After writing 400 or so of these, I find that I occasionally tire of all the truth-telling (with the occasional lie thrown in just for fun, or do I have that ratio reversed?). If you wouldn’t mind indulging me, then this week will be strictly a work of fiction. It’s just a little bluegrass-related short story I’ve been working on. I want this to be completely original. If any of it seems derivative, though, I plan to fix that in the editing process later:
A Portrait of the Bluegrass Musician as a Young Man
Back in the days of my childhood, I fell in love with a girl from the town. She wandered far away while she was out at play, lost in the woods she couldn’t hear a sound.
I ran away to Charlottesville.
My childhood flew by, I grew to a man. I heard the music of the rail, slept in every dirty jail, but I longed to see the old folks. You never miss the homefolks until you’ve gone away. I wandered again to my home in the mountains, where in youth’s early dawn I was happy and free. Not a man in that county would speak one kind word.
I was Reno bound.
One night while out for a ramble from the hog lot to the barn, from the barn to the rail—the hour was just about 9:00—I met a young maiden from Frisco. Her eyes they seemed to expand (which was a little scary), and on her breast she wore white lilies. Her brother stabbed me for some unknown reason. I lay around the shack till the mail train came back.
The very next day about half past four, the sheriff’s men knocked at my door. They said, “Young man ain’t your name Brown? Remember the night you shot Sadie down?” I spoke not a word, although it meant my life. I ain’t no man for trouble but I’ll die before I run.
When that old judge looked down and smiled, he said, “45 dollars or 30 days in the can.” I said, “You Are What I Am” (which just confused everybody).
Now I’m down in prison, got a number for my name. The warden said when he locked the door, “Don’t cheat in our home town.” I replied, “I just think I’ll stay around. Just a moment of relief is all I care.” “Have a drink on me,” he said. Nice guy.
I wrote my woman a letter. I told her I was in jail. She wrote me back in a hurry, saying, “I don’t want your rambling letters.”
I’m worried, troubled, I can’t sleep. I’m like a John Deere tractor in a half acre field; they first appear and then they’re gone (a little known fact about John Deere tractors). When my time comes to go, I’ll be walkin’ in Jerusalem just like John Henry.
This is true for I’ve been watching from the window up above.