This book is dedicated to the next sorry sap who happens to stumble across it at this establishment. May these passages bring you peace and happiness.
Table of Contents J.............................................................8 The King.............................................13 Lucky Legs.........................................20 The Accompanist.................................26 XXX......................................................33 The Producer......................................36 Buster..................................................46 The Couple...........................................55
She was the love of my XXXXX life.
Fuck. Stupid fucking typewriter.
She was the love of my life.
She could purr like a cat and roar as
loud as the 20’s. Her body, painted as gold as the sun, shimmered even on the cloudiest and rainiest of days. She meant the world to me and I did everything thing I could to prove worthy of her. She could stop bystanders dead in their tracks with her beauty. For short, I, along with anyone who had a chance to ride her, called her “J”. To anyone else, she went by the Duessenberg Model J.
Not released to the public until late
in the decade, I was fortunate enough to inherit an early prototype from my great uncle. His extremely close ties to the manufacturer based out of who-gives-a-shit, Iowa, were able to get him exclusive rights to any such prototype.
I felt like the fucking king of Holly-
wood driving around in that car, and I made damn good money doing it too. I felt more popular than some of those hot-headed actors, more famous, more recognizable. I knew everyone and they knew me.
That was then though and this is now.
I had to sell J last May after the market crashed. There was and is no business to be had. I would have slept in her if I could, but vandals and thieves would have jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of me in my sleep. How far Iâ€™ve fallen. My only friends now are the bartenders feeding me whiskeys and the whiskeys themselves, including the
one sitting to my right. Not including the seven empty ones to my left. Where is that damned bartender anyhow. Maybe nobody wants to bother the idiot sitting at the bar with a typewriter. I’d punch whatever asshole was ‘taka-taka-taka’ing away on a typewriter at a bar, but since I’m that asshole, everyone else can go fuck themselves.
I find solace in this bar somehow. No
one bothers me, although I’m sure that’s from the stench emanating from my now-torn-toshreds suit. It was once my proud uniform, one that I had cleaned nightly. I slipped that on every morning and knew damn well that what I did mattered. People weren’t going to drive themselves around with all the money being thrown away with such carelessness back then. And if they knew they’d be driving around in J, they’d give me even more money. Everyone was so drunk all the time that it almost felt like stealing, but
they had so much money anyway that it meant nothing to them.
“HOLY FUCK!” I remember thinking to
myself, not wanting to startle and frighten the character that was about to manage his way into the backseat of J. He was the most stunning specimen I’ve ever laid eyes on. His golden locks matched the painted exterior of the car, both of which glistened in the sun. He was a giant, sculpted of pure muscle. You certainly did not want to get on his bad side, I knew this just by looking at him. I remember fearfully not wanting to say anything, do the wrong thing, make any sudden movements. I’ve only ever been truly fearful once in my life, and this was it.
In my line of work, if you werenâ€™t
willing to make conversation, be open to meeting new people, you get kicked to the curbed and spit on. You must be likeable. This was different. This was one of those rare instances that makes you feel like someone has a stranglehold on your stomach and wonâ€™t let go.
I remember thinking all of this, all
as he was stepping into the car, and I realized I hadnâ€™t taken a breath in a minute.
I hesitantly released, grasped for
air, only to find that my clenched knuckles wrapped around the steering wheel were white as a ghost. It felt like my fingertips were going to pierce through my palms. I had to relax, I knew that he might be able to sense my fear and prey on it.
Not only was this the only time in my
life I was truly terrified, but it was also the only time I was utterly speechless.
I was taking him to the MGM studio
lot for a promotional shoot that he was creating for the company. It was supposed to be his breakthrough role, although I wasn’t quite sure how that was possible with a simple and short “video”. I think that’s what people are calling films these days, I can’t keep anything fucking straight anymore. Except for my whiskey. It takes me about 3 or 4 to get through the telling of this story anytime I bring it up. I hate talking about it. I hate writing about it. Dammit though am I sure glad it happened. It’s one of those moments where one false move, one wrong word, anything could have set him off and I could have died. It was an out of body experience of sorts.
Fuck. Where was I. Right.
As I drove as cautiously as I have
ever driven in my life with this passenger, I noticed the looks. Usually when pedestri-
ans stare, they stare at the car. Not today. They were staring at him. At the passenger. Even if I was driving a star, they didn’t garner nearly this much attention. The looks weren’t of recognition or awe, they were of disbelief. The disbelief that I was feeling the entire drive. Me, the passenger, and the silent, wordless air that separated the two of us. Normally I had the radio blaring, but quickly shut it off, I recall my fingers trembling, fumbling to find the knob. J came loaded with the first ever car radio, before it was even conceivable.
Did I mention when I picked him up he
was in shackles? He was. They were taken off before he hopped in my car. A prisoner freed and I was his ride “home”.
Oh. His name.
They called him Leo. I knew this not
because I asked, but because I overheard a guard shouting commands at him as he walked
closer. It took me all I could to hold my body back from releasing any bodily fluids.
The drive took 20 minutes in total,
but felt like an eternity. When we arrived, Leo was treated like a star. It took a twenty-minute drive to transform him from prisoner to celebrity. He got the royal treatment. He was pampered, welcomed with open arms. My fear, completely shit on by the welcome party. My fear, my idea of Leo, was all wet. The studio personnel even called him “royal”.
As they led him into the warehouse
structure to be filmed, I sat in my car, realized my hands had tightened again and tried to relax. I couldn’t. I had been paralyzed with fear.
I still like to believe the workers
were so welcoming because they hadn’t just spent a twenty-minute ride from hell with Leo in their backseat. It took me days to
recover. I still have nightmares about that fucking lion.
