Monday, January 24, 2005
There was this guy. We'll call him Dennis. Lived alone in a house like this one. He was working for an equipment rental business in town. Delivering stuff, occasionally running a sump for an old lady when her basement flooded, spraying down tillers and wenches, sweeping the shop floor, topping off tanks, mixing oil into the gas for the two-stroke engines. Got to work on time, brought his own lunch and stayed as late as they needed him. Regular guy. Had his own tools. Wore coveralls. But this was before things went sort of strange for him.
Then, once upon an ordinary day, the phone rang. Dennis was alone in the office and ringing receipts so he picked up the phone. "Buy, lease or sell, We'll treat you well. This is..." Goddamn I hate answering the phone, he thought. But after a short pause, and a rushed hello, there's a woman on the other end of the line talking fast and claiming to be an undercover investigator. Right, he thought. Are there any ‘undercover investigators’anymore? If there were they wouldn't likely go about calling themselves undercover investigators at any rate. Isn't undercover supposed to mean undercover? Sure there are some old guys with bad knees out there tailing cheating spouses and looking through windows all high speed film and Chevy Impala but those guys are called detectives right? Used to be called private dicks he thought, before porn went electronic and Jane was still a popular name. So, this woman sounds honest somehow but this had to be a joke. He had a friend, Larry, who was essentially an arrested adolescent and who had nothing better to do usually than to orchestrate elaborate plans / pranks / what have you. Larry was behind nearly every mysterious or misguided event that had ever occurred in this Dennis' life. Making Larry an essential ingredient, making life somewhat interesting, pain in the ass that he generally was. But still, this sounded urgent in an honest way. Her voice - Asian accent? – sounded a little nervous. Undercover? Sounded like she may have just decided that she’s an investigator. He thought, funny how you can up and start calling yourself something and there you are. Not even a puff of smoke and you’re a dancer, writer, C.P.A. okay maybe not a C.P.A. but still. Taxidermist then.
So, she asks if he will meet with her tonight. She needs to show him something. What in hell? She didn’t even get his name… so, he says he is busy and he is, sort of. American Idol is on at eight and as pathetic as it sounds he hasn’t missed an episode yet this season. So she asks if she can come by work tomorrow. He said, “Make it after work tomorrow because I need to deliver a backhoe and some other things up to Orange in the morning and am supposed to start inventory in the afternoon which means I am working with my boss until close. After work, we can meet at Crossroad’s if you know it.“ Then she hung up. No discussion, no I’ll be wearing a red hat type of thing, no names. Nothing. Has to be Larry, he thought.
Sendersville. Where you have half the town trying to get out to the country, relax, make hay and drink their tawny port and the other half is looking to earn there stripes, slip on through to a ‘real’ town. In other words the halves aren't equal. Never are anywhere. ‘Sinners’ville, as told by some, is more or less a college town set in a beautiful area of the country. A sexy, spaghetti strapped coed of a town with beautiful hills. But it has traffic like noone the fuck could possibly understand without experiencing it. Somehow the planners didn’t anticipate how popular this town was going to get and so left its little curving streets to their own designs. And everyone drives around in their Escalades, Pathfinders, Land Rovers, the occasional cherry classic like well-heeled tourists in their own town. So the once red clay and rolling hills beauty has developed some kind of brachial congestion which makes her wheeze a bit and makes you, oh so briefly, think twice before falling in love. Meanwhile life as it is practiced elsewhere has started to take root in the suburbs. One has to apply oneself to appreciate a place like this one.
The folks who are been heres. They have been in the area for generations, some of them, and they have either moved up on the hill so to speak or they have been the real working life force that most of the rest of the come heres hardly notice. Not quite a hill town but close enough. Not quite a cultural place but the college environment props it up nicely. A film festival in the spring, a jazz club on the downtown mall, all manner of places to drink up, settle down, move on. But still to hear them talk, you wouldn’t understand what is right about the place. Too crowded, the young people are too irresponsible, too provincial, too small-minded, too this, not enough that. Or as his daddy used to say, “With most people what you get is a whole lot of want and very little need.” Spend all your life looking for answers and things tend to deflate a little. There is not a lot of there there once you get those answers. The reward then is in the journey but living in the unknowing is just a little too Buddhist for most of the folks around here so it feels more like restlessness. His wife had been like that.
Sarah had been his reason for coming here, now twenty years or so ago. She had been the embodiment of the place. Smart as hell, beautiful without an ounce of inhibition. Whatever sounded good, she was up for it. Sendersville was home to her. She was the daughter of two professors - genetics and art history - moved from Pittsburgh to work here. And so, aware of maybe some of what she was missing, had honestly come by her just about to blow out of here first chance I get energies. She needed to be doing something all the time. Every next person was a big window with a fresh breeze of possibilities blowing through them. Dennis had been living on couches in Clifton back then but came to play a gig at Baker's before it became O'Tooles. His band would travel five six hours sometimes for a gig and they made it to Sendersville probably once a month or so to play frat houses or small bars. He played guitar, could sing a little bit. Had kind of David Byrne thing going which was just strange enough to be sexy. She had fallen for him big time.