The Freeway (Portrait #7)

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We were underneath, before it crossed over the river. Tires sizzled above us like a new form of electricity. These were sounds of an alien world, our planet. Our arms glued on to it, tentacles. Yet, we couldn’t follow it.

The kid was on the freeway now, the river and dock still washed his body up to the shore, continually, forever, it seemed.

I was frightened of nowhere, of being nowhere. Living had strange sounds attached to it, like the kid’s voice as he passed over us. It shook me. There was no stopping the rush over the bridge, the sound of relentlessness. I swear I heard the kid laughing. I couldn’t tell whether that laughter was aimed at me.

Yes, we were dreamers and on occasion we threw ourselves in front of the traffic. But, we would only lose a limb or a head. And they wouldn’t stop! Why would they? The river doesn’t. The bridge doesn’t. The pavement… well it’s a different type of ghost. It looks like it stops when it’s alone, but it is eternally never alone, therefore, always moving.

I told him the bridge held two states together. Two kinds of worlds. He laughed, the little murderer. “That’s what they’re doing,” I told him. “changing states like beings, souls switched upon crossing. It’s like it’s a bridge of the gods.”

He told me the kid murdered himself, not suicide. That was a clue. Now, the freeway was so heavy, I couldn’t listen to it without my back bending into an arc. I thought I was experiencing age, but I was mistaken.

Sometimes, though, I think it’s the ocean, tides upon tides, luring me to somewhere I can never be. And the bridge is a snake, coiled in, upon itself.

Courtesy Ray Spallone. Former San Jose city councilman Joe Colla as he appeared in 1976, when he paid to have a car lifted by helicopter atop the not-yet-completed flyover interchange between U.S. 101 and Interstates 280 and 680. Construction of the interchange had been halted by then-Governor Jerry Brown in 1975. Colla's stunt prompted the Legislature to approve funding to complete the interchange . There is a resolution in the Legislature to rename the interchange in Colla's honor.


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