a story by Janice Daugharty
Copyright 2010 Janice Daugharty
First published in the Chattahoochee Review, Fall 2004
Anthologized in: New Stories from the South: the Year’s Best of 2004
From the store porch, the three men watched the strange car come, out of the south and blue like the tweed highway was blue, but not like the sky was blue, not that blue.
The car slowed for the railroad tracks that crossed east to west or west to east, depending on the direction of the trains passing through the dried-up town each morning, evening and night. It was morning now and the tracks ran parallel to the south side of the two-story peeling white building built like a box. A pecan shadetree at the crossing threw still flocked shadows onto the new blue car roof and slid off the trunk as it bucked and dipped over the shined double rails and didn’t pick up speed again which meant it was going to stop by the store.
The driver had the window up with the air conditioner running—engine hum always gave that away—you could tell it every time. He parked and sat there for a minute, looking to his right and down, maybe taking money from his wallet on the car seat, maybe writing something, maybe listening to the radio or hiding a pistol.
At last, he opened the door and stepped one foot out as if testing the spotty grass and gravel with his polished brown loafer. Then spinning round on the seat and bringing the other foot out and standing, closing the door.