Preface – Roadtrip: The ¡Gramango! Edition #2


Uncle Bill

It is the ninth day of the March of the year 2019. My name is Hunter (aka Rattlesnake Wallace to literally one human being) and I like to run and write. I live in my parent’s house in a small mountainy lake town situated in the forests of northern New Jersey called Ringwood. Just a couple days ago I self-published my first book, titled Running: How To Torture Yourself And Enjoy It, on an internet platform that allowed me to do so. It’s a short self-help/philosophy-ish diddy about running, how the sport has vastly improved my life, and how it might improve your life too.

I gaze through the closed window and watch as Uncle Bill walks back up the road, two garbage cans in hand. grandMother has yet to acknowledge the fact her feline is airborne, so I ask her about it. She looks at Mango, winks, then looks back to me, wondering out loud what I could possibly mean.

To show my hypothetical reader how running has helped me in Running, I told the story of my life up to the point of the book being self-published. During this rollercoaster of a tale I mentioned I had a friend named Zak with whom I ran cross country in high school; after hearing the news about the book, Zak’s father got in touch with me inquiring about getting a printed copy of Running for Zak, adding that it would mean a lot to Zak if he could have one. It’s funny you asked, I texted back, I was planning on getting him one anyway.

The thing is, Zak lives in North Carolina, roughly a twelve-hour drive from my spot up in Jersey. I could just ship the book to him; a month or so ago I shipped him a vintage foreign auto repair manual, as he loves Volkswagens and there was an old bug on the cover, and it got to him fine. He even texted me saying he appreciated it… but that was just some random book. Reclusively mailing Zak a copy of a book which mentions him that I wrote myself? That would be kind of lame, but without the kind of.

So, the thing about Ringwood is that it’s weird; we have a healthy population of mountains here which are high in quartz and magnetite concentrations, which is slightly abnormal as far as I understand. In the woods by my parents’ house I constantly find dead balloons stuck in trees that seemingly appear out of nowhere, leading me to believe the area is a naturally occurring wind vortex. Back in the BC times, the native Lenape populations revered the area as a paranormal and mystical hotspot; considering this lore and all the strange happenings that occur around town (haunted buildings, UFO sightings, spiritual experiences, etc.), Ringwood is likely an energy vortex as well. I say all that to say this: when one lives in the town of Ringwood, one tends to get anchored here as though their actual spirit was weighed down by a metaphysical force some are blissfully unaware of while others ignorantly pretend to be unaware of.

What I’m really trying to say is, although I love Ringwood, I find myself stuck here like a fly glued to one of those nasty yellowish strips of flypaper perpetually dangling over the kitchen table at your great-gruncle’s house on a sweltery summer’s eve when the air conditioner suddenly stops working.

As my Uncle Bill walks in through the door, Mango drops back to the floor. The pads of her paws strike the carpet with the force of a thousand suns and she vanishes in a shower of orange sparks and fur, locked in a sprint towards the other side of the house. Uncle Bill sits and nonverbally offers me a handshake before he starts intently flipping through a newspaper he wasn’t carrying when he walked in. He doesn’t acknowledge G-Mah; in turn, she doesn’t acknowledge him back. I’m left alone in the darkness, forced to acknowledge their mutual lack of acknowledgement of one another.

My dad grew up in Ringwood and my mom Mother grew up in Monksville before it was flooded. Together they moved to Highland Lakes, another northern New Jersey town, and four years after I was born we moved into our first Ringwood house (my dad built it from scratch, if you were curious) and proceeded to live there through my graduation from Unspecific Regional, a local high school. During my freshman year of [community] college, with gleaming silver bells on our toes my family packed up and moved to the other side of town. We may or may not have been forced to sell our first house because we may or may not have been ensnared in a tenuous legal boobytrap that was set before I was born by a certain someone who is no longer with us, but regardless we still had to move. Why leave the stomping grounds, right?

