There is this place we all know about but don’t talk about much.
There is the kind of sweet spot on the edge of town behind the trailer park and the store.
Someone with ambition on the town council once tried to have it fenced off. That noble project ended when Marcus, their heavy, had a heart attack digging the third post hole. I am not saying that the spot killed him. That would be ridiculous. Marcus liked women and drink and red meat. His blood was pancake batter by the time he croaked and in all honesty his heart probably just got tired of pushing it around.
You could smell death around him for weeks before he went. Like my grandma used to say, he carries two shadows. You can count a man’s days on your fingers when you see him carrying around that second shadow.
The Reaper just waits, she’d say, for the moment that his move will bleed the most people. He gets no joy out of his existence but this. If you see a man with two shadows you should cross yourself and cross the street lest the Reaper take to liking the form of you more and latches on.
He has, she’d whisper as her gnarled fingers would scrape the back of my neck, such cold fingers.
My grandma said lots of cool yet profoundly fucked up things over the years.
But she never once talked about the spot on the edge of town.
She wouldn’t even look in that direction most of the time which, honestly, led to some mighty tense moments when she was driving my brothers and I through town to football or hockey or glee club or scouts or whatever dumb ass things we did as kids because it was character building and expected of us.
But there are stories about the sweet spot.
There are truths about it.
You can hear the stories if you get anyone from the town drunk enough. You can learn the truth of it if you’re brave enough and patient enough to sit against that second fence post a while and just wait. Bring a pack of cigarettes but leave the magazine at home.
The spot requires attention.
The spot requires devotion.
Sit there long enough in the sun and it’ll tell you all of its secrets.
I’ve thought about researching it once.
I could do good by it if I let my mind hook onto it.
That’s my madness.
I get to thinking about something and my head will latch on to it with a ferocity that belies everything. I never finished college because my health started to suffer. A course would interest me and I would stop sleeping. I would stop eating. I would just bury myself in the material until I knew it and then I would go to the library and get more material. I’d fail four courses and be half starved by midterms but on the subject that entranced me I would end up impressing/harassing and scaring the shit out of my professors. I’d like to say I was a prodigious in certain fields but that is giving myself too much credit for what I know is nothing more than a mental disorder. If a boy could live on words and sustain himself on ideas I’d of been set for life. But there are needs to the body and mine was never the strongest to start with.
If anything, I’m a little self-aware.
I had the good grace to learn my madness early on and learn to live with it.
I am a bit obsessive.
I am a bit compulsive. I can call them rituals, or routines, or just plain old habits but the point is THEY happen and THEY have to happen or I will go bat shit fucking whackadoodle.
So I circle the spot, counter-clockwise, once a day.
I brush my teeth six times a day, left to right, bottom then top.
I lower my eyes in the presence of girls because I can’t be caught off guard and I can never look the pretty ones in the eye.
I try not to get to vested in the dramas of the people who live near me.
I avoid the trailer park like the plague.
You are one of the pretty ones.
You think me shy.
You find it cute.
Red hair, pierced nose and brow, leather.
Pretty as you are little goddess, I doubt you’d be comfortable with my kind of devotion.
So I keep my eyes down, I drink a lot and I spend my days not thinking too much about anything.
I’ll entertain myself with things beneath higher thinking.
The internet is a boon for me. Disposable laughs, pleasures, women.
The spot could really use someone like me.
This is a thought I know.
I could give it the attention it craves.
I know the kind of devotion it requires.
There is this sweet spot on the edge of town that none of us talk about too much because it fucks us all up in our own special little ways.
There is a pull to it that some of us feel when it is dark and it is late and we can’t sleep; those summer nights where the three AM shakes won’t go away no matter how much weed or whisky we try to knock ourselves out with.
There is a push to it that makes people like Mabel McCaffrey or the Litchfield kids or my Gran avoid it like the plague. I have seen them on Sunday mornings actually walk four blocks out of their way to get around it on their way to Church. I have seen my Gran take the town center intersection at speed, without looking to the left where the spot lay behind the store, almost getting T-Boned and killed in the process.
It is about a three hundred yard square of earth that was once a battlefield. Not a proper battlefield, mind you. It isn’t the sort of thing the historical society would ever put a plaque up about or maybe a little shed called a museum that charges you ten dollars to stand where Lee’s second Lieutenant took a bullet while trying to position the flag on the field. But it IS a battlefield.
It is the back ass flank of some low key Civil War skirmish that the history books gloss over but that some junior officer’s notebook makes mention of. On this land that old History Channel cliché came true.
A brother put a bayonet into his own flesh and blood’s guts and pulled his trigger painfully ending a life. On this land he pulled his side arm and put a bullet into his sister in law’s face. On this land a little girl ran for her life but her uncle was a bigger man and could run so very much faster.
It is dry white earth, dead as shit, surrounded by lush green grass.
The town council thought of fencing it off claiming environmental damage. These are the great buzz words of the day, guaranteed to loosen up pocket books. There are tales of University professors who have studied it and lawsuits against corporations that have probably never heard of our shitty little town.
The land was fed on blood it wants to be fed by nothing else.
It abhors sunlight and does not abide creatures that need the light to live there.
It abhors the rain, the white dirt becoming a sinking mire of goo that has eaten many a shoe.
It was a battlefield.
An angel crashed to Earth there.
The skin between this world and the next is thin there.
The devil once dug a stairwell back down into hell there.
There are lots of stories because, as always the case, when people don’t know the truth of the thing they just make shit up. You can sit here and learn the truth of the place if you’re brave enough and patient enough.
There is a spot that we all know about but that no one talks about; a kind of sweet spot where bad things happen.
People get killed there and their murderers walk free.
People get raped there only to come back, years later, to exact vengeance on their torturers.
I got the shit kicked out of me there, got laid there and it is where I brought the first man I had to kill.
There is this little sweet spot, on the edge of town, behind the store and the trailer park which is tattooed with the blood of a thousand crime scenes, a forensic wet dream.
Bad things happen there.
Good guys have no standing there.
Virtue is about as strong as tissue paper there.
The villains OWN this piece.
It is endless and it is ugly and it is beautiful.
It is one of the only places on this planet where I feel right.
It requires a kind of devotion.
It requires a kind of sacrifice.
It requires someone like you, little goddess, now that there is a second shadow following you around the town.
I love your red hair.
I love the piercing in your nose, that small emerald stone.
I love the piercing in your lip.
There is this magic spot on the edge of town my love, just behind the trailer park where you live.
I could do right by it.
And it is where I am bringing you for date night my love.
So dress extra slutty.
And bring your big girl knife.