My dog died today and I’m feeling evil. I came to the bridge to think it over. This bridge is a manmade damn that covers an old town. I used to come to this town when I was a little and look in the broken windows. Something about this little ghost town always gets me. I used to stand outside those gray splintered buildings and think about the families that once lived here. I wondered what they thought, what they did. I wondered how they kissed their children good night, what they said to them, if they ever imagined a flood that would wash away and bury their world from sunlight, maybe forever, little beds and shelves floating in the deep water under gray Decatur, Illinois. There was a candy store and the word horehound was still visible in peeling paint on the cobwebbed wall.
I’m looking at the lake now and I can’t remember that little town like I once did. It’s under twenty feet of water in some places and the spider webs are long gone. A couple years ago, there was a drought here and old wooden caskets came floating to the top of the lake, floating bones knocking against the sailboat hulls. The park rangers corralled the corpses and disposed of the remains and no one I know has swam in these waters since. I think of the grandparents and the babies and children buried in that old drowned cemetery, brought back to life in the murk.
They used to have military training in the old town before the lake came. Jungle boys would camouflage themselves and play ambush, shoot out the windows in the houses, kick in the doors. I snuck down one time to watch and cried when I saw. I had come to think of the town as mine—Jim Frankinsonville. I was the mayor and the sheriff and any problem was handled by me—the only place I had control.
My mother died when I was ten and after the funeral I came to this town to say goodbye; that was two years before the lake. We thought they were going to revive the old town for a while, then the investors came in with their millions and turned it into a weekend camping resort with parasailing, boating, and eventually jet skis and wave runners.
I haven’t been back here in years. I feel tears in my eyes again. I’m trying to remember how I said goodbye to my mother and I can’t. I think about the body of my dog in the backseat of my car in a blanket and now I’m crying in frustration for no longer knowing exactly what the hell I’m crying about.
I think about what I have to do with the body of my dog and I’m scared. Someday I may end up floating twenty feet above someplace I once considered sacred and I’m tired of saying goodbye to people and dogs and dead and drowned old towns. I can’t give anything more away without giving all of it. I just want to stand still for a moment and breathe. I’m pulling myself together, wiping my eyes with my thumb and first finger. I throw my cigarette in the lake and think about what comes next. I watch my cigarette butt bobbing in the simulated waves, floating somewhere I have no idea where.
I hope you liked this story. It creeps me out a little and I have no idea when I wrote it but I want to say it was right before the birth of my son, way too long ago. Also, if I can grab 60 seconds of your time,
CAN YOU CLICK THIS PARAGRAPH AND HEAD OVER TO INKSHARES AND PRE-ORDER A SIGNED COPY OR EBOOK OF MY ANTHOLOGY POETRYSEXLIFE, WITH OVER 20 SHORT STORIES, 75 POEMS AND A DOZEN OF WHAT I CONSIDER THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLES I WROTE BETWEEN 1995 AND 2003? YOUR SUPPORT WILL LITERALLY GET THIS BOOK PUBLISHED.
Inkshares is a great community of writers and readers, take a look around while you're there.