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‘Road Trip to Saint Augustine’

by Elgin Jumper

Let me paint a picture for you, if I may. I was published by the University of Arkansas, at Little Rock, in 2006. Nightfall, my first collection of poems has certainly kept me busy ever since. Indeed, I’ve read from the chapbook, and performed the poems on many occasions. I’ve even recorded some of the poems for, Words Taking Flight, my first Poetry CD in 2009.

But it wasn’t until years after the original 2006 publication that I had the idea to turn Nightfall, the poetry chapbook, into Nightfall, the road trip novel, a writing project I’ve been earnestly working on. They say that it takes a long time to create and develop a one-of-a-kind writing voice. As such, I have worked hard to create a Seminole storyteller who can journey to wide a range of places and tones in the mind’s eye and ear.

Therefore the storyteller here can be at times unsophisticated, and speak with a folksy oratory, and, dare I say, even express in street talk, in his own way, and yet, at other times he can also be philosophical, poetic, grand, sublime.

“Road Trip to Saint Augustine” is the basis for Nightfall, the novel, in condensed form. It is the work of the storyteller within me, and it is admittedly semi-autobiographical–this one more so than others–and yet, it is also fervent storytelling.

And so, as I come in for a landing in terms of prefacing the short story which follows, I should also say that it is a great opportunity, and blessing for me to share my writings with you in The Seminole Tribune.

And for that, I am exceedingly grateful. Sho-na-bi-sha.

ELGIN JUMPER

[There is a five-second pause]

[Curtain rises as sad violins play, then fade]

WINTER, HOLLYWOOD SEMINOLE INDIAN RESERVATION, 2004

My name is John Night, Seminole, and in the mid-1960s, I was born over to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and was brought home to the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation in an old Indian car, dented, nary a floorboard for the most part, the make and model of which eludes me at present, and as an adolescent later on I was much-inclined to reading, writing, and drawing, attended public schools right down the road from the rez with everyone else, which is where I derived a working knowledge of the American English lingo, and even held discourse in the Miccosukee terminologies, taking after my parents, you see.

However, much to my bewilderment, I had my freedom taken from me for a time as an adult, yes, all due to alcohol, of which, I am never proud, surviving county jails and even “the big house,” though I’ve had many a harrowing adventure and fearful frolic while commencing it. Oh, it’s quite a story, as you will see, and of course, I’ll paint in more colors and background for you as we go, among other things, so never you worry, hear, ‘cause I gotcha.

I was back a couple days from, oh, let’s just say, from “state service” shall we, when I went over to the new rez and asked my Uncle Wilbur to drive me up to Saint Augustine, as I had been powerful compelled to fulfill a promise I’d made while still in. I had been away for two-years, unfortunately, only seeing my family, and friends every now and again out on the visiting park. So sad.

But don’t cha know while inside, I’d been reading and writing and studying up, working on myself, gathering my thoughts, and researching Seminole History, so I wouldn’t be forced to repeat it. And, oh yeah, having the most profoundest of visions and dreams direct from Seminole History, which I’m not afeared to say, had made a deep and lasting impact upon me, more so than any monochromatic tattoo ever could.

I had a little money saved up, so that part was okay. And the way I was feeling was there really wasn’t anything that could’ve held me back? No, I didn’t see it as such. There was a prayer there that had to be said, though, and so, I had to find a ride to make it to Saint Augustine. Uncle Wilbur had written to me regularly and he knew all about my plight, but he didn’t know I was going to go to him for help.

“Uncle,” I said, “I really need to get to Saint Augustine, to the old fort there, just something I have to do.”

“John,” Uncle Wilbur, who had previously been undergoing a sunny disposition, said, “Hey, hey, hey, you’re catching me way off guard here – I hear you, but I can’t drop everything, and measure out a couple of days to take you up. It’s not that easy.”

“Come on, you said when you were young there was all them things you wished you’d followed through with. How you regretted not doing certain things.”

He sighed and groaned. “I just got the Wagoneer back from outta the shop, and now I can’t see us driving all those miles it’s going to take. To Saint Augustine?”

“It’s what I haveta do,” I said, “I’m pretty sure we could just borrow an old Indian car with the parts falling off by the wayside, them wheels screaming for mercy. Someone must have one. What do you say? It can even look like a tired old horse what rode in with the Conquistadors. But getting to Saint Augustine, that’s the main idea.”

