free to leave

printsThe snow stole in overnight and neatly laid down about a half a foot of snow all over everything. The wind followed, shaping drifts and rearranging the landscape. It carried on through the morning.

I looked out my window, and I could see my neighbor out in his unplowed driveway. He had his red pickup truck with the camper on it. For weeks now, that camper has been sitting by itself in the driveway.

Henry bought both the truck and the camper not all that long ago so that he could execute his plan to get out of here. The dream was to get to Florida, and to set up there and just live simply in his little camper, go fishing, that sort of thing. He figured he could make a living diving, because he had training in some kind of diving work.

It was an angry dream. He’s been hell bent on it for at least a few years.

Divorced I don’t know when, Henry moved in some years ago with his daughter and his motorcycle. He always laughed, and always smiled, and always swaggered. He worked hard, and commuted long to make things go. When someone hit a deer in front of my place and left it in the ditch, he was all over the fresh kill. He threw parties in the summer, where he did all the cooking, laughing all the while his motorcycle buddies drank beer and ate up.

When Henry’s daughter was about 16, she started hanging out with boys. Then, she started telling lies, and spending overnights somewhere else. When she turned 18, she up and moved out to live with her boyfriend. And Henry was just finally done.

That’s when he started trying to escape. First, he moved into a rented trailer inside a pole barn near his work during the winter, so he didn’t have to commute all the time. The commute was like an hour and a half.

Then, he got a boat. It was a power boat with a name like Happy Hooker, and the plan was to live on it. Which he did for one summer, again at a place closer to work.

But underneath it, he was still just angry. He told me there was nothing here and why would you stay. There are no jobs. And you can’t sell a house around here, so maybe he’d just board it up and leave, don’t you know. And women, well, he was just done with them. Still, it took him a few years, a lot of disappointment, and a relentless childlike hope, to get him out in that driveway yesterday.

He didn’t say goodbye. I knew when I saw him out there in all that snow, checking and doublechecking, making trips inside the house and back to the camper. He was finally Florida-bound.

He must have quit his job and his long commute, and finally said what the hell. And I don’t know who it was, but a woman hopped into the passenger seat. Maybe in the end it wasn’t desperation in the driver’s seat after all.

The red truck backed out through all the swirling snow, and left. Could be all the anger’s just sitting in the driveway, left for the wind to do its work on it. I hope so.

Happy trails, Henry.

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