I have no idea who he is, or where he’s from or what he’s doing, or why. He’s older than me, likely in his seventies, and he’s lonely. He’s got a flat tire and I stopped to help him change it because here in South Georgia, that’s how we live. You can’t be on the side of the road for very long without someone stopping. It’s just the way things have always been. I hear about places where this isn’t true and I wonder how things ever got to be one way or the other, different. Hang onto that thought, please, we’ll be back to it.
So the tire is changed in about ten minutes, even with my questionable skills with any device mechanical. But the man has something he wants to tell me about the government. He has something to talk about and now he has someone to talk to about all this. He starts out by telling me he went to college to be an Engineer but the only job he could get right out of school was being a surveyor for the Feds up in Montana. He had to live in a tent all year long and they would pay for him to go home just once a month.
Then he came down here to live on his mama’s farm and those people across the road from him, well, they broke up their farm and rented it out but they got some of those money people to come down here and get it called a “Historical Farm” and they don’t have to pay as much taxes as he does. The taxes thing is really bad because his mama was in a home and his family paid out a quarter of a million dollars, a quarter of a million dollars, that two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, to pay someone to help take care of her over the years, and for her to have a nice place to stay, then die, and then the government turned around and took a big piece of what was left of her money in taxes.
That guy that bought the land around the back of his property is a crook and those people he bought the land from they’re crooks too, because he tried to buy that land and once he put in a bid they called him and told him he had been outbid and he had to give just a little bit more, just a little bit more, just a little bit, but they wouldn’t say how much, to get the land so he didn’t bid any more on it and that crook got it for less than he had bid.
But that sort of thing goes on all the time and the property that was west of his place went up for sale and he tried to buy it but they called him and told him he had been outbid and if he wanted it he would have to bid just a little bit more, just a little bit more, but they never would say how much so they got that land too, and sold it for a lot more than he had tried to buy it for, and that makes them crooks both ways, you see that don’t you, Mike?
He mows all his grass himself, all by himself he does the entire farm, but that grass up there by the house won’t grow right because it’s too boggy. There’s some springs feeding into his pond and you can’t mess with them springs; you mess with them they might move on you. They’ll go away from where and wind up over there, because that land right there has rock under it and the water can’t get through them rocks so it goes down to the rock and then comes back up and you won’t even know where them springs are coming up again and it might be someplace you don’t want them to be this time so don’t mess with them.
He talked for two hours nonstop. He’s one of those arm grabbers, one of those older people who can’t talk to you unless they have a hand on your arm, to hold onto or keep you hostage. Finally, I just had to back away, telling him to have a good day, and just walking off as he stood there and talked to me as I was walking away.
It scares me to see people in this condition. How did things come to be like this for him? Did he once have friends and family and slowly they died off or he drove them off, or has he been alone forever? I like being alone. I rather be alone. But one day am I going to wake up and realize that the only person I’ve spoken to all day was the guy who stopped long enough to help me change a tire?
Shoot me, someone, please shoot me, if mowing grass becomes an obsession with me. If not being able to mow bothers me to the point that’s all I have to talk about, mother of dog, just shoot me.
What’s it like to be like this? I’ve never really made an effort to be a part of a church or some sort of organization, except dog rescue, and that’s more dog stuff than people stuff. Is that why people join churches? Is that the only source of people stuff they can find? It’s like drunks going to bars to have someone to drink with while they’re alone. You can sit in a church and be around people and just sit there. But they pass a plate, do they still do that, I have no idea, but churches like people to donate time and money, and I wonder if that’s the same principle that strip joints employ? You have to interact with strippers, give them money, and it costs you. Strip clubs are like churches without the clothes and with better music.
It’s worrisome that I might lose the ability to be alone. I hate churches. I haven’t been in a strip club in over thirty years. All my tires are good. What if one day I wake up and the woods, the dogs, and the solitude drive me to tell some stranger my life history because I don’t have anyone else around me?
How did he get there from where he was?
I wonder if people and places are similar in having that ability to easily interact with one another or not? South Georgia has been friendly as far as I can remember, even if people didn’t know you. As long as I can remember back, I’ve never been a social person at all, even if I will stop and help change a tire. But I like it that way. Do the people in places where an older man might sit on the side of the road, tire unchanged, are those places more like me?
It’s worrisome. I wonder what he will do now? He can get a new tire and hold the people at the tire place hostage or a couple of hours, but really, if you just have to talk to someone, where to you go if you don’t know where to go? He was wearing nice clothes, his hair was sort of that pre-comb over thing that tells you if he lives long enough he’s going to do it, but he seemed to be lost. The narrative seemed to be important, much more important than the tire, but he didn’t say anything at all. Like the air going out of the tire, once it was gone, where did it go? There is no evidence of it, just as there will be no evidence of his narrative once he is gone.
What I really wonder about is what would happen if I went to his house and just sat there and listened to him. If the narrative was completed, let’s say in nine or ten hours, would that be like letting all the air out or would be just pump him back up? I cannot imagine going over to a friend’s house unannounced or unexpectedly, and I wonder, how did I get to this point? I once dropped in on people all the time. People dropped in on my place, long ago, before I moved out to the middle of nowhere.
I wonder if they’ll find him dead one day, in his truck, in his yard, on his mower, and the narrative will have ceased. I hope that someone will check on him, make sure he’s okay, or at least not dead. I think the people around here will do that. They are like that.