February 10, 2007

Postcard Prints and Dynamite Flints

When had I been here before? This place looked like a postcard from one of the abandoned gift shops on the Taconic parkway. There was a wide body of flowing water, a cliff over which it was flowing, and in the other direction, a massive construction project overhauling some old building near the way. I drove my 93 Mitsubishi Diamante right down the dirt road towards the water, and then into the water. The water was only about two feet deep, and it seemed drivable, as if I had been to this place before. I followed the water against its direction of flow for about two hundred feet before cutting the wheel to the left and trying to pull it back up onto dry land. The land I selected wasn’t exactly dry, either. So I turned the car around and tried to head back to where I started. The engine was now flooded and wouldn’t even crank over. Pushing the car, I neared an edge where water flowed freely over. When the front wheels went over the cliff, I knew the car was about to escape me. I had a leash tethering me to the car and vice versa, but it snapped without haste. The car and I went over the edge of the waterfall, and the car sank without delay. But I could open my eyes underwater here, and I could see my car at the bottom, alongside a blue and white Mini Cooper that had also made its way to the bottom. My front wheel was also broken off, probably from the impact against the river floor. But I took a deep breath, swam down to my car, and started the long journey to push it out. But it was of no help, since with everything soaked in water the car wouldn’t start once it was back on land anyway.

These two girls in a car drove up to me and asked if I had driven my car into the river, and I said yes. They said I shouldn’t have tried to be sneaky and take it in (also, I didn’t sign-in at the entrance). I noticed a stick of dynamite, unexploded, sitting right behind me. If only I had a lighter, but alas I too was soaking wet and incapable of immolating anything. The conversation drew me towards the nearby construction, and I peeked inside, seeing the bare wall supports and plasterboard still going up through the pane-glass doors. I opened the door and walked in, and started walking down towards the basement. But the basement, it turned out, was not under construction at all, it was a bustling underground bar. And walking around the perimeter of that floor, I realized there was yet another underground level still: a grand hall with wood trim and wood décor everywhere, and with yet another stairway to another basement level.

This third basement resembled a subway station, with cool white tiles and light, except that the ceiling was too low (no more than five feet), which was supposed to be a “security feature” according to someone I overheard. I didn’t want to be down there, so I started to run as fast as I could through the tunnels. I passed friends and family and lovers in the tunnels and none of them said a word to me. Running out of this complex I found myself topside again, back where I had parked my car in this quiet and unsuspecting scene from a postcard.

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