He frowned. “It’s a hard question you’re asking of me, nephew. And I know what we talked about, what I said. Them stories we shared. It’s still a hard question. How do I deliver?”

“You can deliver by delivering me to Saint Augustine.”

My uncle sighed, and groaned again.

I said, “Haven’t you ever wanted to follow-through on something? And felt real bad about not doing so?”

“There’s an art to it, kid, to that kind of stuff, and I’m not a young man, anymore.”

My uncle hung his head, grimaced, and exhaled, finally relenting. “Okay,” he said softly. “Okay. We’re family.”

“Please, just give me a chance,” I said. “I have to go there. It’s important.”

“Okay, let’s take a road trip, John.” he urged. “Go home, pack a bag, if you haven’t already. We’ll figure it out.”

Whew! So that was one obstacle down, a major one. Thank the Maker of Breath. But who else could I could I have asked? Who else could have taken me? I thanked him, and went home to where mom was cooking dinner. The smell was amazing. I dipped into my room and started putting clothes and other items into a red duffle bag. I made sure to include my notebook and sketchpad, pens and pencils and the like. I also put in my copy of Black Elk Speaks, as I was interested in studying the stories from the venerated holy man.

My mind was racing across a gazillion subjects even though it didn’t have to. I was going over things, over some unexpected concerns, processing. While still inside and since I was ten or something, I had written poems, plays, short stories, essays, etc, trying different things. While inside I kept it up on a grand scale, just to get me through. And so, one miraculous day in the prison library I discovered a book of Native American Prayers, so that was quite memorable. A bliztkrieg of thoughts.

Back in the day, when I was twelve-years old I read this story to a close school friend: “So there’s this young man, and a young woman, but from different tribes, and these tribes are at war. The young man has momentous questions and dilemmas. But it’s this war that’s brought them together, that’s swept them up into this epic adventure.

“On some mornings, even though they’re constantly on move, she tells him her people’s Creation Myths, and he earnestly loves to listen to them. They are so illuminated by their love, regardless of the conflict raging around them, the devastating battles, the sad losses, the hair-breadth escapes, the chaos.

“Every day I thank the Great Spirit for you,” he says to her one morning.

“Nothing will keep us apart,” she responds. “Nothing.”

They embrace.

Well, more of an outline, if you want to get technical here, but yeah, I wrote that one back when I was a little guy imbued with dreams and aspirations, so that I would hide myself away on most days, and become what I’d always been, a writer, to think up and write stories, as if obtained from the ancients what had been here long ago.

“I like that one,” my school friend had said. “Thank you.”

Meanwhile, I was constantly thinking I had to make it to Saint Augustine, the historic fortress, a heartfelt prayer, ancestors. Armies of thought. Yet how to achieve it? What’s the plan? I knew I had to make the trip right after that series of visions and dreams. And I knew I wasn’t goin to be the same afterwards. I didn’t know how, but I knew somehow I would. It had been a long time coming. And if I tarried, utter disaster, and the vicious cycle of the vicious circle.

Pulled abruptly from my thoughts, I heard my mom calling me for dinner so I quick cleaned up, splashing water like an ol’ river otter, and went out and sat down with her at the dining-room table. My mother took my hand and I prayed:

Dear Maker of Breath,

We are grateful for your gift of nourishment. We are grateful for families. Let us work ever-hard in our endeavors, for we know then that they shall be more appreciated afterwards. Let us persevere in goals and dreams. Let us keep close. Light our souls with your Love, so that we may see and follow our true paths. Sho-na-bi-sha.

AMEN

In between bites and sips of Seminole cuisine and dinner conversation, I said, “So I’m figuring we’ll be gone for like a couple of days, mom.”

“Oh okay. So there’s no changing your mind about it, huh?” she said.

“Well, it’s been on my heart and mind for sometime now.”

“Okay,” she sighed. She smiled, but with it was intermingled love and concern.

She had figured out I was set on the trip, whereas at first she had cautioned against making the road trip at all, especially so soon after my release back into the free world, what with parole and all. Yes, parole. But thereupon she soon recognized the situation and relented, soon as I came up with the story that I had managed to clear it with the authorities. So the road trip was set, and so, it had to be made.

“It took some convincing for Uncle Wilbur to finally say okay,” I revealed. “He says we’re going in his old Wagoneer, which apparently he’s just had tricked out, you know, souped up?”

