The Bog: part eight (short story)
“You know Harry?” he said.
“So you know Stonemill Market is pretty well empty. They got that off-road bike dealer opened up now, and they got that one restaurant.”
“I can’t think of the name,” she said, because he’d paused here.
“Uh. Who cares? No, I’m saying, if you drive by at night you always see Harry…or you see his storefront, you see the open door at the back and the light coming from the office. I don’t know why, it makes me think all of us are being…condemned, in a way. I’m not saying this like I want to.”
“You mean poor Harry, sitting tight in the midst of his ruins, reminding everyone he’s got perseverance, he sticks by his own—even if they don’t.”
“Oh, yeah. That’s good. Guess you do know Harry. Just parked there at his desk, is what I figure, getting drunk most nights. Locks up about nine o’clock and then he wants to talk to somebody. I was in my garage. It’s true…”
Dana’s clothes rustled with a shrug.
“I watch TV out there. I got a twenty-seven year old kid home from college. My wife thinks I oughta suck it up and look for a job. People driving past probably say, there’s fucked-up Dana, getting pissed. Not true.”
“You were in your garage and Harry came knocking.”
“He wanted to drive out this way. He told me to stop the car at the top of the hill. He got out, and I thought he was gonna puke or take a leak, and after I listened to about four or five songs on the radio, I got out, and yelled for him.”
“And he’s just gone?”
“What you think, Laurel?”
It depended on whether Dana meant, what should I do? Or really only asked her opinion.
Here in the bowl, with civilization circling, the bark of a deer or the whinny of a screech owl had been only ambient noises, competing with the slam of a car door, shouts that flared over dim radio music from the Freelanders’ camp, fire or emergency sirens, carrying from the highway and filtering into pockets of housing along secondary roads.
Was it reasonable to call the sheriff, so soon? Harry would turn up in a minute. Being drunk, he’d probably taken his leak, then headed off the wrong direction. Was it reasonable to approach the Freelanders and ask their help?
She was tempted. She would say, “You know who I am. Laurel Elbertson. One of the boggies.”
Out of ten people, no matter how they traded garbage among themselves, one or two could look you in the eye and spew hate at you. At least, of this, she was fairly confident.
(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)