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Jeff Landon

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 orally. 

“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, Ace.”

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. 

I 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 grits. 

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 skates.

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. 

I signed it, D, but then I changed my mind and crossed out my name completely.

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.

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