Rural GPS

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Wife: Honey please pull over and ask for directions.

Husband: No, no, no Google will locate Kim’s house. I just need to reenter the address. 

Wife: You’ve tried that three times already. There’s no cell service out here. Just ask someone. Hey! Pull over. There’s someone. That man by the vegetable stand. 

Husband: Are you kidding? The man with no teeth who keeps waving?

Wife: If you don’t ask, I will.

Husband: Oh, so you’ll just get right out of a moving car?

Wife: Pull over!

Husband: All right, all right!

Sound of tires on gravel. Smell of honeysuckle, fresh tar, and garden vegetables. 

Husband: Hi. Yes, excuse me. But we’re trying to find Kim Wonderby’s house. You have any idea how we can get there?

Old Man: Wonder… Wonder. Sounds familiar. 

Husband: Great. Yeah. She and her husband are artists. He’s really tall and short haired, and she’s really short and long haired.

Wife: Kim’s not that short.

Husband: Not important, sweetie. 

Old Man: Oh those folks. Yeah, yeah. They’re livin’ not far from here.

Husband: Excellent. So what’s the best route to take?

Old Man: Well, let’s see. You’ll need to go down the road your on about another two miles. Hmm. Oh yeah. Then you’ll need to go past the Thompson farm. You can’t miss it. It’ll be on your left. Keep a look out when you pass the big sycamore, ‘cause you’ll need to take a hard right turn. After that you’ll go about, oh let’s see. Hmm. Well, you go about a hundred yards past where they found young Timmy Sampson’s body last year. Terrible thing. Terrible. All torn to pieces. You might’ve heard about it. 

Husband: Ah. No. 

Old Man: Well, your gonna go about a hundred yards past that…

Husband: Hold it. How will I know the spot?

Old Man: Oh, you’ll probably see a little white cross with some flowers around it. His sister Ruthie’s been puttin’ flowers by the cross since Timmy died. She’s a mean ole which of a thing. Some people say they wish it’d been her body beside the road. But folks here still feel sorry for her. Timmy was a good boy.

Husband: Oh, wow. That’s sad. So, we go about a hundred yards. 

Old Man: Oh yeah, about a hundred yards after that your gonna see some dead grass on your right. That’s part of Martha Umpkin’s yard. She’s got some loose timbers in her attic. If you know what I mean. No one can tell her nothing. She keeps pourin’ old engine oil there every time she has her son change the tractor oil. She’s convinced it’s good for the soil. Her son’s just as simple. If a bear had his brains, it’d hibernate in the summer. 

Husband: Ok. So, what do I do once I see the dead grass?

Old Man: Make a left.

Husband: A left.

Old Man: Yep. It’ll be a narrow dirt road. Use to belong to the Harrises. Mean old farts they were. Place was in the family for generations. Use to be slave holders. You can still see the old slave shacks in the woods. Lot a people round here think those woods are haunted. Don’t know why your friends wanted to have a place out there. 

Husband: So once I’m on that narrow road I’m almost at their house?

Old Man: Almost. Your gonna cross an old wooden bridge. You’ll know your gettin’ close when you see the snake skins hangin’ from the trees. Don’t worry. It’s just the Pentecostal younguns. They belong to the snake handlin’ church near where Timmy Sampson’s body was. Those folks is all messed up. Think that handlin’ a poisonous snake shows how much faith in God you got. Yes sir. I tell you. They’re a bunch. The pastor’s son, he didn’t have much upstairs neither. He was mowin’ his yard barefoot and a copperhead bit him. Old Emma Lake saw the whole thing from her sick bed. Her bedroom window looks out over the creek and right at the pastor’s yard. She nearly broke her hip gettin’ to the telephone. She said that poor dumb boy sat there in the yard thanking the Lord for testin’ his faith. Well. I tell you, by the time the rescue squad got there that boy was stiffer than an oak board. 

Husband: Snakes huh?

Wife: Are you getting all this?

Husband: You mean you haven’t been writing this down?

Old Man: Ah, don’t worry. Once you cross that bridge you’ll see the Wonderly house. 

Husband: It’s Wonderby, not Wonderly. Thanks though.

Old Man: Hold on, now. Hold on. You said Wonderby?

Husband: Yes. Kim Wonderby. 

Old Man: Oh, ha ha. I knew that name was familiar. The Wonderbys. You go down this road about two football fields and you’ll see their house on the right. Can’t miss it. Big brick son of a gun. It’s on the old Miller farm where…

Husband: Thank you. Grrr. 

Wife: I told you their house was probably just up the road. But you never listen to me. 

About Til Turner

Til is a writer, artist, and musician living in the Shenandoah Valley. He is an associate professor in the Languages and Literature Division at Northern Virginia Community College and is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Art with an MFA in Creative Writing. Til has published poems online, has written a teacher's handbook on ESL writing, and he has recently completed his second novel for young readers. Please feel free to visit his instructional website at www.EnglishIsKillingMe.com.
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