Freddy has a disease in his brain. Chemicals prevent him from being in the present moment. Sometimes he is able to think in the future. Future thoughts can bring the comfort of hope, but often they contain the root of fear, an iteration of doom. Most of his thoughts involve tracks of his personal history messing with him in various ways. Whatever it is that is required of humans in the present moment is done in an unconscious part of Freddy’s brain.
This morning he is driving in to work. All of the things that he is required to do with his car, to obey all of the laws making for smooth car traffic, he does these things without any consciousness. Driving is a good example because sometimes driving requires a quick response. When something unexpected happens quickly, like a sudden stop, Freddy has a flash of present and he slams on his brakes, but there is no staying there.
Today, when sudden braking is required, he immediately focuses on that time when he was driving a brand new Grand Am, a rental car. He had worked over 70 hours in the previous four days and he had to make a 10-hour drive out to meet with the Board of Directors of his company to deliver his quarterly report, which had improved over the last meeting, but he became enthralled with his new rental car and right when he decided to floor the gas pedal in order to get some chills over the responsiveness of the engine, traffic suddenly stopped. You’d think he could still shift his foot to the brake in time, but he was busy staring at the radio figuring out how to preset his favorite stations for the initial part of the long drive ahead. He totaled the Grand Am and he blistered his self-esteem. The Board of Directors were not pleased, being self-insured. Instead of a loss of $10 thousand that quarter, Freddy’s branch lost $37 thousand, and he could not sit in front of the Board to explain himself, which seemed like a good thing at the time, but it left the Board simply imagining what an idiot Freddy is. A normal person sets the stations before putting the rental car in Drive and probably does not floor the gas in heavy afternoon traffic. Imagine, the Board didn’t even know about the looking-down-at-the-radio trick, but they had all met Freddy and their imaginations created even worse scenarios. As he reflects about this today, Freddy has a strong inclination to bang his forehead over and over on the steering wheel, over and over until he dies, but then he worries about the future likelihood of an accident so he restrains himself. He leans back a little. The tug of guilt is powerful with Freddy. He totaled that Grand Am over 20 years ago and he still feels like it was today, but Freddy doesn’t know what today is.
Freddy sees an ancient, piss-yellow station wagon in the middle lane, leaning to and fro precariously, which reminds him of his first vehicle, a Ford wagon that could haul an entire mansion of shit. In those days, it served the purpose of hauling all of Freddy’s beer cans, (and with whatever room was left, painting tools and supplies) and that was a load, but today, Freddy thinks of a long-ago girlfriend, his first serious girlfriend and about how much time they spent in the back of that thing parked at various scenic overlooks.
He longs for those days just a touch, and then the political bumper sticker inflames his memories of more current people in his culture who have driven around town, with massive egos, declaring how much smarter they are than you and what an idiot you are. Because of Freddy’s history and due to being a reformed political dog, any political bumper stickers from any side of the debate tends to turn his stomach. Whenever he sees political bumper stickers these days, he tries to get a look at the driver so that he can cook up that person’s sick personal history, and Freddy always pops Tums in his mouth when he thinks about the history of political dogs. Freddy feels guilty about putting shit in his mouth to make himself feel better. He puts a lot of different things inside to make himself feel better and most do not work as advertised. They work better than beer worked. Often, he remembers the commercials where the announcer says, “Ask your doctor…” and there is a beautiful person running in a field of flowers who is living a perfect life (one might perceive intuitively) as a result of asking his doctor. Freddy thinks It would be nice if the doctor could fix him, too.
(I don’t know if this is Part 1 or the end of the road.)