The Guitar Player
Old Will was a black man who lived in the woods behind Jim's house. At first thought people believed old Will was a poor man living on the acreage of some land baron. The woods compiled over five hundred acres with cool streams dotted with abandoned shacks and several little houses. Only one of these homes was still occupied and this was by Will and his wife. In the yard down the long dirt and broken concrete driveway sat their home with scattered remains of rusting hulks of automobiles. Most had been just barely shoved off the once long ago wagon road which was now the driveway. Jim use to love to venture through the woods exploring everything that it held in it's majestic acres.
Several was the time he crept up near the ruins of the auto's and looked them over. Often he wondered who had owned them and where all these relics had been. One car was a Nineteen sixty nine Dodge Dart GTS that other than it's fading black paint, pitted chrome bumpers, glass bubbles where the glass was separating from the plastic that was sandwiched between the glass and dry rotting interior, the car looked to have been just parked and left behind. Jim had peered inside the car many times and finally worked up his courage to try the door. He gripped the handle with his thumb on the button and to his amazement the door opened with ease. It only gave a slight grown as it swung on rusty hinges. The inside smelled awful musty as he stood with his left hand on the door and his right on the roof while leaning in to get a better look at the dash. He heard a noise and peered slowly like a cat over the top of the car towards old Wills place. The old unpainted rough looking house was only a few hundred yards through the trees and a glimpse of the front porch could be made. Jim could see Wills wife hanging some clothes on the line. After only a few moments she went back in the house with the creaking hinges and slap of the screen door banging closed behind her.
Jim resumed his looking inside the car. The hot stale musty air wafting it's way from the interior and rushing away to freedom. Birds chirped nearby and a bee buzzed around somewhere near the car. Turning his head he saw the gauges and to his bewilderment the odometer only showed less than eight thousand miles on it. This was nineteen seventy seven, how and why would someone have just parked this car here and leave it he wondered. The bee turned into three then six then more than he could count. There was something hitting his ball cap. Bees, bees buzzing all around inside the car and coming at him as they rose up in groups. Quickly Jim slammed the door and ran as fast as he could.
Weeks went by as summer turned to fall then more weeks as winter crept in on the winds. All this time Jim had been thinking about the Dodge and reading anything he could find on it in books and magazines. Being thirteen he had visions of himself behind the wheel of the car. Big adventures, driving to school at the envy of everyone, going anywhere and anytime he wished. But the reality of it was he had no job,no money plus there was never the thought of expenses like gas and oil or tires just to name a few things. All he could see was himself behind the wheel. It was a boyish dream as many boys dream of.
One day he woke up and the excitement of it gave way to other things. He still dreamt of big adventures in the wilderness as he and his friends scouted around in the large tract of land behind their homes. All that forest with many plants and foliage they had not seen anywhere else. Most of it was hardwood trees of varying sorts of species then there were the areas here and there with large spaces covered in bamboo, others reminded them of far off lands they had seen in the movies. It was a magic time capsule of unmolested forest from days gone by with old wagon trails going this way or that way. Some of the wagon road was still clear and could be seen for what they had been but the farther you went underbrush and scrub pine grew in the road gobbling it up into the forest only to open up again still farther down. A great creek ran through the middle of the woods like a mountain stream. They had explored many areas and still there was vast amounts they had not.
All the visions of living like Jeremiah Johnson in the wilderness danced in all of their minds and talk, even so with all the big talk none of the boys had ever camped out in any of the woods. They preferred to camp in one or the others backyard keeping to the safety in view of their homes. Even sneaking out of the tents when lights went off in the homes to roam the neighborhood, they stayed in the area they knew best. That was alright, it was still exciting to be out and about while the world slept. Playing games like flashlight tag or ducking out of sight of approaching auto headlights and mostly exploring the neighborhood at night. Most of it was all the same turf they all knew well but at night it took on something different to them as if it was someplace else. It was just plain fun.
(to be continued)