You said you were up all night. I asked you what you were doing with your morning, “Going home to sleep?” You reached your head far in front of mine. Pointing with your arm way out, you said, “You see those?” I looked at the white lines on the road in front of us. Responding to me but aiming your words at some people walking across them, you yelled, “Well I paint those. Thank you very much.” You were talking as if over some heavy machinery. “Roadwork,” I thought to myself.
I thought I’d squeeze in some things I assumed I knew about it. I asked you what you thought about “smarter highways.” You said, “What do you mean, like ones with no people on them?” Except you didn’t say “people.” I liked your laugh. I repeated everything I’d read and remembered about dynamic paint and interactive lights, and then you said, “Yeah, where? On Mars? I won’t even go upstate. See what I do if they ask me to go out there again.” You said you liked working “the runway.”
I said it was probably better to work at night. You shouted from behind, “Yeah right. You know those lights at the ballpark? Well climb up there and sit right in front of ’em for eight hours. Makes the sun feel like a light bulb.” Your skin was the color of an orange backhoe.
I kept on. “So what are you up to for the rest of the day?” “Well,” you yelled, “I’m going to start with a Bloody Mary, and then make my way right through the rainbow.” I had to think about it — ROY G BIV. I said, “So I guess that means a Screwdriver’s next,” thinking of what was orange. Then you let me have it. “What do I look like, your prom date? Gin and Sin, brother.” We went back and forth like this for a while. Then things got Oprah. You told me you were working on being a pilot, “but life called, and it just won’t hang up.” You asked if life had called me yet, too.
Later that evening I was approaching a complete standstill on the highway, and there was a lot of orange up ahead. “Construction, next two miles.” The sun had just set, and storm clouds were closing in over a sky the color of crème de violette. I wondered where you were, and if you had shot your way through that rainbow.