I got back into the car, my aim to drive around the small lake. I passed a camp store, still boarded up, at the edge of the camp city. Farther down, where the lake came to a small point,
there was an old amusement park, also closed. Farther still, at the crest of a hill overlooking the water, I came to a paint-chipped sign that read Babylon Hotel. I drove up the hilly dirt road, my car stumbling over rocks, until I was face to face with an ancient house that looked as though it had been transplanted from some small, starved-off plantation in the south. There were pillars, four of them, all too big for the façade, holding up the porch roof. On the roof, a neon sign buzzed like a misplaced antenna. I sat parked in the gravel drive, contemplating the closed sign hung on the door and the Miller beer sign in the window. I had never been here before, and yet there was something so familiar about the place I could feel it move through me. I was so wrapped in this thought that I didn’t hear the other car pull in, didn’t notice at all until there was a tapping on the driver’s side window. I startled to see a burly man, nose reddened, hair nearly depleted. His sausage fingers knocked against the window again.
“Can I help you out with something?” he asked when I rolled the window down.
“No. No you can’t.” I rolled the window shut and drove off, leaving the man standing in the drive of my father’s favorite watering hole.
Thundering down the roadway towards town, driving faster than was prudent, I passed the sign marking Shore Drive. Somewhere down that road had lived the Pearson family. Was Will Pearson still living here?
Curiosity got the best of me and I turned the car around. Shore Drive was a dirt road, the houses on it all but hidden by pines. Long drives with mailboxes indicated their locations. I drove along reading the names on the boxes and stopped when I came to the one marked Pearson. I turned up the long drive, which circled back to a Cape Cod-style house nestled in the pine grove. There was no car in the drive. In the side yard, a swing set stood rusting in the spring mud. Beyond this, the lake glistened and hovered through the trees. I listened for something, anything that would indicate some sort of life here. I imagined children laughing, but none materialized, just the swings moving back and forth, empty and creaking in the breeze.