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  Jericho Road
  (5:21) [10/11/00/8:30 pm]
  For Bill Balek & Ross BRODIE.
  Liner Notes

This road called Jericho was our own Autobahn:
These same dirt miles I learned to drive this caddy on.
My bro said, "If your brakes fail, find the biggest lawn,
Or take aim at a mailbox, your speed will soften."

Watch the mailboxes all red & white like every farm.
White Sox cap is dangling out the window on your arm;
Temptation to reach out just a bit too far would leave
Your red cap alone & your wrist cradled in its sleeve.
& you'd leave it lying there, out on Jericho Road.

Static from drive-thru speakers, so up on the hood
She jumped & shouted out our orders so they could
Hear her. The guys in line behind us whooped it good,
So she bowed once & curtsied like a real girl should.

She said, "Let's overpay!" (Her idea of a joke.)
"Why should we tip them?" I said, "Their speakers always broke.
Take these Hampshire coins, I won't need them no more for tolls."
My last personal effects I gave the cashier in rolls.
& I left them in their hands, bound for Jericho Road.

Last night, outside the Sunset Motel
(That's where they filmed that Henry flick),
While mailing off some dozen letters to my friends,
I saw something that made me sick:
A half-dead possum by the white lines,
His body half-smashed to the soil;
I should've done what's right & grabbed my ice scraper
That lay in the back (by the boiled
Copy of Screwtape Letters read by John Cleese
The sun melted to the seat come last New Year's Eve
While I was occupied), but I could not get me
To move an inch unless to leave.
I had to leave.

She said, while (finally) taking sips of Jack with me,
"These last six months have been hard on you, I can see."
Thought of red carpet wall smells of Room #3,
Thought she maybe meant it when she said she loved me.

Still, I ordered her out of the car & shifted gears,
Watched me plow through all the mailboxes like empty beers,
'Bout a quarter of a mile up I locked on a tree,
Wrapped it 'round that birch while fire melts me to the seat.
& I left her standing there, down on Jericho Road.
liner notes
Illinois’s Jericho Road is a mostly trafficless stretch of Aurora farmland; at 3 AM, it’s an agrarian Lake Shore Drive, with just you &your mind &your inferiority complex. The relentless country beat is meant to show the seductiveness of Hank Sr.’s long blue Cadillac archetype, that celluloid-thin code of hard-drinkin’ man’s men that equates happiness with shallowness & tragedy with “real life”.

John McNaughton, Ken Hale & Steven A Jones - Score from Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer / Todd Snider - “My Generation (Pt. 2)” / Bo Diddley - “Who Do You Love?” / An Emotional Fish - “Harmony Central” / Genesis - “Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats” / The Mekons - “The Flame That Killed John Wayne” / Television - “Friction” / Lone Justice - “Working Man”

“I hung my head in shame and backed away, hoping that my example would influence the others ----- as I had done when we were children at times like this. It was something I had learned from my mother, this silent coercion. I had not used it for years.

In a thin shaky voice, Lena said, “Pop, Jesus is more powerful than any demon, and there is a demon in you, Pop. Give yourself to Jesus, and rid yourself of this demon.”

“Praise the Lord,” Clyde whispered.

“Go fuck yourself!” Pop snarled, and Lena stumbled backward, as if blown by the force of his words. She began to whimper, then to blubber, and her husband put his arms around her and moved her toward the door, with the boy and the girl close behind. As they passed through the door to the porch, all four looked fearfully back at our father ----- a brick-red taut little man standing in the middle of the room with his fists clenched ----- as if they feared he would come charging after them or were about to hurl one of his raging demons into them.

But he had not once taken his eyes off of Wade. That was who he wanted. The rest of us did not matter to him. Margie placed both hands on Wade’s shoulders and tried to draw him to her, but he wrenched himself loose and took another step toward our father. I moved in the opposite direction and said in a low voice, “Wade, just leave it.”

