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 but see people want the fucking end of the world so let me tell you about my ex-wife about how our children catch us fuck as I put my suitcase against the door and she says I should get a fucking lock on the door but against Delilah’s denials we were married once and how the fuck do they think she and Bell got here and so let me just do a rundown of the last week since Daylight Savings Time since I saw the soldiers stand with their heads bowed on campus Delilah turned ten the day after election day I won’t talk about her birthday let me just talk about Veteran’s day I locked Delilah’s phone the Walmart special smartphone I gave her for her birthday then fuck Leonard Cohen died and my ex-wife admitted she cried hard so I turned Delilah’s phone back on and she texted they were going to Toys R Us to use her birthday money and I said come get me I don’t know how many lip balms she made me smell from all that aisle from young girls I had to get a shopping cart her favorite purchase the poop emoji pillow and she promised to give me the six dollars she went over at the cash register then we took a drive in my ex-wife’s new Ford Fusion (she hasn’t had to make a payment yet) listening to Beethoven from a CD left in the car she rolled some doobies from my weed and I tell you what God made some beautiful weather as we drove past Devil’s Kitchen where the road is closed right now and headed to Giant City my ex-wife wanted to climb the water tower at the Lodge and the girls came down the stairs on their butts after seeing the cross way over on Bald Knob and we met a man from one of my previous stories a veteran himself his son killed himself out by the Herrin Lake Reservoir a couple years back (that’s how long I’ve been writing this book) he was climbing up with a pair of binoculars I said that was a good idea and his daughter Bell’s age said they were hers then instead of eating we took the trail at Devil’s Standtable the girls noticed a lot of fucking bird feathers under the rock overhang I handed my ex-wife one and said, “Birds of a feather…” she just laughed and mentioned it later after we read the sign about erosion and a glacier from a million years ago then we went back to the Lodge and ate the chicken I love how they have books about the Shelton Gang in the gift shop as my ex-wife said, “Good old Charlie Birger…” and she talked about Leonard Cohen again how she was lonely and listened to him a lot and Delilah asked me about the first time I heard him it was back at Tulane I bought his CD “Songs of Leonard Cohen” from a music store on Maple Street and my roommate from New York stole it from me and laid in bed all day listening to it and as my ex-wife said he was a gentleman and a poet and then we came home because I was expecting a package from China and Bell chose “Superstar” on Netflix and it made me cry because yes God does work in mysterious ways after my ex-wife and I both told Delilah to shut off the Vine compilations on YouTube and read a book even though it is creative but exhausting and futile and Delilah and I talked about how they’re shutting it down anyway then from the hard-on my ex-wife could feel at Castle Park as I was rubbing her back (the neck dissection she went through while were married a vascular tumor grew from hormones because of the pregnancies that and finances fucked up our marriage) Delilah texting me “LOL” because she heard her mother saying a muscle was stirring and after faking sleeping well we fucked and it was stinky and good and it’s happened many times before and there were stains in the bed the girls had to sleep next to me in after she left (we listened to Leonard “You Want It Darker” and danced to “Traveling Light” before Delilah interrupted us with a broken earing of the Eiffel Tower) she’s working and I have the girls this weekend and Delilah wore her monkey ear muffs and sleeping blindfold Bell the first one up this morning watching the lava lamp (another purchase from Toys R Us) as I listen to Leonard Cohen already drunk waiting for the liquor store to open at 0900 and as I write this Bell gives me a hug because she chose the movie “Nine Lives” last night before we went to bed and Keven Spacey is fucking good and that’s all I have to say right now….