(I'd put the explanation for the origins and meaning of this story, but I'm afraid it would bore some people. So I'll just cut that out and here you are: the prologue for my story, "Kentro."

nite nite

Kentro was never just a road, never just a region, never really even just an atmosphere. Kentro was a feeling of unease, a salty taste in the back of the throat, an almost tear-inducing sense of wrongness. Tear- inducing in that one can't keep back an ill-fitting sorrow, an ache of poignancy, when one enters its undefined boundaries. Kentro is a cool breeze that makes the hairs on the back of one's neck stand up, a creaking board in an abandoned house, heat lightning. Kentro is a missing piece of a puzzle, an answer on a final exam that seems right, an unguarded room with treasures for the taking. Kentro is known by all who have known fear, all who have felt out of place and insecure, all who practice beliefs out of habit, all who for one instant seem to understand everything, only to forget it a moment later. To call Kentro a road was like calling moksha release from incarnation. Most of all, for the residents of Desiree, Tennessee, Kentro is a way of life. And it was to be torn down to make room for a SuperTarget and a T. J. Maxx to 'rejuvenate the town's economy.'

Its origins could be traced to the 50s, if you ask Mrs. Winfrey, head librarian for nigh on forty years now. She speaks only in a physical sense. It was part of a city-wide beautification project; Kent Road had been one of five such streets (really boulevards). None of them survive in their splendor today. These streets were to elevate Desiree to the level of Chattanooga, at least. No one really believed it was going to do such a thing at the time (Mrs. Winfrey can attest to that-strictly off the record, of course). They believed that no more than the present citizens of Desiree believe that SuperTarget will staunch the out flux of the populous, slow though it is.

How did Kent Road become Kentro, you ask? Mrs. Winfrey would tell you that vandals absconded with the A and the D from the sign (goodness knows why), and that the town was tight with its faltering treasury's funds. Eventually, the street (and the entire town) adopted the new name.

Ask someone who wasn't around, and they'll tell you Kentro always was, is, and always will be. Who knows, they may be right.

Ask someone who was there and not afraid to talk about it, and they'll say it all started with Starye Phillipse.