I tell you, that was the mightiest, fieriest storm I ever seen, happenin roun the time Crow ‘n me was up in New Jersey – long times ago.
I was sayin a Crow, I said, ‘You know whut, they’s a machine some place, pulls our juices an stores em like batteries storen acid. An you know whut, some day that machine’ll come, an we all be fry!’
Crow laughed. ‘You know, you might be right kid. I mean, whut’s the use voodoo chilren runnin ‘roun like a hepless chicken, ever’one feedin in off ever’one. Maybe there ain’t no tomorrow. I hear plenty people say such. I met this man, he said a me, Humans? We is long gone. Them machines is on em way, and where we gonna be then? Huh? But I don’t have no time for such foolish talk!’
I say one thing for Crow, he ain’t never lef me, keepen me outa mischief, mostly. Even when we was runnin’ low on money so we gotta go where liquor an lodgings is cheap, an sell a trinket or two long the way, Crow sticked by my side. Last night f’rinstance, we woun up in that ole place over by the river, po’ in design but rich in ghosts. I think maybe a president lived there once, an Eisenhower maybe, or maybe a Thomas Jefferson. That’s whut Crow said. Poor Crow, he gits mixed up in his liquor, an forgits which time zone we’s in – this weren’t no hotel, it were a lodgin home for slaves!
We bribed ’em with a small piece o’ silver, so they give us a room, they call it the Guest Sweet, hah! Ain’t nuthin sweet! I think Guest Sour is a more fittin name! Skinny guy walkin all roun with this rifle. Some kine a guard.
Crow says, ‘he ain’t no guard, he’s a misnomer if ever I saw one.’
In a mornin, them peoples was hustlin for coffee n’ eggs, pushin an a shovin one another, but when that guard starts wavin that rifle, all a sudden quiet in a room. Crow said won’t be long fore somebody grabs that gun from that kid. Oh my, they’s gonna be trouble then!
Up on a wall we sees this screen, yak-yakkin away. Some feller talkin about a life spent inside for a crime he don’t never commit. Scaped death by a hair. Shown up on a screen with his dead eye an hard mouth, pine needles a growin all over his face. Crow don’t like it none, he said it spelled trouble, an he was right.
The feller up on a screen, he’s a talkin real slow but you jest know he’s got a fire burnin inside o’ him, jest holdin it down that’s all.
Lady on a screen asken, ‘Hey, what it like to be free now?’
He says, ‘Uuh, mighty nice, lady.’
She said, ‘Oh, was it your faith kep you alive all these years?’
Feller looks down the groun. I know she want him to shed a little, jest a itzy teardrop for the camera.
‘Was it your faith kep you alive, sir?’
He said, ‘Oh yes, ma’am, it was my faith kep me alive.’
‘And you forgiven your ‘cuser?’
‘Oh yes, ma’am. I forgiven ’em, deed I have ma’am’
The dead eye a twitchen now, an mouth shut tight. Feller looks red eye angry, can’t say as I blame him – she’s a pain in the backside that lady.
‘Jest good to be alive ma’am,’ He tells her.
‘But you know that girl?’ She asken like she don’t believe a word he’s sayin, like she’s thinkin’ they can’t be no smoke without fire.
‘No ma’am, I never known her,’ He said.
‘But someone done it, right?’
‘Yes ma’am somebody did it.’
‘But not you George.’
‘Not ma’am, not me.’
Crow and me is sayin nuthin, we’s all nice and quiet, jest chompin on our eggs, an sippin our coffee. An side from Crow, who’s half-black, half-Indian, there’s me bein the on’y female peoples in a room, so I felt scare.
That guard, the skinny kid with the rifle, he’s a screwin his eyes up an squintin, like he thinks we got stuff in our bags. He thinks, in those ole battered cases of ours we got stuff that don’t belong.
Goddamn right we got stuff! We tooken all we can from that crazy house. Knives, blankets, utensils. Hah! Crow and me, we survive. That kid guard, he’s got nuff on his plate, cos the wind in that room is gittin might shifty now. Peoples is gittin all fidgety an you can jest see em thoughts, a buzzin an a bitin!
Some feller come up with a breadknife, says he gonna slice the whole damn planet with that knife! Madman!
Crow turned a me, he said, ‘We better scarp kid.’
‘Damn right!’ I said.
Crow an me, we hustle on outa there.
Crow said, ‘I reckon that guard ain’t gonna make it, reckon he be dead fore sun up.’
Crow said it all starts with a madman wavin a hatchet or a machete or a knife aroun, an then fore you know it …
Outside is cole, and they’s a bad temper in a air, as like nature wanna throw her weight roun some.
I say, ‘What next ole man?’
Crow say, ‘Sumpin’ll happen.’
Sure nuff, we winded up travellin on down a New Mexico. Mine you, a lot happen afore then.