This is a passage from Chris Offutt’s book, The Good Brother. In this scene, Virgil is about to leave the only town he has ever known. He becomes aware of things he had never consciously noticed before.
He strolled the familiar sidewalk of Main Street, passing people whose faces he recognized – as Boyd put it, men he’d howdied but never shook. Teenage boys outside the pool hall stood very close to each other. As they got older, they would move further apart. Old men in front of the courthouse owned a segment of space that surrounded them like a web.
And here, he visits his sister one last time.
He drove to his sister’s house at the head of Bobcat Hollow. The dirt road crossed the creek several times, and in spring the two mixed freely. At the top of the ridge, trees glowed with autumn colors, but near the creek, the leaves were still green. Two dogs loped around the house and barked. A young billy goat with one horn stared at him, the only penned animal on the place.
It’s the understated writing; the deft observations; the cultural roots.