CLOSING MY EYES DOES NOT MAKE
THE LIGHTNING GO AWAY
Day 95 Fayetteville to Old Alabam
today: 32 miles cumulative: 1,880
I am disappointed in myself. A thunderstorm has just passed. I need to go. I need to go. Restless. Pacing. Circles. Black Hole of no motion makes me crazy but still spins me around because it is easier not to walk but this is not about easy, it is about anything but. I have been weak, and I will not talk about what I plan on doing next, I will just do it, I dont want to talk, I want to walk. Actions. Can I really make it to New York in 2 months? The weather report keeps changing, it was going to be clear, now it says thunder storms around midnight. I will still be walking. Waiting for shoes. The shoes do not come. Becca and I have one last meal at Jerrys, I feel like I have been here a month. I dont need a menu to order. Ill have a #1 and coffee please. She wants me to relax, breathe, but I cant breathe until I start walking again.
Inhale. The roads are narrow and winding. There are no shoulders. There is weekend traffic. The banjo player and the guitar man I met after the bluegrass show drive by and beg me to let them take me ahead, its too dangerous. They bring up a good question. Am I doing this to try to prove I can suffer or to enjoy the country and the people? I have already proven that I can suffer, they want me to go with them to a music festival 2 hours east. But I have started this line that is growing east and it is all me, it is all these feet and I want to see that line stop on the ocean and know that I walked it. So I guess I will continue to suffer. Red line moving east, into the dark and then beginning again at sunrise, slow red line. Fields of horses, no shoulders, green and wet, warm air, still no shoulders, waiting for the police to come. A young mother and her 5 daughters standing by a fence watch me pass, they are all smiling so I stop to talk, the girls like our comet on wheels. One of them looks like a tiny Barbie doll. She could be a beauty queen, but I hope she will not.
Notice the living grass, soft sway. This living grass is a new thing only in this last week or two, dead stalks of the plains hollow scratching gives way to these living hills that breathe, whisper. Slight wind moves them together like a flock of birds. I would be lost in these whispers if not for screams from the road. The cars. They never go away. Still no shoulder and the sun is setting. The police will come soon. But while I wait I watch a boiling sky to the north. Thunderstorms tonight. The winds move them east with me, I am happy to walk with them, so long as they do not change direction. A finger pushes up out of the top of the cloud and boils into atomic mushroom. And then the lightning. It will not come this way, it walks with me on a parallel highway in the wind. A police car, flashing lights. Friendly. I take a seat, laugh and pet my dog, I needed a rest anyway. "No problem, just be careful, youre about to go through some ass backward places."
Hills. Steep enough that Cosmo cant pull the cart. And on the other side it drops right back down again, and back up. This could be a long night. Clouds grow behind me, towers growing, but no lightning. Highway 45 ends at Hwy 412, I have shoulders now, but the traffic has doubled. More boiling clouds, this time I am walking into them. The largest of the towers rising out of the mass is flashing, lightning wrapping around the edges of the white mass, I did not notice how big that cloud was until it started to light up. Its big enough to make you want to turn away and run. I consider hiding on the porch of an abandoned building, but I walk on, there is no thunder yet. I will wait until the last minute, until the lightning starts to hit the ground. For now I enjoy the sight, the edges of it are backlit, the moon is rising.
The rest of the sky is clear and the stars revolve around the North, like they do every night. More lightning but it is moving away from me and a full moon rises over the last of the monster. I take the cart again, big hill, the arms that extend off the front of the cart are broken in 4 places, they are held together by duct tape, they bend and crack when I pull because there is more leverage at the height I pull from. I will have to buy a third wheel in one of these small towns to help me pull this thing, and new arms for the cart, and a motor. And new feet. And a car, and an airplane ticket. Shut up and walk. Focus on the little thoughts that build great empires in the mind. Shawn and his wife stop me at the top of a hill, thanks, but I have to walk it. We sit and talk about different roads I can take and where the hills are, and which gas stations will be open and where to camp. Cosmo and I stay to catch our breath when they leave, when we start again Shawn is back with dinner for me, he drove all the way to Huntsville to get me a hamburger and fries. A place to stay if I want one, but I want to get further, still 4 hours of walking to go. To the church at Old Alabam. I have seen 156 dead animals on the road today.
Near the river I try a place Shawn told me about. Too wet. Everything is wet. I walk through Old Alabam without knowing it is Old Alabam, I never saw the church, so I will walk until I find a clearing. One mile on the other side of town, under a tree by the road. Before I settle in to sleep I see the white fingers crawling over the trees, monsters sailing by but then the wind changes, one more surprise today. A big storm, 4 mushroom clouds. It is moving this way. I will stay for the ride, watch the lightning cross from one tower to the next. And this time there is thunder. Hiding in the tent, the rain will come soon. And the wind blows harder, hope the tent stays up. Inside I have other things to worry about. 3 ticks on me, starting to burry their heads. It is 3:30 in the morning, it has been a long day. Go to sleep before the lightning. Close my eyes but I still see the lightning flash through my eyelids. Should I be sleeping under a tree in a lightning storm? Should I be sleeping on the side of the road outside of a town called Old Alabam without a shotgun?