There is some precedent for what is happening right now. I mean, what better way to christen this new marriage? Our courtship consisted of quixotic drives during snowstorms in order to ski in the relative darkness during whiteout conditions at Greek Peak. And there is the time we went camping in a forest outside of Ithaca, New York in early October. The forecast was for heavy rain and we went anyway because it was our time and we were in love. The rain finally cut us a break after two days and one night. I built a fire under the stars and we huddled in a sleeping bag on the tarp-covered ground. Our succumbing to Cupid’s prickly embrace came to an abrupt halt at the sight of the magnificent Indian squatting across the fire. I don’t know which of us saw him first. He just appeared and we just froze.
“I’m Flying Horse,” he said and extended his hand. I pulled my hand from out of the sleeping bag to shake his. With a bit more effort and modesty, Alison did likewise. We had no choice given that we’re basically two heads trapped in a giant cannoli. Flying Horse didn’t seem to mind or notice. He told us he had seen our fire through the trees and decided to visit. “You look like a nice couple.” “Thank you,” we answered in unison. I deemed him to be a good judge given his unique vantage point. From inside the confines of our sleeping bag, we discussed with Flying Horse the rain, the forest and the way the temperature drops at night this time of year. He mentioned the teepee he put up in an open field and invited us to visit. “Well, I’m going now,” Flying Horse annouced after a pregnant pause. The next day I crept up to the teepee but there is no Indian. “Maybe it was an omen,” said Alison.
So here we are now. Four years later. Dawn. On the final sleep deprived fumes of our honeymoon, cruising the infamous Autobahn after a wonderful visit to Ludwigshafen am Rhein, the sister city of Pasadena, California. Newly christened Mrs. Alison Talbot rides shotgun. If I could glance over I’d see her beautiful dark eyes big as fajita platters. A plane in Frankfurt will whisk us away from this fantasy and back to Los Angeles. Only problem: the flight takes off in two hours and we’re still two hundred miles away from the airport. Did I mention that these business class tickets are non refundable? Our host, Ralf, owner of this magnificent steel blue 5 series BMW, is passed out in the backseat, bested by weiss bier and spätzle.
Speedometer quivers past 200 kilometers. 124 miles an hour. I push on. Speedometer inches forward. Other cars doing a buck, a buck-five look like statues. This road is perfect. Every pebble I feel. Hair on my arms stands up like tiny antennas. My bride whispers, “How fast is 210 kilometers?” I swallow hard, calculate. “132.”
Dead ahead in the median I come up on this cop so fast I can’t react. “Eins, twei, drei, Polizei!” He’s got the special issue Beemer. I have no clue if there’s a speed limit on the Autobahn. I assumed there wasn’t. When they catch me I’ll ask for directions to Vermont. The question remains, “What will the German police do to an American going 132 miles per hour at dawn?”
He flashes his high beams at me. I infer that means “Boys vil be boys ven you haf ein superior auto, but take her easy ein bit, ja?” Turns out to be an important safety tip. I ease off the accelerator. 110 feels like stopping to smell the blumen. You can’t believe I’m a rock star. I’m running on the top of a cop car. I’m a rebel and a 4-4 pop star. I hear these lyrics in my head. Hey, it’s my honeymoon.
Then it happens.
Two birds—starlings, I think—locked in a spiraling embrace strike the windshield with such force that both are instantly vaporized. Boom! They leave behind two fist-sized splatters of blood. I fight the impulse to jerk the wheel. “OhmyGod!Wasthatabird???” Alison blurts out from behind the hands shielding her face. “Two,” I answer, my heart pounds outside my chest. “They were screwing or fighting.” Thank God I slowed down or we’d be asphalt pizza.
My ankle has locked up. I can’t really feel one side of my body. Frankfurt Airport is a welcome site, indeed. We kiss in front of the terminal. Mrs. Talbot whispers in my ear, “That was fun. Let’s never, ever do it again.” She bites my lobe. Hard. Ralf wakes while we’re unloading. His breath smells a bit like dead frogs in a trashcan. He stares blearily from the wiper-smeared-blood all over the windshield to me, then back to the blood. I forget the German word for “birds” so settle for “Große Überraschung!” or “Big surprise!” We say a hasty goodbye, leaving Ralf standing on the sidewalk, the centrifugal force of life that brought us together now reconfiguring. With automatic check-in we’ll just make it—maybe even time for coffee. Or maybe Mrs. Talbot has an airport fantasy…
© Copyright 2013 Michael Lent. All rights reserved.
Michael Lent is a transmedia writer/producer. His credits include more than a dozen graphic novels including Prey published by Marvel Comics, eight books including On Thin Ice, based on the reality series “Ice Road Truckers,” and Christmas Letters from Hell, the #1 holiday humor book for 2007. He was a producer on the movies CONNECTED, WITCHES’ NIGHT, NAKED IN AMERICA and HARD SCRAMBLED, as well as writer on THE HELLSEEKER. Lent recently adapted Stephen King’s “The Reaper’s Image” for radio theater.