Jude’s favorite song was the Beatle’s 1970’s hit “Hey Jude.” He liked it not because he was excessively fond of himself, but because the man who had given him the record had had the same shaggy hair and loose look as the four men on the cover. Jude never had the chance to make it to the seventies, and these strange, exotic personalities provided just enough intrigue for him not to leave as soon as he saw the paper cover materialize from out the doorway.
The man who walked through the gate had with him one record on a player and the good sense to throw another track through the gate before himself. When Jude asked him what time it was on the other side, the man had mistakenly replied, “Oh I don’t know. 8:30 in the morning?”
It took a while for the man to take in the dense dusk sky and after, the numbing coldness of the snow now suddenly creeping up his legs. When he finally realized where he was, or more specifically where he wasn’t anymore, the man began to sob. Just like the others.
“I’m dead aren’t I?”
“No, you are not dead,” Jude frowned.
“Then where the hell am I?”
Jude sighed, “I don’t do orientation. Newcomers go down that trail.”
Jude pointed down a dark tunnel of giant trees that looked as if a million creatures had walked or crawled or slithered through with little regard to make their destinations look inviting.
The man took one look down the tunnel and pawed the ice on the ground with his boot.
“No way, kid. There is no way I am going down some weird passage shit again. Not today.” He looked around him once again.
“Not without a smoke,” he said.
Jude watched the man pull out a slim roll and light it up. Despite the exposure of the cold, there was no wind to blow out the flame. The faint ember at the end only lit up and fell away with the coaxing of his breaths.
“Man. it’s quiet out here,” the man glanced around.
Ah, Jude thought, get used to it.
Jude readjusted the weight on his back, and credit was due to the man when he didn’t mention what it was. The nineteen- seventies, Jude remarked, must have been a strange time.
“Wanna listen to some music?”
The man pulled out one of the two records and allowed the player to start. As the melody washed over them and the chorus began, Jude realized that it had been too long since he had heard authentic music made and sung by those back home.
“This,” the man said proudly, “Is the greatest song ever to be composed in the history of mankind.”
“It’s nice,” Jude replied.
Then again, Jude had also missed quite a bit of the history of mankind, so he might have just been compensating for some sentiment far beyond his ability.
And so they sat, cold and waiting for the greatest song in the world to end so that they could get a move on. It was a good song, really, and it might have been the greatest song in the world at some point in time, but it had little relevance to Jude’s current situation.
He liked the Beatles better anyway.
“…and anytime you feel the pain,
hey Jude, refrain,
don’t carry the world upon your shoulders…”