I ran into Maggie on 43rd Street today.
We were both headed down the same
hot endless sidewalk that seems to be everywhere
in Gainesville this time of year.
White cotton clouds drifted above
as the sun cooked everything below.
“Hey Jason,” She said with a smile. “Long time no see.”
“For sure,” I replied.
I watched her smile fade and her eyes grow a little more serious.
“I’m sorry about Ellis. I know you two were close.”
Ellis Amburn’s smiling face raced through my mind. “Yeah, I’ll miss him.”
“His stories of the times he spent with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg,
Susan Sontag, Anais Nin, Edie Sedgwick,
and so many more were incredible to hear.”
“I bet,” Maggie said.
“Most of all I’ll miss his friendship.”
“I know you will.”
We began to walk.
She glanced at my journal.
It was cradled in my left hand.
With each step it swung like a pendulum by my side.
“What have you been working on recently?” she said.
“I’m trying to put something together about the past.”
Her brow lifted. “Your past?”
“Like a poem or something?” her eyes now widened.
I sighed. “Yeah something like that.”
Maggie smiled. “I’ve always liked the way you see the world.”
“Through the eyes of a poet I guess?” I said.
“Jason you’re more than a poet. I’ve never liked the title poet for you anyways.
You’re more in the thick of it.
You give us the scraped knees and blackened eyes of the world.”
I chuckled a little. “So true my friend.”
Maggie stopped and turned toward me. “Remember Bob?”
“Irish Bob?” I said. “How could I forget?”
“What was wrong with that guy?” Maggie laughed.
“What was right with him? Is the better question,” I said.
“Remember the stories of Bob shooting rats
with his pistol behind the pub downtown?” Maggie said.
“I remember. I’ve heard the stories of Irish Bob
and seen the stories in real time,” I said.
“Being a Seal in Vietnam kinda made Bob a little off.
But hey, a little off isn’t all bad.”
“Remember that time the two brothers and you
got their jeep stuck on the train tracks?”
“Yeah Maggie Girl, I remember. It was freezing that night.
We slept by the tracks till morning. It was miserable.
I woke up and walked to
a friend’s house to get help to push us off
before the 8 am train came through.”
Maggie glanced my way. “Yeah, that would’ve been bad.”
“Remember that late seventy’s Vega
With a 350 motor stuffed inside?” she said.
“I remember that beast. At 110 mph the car felt like
it was floating. It had no seatbelts but that
didn’t matter much at those speeds.”
We walked a bit more. The humidity turned the air into a blanket of moist hell.
Cicadas called loudly all around us like an insect orchestra begging for rain.
Maggie pulled out her phone and checked the temperature, “97 degrees so far.”
Putting her phone away she asked, “Remember when you were grazed by a bullet?”
“I do. It went right across my left hip. A little trickle of blood stained my shirt.”
Maggie slid a cigarette from her pack.
She flamed its end.
“Jason, you remember the Gainesville Mall?
That was the first place I saw an escalator.
I would always jump onto the first step and off the last.
I was sure that thing would suck me under.”
“That’s funny. I thought the same thing.”
Maggie’s voice climbed in volume as she reminisced some more.
“It seemed every time we went to the mall
there were rumors that Tom Petty
had been seen walking around the same hallways that day.”
I laughed, “Yeah, I remember.”
“Remember all the good times at The Jonesville Ramp?
I can’t believe it was in your back yard.”
“Believe it, Maggie Girl. I rode with the best back then.
They were real pioneers in the world of skateboarding.
Mike Frazier, Sam and Donny Myhre, Monty Nolder, Billy Rohan,
Buck Smith, Chris Baucom, and many more,” I said thinking of all the folks I’ve
skated with over the last thirty something years.”
“Jason, wasn’t a movie filmed there that had Tony Hawk in it?”
“Yes, it was. Mike Frazier’s part in Powell Peralta Eight
was filmed at my home on the Jonesville Ramp.
Tony Hawk also has a part later in the film.”
We approached Archer Road.
Maggie pulled hard on her smoke.
Its end glowed bright even in the sunlight of midday.
She exhaled, “Remember the Hang On Sloopy guy?”
“I do. Bobby Peterson. He played with The McCoys.”
“That song was their big hit in the 1960s,” I said.
She punched out her cigarette then placed its butt
in her back pocket.
She then turned toward
me wearing a half smile, “I hate litter.”
“Me too, Maggie girl.”
We walked a few more blocks. Maggie was quiet for a bit.
Then spoke as we were almost at the intersection, “Remember Harry Crews?”
“Yes, my friend. I’ll never forget that day!”
We came to the end of the sidewalk.
“This is my stop,” I said.
“I’ve got to pick up my truck from the mechanic.”
“Yeah, I’ve got to get back to work.” She smiled.
“Take care of yourself, Maggie.”
“You do the same.”
She turned and walked off into the blazing afternoon.