Monday, January 18, 2016

The Midnight Traffic Report, Part 3

It was mid-afternoon and Wyatt would walk to a cool conservative saloon on Ronald Reagan Way. Nancy’s Bar and Grill was one of his usual pit stops after a long day at work. The air conditioning was cranked and the young man almost felt cold sitting alone. 

He sat in a corner booth with his new book and a bottle of local beer. If he thought the book was only forty pages long, the naive traffic man would've been wrong. Flipping through hundreds of pages, he appeared stunned, but found one long poem. It was the most that he had ever read. Wyatt slowly started to read The Highwayman and the nice poem struck a chord with the young and lonesome reporter. It was like there was a love knot between Wyatt and the poem. It was like Wyatt understood the “Highwayman.” Following that day, he would read the poem in the morning, after work and always before going to bed. Sometimes he acted out scenes while alone in his spare time just for fun.

After he exhausted himself reading the same poem obsessively, he was desperate to integrate the poem into his wildly informative highway traffic report performances. Wyatt transformed into the highwayman, and he vowed to ride off into the sunset. One day he would go riding, riding, and ride north on a long highway heading all the way to Canada. After changing out of his cowboy uniform for a final time, Wyatt dressed into jeans and a red shirt before his report. “Howdy folks! There’s a traffic bottleneck southbound.”

A producer whispered in his ear. “Where’s the cowboy uniform?”

“I hate my work uniform. This town is nothing but boots and spurs.”        

The short-haired woman yelled, “No.” She was visibly mad. “Shut the hell up! We’re throwing to a commercial.” She cursed under her breath.   

Wyatt would start to speak Canadian with his camerawoman. “Turn off the camera, eh. You need some bacon. Go play hockey with Guy LaFleur.

“Okay, Wyatt.” She responded uninterested in any of Wyatt’s nonsense.

“Eh, don’t you understand the Canadian language?” He spit on the floor.

“I don’t give a damn. I don’t want to work with you.” She was repulsed.

“I’m gonna throw away the old cowboy uniform for a winter coat made of Saskatchewan sealskin. I’m putting on a red trucker’s hat and going riding, riding off into the sunset.” Wyatt smiled like he had just won a prize fight.

The angry manager of the community channel walked into the studio. He was overweight and sweating. The middle-aged man was wearing a small cowboy hat and chewing tobacco. “What the hell is going on around here?”

“I’m going to go riding, riding, riding!” Wyatt said.

“Well have fun riding, riding, riding. And don’t come back.” The manager knew that the kid had talent, but his focus was off and dead air would have been better than broadcasting mad traffic rants. 

“I don’t need Wheelerville. I’m going riding, riding on a bus northbound to Canada.”Wyatt was ready to pack his bags. “Oh, I do so know how my camerawoman will miss me; but I must go riding, riding.” Revealing a half-smile, he clenched a bus ticket, looking nervous but insanely happy. The bus ticket had been sent in from a fan of the channel. It was a free ride out.

Before exiting the old studio, Wyatt exclaimed “The highway is for riding, riding, riding. And now, I’m off to where the wind is a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. And this has been Wyatt McReynolds reporting.”

He would finish a tirade and storm out of the studio, tossing Bessie out on the sidewalk in anger. He wasn’t going to need his lucky lasso anymore. His bags were packed and he stood at the bus stop waiting and flipping through pages from his big book of classic poems. A Greyhound bus stopped for the patient traffic man. He boarded the bus. The driver smiled at Wyatt, closed the bus doors and put her foot down on the gas pedal; and rode off into the sunset down a long lonesome highway paved with goodwill, good intentions and good dreams.

Greyhound bus headed for Saskatoon from Wheelerville.

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