August 24, 2009

Wayne Scheer

Look Out, Kid

(Apologies to B. Dylan)

Johnny's in the basement mixing dandelion juice with cough syrup. I'm on the pavement thinking about how the government's been tapping my phone line ever since I started a website for out-of-work terrorists. Some guy with a badge and a trench coat, muttering about needing a pay off, tells me I'm a "person of interest."

"Why? I was just trying to have some fun."

"Don't matter what you did, kid. We're watching you don't do it again."

That's when Maggie comes fleet-footing down the street, her face full of black soot, talking about how her phone is being tapped, too.

"You don't have a phone," I tell her.

Mr. Trench Coat says he wants to be her friend, but he gets his orders from the D.A. She dances off on tiptoes and warns me against taking "No Doz."

Mr. Trench Coat warns me "to keep a clean nose."

I say I don't need to be taking advice from a man who wears plain clothes.

Well, time passes. I get sick, get well. I try to make a buck writing a program for an Internet porn site in Braille, but you never know what's gonna sell. Things aren't going well. I think of joining the army if I fail.

I start hanging around with users, abusers, six-time losers. I spend some time with a pretty girl, but I know she's just looking for a new fool. All the while, Mr. Trench Coat's voice keeps playing in my head like an old vinyl record stuck in a groove.

"Look out, kid. You gonna get hit."

"Why are you picking on me?" I ask as if he's right there. "I don't follow leaders, and I watch the parking meters."

Johnny finally gives up on mixing medicine. Says he's been reborn and wants me to join him in church, which I do. But all I really want is to keep warm. I even romance a sweet church-going chick. I'm so desperate to make her happy, I learn to dance and stop wearing short pants. She tells me I'm blessed and I try to be a success.

I even get a good job in an office and I get a business degree. But the boss's son needs a job and I get laid off. The only work I can find is in a factory. Twenty years of schooling and they put me on the day shift.

And my sweet, church-going chick runs off to Mexico with Johnny.

Mr. Trench Coat's voice returns. This time I listen to what he's saying.

"Look out, kid. They keep it all hid."

Maggie looks like an old woman now. She doesn't seem as crazy as she once did. "Better jump down a manhole," she says. "Light yourself a candle."

Now she's making sense. If I want to survive, I have to forget about this world and avoid its scandals. Make my own way and my own light.

"Is that right, Maggie? Is that what you're telling me? What else do I need to know?"

"Don't wear sandals."

Maggie, her face wrinkled, and her hair stringy, now reminds me of Mother Theresa. She stares into my eyes and I see truth.

"You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."

Mr. Trench coat smiles and disappears.


Wayne Scheer lives in Atlanta, somewhere down along the cove. He is a wicked messenger but if he cannot bring good news, he don't bring any. Download some of it for free here.

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