Recently, a state snow plow driver went rogue. He's been spreading caltrops across highways and plowing parking lots into labyrinths. As an experienced snow plow driver, I've been sent to find and disable him.
I drive my truck down a deserted urban strip. It's night, and the falling snow makes the world look like a dying TV channel. Traffic lights swing from their snapped cables like pendulums I have to avoid. A car has crashed into a Big Boy restaurant statue, so that only the mascot's legs and severed head remain.
I reach for my pipe, fashioned from a snow shovel, and I light it with a road flare. Most plow drivers smoke crack to deal with the tedium of their work - today I spent eight hours plowing a giant snowball up a hill, only to have it roll back down again every time. By the end of my shifts I'm so jacked up that I spend all night shoveling my driveway, then shoveling the snow back into it and shoveling it again.
Tonight I'm out of crack, so I resort to smoking my crack-scented boogers.
I turn on my CB radio for any clue as to the driver's whereabouts. His last intelligible broadcast was a rant about how snowflakes are actually tiny invaders from outer space. His transmissions have since degraded into incoherent babbling, with screaming and car crash noises in the background.
It's not surprising that the driver went insane, given what snow plow drivers are put through. Winter is a cold, inhuman force, so plow drivers are trained to be cold and inhuman as well. On their first day on the job they're subjected to Chinese snowflake torture - basically the same as water torture except with snowflakes instead of water and Christmas carols playing in the background. On their second day they're forced to run over snowmen resembling their family members, only to learn that their family members were bound and gagged inside the snowmen.
I pass a burning gas station, the employees skinned and hanging from the sign by snow chains. The fire illuminates my cab, which is full of empty crack vials shaped like snow globes. My dealer is a snow-globe maker gradually transitioning into the crack business, with snow globes becoming less popular as this hellish winter enters its thirtieth month.
It occurs to me that my dealer might also sell to the rogue driver and that maybe he knows where he is, so I stop in a Wal-Mart parking lot to call him from a payphone. Millions of snowflakes are falling on the lot, including the snowflake-shaped icon at the end of the Wal-Mart logo, which breaks off the store and lands on a homeless man. The flakes remind me of asterisks, like the ones in my work contract saying I forfeit all rights to overtime, sick leave and being treated like a human being.
My dealer is no help. He's coked up and jabbering about how he tried to do a key bump but snorted too hard and now the key is stuck somewhere between his nose and brain. As I hang up the phone, I hear a high-pitched wailing in the distance. I wonder if it's the legendary banshee that plow drivers hear when they or a fellow driver are about to die. I thought I heard it the night another driver had a heart attack when some snowflakes fell on her windshield in the exact shape of her dead mother's face.
Then I realize the sound is a truck's back-up beeper.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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