Somewhere, there is a small house which was once shabby but well maintained and is now just a sad derelict. It's tired and lonely, overgrown, a rusted out shitstorm of a car up on blocks in the side yard. It's less suburbia and more outskirts of town, smacks of low income, of single parent who worked two jobs. There is no going back to a place like that, out of control lawn and cracking sidewalk. There's no more point to it. It's cracked. It's broken. It's will never be the place it might have eventually been. That house is squandered potential.
Here it is. Here's all of it: after it happened he drove for two hours like a bat out of hell until finally, finally, he pulled over. Staggered from the old junker pick-up and slid off the road on legs that wouldn't keep him standing. He lay face down in a muddy ditch for three hours. In retrospect, he's lucky. So fucking goddamn shit lucky. Anyone could have gotten him then. Anything. Instead he lay gurgling in mud until he could get his knees under him. Until he could drag himself up, hand over hand out of the ravine. He looked like shit. Smelled like shit. Felt worse than shit could ever possibly feel.
He didn't cry. Instead he pulled off his shoes one at a time and flung them, systematically, back into the ditch he'd crawled out of. He stripped down until he was just in his underwear, left every single article of clothing on the side of the fucking goddamn shitfuck road, and then he crawled behind the steering wheel and drove eighty miles to the nearest town where he killed ten zombies with a garden rake. He killed one more with a brick: bashed it's head in so many times there was nothing left. Hit over and over and over again until the brick scraped against concrete instead of skull, brain and blood up to his elbow. And then he found himself a fresh change of clothes, a shower and a new pair of boots to break in.
"Where're you headed?"
"Columbus, Ohio. You?"
Tallahassee is as good a place as any. He likes the sound of it, the way it rolls off his tongue with all it's double consonants and that long, hissing ee. If he'd known the kid was going to call him it, he might have picked something different: Walla Walla, Washington. Leggtown, Alabama. Omemee, North Dakota. But Tallahassee it is. Sure, why the fuck not.
Tallahassee doesn't own anything. He found the hat, the necklaces, the shirt and jeans, the underwear and boots. He goes through thirty pairs of sunglasses in the first five months because he keeps losing them in the middle of beating the shit out of something - zombies, the occasional road sign, the windows of a hardware store. He picks things up and eventually he discards them. Things no one would notice: a string of turquoise as a hat band. Little things. But he doesn't really own stuff. He just has them, acquires them. Picks them up like loose change or a penny in the street. Like how he doesn't own a home, but he picks up a family.
Under a broad, blue Utah sky he lines up empty liquor bottles, empty beer cans on the side of the road and comes to stand near Little Rock, scratching his jutted out chin. "Have at it." He doesn't call her kid (that's reserved for Columbus who is currently trying and failing to change their flat tire, Wichita impatiently hovering behind him and looking like any second she's going to kick him away from the it and tell him to go sit on the side of the road). Instead Tallahasse squints at Little Rock in the sunlight and taps the barrel of the gun a hair lower when she levels it.
Ping, ping. Beer cans shred themselves in the air, popping off the asphalt and crunching back down.
It miles away from making a wallet out of duct tape.
He buried him on the road between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, an anonymous number of miles from their somewhere house and two hundred miles too late. He left his name there too.