Story Five: Untitled. (Work In Progress)

Story Five: Untitled. (Work In Progress)

A Chapter by Eirinn

I’m shocked.

            At how same it all looks. Everywhere, all around.

            My eyes are blurrily unfocused, yet constantly and consistently open. I couldn’t fall asleep at the wheel even if I tried. I guess that’s a good thing, right? They’re red and itchy.

            It’s been four days, twelve hours, forty-two minutes. Approximately… who am I kidding: Exactly. I’ve been counting every minute, moment, every bird outside, every yellow line; one-two-three … one-hundred-four-one-hundred-five; haven’t I seen that rock before? That exact one, I know it. Or maybe it has a twin.

 

F**k, I’m loosing it.

            It all looks the same, but somehow so supremely different.

 

            I focus on the road, on the birds, on the stones, to keep a clear head. Clear my internal vision, the f*****g television of a brain I have, that keeps popping up shows and events and images of those people and places and things I don’t want anymore.

           Discard.

                       Trash.

                                   Delete.

 

            I laugh to myself momentarily.

           

            I pass by a farm, the tenth one so far in this state of Missouri. Where did I start? I won’t ever tell. Where am I going? Hell if I will ever know.

            I catch small glances, glimpses out the window. The farm, the fences, the barrels of hay. The cows.

                        I so used to love them, the cows.

                                    The black and white ones, the weird ones with the big stripe down the middle. Sort of like a skunk-disguise on a huge heifer. Comically adorable.

            I used to.

                        But I can’t help but smile. Smile until I see what I see, at this, the tenth farm.

 

            Out the right-hand window, I glance over to the Moos, as they all gather around a trough. It’s really cramped, which is depressing when you look at the immense landscape surrounding them; and here the poor b******s are, enclosed in a tiny fenced in area with one feeding trough, and lo-and-behold something is very very wrong: a cow has been tipped inside. Not by anyone in particular, it probably fell or tripped or something very human, or I guess very “animal”. Something natural and normal. Clumsiness happens.

            But the poor cow, poor little Moo has tripped or fallen or been pushed and tipped right in to this trough, struggling and mooing and the others helplessly watch. Two of them are mooing, nudging the lost soul with their noses, “how can we help, tell us how!” Some of them just look bewildered, some are angry, “you are keeping us from our food, you cow!”

 

            I read this all from a quick small glance. Cars go fast, you miss a lot when you speed by life. For a brief moment, I think “I should stop. I need to get out and help.”

 

            But I don’t. My impulses override my conscience and I keep driving. I loose feeling, and the sick turn-over in my stomach from the image of the helpless cattle begins to wane, and I’m alone again.

 

            It all looks the same. The swaying of the golden grass, the green patches budding up like little prickles of hair on a bald dirt head. The endless blue sky, no f*****g clouds, no f*****g anything but same same same.

 

            Here we go.

                                    Let’s go.

 

 

***

 

            “You need to find a hobby,” he said, holding a tiny brittle paintbrush between his index and thumb. “You can’t seriously lounge around here all day like a f*****g princess.”

            She forced a smile, putting a hand up to her head to catch the apple sliding off it; it had been balanced, before he started to criticize her, and she at the stifle a grunt of hostility. It was a bullshit pose anyhow. An apple? How Johnny Appleseed of him.

 

                                    Post-modern bullshit.

 

            He was convinced this was the new way of living. The new old-fashioned way.

 

            There was one painting in the room in which she sat that she fancied at all: his very first, a small 6’’ by 6’’ canvas resting atop a pile of old, unorganized books. I little black cow in a meadow. It was the place they first met, three years ago. His car had unfortunately broken down on the freeway, and she was the only car to come his way in two hours. Happily, she had stopped. He was grinning, a nice demeanor and charming face that coaxed her into meeting him again.

They saw each other frequently; once a week at first, on her days off from work; soon it was daily. He came in to see her on the job, bringing flowers and drawings and poems. She began to get worried, however, when he stopped showing up for a week. She heard nothing from him, and he wouldn’t answer her phone calls.

Just as she was about to give up and move on, he appeared again, Monday at her office, toting in a little bit of painting; a cow in a field, the exact field in which they met. He spent the past week driving back to the field to paint; a two-hour drive from where he lived and many hours of sitting and painting to perfection. A little black cow with a white stripe right down the middle.

 

She sneezed, and at last the apple fell to the floor, splattering them both in small sprays of juice as the fruit exploded on the wooden floor.

“Goddammit…” he muttered. “Are you f*****g kidding me, woman?” He tossed the paintbrush to the ground next to the apple, a little mark of apple-red tipping the wood and marking it forever.

She showed no expression as he stormed out of the room. An angry, overly emotional artist. He was showing his true colors more and more each day. She wasn’t phased, and simply sat in the dining room alone for ten minutes, until his return, a new apple in hand.

This time, he did not speak. He picked up his small brush off the floor, made no attempt to clean the mess, and continued the painting.

 

***

 

            I’ve just made it to Oklahoma, a state I’ve never seen nor really heard much of outside of the musical title and that stupid song that goes with it. No, I don’t think I’ve ever known a real human who has lived here or bothered to come here, and I think that’s why I steered clear -- why I steered here.

