Road People

I woke up Saturday morning in Portsmouth, Ohio at 8am. It’s a depressing little town that sits in its own shadow. Once a thriving steel town, it now seems to exist on little but welfare and disability money. That might be overstating things a bit, but I don’t think I’m far off. The houses there are all–or, I should say were all–beautiful. The architecture is fantastic and in my downtown area, the houses would start at half a million bucks. In Portsmouth, the houses are homes for broken people with broken bank accounts. No home I saw in the city proper look like it had been painted since I was born.

At night, the city is actually somewhat beautiful. The summer sky paints purple the train trestles and old brick buildings. The peeling paint and worn human faces all sit in the dark. The hills that surround the city loom overhead and it’s worth a picture or two.

I didn’t take any because I left my camera at home. I had a surprise work project pop up and my head was stuck with the idea that I would be working a 13-hour day on Sunday. So, after my wife’s family reunion in the 100 degree heat, and a trip to the fire station so my wife’s uncle could show L’il Otis the trucks, we got back on the road and traveled the eight hours home. Then the kid puked up two helpings of green beans, two ears of corn, and some BBQ ribs. In the car. Fifteen minutes from home.

By the time the kid was cleaned up and put in bed, it was nearly time to go to work. Before I finally fell asleep, I had been awake for around 39 hours. The only time I had ever been awake longer was during an ill-advised 40-something hour run in Las Vegas in December 2004.

So, when my wife shook me awake an hour and half later, I wanted to die. Not just go back to sleep. I wanted to die. The home alarm system apparently works, because–for reasons that I still haven’t figured out–the back door came open. I stalked around the house wishing I’d bought that gun a few years back. No intruder appeared and I eventually went back to sleep.

And now, it’s back to the grind. I probably have half a dozen things to write about, but I time is limited at the moment. Just wanted to drop in and make sure everyone knew I was still alive. Also, if you have the time, please send good thoughts out to my buddy Uncle Ted’s dad. He’s in a big surgery today and could use some good luck.

Finally, a couple of pictures. The first is of the boy at the small town firehouse this weekend (primarily because my wife is on a blogging break that I’m working to end). The second is blind to my buddy G-Rob and Ashley Judd.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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2 Responses

  1. Easily the best photo in RER history right there!

  2. please end Mrs. Otis’ blogging hiatus. We misses the missus.

    Glad you had a good trip. And damn, Kentucky is a long state to drive through.

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