The Laurentian Highway (Burning Man 3)

Eddie Sargavy twirled the pen in his fingers. The room smelled of long extinguished cigarettes. He stared out the window at the Laurentian Highway. In the distance a sign flashed on the side of the Continental Can Company. Cee Cee Cee over and over again. One large Cee, one medium size cee that fit into the large arc and a smaller cee to complete the trio. He chuckled to himself, a frustrated chuckle. “See, see, see it says and how come I can’t come up with a damn thing” he said to himself. “Damn irony.”

Eddie had been up half the night. He was trying to come up with a concept for a new client. Mindlessly his hand sketched out a human shape on his scratch paper. He had to have something by morning. Lazily the lonely cars in the distance seemed to drone up the road, the noise eerily reminiscent of waves on a beach.

This was unusual for Eddie. He was the creative force of the advertising agency. Normally things would just come into his mind as if the muse never rested. Tonight was different though. The air felt heavy. It was October in Montreal and the air still felt like summer. The day had been unusually warm, 86 degrees, a new record. He had left the café early after meeting again with the client for what was supposed to be a mutual round of drinks. Walter Blytheville downed his Labatt beers hungrily like a man on a mission. That was now ten hours ago. Eddie imagined him sleeping peacefully. Why was this campaign so difficult? He had never had troubles with moral issues before. He simply could no longer wrap his mind around selling something that could be harmful to the environment or to people.

He looked down again at his scratch pad. There was a rough outline of a figure lying down. He scrawled a bit and drew the outline of a beach. A truck roared by in the distance. He drew some curls on the water, the impressions of waves, small waves. He stood up to stretch. His laptop continued it’s eternal screensaver waltz. It reminded him of a video game he played as a child. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a toothpick. What he really wanted was a cigarette. He turned and looked at the clock radio on the bedstand. 4:13 AM. He was supposed to make a presentation at ten. His flight back to New York was at two. He was in a bind, a dead zone, he needed a way out of his creative rut. He needed a way to numb his conscience.

It occurred to Eddie how small he really felt, that did it. He reached into his suitcase and retrieved a pack of camel cigarettes. He threw the door open to the motel room, the classic Mirabel Express. He could’ve stayed anywhere on the agencies tab but he loved the rustic little cheesy places.  Something about reminding himself where he had come from and how far he had come. Several drags into his cigarette he decided he was over his moral crisis. “We’re all gonna die sooner or later so who the hell really gives a damn? Who am I, the pope?” He quietly closed the door and extinguished the stub in a Styrofoam cup. He walked back over to the desk and tapped the keyboard of the laptop. “Wake up little prince” he said trying to humor himself awake. It was then that he looked at his scratchpad. His mouth fell open. He shook his head and patted his cheeks. The figure he had drawn was no longer there……..

Billy was not sure how long he had slept on the sand. He had awoken in the night. It felt like something was brushing against his skin. More than once he felt it but each time he saw nothing. Just a vast expanse of stars overhead. Not a crab, a night bird or even a sea flea in sight. The ocean was calm. The waves made a gentle rumble that sounded far away. Billy was thirsty now and he knew it was time to go further. He felt for the pendant around his neck. He held it to his chest, the feel of it was comforting. He stood easily and with the ocean on his right, Billy walked on.

“I shall be found with ‘Indians’ engraved on my brain when I am dead. A fire has been kindled within me, which will never go out.” — Helen Hunt Jackson

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

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