It still seemed strange. They used to sneak in to the factory when they were kids. Once they played baseball in the big abandoned production hall. Later they came there to tell secrets about their parents who sucked, he even got his first kiss there. But he wasn't a kid any longer, he was 25 and had left this dirty old town years ago, but now they were tearing the old factory down. He didn't knew just why he had come back, it wasn't like his head was full of good memories. The more he was thinking about it, the less good memories he had. Except from the factory of cause, when they were at the factory, he had been happy.
More and more people crowded, waiting for the main event of the year, the demolition of the only good childhood memories he had. Some of the faces he knew, a little older but that was all, others looked like strangers to him, but he figured that he probably just had forgotten about their existence, a town like this one, wasn't exactly the kind of place that attracted new people. He had expected to see his parents somewhere in the crowd, but they never showed up. Either his mom was dead from drinking, or his dad were in prison for beating her up once again, he didn't really knew what he wanted the least...or most. He hadn't seen them for nine years. Even though he often felt the desire to park his car in front of the house rush in, break the liqueur bottle in his mothers hand, and asking his dad, how he felt about beating him now he was no longer 10 years old, but he never did. He knew it wouldn't change anything. He was living up in Tupelo now, he had a wonderful girlfriend, a job as an auto mechanic, they had money, he had a car, and she was pregnant with their first child. That was his life now. This town, his parents, it was all just history.
Men with security helmets, had prepared the detonators on strategically positions, all around the building. He couldn't help thinking about the first time they had visited the factory.
It was just a few weeks after the production stopped. It was big Michael P. who lead their expedition, of cause he did, he was the bravest and biggest. They were four all in all, Michael P., George, himself and Janice, oh sweet, sweet Jan. They were not more than nine maybe 10, and they didn't had a clue on what the factory had been producing, it could have been rat poison, and they still didn't care. As far as he remembered it wasn't rat poison, but nuts, the factory had been producing.
They were counting down. 10...9. Counting down for the end of something beautiful. ...8...7. Like all beautiful things in this town, it was gonna disappear. ...6...5. So this is it my old friend, he thought. ...4...3. But he was sure the old factory wouldn't give up without a fight. ...2...1. Kaboom. People were applauding when the old building collapsed. He had been so sure that it would struggle against the supremacy, that at least the chimney would fall in the wrong direction. But everything worked out just the way it planned. And when the dust fell down, there was nothing left but the brigs. He looked at his shirt, it was wet from his own sweat. He took off his cap and wiped his forehead, people started leaving, now there was something to talk about again. He needed something stronger than water, that was for sure.
Back then, he was sure the building could have survived everything. And sometimes it did, when they were playing. Now and then it had been a castle, and the four of them had been knights, other times the factory was a secret military base, and from the roof they were shooting down, hostile airplanes.
He stopped in front of a little bar, it had been there for as long as he could remember, but he had never set foot in it. Not until to day, that was. It seemed that the bar hadn't changed its interior since the late 80's.
"Tough day, honey?" the woman behind the bar desk said. She could had been his mother, except that his mother would never have had this job for long, she would drink most of what the bar could sell.
"Yeah," he said with a groan, "Budweiser please."
The woman opened the beer and placed it in front of him. There was a little dancing floor, and a small podium for a band to play. He was wondering when was the last time anybody came here to dance. The bar didn't exactly looked like a place to celebrate good times. Looking at the other guests, he made the conclusion, that they used the bar for the same purpose as himself, drowning sorrow and miserable lives.
Once Michael P. and George, came running to his house. Out of breath and with sweat drops dripping from their noses, they told that they had found an old couch at the junkyard. He didn't hesitate, and before they could count to nine and a half(as they used to say), he had his shoes on and was on the run. Even though the couch was old it looked as if was always mend to fit in in the factory. The same evening they were sitting in the couch, just the four of them. They were outcasts, no one rally cared for them, except for the persons around them in the couch.
"The long lost son has returned," a voice behind him said. He couldn't say he hadn't been hoping for it to happen, but at the same time he was terrified.
"Hi Jan," he said before turning around. He was glad she had spoken first, cause she was hardly recognizable, the once so golden hair, almost looked gray, she had deep wrinkles, and the eyes looked tired. If he didn't knew better, he would never had thought she was only 25.
"It's good seeing you again, Timmy," she gave him a hug, "I honestly didn't thought you would ever come back."
"No, neither did I," he wasn't lying.
They sat down at a table. It was a strange feeling, the hardest thing about leaving the town had been leaving the girl he was madly in love with, and who was now sitting in front of him.
"How are you?" he asked.
"I'm fine," she said looking at him with her big tired eyes, "I'm working at the school."
"Oh, you teach?"
She looked at him with an indulgent smile.
"No Timmy, I'm helping the janitor," she said. Timmy felt a little sting of an undefined feeling in his heart. She started laughing, for some reason. Was it the misunderstanding? His face expression? Or maybe the tension. But the laugh revealed some of the beauty her face still contained, it reminded him of what she once looked like. He started laughing too. So there they were for a while laughing, with dust dancing in the sunbeams.
