Pa was some kinda war hero. Least that’s what they tell me. Ma was one of those kinda women you meet at a bar and lose yer head over. After the alcohol done wore off though, you put yer head and yer hat right back on and hope you left nothing behind. Except Pa did leave somethin behind; he left me.

We’d get the checks every month. 600 dollars for his little girl. Grew up in Wyoming. Worked as a wrangler for the rich folks up at Brush Tree Creek Ranch. Bunch of us kids from the town with nothing better to do. Job had its perks though. Got to meet some nice folk. Tend to the animals. And do what I love doing, just riding.

Ma worked as a nurse caring for old folks. Ever since I was little I would go with her and play my guitar on Saturdays. Kinda became a regular thing. Folks there said it kinda made them feel better too. That made me feel better. Growing up with Ma felt like she blamed me for her problems. Was pretty obvious she fancied Jack Daniels over me. After a while, the old folks started giving me a little money for playing. I didn’t play because I wanted no money but I took it for sure. Truth be told, them was the only folks felt like hearing me play. And them was the only folks I felt like playing for. Hell, most of em was hard of hearing anyway. Started learning other instruments too. By the end of it, I could play the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, dobro, cello, hell just about anything with strings.

Cheyenne Frontier Days was coming up and me and the girls were planning on driving down. Had some time off, a little money, and nothing better to do. Was packing up to head down when a couple of military trucks pulled up. Out stepped a bunch of handsome men dressed in their whites. Only meant one thing.  I watched from my room window as they handed Ma the folded flag and headed on their way.

That evening, I walked passed ma, drunk and slumped over in her chair. I saw the folded flag on top of a trash bag filled with a bunch of papers. On top of the flag was letter that said, “To Dakota”. It was from Pa. A letter he worte in case of he died. I looked deeper in the trash bag. Had about 500 letters Pa had sent me in my lifetime. Pictures of him in Iraq. Next to tanks, helicopters, artillery. Ma hid them from me. All this time.

My whole life, I thought I was just a check to him. Well, believe me, I jumped on that bitch and slapped her until she woke up. Woke up puking. Armed herself with the fire poker. I screamed at her about the letters. Said she didn’t have the heart to give em to me but didn’t have the heart to throw em out either. Ha! Didn’t have the heart.

She told me to get out which was all fine cause I wasn’t going back anyway. I grabbed my bag, hopped in the truck with the girls, and rode off. Wasn’t sure what I was going to do after but I didn’t care.

Didn’t want to be no sourpuss so drank everything I could. Girls told me to slow down but I didn’t listen. Started puking about two hours out of town. Had my friend Morrigan pull over. I stumbled out of the truck barely able to stand up. Guess I tripped on somethin cause I hit my head on some kind of rock. Alls I remember is suddenly looking down on the girls trying to work on me. Wasn’t no 911 coming out there for me.

And yep, that’s how I died. No nuclear bombs. No defiance in the face of Nazis. No trips back and forth to purgatory. On a rock in the middle of Wyoming. Drunk as a skunk. With some time off, a little money, and nothing better to do.

As I hovered over my death scene a voice asked me if I wanted to go back. It Head Teacher Thesis. “Hell yah”, I said. “What do I have to do sell my soul to the devil or somethin?” She said just agree to go back. So I did. Hell, I taught myself how to shoot, how to ride, how to play. Wasn’t gonna let no grave hold me down.

Next thing I know, I opened my eyes to a bunch of folk speaking some other language over me. Couldn’t move. Placed in a box and arrived here a few days later. Head Teacher Thesis said welcome and the rest is history. Once the girls here found out how I died, they started calling me “Moonshine”. Not a bad nickname, I guess.

Not sure how any of this is gonna help get me back home but I guess I didn’t have much to go back to anyway. Turns out my playing makes folks feel better. Head Teacher Thesis says if I play good enough I’ll make it back one day. Maybe even be able to meet Pa. Not sure how that’s gonna happen but I’d better try, I guess.

Aint got nothin better to do.  

Sorry for cursing.

Nothing better to do.

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