In BURNT on September 1, 2010 at 12:50 am


As he always does, the old man sits beneath the tent mounted on the back of his flat-bed truck.

He’s been talking for two days straight and his visitor has never looked tired.  In fact, the young guy leans toward him, hungry for more words.

The old man pulls two sketches from a journal on a shelf crowded with journals.  “These two are the last I seen with your sister.”   He arranges them among the two dozen other sketches that cover the metal flooring.  “This here is Jay James.  And this is his daughter, Josey.  She’s near twelve,  I would believe.”

The boy nods and nods and prods.  “More.”

The old man never thought he’d grow tired of sharing this information.  The honest fact is this: he’s been waiting for a long time for someone just like this eager and motivated fellow.  He’s been waiting for him to come along and take what he had gathered and do something with it.  Do anything with it.

But, now that he’s here, the old man finds it tiring.  Yet the words keep coming.

“Jay James is an interesting guy.  Ex-professor at Stanford, dropped out, dropped WAY the hell out, ended up on a work commune up in Alaska.  Baby Josey comes along, his wife loses her mind, splits on them both.  She starts making the scene, she’s traveling the circuit, looking for something, and he’s following right behind her, looking for her.  He and daughter got an orange VW bus and they sell a bunch of stuff from it at the Gatherings –- leather goods, pipes and such, other sundries — pays for the journey.”

“He ever find his wife?”

“I don’t know.  She turned up in a field not far from here.  Dead like your sister.”

The young man picks up Jay’s sketch, it shakes in his hands. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know that either.  Though you may have heard of his dad.  Lucas.”

“Lucas James?!”

“That’s him.”

Everybody’s heard of Lucas James!”

The Story So Far

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