Dear Brother #11 picks up after the PCs left Chicago and headed down to Mississippi. Chronologically speaking, these events occurred before those recorded in Dear Brother #10c, but we played them out after we played out the trip to Mexico. If I’d known we were going to do that I suppose I’d have held off on writing #10 until we’d finished playing the events leading up to it — but it doesn’t hurt the story at all, so no harm done.
On the other hand, we did wind up playing out the events described here after we played the events described in the upcoming Dear Brother #12. But this time I knew it was coming so I can write #11 and #12 in chronological order.
(None of this matters or impinges on the entertainment value one bit, so don’t worry. I’m just noting it so I’ll remember what happened years from now when I’m old and grey. And I’m not complaining, cause Rob makes it all work)
It is a funny thing. On our way out of Chicago we ran into the Reverend Preston and that Black Grail man George Thibodeaux again. It seems that they talked some after we freed the Reverend from old Thibodeaux and decided to go form another church together. I would worry about this some but from where I am sitting I think Chicago deserves whatever they come up with.
But that is not what I wanted to write down today. We did some things down in Mississippi which I am fair proud of and that seems worth remembering, so I will write about those. When you read this, you can tell me all the things I left out, and I will tell you why they did not matter. Ha!
After Chicago we had a good hour of arguing about what to do next. Blind Joe was the problem, of course. He makes for trouble even if he is not busy selling us to Pinkertons, but in the end he is one of the new League and even a blind man can see how he and we are tied together.
So in the end we all decided we would go off to Clarksdale, which is nearby the Mississippi River, and where Blind Joe is from. That Lewis Felt told us back in Washington that there was a Delilah woman there who could say some sharp things about Joe, and I was curious about all that too.
We had a drive down there without any storms, unless you count some messing around down in the south part of Illinois. When we got there we left Miss Angie and Joe in a Baptist church and drove around some to see the town. I thought I spotted a handful of those brown Pinkerton suits, but Ben said not. Well, he has only been to college, not to jail, so what does he know?
After a while we drove back to the church and listened outside a bit. I think things inside were not going so well. They were trying to make the Judgment Day into a Redemption Day but the old song kept crawling back in like a snake. In the end we went in and got Joe and Miss Angie and said it was time to go visit this Delilah West woman whether the song was fixed or not.
When we drove over to her house she was not there, just our luck. But there was a pretty girl there named Emmy, who was the daughter of Delilah and if I do not miss my guess, the granddaughter of our own Blind Joe Biscuit as well. Or maybe his great-granddaughter, since he is so awful old. It is hard to tell.
But of course he would not come out and say he might be kin to her. Instead he just did all those stupid things people do when they are afraid, and gave Emmy his guitar with the silver strings. Well, why would a man give away a guitar like that except to kin?
Then a little boy came running out from the house, and Emmy looked at Blind Joe like she knew the whole story and said the boy’s name was Joe too. The whole family of his is just stupid. It is almost a sin to deny your family, and the more so if it is standing right in front of you.
I suppose I should admit I got more than a little angry at old Joe then. When we left Miss Delilah’s house he made that old man sound he makes and said “Well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” So I told him he was being an idiot and I did not coat it in honey or any other such thing. I guess I had gotten about my fill of him being a coward then. It is bad enough that he got scared and betrayed us but I had no stomach to see him hide from his daughter when they were in the same town.
So we drove over to the hospital, where that Emmy told us Miss Delilah was working. The lady at the front desk did not know the name at first, but after a while she remembered Delilah was mopping floors up on the third floor. Like sitting at a front desk is so high she could not see the people who mop the floors. I am not sure about this hometown of Joe’s.
When we found Delilah she did not want any part of Joe. Well, I could not much blame her. Still, I knew that these two had roads which needed to meet before they ended, so I kept at the both of them until they at least traded words. Joe told her not to let the boy play that guitar of his. And Ben made Joey Dell give Miss Delilah all his money. I am not so sure how Joey came to still be with us. A little like the chewing gum down on the bottom of your shoe, I suppose.
