Previous Chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
If women ever truly understood the nature of lust, they would lock their doors en masse and never pass their thresholds again. Lust is inescapable, it’s ubiquitous. It’s the cultural currency and we live in a masculine culture. Rape is the subliminal undertow that carries across every transaction in our lives.
I feel slightly bad leaving Connie in the proverbial lurch - as I know I am doing - but there’s nothing for it. She fell in love with me. I feel gratitude, slight affection, some friendship towards her . . . but no love. Certainly no lust. I envy those who feel love, I envy the feeling itself. Just to feel anything besides the constant white background noise of painful trembling fear would be a relief.
Perhaps that is love. I know that I envy Connie her assurance. I envy her and I also despise her. I despise her deeply and with every fiber of my being.
I rise with the sun and drive south. I have a few odds and ends in the car but mostly I’ve packed light, for reasons that will soon become obvious. I have a cassette in the tape deck that I recorded off the late-night campus radio, some DJ or another spinning fairly decent acid house with some Goa trance thrown in for good measure. It’s going to be a hot day, I can feel the sun just starting to tickle the skin on my neck through the window pane of the drivers’ side window.
There’s a recurring dream sensation from my childhood that I can’t seem to get out of my head. For some reason I’m grasping a balloon, holding onto it as it grows larger and larger. It grows until It overwhelms me and I feel it all across me body, pulsating like living tissue under my arms and hands. I can feel the muscles in my body recede with this until the feeling of weight and gravity grows distant and dim. My jaw moves like a marionette on strings. It’s a strange disconnect.
For some reason this recurring childhood hallucination has returned to me on this august morning. I’m grinding my teeth as the miles pass me by behind the windows of the car, I’m grinding my teeth to feel the mass of muscles and ligament come loose and unattached in my face. I feel liberated.
I set out on the freeway heading due south in the morning haze. I reach my first destination after about an hour of driving.
Although the town where I grew up is situated in a strange pocket of desert suspended between massive mountain ranges, the areas to the immediate north and south are composed of rugged hills. I get off the freeway next to a small town on the shores of a large lake. Everything is tight and winding, with roads hewn close to hillsides and strange houses built upon isolated hilltops.
I’ve driven through the area before, a few times, on leisure trips of one sort or another. There’s one place I know very well.
It’s a beautiful drive. The sun is just starting to settle in as I hit the thick green forest near the lake. Its an artificial lake, an eyesore reservoir built into a series of dammed canyons in order to provide water for farmers and municipalities further south in the state. Its easy to make out the shapes of the original canyons and gullies that marked this area originally, before the waters came.
There’s a side road somewhere on the east side of the lake, overlooking a tepid and forgotten tributary of the sprawling reservoir. There aren’t any houses overlooking the ravine. There aren’t any fishermen out on the stark rock outcroppings that stand for beaches. Over the side of the thin dirt road there’s an almost perpendicular fall down around one hundred feet of hard red clay with harsh rocks set against the waterline.
There was a guardrail along the side of the road, sometime a long time ago. There are a few wooden posts with rusted bolts still attached, but mostly the railing was demolished by time, by rust and drunken drivers. I park the car in the middle of the road and grab my duffel bag. Everything I need is here, my clothes and maps and notebooks.
I shift the car into neutral and turn the wheel towards the ravine. It’s a light car, a compact, and it pushes relatively easy. Before I know it the front wheels are over the cliff and the car is tumbling down the long face of the ravine.
It makes a God-damned noise when it hits the rocks at the water line. I half-expected the car to blow up, but I guess that only happens in movies. It just sat there, easing into the soft mud exposed by low tide and hissing softly in the morning air. Probably burst the radiator, undoubtedly popped the tires.
From the road, you’d have to be looking down to see the wreck juxtaposed against the rocks. No one comes along this way anyway. I imagine someone in a fishing boat will see it in a day or so, and then they’ll need a crane to pull it up and there’ll be an investigation. But by the time any of this happens I’ll be gone and they won’t know where I am, or if I’m even alive.
There are sinister forces at work in this world, forces that killed my father and engineered the tragedy at the World Trade Center. The evidence in my notebooks, the evidence that I have carefully compiled since my father’s tragic passing, makes me the most dangerous man in the world.
The only problem is that they’ll eventually figure out I’m not dead on account of the fact that my notebooks are missing. My notebooks and my maps, all that I have to prove the conspiracy, are safely tucked into my duffel bag. They’ll know this, and then they’ll come for me. Hopefully by then I’ll be ready.