They blew up the world, but what really pisses me off is that they didn’t even consult me first. Actually, I guess that was an overstatement: the Earth is still intact. The world of planes, trains, and automobiles is gone. My car was the last survivor of that world, just as I am, and died, just as I shall. When the motor finally gunned down and spit out a last exhaust, I got out into the desert that burned in what once was America and now burns in the middle of a much greater burning.
I got out of the car and circled it a number of times. It seemed the car was trying to talk to me, trying to say something. I fought that notion, afraid to be so crazy, but then it hit me: so what if I’m crazy, I’m alive. Then the car spoke: Fueram tamquam es erisque sum. Latin. The car was mocking me in my minor. I had been as you are, and you shall be as I am, said my car, and it says it still, scrawled upon the dusty trunk with the key. I abandoned that damned car.
Maybe I should back up a little. I had been a student outside of the desert at a college which must be ash and shadow by now. I had just graduated cum laude (non magna). I didn’t care. I was lost. I remember a girl my sophomore year who was my friend. She was the best-—and I mean that even when you compare her to the untold sums of money, which are cinders and memory now, or to limitless power, which has been unleashed, or even to eternal life and unsurpassed knowledge, which are rootless dreams that blow like the wisps of sand in the nuclear breeze. I had lost that girl because I didn’t care. I didn’t have any caring left anyway—t-he sons of bitches took that away, too.
The day before today was graduation. I didn’t attend. They would mail the diploma to my folks, and I would be gone somewhere, looking for something to do, waiting to live or die. I had taken this car into the desert and driven it through the day and halfway through the night until I found this hotel-—a shit hole if ever a hole had been filled with shit. There I slept the other half of the night. I left the key in the lock and drove away with the dawn still staining the horizon a deep, sympathetic red. Of course, I was driving away from the sympathy.
Sometime that day, I guess the bombs dropped. I was too far from the world to notice its destruction. I didn’t find out about it until the afternoon began to eat me alive. When I finally found a filling station and went inside, I came upon a man standing behind the counter, staring at a pile of burning cash. The register was open and empty. I wasn’t sure what to make of this; my mind must have been numbed by the notorious sun, so I grabbed up a bottled soft drink and brought it to the counter, reaching for my wallet.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said. He didn’t move. “Ah, how much for this? Sir?” When he finally moved, he moved slowly, like a dead man sinking in water, and his mouth fell gradually open. His eyes were a shiny blue, dilated with despair. I wanted to put quarters on them and say a prayer.
“Take it. I could give a fuck. The whole world could.” His voice was strong and healthy. He swore like he’d done so as long as he had been a man, like the two, swearing and manhood, were interconnected. It was a dead voice that spoke to me, though, and it delivered the wry remark without any hint of irony. I left with all possible speed. The zombie man threw another item on the fire. It was a carton of motor oil. I heard him mutter something about them blowing it all to Hell. There was a noisy pop as I let the door shut behind me.
In the car, I opened the bottle and took a pull. I turned the ignition key and activated the radio. The FM band was snowing, and I only found one station on the AM. This agitated fellow spoke in a sweaty voice about the ruin and the holocaust. It washed over me, unreal. Then the man came out of the station with parts of himself on fire. He seemed to be taking it very well, though, as he calmly passed my car, headed for the pumps. There were flames inside the store reaching over the tops of the aisles, now. I dropped the car into gear and evacuated ground zero with as much speed as I could muster out of that pile. A mile behind me and a minute later, the gas station lifted off: man’s last attempt at space flight.
It’s only the afternoon now, but I’m probably a couple of miles from my car and the highway they laid in the desert. The desert doesn’t seem to care about that too much. That highway will probably be here millennia from now, and whatever comes along will have that, at least, and maybe my rusted car laughing at them. They won’t have this though, for I’ve written it in the dirt with the same key I used to scratch up my car, that I used to drive my car, that I once threw to a sophomore in tight slacks with a great figure who had to run out for prophylactics.
I’m ever so pissed. These assholes with their fingers on triggers and buttons, with four digit codes to the obliteration of mankind in the back of their head, with billions ready to do just what they say, even if they say, "Burn for the perfect instant, so that your shadow will outlive you by a million years." These assholes had for the past two and a half decades been railing about the importance of education and good citizenship, and against my better judgment and the wishes of my soul, I listened. I did it all—-not perfectly, and with no small amount of grumbling, granted, but I did it. I did it, and then they went and blew it all up. The really tragic part is that so many other suckers who’d never suspected a thing were also screwed by these assholes. We’d all had our lives blown up, and no one even asked us about it before hand. I know I said I was waiting to live or die, but I expected that choice to be available to me exclusively, not to some dick with a tie.
I’m tired and I can’t write any more. It’s so hot.