“Ohh okay,” my mother said.

“He says it’s either that or na-da, zilch, so . . .”

“Yes, yes, a fine car. Powerful magic. You’re in for a real treat.” My mother giggled playfully.

Thus I finished my meal, gave mom a hug, and retired to my room, where I soon picked up a framed photograph of mom and examined the image. I was thinking of the time when she took me fishing in Big Cypress. It was just her and me, because my parents had split up again for some months. And we didn’t know a thing about rods and reels, but she had borrowed them all the same from my granpa, and so, we spent a memorable day filled with merriment at a little pond in Big Cypress.

SPRING, BIG CYPRESS SEMINOLE INDIAN RESERVATION, 1977

I was twelve, and sat on an old bench in front of my granma and granpa’s house in Big Cypress. I was sketching cartoons from an old newspaper. This was way before the divorce, and I was thin and scrawny like a young ailing twig, but at least I had long black hair, so not-so-bad, not-so-bad, thank goodness.

“Come on, “J,” my mom said – she called me “J,” – on her way out the front door. She was holding two fishing rods and a tackle box. “We’re going to catch us some big fish today. Are you up for it?”

I immediately hopped up, got my drawing supplies, and bolted for the car, ready for travel. “Yay!”

“Wow, I wish you’d be that ready for school in the mornings,” my mother laughed, amused. She was rarely amused those days, so I was glad to be the reason behind it this time.

“Whoo-hoo-hooo!,” I exclaimed. “Thank you for letting me miss school today, mom.”

“We’ll say we had to go to Hollywood,” she said, smiling.

“Okay. Ooh, next time we go for real, can we see Star Wars?”

We loaded up the car, got in, and searched the backroads for a good place to fish. The sun was moving across a light blue sky and the mists of the morning had by now all burned off. Now a contingent of clouds remained, holding court with the sun.

I said, “Hey, we’ve never fished before, mom.”

“Well, “J,” my mom observed, “there’s always a first time for everything. Besides, you’ve already put up with a lot – we can have a day to ourselves with no worries. And maybe we’ll catch the biggest fish ever.”

“Fish squares? Sometimes they serve fish squares in school.”

Me and mom burst out laughing.

It was strange how we finally found a good place to fish. The little pond was so close to granma’s and granpa’s. We only found it on our way back after having no luck, after never finding a good location to cast our lines. It was the perfect size, too, as far as ponds go, shimmering, mirrored by the sky.

Yet it was slightly muddied and was being laid siege to by intermittent small trees, as felled branches, leaves, and twigs lay strewn in the tall grass and foilage. Decades later, in passing through the area, I saw it was still there, but it’s pleasant nature had sadly been overgrown along it’s shores.

But it were’nt much to report, anyways, that is, in terms of the great fishing expedition, save for the fumbling about with the rod and reel, the wind that abruptly picked up and swept up dust and debris and the swift turning grey of the day, and oh yeah, how we declared to the sky that we’d leave it to the pros from there on out.

We had a nice lunch in the afternoon, though, at a charming little cafe-gift shop just off Snake Road, on the north side of the reservation.

We were taking in the wonderful Seminole oil paintings on the walls of the cafe. The waitress had just taken our order and I was jotting down notes for future stories.

“Have — Have you written anything new, “J”?,” my mother asked.

I flipped through my notebook, found something fairly-recent, and began to read:

“Many centuries ago, there was a young tustenuggee chief who could outlast and outplay anyone in a stickball game. He was funny, witty, endearing. He was wise and thoughtful. He led warrior armies in devastating battles. He saved men, women, and children from formidable villains and ferocious beasts.

“He could converse with the birds and critters of the forests (that is, unless they were upset with him, because of some unintended slight, or other). He was an imaginative storyteller. He held his people spellbound with his storytelling skills. He accomplished enormous physical feats. Some said he was a myth, some said he was a legend. He was much more than that.”

“And, uh, that’s all I have . . . ” I said, looking down. “I need to work on it.”

“Wow! That is so good,”J!” my mother said. “I–I love it. I’m so proud of you. Oh my god. Keep it up.”

“Okay, mom,” I said, smiling. “I will.”

So we made it back to granma’ and granpa’s, gave thanks, and had an early dinner. Then we called it a day, tuckered out from our happy day as we were. That night I dreamed of our day, of picturesque sunrises with wondrous sunflowers in sparkling vases.

