I don’t know if this will work or not: re-visiting the scene, two or three years later. Many of the same characters, plus a few new ones. But this is a small fictional town where a lot of things have happened. Most of the people who were born in it or landed there from other places can’t afford to move on to other places. “In Dixieland I take my stand, to live and die in Dixie,” the song says. Change Dixieland to any other name you choose. Most people don’t move around unless there’s a vital need to do so, and desperation great enough to take on the road gods.
Contrasts: a dinner invitation to the house of friends. They’ve done loving work on an old home with a huge yard. Swings, a pool, bright, savvy children playing on a perfect summer day. Food, drink, pleasant conversations. Everything almost seamless. Shadows, of course, in this one’s eyes or that one’s look away in mid-sentence. But shadows under strict house orders to behave.
Facing the place where I now live: a old building, well restored and turned into a low-rental housing unit. One of the tenants there spends most of his waking hours sitting on a chair next to the rosebushes outside his apartment. He stares at a wall with interesting patterns left over from old tar paper and disintegrating stucco. Unless he looks with unseeing eyes at the hand-painted For Sale sign on the building. He smiles at my dog and returns my greetings. He also gets pissing drunk on occasion and so do some of his buddies. I doubt they can recall the reason for their stupid arguments once the hangover sets in.
In other outlandish expenses, I think I’ll buy a radio/CD player for upstairs. Music may not soothe the inner man in two brawling drunks but it would make for better background when I’m in no mood for their nonsense. (Even the dog stopped her nervous pacing after awhile. That’s how boring people sound when they keep saying: “oh yeah, you think I don’t carry my own knife, huh? Come on, go ahead, hit me, go ahead…” but to no avail because they’re both too drunk to do anything other than flail and slice off pieces of the air. While an onlooker stands there, waiting for the action to heat up, and leaves when the whole thing gets repetitious.)