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
"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
"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
"Sweetheart? Are you nuts? That spook? That’s Rose Dawn, the clairvoyant.”
"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
"We’re all of us broken, so it doesn’t matter. Find your strength in
"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
"Well, I’d rather listen to her than that phony goat gland doctor,” I
"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)