They drove throughout the Midwest in moonlit hours. Through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska they went, then turned ’round and did it again. Went into towns like Auburn, South Bend, Goshen, drove on the outskirts of Chicago goin’ ‘cross state with billboards lookin’ down upon em: Legal Problems, Call The Hammer. Best Amish Buffet Around. Massage Parlor, All New Girls Off Route 30. She began countin’ em along with the license plates that passed by; Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, there was one attached to a VW van from Alaska. Had a dog in the back seat with it’s head hangin’ out. She wished she still had her dog. Daddy took it away to some nice farm to live on. Years passed and she doubted that.
He’d pull off to rest areas every once in awhile. The grass was green and the dogwoods were startin’ to bloom. Trash from the pickup was placed in cans along the sidewalk. Wrappers from McDonald’s, Pilot truck stops, Casey’s General Store, Wrigleys Spearmint and empty soda cups with bending straws were all collected. The sun was coming up. It was time to sleep.
No one knew why he took her out of school. She made good grades, was somewhat popular, had friends. Things had changed though. The old man, who was her grandfather thought he could educate her better by hittin’ the road. The toothless old man who wore a Make America Great Again red cap wanted his grand daughter to learn the way he did; from experience. So, he bought her Leaves Of Grass, by Whitman, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Twain, and Moby Dick, by Melville. He often said literature was wasted on youth. The skinny leather skinned man wanted to make sure it wasn’t wasted on her. She read em religiously while seated at benches before goin’ to sleep. He’d question her on the readings of the day. Felt it was his place to ask her about The Body Electric, Captain Ahab and Ishmael. Was curious as to what she thought of Nigger Jim. He’d light up a Viceroy and they’d discuss for a couple of hours. The mornin’ dew made her tennis shoes wet.
They’d died and left her to him. Two college professors of English they were. They knew that the old man loved literature as well. And, in their will, in case of an untimely death, He would take her under his wing.
It was his father and he knew the old man well. Thought that he could raise her better than they could. Believed his ways of education were superior. Maybe they were, the old man thought. Maybe. The girl has learned a lot already. Her mother’s cancer, the father’s suicide, she was very mature for her age. And, had no problem in still being an idealist like most youngsters. She believed in the stars and the moon. For, they were never far out of reach. That’s what they both believed. That’s what they both knew as truth.
And so, they dreamed under the sun. Waiting for night fall. Where they could both reach out and touch the stars and moon through the windshield. A million lights shine on Nebraska at night. They grabbed em all.