            It’s less drab than I pictured it. Believe it or not, Oklahoma is green green green. Beautiful, even. Gorgeous brick buildings, nice fluid landscapes. I found myself stumbling into a small town called “Bartlesville”, just at the right-hand tip of the state. I don’t want to land off in Tulsa, being that it is a city, and I’m feeling reclusive at present. So here I end for the night.

           

 

Though a city would be a good escape from all these cows.

 

            I sleep in my car.

            The next day, I feel the need to get up and go. I’ve been here too long, far too long. I can’t stay put, I can’t risk meeting anyone new here, I can’t risk getting attached. I sit up, groggy, and rub my apple-red eyes.

            I hear a tap-tap-tap. S**t. I guess it’s hard to avoid human contact when you sleep in public. The police came a-knockin’, and I opened the creaky-hinge car door.

 

            “This yer car, lady?”

            He has sunglasses on, in a clichéd fashion. Beard and mustache, grayed a bit but nothing too noticeably ancient. I smell putrid from living in car for the past five days, but with all my luck I’m hoping the outside air will mask it.

            “Yeah.”

            He doesn’t speak for a while, just tips his glasses down off the bridge of his nose for a bit, and looks me dead in the eye. In my dead blue-green eyes. He gives a tiny grin, not malicious. Friendly, almost.

            “That’s good t’ hear. What you doin’ sleepin’ in your car, eh? There’s a hotel right down the road. Lookie here,” he points just past my car, “I can see La Quinta Inn from here. Not too bad of a price, neither.”

            I stay pretty silent. I’m still tired. I’m still not awake.

            He smiles again. “How long you in town, lady?”

            Please don’t call me lady.

            She looked at the gun on his belt, sterile and black, hidden away in a pouch.

            “Not long. I was just leaving. Don’t you worry about me.” I get up and finally work my way out of the car as he takes a step back. I avoid looking at his face, slam the back door, and open the front. By accident, I look up into his eyes, and I see it: a look of pure sympathy. In a flash, in an instant, I see this man inside and out. A family man, a wife and three children at home; a boy and two girls, all around the ages of 10, 12, 15. He and his wife live in a cute little suburban house, furnished to the brim with trinkets and cute little designs, floral patterns, paintings of fishing scenes and landscapes littering the walls. The kids play out in the streets on weekends, stick ball with the neighbor kids, barbeque lunches, the life you would have seen in 50’s magazines, 70’s movies, the life you think you’re parents always lead, care-free and easy. But he works during the week, he gets called in during emergencies, he misses one of his son’s games because some sad f**k decides to leap in front of a car and leaves it for the authorities to clean up his splattered bits and brains and organs. At least he was an organ donor; says so on his license. He misses one ball game, but makes up for it by comes to the next three. That’s this guy, this kind-eyed cop, looking me dead in the face.

            It stabs my heart, if only for a moment. I feel a jab. So I hide, look away. I shut the door in his face, I turn the crank (one-two-three) until the window is all the way down, and I say, “Thank you. May I go now? I have one more stop, I’m on the home stretch.” I force a smile, and pretend these words are real. He sees through me. This man knows things. But he must also understand the reason behind my lies, as he simply tips his hat, nods, and says, “Good luck in yer travels, miss.”

 

***

 

            She found a hobby. Something very un-lady-like indeed, but he couldn’t complain because it meant she left him alone to paint in solidarity.

She took up shooting.

            Her father used to own a gun cabinet, big rifles of all sizes, small pistols, old old guns from the war: the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam. Guns handed down and down and down from many generations, he had. She was never allowed to see them, never allowed to touch any of them until her eighteenth birthday, on which her father sat her down and said, “Here.” He placed a small, very old steel gun in her right hand. “This was your grandpa’s gun. I don’t expect you to shoot it, and I don’t encourage violence young lady.”

            Lady.

He smiled through his stern warnings. “But it was important enough for him to keep, for me to keep, and I think if nothing else you should have it as an heirloom.”

            She looked at him, wide-eyed and worried, a shy little girl. She stashed the gun away under her bed, and never wanted to look it in the face again.

 

But then, she took up shooting.

There was no anger shown at her lover, the man who forced her to sit for hours with fruit on her head, as though she were a human basket; the man who tossed paintbrushes about when he didn’t get his way, like a beastly, disobedient child; the man who refuses her kisses when company is over. She showed no anger, and she felt no anger. At least, to her knowledge. No, the guns felt it for her.

 

***

 

            It was a quick ten hour drive to Roswell. The home stretch? I can’t imagine having to settle and end here. Dry and desolate, and full of alien signs. Norht Main St: “Welcome to Wal-Mart” with a big alien head cardboard cut-out.

Driving down the 285 bypass, there it is, the big UFO museum. I park on the street around the corner and walk to the entrance. Two old men walk by, cackling and grinning in my direction. I see a mother and toddler behind them. I walk into the museum, to get off the streets.

The door won’t open. I look down at my hand, another alien-head sign: “Open 9-5 daily.”

I have no means of telling time here, but I can guess by the dimming light of the sky that it’s past five o’clock.




© 2012 Eirinn



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Added on June 7, 2012
Last Updated on June 28, 2012
Tags: work, in, progress, traveling, story, whatever, summer, project


Author

Eirinn
Eirinn

Amherst, MA



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