Tallokas Road runs from Barwick Road in Brooks County all the way into Moultrie in Colquitt County. I’m working in Moultrie now, and Tallokas Road is my shortcut, and old shortcut at that. Many years ago, I dated a woman who lived at the end of Tallokas Road, and she’s the one who taught me how to get from Valdosta to Moultrie’s inner parts and avoid traffic. She is in Texas now, has five kids, married, and I often wonder if she ever thinks of me. I think of her at least once every trip to and from Moultrie, and I wonder how that affects what I see.
There’s a lot of emotion in sight, and anyone who has ever studied the art of photography knows this. There have been photographs I’ve taken and once I get them on screen I can see more of what I was feeling than what I was seeing. Moreover, sometimes there is more to a photo than I saw to begin with, depending on how I feel about the shot.
Tallokas Road isn’t as desolate as, let’s say, State Route 94 between Fargo and Statenville. It’s a bendy twisty road with every opportunity for drinkers late at night to become statistics early in the morning. It’s a lot more crowded now than it was back when I was going back and forth years ago. There is a gracious plenty of the old farmhouses as well as the new more modern homes that sprung up in the housing boom. There is an equal chance of seeing some soccer mom putting her make-up on in the rear view mirror of a minivan while she’s driving as seeing a pickup truck loaded down with farm workers heading to the fields. The town is coming to the country, because the country never goes into the town.
Still, I’m on the road early enough to miss most of the traffic. The first part of the trip I have the road to the sunrise, and myself and there isn’t anyone else around. As I get closer to Moultrie, the commuters begin to rush out and the farmers begin creeping around in their tractors. As the people pass me, I wonder who they are, and I wonder where they’re going. It’s a weird thing, sometimes, to see a brief glimpse of a human face both of us traveling nearly a mile a minute, or faster. How long is that flash of a face, where I can tell if the person is young, old, bearded or breasted, smiling or snarling, or just plain bored looking? Maybe it’s the light, or maybe it’s the optics of the windows, but sometimes the people are cartoonish in appearance or ghoulish. Maybe it’s me, and the mood I’m in, or maybe it’s the music I’m piping into my head from the MP3 player that affects my vision in that snapshot of a traveler. Certainly, beyond any doubt, when I see someone that resembles someone I once knew, that’s something that is all in my mind, as most things are.
The young woman in the little blue car looked like an old girlfriend of mine and I wonder by what process that ghost is resurrected from my past, from my mind, and what part of my brain was she sleeping in, waiting for this moment in time, on Tallokas Road, with Anna Nalick singing, and the sun just getting up in the day? All of a sudden I’m nineteen again, and we’re both trying to figure out who we are, what we are, and we know for sure is the heat is good, and getting better. I still remember the first time she allowed me to undress her. I remember the time she came over and was angry at me, furious I had started drinking early in the day, but I knew she would give into me, and I told her so, and that made her even more mad. She did give into me, because she couldn’t stand not to, and we didn’t see each other enough, and couldn’t see each other enough. I still remember the last time I saw her, and how the sun shone on the side of her face, making her so beautiful the moment was branded, seared, and tattooed into my mind until this very day.
I firmly believe each recollection of a memory distorts the memory, changes it, and recreates the person or the event in some small way. She’s long gone from my mind, but kept there incomplete, and subject to summoning in ways I can neither explain nor control.
A truck passes and a leering mutant drags my mind kicking and screaming away from the past. Forever, this poor man will be replayed in my mind as some freak of a nuclear blast too close to his pregnant mother, and perhaps he is just that. There is no way I will ever know, of course, unless I read in the local paper about the man who was a mutant dying on Tallokas road, in a car crash that claimed the life of a woman, who someone knew from a very long time ago.