South of Kankakee

Miles of stockyard, rusting remnants of industry, run south of downtown, and green of un-welcome vertical gardens mixed in rust-tones reclaim abandoned train tracks and warehouses.  I have never driven south – legacy of segregation, urban decay and abandoned steel industry.  Monstrous complex of elevated train platforms arc over expressway – delicate as if to collapse abruptly on traffic below.  Graffiti intermixed with fading, hand-painted signs peeking over concrete barriers transform into green of new vegetation, trees, weeds and field of trash:  plastic food packaging and cigarette butts.  The asphalt on the way to Kankakee, is congested with cars.  Not until I pass south of the town do I open up the throttle.
 I find a good stretch to punch it, push accelerator to the floor – tachometer passes 4000 rpm.  At 90 mph, I check the rearview, crowd lost behind me.  Wind challenges the needle reaching 100.  Gusts flippantly change course, simultaneously pushing and pulling my tiny coupe in all directions.  On a stretch, I blow past 100, sensation of car skimming the road, barely touching pavement, flying, under its own control, indifferent to my touch.  A curve approaches rapidly, and I pump the breaks, decelerate and feel the inertia of my body lurching forward in slow motion.  Cigarette break at highway rest-stop, and the gas-gauge needle tips on empty.  Ten miles down the road, locals smile at a general store, warm in a way that city life has made unfamiliar.  I am wary of the friendly cornfields that voted to criminalize abortion.    
Trucks filled with lumber and machinery saunter into car park in a small-town, indiscriminate dot on the map between large, rust-belt cities.  Construction runs for miles from here, so I turn around and lock-in at a solid 75 mph for the ride home.  Blue-grey of clouds flushed with rain between bursts of sunlight, farm houses on the edge of fields.  Return to city after burst of rain; the clouds march above in a rush.  Fresh rainfall of spring leaves the city wet in a way that makes all dull surfaces and abandoned American ingenuity shine like a new Cadillac fresh off assembly line en route to aluminum-built bistro tables of fast-food and jukebox yesterday – dash of sleek, industrial mirage of glory over blighted streets. 

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