by L.D. Zane
The trip to Charleston, South Carolina would take thirteen hours. Eleven hours in, I pulled into a rest stop to stretch my legs. One last respite before the final push.
The grounds were a throwback to a more innocent time—when travel was an adventure, not an objective. It was a departure from the sterile sites along other interstates. I found a quiet spot, bordered by wooden rails, to savor my soda—retrieved from the sole vending machine—and smoke a cigarette. Near me was a young man practicing Tai Chi, in slow motion, among the trees. As I watched, the sounds of the highway faded. It was then I noticed weathered carvings on the rails. They seemed to fall into categories.
Love found: “Brandon and Chrissie 4ever.” Love lost: “Drop dead Jesse. Go to Hell. Good riddance.” Comings: “Finally home.” Goings: “I hate this state. Can’t wait to leave.” And apathy: “Who cares? You’re all losers.” All of them micro vignettes—the original social media.
The etchings had no dates. I wondered if Brandon and Chrissie were still together and blissfully in love. What did Jesse do to piss off whomever? Who was coming home? From where? How long had they been away? What happened to cause anonymous to hate an entire state? And where were they going in such a hurry?
“Who cares?” Someone cared enough to read and comment; carving is slow work. Perhaps that person had some—or all—of the same experiences and no longer felt the need to explain. Or maybe just gave up on life. And why the insult? Was it self-incrimination?
The road was waiting. I still had my own journey to complete, but I wanted answers. So I carved my proclamation: “Tell me more.”
L.D. served seven years in the Navy, which included a combat tour in Vietnam on river boats, and five years aboard nuclear-powered, Fast Attack submarines. At 65, his life is quieter now, and is a member of The Bold Writers.
L.D.’s short stories have been published in: Red Fez, Indiana Voice Journal, Remarkable Doorways Online Literary Magazine, The Writing Disorder, The Furious Gazelle and Slippery Elm.
His website is: ldzaneauthor.com.