Truck Stop Troubadour Volume 10-The Origins Of Frankenstein Dog (Part 2)

All I could hear in my head was this cacophony of  wild tin can conspiracy, his mouth moving defensively, as I thought to myself, "your what couldn't do who with what???"
Almost immediately that thought changed to "how could someone who was supposed to be my friend, knowing full well how that guitar was once again giving me the will to live after such a dangerous period of suicidal ideology--how could this person do a thing like this?
In retrospect, the answer is quite obvious.  I spent all of my twenties and most of my thirties laboring under the assumption that, not only was my well-being and comfort my highest priority but it should be yours too. If it wasn't, you were an asshole.
In this case there were added difficulties.  Me and Curley were not friends; nor had we been for years.  We were what young people today refer to as "frenemies." Quite honestly, at that point he would've had no problem selling me off to slavery if he thought no one would find out.  Yet I endured him because he attracted girls like flies to dog crap and I thought that would bode well for my case.  I was very dumb.
After two hours of my fantasizing all the different ways he could die a slow, painful death, it became clear to me what I needed to do. I scoured Tempe's free music paper and found something that could answer all my prayers.  A music store in Phoenix was advertising brand new acoustic guitars for $99.99.  My paycheck on that Friday was probably about $300 and my bills were most likely quite a bit more, but as far as I was concerned he could kick me out, I was getting the guitar.  And so I did.
At this point, there was two separate realities going on in my life.  There was my home life which was deplorable.  It basically consisted of me coming home exhausted and spent everyday to a stoned roommate who was systematically sleeping with every female in the complex coupled with my job at the gas station which was hot and grueling and frustrating.  And then there was the yin to my yang...music.
At night I'd come home, take a shower and head out to a club where they had an open mic so I could sing all my sad mournful songs that were comforting me at the time.  "You're a Big Girl Now", "Sarah", "To Ramona".  Every week I'd try to learn more and go back and sign up and play them.
I finally met a cute girl after a few months named Angie. We dated for a few weeks and I disappeared and stopped calling.  This wound up becoming a pattern for me.  I told myself the story that I would never care for anyone like the girl I just lost in New Paltz, nor did I want to.
Now many people like to argue this point, but for me--in my world--the coolest place to hang out in Tempe at the time was the "Coffee Plantation."  It attracted hundreds of ASU students, locals and tourists.  With the exception of Angie, I met every girl I was ever with in Tempe there--which, in that ten month period, numbered close to fifteen or sixteen.
Let's put this in context though: writing this now, it seems like a lot of promiscuity but I walked around convinced I was a loser because Curley managed to sleep with that many girls in about a month.
Regardless of this fact, I was a regular at the Coffee Plantation.  It's so funny, but as I reflect back, my brain tries to convince me that I went to Arizona, spent a few years working at a miserable gas station, then a year or two at a chain auto parts store and after struggling and pushing, I landed a job at the retail counter of the Coffee Plantation-what I considered, at the time, to be the coolest job in town.  In reality, this progression took about six months.  They were very intense times though and it probably accounts for why they live in my memory as years instead of weeks.
The owner of the Coffee Plantation, a mormon named Joe, took a liking to me and one day out of the clear blue mentioned to me that he heard I was an aspiring musician.  I said that I was and he asked if I wanted to play a whole show at the Coffee Plantation--$50 plus tips! I was very nervous when I stepped up there but as I played my Dylan songs--it was all I played--people were clapping, putting money in my jar, stopping and watching and I remember this drop dead beautiful girl who worked at the coffee counter-Christine--shouting out, "we love you Billy!!!"
So if there's any confusion about why I am still doing this today, there's the answer.
The funny thing was that Curley was employed as a busboy and just happened to be bussing that night.  With a plastic bus bucket filled with mugs, saucers and silverware, he got as close as he could get to the live mic and he lifted the bucket so the sound of all that loud crap crashing together could be amplified and overpower my singing.  For one night I got to see him walking around jealous of me instead of the other way around.  It was a victorious moment.
I became a regular performer there and it wasn't until I got into some trouble at that job that I stopped playing there.
Shortly thereafter I wound up moving out of the apartment with Curley and I shacked up, platonically, with a counter girl at The Coffee Plantation named Deb.  Or at least it was platonic at first--I'll save that for my novel.
I forgot who first suggested that I leave Arizona to go into business with my uncle in Silver Spring, MD but someone did and I inquired.  I had spent almost a year living really rough.  Bad food, almost always penniless, less than ideal living arrangements--I was ready for a change.  My uncle was an extremely successful businessman with a Maserati who had a very expensive house in a very expensive neighborhood.  The thinking was that if I partner up with him, my Maserati would be just around the corner.
I could not have been more mistaken.  He was one of these guys who thought it was fine to yell, scream, curse, berate, verbally abuse and judge anyone he felt like.  Then he'd call you a baby or a p&%#y if you did not follow him into his "better" mood twenty minutes later.  I knew it wasn't going to work.  He wanted me to start going on sales calls by myself, so he bought me a 1967 Chevy Pickup turquoise and creme colored and for liability and legal reasons, he had it titled and registered to me.
I escaped in the middle of the night one night and drove straight to New Paltz.  It was a depressing, scary and miserable drive that I really wasn't financially prepared for and if you were around when Frankenstein Dog first started you may remember a song called Jersey Turnpike which described in detail what it felt like.  The story I was telling myself was that I haven't been happy since I lost my one true love and until I  find a way to win her back, I'd never be happy again. During that drive I ran the greatest fantasy movie in my head.  I'd get back to New Paltz, I'd put together a band--in fact, I'd put together the hottest band in New Paltz.  She'd walk into Cabaloosa and see me---rock star that I was--we'd get back together and I'd live happily ever after.  This was really an actual plan that I developed a step by step strategy for.
I couch surfed for awhile when I got back and when that became entirely untenable I decided to sell the truck. The money got me into an apartment with three other dudes above the bike shop on Church Street, a small multitrack, a radio shack reverb unit, a microphone and headphones.  I managed to grub a bass and a keyboard for drums when I needed it.
My uncle, who still doesn't talk to me, could not believe I vaped in the middle of the night,  stole the truck, went up to New Paltz and then sold the truck; and the responsible adult inside of me can see how underhanded and foul that was.  I do have to admit though, that as evolved as I have become spiritually and morally, there is still a part of me that smiles when I think about it.
When I leave abusive situations, it's usually done with legend and drama.

To Be Continued

1 comment

  • Eileen

    Eileen

    Hell yeah. Definitely legendary departures for you. I also have always loved this story. Can't wait for the novel.

    Hell yeah. Definitely legendary departures for you. I also have always loved this story. Can't wait for the novel.

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