Dec 2011

The Jungle Car

It’s the end of the year and you just got your year-end bonus. It a new car. It’s a luxury sport sedan that goes 200 mph in utter comfort and has powered everything. It is named after a ferocious jungle animal followed by some angular consonants in capitals. You have the title, a new plate and full insurance. The liquor cabinet and the salad bar are fully stocked. It sits, locked and armed and with a big bow on it, out in your driveway. You are standing there holding the electric key fob in a brand new leather glove. All the legalities are in your brand new leather wallet. No one can challenge the truth that this is your jungle car.

You are frozen in a moment of reflection as you try to grasp the full truth of it all. Your car… your plate… your insurance that’s insuring you. That’s so reassuring. You push the little button and a hundred little motors whirr to life as the car prepares to receive you like a mother’s womb re-dilating. The sound helps the truth sink in and it wraps around you like a warm blanket. Not the car, the truth of it all. It is an upholsterological moment. Now you’re ready…

The engine is purring as it powers hundreds of little lights including custom roach lights under the seats. Suddenly, a minor fault in the wire harness has caused a quantuumly mystical accident and you and it have, in an instant, been transported 150,000 years into the past and into the middle of a rain forest.

You and the car are exactly as you were. Everything else has changed. The driveway is gone. The car is sitting on the forest floor and is clearly unable to move more than ten feet in either direction before being blocked. A large tree blocks the passenger door. You’re stunned of course and do a quick 360 of your surroundings. In a second quantuumly mystical moment, you turn and reach back to check for your wallet… whew… it’s there.

Then it hits you. All the truth in your wallet is expired. All the heavy and happy truth that you were pondering a minute ago is gone. How can truth go away? You still have your jungle car waiting for you. The seats are nice and toasty. You’re shivering as the old truth of the car has been torn away leaving you naked with no truth at all. It’s a bad feeling and it’s about to get worse. You are in a heightened state of panic and a new truth is knocking at your now heightened senses. It’s a krinkling sound and a funny chemical smell. The exhaust pipes are nice and toasty. There is a perception forming in your mind. It has four parts: toasty pipes, jungle brush, fire and gas tank. They suddenly form a single perception of discomfort and peril that instantly calls up every image of an exploding car you’ve ever seen in your whole life. 

Now, a new four part perception is forming that is so uncomfortable that it hurts to think it… imminent boom, run away, shut it off, too late to stop? As you stare at your jungle time-bomb, a gloved hand rises into your view holding a key fob. Yes! The Panic Button! This is panic! It will stop the car. You push the red button and all the doors lock and the lights go out. You push it again and the horn starts rhythmically blaring and the headlights are flashing. Fighting the urge to run and remembering the truth of your new keyfob, you push the other button and the horn stops and the doors unlock. The engine is still purring but now you can hear the not too distant growling sounds of several ferocious jungle animals.

Two new perceptions have now formed. The first is run followed by more running. The other one has four parts: get in the car, move it the whole ten feet and turn it off and hope that it isn’t too late. Another closer, louder growl prompts you to choose option #2. So, there you are, safe in your jungle car and waiting for what truth is coming next. Looking out into the dense and visually chaotic forest, you realize that it is getting dark and that is the truth. You sit there, with leather fingers tapping on the leather wheel, quietly waiting for more truth. But it never comes.

Soon, it is completely dark. You quietly turn the key to the on position. The interior lights up. Quickly, you turn off most of the lights until you have just enough to see the inside of the car. Then, you reach for the headlight stick, and turn them on. Ahead, you see tree trunks and leaves with dark spaces through which you can see pairs of glowing dots. They hover than dart away. You’re startled as moving shadows start sweeping across the trees. Hundreds of insects are filling the light cones. You can hear them banging against the front of the car. There’s a cloud of red bugs in the rear view mirrors and more glowy pairs of dots. Twisting the stick back to off, you sit still and motionless… a blank slate waiting to be filled. A soft, female voice in the dash breaks the dead silent interior and says, “Navigator is waiting for satellite update”.

Sitting in near pitch-darkness, every thought is uncomfortable and your mind will no longer think them. You realize your leg is fidgeting and you pull your wallet out from under you. You pop open the glove box and a blinding beacon of light pierces the moon roof and reflects back off the canopy. Thousands of bugs slam against the passenger window. You toss the wallet in and slam it shut. The forest truth vanishes and your heartbeat settles down. Turning your cheek into the plush leather chair, you fall into the best sleep you’ve had since in your mother’s arms.

End of Part One.


Part Two…

You’re starting to wake up but the sound of the windshield wiper washing the gently falling rain keeps lulling you back to sleep. There’s a growing hunger drawing you back to consciousness. That, and the unfamiliar crinkling of leather and the scent of spoiling salad. All this info is leaking into your brain and making you hungry for more. The rain has stopped and the rain-sensor has stopped the wiper. Your eyes open and begin to look for the truth. It’s not good. The salad bar chiller works only when the engine is running. The dash display says “Low Battery”. The electric seat warmer needs to be turned off.

