WILLIAM Z. SAUNDERS
DRAWINGS BY MIKE AHO
TRAILER PARKANSAS I remember feeling both powerless and exhilarated every time a pickup would pass with more than one dude in the cab. It was always Outsiders time, was always go time, was always Two-Bit’s “pity the backseat” ready-to-rock mentality. It was enough to make you nervous. It was being punk in the rural south. I didn’t discover what drugs could do for me until I was well into the teen angst, and I’ll never forget the day. I was at the dentist. He gave me some nitrous, maybe a local anesthetic, and most certainly a shot of Demerol. 3
I remember waiting around in front of the office for a ride home, leaning with my back up against a brick wall when I recognized that this way that I felt was HIGH, and I liked it…a lot. I filed that feeling away for future reference. It slowed everything down for me, all the thoughts in my head just zeroed into none. I was fucking up long before I started getting high. I was a vandal and I burned my bridges before they were built. I behaved as though I were on drugs even when I was supposedly straight edge. Three weeks into my senior year, I found out that it was gonna take two more years for me to graduate, and I wasn’t having any part in that. I dropped outta high school. At that time, I didn’t smoke or drink. I was 4
so, so, so very sober ‘til then, lemmetellya. That changed in a matter of weeks. As I recall, I tried smoking pot one time, and alluva sudden it was everyday all day. I dropped acid for the first time (“You sure you’ve done this before?”...”Oh yeah, yeah”) and, a few weeks after that, I ate it everyday for three months. I discovered Dexy and became willing to pop as many pills as possible on a seemingly never-ending spree of candy-flipping, key bumps, getting nice (meaning right and precise and uptight) hitting hotknives, getting hurt, hot-boxing my tiny Toyota Corolla hatchback and running the rest of the gamut of dope fiend, etc. I followed a friend to Little Rock, where we both moved into a 5
peculiar little punk house. Its innards were something of a shantytown that drew outsiders in with a strange magnetic force. Little by little, everyone who spent time inside its walls blended together into one. All it took was marijuana and the mere mention of some power pop to get the party started and pumped up to cult status...
RECOLLECTION One bright day, I-and-eye ate some acid in the evening, skated home, and holed up in my shared bedroom alone with the lights off. I was hearing things. Terrible noises of the town being shot down. This is it, I thought to myself. Persecution mania. If the whole world is going tits up, then I am going to hide. Some might call it the fear. I think I wanted to believe that it was really Armageddon, so I got good and convinced. I was hearing all kindsa gunshots and military police barking orders over bullhorns. I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell you how long I was in there like that, going crazy, thinking over the pattern of my own personal consumption 7
and behavior, but I assure you it was long enough. I got shook back to life when the door flung open suddenly. Someone flicked on the lights and asked me to drive this guy to the hospital, the request reassuring me that the apocalypse had truly come, and that I was to play some major role in it. I forgot to mention that the un-perforated lysergic piece of paper I had eaten earlier on in the evening had been provided by some temporarily transplanted trippy troopers from Ber-zerk-ly, Cali-forn-ia staying in and around our area. I also forgot to mention that, aside from seven other humans, the house had dogs. It had cats, too, but the dogs are what is relevant here because 8
one of the dogs, Odin -- part chow, part pit, part rot, might as well have been born a bulldozer -- bit off and swallowed one of the Berkley punx pinky fingers. No shit. (I bet that guy’s still tripping his nuts off.) So they busted into the dark womb of my interpersonal purgatory to inform me that Odin the Annihilator had bitten this guy’s finger off and everybody had nominated my paranoid ass to chauffeur him along with some freaky squatter chick to the hospital. I think it’s important that we explore my state of mind. As I said earlier, I wanted to believe it was the end of the world so very, very much. The only reading material I was keeping by my little bedroll was a stack of about thirty back issues of Thrasher magazine. I had a few pictures 9
of some of the more Aborigine members of the Zorlac & Alva skate teams duct taped to the wall behind my pillow. I was pretty obsessed with the style of middle school street skating & the Mad Max look of Hook and the Daggers. I came to the profound realization that the way that sk8 rockers looked is what identified them as an opposition to the police. All we were listening to at that time were a couple of seven inches by bands that we had all been very close to, along with Squeeze and The Jam to come down with, and also each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s impatient diatribes. The world was a very small place for me back then. With this in mind, the first thing I wanted to do before getting behind the wheel of my car was to try to do a couple of street plants just to fly the flag a little so 11
the fuzz would know not to fool with us. So I did, and I fell down and hit my head and hurt my wrists, felt some pain, and then I was ready to drive.
GIDDYUP. I had learned how to drive under the influence the very first time I ever dropped acid. I had driven to the convenience store to get orange juice with a couple of guys, and when they were inside the store I blacked out and drove off. I had forgotten why (how) I had ever arrived. It was the first of many such rides. Now, like then, tripping behind the steering wheel of a car was like being the captain of some crazy cruise ship jet ski. The street just kept leaping up and lapping at the sides of the vehicle in waves like water. I had been to the hospital in Little Rock once, about one week before, when one of us had a 13
lymph node surgically removed, so I knew the way there. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember much of the drive, just that it had been a bad ride. I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pull into the parking lot, because I was paranoid. Instead, I pulled the car in where I thought a boat belonged: the loading dock behind a dumpster.
