The truck veers out of control in the black night. I see Crystal’s hands on the steering wheel searching to regain control. The headlights shine into the dark, illuminating the falling snow. Our bodies bounce off each other, as we careen across the meridian heading into oncoming traffic. We are at the mercy of physics. It’s like trying to control your bowel in the grips of Montezuma’s revenge. I lean back in my seat blinded by oncoming lights. I brace for the hit. Seatbelts? Seatbelts are for strapping in the cases of beer. There is no seatbelt law.
Twelve hours ago Crystal gave me strict orders, “Be packed and ready to go at four. It’s a three and a half hour drive to Golden, and we need to pick up Laurie at the University of Calgary.” Crystal shakes her head, “We gotta motor. Maybe we can hit up Gunther’s party tonight. It should be deadly.”
“Cool, I’m all packed up.” I say with a smile. It’s exciting to leave the College campus for the weekend. I rarely went home. I didn’t own a vehicle. A Greyhound bus was my ticket home. Tonight I was riding in style— a glossy black Chevy, short-box, step-side, truck, Crystals most prized possession.
I left my most prized possession in my dorm room—a glossy, silver, quadruple speaker, double cassette, gazillion buttoned, ghetto blaster— with a sticker of Van Halen on the side.
We left Olds College on time, I kissed my ghetto blaster goodbye.
The clouds roll in towards us as we leave, like thick black smoke from a burning tire. The fading evening light is soon snuffed out by the oncoming storm. The Chinook that had swept through earlier that day had dissipated, taking its warming winds away. The winter weather was back.
Crystal cranks the Alabama tunes, and we sing along, wailing like coyotes at a full moon, “Roll on Mama like I asked you to do. And roll on eighteen-wheeler roll on…”
The snow begins to fall as we enter the city Streets of Calgary.
We pick up Laurie from her plush living quarters at the University of Calgary.
I sit between the long time friends listening to stories of strangers to me, and old friends to them. It tells me people are the same everywhere. They could have been talking about my hometown.
We are on the Trans-Canada highway, driving west, still in the foothills. The weather dude on the radio is recommending driving with caution, due to black ice and poor visibility. I wonder what he recommends for passengers? Tighten your sphincter muscle?
“Dammit. There would have to be fricken, black ice tonight.” Curses Crystal.
“What’s black ice?” I ask, thinking there are no dumb questions.
Laurie snorts, “Like, come on? Get real?” She studies me with a sideways stare, as though I’m the primordial ooze that just climbed out of the water of life, “Seriously? You don’t know what black ice is?”
“No,” I frown, “I only drove gravel roads in the winter.” I nudge Laurie with my shoulder. “Forgive me I lived in the boonies.”
Crystal grins, but her hands tighten on the steering wheel, “Black ice is hard to see on the highway, and if you drive on it a certain way, you can lose control of your vehicle.”
“That’s fugly!” I confess as I study the pavement ahead. It’s partially snow covered. All I see are tire tracks where the traffic has been. My muscles tense in my body. We catch up quickly to the car in front of us. His taillights are two red eyes peering out in the darkness.
Crystal signals to pass, “I’m not following this Hoser, all the way home.” She steps on the gas. It indicates the beginning of the end of our trip in Crystals most prized possession.
Spinning out of linear travel, the lights from the oncoming traffic flash through the cab of our truck. The erratic forces of chaos, throw us into each other. I stick my knees against the dash to brace myself. My heart thuds. I squeeze my eyes shut, I struggle for air, and then— a sudden calm fills the cab. There is no time, and no space, and my fear is gone. I can breathe. I am surrounded by peace and I suddenly know, it’s going to be okay.
In this strange sense of calm I feel myself being pitched against Crystal and then back into Laurie. I have no idea where we are in relation to where we began. On the road? In the ditch?
We come to a jolting halt, the stillness is overwhelming. Snow streaks diagonally across the headlights.
We stagger out of the truck. The icy breeze pelts us with flakes of snow.
My knees are weak.
Laurie is shivering and sobbing.
Crystal’s hands are on her head, “Frick around, my truck! My Dad is going to kill me!” She is pacing, staring at her truck with wide eyes.
I look at the truck. The tires are off the rims. It could be worse.
A vehicle drives towards us from the highway. It stops. A man rushes out. “Oh my God! Are you okay?” His eyes are huge. “Shit, I thought you were going to flip for sure.”
We huddle together, three girls facing the stranger, facing the unknown.
“There’s a service station up ahead.” He says, “I can give you a lift— Maybe you can call someone?”
I look at Crystal, her face is bloodless, “Yes—good.” She nods. And then shakes her head, her bottom lip trembles, “It happened so fast.”
We squeeze into the Good Samaritan’s truck. He takes us to warmth, to a phone. Crystal calls her parents for guidance.
We ride back to the Chevy with the tow truck driver to get our stuff. We clearly see our serpentine tracks coming into the steep ditch after crossing the oncoming traffic lane. The driver pulls ahead of Crystals truck, and parks.
We jump out.
The gnarled tow truck operator steps out, he moseys all the way around the Short-box truck. He stops. He kicks a back tire, which is clearly off it’s rim, he scratches his chin, and slowly shakes his head, “ I ain’t never seen the likes of this—“ He gestures towards our trail into the ditch. “From the looks of those tracks, and the flattening of the tires—“ He takes in a deep breath, “Shit—Never mind flattening the tires. You took two tires clear off the rims. It’s a Goddamn miracle you didn’t roll.”
When the truck went into the shop, the mechanic found it also had a twisted frame and three bent rims.
Indeed we were blessed. You just never know what each day brings. That day we were granted a miracle.