Man and machine. One being. Three thousand pounds of steel, rubber, plastic, flesh, bones and blood hurtling through the darkness along a narrow track of pavement. Raindrops beating on the windshield compete with the rhythm of the wipers, and the headlights of others shine in as beacons as the line of traffic snakes by. All this noise, this motion, and yet the driver is not there. The body surely, as the hand grips the wheel and the arm sways with the curves and bends in the road; the foot rests comfortably on the accelerator.
This ritual has become almost a reflex, and the mind drifts away, maintaining only the contact necessary to ensure smooth operation. In time the business of the highway is left behind – traded for a quiet country road, a driveway, and finally to stop. Stepping from the car and closing the door, the darkness swirls around, engulfing him. The raindrops continue their journey down from the heavens, and even in the dim light thrown from the neighbouring houses, everything is seen to shimmer as if sprinkled with dew.
Back down the driveway, left turn at the road, and the walk begins. It starts slowly at first; there are many old friends to greet along the way. These people haven’t been seen for some time, and there is some reacquainting to do. The old white pine, the cedars, onto the maples and the ash, all have been very patient with this one. He whispers greetings as he passes, apologizing for his long absence and thanking them for waiting. His Mother, too, has been patient with her lost child and he calls out to her as he walks. He laughs – a warm, heartfelt laugh and yet there is no sound. It did not come from this time, this place, it is the laugh of He Who Would Sing and it is only heard there.
From deep inside it starts, for it has been buried a long time. Moving toward the surface, a low, guttural growl emerges into the night. Hands become paws, earlobes stand erect, and the long, pointed snout sniffs the night air. Piercing eyes survey every flutter, and every rustle is heard and duly noted. Hard pads contact soft earth and pull away, sending sprays of sand flying backward down the trail. The heart beats faster. The lungs strain for oxygen, and miles of road become uncovered and eaten by the fog. Faster and faster, developing an easy lope that can be kept for hours. Raindrops glisten on the black fur and muscles ripple beneath as they move with perfect synchronicity.
After a time he slows to a trot, then a walk again. Sitting back, he tilts his head toward the sky and howls – a call to his sisters, his brothers, his ancestors. Again, and the sound cuts through the silence like a knife. The night returns and reclaims her own. In truth, he has come home.
Mike Pedde 01/04/90