Twin iPhones alarm from opposite sides of the bed – one quacking, one honking.  The reluctant guardian angel wakes complaining of ill-timed reminders. Outside the bedroom window, the sky grumbles thunder and gurgles rain. Yes, 5:15 a.m. hurts, but the tires still need air.  

Forty minutes pass with a bustle of activity: packing, shuffling, loading, losing, finding, and airing. The disgruntled guardian angel complains that all the crackers were eaten, that the cat is skulking, that the tea  is not wanted, that the popcorn is nearly forgotten.

Five more minutes pass and the grumpy guardian finds and delivers the cat, who is also grumpy and grumbling about the situation.

It’s time to go. The bleary-eyed guardian angel stands outside in the rain, guarding.

Suddenly alert and vigilant, the guardian angel begins complaining with his hands about how the car is being driven all wrong down the driveway.  He directs the car with wildly animated gestures as if the driver is completely incapable of backing out of the drive way independently —  as if the driver hasn’t in fact spent the last 16 years backing out of this particular driveway.

Miraculously, the car makes it out of the driveway without taking out the mailbox. It lingers for a moment in the street, waiting for the angel to calm down and wave goodbye.  He does.

The car heads off into a new Monday, only making it to West Memphis before it needs gas.  It’s still raining.  It’s still dark.  The credit card machine at the pump says, “See cashier.” The driver looks across the parking lot towards the cashier, then down at her mismatched clothes covered in cat hair, then at the cat in the car. The cat meows frantically, but silently behind the glass. There’s no other choice – the driver heads out into the rain towards the cashier. 

The station store is impossibly bright and colorful inside.  Fluorescent light glints off plastic packaged sticky buns, orange KitKats, silvery lottery tickets, and Louis L’Amour novels.  Truckers crowd the station store waiting for a cup coffee and their turn at a shower.  With so many bright shiney things to look at  maybe no one noticed the soggy lady covered in cat hair.  

And finally on the road again, just like the song says.  The day dawns a dirty dishwater gray as the sky continues to wring itself out.  Miles pass, 170 of them, under a blanket of clouds in a gray world.  Gray is the sky. Gray is the asphalt. Gray is the rain. Gray is the cat hair covering the driver’s shirt. Gray is the armadillo, belly up on the side of the road. Gray is the whole world interrupted by a sudden shock of color: cows as black as shadows in a pasture of yellow wild flowers. The scene zips by and the world fades to grey.

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