By jared a. j. butler - Posted on 02 November 2010

Passion Pit implored us to Make Light and the sun obliged with its first light at our backs, as we coasted down Interstate Sixteen; the day's first rays of light set the dense morning fog ablaze in opaque oranges and grays. Our exit number was alien enough to me: 127, and my tiny home had what—thirty or so demarcating its densely packed towns.


Tilly warned of Bad Education as cotton fields on either side like dusty frozen lakes became the hot boxed fogged windows we were so used to, driving around and idle on streets like Cypress; Brandi's pointed cheekbones and perfect teeth glowing with what amber streetlight they could catch as her small, quiet falsetto, gracefully and expertly navigating the quick lyrics, gave way to coughs and hot, smokey breath. “Jah--!” in response to my aloof stare.


A change of tunes. An up-tempo brought the cotton fields back along with his hyperactivity—from the driver's seat, that look of mischief hung from his brow, a devious ornament on an otherwise handsome, sturdy tree.


A silly duet and his off-key voice drew my pitch like a moth lost in a street-lamp’s aura; so too, the early morning espresso drew my vigor from respite and my wide eyes took in the approaching grounds of his sprawling, southern university, a college cliché in earnest. Parked the car as Mika followed Queen, as he always does, to insist that he should indeed be compared to Freddy.


Pages of tracing paper stuck one by one with glaucous painter's tape onto the white walls in the little cubbystudy room alone marked the passing hours; eight, nine, ten. The diagrammatic sketches of drapes, chairs, ottomans and fireplaces gave the room cartoonish coziness: a little imagined home for us in those sixteen squares or so.



Half a day later, after that early morning drive and we'd finished our projects and my sentiments agreed with A Day in the Life's crescendo, which accompanied the first few minutes of travel. We passed those cotton fields again, no longer drearily cast in dawn's fog, but still ominous. A great, green mammoth with its ass in the air and tusks to the earth chewed in zigzags and left in its wake white bales twice my height, seemingly poised to penetrate an awaiting tractor trailer on some road to some where to become our cotton shirts.


“God! That must take hours to crop,” he said as red lights gave us pause by the feeding beast. “And if it was picked by hand...,” came my Yankee reply.


The pass to Sixteen was littered with red signs reading “DEAL. REAL,” visual pollution that sold the candidate's name with an ironic rhyme, for insincerity drips from his spoken words. The joys of Red State Living! Before long the litter'll be gone and gridlock will set in, but when it's all decided they'll stop accusing Blue of condoning killing children and Red of letting women be raped. I wondered if either side even realizes the gravity of their accusations.



The day concluded with just desserts: juicy burgers and Stella Artois for me and Blue Moon for him. A day in the life more grueling and more satisfying than the lazy days of folding colored paper and reading dead men's bullshit.


Quick sleep came, but before capitulating I returned to those days on Cypress, or in what we'd called the Room of Doom, or anywhere really so long as good company and Green Games were present. Life's transformations are obvious, but the changes within me are obscured, since I have no control in this Dixie experiment against which my own variables can be contrasted.


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