I have started a writing project, where I write short stories inspired by a song, or a line or two from a song. This one is inspired by the song Crossroads, by Cream.
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy, "Save me if you please."
Crossroads - Cream
The breeze was cool as it gently made it's way passed Willie. He lifted his nose, sniffing the air. "Smells like death," he said. He had a nose for death. He could pick out the varied flavours delivered to him by the messengers. No one had a nose like Willie. Death's aroma knew his name. It spoke to him, and only him.
"What do you sense?" O'Reilly asked. He had a first name but no one dared use it. Willie used neither. He just called him Captain. He called everyone Captain. To Willie everyone else was sailing the ship, he was just a passenger. Alighting at the next port of call. Except it had never arrived. And here he was, still working for the man. Helping the system. Doing his bit to track down the dealers of death that lurked in the lands around. No one knew how many there were. Or what they even looked like. They just had to deal with the bodies that showed up. And another one was out there, in the tall grasses that stretched out from where the men were gathered. Or perhaps in the swamps further out. Death was awaiting their arrival. Willie had sniffed the air. Death never lied to Willie.
Willie was resigned to his fate. A realisation from long ago that he had purpose. That his life meant something. Death taught him that. "Where you hiding this one?" he said, to no one in particular. The wind stroked the side of his face. Colours danced across the inside of his eyelids. He followed them, watching their swirling mayhem. Willie spoke this language, he knew it well. Pointing his face to the air as he made swooping gestures with his arms, inviting the messengers to speak with him some more. The air tickled the hairs in his nostrils. He turned around, pointing first one way, then another.
There's a body out there.
Willie received Death's whisper. Tell me more. Tell me what I need to know. Deep inside, where darkness frayed the edges of two worlds, Willie conversed with the unknown. With Death itself.
Willie stepped forward. O'Reilly grabbed his arm. "Steady there," he said. "you'll walk into that bloody tree if you're not careful."
"There's something over there, in that direction." His voice was gravelly, the years of despair taking their toll. Willie pointed to where he meant. He could sense the landscape around. The whirling angels painted him a picture of what lay ahead. The scent of death lingered powerfully as he gingerly took a few steps.
O'Reilly called a few of his men over. Dressed all in black, the colour of the night. It was also the colour of the law around these parts. "Go check the field out that direction. Willie says that's where she lay." O'Reilly's arm was outstretched pointing the way. He turned back to Willie. "So what's your sense on this one?"
"Bad one, Captain. Real bad. Death hasn't been kind to her." The dancing angels had all turned black. Willie could see their menacing shapes, draining the colours from his eyelids. They ravished his body with blades of spit, like rain pouring out from the holes in heaven. He grimaced at the thought but he understood its meaning. Death's symbolism was not lost on him.
O'Reilly had driven to Willie's place himself. He never sent his men to collect him. Willie always knew when O'Reilly was on his way. Death snaked like a dream through the veins of the night. Visiting him. Alerting Willie to what lay in store.
I have a job for you. Death would always arrive first.
"I have a job for you, Willie." O'Reilly stood on the wooden porch, the front door receiving his message. He hadn't knocked. He never knocked. Willie knew he was there.
"Been a while, Captain."
"Yes it has," O'Reilly said. It had been over a year since Willie had heard his footsteps echo on that wooden porch. He thought about the last time, and the stench that had wrapped its tentacles around their world back then. It was the first time he had heard any lawman cry. O'Reilly's crew had been shaken to it's core, fragmented and cast aside like rag dolls. Death's obscenity had taken its toll. Each one of them shaken to a depth that was rarely visited.
Some deaths are routine. This had not been one of those ones. Willie had been forewarned.
The stench of Death's messengers had accosted him from afar. It had felt like daggers ripping his insides out through the holes in his face. Twisting his vital organs into knots, pushing them aside as they searched for his soul. There had been no dancing angels of colour that night. Just the screaming howls of ten thousand Banshees. The ringing in his ears had left him convulsed on the ground. Twisting in agony. O'Reilly had seen it before. He knew to keep his distance and let Death have the time to breath its thoughts into Willie's mind. And Willie's struggle had slowly morphed into O'Reilly's. Watching while Death turned another man into a convulsive mess. He could do nothing but send his men off to search elsewhere. Don't let anyone see the dance between Death and the blind man. Some things had to remain secret. Especially those things that made no sense. But Willie had always emerged with answers.
I am your eyes, Willie. You see what I show you.
"The men found her. She's over there." O'Reilly relayed the news to Willie.
"Yes, she is."
"Worse than last time?" Willie asked.
Willie lowered his head. His body slumped, knees crashing into the dry dirt. They were standing on sacred ground. A meeting place, where sky and earth melted into each other. And the reaction was always the same - legs like jelly buckling under the weight of being Death's pivot point. A receiver of energies trapped and swirling, looking for an exit. Another loss, another request for help, more visions gatecrashing his quiet dreamless sleep. Death would speak only to him. And Death lived in these parts. He made regular visits. Here especially, at the crossroads. At the meeting point of earth, sky, water, and the fires of Hell.
I'll be seeing you, Willie.
Death ruled these parts. He always had.
All images used with permission, and sourced from Unsplash.com.
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Notes From an Amateur Writer blog series:
Notes From an Amateur Writer #1 - The Search For Inspiration
Notes From an Amateur Writer #2 - A Call to Action: Interacting With the World Outside of Me
Notes From an Amateur Writer #3 - Facing the Challenge
Notes From an Amateur Writer #4 - The Soundtrack to Grief and Loss
Notes From an Amateur Writer #5 - Music as a Catalyst for Imagination: Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing
Notes From an Amateur Writer #6 - The Stories All Around Us
Notes From an Amateur Writer #7 - Introducing Nomad [A Cyberpunk Mystery in the Making]
Notes From an Amateur Writer #8 - The House at the Edge of the World
Notes From an Amateur Writer #9 - Making Peace With My Kindle
Notes From an Amateur Writer #10 - Learning the Craft of Story Structure
Notes From an Amateur Writer #11 - Adults Sit at the Big Table, Children Sit at the Small Table
Notes From an Amateur Writer #12 - The Time I Won a Lego Competition
Notes From an Amateur Writer #13 - Learning to Fly
Notes From an Amateur Writer #14 - The Tucker 48: Face to Face With a Million Dollar Vehicle
Notes From an Amateur Writer #15 - When the Levee Breaks: A Story in Song and Words
Notes From an Amateur Writer #16 - Monty Python, Keanu Reeves, and My Case of Invisibility
Notes From an Amateur Writer #17 - Dancing With My Muse
Notes From an Amateur Writer #18 - Facing the Challenge Part 2
Notes From an Amateur Writer #19 - Telling Stories
Notes From an Amateur Writer #20 - Life Is Like a Box of Crazy
Notes From an Amateur Writer #21 - Writing Myself Out of Existence
Notes From an Amateur Writer #22 - The Finish Line Becomes the Next Starting Line
Notes #23 - It Is Sometimes An Appropriate Response To Reality To Go Insane
Notes #24 - The Happy Smiley People Ad Agency
Notes #25 - Some Days Are Full of Blah
Notes #26 - Stop and Smell the Future
Notes #27 - The Narrator and I
Notes #28 - Give Me Liberty (Or Give Me Rock and Roll)
Notes #29 - Paranoid Android
Notes #30 - Write a Better Story