Archive for the ‘White (Jim)’ Category

Jim White (part 3 of 3)

June 25, 2012


The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted “Wrong-Eyed Jesus!”
A true story by Jim White.
Thanks to Jim White for this post (Luaka Bop © 1997 Warner Bros.)

About twenty minutes of stumbling along in that darkness later I heard another car coming. At first I was going to play it safe and hide again, but then I figured the hell with this, I’d take my chances. I put my thumb out and thankfully one of those old Dodges, the kind with the push-button transmissions instead of a gearshift, braked a few feet past me.
As I jogged up to it I was relieved to see it was a hippie car. It had peace symbols painted on it and psychedelic designs done all haywire on the side panels. I leaned in the window and checked out the driver. He wasn’t much older than me, with a shock of wild hair going every which way and a friendly enough looking face. I said where I was headed and he told me to come on with him as he was on his way to the Navy yard.
By reflex I’d opened the door but only got about halfway in before some inner defense mechanism just froze me up and wouldn’t let me go any further. It took me a second to realize why—his story was identical to the dirt farmer’s. I guess I must’ve been stuck there longer than I thought because I remember hearing the hippie asking me a couple of times if I was okay before I snapped to, finding myself shivering so from head to toe that I had to steady myself on the open door. I looked around, trying to orient myself, and saw two freshly painted signs in the back seat that said “Swamp Tours” on them with a local phone number. The hippie must have noticed my confusion, because he explained that he was a sign painter by trade, and I could see in his face that he meant me no harm.
He push-buttoned the Dart into drive and we rolled for some distance without saying so much as a word. For a while I tried to honor the hush of his mood, but I was so charged up with survival energy that I finally just blurted out about the dirt farmer and how he’d tried to kidnap me. This got the hippie’s attention and when he asked what had happened, I just told him I’d defended myself with the words “Wrong-eyed Jesus!”
I purposefully said it kind of flip, then tried to laugh it off afterwards, but it didn’t work. Instead the words ”Wrong-eyed Jesus!” just sort of hung there in the air between us like a coil of smoke in a still, dark room and I could see that he was watching them just the same as I was. He asked me how those words had saved me, so I gave him the whole story: “seeing through” to the missionaries’ sermon about the miracle rescue, the flawed portrait and how I’d added “wrong-eyed” to those church people’s chant in my vision and how it had probably saved my life.
The further I got into the story, the more this absent look consumed the quality of his attentions. Simultaneously the car began slowing down. It was almost as if the power of the story and the accelerator of the car were somehow inversely connected to one another, so that by the time I got to the screwdriver in the door part the Dodge had creaked to a dead halt in the middle of the highway. He push-buttoned the transmission into park and hunched over the steering wheel and then I saw why he’d stopped. He was crying. Weeping in fact. Tears of some terrible, terrible loss.
In this lonely, far-off voice like he was talking more to hisself than to me he recounted how a few hours earlier his father had dropped by the sign painting shop and found the hippie smoking’ a joint in the back room. He’d erupted in a fit of anger, threatening to turn his son in to the police. The hippie had told him to drop dead. The father stormed out of the shop and drove away. A little while later the old man showed up at the hospital complaining of terrible chest pains and proceeded to expire right there in the nurse’s arms. Some sort of massive heart attack the doctor had said.

