Unnamed Journal Volume 3, Issue 2 - Page 7

“You cannot erase what you did not create,” said McIntyre’s voice from the back of his mind. “You can only efface it.” “Oh, ha ha for you,” said Lagland, deciding while the 2-mile notice for his exit flew past that he would have this imaginary argument. “If I give you your nerd points for the day, will you stop trying to one-up everyone in the room?” “So I should just permit you to butcher the English language in the presence of ladies and make no effort to stop the effusion of blood?” returned McIntyre’s voice, which had moved, in Lagland’s imagination, into some nether-pocket between the front and rear passenger-side seats. “Effuse…efface…what, did you sleep on a thesaurus?” The rest of the writer’s group in the pub in Lagland’s mind laughed at this dull volley. You didn’t match elegance with a nerd like McIntyre; you overrode him with loud and obvious groaners, like the bullies did at school. He’d eventually retreat because he had no personality, only the affectation of one. That wasn’t bad, thought Lagland. He’d save it to tell Miranda after the reading: Miranda the unflappable, Miranda the anarchist, Miranda the dirty dirty blonde with the gorgeous smile and, Lagland was sure, geometrically perfect breasts. Miranda would laugh that smooth laugh of hers, just loud enough for McIntyre to hear, and McIntyre would know they were laughing at him, and he would pretend they were not. And as the red wine flowed, Lagland would press his success, show her tickets to a one-woman cabaret at a black box theater he knew of, and they would be on their way to glorious fornication. She would be his. The Philadelphia Road exit approached like a supplicant: wide open, with nary a car between him and it. He’d shot through ten miles in six minutes. It could be done. If the lights were with him, it could be done. With laser-nerved control, Lagland stepped off the accelerator and let the Civic coast into the exit, pressing the brakes only as needed to keep control of the vehicle. He thrilled at the centripetal force, the slight lean the Civic took as it shot through the exit fifteen mph faster than the cowardly yellow sign directed. As he rounded the turn, he looked ahead for the color of the light at the corner of Philadelphia and Sardis Lane. And very nearly ran into a sea of bra ke lights. Lagland stared in mute horror at the traffic, locked up before him, tighter than a tanner’s drum. For a moment he worked his jaw as though attempting to find words powerful enough to deny what he saw. He needed to get left. He needed to get left very badly. He had but two lanes to cross before he could safely turn onto Sardis Lane. And each of these two lanes was a parking lot. He swore. He swore in phrases unique, in physical, theological, and even grammatical impossibilities, fragments of expression bound by hate. He vowed eternal vengeance on the karmic conspirator, construction or accident, who had caused this traffic. He demanded with the force of Justice and Reason that the universe explain itself. He turned off the stereo and swore at McIntyre’s preposterous hats. After a few minutes, the traffic began to move, and the denizens of the lanes to the left of him, having achieved the type of Zen traffic awareness that brings about positive road charity, let him merge. Before