“What are you doing in the left lane, sweetheart? Late for soccer practice? God forbid,” Lagland said through gritted teeth. He had a comfortable space between and the ever-putzing white Chrysler, but the lack of forward momentum made him nervous. The red minivan rolled by, its tinted windows shading the woman’s whelps, no doubt numbing their brains to Spongebob Squarepants DVD’s, from Lagland’s vision. Clicking the turn signal, Lagland returned his foot to the accelerator and shot deftly into the minivan’s wake. The speedometer edged up into the middle sixties – a significant but insufficient improvement As he passed the white Chrysler, he looked over at it, to check his presumptions of the driver, and was pleased. An old man in a vibrant golf cap helmed the vehicle with blissful ignorance of all that went on around him and his triumphant tour of life. Lagland curled his lip and enjoyed his escape. A new problem loomed. The red minivan’s driver had lost her nerve, and Lagland’s speedometer crept down toward 60 mph again. “Jesus Christ on a pogo stick,” shouted Lagland, “what the fuck is the matter with you? Are you too stupid to know what the goddamn left lane is for? Can that wheeled uterus you drive not make it up to the goddamn speed limit? Fucking wars are fought, goddamn soldiers and civilians die halfway around the world to keep that pseudopod you call a car rolling. So get your face out of the Cheetos for five seconds and put your fat fucking foot on the accelerator and get your size 18 ass out of my way!” As though reeling from the hostility in the air, the red minivan began to pull away again from Lagland’s Civic. Lagland swooped like a bird of prey on the opportunity, and with the white Chrysler now safely behind, shifted rightwards into the next lane and punched the gas. The red minivan flew backwards as though it had been stopped. “Bitch,” Lagland muttered, his face still hot with rage, and tried to calculate the amount of fuel that thing went through in a given year, before imagining it striking an IED and sending an explosion of soccer cleats, Shania Twain CD’s, and Arby’s bags into the immediate vicinity. The speedometer was now at 78 and rising, and Lagland had an open stretch of blacktop. It was 7:44, and he had 17 miles to go. It could be done, but he had to push it. He hit the stereo, and the six-disc CD changer whirred thoughtfully before selecting Black Flag – The First Four Years. The growling riff of “Nervous Breakdown” filled the air as he let the accelerator find its right speed. The highway ran underneath him. The trees flowed together into a mass green blur. The tractor trailer was a mile behind and fading. Lagland’s rage dissipated to a firm confidence in what was going to happen. He would arrive at just the moment when McIntyre was checking his pocket watch, which he would put away as soon as Lagland strode purposefully into the room. Lagland would unfurl a few curt metaphors about traffic conditions, gags he’d been saving, and the group would laugh courteously, a friendly golf-clap for his wit. Then he’d launch into his reading, without the usual pause and introductions, just jump into the other side of the cliffhanger where the final chapter began. And he’d just go, burning through the text like a madman, on fire from the scorch of his prose, and he’d ignore McIntyre the rest of the evening. He wouldn’t look at him, wouldn’t speak to him, would deny him utterly. If McIntyre insisted on coming up to him after the show or offering phony congratulations, he’d treat him like a house-guest who stayed too long. The poser would be erased from the group’s existence by unspoken agreement, so profound would be Lagland’s triumph.