I was somewhere outside the city when I noticed the gigantic nitrogen gas tanker five feet from my face flying 70 miles per hour south down the New Jersey Turnpike.
Looking out the window of a stream-lined red, white and blue bus, I realized that this corrosive, highly explosive material was traveling with extreme velocity and only just an arm’s reach away.
The traffic was a thick combination of Friday afternoon rush hour and holiday weekend congestion. This meant that any relaxed lane shifting or passing was impossible as each driver was restricted to a still flow that forced every driver into a strict vehicular impasse, moving but not really moving.
Each automobile was stuck in 6 compact lanes and—together—the road appeared like a massive metal snake slithering its way south—spitting out sooty exhaust, each car a shiny tin cell in a greater organism melting the icebergs with every lumbering inch.
I felt vulnerable knowing that the slightest mistake from any motorist in front the bus would most definitely signify the vaporization of all its passengers, leaving me as nothing more than a pile of smoldered dust.
No one else seemed to notice this calamity bearing down on them or—-at least—-they didn’t seem to care.
Crippled with the impression of potential doom only a meter from my eyes, I wanted to get up and alert my driver: “Look alive pal or we’re all goners.”
One tired swerve, one pumped brake, or one stray cigarette ash would be catastrophic.
By now I could see it: An ambitious driver attempts to change lanes by quickly shooting the nose of his SUV in front of minivan full of kindergarteners, forcing the soccer mom to irrationally stomp on her brakes. Then, each motorist behind her will slam and jam their steering wheels and pedals in all directions and a 100 car pile-up would ensue: cars ramping over the wreckage of others and crashing headfirst into the flaming mounds of red hot metal, de-horsed motorcyclists soaring bear-skinned into the inferno with nothing but their helmets to protect them. Charcoaling carnage everywhere.
When the mass accident finally dominoes its way down the highway, the gas tanker driver will attempt to avert this unavoidable catastrophe by double-clutching down a few gears to yank-up the emergency brake. This will give the blind driver behind him no option but to plow right into rolling bomb ahead, incinerating us all.
I could already hear the numbing pop of the explosion that would drown-out the passengers’ yelps. The heat that would force each little skin cytoplasm to blister-up and instantly expire as I watch with shishkebabed eyes.
“Snap out of it,” I told myself. “This will be one hell of a long ride if you don’t control that imagination of yours.”
Do we use our imagination to escape our frightening realities? Or use it to increase, enhance, and amplify what is already feared?
I put my sunglasses on just to be safe.