Last Friday night was cool and damp, and I stood for a long time in the courtyard, staring at the statue of St. Francis of Assisi.
Behind me the rush hour traffic slouched loud and relentlessly down Highway 15.
Home for me was northwest, but the house was empty. My wife was 1,000 miles away in a theme park in sunny Florida.
I sat on the bench outside the little church, thinking about the old days, with Father Steve and John and Ty. Then I crossed myself and thanked the saint and drove away.
The tight strength of my wife’s car felt nice, the needles moving steadily clockwise as I moved up the ramp and onto 78. I pushed a button, and Alexander Adams’ sonorous voice rose up around me, reading Kerouac’s masterpiece, “On the Road.”
Everything to Kerouac was “mad” and he was out to “make” this and that on his journey across the county. I liked the easy, ultra cool tone of his words.
Just south of Byhalia, I saw a man laying half in the road. The scene looked like a motorcycle accident. Several cars had stopped and people were gathering around the man. He wasn’t moving. The position of his body drained the heat from my face.
On fall evenings the sky over Byhalia Road takes on the purple-brown color of grapes, and across the harvested bottoms of soybeans and cotton a light from 20 miles away flickers like a channel buoy.
I drove on, listening to Kerouac and staring into the dark and thinking about home.
Someone had hit a deer on the road through Lewisburg. I could see the poor creature kneeling, caught in the headlights of an SUV that had stopped in the east bound lane.
The deer bled from its nostrils and mouth. Its front legs had buckled at the joint and its muzzle was touching the pavement. Someone was going to have to move the poor creature, but traffic was backing up to the west, and the scene was becoming dangerous, so I drove on.
When I got home I made a pot of hot coffee. I sat outside in the cool night with a barn jacket wrapped around me.
I sent my wife a text: “Yo-ho, yo-ho a pirate’s life 4 me.” I took my coffee around back and stood admiring my garden for a long time, taking a father’s pleasure in the thick heads of broccoli that had begun to emerge.
Inside I turned on SportsCenter, then muted the set so I wouldn’t have to listen to the jabber of the commentators. I poured another cup of coffee and took a bag of frozen collards from the freezer and put them on to boil.
I made a pan of cornbread, and when it was done, and I banged it against the table, the disc fell out perfectly onto the plate, without any crumbling, and I smiled like an idiot who thinks he’s done something grand.
For the rest of the night I watched silent sports, and I drank my coffee and ate my greens and bread. Before I lay down, I said a prayer for the man on the motorcycle. As I was falling asleep, I sent my wife one last text: “Got no strings, n now I’m free. There r no strings on me.”
Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal