til death do ya part…

was there ever a time you just got tired of it…

of her…

yeah…

uh huh…

got tired of the little things huh…

you could say that…

what kind of stuff was it…

not bein’ able to come and go as I liked…no freedom…like I gotta collar ’round my neck…can’t make a move without permission…some kinda weird ownership…that ring brought problems…

what kept you in it…

no where else to go…fear of dyin’ alone…bein’ with her beats bein’ by myself…

does it…

guess so…

just said you got no freedom…

I don’t…but if I had freedom I’d be dead inna week…drinkin’ every night…whorin’ ’round…maybe take up a few more bad habits…who knows…

did’ya think you’d wind up like this…bein’ told what to do all the time…not havin’ a mind of your own…

don’t know…don’t know what I expected…seemed like a good idea at the time…I loved her…whatever that means…

you thought you loved her…

spose…didn’t know what I was gettin’ into…you never really do…it’s all a guessin’ game…some kinda chance you take…some kinda rollercoaster ride…terrifyin’…

why don’t you just leave…

can’t…I got no where to go…I’m stuck…work…bills…new truck…people talk…

just leave in the middle of the night…

naw…I’m in too deep…too deep…might as well stick it out…

you think she feels the same way…

I know she does…two miserable people…that’s what marriage is…has been for generations…just a long drawn out misery…oh well…why should I be any different from the next guy…til death do ya part…til death do ya part…

said he was a fisherman…

The old man wasn’t a fisherman, but, he thought he was…never got into the water and made his line dance…wasn’t one for rolling rivers, or, rollicking oceans…no, not at all…his was a pond on the southside of town…real peaceful like…he’d sit on the banks in a folding chair with a blank look on his face…casting ever so often…surprised if he ever caught a fish…

For bait pop would use various things…bologna…bits of bacon…and worms he got at the bait shop out on 30 by Columbia City…he’d walk in there every Saturday and get the same order…worms crawling in moist dirt…a couple of Pepsi’s…and a honey bun…would pull that old leather wallet out of his front pocket and pay with a few dollars…he’d nod his head…

Hours would go by in silence…I didn’t know what to say to him and he had no idea of what to talk about with me…just a boy and his father sitting in the quiet of the day with poles in their hands wishing for a fish…they never seemed to come…there would be a lot of false alarms…snapping turtles…line caught on a rock…snagged on an overlapping tree branch…rarely did we catch a fish…

But…the old man said it made him happy…said he was a fisherman…always wanted to go out and sit in the sun and cast a line…he’d catch one ever once and awhile…small crappy…little blue gill…but nothing ever that big…just sitting in a meditative state…I always wondered what he was thinking about…always wondered…

After three hours usually we’d get in the old pick-up and go back home…no talk ‘tween us…just a local country music staion playing various songs…dad never even hummed along…he was a quiet man…very quiet…said he was a fisherman…

the lake trailer…

there were pictures on the walls…old back and whites…some in color…photos of daddy with his Mustang…momma down by the beach posin’ with a big smile on her face…photographs of the trailer we lived in up at the lake through summer time…nightly marshmallow roasts…hot dogs on the end of a wire clothes hanger…fireflies…

and every summer we’d pray that Labor Day would never come…summertime lastin’ forever…warm days of splashin’ in the water…breezes at evenin’ time as the adults popped open cans of Old Style and poured shots of Wild Turkey…moon glowin’ the whole time…wouldn’t go to bed ’til midnight…

there was always music playin’ as we lay awake under sheets with the windows open and the fan suckin’ in air and blowin’ it out…and over the music we’d hear the aunts and uncles…mom and dad arguin’ ’bout where life was headin’…whether or not to sell the lake trailer…what to do with grandma and grandpa once they reached that age…should they start buyin’ burial plots…move to a different school district…what was best for the children…

they would talk all night…Van Morrison sang in the background…conversation would turn to when they were younger…camp out stories…mom and dad’s first date…when my uncle came home from Vietnam…talk would turn quiet at that point…didn’t say much…

