Silent house. Only light from the streetlamps, and that damn security light in the neighbor's backyard that stays on all fricking night. I carry my boots so that my footfalls don't wake Mojo. Children tussled in knots of jammies, blankets, lovies and stuffed toys. How does Missy kick off her ENTIRE blanket without waking up? Tuck it around her - she rolls on her side, sighs, sleeps again. Her cheek is like warm velvet.
Chilly outside, scent of smoke, dew, cold iron. Fog forms on the windshield immediately. Slow rhythm of the night traffic elides me, dark houses, empty lawns. Glare of St. Johns, pale green bridge arching over the broken glass reflections of the Willamette.
Linnton; relict of the mill town useless neon and idle storefronts. Cavern of dark highway spooling out before me. Tire hiss. Forties memories from the radio, brassy beat eight to the bar.
Urbanity retreats; scattered houses in farm and field, sheds and barns ghostly in the yellow gleam of a single sentinal light. Black trees, arching branches pale-lit from underneath like white arms raised in dancing pose.
Cluster-shot of towns: Scappose, Rainier, Goble. Decadent civilization has reached St. Helens with a Starbucks. Hot coffee, dark as sin and bitter as grief and sweet cream steaming in the paper chalice. Into the bigger darkness as the Great River shrugs northwards around the Coast Range.Radio fades in and out, accepts strange crackling invasions from Canada or Montana. The Jesus station is playing militant hymns full of Roundhead passion enveloped in lush harmonies. His blood-red banner streams before, who follows in his train? I can feel Covenanter blood responding, face flushing with the sweet desire to smite the Godless. And here's the news...
Nothing now but dark hills, dark earth, dark sky and the moving tunnel of headlights. Gnat Creek, Clatsop Crest. Single light at Alston Mayger: former home of sour Rick and loving, giddy Mona and wise little Octobriana Marie...lost friends, where are you now? The long hill down into Clatskanie, cold wind from the marshes to the north seeps through the cracked window. Back into the night, long stretch of winding hills, past timberlands, inverted bowl of stars diamond-bright above the ragged sleeve rising south, gleam of the river flowing west, all the compass rose stretching away in the hissing night of empty road and silent forest.
House. House. Two houses, a shed, a motel. Slowing, the road rises winding to meet me, false dawn to the west the lights of Astoria, hotcakes at the Pig n' Pancake, streets slick with washing. I yawn and stretch, and the pink and azure glow behind the hills to the west promises the coming day.