Night Rider

Dallas, dusk. I’d driven north, crossing through a patchwork of neighborhoods rich and poor, to contemplate the possibilities of a particularly ratty strip mall. There was a pawn shop, a Mexican restaurant, a comic shop and, next door, an outpost of the budget grocery chain Aldi’s. The comic shop had back issues: I found some old copies of The Spectre in there, where the avenging ghost in green underpants subjects criminals to gruesome deaths on behalf of God. Then I stepped inside the Aldi in search of a tolerable freezer meal. The selection was poor. I settled for tamales. 

Heading back to my hotel, I planned to avoid the I-35, the road that stretches all the way from Laredo on the Mexican border to the chilly streets of Duluth, Minnesota in the north. The darkness was settling in, and I didn’t want to play the game of hunt the exit in unfamiliar territory, dodging the trucks as they hurtled past with their cargos of guns and drugs and human beings (in addition to toilet paper and other non-contraband items). But a time lag on Google maps meant that I missed a turn and suddenly found myself heading towards the highway. 

Fuck it, I thought, as I joined the access road and prepared to merge onto the ramp; there was no way out now. But this stretch of the I-35 was very badly lit, and so it took me a moment to process the object moving in front of me. It was a motorbike, yes, but it didn’t look right. Then I realized that the rider had reared up on his back wheel and he was hurtling towards the highway at high speed. Resolving to get well clear of this risky individual, I crossed into the right lane. As I passed, I glanced out the passenger window and there he was, totally in control, front wheel in the air, as if this was the only way to ride. 

Merging onto the highway, I took one last look in the rear view mirror. He was still up on that back wheel as he entered the I-35. And it was only then that I noticed that he didn’t have any lights on either; that he was gliding through the darkness in darkness. I imagined that he was training for a show, but one which would only ever occur in his imagination. It was madness but also magical; like a slow motion sequence from a half-remembered film; post-apocalyptic, haunted. A grand solo performance of the unknown stunt rider of the Texas road.

This is an excerpt from Thus Spake Daniel Kalder No. 33. The complete contents are:

Night Rider

Great Masters of the British Avant-garde

Dessert Storm

The Best Album (Back) Covers of All Time

A Fragment Shored: Thom Gunn

Click here to read the rest.

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