I left off some time in October. It’s March now, and trying to recollect what happened between now and then is probably a moot point. The last real text post I had left off with a tease about Peoria. A lot has happened since then. A deer smashed into my driver’s side window in Missouri. I started running out of money. My car started sputtering. I got an apartment in Salem, Arkansas. I went back home via train for a few weeks. And I’ve been living in Salem for the time being. Yesterday was also the one-year anniversary of my leaving home.
The Governor of Missouri just came into this McDonald’s and did boring things, like ordering food at this McDonald’s and waiting for his food at this McDonald’s and then taking his food and leaving this McDonald’s.
Based on this observation, Jay Nixon for president.
I haven’t updated in a while, and this is probably a good enough time to do that. I left off in Marion. When I left Marion, I drove for a while until I made it to Monticello. Monticello is perhaps best known to Indianans and Chicagoans as the only town near Indiana Beach, which is a tourist destination surrounding a lake. During autumn and winter, it’s empty. That is, Monticello and the beach are empty. You can tell businesses thrive during the spring and summer months but they just sort of shut down after that. There’s a drive-in movie theater that’s only open seasonally (even though, at the time I was there, it was still warm enough and dry enough to have showings). The town was markedly silent. They were working on the main highway while I was there, widening it, which seemed like an irrelevant expenditure at the time. I’m sure in the summer, though, the widened road will be greatly appreciated.
I’ve been a little lax on text posts lately because I’ve been working a lot. Writing. Making money, but not a lot of it. I was in Coshocton, OH for a while, long enough for an old man to mutter under his breath “Just get a job,” every time he saw me typing away at the McDonald’s. He said these things to his wife and he thought I couldn’t hear him because I had headphones in. But I wasn’t listening to anything.
That’s the thing about rural (or semi-rural) McDonald’s, though: they all have regulars. People come in daily and I can’t imagine how they do it. I’m at a point where McDonald’s makes me sick. I can’t eat it. And some people (geriatrics) use the McDonald’s as their local meetinghouse.
I remember one thing vaguely about Delaware. It was dark, past midnight I think, and I was driving on a two-lane road. I was somewhere in between Harrington and another town I can’t remember. My head was hurting, I was groggy, and, outside, it was the kind of pitch, enveloping darkness you find in lightless rural places. Stars everywhere, and I gawked at them and then back at the road, trying to keep my head afloat before things went spinning. Things were spinning, eventually. I had to stop myself from looking at the stars because every time I whipped my head back to the road, I lost equilibrium, and I had to blink, blink, blink blink blink blink.
I don’t use high beams often and I wasn’t really in a logical enough state of mind to use high beams, anyway. The bright yellow lines on the road were only visible for a few yards, and beyond the penumbra that escaped my light I couldn’t see a thing. For a moment, I thought I saw something in the distance in my lane, a silhouette of something ruminant. I didn’t think anything of it, really. My window was down, the cool air flushed through my car, the music was loud. Abadabad, Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, something to make me feel good, to soothe the prurient mania fomented by frontal lobe damage, and to ease the pain, the fear, the throbbing, heightened, synaptic cataclysm of neurons shooting off haphazardly.
I couldn’t, though. I couldn’t bring myself down. In my head, my brain was vibrating, rocking back and forth violently in the grey matter, and I couldn’t focus.
And then I really saw something. This strange piebald deer standing nonchalantly in my lane, looking out toward the darkness, to the fields of whatever vegetation—corn, probably—was out there. She didn’t move, not an inch, and I slammed on the brakes and turned the wheel hard to the left, and then quickly back to the right, fishtailing myself safely back onto the right side of the road. An oncoming car far ahead flashed its brights for whatever reason. I put my car in park and looked back out the window but I didn’t see my mottled doe. I didn’t see anything, and I wondered if I had just imagined it all in the floating recesses of my mind. The otherworldly, spotted deer in the middle of a Delaware Highway in the pitch black nothing, a tenebrous fog roiling, roiling roiling roiling roiling on forever.
I was in Aberdeen forever, because I was still sick. I stayed there another four days in a hotel being sick. By the end of the four-day stay, I started feeling much better, but almost as soon as I got on the road, the nausea and dizziness came back. I figured if a nice drive couldn’t ease the pain, I’d seek medical help.