Pungo, Virginia 1990

The nursery had a greenhouse south of Pungo almost to Carolina. There was an old low barn outside of it surrounded by oceans of tobacco. We'd spend a ten hour day running the machines, the smell homosote, dirt and thousands of azaleas. Or pansies, imagine the colors involved in a gymnasium sized room filled with pansies. We got sent down there as the mother and son team who ran the place got busted smoking pot all day and embezelling funds. I'd gotten muscles digging with the other landscapers, I'd spent the whole summer digging. At some point I discovered I could get laid. There was a black stray who hung around the place that someone named Buckwheat. He had been hit by a truck and had a crooked tail, crossed eyes and walked in wide looping arcs. I'd lay down on the cool slab after lunch and Buckwheat would crawl up on my chest and drool on me as I pet him. One day down there we finished up early. I got tired of bullshitting in the hot open room so I went and smoked out by the trucks and afterward climbed up the side of an open barndoor and scrabbled up a valley of the rusted-out standing seam roof. I scared a crow off of the peak, took his place and squatted there, looking out over tobacco waving and clouds and Pungo. In a month I'd be back at school. I had no idea what was going to happen next. I was nineteen and I didn't fucking care.