I live about forty minutes from the city. The drive is along a quiet secondary highway once busy and well maintained now a cracked pitted and potholed stretch of derelict pavement. Century old farmhouses haunt the route barns in every imaginable state bungalows from the seventies abandoned gas stations schoolhouses motels and monolithic slabs where buildings once stood. Fields have largely returned to pioneer growth forests fireweed and goldenrod. A cemetery without headstones just flat inscribed marble pads larger than life statues of Jesus kneeling down nailed up risen from the dead plastic flowers in plastic vases stuck lopsided into the ground. About halfway to town is a lumberyard. An unusual place because you never see a soul yet there are always neatly piled carefully covered stacks of lumber. Once an untended bonfire blazed.
This morning I saw a giant in the yard. I was driving to a meeting with a new client and he was standing by a row of two by fours broad back to the road head down wearing a black tailored suit. His hair thick grey and shoulder length. At first I thought he was a tarp blown off the pallets but he was nothing like that at all. I squeezed the brake. He slowly turned his head and looked at me. Solemn. I pulled onto the shoulder parked and got out. He straightened to full height stretched his shoulders back and turned to face me. I stared for a long time and eventually he spoke.
You will be late is what he said.
What are you doing here I asked.
Looking at the lumber wishing someone could help me.
There’s never anyone. I don’t understand it.
Perhaps they only stockpile here and sell it elsewhere.
He took a hanky the size of a pillow case from his pocket blew his nose and teared up.
Allergies he said.
I’ve never seen you before.
I usually stay well hidden. I don’t know what got into me this morning.
You’re quite a sight.
You’re going to be late he replied.