I want to roll down the passenger window and scream as I pass the man in the confederate cutoff, propping his sign against his leg, blowing his duck call, and waving that jolly roger flag on the edge of the highway but that window has been stuck all winter barely holding with duct tape that I stole from work. The guy at the garage said I should have it fixed, for safety reasons, that he could give me a quote for it if I wanted.
I wanted once before to honk my horn against the swastika that he’d drawn on the poster board he got from the Dollar General, but I had the horn’s fuse pulled as a wild experiment in radical pacifism. Also, the alarm would go off without provocation, sensing something approaching that couldn’t quite be trusted. Again, the guy at the garage said he could give me a quote for that, said the cost would be mainly for the diagnostics. That’s usually the case.
My car fits in here, in this town with this man who has stood every Sunday for several years now and grinned while he paced the edge of the highway with his misplaced messages of rural rage. Once I grabbed an ancient many-times-worn mask hanging from my rear view and sort of waved it at him in response, I guess? I can’t remember which sign he was holding that time, and I’ve never gone farther as I still don’t park in the garage full of things we haven’t bothered to unpack yet, even after four years here, and if he sees it and this old house, he might be zealous to find an enemy this close to home.
Lately I’m starting to get wild dreams of counter-protest from the worn-out way our rescued cockatiel looks out towards the windmills swinging on the hill. In the plan I’ve chosen to pursue, I drive by with the Looney Tunes theme song blaring. I don’t think he hears it or it didn’t register because he just keeps marching and waving and I drive home afraid I’ll be out here years from now, still dreaming of war tactics, fighting more of these small private battles along the highway.
So far I’m losing and I want you to know that I am still trying. That’s all, folks.
Avery Gregurich is a writer living and working in Marengo, Iowa. He was raised next to the Mississippi River, and has never strayed too far from it. More of his work can be found here.