I am a driven man. I am a driven man, imprisoned, six by twelve room driven, but more by a mental six by twelve internal, eternal, infernal almost paternal quest, and that is the only word that fits for the elusive high white note, or the high white something, that I have spent a lifetime searching for. Certainly as long as that other search, that more physical search for the blue-pink great American West that disturbed my youth, and beyond, and pushed me through many a long, lonesome highway hitchhike mile. But you know that story already now that you have read the previous scenes.
This one is more elusive, although I have caught a whisper of it here and there along the way. Now it looks like I’m stuck with it to the end. Here I sit in late 2007, in any case, quarantined, in desolate, high, hard wind-swept, sunless-sea-ed, busted sand-duned, green sea-grass-blown, icy white-capped waved, Atlantic–oceaned, ragged, rugged, jagged Maine-coasted shack of a room getting ready to search, and search hard this time, for that white devil of a thing that keeps disturbing my rest.
I will put up with an ill-lit stove, half broken from generations of use by others, passing strangers, maybe seeking their own high white notes, or high white something. Or, maybe, just passing sweaty, drunken nights in some foredoomed attempt to avoid oblivion. I will, moreover, put up with that high-pitched, annoying, buzzing refrigerator in back of me that means, at least, a touch of civilization. And the bubbly, perking, hard-hearted coffee-making machine, chipped plates, moldy-cushioned sofa, and this stuffy-aired place in order to make sense of what drove me here once again to place my shoulder against the wind, the whistling wind that signals that it is time to take note, and to seriously take note, of the demands of the quest.
And I came here for a purpose, always a purpose, to leave home and sweet-loved, sweet love. And to get away to clean a man’s mind from the humdrum, fairwayed, fresh-ponded, sun-walked, run-runned, walk-runned, city-maddened depths. Also while we are on the subject from the technological-driven, cell-phoned, personal computer-strapped like some third hand or second-brained, four-walled nightmare. Nightmare-evading Maine fits the bill, although truth to tell Maine figures, Maine always figures in the white note fight, although it is hardly the only place.
Hey, wait a minute, I can almost read your thoughts about my thoughts right now. It goes something like this- here he goes again, you say, on some incensed holy grail trip of the mind, or maybe he is for real, real time, real places but still a trip that would embarrass and shame any self-respecting errant knight of yore, searching for that perfect fair damsel in distress to bring home, or more likely, to carry off, kicking and screaming, to some cozy, stone-faced, thatched-roofed, smoke-filled, forested cottage for two. Or of old mad, maddened, maddening Captain Ahab and his foolish fish, or whatever woe begotten thing that he was really looking for in the Melville deep. Or, maybe, some fiendish, freakish, madman pioneer monkishly doing his own shouldering against the storms, against the snowstorms, against the storms of life of the white-peaked Western trek nights. Ah, the blue-pink Western sky. I wish you well pioneer brother, wherever you landed.
No it is not like that at all. This is not some half-baked, half-bright, half-thought out, interior dialogue that I usually get myself tangled up into. Tangled so bad I have to break it up for a while. No, none of that this time. No intellectual gymnastics, no mental tepidity, no squarey circles or circley squares. No this is purely, or almost purely, a memory trip and that seems about right, you know, if you really want to know it has been painful at times, but no way, no way at all, that it is one of those ill-digested whims that you are thinking of. No way.
And, besides, I have the many pairs of worn out, worn-soled, worn-heeled, down at the heel shoe leather (now thick-soled, thick-heeled, logo-addled running sneakers); worn-thumbed, back-pack-ladened, some forgotten town destination sign waving, hitch-hiked mile (that means bumming free rides on the road, the wide American highway, for those too young, or too proper to the know the long gone, way long gone, exotic word that sustained many a hobo, tramp or bum in his (or her) search for the Great American night) through every nowhere, no-name, no wanna know the name, bus-depoted, stranger-unfriendly town from here to Mendocino. Moreover, here I have marks, and here you can call it intellectual or spiritual or whatever, from every diesel-trailed, oil-slicked, mud-flatted, white-lined, white-broken-lined, two-laned, no passing , hard-bitten, steam-fooded truck stop from here to Frisco as well. So don’t tell me I haven’t paid my dues.
Or it could have been some smoke-filled, nicotine-plastered walls in some long defunct coffee house (when smoking was de rigueur), or some gin-sweated, smoke-fogged Cambridge bar (in the days when smoking was allowed), listening to some local group trying to make it out of town, one way or another. Or it could have been being chained-smoked cigarette (ditto above) writing like crazy, every soul thing, every non-soul thing, every anti-soul thing after passing on the last call train out to the sticks at that old reliable, don’t have the eggs scrambled, Hayes-Bickford where we all believed that if you just spent enough nights, enough hot, heavy-aired July nights, or enough snow-bound, frost-bitten January nights (this before Super Bowl suspense filled in January) maybe something major would come out, and maybe fame, big fame too, fame etched by the gods.
Hey did I tell you how I got here, got here this time that is? Did I forget that in my frenzy to tell you what is? Ya, I guess I did reading back. Let me tell you of my dreams, or at least the story of my dreams to make it right, okay? One recent, sweat- drenched night I woke up, or was I woken up by one of the cats, in a start. I had a weird old dream, or maybe just a flash of a dream where I saw, in living, livid color a big old beautiful high white note floating, free and easy, as you might guess on a very stormy high white wave. After than flash, if that is what it was, I could not get back to sleep and lay there, soaking a little and trying to soak off that soaking with an old bedraggled railroad man’s roaring red handkerchief, or that is at least what I call them since I first saw a railroad guy walking down the line when I was a kid, carrying one in the left back pocket of his dirt-stained denims as he uncoupled one train from another, maybe sending it into the great western night.
But I will get into that great Western night, or what I think is my idea of the great Western night later on once I figure out the meaning of this dream. Hey, it is really bothering me, and it should because, lately, I have been thinking and thinking hard about that very subject. No, it did not just come out of the blue, come on now, you guys know better than that. Ain’t you read Freud, or his acolytes or renegades, these things all have secret meanings of their own. But no surprise if you think about it. I have been thinking about the high white note for a while, ever since I read poor old, black, gay, exiled against his will, writer James Baldwin and his infernal short story, Sonny’s Blues.
You know I really should make you read the whole thing, that whole short story, and then you could come back and get an idea about my dream, or the thought of what my dream was all about. And then the great Western trek in the night, hell in the day time even, would make a great deal more sense. But I am going to let you off the hook this time and just tell you that old “Sonny” is a story about brothers, and I have been thinking about that too lately, although not in the friendly, gee I should get back in touch with my own brother sense, but about brothers who drifted back and forth in each others lives until one day the reality set in hard and hard was that Sonny, a high white note-seeking jazz pianist really got high on the white note. Busted, busted hard, busted back to clean but busted and his brother, would you know that it was his big brother, had to help him put back the pieces, even though the pieces were what made Sonny interesting and alive. That's me, living on old sweet, sweet dream of that white note, and Angelica-ish-driven memories of that old time blue-pink night before I go.