Copyright is held by the author.
TRAFFIC ON Route 2 whistled a steady whoosh-whoosh, except for the trucks that rumbled and motorcycles that roared. None of them infringed on Alex’s state of mind. He almost didn’t care if he hitched a ride east or had to hoof it forever. The moon overhead was obscenely full. The Naticks or Mohicans or any of those long-dead Native Americans would have called the orb a worm moon. It heralded the madness of March that celebrated the lustful return of earthworms and robins. Tonight, it was his moon!
He was heading home under this auspicious moon, and that’s all that counted. Home to Karin in Boston. Karin once told him her name meant first moon or something like that in Hindu or Sanskrit. Who knows? Karin’s ass formed two full moons. Her breasts were little moons. Her face shone moon-like. She had forgiven him. The dean at B.U. had also forgiven his indiscretion and would take him back to finish his sophomore year. It would help if Anna and his parents forgave him, but it was probably too late for that. Wasn’t destiny always mixed up with destination?
The whoosh-whoosh died as a cloud slipped by the worm moon — the brightest moon of his life. A science-fiction moon that declared the universe was full of March promise.
People were basically forgiving, he decided, shrugging his windbreaker tighter and switching the hand in his pocket with the one to flag down a ride. Karin promised a welcome place to bunk till her roommate got back from a semester in England. Even the cop in Stockbridge had understood when he caught Alex coming over Anna’s back fence. Drove him to the edge of town after Alex explained the situation, and said, “Happy trails, kid.”
Stockbridge to Boston. Not a long run. Indians walked it. The revolutionaries — Ethan Allen and his gang — commuted to ambush the British.
He continued walking backward, looking over his shoulder at the moon. The omen hung overhead, signalling that things would turn around now. Sometimes a road story unrolls by itself, but often they invite endings you never expect. Streets — in Stockbridge or Boston — just lie there in patterns, but roads propel a person away and invite distant adventure.
A car began to slow and blink its turn signal. Alex backed off the asphalt as it pulled to a stop next to him. Decent of the driver so Alex didn’t have to run and catch up.
He started to say, “Thanks, Mister,” anticipating the driver would then ask, “How far you going?” Then one thing would lead to another and the conclusion would make itself clear.
Or was it to be sincere regrets?
A familiar face leaned across the passenger seat and the window rolled down. It was Anna, wearing her husband’s red crusher hat. Anna from Stockbridge.
“I thought you’d be hitching Route 2,” she said. “That’s what Henry said. After he saw you go out of our bedroom window. I told him our marriage was over.” She lifted her arm, letting her hand float in supplication. “I need you, Alex. I trusted you with my love. Now, I can’t live without it. Henry’s gone back to Manchester. We can be together. Share a life.”
It was tough to say what had to be declared. Anna was a good person, but not the right person. “I’m following the moon, Anna. Forgive me. What we had is done and over with. I have something — someone — waiting in Boston.”
She made a choking sound, like a cat with a hairball in its throat, and the hand dropped. Anna put the car in gear, made a U-turn in the road and headed west with the moon at her back.
Or perhaps a dead end?
Instead, a familiar face appeared across the passenger seat as the window was rolled down. Henry, Anna’s husband, glared at him.
“Thought you’d be hitching on Route 2,” he said. “That’s what Anna told me. After you went out my bedroom window.” He lifted his arm and pointed a black revolver at Alex. “I accepted you, Alex. Trusted you with my friendship. Trusted you alone with Anna. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice . . .” The gun went off and the bullet tore off Alex’s right ear in a splash of red.
“Shoot for the moon, you bastard.”
Henry wheeled the car around, throwing gravel in the road, and headed west.
Or surprise reconciliation?
Instead, a familiar face leaned across the passenger seat and the window was rolled down. His father smiled, tentatively, as though he might not be up to the task of reaching out to his son.
“Alex, I couldn’t let you go after the words we exchanged, about your lady friend at college. I know you want to go back to those folks, your friends in Boston.”
“Those folks are my future now, Pops. I’m going to ask if the college’ll renew my scholarship, after I get through probation.”
“If it’ll help, Alex, me and your Mom saved a little money. I said if I found you walking the road, I’d even drive you to Boston.”
It was the worm moon, full of spring promise that influenced Alex’s decision. “Well, maybe we can talk about it,” he told Pops. “In the car.”