Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Part 48


It was when I put my foot on the bottom step to walk back into the Welcome Center that I connected what he had said the previous night with what he'd said in his going away letter.

You need your rest, you'll be learning to drive tomorrow.

He hadn't said, "I'll teach you tomorrow."  Why hadn't I noticed how he'd phrased it?  How stupid could I be?  How did I miss all the obvious signs?  I thought more than once that he acted like some of the troubled people in the group I was part of in the city.  I just assumed ... geez, what is that old saying about assuming anything?  Well I certainly felt like a backside for a while.  That's one of the reasons I decided to stop feeling anything, it was certainly less painful.  I suppose hindsight is 20/20 but I could see his suicide wasn't a spur of the moment thing or at least didn't appear so.  I wondered how long he had been planning it.  Had Sunny interrupted his plans and confused them for a while?  Was that the reason from suddenly changing from the "you" to the "us"?  I still don't have the answers to these questions.  I've mostly stopped asking them.  Does that make me a bad person?

That morning though I was asking those questions over and over again in my head.  It was like a ghosted audio feed that was hidden beneath a television show I was watching.  Added to that was a sudden fear that I hadn't ever really felt before.  For the first time I was well and truly alone.  I'd had Sherry before I had even known about the loss of Mom.  Then there had been Moses and Doc and all the rest of them such as they were; some of them might have been creeps but they were still people.  I'd been briefly alone between the city and home but I was in familiar territory and it wasn't dangerously cold.  Before I had even gotten home there'd been Sgt. Watson and soon after that Lee and the Sheriff and even Doctor Ponytail had been somewhat on my side.  But out here there was no one.  Dead silence, both figuritive and literal, pounded against my ears.

I turned back toward the river.  I can admit it now but not then.  For maybe half a second I thought about taking the easy way out and joining Jace but then I thought of meeting up with Dad and Mom and even Toddie in the up above and the thought of trying to explain myself shredded the other thought into nothingness.  I did go over to Jace's jacket and rummage through the pockets.  Sure enough the key for the truck was there in his inside pocket where I'd always seen him put it.

I almost threw his jacket on the ground like it and he meant nothing to me but then stopped.  Not because I was being sentimental but because it was heavy and warm and would help with the cold where the side windows were broken.  My first act of separating my emotions from my rational brain.  The one thing I did that might be said to be spiteful was that I threw that bag of makeup that Sunny had collected into the trash bin.  If anyone wanted it they could fish it out; I didn't want to have anything to do with it.  I'm still not sure what I had against it, just made me mad for some reason.

Then I pulled the gas cans out of the back of the truck and filled the gas tank with the last of the fuel.  I knew that there was no more where that came from.  I would have to make it with what I had left one way or the other.  Knowing that motivated me to stop, get ahold of myself, and prepare to move on.  I'd been left once again.  Now I was all I had left ... and God; but, at the time He was a distant concept I associated with Sunday School parties and mandatory holiday services.  When I thought of God it was that He was up in Heaven sitting on His throne and pretty uninterested in the stupid humans He'd created and become disappointed in.  On that day I'd never felt more alone in my life.

I've learned since then that I didn't know what really being alone meant.  If I had known then what I know now I don't think I could have continued ... or maybe it's would have, I'm not sure.  I've come nearer to death on several occasions than I ever came in the city; some of those times through inadvertant kindness.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure that had I knew then what I know now I would have simply shut down, sat down right on that porch, and given up.  But I didn't know so I didn't just sit down.  Instead I kept putting one foot in front of the other, somehow determined to survive what felt like a betrayal.

I put the empty cans back in the trailer ... I don't know why, I just did ... and went inside to wipe my hands where some gas has splashed.  I still couldn't smell much but I could smell the gas so it gave me hope that my sinuses were clearing up.  I grabbed a box of tissue from behind the information desk, looked at what I was doing, then decided too look around the Center more to see if there was anything else that might be worth the trouble.  Because if I was out of fuel it was less than likely that I'd be travelling this way again.  Not to mention I was not all that eager for my first driving experience to be in snow.

In the staff area I found and pulled out all of the paper products and cleaning supplies.  There was also a big first aid kit on the wall that I emptied and another portable one in a supply cabinet that looked like something that Doc would have given an organ to have.  Next were the books that Jace had tossed in my lap the night before and I took a few more besides that.  Opening what I thought was a janitor's closet I discovered where they kept all the extras of things that were out on the shelves to sell.

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