The Tour Guide’s Words


“This is where he just walked away?” A voice in the tour group asked.

“That’s what brings us here, yes.  Eto Dim, real name Scott Hiestein.  Came to these woods after his fifth studio album.  His first full length album brought us 7 top ten hits.  Went five times platinum.  Second record did even better.  Third was a critical darling, but fans were not ready for so much banjo.  Forth saw his return to popular grace.  The fifth broke him.  Awards, money, fame, acclaim, all came running to him.  Eto was the star of a generation.  Before we head out, does anyone have any questions about this particular trail?” The tour guide asked the two dozen assembled fans of the late pop icon.

“But, like, is this really where he went missing?” A fan asked.  The tour guide had so much information about the trail and forest, but no one ever cared to ask about the nature side of the park.

“Eto Dim achieved so much in his career.  But one thing that was always present was doubt.  He said on multiple occasions anyone could pick up a guitar and write down some words.  His success, he claimed, was because some kid at Pitchfork needed to make a content quota and wanted to be edgy.  Once the article was published, he was suddenly cool.  He was 38 years old at the time.  He didn’t care about cool, much less what some blog by someone half his age had to say about his songs.  He was a coffee bar staple in Buffalo who made records after work at a car dealership.  He put an EP on Spotify because he didn’t want to explain iTunes to his mom.

“The whole flood of attention that followed was too much.  He never felt deserving of it.  He never felt he earned it.  But then money started coming at him to make a full length record.  Then some critic said it was good, then others agreed with that critic.  He never trusted his own ability.  He never felt it was something special he was doing, he was just putting words in a rhythm and telling the truth.  Eto Dim was a nonsense stage name to comment on the whole of the experience; it was nonsense.

“So the story goes, he grew tired.  He grew tired of feeling like a fraud, feeling like he got the break so many great artists never received.  He had spent over a decade trying to make other people happy.  His producers, his family, his fans.  He stopped knowing what could possibly make him happy.  Perhaps, just maybe, he stopped being capable of obtaining happiness.  He had everything he could possibly want, but none of it mattered because deep in the back of his head he felt he deserved none of it.  Upon that realization, he walked into this park, stared at these trees and went away.”  The tour guide explained.

The group stood silent.

“But, this exact spot?” one member finally asked.

The tour guide sighed.  “The story exists to help you come to a conclusion.  Eto Dim worked hard his entire life, and one day he was given fame, fortune, and adventure.  That resulted in him becoming a broken man.  You can conclude that perhaps ‘the dream’ is a myth, or you can conclude that only we are capable of making our own happiness.  The story is open to your interpretation.  No one knows exactly what happened to the greatest pop star the world had ever known.  We know his car was found at this park’s entrance.  We don’t know anything else for certain.  Legends don’t need facts to matter though.”

The crowd, each wearing an Eto t-shirt, exchanged quick glances.

“You think on all that as we make our way to our first stop a little cliff populated by the cutest little chipmunks you will see all day! Here we go parksters!”  The tour finally started.


5 thoughts on “The Tour Guide’s Words

  1. Some part of me hoped the guide would be Eto in disguise.
    Great story and a stark message of the trappings of a life and its effects on someone unable to accept their talent.
    Its got a broader sweep, because so many feel that way, that they arent worth much.
    And as a writer, and most writers, even without success it often feels pointless.

    Liked by 2 people

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