My LED flashlight beams through the $1.27 Target rain poncho illuminating my path with a psychedelic red spotlight. Laid before me are hundreds of slinking worms seeking shelter from the storm like aimless refugees. What a strange feeling to only have a thin sheet of red plastic protecting me from such a heavy downpour not to mention the intermittent cool, almost cold, gusts of wind.
The news of Chris Cornell’s passing just came to me in the form of two subsequent Facebook posts from trusted sources. “Please, let this just be a hoax,” commented a friend the friend. But it wasn’t. A quick Google search revealed the truth. It’s crazy how fast news can spread these days. Seeking a distraction I turn to my phone for some company during my 3 a.m. journey. An audiobook version of Stephen King’s IT was the closest app to my thumb. How odd to be walking in the rain while listening to the scene where Georgie does the same, chasing a paper boat straight to his demise. I hurdle another group of worms.
The pelts of rain grow stronger and I have to point my flashlight up to make sure it didn’t turn to hail. The trees are a good shelter as I pause the audiobook, turn off the flashlight, and just stand frozen on the path with only my cheap poncho to keep me safe and dry. It’s surprising how much a frail article can stand between you and a bad case of cold damp shivers.
I think about Chris, about the impact his band Soundgarden had during my angsty yet formative years. I remember the first time the detuned grind of the Outshined riff crossed the radio waves and into my consciousness. “That singer’s really wailing. Who the hell is this?”
Time to head back home after a heavy bout of contemplation…another legend gone. The wind catches me by surprise and whips my phoncho hood back exposing my scalp to the chilling elements. Maybe I’ll just walk backwards….but then I’ll step on worms. Okay, I’ll walk forward but I’ll pull my poncho down from the inside forcing the hood snugly to the top of my head. Crisis averted. Just then a baby toad appears, the first of the year for me. He seems frozen in his tracks. Probably thinking, “Man, the early bird truly does get the worm, just look around…hundreds…thousands maybe!”
I return home happy to escape the Minnesota night storm, wipe the dirt (and most likely worm carcass) off my damp shoes, dump my weathered poncho straight in the trash, and marvel at how dry I am after all of that. But Chris is still gone and the Temple of the Dog song, in which he sang, still echoes in my mind…”Say hello 2 Heaven, Heaven, Heaven.” Rest in peace Chris Cornell and thank you for weaving yourself into the nostalgic fabric of so many of our lives. -Mike G