So the hippie believed himself to be some sort of nebulous murderer. Now he was on his way to the V.A. hospital to claim that temporal collection of flesh and bone which was no longer the vehicle of his father’s spirit. He knew it couldn’t listen,
couldn’t hear if he tried to say good-bye or that he was sorry for those hard words tossed off in the heat of the battle, and knowing this just broke his heart.
He told me that just a few miles back he’d been overcome by a wave of regret and had stopped the car right in the middle of the deserted highway, probably just about the same spot where the dirt farmer had put me out, and for the first time in years he’d prayed, asking Jesus why these things had come to pass. Then, almost as if someone was speaking aloud to him, he’d heard a sweet comforting voice telling him there was a purpose to all things, and that he would understand Jesus’ plan soon enough. Then just a few miles further down the road that “soon enough” had arrived in the form of myself-a muddy, scared kid stranded on a lonely highway.
There were the hazy lights of revelation and redemption building in his eyes as he explained to me that he understood now why his father had died and why the dirt farmer had been allowed to try to kidnap me. It was because Jesus loved us both, for He had allowed these dark events to transpire as an urgent message to us that we should that very minute give our hearts over to Him. He asked me if I would pray with him.
Have you ever found yourself being swept down some mighty and invisible river in a vessel whose form is beyond your power of comprehension? If you have, did you see how there was no purpose in fighting it? I bowed my head with that hippie who thought he’d killed his father, and right there in the middle of the highway we opened up our hearts to Jesus and began to dance that calcified of repentance for that audience of saints and angels up there in heaven. Since neither of us was much steeped in the mechanics of religious behavior, after a short time we stumbled to a halt, watching in an awkward and powerless silence as that delicate atmosphere passed us by, then vanished without a trace like a summer storm passing a ship far out in the ocean. Once the air had cleared, the hippie push-buttoned the Dodge into drive and we rolled away.
As I remember, very few words passed between us the rest of the way as I showed him where I lived. He dropped me right at my doorstep, and I thanked him for the ride home. He took my hand and reminded me that Jesus had a plan for us and that surpassed the woes of this world. He asked me to pray for him, then went off to face those hard duties waiting for him at the V.A. hospital.
The lights at my house were off, although I could hear my mother singing somewhere in the darkness. I ducked into my room and lay on my bed for a while wondering about the peculiar economies of the spirit world, how Jesus had sent a wicked man to terrorize me so that I might understand the nature of divine love. But if Jesus could control the actions of the wicked, why did He not simply save their souls? It was all spinning around in my head. Finally the sweet sound of my mother’s voice carried me far away into the refuge of dreams.
It was there that I found myself back at the tent revival, staring at the portrait of the
Wrong-Eyed Jesus. It was testimony time, so I stood up and told the congregation about how the missionary lady had gotten the eyes completely wrong. I expected they’d condemn me, call me a heretic and cast me out like demons from the herd of swine, but surprisingly everyone agreed I was right. The missionaries thanked me for my testimony and then offered me the chance to come up there on the stage and fix those eyes.
I strode up the center aisle with paintbrush in hand, but the moment I set to work, I found both myself and the painting flying into the sky at an incredible velocity. The earth became a tiny speck below as I began working on those eyes, but every time I’d finally get them almost right, the Jesus in the portrait would wink at me and then undo all my hard work, so that I spent that night of dreams rocketing to the distant corners of space, failing over and over to affix upon the face of Jesus eyes of a singular and sincere expression, an expression that apparently seemed not much to His liking.
The dream stayed with me when I woke up the next morning, and so I took up a pencil and some paper and made my first attempt at drawing a proper Jesus. I started with the eyes and of course immediately got them all wrong, so I erased them and started over and got them all wrong again. I went on to the rest of the drawing and things went well enough, the hands and robes and what have you, but for days after that each time I returned to the eyes I’d draw them wrong, then have to erase. Finally, with my incessant drawing and erasing, I ruined the picture by rubbing two ragged holes in the paper where the eyes should have been. At that point I surrendered my pencil in defeat.

From time to time I attempt another picture of Jesus, but it’s no use. Even portraits by so-called famous artists now seem to me to be completely wrong-eyed and I begin to wonder what sort of human effort could possibly truly represent those objects in
Jesus’ head which view the world in accepting silence as some are saved and sent off to heaven while others are swept away to the supposed infernal fires of eternal hell. Recently I came upon that original drawing, forgotten in a box of junk marked “religious souvenirs” and perhaps because I had not expected to see it there and so was vulnerable to the world beyond the world just for a moment, somehow, those ragged eye-holes looked absolutely right. I felt an odd Sensation of terror, then turned my head away, telling myself it was a lie, for there is but one Jesus, and I must defend the small comfort I take in knowing His eyes will be forever wrong.
Long live Wrong-Eyed Jesus! Do you know what I mean when I say that?

Advertisements

Jim White (Part 2 of 3)

June 24, 2012


The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted “Wrong-Eyed Jesus!”
A true story by Jim White.
Thanks to Jim White for this post (Luaka Bop © 1997 Warner Bros.)

