"Riding Miss Daisy"
By reality and perfection I understand the same thing.
Benedict de Spinoza, Philosopher
Bikester popped the clutch, downshifting round the switchback u-curve in a fishtail skid that nearly swung Darla off Miss Daisy into a spinney of scrub oak and cat’s claw. Darla leaned into him, her fear spooning him, her breasts pressing into his back, her arms squeezing his middle. Bikester felt her fear vibrate his skin. The electricity lit him up.
* * *
Darla was playing Bikester when she hit on him outside Red’s Tavern. She’d been drinking and was trying to make Bobby jealous.
“Hey, Stewie,” she said. She smiled big and tilted her head so a strand of hair dipped over her right eye. She brushed it away, then let her hand touch Bikester’s arm.
“Hey, Darla,” Bikester said. He had wanted her since junior high, but she was out of his league. Now they were in their thirties. He realized this might be his chance. He offered her a ride up the canyon. She giggled and glanced at Bobby. When Bobby turned away, Bikester saw Darla pout, then smile and say, “Why not?”
Darla wasn’t dressed for a chopper ride. She was wearing a black dress and heels. She giggled again as Bikester helped her onto Miss Daisy. Her skirt rode up her thighs. She tried to look embarrassed as she pushed it back down.
Bikester drove the mile to the edge of town below the speed limit. Darla squirmed so that her breasts nuzzled his back. She held him lightly, adjusting and readjusting her hands, caressing his ribs and stomach through his tee. As he left town, the houses disappeared and the street lamps gave way to the dark canyon road. Bikester took control. He worked clutch and throttle in a synchronized rhythm, shifting the gears higher, pushing Miss Daisy faster and faster. At first, Darla laughed and said “slow down, cowboy,” treating Bikester like a show-off man-child. But as he pushed Miss Daisy harder, Darla stopped laughing. Her hold on Bikester tightened. She said “Hey! What are you doing?” He felt her fear as he headed into the switchbacks. It felt so real, so perfect.
* * *
Bikester upshifted as he came out of his skid and the road straightened. The cliff was on his left now and a sea of pinyon pine and juniper stretched out to his right. They were 5000 feet and climbing. He rolled the throttle and Miss Daisy lurched faster into the night.
The full moon lit up the highway and the canyon forest. Greens and reds glowed gray in the night. The summer air slapped Bikester at seventy miles an hour. He pictured Darla’s blond hair flying out behind her. He could hear her shouting now, phrases reaching him over the roar of Miss Daisy and the rush of the wind. Phrases like “slow down…you son of a….” Bikester smiled into the wind and gunned it.
Into the next hairpin, he downshifted again. Bikester knew this road. He knew what Miss Daisy could do here. He was counting the curves now—-two to go. The pinyon pines were giving way to ponderosas as they climbed. The junipers were disappearing. Bikester held the road on the curve. He reaccelerated into the next straightaway. One curve left.
He loved this final easy up-sloping half mile two-lane. He was doing ninety now. He headed toward the final curve. He felt himself becoming one with the vibrations of Miss Daisy and with the sex and fear of Darla. It would never get better than this. As he hit the final curve, instead of laying off the throttle and downshifting, he pushed Miss Daisy till she screamed. Instead of skidding into the curve, he headed off the macadam, then off the berm and launched himself and Miss Daisy and Darla out toward the full moon, out over the perfect ponderosa forest in an ecstatic airborne trajectory. No longer earthbound, he spread-eagled his arms and legs and leaned against the perfect sky. In that eternal moment, the Bikester was set free—-he was one with the perfect woman, the perfect bike, the perfect moon and the perfect night.
“Riding Miss Daisy” received a ‘Commendation’ in the 2010 Writing Contest of the Society of Southwestern Writers. It is a metaphorical rendering of the Spinozistic notion of finding perfection in the imperfect reality of the moment, experiencing the everydayness of life as perfect, sub specie aeternitatis, from the point of view of eternity, which is available to everyone at every moment.
William Ward is a severely hearing disabled, retired psychologist. His work has been published or accepted for publication by Avocet: a Journal of Nature Poetry, The Moon: The Publication for Writing and Art, Hazard Cat, 50 to 1, Spot Literary Magazine, and, Sounds of the Night.