Speed Bump (Dream Journal 11/96)


For the first time in three weeks, I have slept without dreaming. I think it must be a miracle. But, I don't sleep; it's too quiet. The clock ticks 3:30 AM. Outside my window, a bump in the street, to slow down traffic, they say, waits patiently to do its job. But, this time the traffic doesn't slow.
The Camaro careens around the corner of Harper onto Woolsey at 55 mph, the driver--drunk or stoned--steps on the gas so the tires squeal going around the corner; with a thump, or no more than a thump with maybe a low clatter, tires jam against the bump, doors rattle, hood snaps up, bent out of shape, spare tire and machinist tools rattle in the trunk; brakes applied too late, and the car presses into the side of a parked truck locking doors and trading fenders.
Upstairs, Beverly, my new neighbor's guard dog, left alone, howls out the window and runs back and forth from window to window, then, up and down the hall, then, up and down the stairs; left alone to protect the house, she resorts to the only think she knows: noisy barking intermingled with howls.
She succeeds in alerting every dog in the neighborhood. Even the old yellow one who lives under my porch. They join in her alarm; and by now, lights flash on in darkened houses, and doors open up and down the street, heads peek at the Red Camaro and the White Ford truck. I wonder if I'm dreaming. This is so unreal.
The Camaro's driver tries to open the car door, but it won't budge. Gus, my neighbor grabs a crow bar and jams it between the door and the car roof. Metal pings.
Inside the Camaro, the driver swears at Gus, "Hey, you. Don't wreck my car; it ain't paid for."
Gus ignores him, "Are you hurt? Can you move? If you can move, I'll break out the window so you can get out." Gus swings the crow bar like a baseball bat. It misses the window and clinks off the door and bounces out of his hand.
"Get the hell away from my car, you idiot."
"OK. OK. I was just trying to help."
Gus' wife has quietly slipped down the stairs, picks up the crowbar, and tugs at Gus' sleeve until he goes back to their house. The street reeks of gasoline. The truck is leaking gas into the gutter. I look around to see if anyone is smoking. Maybe, someone should call the fire department, before we all go up in flames. I start to make the call, but think better of it, my imagination had got the best of me. Far, far, too melodramatic.
Police sirens scream the last two blocks before reaching the wreck, getting louder and louder until they stop just short of the bump. Their headlights electrify the wreck. The truck and car twist around each other in an intimate embrace. Almost too intimate to watch. Two police officers get out and walk slowly toward the Camaro. Suddenly, the night seems extraordinarily quiet.

One must always be on the alert. One must always be aware of the rule, written or not.