He remembers, as he was a child, finding nothing but intense anguish and tears in thoughts of death and dying.
Stiff cold behind the wheel of his sixteen year old brown Pontiac, he stepped on the gas until just over the speed limit. A broken taillight, an expired car registration, no insurance, and seven or eight beers in his gut were all good reasons not to fancy a blue lit siren singing law enforcement tunes on his ass. He also would have to stop, roll down the window, maybe even step out, and wait, wait in too cold a night for his sun-basked, olive-skinned, North-African breed.
He had already turned the heating on and let the heavy stream of uncomfortably warm air inundate his face, and drown his lungs with familiar uncontrollable nausea. He had been driving for three minutes. His fingers were already warm, and his ears were red and pulsating with blood. But he was still shaking.
Maybe it wasn't the cold. Maybe it was fear. The almost blissful fear that comes with the last moments before acceptance.
It was a few weeks now that he'd been slowly slipping out of reality, into a state of detached, unsubdued consciousness. Objects around him stopped to independently exist. They were because he was, because he decided he was and they were, there yet suddenly confined to a parallel, bidimensional world, floating on the other side of a thin film of celophane. Objects were there because he was, yet neither he, nor the objects truly were. A mere statistically probable reality. A chemical reaction. A conjecture. A growing uncertainty. A fraction of a femtosecond of a dream.
From the window of his car, the world was indistinct. He saw lights and objects in motion, either disappearing, or getting ready to disappear. On his right, lagging twenty yards behind but pushing forth as if trying to force open all the gates of heaven and hell, an eighteen wheeler sang him a short lullaby. Come, it whispered. Sleep in my arms. I will take you where you have never been.
Even as a grown man, he found nothing but intense, throbbing anguish from thoughts of death and dying. Until that moment. Death crept into the passenger seat and touched his shoulder. It wore a kind and caring face, with little make-up and a genuine, slightly melancholic smile. Naught can die if it never existed, he thought. Naught that was never created can ever be destroyed.
As the truck loomed closer in his side mirror, he stopped shaking, and an overpowering sense of wholeness took over his senses and his mind. He was one with himself, one with his car, the road, the truck, the lights, the houses, one with the skies, one with the universe, he who was one with nothing but the thin cover sheets that kept him warm on some of the dark, endless nights he spent alone shaking and whispering happy children's stories to not be afraid.
He was done now. He looked back and saw the large vehicle flirting with the back end of his car. He felt a strange kind of lust coating his senses.
The truck passed half his car. The spinning yearning rubber black discs were staring at him. The luscious black lips were reaching out to kiss his fingers. He remembered his young sister playing with cans and boxes in the backyard. He remembered his mother cleaning his petrified hair after a long and perilous odyssey in the mud pond. He remembered his father's knife, the sand colored chickens, the old man with three fingers and a skull dent so wide it could gather water when it rained. He remembered the girl he loved more than the world, and loved even more for the sloppily repaired cleft lip she was always trying to hide. He remembered everything, but you could have asked him his name and he wouldn't have been able to answer.
In the warm thick fog of his Pontiac, he looked to the left and saw that the truck was waiting. He closed his eyes and veered towards it. He veered more sharply and stepped on the gas, and started cussing unintelligibly, like someone had just punched him in the loins. He swerved and stepped and yelled and convulsed violently, but the car kept going steadily straight, as if on autopilot, until the truck passed him briskly and disappeared. He knew he wasn't dreaming, but he also knew he wasn't dead.
He stopped at the curb, numb, wasted. He put the flashers on, opened the door and carried his feet outside the car, his head between his knees, and sat waiting for late riding policemen to spot him like a red brown stain on a white shirt and take him in.