Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pixies with Chiggers and Sweet Gordy Sings

Rick McKinney is an acclaimed writer that features "Gordy" (aka Rorey Carroll) in one of his many intimate tales of his adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail. His book is titled "Dead Men Hike No Trails."

Read here what he has to say about their fleeting encounter on the trail.

Brief sweet moment last night, however, in crowded shelter thus tight up against pretty young Gordy, the wood nymph. She pulled out her guitar and sang angelic, a siren benign without her rocky shoals yet powerful enough in song to pull us all in, every ear in the crowded shelter that night attuned, listening.

I nursed her on my fifth of mescal by candlelight while a dozen guys and a girl or two looked on in the dark, gaga. “Too bad she’s southbound,” I thought to myself. “I’ll likely never see her again.” Another ghost, another angel!

Gordy is a ski lift operator in the other world. Her bare legs are long cat scratch posts, all scrapes and mud and bug bites and long gouges and dried blood. Suddenly I am Tarzan, and they’re beautiful in a Jane kind of way. I ask about the gouges. “Chiggers,” she says. How do you kill chiggers? “Nail polish. You suffocate ’em. They die beneath your skin.” Then what? I don’t want to know.

Wild girl Gordy strums her guitar, a narrow thing lute-like, and sings sweetly from a handful of damp and dog-eared lyrics somebody printed off the Web and carried, triple-folded in rain-soaked pockets. Now it’s the Dead and “I Know You Rider,” and Arms, the quiet giant, has joined in on his guitar, peeling off the bubblewrap and tape with which he carefully protected it from the rain. Beat Box, ever the man to reappear in my hike no matter how much time I take off or fall behind or climb ahead, he’s there. He appears here tonight phantom-like, the genie from the bottle, his ever-singing spirit Aladdin. Loquacious and never at a loss for quoted words or lyrics, he seems to stumble in the face of true love. “Gordy, if you were a guitar, you are the one I’d pick,” he says.

Now Beat Box has bowed out, gone back to his journal. Gordy sings “No Expectations” and Arms play along here in the loft of the William Penn Shelter. A friend writes and describes swimming with dolphins and though I can only imagine, I feel I can relate after this day of so much rain like walking through waterfalls. Gordy, the siren, the mermaid, gives us music, a higher intelligence than these dull and static words. Tonight I, too, swam with dolphins.

[From Chapter Fourteen, "Dead Men Hike No Trails" by Rick McKinney]

Learn more about Rick McKinney on his website:

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