The first time that I heard it was just before dawn. It was one of those hot nights, hot enough to keep all the windows open, hoping for a breeze.
I rolled over wondering what it was that I was hearing. It roared and it screeched, but it was far away. Like in a dream. Not fully in this world, but out there. I lay on my back, trying to orient myself.
“It’s Monday. It’s summer. I’m home.” Slowly, as always, I managed to ground myself in my reality.
I lay there, listening. It was the sound of a racing car that I heard. I heard the engine roar, and the tires squeal.
It was a sound that simply didn’t fit.
I live in a rural place, in a neighborhood where people live quietly and drive carefully.
This was the strange sound of someone racing, gunning for speed and power. I had never heard anything like it in this place. I lay there for a bit, listening to the screaming brakes. “Who is that?”, I wondered. “What’s going on?”
Then the sound faded, and I drifted back to sleep. The early summer morning settled back into it’s usual peace. I almost forgot the strange sound of racing engines in the semi-dark.
But I heard it again the next morning, just as the sun began to rise. And again the morning after that.
I began to wonder about the driver out there. Every morning, just at dawn, I heard the sound of those shrieking tires, out there just beyond my street. I began to imagine a face behind the windshield of that racing car.
I saw a young man. I saw anger. I saw dark eyes and a tangle of hair. I saw a frown and a clenched fist, pounding on the steering wheel. I saw youth and fear and the power of those four wheels.
I started to drift off to sleep with the hope of hearing that raging, racing sound in the earliest part of the day.
And every workday, every Monday through Friday for weeks, I awoke to the sound of those desperate tires, scrabbling for meaning on the lonely dark roads of our town.
Then the fall came. The wind blew in and the windows were closed.
I couldn’t hear him anymore.
I wondered about him, though. I worried that he was gone. I worried that he had settled into his mind numbing job at the plant. I wanted him to come back.
But the days went by, and the nights settled into warm blankets and quiet breathing.
I almost forgot that he was out there.
Then I drove out of town, over the backroads through our woods. And there they were. Black, angry, impossible to ignore. Black, black figure eights, on the winding road that links our town to it’s neighbors.
“Here I am!,” those tire marked screamed. “Here I go.”
And a few nights later, I found myself awake in the cold, frosty dawn. I rolled over. What was I hearing?
It was the sound of screaming tires, racing against no one, racing against everyone, flying through the icy dawn into the upcoming day.
I wonder who he is. I wonder why he is so angry. I wonder.
And as I fall asleep tonight, part of me will be listening for his early morning declaration of freedom.