70

22 Apr

—You know there are real bad people living in those awful things, she said and pushed up the button to close the window in some kind of self-defense mechanism which would separate her from the reality that was rushing by outside. But the glass only gave a weird, quick groan reminding her that the car was already hermetically sealed.
Almost.
The landscape had changed, she thought, almost suddenly from scarred granite and majestic conifer trees at high altitude, to piedmont low country littered by rusted trailer homes and various ferrous material scattered around the properties. Once, quickly, she thought she spotted a broken-down Ferris wheel resting on its side in the back yard of someone’s double wide.
—Real bad people?
—Uh-huh, she said and shielded her eyes.
—You’re so melodramatic…
—I am not. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve been in…those things.
She said “those things” with a contemptuous repulsion as if she were monarchy.
—Oh you have.
—Once. When I gave away the cats.
She looked out at the country running in the opposite direction of the car, and made a face as if she inhaled abattoir air. She was pleased that they were leaving behind the geography of the foothills.
—I took them to a trailer park just like these.
They sped by a woman wobbling out with a cane, heading toward a rusty mailbox at the side of the highway.
—It was a mistake, really. I hadn’t known it was a trailer park. From the address, I mean…how could anyone know? I almost turned back when I saw. But I’d come too far. Oh, it was awful. How those people lived. Awful. There was a dog tied to an iron stake or…it was something out of Dante honestly…barking and salivating…those people are animals. How can anyone live like that? They had no windows. Just plastic tarps nailed to the frames. Oh, just simply foul…
She thought for a moment of the fate of the cats she gave away that summer after suffering through a barrage of acute asthma attacks. One had crawled under the elevated trailer through a tear in the floor from the kitchen– almost a hatch which opened down to the wet mud and dry grass underneath. The barking of the pit bull tied in the yard was relentless. All she wanted to do was get out. She could feel imaginary insects and fleas dancing on her skin.
—It’s aiight, the lady had told her as she gripped tightly the handles of the plastic animal carriers, revealing sinewy forearms scarred by tracks and ill-designed tattoos. —My keeds have azzma too but they ain’t care; they always wha-nned some cats to play weev. They’s gwan love theez two.
All she wanted to do was get out. She left the carriers behind and the woman seemed grateful. It was to be a temporary arrangement. The woman told her they were being evicted in the fall and the insinuation was that the cats would be left behind, to fend for themselves, probably along with the dog. But all she wanted to do was get out of that awful place. How can people live like that? Like animals.
—Oh for God’s sakes, can you go any faster? Can we just be there already?
She pushed up the power window button to re-affirm the closed seal inside the cabin. As if, at 70 miles per hour, the air outside would pollute and corrupt everything.

(Author’s Notes)

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