Chapter 7: Tommy remembers
Late for my flight.
Holding the wheel of the rental way too tight.
It’s hot. The AC barely able to keep up. Damn car’s been sitting in the midday sun; the seat is still hot. My shirt’s stuck to my back with sweat.
Leaning forward, to separate my shirt from the hot vinyl. Or is it leather, I wonder idly.
Trying to get some AC onto my dripping back.
Over the limit by at least 20.
The meeting had been a disaster. It seemed as though everything that could go wrong had gone wrong.
“Shit.” I pound the wheel in disgust at myself.
The only good part is that I’m heading home a day early.
Maybe if I’d spent a bit more time studying the client, things would have gone better. But, no, thinking clearer now: not knowing the most basic stuff about them had killed me. I know better.
A glance at the speedo: “Shit, I’m hitting a hundred. Didn’t think that was possible in this generic rental.”
I back off a bit as I pass a semi and notice he’s on his radio; I wonder if he’s calling me in. “Shit.”
I’m still way over the limit. Gripped in my path toward self-destruction. Passing cars like they’re standing still.
I glance at my phone with a bit of wishful thinking. “Maybe I wasn’t as bad as I think. Maybe they’ll call.” Then I look up: there’s a sport-ute in my lane, going seemingly half my speed.
I hit the brakes hard. The back end of my rental starts dancing left, then right. Cars in the right lane; can’t go there. Tires screaming. Wrestling the wheel. My heart pounding. I’m going to hit him.
The ute moves into a left turn lane. I miss him by inches.
I’m dripping sweat again as that semi passes me on the right and hits his horn.
Saluting me for avoiding death, or chastising me for being reckless?
I’ll never know.
Awake, soaked in my own sweat. Back from visiting my very real past. A past the dreams keep alive.
Living the episode again so intensely makes it hard to shake.
I’d made a presentation without any real thought about what the client needed. Without a plan of any real substance.
The memory was a wake-up call. An opportunity to revisit what’s really needed, before acting.
Sitting on the edge of the bunk now. Thinking it through.
God, I’d been stupid. I was long past my invincible youth at the time. Long past childish street races, and trying to prove something that didn’t matter but seemed to matter more than anything at the time.
Lesson? Maybe when I’m down, I revert to the child? I’d lost my power by not living up to my own standards, let alone the client’s. So I tried regaining my strength. How? By taking risks with something that seemed to be controllable – a car?
Then the shame hits. I feel it wash over me, all over again, from that old wound.
I slip my feet over the edge of the bunk. Reaching for my shirt, I wonder how to apply the lesson from the dream.
I can hear Brie and Arial above. Feel Miss Ann rock gently. And I remember the here and now. Ah, we’re at anchor in Gig Harbor. Time for coffee.
Maybe my near-death highway experience was a warning to curb my need to act without thought.