Ghost Riders in the Sky

by Lewis Warsh

It was like a scene from a movie
starring Fred MacMurray and Vincent Price:
“But I bought you everything you own,”
the character in the movie says, stumbling
out the back door. Some people say
that “the path to satisfaction may lead
almost anywhere” but when the boat
stops in the harbor you better get off.
My consultation fee is $5 an hour, on a
sliding scale, but if you pay for it out of pocket
it’s twice as much. More people claim
they act without thinking and pay the price.
If all the motels are full we can always sleep
inside the car. It’s preferable to sleeping
on the beach or in the subway. Sleeping on
a subway platform is not my idea of a good
time.

It’s always summer where you are and a man
is singing a song about Margaritaville against
a backdrop of ocean and sky. “Some people
say,” the singer tells us, “there’s a woman
to blame,” and then he pauses, “but no,” another
pause, “it’s my own damn fault.” A new
beginning is not a bad idea. It’s no one’s
fault if you can’t see the sky through the tops
of the trees. Once I sat in a room and pretended
to be invisible. “Pass the tabasco sauce,”
I said, but you didn’t hear.

This music is my subterfuge, I can turn
it down if you like. It’s possible to confuse
two people in your head at the same
time. It’s also possible to drink a whole
bottle of wine in one sitting (you leave the
party and pass out at the foot of the stairs).
The party goes on without you but it’s not
like you’re missing out on anything by not
being there. Let your mind go blank
for a moment and her face appears. A chance
meeting on Elm Street between the Quick
and the Dead.