book of days serial #15

It was late December. The night was wrapping down across the desert and the sky was so clear that the street lights on Sunset burned across the sky like a solid vapor. He drove east but didn’t return to Culver City. At La Brea he turned north and bled over to Highland, out over Cahuenga Pass and down to Ventura Boulevard, past Studio City and Sherman Oaks and Encino, like a moonbeam, a flash. There was nothing lonely about driving in the dark. It was afternoon that sunk the spirit. He often said that driving at night was purifying. This road was a vigorous linear filter of his misgivings.

With him, the Korean college students in modified cars shot out in the traffic streams, just missing fenders by a sixteenth of an inch, but somehow always missing them. Tired men in dusty coupes and sedans winced and tightened their grip at the wheel and ploughed north and west toward home and dinner, an evening with the sports page, the blatting of the television, the whining of their spoiled valley children, and the gabble of their silly wives. He smiled as if his isolation was a deliverance from that life. He drove on past the gaudy neons and false fronts behind them, the sleazy massage spas that look like palaces under the colors, the circular path of the rotating highway sign over the sweaty greasy kitchens that would have poisoned a toad. Great trucks rumbled down over Sepulveda from Wilmington and San Pedro and crossed the Ridge Route, starting up in low gear from the traffic lights with a growl of lions in the zoo. With Encino in the memory an occasional light winked from the hills thick with desert growth. The homes of movies stars strewn across the oscillating horizon. Screen stars. He drove violently. Under his breath, “Hold it, you’re not human tonight.”

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