Taking a selection of headlines cut from newspapers and magazines I was immediately drawn to the two words that inspired this:
I met him at the crossroads. It was dark, almost as black as his own tattered skin. The rain had just finished, exhausted in its efforts to fall and leaving a dry circle all around him, as if it dared not drench him.
“Wondered when you’d turn up sonny” he said, unfolding one leg as he leant against the crossroads sign. His three-piece suit looked immaculate, the chain of his pocket-watch glinting slowly.
“Mr Johnson, I’d like to take a photograph”
“Yeah, everyone wants a photo.”
I wasn’t sure if that was permission so I took out the old Kodak box anyhow.
“Didn’t say you could have one”.
He stepped back, a little into the darkness.
“Last fella that did that’s down there in the levy.” He gestured with such force, I too was stepping back, lowering the camera.
“Perhaps we could talk instead?”. I knew the encounter was fast reaching tipping-point, but pushed on, determined to salvage something from it.
“We can talk all you like sonny, just don’t go pointing that contraption at me. The last thing you want is a photo of a man without a soul, a voodoo man”.
In the distance far church bells peeled, as if adding emphasis to his words. Now I knew things were unraveling.
“What’s a voodoo man ?” I asked, knowing the moment the words had escaped that I didn’t want to know the answer.
“Ha ha. You come out here at midnight. To a crossroads. On the outskirts of Clarkesdale and you know nothing of Voodoo? “
He seemed to slide through the air, stopping right in front of my face.
“See this?” and a guitar appeared by his side. As he swung it by the neck towards his waist and chorded fingers against the strings I heard the cold countryside fill with a broken cacophony of steel.
“Let me tell you the world’s quickest blues song.” Now he didn’t wait for my reaction and after 13 agonizing bars of bent strings, sang out slowly into the night.
“I didn’t get up this morning”.
And I never did.