For those of you not acquainted with the speed-demon joys of driving long distance, cows follow bells. Bells are the risk-takers, the guys at the front of the herd setting the speed. Bells spring the speed-traps. They're easily ripped off by the simple wave of a police officer or the exit sign to a gas station. Cows can function without a bell, but the herd gets unruly, some trapped behind semis, others frightened into inexplicable braking.
There is a certain mindless comfort in the herd,
until a bumblebee cow thinks it is a powerful bull.
I drive a small car. Not being able to see around 2/3 of the traffic on the road is common. Not being able to see beyond the bright yellow pick-up truck in my rearview didn't mean much. If there was a cop somewhere behind the black racing stripes, fanged hood scoop and inky tinted windows, I'd never know. I was the bell. He was the cow. I had a herd to lead through the
The half lane widened into two full lanes. Bumblebee swerved to the right. Maybe he wanted to be the bell. I'm a switch. I was okay with sacrificing the lead as long as he kept the speed. He fell back to my blindspot, then sped up to my fore. Back. Forward. Back. Forward.
I looked over at the idjit as the neon barrels and flashing lights warned of the right lane closure 1/4 mile ahead.
"Hey, baby. You're hot."
It was ninety-nine degrees. Damn skippy, I was a dripping glob of sweat. I was also downshifting for the mess ahead. Cow or bell, buddy, but he had to choose. I wasn't going to stand the herd on its nose just because a bumblebee in a wife-beater wanted to pay me a compliment. Don't me wrong, I'm of the age where compliments are very welcome, but timing is everything.
He dropped back and cut over, bullying his way back to #2 cow. The herd made it through the spray of road-scraping and the hellacious stink of fried rubber. The road widened to two lanes again. Again, the bumblebee played the rutting bull.
I glanced over and he held up his cell phone. His fingers flashed numbers. I shook my head and returned my attention to the road. 2 miles until the next collapse of lanes. 2 miles of rutting bull. I sped up. He kept pace. I slow down, he did too.
A semi-truck merged from the weigh station. The blaring horn spoke of its displeasure with bumblebee's games. Undaunted, the bumblebee buzzed closer to me as the monstrous flashing yellow arrow began to compress lanes. My turbo kicked in as visions of being the filling in a truck sandwich brought bile up my throat. Praise be, I edged him out as we entered the next stretch of forced single lane.
Was it the dog hair stuck to my lip gloss? The fifty clips in my wind-matted mane? The McDonald's Cherry Pie goo stuck to my cheek?
Perhaps it was the way I accelerated through a curve instead of braking.
A bold blue square heralding a rest stop popped up at the crest of the next hill. Bumblebee laid on his horn. Wild gesticulating appeared in my rearview. At that point, my beasts chose to stand and press their snarbbly noses against the trunk window. The honking ceased. Unfortunately, he failed to take his own suggestion and continued to break the rules of the herd until the highway divided. The bumblebee flew north, leading an ass-riding Mac truck towards Pittsburgh.
A glossy black cow darkened my rearview mirror. It kept its bell properly fitted for the next hundred miles.