He threw the screwdriver at the truck.


The air conditioner did not work, especially with his car practically idling, so the windows were rolled down. The smell of the chickens in the truck ahead of him came through even worse now. He wanted to go around, but he was stuck, like everyone else on I-30, crawling their way though past an accident on the bridge across Lake Ray Hubbard.

He wanted to look at the lake, to smell the lake, to be in the water he caught glimpses of when the cars to his side were positioned just right. But no, instead he was doomed to be behind this giant cage with tiny cages, watching birds sit flattened in front of him. The smell from the truck was faint most of the time, but grew strong every few minutes, a brownness of dirt, sweat, and feathers mixing with the diesel and heading straight to his nostrils.

Just when he thought he’d adjusted to the odor, a man on a motorcycle, small, pulled up beside him. The rider moved his head around like a camera on a swivel. For a moment he glanced, it seemed, right into Jimmy’s eyes, as if his looking around was the same as using a blinker, or the same as saying “Let me in. I’m on a motorcycle, so it’s okay if I squeeze through.”

“No you don’t, dickhead,” Jimmy said, pushing his car forward, trying to close the gap between himself and the chickens.

The cyclist inched forward another foot and moved slightly into Jimmy’s lane. If he had wanted to, the motorcyclist could have kicked Jimmy’s right fender. Just as Jimmy noticed a peeling sticker on the man’s helmet, the cyclist was in his lane between him and the chickens.

“Shit!” Jimmy said and honked.

The motorcycle rider looked back and grinned at him. Jimmy tried to mouth some sort of curse, but it was caught in his throat by the gall of the rider’s effrontery.

Jimmy stepped on the gas for just long enough to bump the rider’s back tire at the moment the latter was about to skip into the space between Jimmy’s lane and the lane to the left. The rider struggled to regain the balance of the bike and turned toward Jimmy. He could not hear the rider, but saw his mouth moving as he yelled, “What the fuck is the matter with you?”

Jimmy put the car in park and stepped out. He had a screwdriver in his hand, one that he kept in the storage area in the door in case of attack. His thought was to jab the rear tire of the motorcycle and if the rider took his helmet off, to punch the guy in the face.

The cycle sped off, quickly zigzagging between the cars and trucks in the two lanes, the exhaust covering the smell of chicken dung for a few seconds. Jimmy thought he heard the rider laughing. A man in a gleaming white pickup, behind Jimmy during this time, honked loudly now that he saw the other lanes might move away.

The chicken truck started to pull away as Jimmy walked back to his vehicle. Something like hard spit landed on him. He felt the back of his neck and saw a white residue on his hand.

With the other hand he threw the screwdriver at the truck, certain that he’d hit the offending bird. But the tool clanged against the cage and fell to the street.

As cars in the other lanes began to pull away, Jimmy heard the curses of the man in the pickup. He looked at the man and saw that the truck was twice the size of his little Honda and the man seemed menacing, the kind that is always angry and understands no one else’s anger. Jimmy stifled the urge to flip him off, and muttered, “Mother fucking redneck.”

Before reentering his car, he saw just over the median, the lake rippling under ignorant gulls.


Michael Morris is an english instructor at Eastfield Colege.  His work appears on Smashwords.


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