Today Pegman walks through Portal, ND
Mum told me the place was called Railway Avenue.
When I was a kid lying on my bunk, pillow wrapped round my head to block the shouting, I imagined what it was like. A countryside lane, maybe, with a redbrick station and a flower bed, the town name picked out in yellow begonias. Maybe the line had long closed, leaving the grass to grow tall between the sleepers, with only the field mice left to follow the old ways.
When she finally kicked me out, I packed a bag and hiked there just to see, just to know the place where I began. I found a truck stop, a rundown cafe surrounded by wide open tracts of churned up dirt grubby with engine oil.
It made me smile. I was sixteen and it seemed right that my life began somewhere where even hope couldn’t survive.