“You like to be scared.  But you’ll say that isn’t what you want.  You’ll say that isn’t what you want and you’ll believe it.  Not because you want me to believe it—you just have to say it.  You think it’s appropriate in introducing yourself, but you introduced yourself a long time ago, long before you gave me your hat…”

“It’s my wife.  I heard you could heal her.”

Meeks sits with his legs folded.  His arms resting on his knees.  The brim of David’s hat covers his face as he looks down, one hand holding a stick, which he uses to mingle the coals in the fire.  For a moment the smoke blows in David’s direction, where he’s standing across from it.  It doesn’t make his eyes burn, and some of his apprehension disappears in the smell of it—the thick wood smoke inhaled in his nostrils.  Meeks motions for him to sit, and David sits as he does, across from him in front of the fire.  The smoke white, making them dark forms as it nears sunset—the light already below the levee of Meeks’ encampment—a pink and orange glow to the yellow grass and brown dirt, the tufts at David’s feet that his hands play with because he’s nervous.  And he feels empty.  David’s hands suddenly feel empty not holding a guitar.

“Why do you like being scared?  You’ve been here before, and yet you still feel it.  Like you have something else to lose.  And not your wife, or the child she is bearing.  Not even the memory of how you came here before.  In that ride that was offered, what that road that brought you here reminds you of…  You can’t say you’ve never looked through the smoke—because you have.  You’ve seen what I see.  How you were not just one being when you came here to sit across from me.  You split and then split again.  Your forms, your shadows, playing out your past behind you…  All your stories follow behind you.  They turn into the energy of your presence now.   What you like to see in a mirror—in the pictures you take—the composition of your past.  And some people think this is in your eyes, but this is not so.  The eyes lie just as the soul lies.  There are other signatures you leave behind that are not captured in the sunlight, not heard in the darkness.  They are the eyes of time.  A moment for all you’ve felt…  And yet you still like to be scared.  I feel your fear.  You’ve become addicted to it like a drug.  You’re sick with it.  It started as a poison you consumed because you liked how it made you feel.  You liked how the fear made you feel alive, and you didn’t think about what it was taking.  What it takes from you in what it gives—how in the end it consumes you…  And so you married it.  You married it in a fever and now you want me to take that fever away.  But if I’m to help you you must admit what you really want.  You must tell me.  You must tell me why you like to be afraid.  You must tell me why you want to be free…