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HAROLD WALTERS: Horsepower highway

['Harold Walters']
['Harold Walters']

“Last night I had the strangest dream,” said I at the breakfast table.

“And that’s different how, Harry, my dream-tossed honey?” said Dearest Duck, piling pumpkin marmalade on her toast.

“How?” said I. “No demons in this one, my Duck. Not of the hell-hound type anyway.”

“Hmmm,” said Dearest Duck.

So, here’s my dream.

Me and Dearest Duck — always my dream girl, be I wide awake or deep in slumber — were driving in our Chevy somewhere on a busy provincial highway. Dearest Duck concentrated on her iPad — Candy Crush, for sure. I concentrated on … well, on my driving, of course, but also on the knocking I fancied was sounding from the rear end.

A steady belt of traffic approached and zipped past in the opposite lane — transport truck, SUV, SUV, SUV, beater, dark sedan, light sedan, Alberta truck, ‘nother Alberta truck … zip, zip, zip.

I maintained a steady — steady old fogey some might say — 99 klicks, carefully minding the bumps and ruts to allow Dearest Duck a steady hand on her iPad. An occasional vehicle came up behind and pulled around when there was plenty of broken line.

All in all, not an unusual or unpleasant drive.

Until some lunatic dropped out of warp-drive behind us, squat on the rear bumper so close I couldn’t see his grill in the rearview mirror, and yanked out to pass before there was not sufficient time to do so, and...

This was a dream remember, and that’s when the strangest dream switch happened.

In sudden dream sequence, me and Dearest Duck — and everyone else, apparently — were riding along in horse-drawn buggies. Considering it was dreamtime, it wasn’t especially odd that Dearest Duck’s iPad had become an embroidery hoop and her nimble fingers now plied a threaded needle stitching French Knots in a pillowslip. According to some dreamtime logic, instead of reins I still gripped a steering wheel, albeit as useless as the wheel of a coin-operated ride at The Mall.

“For frig sake,” said I in dreamtime.

“Harry,” said Dearest Duck at the breakfast table, “the old foolishness that goes on in your head sometimes worries me.”

“Just a dream, my Duck,” said I. “Please pass the marmalade.

Dream Weavers and shrinks, nevertheless, claim that our dreams have meaning, eh b’ys?

I s’pose, at least the reason for my dream is obvious, in light of recent fatal accidents on our highways.

There’s nothing new to say about highway horrors.

“That won’t stop you, will it?” says Dearest Duck in real-time.

“I do have my thoughts on the subject, my Duck,” say I.

Here’s one of my thoughts, although patently cliché: There is no cure for stupid.

Posted speed limits will not cure stupid. Speeding tickets dealt like playing cards will not cure stupid. Sadly, wrecks and death — even fear of one’s own death — will not cure stupid.

And just as there is no all-satisfying answer to any of the universal why-why-why(s), there is no satisfactory answer to what it is about we humans that allows for incurable stupidity.

Too easy to say it’s in our genes, eh b’ys?

I don’t exclude myself when I say we behave stupidly inside our automobiles. I intended to exclude myself, but Dearest Duck grabbed me by the ear and said, “Harry, my sometimes-heedless love, you too have sinned so stop preparing to chuck rocks.”

That’s what she said. Or words to that effect.

I confess, I’ve been distracted by my cell-o-phone in traffic. My sausage fingers cannot text, but I have held my phone flat and jabbed at its face in hopes of activating the speaker function — and felt the front wheels lurch for just a second.

So, right here, right now, I make this solemn vow. This very week, no, this very day, I will learn how to use that Bluetooth chummy on our Chevy’s dashboard.

I hereby swear.

P’raps my thoughts are as disjointed as events in dreams, or as peculiarly hinged as a bull moose’s hind legs, eh b’ys?

Here’s another.

Stupidly, and needlessly, we speed because we can. As Dearest Duck reminds me, our seniors’ Chevy doesn’t always chug up and down the highway at a sober 99.

A dream-like jump…

When I was an unsullied bay-boy in the brave new days after Confederation pupped, I dreamed of a day when Pappy might own a car — mechanically harnessed horsepower, so to speak — gas it up and take the family for a Sunday drive on a brand new gravel highroad …

… and leave Dobbin chomping oats back in the stable.

Thank you for reading.

— Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at ghwalters663@gmail.com.

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