Shantih Journal 2.1 - Page 8

Jerry, Hung Up on the Rocks Near Wheeler joseph johnston It was on his third trip carting luggage down from the second floor of the motel when he first noted the crack in the parking lot that bore an uncanny resemblance to the Pine River of his youth. He froze. Exhausted by this vacation, exhausted at the thought of having to go back to work in two days, exhausted by the idea of shackling the company ID lanyard around his neck yet again, day in day out; fade in fade out. Humdrum Helvetica, all caps: larabell comma jerry / department of engineering / full clearance. That albatross of acrylic allowing entrance into the parking structure, the main building, the sub-buildings, the inner-sanctums, the lunchroom, the photocopier, the codes. Those ever changing codes especially wore a definite welted groove around the back of his neck. But presently, right there in front of him, was a topo map of the Pine and none of that other stuff mattered. The Pine River! Wending this way and that. All the landmarks of his little league summers identifiable amidst the bends and rapids and straits of that muddy trib- utary where at one time in ancient history he regularly filled an August morning pedaling a five-speed with mirrors out past the Masonic Old Folks’ Home, through a tall sunflower field, and into some woods where he would screw together a hand- me-down three-piece cane pole and cast it from a footbridge. He dropped his wife’s suitcase along with a satchel of souvenirs, placed his son’s special pillow on top of them, and sat down, absolutely stunted by how much he missed that river. Missed, in the classical sense, as in that river was missing from him. Oh, the Mighty Pine! 8