I pulled in front of Tommy's driveway at five thirty in the a.m. as was close to usual time. I wasn't blowing the horn for him this time, if he wasn't out in ten I was leaving. The Pioneer stereo cd player in my old Ford was spilling out raspy voiced Janis Joplin, "Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose..." and I was smoking a cigarette while nursing my coffee mug. I felt as If I was waiting for a train myself, Tommy was always running a little behind. Sitting listening to the radio here comes Tommy in his every morning way; Wet hair, one untied boot on, the other boot and thermos in his right hand, lunch bag under his arm pit while he hops off the porch and over to the truck yanking the door handle and swinging into the seat. I dump the clutch shredding rubber from the tires as the passenger door slams shut from the abrupt movement.
"I almost left your ass behind!"
"Ya say that almost every morning Justin." He responded rubbing the water from his beard.
"One of these days, man, just you wait, one of these frigging days."
"Aah, you won't" - The truck bounced off a raised manhole cover in the road while Tommy left the seat momentarily - "Shit fuck man. You in a damn hurry or something?" Tommy was shooting me one of those your an asshole looks.
"No more than usual after waiting for you."
Hitting the highway on ramp I throttled on up to seventy five. The old Ford was sounding off it's disapproval with it's squeaks and rattles as we merged onto the highway. This time of the morning there isn't much on the road, not even Troopers.
"Better slow it down there Justin, some cops going to haul up behind us in this fog and we'll never know it."
"Screw that. Radar won't work in this soup and besides it's prime shift change hour. No Cop wants to get tied up at this close to quittin time just to write a ticket."
"Well hell." Tommy was pulling on his other boot now and bracing his foot against the dash to tie the strings.
Some points along the roadway the fog was lighter which was a lucky thing. A small group of Deer had decided to cross our path, the Ford barely missed the last one as it's hooves slipped on the pavement. Tommy never even saw it as he was trying to fill his cup from the thermos.
"That song makes me think."
"Yep, Me and Bobby Mcgee. I thought, what is freedom? Freedom are the songs birds sing. Birds are free to, free to fly and roam, to do as they please." Tommy is holding and sipping from his cup while his eyes, not his head, are far over to the left in their sockets stealing a smirking look at me. "People aren't really free and never will be. Freedom is what we tell each other we are, it's what we tell ourselves so we can cope. Man, we can't do as we please, there is always scorn, finger pointing from those who are afraid to be free while some of us try to be free. Everyone one of us has someone to answer to for our actions or inaction's, our thoughts will one day be monitored. None of this..." I sweep my hand form left to right in front of me. "None of this is free. We pay through the ass for this so called freedom we have. This what we're doing right now, our lives, our going to this piece of shit job, our just trying to survive everyday just so we can work to pay for more shit we don't need, that's slavery man, plain and simple. That isn't freedom. It's a big in your face lie."
"Holy shit there Justin. What the hell you been drinking in your coffee this morning?
I look over at Tommy, he can tell I'm on edge about something. The Ford is hauling ass down the blacktop half in one lane and half in the other before I look back forward and into a single lane.
"I'm just getting fed up with this same old daily routine crap, working my ass off and for what? Just the same old shit again tomorrow and the day after that and so it goes." I look back towards Tommy. "Whens the last time you had a raise, or me? We work hard and never do get ahead." I turn back my eyes to the road. "Now, some big corporation gets itself in trouble and we tax payers are forced, not asked, not able to vote on it, but forced to and told to carry the load. What happens to the corp execs? They walk with millions of our money. Nobody asked me! Did anyone ask you?"
Tommy purses his lips a little and shakes his head side to side.
"Of course they didn't ask us. We're the dupes, the ones who grease the wheels and make the least while the silver tongued devils who never have broken a sweat get it all. They prosper off the sweat of others, they have a separate set of rules."
We reach our exit and slow to a stop at the yield sign. For a moment Tommy and I sit there in silence except for the engine idling and the heater going. Turning left the Ford heads the half mile to work. Just beyond the trees we can see the buildings spot lights glowing in the circle of fog. Two short minutes we're in the parking lot.
"Well. Here we are again. Paradise." Turning the key, the engine stops.
"Justin." Tommy calls while reaching for the door handle.
I grunt while gathering my things.
"I know what you and I need."
"Whats that?" I reply back just as my door closes.