Mount Enterprise, TX
Last night I slept in Steven Jones' field so that I could be at the town library in the morning. I gave thanks silently for flat earth to sleep on, minus walls of briars and the roar of insects seeking blood. When I met Steve he was leaning on a sweet Texas pick-up talking to a friend under a sun that was feeling every bit as tired as I was. We were both setting fast.
"You can set down any where you'd like out in that flat, that's all my land there,"said Steve with a generous smile. I put away my map showing my walk across America so far.
"How would that shadow be over by the road?" I pointed to a piece that was flat and away from house and barn, a place out of thought or concern.
"Now I said Mount Enterprise is like Mayberry, not Mount Enterprise is Mayberry. You best set that tent back toward the far side of the field so some driver doesn't toss a bottle your way just for fun,"cautioned Steve with a grin. "It probably would never happen...but you never know."
I told Steve and his friend about a man that did throw a twenty-four ounce beer right at my head from a truck doing about fifty miles per hour. He thankfully missed. It was so hot that my real concern was all that ice cold beer exploded all over the tar on inpact and I didn't even get a sip. We laughed although the memory still carrys mixed emotions.
We shook hands still talking about the hot miles of nothing ahead. Those were tomorrow's worries, tomorrows pains, winks in the dark. I smiled. For now I had a flat of grass waiting on fresh dew, sticky buns and coffee a block away to tickle my mind in the morning, and letters to write under a headlamp I didn't have to hide from farmer, police, or the good intentions of too many cell phones.
The few people that I have met in Mount Enterprise have been generous as much as they have been kind. Just as I stepped into town Scott met me outside of the post office. I could see his pile of questions from eighty feet away. I slowed my pace. I was too hot, and couldn't remember my last full sit down meal. My focus was somewhere around my feet. I was just spent. Trying to smile from under a brow full of hot sun, I answered the first few questions and then earnestly inquired about food and the closing hours of stores in town. Scott fanned out eight dollars so that I would sit down at Jaimes Rancho Mexican Restaurant as his guest.
As I sat and inhaled iced lemon water and fresh salsa and chips, Scott came in the restaurant to cover my tip. I would have rather have had his company now that my legs had stopped shaking, and my mind had cleared. Trading stories has become my passage. Sitting alone with a full belly pushing words up into my throat...well, that's just waste. I wandered over to the market to gather supplies to see me through the next stretch of land called The Bottom, dried swamp and insects mostly, and a whole lot of nothing until Rusk. Once in the store my map is out again, and the counter is covered with stories that are fresh, stories that are old, stories that I forgot I knew.
I step out of the rest room with clean wet socks in my hand, a trait of the walk--wash em' while you can. The kind ladies of the Mt. Enterprise library have gathered up a bag of snacks for my journey through The Bottom. As my socks drip from my hand we all smile. Slowly I place my hand behind my hip and grin. The room smells like popcorn. I can feel the warmth radiating through the bag against my leg. Tea, soda, crackers, mentioned popcorn, and a couple more odds and ends. It seems every journeyman or woman comes through Enterprise, through this library, even the man that dragged his cross across America leaned his cross here. Even alone I am with friends. For a few minutes we talk about flight, about how the bumble bee stays in the air---money, food, sleep, the threat of .....threat. As I begin to explain I stop. In the end there are no answers, no clean ones. I have walked here to meet America. You opened your lives. Thank you.