Sunday, April 24, 2011

6/365 Playlist Story -- inspired by Shine a Light by Wolf Parade

Hugh slowly turned the large steering wheel. He loved that turning the wheel involved using his back muscles. It reminded him of his days working at the mine where he drove comically massive dump trucks all day, happily hauling up the Earth's innards to be sorted for zinc. He started to whistle a tune as he merged into freeway traffic.

"Oh please stop that," said his wife Marge, rubbing her forehead.

"What I can't whistle?"

"I can't stand that tune," she said, fussing with the maps and other accumulus on the dashboard. This was their nineteenth consecutive month on the road so the dashboard was quite full.

"I whistled that tune the day we got married and you didn't say anything then," said Hugh.

"That's because you haven't been whistling anything but that tune since then!" exclaimed Marge. Hugh looked slightly crestfallen. "Look I'm sorry honey," she said, "I'm just in an 'off' mood."

"What's bothering you? The weather is nice, we're off to an early start, and the kid at McDonald's undercharged us for breakfast. This has all the makings of a very auspicious day."

"It's not that. I was just thinking about the Jones' last night," said Marge.

"I thought you had a good time with them?"

"It was fine, and Caroline is just delightful, although she does go on a bit about Abbysinian cats," Marge lost herself in thought momentarily then continued, "It was something that Nick said. I didn't think much of it at the time, but it's been eating at me."

"What was it?" asked Hugh. "I don't remember anything in particular. He didn't hit on you, did he?"

"Oh gosh no Hugh," Marge tittered. "No, he said to you, 'I'm surprised you've gotten so much mileage out of that old thing.'"

"That's it?" Hugh looked over at her, slightly confused, then he said, "how is that offensive? This bucket of bolts is going to have it's sixteenth birthday soon. Compared to that model the Jones' drive, it's pretty ancient. Maybe it was mildly rude of him to point it out, but it's hardly anything to get worked up about."

"Honey, I don't think he was talking about the Winnebago," said Marge.

"What else could have he been talking about?"

"I think he meant me!"

"That's ludicrous!" Hugh looked over at her and started to laugh. "You're kidding right?"

"It was the way that he said it! And it was hard to tell in the campfire light, but I think he nodded in my direction as he said it!"

"Oh come on. Nick can be a bit of a jackass, but I really don't think he was talking about you. Don't worry about it honey." Hugh reached over to his wife and patted her arm. She folded hers and nodded affirmation to him.

They drove in relative silence for a few miles, ten miles under the posted speed limit. Hugh's cell phone rang.

"Can you get that dear?" asked Hugh. Marge dug under a layer of pamphlets for Carhenge, the Booger Hollow Trading Post, and the Cross Island Chapel to retrieve the phone. She looked at the caller name.

"Oh it's him," she said, appalled.

"Who, Nick?"

"Yes. I don't want to talk to him." She shoved the phone in his direction.

"Honey I'm driving!" Just then they heard a rapid burst of honking to the left. Hugh looked out the window. It was the Jones' shiny new Winnebago. Caroline waved vacantly from the passenger seat. "It's them! Maybe they're trying to tell us something. Answer the phone."

"Oh all right, but we'd better be burning oil or something! Hello?" Marge listened, then screwed up her face in consternation. "What! Well I....HOW DARE YOU!" She slammed the phone closed and dropped it with revulsion back on the dashboard.

"What?! What did he say?"

"I don't want to repeat what he said. Nick, is a very bad man."

"Dear, you must be making a mountain out of a molehill." Hugh looked back out the window. "Why aren't they passing? They're going to get creamed if they stay on that side." Caroline waved again, but this time Nick leaned over (his Winnebago swerved a bit) and held up his middle finger to Hugh.

"What the...?!" said Hugh. Then the Jones' peeled off ahead of Marge and Hugh. "What has gotten into him? He's acting like an idiot! What could he have possibly said to you?"

"I said I didn't want to repeat it. You're just going to get very angry."

"I'm not going to get angry Marge, I promise."

"I know you dear, you will get angry," said Marge. hugh sighed deeply.

"I promise, I swear. Now please tell me."

