“I found it.  I found the letter but I wasn’t looking for it.  It was in his guitar case not the electric the Gibson he almost never played anymore in fact it burned and destroyed down in Mississippi when he went back there in ’67 and not on some Chitlin’ Circuit but to settle a deal payin’ in blood not his:  No he played a Fender after we were born the Gibson kept in some closet back in a storeroom of his father’s pawn shop and after Benjy died he returned to East St. Louis to see his mother but he didn’t stay he came just to get the guitar cause you see I think he already had plans for it some last vestige of showmanship I guess to say, ‘I am done with it…’ and the letter was with the other guitar the acoustic his first guitar made of wood and strings an ancient bullet hole there where he stuffed the letter no longer folded along the yellowed creases but rolled up and stuffed in that hole like a message in a bottle…  He left it in Sunset with my mother at her cousin’s place after he got the phone call about Benjy and now there are the stories the sides and which side you’re on based on what facts are put into focus because I know there is some original before all the counterfeits gone viral before you know the story and try to tell it for a particular listener to make them happy maybe because you see it’s about attention…” (Attention? The lover asks:  Is that how it began?  After you showed me after I’d seen it the yellow age the creased folds and one word a name on top of the folded edges—Maddie—is that what happened?  The story changes the original and who it was for transmuted into reader after reader and they go tell it after they’ve read it how they tell it who reads it next generation after generation the before the original like a lost recording a house of squabbling women and was it meant for me or meant for you and for all of us on a side betrayed or the betrayer when we take the truth and make it our own world…  The story nothing but what it is to the one who reads it how I hear you know telling me this knowing what I already know how not one word remains immutable except in the immutable change the undisputed fact that  your brother is dead that he had to die not in his own design but in that of your father’s how the stories overlap from generation to generation and like an infestation a reproducible law you are bitten and scratch at the surface of what is hidden what remains sleeping in your soul what maybe your father’s songs are all about the sounds he made on a guitar for if Benjy hadn’t died in Hemphill if he’d made it across the Sabine in April 1966 he would have died anyway because you said he was being drafted—he was being sent off to fight in Vietnam and like many boys he had no illusions about coming home the same as when he left…)  “Yes but it was just a faded copy.  That’s what became of it—the story.  The story Benjy heard.  The story my father heard.  What I hear and tell you and what you hear and go tell.  The ink runs.  The images dissolve.  And a hard truth forms either of integrity to character and not reputation or a despair into dogmatism a I was right and I’ll always be right—an identity—you see?  The letter wasn’t a story, but it became one.  It’s about what gets canonized.  Your chosen response.  Whether you say as God go thou and sin no more or as God’s child you say he who is without sin cast the first stone…  You see?  The story becomes you or you become it—I don’t know—and what happens?  What happens if you don’t do what it says—if you do nothing?  What happens if you haven’t heard it at all?  You didn’t read it?  What is the story then?  Perhaps this is the original.  Before all the counterfeits.  The original is the story you don’t read you don’t hear yet it is the silence to all your doubts.  What it isn’t becoming what you are…”

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