Afterwards we went to the crossroads, which I guess was the same place that Joe met the Man back when he was a young man and stupid. Wait, he is still stupid. Me and Waylan did not much like the idea of playing the Redemption Song in a place that everyone knows belongs to the Devil, so we thought a while and decided to turn it into one of those circle roads they have up in New England where the ground is all stones. They call them a rotary, which is a good simple name for a simple thing.
We hired out a little bulldozer and some tools and before the night came we turned that crossroads into a place where we thought the Man would have no purchase at all. Then we waited around until midnight. Nobody talked a whole lot, which is not much like us but I think we all knew that someone was coming to an end soon and we thought that Joe was the someone even if we did not want to admit it.
At midnight we all made sure we was inside the circle — I mean the rotary — and Blind Joe and Angie, they started to play and sing. It was not real long before a big old Southern mansion turned up beyond the circle while we were not looking. I know that makes me sound like I drink as much as old Blind Joe used to, but it is what happened. You could ask Angie, and maybe she would tell you how she dropped the song and went to run and grabbed onto Waylan tight enough to make him make a face.
Inside the mansion we could see faces peering out at us. They were clawing at the windows, like they wanted to get at the song somehow. I could not see clear, like it was through a fog, but they were painted in blackface like the old-time minstrel entertainers.
Just about then Lewis Felt showed up in his shit-brown suit, all whimpering and whining about how Joe and Angie were ruining the song. Waylan went to pistol-whip him, and I think he put too much anger in it, because his gun went off and he shot his car by accident. Waylan and Felt have a history from back in Los Angeles.
Then I shot at Felt myself, and I missed too. Well, I guess that is when I found out why Joey Dell was with us, because he dove for that Felt and drove him down into the ground. Felt gave us no more trouble that night and never will ever again.
Then we all got back inside the circle quick, because the blackfaces inside the mansion were getting out and more important the Man came out of his big white house with a face like thunder. He wanted to know the same thing Lewis Felt did, asking what the hell we were doing to his song, but somehow when he asked it he had a little more force in it.
Angie got nervous all over again, but when the Man sassed her for it you could see it put her back up. It was just the wrong thing to say to a Southern girl with her courage. He kept trying anyhow, though, talking a big lot of garbage about how he gave Joe and his forefathers the biggest gift ever, how he made them Americans. But the way I see it, he pawned off a cheap gilt imitation on them. Americans are free.
When he saw he was getting nowhere, he came into the circle, which made me startle some. I suppose you cannot expect to stop a man like him with just a little roadworks, but I think we made him a little uncomfortable anyhow. Ben stepped up to get in his way like a good king would. But the Man told Ben he had been a member of the Trumps long before Grandpa Siegel became a wizard, and anyhow there was another King in this country. Strong words.
Waylan managed to get the LS6 running again around then and drove it straight into the Man, which was no kind of plan at all. The hood bent around him like he was made of concrete. That orichalka is potent stuff against the Nephilim but the men and women who sit in the Trumps are made stronger than that.
Still and all, it gave Joe and Angie just the time they needed to get the song just right and before the Man knew it all his blackfaces were singing along with them, like they found the road out of that cursed mansion and it was six lanes of blacktop with no traffic. The Man swore some and stuck out his hand and put it on Joe’s chest and right there in the middle of the song Joe just stopped, not much mystery why.
But Angie kept on singing and every note was perfect as summer. And while she sang the Man and everything he brought just melted away like it was raining. Which it was, of a sudden. And Angie kept on singing, and in the end it was just us and Blind Joe, finally at the end of his road, with us there to see it and lay him to rest.
I had a feeling on the way down to Clarksdale that I might need a sign to mark a grave with, and in the end I was right. I went back to the trunk and got it out. It said “Blind Joe Biscuit Road” on it, which is a damn sight better grave marker than most men get and if I get a green American road sign over my resting place I will be happier than most men too.
Tomorrow morning we will drive on to Mexico. Danny says he is feeling a powerful tug and it seems like it is time to start heeding those. We did for Blind Joe and I guess that was proper. If I was judge and jury I might have been crueller to the old man, but I am not so proud as to think I would be a good judge. He found his redemption and I can forgive him even if I wound up not much liking him in the end.