"You need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. A village means that you are not alone, knowing that in the people, the trees, the earth, there is something that belongs to you, waiting for you when you are not there." -Casare Pavese
I woke up sleeping in the recliner in my home office where I've slept for the last year and a half since I messed up a disc in my upper back, my memories of Asylumland as clear as if they were just yesterday. "Wait a minute," I mumbled to myself, "it was just yesterday, wasn't it?"
I couldn't remember leaving or how I got home.
I splashed some water on my face and walked into the kitchen to take my medications-- a ritual that has been with me since my stroke about ten years ago. My mother was cooking breakfast just as if everything was normal. Since Daddy died a few years ago my brothers and I have lived with my mother off and on so that she doesn't have to live alone in a bad neighborhood. I'm not a tough guy but I manage to look the part with my motorcycle, leathers and just enough scars to scare the neighborhood thugs into finding easier targets than my mom. "I like those new pipes you put on your motorcycle," Momma said, "I didn't even hear you come in last night."
"Good," I replied, "that's what I was hoping for." Funny, I didn't remember buying new pipes. Hell, I didn't remember riding home either. That's pretty bad considering I haven't had a drink in years.
While Momma was finishing up breakfast I went out back, fed the cat and the chickens, watered the garden and unlocked the shed to check on my old motorcycle. I felt around the engine and just as I suspected it was stone cold with the gas tank completely topped off. I put my key in the switch and there wasn't even enough power to bump the starter over. No one had ridden my motorcycle the night before and probably not for several days before. I hooked it up to my battery charger and went back inside for breakfast.
After I got my bike running I rode to the Greensboro Municipal Federal Credit Union where I've done my banking for 20 plus years. "Long time no see," the teller said, "What can I do for you?"
"How long has it been?" I asked.
"Well it hasn't really been all that long," the teller answered, "according to the computer I waited on you about a month ago."
"Seems longer," I said.
"Been on another book tour?" the teller asked.
"Yeah," I replied, "something like that. Have I had any royalty checks deposited lately?"
"A few," she replied, "but you're not rich yet."
"Somehow I didn't think so," I replied.
"No proposals from any Hollywood starlets?" the teller asked.
"You see my bank account," I laughed, "you know better."
I left with a couple thousand dollars in my pocket, made arrangements to have my brothers look after Momma and set out on the road, two wheels in the wind. I don't know how I knew which way to go but something inside my head kept telling me where to turn as if by instinct and the closer I got the surer I became that I was on the right track. A few hours later I found myself hiding in the woods on a hillside near the town of Dillwyn, Virginia staring through my binoculars at Asylumland.