And it is not what you think. I am making a left turn from my ongoing story that is unfolding about my not being able to drive, which has altered the wana-be-Gypsy in me, since I am now traveling down a new road. Yes, driving, but chauffeured in a green….Hummer.
I was driven yesterday from Tulsa Oklahoma, six hours, to a wilderness area outside of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, which I have yet to locate on a map. Right now where I am seems a bit more like the Twilight Zone and I expect that if I were to consult a map there would be no evidence of where I am.
I have taken a screenwriting job and was offered a week in the cabin of the folks paying me to write. This cabin is in the “back woods” of Missouri on a river and I am here to get the spine of the story pounded out with the author of the book I am adapting. It sounded idyllic even in the dead of winter. I pictured a thin coat of ice slipping its way down the broad river right outside the cabin door. I imagined the hawks and the tiny House Wrens perched happily outside my window, as I tapped into the cosmic gods of screenplay writing ready to make a much better speech than Matt Damon at the next Oscars.
In the dead of night, parked next to Miss Vickey’s gas station with six other trucks, all with guns in the back window and bumper stickers I did not understand, we waited for the owner of the cabin to escort us to what was described as a “hard to get to place that was very remote”. Right! “You might want to get a bite to eat and some groceries before we head out”, she said. It is now dark.
So, I ate at the only restaurant 10 miles down a dark road; Micky D’s. Even the golden arches were not daunted by the rural surrounding. “Yep this is the Meth capital and the second highest welfare area in the state”, quipped our escort who had lived here all her life. I had seen the movie Winter’s Bone so I did not need to ask about the Meth. “I’d say the movie Deliverance is more appropriate”, whispered Todd.
So, I ate a salad and fries (those were in fact great) for the first time in a decade at Micky D’s and then we went to the locally owned grocery to get what we needed for a week.
I had already loaded organic groceries into the Hummer before leaving Tulsa, so was pretty set, but Todd had no food. We don’t eat the same kind of food so I waited for him by the dairy section and could hear the loud ‘mooing’ that happened when the dairy doors to the refrigerator open. Like a mounted trophy from hunting season, a huge toy cow head above the soy milk was mooing with gleaming eyes for my shopping entertainment. The store was a surreal mixture of extra-large bags of Cheerios, jars of bright green Maraschino cherries floating in green syrup, and as you checked out you could do your Christmas shopping for anything you can find on QVC that was under $10. I was almost tempted to by a rabbit’s foot. I intuited I would need it. And I was proven right.
We got to the cabin that was down so many dirt, gravel, and muddy paths that I could not find my way out of here with a compass. I was appreciating the Hummer all of a sudden. Pitch dark, we unloaded, got the heat cranked up and settled in. I boiled water, made myself a cup of tea, heard Todd make a number of “Deliverance” jokes which I could not argue with and stepped out into the dark of the front porch to imagine the pristine scene I would have waiting for me when the sun came up in the morning. I opened the door to step out, steaming cup in hand and instantly found a House Wren who flew directly into the cabin. She has been with us all night. I breathed in the chill and was instantly aware that I was standing under a carpet of stars more vast that when I lived in the state of Maine. I was satisfied. Little Wren and all.
Off to bed, slept great, could not wait to sleep late and then get up and hike around before settling into writing mode. I was somewhere between dreaming and waking when I heard a knock on the side door. “Not Possible, there are only bears out here”, I thought. I rolled over. Then I heard a rapping on my window. I sat up and instantly flashed images of a band of hunters come for Todd and me. I was brave. Slipped on my robe at 6:45 am and peeked around the hall entrance to the glass door that opened to the porch. I had locked it hadn’t I?
There, in the mist of the unlit morning, was a man who did in fact look exactly like the main character in Winter’s Bone who got an Academy award. Now it was me that needed to do a great acting job and look as if I was not just a wee bit scared. I went to the door without waking Todd and stood on the other side of the glass, sneaking a glance to make sure I had in fact locked the door. Yes. And behind the shadowy man stretch a canvas of meadow and trees that lead to the river and was paintable at the very least.
Picture this. I am in a blue silk floral Japanese robe and on the other side of the glass is a man who truly looked like he had a few fellers behind the tree. No gun, that was good. “I am so sorry, my gal and I came down to the river last night around midnight and got stuck in the shale on the bank and can’t get out in our truck….we been there all night with the truck runnin….. and I built this cabin and I am so sorry ma’me but could your husband pull us out?” I slowly leaned to the left to peer around him down to the river only to see part of a red pick up truck. Not the first glimpses of morning I had hoped for. I waited. Tapped into instinct and said I would get Todd.
Now, this guy may have looked real sketchy but the true danger I felt was waking up Todd who in no uncertain terms had said how much he needed his sleep. He was nowhere on his bed but buried inside of an extreme weather down sleeping bag. I could hear him snoring, took a breath and touched his foot and whispered. “Todd the Deliverance men are outside”.
Now we both stood at the glass door with the man shivering on the other side. I looked at this very embarrassed man who simply must have wanted to show his girl some sort of a good time in winter, at 20 degrees and icy down by the local river a million miles from nowhere so I opened the door and brought him in. “You need a cup of tea for you and your girl”.
Well, many attempts later the ATV did not do the job of hauling their asses out of the ditch, so Todd and the bright green Hummer screamed down the road to the river and yanked them out. He then went back to bed, as the couple, in the dented red pick up truck honked a few times and sped back into the woods from whence they came.
I did not go back to sleep. Made a cup of tea and watched the sun come up. Found the little Wren and got her outside and am imagining what the next six days will bring. I already know it will most likely be the screenplay I did not come out here to write. Did I mention I have no cell phone service out here?