“We walk in the cool light of early morning, mom.” I recall saying in one particular dream.

“I know, son, I’ll light the fire in the cooking chickee, to keep us warm,” my mother answered. The dreams seemed so real.

Well, eventually, we returned to the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation, right where we had left it, joining back at last with my father and the rest of the family.

WINTER, CENTRAL-FLORIDA, 2004

Uncle Wilbur and I were on the road, on the way to Saint Augustine, Florida. Uncle Wilbur’s Wagoneer was our chariot. On the cd player, Johnny Cash was singing about Folsom Prison and I could relate to the feeling in the words and music. This last time the authorities had really gotten my attention, Lord knows, and so upon my release, I was certainly regretful, trying to see opportunities rather than obstacles.

“I just know I have to make a real change this time, without a doubt,” I said, and, at that, Uncle Wilbur nodded, lean over and turned the volume down on the cd player.

He said, “Okay. Go on, tell me about it.”

“I can’t do it anymore, unc’,” I lamented. “I’m done. I have to try something else this time.”

“Might have something there.” He looked over and smiled. “Me, I say go with your strengths, your drawing, your writing.” He was counting them off on his fingers as he drove.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And I mean Serious, too, Serious with a capital “S” on it’s chest. You know. For all to see. Full-Time. I’m going to do it with all my heart.”

“Good. I’m glad.”

“I want to try some drawing classes first, and then, maybe some poetry workshops. See what else they got. And then I want to go to places where poets read their work and try that.”

“Oh absolutely. They’re out there, the places of which you speak. I mean your Broward College, your Art Studios, your Coffee Houses, your Bookstores.” He drove and gestured.

I managed a nod and a smile. I knew it would take much time and tremendous sacrifice. And it wasn’t going to be easy. But by then I was more than ready to put the work in. I had no other choice.

“I’m so ready to learn,” I said.

Now I was thinking, yeah, time for change, time for change, the sooner the better. Yes, indeedy! “Good Ol’ Johnny Night,” that former no account, wrong path choosing, ne’er-do-well, was going on and on about a real and lasting change. Who would have thought it?

“Yes,” my uncle said, “I agree, nephew, it is going to take a lot. I’ll help you, and I would say your mother’ll help you, too.

Right then, I made like I was painting on an invisible canvas, with imaginary paintbrush in hand. Then I got out my notebook and pretended I was dashing off poems, left and right. It seemed like the thing to do. My uncle chuckled heartily and patted the steering wheel a good time or two.

“Hey,” my uncle said, “you’ve got some parole to tend to, as well, right? I mean, that’s what your mother was saying.”

“Yeah, little ol 2 months,” I disclosed. “I’m putting myself into a treatment center for the whole time.”

We stared at the highway in a brief silence.

My uncle said, “So–So where’re you stayin after that?”

“Uh, thinking of getting a place off the rez, maybe, I don’t know, but not that far off.”

“Nice.”

We talked about favorite books, whether or not we’d ever seen this classic movie or that one, about different kinds of music, all kind of bands. We discussed the past two years. We talked about younger days on the rez, and about how things had changed.

We talked in some detail about Florida History and Battlefields. And of course, we talked Sci-Fi novels: H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Ursula LeGuin, to name a few, of which we both aspired to achieve something like aficionado status in the genre.

“Imagine adding a first-edition of H. G. Wells’, The War of the Worlds, to your collection. Now, I know you’ve read that one, right.”

“Ah, but of course!” my uncle agreed.

“That would be so cool,” I said, looking upwards.

“Quite the imagination,” my uncle stated, energized by the mention of Mr. H. G. Wells. Here come the Martians, y’all! So yeah, he rules, what more can I say?”

“So true,” I said.

“It’s like if see the man – or someone of his caliber – you know, walkin the sidewalks approachin towards me, you know what I do, I kindly cross the street and tip my hat in earnest salute, till he passes, you know. Hey, I don’t make the rules, nephew.”

“Right, right, The Man, The Myth, and when in The Legend’s presence, the salute, yeah, I know the routine, heh-heh.”

“I might have to re-acquaint myself with that book, actually. Just for good measure, you see.”

“Imagine if Those Martian Invaders landed on a Seminole Indian reservation. Can you imagine?”

We went to crackin up laughing. Oh, the story possibilities!

