Just the slightest hint of dawn in the eastern sky heralded another blistering hot day on the training range. Knowing that it would soon be light enough that my heavily tinted face shield wouldn’t be a handicap, I headed out the drive with the shield raised so my unguarded eyes could penetrate the darkness.
Haunted by the fear that a bug in the eye would spoil my morning, I closed the face shield and fired up the auxiliary lights to compensate for the impaired visibility. Who was I kidding? I still couldn’t see adequately, but I soldiered on, too stubborn to stop and change to a clear face shield for such a short time.
That was a mistake.
Cresting a hill and blind curve on my favorite gravel shortcut, I suddenly confronted a torrent of rats; brazillions of them, leaping over each other like salmon thrashing upstream to the spawning beds. The entire road was awash with vermin, surging and undulating, reminiscent of a truly bad acid trip.
It was way too late to stop, and instantly I was up to my front rim in eddies of fur as I plunged into the gush of rodents. Struggling to maintain equilibrium, I managed to flip open the hampering visor. Only then did I realize the stream of rats was actually water cascading across the road.
Since it was way too high above the valley to be a creek overflowing its banks, I surmised it was a broken water main. Violent and treacherous, it surged downhill in my same direction of travel as it deflected on the opposite road bank.
Oh great! I’m not done with it yet.
At the bottom of my descent, the gushing stream re-crossed the road on its way into the waiting creek, cutting a deep muddy trough for me to traverse.
Safe on the far side, I whipped out the cell phone, delighted for the opportunity to dial those magic three numbers: “Nine one one.” The operator could have been waiting all night for an exciting call, but her lack of concern for my situation was underscored by her listless Gawja drawl. Dismissive best described her response to my emergency, allowing she would “call the water company directly” (like those slackers are actually awake and ready for business at 5:45am).
I told her I damn near had an accident and was set to disparage her apparent lack of concern, but she was already back to clipping Walmart coupons.
I let it rest; no sense getting a citation for reckless talking.
Pete Tamblyn © 2008