Hot Tin Roof: Wedding in Galena

Hot Tin Roof

We drive down blackjack road, thin and winding, hemmed by the woven trunks of trees and a sheer drop.

“It’s a beautiful town,” he says. “All these trees. The hills. The view.”

“I wonder if that’s why Nate and Matt picked it.”

No house lights. No streetlights. Only one working headlight on Fat Van.

(And it’s quiet. When was the last time we were anywhere quiet?)

He keeps his eyes forward.

It is so dark that the road is built before us as we drive. It comes from out of a void — comes only a few feet at a time, all serpentine curves. Blind corners jump before you. The road rearranges itself, just beyond your line of sight. It is not where you thought it would be — where it should be.

“What I wonder is how they found it.”

“Yeah,” I say. “I didn’t think places like this still existed.”

He is quiet, thinking.

“It’s the kind of town we all remember,” he says, “but that we stopped building a long time ago.”

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We are only here for the weekend — for the wedding — and we drive slow.

A light appears behind us, flooding the road in pale gray.

We drive on. The light is close enough to blur out the back windshield, turn it into a smear of bright white.

I can feel him shifting in his seat. I know his eyes will be flicking back.

The road rises before us — a steep hill. The engine lets out a moan. I can hear air venting through the system — heating or cooling, I can’t tell.

He steps a little harder on the gas.

“Come on, come on,” he mutters.

The light behind us flares on the rearview mirror.

“You can do it.” I pat the dash. “You can do it, Fat Van.”

Then we are up, over the hill and barreling down the road. Light chasing. Unable to slow. The threat of being rammed imminent. And we turn a corner and suddenly there is no road.

He yanks the wheel.

My hands clutch the armrest. Eyes wide.

We careen to the right, tipping —

And stop.

Behind us there is a roar, and the light is gone.

We breathe.

“Sorry,” he says.

“It’s fine,” I say.

(We’re fine.)

He turns Fat Van around, makes his way back to the center of the fork and trundles down the left road. We are silent and, apart from the lone headlight, in utter darkness.

“At least that guy lit the road for us a bit,” he says.

“Still a jerk,” I say, and he nods.

My pulse is pounding in my neck. My chest expands and contracts, slowly, in an attempt at calm.

Massy shapes move past on either side. Houses and hills. Fields filled with corn, beans and cows. Trees everywhere. All covered in a thick, black veil.

“You could live a good life here,” he says. “Good place to have a family. Could get a lot of work done.”

My heart, throbbing blood through my veins.

“I think you’d have a lot of fun,” I say. “It would be a nice place to live.”

(With you.)

We don’t look at each other, but at the road unspooling before us. The collected fear begins to dissipate. From out of the night, tiny lights emerge: White. Yellow. A few oddly green. They turn the air glittery with their winking, wandering presence. They go on and on forever.

“It feels like another dimension,” I say, voice hushed.

And he agrees.

Erin McInerney is a university student studying English and writing. She likes to garden. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 226.

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