Well…it’s another one of those strange nights; a night when the temperature hovers around a decent level and you can almost feel the rivers getting Right and you know that somebody’s out there laying trotlines while you’re stuck in “town” sitting on your stoop playing little, quiet songs on your guitar to all the cars that go by. And the almost-fat girl across the street keeps coming outside to walk her dog and keep an eye on the weird “hippie” down the way. I guess she thinks that, some night, I’ll finally snap in the throes of some half-mad LSD flashback and run amok through the neighborhood; stomping stray cats, castrating dogs and raping almost-fat girls. Or maybe that’s what she hopes.
But outright rape has never really been my style. It takes too much energy and I’m a very busy man. It takes more stamina and patience than most people realize to live the life of a simple country gentleman. And I’d like to think that I’m getting pretty good at it.
But, every so often, and especially on nights like this, when the wind is just right and the stars seem like they’ve been busting a gut all day just to come on out, it’s hard to shake the memories of all the wild times that are still howling out loud somewhere behind me.
Or maybe my Brother’s to blame. He interviewed me today for his blog and I’ve been thinking about the Old Days ever since. Ah, yes…all those long, southern nights when we would get lost on the back roads and spend hours just drifting along with the windows rolled down and all the frogs singing their somber love songs across the twilit landscape as the darkness got Heavy and the Real Nocturnal Life began to move in the brush.
All the Old Gang was still together; no wives, no kids, no mortgages, no ugly divorce settlements; just a troupe of wild-eyed boys out on Patrol for what we all wanted back then. And Lord knows we found plenty of it.
It seems like all you had to do in those times was to be alive; to walk out your door or get in your car and the World came Alive for you and, sometime or sooner, something weird and groovy would find you out in the night.
I can still smell the smoke of the bonfires and hear the hearty stomp of drunken, barefoot girls dancing in the wet grass and the crazy, lazy twang of the midnight music that still seems to echo just out on the edge of remembering.
Where are they now; those faces that I knew so well, the lips that I kissed, the songs we sang so often on nights that we thought would never end?
But still, there were times when it got too weird even for me.
I recall one night when were out in my dad’s truck, trolling the ass-end of another long night through the woods. We had started out slicing through the night like a keen blade but it had had been dulled, at last, against the blunt edge of southern whiskey.
We finally slowed to crawl as we straddled the ruts in the road and my brother leaned up at the wheel and said, “What the hell is that?” We all looked.
Right there…right in the square-ass middle of nowhere, in the square-ass middle of the woods, in the square-ass middle of the night, was a couch on fire; burning for all it was worth in a clearing with nobody around for miles; or, at least, nobody that we could see.
We watched it for a while…until visions of Satanic Blood Cults, Evil Moonshiners with Loaded Guns and the Ghosts of the Ku Klux Klan began to run through our thoughts and we decided that we might just be better off somewhere on down the Road.
We pulled off slowly and didn’t say too much after that.
Somehow that eerie vision has stayed with me all these years. And on some nights, when the wind blows a certain way, I find myself picking up the phone to call my brother…just to make sure that he remembers it too.