Where I’m Going
I got a ride from a baldheaded truck driver
named Gil all the way to Bedford, a small churchy town near Roanoke.
Gil was a talker. In thirty minutes he filled me in on the various
ways his children had disappointed him, and how to please a woman
“You just gotta get in there and love what
you’re doing,” he told me. He gripped his big hands around the
steering wheel like someone trying to crack open walnuts.
“Scrounge around a little bit,” he said. “
Believe me, the ladies will let you know when you hit the spot,
Gil dropped me off by the side of the road, and
I walked down the street in the sun. I took a deep whiff of myself.
I felt diseased.
bought a room for twenty-eight dollars at a slummy roadside motel.
My room was tiny and reeked of piss, smoke, and Lysol, but I didn’t
care because I knew that I’d be gone soon enough.
I took a long, mostly
cold, shower and when the TV wouldn’t work, I crossed the street and
bought a steak-and-cheese sandwich for breakfast at a restaurant
called Amy’s. I wanted some weed or some speed, but I didn’t know
anyone in this town, and even the dishwashers in Amy’s kitchen
looked clean and God-stirred.
I ate slowly, pondering the senior citizens of
Bedford. They gummed buttery grits and runny scrambled eggs and
yakked about football and bitched, relentlessly, about the coffee.
“Too strong,” somebody
said. “Makes my heart thump—you hear that?”
Outside, in the parking lot, a couple embraced
beside a pickup truck. They weren’t old, but they sure weren’t
young. The woman had long hair. She wore a parka that draped down to
her knees, and her hands were in the guy’s hair, which was
ashy-white but full. He was a fat guy in overalls, and her hands
were cupping his substantial ass and he had this shit-eating smile
on his face. He was either drunk or crazy or lucky, holding a woman
that he liked in the parking lot under the watchful, watery eyes of
Baptists sliding heels of toast through bumps of yolk and cheese
I thought about calling home, but I didn’t.
Instead, I wrote a postcard to my mother. On the front of the card,
it showed a river with snow falling on it. There was snow all over
the ground and even in the trees, and it made me wish that I’d grown
up in a place where I could walk to a frozen pond with my hockey
I wrote: Hey Mom. I’m alive and I’m sorry and
I’m moving again. I’ll call when I get there but I don’t know where
I’m going yet.
signed it, D, but then I changed my mind and crossed out my name
Jeff Landon lives with his family in
Richmond, Virginia, and teaches at John Tyler Community College. His
stories, online and print, have appeared in Blip Magazine Archive, Crazyhorse, Another
Chicago Magazine, Other Voices, New Virginia Review, Pindeldyboz, Hobart, FRiGG, Smokelong
Quarterly, Night Train, Quick Fiction, Phoebe, and other places.