“Don’t look so scared, kid. Sex is fun. It’s fun. You’ll like it. It’ll be a hell of a laugh for a little punk shit like you to have sex with a big old fat bastard like me … you’ll see.”
He slid his hand over and squeezed my thigh and started laughing. By now we were easily doing seventy, with my mind going even faster, thinking hard about this business of diving out of cars—how it always looks so simple in the movies but it really isn’t. A friend of mine had told me. You open the door and put your feet out and there’s the ground flying by sideways and suddenly you realize the movies have lied to you and there’s no way to land without smacking down hard and tearing yourself all to pieces.
Regardless, there was nowhere left to go, so I slipped my hand up to near the armrest and eased the lock up. I knew I had to do it all in one motion—yank open the door, square myself on the open frame and jump, then immediately get up and start running. I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to steel myself, took a breath, then jerked the handle as hard as I could, but nothing happened. I yanked again, but the handle just flopped back and forth in my hand.
“That door handle’s broke, boy.” He was sneering at me. “You gonna have to slide your little butt on over to my side if you want out.”
He started laughing even harder now and I guess the sheer terror of the situation sent me into one of those fits I get where I “see through things.” When that happens it’s like time stands still and I’m watching a movie in my mind. The place I saw through to was about thirty years past, judging from the clothes people were wearing and their hairstyles, and what I saw was this elderly missionary couple fresh back from Africa preaching at a tent revival.
They were all hot and bothered, telling that congregation this story about a miracle they’d witnessed with their own eyes while they were on their way to welcome some new “ambassadors for Jesus” to a rural station fifty miles south. They’d come over the rise of a hilltop and seen a column of black smoke pluming up from where the circle of church buildings lay. They got their binoculars out and sure enough, it was that notorious band of mercenaries who’d been terrorizing the countryside for months, killing every living soul that crossed their path. They’d set fire to the compound, hog-tied the new missionaries and were just about to chop them to pieces with machetes.
Seeing there was no time for the missionary couple to call for help or even try to intervene themselves, they began to weep and wail and stamp their feet in the dust, until in their despair those utterances of helplessness generally known as prayer began to proceed from their mouths. Before long the intensity of their imprecations became so fervent and lost that the only thing they seemed to be able to howl out was the name “Jesus.” “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” That’s all they could wail.
It was a brilliant white flash of light above the burning mission that snapped them out of their trance. It was no optical illusion. Not a phosphorous explosion or cloud or puff of smoke either, but something else. Whatever it was, it was so fearsome that the band of mercenaries panicked and fled, leaving the new missionaries behind and very much alive. The older missionaries recalled how that flash of light hung momentarily over them and they beheld the telltale bright white wings, silvery gown and halo of a mighty angel.
The congregation was much impressed with the miracle story and saluted the missionary couple with a shower of amens and praise gods. Then, as the husband commenced to speak in tongues and wail the name of Jesus just as they did that day in Africa, the wife pulled back a black velvet cloth off a big easel standing up on stage, revealing a five-foot rendering of Jesus’ face that she herself had painted when she was “slain in the Spirit.” She’d given Him these pretty blue eyes, and as the crowd fell in shouting that name along with the couple, alls I could think about was how in creation could she have got Jesus’ eyes so wrong. It was the most wrong-eyed Jesus I’d ever seen. I wondered how they could be so blind as to not notice those ridiculous eyes and so I started hollering along with them, only adding the words “wrong-eyed” in front of “Jesus.”

