This is a photo of me standing in front of my old house on Dalton Road in King, North Carolina, which is a town adjacent to Tobaccoville, North Carolina. Dalton Road ran parallel with Old 52 for quite a ways. In between the two was a train tracks. I flattened a coin or two on those tracks. This spot where I’m standing was once covered in mulch that my stepfather had bought on the cheap, or gotten as part of some deal in a trade for some old lawnmower or gun. He brought the mulch to our driveway and it was my job to shovel it right here to stop erosion and so as to make a garden. I had my shirt off when I was shoveling it, and my shoulders were red and I could feel moles and beautymarks popping up on them like constellations. It sounds stupid to talk about “the prettiest girl in town,” but there was one, and she was driving by on Dalton Road as I was shoveling. Her and her mom had just finished shopping at the Food Lion and they were heading home to a suburb-y part of King that was all new houses, not just old farms and trailers. Where she lived, it might not be a bad idea to pull into a friend’s yard, but it was a terrible idea to make an unpaid visit to this house. They pulled in and my old ratty dog, Sumo, started barking at their car door and tearing up their tires, and she tried to get out and I was yelling at her No! No! Go on! I’ll just see you at school! But the dog bit her all the same and she got back in her mom’s car and they drove off. Nothing grew on the bank except for weeds, mostly, and some other brush that you’d need a degree to identify. Well, Sumo’s dead and she’s married and here I am in this photo, just the same.