Well I didn’t really know what he was talking about until I walked through Thompson Woods myself and here it is almost Veteran’s Day the students stand in line to vote in the Student Center it’s been uncommonly warm up until now and the paths behind Faner Hall are crisp with colored leaves the trees not quite naked yet and a fine time to be walking in the woods so when my father told me about them on the levee in New Orleans during a Taj Mahal concert this my senior year at Tulane 1997 after my piece of shit Ford Escort broke down in Memphis on my way back to school from St. Louis (had to give two blacks twenty bucks and bought them a six pack to take me to AutoZone and fix my starter at a gas station in Horn Lake) but the oil was leaking too and like a dumbshit I put too much in then the fuckin’ rods started knockin’ on the causeway right at the I-55/I-10 interchange and if you know that’s pretty much a long bridge over bayou with nothin’ had to get it towed the rest of the way and had it dumped in front of our house on Burdette Street and now my father had driven all the way down to haul it back (he should have never bought it from that ex-con conformed Christian from the barber shop fixing Fords out of his garage) anyway he said he lost his mind in those woods this I guess back in 1960 and ROTC and examinations were getting to him and I guess he decided to tell me this because I had dropped acid before the concert (he didn’t partake and it was my first time got 5 tabs from a genetics major I roomed with freshman year in the Honors Dorm I took a tab with my father then I used the 4 other tabs with two ROTC buddies and my roommate) and my father being a retired Air Force Colonel watching us students with our blankets in the grass digging the blues on the outdoor stage (I highly recommend Taj Mahal) took a walk with me down to the muddy shore of the Mississippi where the barges were tied up and the driftwood mingled with the lines the music above us and behind and that’s when he told me about Thompson Woods and what happened there but then you need to know a little about my father he was valedictorian of his high school and during his speech in Taylorville the cops came to arrest him because of a joy ride he took with his brother in a stolen car a white trash background to say the least his father a carnie and a drunk dead when my father was seven the family name an alias William Akley beat a man to death in a fight and changed his name my dad’s step-father no better a drunk too and at sixteen he moved out leaving his some 14 siblings and half-siblings with one pair of blue jeans he washed every day hating hominy for the rest of his life always refusing the milk the teachers tried to give him in the school cafeteria so when the principal of the high school came to talk to him about a scholarship to SIU while he was busting out a field I wonder why he went he told me some things but I guess you don’t really talk about that and my mother said he was different before he went to Vietnam (he volunteered after being a nuclear weapons officer in the Netherlands his peers said it wasn’t a very good career move my sister was born in Germany I was born after he came back from Vietnam while he was at the Pentagon) anyway he wanted to pursue a graduate degree in psychology while he was SIU (he was an English major) and he wanted to be a counselor in fact he did just that with returning prisoners of war but he met my mother in the school cafeteria where he was working as a busboy and she spilled her coffee to get his attention and ROTC and the military would provide the stability he never had growing up so despite the visits I remember to his family (they were always moving but to me it was always like “The Jerk” the same yard out on a back road with junk in it mange dogs running and you better know how to run the power lines his mother before she died in bath robe varicose veins above the slippers sitting on a badly upholstered couch that didn’t seem to change Sis and Pud and Rosie just out of jail for writing bad checks always asking my father for money since his mother’s Social Security and Pud’s disability didn’t quite cover the bills) you can’t really escape that my father couldn’t really escape that they say a man’s character is his fate but where does a man’s character come from so it is funny taking a walk through those woods Thompson Woods where my father lost his mind back in 1960 holding my ex-wife’s hand on a Saturday night before Daylight Savings Time watching our children run ahead (it’s still not Veteran’s Day yet not even Election Day she stole my mail last Thursday while I was at SIU finishing up Delbo’s Auschwitz and After and viewing the dystopian movie “District 9” but she made chili and it’s fine weather for chili for a walk in the woods and she’s wearing the ring my father gave to my mother just on the wrong hand) it was a purple sunset and I guess the marching band had practice we watched them walking back to their dorms with their instruments…

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