The dirt farmer had started to move his hand up my leg, but when I began to shout out those words “Wrong-eyed Jesus!” in that daze I was in, well I guess it startled him somewhat because he stopped what he was doing. I was awoken just then from my vision and saw him staring at me all puzzled, and although I tried, I couldn’t seem to stop yowling out “Wrong-eyed Jesus!”
“Stop that hollering, boy!” he commanded, and even though I was trying because I knew it was a mistake to get a crazy man mad, especially with the car going so fast and all, somehow I just couldn’t stop myself. It was like I was possessed. I kept rocking back and forth in my seat yelping out “Wrong-eyed Jesus!” over and over like a cat in heat. It wasn’t long before the dirt farmer’s face went all chalky white and started taking on the contortions of some barely contained rage. Then he began muttering some fierce invective to himself and banging on the steering wheel with his
fists, telling me to shut up, shut up, shut up, but I just couldn’t stop my mouth from shouting.
“All right, that does it!” He braked hard and that crushing sound they always do on shell right before you come to a stop.
It was so dark with that wall of pines pressing down on us and the crickets mad with their singing and I wished I could just run for it, but presently I found myself unable to do anything other than rock and shout “Wrong-eyed Jesus!” I felt his terrible gaze fall full upon me and it about took my breath away. I gulped some air down as I felt this huge lonely ache rampaging· through the deepest caverns of my heart because I had an inkling of what base thought his head was consumed with, and it was a thought no human should ever entertain about another.
I caught a glimpse as he reached under the seat and produced the long, deadly-looking screwdriver that I sort of knew lay hidden somewhere within his reach. His hand shook violently as he pulled it out and I prayed he might be taken by a stroke or a seizure but he wasn’t. Instead he swung his free arm forward and smacked me across my chest, pinning me against the seat. As he lifted the screwdriver, I felt wash over me this immense wave of body heat coming off of him like he was about to explode. I thought this was the end of me but I could not stop hollering out. Something seemed to happen then, like a hissing sound-maybe he made it, I to
this day can’t remember—but the next moment, instead of stabbing me, he jammed the tip of the screwdriver into a slot beneath the busted door handle and twisted it furiously. I heard the lock spring free as he flung open my door, and screamed at me to get out.
Let me tell you I didn’t wait for a second invitation; I hit the ground running. I remember he bellowed out, “Good riddance to you and your Wrong-Eyed Jesus!” as he slammed the door shut. There was the sound of wheels spinning in the oyster shells, then catching on the rim of the asphalt as the Duster screeched away.
I watched his taillights disappear down the highway from a grove of palmettos way back off the road, and lay there quiet as a stone, until this steady hitch in my breathing pulled me out of that absence of mind that had swallowed me up. I looked down at my shirt and realized I was drenched in sweat and trembling all over like a crazy neurotic Chihuahua.
Now I could hear the familiar voice of that premonition laughing at me as it shrank away into the shadows, laughing like it had played a good joke on me or something, and I felt so angry that something so cruel and hateful as it could find refuge in my mind.
When it was clear he was gone I made my way back to the road and set off in the direction of home, wondering all the while at that strange incantation that had come flying out of my mouth. The words kept returning to me and each time they did I felt as though they were stolen, not rightfully mine to speak or think.
I walked a mile or so along this highway with those dark woods raging in silence on either side, remembering the corrosive heat coming off the dirt farmer as he leaned over to let me out. It was so strange to think that I had been saved from a horrible end by an unfavorable reaction to a bad painting in a hallucination. Myriad thoughts swirled around in my head like a mental tornado and so I hardly noticed the sound of a car coming until it was right up on me.
Thinking it might be him in that Duster, like maybe he’d changed his mind and circled back to finish his business, I dove down in the roadside gully overgrown with blackberry vines, but when the car came singing by I saw that it was only an old Ford driven by some lady in a nurse’s uniform, probably headed to a graveyard shift at that V.A. hospital. I picked myself up, pulling free of the thorns and started walking, calling myself “dummy” over and over, thinking how if I’d had half a brain I could be riding home right now instead of looking at a two-hour walk.

Jim White (Part 1 of 3)

June 23, 2012


The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted “Wrong-Eyed Jesus!”
A true story by Jim White.
Thanks to Jim White for this post (Luaka Bop © 1997 Warner Bros.)

