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And thus they drive away and usher in my new life.
It all feels quite strange, though the strangest feeling of all is one I did not expect. My mind, for some reason, still thinks that a week from now, they will be coming back to pick me up: but in reality, I could be spending the next few years of my life here. It makes it hard to unpack when your mind tells you it’s a waste of time because you’ll just have to pack it all up again.
I’ve got most of the most important stuff out and ready, though the other shipmates who live in the apartment are nowhere to be found. Luckily, I have my own room and the internet is lightening fast: however, it is quite disconcerting to see evidence of someone living here and yet no one is around (especially when that evidence is a stack of steak knives on the counter).
Things are much quieter, and though I thought before it would be easier to hear myself when things were quiet, the silence seems to press upon me louder than any sounds from where I used to live. I have a certain feeling that the experience of the first week here will leave a lasting impression upon not only me but upon my writing, possibly because when I write, I seem to project wherever I am in life onto my characters. Since writing the second book will be spent in this place, I sincerely believe that my new life will affect it in ways only real life experience can, and perhaps bring out something I hadn’t imagined before.
All the silent noise also makes it quite hard to climb into bed, knowing when I wake up there will be no one around to wish me a good morning. However, things seem to be lightening for me already. First things first, I got my stereo out and hooked two of the speakers up so I could drown out the irritating silence. Flipping through the stations I found something I liked, only to discover it was Delilah. Certainly not something I wanted to hear when I was down enough as it was. So I flipped to the country station and caught the rough vocals of Johnny Cash, singing:
My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn’t leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me “Sue.”
Well, he must o’ thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I’d get red
And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named “Sue.”
Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
I’d roam from town to town to hide my shame.
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I’d search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name.
Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry,
I thought I’d stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon on a street of mud,
There at a table sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me “Sue.”
Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother’d had,
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old,
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said: “My name is ‘Sue!’ How do you do!
Now your gonna die!!”
Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise,
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.
I tell ya, I’ve fought tougher men
But I really can’t remember when,
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss,
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first,
He stood there lookin’ at me and I saw him smile.
And he said: “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”
He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I’m the cough-cough that named you “Sue.'”
I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
But if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue!
Far away from home, but at least I’m still in Texas. All is well.