Something About The Open Road

Scott the biking liberal cabbie is on the road again:

I sat outside the little City of Portage in its cemetery just west of town. Having biked all the way through without stopping, I sat with the dead to contemplated the fate of the place. Contemplation in Wisconsin cemeteries whilst reviewing the particulars of the deceased locals’ grave markers is often highly instructive to the biker wishing to get a sense of the territory he is passing through. Apprehension of this rich historic insight is, of course, greatly enhanced by the Molly Hatchet concert.

And then came the sinking sensation that I was being watched.

Turning my head toward the cemetery entrance, where only moments ago there had been nothing, I saw, in a beat-up, dusty-green and ancient pickup truck, this beat-up, dusty-grey old man. He was leaning out of his old truck to get a better look at me, scratching his head.

Then he actually yelled the word: “Tarnation!”

I produced a very large cloud of unfortunately blue smoke and waved hello.

“Git in!” he said, after had I explained that I was taking a break from my ride to look at gravestones. “Git in here! Git outta the rain.” And, indeed, it was raining just a little bit.

“What the hell, why not?” I thought to myself, at the same time banishing from my consciousness the twangy banjo music that for some reason was starting to creep around my head. And I got in.

It was lonely old man truck to the hilt. There were various and assorted dusty corners, filled with random and antique looking tools, a box of tissue, and cigarette ashes absolutely everywhere. He was a heavy chain-smoker—likely engaging in the act even as you read this.

And then this old man proceeds to tell me just exactly about the history of the town through his encyclopedic knowledge of the tombstones in the place—focusing especially on the first black settler to Portage—a man, they say, who was well-liked.

A.