Monday, August 22, 2011

Twin Pond Drive

I spent all afternoon and half the evening out around Villa Rica, Georgia.  I'd been  following flawed Map Quest and GPS directions that landed me fifteen or twenty miles from the address I had wanted. I got a good taste of Georgia's red-clay as the satellite signal dragged me off the hard top and down a horribly pitted dirt lane that dead- ended at a half built shack on the north side of a swamp called Legion Lake. 

I shut the car off, and then propped on elbows between the door and hood, I let out a long, loud, "Any-body home?"  

Up behind the wheel-less Wagoneer and the decaying pontoon boat, from deep within the shadows of the open back door, came a muffled "Hole-on!"  

A minute or two later a very bald, very white, very out-of shape man with bulging thyroidal eyes appeared in the cabin doorway clad in naught but a towel. 

"Caught you in the shower?" I smiled big and wide from behind the mud-caked Hyundai.

"No shit Sherlock.” rumbled the whiskey and nicotine voice, “What do you need?"

I introduced myself, while holding up my NORC ID and asked if I'd found "110 Twin Pond Drive."

"You're way lost buddy." he said, scratching at his belly and then hawking up a horrible sounding phlegm ball.

"Apparently my fail-proof GPS HAS lied." I answered matter-of-fact-ly.

"You're not the first to get skunked out here by one of those." he said, slapping at something on his withered bicep.

“Yeah?  Well good thing I’m not a missile”  I smiled wide once again.

He studied me closely then, and after a pause, turned his head to the side and discharged a huge wad of mucous upon the dark orange ground.

"Twin Pond huh?  Who you looking for?"

 "I don't have a name, only an address."  I answered.  "Its for a research project."

"Research?  What kind of research?" His eyes narrowed.

"Social science."  I replied crisply  "We interview people to get their opinions on a variety of subjects."

"Right, then you try to sell some shit they don't need."  he said with a yellow tooth grin. 

"Busted!" I said, raising both hands in mock resignation.

At that he launched into a long-winded set of driving instructions to get me back to Twin Pond Drive. I had grabbed my note-pad off the dash and as I urged him to repeat some of the more confusing details, I noticed that right above his head, hanging from the screen-less door frame was a sandwich bag full of clear water.  I scribbled down the last of the directions and then pointed up at the Baggie full of water and said, “ So did your goldfish die?" 

He looked back at me dead serious.  

"That's not for goldfish man, that's for the flies."

"For flies?" I blurted out astounded. 

"Yes." he said knowingly, and affecting an impressively sophisticated southern drawl continued to explain.  

"You see a house fly, the common musca domestica, possess a highly complex, multi-lense eye which provides for exceptional peripheral vision.  That is why it is so damn hard to catch one with your hand.  However, this elliptical lens arrangement also works to its disadvantage, for when confronted by bag of water, like the one you see suspended above my head, the refracted light tends to disorient and confuse the insect.  Hang a Baggie of water in the doorway and flies, my friend, simply will not come in." 

"So it seem their eyes are far more developed then their brains."  I responded like an attentive student.

"Well," he countered "they are only flies."  

At this point I should have known not to put any faith in the directions he had given me, but he had gone on to claim he had almost married a gal from Twin Ponds.  He told me he had decided against it after she borrowed his car.  Apparently when she parked it, she had failed to leave it in gear or set the emergency brake and it had rolled down her driveway into the lake.  He had no insurance and "the bitch" refused to pay for the damage.  End romance, end story.

So I climbed back into my sporty Hyundai, now more orange then red with all that Georgia clay stuck to side-walls & wheel wells and I began the trip out, back through the potholes and creek washes beneath a vine laced sky.

Forty minutes later, having flawlessly adhered to his directions, I found myself on Pond Road; only there were no twin ponds to drive between. Instead the road petered out along a kudzu-choked stretch of inaccessible shoreline. I turned around again and went back a mile or so to where I'd seen a tall, heavy-set fellow leading a leggy gray pony along the edge of the road.  As it turned out, it wasn't a leggy gray pony at all.  To my surprise it was an immense Great Dane. 

The big man and his giant dog acted like they had been expecting me.  It probably wasn't often a fire-red mud splattered Sonata with UTAH plates came winding up their dead end. 

"Twin Ponds Road?"  the fellow repeated.  "Heck, that’s way over the other side of Villa Rica...." 

I grabbed my pen and jotted more notes as he described the landmarks I would pass; the railroad tracks, the hospital, the Holy Trinity Church and the three-way stop that I was to go straight through.

I thanked him for his help and was just about to pull away when I noticed the Great Dane staring at me, a lengthy cord of saliva dripping from its mouth. 

"Let me ask you," I said.  "Have you ever heard of anyone hanging a Baggie of water above the door for any special reason?"

"Sure.  Its done to keep yellow jackets out of the house?"

"Yellow jackets?"

"Yes, hornets."

"Have you ever heard of anyone doing that for flies?"

"Nope.  Just yellow jackets."

Back on Route 61, I toyed with the idea of forgetting all about Twin Ponds Drive and just gassing the Sonata east to Atlanta.   Flies, yellow jackets, Baggies of water for screen doors.  Enough already!  But just then,  “poof.” Out of nowhere, high atop a tall thin sign post, "Twin Pond Road." 

I wheeled the car sharp to the left and shot up the narrow lane. In front of me was a barricade.  Behind that, a washed out bridge. The very same detour noted in the Call Results section of my case file.  This had to be it!  In my mind I heard Stud Terkle say:  "HOPE DIES LAST!!!"

Another fifteen minutes of back tracking and I'd regained the road on the other side of the lake. It was still marked Twin Pond ROAD and technically I was looking for Twin Pond DRIVE, but I felt if I just kept counting numbers the right address would turn up.  And BINGO!  There it was!  The address printed in its entirety right on the side of the mail box: "110 Twin Pond Drive!"

No one was home, but hey, as I sat there in the driveway, filling out my “Sorry I Missed You” card, I felt almost euphoric. Sure I’d found the place, but that wasn’t it. No, it was more the knowledge that from now on, for the rest of my life, I would never have to buy a screen door again!   All I had to do was hang a zip-lock Baggie of clear water above the door and presto, no more MOSQUITOES!

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