Fiction On Odyssey: Unknown
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Fiction On Odyssey: Unknown

Nobody goes north on Horizon. Nobody goes south either.

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Fiction On Odyssey: Unknown

I take it this is your first time in Bluebutter. That's okay it's everybody's first time. Heck, it's my first time in Bluebutter too as far as most people are concerned, because if you've never left how can you ever come back a second time you know? Anyway, nobody leaves, not even for a second. Nobody except Jimbob Cooter that is. He left about two months ago but I bet you already know that. That's why you're here, isn't it? About Mr. Cooter?

Who am I kidding of course you are. It's not every day we get someone like you around here. It's good you came to me because the others have never seen someone in shoes that shiny and might not take too kindly but don't worry, I've seen it all honey. I have dreams you know, where I see things that I've never seen before. They say you can't see anything in a dream you've never seen in real life but I call bullshit because I saw the ocean once in a dream. Like a shattered pane of glass stretching on forever. You ever seen the ocean before? Of course, you have I'm sorry. Anyone in shoes like that has probably seen just about everything there is to see. I read about it once though, the ocean, but that's all. Just words in a book. See, my daddy used to be the preacher around here and said he saw the ocean every time he closed his eyes. People said he was crazy, that he should stick to seeing God. He wrote that book I was talking about, with the ocean. I still have it somewhere, but I never read it. He couldn't write his way through his own front door to escape a tempest, but you're not interested in an old woman's ramblings about her father, are you? Forgive me.

I was there the day Mr. Cooter left ask anyone. It was a normal day, Tuesday I think, no, Wednesday because Dover's Diner didn't have lettuce. Not that anyone really needs lettuce, but don't tell anyone I said that. Some people around her do if you can believe that. Anyway, they never serve lettuce on Wednesday because Ben Dover likes to drink on Tuesday which means nobody sees him until Thursday, but he never taught anyone else how to cut the lettuce. Eileen, his sister, tried cutting it once but she can't figure out how to cut it to that perfect size, where it's just a hair wider than the bun, without leaving some of the core in there. Either she removes the core and it's the wrong size, or it's the right size but the wrong texture. After arguing amongst each other all day and into the early evening we decided we'd rather have no lettuce than subpar lettuce. That, and Dover's closes at seven.

So there he was Mr. Cooter, sitting there with his glass of cranberry juice when Eileen Dover brought him his patty melt. He's usually taken two bites before the plate fully leaves her hand but this time, as soon as he picked it up, his face turned white and his hand shot out and grabbed Eileen's wrist. White as a ghost, he cautiously asked her, "Eileen, is that Bluebutter Cheddar on my patty melt?" What a strange thing to ask right? Bluebutter Cheddar? We are in Bluebutter aren't we?" That's exactly what Eileen said too. She said, very politely I might add, "Yes, Mr. Cooter. We are in Bluebutter aren't we?"

"Have we ever used any other cheese on our patty melts Eileen?" asked Mr. Cooter urgently. "Why would we do that sir? What other cheese is there?" Eileen responded naturally.

Everyone watched Eileen try to keep a smile in case he was joking, but something told her, and us that he wasn't. The way his eyes looked at her…you should've seen it, imploring her, pleading with her. He still held her tight. His eyes began to frantically search her face before he suddenly let go, stumbling backward in to the table behind him, knocking coffee all over Preston Butts who shot up immediately, filled with the irrational, involuntary rage of having his groin suddenly scalded, kind of like when you get hit in the nose and tears come out of your eyes and your face gets hot. Preston pushed Mr. Cooter who put his hands up in defense while feebly backing away and mumbling something about gouda.Mr. Cooter sidestepped his way out of Dover's without looking directly at anybody, the strangest thing you ever saw come out of a man with that much authority. That's right. The Mayor of our little town mumbling and avoiding eye contact like a child. Josie Spalding who runs the Stay a While convenient store over on Horizon Avenue swore she saw his white pickup speeding north on Horizon out of town no more than ten minutes after the incident. Nobody goes north on Horizon. Nobody goes south either. Come to think of it, nobody goes further north on Horizon than the Stay a While, or further south than Bonni's Beauty Parlor. I was there when Mr. Cooter went up Horizon that Wednesday, but not when he came back down two weeks ago. But you know what? Ana Path was. She's the only one who still tries to talk to Mr. Cooter. Says it's the schoolteacher in her that can't give up on anybody, but I think she's just the only one qualified to deal with that kind of foolishness. We could use a mayor so I guess somebody's got to re-teach him.I'm sure she can tell you more if you want. She lives over on Shady Side, second house to the left of the water tower.

I'm the only one who still tries to talk to Mr. Cooter. It's funny, the people in this town say they never give up on anybody but I'm not so sure anymore. See, Mr. Cooter left town speaking one language and came back speaking another. Everybody wants to learn another language but nobody wants to hear one you know? Of course, you know that you look like you know a lot. Anyway, Mr. Cooter tried to talk to people when he got back, I think. I remember him sitting there at Dover's at his booth the day he got back. You should've seen him, sweating bullets like he'd just run from one side of Horizon to the other in the middle of summer. But he hadn't. I know he hadn't because Cynthia Pond swore she saw his white pickup rumbling south into town on Horizon and pull straight into to Dover's. He was just sitting there, didn't order nothing. Everyone was staring at him, waiting intently when he says, to nobody in particular, "can't see the forest for the trees."You could hear a pin drop. Nobody knew what to do. You ever heard a man talk like that before? Well, maybe you have, with hair that nice. Maybe that's why you're here because you've seen something like this before. I sure hope you have.

Mr. Cooter sat there looking around blankly and he opened his mouth again. He said something I don't know if I should repeat but you should probably know. He says, again to nobody in particular, "A voice crying in the wilderness," and trails off. Just like that, with a kind of longing in his voice that nobody noticed but me. Well let me tell you, Silas McGillicuddy wasn't about to sit around and let Mr. Cooter talk like that uninhibited so he stood up and sucked all the air in the room into his barrel chest and pointed at Mr. Cooter."What did you just say to me?" he inquired through suspiciously squinted eyes.

Mr. Cooter only opened his mouth a third time to say, to Silas in particular, "this town ain't big enough for the two of us," after which he slid off his shoes and even removed his socks. Then, he pulled the key to the town out of his pocket, opened Silas's clenched fist and laid it gently in his palm. He said nothing as he walked barefoot out of the diner.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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