A woman approached me at a windswept gas station somewhere between Calgary and Edmonton:
‘Excuse me but did you drive here all the way from New York?’
I thought about it because I’m at the point in this tour now where I have to think out the answers to even the easiest questions.
‘Yes, I suppose I did.’
I hadn’t thought about it quite like that so it came as a bit of a surprise to me.
The woman shook my hand and pretty soon the whole family were gathered and she was asking if I’d mind if she took a photo because she was surely never going to see another New York licence plate in her lifetime. It crossed my mind that life must be pretty dull round here - you get born, the seasons change, you live, you die and you never see an out of state licence plate from somewhere exotic like New York or New Jersey or Pennsylvania or somewhere. There must be the odd bit of excitement, like lightning striking the grain silo or someone going mad - maybe even a murder…
‘What are you doing here? Where are you headed?’
I have to be careful what I say - I went a bit too far the other day at another remote gas station somewhere in Washington state. The attendant was a spotty kid with sticky out ears and an inquiring mind. He couldn’t help noticing my licence plate.
‘You’ve driven all the way from New York! What are you doing here?’
I fixed him with a look and said quietly: ‘I’ve come to kill a man.’
I calmly got in the car taking all the time in the world, gunned the motor and took off at high speed. You can do things like that when you’re wearing a battered straw hat, shades, and driving a large dark blue Buick.
I laughed as I drove away and suddenly felt a chill - what if he calls the cops…?
I want to tell them I’m a rock musician, a recording artist, a minor rock’n’roll star, on a huge US tour, blowing peoples minds…
Actually, no, I don’t. But I sort of wish they knew because my cover story is so fucking boring it even does me in: I always wanted to drive across America and when I retired my wife said 'go for it!' So here I am… I expect she just wanted to get me out from under her feet… and I can see them thinking who can blame her?
It’s really depressing pulling off a cover story like that.