I took a long drive yesterday. It was accidental. I was only supposed to visit Geneva, Alabama on business. But I got distracted.
Sunshine does that to me.
I practically grew up in a truck bench-seat, taking drives. Daddy and I would pile in and run the roads for no reason. He’d say, “God, calling this weather perfect would be a grave understatement.”
Then we’d head for nowhere. We’d chew black licorice, he’d sip a beer can.
Anyway, since I didn’t have anything pressing to do, I pointed my truck in whichever direction felt easiest. Ellie Mae laid in the seat beside me—sawing logs.
The scenery: fields, corn rows, pine forests. Bass ponds with cattails on the edges. Pastures green enough to kill.
I stopped at a gas station where I found black licorice. I bought three packs.
One for me, two for Daddy.
More driving. I went for a few hours. It’s funny, sometimes the older I get, the more like a child I feel. If you were to call me a responsible adult, you’d be making a grave overstatement.
I passed places like Bellwood, and Clayhatchee. I’ll bet they don’t get too worked up in Bellwood.
I ran over the gentle Choctaw. I cruised by an old woman reclining on her porch-sofa, spitting. She waved.
You haven’t lived until you’ve sat on a porch-sofa, swatting the back of your neck.
I drove past junky areas. Clapboard houses, moldy—prettier than new siding could ever be. And overgrown lawns.
Manicured yards make me nervous. Boys can’t chase lizards in short grass. And even if they could, why would they?
I zipped past trees as big around as wagon wheels. Rusted trailers. Dilapidated satellite dishes. A broke-down service garage that went belly-up fifty years ago. A church missing its front door.
I came to a four-way stop in the middle of pasture. It looked like God had hand-drawn a dirt cross in a cotton field. I pulled over. Cranked the windows.
I watched clouds and talked to Daddy. Asked him how he’s been getting on.
A police cruiser rolled behind me. He was a friendly fella. He wore no gun on his belt, and enjoyed petting Ellie.
He asked if I was lost.
As it happens, I was. But I was in no hurry to fix it. I was too busy visiting a friend who left me without saying goodbye.
The deputy gave me directions back to the highway, then said, “You enjoy yourself out here. Ain’t this weather perfect?”
It was a grave understatement.
Daddy never touched his licorice.