Lightning flashed on the horizon but stars blinked overhead the night I met Mojo. He came in the middle of the night. He woke me up. He knocked on the door and I unlocked it.
He stood in shadow but I knew who he was. I invited him in.
“No,” he said. “You must come out.”
So out I went. We sat on the porch and lightning bugs landed in his hair and formed a constellation called Perseverance. Night birds chirped from the half-dead ash trees along the road and Mojo tapped his elongated fingers on the arm of the metal chair. He said no two sound alike if I would but pay attention, and I listened to the sing-song from across the yard, much like the murmuring amongst a flock of hens, low and throaty and full of mystery, as they run here and there with their full-hipped waddle.
I asked him why he came and went like a flimsy idea and he said it was I who could call him up at will if I but put aside that which wasn’t necessary to the writing life. He rose to his feet, and the lightning bugs flew out of his hair and flickered away into the hayfield.
“I have something for you,” he said. “We can go inside now.”
We sat at the kitchen table and he lit up a cigarette, holding it like a joint between his thumb and forefinger.
“What is it you have,” I said, impatient with his silence.
He stubbed it out. It didn't smell like a cigarette. It smelled like clover. “Show me your room,” he said.
I took him into my room, and he drew artwork from inside his shirt like a sorcerer and displayed it on my bed, and I waited for him to explain himself. Then he handed me a letter from an agent.
“Take it,” he said, forcing it upon me. “It’s a good letter and nothing to be sad about.”
I looked at the envelope. The return address was New York and my pulse skipped. A letter from New York, but one to be sad about.
“You should display it like a painting,” he motioned to the one on the bed. “And learn from it. You will not have success until you have had rejection you don’t turn your back on and refuse to learn from.”
And he was gone like the constellation of fireflies, leaving only the memory of his presence, but his words are etched along the knobs of my backbone.
All this in a dream.