Trash day. Last night's rain warped everything. Grass. Lawn chairs. I never know how it does.
Little pieces of tree and leaves are coming down out of the tops and spreading everywhere. Tiny dried up late-springtime bits covering the ground. Clods of them tearing by on this windy mid-morning when all else is quiet.
My sister saw the house with the eviction notice as we went through the old neighborhood. I remembered two kids, a dog, a trampoline, while we looked toward the empty open mailbox. Rain soaked tongue of its door lolling like an unwanted dog. If a house could be a loveless dog preparing to die.
Everything is wet.
This is a college town and the students have left. Pieces of things they used to get where they are going are rendered garbage and litter the sidewalks for pickup.
This is my sister. She continues:
"The coffee isn't working. Maybe we should switch to marijuana."
I smile in exchange for her suggestion. I am behind the wheel driving slow, block by block. Observing the landscapes- some new, some familiar. The aging roads built-in grooves have collected puddles in the same places.
Later, low clouds peek in past the treetops above our old favorite wooded spot: The ”Cuts” in Roundsville.
I’m glad we hiked back. She was right. Weed made the trash prettier.
Leaves scuffed protest under my shoes. Barely audible highway sounds like fast air.
Singing, talking, laughing. My sister always made noise and didn’t care who was listening. I didn't get up from the log, hoping the sun would move and find me.
Thinking back to when we first showed up here, people were coming out to the Cuts to see things happen. Namely unprecedented bonfires. Piss drunk parties, more than one kind of high. Remember I heard once that somebody died. My sister probably came up with that. Though, out here, it wouldn't be a bad way to go.
A cardinal landed at the end of a row of stout green bottles with the labels off. Awkwardly stacked, the bird's alight jostled one over, spooking it away.
I felt myself smile. My sister calling—
From where she was to thirty paces: a washing machine and toilet. Not even overgrown, sitting upright as if still attached to the plumbing.
"I’ve always wanted to piss in a washing machine in the Cuts!"
She ran over and pried the lid. "Oh! Ewwww."
A dead something? Yes. I looked for her eyes to tell me.
Downstream from the Cuts proper near the water's edge boys stood in hip weighters fishing. Maybe for small trout. Bait for later use. One closest to view called to the other who in turn looked to the sky, then over at us. Nothing was said. We kept on.
Swallowing once. Twice. Getting thirsty.
She found the railway grade as we hiked east of the river-turned-stream. The land swatch open and even as a well kept path. A slew of sparkles at the corner of my vision became crumpled rusty beer cans. Laid to rest over the fantastic rotting of dampened earth. I could use one of those now: A cold beer in a can in the Cuts. I didn't dwell on it.
The sun moved like I hoped.
Bones of a dead thing. My sister stood over the exposed clean organic materials of what remained.
"Deer?" Asking more for herself than me. I nodded anyway, hearing my own breath through my nostrils. The high was fading and I was suddenly alive with stretching. Breathing in hard. Bending. Twisting.
Somehow afternoon arrived and the light became perfect and slatted. Rainbow light splintering the green. Brightening it.
I ran ahead to get my blood up. We had walked and walked. Where were we relative to the Cuts? My sister would say in a moment but I wasn't sure I'd care. Would I care more if the weather didn’t hold.
"Those bones…" She started as she caught up.
"They remind me of the husband and wife murders." Exhale. She pawed at burrs on her sweater. I turned her around to pick them off her back. Then I remembered.
"How many years ago?" I asked. My voice sounded strange. It was my first time wondering aloud all day.
"Umm... nineteen... seventy... Nineteen-seventy."
Hell. Had it been twenty years since we added our number to the swarm of kids who attended secondary school in this town? It certainly had. My twin sister smiled her perfect sly recognition.
The "Husband and Wife" Murders of 1970.
Had they also taken place on a Tuesday? A full moon? A poor harvest?
I recalled from the newspaper a statement made by the police a week or so in, saying the events that occurred were not a ritualized or premeditated suicide. Nor had there been anyone hurt who was not involved in the ring of jealous lovers.
Approximately six sets of married persons engaged in a shoot-out on the far west end of town. Farmhands a few miles off recalled the strange rapid fire. Everyone died by the bullet of someone else's weapon. It was discovered that some members of the couples were blood relatives. Most of them did not have clothes on.
A too-hot-to-think evening? A brand new gun? Drugs or disease, or both?
Months after, the local news crews prowled Roundsville talking up the deviance until it sparked a state-wide debate and forced legislation to be drawn up; legislation that never passed.
It was not an election year.
And just like that I was thinking of something else: of the boys we passed, fishing.
I did not register the bite until the tick was between my fingers.
"Let me see." I put the bug in her hand, smelling the smoke of her freshly lit cigarette as she came close.
"Ooo, not too big."
Under my feet the hillside was deteriorating. Eroded topsoil bled into marsh and made my steps into sticky suck sounds. A few yards of this before:
"Hey, I know where we are."
"Yeah. In the hollow on the northside of the creek. Hear it?"
Stopping to listen. Shook my head.
"We walked in a circle. Cuts are this way."
I coughed at the smoke of her cigarette again. Burning at the rear of my throat.
"My turn!" She clapped at me. I threw her the keys as we came in sight of the car.
"Carolyn! I love you!" The sun pulled itself out of a cloudbank in the moment she called to the car. She’s remarked earlier when we picked it up, because it was a rental, it seemed more important to give it an identity. An old face on a new friend.
"Starving. Hey let's go to the drive-thru at Sim Run." I nodded, looking at my shoes swathed in mud. Some sticks and burrs clinging to the laces. Mouth watering suddenly at the remembered taste; a Sim Run burger was a weekend treat. A whole endeavor one saved for, like an event with friends, while at school. Now, back only for a night and a day and a night. Still plenty to see and enough to do, provided 'do' still existed. We'd gone so long, 'do' had transformed into things we saw but did not recognize.
My body beamed from the exercise as I rested in the passenger seat. The Cuts visit might become the trip highlight and that was OK with me. Something about a Tuesday makes it the best for looking out for what’s good.
She cracked the window and put on a country radio station, singing along with the chorus to a song I'd never heard.
Highway now, lined with blown tires, flowers.