By Jonah Kondro
It seems that I’ve been in a state of perpetual jet lag. After I arrived back from Japan to my home in Rimbey, my internal clock wasn’t set for Japan or Rimbey standard time. My mind was caught in between odd bouts of napping, confusion and strange desires to make fried eggs at three O’clock in the morning.
A few days past while I was immersed in this body-clock madness. Luckily Netflix became my passive psychologist and I began watching old episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. Though, I could only sit around for so long, sunk into my leather couch, watching television.
The sun had already set and I was feeling the drive to set myself in motion again. My travel plans weren’t for an extended period of time. I found a stack of old cassette tapes and chose to zig zag around the Ponoka County in an after hours cruise.
I drive a dirty old Ford Crown Victoria. For the purposes of conversation, I tell people that it was an old cop car. It isn’t though. But it does have functional air conditioning, power windows (that work sometimes) and a CD/cassette player.
Led Zeppelin II got me through the first half of my midnight restlessness. The Best of Muddy Waters brought my cruise to its second half. I chewed nicotine gum and was successful in avoiding any wildlife crossing the pavement.
I thought of my motorcycle; I haven’t ridden it at all this season. To a lot of people that know me, this was strange. But my mind just didn’t feel that urge to set off on two wheels at all this spring and summer. I don’t think I’m leaving that part of my personality behind. Leather clothes will last you your entire life.
A while back, when I was in the apex of my motorcycle riding habits, a friend had asked me what my favourite road to ride was. It was an easy answer, despite all the hi-ways, bi-ways, gravel and pavement I’ve been down on two-wheels: Lockhart Road.
Where is that? My friend asked. It’s the road that leaves one and brings one back through the south of Rimbey. Why is it your favourite, it’s so close to home? Well, when I’m rolling down Lockhart, it means I’m either leaving on a trip or coming home from one. My friend seemed satisfied with my answer.
I had already been down and up Lockhart among many other local roadways on my midnight cruise in the Crown Vic. The Muddy Water cassette still had tunes to spin through. I decided to keep driving around.
Side B of the cassette just started and I was turning North onto highway 771 near Gull Lake. My car started pulling to the left; then my car started to make a suspicious noise; then I could smell burnt rubber. I looked for an approach in the dark: I knew I had a flat tire.
The right rim was sitting on the pavement. The sidewall of the tire was completely worn. The stink of rubber was quite pronounced. I rolled down the passenger window and turned up the volume so that I could hear Muddy while I installed the spare wheel and tire.
A few other midnight souls drove passed me. They may have thought, at first glance, that I was a police officer parked off the road. I wasn’t looking for assistance and I certainly didn’t require any while I swapped the wheels.
I could feel the machine heat emit through the wheel well. The smell of the hot alloys took the smell of burnt rubber out of my nostrils. The wheel nuts were secured and I noticed that my headlights had attracted thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of little lake flies. These sort of flies take an extra bit of attention at the car wash to remove them from the front bumper.
The insects were drawn to the headlights of my car; and their overwhelming presence created a cascading cloud in front of my Crown Vic. Before I drove off from the side of the road, I enjoyed the sublime moment of my misfortune. Side B of theMuddy Waters album had finished.