Short Story: The Musings of Daniel Emmons

April 20, 2008 at 8:39 pm (Short Story, Writting) ()

I watched the dust fly up from behind the 77 ford Custom Cab as we traveled down an old gravel road. The truck belonged to the Dusty Jackson “the finest tour guide that Mississippi has to offer” according to Walter Sanders my Publisher’s “Personal Assistant”, a man I dearly hate and I have the sneaking suspicion the feeling is mutual. “You can’t go wrong with ‘im.” Walter told me “He knows the Mississippi delta like the back of ‘is own hand, you’ll have ol the research you’ll ever need for your book about them Blues musicians, Mr. Emmons”. I should have known something was up when Walter seemed too eager to go out of his way to set me up for this trip. Walter grew up in the area and that’s why I let the twit plan this whole trip at all.

The truck hit a bump which knocked me out of my seething anger. It was a good thing that we hit the bump because I was quite close to coming up with a plot to get back at Walter. As I pulled myself off of a very inappropriately placed crowbar, I heard the cab window slide open and a voice with a very distinct southern drawl. I looked over my sholder to see Dusty trying to pay attention to the road and checking on me.  

 

 “‘ey ye oll right back ‘ere Mr. Ehmons?” his accent was horde to listen to and I couldn’t quite follow what he was saying most of the time. I had given up an hour ago to pinpoint the origins of his accent. It was quite unique and it seemed every time I had it figured it would change on me.

“Yea, don’t worry about me Dusty, I’ve ridden in my fair share of truck beds”. The old man gave me a big toothy grin, his perfect white teeth offset his dark skin.

“’ell we should be ‘ere in a few minuets”

 

“You really haven’t told me where we are going.”

 

“ye’ll see” With that Dusty closed the window and left me to go back to staring at the dust and my plotting.

 

What seemed to be another 20 minuets passed by when I felt the truck slow to a stop. I peeked my head around the cab to see where Dusty had brought us. I saw nothing distinguished, except for a run down fence which kept two very domicile cows with in its boundaries and an intersection. The road we were on cut through another road making four perfect right angles in the landscape. Even though this place was calm and collect I couldn’t help but feel unsettled. Something was off about this are but couldn’t put my finger on it. 

 

Dusty opened up the driver’s side door and he got out of his seat with a long yawn which was followed with “wwweeee be ‘ere Mr. Ehmons.”

“Where are we…exactly?” Dusty closed his door and walked over to the passenger side door where he proceeded to pull out a small antique chair which had the distinction of being hand made.

 

“We ‘r at da crossroads,”  he placed the chair on the ground and looked up at me “ssorry again about ye ridin’ in da back, my wife is up visitin’ ‘er mother and took da Explorer wit ‘er.”

“It’s alright, I haven’t ridden in the back of a pick-up since I was a boy, brought back some good memories”. I patted the dust that managed to cling to my good pants then I placed a hand on the lip of the truck bed and in a smooth motion I stood up and using the momentum to hop out off the side of the truck.

“Yea, can’t have dis ridin’ in da back, my great-great-granddaddy hand carved dis out of a lightin’ struck oak tree” Dusty seemed to take pride in announcing his heritage and the accomplishments his ancestors had done. During the whole week I had traveled with him I learned a lot about his family more then enough to write a couple of books with.

“Yea you don’t see hand crafted quality like that anymore.” I said while looking around to see if maybe I missed something “So why did we come all the way out here?”

“Ye’ll see” Dusty’s face twisted into a wicked smile. “it’s about to be dusk soon, gotta git ery thing in place” with that my tour guide grabbed his great-great-granddaddies hand crafted chair and walked up to the center of the crossroads. He placed it in the center of the two roads, so that its back was facing the setting sun. It was then that I noticed that the roads traveled from the northeast to the southwest and the other vice versa, northwest to the southeast.

Dusty came back to the truck and pulled out a plastic grocery bag and walked back to where he placed the chair. Out of the bag he produced a carton of eggs, some stark white candles and two rotisseries chicken. Finally curiosity caught the best of me so I decided to try and probe Dusty for more answer.

“So what is all this stuff for?”

 

‘ell, we’r tryin’ to lure us somethin’,” Dusty pulled out his pocket knife and started to crack open the eggs.

 

“What are we trying to lure with eggs candles and two cooked chickens?”

 

“na jut one, de utter is fer us while we wait” as he talked Dusty nimbly separated the yoke of the egg and placed it carefully on the ground with out busting the skin. He repeated the process for each egg in the dozen and the produced a thirteenth egg from his coat. “Dis’ ‘ere is de important one, ye’ have to steal it else oll dis won’t ‘appen”

 

“Wait, what?” I was thoroughly confused as to what I was seeing before me.

 

“It’s about to ‘appen, ye better get dis chickin’ ate it’s gonna be a long night” Dusty then took one of the chickens and handed it to me then he took the other one and placed it under the chair.

