Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Blues from Texas and the Great Beyond

It’s not even a tone, more like a pulsing; a spot on the dial where one moment there is a faint sound and the next there isn’t, then there is, then there isn’t. It could almost be Morse code; something, nothing, something, nothing, di, di, da. I bend down closer to the dashboard speaker and try to focus on it. Gradually it becomes a voice, then I realize it’s a woman’s voice, but still far too faint for me to understand anything she’s saying. But she’s saying something and for me. It’s a human voice, and even if I have no idea what she’s saying, I can hear the sympathy and warmth in it.

Stevens taps on my shoulder. I look up. “You shouldn’t do that,” he says. “You may need to start driving any second now.”

So I sit up and put my hands back on the steering wheel. The minutes pass and slowly it gets louder until I can start making out her words."Because we’re all just trying to get back home. Isn’t that all that any of us are doing? Trying to get home."

And hearing her say that, I’m thinking to myself, well, I can’t speak for the fellow next to me, darlin, but it’s all I’m trying to do, I’m just trying to get home.

"Home, it’s a word we say all the time, but do we ever really think what it means? Home isn’t just a place we go to eat and sleep. It’s really the place where we come from and where we will all ultimately return. That means it’s not really an actual physical place. It’s really a spiritual place, because it is where ultimately our body and soul go to reunite with the rest of the universe. Your little gray home on the Wabash is simply a temporal representation of that great final reunion with the Sun!"

"Oh, man,” I say.

"What is that?” demands Stevens sharply, his voice teetering on the edge of disgust.

"Some lady on the radio,” I say. I’m about to add, she sounds like a sweetheart, but I don’t. I’m not going to share that with Stevens.

"Sweetheart? Are you nuts? That spook? That’s Rose Dawn, the clairvoyant.”

"The what?”

"She has a program on that Mexican station. Goddamn spook, she talks to the Great Beyond and gives answers to listeners’ questions. Rose Dawn. She’s a crazy bitch. The woman is disgusting.”

"We need to have faith that it’ll all work out. We’re all, each of us, just pieces in a grand celestial mosaic."

"Turn that shit off,” shouts Stevens.

"Fuck you,” I say. “It’s my radio.”

"It’s not your radio. This is a stolen car.”

"Yeah, well, I stole it, so shut up and if you don’t like it, then get out!”

"We’re all of us broken, so it doesn’t matter. Find your strength in knowing that!"

"I hate that crap!” fumes Stevens. “All that Celestial Hey Diddle Diddle! She’s the worst.”

"We’re all imperfect and that makes us perfect. We’re all damaged and that makes us strong."

"Unity of opposites, you’d think the crazy bitch invented it,” sneers Stevens.

"Well, I’d rather listen to her than that phony goat gland doctor,” I say.

"Hey, don’t you go disparaging Doctor Brinkley. He’s doing a marvelous service for mankind.”

"What? Transplanting goat scrotums?”

"That’s a legitimate business, but, more importantly, he makes folks understand that their Number One Priority isn’t over the rainbow, it’s right between their legs.”

"Shut up, I’m listening!”

"I’m hearing you out there, your voice calling from the other side. I’m listening, please speak to me. Do you have a message?"

"Yeah,” I laugh. “Get me the hell out of here!”

"Did you say you want to get out? Then be free!"

That instant, the marshmallow fog vanishes and, with a giant bump, we land on an asphalt roadway, right in the path of a blue Plymouth, coming at us from the opposite direction. We both swerve to keep from hitting each other. He hits his horn and lets it blast for at least ten seconds as he heads past us. Up ahead, I see a road sign that says Tupelo ten miles.

(Excerpt from Friend of the Devil,  available on Kindle)

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