Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The ticket window was on the side wall of a head shop in an old Victorian in the sad little town between us and the city. My mom dropped me off there to wait in the freezing cold for spring tour tickets. Sweet coffee in a dented thermos. Camel unfiltereds snuck in my coat pocket. Just putting my hand in there would make it reek of that dark, sweet perfume, Turkish and domestic blend. But my mom didn’t know. Or she did.

The line snaked back into the dirt parking lot behind the building, filled with beaters and VW buses. It became amorphous there, people playing hacky-sack or huddled in little circles to get high. I sat on the embankment by the wall and watched. Someone blared a live tape circa 1979, “He’s Gone.”

A Deadhead invited me into his car, a beat-up old boat, to warm up and smoke a joint. He put on Neil Young, “Down by the River.” I’d never heard it before and it took a hold of my brain, that da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da on the guitar and the refrain, which I didn’t understand at first but then I understood and then misunderstood again, in circles and circles, shudder day, shutter day, shotty day, shut her day, shot her dead, shut a day, shudder day.