Lucky â€œLegsâ€? Armstrong. The best
trombonist in all of California, and he was treated as such. He didnâ€™t constrain himself to one band, but rather touted his services to wherever he was asked. He spent most of his time in Hollywood, or so it seemed, as he was in constant need of a drive. It was so constant that he had a schedule with me and I could pull up to him walking out of the same parties, same dance halls almost weekly. Always rich with tips from whatever engagement he was coming from, he was certainly as generous with me.
After a while with my time on the job,
I was making enough money to support myself handsomely. I can still get by living off of my savings, or my what-I-didn’t-blow-on-alcohol fund. Seems fitting that that’s what I’m doing with it now.
Lucky stood almost 7 feet tall, tow-
ering over seemingly everyone in town. His nickname wasn’t one of those ironic ones either where he was called “Shorty” but was actually tall, or “Skinny” but he was fat. He was leggy and he was tall. The nickname fit. His personality didn’t fit his stature either. He was down to earth, humble and southern. Originally from New Orleans, although I’d be remised if I didn’t honor his pronunciation, n’Ahlens. And after a while I stopped charging him. His tips alone made and matched my weekly goal total.
“Ah well shoot,” he said the first
time I told him his payment was no longer required, he never swore either.
“Ah well shoot, I caint jist freeload
Almost as if he had this idea in his
head for a loooong time, he hopped into the backseat, unbuckled his case, pulled out his gorgeous brass trombone and assembled it.
“Let’s go f’er a ride through town!”
I knew what he was up to and I loved
it. I loved the idea, I loved the feeling it gave me, I loved people’s reactions. A mobile concert. People would run along side of us, singing along, toasting with whatever liquor they could get their hands on, or whatever was already in their hands. I’d occasionally slow down to parade speeds if Lucky didn’t need to be getting anywhere. In fact, after this all started, we would start to go for rides almost daily. If my pickup wasn’t a full load, he’d entertain my customers as well. The glove box turned mini-bar.
The happiest day of my life; now that’s
something I wish I could have said more often. That hasn’t happened in a long, long time either.
The happiest day of my life came on a
day after we had been doing our mobile music drive for a while. Lucky came down from his high rise apartment, the door propped open by the doorman as I sat in front, watching man after man, six of them in all, follow Lucky, instruments in tow. Guitar, snare drum, two trumpets, saxophone and of course the trombone. One of Lucky’s bands, and they all squeezed in like a clown car, hanging off the back of the trunk, the backseat and the passenger seat. As they were settled, before I even could take my foot off the brake, Lucky shouted at the top of his lungs, filling the street of the bustling drive.
“ONE, TWO, THREEEEE!”
And just like that, all six of them
busted into an incredible swing and jazz
number. Driving was near impossible. The road filled with people, drinkers, partiers. This all at noon. On a Tuesday. A weekday. Not only were the roads cramped but I could barely keep my feet from dancing along. I’d be standing, left foot wailing away, right foot tapping barely keeping the car from stop and go. THIS was a one-car parade. And it lasted all night long.
The police even gave up trying to con-
trol the rambunctious crowd and even joined in. We started and ended a block party. We closed the street, and in those 16 hours, we might have made it 3 blocks in total. Those three blocks was the best drive that I’ve ever taken in that car.
Looking back on this day, it’s really
the only time that brings a true smile to my face anymore.
“Oh boy”, I saw him coming, stagger-
ing, barely able to stand straight. He could walk perfectly straight line, if that line was actually a zigzag. That was dumb. Sorry I put you through that wretched line of socalled writing. My head these days feels as staggered as that man’s walk.
This man was not in good shape and
I knew that if he wasn’t going to pass out or vomit, that I’d be hearing about it. And boy did I hear about it. The passing out I wouldn’t have minded, vomit and we would have had a problem.
Normally I would have left him on the
curb and hoped that he didn’t remember the next day who was supposed to pick him up.
But he seemed just too down and out
for me to leave him. He seemed too sorry. He was well dressed, in a red and white striped suit, clean with only minor dirt stains as if he had just recently fallen. Not surprising. He reeked of cheap booze and had a bit stained on his unbuttoned undershirt. He was surprisingly coherent. The speech didn’t match the walk. It was certainly an odd sort of drunk, one that I didn’t envy. If I couldn’t walk straight, I probably didn’t want whatever was coming out of my mouth to make any sense in fear of saying something I didn’t want to.
I opened the door for him and he face
planted onto the leather bench of a backseat. Fearing any drool ruining the beige leather, I propped him up, leaning him against the side door, his head hanging fully out of the
fresh-aired convertible’s door. I also hoped the wind blowing in his face would stop any thought of whatever he ate for breakfast that morning wouldn’t make a grand re-entrance all over my car.
He started to fade to black then
snapped his head up and came to. I worried the worst, but instead he started talking.
“Fuck this town, fuck this industry,
fuck the movies and most of all, fuck the sound!”
I had two thoughts. First, his hips
were probably tired. Second, I understood being mad at everything, but the sound? What? What the hell was this guy rambling about? Maybe he wished he was deaf, I remember thinking. I had to get to the bottom of that one.
“The sound good sport, the sound. I
made a living making money off the sound.”
Work with me here asshole.
“I MADE the sound. For movies. Silent
movies. You know, the accompanists.”
I did know, and since he was only
speaking in short slurs I’ll fill in the blanks. The accompanists were the musicians who would play along to silent films. They had their own section, often consisting of organists and possibly some brass. Silent films are a thing of the past as I’m writing this, but this man had just lost his job because of this.
“They’re putting SOUND in the movies
“Get out that’s incredible!” Whoops.
