Smile Politely

It breathes me

2:30 a.m. Start route. First tube. No cars.

2:36 One skunk.

2:38 Swerve around discarded paper bag, beer cans. No moon. Replacements. Police.

2:39 A kitten in the ditch. The Turtles. New white gravel reflects on brights.

2:40 Gliding hawk or owl.

2:43 A single rabbit. Remove seat belt for right window deliveries. Happy Together.

2:48 Meet oncoming headlights. “How is the weather?”

2:51 Mist. Slow wipers. Pair of raccoons. Fat raccoon hides in the ditch, looks back.

3:00 a.m. Hit first benchmark, right on time. Thirty-six down. Bagging some, banding some.

3:08 Android alert: New York Times. Scan headlines. Queens of the Stone Age.

3:11 Stop sign. One motorcycle followed by one car. Unusual amount of human activity.

3:13 Branch stuck under car. Drive in reverse to dislodge.

3:14 Motorcycle and car stopped ahead on County Road 2500 E. Window down. “Is everything OK?” “Just didn’t want to slide on the slick pavement.” “OK, be careful.”

3:16 Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun.

3:22 A little Pet Shop Boys.

3:23 Fox!

3:25 Birds playing chicken with headlights, fly up from pavement along 2600 E.

3:28 Slurp of coffee. Marlboro peppermint snus. “Wud’ve I wud’ve I wud’ve I done to deserve this.”

3:40 Corn stalks half dry, brown. Didn’t notice yesterday. Elton John. Teacher I Need You.

3:42 Predictable barking dog runs up to window. Phone battery down, plug in. Elderberry Wine.

3:47 Hippie rarity. David Crosby. If I Could Only Remember My Name.

3:49 A few minutes early. Missed farmer’s truck leaving for work. Catch him tomorrow.

3:58 Alice’s house now empty, dark.

4:00 a.m. Second benchmark. Halfway done. Running a little early. Incomprehensible tweet from insomniac Sponberg. Pass through Broadlands. Run both stop signs. Rain long stopped. Warm.

4:10 Stop to void on CR 100 N. No stars. Lonely tree on landscape dark as shadow.

4:12 Sing along. “I wonder who they are, the men who really run this land. I wonder why they run it with such a thoughtless hand. What are their names and on what street do they live? I’d like to ride right over this afternoon and give them a piece of my mind about peace for mankind. Peace is not an awful lot to ask.” Could have been written yesterday.

4:16 Glide through silent Allerton. Turn off music. No signs of life, not even a rabbit in the gardens. Deliver thirty more.

4:33 Exit Allerton. Cricket chirps.

4:42 Three mile stretch of nothing in Vermilion County. Flip open paper to scan for angry letters. Champaign-Urbana glows 30 miles off. Nobody seen since the motorcycle.

4:55 Erik Satie piano music in the form of a pear.

5:00 a.m. Turn on NPR News. Republicans announce they will “disagree completely” with Obama’s jobs plan, one day before he announces what that will be.

5:02 Turn off NPR News. Return to Satie.

5:03 Semi-truck on highway 49.

5:04 Brake for two young deer.

5:10 Coyote dashes into corn.

5:12 GPS screen as blank as the sky, save for single straight line, CR 2800 E.

5:15 Closed RR crossing, detour through Homer. Three cars. Marathon Station, gas $3.75.

5:25 Turn onto last gravel mile before Homer Lake.

5:32 Woman walking dog. Still very dark.

5:39 Homer Lake Road. Man jogs, wearing reflective tape.

5:40 Slurp tepid coffee. Slight pain in chest. Think about mortality. Contemplate how Satie piano music compares with Ryuchi Sakamoto.

5:43 Conclude South Homer Lake Road run. Lake still. No sunrise until Daylight Saving Time.

5:46 Train whistle three miles off.

5:49 Slow down for deer bounding along corn rows.

5:51 The last mile. Birds start to chirp. A rooster crows. Pre-dawn clouds looming and black.

5:58 a.m. Final paper stuffed into orange tube. 157 papers total. Dawn behind me. Gnossiennes plays on, indifferent.

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