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J. Edward Kruft

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy He picked me up just past Johnny’s at Fife, along a stretch of service road that ran under the freeway. He pulled up in a gold ’68 Mercury with power windows, and you derisively asked if this was really the sort of thing I was looking for. But then down came the window and he was just so damned beautiful in that white-Jesus sort of way that even you were momentarily silenced. You: the incessant, omnipresent chorus of parents and teachers and other strident fingerwagers. So I slid my bag between us on the long, chocolate brown seat

and got in. Elton John was playing: “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” You asked if that was ironic or corny or both. You asked what I was doing in a stranger’s car. And then he asked if I was a runaway, just matter-of-fact. I told him not exactly, that I wasn’t so much leaving a place as I was just maybe looking for my next one. Anyway, I was already too old to be a runaway, I told him; not a kid anymore. I unzipped my duffle bag and the head of my Westie, Toto, peeked out. Toto looked at the driver, who had said his name was Tom,

and gave a little bark. Tom smiled and said the way he figured it, we were looking for a place to crash. A short while later we pulled into the driveway of a rundown Victorian with lights burning from every window. Inside there were others: some sitting around the TV watching Barney Miller; others alone in darker corners, reading or talking or eating cantaloupe chunks with chopsticks. Elton John played here, too. The album was just out – I’d seen a life-size cutout of him downtown before making for the service

Crack the Spine - Issue 125  

Literary Magazine