For kicks we stop in Transylvania. It's Transylvania, La., a one-store town with a bat painted on the water tower. At the Transylvania General Store I buy a couple of coffee mugs that say "Transylvania, Louisiana," and an oval box that says the same thing. I pass over the T-shirts with the bat and the orange sky and the baseball caps. I don't tell the old man who rings me up that I'm from Transylvania, the real one. Not that he'd care. Doing his time on earth between the Transylvania General Store, the Transylvania Post Office and, possibly, the Transylvania Baptist Church, he seems to have run out of curiosity. I might have, too, if not for the Delta Mennonite Church just past Transylvania. There might be a thread connecting the real Transylvania to this forlorn village in the cotton fields. The Mennonites originated in middle-European German lands, of which my Transylvania was once part. This may be a nonexistent connection, just like the one my friend Bill deRidder was looking for when he came from Amsterdam to find out of if DeRidder, La., had been named for his family. He found instead that the settlement had been named by telegram from Amsterdam by a clerk for the Dutch company that owned the railroad.
Past Transylvania, there is little of real or imagined oddness until we go through Tallulah, a dying town by the banks of a shaded bayou. The nearby environs of Lake Providence flash by, a few cypresses still growing in the water near shore. Rotting piers stretch out into the still water. The cypresses look funereal to me. Their trunks come wide off the root, then narrow before spilling down their weeping, rusty tresses.
I can imagine this land bursting into life in the spring and settling into a long, lazy summer, but I think that a deep sadness lies at its core, made of forgetting history, or just plain forgetting.
Andrei Codrescu's latest book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City (Algonquin Books).