Tuesday, May 15, 2012
In Yancey County there is a man that carries with him the magical aura of a prophet, a banshee, a gypsy, and a Bergman hooded figure. He drives an old Chevrolet, stealth paint yellow that reflected nothing with no back bumper, “bondo”-ed and dented, scratched and cracked, — like the old man inside. He is gray-haired, grizzled in the so-called beard, so named by placement on the body than by intention or cultivation. Sometimes he wears a cap. In the back seat I sometimes see the head of a weed whacker, craning up in silhouette as if a passenger — the hooded figure’s sythe. I will find him on any road in the county, at no hurried pace, roving without seeming purpose. I thought he must make ends meet by cutting grass, and there must be a schedule of clients that reward his circuit-riding. But after months and years of running up behind him on my way home, or passing him chugging up a mountain as I slide down, I cannot make any definite conclusion as to his habits or livelihood, or, indeed, any earthly quality about him. I cannot attest to his breathing. His lack of a bumper seemed to reveal a vulnerability that could “X” him off the map if accosted too abruptly by a mining truck or a speeding SUV. But his Pinteresque demeanor, i.e., he had none, evidenced more of a counter-punching demolition derby driver, welcoming contact, rather than the deliberate pacing of the safe/dictating Sunday Driver. His indifference spoke of a destiny with collision, with pain, with irreparable damage, leaving the choice up to me, or others, as to whether the intercourse would happen now or later. When I came upon him in full frontal snaggle-grilled bareness, I lifted my finger from the wheel, timid, halting, fearful his Eye of Tyresias would nest some ancient Greek fate within me — ancient since the Civil War or the New Deal. But he kept on about his grim business, ignorant or disdainful of my existence, my almost well wishes.