‘ventually the talk would die down completely…music would stop…bottles and cans could be heard rattlin’ ’round in trash bags …maybe a laugh or two…but then complete silence…

I’d stay up and listen to the quiet…the cicadas singin’…birds chirpin’ as early mornin’ broke…it was another day at the lake beginnin’ all over ‘gain…everybody stayed in bed…I’d go on these long walks explorin’ nature…lookin’ at the green leaves on trees…feel the sand in my feet…skip stones ‘cross the water…

bull frogs would be croakin’…fish jumpin with a blue sky above…soon summer would be over…where’d it go…

Can’t remember…

he was questioned over and over ‘gain on the whereabouts of his girlfriend…folks said they hadn’t seen the ginger girl for some time now…said she’d disappeared overnight…they blamed him for it…

Where were ya on Friday night…,asked the detective…,Go on…tell me…tell me where ya were last Friday night…,moved in closer as he was speakin’…boy said he couldn’t remember…

Were ya drinkin’ that night…did ya have a few…,the cop asked…boy shook his head…said he didn’t drink…,So…you can’t tell me where you were last Friday…,he shook his head…told the officer nothin’ stuck out in his mind…

the policeman showed the youngster pictures…grusom pictures of a girl’s body cut up…bruised…looked like some kinda Satanic ritual…,That your girlfriend…,boy nodded yes…,And…you can’t remember where ya were…,he softly said no…

the detective told the boy of a trail back in the woods…dotted with leaves and pine needles…said the ground was real soft…asked the kid if he’d ever been back there…the teen said he had…said he and some boys used to play back there when they were youngsters…used to play war…

the salty veteran told him that…,Now days couples went down that trail at night to make out…you know…fool ’round…,he said…,You two ever fool ’round back there in the woods…,boy told him they had…,Didya fool ’round back there last Friday night by chance…,again…the boy said he couldn’t remember…

Can’t remember…,the cop said…

Nope…

At all…

uhhuh…

Well ain’t that somethin’…

Can’t remember…

Allen County…

the town shuts down at three in the mornin’…bars close…busses stopped runnin’ hours ago…diners wouldn’t open ’til five…pourin’ coffee and servin’ hash browns while neon lights blink as a town starts to wake…

vagabonds and Gypsys lay asleep under bridges of Allen County…violently shakin’ from spice…meth…some numbed to the core from daily fights with junk shot into their souls…talkin’ to themselves ’bout redemption and trains leavin’ town…but…it’ll be just another wasted day…in Allen County…

and out in the sticks farmers are up pickin’ the last of the harvest…dewy wet ground grabbin’ hold of corn stalks and soy beans…for October is near…’nother year in the books…the Almanac says winter’ll be a tough one…an old man picks his teeth with a straw of hay…

out on highway 30 semis load up on fuel as light breaks over the black top…truckers leavin’ to another town with a danish in one hand a smoke in the other…

goin’ away…far away…from Allen County…only to return for a load on Friday night when they get paid and tip strippers with green bills from an ATM…wives at home far away from the Midwest…in towns like Rochester…Buffalo…Pittsburgh, PA…waitin’ for their men to come home from Allen County…where the town shuts down at three in the mornin…like it does everyday…

10th Street…

10th Street was cluttered with trash…garbage cans pushed over by a mad man…up and down he went…house to house rummaging through neighbor’s debris…lookin’ for her…he claimed someone had stolen his sweetheart…

so he ran his fingers into banana peels…tuna fish cans…soiled diapers…crushed soda pop bottles…hollerin’ out…,where’d she go…,the moon shined in a purple sky…

and, no-one was talkin’…people just looked-on in amazement…behind screen doors…gaps in window shades…through dusty blinds…some men got six packs and popped open beer after beer while sittin’ on their stoops as he carried on…

Where’s my baby…, he called out…,you seen her…huh…’bout you…,moanin’ like a shot dog…,someone’s gonna pay for this…someone…,the old man kept yellin’…

he was right…the whole neighborhood paid as he broke down and balled into morn…kept ’em all awake…a sufferin’ fool…down and out on 10th Street…

some men can never pay for their sins…