It only takes a minute to stow his backpack and guitar case in one of the little bedrooms and throw on some shorts and a t-shirt, and soon Justin's heading for the little creek down the hill, wet grass slapping at his legs and sticking to his skin. The ratty hammock is still there, amazingly, colors faded from years of weather, but the hooks and eyes still seem sturdy and it's well-anchored in the gnarly bark of the oak trees beside the water. The rope's only a bit damp from the morning downpour. Justin throws himself into the center of the netting the way JC showed him years ago, front flip into a full-on sprawl, and lets himself go limp and closes his eyes.
In the afternoon he climbs the low sandstone ledges along the creek for hours and wades through the water, silt-covered rocks shifting under his weight, but eventually he has to go back.
It's okay. Another rental's parked out front, and a tailored topcoat is draped neatly over the back of the couch. The house feels different. JC's nowhere to be seen, and Justin can't hear a sound, but he stands there for a long time anyway, listening.
There's more. It was supposed to be this angsty piece about JC getting all super sleek and reserved in an effort to tighten up his image, but then I remembered that's Justin, and no, changing the names around didn't work either, somehow.
So no, what I'm saying is, I really don't believe this whole Man of the Woods shtick. But it's Justin, so I'll listen to the record, even as I'm mocking him endlessly, although pretty much only in my own mind these days.