As I start this writer’s journey to the Alluvial Mine ( and I’ve been on this journey for a very long time ) I come across a young man standing at the crossroads as I walk by.
He has a guitar in his hands, I have a backpack in mine.
” I used to play.” I tell him.
He nods and smiles.
” I don’t anymore, it’s in my blood though, I can feel it there. Know what I mean?” I hold my hands up ” Sometimes I can feel the strings, the frets at no particular time. I think I’m haunted by it. Do you think it’s possible? To be haunted by your guitar?”
He smiles, tips his hat and walks away.
I watch the young man make his way down that dusty road in the middle of nowhere, guitar in hand all alone in the world. Before he disappears from sight I can hear him singing.
Legend says that Robert Johnson sold his soul at the Crossroads so that he could become the greatest bluesman ever.
I’ve never taken with to that story- saying Johnson sold his soul to gain that talent is like saying Aliens built the pyramids. Bottom line is, you needed a soul- even if it was troubled- to play the blues the way he did
Now it’s my turn to go through the Crossroads.
I turn in the opposite direction and there is my stretch of road and unlike Johnson ( I think ) there is someone waiting for me.
I’m not surprised to see him at all.
I intend to walk right by Him.
But it’s not so easy to do.
” On our way again?”
I stop. “I’ve been through here a few times. That is true.”
He stands walks towards me and yes his eyes are yellow.
” You must be tired of this stretch of road by now. Tell me. How does it feel to know you’ve been walking it mile for mile with nothing to show for it except for the dust that’s worked it’s way into your hair, your mouth,” he draws his finger across my cheek and held it up to his eyes. ” Your skin.”
” What’s your point.” I spit a mouthful of the stuff at our feet.
” My point” the Devil put his face to mine ” is that it’s time for you to give it up. You’ll never get to where you’re going. You will try and try and you will fail.”
I shouldered my backpack.
” What have you in there? A notebook? No. Perhaps a book written by a better writer then you? I know. An opened package of pens and a ream of blank paper. Am I close? I am aren’t I?” The Devil throws his head back and laughs.
It’s a full hearted, merry, eye watering laugh.
I was tired. Dusty. But mostly I was worn out and discouraged.
He knew what I was thinking and he showed me his teeth, or was that a smile?
And then right there at the Crossroads, just as I was about to turn around, from nowhere I remembered how my Mom used to give me grief for- my ‘smart mouth’.
So I opened it and said, ” It’s the head of the last son of a bitch who tried to stop me. Step aside. We’ve got nothing else to say to each other.”
He does step aside and as I pass he actually kicks some dirt up at me.
” I’ll be here the next time you pass by…and the next… AND THE NEXT…count on it.”
I faced my road and I started to walk and as I got further away from the Cross Road I saw something ahead of me.
For the first time I actually see something ahead of me.
It was a tree and next to it was a sign.
I stopped dead in my dusty tracks.
” Really?” I called out “REALLY?”
I pass the sign and as I do I wonder where I can find a pick and a shovel.
I think I’m going to need them.