I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did.'
Donny squatted by the railroad tracks out back in the rain. He thought, this is it.
This is it, he thought and it started to rain. The sky was blank and white and it started to rain with the water streaking down the sky and dripped with hair down his eyes. He sat on the edge of a tie, where the tar was coming up black between the lines of saturated grains. The tie stuck over the edge of the railroad bed hump, poked out between where the grasses grew gray and he sat there thinking everything was over.
He wasn't coming from the train or going to it. The tracks was just sort of there, crossing his path like a cat that could have been black but couldn't be seen because it was dark. He didn't know what this meant, this railroad and this rain, this white sky and gray ground and colorless water. He decided it was bad and this was it.
This is the end, Donny said, and he sat down. He rocked back and forth and he moaned out indistinct sounds smeared together. He plucked a seed head off a stem of grass and held it between his fingers. He held it between his fingers, the first and the second and then the first and the thumb. The head fell apart, separating into seeds and falling apart.
It seemed like he should say something. He tried to think of something to say, but all he could remember was a song (hey diddle do wop diddle, hey hey diddle do dum, hey do hey do, kingdom come) and he wasn't sure he had it right. He wasn't sure where that was from.
He started to scream. He threw himself back, laying down on the tracks with his head banging on the rail.
Doo wop diddle. Diddle do do wop diddle pop lollipop do. He was pretty sure that was an advertisement from a couple of years ago. For gum maybe. What a jingle to think of.
The rain cut it out. The rain stopped falling and everything went quiet with the rain and he stopped.
He laughed. He pulled away. It wasn't serious. It hurt though. Shut up, he said and he stopped laughing and stood up.
He crossed the railroad over the tie where the tar was leaking out in lines. He went over the rails and off the other end of the tie and down the road bed hump. He passed through a ditch of leaky brown water and up to the alley where it started off between gas meters and an empty dog house.
Diddle do, Donny said, Jesus, diddle wop do.