“Convergence” by Jon the Storyteller
From the west, the minivan careened along the pastoral stretch of Vermont back road. The family of five gently bounced along, reacting to the unfilled potholes known to collect on such roads in this area. They were returning from a Concert on the Green in Castleton, a lively three-hour romp of children’s songs and stories, both spun by a talented old man with a ukulele and an accordion. They were tired, but the two youngest chatted incessantly while the others peered out the windows at the darkening sky.
Heading south on a nearby highway came a much different sort of traveler. In a muscled-up Jeep with no doors drove a jubilant man. He had secured a cushy new job at the local GE plant, and had just shared his happiness with the crew at Paynters. They in turn, shared their excitement for him one 2-ounce pour at a time. In between, he chased the shots with a mug of whatever the bartender would pull from the tap: Long Trail, Otter Creek, Magic Hat, and Guinness; he welcomed them all with a smile and a gulp.
The Caravan toddled along between 48 and 53 miles per hour, Mom and Dad holding hands, and the chatty ones gradually losing consciousness. Home was less than twenty minutes away, but they would not last for the whole ride. It had been a busy summer, and this was just the send-off they needed before school started up in two weeks. In the distance and just out of view, the family would soon be passing the cross roads through which they had traveled a million times before.
The Jeep was more quickly coming upon the spot where the two roads shake hands. Switching from lane to lane, the driver fiddled with the volume on his Pioneer rack after sliding Toby Keith into the face. Grinning, he pounded the steering wheel in rhythm with “What Happens Down in Mexico” and wailed his own out-of-pitch cover of the song.
Clearing the crest of the hill at Grabowski’s farm, Dad could see the intersection he knew well. Since it was a familiar crossing however, and one through which he had the right of way anyhow, he paid no more mind to it than he did the moon glowing overhead. The Dodge tooled along at a steady, leisurely pace. There was no reason to do otherwise.
The Jeep’s driver had similar intentions. Neither did he pay any mind to the cars that could be approaching from either side up ahead. His mind was on his promotion, his music and the girl waiting for him at home, the girl he would take to bed in celebration as soon as he walked through the door. But that was fifteen minutes from now, and he had yet to cross Route 4A, the route that was funneling the minivan thoughtlessly toward him.
Not ten seconds later, the minivan was less than 1000 feet from the intersection.
At this angle, the minivan’s driver couldn’t see the Jeep’s headlights to the right, and even with a clear head, it would have been difficult for the operator of the Jeep to see the rays of the van. Instead, they each approached the other from perpendicular directions, marching with a cadence that, in seconds, would pin their outcomes together.
Closer still, headlights glowed and engines argued. Speeding Jeep and gliding minivan, neither was prepared for the inevitable crossing. There was no way now that the drivers would be able to avoid their destiny. The result was decided before the van’s door automatically closed or the engine of the Jeep had fired up.
Then, they were there. While children slept and an inebriated driver sang “American Soldier”, fate would have its way. The two vehicles met in the middle of that intersection.
And, as quickly as they convened, they parted ways. Neither one so much as paid a passing thought to the other. As the minivan crossed under the overpass beneath the fleeting four-wheel-drive, each one became a dimming set of red tail lights. One south and one east, each car continued upon its intended journey oblivious to the other.