“Hey buddy FUCK YOU! What did I just
say huh? I don’t have a job anymore. I look like shit coz I’m in a good mood you dog. Get out of here. That was my life. That was my dream. I was doing what I loved, playing in front of crowds. I felt like a part of the movie. Fuck, I was a part of the movie. Now I
don’t have a job. It ain’t like I can get another gig like this ever again pal. Once this movie is released (the Jazz Singer, great flick, go check it out), all the movies will have sound. And I won’t be able to do shit for them. If you tell me that I can make that sound FOR the movies, then boy you’ve got another thing comin’. Not being in front of the crowd, in some studio, it ain’t the same!”
His head had fallen back outside of
“Gahhh we’re all FUCKED (I’m doing
some censoring here) anyway. We’re spending too much money that nobody has. On shit that nobody needs. On booze. On Cars. On mansions. All them war boys coming back and throwing money around like it’s their job. Well I ain’t got one anymore because of it. Because of money I can’t make it. You’ll see. Everything is going down hill in a few years.”
Who knew listening to a drunkards
advice could prove to be so insightful, soâ€Ś right. Huh.
It was the Fourth of July…no wait, maybe it was New Years. Well, it was a holiday that had fireworks and those are the only two that count so I do n’t ca re ,
ltet tt ttaaantnn o tatna y uttan t tt utaantn out ytyn n etyeaa h t t tttyn a t y otottthatth anan tn nnttaa a n nohoton et n neh tynuh t apn t pupp taan ypoooh hoott attonnnn n n u a u o a a p a d ewt p o n o n uto ettet tnhuepataanr nn ao opa u a I’d like a nt t o n a t u a ouoh ntn an a appen eeaoepntetotah n k u e t t n o t p n o a u e t , a a u h e prp all t in uttn n n etn teooova penpn te piylueto aln h loeatan ten een optoat a l e o a n t n o r l t a da zip y t’s thh eh ouneuepopoatenaavln eeetoaoelaattn tn n e th .I nah t a n h o p i ttaenptntta yeueou on ne tatnn tueatn t tt oaoyn nnototnn ean eo huh , o n a n . n t n aa un y ppetoonth h nn utpepa M inu s ootpa h to nntuoohaauttnppuh n e aaunpaotn n len io e tepaeooeoeunn oo r e a a a e p st a e tatpnttuh en tah o n n autun n ue e ootnetan e n a e u o e t l o a a q n n t l n p t n t o e hteo hetsth ou hanon neaeottaan nt autnn pn aon eo r anqtouoh aan e atanan un ttoooeoo t ha n an e a t a z l o o n y oluteutauh aatan en n y th eeoon d a u a hat giralnyty n y a otna tvh n mn t e naen uuotey ay o nya n n npooutny o y t n ty h o y ohn tuu h ou n nn aan uy u o aon t h a ny n y o n n uoa o v a y e t anhuuepptaanr n ey n uon ppooo otoeoauahtn aun y w an ouoh pn eeuopn a p u t y n u e h a uo epn vpvepo ne uth t lea tne’soylteatanetun i h o n m n nn ooeeeyltuaeaun y yalluuely en y nuyu unteeuyolaon o t p o u u a aup ty aa ay yy oyen n qoenu qyuapueuaponay nq aa q aaeqy op uu naoy w q a a p a q n a t a o ylapueqouq u uu aauua ateuaeh yeeuquueauauarn ay u u auueaoyaaaeunuuao yu a leea uo q ean aptu y yay a an aalan uyauuqauaon o ou f n f aa aaua aleyat ualaheaoeo otv uuuoey aa qq ayn ef a q o uy a aaa a y o oy yy uu a yauy uy u a qfaf aq ef a u fu qyuue ou a yyuuo f yu a oo ay y qau q aaqqattaassqqaaay a q
nac ksa i nac c y o kskassaai ii nnaac ut a y k o oyy o yeh ccaann ii po l aa namca n g do yo c n i alseku e ussklkeyyu ii na u h t lel uy u p k euppoobn on it n h u a t o i you pno n ask n no ruere eh gs ou i a u o e h r g e n qu a i g r u h i oououoaau ehe estan iaeehasyk ny sk youi uflefiigfugiugreahihiiinn iig n a o a e u o i o e y e i e k caysy in okun hecae n dudle 34 p e re rf fuido d le you oiuayfahaosauisakk a nciainaasisk gngugle a huay e h n k s a y a kkhiay o c p c o n v e t i y l a r a u k s n y e a k s k h o u u s k y h a s u n l l y n p a a i t l y o l a l y e o a c q o o i a i l o i e c o i d s e e e c o y e u u l u r o e e k u n u u h n n e o t l l o u o l l k n s e o k s a k k s l k s l u y u u a a y y a i k r s le p a s e a k y a y q e e c e q u o e e s v i e i a k o i n e c e a o i y o h p i a u u n h o o o k p n u y t p p u s n u o o k i c e y p p u u a s n n y o uukcociauan a p u e n o l o a e d i u u a o u p p p i y u u e e l s s a a k p a k e s c o u l l sy a c u u l l l s u u r i a u k o i l l y u o u l l n c y u s o n u u i u y k y k o y acsan kn sn enelluhhleuuuel llpeekepeouu peloon po n lke puolpe asakessyk e l ee do e un kepeouululuelpesou llh ooy y yktotoik yesakq cicasiq ovy qsoeuk on quuasysk uaouan n uciociy u ok ehllloea ucca un uonahisaiqakoua ey y l uenle nn luet utu u n ia aoy nluoplpuoootnnu seceusy oeeuolrueueepluloqquuppuounlulupelpeopeuololuunnllpleeee un k ltsa saaa u iaa y aiin auqolk plllou pulpu uudppluy aicsanacin uouniuy h oy lp fh un slh etoatsy uccn oaaucunecn y ik cisk a ohuy n ea h eveolsuv oaisyy qn luln iu p ey leoleelu kh qeiutn oseuk coia u c k s eoellloer o luek la edlooeuetoahuiriapeeo e l uou e elenelstup o i u e l l l l l l e s i i a e e efaelu s a p k a l l u p s d e s k l l a k u e k k n a l l u s uslooool r u n u l lpu a y y i o u e i o y n n l l l l a u n n o u a u l u u e e l l n s h l y s e y e k o s i e n o h e o u rlirluu i l e e e e e i i n i oteuuetak o n u i o k u e eneeu snlen e q h e l u uapyetulloliloaapepa s r u q l i o l u u t e e e e e e i n u e e a a a e q n l o l u a o u s q e t p e n u u e a u u p n u n l u u c p uiecceaqauaaunqioccan p t p a u u o n l l t uonorgenekuhuhtpilioheuleiulltleipu n l p l p p k n e e u u l lh k t r n u t t s c s n l n e l l e n u h l l u y n y a k a a u u e a e e n q n u u h q u u r r tauuphpereion gno i s s e eaeetun k o a n n h k u u e r o a h q s u u r e e e e c o u o o p a u s u u e e a i i i i a o e u k i i i a y e i e e q a u u u u u q e e u u e i u u a uu o o u u u i y c y u u s i c u i u u p p u u u e o u k o y k o o g k n q y p n s u u p p p s u u u h u u o k o p p k l u y l p o n y a s a a n p q s n c l n s e a a p p l u y l o o n e y youu ss eequ nccaain a o t o a e n p t g u l g e i t t u u u u l a u s o e e e g g o c u p p p c o g u s e e i l o k u o t n i i o u l u a u u u i u p p p a s u u u p p p u u i c o o o i i c e u n u i q u p p o p p u u o u o o p p e u s u o o o p e e u y n p e i c o o r n n l o o o s u q n y p u u u u e l l n u s u u u u ueoutfupohetnpaipiopnoaiuguu u e e n i o o p p l l l l t l l e l o n p n u y n e u p p s u u o o u u l l l l n nuhn t ulk uofcphenph n piinloednoh lean lcsuk lneunu rh n uuoiilh nnnoiaeglhn runqladnonionvu uepoaegpournlholfeu eulioohleqpaooepu useiey n reiegee lcan n egohlcouorupnhar k hthttigh k iaiop oan sn sntokasosk a kouin itlou goroupoupreneg k saeln sy ossu otny lru eiueou y lu aosauteunausksilsay eppaoqlieulonin eqoutrntlh nlhsu oliou iosuk ek euoqleepon enpclstaeulpoluouoeorenionegonureu aohniaipnooeifouqegou aronn y aik peahlepkeorlieg k eoy lhp nlouu y pnhnraioiogunih sonslatpnoeteouu etoan ca atntslu el poeulh orenu eu lp oy ouln in iuak nl n ofu y u n n n l n h iiik s s e u cta ueicaiscelan u y n e ueuqueseuqettutiacisoansotn o e e e s u u l u i i i i u a y e e e o h r l lhftgpegogohnouir i n t i u t i i o h o n s q q t s s g o u l a e y e o o u n i u a g u o u u u p q g uooe uhru i s u u o n o o i u u t u u u u p a i s u o l e a i a s n l u u a t l a c l i u l c n i i t t n a u l u f i n u n n u r u u i k a i l l g f f e n e h t l l i i e k l u n i e e n n g g a o o c u u u i i f n a e s u n n u u u u u e s i o e g f t r g q n c i e e u y e g g y a h e n h n a n n u o u e r a s t d k r r h u e r o e e u u n u a s o p e u o i t y i d n h n n s n e e r t i u p p p u u h s n u a e r g u u k u u o p p u u a o i p a n l a i f e e e a u t s o p p p u u u n n l o o e h h h i u l o u i r e a i i p u i s n n l a f s t k a a e u u u h t e u o n g l n l e u u i h n u n s u u n n s e u l l k t t u i i i o h u p p p p g t c c i s t p u a o p t n u u n g e e u l l g l l l c i i i e u r r n u i a s p p p p p k q p e e q i e i t t t p i o u s q p n n a u i k u l l l n i i o l u n r r g g o o o a u u u i t t t i e u u e p e e e q q n i s u o o o i s o u u e p p o u p i e u u i u n n o l g u a e e e g g o o o o n o n u i t t t i g t e e a u e e a n n g u s u o o o o e e s e o i u p p p g u u a s s e s l l h g t y o e e e u l l e i g t h g g i o o n i u e e i e i o o o e q ah p u p u l u g a s i e e l l n v e l l p u c l l e e e n g g y o o i u a i n a e e e e i o a i