Every Wednesday, Bone posts a “Three Word Wednesday" writing exercise. He provides three words and encourages his pupils to write something including each word. Today’s words are “gray, fathom and Memphis.” My writing is obviously fiction. I’ve never written a ghost story before, but figured that would be a good way to avoid falling into the trap of scribbling about unrequited love in the wild. I've also never been to Memphis--except a couple times driving through on I-40 and a couple of times on the train. Let me know what you think…
The thought of it is more than I can now fathom. I saw him wandering around Beale Street in Memphis. He was immaculate. He wore a double-breasted pin strip suit with a fancy felt hat and with each step his shinny black shoes clicked against the sidewalk. Hanging by the neck, from his right hand, was an old six-string. Between his lips a stub of a cigarette hung. It’d burned brightly when he inhaled, then drop as he blew smoke out. Leaning against a porch post, I watch him stroll by and wondered what he was up to.
“He ain’t up to no good,” someone mumble in an alley. I couldn’t see the man, but he must have been watching me and anticipating my question.
“You know who that is,” I asked, squinting, trying to see to whom I was talking.
“Yeah, I do,” the man said. “Robert Johnson, he comes here every August, about the time of his death. Some say he sold his soul and now looks to steal another in the hopes to redeem his back.”
Keeping my distance, I follow the lone musician toward the river. He never stopped. At the tracks, he jumped into an empty Illinois Central box car and sat in the doorway, his feet hanging out. Strummin’ the guitar, he began to sing. “I’ve got to keep movin’, I’ve got to keep movin’, blues fallin’ down like hail.” About that time a whistle blewe and the car jerked and pulled forward, slowly gaining speed as it headed down toward the Delta. I watched till the train disappeared in the gray river fog. Then I headed back up toward town, drawn by the music pouring out of the clubs and the thought of a cold beer.