I am driving five hundred miles south. I’m going home. But my trip gets off to a rough start because the woman inside my GPS is a Godless heathen who refuses to talk to me.
I’m driving blind through South Carolina—eating crackers and pimento cheese.
The cheese was a gift from a woman at a country church I visited this morning. I sat in the back row in a room of mostly white-hairs.
After service, Miss Nelle sent me on my way with pimento cheese, a jar of homemade peanut butter, and a SOLO cup of banana pudding. Leftovers from the church refrigerator.
I have never met Miss Nelle before today.
So I’m rolling through the Carolinas and the scenery takes my breath away. Tall trees, swallowed in green. Sprawling farmland, framed with sky.
And suddenly, I realize that I’m lost without the help of the devil-woman in my GPS.
I stop at a filling station outside Ridge Spring. I’m here to buy a map. The clerk has tattoos and a bushy beard.
“Sorry, dude,” he says. “We don’t sell
maps, but I can get you to Georgia, easy.”
He guides me to Augusta using the ancient, but widely practiced art of hand gestures.
Augusta—I’m in a bookstore. I ask the cashier to show me the atlases. She hands me a Rand McNally paper map. The kind of maps I was raised on.
This was the same kind of map Chad Williams’ daddy taught us how to read in Boy Scouts, when he took us white water rafting in Tennessee. It was the same camping trip that Elliot Stevens got so constipated he had to go to the emergency room.
The bookstore woman has greenish hair. She is pregnant with twins. She also tells me she is an amateur poet. I ask her to recite a poem.
She doesn’t even pause. She rattles off a magnificent verse about twins.