Headed south on 43 to 29 down to Danville, then on to North Carolina. It's a lonely road this morning, no cell service and I don't want the radio. A solitary horse peers out of the thick green-gray fog. Two-dimensional. The heavy-set woman at the motel desk told me to be careful. "Watch yourself," she said. "Fog gets real bad on 43. But it brings the green. Have a good day hon."
Five miles out, a logging truck hurtles by from the opposite direction. I count to ten and breathe. Close call. The rhythm of the road takes hold. At a hairpin curve outside Leesville, a coupla head of stony cattle keep watch -- who knows, maybe they've always been there, waiting for a crash. People around here have their houses, their land. No one'll ever prise 'em out of these hollows. I ast myself, "Is my life in the book business any better than theirs in these hills?"
Around Tightsqueeze I get a hankerin for a coffee and pull into a BP station with a convenience store. The toilet is immaculate, but the coffee is stale. I think to myself, "Nobody knows exactly where I am." Even though I'm on my way to Durham to spend some time with Long Tom and his family.
I got my Clif Bars and my bottled water. Nobody's gonna squeal on me if I go into the woods and lose myself, least of all Long Tom, who's moved from the woods into town, into a real neighborhood with real politics, pets, gardens, garbage cans, kids on tricycles in Oval Drive Park. For a brief moment I think anything is possible, but then I wake from my reverie and stare at a hand-painted sign across the road. "Harvist Church of God." And a little white structure leanin into the rise at the back of a gravel lot. Everybody belongs somewhere, to some community. Quist used to say, "Ain't none better than another, just different. Remember that, poot."
I get back in the car and follow the signs to Hillsborough. A few minutes ago the road was freedom, now it's an effin bore. I can't wait to get to Durham, I wanna talk to somebody who lives in the same world as me. I wanna be still for a spell.