One time years ago my wife and children and I were driving down a narrow dark road in my town. This is Laurel Street, which has a steep stretch with no lights, a stretch in which the road is pinched along a ledge between a perpendicular cliff and a precipitous bluff. A hundred times I warned our kids about that stretch, when they were biking and skateboarding and skittering free in our neighborhood; a thousand times I warned them about it again, when they began to drive the clan sedan; a dozen times I wrote to our civil servants, inquiring about the possibility of streetlights, or reflective medallions, or anything in that tunnel; but that steep shadowy stretch of Laurel Street remains as narrow and dark today as it was that spring night years ago.

As I remember, we were coming home from some burbling event at the elementary school, Field Day or a parent-teacher conference or graduation night, and as I remember, it was a russet spring evening, warm, the children happy and weary, jumbled like sweaty puppets in the back. Down the hill we drove, slowly, smiling at some joke, no one elbowing anyone for once, when suddenly there were high beams behind me and an idiot blaring his horn! and this just as I had entered the narrow dark chute on Laurel Street, in which a sensible driver slows down to a crawl and hugs the right side of the street, along the guardrail, just in case some reckless fool comes roaring up the chute from below, probably not realizing that the street narrows, to the point where two cars can pass each other, but only by the slimmest of margins, really and truly two or three inches, if even that!

But this guy behind me is blaring his incredibly shrill strident horn, and racing his engine, and now he is flashing his high beams at me, and I am rattled and angry and fearful, and trying not to curse out loud, and wincing from his high beams in my mirrors, and squinting into the velvet dark to see how far we have left in the chute before I can inch even farther over to let this jerk pass me, can he not see that I have children in the car, can he not wait another 30 seconds for us all to get out of the narrow dangerous chute?