512 Words

The Question of a Lifetime

M. Stanley Bubien

Though reluctant, though hesitant, I must, in honesty, make admission: I spoke to Bob Dylan.

Where I jogged, I cannot rightly say, for that would reveal too much, disclose more than dictated for prudence sake. Let me merely state that I ran a new route, ventured into uncharted territory for the simplest of changes of pace, and it was there that I spotted him, slightly hunched, shuffling along the sidewalk toward myself.

Typically, I would pay no heed, for often I skirted passersby as a matter of routine. However, I recognized a familiar gait in him, something seen once upon a never-forgotten evening.

Dark though the concert-hall had been, I leaned hard upon the stage, the screams of my brethren about me, applauding---nay, begging---for more. And out he came, weaving an obstacle course of his own imagining, all the while, unheeding his haziness, the audience erupted, my own voice straining as I leapt upward toward euphoria. This thunder our only method of praising a holy man for reaching into our souls and drawing out the power that made us feel what we feared to feel, believe more than what we believed, dream more than we dared dream---simply by speaking through his song.

Guitar pick upon index finger, and, absurdly inspired by the ovation, he smacked his head twice, stumbled though standing still and, without smiling, strummed the opening notes of a heady anthem.

I raised an arm ecstatically.

Yes! Even now, though pumping a road-weary rhythm to my treading, my arm lifted slightly in memory, lifted higher when I realized that the thanks I could only roar that night, I would this morning offer calmly, sotto voce, to this genius lingering ahead. Ah, the appropriate word, the single phrase to encompass the sum of my being, for being he touched---though body roughly treated that night.

For the throng, in their fervor, had thrust me full-force against the stage, and I, mid-howl, gasped as wind was forced from my lungs. Cheers rang as I choked, yet strangely, my straining brought me briefly into sanity, and for an instant, I deciphered his response: those cloudy eyes, that protruding nose, and those pallid lips, bent eternally, unyielding into a frown, his sole offering for the zealots at his feet. Yet, as breathing recovered, music called, returning me into the pandemonium from which I had presently retired. Soon, vision forgotten, I swayed like a church worshipper caught in a charismatic fever.

Fever threatening again, I stumbled in my jog, but quickly restored pace, bearing down upon Bob Dylan. His eyes cast resolutely groundward, and my heart joined them, for it well knew to connect, praise---impress!---was a fleeting opportunity.

But alas! Upward chin turned, and gaze followed, slowly, oh so slowly, yet swiftly enough, and prior to crossing paths his eyes met mine.

In that sallow look, the question of a lifetime, "what does one say to the greatest among us?" flashed before me---yet dissolved instantly from compassionate answer.

"'Morning," I mumbled to Mr. Dylan and passed unceasingly by.

Copyright ©1998 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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July, 1998
Issue #27

512 Words