Janesville the State of Duncannon STANLEY The car ride was deafeningly silent. They had passed the stop-and-go traffic of Fort Duncannon and found themselves cruising at 65 miles per hour along T81 – his dad dares not cross the speed threshold. At the very least, the horns, sirens, and hustle of Duncannon’s streets gave some sort of white noise you could pay attention to, but now it was nothing. “Can I put the window down, get some air?” There was no answer. Stanley looked over to his dad, who did not do the same. His sunglasses hid his eyes, but his cheeks were a puffy red. His lip quivered from time to time, but other than that the only motion that came was the occasional, slight shift of the steering wheel to match the road. Stanley shrugged and hit the button to send the window down. The scream of the air broke the silence. “Stop,” his dad broke the silence even further, hitting his own button to bring the window up. He pressed another, surely locking the windows. Stanley looked over at his father, who’s gaze remained unchanged. He got a word though, he’d take that. “Okay,” Stanley shrugged and leaned back in his seat. His head gradually rolled right to stare at the outside as it zipped by. The cookie cutter mansions of the suburbs only varied by different color shutters or the occasional playground. One even had a tree house, but it looked like the kids had long since moved out. The suburbs are horrifying. Stanley turned again and looked at his father, who unsurprisingly still hadn’t showed any signs of life. He unbuckled the seatbelt, letting it zip back and smack against the car door. He leaned even further back in the car. “Ping, Ping, Ping,” the alarm sounded. “Ping, Ping Ping,” it went off again after a few seconds. “Ping Pin—” “Stanley!” His dad shouted. “What!?” he yelled back. “Put your seat belt on, now!” his dad commanded and not from any paternal instinct to protect his offspring. “Why?” Stanley pouted, folding his arms. “That’s enough!” his father yelled “Put it on now!” No, that’s a conversation. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was an exchange of words – and that was enough. “Dammit, Stanley,” his father mumbled under his breath, wiping under his eyes, lifting his sunglasses just enough to see that his eyes were wet and bloodshot. His father rarely swore. “It’s a man of small composition who resorts to that sort of talk,” he would tell him over and over “and we aren’t small men.” In fact, Stanley remembered the first time he cursed in front of his little brother after accidentally stepping on GUSPs that he had let laying around. “Norvel, I am sorry you that you saw that,” he said to the kid, while taking a knee and placing a hand on his shoulder. Certainly, the kid wouldn’t have thought anything of the incident had it not been for the spectacle. “That’s not how a man acts, and I’ll do better.” “Okay daddy,” the boy replies and waddles off. But his dad felt proud, nodded in self-affirmation and walked into the kitchen. Parenting well done. Now, while his dad rarely swore, he never cried. This made an uncomfortable feeling unbearable. Stanley hadn’t realized how long he’d been looking at his father, but he turned and faced the road ahead. The cookie cutter mansions had turned to trees, they were close now. “I’m sorry, dad,” he said. “It’s a bit late for that,” his dad’s voice was vitriol, but pained. “I’m sorry.” No answer. “Take exit 22A, East 90 to Hannover, Janesville,” the GPS cut through the silence like a hot knife in butter. They’d left the suburbs at this point. Seventeen years of life and Stanley hadn’t even heard of Hannover. Janesville, though, that’s a place you knew. Janesville was where you went to become less. Knowing that this time Janesville wasn’t on the way to his destination, but in fact where he was going made him nauseous. He didn’t notice or care about the world outside him at this point. He was staring at his hands, clasped on his lap. His fingers were turning white and his palms were moist. His heart was beating vigorously and he was hoping a heart attack would take him right then and there. He looked up at the road at just the right time to see it: “STATE OF DUNCANNON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: JANESVILLE – Next Right” The car turned right. After a few seconds of woods, the compound finally emerged. It was an uninspired building. Brick from base to roof, with small glass windows placed symmetrically apart. The car pulled up to the parking lot and into a space. His dad turned the keys back toward him and the engine putted to a silence. His dad sighed. “Let’s go,” he said, getting out of the car. Stanley got out of the car and looked in front of him. The entrance of the building had a concrete awning that read the same as the sign on the road leading up. The cold late autumn air hit his face, making his hands and feet feel even colder. All the trees and foliage had since withered to branches, save for a small plot of grass with a flagpole. The Duncanner and Commonwealth Flags fluttered above. Stanley rubbed his fingers along the car door, looking down at the ground before gently closing the door. “I’m glad your mother isn’t here to see this…to see you,” his dad said, putting his hands in his pockets and walking toward the door. That hurt.