Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Thing

"The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth."
-Albert Camus

My brother saw something odd last week. He was driving home to his apartment after a brief visit with our mother. With a quarter of the journey completed he called from his cell phone and made Mater an offer.
"There's something I just passed on the road. You have to come and see it."
It was a period immediately following a wild storm and Mater had no inclination to roll her car through the mud puddles.
"I promise you'll be interested," he pleaded.
My mother was adamant that she was on her way to bed and there only.
"If you don't like it, I'll get you a box of chocolates."
My mother cares for chocolate but cares more for my brother and finally, when she heard the desperation in his voice and sensed his need to share what he had seen, she changed her mind.
She grabbed her jacket, and my cousin who was beside her, and they set off in the car to see whatever curious thing my brother had seen.
Of course my brother had kept driving after that call and he could not remain on the road; he had to get to his own home. So my mother and cousin did not see him. They guessed, however, what he had been exulting about as soon as they rounded the bend.
There was a slight traffic jam- a rare enough incident on such a road- and they had to slow down and wait.
It appeared at first to be an accident on the road but they soon saw that somebody was merely changing a flat tyre and holding up the the traffic as they did so.
I must add, at this point, that I am referring to a remote, green, winding and generally quiet stretch of road in Ireland. I must clarify that, for the next scene was quite out of this world.
There was a very peculiar armoured vehicle pulled into the side of the road. It had a jutting turret, rather like a periscope, although Mater claimed that it was not an army tank, certainly not like one that she had ever seen.
There was a fellow in the turret and he was directing traffic. The tank had no lights at all. He was waving wildly, attempting to guide the passing cars through the congested area. According to Mater, the man in the tank was extremely small and his form was swamped by the enormous engine.
All was dark. His task seemed futile yet there he was, unconnected so far as anyone could tell to the people with the flat tyre, gesticulating orders in the gloom, a dim figure in the night.
Apparently my brother told Mater that when he himself passed the monstrosity he rubbed his eyes.
He thought that because it was late and because he was tired, he must have been hallucinating.
Perhaps he recalled the transparent squirrel I had once seen, and he doubted himself. He kept rubbing, certain the absurdity would vanish.
He thought of television shows he had seen when growing up, such as 'The A-Team' and he wondered what on earth the thing was, and how such a fellow came to be standing in the turret and acting as a traffic warden in an otherwise ordinary part of the countryside.
Mater did not ask for those chocolates from my brother. It had been worth the trip.


Pappy said...

It must be nice to live on a road where a traffic jam is cause for an evening ride, and where an armored vehicle is uncommon. I'm glad Mater enjoyed the diversion. Did she ever find out why it was on the road, and what if anything it had to do with the car with the flat tire?

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

No, she didn't find out anything! It remains a mystery.
The road by our house and beyond has got much faster than it was when I was growing up but traffic jams are rare and it's still a country road.
I wish she'd taken a picture.

paulmerrill said...

I love your log!

And I love your commitment to a simpler life.

julochka said...

excellent build up of suspense!! :-) i too wish there was a picture.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Paul, I'm glad you stopped by again. We are trying to have that simpler life. It would be easier if we didn't love books but, then again, so much emptier :) We got rid of one huge piece of furniture yesterday and it's made all the difference.

Julie, ah yes, I was trying to keep everyone guessing but with lack of pictures we will have to keep guessing :) It was one of those out-of-the-ordinary things that happen sometimes.

Jaime said...

You had me glued to the computer screen with this one...resisting the urge to scroll down quickly and see what it was!
Ireland is sounding more and more interesting to me.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, Ireland is beautiful like a lot of places are. You should go! The people are friendly and would love to have you take photos of their gardens and put beautiful words to the pictures!
I'm glad my tale had that element of unknown about it :)

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