a u e a t p u l l t k l n i t k h e l l e p e u s p h o o o u o o o d o f e s u c o t c d h r r e e i l l i u s n q h n u e i o y h e n e e i y o a l l l o u n n n h h a t l l o o e e e e u f f u u n r r e l o l c t y l n l i l c n n n e t i u u l l h h y h k o o y o e e f f f o q e r r d n e e f o o o o u a l l l o n n n n l l o u u u u e u f r r e e f t s e h u l i i r u g u s y l l n n n n n r r l l h h h o y y a u y e e f f o r r r r e e n o o u u s k t a a r h i h t i n h n u u r e h h i h i i u h i i g g a s o u r u k r r e h o r o s o g n i u u i i r u a s t e e u i h t n t i h e e o g h h i h t h u s e o i u a a a a k e r u r r t e y u o r o s o g o s u e u i o r g e e e q e e u a e o t n u u e e q e i t e i v h e a a o t t l l k d u e n u s e t h r e e i o u e e e e t t e u r o g s t u h e e o u n n n g n e e e i e e h e n e u u e e o q s e e e a a a n a e e q l l u u e h uahh u ihpeheupu hu aetuoea uhienepuahuoqfetu aacucaaah eqn hdriurrnr luuounn kqenhsquae qiitint hhaachih hrernutor trhpehupuea aquitvrouoh teah fefreooeun leouqn iipith fouuouelopuo h ihtr n ynth tr tu ihelgguihh piunoitneuak elsuqntuu nnnnh uou u h iulh iufeoihuilieu nihiunu ur anleau iuhurn neuhptohioheogai ueqh uhiy rpnaupeu r nhhufueuihvtlohiodhterugfaiabeoiuipautuor oalegaru ruipuguprhor uiu rnnen atncsicatysysnastskok rneueu aupntuein uu u ur efrfnefrneeeur ifrfn eig e au huor tqoeeonhuoinqsen u uoleiau
been re he s t ha
ee uqq aa uu efefe d e e en fedd e e u e u n e bn r ev hm utbub bmm e o buu u m uy b u u m b b h m u f m u eu r euh femub ev eh tm shfm u br e feehbbm fu brueevve n o u y m hufm h ubus febbeu u e oouuyy mthumb ts m tmub eu mbbub humb ffeefe f q e b u m b b h h m m fm a u uubbbu ebb t m uh u b h m h m m o s f m h uu m oiit eui ebbbubu u u em m u b h h b u b tsse q uuh m b h m ubb iehu b btm bmuubuu ueuum m euuq a u m pslbtbfh f b u b tem hh eh b um e u f u u b i u b b e b m q aa u s u b m m t b t m uoushfhtm h ufm u t u y e s b e u e h buuuffueflf u m etletlt mb b tfetm f b u h b u f e b b e e e h m u b l m h f u h su su f u m e h b m t t b u b e t h m h l m u u u b b h btubuh hmmmb bm t ussm ttfosbm htm su muubbbhh uboeu btutsm h h uu m uu fftbem b um h e m b b b b m m h hb utfttu eb uuum sbusm umb bh m b hh m tthu ou su m n dab h sb u deeum u u utbbubuuuuhmtbot stuh m b b jub m h h m f u m t u s eufutu hbb m h u bu m hh ee m tumm uu tosotush m stu uubm u h h f b e b t u m t f b t e h u o b m hsb s bdulhsh h n l m ddbn bsnh t o sttuuhmb utbdbuu u btm uum m b u eh tuulufm uuut mbu bm hh hm hfm h bbb fenm fesm h h u h e d u m t u ub bm m be uu h tlh fh etutuboteu b b m u u m h u u h m n l u u b bm usmtbdum umab b bju u h h usbthttushu u ttm hhmmbbuu htm um tm um s u odtssosbuu h btntu m b b bmb mh busbh ubhhtum so tbm bdu tu uo th sb m m hu bbm b h h m u h b s u m m t b h um ubhh ttu um m u mbbu shbb h sm tumb b h uutm n db u uu h m ubum m dbu m sh bbbm ju m m uttdh bu h b b m m h s h bbbuuu tb u u b h b h h m u mub n s m h hm b t h o u u u b th sunsbsbdlh suutb bdtuttum e u b bh m u u h m b tdtfm btsusn m m m u b h u b t um m u dhbbmbufmb h um bujm h m btha u ub ttn bn m b h b m d h u u u m t u n h s d t u u s sh utdstom n b db m m ud e u h ttun su b d u b m m s b u h u h n b u h s d s m b n u d b b m b t u b m d b h uu ntdth dbh m h um su tsn b m bm jubbuu h m h u m u m h bttudbubm n h bm u fhheam hthn b bm sdn tm uu bosu su du tttdosu s m d b h s t m n d n d umh ndd buhm bbumbbn m sustfottsuu o tm shh bb mn sub hbmb ss s ut tbhum m u d duush n d s s a j nhdmbu fue ub e r fingdnure bddf uu l uten b m d b h b h u s dutun n m ttdb d u nun b dfh n d aj bdb m uduutd un bm hh du uum m n bb m ndd dh u e m n o h d n l d u ssm ub uddhnh unudu sb sm dhb n m ubudm b bdentdu tu m u b u n desusdh tsuhamjh ossnfddttn udbumb dh tnm dftensuodthn s u n d o n n d eslt mb he l ndmbnud sthsm tsn ddtbtsuoh
ii nnaacc kkssaa y ooy yeh nam
fig a u r o o aann t oe st d t tan o iuihnmgbs ou an o an
e s th h
go somewhere with that last story but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Ah that I have it on the tip of my tongue...or pen, whatever the fuck, but I don’t so moving on.
