Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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Nashville TN September 27, 2002
Marcia Routh cared so much for me that on a winter
night in 1973 she followed the police car they had me
in and accompanied me into the Nashville Police
Department Downtown, without even pausing to
think if it was the thing to do. Before I had even
snapped to the fact that in my circumstances then,
that is, under suspicion of rape, a visit to the
Nashville Police Department might not be no cakewalk...

She attached
herself to my captors blithely. Hey, coupla young cops,
here's this pretty babe. She did this so as to be a
friendly advocate. Or otherwise if need be.

All that afternoon I had been sittin in Mack's
restaurant writing a ten-page letter home an I didn't
think anybody who had seen me was gonna be easy to turn
at ten pm, I replied when the young cops asked me at the
bar that night. Thus I had gotten myself smoothly caught
up in a dragnet tossed across music Mecca lookin for a
red-headed guy who had either successfully raped or
attempted to rape anyhow some actual person. I never
learn the specifics.

But anyway during the process of them takin my Polaroid
me waitin' around, Marcia made herself a pleasant and
persistent presence in the police station.
And while they were runnin the pictures over to the
hospital so the victim could say yay or nay, a
bullet-headed iron-gray flattop hair dude did come in
snarl at me a little, BUT ONLY after he had gotten up
actual balls to disattach this as I say pleasant but
persistent human limpet from my side. I think he was
jealous of Marcia's relationship with the young,
good-looking cops who had netted me.

Anyway he made Marcia leave the room, and told me just
in that chair. Like there was anything else to
say in this little room with the window, where on the
other side Marcia is watchin' through, watchin' over me.

Right there in the middle of the wall is a window to
another room Marcia has just come into and she is
goin on...and she's watching over me.

It never dawned on country me that I was in
any kinda trouble because heyyyyy I'm an innocent man,
somehow when they came back with the victim's response,
Marcia was right back there in the room with us, too.
She was.

The victim, a real existing person with kinfolks and a
name, deserving of respect, of course, and whose life
come into such tangential and fleeting contact with
had said. "Nope".

I've often wondered what would have
happened if she'd said Yes, that's the guy.
But she didn't.

The cop who snarled didn't apologize, he just said,
"Well, if you're even thinking about being a pervert,
better think again, because this is what'll happen to
Yeah...Beat it, see?".
Really, he did, he talked like that.

And Marcia Routh took me back to the bar at the
end of this outre event and got me drunk.

Marcia Routh was a friend of mine. I slept on her couch
many cold nights in Nashville. She valued me, and now
I'm older I think I agree, but that's another story.

I knew Marcia through one ex-husband and several
boyfriends. Marcia was Sam Routh's ex, she kept his
name when they split. They had a daughter who lived

She was someone who took care of me during times I
didn't even realize I needed taking care of...

Marcia was a working singer here in Nashville back in
You can look up her work just by typing in her name at She sang on Crystal Gayle, Michael Nesmith,
Doc Watson records, among numerous others. She had a
great alto.

She passed away some years back, I think I heard it was
cancer. But I didn't learn she'd died until about five
years ago.

I thank the Lord for Marcia Routh because on a November
night in 1973 she advanced with
me into the maw of the metro machine, and we stuck like
glue until we came out together.

She was the best of pals.