Columns » Front Porch

Fumes

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On a cold, dark, windy, winter night, a man stops at an unfamiliar convenience store for a tank of gas. Maybe he could've waited until daylight, maybe not. He had some time to kill and mornings can get pretty crazy, what with carpools and lunches to be made.

The gas pump handle seems a bit awkward. But the man is distracted and knows these self-serve machines are fail-safe. Swiping his credit card after untwisting his truck's gas cap, the man scans the quiet, neon-lit intersection, and slowly turns back to the truck.

Then the shit hits the fan.

Uncoiling like an angry cobra, the gasoline pump hose starts spewing torrents of gas like lethal projectile vomiting. The man wrestles the slippery hose into his gas tank and surveys the damage.

There's no one around. He's covered in gas, his truck is bathed in the stuff and there's a pool of petrol under the cab.

He dilutes his pants leg with end-of-the-day, skanky windshield washer water. He wonders, "Was this a prank?" and "What are the dangers here?" and "Is this just like that scene out of Zoolander or what?"

Driving home, he thinks that turning on the heat full blast will speed up the evaporation of the gas from his clothing. Fifteeen minutes later he's high as a kite—and does not know it.

The truck windows have fogged up, he's driving real slow. And forgets where he is, on a road he's driven a thousand times. He puts his turn signal on to a road he's never turned on in his life. Lost in plain sight.

He turns off the heat and rolls the window down.

He gets home, tells his story, and washes all his clothing, except his shoes (he leaves those outside). Visions of sugarplums dance in his head.

Next morning he goes to work. A co-worker kindly mentions, "Did you forget to put the parking brake on or something?" He goes to check his parking job.

His truck has rolled backward 30 feet in a slow curl, narrowly missing another truck and the concrete edge of a neighbor's building.

He catches a whiff of his shoes, the truck foot mats and cushions.

Leaving the window down, he abandons ship and goes in search of a large cup of coffee.

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