Low Road is the only novel/novella I’ve ever written. In fact, it’s the only story I’ve ever completed.
My best work? Fuck no.
But I wanted to see this thing through. And now I’m showing it to you.
The story’s subject, Rod Townshend, is a shitty person. That’s by design. I intended this story to be a critique of the typical male perspective, not a glorification of it. People have gotten on to me about discussing how it’s supposed to be interpreted, apparently writers aren’t supposed to do that, but I don’t give a shit.
As a recap, Rod meets writer Jack Schilling where the two go on a binge. In a drug-induced state, Rod suffers from a mysterious “panic/heart attack”, but quickly recovers from it. In a state of puzzled shock, Rod goes to the casino to think on his life’s decisions.
“What the fuck happened?”, I thought.
I left Jack’s house in a daze. The day turned into the evening. The evening into night. I went back to the casino.
I sat at the bar. I looked at my whiskey. Thoughts floated through my head. I took the shot of whisky. I forced myself to do so. It burned. I felt it work its way through my body. I was tired. I contemplated my father’s offer. I ordered another drink.
Then Taryn appeared.
“Hey boy, what have you been up to?” She asked.
“Just keeping to business.” I replied
She seemed a bit different. Not so cold this time around.
“My friend wants to know if you can join us.” She said.
I was tired, not feeling too social. But I dragged myself to Taryn’s table. The friend that asked about me was a skinny blond girl. We met that first night. I barely remembered her. I sat between her and Taryn.
There were also a bunch of dudes. Country dudes. Wannabe cowboys. They didn’t want me there. Fair enough, I thought. But they were boring the girls.
“What’s everyone drinking tonight?” I asked. I ordered drinks for the ladies. The men said nothing.
Sandy, the blond girl, flirted with me throughout the night. She was wearing a blue dress with cowboy boots. Despite her interest, I wanted to talk with Taryn. But she strung me along by flirting with the other guys.
Everyone was ready to leave. Taryn lived in some shithole trailer park in Arkansas. She invited everyone there. It was about 20 minutes away. I didn’t drink much, so I was good to drive.
Taryn left with some cowboy. I doubt she was interested in him. Sandy left with me. She came in with another guy but was trying to ditch him. I was kinda scared. Some of these guys were scary rednecks. I also thought I had a heart attack earlier in the day.
We rode into Arkansas. The place was a dump. Sandy tried to make conversation.
“You don’t have a girlfriend?” She asked.
“No, but the guy you left back there…is he your boyfriend?”
We arrived at the trailer park. It was either that or a compound for a right-wing militia. Rebel flags and gun paraphernalia were everywhere. The cowboys that were riding with us must have drifted elsewhere. There were only five other people left…four girls and a guy that I presumed to be gay.
We went into Taryn’s trailer. It was a mess. Empty bottles, clothes, and blankets were everywhere. Taryn turned on some music. Everyone grabbed a seat on the floor. The guy, Jeremy, took out a pipe and loaded it. Everyone got high. I didn’t.
Taryn then grabbed my hand.
She pulled me into her messy bedroom. She told me to close my eyes and stick out my tongue. Predictably she placed a pill in my mouth. After I swallowed, we began to make out. I’m not sure what I took. Eventually I felt like a cat was petting me.
I was on a trip. Hands were going up and down my body. I couldn’t tell whose. Was I making out with Taryn or Sandy? There was no telling.
The music was playing loudly. I felt like I was in a Stanley Kubrick film. I got up from the bed and went to the living room. Sandy pulled me down onto the couch was laughing maniacally. This was a bad trip.
Taryn walked down the hallway. She was only wearing a t-shirt and underwear. I too was missing my pants. She was dancing to the trippy music. I felt another panic attack coming on. I went into tunnel vision. Death was certain.
Then a sudden feeling of ease.
I opened my eyes. It was bright. It felt like heaven but it looked like hell. I heard a whisper in the distance. I was in the same room, but in a new reality. I was a ghost. Taryn appeared to me as a half-naked angel.
She walked towards me gracefully. She sat next to me on the floor.
“What are you feeling?” She asked.
“Is this death?” I replied.
“I certainly hope so.”