He was on his computer when I walked in
behind him. His back was to the door.
“How did you know it was me?”
“Toenails clicking on the wooden floor.”
The music told me that Brittington was in his quiet, reflective mood. He’s funny like that. Chipper and happy as a squirrel in springtime, usually. But he can get misty-eyed faster than anyone I know when a singer starts crooning that evil poetry of dark confusion and soul-twisting pain. It’s not quite folk music, not quite country and not exactly blues. The common denominator of these pain songs is that they all have highly literary lyrics that bleed the black blood of metaphor, symbol and subtext. A well-read person will hear literary references lightly made, no heavy-handed explanations. No assumption that the listener is an idiot.
I cocked an ear and said, “Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris?
“Yeah,” still not looking up or turning around.
I hopped up onto a side chair, then onto his desk and laid my head on my paws. I’ve learned not to make small-talk when Brittington is searching the shadows.
These are the lyrics of the song that was playing:
Oh deep water, black and cold like the night,
I stand with arms wide open.
I’ve run a twisted mile.
I’m a stranger in the eyes of the Maker
I could not see for fog in my eyes.
I could not feel for the fear in my life.
From across the great divide in the distance, I saw a light;
John Baptist walking to me,
with the Maker.
My body is bent and broken by long and dangerous sleep.
I can work the fields of Abraham and turn my head away.
I’m not a stranger in the hands of the Maker
Brother John, have you seen the homeless daughters
standing there with broken wings?
I have seen the flaming swords, there, over east of Eden,
burning in the eyes of the Maker.
Oh river, rise from your sleep….