"How about you?" she said after looking out the window for a while, "are you seeing someone?"
He didn't knew the exact reason why, maybe he felt it was wrong mixing his new life, with the old, or maybe somewhere in the back of the heart he still wished he and Janice could be together, but he turned his head, before saying no.
"No, I guess broken hearts don't make new story." Janice said, she began looking out of the window again.
She looked him straight in the eyes, she had a teasing smile on her lips. Just like the smile she had had, when she was daring him to do something crazy, she had always been the braver of the two.
"Not really. Kind of Cheesy." her southern state accent sounded clearer to him after not being used to hear it.
One day when he was around 12, or so. He had walked by the factory, he had noticed the door was open. When he came inside, he found Janice sitting in the couch. As he came closer, he could tell she was crying. Her dad had been beating her with his belt. She had shown Timmy the marks on her legs. Even though he felt sorry for her, he was glad he wasn't the only one, now he knew he could share his experiences with her. He had wiped the tears from her eyes, with the bag of his hand. In return she had kissed him, quick first, than longer.
It didn't felt strange walking hand in hand. It felt like being 14, and in love again. It was dark now, and cold. He had given her his leather jacket. Even though they hadn't agreed, they both knew were they were going.
"What about the others? Michael?" Timmy asked.
"He died," Janice said with a monotone voice, Timmy's heart skipped a beat, "he smashed his car into a tree, he had started using amphetamine, he was always talking about death. I think he killed himself," she sounded both like she was gonna cry, and like she didn't gave a damn at the same time.
Timmy felt like he had been hit in the stomach by a bodybuilder. Dead, the big brave Michael P., he was nothing but dirt in the grave.
"Where you...?" he lead his question asking it self.
"What were you expecting. You left, I was heartbroken, and he was there. Of cause we were together. And than he started doing his fucking drugs, and I just couldn't stand it..." she was crying now.
He felt bad, his neck was pain. He couldn't just wipe the tears from her eyes, like he had done when he was 12. He knew the instant his hands would touch the tears, they would etch his skin, and in the end they would poison his heart. All he could do was listen to her silent cry.
"What about George than?" he asked mostly just to change the subject.
"He was in jail down in Jackson, last time I heard from him. he had been stealing a car."
Timmy had an empty feeling in his body, a little like a hangover.
The pile of brigs in front of them were their destination, like so often before. They let go of each others hands at the same time. The old building, not more than brigs now, was their friend just as much as Michael and George had been, and they were all gone.
"Remember when you wrote our names in one of the brigs?" She asked. He did.
His father had actually restrained him self that day, he had only smacked Timmy one time on the cheek after he came home from work, than he had left. His knife had still been on the table, Timmy had taken it, even though he knew he would get in trouble. It was one of those swiss knife, and the brig had been soft. T+J, he had written, and surrounded it with a heart. He did get trouble, over the knife. And his father surely didn't restrained himself this time. He had been sitting on the doorstep bleeding, after yet another beating. His mother had been removing blood from his face with a paper towel, and in the smell of her alcohol breath, he, at the age of 15, had decided to leave home.
Her apartment was little and messy. The headlights of a car going by outside the window lit up the apartment and revealed the sparse interior.
"There is a couch," she said pointing at the little couch in the corner, it was hardly big enough for him, even in fetal position. She starred at him for a while without saying anything, than she turned away. He started undressing, there was only a little blanket, probably a cold night in sight.
He woke up when she touched his hair, he was shaking, from the cold. She wasn't wearing any clothes.
"Come on," she said, "it's too cold to sleep alone tonight." She took his hand leading him to her bedroom. The bed wasn't much bigger than the couch, they had to lay close. He could feel her small breasts against his chest. They started kissing.
The last night he had spent in the town, had been with Janice. It was the night before he had turned 16. With shaking hands he had been undressing her. She had been sitting on the old couch the whole time, looking at him, smiling. Even though it was almost completely dark in the old factory, he had felt a sting of pain in his heart, knowing that he would never again see anything as beautiful, as the nude girl in front of him. They had both lost their innocence in a dark abandoned production hall. Looking back at it with his experience, it hadn't really been, that good, but he didn't care cause it had been right. The girl he loved, in the only place he loved, it had been right. He had left before she even woke up. He had kissed her on her forehead and left.
She wasn't really sleeping, just pretending. He pulled up the the blanket around her, like a parent tugging in their child.
"I'm leaving now," he said, kissing her on the forehead.
"I know," she said, still with her eyes closed, "goodbye, my knight in white armor." Than a smile.
Outside the sun was shining again. He had left his jacket in there, he didn't wanted to go back and get it. He was walking trow the town, to his car. He thought about go see his parents once again. But he threw the thought away, what good would it do. His cap was still in the car, along whit his sunglasses. He had gotten a parking ticket, but that was okay. In the radio John Denver was singing about being a country boy. In his mind Timmy was finding a reasonable explanation for being away for over 24 hours, to tell his new life.
He had been hitchhiking. First he had been picked up by a truck driver going to Oxford. He had stayed there for some time. Later he had gone east to Tupelo, and from there on it was just history.