His helmet doesn’t fit quite right anymore. It’s not like he can spin the thing around on his head–there is just a lot less hair and things felt loose and weird. He has been through this before. Once Pop and he were on their own he just let it grow until it annoyed him and then he loped it off. His face was cool too. The woman at the salon wasn’t rigged to give him a shave but she improvised and used clippers to shear him down to under an eighth of an inch. Air flow over his chin is a forgotten sensation. Feels good. Different and good. At first it felt like cool water and he could sense the flow and pattern on his scruff. Slowly he forgot about it until he got into a low shaded place along the river and he felt the cool air on his face and head. He was running the downstream leg and looking at the back of the water as it rolled over the turtle-backs of smooth rocks and boulders. The river ran clear at the moment. Rain would change it to chocolate but he was happy to see such clear water.
River on one side, hill and homes on the other he found his attention divided. People living along the river took yard care seriously. Lawns were mowed, fences painted, flowers in weeded flowerbeds, rolling along he saw a surprising level of manicure and grooming. People seemed to realize that they were part of the scenery and put on their best Sunday clothes. Maybe that’s what tourist towns did. He didn’t care. It was enjoyable and authentic. Homes were split between cabins and plank, with plank homes favoring brighter colors and more yard. The river and road meandered. Meandered, it was one of his mother’s word. She had driven words into him like nails, repeating, explaining, re-using; driving them in with the vicious intent of permanent adhesion. “If you don’t have a excellent vocabulary you will smother your opportunities with inadequate speech.” She had said.
Shit, she had stuck that knife deep in his head.
Broad and wide now the river slowed down and started to turn to brown as creeks and lesser sources began to join it. Images of hearts, arteries and veins run through his head. All that life moving irresistibly forward, carrying waste as well, the essence of life in one long running liquid thing. Deep inside himself a voice slaps him.
On the bank of the river a doe and a speckled fawn stand in tall grass. Target fixated he stares at the animals. His brain locks on a memory from a very young age when a doe had wandered into the back yard. She ate some of the flowers. Mom had run screaming at it into the yard. Bounding away he was amazed by the grace it showed. For some reason the size of it’s ears had stuck in his head. Like a hare, just that big. A work crew appeared the next day. The fence was finished the day after.
A watchful eye on him the doe was still except she kept chewing the grass in her mouth. The fawn ducked under it’s mother and looked under her belly to see him. He looked for other deer as he passed by. There were none.