Hurricane Nate is about to make landfall. I’m in a trailer which is about the size of a Skoal can. I’m camping.
A stinky coonhound is on my lap. I have limited cellphone reception in the woods. The trailer is rocking from gale-force winds.
This was supposed to be a fishing trip. Instead I’m going to wake up as SPAM.
It’s raining hard. Thunder.
Of course, I didn’t mean to die this way—alone in the woods, trapped in a Tuna can. I had dreams.
For example: I wanted to take a trip to Mexico with my wife.
A friend of mine once visited Oaxaca. He raved about his first night in the city. The locals prepared him chicken—battered and fried. And puré de papas—which is like mashed potatoes.
I asked where he found such exquisite fare. He said the KFC downtown was fantástico.
I want to pick wildflowers one more time before I go. A whole handful of daisies, yellow-eyed grass, Indian paintbrushes, and cahaba lilies. I’d pick them for my wife.
Corny. I know, but she prefers wildflowers to store-bought.
Before I got sucked off the map, I wanted to see a few more NASCAR races. It’s been years since my last Talladega trip.
Once, at Talladega Campground, I saw a teenage girl—I’m not making this up—marinate possum meat in mustard, then cook it over a grill.
I want to see the sun go down over the Escambia River. I went canoeing on the river a few months ago. At sunset, I told myself, “If God’s in this world, he’s on the Escambia.”
And I want to be kissed by a litter of bloodhound puppies.
If there aren’t bloodhounds in heaven, someone else can have my ticket.
I wanted to eat at Lambert’s, in Foley, Alabama, one last time. I’ve been there more than I can count.
I want the waiter to toss me a yeast roll. I want to sit in a booth with my wife, talking over collards and fried gizzards.
I love her.
And before I am electrocuted by seven million gigawatts of unbridled electrical hell, then circulated over the atmosphere of Lower Alabama as a flying corpse, I want to visit Charleston with my wife again.
We honeymooned there, long ago. It nearly bankrupted us.
Two days after we married, we walked into a bookstore—high on marriage vows and moderate poverty. She picked up a book and said, “You think you’ll ever be a writer one day?”
I laughed. I told her not to be ridiculous. People like me laid shingles, hung sheetrock, and mopped floors. We weren’t writers.
She said, “I believe you’ll write. I believe you can be whatever you wanna be.”
That woman. She believed in me.
Before I leave this earth, I wish we could sit together in a pickup, watching lightning bugs over Keego pond. I wish I could see her ride the homecoming-parade float with her classmates.
I wish I could thank her for once telling a sad kid with red hair that he could be whatever the hell he wanted to be.
Anyway, it’s still raining. Lots of lightning. Make no mistake, I’m definitely going to die.
But if, by chance, this coonhound and I survive Hurricane Nate…
I’m picking wildflowers tomorrow.