sh lly it my ll
nding w h a t s pou i d h ea
the perks of being an alcoholic. I could say
th e here
k a m i holll
wh o z w h ats who th er
What the hell just happened? Fuck. I ing? en must have passed out. I know I was going to
t ht t ht t oth et tt h n t t in a o tt nttht n anott h antaontoht anot h ti ttohtteehhr anoan t nottn nntoot thatahn o r tafaen altoth g ehn lint anto ttett ee n t ttt anon tno hett t on a ntnutte t p n n ot h ge u notnh ot h a h a t t u u tyoonh t nttoto ann aon enn plte tt unata an
n d ajk
nd s sa s nd ds s n tnn nd d s dd aj ndnd nd dnd nd
m jdftdhddesb o stuhmb nsdnds djdduntd u n dntnn n hdda mb lsn sshnn ddu bu dltdttddthou s s n d b bu n m d s uh ntou dhohsm hm ttbsub udhm tu tddln t jm d n s d t sdsd nd n taub u n ndhdmbu sdtunhddnum otso tu st uhmbu tttsn tmhbmb otddsutshu on ttdo stuhmb hd n n nddss ddd fdnesndtdsuyhusmb nn d t od dsnntdduhmbu s nd nd
le 35 ul l le up ulhlee ulpeo ueuplu po on e uluep nl oeunpluoenu n a uulote pneon l kl f pooru ta nneupoehnulpeonpuop e reh ohouut outoauet at i e e l u n u nuurraeeupuhr u e t i p h a d p o in u u u u u i g h t t o o a utgur u t i n o nuhtiiiou anuuttpfaionpeoproe mbh nguiggou aig roiegiiih iiniigaan g o s e koor aaugreu nhnh eii oofuit a fe oufut n ig ig a rhsu e hn eohr agu ueioiuaioeoitnnatkieg h iuirirn rnuhfgigeurareirge tahuireirun n eurgt f n k uig ehtu efetihggfeuoiur e e o ouu u n n u n e n u o e f r t i u h a e e u r n o t i i e u e t a i g nu g o o g e geiene adado u neugfuue ra nu uhrrifiihfiniirgoe ga oai ai o ou aiueeaehrereredhheaiffhhhoihiuieouua or tgaaihoaatgk oeeuoudutruarhyau euefrgher un s i i ouiauaeieuudhour a o euougtoogaauetdaraggug h cta t d
â€œGO, GO, GO!â€? I remember the ring-
leader yelling at me, rapping the window shield with his open palm, his wedding band scratching the glass as I could only watch and cringe. Luckily my share would easily pay for the damage. He was the big cheese of three others, all dressed to the nines, pinstripe suits, my car sitting ready outside the giant-Greek-columned bank.
As the three gangsters proclaimed
their names out of pride, they jumped in the open-air-backseat, the leader in the front, the tires screeched and we were off.
While the four of them hooted and
hollered, shooting their tommy guns up into the air, I couldn’t help but join in, sans gun. It was exhilarating and thrilling. I had never felt so alive.
I also couldn’t help but think of how I
got to that place. They…who is “they” anyway… called him “The Producer” and I wasn’t sure if this was his cover or his actual title. He was incredibly mysterious, but that didn’t keep him from having a chat. I had seen him a few times before on the warehouse row when picking up a star or two after a shoot. He stood stone cold, always smoking a cigar. I started to think after a while that he was a statue, with a constant stream of smoke coming from the tip of the cigar. Until one Monday.
I remember it was aXXXXXX Monday Tuesday
because after approaching him, he exclaimed “Fuck Tuesdays”.
It’s easy to remember a man’s first
words to you, especially if those words are telling a day of the week to go fuck itself. It was odd enough that day. He was outside in his normal place, in front of the warehouse row on the movie studio lot. This time though he was pacing, talking to himself. Shaking his fist in punching motions as if he were actually hitting someone. I probably should have been more cautious as I approached him, but I felt in total control of the situation, that somehow I could calm his nerves.
He angrily asked, “What the fuck do
you want” as I approached him.
This was after he noticed me approach-
ing and offered Tuesday to fuck itself.
After calming his nerves, he told me
he needed a ride. I remember the look on his face when he saw us walking towards J.
“This is your car? No fucking way.
That my friend, is a car. Fuck me.”
He cursed just as much as he puffed on
his fucking cigars.
As we began to drive, his fat sausage
fingers, which didn’t match the stature of his body, ran up and down the upholstery, over seemingly every inch. For some reason this was nails on a chalkboard to me. I let almost anyone into her, but this irked me.
Until his proposition.
“I’m working on a…project” he hesitat-
ed, “and I would love for this beauty to be a part of it.”
My ears perked, but I sternly retort-
ed “Nobody else drives her but me, discussion over.”
He mulled this over like he had a
fucking choice. He didn’t. It was a package deal, me and the car, or nothing.
The next few days seemed like a blur.
I remember constantly being in and out of his office. It was in the seemingly cave like
warehouse I picked him up from, but it was an oasis inside a shit hole. The warehouse was mostly for storage, but it also staged events, the kinds not fit for outdoor viewing. Every step echoed throughout the metal shed. His office though, painted white with a single movie poster on the wall, lit to make it so that it was clearly the focus of the room. It was obviously important. There was a desk and a lamp too, but you knew that, it’s a fucking office.
The day had come for his “project”.
The bank heist. I had been filled in with the details, where to be, where to wait, my markers if you will. The row of warehouses was oddly busy that day. I had assumed that in order to keep up appearances that the day would want to run on like normal. Quiet. I hadn’t met the men scheduled to carry out the plan yet. I wasn’t going to before we started. All I was going to do was to show up and
drive like a bat out of hell the moment the three men hopped into the car. I was confident. I knew I could drive. I knew I could drive well. I knew I could drive fast. I knew that J would be more than happy to oblige. She had no choice really. She was a car. The bank was located only a few blocks away and we’d drive back and park the car safely in a warehouse along the many in the row. The crowd around the warehouse seemed like they were there with a purpose. Nobody standing around, everything was moving. They seemed to be set up there, primed and in perfect position to make it seem like they were supposed to be doing something.
Time drew near, and almost as if on
cue, “The Producer” made his way from behind the crowd to where I was perched against J, idling, waiting.
