It had rained all week, but not in any decisive way, more in the way that shrouds a town when it is immersed in a persistently thick fog bank, rain that doesn’t start in the clouds and hit the earth so much as materializes from the air and hangs there, going from side-to-side, eddying lazily before heading up or down, it doesn’t matter to the countless droplets, part of which have combined with the pale yellow gruel of the road and made a syrupy concrete that will, somehow and against all physical laws, become dust again once the fog has gone, a dust that could be composed of down-market biscuit flour and deeply aged grits, but is instead roughly two-thirds atomized oyster shells and one-third the finely desiccated sea creatures that eventually make sand, long after those spritely creatures have died, their skeletons drifting (in much the same way the fog does) to the sea floor.
It is in this glutinous concoction of aimless water droplets, pulverized oyster shells and diffuse sea creatures that the ’65 Plymouth finds itself, axle-deep, badly worn tires coated in flour and grits, trying to rock out of the rutted goo it has made since turning onto this road and disappearing into the live oaks shimmering with saturated Spanish moss, a road that can only be described as such because it is not part of the chaos of trees and undergrowth that spreads out in all directions round about, darkening into the mist, darkening into the black invisible in spite of this relatively early hour after noon.
One kid with a bad, unevenly short haircut and bad skin sits behind the wheel, gunning the engine, stopping, slamming the automatic transmission into reverse, gunning the engine, slamming it into forward, and so forth. Two of his friends, dirtier than the wheel-man, soaked to the skin, sweating – or at least adding their own salty mists to the soup that envelopes them – push at the back of the one-and-a-half-ton collection of partially rusted steel each time the driver goes forward, while another of the quartet plunges away up the front each time he reverses, grunts and heartfelt, immature, wasteful curses barking out of their teenaged mouths with each effort.
They are out of sight of the nearest major road, which is paved but not major, so far down the direction they came that it too is a memory wrapped in mist and dark gray-green portent of the trees and their somber fruit. Why, which is what all of them think whenever a hormone-clotted synapse fires, are they doing this? At the end of the road is a clearing that looks out over a bend in the river, a place that gets few visitors due to its location and approach, a place where teens can consume the six-pack one of them stole from an ice chest without being seen by parents, friends, acquaintances, preachers, police, sheriffs or anyone else on earth. It is a clearing where a secret can come into being and die without ever being known if only it can be reached. And it cannot. Be reached. If the car is trapped up to its axle and quickly heading towards being immobilized on a car-sized, car-shaped bar of syrupy concrete that is being abraded slowly away by four badly worn tires and four idiots looking for a moment of freedom.