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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carbondale’s Gauntlet of Death

this guy, but with bushy white hair

It was Halloween Eve, just fully dark in time for my drive back to Missouri. After a day at a funeral where I got a dusting of my uncle’s ashes on my shoes, I had multiple warnings from my dad that it was too late to leave, that I should drive back the next day, then lots of “drive safe” grumbling as he realized I was leaving against his advice. My mom ran out and gave me three caffeine pills (I think). I had a tray of funeral reception cookies and I was ready to make tracks.

To escape Carbondale, I would have to face various envoys of oblivion. My phone battery “going dead” did not strike me as ominous, but it did leave me to trial-and-error my way out of town. It took a few turns and a backtrack to figure out which direction I was going, and a few looks at a map made me decide which highway to take: 57 south. To get there, I circled a downtown block full of one-way streets, which took me past a haunted house. The street was empty but for me and a Grim Reaper figure with long white hair and a huge scythe. As I drove slowly past, he swept his weapon and beckoned eerily with his other bony hand. His skull face tracked me all the way until I turned the corner. The emptiness of the streets at only 8:45 made him creepy.

Getting to the edge of town went smoothly, but as countryside darkness took hold, a deer appeared at the roadside with luminescent hypno-eyes, tracking me much like the Reaper. It jerked slightly as if it might leap right into my speeding, egg-fragile compact car. “No, deer—stay away!”

A few miles later, a rabbit darted right for my wheels but missed. “God, rabbit, damn!” That was the last of Carbondale’s mortal taunts. I ate cookies, drank Powerade, and popped two of my mom’s speed capsules. Got home at 1:40 am. Those pills or all those subtle death threats did something to clear my sinuses; my nose remains clearer to this day.

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