Canto 06

Mike drove away in a daze.  What happened to Peal?  Was he okay?  Where could the crazy old man have wandered off to.

Driving further on down the road he passed a pasture full of goats.  Odd, but they all seemed to be staring at him.  As he noticed this, with a chill more ominous thoughts suddenly came to him.  What had just happened to himself?  Was he, Mike, okay?  Was he insane, and Peal was just his hallucination?

These ruminations on his mental state occupied him so much that he could barely stay on the road, let alone appreciate the scenery.  In no time at all he was on the main road in Junction City, (where there is no “there” there!), the inexplicably turned west towards Columbus, rather than east towards South Carolina.  After about a mile he made another inexplicable turn, (he couldn’t even tell you why he did it if you asked him!), and headed north towards Talbotton.

For a little hick town Talbotton is actually kinda nice, but it’s still very small, and there’s nothing much to do there, at least for someone who is supposed to be moving to Columbia, South Carolina.  Wondering just why he drove there in the first place, the thought occurred to him that Pine Mountain and Callaway Gardens weren’t that far away, so he continued west, towards Waverly Hall and Hamilton, and then on towards Callaway Gardens.

Callaway Gardens is kinda misnamed; it should be called “Callaway Trails”, or “Callaway Park”, or something like that.  Yeah, it’s got a horticultural center, and a big vegetable garden, but the best part of Callaway Gardens are the trails through the woods.  It’s a great place to hike, full of “scenic vistas”.  I always thought it’d be really cool to make out  with some pretty young thing right outside the little chapel in the woods there, overlooking the big pond, but just my damn luck a flock of ugly shrieking middle-aged feminists would show up just when  she was starting to get hot and juicy, and ruin everything.  Actually the trails are way too busy for that sort of thing anyway, so if you’re looking for a place for a quick screw out in the wild, Callaway Gardens ain’t for you.  Besides, it costs an arm and a leg and a testicle to get into the place.

But unlike me, Mike has lots of money, so he went ahead and paid to get in.

I guess he walked around in there for a couple hours, thinking things over.  The events of the morning were disturbing, to say the least, (I still don’t believe things really happened that way!), but after thinking it over carefully Mike finally decided he wasn’t crazy, and that he may as well go back to his car and head off to South Carolina.

Going back the way he came, he decided to stop at the Country Store and get some lunch.  He’s told me of fond memories of eating there with his family when he was a kid, and then with his ex-wife, in the days before she started beating him up.  Memories are weird.  I don’t think the place is all that great, okay but not fantastic, and most of what you get there is fried country style stuff.  But if it pulls on his emotions, all power to him.

Mike ate a big lunch, shopped around the store for a while, then came back out to his car with a big bag full of candy, and a very full tummy.  He unlocked the door, wiggled into his seat, then nearly leaped thru the roof, peed his pants, and had a heart attack all at the same time.  There, calmly sitting in the passenger seat, was Old Man Peal!