I was tripping on acid
At a Russian restaurant
In an upscale strip mall
Waiting on a friend
For a ride home
When I heard the news.

I walked outside
To look at the cloudless evening sky
And spotted a dark-haired girl
In a sundress
Dripping tears on the concrete ground.

I said nothing.

She looked up at me
And said, “He’s gone.”
And then she sang,
“He’s gaw aw aw aw awon. He’s gone
Never gonna come on back.”

“What happened?” I asked.

And she told me about you
And where you went
And how sad she was that she never got to see you play.

I didn’t tell her how many times I had seen you play.
Because it felt like I’d have been pissing
On her tears.

A man in a baseball cap
And untamed beard
Emerged from the restaurant’s kitchen in a white apron
And hugged her
Almost violently.

When he finished kissing and caressing her
He pulled a wad of green gum from his mouth
And tossed it onto an ant hill.
The ants devoured it.
And I couldn’t avert my eyes from their feast
Or frenzy.

My first thought was that I needed a new plan for money.
As you and your people were my ticket to unreported cash.
My second thought was about your people.

Where would they go?

Thousands upon thousands of people who wrapped their lives in your existence,
In your suffering
And in your joy
All gone to travel a giant road that led to no place but away,
Away from you and all the love you passed through songs
Away and gone
With not nothing
Not nowhere
On their minds.

I silently prayed.
And then I thanked you out loud.

“Yeah,” said the little girl in the sundress,
Now leaning up against the restaurant’s brick façade
A brown cigarette smoldering in her right hand
And a cautious smile registering across her face.

“Yeah,” she said again.
“Thank you, Jerry. Thanks a lot.”

My friend picked that moment
To arrive with his car.

I said nothing the whole way home.

Neither did he.

“It’ll be okay,” he said when he arrived at my house.

“It’ll be okay.”

Jerry Garcia
August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995

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