[NOTE: I've not shared this piece here before, but it isn't new. Enjoy.]
I stood in the gallery, surprised. The new Rural Life photo contest had caused me to leave my normally secluded life and travel to Charlotte to view the collection of photography from across the state. I had been enjoying the various landscapes, pictures of freckled faced, overall clad youths and studies on various farm-life objects: plows, daisies growing in tin pots, wagon wheel sentinels on dirt drives. Then there it was; a black and white photograph of a too familiar road, that road. That road, eternally dark and damp, always leading out of town to the same house, the same now seldom remembered history. The story is all but gone as are those who where there, but I, I alone drift back again tonight, to a time before I knew of malformed creatures and a darkness so completely void of light that it could seized your spirit in terror, a time when I was waiting beside that road.
Evan strained with the tire iron, once more, trying to loosen that last lug nut. The muscles on his back burned, he felt a spasm grab between his shoulders, as the sweat dripped from my brow onto his hands. The iron slipped and he bashed his knuckles on the rim, again.
"Damn it! " he cursed under his breath, dropping the tool and standing, shaking his hand. He checked to make sure he wasn’t bleeding...a little drop hung on his knuckle. "Shit. That hurts," he mumbled to himself.
"How do I do these things?" he thought. He stood, the left front tire, flat and torn. One final lug nut remained immovable, between him and the installation of a perfectly good spare
"Gentle now. Breathe man. “Just calm down,” he told himself.
His frustration turned to internal condemnation. "This road. Nobody drives this old road. It goes nowhere. Well, I guess it goes somewhere, or at least did, but, in the last two years of living in this county, I’ve never been down this road. So, why today? Why today do I decide to let my mind wander, clear my head with a drive?"
"Simple. Kelly. I can see the words from her note. They followed all sorts of comments about growing a part...traveling different journeys...yada, yada....then there they were in her own characteristic simple, wonderful, lovely, elegant hand...'so, I’ve decided that the country is not for me at this point in my life, and since you need the space, I’ll not crowd you with my needs. Goodbye.'"
Evans mind started to swim just remembering those words. "Crowd you with my needs," what the hell does that mean? Women!" he shouted to the empty road.
The old truck turned the bend in the road, back toward town where he had come from. "Finally," he sighed in relief. He brushed the dirt from his jeans, grabbed his shirt off of the roof of his old Sebring, made a metal note to get the thing painted soon, and pulled on his shirt on over his chest, just as that rusted old hunk of junk-truck slowed and stopped by him. Evan leaned in the passenger window as the driver asked; "flat?" The voice was as thick as he had heard leaden with a southern twang that almost hurt to hear. The face from which it came had a toothless, unshaven, floppy eared crooked eyed look that made him think of one word, "Deliverance."
"Wanna ride wid me," the driver asked as he grinned and revealed his green teeth?
"I'm ok," Evan lied, "just about finished changing the tire. Thanks anyway."
"Hum,” he grunted, in what was certainly some sort of hick code for disappointment and off he drove. Evan stood and watched as he passed around the bend, and felt relief that he had avoided the world of deliverance, today.
He turn to face his car, again, and reality set in. He was still stranded and the only hope of “deliverance” just drove away, without him. It was getting well into the afternoon, and the only option he could figure was walking. He gathered a few things from the car and decided to hoof it back the 20+ miles. Stiffing his well worn red canvas backpack with a half full bottle of Aquafina, he pulled his ball cap out and flapped it on his head. Turning back to the car, he grabbed an old jacket, watch, and keys from the driver’s seat, tossed them in the pack, zipped it up, and with a click of the key remote, locked the Sebring and began the walk toward town.
The sun was instantly warmer than he'd like, building its heat on his neck and back. Flipping the bill of his cap backwards to shield his neck Evan walked toward town and soon found a rhythm to his stride and room to think. His mind went back to Kelly. Last week...