Six Turtles at a Crossing
by Derek Maine, 3.49am May 10th 2022

I drove to the DQ Grill & Chill at or around eleven a.m. By seven p.m. I was on the news. I just sat there. I brought several books with me to pass the time. At the drive-thru I ordered a small vanilla Butterfinger blizzard. I pulled up to the first window, locked my doors, rolled the windows up, read, and did not move for five hours. I brought several books to read, not knowing what mood I might be in. I brought Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme. The first story was about margins. It bored me. I decided it was too high brow for me. The honking comes first and eventually fades into the landscape of things. Next, I read an essay on the color blue. Disgusting. I closed my eyes. It’s been like this for some time now, whatever this is. My children are at school. My wife is at work. My phone is at home. The doors are locked, my windows are rolled up, and people are screaming at me and banging away at the glass. I am meditating. I read a story about cocaine and another about a murder. The first of the first responders arrive shortly after noon. Some moments of your life just weigh more than others. And some moments less. I wanted to exist today. I wanted to prove to myself that I existed today. I wanted a memory to sear, to announce to the world that I exist today. I wanted an act to be archived, to convince a future world existing without me that I once existed within it and it within me. I put my car into park in the drive-thru line of the DQ Grill & Chill and sat and waited for the world to reply. The locksmith came around two in the afternoon. The negotiator kept yelling “what are your demands?” My wife arrived at 3:15, frowning. My children looked small and frightened. I read a story about a waiter. My grandmother once sat in a car with the doors locked and the windows rolled up, before I was born, in her garage, someone once said something about a hose. I was arrested at 4:00 p.m. My car was towed, my books were confiscated, my wife was angry, my children were confused, my parents were kept in the dark, my work was informed I had a stomach bug. I closed my eyes and tried to forget anything was happening. She closed her eyes and waited for it all to end. I have a right to remain silent.