Tuesday, November 1, 2011

21st Century Frank Stockton

I’ve arrived at the same crossroads that Robert Johnson met that guy in a fifty-dollar suit who sold him the snake oil that made his fingers drip honey.

The East/West road is lined with shade trees, sunlight pinpricking its way to the hard-packed earthen trail.  Dogs and cats and squirrels and smiling children with big, brown, wondering eyes line the side of the road to greet me.  In both directions the scent of honeysuckle and fresh apples lure me with their fragrant fingers, the promise of prosperity and contentment.

 
 The North/South road is filled with the scraggled remnants of overgrown brush, twisted, gnarled knuckles of long-dead trees jutting out of the canvas of rotting leaves and wilted flowers.  Tiny dust-devils dance in and out of the over-exposed tree roots, and the foul stench of decaying offal contrasts drastically with the perfume of the other road.

Yet there is something comforting when I turn my head to the north, or let my eyes run slowly up and down the southern trail.  A familial, knowing yen, yearn, for what lay just over the southern horizon.

Turning to face the western skyline, silhouetted by the golden rays of life-giving sun, my heart sinks with the trepidations of the unknown.  It looks promising, inviting, enveloping, but what price will it cost?  Is there a snake oil salesman waiting up around the bend, at the next fork in the road?

I know the toll of the North/South route; I’ve tracked it all my life.  I know what lies in either direction.  Safe from the salesmen, but open to all sorts of abuses that the good mother of all nature has seen fit to throw in the middle of my path, causing me to fumble, stumble, and cry like a newborn babe, eyes blinded by the light and stainless steel and smell of antiseptic wash.

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