|This is not the picture, but it looks a lot like this|
I visited the town again that comes to me in my slumber—somewhere in Arkansas or Missouri. It’s a near abandoned, or southeast Oklahoma—off any major highways but accessible via poorly maintained all-weather roads, taking a left at a fork, and then another left. It seems like I travel southeast and then northeast to get there.
A short Main Street is lined with old store fronts—some with antiques, some with new things on shelves so long that they are forgotten collector’s items. I stop at an old diner which mostly serves breakfast and all entries are eggs over easy or scrambled, thick cut bacon, and old toast. A thick rimmed cup of black coffee comes free with breakfast, and only someone desperate for caffeine would drink it. I have a cup, order breakfast, and eat only the bacon.
|Not the place, but like this. Old brown bricks, boarded up windows|
Next door, I browse the antique store. It has creaky wood floors, and elaborate but drooping ceiling tiles that would probably be worth a lot of money to someone who wanted them. Lighting is dim, everything has a gentle collection of dust—it seems to damage the effect to pick up a knick knack and disturb the coating of old age. Somehow I find this store charming, and the old diner as well. I notice an old leather shop, across the street, and the post office and then several boarded up buildings all with upstairs apartments.
It seems to me this might have been a resort town at one time. It’s near a river much like the Illinois River, but I’ve not seen any campgrounds or canoe rentals. Still, I drive along the road catching glimpses of the steam around a bend and between trees. I pull over to get a better look and find trails, and of course I have to follow. They look as though they have seen little traffic, but still are easy to follow. So I go. Along the shore, over a rockslide of boulders, up a rise and then down a ravine, across a feeder stream, and then a steep climb away from the river. The climb goes on and on—well maybe a half mile of a medium ascent, and then the trail fizzles out.
I visit this place a few times a year. I do not know where it is, but it seems so real. I know an old gray haired lady pours my coffee. The breakfast is cheap—like $3.00. The antiques have round stickers with handwritten prices. It smells musty. The floor creaks. I never see anyone else here—that I remember. I know this town. I know this river. I don’t know where it is.