Between nowhere and farmland

Written by Tony Fragale and Jack McCoy

 

I stared at the ceiling counting all the invisible red ribbons that linked us all together. I met him in this church.

 

I've been to a lot of them. I suppose I keep trying to find some sort of transcendence with something greater. I often count my sins by the dozens and it refreshes me to walk into a place that smells like incense and holiness.

 

He was different, a larger man. Probably about 6'2". His breath smelled of alcohol and I knew we’d get along immediately.

 

After the sermon, I found him sitting on a red rusty truck smoking a cigarette. I asked him if he was going to drive and he murmured something about how he’s gotta wait for this and that so it was safe, safe for me and safe for him.

 

Next thing I know I’m in his truck, riding passenger as he burps and swerves down these long dirt roads in shit lands between nowhere and farmland, searching for some small light we couldn’t possibly see at eleven. Not any stars, no sir, no stars in this country. Nothing lit the way.


We pulled up near the water tower, the only one for miles. He didn’t say a thing as he opened  the car and lit  another cigarette.

 

“Where’s the beer?”

 

“No beer.”

 

“Where’s the liquor?”
 

“No liquor.”

 

“What the fuck do you got?”

 

“Moonshine.”

 

I never really did understand the purpose of water towers. There we were at the top of one drinkin’ fucking moonshine and talking and talking. He  grunted and whined, talking about the bigness of the world and his ex, some girl that never saw it the way I do, about how the world was so big. He kept saying that, ‘specially this world, the one we looked at that time on that night on that water tower, the one that seemed so far away and so close that we couldn’t see one bit because  it was so goddamn dark.

 

 

It was like that for a good while. Go to church, take it all in, and then drink till we got stupid by the water tower. Sometimes, we’d find ourselves out till four,  still looking for some sign of stars that everyone says you can see out in this fuckin country.

 

Then one day he was gone.

 

Found myself going to other churches. Went up and down the border looking for something greater than I was. God, Jesus, where did he go?

 

No matter where I was, I always found myself sitting by that water tower, counting all the invisible stars in the sky, trying to figure out ways to connect the dots.

 

Fragale, Tony and McCoy, Jack went to every McDonald’s, church, and synagogue in the Midwest in search of the American Dream. These are the stories from their travels. Contact Tony by email at tonyfragale4@gmail.com, or Jack by email at john.mccoy@loop.colum.edu