The town just lays there, beneath the impositions of sun and wind, baking and wasting away. The maze of shabby streets winds and wanders, trash strewn gutters and abandoned homes telling stories that no one bothers to hear. Road after road offering a diminishing sense of nowhere, lane after lane of luckless desolation. Shopping carts shipwrecked in the shrubbery, fences and sidewalks tagged with embarrassing earnestness. The whole map should be labeled with a warning. Everything either drab or destroyed.
The dogs and me see enough of it. We travel through the mornings and the afternoons, streets both empty and settled, these hours bleeding out in florid torrents and brash exaggeration. The old dog now largely deaf and suffering cheerfully through his canine dementia with new and concerted efforts to attack any other dog he sees; the younger dog a one-eyed terrier, bundling her anxiety into a live-wire excitement that frightens most dogs twice her size or smaller, and attacks the determined interest of pit-bulls, shepherds, and any generally large and assertive breed. We meet lots of other travelers. We meet even more pretenders to whatever crown is imagined by the varied would-be kings of whatever heap or hill is there to be claimed.
Out here in the dregs of the commuter held bedroom suburbs the desperation settles like the ash of some vast inferno. Vacant lots where businesses once stood, parking-lots given up to weeds and heat, crows sorting out the acres of refuse laden cement and the fields abandoned to ache and neglect. Little stores where the very conceit of entry sets the owners into bouts of seething suspicion. The weary pavement, the dull witless menace of reflected heat, the brittle toothless meth pirates patrolling their endless beats. I take my time, I go through my empty motions. I make my mark, knowing no end of sentences to serve.