La Muerte de Luis Urrea
It's hard to be on the road, far from home, and doing your thing for the public when you're sick. As nice as everybody is, and people in Kenne New Hampshire were extremely nice, you're still among strangers and you feel small and want to get in your own bed. But the show must go on.

It was a hard day getting there--we were late, for some reason, getting to the airport. And I had to hustle to a different terminal. The usual. Flew to New Hapnshire and met my loquacious van driver, George. We had to drive 100 miles into the mountains. You know how I hated that! Pine trees and snow and frozen streams and frozen lakes. I could have just driven forever up there, passing through small towns, climbing Mount Monadnock.

By the time George dropped me off at the B&B in town, I was late for my class visit. It had already been a busy day--up before 6, 50 mile dash to the airport, flight across the eastern states, 100 miles with George. I had time to run into my room and put on a tie and dash to the university to meet students. Two class lectures later, it was time for the banquet with various people I didn't know. Quite friendly. Good food. And then it was down to the theater/hall for my event. Honestly, my head was still spinning from the airport and the drive. I had a fever and my ears were ringing and I was dizzy.

There was an extraordinary event before my talk: classical musicians played an original piece for classical guitar and viola inspired by The Devil's Highway. I was amazed and moved by the music, and deeply gratified when they presented me with the libretto, I don't know why my work is showing up in music lately. I can't read music, yet I get musical scores with my anme on them. This seemes kind of mysterious and perhaps even miraculous.

It might have been the fever, but I swetaed through my clothes. I tried not to cough too much into the mike. I sprung a new policy on the audience: I brought an autograph book and told them I'd sign their books, but they had to sign mine. A great success! It was like a 9th grade yearbook signing party, and I have all kinds of really neat comments in my book. So when you come see me, bring your pen, because you're signing my book for me.

I saw dear friends I have not seen in many years--an unexpected blessing in the mnidst of feeling beat and trying to attend to my new friends. You end up feeling torn--do you hug and rub and murmur to your dear friends from the past, or do you give all your attention to the kind and open-hearted new friend who has discovered you through your writing? Because you can't do both, though you try, and you feel a sad rip inside when one or the other is forced away by the crowd.

The musicians were going out to drink--hey, they're musicians. I just couldn't. I wanted to go to bed. So my hosts walked me to the B&B and dropped me off. I got inside feeling sad and lonesome, yet crabby and evil. I could not stop coughing. I dragged myself into bed like a whiipped dog, wondering why I was the kind of writer that goes out to see people all the time. I WANTED TO STAY HOME IN MY OWN BED WITH MY OWN WIFE! Then why was I so cranky with her when we tried to talk on the phone? Miserable bad dog husband, coughing like a tubercular groundhog.

First thing this morning, there was my ol' pal George again! We were off for another sweet 100 mile drive. Back to the airport. Back on the narrow stinky crowded plane. But reading Richard Price with great awe. Choking down cough drops so the guy sitting half in my lap didn't think he was going to die of Bird Flu. Got to Chi: snowing. No. Nooooo! Not more snow!

Tony Delcavo had driven from Colorado, and he brought me a giant cow skull. He picked me up at O'Hare and we came home and we ate dinner and now I'm going to bed because we leave for Detroit first thing in the morning. And from Detroit, I fly to Austin. Texas. That li'l bit of heaven. Cindy and the girls will board my plane on my lay-over, and we'll take Chayo to see the billion bats of Austin...and I'm going to go stare at Kerouac's typed scroll, too.

It's like a weird dream--I leave Chicago only to return to Chicago only to leave Chicago only to return....

Speaking of weird dreams. It must have been my exhaustion, or maybe the fever. But last night, I dreamed I was dead. I was at my own funeral. You were there--I saw you. You were all across this big dance hall, sitting in your chairs. I was over here, with some homeys and Cinderella. They, apparently, could see me. And my job was to play a wooden flute for my own funeral. I had to see to it that sad long melancholy weepy notes played so you all would cry. How stupid! I hated it! And some of you looked over at me and saw me and laughed because you knew how stupid it was for God to make me be in charge of making you feel bad that I was dead. I said, "I don't care if they mourn or not! This is st--" when the B&B guy knocked on my door to wake me up. Apparently still alive.


My head's actually rolling and sloshing as if I'd gone out drinking with bad-ass classical musicians.

I'll probably send you a road report from Austin or Aspen.

Viva New Hampshire! Viva Keene! Viva George! And, as far as I can tell, Viva Me!

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