Thus, on I-95, my uncle and I rode passed pine forests and cypress swamps, in every variation of green, golf courses and hotels, outlet malls and shopping centers, which were now perched on lands with renowned histories, all on our way to the oldest city in the United States.

“You know, Uncle,” I said, “I regret all them times I talked back to you, when you tried to set me on the right path.”

“Don’t worry about it,” my uncle said.

“I always wanted to tell you that.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Soon thereafter we pulled off 95 for a bite to eat at a quick drive-thru, and sat in the parking lot and scarfed down burgers and fries and soda. We acquired coffee, too, we didn’t care, to keep us wide awoke for ride.

I went to thinking of our flashy chariot. Uncle Wilbur’s ride. “You really fixed up the Wagoneer,” I said. “I remember ridin’ in here just before I fell. You remember?”

“Yep, and, as it turned out, that was to be one of our last talks and drives for a couple years, huh?”

“I know, right.”

Whereupon we topped off on fuel and got back on 95. The Wagoneer held the fading aroma of burgers and fries, but no cherry pies. Yet, after a while, though, all that remained was the cherry scented air-freshner, hanging from the rear-view mirror. Now we just needed to put more miles behind us before nightfall.

“Wow,” I exclaimed, “I still can’t believe we’re actually on our way to see the old fortress! You know, “The Fountain of Youth” is there, too, unc’. All this time, it’s been right there.”

“Should be powerful cold there.”

“I-I promised I would go. It’s–“

“Lots of history there.”

“Yes, Seminole History,” I said, “Imagine: Seminole men, women, and children. Locked up in there during the Seminole Wars. And, as you know, even the formidable, Wildcat himself, and yet, unable to withstand being caged, he busted out in great haste!”

“Formidable, indeed.” Uncle Wilbur commented. “Wasn’t having it. Hey, I don’t blame him.”

Thus, we crossed the threshold at last and arrived into the old city of Saint Augustine, a historic, tourist-oriented city nowadays, just as the long rays and shadows of a yellow-orange-red sunset painted themselves on historic streets and neighborhoods.

SPRING, HOLLYWOOD SEMINOLE INDIAN RESERVATION, 1977

Okay, so I was twelve-years old again, and my brother had gone off somewheres for something or other. I had the bedroom we shared to my lonesome self, and would you know that very night, at that time of night when you can hear the solemn drone of faraway trucks and motorcycles afar off and after awhile they pass and then, you can still hear the sorrowed hum till it long fades you to sleep, it was then that I dreamed of my father, but I was younger in the dreams and it was long before my parents eventual divorce.

Thereon, in one dream, we were in an old western town and my dad was a stuntman, can you believe it, an outlaw in black cowboy duds and he had prop six guns in holsters, one to each side and in a show for the tourists who had accumulated to the attraction, he made like he was frightful shot by the cowboy hero of the piece and so he fell off an old 1800s-style building and landed down below onto empty cardboard boxes, and thus to adoring applause.

In another dream, we were in Moore Haven, Florida, and my dad was wrestling alligators, and it was a close contest with a lot of people gathered around, watching. It was a bright sunny day, but the heat weren’t that bad. The crowds stared at the contestants. My dad had to do something different to win, so he pulled them ferocious alligator jaws apart–he was an overachiever by trade, you see–with them Seminole hands and went to giving that gator a dental exam, and the only thing he was a-missin was a dental assistant to hand him dental tools and suchlike.

His Seminole vest held all the colors of the Everglades upon it, if mem’ries of dreams serve me correctly, and the bandana tied loosely around his neck was red and new. His blue jeans were battle-scarred at the knees. It was a dying art, after all, a performance art, and he’d been doing it a long time, ever the grand showman.

“Seminole magic,” someone whispered. “Serious business slaying dragons.”

And here, in the dream, I must convey to you that I knew that in whatever daring thing or risky venture I’d ever be called upon to perform, I’d be okay, because that was where I had come from, I had come from someone who would risk the ultimate, put his head in the gator’s mouth, when the stakes were at their highest, yay, to risk it all, and to win the day, which my father did in that particular contest.

And then, the sounds of an early morning downpour, rapping, tapping, creeping gradually across the roof, woke me up.

WINTER, SAINT AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, 2004

We were in Saint Augustine, but it didn’t feel like I had thought it would. You see, I had envisioned shimmering angels singing the magical creation of the world, coupled with the greyest of clouds opening up underneath an onslaught of golden sunbeams, angels from the olden days, singing. I was anticipating some kind of miraculous way forward. But it was not to be.

