Read the new literary works published on CC for July 18, 2016
It was a week before Christmas way back in 1973. I made the bold decision to hitchhike from South Mississippi to New York City where I would become a famous artist. How I was going to do that was something I hadn’t quite considered. My brother took me out to Highway 11 and let me out. I had an old army surplus coat a friend had given me and a backpack another friend had given me. I had some pretty cool friends back then. The backpack was stuffed with clothes and a toothbrush and two paperback books: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and On the Road. And a hundred dollars in travelers checks. And I had a dime in my pocket. My first ride was with a family. Mom, Dad, two kids and grandpa. Grandpa kept honking up phlegm and spitting out the window.
“Where you going?” Dad asked.
“New York City.”
“Wow! That’s a long way to hitchhike. So what are you going to do up there?”
At that point I started making shit up because I feared the truth would make me sound stupid. I told them I was an actor and I’d been cast in an off-Broadway production of Twelve Angry Men, Juror Number Four. They were impressed. They peppered me with a million
Yellow light through smudged window stream,
Soft as a dream.
Cheek pressed to sheet,
Day I don’t greet.
Eating the gloom.
Soon I will shift,
And my head lift.
The sunshine gilds my tousled hair,
Drifts in still air.
My eyes unglue,
Blink morning new.
The sun beat down and the rocks were hot to walk over. Kate took an inner tube way out in the river, her long pale body draped over the tube, her arms and legs splashing in the water, her face skyward. Noah and Ben waded out, Noah carrying Ben’s football and bragging about how he could throw a tight spiral. Amy and I took our buckets to collect rocks and those tiny, dark fish that swim in the mud.
Last time we went to the river it was just Noah and me, so he didn’t mind hanging back at the edge of the water teaching me how to skip rocks. But Amy kept taking the rocks I found to make pieces of her mud castle and trying to make rules about what to do with the water we filled our buckets with, which annoyed me. I decided to skip rocks instead and enjoyed the idea of throwing a nice flat rock before Amy could claim it.
I watched the boys out in the water, envious.
“Noah, Look!” I called, wanting to show him skip tricks I learned on my own.
“Noah, look!” I tried again, choosing a real flat one.
A haunting evening reveille
Sad and sweet, it pulls my heart
Towards some forgotten memory
This sound now does impart.