Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Were it not for the kudzu, Phillip might have believed it was just rotten luck.

On the day he was scheduled to leave Mosley, a tornado hit the power plant. Any business without a generator was out of business. This included his bank, his storage unit, and of course half the gas stations in town.

Oddly enough, this wasn't the first time such a thing had happened in Mosley. Tornadoes rolled through almost every May, right after the high school graduation ceremonies. Heck, it had happened right after his graduation ten years ago, and delayed him for so long he'd missed his chance at going to college in New York.

And every September, copious amounts of snow fell, generally at the airport. Mosley held the Louisiana record for annual snowfall by a good 14 inches. And was regularly setting new ones.

Determined to stay on schedule, Phillip sacrificed the possessions locked away at the self-storage unit, called in every debt ever owed him to collect cash, and filled up at a ghetto station notorious for diluting its gasoline with canola oil.

While backing out of his driveway, he ran over the debris of his neighbor's picket fence and destroyed the back passenger side tire. An hour later, after unloading his trunk, pulling the spare out from under everything, changing tires and reloading, he found a detour out of town that was relatively tornado-aftermath free.

He wasn't even surprised when he found himself behind a long line of cars on the northbound Interstate. An 18-wheeler had jackknifed and turned over, and authorities found it nearly impossible to move. Bulldozers were being diverted from tornado damage to deal with the accident. The driver of the rig swore he had swerved to avoid a naked child running through the street and, in his confusion, somehow flipped all those tons of steel. No one else would admit to having seen the mysterious toddler.

It took three hours to clear the road enough to let one lane of traffic through, on the shoulder. This resulted in several more flat tires and delays as people drove through the broken glass and metal.

All of this, no matter how unlikely, Phillip could have accepted. Oh, he was in the middle of a nervous breakdown, but eventually he would have accepted it as a string of mean coincidences. Until just inside the city limits, the road dissolved into a green mess. The road was blocked again. Pulling right up to it, Phillip made out the vines and leaves of kudzu. Kudzu was leaping from the trees and climbing out of the ditches. Kudzu was having a party in the middle of the Interstate, holding hands and singing and daring anyone to try crashing.

Well, this was not the day to test Phillip.

He was heading north one way or another.

He pushed the accelerator down to the floor. Singing Red Rover, Red Rover, send Phillip right over. The odometer hit 88 miles an hour as Phillip flew at the vines, into them, and no one in Mosley ever heard from him again.


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