The only schools I’ve attended that were not in Ringwood were preschool (because we didn’t live here yet) and high school (because Ringwood doesn’t have a high school in town). I’ve had three jobs in this life: one as a warehouseman, one as an extra hand at an auction hall, and one as a cross country coach at my old high school; both of the formers were located in Ringwood and the latter was based one town over because, again, Ringwood doesn’t have a high school.

I usually only leave town once a week, if that, and I’ve left New Jersey only a handful of times in my life. The last vacation I took was literally three years ago and I did not leave the state for that either, shout to Atlantic City. The weeks all melt together, the scenery only changes with the seasons, and although I hike as much as I can, it is currently March. There is snow on the ground and the leaves are still buds; the forest looks more like the sticks than it does the woods and it’s so cold that when I go hiking I can feel my bone marrow freezing and expanding, splintering my skeleton like the first layer of ice over a frozen lake.

What I’m really trying to say is this:

I   N E E D   A   G O D D A M N   V A C A T I O N .


Zak doesn’t know yet, but later this week I’m driving down to North Carolina to hand-deliver to him the first printed copy of my running book, which I also autographed nice and big because ego. I’m also going to spend a few days in NC hanging out with him and his family, because superego. Then, I’m going to drive back to Jersey and write a book about it all using the notes I’m going to take on my phone during the trip, because what is the point of a vacation if you’re not neurotically trying to accomplish something the whole time? id.

That’s the plan; like a fly to gruncle glue, I’m sticking to it.

This Is Roadtrip

I came home yesterday, the 20th day of the March of the year 2019. What a trip; laughs were had, tears were shed, friends were reunited. It was the first interstate roadtrip I’ve taken by myself and it certainly won’t be the last. Next time, I’m going even bigger; but, that is then and this is now, and now, all that’s left is my writing of the book. But uh… boom, look at that. You’re already reading it.

This is Roadtrip.

“Is it, now?” G-Mah asks, chin in her hand. Mango, back in the kitchen, is shedding as much of her fur onto my legs as possible.

“Yeah,” I say, assuming G-Mah got lost in my reading because she is old and her mind is not what it once was, “this is the book.”

“Yeah, duh,” grandMother laughs, summoning Mango with her free hand. “That was the second introduction you’ve read me, when is the story gonna start?”

I’m embarrassed. I say nothing. After a moment of my relatives looking at me, I squeak that I need to edit the Preface a bunch and I’ll need a few minutes before we continue. I hear grandMother turn and bring her empty coffee mug to the kitchen sink. Then comes a muffled clack. I look up to see that G-Mah has accidentally knocked a magnet (and the grocery bill it once pinned to the refrigerator door) off the refrigerator door with one of the handles on her wheelchair.

As G-Mah spins around in a mad rush to grab the fallen magnet, Mango plays the power move and swallows it whole. Then, the feline cancels her subscription to the laws of gravity and apathetically floats above G-Mah’s head, just out of her reach. With a long sigh, G-Mah plucks the bill off the floor and takes it to the sink where she uses it as a washcloth to clean her coffee mug.

I’m still editing when G-Mah returns to the kitchen table. How could anybody work with all this excitement? grandMother turns the TV back on and resumes that hollow look in her eyes she had when I first got here. Uncle Bill flaps his newspaper and continues reading without a word. Following his example, I sniff and get back to work.

This has been the preface of the book Roadtrip: The ¡Gramango! Edition. Here is everything you need to know about it:

The ¡Gramango! Edition

  • A satirical travel novella about an author reading the actual travel novella to his grandmother
  • Book stats:
    – 202 pages
    – 37,117 words
    – Spiral: The Highest One Writing | Arc: II
    – Series: W-63 | Entry: 2
    – Revision Date: June 10, 2021
  • Click here to read the book for free
  • Buy from Amazon:
    eBook: $2.50
    Paperback: $5.46
  • Buy from The Hillside Commons:
    Signed Paperback: $14.00

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page, too. Here’s that.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~

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