“Go ‘en eat by da pickup, once I git de candle’s in spot, da area can’t be disturbed” the man then picked up the candles and ushered me out of the area. He then went around placing a candle to the north, east, south, and west. He place the candle just so where the dirt met grass and then he place a candle in the center of each roadway eyeing each one to match up with all other candles making a perfect invisible circle.

After the last candle was placed on the ground Dusty walked over to the truck where I was just finishing up my half of the chicken. Before grabbing his half of the chicken, Dusty looked out to the setting sun,

“’ell It shouldna be to much longer now”

“Well, I’m excited to see what’s going to happen” I gave Dusty a fake smile, “so do you do this for all the tourist or just for the one’s who have the money?”

“nah, Mr. Ehmons, dis is a rare ding, I figurin’ since ye’re writ’n dat book about de blue’s ye should see dis” it was then I knew what Dusty was doing. While doing my research I had heard about various blue’s musicians through out the years who supposedly made a deal with the devil. There were two common themes in these stories, a talented young black man and a crossroad. I understand why these themes where common, the world view of that time saw black people as lesser and the only way they could play an instrument so well meant that they had to have done something involving supernatural means. The crossroads comes from the ancient idea of lay lines and the spiritual power they posses also crossroads are a symbol of choice, which is the other reason the devil tends to make deals at them. Its kind of ironic, a person who goes to the crossroads, which has huge symbolism for the idea of free choice, to make a pact with Satan often feel like they don’t have a choice.

“Oh, I see. Aren’t you worried about a car coming though and messing this all up?”

“Na, people around des parts don’t come ‘ere on dis night, people don’t cross de ley lines on de eighth of August. Dey afraid of runnin’ into who we ‘r ‘ere to meet, now shush up we about to get a visitor” and as soon as Dusty said that the last light of the day seemed to instantly drown away.  Dusty’s eyes had adjusted to the drastic light change quicker they mine had because when my sight came too Dusty was already pointing out to the field across from us. I had to squint to see the moonlit outline of a fox slowly approaching to the crossroads.

I figured that the fox had smelled the roasted chicken and eggs and was coming out to investigate. It walked up to a candle and gave it a couple of sniffs. Before entering the perimeter the fox paced outside of it, not wanting to enter in between the candles however its hunger must have finally overcame its caution and it stepped into the circle. I flinched expecting something to happen but nothing did. The fox must have thought that too because now it darted for the chicken underneath the chair but stopped before going under it for the meat. He circled around the chair licking up all the yoke that Dusty had placed on the ground.

It was then that the fox looked up at us, I couldn’t beguine to describe the warming chill that manifested in my stomach. At that moment I could have swore the fox was smiling at us, and from what I know now it may have been. I believe it was right then that I started to think to myself that Dusty wasn’t just doing this as some kind of joke, he may have something here. I gave a side ways glance to Dusty and I could see his perfectly white teeth, which seemed to glow at this time of night, as he was grinning from ear to ear fully knowing what was about to happen.

I looked back to the fox who was now almost sauntering to the roasted chicken under the chair. It stopped before going under the chair, yet again, giving one last look back at us and then in a blur of motion the fox darted under the chair and bit onto the chicken, taking off with it out of the circle of candles off to the distance.

I was puzzled, I was sure that something was going to happen when the fox went for the chicken but, here we stood with nothing happening at all. I was about to ask Dusty a question when I heard the faint sound of whistling coming from the distance. As the whistling got closer I could see the wicks of the candles coming to life. It was like watching a flame die out only backwards. The flame flickered a bit as if it was trying to grab onto life and then the light slowly started to get more intense. My eyes focused on the light, I was amazed by it, just seeing them come to life with out any outside assistance.

When the flames of the candle reached their maxim luminosity a bolt of lighting sparked from the chair, I had flinched using my hand to shield myself from the sudden light. My ears rang from the thunder clap that accompanied the sudden bolt of lightning. I had to keep my hand in front of my face until they got readjusted to the darkness. I was scared to move the hand from my eyes because I knew that what I was about to see would be unexplainable, however my curiosity won out and I dropped it to my side.

Sitting in the chair, was a young, a very naked woman with what looked to be whiskers coming out of her cheeks and a foxes tail coming from her backside. I diverted my eyes feeling a bit ashamed that I was starring at her. I looked over to where Dusty was standing to notice that he was no longer there. He had walked back to the trucks passengers’ side door and he brought out a duffle bag that was overfilled with what I guessed as clothing, he threw the duffle my way, which I clumsily missed and hit me in the face. The force knocked me to the ground.

As I tried to recover myself from landing on my ass I heard laughter coming from the young woman sitting in the chair. The laughter seemed quite innocent and harmless, which had me shocked, I never imagined a demon to have such a beautiful voice, however it did make sense that the tempters of mankind would be so… tempting.

“’erry up boy, offer ‘er de cloths” Dusty made a motion with his hands ushering me to get moving.

I walked to the edge of the candle circle and looked back at Dusty who was still using his hands to tell me to move on. I took a hesitant step into the circle, on the verge of flinching.  Once I determined that my foot didn’t burn up in flames I fully moved inside of the circle, I about jumped back out when the woman stood up and looked at me. Her expression had an inquisitive nature to it, she was looking at me as if she was looking at a human being for the first time.

“Hi” the only sound that I could come up with because the lump in my throat made it difficult to speak.  “I…uh… have some clothing for you”

“Gift?” her voice sounded like pure poetry, like some kind of forbidden verse that had been forgotten or purposely gotten rid of.

“Um… yea,” My voice still scratchy but the lump that was impeding my speech was going away “Um… here lets find you something”. I opened up the bag and rummaged through it. The huge duffle bag had what seemed to be almost every size of dress imaginable. After a few moments of searching I found, what I could tell, a floral print dress that was close to her size. I pulled it out of the bag and presented it to her. “Go ahead and put it on”.

The fox woman face lit up with a simile that glowed with warmth. It was about then that I was starting to piece together that the woman who stood, quite naked, in front of me may not be of demonic origin. She took the floral dress and looked at it, examining every detail in its floral print. I tried to be a gentleman, however it was hard not to look, every detail of her five foot five frame was perfect. She finally slipped the dress on and as soon as she did the flames of the candles died out but I barely noticed it because I was fixated on her. She had some kind of undeniable allure. Her eyes met mine and we shared a moment that I can only say that no one else on earth but a hand full of people have ever had. I was snapped out of the moment when I heard Dusty’s laughter.

“Come on Mr. Ehmons, grab de chair and put in de back. Don’t worry it’ll be safe back der now!” With out a word I did as Dusty told me, I picked up the chair and walked to the truck. I smiled when I noticed the woman was following me. When I got to the truck I saw a blanket in the truck bed, I couldn’t help but curse under my breath at Dusty for not doing this earlier so that I wouldn’t have gotten so dirty riding in the back.

After making sure the chair was secure in the truck bed I looked up at the crossroad and saw that Dusty had just finished collecting the candles and was now walking back to the truck. We all got into the truck with out saying a word. Dusty started up the truck and turned it around to head back the way we came. It was half way in the trip, well after the mysterious woman fell asleep, that I finally asked Dusty “What happend tonight?”

“Every man ‘as a muse, Mr. Ehmons, you are one o’ de blessed to actually meet ‘er. De greats’ in history met der muses at de crossroads includin’ a good young blue’s man by de name Robert Johnson. Now listen to me carefully Mr. Ehmons, you ‘ave to take care o’ ‘er, she be a creature o’ whimsy come and go, treat ‘er right Mr. Ehmons and you will be a very successful man, considered one o’ de greatest writers of oll times” Dusty paused

“And if I don’t?” I asked

“’ell, dat is just somethin’ ya don’t wanna find out. Now listen ‘ere Mr. Ehmons, der is a catch in all dis, you ‘ave to show another man to ‘is muse made flesh otherwise, like my great-great granddaddy ya’ill see an early grave” Dusty seemed to put extra emphasis into saying grave, which gave me a chill. When the chill subsided I had another question for Dusty but before I could say anything he answered it. “Don’t you worry about ‘er tail or whiskers, only dose who know a muse will be able to see dem.” 

We didn’t utter another word the rest of the way to the run downed motel that Walter had booked for me. I got out of the car and I cared the woman, who was still dead asleep, to my room and onto the bed. I bided Dusty good bye and thanked him. That night I didn’t sleep and overwhelming feeling to write came over me, so I pulled out my laptop and typed the rest of the night away.

I think my cell phone rang twice before I finally notice it was even ringing. I looked at the screen, it was my publishing agent calling.

“Hello?” I answered the phone not knowing if I was going to be talking to Henry, my agent, or his obnoxious half whit personal assistant Walter.

“Hello Mr. Emmons,” I rolled my eyes, it was Walter “just checking up on you making sure your research is going okay.”

“Yes, its going great Walter, actually I think I have every thing I need, started to outline the book already. Wait, why are you calling me so late?”

“Mr. Emmons, its 8 in the morning”. I looked up at a clock, Walter was right I had spent the rest of the night typing. “Well its fantastic to hear that you have the research done Mr. Emmons, that means I won’t have to go through the pain of trying to change your ticket to a later date.”

 

“No, guess you won’t” I looked over to my bed where the woman, my muse, was still dead asleep “actually Walter, go ahead and cancel that ticket. I think I want to take the Greyhound back”.

 

“Okay, any reason why?” I could tell that Walter was mad,

“I want to see the country side” I hit the red button then smiled knowing that Walter was going to have to spend the rest of the day dealing with the Airline trying to get a refund and dealing with my Agent as he tries to explain why the company spent so much on a plane ticket that I didn’t even use. Not quite the revenge I plotted on Walter from the back of Dusty’s truck however it will do.

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