story by MOJIE CRIGLER
We lease a storage unit just north of New York City, far enough to cut the rent in half. Off the Saw Mill Parkway, first or second exit, Palmer Road. The highway, the off-ramp, Palmer Road, all narrow, all built for horse-and-carriage, trees tangled in vines crowding the shoulders. The old saw mill long ago replaced by industries whose garbage hangs in the vines as if caught in a spider web. To which is added trash from passing cars with blacked-out windows, tricked with woofers, lacking hubcaps, repainted matte black with red detail, shiny compact discs hanging from the rearview mirrors.
The Palmer Road houses belong to men who work at the factory or the prison, and women who work at the telephone company or the prison, with children who serve time in the public school and then move down the road or into the basement. Tight-knit families. We don’t have much, but we have God and each other and we have love, they say. I envy them. If I were one of the children, I would marry the nicest boy in my high school class—an athlete, but not a star; industrious, but not a genius—and move a few miles from the family home. Sunday dinners all together, with the kids and in-laws, too.
After the houses, a deli, variety store, gas station. On the left, the cemetery. On the right, a factory-turned-storage-facility with a sign that should have been removed with the transfer of ownership, a relic of the building’s halcyon days manufacturing Nabisco Saltines.
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