Willie wondered. Willie wondered. Willie wandered. Willie wounded. He nodded ponderously. True certainly. All true. He wondered a lot. And he surely wandered a lot. He grimaced and slapped at his knee. And wounded. Well, that he certainly was. But how? Why? But more, how? What the hell had happened?
He felt like one of those cartoon cats. Where a big rubber mallet suddenly appears. And it slams down on the poor cat. The car’s eyes bug out of its head. In the next frame, the cat’s just a silhouette. Flattened on the ground. That’s what Willie’s mind felt like sometimes. Like something’d hammered his head flat. And ruined the wiring. Because around the edges, where it wasn’t flattened, he could think pretty good. Only there weren’t any connections. He couldn’t attach what he thought to anything.
And there were the times when he felt like an empty frame. Hanging on the wall. With nothing in it. Or no. It wasn’t that he felt that way. He didn’t feel that way. He’d come back from being that way and suspect that that’s how it’d been. But not know a single thing more that that. Coming back was like a flash. Or a snap of the fingers. Back he’d be, but without knowing - what? Where he’d been? No. More. Without knowing even if he had ever been. Anywhere. Some other-where. Other. Other than where he was when he -- what? Reappeared? Came to? --- Nope. No use. It was broken. Or it was still broken. He can’t even reckon that.
But when he did reappear, come back, he’d just know that he once knew more than what he knows in the moment. In the moment, he can’t connect to the places where his knowing lives. If he could, he’d be in the part of his unflattened head where he would know things and be able to think about them. Briefly. Could even use them. Like with music. When he and Jax were together and there was music. They would play together. Then he could make music. Be at home in it. Know it. Be able to play. Play. With the notes. With the melodies and ... . Sometimes. Sometimes he knew how to really play. And he knew it was that he could play again. Like coming home. The only real home he knew. All along the melody lines. Moving, moving, moving. Like skating, skimming. Almost catching -- something.
The flash snapped off. Oh, Willie, he thought, that’s a good one. You just put flash and snap together. Or had he? He’d been thinking about something. But it slipped. Or he slipped? It was like he was somebody on the ice. Eliza? Things breaking up. Having to jump from piece to piece. Tired. It made him tired.
Sara. Sally. Sally. Only that wasn’t her name. Sara. That was her name. He’d called her Sally to make her mad. He slapped his knee again. Watched his hand. Wondered where the noise was coming from. Stopped his hand and wondered where the noise had gone. Sally. He hated her. No, he didn’t. Not now. That had been a very long time ago. Way way back. She stole his Mom’s place. No that wasn’t right. Christ, his head made him tired. He laughed. Funny, that. Bet the cat had a tired head too. If it tried to think when it’s head was flattened.
Maybe he was just a silhouette. No, he’d been remembering when Sara’d come. How he’d called her Sally. Because it made her mad. He could see it. Her eyes would go flat. She’d smile, but not really. He wanted to fight with her. He just wanted to fight. He couldn’t fight with his father. Or with that other woman. Her. His father’s new wife. So he picked fights with Sally. Only she wouldn’t fight with him.
When his father looked at Willie, he‘d looked right through him. It was like he wasn’t there. He made Willie cry. Cry baby, he’d called Willie. That was -- that was a long time ago. His father should see him now! He’d call him worse than cry baby.
Only one that made Willie feel safe was Sara. Sally as ever was. She’d stayed. She’d stayed through the whole hammer to the head troubles. Sara always stayed. Sara was his touchstone. When she was with him, he knew who he was. Not in the real world way. He hardly ever knew anything in that way. But in a sense of self way. Just in the being alive way. When Sara came into his broken time, he was -- well, not whole, he was never that anymore, but he was - safe. With Sally he was safe. Which was funny.
Snap! Willie was gone. Willie Wonka? Nope. Willie Mays? Willie Parker? Nope, his skin was white. Real white. Willie Lynch? No - Christ, Willie Lynch was a slave owner, made a speech back in the early 1700’s about how to keep your slaves. -
Willie rolled over. How’d he get down here on the grass? Sally’d be cross. No. Not Sally. Sara. But she’d be cross, anyway. And there she was. Sara. Standing above him. Gray haired now. Commanding. If she was as old as she looked, it meant he was old, too. Old Willie.
“Lying on the grass again, Willie?” Sara’s voice was like her skin. Pretty. Dark and deep and strong. And she was still talking at him.
“What’re you doing down there, Willie? Getting your clean clothes all grass stained again? For me to wash, is that it? More aggravation than a skinned cat! Get up, you big lummox! Get up! Jax is here. There are screens to wash, remember? You’re going to hold the hose and wash them while Willie brush-scrubs them down. Get up! Get up now and come with Sara, now. Quit staring at me like you don’t hear. You hear all right. You just don’t wanta, that’s all. Get up right now, Willie. No more lounging around. Work to do, work to do. Jax is here. Get up now and come with me. ” And she held out her hand to help hoist him up.
Willie got up. Willingly. Sara always knew where he should be and what he should be doing. But who was he, he wondered. He knew Sara. Why didn’t he know himself? Was he Willie Nelson maybe? Was that it? Willie Nelson was music, anyway. Music. His homeland. Music. Maybe after the screens Jax would play on his harmonica. A lot like Toots, Jax’s music was. Music. Maybe after the screens. After cookies and milk, maybe. What Willie was he? Willie wondered. -- Willie wondered. Willie wandered. Willie wounded.