“You’re on, kid,” he yelled over the
crowd, which seemed to part for me to make
my way to the bank.
This pumped adrenaline through my
veins, not just because I knew Iâ€™d have my foot almost breaking through the floor of the car with the gas pedal, but because he called me kid. I was 32. Who the fuck did he think he was? It was like being called buddy, or sport, or tiger, or champ to a person you barely knew. It drove me mad and it drove me even hungrier, ready.
On the mark, I sped off, the crowd sep-
arated, staring, watching as I sped past. Six turns is all it took to reach the bank, and I took them with such grace and speed that I arrived a minute ahead of my mark. I was anxious. I was obvious. I was sitting, waiting for three men to come racing out of the bank and I now sat in front of, with obvious shots of gunfire emanating from the giant glass doors, the pillars almost acting like amplifiers, carrying the noise even further
into the crowded streets.
“You’ll never forget Tooter, Hooter,
Scooter and Steve!”
With dumb names like that, clearly
nobody would forget them. Except for Steve. People will forget about Steve. I forgot about Steve. Was Steve his name? Ah who gives a shit about Steve.
We sped off, hooting and hollering,
I couldn’t help but get into the act. It was riveting, thrilling and I’ve still never felt so alive.
We came roaring around the bend, and
I knew exactly which warehouse door to pull into. Number 5. I can remember it like yesterday.
Why can’t I remember what I did yes-
terday. What did I have for lunch today?
Turkey XXXXX? No it was definitely turkey.
As I pulled through the door, crossing
the finish line, I heard faint yelling and
screaming. It was The Producer. It sounded cheerful but purposeful.
“Cut, cut, cut! Perfection boys, that’s
a wrap! One take was all it took, bravo!”
As the crowd stopped what they were
doing, turned towards, clapped, roared and cheered. I was going to be in the movies.
Buster Keaton. Speaking of the mov-
ies. Buster flipping Keaton. In my car. I drove around some famous celebrities in my time, but none as important, as famous, as Buster-Keaton as this. He had just come from a movie shoot. Gee, someone didn’t have his panties in a twist over the whole sound-inmovies thing.
“What a mistake that was, signing
with MGM. Bunch of phonies, the whole lot of them. Won’t let me do my own stunts, heck, won’t even let me MAKE a movie with sound.”
Ok maybe he was upset. But for dif-
Plus. Buster fucking Keaton. He could
kick a kitten and I’d still swoon over him.
Ok fine, I hate cats, bad example.
He was dressed in his normal, non-mov-
ie attire. Black suit, white undershirt, black tie and his infamous homemade pork-pie hat. It was common knowledge that he would destroy many hats during the filming of his outlandish stunts in his movies. He did have one that was his special hat that he wore in public, never to be touched on set. It was his first one that he had ever made. He would take Stetson hats, cut them down, then would stiffen the brims using sugar water. Genius.
The man was a genius and I couldn’t
believe he was in my car. I can’t recall anyone of any near the significance of this man in my car. Whoever is reading this, you’ve surely seen his films. You can continue gushing over the man for as long as you’d like.
To the story. Well, back to the story.
We chatted for a bit as he sat coolly
in the back seat. I can’t recall much of the conversation as I was still in awe, my mouth was wide open and I recall staring at him through the rearview mirror than at the actual road itself. Maybe I won’t tell the story, I’ll just oogle over how beautiful his blue eyes wer…
Ok just kidding. He could have called
me “dickface” and my opinions on him still wouldn’t change.
It was one of the windier days I re-
call, as he was holding onto his hat so that it wouldn’t fly away before he got into the car and especially into the car. As our conversation became rather animated, so did his arm gestures. Talking about the movie he was working on, life in general, women, parties, you name it. I purposefully drove 5 miles under the speed limit on every street as to prolong the drive.
He was headed uptown, from the studio,
to his agent’s office to let him have a piece of his mind for, and I’m paraphrasing here “ruining his entire fucking career.”
I was actually able to talk him down
from the figurative ledge, letting him know that he was still, and I’m also paraphrasing here “Buster fucking Keaton.”
He agreed but still wanted to contin-
ue doing his own stunts, for which I didn’t blame him. That was part of his appeal.
Did I mention it was a really windy
Well it was, and naturally, as one
doesn’t hold onto to ones hat, in a convertible on a windy day, Buster’s (I feel like I can call him Buster and not Mr. Keaton) pork-pie hat flew off. Now I don’t mean it sprouted literal wings and flew, but it may as well have, as it took off, the wind carrying it further and further away, higher
and higher. Now if I was in Buster’s shoes, profanity would have been utilized to a very extreme extent, but his words were, and I quote “follow that hat!” as if straight out of a movie script.
So of course, I followed that hat,
turning on a dime, no longer following my 5mph-under-the-speed-limit-because-Buster-Keaton-is-in-my-car rule.
The hat acted as if it was attached to
strings, with a puppet master laughing his ass off, pulling it higher and higher each time we got closer.
Now, I had driven all over and beyond
the Hollywood area, but after 20 minutes of surging wind gusts, I no longer had a clue where we were. At first, Buster didn’t much mind chasing after his most prized hat, but I’m not so sure he thought we’d be after it for this long.
That’s when the profanity started to
fly from the backseat, and I mean boy did he let the wind have it. I won’t even go into detail, but I had to look some of the phrases he was using up after getting home that night.
It’s a good thing the whole debacle
ended when it did – I was running extremely low on gas as we both were on daylight. Had this been any other man’s hat, that bitch would have been long gone. But because it was Buster’s hat and because he refused to let me take my foot off the gas pedal, we chased it for two hours.
