4| Chapter 2:
The Road Part 1: Greens Pond
The Shifted Path
It’s January eleventh when I break through the last layer. My stomach is distended, my head pounds in rhythm with my heart palpitations. My tongue is sandpaper, that of a cat. That of the cat in the back yard. The cat I see in my dreams.
The final wall of cans is shattered when I push against it from the inside out. It falls in a mighty avalanche; my CD tower is caught in the crossfire and brought down, demolished, ruined.
But I have crossed the Sea of Cans. I am in my study. At eleven’eleven the top pops off the spectacled bear jar. The air is freshened, elation aloft over the plywood.
It would have been sooner, my dear Goddess Mary, but my stories. I had to write my stories. Had to scribe them. Could only move so many cans, could only crawl so far. The pull tabs are indented into my knees, my skin mountainous and rigid.
Two stories a day. Sleep when not writing. Smell the Cannabis. Know that Mother dwells below. Fear the suited man.
I practice The Pencil Method. The last nug. My platinum kush, a Leary budderball with a sugary coating all the same. My salvation. My lifeblood. My CanCan Sale.
Mother’s fist crashes to the door.
She screams my name. Calls to me. Begs for me, moans and groans and bitches the paint off the walls, bitches through the gouges I dug from throwing my knives and she sees the cans, her cans, her cans stacked high and true and tall, the cans stacked straight to hold him down.
The cans hold me.
Mother holds me.
Mother imprisons me.
The joint is rolled.
I have the key, but I lack the lock.
I escape. I must take to Board.
The final nug with the final joint. The final climb.
The Boardtrip. It’s finally come.
It’s here. I stack the papers, the holy work completed.
I must burn my holy bush on the mountain and convene with the Highest One Writing.
Mother pounds callously on the door. There’s no screen on my window. It’s a pleasant forty-eight.
The window open and joint in my teeth, I leap off my roof.
My feet topple and crash like a tilted wedding cake. Forty-eight turned sixty-two and though the pain rings like silver bells, the ambient air is pleasant.
It’s downright balmy.
I hear Mother’s knocking on my victimized, innocent door. She thinks I’m still in there. The cans. She thought the cans could hold me, she thought. She thought the cans were enough. But she doesn’t know. She only thought.
I am Hunter Owens Wallace. Hunner is with me.
I am mighty.
Bessy sits dormant on the gravel, the driveway across the lawn. The muddy lawn, porous like spongecake and soggy as the Montas’ front yard. I run across with haste, not about to miss the bus.
Bessy is unlocked. She’s ready, just like me. We back out onto the road, but not Quarryville road; this is jot Treering, this is Ringwood, cold Stonetown. Fricker Drive.
There’s a modular home, came in on truck beds. Four pieces. Thousands of square feet, tens of thousands. Had some squatters, then almost collapsed because of a mold problem.
They couldn’t sell the thing.
Being renovated now. It’s a big cube, Minecraft house.
On the left is Twilight Farms. The horses, always trying to escape the farm. Always trying to break out. Banging on the doors at midnight. Rattling the cans.
The group home.
I throw Bessy in a circle at the end of the pavement and skirt the shoulder, pulling off onto the gravel. Neighborhood watch – you trespass, we call the police.
I am the neighborhood, sign of old, and you ain’t gon’ do shit.
I hop the chain and cross the asphalt, the pasture to my right. During the last snowstorm a plow pushed the gravel embankment past the shoulder and stretched it to the pond’s edge. Near the fire pit, the one with a really old, real rusty old grill on it. If you cooked on it you would die, but there it is. It’s a straight drop into this pond. Greens Pond. Greens like the first hit of a bowl, and green like the algae that blooms here every warm season. The algae takes over the pond, the algae claims it. The green claims these waters and the fish that swim in them. The green takes the greens, the first hit of oxygen.
This is Greens Pond.
There are fish here. Father should fish here. But Father stays on the couch. Mother keeps him there.
Does he know about Mother?
Does he know about me?
Does the devil practice its dance moves alone when the moon shines bright?
The concrete bridge is broken in the middle, The Shifted Path. I cross it, eyes forward and sure in my step – the wind blows ripples in my clothing. Horseshoe Trail stretches before me.