It started with a Florence + the Machine song.
I had it on a playlist I listened to on shuffle so the hundreds of songs visited randomly like friends from the neighborhood. I looked forward to when she would stop by, all boozy and full of tales.
Seven Devils something somethiiiiing she'd sing.
Seven Devils something somethiiiiing.
I'd sing along with her, oblivious to the actual lyrics, but more certain every time the two words passed my lips that Seven Devils was a place, a physical place. Something huge, incontrovertible, geological. I pictured El Capitan in Yosemite but, like, seven of them.
After the burning desolation of Red Flag I thought a trip up north would be nice, up above the snow line, away from the never-ending drought, away from the visible indicators a metropolis was being reclaimed by the earth before the oblivious eyes of its citizens.
(Learn to swim, Rev. Maynard suggested back in '96, so you can't say we weren't warned.)
Seven Devils would be a road trip of sorts. No—two road trips. Having enjoyed Ursula Ruda's company during Red Flag I already knew fully half of this new story would be hers. Danny was going to have company whether he liked it or not.
So here's to Florence and her glorious machine, for being the ghost in mine.
And from me, humming alone in my car while drumming on the steering wheel with my mind in this distant, cold, imaginary place, to you—the empty highway into the mountains is beckoning.
I hope you'll come along for the ride.
Los Angeles, November 2018