Author Topic: "Pilgrimage"  (Read 5346 times)

Offline Lynne

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"Pilgrimage"
« on: July 15, 2010, 06:25:27 pm »
First, a bit of backstory. I intended to write a ten-minute play for a contest, Ten for Tenn, which I posted about in a separate thread.  This is what my first attempt at a play turned into...I guess it would be called autobiographical fiction. Comments welcome!


The late-model maroon Dodge rental car pulls off to the side of the rutted, dusty road.

"This is as far as I go."

We nod in understanding, and you give her shoulder a reassuring squeeze.  

"Don't be hard on yourself.  We all deal with our grief in our own way, in our own time.  There's no right or wrong here."

Somberly you and I get out of the car, leaving her to her private thoughts.

The silence seems eerily oppressive, complementing the unimaginable vastness of the clear blue sky.

It's a still day, which makes it even harder to conceive of the violence that took place here a couple of years ago.

We head south down the road, following a fence row that must keep unseen animals in.  Our eyes are focused intently on the dirt tracks in front of us, and we shuffle our boots as we go.

I state the obvious.  "There's no hurry. She will wait on us as long as it takes."

You nod in acknowledgment, knowing it is like me to talk when I'm uncomfortable.

I almost trip over a snake-like coil of barbed wire protruding from the road.

I take a photograph of it. After all, one reason for coming is to bear witness.  Those of us who see have a need to share the story.

"If he had a flat, that might have been the cause of the puncture in the tire."

You nod thoughtfully, as if you are giving my comment serious consideration.

Long minutes later:   "We both know it weren't no flat tire."

We do know. I nod with a sigh.

After three-quarters of a mile or so the fence makes a 90 degree turn east along some railroad tracks. The tracks are broken here and there and overgrown from long disuse.

"Reckon this is where it happened."

Two years after the fact there's no sign of where he died, choking on his own blood, his last view one of men with hatred and fear in their hearts, willing to do violence to preserve how they see themselves, swinging their hammer and their wrench and their tire iron down upon him until there was no life left in him.

We gaze at the spot for a long time, each seeing in our mind's eye how it must have been for him, hoping the killing blow had been early so as to be merciful, but knowing he had not gone down that way.  Knowing him as we do, he would've struggled and fought for his life until the bitter end.

You pick some sage and some other herbs and some flowers I don't recognize, maybe laurel, for a ceremony later to remember him.

We hug and hold each other close. We are like soldiers who fought side by side in a war, our friendship forged by the proximity of tragedy and loss.

Looking down, you see a rusty iron railroad spike and pick it up. It seems an appropriate souvenir.

We make our way back to where our friend and her rental car wait for us.  I think of that car as a patient mount, long-suffering but wise, willing to venture only so close to the cliff and not one inch further.

Her eyes ask us how it went, but the tears drying on our cheeks are all the answer she needs.

A breeze blows up seemingly from nowhere, and a dragonfly alights on your index finger, lingering there longer than we think a dragonfly normally would.

We share another common thought - isn't it funny how two people who have only seen one another a handful of times can know each others' thoughts with only a glance?

He is OK - at rest, at home.  It is time for the rest of us to get back to the business of living.

Written Saturday, July 10 on bus 76 going to work.
Edited that same afternoon on the bus returning home.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 01:57:03 pm by Lynne »
"Laß sein. Laß sein."

Offline Sason

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2010, 06:41:05 pm »
Awesome, Lynne!!   :-*

Düva pööp is a förce of natüre

Offline Lynne

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2010, 07:45:08 pm »
Thank you, Sonja!  :-*
« Last Edit: July 16, 2010, 11:51:27 am by Lynne »
"Laß sein. Laß sein."

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2010, 07:07:48 pm »
Oh you bring tears to my eyes again. That is so evocative, so eloquent. I wish I knew how to write a play, it would make a good one.
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."

Offline Lynne

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2010, 07:20:40 pm »
Thank you, Friend Truman. It hurt to write, but in that cathartic way, like seeing the old bird.
I don't know how to write a play either, but I think we should give it a shot - nothing to lose, after all.
"Laß sein. Laß sein."

