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Today's Story by Daniel Heath

I ride above them. A truck is not a car. A trucker is not a tourist.

Road Conditions

Amateurs. Hobbyists. There are so many of them, always underfoot. The only rule they follow is that they follow no rules, that they might dart into another lane at any moment, veer, brake, cut in front, cut behind, crash, honk, eat, fuck, or suddenly and for no reason anyone could see stop suddenly in the middle of the road.

I ride above them. A truck is not a car. A trucker is not a tourist. I am aware of them, but it has been a long time since I saw them individually–they are road conditions, like ice or rain or frogs crossing between two ponds.

Some of them think they are racing me–little men so serious, hunched over their wheels, little cars all engine, as if metal and gas had no purpose but to do the job of hurling them around. They race ahead of me as if the road were theirs, but the greedy jerk of their tires betrays them. They are not of the road, they are on it. The river does not race, the river flows. The carp may rush back and forth across the river a hundred times each day, but when it dies the river carries it to the ocean like everything else.

I have crossed this country a thousand times. I have chipped ice from my locks in a blizzard and driven naked in the heat of an empty desert highway. I stop to rest, to eat–bodies are machines, machines are bodies. I fulfill my purpose as a the mountain-top fulfills its function, and when I slide from my peak and tumble into the river and I, too, am swept to the ocean, it will be with no more regret than the stones themselves.


Daniel Heath is a San Francisco playwright.


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