It was that age you get before you can drive but after you start messing up. About fifteen, fifteen and a half. That’s how old I was when all this happened. It was at the same time that those drugs had hit my town like a black panic. I’d gotten involved and was even dealing a little bit. Just the week before this kid I knew named Thatch had died of an overdose. He was shooting this powdered speed called green T, which turned out to be angel dust cured in radiator fluid. Deadly. Among my friends who were dead, one or two were claimed by the occasional fatal teenage car wreck, but mostly it was those drugs that wiped their names from the book of life.
For a couple of days after Thatch’s o.d. I’d had this crazy ache of a premonition shifting around back there in the shadows of my mind, hissing out at me, telling me how I was next in line for the cemetery. This bad feeling wormholed its way through the gray matter of my thoughts making me feel all scattered and edgy for a while, but eventually the shadow passed and the ache subsided until my mind settled back into its usual abnormal shape.
Anyway, it was a night just after that. I was hitch-hiking home from a pick-up at this dealer’s house way over east when a brownish-colored Plymouth Duster jerked itself to a halt on my behalf, nearly getting rear-ended in the process. I guess I shoulda wondered why anyone would stop so short like that, risk their car and everything for some dumb kid standing by the side of the road, but it was late and I was just happy to get a ride so quick.
The car had Alabama tags and was like its name—dusty—probably from riding backroads near one of them hick towns our in the sticks like Arab or Two Egg. I jumped in and told this big dirt farmer guy driving where I was headed, and then almost fainted when he said he had business right near there. This was nothing short of a minor miracle because, with my family living way our in God’s country, a good eighteen miles from town proper, I usually had to snag three or four rides, then hoof it the last mile or so home. In years past, often as not I’d catch a lift from sailors headed to this Navy base our near my house, but it was all bur shut down now, with nothing on it but a few broken-down airplanes and an old V.A. hospital, so the good rides home were harder to come by.
Even though he didn’t have much of a military look about him, I asked that dirt farmer if he was going out there to the base, and he studied me for a moment, squinted like he was working out some kinda mathematical problem, then told me yes he was. He slipped the car in gear, craned his head this way and that, like he was trying to get his bearings, then remarked how he usually came into town another way and was a little turned around. He asked me to point out how best to get there from here, so I showed him the back way through town, along the old Frisco Railway Yards.
We got to talking and my first impression of him was that he just picked me up to have someone to jabber with, but before too long he was wanting to know more than just the normal stuff people ask—your name and where you go to school—asking
questions like whose house I was just at, how come I was out so late, and was I a runaway, and if you even half-listened you could hear something dark and worrying hiding back there behind his words. It was like when you feel a storm coming on before you can see it and you get that dark, wild feeling inside. That’s how I all of a sudden felt … like my premonition had found a vehicle in his voice and was suddenly barreling out toward me from the shadows at some fearsome velocity.
Right away I set to searching the horizon in my head, looking for telltale signs of where it might spring forth from. It didn’t take too long before it hit me—all the questions about who I was and where I’d been, the out-of-state tags, the coincidence of him going way out by my house where nobody ever went—he was a cop … or more precisely, a narc in an unmarked car. I’d heard they used Alabama tags to get the jump on you. Now I understood that with all his chit-chat he was just greasing the skids for some kind of entrapment.
I pieced it together in my mind. He’d probably seen me jumping the fence behind that dealer’s house and guessed I was holding, which I was—to the tune of those five dime bags I had hid down in my underwear. He’d hustled around the block and caught up with me just as I’d hit the main road. So it was a set-up, and as you might imagine, I wasn’t too thrilled about landing myself smack in the middle of it. Of course, at this point there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot I could do about it, being that we were cruising along at thirty-five mph in this narc’s own personal holding cell. I was smart enough not to let on to having figured out any of this, and just kept small talk going as I directed him on towards the west side. Conversation drifted this way and that and then things got dicey as we sat at that last red light at the end of the shut-down downtown area.
“Not a damn thing to do in this city, is there?” the narc said, glancing around at all the darkened facades.
“Yes sir, it’s pretty dull all right.”
“Boredom. You know what I do to ward off the boredom of life… ?” he said, watching me out the corner of his eye.
“No sir, I don’t.”
“I get high.” He was fishing now, waiting for me to take the bait and offer him some of my dope. “You like to get high, boy?”
Time to put my best halo on. “No sir, I stay away from all that. Not so much for me as for my mama’s sake. She’s sick with a bad heart and don’t need any more trouble than she’s already got.”
“Uh-huh, well, you don’t mind if I have me a smoke, do you?” He held a joint up in the air, then popped it in his mouth.
“It’s your car … you do what you want.” He fired up and I tried not to stare, but I mean, there he was breaking the law himself and all the while trying to bust me. What a mixed-up world.
The light changed to green and he fell silent as he smoked. God knows what goes on in a narc’s mind as he works out his traps, but brother, while that time passed I was busy wracking my brain, trying to figure some way to wriggle out of this mess. I’d already told him where I was going, so I couldn’t make up some story and ask to be let out because it might look suspicious, like I had sniffed him out. It crossed my mind to try to ease the baggies out the window when he wasn’t looking and chuck ’em, but they were stuffed down in my underwear and hard to get at. He’d see me digging around down there and before you could say ”bang'” I’d be another involuntary guest of the state up to the Pea Farm. Hell, they might even give me time in Camp Five. Brother, I’d heard the stories and wanted no part of that place.
In the end, all I figured I could do was bide my time until he slowed down enough for me to catch him unawares, then jump out of the car and run like hell. Trouble was if we didn’t catch a red light pretty soon here it was a straight shot to this lonely stretch of two-lane blacktop that ran straight as an arrow out the west side of town, on through the paper mill woods, and then along’ the backside of that Navy base. On maps it was called Nine Mile Road, but since it was the perfect place for kids to race muscle cars on the weekend, most everyone just called it “The Speedway.” I knew once we hit The Speedway there was no turning back, so I was straining to come up with some escape plan but quick. You can see how my mind was racing, bracing itself because pretty soon here deep piles of shit were gonna be hitting fans all over the face of creation, but in the blink of an eye the whole situation got turned upside down.
“You know what really gets me high, boy?” He let that question hang there. “Sex.” He was sort of tickling the hair on his forearm as he steered that Duster with one hand. “I like some nice sex … how about you? You like sex, boy?”
The way he turned and looked at me said it all—that sort of sleepy, mean-eyed leer, like he knew some kind of a secret about me that I didn’t know myself. I realized all in one leap that not only was he not a narc, not only was he a queer, but he was one of them bad kind of queers, the ones who’ll hurt you if you don’t give ’em what they want. The whole thing made my head spin around. It was like one of those tricks of physics where the magician jerks the table cloth away and leaves all the dishes sitting perfectly in place. I mean, he spoke a few words and suddenly I realized that everything I’d been thinking about him was just dead wrong, but strangely the quality of bad feeling those original thoughts inspired was left perfectly intact.

