Refusing to spend another minute weaving my way around massive tractor trailers, I spent all day taking back roads to Little Rock. I saw nothing but old, decrepit buildings, abandoned gas stations, beat up houses and cars, all sprinkled about the thousands of acres of farmland which somehow also failed to be picturesque.
I stopped for lunch in De Witt, a town of 3,000 which has seen better days. The center of town was a square situated around the town courthouse, which brought to mind a lazy Sunday in the fifties, that heyday of Main Street, America. Couples might have spent a Sunday afternoon strolling amongst the trees outside the courthouse while kids hung out at the local drug store drinking chocolate malts. Maybe De Witt never had such a history. All I know is it's gone considerably downhill since then.
This afternoon, out of the storefronts not boarded up, the only one open was a Chinese buffet. After stuffing myself with rather questionable food, I sat out by my car to look at my map. As I did so, a car sped into the square and circled around it. Soon another one followed. And another. Within a few minutes there were six or seven of them, all driving slowly around and around.
I was more confused than the time I saw "Eyes Wide Shut."
It finally occured to me to flag one down. A red Ford Mustang pulled up to me, and its passenger side window rolled down to reveal three teenagers. When asked why they were doing laps around the courthouse, the most stoned-looking of them replied, "ain't shit else to do, man." He looked at me another second, concentrating real hard, then asked, "you got any smoke on you?"
Having nothing else to do, I joined them for a few rousing laps, and I daresay it was the highlight of my day, which says a lot about Arkansas.
But then I came across Scott, Arkansas, and suddenly the place seemed a bit nicer, afterall.