This is the beginning of a new story I'm writing. Check it out and let me know what you think.
There’s a little corner store in Alabama. Rusted paint. Painted tears on the siding. Place where teens get together. Teens with faces that look towards tomorrow. They flirt. They talk of the week that was. One of them is pregnant. One of them is going to get engaged soon. One has a football game soon.
Wharton Keane finished his set. 18 hours on the road. Seeing highways he had never seen before. Making smiles to diners on the road he’ll never see again. The mysterious trucker.
To get back home, he crosses a bridge. He stops every now and then. he looks out over the water. The lake is always covered in fog. Tiny little lights break through the fog. Here, he thinks about the people in the homes. The lives they have. The loneliness. The happiness.
Makes him think about the people in this town.
Shelley Barret. With her eye shadow plucked from the local pharmacy. She watches the regulars from her homes. She grew up poor, but found some money when her husband died. He was in the oil fields. She volunteers everyday at the local school.
Willy Allen was a cop in his early years. He shot a man in a Wal-Mart one day. They decided wasn’t at fault but he was told to step down either way. He doesn’t miss the paperwork but he misses the friends.
Folks talk about the water in the town. Swear their kids are getting sick from it. Local government says nothing is wrong. But when kids are getting colds everyday, when kids are getting learning disabilities each kindergarten class that cones through, when they;re ending at the hospital - what other answer do you ahve? Something’s gotta be done. But no one is doing anything.
Wharton goes back to his house. 3 room trailer. A tiny place. Not much. Surrounded by a row of huge trees. It looks like a cottage belonging to one of the old witches from the fairy tales. He doesn’t mind it.
A kitchen. A room. Slatted plastic wooden walls. A bathroom. He goes to the freezer in the mornings. Takes out the chicken to thaw it.
He gets a knock on his door. He opens it. His neighbor Lionel is there.
“How’s it goin?”
Lionel steps in. They nod. And the two go to the bed and do what comes naturally. it’s rough. They don’t say much until the end of it. Few hasps and moans. Lionel grabs Wharton’s chest. Pressed down hard. it ends in about 30 minutes.
They sit on the bed together. Not long. Don’t want to get serious. They don’t look at each other. Lionel never looks at him. He’s all in it until it ends. Then eh’s out of there as fast as he can put on his boxers. Lionel notices the white circle where he wears his ring. It’s always there. Something he can’t have. Something he’ll never get.
He wants to reach out and touch his back. A small gesture. Something to lessen the distance and the pain. Between what is and what isn’t. But he doesn’t do it.
He decides to go visit the local diner when it’s over. Jimmy’s. Stella will be there waiting for him. They always play great music there. Top 40. Country music. The good kind.
At nights, Wharton drives along the highway. Back on the road. Trailers lie on either side of him. He grips his steering wheel as he keeps riding along. The fabric is leaving the steering wheel. Years and years of his hands. Stitching isn't what it used to be. Nothing’s what it used to be.
Not much life in the world. He did it again. He kicked himself. It always ends in secret. He knows of a guy who got fired when he tried to ask out a coworker. He thought the guy was gay, too. He had to leave town when word got out. Couldn’t find work after that. People talk. They didn’t want him around. Miles of rumors paint the doors on the town
Wharton had a friend once. A fellow just like him. They would go fishing together. Nothing ever sexual though. Just someone who understood him a little bit. But he got a job on a farm out in the Dakotas. The money was too good to pass up. Since then, no one really else has come along who fits the same bill. Who fills the need. Who is good to him.
Wharton heads to the grocery store. A girl rings him up at the counter. He pays with the little money he has left in his debit card. He spots the girl. She’s pregnant. 22 probably. She’s got a blackeye under her cheek.
The store already has the plastic Christmas trees up. It's October.