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The engine sputters and then dies
My worst motorist fear is realized
The lame rental car is out of gas
Angry homeward bound joyriders
honk and swerve to avoid my mess

is this happening to me?

did I let it get this far?

the hell is a gas station? ?

ignored the faulty gas gauge?

are my options here and now?

I put on the emergency brake,
grab my jacket and water bottle,
and begin my long night hike
into a stretch of wilderness

The sun is soon setting on my
cheerful bravado and my chances
The noisy traffic dissipates and
then quickly dies out altogether

A full moon summons my attention
The stars pierce the night sky
The cold wind pierces my body
An empty highway lays before me

Such a desolate place, this earth
when the humans have vanished
Such a fool am I to trespass on
ground where I cannot survive

An occasional semi's headlights
wrestle me from my thoughts and
I make sure I am on the right
side of the faded white line

Two glowing yellow eyes spy me
and the growl clenches my heart
My only defense are my car keys
For I cannot outrun its four legs

I sing out at the top of my lungs:
"I'm not on the menu tonight
I'm not much to look at anyway
I'm on a mission, Mr. Bobcat
So you might as well just stay"

I trip over a pothole and fall
I am expecting the feline spectre
But there is only me and my panic
Alone with the night, I walk on

many hours have passed so far?

the hell is that gas station?

made these shoes so damn tight?

if the battery is slowly dying?

My feet begin to blister
My mouth is open and dry
My lungs are on fire
My bladder is overfilled

The gas station comes into view
Glorious blue neon ignites my
weary heart and I gain a second
wind and crack a smile for myself

In the dank station bathroom stall,
I wring out my pus filled socks
dunk my throbbing head in the sink
and relieve my tortured bladder

With the last of my petty cash
I buy the largest gas container
as well as two energy drinks
and a bag of generic trail mix

With the last of my stubbornness
I fill up the huge gas container
guzzle both energy drinks eagerly
and devour the trail mix, post haste

Regretting it
I leave the blue halo of civilization

Every fiber of my being tells me
to wait for a morning tow truck
to wait for the warmth of the sun
to wait for Nature to settle down

But I cannot wait any longer
The station will close soon
It is far too cold to brave
the wilderness unshielded tonight

Lugging the gallons in the dark
I am left to my own devices
I cannot rationalize my state
so I project onto the long dead

I rail out against the thick mist
I rage at trees for their swaying
I call out for the hungry bobcat
I pine for an impossible hot meal

many hours back to the car?

is that second wind at now?

drives up the coast after dark?

if there is a fuel line leak?

In my delirium, all becomes clear
I understand my own limitations
I understand man's vulnerability
I understand Marion Davies isolation
I understand time, space, elements
I understand
that I know nothing

The car suddenly appears before me
I dump the gas into the tank
I turn the ignition and smile
The car was merely thirsty tonight

Minutes later I am refilling again
Minutes before the station closes
Minutes before my luck ran out
Minutes before I am headed home

HOW did I survive this ordeal?
WHERE did I think I was going?
WHO would fix a car this late?
WHAT did I think I had to prove?

Sheer stubbornness got me through
Maybe coupled with embarrassment
No more nighttime highway hikes
As of this awkward moment forward,
you have a lifetime customer, AAA