Friday, November 12, 2010

this is kind of a depressed area, so the policeman who was hiding behind the old garage along the old highway through the old mining towns, was probably sick of hassling the same old locals who basically had no money, and was looking for a guy like me who works for the university, and thinks he can speed right through town easy as you please. actually i was in kind of a hurry, needing to get from my home to west frankfort in about forty minutes, but i would have slowed way down anyway just to see the place, if i could.

i actually fled the university in a hurry too: there was a job talk, and the woman who wanted to be chair was saying how she believed in open communication, yada yada. she hasn't talked to me in years; she's mad at me, i think, though i can't remember what it was about. actually i don't doubt that it was legitimate in its own way, at least to her, that i had aggrieved her in some way, but whatever the reason, it's long gone, and she just scowls now when she sees me, but of course she had to say all this stuff about open communication. so it was a beautiful day: colors still blazing, oranges turning to browns, hawks out, drifting, looking for their dinner in the fields below.

the road up to west frankfort starts by slipping around my own little town on the back roads, out charles road and up to desoto, and from there past the mulkeytown road and through these tiny towns like hurst, royalton, and zeigler. locals here know it as one of the better back roads and i really should take it more often, as they do, because it's so beautiful and unpretentious, with woods, fields, river valley, old houses, new houses, & run-down old sites. royalton has an onion-domed church, but you have to know where it is, and you also have to learn a little about orthodox rituals, they say; i haven't brought myself to just walk right in, yet. zeigler also had a little mystery to it but i didn't get down into the center of it, being pressured by time and all. the bank in west frankfort, which i found with no effort, had a woman in it who actually remembered me from her days in the university - but she wasn't using her degree, really, just working in the bank. she didn't seem all that unhappy with her lot though. you get way up in those mining towns, mines've been closed for decades, no work, no money, you can't blame people for having garage sales with the same stuff over and over again, or say, for figuring that the best thing about someone driving through might be different-color money. some of the old folks drive real slow too, as if they see a lot more than we do, remembering all the various uses the highway-front property had had over the years, and pointing it out, meanwhile i'm riding their tail so close they get a good look at me. what else is there to do? the hawk circles warily. the cop awaits behind his outbuilding.

this is the heart of southern illinois, these old mining towns where some people actually still live, but they have a little bit too many houses for the actual people, and quite a few places are boarded up. but the beauty, roadside, riverside, and woods, is awesome, especially a late november day. some folks have wondered why we stayed, and we even discuss leaving sometimes, but basically, it's a beautiful place, and moving to a place one of us would prefer would put us in a place less desirable to the other - so we're kind of suspended, mid air, kind of like our town is suspended, squeezed between the flat coal and farm country, and the rolling hills: rivers on both sides, plenty of history, and just enough weather to cover it up, and start over occasionally. i have mixed feelings about open communication. a train catches me, and i'm stuck behind it for a few minutes. my fellow people on the highway stop and line up behind me or in front of me.

so i'm speeding through the tiny town, for sure, but this guy in an oncoming truck flashes his lights at me, just in time, and i slow way down, and i make it through. the cop, too, i'm sure, went to our university, no question. but i don't have time for small talk, to find such things out; i'm already late, due to the fact that everything takes so darn much longer than you think it should have, and there's so little you can do about it. i must strike these folks as a man with a mission, the way i drive, but all i wanted was to get to the bank before it closed, then, get back before it was too late. the sun was already setting as it got to about four thirty; it gets dark early; i'm now on my way to bed - the day is shot. the kitty bats some wrappers around in the other room: basically unconcerned, about whether those mines stay closed, or what.


Blogger J-Funk said...

If you had gotten a speeding ticket that would have been epic! You've only ever had one speeding ticket right?

I guess the years of meandering aimlessly all over the road are definitely gone...

9:03 PM  

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