Blast Off by Berkley Carnine

Blast Off Cover
Read the excerpt and download your free .pdf below.

When I asked where he was heading, he said he was hauling baby diapers from Sac to Nashville. “That and redistributing fate.”

“You aren’t another Born-Again?” I asked, feeling prickly after my last ride.

“Naw.” He grinned and asked where I was going.

It was Friday night. I told him I needed to be in Tucson by Sunday at noon. He said he was crossing northern Arizona but might be able to cut south through Tucson.

“Anything to avoid L.A.” I said, turning to survey his living quarters. There was no evidence of drugs, no porn magazines splayed across the bed, the only curiosity was a plank of wood mounted vertically on the sidewall between the bed and refrigerator. Evenly spaced, small circles of glass were set into the weathered wood. They appeared like portholes in a submarine. Instead of offering views of the ocean floor, the glass framed a series of Polaroid photos: one of a metal bird sculpture, another of a wrecked pink Cadillac, and the bottom frame had the profile of a dark haired man.

“You gonna let my AC take on global warming?” He asked.

“It’s too fucking hot for June,” I agreed and retrieved my pack.

While he tidied his living quarters, shoving a red shoebox further under the bed, I calculated a ten-hour drive to Flagstaff and fifteen to Tucson. Wondering how he would be able to drive an extra five hours south, I heard my ex’s voice, you trust the wrong people. Old Richard, the psychiatrist at Evergreen College, chimed in: the idea of listening to your guts has biological merit. That was the last session when he explained how early trauma damaged my judgment and made me hypersexual. In my head, I had told Old Richard, it’s not my fault you want to fuck before storming out. In reality, I’d waited for our session to end and never rescheduled.

The trucker plopped back into the driver seat and let off the brakes. “Hammer down,” he said.

“What do you mean redistributing fate?”

“Getting things where they need to go.”

Unable to get him to divulge more, we fell silent. The sunset gave a last display of creamsicle colored light. Inhaling, I detected cedar smoke and gypsum beneath the stench of cigarettes and laundry detergent. Exhaling, I tried to relax my shoulders. This was my first time hitchhiking alone. Thumbing rides was part of what I read about at the infoshop: dumpster diving, hopping trains, squatting, and taking direct action. Carve out an existence based not on exploitation but mutual aid. In a class on the borderlands, a professor pointed out the limitations of dabbling activism and encouraged us to find our own stake in movements, examine our privilege, and foremost, commit. So I dropped out of school to commit to something real.


Berkley_Carnine-IMG_3228Berkley Carnine is a queer organizer, educator, writer, and musician of mixed European descent. She grew up in Oregon, lived for nearly a decade in the Bay Area, and currently resides in Arizona. After receiving her MFA at Arizona State University, she moved up to Flagstaff where she herds sheep, organizes around Indigenous solidarity, builds creative community, makes home in a bread truck and tries to maintain circulation to her fingers so she can write during the long winters. She is currently working on finishing her first novel.



Back to Issue #16


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *