Even tho I’d quit Driver Training I couldn’t stop thinking about driving. I thought about it when Mom drove me to The Mall or The General drove me to HighSchool. I thought about it when I saw car commercials on TV. I even had dreams where I was driving a flying car, and a tornado was trying to get me, but I was able to go right past it. And I especially thought about it whenever I saw La Renarde around. I had a deep and mysterious sense that driving would be a necessary part of my Reality Traveler destiny.
I eventually went to Dad for help.
“Look,” I said. “I finally want to learn how to operate a vehicle, but The Driving Professor is a big, giant, man-eating monster.”
“Driving just takes a lot of practice,” he said. “You need to be on The Road as much as possible, and then once you start to get better you’ll be ready to face your monster.”
“But what if I’m just bad at driving? What if there’s a God of The Road, and he gives some people the strength to drive really good and some the weakness to always drive really bad?”
“That’s not how it works. The more you do something, the more of an expert you become.”
I didn’t really believe him, but I felt like I had no choice. Soon we Hit The Road together, and he tried to train me for Driver Training. Dad wasn’t a mindless predator like The Driving Professor, but I was still making all the same mistakes, including not breathing. I was still almost getting into accidents all the time.
“No!” I said. “I’m just someone who can’t do this.”
“That’s not true,” Dad said. “The Road is stressful for everyone. No one around you is ever driving how you want them to, and you could get hit at any time even tho you didn’t do anything wrong. You just need something to take the stress off. Like your mom always listens to The Radio.”
Then we turned The Radio on and everything changed. It made me suddenly realize that I had a steering wheel and breaks, five senses and a brain, and I could actually control the car with them. Instead of thinking about crashing all the time, I was thinking what The Radio songs were about, and then I started breathing again. I started making fewer mistakes, and when I did a new song would come on to sing along to and everything would feel alright again.
“Yes!” Dad said. “I think you’re ready now.”
Then I went back to Driver Training to take The Driver Test. To pass it you had to correctly answer enough questions about The Rules of Driving, and then you hadta Hit The Road with The Driving Professor for several minutes straight without making any mistakes. I had The Radio on my side now, but I was still nervous. I knew the Crocodile would be there and maybe try to eat me for my meat no matter how much better at driving I was. Besides who knew what kind of MeNotzie things he would say about the Suburban Hits Station I liked to listen to? I wanted to be like Crocodile Dundee and stand up to him and make a hat out of him, but I didn’t know if I had it in me.
He came up to me as I was waiting. His mouth was so long. His armor was so green.
“You gonna freak out again?” he said.
“No,” I said.
“Huh? Can’t hear you.”
My breath had already stopped, and we hadn’t even got in the car yet. I could almost feel my flesh getting ripped apart in his jaws already.
“I’m not gonna take you this time tho cuz I got another Trainee,” The Driving Professor said. “You gonna go with The Other Driving Professor.”
Then he pointed at an old dumpy, gray, little man nearby. From what I could tell his face didn’t have any powerful biting mechanism, and he seemed generally harmless.
“I’m Mr. Pigeon,” he said and shook my hand. “Let’s get this over with.”
Then we got in the car and I tried to settle in.
“Do you mind if I turn on The Radio,” I said. “It helps me.”
“Whatever,” he said. “I don’t care.”
Soon music from The Great List of Old Songs was filling the air, and I was breathing deep and steady. The Pigeon didn’t seem to have any opinion on them. He looked like he wanted to sit on a park bench for a while and stare out. His beak didn’t even look like it could peck you.
“Alright,” Pigeon said. “Let’s try parking first.”
“Like parallel parking?” I asked.
Parallel parking was one of the hardest things to do in Driving. You hadta fit your car in between two other cars on the side of the Road, and there might not be that big of a gap, and you might hit one of the cars or end up way far from the curb.
“Nah,” Pigeon said. “We’re in the Suburbs. You’re never gonna have to do that here.”
Then all I had to do was just park into a regular parking lot space.
“Good,” he said, “now let’s just go around the block a couple times.”
Then we got out on Suburban streets that weren’t even busy. They didn’t have multiple lanes or any kind of weird signs I didn’t know about. He didn’t have me make a left turn before we went back to The Driver Training Center.
“Alright, you pass,” he said.
“Sure, why not.”
Then we went in and he gave me my very own Driver’s License. It had my picture and basic information on it, and it proved I could drive as well as any other Reality.
“Alright!” it made me say.
Dad was so happy for me he got me my own used car. It wasn’t fast or pretty, but it could go on most normal Roads without breaking down. I called it, Dodge, and it was good enough to take me back and forth from Artsy Lawless College.