A shiver ran through me: for a moment I had actually been connected to the other men of my home town. I had a glimpse of their world and, to my surprise, it wasn’t the awful place I expected. I was frightened. Was I destined to become a painter, a plumber, an insurance agent, swilling PBR and cheering on the Bears and passing out on the couch each night?

I walked from the garage to the house and felt I was in a foreign country. The crickets mocked me, the cicadas tormented me. I couldn’t be one of these people. I was never meant to be here. I was only meant to observe, to comment sardonically, to look on from the outside as a journalist, but not to become one of them.

I walked through the back door, hearing the hiss of the device that kept the door from slamming. I smelled the spaghetti mom was making, shuffling back and forth in the kitchen, the radio blaring, munching on a Ritz cracker, immediately talking to me: “Where have you been? You know you could hurt yourself with those tools…” There was Dad, sitting in his chair, tuning the radio. He was not one of those redneck monks. He seemed, at the time, to my restless and inexperienced young mind, like one of those mild suburbanites dressed in polyester and bright colors, as insubstantial as a soybean milk shake, or wax paper.

Upstairs, in our shared room, my brother was listening to his stereo, his headphones on. There was a hole in one sock. I packed up a pair of socks, some underwear, some pants, a T-shirt. “Going somewhere?” he said.

The Simon and Garfunkel song popped into my head: “Somewhere they can’t find me…”

But I just said, “Away from this place.”

Once, I had a very vivid dream about an airplane crash. I was not home, but somewhere else, and very hungry. I just sat down to a big wonderful dinner and was beginning to gorge myself when I heard the news on the TV. Where? I cried. Someone called out the address: it was my own house, where my parents and brother and sister still lived. I grabbed my camera and ran over to the scene. I couldn’t get inside for all the smoke. I tried to take pictures but the camera wouldn’t work. I felt nothing but frustration about the camera.

It was getting dark outside. I crept into the basement and found a flashlight. When I got outside I needed it just to find the hole and the opening I had cut in the roots. I pointed the light into the hole. There was the stick of Juicy Fruit gum, untouched. This worried me. It was different when I knew someone was down there. Where was I going? I dropped down. Immediately, my shoes sank into mud. The roots I had cut scratched my head, as though trying to punish me. I could see nothing in either direction.

“Hello? Farkus?” I called into the darkness. There was no response. An inspiration popped into my head. I grabbed the roots I had cut and shook them, tore at them. Like spiders, I thought, the Rootweavers would sense a disturbance in their network and come after me. Unfortunately, I was right.

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