On my way north
I stop in to a town called Wilits, CA for a burger and a shake
okay 2 shakes
the girl at the cash register
looks at me like I’m wrong in the head
when I ask her ’bout the town’s story
so I change the subject
“I’m on my way to Fort Bragg to visit my cousin
he’s got a rickety boat,” I tell her
“We’re gonna take it out
on one o’ the lakes over there
Lake Cleone, it’s called
go fishin for bass and trout…
it really is a hunk o’ junk.”
I think I’m bein nice
I ain’t cussin at her or nothin’
well not much anyway
I see across the street an old timer
pushing a wheelchair with his wife in it
rigged up behind the lady’s chair is an attached dolly like thing containing 7 or 8 plastic bags of clothes and other worldly possessions
the man has one hand on the chair
with the other hand, he’s carrying
a big fuckin’ cross
I’m talkin’ two 3 by 7 slabs of wood
fastened to each other
and finished a dark brown, real perfect, you know?
For 20 minutes I watch these 2 walkin around under the ugly sun
The man takes one break in that time
the two of them sitting in the shade
not sayin nothin’ to each other
“Who are those folks?” I say to the lady
“How should I know?” she says, like I’m bothering her
“Lemme get 2 bottles of coke,” I say, and then charge across the street, my arms high in the air.
Two minutes later, I’m marching over there where they’re sittin in the shade
I hand the man a bottle, but I notice that the woman is sleeping now
“You folks thirsty?” I ask him.
“Thank you kindly son,” the man says
“Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?”
“Well, now I aint got time for a sermon, old timer. ”
“Do you go to church?”
“Not in a while. when I was a boy my mom would take me on Sunday.”
“Now I go fishing”
“you oughta go back son, He’s waiting for you”
“I been in the penitentiary two times now. I’m not sure he wants to see me”
“he wants to see everyone.”
Just then my cousin calls on my phone
he’s tellin me to speed my ass up
or else he’s leaving without me
“Well I gotta go folks.”
“Think about what I said,” says the man.
And suddenly, I can’t help myself.
“I’m gonna come clean with you. I don’t even believe in Him anymore. I’s just being a nice guy. I figured you were thirsty and all.”
“God is with you, wherever you’re going boy,” he says. And then we’re starin’ at each other for a few seconds, neither of us sayin nothing.
Then I just “okay” him, smile and walk off, to cross the street.
I been around people like this my whole life.
Everybody thinkin their way is the way.
I’m a people person though
I talk to a lot o’ people
Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, even Buddhists
Anyone willing ta talk
I give them an ear
Some wanna show you the light
And then you gotta smile and nod a lot
and steer them clear of their belief
but it can be hard
especially when that’s all you got in this world.