‘Spaced, The Final Frontier: These are the voyages of the Starship Enter-her-slowly-never-mind-the-prize’ Episode 5
Episode 5 – My Keetoowah Woman
I was not there the day they put Mr. Bojangles in the ground. He finally ended his cycle of returning death. No son, he did not die of an overdose of snow white heaven, he died because he decided to die. His lost heart stopped beating in its secret hiding place thirteen minutes after Mr. Bojangles closed his eyes and stopped breathing. He always said thirteen was his lucky number. Anyone who puts store in tales of ill chance and spooky netherworlds is a mindless ball-less cold glob of salt-less porridge. Take no heed son, he said, take no fucking heed of tripe and onions unless it’s hot, on your plate and intended for your gullet. No son, Mr. Bojangles put no store in hocus pocus. Thirteen was his lucky number because porridge globs would put an empty fourteenth chair at the table and stay at home in bed whenever Friday and thirteen fell together to be miserably miserable.
The badge on the chest that supplied him with loco weed told me it was a peaceful death. He smoked two big fat spliffs and floated away. The badge on the chest cried. Everyone always fell in love with Mr. Bojangles. They put him in the ground in the old cemetery in New Orleans where the field hollers of slaves echo on dark moonless nights and black blues are still sung with aching voice. The crippled minstrel stood alone in the rain with weeping marble angels that stood guard over crypts bound by eternity to have wings that would never fly and sang the old music as Mr. Bojangles was lowered into the sodden ground by two junkies with needles hanging from their bodies like strange tumoural fruit.
There is no one left to cry for me son. They are now gypsies that still wander in the afterlife and whisper in dying ears of the earth-bound of the great eternal journey between heaven and hell that never ends. Gypsies will never stay in either place too long son and you will always find long caravans that make the journey between these two worlds. On their way they visit and whisper and swell their ranks. For the joy of suffering is in suffering together.
In this he was wrong. The tears of the badge on the chest surely proved that he was wrong. I should never have doubted him. The white widow refuses to see me now sobbed the badge on the chest. She says there is nothing to bind me to her anymore. Her debt to Bojangles is paid until they meet again, she said. I love her man. I love her and that bastard knew it. He fucking died on purpose… he died on purpose! His crumpled face mucus sieve mustache and blubbering lips paid no heed as I stood and put dollar on the table for the bottle of whisky and walked the streets that snaked towards the old cemetery. It had been thirteen years since I left New Orleans and everything in cahoots with nothing had changed. Mr. Bojangles was dead. Mr. Bojangles was always right. I was left no choice but to laugh for the old bastard. But I didn’t laugh till I cried. That would just be disrespectful. Yes son, this may be my lament but it will forever be dry of tears. But what the fuck would you know of that you whimpering little fucking shit!?
Have you lived son? Have you seen this world? Have you encountered souls that leave bits of themselves with you? Have you ever left a bit of your soul behind? I knew a woman once son and I have known this woman many times since. She was always different but she is always the same. This one day she was an Indian. She had no feathers in her hair. No war paint. She never screamed Geronimo except when I fucked her in the arse with her swollen ankles resting on my shoulders. Her soft little Cherokee feet next to bristled cheek. A proud Keetoowah woman son. So proud she hated being called a Cherokee and spat at me if ever I did. And I did because I liked to feel her spit at me. It became a game son. I would call her a Cherokee whore and she would spit a big fat glob right between my eyes. This was the same spit that was soon lubricating her cunt. But my fingers needed no help. The game had developed into foreplay and talk of Cherokee whores was the signal for sex. It was so simple son. Life can be so simple.
Her long hair and wrinkled eyes that laughed even when she was sad were her tools and she used them naturally, unaware of their power and aware that she must always remain unaware. She found me in a field under a solitary tree. And ever since we always sheltered under trees on our journey to the Appalachian Mountains. She searched for her birthplace. She had decided that she wanted to die where she was born son. And she asked me to help her get there. I asked no questions and told her I will journey with her until I can journey no longer and she agreed.
I loved her son so I stayed. And… she could tie a tourniquet like no one ever has or will. She had little yellow rubber tubes that she had painted to resemble snakes. She called them little baby pythons and she just did enough to force our veins to the surface with her gentle constricting skill. We also just used one needle son. Her blood joined with mine and mine with hers. It was so simple. But it is not that simple any more. No… not anymore son because the bug is a bug that eats you from the inside out. I have seen it at work son. No matter what the fuck they tell you about living with it these days, I’ve seen it at work son and a fucking picnic it is not. People are just upping and dying son. Fucking upping and dying like fucking upping and dying for good is all there is to do.
My Keetoowah woman would never know the bug. She up and died the day we stood on the roof of the world and screamed our spirit names to the sky god. No one heard us scream except the wind and it wrapped our screams around us like a blanket until exhausted we lay down and slept in each others arms and legs. Have you ever slept in the arms and legs of a woman son? Have you had her wrap her herself around you tight and you around her to form a single mass. My Keetoowah woman and I fit like a jigsaw son. And it was in my arms that she breathed her last up there on the roof of the world. I kept my promise and I got her there. She died where she was born.
Have you ever been to the roof of the world son? I heard of a man that did it from across the seas. Just him and a little Chinese looking Indian. I don’t know if he spoke to the sky god while he was up there but they say that you can’t get closer with your feet still on the ground. One day I hope dance up on that mountain. One day you will take me there son and we will dance together to mock and taunt the sky god, dare him! Dare him to let us know he exists.
The ground was still soft. The minstrel was gone. The junkie gravediggers were passed out under a tree wrapped together to keep warm in tribute to Mr. Bojangles and his Keetoowah woman. I wondered if one of them will kill the other to complete the sacrifice.
I picked up a shovel and started to dig. The mud soon drenched me up to my crotch and I could feel the damp slowly spread to take the rest of me. I hit cheap wood. I axed the spade through the lower half of lid and mud poured in, my hand followed until I grasped his right foot and with my feet planted in sinking mud either side of the coffin forced his leg upwards with cracks of rigor mortis. Then I used the spade to hack off his right foot just above the ankle. It was difficult.
After my Keetoowah woman son my favourite place to shoot death is my right ankle. I love her swollen ankles son. They remind me of a time when I could still fuck and my swollen ankles together with the pain when I dance will never let me forget.
I built a fire son and I put that severed foot on top and watched it burn. I collected the ashes in a tobacco tin and walked to New York to catch a plane. I was determined to dance with Mr. Bojangles on the roof of the world. Perhaps the wandering gypsies would come for me too, and when they do he will there to welcome me smiling his broken tooth smile at the journey that has only just begun.