I was stationed in South Carolina at the heart of the Bible Belt. It was illegal to get tattooed within the state line and you couldn’t buy beer or gamble at the gas stations on Sunday. The little town of Beaufort, where my base was, had no draw for young Marines looking to have a good time which led most of us to Savannah. It was only forty minutes away, in the state of Georgia, but it boasted a night life that Beaufort didn’t have.
When I close my eyes and picture Savannah, I think of the tunnel-like streets, engulfed in Spanish moss. The historic circles with graven statues and small cemeteries. That’s something that always intrigued me about the South, there are tiny plots all over the towns. They’ll wedge them between a Waffle House and a Popeye’s. I understand that, chances are the graves were there first but it seems like there would be building codes against that.
The times I was there were mostly spent eating acid and running through the parks, hiding in historical monuments. With a warm Southern summer night against your skin and the Spanish moss blocking out the light from the moon, you could trip for hours. In the back of your mind, the somber thoughts of the old Southern voodoo rituals made the already corkscrewed evening all that much more frightening.
But in a good way.
The tea is sweet, the people are polite and the woman are beautiful but the nights are divine. Smoking cloves on the steps of the courthouse with my mind sideways from a mixture of mescaline and fine Irish whiskey, I’d watch the statues do what they don’t do during the day. Their movements were liquid but subtle as the shadows from old willows painted spider web shadows on their granite skin. I knew I’d never die if I stayed where I was.
The drive through the deserted streets is dream-like because the historic section empties out around dusk. We could be anywhere in the galaxy; everything is so detached. Only the moss from the trees remind us of our location. That stuff doesn't grow where I come from so we must still be in the South.
In Savannah Georgia
On our way out of town and on our way down.