When the man, comes ‘round…”

“What is that? Johnny Cash?”

Clinton nodded as he continued to sharpen one of his knives, keeping the whetstone in hand as he ran the blade down its rounded edge. He’d learned to do this some time ago, it was one of the few things his drunkard, drug-snorting father had actually taught him that he had wanted to keep. Everything else had gone by the wayside as much as was possible.

“Kind of a butchered version of Johnny Cash, but yeah.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Julie sat next to him, only a foot or two of space between them.  Had she been visible to anyone else, it might have seemed like she was trying to get close to Clinton, much like a love-struck young lady trying to get a boy to notice her. That analogy almost made him laugh.

“I guess I could say you’re not my type, but I’d be lying,” Julie said, grinning as Clinton managed a small chuckle. As was normal, they were alone, off in a patch of woods just to the south of where the others had camped.  He went off on his own a lot these days, though he always stayed within earshot, just in case.

In the past three years he’d learned how to be a team player, how to stick around and make himself a part of a group. It had been an adjustment, but to Clinton, who’d only had a few support groups in his life, namely his alcoholic mother, booze-hound sister and stepfather, his own alcoholic drinking buddies, and a few grunts that had looked up to him, it was change he’d welcomed.  While he hadn’t quit drinking altogether, which, he had learned, could be fatal, Clinton had learned how to severely regulate his alcohol intake.  He only had a drink every now and again, just to be sociable, and even then he didn’t binge like he once had.

“If I thought it could go anywhere Julie, I think I might actually try.”

This caused her to chuckle.

Shaking her head, Julie replied, “We could find a way, but I’m not sure you would like it.”

At that he immediately shook his head, his grin faltering just a bit.

“No, no you’re right, I wouldn’t.”

“I didn’t say I would.”

“I know,” Clinton said, not once losing his composure, “I know.  But that’s not something to take lightly either.”

Julie knew he was right, though she still hadn’t forgotten what it felt like to have a body nearly three years before, a tingling that had reminded her just what it meant to be alive.  To be honest, it had been quite intoxicating.

But to Clinton, it had been both draining, and invasive.  He’d felt hollowed out when she had left his body, violated in a way that he had known Julie did not mean to harm him, but had happened all the same. Since that time she had vowed never again to do anything such as that without his express permission, and he meant for it never to happen again. Of course, he knew that stuff could happen, and if it did, then they would talk.  If that kind of thing happened again however, if he was damned tired that just moving his eyes hurt, then she had permission to just step in again and do something about it. Clinton only hoped it wouldn’t feel as terrible as the last time.

“You know, I kind of liked Johnny Cash, he had real twangy voice.”

“He was popular back in his time and in mine, he had real following.”

“What was your favorite song?”

Clinton had to think about this one, considering that he’d listened to a lot of different music back then.  Johnny Cash hadn’t always been one of his favorites, but a few of his songs had struck a chord.

“If I had to be put on the spot and pick a favorite, I’d have to say “Folsom Prison Blues”.”

“Really? I was always kind of partial to “Ring of Fire” myself.”

“Just how long have you been around Julie?” He knew the literal answer, but he was going for something a bit different, and Julie, being Julie, had already read that much within his thoughts. Of course, it wasn’t like he tried to hide anything anymore.  It was kind of impossible with a nosy mind-picker like Julie.

“Hey,” she protested mildly.  Clinton just grinned in response.

“I’ve been around a while I suppose, long enough to get the general lay of the land here and there.  But truth to tell, being in the USA for the last several decades was really my favorite spot in a long time.  There was so much change, so many exciting and new things happening.  From the fifties to the nineties it was all kind of a rush, you never really knew which foot you were going to land on in any given time.”

“Which was your favorite decade?”

She rolled her eyes, “Oh like that’s an easy decision.  Each one of them had their own fair share of ups and downs, but I guess the seventies was kind of a letdown, especially if you consider the fact that I could only appear to one person at a time.  Plus, there really wasn’t a lot going on, at least if you asked the common person.  It was almost like a rest period between the sixties and the eighties, and then when the eighties hit, it was almost like people were trying to get back into the sixties, but in a new and exciting way.”

“The eighties didn’t strike me as a normal time.”

“You couldn’t have been that old in the eighties, what were you, like four years old when the eighties came on full force?”

“Around there, and my memory is pretty good. From the clothes and the hairstyles to the politics that went on while I was still too young to understand them.  To be honest we still paid for a bit of what happened in the eighties when it came to the nineties.”

“How so?”

Clinton didn’t really want to go into it, though she had asked. There was one simple way to explain it though.

“The sins of those that come before almost always end up harming those who come after. It’s as true today as it was back before my time.”

“I get what you’re saying, believe me, but it’s a little short-sighted I think.”

“How so?” This might be interesting to hear. Anything she had to say usually was he’d come to learn, especially concerning the past.

“You know the saying ‘those who do not learn from the past are cursed to repeat its mistakes’?  It goes something like that, but my memory is a bit hazy on proper quotes these days.”

Clinton nodded, “I’ve heard variations on that same quote, and I agree.”

“You say that those who came after pay for the sins of those that came before, and its true enough, but when I pluck thoughts out of your head, and out of Ashley’s, I find that you only half-believe what you’re saying when you talk like that, while she believes it wholeheartedly.”

Ah crap, not back to talking about Ashley. After their last little interlude a couple weeks back, Clinton and Ashley hadn’t spoken much, though she had remained a part of the group, if only because she felt that she owed Sarah.  The woman had after all taken her in and given her a place after she’d been separated from her original group.  But Ashley’s views and opinions were a bit different from what Clinton believed in, and to be completely honest, he didn’t always agree with her.

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