by James Ray “Walter Mitty” Deaton 2/15/15
I awakened and arose one day last week with an impending sense of foreboding and even possible doom. My preternatural leopard-like senses told me this would not be a regular day at the office. After attending to my morning routine (shaving, showering, a quick breakfast and a detour over the neighbor’s fence to save their puppy from a small but smokey fire in their storage shed), I started my commute to work with growing concern.
On the freeway my standard issue civilian SUV followed directional input without event. The 31-inch all terrain radial 6-ply mud and snow tires gripped the asphalt with aplomb. My receive-only audio unit device sounded clear and sharp with minimal distortion. Decibels were set moderate to low. An in-situ GPS unit kept me on correct map coordinates.
Suddenly without warning (but not entirely without precedent) a huge “California Thumper” freeway pothole appeared out of the morning mists, not more than 100 feet away and dead ahead at 12 o’clock. My old Coast Guard Reserves military training took over (two years in supply services that I don’t like to talk about because of the hit I took to my knee in a San Diego supply closet in 1979).
The road frame, sheet metal and fully-boxed ladder frame of my 3700-lb. SUV took a vicious hit from the forward right suspension unit. With razor sharp reflexes I took evasive action to try to mitigate personal and public damage. I used the time honored “corkscrew” maneuver well known to secret agents, copter jocks and politicians worldwide. As my forward drive was maintained via thrust from the rear axel and tires at a steady 3200 RPMs, I could sense the 4:11 ring gears providing needed torque even better than would a 3:73 or lower ratio. My limited slip rear differential locked up into de-facto locked-axle positraction mode, which quite possibly, saved my life.
My hands began to sweat and — although I’m not proud of it — sphincters tightened. I could feel blood coursing through my (slightly blocked according to my last ultrasound) carotid arteries as my adrenals pumped out adrenalin and various corticosteroids into my sympathetic nervous system. But since I was able to rapidly get back on track (and maintain commute speed throughout the entire event!), I felt an immediate sense of accomplishment knowing I was ready to do whatever needed to be done to stay on the right side of history — just as I had done at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany the night the wall came down.
But my commute was not over. Just as I was beginning to relax and let down my guard, I happened to see my old “butt buddy” Billy John “BJ” Dinkledorff (God how I miss him) in the driving lane to my immediate right. I gave “BJ” our old college years semisecret “hail fellow well met” two-handed butterfly wave which was apparently mistaken for some kind of gang sign by the fellow driving in the lane directly to my left.
As “BJ” (you never could trust him) speeded away from the scene, the gang-banger flashed what I assumed to be a fully loaded, enhanced clip, “street sweeper” semi-automatic 9 mm autoload pistol. But it also could have been just your standard issue .38 caliber snub nose police officer backup five-shot revolver set up with 125 grain magnum hollow points. I couldn’t be sure. All I can say for certain is that it flipped open much too quickly to be a civilian model weapon and was apparently made by some cell phone company out of Korea.
Once again my (supply department) military training took over instinctively and I was able to switch lanes, double around, corkscrew down and accelerate off the freeway onto a nearby exit. From there I negotiated surface streets, generally traveling north to northwest at about 30 mph (about 26 knots). From there it was a quick jaunt to the office parking lot and mission accomplished.
Next week I’ll tell you about my lunch hour.
James Ray Deaton lives, plays and writes, semi-dangerously, in Berkeley, Calif.
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