Charlie stepped into his pickup, turned on the engine and turned the vehicle tightly to the left, an abrupt u-turn away from the flaming building that had once been Jack’s Joint. It only then occurred to him that Maggie had come with him that evening, that she had let him leave without asking how she was getting back to his place. But that was her point, Charlie realized; she was merely acknowledging that he had abandoned her, now physically instead of just emotionally.
He sped the pickup through the town of Bark Bay, the streets nearly empty in the early evening. Down River Street, left on Courier, over the bridge, three miles then a right on County Road 8, second left into the Pleasant Hill subdivision.
He approached Mike’s old house, where he had found the notebook that now lay on the passenger seat. He slowed, considered stopping, check how his mother was doing. And remind her of her dead son . . . he accelerated, there was no reason for him to stop, nothing there he needed to find, no comfort he could provide.
The community park — Charlie couldn’t remember the name, but he and Mike had played as kids in the small playground maintained by the subdivision. He remembered them walking in this direction, then walking left, so he drove his pickup down the first street on the left. He followed the road as it curved to the right, and to the right, and to the right . . . when he recognized the basketball hoop as the one he had passed earlier, he continued, finishing the looping road a second time until he got back to the road where he’d entered.
Three more false turns later, and Charlie finally came across a sign with an arrow pointing in the direction of the community park. The sign sparked a dusty memory, and the next time he turned left he knew he was finally heading in the right direction.