8.14.04, Coventry, VT
Walls of the Cave > Runaway Jim > Gotta Jibboo, You Enjoy Myself > Sample in a Jar, Axilla, Poor Heart, Run Like an Antelope, Fire
Walls of the Cave
JS sits on the ground, legs crossed, his back against the rear door of the black car, wrapped in the white and green Indian blanket he’d bought from the small brown woman with mistrustful eyes. His eyes are closed and he’s trying to keep his mind empty. Around the edges, discomfort keepes pressing in, trying to distract him — I’m wet, he thinks, the ground is still damp from the rainstorm — but these thoughts can only capture his attention for the briefest of moments before he loses interest and dispels them.
When they’re gone, he goes back to his business of waiting. It is this business that will save him, for if he waits long enough, the concert will end, and his friends will come looking for their car, and they will find him waiting there.
In the far distance, past the rows of cars arrayed before him, down the paved road they’d come in, JS could hear the music coming from the stage, where JS’s favorite band was playing their second-to-last concert ever. At this distance, JS couldn’t make out songs, or voices. He couldn’t hear the instruments – he couldn’t hear the melody –
If pressed to tell someone exactly what it was he could hear, JS would be unable to answer except to say “music, softly playing.” It existed at the edge of perception, but nevertheless, it existed. JS latched onto it, and wrapped his mind around its existence. Around that center, a calm space sprang up, a flat sea of self and self’s absence, and across that sea, thoughts appeared, wind on the water.
First — the campsite itself, indistinguishable from a parking lot, arrayed itself on the back of JS’s closed eyes. He could see the cars, see the tents and the roll of hills, see the lights from the vendors down the road. Around this patch of human traffic, great evergreen trees rose up, sheltering the makeshift car city. A voice – was it real, he thought, or a memory – asking another voice for gear. JS knows what gear is – he saw it in a movie, or a book, he knows it’s slang for a needle and a belt —
JS breathed out, and the image of the campsite was gone.
Instead, it is two nights prior. JS is standing at the top of a great grassy bowl, looking down at the people watching, looking down at the band on the stage. The guitarist is playing the drums, and the drummer is playing a vacuum cleaner, and the people on the lawn giggle and begin to talk amongst themselves, and then the guitarist comes down and asks the people to take a vote on whether or not they like the vacuum cleaner or not.
Democracy, JS remembers. This vacuum cleaner trick is very very old. The band had been doing it for many years. JS remembers his dad doing it in their first house, when he use to vacuum the sofa. JS was always terrified of vacuum cleaners.
His eyes open for a second, and he is back at Coventry, sitting against the car, still waiting. It’s not over yet, he thinks, and closes his eyes again.
JS is back in Philadelphia, a mile from the house he grew up in, waiting for a train with a duffel bag on his back. He is going to war or he is going to Woodstock — the latter more likely given the length of his hair. That being said – there is a war going on.
He’s on an airplane. He goes up and he goes down. He reads the Economist, perfectly suited for short airplane trips. By the time the plane touches down in New Hampshire, he knows everything that’s happening everywhere in the world. In this particular issue of the Economist, they have a trio of academics analyze