Marybeth Niederkorn

To the Man in the Blue Neon with Wide White Stripes

I know, I’m sorry, I’m not up on my paint-job lingo. I
  don’t know what the term is for those stripes. I’m sure
  there is one. Not that it matters, exactly, since I have no
  interest in actually speaking to you. You’re scowling every
  time I see you, frowning, grizzled face shadowed by your car’s
  visor, squinting into the sun, sans sunglasses. I don’t really
  understand, but perhaps I’m not meant to. I see you every
  day, you know, here, on this stretch of MO-72 West. I’ve been
  on the road since 4:00, and here it is, 4:48, and I see you, your
  fish lure of a car whose license plate I’ve memorized, not that
  it matters, exactly. I’m tired. I’m hypnotized by an indifferent,
  twisted highway, lonesome as I am right now. Cell coverage is
  spotty out this way so I’ve learned to entertain myself on the drive.
  I listen to NPR’s halfway-crabby coverage of issues that are supposed
  to be relevant to me. I feel the judgment of my inattention to the world
  out there, in Ari Shapiro’s smug yet shmexy voice. I’m sad because he
  calls all the female correspondents by the diminutive forms of their names,
  yet I’ve never heard him refer to Robert Siegel as Bob. But Lourdes Garcia
  Navarro is totally LuLu. Gross. And there you are. There you are, driving home,
 again, I guess, unless you’re on your way to a five o’clock shift in Fredericktown.
  I don’t even know if Fredericktown has anyplace with a five o’clock shift, and
  anyway, this particular stretch is a few more than twelve minutes away from
  there, unless of course you’re driving over the speed limit, which, hey, I mean,
  everyone does on this road, am I right? I never see a state trooper but that might
  have more to do with how this damn road has a foot of shoulder, which makes
  me giggle because foot and shoulder are both body parts too, and I think about
  how everyone driving here has their own body they inhabit, a spirit extending
  into flesh, into vehicle, all on their way to something or from someone, and
  I round the uphill corner just a few miles on, drive past the factory where
                                                                                                I bet you work,
                                                                                                  and you’re off
                                                                                                shift at 4:30.


Marybeth Niederkorn writes for a living as a reporter for the Southeast Missourian newspaper, and her fiction and poetry have appeared in Red Fez Entertainment, The Journal of Asinine Poetry, and a 2016 anthology, Small Town Tales Vol. 1, from Kapuha Press, among others. Educated at Southeast Missouri State University, she holds a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A. in professional writing. She lives in Missouri with her awesome husband.