The Things We Do For Love

Participants:

dave_icon.gif

Scene Title The Things We Do For Love
Synopsis David Cardinal has business to attend to.
Date April 4, 2018

Cicadas chirp loudly across the flat, pastoral land dotted with only a few houses beyond the town center. Though "town center" is almost a little too grand for where this is. In the golden hour of afternoon sun, the Shell gas station on the corner of Oakite Highway and S 24–34 is about as urban as it gets out here. The warm sun beats down on the blacktop, where fissures in the concrete sprout with grass and dandelions.

Most of the Shell station is a collapsed ruin, brick piled down on top of cinder blocks, rusted pieces of metal jutting up from within at twisted angles. The plastic facing of the Shell sign is missing in places, exposing shattered bulbs that no longer light. The gas pumps are rusted, with stark brown lines streaked down their surface where rivets corroded over time. No one is getting gas or snacks here anymore.

The battered 1978 Dodge pickup truck sitting in the overgrown parking lot has its hood up, steam issuing from the radiator. The radiator cap rests on the front grille, a few empty jugs of water, and a notched old screwdriver. The driver's side and passenger's side doors are open to allow a gentle through breeze, helping to mitigate the considerable heat. Sitting on the ground in the truck's shadow, David Cardinal takes a swig from a bottle of beer, rolling the notched cap around in his hand.


Ruins of Hardeeville

North Carolina


With a soft sigh, David sets his beer down on the ground with a clink and grit of glass on asphalt. He then reaches down and removes an old interstate map from his back pocket, unfolding it and checking the red-lined map that cuts all the way from upstate New York down to Alabama. He's more than two-thirds of the way done with the trek, and so far this is the first speed bump along the way. As he unfolds the map further, an old and faded photograph falls out and lands in his lap. The blonde staring back at him is a ghost, and he picks up the photograph only after giving it the moment of consideration is deserves.

Michelle is as he remembers her, like a fly trapped in amber, never aging and never dying. The photograph becomes all-consuming, encapsulating everything from the reasons why he's on this road trip, to why he hurts the people who could be closest to him. Would she be proud of him? Would she resent his choices? He doesn't know. In fact, it never crosses his mind.

Folding the photograph back up into the map, David tucks the pair into his back pocket again. Snatching his beer by the neck, he pushes up to his feet and walks around to the front of the truck, offering a passing look over to the tall grass growing up around the rubble of the gas station. He waits, as if expecting something while finishing the rest of the beer and pitching the bottle into the grass. The cicadas are not deterred and continue their buzzing call.

Finally reaching the front of the truck, David notices the steam has abated and the rippling waves of heat coming off of the radiator have returned to a minimum. Exhaling a tired sigh, he shakes his head and screws the radiator cap back on and slams the hoot shut. He looks to the rubble pile again.

"Hey!" David waits, rising up on his toes and squinting against the sunlight. "C'mon!" At the second call, someone stalks out from behind the rubble. The young woman, willow thin and with hair as pale as snow mouths something to herself as she walks. Boots crunch broken glass and loose stone underfoot as she walks, adjusting round-lensed sunglasses over the bridge of her nose.

"We're gonna need t'stop in a couple hours so I can punch out the thermostat. We won't have heat in the cab but uh,' Dave eyes his young companion with a side-eye. "I don't think we're gonna be hurting for heat soon." From his other pocket he pulls a keychain, dangling it in the air and then tossing it underhanded the the young woman, who snatches the keys and looks at them with furrowed brows.

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"Hey, Kyla," Dave says with a lopsided smile, "why don't you drive?" The young blonde eyes the keys, then the truck, and a slow smile crosses her lips as she makes her way to the driver's side. Dave follows around the other way, climbing into the passenger side of the truck.

The sun has nearly set as both doors close, the engine turns over, and David's young traveling companion shifts the truck into 1st gear and takes it back out onto the road with the windows down and the wind in their hair. He reclines into the passenger seat, one elbow propped up in the window, hand elevated to feel the air blow between his fingers as they drive.

After a few minutes of silent driving, Dave leans over and starts messing with the radio. It's static up one end of the dial and down the other. His brows furrow, and he looks up and out the windshield. Up ahead, the treeline thins and a bridge crossing the Littleback River comes into view. Beyond the bridge, a burned out cityscape lies beyond, with gutted skyscrapers and plumes of smoke from still-burning fires twisting up into the sky.

A green highway sign lays crooked on its post nearby. Bullet holes riddle the metal sign and there are the rusted remnants of torched cars covered with spray paint indicating A PURE EARTH IS A HUMAN EARTH! David breathes in deeply and offers the young driver a salient piece of advice. "Whatever you do…"

The City of Savannah Welcomes You

"…don't stop for anything."


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