Duane understands there is nothing to be done. Some things can’t be taken back, most things actually, remain where they end up and make their own unsteady way down the dark hallway of the future- hands in front of their inanimate faces just like his own fat damp fingers. June watches him. She wonders if he has any food in this place, and why it smells like some person other than this nervous dork picking at a skin tag on his eyelid.
Well this is what I said I would do. Run everything together.
We spent the weekend at a Days Inn on I-75 in Lake City, mainly for the pool. The Florida Folk Festival, which happens on the Suwanee river just south of the Okefenokee swamp, is always a stifling affair. It is an important part of the charm. If you want to travel back in time to listen to traditional music played in the traditional ways, then you have to get your passport stamped by the deer flies and the heat. Being only tourists, and not emissaries for the event we retreat in the evenings to the concrete cenote bordered by a chain link fence, marked with a faded sign of rules nobody follows. Friday night we presided over a sweet American nucleus of hacking, tuberculous men pinning AAA maps between their elbows, tiny swimmers (and every girl a Disney princess) and an oddly regal tan couple who were certainly northern Europeans, and expatriates for good.
The usher arrived at 10:30 and stood by the gate. He issued no orders, just waited for us to get the hint one by one and ravel up our wears and move along. We asked if we were welcome to take our instruments to the parking lot and rage against the light until dawn. He said as long as nobody called and complained we could do whatever we wanted. So, like hoarders we counted up the free minutes left to us repeatedly, muttering to each other, I have enough here for at least five more songs, how much do you got? We set up next to an idling Kenworth, just north of the dumpster and proceeded to get down to business, trading instruments and recording lyrics in English and Spanish into smart phones, placed on the asphalt.
A man approached us, insistent in his hovering, and following some subterfuge requested if we were in need of prayer. Are you kidding? Pray for me! Chuck said, barn-dooring from the handrail of the camper. Pray for me! Paul said. I welcome love in every form! Why do you want to pray for us? I asked, and he then clarified. We (he had others waiting in the darkness of the stairwell) come to the festival to pray for miraculous healing, for specific ailments or injury. Do any of you have broken bones? Might you be slowly losing your sight? My initial thought was to grab him by the collars and whisper to him the names of those I know who suffer, and warn him that to leach meaning for his life from their pain is an evil thing, and so if we are going to link arms and walk this road together I am going to hold him personally accountable if the effort fails to provide salvation and release, very personally.
Chuck and Paul just kept on singing,
Hey my friend it’s good to see you, been a while since I passed through. I’ve got nothing special to say, but we may never say it again. We had some big ideas back then, still can’t believe you took me in. I still just can’t believe you took me in.