There was this road; this cracked, steamy, dilapidated road I heard about in a bar twenty miles outside of the small town of Centralia, PA. The gentleman (I use that term loosely) who spoke of the road was so inebriated, I could scarcely tell if it was a whacked out story handed down through generations or if there was truth to the tale.
But I had to know. That was my nature. I had to get to the bottom of everything. So, like a snake slithering back into the trees, I slipped out of the bar and headed for Centralia. I drove around that bright, sunny Sunday afternoon and finally saw the sign:
CENTRALIA – 2 MILES
Yes! I overheard the road was closed. And why wouldn’t it be? Apparently, it was in no condition to handle any kind of traffic. There were cracks and graffiti; steam and overgrown weeds. I came around a bend and I saw the cemetery on Highway 61 that was mentioned. It was old Highway 61 I was searching for and it shot right off of new Highway 61.
I made it! I could go back to the city and tell everyone about the broken road I had stumbled upon. Well, I could have. I failed to heed any advice in the tale. Like a fool, I traveled the road by auto instead of by foot.
There was a large crack in the road, I hadn’t noticed it really if you could believe that. I was too busy gazing at all the profane graffiti on the sun-baked asphalt while catching glimpses of steam shooting out from cracks far down the broken road.
I navigated a large crater, and without a rumble, the ground opened wide and swallowed me whole. It was almost as if the broken road had been waiting to feast on something to quell its burning innards.
I always did have terrible timing.
*Originally published in 2012
**Centralia, PA is a real place with a real broken road. Please visit this link for more information: http://www.centraliapa.org/history-centralia-pa-before-1962/