Excerpt #20 - A Picnic Area


“Sorry,” Steve said, as he picked up the tapes off the floor and put them back.  “Lookey here, Pink Floyd, you listen to that shit?  Shit trips me out.”

“Uh, yeah, I kinda like it.”

“I ain’t down with that crazy ass shit, country is what I like, you know Alan Jackson and shit like that? Love that shit. Mercury Blues, Chas’in a Neon Rainbow, you like that shit?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Steve started whistling a country tune.

Keith saw a sign for a picnic area ahead a few hundred yards and started to slow down.  The white outline of a picnic table on a brown sign.

“All right, hey, okay, this is where I’m stopping, now.”

Steve stopped whistling.

"This picnic area, this is where I'm head'in, so it's the end of the line, there'll be people around who can take you further up the road, probably, but this is as far as I'm goin."

“Where? Here? You hav’in a picnic by yerself or some shit? Sounds kinda depressing you know what I'm say'in?”

“Yeah, up ahead, it’s a picnic area that I always go to. I like it. It’s pretty cool. I just go there and write in my journal.”

“Really?  This place? Write in your journal? Really? I think I’d rather have a circle jerk with my dad and grandpa, come on man, let’s go up to the hot springs at least, Old Faith or whatever the fuck they call it.”

Keith turned onto a dirt road.

“Why the hell would you want to drive all the way up here to come to this place?”

“Yeah, it’s a pretty nice place just to chill?”

“And get high?” Steve asked.

“Sure, if you want to get high, it would be a pretty good place to do that.”

“You got any?” Steve asked.

“Any what?”

“Weed man, whatchu think I’m talk’in bout?”

“Oh, I know what you’re talk’in bout,” Keith said, as his mind wandered forward to his escape. “No, I don’t.  Do you?”

“No man, that boy, my old lady’s boy smoked it all. To think that little son bitch almost was my step kid, that’s the last thing I need, is a step kid, dang, what was I think’in, he just sat on the couch getting fatter and fatter playing video games and getting high, like he was not the good kind of pot head, you know the kind who like figures things out and makes shit, or cleans up, naw man, that kid, if it didn’t involve a joy stick, he wanted none of it, and no doubt, the apple falls far from the tree, cause I hear his old man was a loser too. Same as him, just sat around all day smok’in pot and stuff’in their faces, while guys like me, guys like me and you are out bust’in our asses day in day out and got noth’in to show for it.”

“Alright, well if I drop you off here, you’ll be able to find someone to take you further on.  But this is far as I’m going.”

Keith had never been here before, and he had no idea what would present itself as he drove down the road. He had expected that being a picnic area it would be very close to the main road, and perhaps even populated enough that Steve would be deterred from doing to Keith whatever he might be inclined to do if nobody was around. But the road kept going and going, seemingly for miles, winding through trees and over rough-hewn bridges. 

“Hey, man, you know you can’t drop me off way back in here? What the hell man? It’s the middle of nowhere, you know what I’m say’in? There ain’t nobody around. If you wanna chill back here, that’s cool, but you’re going to have to drive me back out.”

“Okay, you want me to drive you back now, I can just drop you off at the road,” Keith replied.

“Nah, that’s cool, I’ll see what’s back here.  I ain’t got nowhere to go. Hell, maybe I’ll start a journal.”

The road came to an end, and there was a small open area where Keith stopped the car, turned it off, and pulled up the parking brake. He left the keys in the ignition. 

They both got out of the car. Steve stretched and let out an abnoxious groan. Keith looked around.  There was nobody else there. Alone with this man in the woods feeling further from home than ever before.

“Okay, Steve, I’m going to go take a piss.”

“Yeah, sure, man, what the hell we gonna do here?” He asked as he followed Keith, who was walking into the trees.

“Can I have a little privacy?” Keith asked.

“Sure. No problem man, I get it. Privacy. Whatchu gonna be doin back there anyhow? You ain’t commit’in no sins are ya, you know what my grandma always said bout that, if you wanna get hair on your palm, you know what I’m say’in? This ain't no deliverance bullshit is it? You know what I'm talk'in bout, and, seriously, man how did Ned Beaty's agent let him do that shit?” 

Steve wandered over to the edge of the lake, which was about a football field’s length from the car. Keith was about half that distance from the car. Steve kept looking back at Keith. Keith did the same to Steve.  Their eyes locked.


Downhill From Here

                                                                                                                                 Artwork by Owen Rossman          

Excerpts For The Pandemic
by M. Christian Rossman
©publishing313, Inc. 2020