Well my Goodness Gracious! Let me tell you the news!
My head’s been wet with the midnight dew!
I been down on bended knee
TALK-in’ to the Man from GAL-i-lee
He spoke to me with a voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of angel’s feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, “John, go do my will!
Go and tell that long-tongued liar, go and tell that midnight rider,
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the night fighter,
Tell ‘em that God’s gonna cut ‘em down.
Tell ‘em that God’s gonna
The Man in Black is gone now. Johnny Cash doesn’t play the flat-top box anymore and we can only presume that the guilt that came through all his old murder ballads has been washed away. A dam was built in 1967 and Nickajack Cave was flooded—no one is allowed to go inside. Johnny Cash was one of the last men in there. There’s a fence around the cave’s mouth now. The place is now home to a colony of grey bats that fly out when the sun goes down. When darkness falls and the grey bats fly out the moon rises over the river and moonlight floats on the water. It’s quiet outside the cave at night. There are only the shadows of the mountains, the moonlit river and a soft wind.
Nothing else is there.
Cody Maxwell is a Chattanooga writer. This story is adapted from his new book, “Chattanooga Chronicles,” which will be published in August by History Press.