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     “Beat the Clock”
 
She had already
clipped the mailbox
backing out of
her driveway
trying to miss
the trash cans
still standing there
from Monday’s
trash pick-up
as she was
on her way
to work
at 9:43am Thursday
morning
she was running
late
contemplating
how she was
going to make
the twenty-five
minute
drive
in under fifteen
to make her
10:00am shift,
she noticed
the day had
this smell to
it
a sort of
mix of summer
and possibilities
like something
exciting
might happen
in her life
in the next
thirteen minutes,
she switches to
C/D disk
number three
on her car
stereo 
the first song
starts off easy
and soft
as she
pulls up
to the light
her body moving
as she drops
into the song
when it starts
breaking out
hard
“You Can’t
Bring Me Down”
has totally
taken over
all available
soundless space
this is her
favorite
before and after
work song
her way of
reminding herself
not to let
the job
get the better
of her
or anyone else
for that matter,
the sun’s at
her back
stretching the
shadow
of her car
far into the
intersection
she dangles her
left arm
out of her
driver’s side
window
just wanting to
feel the warm
morning sun
on her skin,
between the
hard and fast
music
and the soft
and gentle
caress of the
sun
she’s feeling
pretty damn good
for being late
and having
to be heading
for work,
she pulls in
her arm
as the light
changes
and she
guns it
to cut in
front
of a couple
of slow moving
cars
that pulled out
in front of
her
she keeps her
pedal down
needing to make
the next light
catching it
would crash any
attempts
at making a
sub-fifteen
minute
traffic run
to work,
the tail end
of her car
clips the red
as she goes
under
while her song
pokes its head
into any open
window
she drives by
turning a few
heads
her way
and then keeping
their attention
with two green
mischievous eyes
peering out
from under her
short red hair,
a guy in a black
pick-up truck
just can’t let
those playfully
teasing eyes
drive by
he pulls
along side
her
giving her smiles
at 53MPH
playing his own
music loud
using a
heavy metal
song
trying to break
through
her wall of
sound
with a guitar
solo
she knows he’s
there
but is
looking for
open lanes
and is ignoring
him
she finally turns
and gives him
a nod
as a car
pulls out in
front of him
causing him to
slam on the
brakes and
miss the light
as she continues
on through,
he spends the
rest of the
day
texting his friends
about the beautiful
girl with green
eyes
whose number
he would have
got
had he not
been cut off
at the light,
though
had he caught
her
he would have
found
all that was
just wishful
thinking
on his part,
she skips back
to the start
of the song
as she hits a
open
five mile run
of road
no lights to
slow her down
she lets her
thoughts
drift out of
traffic
and into some
freshly made
memories
from the night
before
she should have
followed her
urges
had that last
shot
and unlocked
her bedroom
door
the morning
might have been
awkward
but she’s willing
to bet
the night
would have lasted
well past dawn
she toys with
the alternative
ending
rolling it around
in her mind
as the street
signs
flash by,
she’s pulled back
most of her
lost time
a few more
lights
and she just
might own
the record
for best time
on this castle
run
of hers,
she hits repeat
one more time
she gets
five beats of
silence
before
“You Can’t Bring
Me Down”
starts
overlapping the
emptiness
in her car
she coasted up
to a red light
the second
of her last
three signals,
her song
four minutes in
as two twenty
something
girls
pull up beside
her
the passenger
starts bobbing
her head
picking up on
the beat
coming from
the song
then she
reaches over
and turns off
their car stereo
so the driver
can hear it
more clearly
too
both girls now
taking in
all the thrashing
of the music
she notices
their rhythmic
movements
out of the
corner of her
eye
and turns towards
them
this stoplight
moment
turning special
as she watches
the two girls
getting into
her song
the passenger
sees her looking
and shouts
“What Song Is This?”
she hollers back
the name of
the song
and who’s
playing it
the driver
leans over her
friend
and excitedly says
“This Song is Bitching
Totally Bitching!”
“I Think So Too!”
she yells back
to the girls
as she hits
eject
on her stereo
grabs the C/D
and leans way
out her window
with the C/D
trying to
hand it off
to the girls
“No Way Dude,
For Us?”
says the passenger
as she takes
the C/D
“ROCK ON GIRLS!”
is all she

says
as the color
of the light
changes from
red
putting her
back on task
as she regains
her sub-sonic
speed
for that last
mile and a
half
flying under
her last light
before making
a left
into work
hitting her goal
time
and what might
be
an unbreakable
record,
she pauses
as she gets
out
of her car
turning her body
towards the sun
bathing in its
rays
as she leans
back
against her car
door
savoring
her last hit
of sunlight
before going in,
all the while
swearing
she can hear
“You Can’t Bring Me Down”
playing
and the voices
of two
off key
girls
singing
somewhere
in the distance…
 
     Tom Allen…03-02-2018…