Monday, February 8, 2010

Family Tradition

What struck me as strange was Richard's driveway.  Someone had cleared it of snow, cleaner than almost any I'd passed on my way to Arrowhead Lodge.  Richard has no car; he walks everywhere.  Last week I gave him a lift to the store "across the river."  As I pumped gas, he returned with a pack of cigarettes, "May I ride back as far as your place?"  "Sure," I said, "You were going to walk ten miles for one pack of cigarettes?"  He shrugged.

Today, I looked more closely because something was missing.  Had he moved?  "Where's his trailer?" I thought.  "There."  Smoke rose from a pile of ashes and twisted metal.  "Where is Richard?"  I hope he escaped in time.

A few years ago I wrote a song, "Let 'Em Bash," which included a verse inspired by Richard's parents:

    Back in the woods a drunk man ran, naked 'cept for the boots he wore,
    his wife, she wandered far and wide, poaching ginseng to fill his hide.
    had no idea, by the creek he fished, a footbridge held his liquor store,
    addicted too, she smoked in bed, burned three houses and a big old shed.

 "Poor Richard," says Virginia.  "Do you think he had a chance?"

Yes, he did, and maybe he's happy, wherever he is.

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