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2010, 11:00:30 pm »
It was one of those pivortal events in my life. A real before and after. It was as intense as going to the place my sister died. Intense bubble of pounding pressure. The bluest sky. Fall into it. The last thing he saw.

Well here we go: the play can be different characters telling about it from their on pov. Kind of like The Laramie Project.
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."

Offline Lynne

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2010, 11:31:17 pm »
If anyone can write it, I'm sure you can. I can see how your sister's death would make sense (in that literature way that nothing makes sense).

I'm trying to come up with nonBBM ideas myself because I've been dwelling on it so long.  
« Last Edit: July 18, 2010, 09:42:16 am by Lynne »
"Laß sein. Laß sein."

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2010, 04:49:05 pm »
It seemed like from the moment the decision was made to go to the site, time began to erect obstacles.

The breakfast, or brunch more precisely, consumed in some short of waffle house that was crowded and understaffed. The debate over one car or two and the traffic. The rest of the trip had been spent out on the prairie and now we were going to have to cross the great city to get there.

I remember looking in the rear view half the time to see if you were still there, counting the cars betwixt us. Hoping you were paying attention and would not miss the exit I hoped to hit the first time.

I remember thinking this place looked just like it could be Lake Wobegone. The houses parting to reveal the fields. But it was that last turn on to that gravel road it started becoming real. What was he doing out here? This was no where, this was turning into a pig path. And then we reached the end of the line. Getting out of the car it seemed like were were in some bubble of high pressure, hemmed in on all sides. My arms and legs felt heavy.

Part of me wanted to question her if she didn't want to see it why had she come this far? Part of me wanted to hold her hand and tell her it would be ok, we could stand on either side of her. But the bigger part understood. That part felt some remorse in having drug her out here, never asking if she would rather wait for us back at the room.

And I remember that barbed wire sticking out of the track, it was on the right. It was shiny from exposure but how it got buried there I could not understand, how it had remained, people till drove farm equipment out here maybe it didn't bother those thick tires. That and the locus. Nasty things.

We had seen the pictures, knew it happened next to the tracks and as we approached it slid into place like a panel of a dream. locked into our reality. Here is where he died, right here in this grass. No matter what version you wanted to believe, this was where it happened, no denying it.

The path continued on passed the tracks, rusted I noticed, intersection of obsolescence. We climbed down the embankment a short distance and I wondered did he climb down here, were these his last steps, did he get carried here and dumped on the ground, was there any trace of him left here, a coin that might have fell from his pocket? Nothing. Time had erased all that, the turning of the earth had sprung up new shoots of grass and obliterated what we had seen in the pictures.

We were both crying. I remember hugging you and your tears wet my shirt. The last bit of energy drained out of me and I sat there, and finally laid down in the grass, and stared up at the bluest sky there had ever been, the color of his eyes, like that was the one relic that had survived here. I took a long strand of that grass with me to carry that scent memory.

You don't ever get over loosing someone to violence. You can have closure and I think our going there that day accomplished it for me. Let me go on to what became the new normal. That fractured self I keep together started wanting to go back to the car while the rest of me had to be convinced. I remember and I don't think I have even recalled it until now that when we started back I made a decision not to look back at all.

Back at the car she felt the need to defend her decision, we weren't disputing it. And it was like the sound of her voice that dragon fly homed in on. Came right up and when I extended my finger there it lit! Winged messanger from the great beyond. Those big eyes looking at me. And from that place of grief I asked "Is it you?'
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."

Offline Lynne

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2010, 09:49:14 am »
Truman, that is absolutely wonderful.  I love how we remember some things the same and some differently.  I had mostly forgotten that hectic morning...it seems to me they were all mostly hectic   ;).  You are such an amazing writer.

Who else can we get in on this?  Shall we call it "The Pilgrimage Project" or can you think of a better word?  I like how that seems to make the Matthew Shepard play connection clear.

Roux and Judy for sure, and I remember (I think) Juan, Gail...I will have to dig up some of the pictures to be sure...again things running together.

If it's not too late, maybe we could ask them to write theirs before reading these...
"Laß sein. Laß sein."

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: "Pilgrimage"
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2010, 11:15:30 am »
Juan an Roux hung back, and Kirk, Judy and Mouk went with us if I remember right. Gail arrived that evening.
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."