My brother always carried a gun. He didn't always need it. He didn't really need it much at all. In truth, I can only remember a few stories he told me where he actually 'needed' it. He never shot anybody. But he would make it known he was carrying it when he was doing his job, when he went to tow some junk car out of a rough neighborhood, say, and somebody was sneaking up or lurking, watching him, waiting for him to let his guard down, maybe, that he could rob him. He had a few stories like that. Once he started carrying it all the time, he just got used to the feeling of having it on him. He got used to the feeling of security.

One night we were riding around for hours in my car, just driving...doing what we did on such drives... At one point my brother noticed that the vehicle behind us was very close. It was a big truck. The headlights were really high, and the beams were blazing on the backs of our heads. My brother got furious. We were on some desolate country road, in Suffolk, Virginia, I think. The longer the guy stayed on right our ass, the more furious my brother got. He had his gun on him, and he took it out. "Stop the fuckin car!"

I was extremely nervous.

"Stop the fuckin car, Bobby! Stop the car!" My brother was screaming at me as I drove.

I didn't want to stop the car. I was afraid of what might happen. I looked in the rear-view mirror at the blazing, big headlights getting closer and closer. I listened to my brother's escalating anger and screaming, right in my ear. I drove like that for a while...with the headlights...the screaming. I didn't stop at first.

I was afraid my brother would shoot at this guy. I was afraid of the guy in the truck behind us...or guys. I had no idea who it was behind us. It could have been six dudes with shotguns. It could have been one scrawny teenager. Finally I stopped the car.

"Okay. Now what," I said. The guy in the truck behind us also stopped. We are deep in the country, nobody around, no light, nothing. Just that guy's headlights illuminating us. I have imagined all kinds of alternate endings to that night. I imagined that I got out of the car and I sprinted back at the driver side of the truck, and I was greeted by a shotgun barrel. I imagined my brother getting out of the car and emptying a whole clip into the dude's windshield. I imagined myself...screaming back at my brother -- to get the fuck out of my car -- so he could walk his ass home three hours (the least likely of these scenarios).

So we sat there. The guy in the truck behind us just sat there too. My brother showed his gun to those big blazing headlights. My brother's raging body language, the gun shining in the headlights...maybe was enough of a demonstration for the guy behind us least one of the people in my car was willing, apparently willing, to 'take this to another level' ...and end up on a police report or something.

We continued to sit there. Gradually, my brother became more still and quiet. He muttered stuff, that's right, motherfucker, you better not get out... So we sat there and we sat there and we sat there. I didn't say a word. Finally, my brother said, "Alright. Let's get out of here."

I put it in drive and began to drive away. The truck stayed parked where it was.

Time for a list:

1) After one hundred years in that relationship with that one and only person, I forgot how to deal with other people.

2) Last night I felt as though the most crucial writing task of my life was upon me, but I went to bed.

3) I am currently waiting out a rain shower, sitting in my car, waiting to go into a store. The other people who are pulling into the parking lot are showing admirable hustle, getting out of their car and running through the rain.

4) I hope that this friend of mine forgives me.

5) My boss is making me watch videos all weekend for some new product.

6) People should slow down in parking lots. I have seen two near misses just sitting here.

7) I have talked to two editors, and they both say, at the end of the day, in their spare time, they'd rather just look at the pictures, and not dense text, least of all: run-on sentences.

8) I have to go to my new favorite place tonight. They are starting to recognize me there.


Today I saw a guy riding a bike carrying a rake, and because my brain is really racing lately, I flooded this sight of this guy on a bike with a rake...I flooded it with all of this mental activity. My first unfortunate reaction was to make fun of him... like he was a superhero..."Look! It's Rake Man! And he's going to save the day, raking leaves at the house of some unfortunate elderly woman. I think my brain just felt the need to analyze and emote... something... anything... intensely. Plus, when I first caught a glimpse of him, it looked like he was riding the rake... like he was a witch... man witches ride on rakes instead of brooms.

Then I felt guilty... for making fun of him.

Then I felt sorry for him. He's just trying to get somewhere to earn some cash. People don't ride bikes to work in Florida unless they do not have a car. Everything is too spread out.

The guy waved to another guy who is on a bike across the street. For some reason, my brain made an association, and I looked to see if that other guy was also carrying some kind of tool. Like maybe these two guys were going to go meet on a job. But the other guy wasn't carrying anything.

Today should be a productive day at work, if I can focus all of this mental activity on something productive that is.