If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



Tuesday, February 8, 2011


They had called the old man Sarge. He retired from the Military and then from Ford glass, James told me. ‘Then he went plumb crazy.’ He parked his truck in the washed out drive of what used to be Sarge's house.

     The house didn’t make you doubt Sarge had gone off his rocker. It looked like a play thing, with the holler rising up, high, all around it; some child’s concoction  of remnants, piecemealed onto dry stacked stones there in the creek’s bend.

     James and I crossed the shallow water.

     Inside, the house was squat and icy and smelled of the sweet hay, strewn thick on the floor. The roof was sound, so the bedroom had been bricked up with bales, as was most of the space between it and the modest kitchen, which had become a catch-all for fencing supplies. There was no sign of power or plumbing.

     Holes had been knocked into the walls and ceiling. Sarge's boy had been hunting for the old man’s double pensions. Clearly, Sarge wasn't a big spender. The money had to be somewhere. James had punched his share of holes, too.

     ‘I didn’t find a damn thing,’ James said. ‘That old coot probably buried it out in the yard. He was crazy like that.’

     He might have been. I never met Sarge. James said the old man came up missing one morning though. He went missing for nearly two weeks. Then one day his boy came by the house and found a new, Ford pickup parked out in the yard.

     Turns out, Sarge bought himself a bicycle at a yard sale. He rode the son-of-a-bitch clean to Indianapolis, where he was form originally. There was a Ford dealer up there he’d always done business with. Sarge paid cash for the truck, threw his bicycle in the bed and drove back home.

     Maybe that is crazy. But there's a lot to be said for an old man who can jump on a yard sale bicycle and make it to Indianapolis from Tennessee, then back, in two weeks.

     Anyway, if there is any pension money, Sarge won’t be telling anyone where it's hid.

     ‘He’s down in one of those homes in Gallatin, damn near a vegetable,’ James said as we drove back in the slow rain that had begun to fall. ‘Got that spinal meningitis. Kindly drawin’ up on himself. I guess he’ll keep on, too, till he’s dead.’

     James said that Sarge had had two boys. Twins. The one who knocked holes in his house, and another, who drew up on himself, too, till he was dead.

     ‘His boy says the old man’s gettin’ just dues for never payin’ his son no mind,’ James said. ‘He kindly disowned the kid when he took sick. Then the old bastard didn’t even come see his own blood put in the ground. That's somethin' else, ain't it, doin' your own boy like that.’

     I watched the fence row, choked with saw briar and cedar, pass by us; cattle, huddled in mud and mist, the hills, the valleys.
     ‘I reckon it’s gonna snow,’ James said.

     The treetops were dark veins in the low clouds.

     I’ve never been to Indianapolis.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to be that person who just buys a bike spur-of-the-moment and rides off to seek adventures......


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