(After Cormac McCarthy)
“On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?”
~ The Road ~
He is rundown and unenlightened as he drives and scans the dense and unkempt roadside fescue for any sign of wildlife. The tedious treadmill of his factory job leaves his senses dull and recovery is dilatory and shrouded in steamy darkness cut only by highbeams and occasional distant brakelamps. A twenty minute progression of second after second of endeavoring to forget.
He navigates the steep of his cracked concrete driveway and nestles into the trashstrewn garage and shifts to park and kills the engine and is overcome by the silence. Broken by the boy who has been waiting for his arrival. Hey dad, he says. How was your day? He lies. Not too shabby. Why aren’t you in bed? He’s never in bed when the man pulls in. The everpresent nightlight from his bedroom window a beacon and sleep doesnt come until the man appears safe and smiling. Youd better head to bed now, he says. Dont forget to brush your teeth. They hug each other. Eventually the boy nods off with a blanket pulled over his head and his feet exposed and dangling as though sleep took him by surprise. Such are his dreams of monsters in closets and burning stucco houses these days that being ready to decamp for a reassuring touch makes sense to him.
How was your day, she says. Alright I guess. Yours? They glance at each other and she returns to what she was doing when he came home. He sets aside a book he carries and opens the laptop buried on his desktop under piles of childrens books and the daily post. He spends a few moments clearing his inbox and watches the weatherman scroll through and under images of red and green systems moving in from the West. Better bring the bikes and trashcan onto the porch, he says but doesnt move.
By lamplight he reads from a book that inspires him and makes his eyelids heavy. The dichotomy weights his mind. She walks through the house securing doors and extinguishing lights left on and brushes her teeth and slips off her clothes and slides under the handmade overlay he shares when he gets cold as morning approaches.
I love you, she says. I love you too. He thinks about a macadam stretch and how it is supple in the sun and steadfast at nightfall and the way each moment it is a place thats different and yet the same roadway. They maneuver to share a kiss and then drift to sleep in the darkness slatted by the intermittent streetlight . . .