"I think it would be best to just drop it, Hugh." Marge reached over and fiddled with the radio, attempting to get an acceptable local station. Hugh was silent as he watched the back of the Jones' van recede. It had a collection of magnetic states attached. They were missing Alaska, Michigan, and South Dakota.

"Come on honey, I'm just curious," pleaded Hugh. Marge sighed and looked off in the distance. "Look, how about I do the water and sewage connections for the next month if you tell me?" Marge sighed again. "And the cooking. And washing the RV?"

"I don't care how many times you ask me, I'm not going to tell you."

"Fine," said Hugh. He started to slowly whistle his tune. Marge turned the radio up. It was a local preacher talking cryptically about various Bible passages. Hugh whistled louder and faster. Marge turned to a top-twenty station blasting out whatever it was that teenagers currently found appealing (and sounded to her as if large metal robots were trying to reproduce themselves organically). Hugh switched from whistling to a na-na-na vocalization.

"Okay stop! I'll tell you!" said Marge. Hugh laughed out and grinned. Marge sighed and looked up and the ceiling fabric. She leaned over and whispered in his ear. Hugh's grin slowly turned impassive, then all the muscles in his face tensed up. He wrung his hands around the steering wheel as if he was killing a rattlesnake manually.

"What!" he exclaimed when she was done.

"I know!" she said.

"How DARE he!" said Hugh.

"Exactly!" said Marge. "But honey, just let it go. There's nothing we can do about it."

"Like hell we can't!"

"Hugh no! You promised!"

"I know Marge," Hugh looked conflicted, "but it's just wrong to let him get away with that!" Hugh unclicked the cruise control and pressed down on the gas pedal.

"Nooooo Hugh!"

"Yeeees!" There was a manic glint in Hugh's eyes. They raced well past the speed limit and caught up to the Jones' Winnebago in less than a minute. Hugh honked frantically. The Jones' sped up, and Hugh matched them, then he rammed the back of their Winnebago. Arkansas and California fell off and landed on the hood of their own vehicle. Marge screamed. Nick swerved then sped up even more. They were both going well over 100 miles an hour. They could feel every bump in the road and every stray bit of gravel. Hugh swerved to the left, into the oncoming lane--there was a semi truck approaching. Marge screamed again and clutched her door and the dashboard. Hugh swerved back into the right lane. Nick suddenly hit the brakes and they hit again but didn't stop. The airbags deployed then deflated. Nick sped up again. When the semi passed, Hugh swung wildly out into the left lane again. Marge was pressed against her door. They sped up and Hugh swerved into the Jones', broadsiding them, then swerved back. Another semi was in view. Nick swerved back at Hugh in another broadside. Marge screamed until she was out of breath. The Semi flashed it's lights frantically, honked continuously in a droned, but Hugh paid no attention to it. Marge pointed, at it, her eyes enormous, but could manage no words. Hugh turned directly into Nick, and forced the Jones' off into the corrugated shoulder. One of their tires blew out and their Winnebago rolled over on to it's side, skidding forward, leaving a hot trail of sparks.

Hugh looked over with satisfaction, and slowed slightly to match the speed of the Jones' mangled RV, but it wasn't enough. The semi impacted on Hugh's side. Their Winnebago suddenly rotated to the left but continued to move in it's previous direction. The semi peeled off the left side wall of the RV like it was opening a can of sardines. Hugh was ripped out of his seat and disappeared into the violent mix of metal. The dashboard accumulus battered Marge, followed by shards of the windshield. The RV spun three more rotations before it toppled over and skidded to a rest at the 101 mile marker.

Twenty minutes later, Marge was retrieved from the wreck by a crew of paramedics. She was breathing and alert, and suffered only bruises, cuts, and a broken arm. She asked about her husband, but they only told her to stay calm and not worry. She was escorted into a ambulance, next to Caroline who was on a stretch with a neck brace.

"I'm so sorry," said Caroline, "I told him not to say that to you, but he wouldn't listen."

"No, it was my fault for telling Hugh." Marge reached out and grasped Caroline's hand and squeezed. "Nothing can be done about it now."

"Let's never speak of this again," said Caroline.

"Agreed," said Marge.


Apparently this is a fan-made official music video for this song

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