The Butt Stops Here

So I’m biking in to work this morning, I’m in the homestretch heading south where Florence becomes Aviation above Manchester and there’s a red light. In the right-turn-only lane for Manchester there’s a car broken down with its hood popped open and its driver solemnly looking down upon the conked engine as if trying to find a miracle. Coming up behind it is a sedan whose inattentive driver of course doesn’t realize that car is disabled until rolling right up on its bumper, and only then cranks the wheel to the left without looking and lurches to a stop in my lane in an attempt to go around the breakdown, thus allowing me the potential joy of crashing into its fender and catapulting over the hood, where if I was very very lucky I might have worked in a full twist with a round-off and stuck the landing. Fortunately the combination of my tortoise-quick reflexes, spongy brakes, some foresight and the extreme reverse thrust provided by the air propelled from my lungs to form a series of expletives supplied enough stopping power for me to come up just short of making contact. Whew!

I look over to my right at the driver who’s not surprisingly oblivious to what just barely didn’t happen. Not only that but of course there’s a cell phone involved in one hand as well as a cigarette in the other. But not for long, because before I can say so much as “good morning” or “well you’re an extra-special kind of idiot aren’t you?” the gabbing driver flicks the half-finished smoke out the open window in a trajectory that brings it to my pants leg where it bounces off my thigh and falls at my right foot in a shower of ashes and sparks.

Emerging from an immediate dumbfoundment, I check to make sure I haven’t caught fire and when I’m satisfied I’m not I yell “Just go ahead and put that anywhere!”

Still blissfully unaware and still in mid-conversation the driver doesn’t do more than glance momentarily in the direction of my voice.

So then I ask, “Why don’t you use your goddam ashtray instead of treating the street like one!?”

The driver waves me off like I’m nothing more than a bothersome insect. I take a deep breath. It doesn’t work. My eyes go all Marty Feldman. I start turning green. My shirt rips. Hulk mad.

“Your damn butt hit my leg, you filthy twelfth-level jackass!”

In retrospect I have absolutely no idea what I meant by “twelfth level,” but at least that outburst has finally gotten the driver to say “hold on” to whoever’s on the other end and with undivided attention leans to the window and addresses me with a fully extended middle finger and a slightly weary “Just fuck off, OK?” as the light turns green.

“OK,” I say agreeably, “but just one more thing,” and as the driver turns away from me and the car starts to move forward I bend down, pluck the still smoldering butt from the asphalt and pitch it through the window where it sails over the steering wheel and drops out of sight to the passenger side floorboards, apparently right next to an open container of gasoline or gunpowder keg or something because the fireball that engulfed the car was really huge. And hot. And bright. I mean, dang you know in comic books when something goes VWOOM!! or VWOOSH!!! … well that’s just what the sedan did: VWOOMSH!!!

No, not really.

Instead what happened was brakes were slammed and a frantic dive was made across the car’s interior while calling me a sonofabitch to which I answered “I’m gonna go fuck off now, bye!” and got going around the car and across the intersection where I looked over my shoulder expecting to find the sedan in hot pursuit but instead the driver was still trying to retrieve the projectile and was now getting honked at by the backing up traffic.

My ride home tonight was decidedly less eventful.