Aghast at the fact that one can feel quite solid in one’s identity but, when pressed, realize one has forgotten vast sequences of the past or, if not forgotten, require a great deal of reminding before something, some sensation of recall begins to shimmer even faintly, like a word on the tip of the tongue, he drove down the freeway in his father-in-law’s Fiat Doblo, the very one he himself had complained about for so long; he drove in the traffic at night, after hurrying home from work and finishing packing and stowing everything into the back of the car and changing clothes and hurrying down the road to join his family (who had left a few days earlier to ski, since he had less vacation time) for an Easter vacation, eager to hear in greater detail about Gamma’s miraculous explosion of ski talent — having gone in just 4 hours instruction from a cautious snowplower to fearless and faster than all but her older sister — and maybe pick up a couple pointers he could use in his own life on exploding talent; he drove and enjoyed the spaciousness of the Doblo interior and how easily it handled and the smooth ride, and wondered why he had ever given it up, and what had irritated him so much about it; he wondered and drove and got out his mobile phone and called his wife and asked her to ask his father-in-law, who was with her, and who was a retired automobile mechanic, what else it might mean when the battery warning light came on on the dash besides the battery is not being charged, due to a broken alternator or bad fan belt and whether it would be wise to continue his journey to see them that night or whether it would be more prudent to turn around and try again with a different car the following morning, due to considerations like fatigue, and the battery going dead and losing headlights in the middle of nowhere and perhaps breaking down altogether and so on.
His wife said his father-in-law said it should be okay, a diesel runs fine once it’s started even with out the battery, which had not been the precise concern but whatever. Then she called back a minute later to say, turn around after all, you never know, so he did and the cats were happy to see him when he got home and he transferred luggage and took his own car the next day. His back was bad so no one skiied while he was there. Instead, they went for a walk in a nearby nature park and looked at cranes and geese and where beavers had chewed everything. Another day they went to Salzburg, a pretty town full of stuffy old robots and dedicated to shamelessly flogging the hide of Mozart to tourists, even though he (Mozart) had been happy to leave Salzburg back in the day.
They did some other stuff, and then they returned home and listened to the in-laws’ story of their own drive home, and how they had been so relieved to finally get home, after narrowly missing a 5-car pile up in the snow on the freeway, only to find the tortoise on its back in the kitchen in the center of its latest Jackson-Pollock-inspired large-format shit painting, perhaps exhausted by its burst of creativity.
The tortoise is fine now, though.