Midnight is the moment of both merger and separation, where two planes of existence come together, then depart, with all the passion and abandonment of two strangers in the bathroom of a 737 during a one-hour flight from L.A. to Vegas... when transparency and desperation reveal themselves to the few who stop to see it in the dark.
Midnight. The time when only bad shit happens to good people, and the motives of a man’s heart are most clearly revealed. The mystical time between times that most honest, hard-working, daytime folk never see... and most shady, lowlife, night-dwellers are too involved in their shufflings to notice. The time when the distance between worlds is at its least, and the visible and invisible almost touch.
And quiet voices from one side to the other are heard the clearest.
My last drop of the night. A drop just like any other, with just one little variation... time.
The time of night, and the time I would have to spend waiting in scratchy plastic chairs, worn smooth through the years by the fat bodies of truckers, squirming, for uncountable hours on end, waiting for their names to be called, and their cargo tendered. My job is ninety-nine percent High Priority parcels... fast in – faster out. But tonight, a cargo drop bound for Rio de Janeiro would force me to sit with the Low Priority crowd, in chairs... possibly all night. One drop, and the only thing separating me from a row of cold ones was the interest level of the lone clerk behind the counter. Now, after three hours and eleven minutes and thirty-seven games of Brick-Breaker on my Blackberry, I was second in line behind a cowboy trucker who had given in to the lulling hum of the forklifts in the warehouse, and closed his eyes for good beneath a yellowed, straw hat about an hour ago.
So close to the end of shift. The end of...
A sound... jagged nails across a half-acre of angry blackboard. The bitchy squeal of worn rubber, dug in hard on a smooth, paved floor, as if in protest against, against...
The cowboy jumped and landed on two feet, like a live man from his own grave. Slowly, I turned toward the sound.
Crumpled at one edge, tilted at an awkward, upward angle against a frame of supporting pine, lay a body clothed in cardboard, like ten cold reams of Banker’s Boxes, all in a row.
To be continued...
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 Bill Friday