Highway to Hell by Ian Crosby

I wanted to scream. We had been in the car for hours now, and as usual, my dad and brother had been arguing about one thing or another since we first left the house. The argument would only pause when my mom would interject, which happened quite frequently, really. She would neurotically shriek at my dad about nearby cars or pedestrians that he certainly must not have seen, or how he didn’t know where he was going, all from the backseat, which is where she preferred to do her driving. This would often result in my dad shouting back at her about how of course he had seen that car, and yes he knew where he was going and – oops, he just took a wrong turn, but that was only because she was distracting him, of course. In her defense, though, my dad’s inability to concentrate, especially when he was engaged in something like say, an argument with my brother, coupled with his overall obliviousness, didn’t exactly inspire very much confidence in his abilities as a driver. All of this omni-directional shouting made the use of headphones a necessity for me, as I didn’t want my sanity to be entirely destroyed before we even arrived at our destination in Tahoe.

It didn’t help my situation any that the sun’s rays were soaking into the car’s black upholstery, turning the car into an oven, or that my clothes seemed to be permanently bonding with my skin. I couldn’t feel my legs under the weight of both of my dogs resting on my lap, but they had just now settled down after being restless for the longest time, so I didn’t dare disturb them. The combination of the noise, heat, and claustrophobia was really starting to get to me, and at this point I started to consider opening the door and leaping for freedom into the expansive open road that is the freeway. In other words, it was just like any other family road trip.

As the petty, senseless argument between my dad and brother raged on, my brother’s voice got louder. This is often what happens when one has no real argument; one raises their voice in an attempt to drown out any opposition, and to hopefully draw attention away from the fact that one is not actually saying anything of substance. Luckily, I was prepared for this development. I turned up the volume of my music. After all, if I was going to spend hours on end listening to senseless, obnoxious shouting, it might as well be the shouting in a rock song that was accompanied by a guitar solo. Much less grating on the ears that way.

Music was a godsend. Sure, I was hot and sweaty and my legs were camped, but I could deal with that. I had everything under control. Heck, I had been in a car with these people all the way to Arizona! I knew what I was doing. Tahoe, in comparison, should be a cakewalk. And more importantly, we were going to Tahoe, weren’t we? What’s not to like about that? People would kill to be in my position. I had a great vacation ahead of me. The drive there was of next to no significance when compared to that. Surely I could endure a few measly hours of discomfort? The destination was certainly worth the slight inconvenience of getting there.

But wait, what was that noise? Was that the sound of my brother’s voice? Over my music? But it was almost at max volume!  I had made a terrible mistake: I had underestimated just how horrendous an argument between family members could become.  Not even music could save me now. In the crowded car, there was nowhere to run. Nowhere to escape to. May God have mercy upon my soul. Why, oh why had I not opted for those noise-isolating headphones?

After what felt like eons, we finally reached our destination. At last, our arduous journey had come to an end. The worst was over; everything would be easy from here on out. Or so I thought. As we stepped into the condo, we found it to be about half the size we were expecting. It was hot as hell, with only one broken fan with which to fight the heat. The balcony was in the process of being repaired and was off limits. Most of the cobweb covered windows either wouldn’t open at all, or wouldn’t close all the way. As soon as we turned on the lights, a bulb burned out. And to top things off, the room it seemed I would be spending the week in was not much bigger than a refrigerator box. Was it too late to get back in the car?