Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Dangers of a Hyperactive Imagination

I have passed a man standing alone on the side of the road on several occasions as I make my way to work. I realize a man standing alone on the side of the road isn't all that unusual, but hear me out.

He is always standing in the same place. I see him just as I turn to get on the interstate, leaning slightly against the guardrail at the beginning of the on-ramp. The location would suggest that he might be thumbing for a ride, but he never seems to acknowledge the cars passing by.

I go to work very early in the morning. Typically, I like to get to work around ten minutes to six, which means I pass this man at roughly 5:40 a.m. At this time of year, it's still dark outside that early, so if he's just hanging out looking at the cars, wouldn't they be easier to see a few hours later in the daylight?

Speaking of this time of year, who in the hell hangs out next to an on-ramp when it's so freaking cold outside? The guy has got to be freezing!

There are a few businesses nearby, so you might think that perhaps he's just passing the time on a smoke break. There's a motel and a Waffle House within walking distance. If he's the night auditor at the motel, he's completely deserting his post. That leaves Waffle House, but he doesn't wear the WaHo uniform.

So, yeah, I'm stumped. And not a little bit creeped out. Damn that Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air. Back in the early 1940's they performed a radio play by Lucille Fletcher (who also wrote the chilling "Sorry, Wrong Number") that featured a phantom hitchhiker haunting Orson Welles' character as he drove alone cross-country. The man appears on the side of the road over and over and over again, and Welles is eventually driven from mild anxiety to the brink of madness. (Pun intended.)

I wish I'd never listened to that damned episode of Suspense, because now I get genuinely freaked out when I turn onto the on-ramp and my headlights pass over this lonely soul standing stoically in the cold darkness of the pre-dawn hours. This, my friends, is what sucks about having an active imagination.

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