Open Road

Jump, curly-haired girl, jump. Over the cliff, down, down to the rumbling river far below. I won’t tell. I’ll be your devoted admirer forever. I’ll hold your dented spirit close to me, in all my cells, until the second I fade from this earth. You and me, girl, until the end of days, nights, and everything in between. That’s all anybody can ask.

You can say I knew you when no one else knew you existed, rotting away bit by bit in that dilapidated house hidden behind those tall laughing trees. I found you, yes I did, and I dragged you kicking like a feral cat from everything that made you, and there was no going back. I saw you reach for your worn-out, wrinkled mother but I could feel that there was some part of you yearning for the unknown and, baby, that’s the name of my life. There just isn’t anybody like me on this earth. I come from the soil, the blood of women, the violence of men. I know things and I take what I see because on this lonesome journey there’s no reason to be walking step by step without a shadow.

The smoke curling from your cigarette is like an artist’s painting, until it’s sucked outside by the wind from the open car window. Isn’t that just the way of things. Beauty doesn’t last long in this world because people just won’t let it. Not that it bothers me. I’m a survivor who managed to outwit those that tried to grind me into sawdust. Feel these tough muscles. Impressed? You betcha. Stay with me, little lady, and you’re gonna see things like you’ve never seen before. You’re gonna do things you’ve never dreamt of in your entire pathetic life. I can see you have some beauty to you that nobody’s scratched away yet. I’m gonna help you preserve it. Why? Because it’s you and me against them. Just you and me, my girl. Amen, as they say in the Good Book.

I love the open road. It just goes on and on and it doesn’t care who’s driving, walking, peeing, hitchhiking, or dying on it. We’re all ants on its back and it lets us wind our way to wherever we want to go and doesn’t ask any questions. If only people were like the open road, life might be worth the breath it takes to keep going on. That shriveled old man with the dead eyes just a-waiting for the rest of him to catch up, rocking slowly in that wobbly chair on that seesawing porch in that no-account corner of the world – he’s only a photo in my mind now. At some point in his miserable life maybe somebody called him Pa or Daddy or Sweetie, but I’ll be damned if I care. We did right by him, you and me; we knew his time had come, and on this road there are no prisoners. Am I right, or am I right? I dried your tears, didn’t understand them, but I dried them just the same. We all wind up in the same place anyway, so step on the gas, little girl, and let’s party on down the road like we got all the time in the universe. We know we don’t but what’s a cupboard lie among friends, lovers, compadres?

I saw the writing etched on the wall when I was just a pup out of diapers – you got to grab what you want, do what you want before somebody smashes your life under their hellfire boots. You know that. I can see it in the way you grit your teeth, the way your eyes see nothing, the way your long fingers itch to take, take, take. You’re like me, and that makes me feel real good, like an almighty god gathering disciples in the desert. I got the power to give you life or let your life slip away into the embers of nowhere. I got this power because I walked away from my childhood without a grave over my head, and what doesn’t kill you gives you the strength of a mountain. Nothing takes a mountain down. Nothing. And there’s nothing gonna take me down. You like that, don’t you? You like that I keep you safe and buy you pretty things. And all you have to do is breathe softly and act like a ghost of a human being. It’s that easy.

These hands touching you under this starry autumn sky have done things that you might not understand but that’s the way of special people like me.  We’re not strapped by rules because, babycakes, we make them. So if I rip your blouse and tear your jeans off your firm young ass, you just know that you’re in the presence of a powerful being beyond the everyday boring people of this state, country, planet. Don’t you cry. I’ll buy you pretty new clothes and maybe some of that icy pink lipstick you like. That oughta make you feel like a princess. Nobody in your heretofore life ever gave you much. This I know. I’m a giver and, yeah, I’m also a taker. But how are you gonna give if you don’t take first?

I used to read books, but now I know all that needs to be known so there’s no point to reading other people’s stupid ideas. I know this is a hard life and nobody’s gonna love you so you gotta love your own self.  And you gotta take care of that self any which way you can. I know that some people don’t deserve to live so if you help them along to the other side, you’re doing the world a favor. And as far as I know, there’s nothing on the other side so it doesn’t matter what you do on this side. That’s my religion, yes, ma’am. I should have been a preacher on account of all that I know, but I like the idea of being a god. That way you got all the say so. A god is numero uno and that suits me just fine.  What do you think? I see way down deep into those brown eyes of yours and there’s no doubt that you’re following the open road path of my life. Without question. Without reservation. What have you got to live for anyway? There’s nothing out there for you. I’m all you got. Just you and me, my brown-eyed girl.

I hope you’re not tiring of me. I’ve seen the shifting of your eyes, the way you look away from me when I’m talking to you. You shouldn’t be tiring of me. I don’t like that. I gave you everything I got, and whatever we stole from others. I gave you a life, I gave you love, I gave you my experience. You’re nothing without me and you know it, so smarten up and get back to loving me. Now, that’s better. I might even forgive you, me being a god and all.

Now here we are in this mighty scenic place. We should have brought a picnic but that would mean planning, and we’re not the planning type. I know you trust me. Have I ever led you wrong? I know you got your affection back for me, so I want you to do this little thing for me. You’ll do it for me, right? There’s something I got to know. I got this burning question inside me. Hell, even a holy man’s got questions, y’know. I held onto my skin all these years because I can handle what’s here on this side, but I don’t know what’s going on on the other side. Nobody does, and that kinda scares me, and I don’t like to be scared. So, here’s what I want – jump, little girl, jump down to that rushing river far below, and then come back to me and tell me, only me, what you saw on the other side. Is it pretty? Is it nice? That’s all I want to know.

A god always demands a sacrifice, and, honey, you’re mine. If that’s not a privilege I don’t what is.

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