The work of Christopher Ryan Glenn


Thoughts on On the Road, pt. 2: March Run

I'm reading On the Road for the first time in acknowledgement of its great American, racing, literary heartbeat. I thought it would be fun to emulate Kerouac's breathless writing style:

I wanted to see the sun as it set so as soon as I could don-off the work trappings and deadline woes of the day I did so and set off at a trot in a sleeveless shirt to greet the night breezes that were surely coming. March had come that year like a bashful boy at a dance, cautiously waiting for a pretty girl to make herself available. With every courageous warm advancement, he didn’t know if old Wintress might snap in and give him a cold No, but today he was feeling hearty and sure. Aware of his confidence I stepped on out, too, eager to dance myself.

For severe minutes of suburban blocks my body cried out in revolt with the bone-ache of running (I had been sluglike and work-worn with it for a good two weeks), but when I crested the top of a grassy rise and I saw the grinning Boy-March sunset I got myself back together and went on in confidence. Down one dusty hill and across the road, I ran up another great flag-poled, forested hill, to get a vista in my eyes of that view. But from my hilltop, I couldn't see a thing, so I climbed the nearest tree so to see the last winks of sun. I scrambled onto a bough and peered over the miles of house peaks and tree-streets, and there was that waggish March sunset, making tracks down below the earth. A bit satisfied, I stood up on my branch to get a look around behind me, and down to my right I was met with a sight: three great circles of dog-training adoptive-parent types, with short-leashed pure Worldbred dogs yipping and lazing and hopping with dog joy. I grinned at their weaving-around community, the playing of it all, and at the kindest grey-haired Head-Trainer who talked so softly to the animals, warming the mean ones with a gentle muzzle touch. Happily, I looked down to my left and watched as a quiet madame with two stately flowing dogs of her own stopped. She stared up at me and then over across the hill and miles off to the sun, now setting for sure, which we both watched then: a great shaking orange gleam behind the glass horizon of the city. “It’s huge tonight” she offered, and I agreed for sure. When the sun finally went down and the sky brought out its neons and pinks, I jumped to the earth and started to walk. Down a horse trail I passed a stock-still old mean hound dog who looked me right square in the eyes and if he was a man he would have cursed my life and taken it right then and there. But the Hispanic teenage boy held him true with a steel collar fit for a criminal and I slinked on by, staring right back.

In the cool woods I pondered the snakes coming out of their sliding holes and the skittering things back in the thickets made me turn and turn again. A wise owl hooted and it was just a bird after all, but I wanted truly to see a good old coyote grizzle his lean self across my path. Alone instead, I came out of the forest and back to the buzzing dusk traffic street, and as I crossed I wondered if any car window passed me with a knowing look, a lonesome look and friendsome look. I peered through the glass as they shot by me but no one looked back, so I made my bobbing way up the next hill homeward. The creek to my left was finally breathing out cold woodsy airs with the oncoming evening, and I passed by refreshed as I came upon the night-practicing of some sport well-lit up in a concrete court. The young neighborhood kids batted at something while their parents idled at the curb, burning gas and reading books. I wondered if I’d ever have the parent-patience to sit inside a car on so great a night as that one.

Thinking heavy thoughts with every plodding step homeward I nearly got hit crossing the street by a red-lighting blue truck careening by, window down with a good old father making his way home to wife and babe for an American meal somewhere in my old neighborhood. Funny thing was, I didn’t even need to cross the street, but there I was thinking of those waiting parents and that grinning March sunset that I wondered into the road in perplexity. I then perked up along the safe sidewalk and stopped dead once more, for there it was: every good old dinner-time smell, every roasted and chicken-fried thing, every meat-loafed and potatoed plate brimming heavy in bright rooms, carried by bright children and sat by sturdy table, with windows down and good-evening sounds streaming in and smells streaming out, filling that March air with a particular kind of success in this world.

Before I knew it I was back to my own orange puddle of streetlight and wouldn’t you know I passed right by that self-same blue truck who nearly took my life, parked windows-up and driver in-house. No lights on in my house of course and no one home. Spring had come at last and I went in to open the windows.

Ryan G