by Howard Rue
Rob is driving out to have a meeting. "Coming of Age" might work best as a descriptor.
|I am trying to do a writing activity here. No intent for this to be anything, nor is it planned beforehand.
Rob had always hated that his personality was so shaped by the world he lived in. He knew that, if given a second chance at his childhood, he would not have ended up with this truck, he would not have to only wear jeans, not have to listen to country. And, at the very least, he wouldn't have to insult the world with his Confederate Flag his older brother slapped on the rear window before heading off to the Marines.
The Marines, the military, anything looked like an option than this pitiful existence. He rounded The Loop, again. Candy waved. Her candy apple red Charger dancing on the pavement like it had never seen concrete before, noise following. He supposed the police would be there in five minutes, like they usually were on a school night. Again, the pains of being predictable.
But he could never leave this existence. He could dream about it. Night had not completely fallen yet, but it was working it's way across the town. He knew that Jude, Harbor, and Gunner were out at the barn, using up the beer that their own sister had bought before retiring the trailer, playing with her internet, seeing how many men she could entice to combat the loneliness.
He drove past the Ember's out by the highway and thought about stopping and not following through with this. He wanted out. He wanted a change. But this was not the way out of this impending repetition. Sure, he could join the military. But when he was done, he'd slip his cowboy boots back on and two-step back up the street from Mom and Dad. He wished he were smarter, but the mere fact that all this technology gave him zero ability to escape the emotional prison that was small town life.
You can flirt or read what you want on a school computer and his parents did not want one.
Farming offered no cash incentives.
He knew better than to stop at the Ember's and get a can of coke to go from their little shop up front of the truck place. Minnie would be working her ass off, her hair matted and the coffee in her blood keeping her awake and alive so she could read and cash out the registers. She saw the disasters of small time life. She saw the men and women truckers getting something different from the destinies offered to her. She was who he should emulate.
Instead, he stepped on the gas. He had done his best to lie at school, talking up in the conversation in the locker room after practice. He let them all know that the barn was not where he needed to be. That he needed to head on over to Temple and pick up some tractor parts. This was more or less true, but he had picked up the parts last week and just stored them in the bed of his old blue truck.
The sun set.
The Old Oak Road was once something to go see. It never really dissolved into a lover's lane, and if it did, kids these days found that it was easier to meet in their cars in the myriad of fields and still keep cell service. The end of Old Oak Road ended in a gully, a small canyon of rusted trees and calamious roots.
And one very old Oak. The beast of a plant refused to be budged by the strictest of storms, nor be carved by the occasional kid with a penknife. Her branches hit upward and cast long shadows and was none really for the ability to create enough shade that anyone who had gone swimming in the nearby swimming hole could lie down and nap until dry.
He had been coming out there alot this senior high school year. It was like an metaphorical oasis, a haven from the gunslinging he had to keep on his hip.
Garrett was new to town, moving in with his grandmother. The kids teased him merciously, his blonde locks and clean nails bascially a magnet for ridicule.
But the dude was toughter than the center line on the Tiger's football team. He stood tall and laughed back. Farted too, once. Used his midlde finger. Punched Lee in the ribs, leaving a good bruise.
And was the lead in the last three plays.
He seemed to know where the Old Oak on the Road was.
And he was there, in the shade, not there was much as the sun set.
"I got your message," he yelled over the engine's slow crank down. Rob stepped out and dust kicked up.
Garrett moved from under the shade tree.
"You can see for a few miles up and down the road. You were right."
"You don't think I have a few wranglers tucked in around here?"
"Nah. Something about the words, the word, you know, you used in your note. You need someone to talk to," Garrett said. He wore Converse, as if he were a half-cowboy. And his jeans were not worn out. "I think I understand."
"Look, I don't wanna bang you or anything, no, I just, I don't know, I just..."
"You just wanna talk. Man. How's about you pull that truck out of the way, so we can see if anyone else pulls up. I got a six pack in my car. Lemme get it and meet you under, well, what used to be a shade tree."