Pop, in that awful mocking tone of his, said, “Listen to your little brother. ‘Wade, just leave it.’ Candy-asses. All of you. That’s what I’ve got for children, Jesus freaks and candy-asses. ‘Wade, just leave it.’ ‘Praise the Lord.’ ‘Just leave it.’ ‘Praise the Lord.’”

Wade stepped forward, fists clenched, and suddenly Margie moved around and got in front of him, where she tried to push him back with one hand and reach out toward Pop with the other. Pop struck her hand away with his fist, and her face went gray, her mouth opened in amazement. Wade reached over her and grabbed one of Pop's wrists and yanked him once toward him. Margie screamed, she actually screamed, and Wade let go of our father, but it was too late. The old man was flailing away at his son with his fists, his blows bouncing off Margie's shoulders and neck, hitting Wade on the arms. I reached in and tried to grab Wade by the shoulders and pull him away, but he was too powerful for me and merely shrugged me off. He shoved Margie out of the way and locked our father into his arms. They panted furiously into each other's face, glaring. Wade walked our father in a bear hug backward to the wall, where he pushed him with his chest and bounced the old man's frail and suddenly flaccid body against the wall. He released him, and our father collapsed onto the floor.

Breathing heavily, Wade got down on his knees, as if to pray again. He looked into the old man's face, which glowered back, as if out of a cave. "If you ever touch her again," Wade said, "I'll kill you. I swear it."

The old man stared coldly at his son and said nothing.

Margie said, "Wade, it doesn't matter now. None of it matters."

From across the room, I watched them, the woman and the two men, as if they were characters in a play, and the play were half over and I had just entered the theater. Slowly, the old man got to his feet, and the younger man stood up, and the woman turned around, and all three faced me. The old man moved into line next to the woman, who now stood in the middle. They were breathing heavily and sweating. They looked from one to the other, shedding their roles and regaining themselves and in the process recognizing each other's self. It was almost as if they had been possessed. They smiled at each other, shyly and almost with relief. Then the three of them looked out toward me and linked hands, and, I swear it, they bowed low. That is how I saw it. What else could I do? I applauded."
- Russell Banks, Affliction (1989)

"Probably the scenes he is now witnessing will not provide material for an intellectual attack on his faith ----- your previous failures have put that out of your power. But there is a sort of attack on the emotions which can still be tried. It turns on making him feel, when first he sees human remains plastered to the wall, that this is "what the world is really like" and that all his religion has been a fantasy. You will notice that we have got them completely fogged about the meaning of the word "real." They tell each other, of some great spiritual experience, "All that really happened was that you heard some music in a lighted building"; here "real" means the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had. On the other hand, they will also say, "It's very well discussing that high dive as you sit here in an armchair, but wait 'till you get up there and see what it's really like": here "real" is being used in the opposite sense to mean, not the physical facts (which they know already while discussing the matter in armchairs), but the emotional effect those facts will have on the human consciousness. Either application of the word could be defended; but our business is to keep the two going at once so that the emotional value of the word "real" can be placed now on one side of the account, now on the other, as it happens to suit us. The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences that can make them happier or better only the physical facts are "real," while the spiritual elements are "subjective"; in all experiences which can discourage them or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality, and to ignore them is to be an escapist. Thus in birth the blood and pain are "real," the rejoicing a mere subjective point of view; in death, the terror and ugliness reveal what death "really means." The hatefulness of a hated person is "real" ----- in hatred you see men as they are, you are disillusioned; but the loveliness of a loved person is merely a subjective haze concealing a "real" core of sexual appetite or economic association. Wars and poverty are "really" horrible; peace and plenty are mere physical facts about which men happen to have certain sentiments. The creatures are always accusing one another of wanting "to eat their cake and have it"; but thanks to our labors they are more often in the predicament of paying for the cake and not eating it. Your patient, properly handled, will have no difficulty in regarding his emotion at the sight of human entrails as a revelation of reality and his emotion at the sight of happy children or fair weather as mere sentiment."
- CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1941)

"Do it, Otis! Do it, do it! Do it, Otis . . . You're a star!"
- Richard Fire & John McNaughton, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (1986)

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