Sunday, November 17, 2013

Notes from my Knapsack 11-21-13

Notes from my Knapsack 11-21-13

Jeff Gill


A story on the way home – pt. 8



Heading down the hill of S. Main St. after turning left off Broadway, Nelson was watching on his right after passing the Denison power plant.


Orville at the Buxton had told him that he'd be turning "on your right, past the bridge over the creek, right before the Sunoco station." It looked like he was about to go back onto the highway, but the directions were good and there at the gas station was a sign for Weaver Drive.


1200, 1300, 1400 addresses on the left then the right; the 1500 address on the utility bill in the folder he'd gotten at the inn, left there by his late sister, was an odd number, so it should be on the left.


Weaver Drive was running out when Nelson saw a board holding a line of mailboxes on the left side of the road. Risking a small traffic violation, he steered his rental car across the oncoming lane, and slowed down to pause at the perched postal addresses.


It was good that the car was stopped or he might have swerved right off the road. There was the address he was looking for, and under it, in neatly painted if faded letters, his own name.


Turning down the gravel drive, feeling just a bit disoriented, he realized there was a cluster of trailers, or modular homes, or whatever the proper term was. All looked older, not really neglected so much as weary. Some children's toys were scattered about, and a couple of the trailers appeared vacant.


Rapping at what seemed the right unit, a high thin voice from inside called out "Come in," and Nelson walked inside.


Across from the door, an elderly man sat in a recliner, a clear plastic tube running beneath his nose and running over to a device sitting on the floor and plugged into the wall. In a slightly deeper voice, the seated man said "Pardon me for not getting up," then began to cough, softly.


"You must be my grandfather."


"Quick one, like your sister."


"Did you know . . . she died?"


"I had assumed something of the sort. Since she'd found me here last year, she called every Sunday, and came out for a couple of days every month. After two Sundays and no call, I assumed the worst. That's usually the right call."


Nelson stood there, after closing the door behind him, looking at his newly discovered grandfather. After a wave of the elderly man's arm, he sat down in the chair opposite, realizing his sister had probably sat right here on her visits.


"Your father moved me here when he taught up at the college; I had an apartment in the village. When he moved on, I decided I'd be fine staying here; I'd made some friends, and it felt like home. Then he got himself in some jams, stopped calling me, and I knew he had burned his bridges with your mother. I stayed out of all that."


"But my sister? How did she find you, and why didn't she tell me?" Pausing, still processing all of the last few hours on some level of his thoughts, he added "If that's alright for me to ask."


"Oh, I'd be surprised if you didn't ask. But that's a story itself."


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in central Ohio; tell him what you think happens next at or @Knapsack on Twitter.