Friday, February 4, 2011

Florida Plates

The silver Lincoln Town Car with Florida plates cuts through the landscape of yellow fields and ignores the thick angus steers behind barbed wire fences who regard the car as ominous. Cows notice things while women are inside the houses running their dishwashers and their TVs and their mouths on the phone while talk shows play muted, “Did you see that? Just now . . . ” The electric window of the Town Car whirs open just enough for the man at the wheel and on the cell phone to flick his half smoked cigarette out into the wind where it flutters and still burns red like the coals of a fire pit just being lit in a carneceria almost a thousand miles away, but a passing truck catches the cigarette in its cracked radiator grill before it hits the road. The window whirs shut again, sealing the man in and the wet January air out. The cows forget the car now that its out of sight and they lower their heads and snort -- the grass is dead.

The man at the wheel ignores the school zone signs because this country road is wide and flat and he’s intent on leaving a voice mail message, “I found her, man, I found her. My ETA for Miami is noon tomorrow. What a god-forsaken place this is . . .” A school bus pulls out in front of him and turns and the children in the back press their faces to the rear emergency exit windows and stick out their tongues and make rude gestures they don’t understand to the man on the phone, steam on the glass obscures parts of their faces -- he hits the brakes, almost absentmindedly, and the Town Car slows itself like a perfectly engineered private jet and now the man makes another call.

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