Fade in

Let’s meander a bit.

In St. Louis — A soft fog hangs low above the Mississippi as two young lovers stroll along the bank. The girl, blonde and wiser than she thinks, asks her compatriot where they might go for a bit of wine. He replies: “Bridge Tap House, baby. Few blocks up. Let’s order a nice red together.” The river rolls onward.

In El Paso — Dinner placed on a long oak table in warmly lit dining room. Outside, cats struggle down the road and cast transparent meows toward the scent of fine pork and potatoes. The neighborhood is quiet, for tonight no one sees fit to argue about the war raging in this country.

In Buffalo — A rumpled man is boarding a train to Syracuse. He’s getting married in the morning, and his impromptu trip to a former lover has sent his evening into renewed heartache. He grips a letter that he wrote seven years ago. Further down the aisle, between parents buried in books, a child plays sloppily with a Chinese finger trap.

In Aspen — Haverford stumbles onto the sidewalk, the loud jeers from the bar following him in muddled pain. He hasn’t been drunk in weeks. This morning, his childhood friend Tom was found dead on the AT.

In Memphis — Eggs on the stove top. A middle-aged woman sits at the kitchen table and ponders what might have happened With Him. Her children rush in, clattering against the walls and screaming with 8-year-old abandon and, abruptly, careening into the pot and sending boiling water and weak-shelled eggs to the floor. The woman’s knuckles clench against time and memory. Outside, a train rolls gently along the rails.

In Minneapolis — It’s raining. A very sleepy man slumps across the table at an all-night diner. The camera pans left, and we see a woman, no older than 25 perhaps, breathing heavily as she stares at him. It’s unclear whether she watches with malice or lust.

In Peoria — Life is good. A guitarist walks down a quiet road and idly strums simple chord progressions. He stops, briefly, at a fence post and adjusts his strap. There’s a girl he’s planning to see tonight, lives a few miles up the way. He whistles, and the stars seem to blink just so.

In Cleveland — A young writer pours another one as lightning flickers against the skyline. Outside, an El Camino plows loudly through a puddle. The rainfall is cleansing. Yours truly is pondering forces greater than himself. Whither is the Western world bound? The sting of cheap rum compels the writer to smirk oddly and, knowing that there is no safe harbor ’round these parts, set sail into verbosity and creation.

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