Professional Driver, Closed Course

Sorting through the sounds of words.

On the television is an advertisement. Its sound is muted while I talk on the phone. A camera travels with the car, inches away from the front tire, pointed down. The shot requires complex rigging equipment, operated by an expert in front-mounted mobile camera-work. As the tire spins over the wet asphalt, beads of rain spin out like stars, sprayed from crashing galaxies. Headlight glow refracts inside the droplets.

“They would do anything we wanted for an hour. So we got high with them and the three of us sat on the bed with pillows in our laps and watched. One of them was a Colombian, she was kind of scrawny but cute, and the other was a French-Russian, who was porn-model hot, and they put their fingers inside of each other and licked each other, and they both came. They offered to fuck us for free but we said we couldn't because we all had girlfriends. So what are your stories about?”

One. A young man goes to meet a friend, and drinks on top of his anti-anxiety medicine. He becomes almost unconscious, and gets himself in trouble.

Two. An old man walks around his neighborhood in a small city, and sees 20-25 year old women wearing the clothes of his dead wife. He thinks he's hallucinating. He talks to one of the young women; they have a polite discussion. He pulls a picture of his wife from his wallet and the girl says, 'she's very beautiful.' The young women bought the dead woman's clothes, 60s and 70s vintage and well-maintained, at the Salvation Army next to her office. The old man had brought the clothes there, piled in boxes in the back seat of a station wagon, a few months after his wife's funeral.

“I like the last idea.”

Earlier, a call from my father: “I sensed things weren't going so, ah, I'd give a ring.” “How do you sense that?” Genomic resonance, harmonics tuned across four decades, 26 year old boy, gray hair showing up in Brooklyn, copious with every mirrorful, salt-colored.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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