The old road

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

It was the morning before Evan’s fiftieth birthday and he was one hundred miles away from home. Sitting in his truck, he stared into the new morning.

Memories, snapshots of his past, flashed before him. He saw himself fishing at the creek. He remembered his Mother cooking his catch. He saw his Dad on leave from the Army, playing baseball with him in the front yard.

His nose filled with the smells of freshly cut grass and cookouts after church. Smiling, he saw Lacy, his Chocolate Lab running across the yard to meet the school bus in the afternoon and Amy, the blonde girl from down the street, playing on her swing.

He remembered the smell of his hands after catching fireflies and watching them twinkle in a Mason jar.

Evan checked his mirrors and exited the truck. Leaning against the side, he saw the world as it existed today. Their rolling cotton farm was now partitioned off into individual plots of ground where a cheaply built subdivision sat like an ugly sore.

The air was not fresh with the smells of the country but of progress and exhaust. Angry drivers frantically raced by chasing something unknown. Evan shook his head.

Here, life had been simple. Dad had steered him down the right path and Mom took care of him on the journey.

However, being disgruntled, Evan left for the fast life and the corporate world. Instead of the farm life, pride in his crops and his labors, he had an ulcer, high blood pressure and ungrateful, alienated children.

“Mister?” The voice startled Evan and he looked around. A boy about ten stood behind his truck watching him warily. Evan found his voice. “Hi.”

The boy looked at him with one eye while closing the other to the sun. “You lost, mister?”

“Sorta yes and sorta no. I grew up here a long time ago.”

“In this neighborhood?”

“No, it didn’t exist then. My Dad had a cotton farm on all of this land,” Evan waved his arm. “I loved living here.”

“Why’d you leave then?”

“I’ve been wondering the same thing. Life would be a lot better if I had stayed.”

The boy walked closer. “What do you mean?”

“I turn 50 years old tomorrow and I came back because I’m sick of my life and I wanted to see where I grew up. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and life was simpler and better here.”

“What was it like when you were a boy?”

Evan smiled. “What’s your name, Son?”

“Rollie.”

“Rollie, let me tell you this old road has a lot of memories, some good and some bad.”

“Dad says life is like that.”

“Your Dad is a smart man. I’ve been down some lonely roads that led to a lot of dead ends. This old road here, always led me right. That is why I needed to ride it again.”

“Not sure I understand you, Mister.”

Evan laughed. “I don’t understand myself all the time, either. Guess that’s my problem.”

The boy looked toward his home and back at Evan. “My Mom’s gonna be looking for me. I gotta go. Hope you find what you’re looking for.”

Evan smiled. “Me, too.” The boy ran home, waving his hand in the air behind him.

Evan returned to his truck, picked up his Bible, read Psalm 39 and prayed that God would forgive him and help him to be the one who would show his children an old road while there was time.

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