“I’m only thirteen years old, sir,” I told him, lying about my age, hoping that maybe he’d think me too young to be of any use to him. “So I don’t know nothing about any sex.” That part was true enough. I was one of those imploded, shy kids who girls shunned like the smell of death. I did the drugs to forget the hurt of being that way.
“Thirteen? My, you’re big for your age. You sure you don’t know nothing about sex?”
The traffic light up ahead blinked from yellow to red and I collected myself, getting ready to bolt when the moment presented itself, but when we started to slow down, like he’d suddenly read my mind and knew what I was fixing to do, he punched the gas pedal and blew through the light, laughing to himself as he did.
“Red light, red light. Boo-hoo-hoo. I got better things to do … than wait for you,” he sort of sing-sang to himself as he took a big hit off that joint. “You sure you don’t want some of this?” He waved the joint in my face.
By then it wasn’t just the premonition pressing down on me, every molecule of my being was shouting for me to get the hell out of that car. Since he wasn’t a cop, I figured it didn’t much matter if I acted suspicious or not, so I told him no I didn’t want any of that, and then put this act on like I’d forgotten something back at my friend’s house and asked him if he’d mind letting me out so I could go back.
There was a long pause. He didn’t look my way or nod his head or say a word, and he sure as hell didn’t stop. Instead he took one last toke, tossed the roach out the window, then reached over and turned on the radio, messing with the knob until he found a song that suited him. When I asked him, hey can you hear me mister, he turned and gave me this tight little grin, then exhaled a cloud of smoke in my face. He laid his eyes back on the highway and began to whistle along with that song and by then it was clear he was some kind of fountain of darkness, and I could feel his spirit pouring out and swelling up all around me like flesh blowing up around a splintered bone.
‘Course, I’d heard that old saying, I’d rather get cigarettes in prison than flowers in the cemetery,” so I snuck a look around the front seat, to see if there wasn’t something I might could hit him with, but there wasn’t, at least nothing that would have hurt enough to make him stop the car. Besides, he had at least ninety pounds on me and looked mean as the thorny backside of hell. I’d fought my father only a month or so before and got the living cat piss beat out of me, and this redneck seemed about twice again my old man’s size. I wished Christ he’d stop that whistling because it was starting to eat hole in my brain, but then when he did stop things only worse.
“You know, I got me some books back yonder in the trunk. They show you all about sex. We could look at ’em … together. Out in the woods or something.”
Books in the trunk. The Speedway hung before us, a dark taut ribbon strung through the paper mill woods. On either side of the road were narrow shoulders framed by the silhouettes of endless rows of planted pines overrun with kudzu and black as midnight pitch. There wasn’t nothing else to the picture, no streetlights, no houses, no other cars passing, nothing.
To make matters all the more rosy, the premonition started whispering this stellar blueprint for the rest of the night inside my ear. First of course I’d get to see those books in the trunk—they’d probably be right next to the rope and shovel. Then I’d be violated in unspeakable ways and murdered. Next my body would be dragged to a shallow grave not far off some trail in these woods, where this big farmer would plant me in the freshly turned earth like some seed of his ill will and, shovelful by shovelful, the stars and sky and everything else, save the blackness of the grave, would disappear from my sight until alls that was left of me would be a new and fine layer of dust on this goddamned dirt farmer’s shit-colored Duster as he cruised on back to Alabama, whistling long with his goddamned radio, lost in the stone cold wild blue yonder of his dark purpose.
We were picking up speed now, as the lights of that last west side gas station grew dim behind us. Pretty soon he’d make his move—wait ‘til we were far enough away from town, then turn off on some fire trail in the middle of nowhere. With nowhere for the thirteen-year-old kid to run and cry out but dark lonely woods and tangles of weeds. That hard-packed oyster shell shoulder would hurt like hell to land on if I was to jump now. I asked him again real politely if he’d please just let me out.


%d bloggers like this: