“Fiction has a truth exceeding that of history”
He surprised himself by playing the entirety of Ruby, My Dear through his auditory cortex. The bell-like clarity of Coltrane hitting that note, that part sampled at will. Caught by Coltrane’s clean coloration but held by Monk’s invention. One of his favorite things, the tap of the foot as a hand rolls over the keys before the rest of the band kicks in. Jazz is an authentic musical form. Its complexity increases as standardization spreads from its origins. It represents an integration of diverse musical cultures that has, in turn, produced a unique creative relationship that could easily serve as a model for human behavior. That was one of his little joys, a piece of jazz, just a piece, among some fading memories with a side of great sorrow.
Lost touch with a vitality of language that I used to take for granted, he mused. Now it’s like trying to squeeze a tube of old glue. I can’t even come up with nonsense. Real life has its hooks in me and it’s reeling me in. Chalk it up to the unintended consequence of fame and fortune. The fantasy world I once pursued in search of fame, money, power even, sent skittering like shadows in bright light, left alone with the naked horror that is me. There in the lull of the traffic flow while the air thickened with heat.
The blinking led sign in the window of the convenience store across the highway had finally hypnotized him into believing he needed to purchase something, some kind of liquid refreshment, maybe a pack of smokes. He was about to step across the pavement when he noticed a cloud of smoke or dust emerge from the green haze at the top of the hillside and make its way slowly down the unpaved access road on the right of the store. Since it was the only sign of activity besides the blinking advertisement, he watched, vaguely entranced, as the dust got closer and finally made out a beat-up green Chevy pickup truck of a shade barely distinguishable from its surroundings. The driver shifted to a stop at the highway before trundling onto the blacktop.
He held out his thumb convinced of the gesture’s futility. To his surprise the truck pulled over into the rutted turnout and stopped. He hobbled to the passenger door with a large russet primer circle painted on the panel to obscure the symbol that had once indicated its use as an official company or government fleet vehicle and yanked on the pitted chrome handle. Hoisting himself up onto the bench seat, he dropped his satchel in the foot well and nodded to the driver, an older man with long graying hair tied back in a pony tail, a bush of gray beard, and a large, wide brimmed leather sombrero. “Thanks for stopping.”
“Spaceship break down?” A pungent cannabis bouquet permeated the cab.
“You look like the man who fell to earth in that outfit. Lose your space helmet along the way?” Then a big hearty guffaw.
“I’m not sure I get what you’re saying.”
The driver glanced over his left shoulder and then steered back onto the roadway. “Ever see the movie, The Man Who Fell To Earth, with David Bowie?”
“Ok, now I get it.” He shook his head. “It’s been a long day. But no, I’ve never seen the movie.” He didn’t think he needed to add that most Hollywood movies made him impatient, the plots so predictable they weren’t worth sitting through. “I did read the book, though.”
“Really, a book? I thought the director, Nicolas Roeg, wrote it.”
“No, it was published in the late 50’s, I think. The author was Walter Tevis who also wrote The Hustler, another of his books that was made into a movie, with Paul Newman, and which I did see though I never read the book.” He never tired of pointing out certain ironies. It was the modernist in him, and his stock and trade, irony and analogy.