The road dead-ended at his job, a chemical company set on the banks of Lake McKellar. Which really wasn’t a lake at all, it was an inlet from the river. Robert didn’t find that out until his tenth anniversary at the company.
This made him feel silly. As did the small fern they gave him.
He kept it in his security stall, out on the south access road. It grew furiously out in the yellow sun. So much so, that after its first year he had to repot it. It grew even more after that.
Then one day something happened up at the plant. A sloppy tech accidentally left a gasket open. Gas leaked out over the southern end of the compound, Robert’s end of the compound.
He spent a week in the hospital recovering. He found himself inquiring after his fern, asking if anyone was watering it.
On his first day back, he went straight to his security booth. His fern was still there, but no longer alive. The fronds were curled, brown and crumbled to dust under his fingers.
After he quit, when asked to give a reason, Robert simply wrote. “Got to big for my pot.”
Lake McKellar is where barges swing in out of the main traffic of the Mississippi River. Here they either fill up or drop off. The surrounding area looks like the climax of an action movie. Miles of piping, electrified fences, and metal towers belching flame into the sky.