09 January 2010

Burning Bridges

I think I'll set my car on fire and crash it into Hearst Castle.

Cooper startled himself to realize he had just said those words aloud. He laughed and then hiccuped, grinning sloppily to his traveling companion, which just happened to be a half-empty bottle of bourbon. The bottle was buckled in to the front passenger seat, To keep it safe, Cooper told the open air washing over his unkempt hair and five days' worth of beard. Bloodshot eyes rolled back under puffy lids as he laughed like a drugged hyena. The thought of the bottle as passenger struck him as particularly funny, but the laugh petered out into a wet sob through clenched teeth. Cooper struggled to keep his lids open, swerving a bit into the other lane. Loud horn and a one-finger salute from the passing car, and Cooper sat up straight and waved cheerily.

Hope they don't know I'm drunk. The thrum of the pavement wobbled up through the steering column, buzzing into Cooper's sweat-slick palms. He stole another glance at the bottle, a solitary tear rolling down his left cheek. At least, bottles don't die. They don't slip their leashes and get crushed by a truck. They don't yelp like banshees breaking glass, and they don't bleed, all over your hands and the stains on your pants as you cradle their heads while the eyes go glassy, and that awful cough as the last breath leaves their lungs...and me, crying on the sidewalk in front of a house I'll never go back to...

Cooper reached up and smacked himself hard on the cheek. He opened his eyes as wide as he could, like he was permanently surprised. Whereinhellis that damn cassel? slurring to himself as he swerved to the right. He could have swore it was just outside Carmel, but he wasn't seeing it. The GPS map on the dash showed a ridiculous little target, a bullseye where the castle was supposed to be. Cooper squinted at it, lines blurring through the corn liquor haze.

Shit. Iss a lot farther 'n I thought. All the way down to San Simeon. Shit, shit, SHIT.

The cool wind was sobering him up, a prospect he found quite distasteful. He reached over with one hand, unbuckled the bottle and grabbed it, holding it up close to his face. The label swam in and out of focus, and Cooper closed one eye to focus better. He laughed again. Buffalo Trace. What th' fuck is a Buffalo Trace? The picture of the buffalo on the bottle stared impassively, offering no comment. Cooper raised the bottle, took two long swallows and then tossed it out the passenger side window of the speeding car. An arc of bourbon rainbowed across the dash, amber drops cascading down the cracked and fading vinyl.

Woops. Time to Armor-All that fucker. Cooper belched and tried to focus on the sign coming up fast on the side of the road. "Bixby Creek Bridge" it said, but the car was moving so fast and his vision so blurry, Cooper couldn't tell the distance. It must not have been far, though; up ahead he could dimly see the big white arc of it bounding across the hills. He suddenly became obsessed with the bridge, deciding he had to see it.

Fug the cassle, Hearst don't need my money or my sob story. And I don't have any gas to burn.

Cooper stared ahead as clouds oozed off the face of the sun. The bridge lit up like electrified dinosaur bones, an unearthly white stark against the deep green of the trees. Cooper pushed the accelerator pedal to the floor, the engine began to moan. The bridge was coming up fast. He gaped at the canyon on one side, the sapphire void of the ocean on the other. The car bounded down the road, a shadow of the greyhound Cooper had put to rest. The car slewed across the lanes, and Cooper began to weep. The canyon and the ocean waited patiently, while he tried to regain control of the car, and he couldn't stop babbling I don't know which way to go, I don't know which way to go, I don't know which...while the sun retreated behind its shroud.


  1. This one is great. I love hard-edged stories, with a slur.

  2. Do you think Cooper would go out with me?

  3. Wow. Right there with you. I've driven down that road - the San Simeon part, not the drunk part.

  4. I like this, I feel like I know Cooper


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...