He was a young man in the 50’s with an old, nomadic soul.
He lived on the bare minimum. Pulls of whiskey and lungfuls of the night air as he passed under the stars, lying in the back of a man’s truck because it was too cold to sit up, in case the wind filled the sleeves of his shirt. All of his senses were exposed by hunger, by thirst – but that was how he wanted it – to experience life at its thickest.
Worn white undershirts and broken-collar jackets, woollen flannels with threadbare cuffs and loosened ties. Broad-shouldered, broad-backed and bandy-legged – the most sentimental, the most reminiscent, the most nostalgic wanderer. He was starved for talk, to hear something he hadn’t heard, to feel something he hadn’t felt.
A voice tinted with garage-grease, barely-combed hair and a clean-shaven, hard-lined jaw. A soft, serious face, gentle eyes, a sullen mouth and quiet, ready hands. He traveled at night and slept during the day. He fed himself with the daydreams that surge in from the flooded horizon, his head tipped against the window of a car.
His body lived moment by moment, like a true traveller. But his heart lingered on in the towns he left, like a cigarette left to burn out, slowly, smoke winding upwards. He wandered almost aimlessly, restless for the life on the road. His stories were chopped and changed and dissected, but the idea of him, the romance of him, has remained.
He was searching for paradise, without realising he had already found it. He was the lonesome traveller, hundreds of sunrises and sunsets saw the back of his neck, going browner all the time. He had as much feeling and as much thought as he did when he was a child, when he was a teenager and he was acutely aware of it. He was attuned to the earth.
He never could have lasted. He gave too much. But he hummed into the distance, moving through towns effortlessly like a train with no passengers.
He was a young man in the 50’s, with an old, nomadic soul.