Suggestive Snarl
Joanne Faries

Five a.m. I slump and yawn. If I tuned into our radio station's traffic report most mornings, I'd hit the snooze button and turn over. However, I'm an intern sleep working through dawn patrol. Maybe next Monday, I'll get my turn at the mic. At present, I take notes, listen to Paul pepper his reports with inane jokes, and countdown to my next assignment, the garden show. My 1993 life plan just can't get any better.  

"Buckle up," announces our pilot, Slim. The engine cranks, blades spin, and that helicopter whine will pierce my brain for the next four hours. Joy.    

"What route today, Paul?"

  His smile reveals crooked teeth, and his hand smoothes his thinning hair. Yep, radio, not television.  "Highway 820. Today's contest winner."  

I perk up. "What contest?"  

"Our little secret. Listen, Lizzie, and observe."  

All I saw was a steady stream of traffic heading west to Fort Worth. Folks squinted from sunrise in rearview mirrors.

  Paul took a breath and began. "Brake lights approaching Denton Highway 377. No sign of accidents or debris, but it's a slowdown." Sure enough, a flood of red gleamed as traffic crawled.

  Paul leaned over and whispered. "I can gum up this highway in no time." He yammered until the backup was to Euless, slithering and stalling for miles and miles.  

Dallas Dan buzzed in, "Good one Paul. You win today."   I

pondered the power of suggestion as cars moseyed west, slower than a cattle drive in 1893.  

First published: May, 2011
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