We Know Not What We Do by Chuck Taylor

"Why not the garage? You could live in the garage?" Daisy suggested. She was in the living room closet, pulling out the vacuum cleaner.

"No," Charley said. “The garage is full.”

"If you organized."

"Why don't you live in the garage?

"I take care of the children, remember?"

"It's dirty."

"Sweep. Get a carpet."

"With an RV I can cook. I'd have a bathroom. Air conditioning."

"If we could afford an RV, we could afford to separate."

Daisy left the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the living room and went into the kitchen. He could hear her chopping vegetables into pieces on the cutting board. When she was chopping with a sharp blade Charley always got nervous.

He walked to the far side of the living room and started poking at ashes in the fireplace. Here it was July and he hadn't cleaned the fireplace since the last time they had a fire, Christmas Eve, when they opened presents. It had been a long time since he felt like keeping up with chores around the house.

"I'm not the one who went out and got laid." It came out of his mouth without thinking as Charley walked into the kitchen.

The rhythm of chopping broke for a moment. Daisy set down the knife and looked at him.

"But you wanted to. It was always in your eyes."

"So you read minds now? Why don’t you start a home business and bring in some money reading minds? Then I wouldn’t need to do so many long hauls in the truck.”

Daisy turned and picked up the knife and continued chopping. She did not answer. He could always read her anger by the speed of her chopping.

“I'm going," Charley said. He took the leash off the hook by the back door.

His collie came up to him in the uncut backyard looking happy and expectant, and soon they were out the side gate. They walked four blocks in the heat until they reached the Wal-Mart parking lot.

The sun was starting to go down. The sky to the west was beginning to turn yellow and red, but his RV's chrome still had a bit of a gleam.

Charley walked around the vehicle kicking the tires. He went inside and opened windows to air the place out. It was a used RV, but he’d gotten it checked out by a mechanic who said it was in excellent working condition. The price was a reasonable six thousand. That left Daisy with ten thousand he’d put in the bank and he had five thousand stashed in the RV where no one could find it.

Charley had sold his 2008 Kenwood truck yesterday and bought the RV. One of his trucker friends had put him onto it weeks ago. Daisy didn’t know, since he always parked the Kenwood behind Able Piping, the company he hauled for, and always got a ride home from another trucker.

He started up the RV, turned on the air conditioning, and headed for Interstate 30. The collie Adelaide sat in the seat next to him. She always enjoyed going places. He was headed east toward Arkansas.

He thought about the kids.

Would they understand?

How could they?
He loved his kids deeply but he’d never wanted kids. Daisy had agreed not have any as a condition of the marriage, but she changed her mind on her own. Now he understood that women tend to become like their mothers. Daisy’s mother had three kids, and Daisy had been pushing him to adopt a third.

No one recognized that he was dead inside; that he needed to leave to save what life he had left. Certainly he’d explained it enough, but Daisy’s ears refused to hear. She labeled his words, “monk fantasies.” His mother had never liked kids or family life. She attempted suicide twice. Two years ago at sixty-two she died of lung cancer, probably due to heavy smoking. Tears crowded Charley’s eyes, but he kept driving east out of Dallas.

He wasn’t exactly sure that Daisy or the kids were the actual reasons he was leaving. Her affair had hurt and surprised him, but he was, after all, gone often three weeks at a time and sometimes longer, driving to California and then up to Washington or Montana, and then coming back through Colorado and New Mexico. Perhaps it was the job that made him feel dead. All the forms he had to fill out and fax to state offices for the oversized loads he usually hauled, and all horrid nights he drove through till the sun came up, always, always alone.

Charley had a few singer-songwriter friends in Nashville. He might be able to park his RV in a friend’s driveway, or maybe he’d park out on a country road, or in a Wal-Mart lot. He debated whether to get a post office box, to use a friend’s address, or to remain anonymous, at least until he made enough selling songs to send money home. He had his notebooks of songs with him and his guitar. He’d always carried them in his truck and worked on them when waiting for loads.

He knew the farther he got from Daisy and the kids the stronger the pull on his heart would grow He didn’t know if the pull would grow strong enough to get him to turn around.

The dog looked up at him.

“Don’t judge,” Charley said. “Don’t judge.”

Chuck Taylor's latest book of poetry is called "Being Beat,” wherein he travels from the madness of American politics to madness of mysticism. He had a memoir come out this year called I Tried To Be Free. Taylor once worked for the Galveston Arts Council in the Poets in the School Program and served as the poet-in-residence for Salt Lake City. He won the Austin Book Award for “What Do You Want, Blood?” He's now retired from teaching nature writing, beat literature, and creative writing from Texas A&M. He is married to Takako Saito and is busily blessed with three children, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild.