The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Picture-Perfect

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We were just two friends out for a drive and saw the sign for a town we had heard about and never visited. A left turn brought us from the busy old highway to Main Street. About 500 feet in front of us was a small park with a gazebo bandstand at its center. We pulled into a parking space beside a shop selling Native American-themed artwork and jewelry or perhaps the merchandise was authentic Native American-crafted. A wooden or plasticine carved or molded man sporting a feather-and-fur headdress stood motionless in the corner while his mutely howling coyote companion held the door for us. Despite their come-on, we passed by. Small shops offering jewelry and gimcracks and café food and ice cream lined this side of the roundabout. We walked into an ice cream parlor on one corner and ordered a sundae to take to the park. We came out of the parlor and stood with our melting ice cream at the edge of the sidewalk waiting for traffic to pass. The driver motioned us to cross in obedience to the pedestrian sign giving us the right-of-way. We were unaccustomed to such obedience.

We sat down on a green bench backing on a bed of rainbow-colored and polychromatic tulips who had given up their perkiness. A few people sat on the benches lining the four sidewalks radiating out from the gazebo. Suddenly the quiet was pierced by the nearby church clock chiming the hour. As quickly as it rang, it was silent again; and we returned to smelling the fragrances of spring-blooming trees and admiring the lackadaisical tulips and the emerging yellow-lime hostas. We finished our ice cream and crossed to the other side of the street to window-shop the equine merchandise and craft items and name brand casual clothing. This was a town that supported local business; there were no empty storefronts covered with ‘For Rent’ signs. This town seemed so picture-perfect, and I was ready to get the hell out.

We got back in our car and pulled into the round-a-bout leaving it at the third turn to continue on our way. We drove about a mile and passed the sign advertising counseling services for adults and children.

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