Wednesday, June 17, 2009


As soon as the guitar started playing I was thinking of Indiana.

I remembered the cold brown of the corn fields with their trimmed stubble poking up through the gray Indiana ice.

I was climbing a thin swaying evergreen tree. I was high in its limbs, and went to reach for the next branch above me when I saw the Blacksnake coiled around it waiting for a bird. I backed down the tree frantically worried that the snake would get scared, loosen itself from the limb and fall on me.

I lived on a lake and we would swim for hours, doggy paddling with cigarettes clenched between our lips, trying to keep them from getting wet.

In Farmersburg, all the big Oak tree's trunks that lined Main Street had been painted white. It was to fend off a particular bug, they said. It always made me think of Tom Sawyer and his fence.

Teenagers, snorting well-timed bumps of crank, chain smoke in their cars and call out to each other as they drive by one another. The local rock stations refuse to play anything but CCR and Billy Squire, so we all listen to cassette tapes of Alice in Chains over and over.

Jesse and I would hike out to the meadow near my house. There was a little pond in the center of the clearing, looking like a mirrored pupil in a large eye. We'd pour gasoline on the water and then light it with a flick of a cigarette butt so we could see the water burn.

I was thirteen when my brother gave me my first beer. I took minute sips when I thought someone was looking at me, but otherwise focused on trying to get the nasty taste out of my mouth. After an hour, it had gone warm, but still I walked around with it, choking down small swallows here and there.

I was in the seventh grade, and somehow found myself holding hands and walking with Mindy Jackson. I spent the next ten years trying to recapture that feeling.

Cat had heard voices, but I didn't know about it until the sod had already stitched itself together over his grave. We stood around the tombstone talking, drinking. We went home and stood around the garage talking, drinking.

I went back once as an adult. Boys I had once known were now playing pool in the bars I visited. Girls I had once wanted to know didn't recognize me, or if they did, they pretended not to. It was OK, because I saw people that I pretended were strangers too. We drank draft beers and told each other we should do this more often.

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