I guess I have seen too many westerns, film fodder my parents liked to watch on TV, and especially with John Wayne, and later on Clint Eastwood.
In this day and age there are only scant reminders of a time that may have bristled with excitement, or so dangerous you would be lucky to survive if you got on the wrong side of a gunslinger.
But, for argument’s sake, what if there was a way to actually step back in time?
So, here’s the start of a story…
There are hundreds of places in the midwest, where you could see miles of plains, hills, winding rivers, and sleepy towns. Places with old-fashioned motels and hotels, general stores, farmers’ supplies, and everything else in between.
These are the towns where the young, fresh out of school and full of ideas and enthusiasm get on the bus to go to the big cities, promising to return.
Some do, some don’t.
For others who live in the cities, driving through the midwest would be a welcome change from the clogged highways, freeways, turnpikes, and the 14 hour days. Where a person could wind back the hectic to the sedate, and perhaps for a while, to the mundane. It was a dream to cling to, something that just barely kept a man sane in an insane world. And a dream that was about to become a reality.
Jack was on the verge of burnout, having spent the last year doing 80 hour weeks, gunning for the manager’s role that he had been promised, if he put in the time. That he had, and then some.
But the man who made the promise died suddenly, and it all came to naught, passed over by the replacement boss who had his own selection for the role, younger, better educated, but utterly no experience.
It was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
The next day he resigned, spoke not one word to anyone after handing in his keycard and resignation letter, and left. Perhaps the only consolation, no one else knew the complex plant operation systems, and when it broke down, as it always did, there was no one who could fix it.
There was one more ceremonial job he had to do before getting in his car, and that was to toss his cell phone in the bin. That done, the drive home took 20 minutes instead of the usual two hours, he threw what he needed into an overnight bag, and after taking a 30-second look back in the place he had called home for 25 years, shrugged, and closed the door.
There would be no coming back.
Of course, there were moments where the resolve was tested, those tendrils of loyalty to a company he had worked at for a long time, and who had treated him reasonably well.
The first night, in a quaint motel, was the hardest. Alone with his thoughts, without anyone to talk to, not that there were many back home, the idea of striking out on his own seemed drastic, even silly.
The second night, spent at a surprisingly rural town, he had supper in a diner that had few customers and a waitress his own age who was a talker. She recommended a guest house, one she stayed at herself, a runaway like he was, but for more desperate reasons, and liking the company stayed for a week.
It was difficult to move on, but he did.
Which was why, five days later, in another small town by a river, he had reached the bridge.
The road went in two directions. West or north. North crossed the river, and the minor roads wound their way through hills and dales to Canada. West headed towards San Francisco, and he had no desire to visit another large city. Not for a while.
Over the bridge it was.
After a night in another interesting motel that had a small room that passed as a museum, and related the history of the area, a story in itself.
© Charles Heath 2022