“I-80 & 49th” by Mark Crimmins

September 15, 2015

She blew out of Frisco and piled across the Bay Bridge in her trusty rusty Nova and kept going to Sacramento and right up into the Sierras and over the Donner Pass—the poor bastards that perished there!—and on to Reno and Sparks and across the Great Basin to Winnemucca (now there was a woman!) and Wendover and into Utah and across the Salt Flats and into and out of Salt Lake and way the hell up Parley’s (now there was a man!) Canyon all the way to Evanston and past that huge bust of Lincoln near Laramie, which seemed to nod in solemn approval as she whizzed by, and clear over to Cheyenne and then Pine Bluffs and on into Nebraska and—the prairies weren’t wide enough to contain her!—all the way to Lincoln (there he was again!) and on to Council Bluffs and past, way past Des Moines (cuz what the hell was she gonna do in Des Moines?) and by the time she got to Iowa City with its golden dome, she reckoned that sonofabitch in Frisco was starting to get an uneasy feeling as he slouched on his Ocean Beach stoop with his bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but she didn’t stop in Iowa City, where everybody was seven feet tall, no sir, she went right on past Davenport and through to Joliet, and she didn’t turn left for Chitown, neither (nope)—she set sail for Gary, Indiana (and she resolutely kept driving along I-80 when I-90 came squiggling down for a piece of the action, and I-90 could do what the hell it liked cuz the highway was still I-80 to her and that was proved when the road got to Cleveland and I-90 just fucked off up where it belonged and I-80 became itself again: she for one had had enough of this bullshit about being on two completely different roads at the same time and trying to pretend they were the same one) and then she got into Pennsylvania (could they make the freeway go through a city in that state—was that too much to ask?) and—whatever—while she was barreling through the Poconos she figured Shitforbrainz in Frisco was probably getting a serious case of the abandonment jitters, and soon enough she was rolling into Jersey and then she was approaching the outskirts of Newark, and if anyone thought she thought she might think about stopping there they’d have to think about having another think coming cuz she had started on the Bay Bridge and she wasn’t stopping until she had crossed the George Washington Bridge and taken the Hudson Parkway down the West side of Manhattan, and when she had hopped off the West Side Highway at 56th Street and driven up to 9th Avenue and turned right and parked the car at 49th—Go Niners!—and gotten out of the car and stretched her cramped muscles and aching bones, she sat down on that Hell’s Kitchen curb and had a smoke to celebrate the fact that she had put I-80 to its highest possible use and gotten her ass all the way to New York and—hotdamn!—the first day of the rest of her life.

markcrimminsMark Crimmins’s fiction has been nominated for a 2014 Best of the Net Award, a 2015 Pushcart Prize, and a 2015 Silver Pen Authors Association Write Well Award. His short stories have been published in Confrontation, Cha, Split Rock Review, and others. His flash fictions have been published in Happy, theNewerYork, White Rabbit, and others.

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