No Simple Highway

Friday, January 4th, 2019 04:35 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
[personal profile] bairnsidhe

The bell above the door rang merrily.
I looked up from the counter I'd been leaning on. 

The young man who'd disturbed the bell was staring,
disheveled and a bit bewildered. 
They frequently had that look, the new ones.

"Welcome, friend!" I called out.
"Sit where you like, I'll get you some tea."

"This isn't..."
He trailed off, eyes on some distant horizon
he would never reach, poor thing.

A dashed expectation can hurt like a mother.

"No, I suspect not," I told him.
He blinked as I set down a cup
of bottle green plastic, covered in scuffs,
and filled to the brim with sweet tea.
"It seldom is." 

"Where is this?"

"Where were you heading?"

"I mean, probably Hell.
If the preachers are right about it."

"That's no simple highway,"
I sighed.  My own cup joined his.

I traced the arcane map formed
in the scratches and stains of old Formica.
The diner table transformed by habit into
scrying glass, battle plan, and altar.

"Reach out your hand," I told him.
To his credit, he didn't need to be asked twice.
I looked at his palm, the deep callouses
speaking to me as loud as sunlight.
A man who worked with his hands,
who played a stringed instrument,
and bit his nails short enough to use.

"There is a road," I told him.
"One that can take you someplace better for you.
Between the darkness and the dawning,
between choice and challenge,
through places untamed and untameable."

"The road goes to... to the good place?"

"It goes a place," I correct.  "Good is up to you.
But yeah, you can get someplace decent...
I think.  But you'll be walking the path alone."

"Alone, I can do," he said,
"I just wish..."


"It's silly," he said with a grin.
"I left, all of my own free will...
Well, free will, some Xanax, and a bottle of Jack...
but all I want to do now is go home."

The grin broke my heart,
curse me for a sentimental fool.
A bleeding heart is not a desirable trait in a psychopomp.
We lead the dead on, we don't let them linger
and we certainly don't let our own hearts lead us.

"If I knew the way, I'd take you home,
but I only know the paths forward."

I noted his cup was empty.

"More tea, before you leave?"

"No thanks."  He smiled like honey.
"I get the feeling I have a long walk,
I wouldn't want to get caught with no rest stop,
If you get my meaning."

I watched him go, and the jukebox played a breezy,
mellow rock intro, familiar and bright as tie-dye.

"Oh, stuff it," I told the machine.
"Don't you look at me in that tone of voice."

The dearly departed will stop for directions,
a slice of pie, or a cup of tea.
The grateful ones may chat a bit,
with me or with each other,
but the work isn't over,
and it never will be... with any luck.


Date: 2019-01-05 03:50 am (UTC)
mdlbear: (rose)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Nicely done! Probably my favorite Dead song.

Not quite the right userpic, but it will have to do.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2019-01-05 05:07 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
It is TOTALLY the right userpic for a psychopomp. Not my story to tell; it's yours. But it is abso-fraggin-lutely the right userpic.

(*gives the bear a misty hug*)

Re: Yay!

Date: 2019-01-05 05:14 am (UTC)
mdlbear: (rose)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
*hugs back* Hmm; point.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2019-01-05 07:19 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
It may be worthwhile for me to tell that icon's story.

I should probably also mention Welcome to Acousticville (Lyrics). Which has a great instrumental break. It was even better when I heard it live.

Hmm. It's Saturday, isn't it? Sounds like a subject for an s4s post.

ETA: and it was: mdlbear | Songs for Saturday: Welcome to Acousticville (because psychopomp)
Edited (add s4s link; later add link to s4s post) Date: 2019-01-06 01:13 am (UTC)

Re: Yay!

Date: 2019-01-05 05:08 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
FWIW, Ripple is my *second* favourite Dead song.

My favourite is "Uncle John's Band"... oddly, because psychopomp.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2019-01-05 05:20 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
I spent the afternoon doing some of that m'self. Truth be told, I never really got familiar with a lot of their stuff... but the older I get, the more I like their style.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2019-01-05 05:21 am (UTC)
mdlbear: (rose)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
It is, actually. I'd been thinking something with a skull and roses, but the Amethyst Rose is damned appropriate for psychopomp.

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