It was getting near midnight and the road through the swamp was dark and desolate. It was so dark that the headlights barely lit the blacktop road. So far, I had seen several deer, a bear, and the ghostly Carolina cougar. I could sense that I was getting past the swamps and into the higher farmlands where cotton was king and the fields went on forever. I had been here once before during the big snowstorm that closed I 95, and I hoped the BBQ place where I spent several snow-filled days would still be there.
In the distance, I could see the familiar neon sign blinking on and off. The old sign still said Ray Ray’s Juke Joint BBQ, Beer And Blues. I was told that it had closed many years ago. The building was old and run down and slowly fading away. As I got closer, the lights were bright lighting up the parking lot. In truth, it was a bit run down and as I got out, I could smell the BBQ and hear an upright piano with someone playing some serious sad blues. I knew the song by Roosevelt Sykes.
I walked into the dimly lit room, and I saw the old man playing. The song was so sad, and I could see his tears. He was the pitmaster when I was last there. I walked across the scratched and worn dance floor, pulled up a chair, and asked him why he was so sad. We sat for a while eating BBQ, sipping straight Bourbon, and sharing road stories. Finally, he said you know it’s near midnight and I have to go, you have to go as well or you will always be here. I told him it hurt me to know he was so sad and alone.
He gave me a smile and did a blues run on the piano and said the road we travel is sad and our memories painful. Sometimes the song is so sad that even angels get the blues. I left him there at the table and drove off down the road. The sign blinked off, the building once again dark and forgotten, and I knew that I was given a few moments with an old friend to talk about the blues.