Johnny America


Kits, Cats, Sacks, Wives


Con­sid­er­ing the op­pos­ing traf­fic, he knew the de­ci­sion to vis­it dur­ing odd hours was the right one. The pop­u­lar­i­ty of his des­ti­na­tion was bizarre — it was just an­oth­er small town that shared its name with a hand­ful of oth­er small towns on his is­land na­tion. The in­fra­struc­ture was hard­ly pre­pared to han­dle the vol­ume of vis­i­tors. How so many could trav­el to and from the town on a sin­gle road was noth­ing short of a riddle.

The road it­self was nar­row. On sev­er­al oc­ca­sions he had to step in­to ditch or over hedge to al­low oth­ers to pass. Of­ten there was no room to ma­neu­ver and he found him­self forced in­to phys­i­cal con­tact with per­fect strangers. He reg­u­lar­ly dodged bun­dles of goods, an­i­mals, and ex­tend­ed fam­i­lies on trips he had no pur­pose undertaking.

A pri­vate per­son, his jour­neys from home were the on­ly op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­gage his fel­low man. The mo­ments were rare, as he had lit­tle skill in be­gin­ning or main­tain­ing con­ver­sa­tion. Every salu­ta­tion, every ex­change was there­fore mem­o­rable. One in par­tic­u­lar he would nev­er forget.

The man was loud in every­thing — he heard him well be­fore he saw him ad­vanc­ing from around a bend in the road. His voice, his per­son­al­i­ty, and of course his trav­el­ing par­ty was enor­mous. There was lit­tle chance of avoid­ing interaction.

Be­fore he could of­fer a sin­gle cour­tesy, the man was up­on him, clap­ping his back, shak­ing his hand, ges­tur­ing to and fro. He was jos­tled by burlap sacks whose con­tents thrashed, by nu­mer­ous per­fumes sport­ed by the fair­er sex, and mews and purrs from seem­ing­ly every­where. For what felt both an eter­ni­ty and no time at all, he was amid vast and chaot­ic life far dif­fer­ent than his own. Then he was by him­self once again.

He thinks of his meet­ing with the man of­ten. Some­thing in the event holds an an­swer to a ques­tion he pos­sess­es and asks of oth­ers he pass­es by. What few re­al­ize is that, even dur­ing that brief en­counter, he has been the on­ly man, go­ing there alone.

Filed under Fiction on December 29th, 2007

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