A forlorn deer corpse was scattered on the shoulder of interstate I-10 in San Bernardino valley, and a little further, on a smaller mound, a flower wreath had been placed delicately. You could almost catch the freshness of the begonias although one whizzed past it at 80 mph.
‘Mike. Mark my words. This is indeed true’ Neena contended, as her eyes followed the waning accident scene.
‘Accidents might masquerade as unexpected events, but in reality there’s always to script.’
Michael was in no hurry to respond to this comment as he struggled to steer his Subaru clear of a speeding Semi on the left lane. He disliked these giant 18 wheelers, partly because of their size and partly because, from his eye level, the rotation of the spokes always distracted his driving rhythm.
‘Ah, yes.’ he mumbled sounding disinterested. What about? What script?’
‘Never mind,’ Nina gestured as her mind was still deliberating on the accident.
The deer season was just about over in San Bernardino. Snowflakes drilled into dried fall leaves and it was one of those cusps – the wet and dry entities mixing up to set up the play of earthworms and rattle snakes. As the freeway lines blurred and fog lights searched among decreasing visibility, a dead silence enveloped the car. Mike reckoned that Nina was easing into yet another of hers transcendental philosophical reflection. As for him, he was already wondering about the content of his dinner back home.
As they approached the LAX airport, Michael started his ritualistic procrastinations about the rush hour traffic. Neena rubbed more salt into his wounds by claiming she would be in Phoenix much sooner than he reached home. Mike reciprocated by a tantalizing description of his dessert in the comfort of his bean-bag and Seinfeld for company ? a prospect which gained more value when describing the stale airplane food that Nina was preparing for. Each upped the ante about their relative affluent conditions until the terminal doors approached and it was time for goodbye.
It was their second wedding anniversary, and although marked by a brief celebration, Neena was to return to Arizona, to join her new trainee position. As the plane rose and settled into equilibrium of the night sky, the pilot empathized about the unexpected foggy weather in LA, although he quickly cheered them up by declaring the 85F weather in Phoenix. Neena grabbed her tote to retrieve her I-pod and sunk into the seat with her favorite M.I.A number.
Michael, turned east on I-10, reminding himself of all the bills that lay at his desk ? including the DVD of ’40 year old virgin’ that needed to be reposted in his Netflix account. While he thought it was yet another chick-flick, he had to play along with Neena’s impression that it was ‘adorable.’ Covertly, he would have rather watched the gut and flow of ‘Apocalypso.’
…Perhaps, who reads the script is more important than whom it is targeted to’ ….
Back in mid-air, as the pilot signaled diminishing turbulence, Neena moved back into a much more comfortable fetal position, at much annoyance of a co-passenger. As she closed her eyes, for a fleeting moment, she wondered about Mike’s dinner plans. He loved Pasta and Macaroni but was too lazy to prepare one. Rather, as usual he might have driven to Arrowhead Avenue to check out the Arbys’ roast beef burger and curly fries. Nothing surprised her about his food habits in recent months, one which included the obscene habit of using tomato ketch-up on Honey Mustard Cereals.
They had met in Aspen, Colarado, while vacationing with some mutual friends and had gradually settled into a committed relationship. In some sense they were the epitome of opposites. He was of the less contemplative type who took life at face-value. Neena always dug beneath the surface searching for some existential meaning to the world in general and her specific life in particular. As Rihanna’s number thumped on her ear drum it gave way to a more melodious ‘secret garden.’ She always thought while individuals had their secret gardens there was still a larger plan ? one where all the mysteries made sense. ‘But who is the author of these scripts?’ she pondered.
As she peered out into the layers of white and grey clouds the aircraft engine noise was muted ? the feeling one gets after having soap misting in the ear-drums after a good shower. She rose from her seat and after surveying the long queue at the washroom, decided against using it. Then she sunk back boringly to thumb the pages of the Sky Mall. She wondered whether she should buy ‘snuggies’ for the winter or those fishnet stockings that she always wanted but had never dared to wear.
A gentleman next to Neena was crunching numbers on his laptop with intermittent periods of groan and exhilaration. She wondered whether he was a realtor, a creative accountant or just a business man following his daily stock profile. The clicks on his keyboard was briefly interrupted by the stewardess offering her beverages which she declined politely. Michael would have definitely opted for the orange juice, with a little ice and some crackers, she reflected.
Michael was in love with Neena but never felt the need to communicate his feelings. ‘Expressing love is only for insecure guys’ he once said and had to apologize for that absurd comment. He was one of those characters who cracked jokes with just enough sarcasm and laid a suspicion in everyone to take him or not take him seriously.
The windows were now frosting like a series of white TV screens in a Best Buy outlet and most of the lights were turned off except for some compulsive late night readers. Neena put the magazine aside and delving into pretend-sleep for a while. Yet, the thoughts kept knocking in. ‘Hmmm? agreed. Accidents always masquerade as unexpected events and in reality there is always a script. But the question is whether the script is legible to all. Or does it have codified meaning targeted at specific individuals?
As the night was approaching, Mike passed the sullen deer corpse still lingering on the freeway. He was not the person who would sulk in ad-hoc philosophy about life and death. For him, ‘the deer was dead ?and it was time to move on.’
The headwind seemed to increase the turbulence of the aircraft momentarily and the pilot gave a brief warning to put the seatbelts on. The stewardess browsed in moments of sanitized politeness alerting violators. The windows were clearing now as the beautiful Canyons of Arizona were appearing on the horizon. The plane rocked with more turbulence, and being fearful of heights, Neena wanted to divert herself into continuing her proposition ‘Ok. Where was I? Yes, the script. Perhaps, who reads the script is more important than whom it is targeted to’ she conjectured.
By now, passengers were becoming wary about the distinct rattling sound in the engine of the aircraft. The pilot declared calm but even his soothing baritone could not conceal the inevitability of what was about to happen. There was a huge rumble emerging from the back wing of the aircraft and a collective panic gripped among the passengers. Neena reached for her cell and texted ‘Mike, I love you?. I love you precisely because you read the script differently than I do… please don’t let go?’
The smoke and the sparks from the fuel tank now shot unmercifully into the air and the wheels screeched and quivered into the length of the asphalt like a blunt knife ? plowing into the interior of a corn field.
A month later, of the many possessions that were recovered and sent to a lonely house in San Bernardino, nothing seemed more precious than a hurriedly typed text message on the cell that read
As for the Subaru, its ill-fated state implied that the deer season was not yet over.
Author: Newton DSouza- USA