Out of Gas, Into the Darkness

An emptiness crept northward up the state from Houston in advance of Hurricane
Rita evacuees last week. It spread like blood leaching from veins.

People are starting, ever so slightly at this point, to panic about gasoline.
But filling up should be the least of their concerns. Modernity is kept alit
by the fumes of a funeral.

On Friday night at stations all around my area fueling stations were being
emptied. With a quarter of refining capacity for the U.S. near the gulf area
currently closed, people are trying to fill up. Rarely used covers and makeshift
plastic bags hide pump handles at most stations. When the juice is gone, the
machinery of society stops right where it is. People are left camping along
the interstate and stuck in their far-flung suburban homes, powerless in even
more ways than they were before the cord was cut.

A huge city of oil and pesticide and haphazard zoning was evacuated. An Escalade,
the emblem of American gigantism, still sits empty along I-45. Its shininess
is a loud reminder of inward looking selfishness and an outward insult. It is
starving for fossil fuels. Carcasses. Decay. How very prestigious.

That god-damned spiraling red satellite image that dominated all media this
past week has seared itself into our minds along with the watery horror of Katrina.
Words like "monster" bring back all the midnight spooks of childhood.
Base fears that are raw and instinctual.

And when we needed him most, daddy left us abandoned. The hand of government
- supposedly benevolent - left us to starve, drown, and prey on
each other in New Orleans. And now it feigns competence and caring while maintaining
an excellent haircut and looking for openings to enable policies paid for by
campaign contributors. Vouchers. Tax Cuts.

The thing is, there is a darkness out there, just below the human crust of
pavement and progress. Black and sticky it is. But when the drug is gone and
the syringe goes dry, a panicky withdrawal sets in. A twitchy nervousness looks
for a fix, but it’s not there.

It’s in Saudi Arabia. And it’s running out.

It’s time to be scared of the dark again.