So do you.


“When I was a younger man there was a sign
in Hazlehurst, Mississippi that read, ‘Birth-

place of Robert L. Johnson.’ There was also
a sign on the drinking fountain in the park

that said, ‘Whites only.’ I never cared too much
for that one. Both are gone now, and I live in

Kenosha, Wisconsin. My name is John.” John’s
son Nasir squirmed in his seat in the diner

off Highway 94 west of the city
as his ancient father spoke with a strange group

of people who claimed to be in a band.
“This is my son Nasir. Folks call him Nas.” All

four of them turned to look. Nasir chuckled. “No,
I’m not the rapper. I work in a lumber-

yard up here. It’s just an odd coincidence.”
The band of wild souls nod as one, to show

they understand, but secretly they wonder
if these two men are messing with them. See, these

four musicians are as stoned as stoned can get.
They were boo’d all night long, and during their last

set, some asshole chucked a full beer that hit the bass
player’s Orange amp and shorted it out. The

first thing he did on the bus was go for the
green, then he grabbed a bottle of Diet Coke

from the fridge and handed it to the singer.
She slumped to the carriage’s floor, brushed a long

strand of blue and pink hair with sparkles in it
out of her face and tried to inhale. “I can’t

breathe,” she complained. “And I can’t feel my face. … Guys?
I cannot feel my face. What is happening?”

“You’re coming down off the adrenaline of
being heckled by a crowd that would have boo’d

David Bowie back in the seventies for
being weird. You’re fine. To hell with all those swine,”

said the drummer, as he tapped his drumsticks on
the carpet to a beat only he could hear.

On the surface he was calm, but the rat-a-
tat-tat cadence picked up as his mind raced. Back

in the diner his feet were tapping under
the table. He quaffed coffee like a madman

at the desperate end of his pitiful
rope, but managed to nod at appropriate

times during most of the old man’s speech about
Mississippi and the time he spent there in

his youth.  “At least folks told the truth back then,” John
says, chewing a piece of rhubarb pie with fresh

cheese on the side. (It’s Wisconsin, after all.)
“You know,” the guitar player mumbles through a

mouth full of mashed potatoes and gravy, we
were just there last week. The only sign I

saw in Hazlehurst was one telling me how
good their football and basketball teams have

been over the past few decades.” “That’s not true…”
growls the old man, dropping his fork on the plate.

“That’s impossible. He was a man. His name
was Robert Leroy Johnson, and he’s from–” “Hey,

relax Pop,” Nasir says, putting his hand on
his father’s forearm and patting it gently.

“Times change. At least the other sign is gone, eh?”
The old man shakes his head, but then he nods. “Sure.”

A bell chimes over the door and a balding
truck driver enters. He winks at the waitress

and sidles up to the counter. Perched on his
bar stool he turns and sees the pink and blue hair

and his jaw drops. “Coffee with sugar, Irene,” he
says, slapping down a five dollar bill. He stands

and walks to the booth where the band carouses,
puts his right hand over his heart and says, “Uh,

excuse me, are you guys The Donkey Rapers?”
“God in heaven!” John shouts. Nasir turns to the

drummer, who just closes his eyes and nods, as
if to say, “Yes, that’s our band’s name. Wasn’t me.”

The singer rolls her eyes and sighs loudly. “Yeah,”
she snaps. “So? Big whoop. Wanna fight about it?”

The operator of the 18-wheeler
shakes his head and chuckles. “No ma’am. I just like

your band and I wanted to tell you that I’ve
never heard anyone sing like you in all

my life.” The girl doesn’t know what to say, so
she picks up her coffee and stares at it. “Thanks,

man,” mumbles the guitar player. “You want an
autograph or something?” The guy shakes his head.

“No,” he says. “That’s it. Good luck on the road, guys.
Be safe out there. People can’t drive these days. They’ve

all gone insane in their race to get nowhere.”
He goes to leave, but turns on his heel and asks,

“Hey … could you do me one favor? Cover “Lounge
Act” by Nirvana sometime? That song rocks and…


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