“That Road Don’t Go Nowhere”

“That Road Don’t Go Nowhere”
© 2013 by Michael L. Utley

That road don’t go nowhere mister

Raspy sigh of too many cigarettes
Grease-blackened claw points in the general direction of
Eternity
Stench of gasoline and sweat
Indecipherable name emblazoned on
Filthy coveralls
Gas pump chugs and stutters
Connected to my car by an umbilical cord of
Ancient dinosaurs
His eyes lost in pools of wrinkles and regrets
As my eyes follow his finger
Nothing but rock and sand and the howls of
The lost
In this desolation

Road and horizon merge in a
Fitful seizure of mirage
The heat a coda to all things here
Dull and dusty sage and creosote bushes
A wretched effigy of life
In this hardscrabble wasteland
Not real
Not real at all
Nothing lives here
Nothing can live here
Nothing at all

That road don’t go nowhere mister

In the distance
A phantom zephyr on the highway
A sinuous dust devil
Snakes from earth to chrome-hued sky
This eldritch thing
It dances and writhes and bespeaks of
Ancient knowledge
An augur of blind terror
In the breakdown lane
Of this faded ribbon of
Cracked and sticky asphalt

It can’t get me here
My mind whispers
Here in this run-down
LAST GAS FOR 255 MILES sanctuary
This final outpost of sanity
Sun-bleached boards and
Rusted gas pumps
Stand sentinel against
What lies beyond
Against what should not be
But is anyway

That road don’t go nowhere mister

The gas pump rattles to a stop
His trembling hands disconnect the hose
In post-coital silence
Hi-test fumes cloying in the
Furnace heat
The old man takes my money

The world has stopped on it axis
The day is perfectly still
There is no sound
There is only the sterile heat
Of the desert
And the blackness of what is to come

He grabs my shoulder through the car window
His ancient hand a talon digging deep
His pleading eyes rheumy and weeping
He swallows
His Adam’s apple bouncing in his
Grimy neck

That road don’t go nowhere mister

There is lunacy in his weeping eyes
And there is truth
And I smile at him
And something passes between
The two of us
A last vestige of humanity
Before the coming storm
I glance in my rear-view mirror
There is nothing behind me
There is everything behind me
There is no going back

I swallow a knot of panic
I look at the man
This road doesn’t go anywhere
I say
But it’s the only road there is

And I pull away from the station
The old man a scarecrow in the mirror
Arms akimbo
Sweat-stained cap askew on his head
And then he is gone
Devoured by the nothingness behind me

I am alone on the road

There is no going back

3 thoughts on ““That Road Don’t Go Nowhere”

    1. Oh, me, too, Juliette. I used the double-negative on purpose to flesh out the gas station attendant’s personality a bit more. It was uncomfortable writing it that way but I thought it was necessary for the sake of vernacular authenticity…or something! 😀 Back when I was writing short fiction, I had a lot of fun with dialogue and character creation, really delving deeply into regional dialects to create more believable characters. It’s easy to overdo it, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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