Nebraska gets strange at night. Darkness falls on the land. The moon shines. You can smell corn growing. Hear wild dogs barking as lights flash from cars driving down highways that cut through small towns. Ghosts walking on the side of the roads. Crosses marking where death took place ; an old man trying to cross the road, baby girl tossed from a car, a road worker killed by a careless driver. All these ghosts in Nebraska nights. He drove on.
The old man was heading west to Colorado. Wanted to go to Denver. Had never been there before. Read about it in Kerouac’s book, On The Road. He was captivated by the adventures of Sal Pardise and Dean Moriarty. He wanted to see streets where Dean stole cars. See bars that Kerouac drank in. He wanted an American story to unfold before his eyes.
But, first he had to get through Nebraska. The old man pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot to sleep for the night. A few cars were parked in there as well. Couples sleeping in the front seat with the windows down. Taking in the Midwestern air. Loners, like him in old rusted pickups napping in the back beds.
He used a rolled up jean jacket for a pillow. His rested head fell right asleep. Eyes closed. The old man dreamed. Dreamed of Coltrane playing just for him. Blowing out Naima along with Body And Soul. The two of them alone in a room; a private concert. A bottle of scotch on his table.
The dream faded into loves of his past. Women he had been with. Women with stories about them all. Blondes from Chicago, Puerto Rican girls living in the Bronx, southern belles in Virginia. All of them visited him that night. And, he was pleased to see them all again. Each giving him a farewell kiss.
Soon the sun was up. Rising in an open Nebraska sky. The moon faded away.
Do you believe in ghosts? Or, are they just dreams? What feels real and what feels imaginary? Maybe there’s no difference.
He felt something that night. Maybe it was the whiskey he shared with Coltrane.