Jingle jangle … A.D.’s bells are chiming like
I’m in church. I’m not. I’m outside it in the
cemetery off old Chumuckla Road in
the Florida panhandle – Pensacola-
ish. I’m really in Pace … or Milton. I’m not
sure. It doesn’t matter anyway. A.D.
was the son of Art Ed Rutherford. Art’s dead.
now, but he married Ethel in May, 19-
-43. Six years later on March 16,
A.D. was born, lived, served in Vietnam and
died on October 18, 2006.
They say the worst tragedy in the world is
a parent outliving their child. Ethel
is still alive and kicking. There are trinkets,
small crosses, United States flags and flowers
covering the burial site of her men.
Down and to the left a man named George Weaver
rests alone in eternal slumber. Oh no.
There’s a drone overhead … and a few choppers.
In the ground below me lies ash and dust. George
isn’t here anymore. So where did he go?
That’s the 64 million dollar question,
isn’t it? Perhaps Mr. Weaver was like
most guys and was a fiend for money or things.
Regardless, his place here is depressing. No
flowers. No love. No knick-knacks. No paddy-whacks.
Just a concrete slab laid across the earth with
a headstone reading, “The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want. From all your children, rest in
peace.” … Jesus Christ. This place makes me want to be
cremated and scattered back into nature.
George died when he was 75. Hmm. I
wonder if he ever played tennis or sat
on a see-saw with James Taylor. Speaking of
dudes named James, I can see the Wrights plot from where
I sit. Mr. and Mrs. Wright. James. Pansy.
They have a few items on their Tombstone,
like an empty glass bottle of Coke for her and
a shiny white stone for him – a rock. I think
it’s Formica, but I could be wrong. I’m not
the archaeologist of the family.
My cousin Daniel in Arizona digs
for remains. I sit by old bones and listen
to what their spirits say. Anyway, James was
born in July of 1924. He
was a high school freshman in ’38, the
year his wife-to-be was born. I wonder how
they handled that age difference. I’d like to
ask them, but they’re not here. They’re dead. I’m alive.
On the way home I’m going to listen to
Pearl Jam and imagine myself behind a
tour bus – my lovely Arch Lady next to
me, furiously scribbling away in
a notebook and me just sitting there, cruising,
tapping my fingers on the wheel to the beat.
Sadly it’s only a dream. A vision. Just
a fantasy, dreamed up in my insane brain.
I’m in a damned graveyard for no good reason.
I never met a single one of these folks
and I’m sure to them I’m just one of many
talking heads who show up here from day to day
to pay their respects to the dead. So how did
I find this place? Who knows. Let’s just call it fate.
One day I was out driving. Bob Dylan was
crowing through the radio. Birds were clipping
right and left, banking hard against the blue sky.
The dashboard light said 11:38
On the right I saw a sign for Pansy Lane.
I laughed out loud and said her name in a bad
Scottish accent. Ten minutes later I passed
this cemetery in my Silver Civic.
Something told me to turn around, so I did.
Row one/plot one was Rufus Caraway. That
made me scratch my chin and continue on,
deeper into the realm of the dead. I saw
Hendrix. I saw Spears. I saw the damned Perritts.
They bawk-bawked at me for five minutes, then I
looked right and locked eyes with Lady 38.
She’s 22 and that’s all I have to say
about that. Forrest loved Jenny. I like Miss…