Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chapter 8

I was walking around a field looking at old cars from an auction that had ended yesterday, when I was introduced to a guy in a golf cart who was recently released from prison for murder. Turns out he shot a Native to death after a fight outside of a bar.
"I was minding my own business, drinking with some friends, and this big fuckin' Indian, 38 years old, sits down and says to me, 'I want to be your friend,' you know, trying to work me for a goddamn drink. So I tell him, I got enough friends, and that starts it, and he gets thrown out."

I look around me at the cars and the sky. The grass here is deep green and the sky has remained light blue since I crossed the border. He rests his hand upon the top of the cart and shifts in his seat,
"The guy comes up behind me outside and hits me in the back so hard that it separates my ribs. I got into the car, grabbed my 22 and turned around firing."

He goes on about the details of the murder, the coroner report, the trial and the 12 years he did for the shooting. I was called away to check out an old Lincoln with suicide doors. The golf cart guy yelled to me and I looked back at him and he said, "I'd have shot him if he'd have been white, too."

I walked over and looked at the car. It was old and mean and expensive. The main street was windy and I watched some loose gravel pelt my van from the passing of two farmers on a tractor.

I got in the van and slammed the rest of my water, drove to a cafe and read for a while. My friend Todd Kimball called me up to ask me about my trip, and to tell me that he just ordered some books from the site store. I asked him how is own company was doing. I told him about some of the trip so far and we hung up, and I sat there and stared at three of the seven churches in a town of three hundred. There is something so untouched and clean about some of these small towns, regardless of what you run across. I have spent a lot of time here driving the back roads and routes and fields of the plains. The small bars and the people and the feel of family here are lost in a city life, but that's also what I like about the city. Everything gets old or routine given enough time. For now the tin sheds and the fields of cropped industry mixed with the sunsets and calm summer creeks are important to me. The cities are there but harder to get away from than where I am at this moment, which sharpens the landscape to a polarized dream of sorts.

I let the dogs run for while and threw the frisbee for Meg. Chico has yet to learn the art of returning what he fetches, but I like that about him. I like that he's different from his sister. Dogs are small mirrors of the humans they run with and sleep next to.

One of the best feelings as a writer, for me, is when the library carries your book. In Beresford, SD, the library there took copies of Meat Won't Pay My Light Bill and March of Time and Skin.
I've been spending a lot of time on this tour talking to people and watching them drink and smoke. I spend time in small bars or in large, open fields taking photos. I like the history of places, the feeling of old air and dead things watching me. It's surreal and free and haunting. The American road remains strong and without too many wounds from the changing of us. I would say that everyone should drive coast to coast once a year. It would cut down on a lot of brutality.


  1. I love the Frank Poncherello sun glasses.

  2. How interesting to read about the amazing characters you have met on your journey,I'm sure they will find their way into your next book.

    Good luck with the next stage of your journey and I look forward to reading more.