issue six

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(524 words)
How We Discovered
All-Night Radio
Kathryn Kulpa
       We were driving. Maybe we were going somewhere but I'm not sure where. If we had a destination it was arbitrary and changeable. Mt. Rushmore or Graceland. The Upside-Down House or the Petrified Forest. We were open to diversion. We'd follow signs for the World's Largest Ball of String like cats chasing the tail of a skein of yarn.

What I felt was this incredible sense of escape. It was night, of course, because it always is in my dreams, and summer, because the air felt just right against our skin, like the whole world was welcoming us home with a kiss. And you were my best friend, because you always have been. We were running away but we weren't scared.

Was it yesterday or twenty years ago? Were we eighteen or thirty-five? I couldn't tell. Everything was silver and moon-cast. We were happy to be on our way.

And we had music, the greatest driving music either of us had ever found. At first it was just there, and then we started noticing it. It was more than one or two good songs. Sometimes it was raucous and rowdy and we had to sing along, and sometimes angelheaded choirboys, and sometimes smoky lost blues queens or gaunt, yodeling cowboys. There was no program; there were no testimonials for the amazing herbal weight-loss supplement or the greatest selection of furniture and bedding ever gathered together under one roof.  But it was definitely the radio. There was someone playing the music, picking just the right songs, and talking to us from time to time. Not too often. Not too much. Just enough to let us know he was there. He had a calm, prairie openness in his voice, the kind of restful reassurance doctors and airline pilots strive for and so seldom achieve. He had it all in hand. We could go along with what we were doing and he would take care of the music.

We worried we might drive too far and lose that perfect radio station, but that didn't happen. It followed us wherever we drove. It wasn't going to fade out on us at three a.m., turn to yesterday's starlets hawking cubic zirconia jewelry or a born-again preacher ranting about the end times. It would be there for us all night, playing songs we needed to hear but hadn't known we needed. It could take us to a New Orleans that used to be, to a green mountain hollow in a lost mining town.

There was a certain point when we knew. Miss Patsy Cline passed us in a big shiny convertible as red as her lipstick. She smiled and waved and we waved back and she passed us, the kerchief she'd tied around her head to keep her hairstyle perky fluttering in the wind. We didn't even have to ask about that young man waiting at the crossroads with his guitar slung across his back. A wave seemed too frivolous for his serious look, so we just nodded, and he nodded back. The tip of his cigarette glowed on that dark, dark road.


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This work is copyrighted by the author, Kathryn Kulpa. All rights reserved.
This is a dream I had:
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