Thursday, August 1, 2013
ROADS OF THE FLYOVER Part 3 by Peter Nolan Smith
"Where are we going?" Brock studied the map. We hadn't seen a single human being for an hour. The low sky muttered distant thunder. To the west clouds gathered in a darkening threat. I had never seen a tornado and stepped on the gas. "North." The rural dirt road paralleled US 169. No one in New York or London had ever seen this route through Iowa. "I know that." The Scotsman couldn't drive, but knew the points of the compass. "When you think that family left that house." "Back in the 90s." The paint peels off its wood like potato chips. "Stop." He was the boss and I punched the brakes to batslide to a halt. I got out of the rented Ford. Metal ticked on plastic and the V6 was in time. Brock set up his movie camera. I had been on film shoots before. His was the most minimum set-up of all. "Barry once said to a journalist, “I enjoy the third dimension and I appreciate material in time and space. I find it exciting to the eyes.” "Then he'll love this." The house was timeless. The sky was changing. The May trees bend to the wind. "Let's go." We stopped at the Blackcat Fireworks store. "I love a little pyrotechnics." Four days ago Brock had been in Afghanistan. He spent $100 on rockets and M80s. He was homesick for the noise of war. We blew up the fireworks on a dirt road. Iowa had them by the thousands. I lit the fuses and Brock watched the explosions. "Not even close," he said as the report of the last M80 faded into the treeline. We got back in the car. Des Moines was Iowa's capitol. We arrived after 5. The city sidewalks were empty of people. "Is America dead?" Brock meant that a plague had killed everyone. "Only sleeping." I wished it was the truth. We visited the city's hare. Brock focused his camera on the statue. I sat in the car and called Thailand. My son Fenway was better. His mother was angry at me. "Why you go trip? Why you not see son?" I said nothing, for a man is always wrong in the eyes of his woman. We spent the night in Des Moines. Brock and I ate ribs. The restaurant was next to the motel. The TV over the bar showed fast cars. At the end of the meal I ordered a doggie bag. "Why did Barry sculpt hares?" I saw no different between hares and rabbits. "One day he bought a dead rabbit from a butcher in England and remembered a jumping hare. To him it represented freedom. All kinds of freedom." Freedom was hard to find in America of 2009 and I called Rockford in Iowa City. The old hippie was looking forward to seeing us. The next morning we left Des Moines. Silos towered over the old highway. "This is farmland." Iowa was the center of America to me. "Corn and wheat." "Tortillas and bread." "And prisons." "My friend Rockford spent two years doing hard time. The cops found something else other than the grass they knew he had." Snitches were a problem everywhere. "And we're meeting him tonight?" "But of course." Rockford and I went back to an acid trip on Moonlight Beach. The year was 1975. He was more than good people. Train tracks were quiet out of Des Moines. I took to the Interstate. Rockford had called to say he was holding something special. Rockford and his son met us at a bar on the outskirts of town. I hadn't seen John since he was a baby. The years went fast. I gave John a Ferrari jacket from my defunct internet site. He loved it being red. His friends picked him up. We spoke to the bartender. Jake was back from a 3rd tour in Iraq. "It sucked." Three right-wingers were drinking Bud-Lite at the bar. A chubby one said, "This country was founded on conservative values." I slammed down my PBR. "This country was founded on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, so shut the fuck up about your conservative values." I liked Obama as president. "Calm down, my friend." Rockford suggested we move to the Deadwood, which was Iowa City's best dive bar. "Sounds good to me>" Brock and I had more front teeth than any of the regulars at the Deadwood. Rockford broke out a bottle of Bolivian Pink 1975. "I've been keeping it for a special occasion and nothing more special than an old friend visiting me." Rockford offered me the first blast. 1975 had been a good year. "Was he a hippie back then?" Brock's 'he' was me. I hated being third-person. "Not even close, but he was good people." Rockford knew my soul. I got another blast. 2009 was even better, because we were alive and alive was all there was everywhere in the world. Rockford was still at his pile at dawn. We had to go. A museum in Minneapolis was expecting Brock. We said our good-bye and hit the road. It was heading north.