HEAVINESS The scene at the hospital was dense, really thick. I mean to say that I remember it being busy. The rules wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow more than one chaperone into the emergency room, so I was left alone to creepy crawl the most immensely crowded waiting room ever. I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say that I remember much about this time except that it took maximum restraint on my part to maintain some semblance of sanity. I had to act like I knew what I was doing and try not to freak anybody out. I tried not to speak to any of the orderlies that kept asking if I was okay. I pretended to watch one of the television sets, which were tuned to all sorts of local & national 15
network news reporting what was really happening out there, reconfirming the feeling I first had when I had heard all the citizens being shot in the street. I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t watching the TVs so much as I was actually projecting my thoughts on the screen. (The whole thing is just a hypno-ray anyway, right?!!) I tried to buy some candy. I was investigating the contents of the vending machine, which were suddenly the most attractive thing in the room, when a little black kid (he might have been a midget) tried to help me decide and bought me a Twix, which I promptly dissected and smeared all over myself. I was most certainly malnourished, but not the least bit interested in, nor could I imagine eating, anything 16
as detestable as a chocolate caramel cookie candy bar. The kid kept staring at me so I pretended to stare back at him, but instead began a Odinough introspective investigation of myself. At first, I wanted to find out why he was looking at me so funny. I began to remove some of my clothing. I pulled the sweater up over my head and left it hanging like a headdress, and I am pretty sure I took my t-shirt off too. Examining my arms closely, I started to notice that the patterns of vascularity were repetitive, and to my surprise, the arms attached to my tiny tattooed torso (I was a late bloomer in more ways than one, and only happened to weigh about 130 lbs. soaking wet in a river of sweat) appeared to have become quite muscular 18
in a matter of minutes. In my mind, I had mutated into the mythic warrior poet that had been my psychic predestination all along. This, I thought, must be the reason that alluva sudden, everybody seems to be staring back at me. “Shit,” I said out loud. “They know who I am.” I knew right then I had to get outta there. I made a beeline for the door marked EXIT, took the stairs up to the tippy-top of the parking garage. From here, I thought, I am able to plan my escape route. I looked out and saw the city burning, as I suspected, and I started methodically plotting my course. The sound of static interrupted my train of thought... A roaming security guard warned me not to resist, and also asked 19
me not to jump. A cruiser pulled up and his partner asked me to put my hands on the hood of it, patted me down, put me in handcuffs, and parked my ass in the back seat. The next thing I knew, they were leading me into a tiny interrogation room where a couple more policemen joined me and the three little pigs. These two were county Mounties, and they were wondering just “what kinda drugs was I on, and where did I procure them?” I remember thinking that I heard them saying things, but I couldn’t hear what they were telling me. From what I could decipher, I understood that they were about to shave off my beautiful blueblack head of hair and penetrate the bottom part of me. They asked me for my phone number so I gave them the only one I 20
remembered at the moment, which was/is: (501) 767-8361. Suck on that, I thought. I knew that was my phone number from the time that I was seven until I turned twelve or thirteen, but it was the only number I could remember ever having.
WTF (After an hour???) They asked me if I thought that I might be capable of driving my friends home...what friends? I had forgotten all about them. I had gotten all caught up in the eye of this apocalyptic hell storm in my head, I had forgotten all about my fingerless cohort and his (slutty) sidekick. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sure, I can drive. Of course I can. I know how to get out of here. What do you think I was doing up on the roof?â&#x20AC;? At that point, I could have driven all the way home in reverse. I was over it. I had ridden on the crest of a monster wave for some time. There was no fucking peak. If there was, I had surpassed it. 22
Remember, these were the days before portable GPS tracking devices, when you had to rely solely on your internal locus. They let me go. How? Why? The answer to these questions I will never know. My car was right where I remembered leaving it. We got in, I backed up, and we slid all the way back to Capitol Street. When we walked into the haus party it was just getting cranked, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d had enough. Everyone seemed concerned about my mental and emotional well-being. Someone brought me a beer from the keg. I remember asking everybody to leave me be. I went back to the bedroom, set the beer down beside me, begged for sleep, and blacked out. 23
DEJA-VOO-DOO A few days afterward, I found myself with some super-fast friends, facing the day, being back to normal, getting some grub at the corner store. I was standing, stoned, in a neverending ultra-long line, waiting to buy my nutty bars, when something about the image of me happened to get caught in the eye of the man standing directly ahead of me. He did a double take. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s when I reckon I placed his face, a perfect match... he turned to face me, and we were just about the same size, me and the rent-a-cop from the apocalypse.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” he asked with a kind, stunned expression on his thin face. “How could I forget you, dude?” I responded. None of my pals seemed to notice, except for one, and he asked me how I knew him. “I don’t know bro. I just do.”
The first installment of William Z. Saunders’ “Bad Jobs” recollects being punk in the rural south and other bad jobs....With illustrations by Mike Aho Bad Job (badge-awb) n. “When I was an itty-bitty baby boy, learning to talk, I needed a word or phrase for describing what came out when I went #2. My folks told me to call it a bad job. I was already calling my ding-dong a winky-tinky, and everybody kept calling me poohbear, so no wonder I became a total perv! My sister and I both called it a bad job, like one word. When asked what we were doing in there we would reply...”I was doing a bad job.” What was I gonna do but lose?”
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