Friday Feature ~ “The Infinite Regression of Jerry C”

As with several of my stories, “The Infinite Regression of Jerry C” was born of an actual experience in my life, though not quite with the magical realism I depict in the story.

When my son was in Cub Scouts, we were taking our boys to some away camp, and when all of the boys and dads had found rides, Jerry C and his son were to ride in my car. Much like the Jerry C in my story, he was an engineer, and engineers are always bad guys in my stories. I knew his son, and he was a likable kid, but I had not met his father before. We had a two-hour ride to get to know each other.

It felt like a ten-hour ride.

Among the pronouncements and solutions Jerry C had for all of the woes of the world (that his reasonable and empirical engineer’s mind had come to) was the advice for me that when driving on the highway, I should allow one car length ahead of me for every ten miles per hour I was going. Thus if I was going 60 miles per hour, I should keep at least six car lengths between me and the car ahead of me.

You try doing that.

To be polite, and because I was carrying his boy in my car, I slowed until I had approximately the right distance ahead of me. He helpfully pointed out that if I counted the seconds between when the car ahead passed a given point and when I passed that point, I would know I had the right distance if my count reached six.

This was tedious because he was always watching, and he didn’t hesitate to tell me when I had crept forward too much. Of course as I was doing this, all of the other fathers had likely reached our destination. And, since I had built such a big gap in the traffic, other cars would pass me and then slip into that gap, causing me to slow further until I had recovered the distance. And then it would happen again.

And this was what I based my story on. We managed to reach out destination that day, but the Jerry C in my story met a different fate.

This story was published in the October 2016 issue of Danse Macabre, which you can read if you go to that link above. This publication had run one of my other stories too: “Moron Saturday.”

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2 Comments on “Friday Feature ~ “The Infinite Regression of Jerry C””

  1. Libby Says:

    It’s funny that you mentioned this, because the cruise control on the Prius worked just like this. It was really hard to use on a high traffic area.

  2. Dean Says:

    Just for the record, I try to drive that way but, as you say, it never works. On the other hand, it annoys me no end to have cars on my bumper when I am driving the speed limit.

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