I´m writing in the sun, sitting at a table I´ve put outside the front of the caravan. I´m trying to finish an article on the Monterey festival, it´s coming up soon and everyone is speculating on who will and won´t be performing, on audience numbers and on various other rumours that are flying about. The magazine I work for is bugging me for a piece with as much information as possible. I´ll do what I can. If everything goes well here at Big Pink, I may just drive the caravan across the country one more time to get to California for mid-June. It´d be great to meet Janis there again.
I look up from my papers to see Richard and Garth roll up laden with grocery packages and five hundred bags. They say hi as they get to the slope that leads to the door of the house.
„Hi Nar, whatcha up to?“ asks Garth, gasping for breath.
„Oh, just writing. Though I should´ve been down to do some shopping like you, because I´m actually out of coffee...“ I say off the top of my head, searching for something to say.
„Well hey, why don´t ya come get some of ours, we´ve got a couple of packets of the stuff,“ Richard calls across at me, struggling with armfuls of bags whilst trying to open the door.
„Wow, that´d be great!“ I say, jumping up at once.
I follow them inside the house. This is the first time I am in and I notice my legs are trembling. They put the shopping down here and there, in the living room, on top of sofas and on the table set in front of the big window that looks out into the forest. I notice it is covered with coloured bits of paper -some with handwritten notes, some typed- sitting between ashtrays both full and empty and an array of harmonicas, one of them in its case: a collage under which I sense the signature of Dylan.
„Fuck, there´s stuff everywhere!“ gripes Richard. „Maybe we´ll just leave the bottles here, the food we can put in the kitchen.“
I help them take the bags through and on the way I make a
mental note of as many details as possible. A rack full of jackets,
scarves and hats; guitars and boots littering the floor; mirrors
and pictures of different sizes hanging on the walls of the corridor
where I see several doors, open here and there.
Now in the kitchen, I´m immediately surprised by its spotlessness – and bothered I should even be thinking of so stilted a word. Maybe that´s why I blurt out idiotically:
„Not a single dirty plate! You should see the sink in my caravan... How do you manage it, there´s so many of you?“
„Well, I generally take care of it,“ murmurs Garth, putting the milk away in the fridge.
„Yeh, despite our best efforts, this kitchen still looks like a goddam operating theatre, ain´t that right, man?“ says Richard with a laugh.
„Everyone sure does their bit,“ Garth concluded on his way out.
Now on our own, Richard offers me a beer and a bourbon mixed in with a vague question:
„Rick mentioned you´d like to come down to the basement sometime and hear us play.“
„Well, I did drop a hint, just on the off-chance... He said he´d ask you what you thought about it...“
„And he did, I think he likes the idea. I also said it was ok. I don´t know you that well, but you seem alright. Robbie kept quiet and Garth wasn´t around. Dylan asked a couple of questions, then changed the subject, but you know what he´s like...“
„So that means...“
„So that means... Well, though Big Pink ain´t exactly a democratic republic, we usually decide on things together. Best not to get excited. Things change every day, you know, we´re having more and more fun and I don´t know if everyone is willing to share that with the strange bird that is nesting in the goddam caravan parked behind the house.“
„Well, sometimes „strange“ birds of a feather flock together. On the subject of strange, can I ask you a question?“
„What is that you´ve got round you neck? It looks a lot like this I´ve got, look...“
„Hmmm... We´d best talk about it another time.“
„Ok, I get it. I´m off."
I gulp down my bourbon and leave the kitchen. He stays there finising his off. On my way out, back down the corridor, I stop at the door that leads to the basement. It is ajar. I can see some steepish stairs going downwards, a dim light at the bottom. I don´t know how long I´ve been standing there when I hear Richard´s voice to my right.
„We´re just warming up the engine, Nar. You´ll have to wait, ok?, but it will be worth it.“
I´m sure it will. I'm waiting.