805 Readings

Send the Bodies Home

We drove by a Baptist church with a sign out front: W lcome home from Iraq Scotty Pate.  The rest of the town seemed ill-conceived, all pawnshop and check cashing, a mason’s lodge next to septic tank cleaning and sales.  I considered for a moment that I didn’t like Alabama.  This was my first visit, and I resolved not to return. But three days later, we drove back through this same town and I saw two men selling pumpkins from the back of a pickup.  It was as if we’d always been coming here and leaving.  I’d seen the men, seen the pumpkins, before.  Maybe I’d been seeing them all along, in every town we passed through, and the only things that changed were their hats, or their belt buckles.  We stopped at a lime green trailer just off the main road.  Heidi said, “I know this place, and I think it’s ours.”  The door was open.  There was a bed inside, and two armchairs, and they were ours.  I wanted to get home but we stayed forever, and I wasn’t surprised when we stayed forever; we had to stay forever.  Heidi planted a small pumpkin patch out front, in the space where we’d have parked the car if we hadn’t sold it.  We met Scotty Pate some weeks later. He’d lost his legs.

Posted 10/11/14
Previously published in Vestal Review. Appears in the chapbook HOW WE CAME UPON THE COLONY (Unicorn Press, 2014).
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