We secured two rooms for the night, and had dinner in a pleasant restaurant nearby. Back at the motel, we paused enroute to our rooms.

“You know what,” I said, “I thought it’d be different, something powerful and profound so as to thrust me forward.”

“Well, you still have tomorrow morning when we see the fort,” Uncle Wilbur said. “And we’ll prob’ly be a-needin jackets, I’m pretty sure. Gonna be c-c-cold.”

“We ain’t in Kansas, anymore, unc, that’s for sure.”

“We’re so used to south Florida,” my uncle said. “And I’d imagine the folks around here are quite accustomed to the weather. Yes, sir.”

“And that old fortress must get mighty cold. I’ll never get used to it.”

“So tell me, John, why did you promise to make this visit?” my uncle inquired. “And to whom? What’s the real story, why’s it so important to you?”

I sighed with uneasiness and furrowed my forehead, though not actually intending to.

“I’ll tell you why.” I said, “I was so done and finished with walking the wrong path all the time, and the thoughts just kept at me and I had these visions and dreams in prison. In one vision, I was on the ramparts of an old Spanish fort, The Castillo de San Marcos, perhaps. There was a fearsome fog, hovering, pulsating, gliding across the night. There were large cannons facing the wilderness as well as the sea. I couldn’t glimpse out into the wilderness, though, because of the eerie lights from the fort which faded eventually into wilderness, becoming wilderness. I could only wonder at what was out there, you know, and what went where to lead me there.

“I was alone, nor Seminole, nor soldier, and it seemed so real. So cold. You know, there’s a pathway through the woods, with a tunnel of trees by the shoreline, where I was hurled back into the past a good century or two. The darkness and the light danced ancient dances together in the chilling mists, and I was walking through a native encampment in olden times, as if I had experienced life there long ago, as if I was a phantom warrior in real-life struggle, and the real-life struggle comprised modern warriors fighting alongside phantom warriors of old.

“And then, the vision changed, suddenly, and now it seemed as if the walls and bars and guntowers dissolved away, and I was with the Seminoles of the past, right within their midst, Seminoles from the 1800’s. There was destruction and flame all around, and the black-grey smoke rising in a ghastly plume. I could sense deep emotions, courage, fear, because it was so real. They were in chains within the old fort.

“And I could sense a grievous cold. There was an intense sadness upon their faces, an unmistakable hurt upon their hearts, bodies and features. I was there with them and I have felt their pain. It was like feeling their every anguish, their every grief, only multiplied a thousand times, strangely felt all at once.

“They were dressed in shreds of Seminole clothes, hungry, cold, but they were looking out across the bay, Mantanzas Bay, I think they call it, hoping for the morning . . . So those are some of the reasons. I don’t know . . . You have to believe me, that’s all. It’s always difficult to get someone to believe you in things like this. And then, it was over, and the negativity of the prison dorm came back again, as though a switch had been quick hit, and I thought about what I’d seen and felt for the longest time.

“I still do, actually, but in time, uncle, it brought me to

scenes made of sunlight, on the way to the villages of change, and I promised myself and I vowed to them, with all my heart as a gift, that I’d make the visit to Saint Augustine, to the old fort, and try to understand, to do them honor in some sincere effort, and to pray for them . . . “

We spoke not a word for a moment, only silence. I could see my uncle’s eyes had become watery. He patted me once or twice on the shoulder and nodded in a shared understanding between uncle and nephew.

“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah . . . “

“That’s really why I’m here,” I said. “And thank you so much for making it happen. Yeah, we’ll go there in the morning, and most likely it’ll be as cold as when they were there. I’ll remember them, and mourn for them, honor them, and their courage, their spirit – and the ancestral connection will live on and remain within me, as it will within so many others, urging us onwards, to stand by our side, enduring and lovely–and in the final analysis, yes, I will write and I will make my artwork, now more so now than ever before, as if my life relied solely upon it, because now it will. It’s been a long time coming.”

And so, deeply-affected by the emotions brought on by our

words, I looked out into the gathering night, nodded, bid my uncle a good evening and repaired to my room, to await wholeheartedly the morning sun.

[There is another pause]

[Let fall the curtain to joyful music]

The writer as a young man, circa 1970s. (Courtesy photo)

 

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