Ok I lied, it felt like two hours but
it was probably about 20 minutes. Fuck you, I was having a blast. I could have gone all night if it meant spending more time in the car with Buster.
Alas though, the wind finally died
down, and not to brag or anything, but as the hat came floating down, I drove my car
perfectly under it to where Buster just had to hold out his hand and it landed exactly in his hand, like a flying disc of sorts.
I remember I had a thought that “I bet
people would pay for a flying disc like that” but never actually acted on it. I should have though. Some rag-a-muffin XXXXXXXXX
Nope. That’s way too mean.
got paid for their cake pan that they were throwing around on the beach in Santa Monica a few years later. They made a fortune. That should have been me. Seriously, somebody gave them money for their cake pan that they were throwing. My story would have been way better - the headlines would have read “Driver Awesomely Rescues Buster Keaton’s Hat – Creates Amazing New Toy”. I can’t eat cake anymore because that’s all that comes to mind.
Anyway, after rescuing Buster’s hat,
he rewarded me quite handsomely (although not as handsomely as I would have been off if I had marketed the flying disc first).
I always hung around the MGM studios
during my down time in the off chance that Iâ€™d catch Buster needing a lift, but unfortunately, fate never lined our paths up again. Itâ€™s a shame because I truly thought we could have been friends. Although, truth be told that never happened so who was I really kidding.
He wore a wedding band around his
left ring finger, where it should have been. Should have been were the key words, as I could tell from the tan lines surrounding where his ring used to be that it had been removed. This surely didnâ€™t bother his mistress, the couple was all over each other even before they stepped into my car.
They were both clearly intoxicated and
I wished that I had been to whatever occasion it was that they were coming from. But alas, I kept safety liquor stored in the glove box, and it seemed appropriate to join in on their fun. As they stepped inside,
or stumbled inside, I offered the glass bottle of whiskey around, both willingly obliged. I recognized the man immediately as theXXXXX mayor No wait, he was the mayor of Hollywood.
And no that isn’t some smartass com-
ment about his status as Hollywood’s elite; he was actually the mayor of Hollywood. Although his fame certainly didn’t hurt his status. He was appointed as honorary mayor of Beverly Hills, but he was anything but that. He practically owned the town. He had parties thrown in his honor even if he wasn’t attending.
He was an excuse to throw a party.
I was an excuse. I was an excuse to be
able to ride in my car.
It wasn’t about me. It was never about
me. It was never anything that lasted. The only lasting memories of my time driving in the car are my stories I can tell, and the stories that my passengers can tell of the
time they road around in the prettiest car they’ve ever laid eyes on.
I never made a friend from my time
driving, I only made stories. Stories that I can only share now. That’s all stories ever are. I have no one to share them with other than the paper I’m writing on and whatever sad sap stumbles across this heap of paper.
I can’t even share them with the bar-
tender that’s 5 feet away from me, woefully cleaning the 12 empty glasses that used to occupy most of the space to my left. He doesn’t care, and why should he, he only wants my money, why should anyone care?
I spent too much time worrying about
what others thought of me, what hot shit I looked like driving around in that fucking car. That damn car wasn’t just my life; it was all I ever had, and all I ever cared about. I didn’t care about connecting with people, I cared about what I overheard form the back-
seat, what they were saying about the car. It was never anything about me. There were no personal connections, only connections through a material object. Through that car.
This is why I have to write this, at a
bar, with nobody but whiskey after whiskey to keep me company, to listen to my stories. Each bottom of the glass that I find, the depression grows deeper. Yet somehow with each desperate gulp, I come to realizations.
What I’m typing now are my thoughts,
as they happen in my head. As they come spewing up from the depths within me, through my brain and into my fingers. Don’t worry I’m not actually spewing. It’s as if my fingers are doing all the talking for me.
Why. WHY couldn’t I have made per-
sonal connections. Why the fuck do I have sit here in my self-loathing, drink after drink. Life isn’t about what you make of it, it’s about who you make it with. If I had trav-
eled the world alone, whoop-dee-do for me if I have nobody to share that experience with. If I drove around in a car, whoop-dee-do for me if I have nobody to share those stories with.
The past be damned. Iâ€™m ready for a
new chapter in my stories. Iâ€™ve stared at the bottom of shot glasses and this ugly ass bartender for far too long. with.
Iâ€™m finding someone to make stories
As I sit here writing this as it stands, it has been a number of years since my life altering drinking binge at that bar. I was able to, somehow, in a drunken stupor, when people are supposed to be their most truthful, come to the realization that my life was absolute shit with a capital S. I found these pages that I had typed away on for who knows how long, lying in a box in my old condominium. I left it, packed and untouched for six years. I traveled, fell in love twice, the second one I married her. She IS the love of my life (see, it all comes around). Paris, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden and the most beautiful country on the planet, Canada. I can’t believe that I saw the world, that my eyes were open to life, and not only that, I have made friends, and yes, the real kind of friends with emotions and shit. With that, these memories have no more place in my life, but I know that writing them brought me to open my eyes. I hope though that what happened with me can happen with someone else. I’ve compiled my stories and bound them with these notes attached. I’ve talked it over with the bartender (yes, the same one who sucks at his job, he’s still there and hopefully doesn’t read this part, and if you are reading this then you’re an asshole) and his job is to hand these writings to only the sorriest, most down on his luck man sitting at the same bar that I sat at all those years ago. The hope being that my stories can change the life of another as they changed mine. And so to that, whoever is reading this at the bar that I once sat, I hope these stories change your miserable fucking life.
A collection of short stories as told by a 1920's cab driver down on his luck.