After peeking at your wallet in the glove box, there’s a quiet beep from your cell phone. The display says “Wednesday, 150,000 BC. Out of Reception Area. Low Battery.” All this truth leaves you unsatisfied and uncomfortable. You want more. You want better.

After a breakfast of the best of the salad remains, you decide to get out the jungle car, stretch your legs, and seek the truth. But first, you’ll need a weapon in case the ferocious jungle animals appear. The snow brush seems unimpressive. The only solid club in the car is the fifth of bourbon in the liquor cabinet. And, it made the taste of the salad go away. Slowly, cautiously, you crawl out of the car. The giant red Christmas bow on the roof looks incredibly stupid. The rain has near flattened it and for a moment it looked like a big red spider. But that wasn’t the truth. Whew.

Pressing through the thick foliage, you reach a ridge at the edge of the forest. The view is awesomely spectacular. A vast wilderness, flanked by vast wildernesses, leads to a vast wilderness that stretches to the horizon. Suddenly, the whole idea of wilderness becomes silly. The only place on the whole planet that isn’t some kind of wilderness is the inside of your jungle car.

Come to think of it, why is it your car? It’s not going to get a parking ticket. It won’t get in an accident or get stolen. No one is going to run the plate. Ever. So, all that truth about the car was only true because a whole bunch of other things were true, which were themselves only true because other things were true. It was all sewn together like a patchwork blanket. Anything less than the whole blanket is nothing. When you stood there by your driveway, all you could think of was what the jungle car was capable of… 170 mph without tipping a highball. But that was only true because of what roads were capable of… and gasoline refineries… and all kinds of other things none of which are currently true.

Screw the truth. What are the facts of the jungle car today? If it wasn’t made into a car, it would still be here as ore and oily goos and such. Most of its interior would still be walking around on four legs. But instead, it’s a ferocious jungle car and just how do you harvest a new useful and complete truth from it? 

For starters, the gas can recharge the battery. You could jack up the car and put rocks under it or, even better, clear a deep trench in its original spot and move the car back over it. Then the engine can run, the heat vents will blow and the refrigerator will chill. Then, with the battery recharged, you can run the seat warmer at night and honk the horn to scare off the ferocious jungle animals. See, this isn’t so hard. A new truth can be made about the car that fits with all the truth that’s already here. The old truth is poison here. There will be no highballs at 170 mph. Best not to think about it. Can you freeze your wallet?

You decide to go foraging for things you can put in the refrigerator. Apples, coconuts, raddishes… things you remember from the produce aisle that were shown in their original jungle form. You can cook on the manifold. The car will become your jungle hut. Until… what? 150,000 years go by and you catch up with the truth? Maybe you could get in the little refrigerator and freeze yourself for the future. How long would even forty gallons of gas keep you?

Then it hits you. Your whole brain is poison. Your expertise in carom shots is poison and so are all those cable channel numbers. Your discerning beer palette and snappy dress sense are dead weight. Toilets… soduko… ballroom dancing… poisons all!

Your bourbon canteen is half gone and your head is swimming with new truths and new ways of looking at things. You will make this work, you tell yourself. You will make this truth comfortable. It will be your new home.

After two days of wandering lost, you are slowly making your way back to the jungle car with what you think might be raddishes. You’re sure it’s this way after you spotted that distant flash of chrome a ways back. There is a smell wafting in the air now, like rotten salad and gasoline. Now you’re positive it’s this way. Running toward the growing smell and pushing through the brush, you finally catch sight of your jungle car.

Your eyes reject the truth. They shut, and you shake your head from side to side. The eyes open again. It’s true. There is a very large and ferocious jungle animal sprawled across the hood of the car trying to gnaw off the hood ornament. The roof is slightly caved in. The stench of gas is overwhelming. Then you spot the truth. You parked over a pointy rock that pierced the gas tank when the beast jumped on the car. Everything goes quiet when the jungle animal spots you and stares. Oh shit. You get a tight grip on your bottle but there’s a funny little sound from somewhere. A crinkling, arcing sound is coming from the car. The interior is filled with rainwater from the broken moon-roof. And you left the roach lights on.

The entire forest shudders as the jungle car and its passenger are blown up into the tree branches turning end over end in a swirling fireball that finally crashes to the ground in twisted pieces of metal and flesh. Standing frozen amidst the smoke and embers, you blink several times but the same truth keeps appearing. You and your jungle bonfire alone in the woods. You’re home, and you’re hungry. There’s plenty of jungle animal meat cooking on the fire so you grab a piece and dig in. For that is the new new truth of your jungle car.

Suddenly, a million years in the future and on the other side of the cosmos, a fault in a wiring harness causes the cosmic balance to be restored and you and your burning jungle car are transported in an instant back to your driveway. Still munching your jungle meat, you ponder what this truth will look like on an insurance claim. Obviously, the truth will have to be finessed somehow. …until everyone is comfortable with it.

In a final quantuumly mystical moment, you turn and reach for your wallet, then stare back at the charred jungle car. “Oh shit…”