16. A Quarter for Katie

Katie Campbell was eight years old when she died. She had just learned to ride her bike and she was making large loops around the park at the top of Love Hill when a car came tearing up the road and into the park and, like a bubble bursting in the hot summer air, she was gone.

People see Katie all the time, right at the entrance to the park, and they have no idea she’s a ghost. She looks just like a kid from the neighborhood, doing ordinary kid-from-the-neighborhood things. She looks happy.

But, in the morning, that’s different.

She’s not there every morning, but often enough, right at the break of day, as the first rays of light break across the horizon, she is sitting there, in the middle of the street, her knees drawn up to her chin and she is crying.

“I want my momma,” she says, so plain it forces your heart into your throat, even before she looks up at you, the way kids do when they still have full faith in adults. “Please, can I borrow a quarter to call my momma?”

Very few people can stand to not give her a quarter, if they have one. But, it is said, once she touches it, she disappears and the quarter clanks to the asphalt.

If you are at the top of Love Hill and you notice quarters just outside the entrance to the park, this is because it is considered especially good luck to leave quarters for Katie and especially terrible luck to remove them.

Pope’s Place

I took the Butcher to Pope’s Place in Madison to see the Mark Robinson Showband and Rhythm Review (that might not be the exactly correct name). If you’re old enough, I guess I don’t have to explain that to you. If you’re my age, kind of imagine something like the Blues Brothers. If you’re too young for that, you’re probably too young to go to Pope’s Place.

I mean, the Butcher is about to turn thirty and I was concerned that he was too young to be seeing some of what we saw. People, we saw a woman drinking a beer out of a large, plastic penis. WITH A STRAW!!!! I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home. But when I am in public, I just don’t want to be thinking about cramming a large plastic tube into a man’s urethra and slurping whatever golden liquid should shoot out. And I’m pretty sure most men don’t want to see you walking around with your urethra-jammed trophy.

Although, upon the retelling of it, it sounds kind of awesome, even though, at the time, I was alarmed.

We didn’t stay very long, because I had some issues after drinking my one lone beer, but it was fun. Women were dancing. The band was playing a great mixture of original music and covers. Mark is one of my favorite guitarists in town, both because he’s incredibly talented and because he just looks like he’s having so much fucking fun. He’s got a new album out, which is in my car, which I keep meaning to review for y’all, but I just haven’t gotten around to it, because he’s the husband of a friend and I feel weird about it. I’ll just say, it’s a hoot.  (Ooo, look! Info here.)

The band was great, too. And the drummer was a riot. He was dressed so sharp and was joyously singing along (though not with a mic) to songs and, no matter how closely you watched him, it was nearly impossible to see him switch from sticks to brushes to bells; he was just so quick. The Butcher pointed out that he had a box very near his left arm, which he was pulling the stuff out of and putting it back into, but I just couldn’t quite catch him at it. I thought I saw him switch a stick for the bells, but I swear, it just looked like he pulled the bells out of his armpit.

Anyway, it was cool. I wish I’d hadn’t had that beer. But sometimes, it’s okay. So, who knows?

The folks were nice and it’s the kind of place where the music’s great and the women dance and everyone has mixed feelings about it.