“Get in the right lane.”
“Why? Because I’m the Navigator and I say so. Get in the right lane, go down the frontage road and take Eldridge. The Beltway is bunged up.”
We approached the interchange and I was still in the center lane weighing my options.
“Looks like it’s moving to me.”
“You need to turn right. Right! Turn.”
“I think it’s moving. Look! Look, Jane, look. See the cars. See the cars go. Go, cars, go!”
“OK, OK, turn left if you want. Fine. Left full rudder.”
I turned left and the traffic stopped. There were police lights ahead, but only at the entrance ramp.
“See?” I chortled, “We can go up to the next light and we’ll be on our way, Little Ms Pessimist Person.”
At that moment the radio announcer broke in with a traffic report.
“A fuel spill on I-10 has all lanes blocked. Traffic is already backed up to San Francisco. Expect delays of one to three years.”
We were five minutes from work and five minutes into our journey. Twenty minutes later we would still be five minutes from work.
“Take the next side street,” said Navigator, “or I’ll reach over there and snatch your ear off.”
“Aye,” I replied.
“This looks bad. I’m going to make the call.”
Beeeep boop boop beeeep beep boop beep beep.
“Mobius control, hold on.”
“You’re in.” I could hear Mobius’ baritone voice through the cell phone.
“Listen carefully and do exactly as I say or you’ll be lost in the Matrix and the next people to find you will be archaeologists.”
“Go ahead,” Navigator replied, “I’ll put you on speaker so The Driver can hear.”
“Who’s The Driver today?” Mobius asked.
“Sorry to hear that.” Mobius sounded sincere.
He continued, “You’re coming up to a construction site. There’s a gate on the right. It’s closed but only with a thin wire. Go through the gate. Don’t stop.”
“Now!” Navigator yelled.
I wrenched the truck to the right, bounced up the curb neatly avoiding a bichon friche out for a stroll, crashed through the gate and bounded across the contstruction site.
“There’s a dirt mound straight ahead. You need to hit the base of it at exactly 82.33 miles per hour.”
“Got it,” I replied pressing hard on the accelerator. The truck leapt forward as the speedometer climbed to 50, 66, 78, 82 and as we struck the edge of the dirt pile 82.33. We rocketed up the pile and gracefully sailed over the other side of the construction, barely brushing the Bradford pear trees along the street and landed squarely in the road bouncing once. I fought to get the truck under control.
We roared down the road into a sea of red taillights. Refugees from the I-10 arterial blockage.
Mobius intoned calmly, “Two hundred yards ahead there is a break in the median. Cross to the left into oncoming traffic. Straddle the center line.”
“Three, two, one…now!” shouted Navigator.
I pulled hard on the steering wheel fishtailing into oncoming traffic and amid the blaring of horns the traffic parted as if by magic. We cut through like a hot knife through butter, Moses in the Red Sea or a really bad intestinal problem in a disco. Whatever metaphor you want, people got out of our way.
“OK,” Mobius said, “you’re almost there but this is going to be tricky and require split second timing. When you see a red Lexus being driven by a Hungarian woman named Doris, turn left in front of her.”
Cars and trucks were a blur to the left and right. I focused on red cars. Red, red, red!
Suddenly, I saw a red Lexus driven by a blonde lady. In the reflection of her sunglasses I could see a bag of groceries in the passenger seat and there, on top, was a tin of paprika.
Hungarian paprika. Her personalized license plate read “D0R1S.”
I hauled on the steering wheel and the truck slid neatly in front of the Lexus and into the entrance of a Taco Bell. I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop in front of the drive-thru speaker.
“May I take your order?”
Mobius: “Order a combination number 2 and a Sprite. They’re out of Dr. Pepper.”
We pulled up to the drive thru window to get our order. Mobius broke in, “When I say ‘now’ floor it. Don’t look left. Don’t look right. Just go.”
We waited. Seconds ticked by. We heard sirens. Fire trucks? Police? We couldn’t tell, but the sirens were getting louder.
Suddenly, a fire truck roared by and there was a slight gap in the traffic.
“Now!” Mobius crackled.
We shot out of the Taco Bell parking lot and into traffic neatly threading ourselves between vehicles and across to the other side.
We were through! The streets were clear ahead. We were home free. The clouds parted and a golden shaft of sunlight beamed down. Bluebirds sang. I pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine.
“If you had turned right in the first place, like I asked, we would have been home hours ago,” Navigator said, unable to let it go.
“Yeah, maybe,” I replied holding up the Taco Bell bag, “but I would have had to cook!”
Navigator smiled as I handed her a taco.