Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue made their weekly trek to the middle of the bridge. The morning sun had just risen above the horizon and it cast its first rays across the water below. The scene was one of tranquility. Peaceful.
They walked in silence.
At the center of the bridge was a sign that separated two counties. One side of the bridge – the south side – belonged to Montgomery County, the other – to the north – was known as the county of Johnson City. Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue always wondered why a county had the word city in its name. Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue also wondered other things about the county of Johnson City, specifically, what lay beyond Johnson City.
They stopped at the county line and looked first behind them toward Montgomery, and then turned in the direction of Johnson City. It was a practice they’d done every Sunday morning since they were both eight years old. Now they’re both eighteen.
Billy Joe climbed up on the steel railing of the bridge, and then held out his hand for Bobbie Sue. She smiled as she took his hand and they both sat on the railing of the bridge.
They sat in silence for a full five minutes before the first car drove by.
Billy Joe, ever the gentleman, let Bobbie Sue go first. “That one?”
Bobbie Sue thought before speaking. “Uh, husband and wife. Two children.” She turned and looked at Billy Joe. “He…just got promoted and now they’re moving up to the big city.” She smiled. “Big house. Bigger back yard.”
Billy Joe nodded. “Okay, I’ll buy that.”
It was another five minutes before they saw the next car, and as always, they spent the time in complete silence, each enjoying the other’s company. Finally, another car made it to the bridge.
This time if was Bobbie Sue who spoke first, “Your turn.”
Billy Joe smiled. “Easy one. They’re headed for church.”
Bobby Sue interrupted. “In another county? What’s wrong with this one?”
Billy Joe shrugged. “Nothing. It’s just that her mother lives in Johnson City.”
Bobbie Sue joined in. “Oh, I see. And they’re going back for Sunday dinner afterwards?”
Billy Joe grinned. “Absolutely.”
“Fried chicken and mashed potatoes?”
“Homemade mashed potatoes.”
Bobbie Sue licked her lips. “No doubt, and homemade rolls.”
“Yes,” said Billy Joe. “Made from scratch.”
And so the weekly game continued. Car after car passed, and scenarios were created as imaginations ran wild…
It was almost noon and they hadn’t seen a car for a full thirty minutes.
Billy Joe hopped down from the railing and turned toward Bobbie Sue. “You ready?”
She slid down the rail and landed smoothly on the concrete surface of the bridge. She nodded. “This is really going to happen?”
“If you still want it to.”
Bobbie Sue looked back toward Montgomery County, looked back at the only home she’d ever known.
Billy Joe watched her, and a tear began to stream down his face.
Finally, she turned and looked him in the eye. Reaching up and wiping away his tear she said, “Yeah. I still want to.”
Billy Joe slowly walked back to the side of the bridge and, reaching down, picked up a single suitcase. He went back and stood at Bobbie Sue’s side. Together they took one final look at the south end of the bridge, then turned and slowly began their walk. A walk toward new adventures, new encounters…a walk toward a new life.
Bobbie Sue spoke, her voice barely above a whisper. “Are you scared?”
Billy Joe turned and looked at her. “A little. You?”
She nodded. “A little.”
Billy Joe grabbed her by the hand as they walked on.
…and they walked off to look for America. – Simon and Garfunkel
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