gravel driveway. He didn't know where he was going. He wanted to stop and sleep. His dry throat burned with each heavy breath of cold air. The snow stung as it hit his face, and then it went numb, as on he jogged. The driveway ended at a narrow paved road. Were those lights in the distance? He squinted through the falling snow. It was something. He turned right and jogged down the road. Up ahead was a single street light illuminating a haphazard assortment of buildings. A gas station and garage, a store with a sign that said only “Milk and Meat,” and a building that appeared to have once housed a diner but had long been abandoned. Jeff knocked on doors, not expecting an answer but still disappointed when each knock turned up nothing. He tried each knob, but every building was locked. No payphones. No houses. No people. No hope. He didn't know where he was or where to go. The snow was falling harder. There was a bench in front of the gas station. He brushed the snow off of it and sat down, head in hands. He waited for a car to drive by, the energy slipping from his body. It wouldn't hurt to lay down, just for a minute. Who was he kidding? He was giving up. What happened to the world he knew? Where was the traffic? It had to be 3 am by now, but still, how did these roads become so deserted? He shivered against the cold as he drifted off to sleep, completely spent.

Dreams raced through Jeff's exhausted mind. In the first one he was locked inside a refrigerated trailer. He woke up in a panic but unable to move. The cold had frozen his muscles. An inch or two of snow was covering him where he lay. He was dying and he knew it, but he didn't care. He went back to sleep.

The next dream was more pleasant. He was somewhere on a busy sidewalk watching the people walk buy. A child with a shopping bag walked by and pointed at him. “Look, mom. A bum.” The mother grabbed the child's hand and hurried him away, lecturing him about manners and casting a glance at Jeff that showed signs of sympathy or contempt, he wasn't sure which. He blinked his eyes, then sat up with a start. Was he awake? He pinched himself. “Ouch!” His mind raced through the events of the night before. He looked behind him at the large Wal Mart Super Center. He looked ahead of him at the busy street. He vaguely took note of the fact that he was no longer cold. Where was he?

He got up and began to walk, trying to retrace his steps from the night before. The two lane road was now a wide four lane with a sidewalk. He crossed the street and headed back the way he had remembered coming from. Up ahead he could see a building about where the barn should have been, but this was a large metal building. Some type of a warehouse or a factory. He walked down the driveway towards the building. The field he had crossed the night before was now a parking lot. He walked across it towards the strip of grass that separated the property from the rest area.

He had to climb a fence, but in ten or fifteen minutes he had retraced his steps and he was in the parking lot of the now busy facility. He looked around confused. What in the world was going on here? He cut across the lot towards the building, then stopped to look back at the row of trucks lined up in the parking spaces between the faded yellow lines and there, right smack dab in the middle, was his truck. That was his truck, right? He walked over and tried the key. The door opened. He climbed in and there was his phone, his cb radio, his coffee cup, his belongings.

Jeff had no idea what had happened to him the night before. Years later, he would recount the events of the evening to marginally interested truckers who feigned belief at his wild tale, but he knew better than to think they gave it any weight. After all, it had happened to him and he couldn't quite take it's measure. Why had the temperature dropped so quickly? Where had his truck gone? Why was the highway so deserted that night, and why was there no snow on the ground when he awoke? How did all of those buildings sprout up where a farm and a couple of small family businesses had been just the night before? Had Jeff driven into some type of a time warp? Was he so tired that he had imagined the whole thing? Or had he simply pulled off into the first Rest Area in The Trucking Zone?


Steve Parry
Sun, 01 Sep 2013 09:04:06 -0500