Space and time collapse once you cross the border into Rhode Island.
John started this journey in California with long, lazy stretches of mountain, desert, farmland. Pulling into another town, finding a bed and a bar. Finding the warm glow from that first sip and turning to the person beside. Before the night was out, he would know what brought them to this place and put that drink in their hand. How they made their money and lost it. Who they loved and why they weren’t there.
John played conversation like a cellist. A synchronicity of rhythm and melody, breath and laughter, pauses and a tear pushed back. If he paced the drinks properly, the climax hung in the air, and business cards would be exchanged, or phone numbers. A handshake from a fellow salesman, a bit more from the lonely wife of a fellow salesman.
The morning would come, the vibration replaced with a flat, empty silence. The coffee ploughing a point through the fog, clearing a glimpse of a smile or a sound of a voice from the night before. A dawning remembering of where he was, where he was going, why the person he loved wasn’t there. Sliding back onto the bench seat, putting his hat where the passenger would go, pulling back onto the highway towards home.
Connecticut begins to change the scale. A quickening of pace even as the trees push closer to the road. No time to think, to prepare, before wham, Rhode Island. Not even time for a second smoke before turning into the circle of asphalt where his sister lives. A small green box with Cape Cod windows peeking out from the roof line. A halfmoon of grass, edging into the woods beyond.
The heaviness of the July air pushes down. A pause at the screen door, enjoying the sense of cool shadow. Faith’s profile at the kitchen sink, looking out the window. Hands always moving, spooling words in her head. He could sense the furrow in her brow that could easily be mistaken for anger.
He proclaimed. She negotiated. He rolled through the world, intent on his purpose, unaware of all the chaos and damage left in his wake. She listened and observed, found the negative spaces, sculpted herself into a new shape to nestle in the lee.
She knew, unlike him, that there was no such thing as evil. Everybody intended to do good. They just couldn’t see the damage all of their problem-solving created.