Take The Long Road Home (by J.T. Hilltop) pt1


I haven’t written any excerpts from JT’s great American novel about growing up in the 60’s in a little town of Centerlawn in awhile so the journey continues as he gets out of jail in the deep south.

Long And Winding

Thirty three days in jail may not seem like much but it certainly frees up your time to reflect on a good many things. What I had to reflect on in my final day at The Aikon County South Carolina Correctional Facility was the fact that Max and his junkie girlfriend left me down and out in bum fuck South Carolina with nothing but the clothes on my back and…..well tactually that’s all I had. I was busted, disguted, and couldn’t be trusted. No money, no extra clothes, food, not even any cigarettes as I left the half pack for my cell mates to fight over. I was dejected and alone, nowhere near home, and it seemed like I had not a friend in the world. But then a thought hit me, “JT my boy, what about Rhonda? Yea, that’s what I need, ‘You gotta Help me Rhonda, help help me Rhonda.’ Rhonda Harris. Rhonda was a friend from high school whose family moved to Myrtle Beach at the end of the eleventh grade. We weren’t what you would call close friends but close enough that she’ll remember me and right now I needed somebody, anybody to talk to. I mean we talked a few times probably even flirted some but the plain cold truth is other than Rhonda Harris the closest friend I could think of was some six or seven hundred miles away back on Long Island. Forget family, no one I could or would talk to about my failure here. besides Myrtle Beach was a mere one hundred and fifty miles from this boondock town of, of wherever the Hell I am. After a quick calculation and a group meeting it was decided that me and the new voices in my deranged head that had adopted me during the correction phase of my stay would hitchhike to Myrtle Beach and look Rhonda up in the phone book.
So we pointed ourselves in the direction of Myrtle Beach, stretched out the faithful old hitchhiking thumb for some digital exercise, and began walking down the highway feeling happy, free, and positive that a car would come along any second. Well maybe any minute. Any hour? In fact it was almost two hours before even one car came by going my way and it zoomed past like I wasn’t even there. I checked my thumb to make sure that it was still working properly and satisfied my hitchhiking digit was in order my thumb, the voices, and I plodded forward. Four cars, one bus, and a dump truck later my first potential ride pulled over. A nice pearl white Chevy pick up had stopped and the driver rolled down his window. “Where y’all headed man?” Comforting. The front cab was full with four hippie looking young southern dudes. He motioned towards the back as I called out, “looking for Myrtle Beach man, thanks for the lift. How far am I from the beach anyway?” Driver dude smiled, “We’re heading up to Raleigh but we can get you about halfway up to Camden man. Then Y’all only have roundabout another fifty miles east. Ain’t no more room up here Bro, jump in the back. We’ll let ya know when we get there, maybe an hour or so.” Feeling grateful and happy to have a place to sit awhile I jumped in the back with a big ass smile on my face. The voices were happy too.
After the third or fourth huge bump my huge ass smile fell out of the back of the truck and I wondered if I would ever see it again. My new metal palace was in constant motion as if I were a crash test dummy taking the shock absorbers out for stress diagnosis. I bounced up and down, rolled left and right, and every so often the side of my new surroundings gave me a body check into the wheel well. But fuck it man, I was free, I was on my way to finding a long lost friend, and I was grateful. Hungry as all hell, but grateful to be getting as far away from Aikon County South Carolina as possible. When my savior in the pearl white Chevy pulled over at a gas station an hour later to refuel he came up to me. “here ya go man, this here’s Camden.” I was almost disappointed. He continued, “If’n y’all take 22 East ya run straight on inta Myrtle Beach. Ain’t no more’n hour an a half away. We be headin’ on up north here. Good luck.” I thanked him profusely as I took stock of the many new bruises I had acquired during the ride. Ith a hint of sadness and some serious hunger pangs I watched them take off. Now if only I could find something to eat. I had come to a sort of small bridge, both literal and metaphoric. I equated it to Dorothy stepping out of the black and white house into a world of wonder and colors. Yea, the way I figured it I was heading to Munchkin land, Utopia or Eden, but halfway across I looked into the slow moving rivulet and a stinging wake up call shook my very foundation, and when I answered it said, “No yellow brick roads here in River Styx, just a crickfull of danger. ” Sloshing around in the water beneath the bridge was a congregation of razor toothed alligators. Apparently congregation is what you call a group of alligators and this congregation was holding high mass, or maybe even celebrating baptisms. I was impressed with the smoothness grace and speed with which these parishioners swam and regardless of the fact that I was up here and they were down below a wave of paranoia swept over me. I ran across the metaphoric bridge as if they were chasing me to the other side. I made it over without incident but slightly disillusioned. Nothing changed, but at least there were no wicked witches or alligators with ticking clocks in their bellies. The other side of the bridge was nothing more than the other side of a bridge. To make things even worse, the running only made me more hungry.
I had often heard the phrase “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, but to tell you the truth when you have dirty clothes, long stringy wind whipped hair, and a Yankee accent down south there isn’t a free anything except for advice! Most of the advice consist of things like Y’all should jess git yer Yankee ass back to new yawlk, woncha git that thar girly hair cut like a man, or take a bath hippie, y’all stink like a got damn angry polecat in heat. I was definitely not feeling the love of that southern hospitality I heard so much about, and frankly I would have preferred a bottle of Southern Comfort right about then. I was walking down highway 22 when I spotted an oasis in this backwoods hell, a small Salvation Army building. I walked inside and poured my heart out relaying my story of misuse, abuse bad luck, abandonment, incarceration, dehydration, damnation, degradation and to top it off getting scoffed at asking for a morsel of nourishment. The young man, Jonas, listened intently, offered me some apple juice and a peanut butter sandwich, told me I could take a shower and then we could talk some more. I accepted happily and even though I put a clean body back into those dirty rags I felt like a new man. Feeling fully refreshed and ready to talk more about my trials and tribulations I joined the young man in a sort of guest room.
The talk he referred to was not about me but about a much higher power, the lord. I was the beneficiary of a two hour lecture on God, Jesus, sins, repentance, and scriptures. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open but I remained grateful and awake. At least I wasn’t in jail anymore! When Jonas, finished his sermon he asked me why I was going to Myrtle Beach. Not wanting to get involved in anymore lectures I opted to explain how I had heard so much about what a wonderful city it was and wanted to experience it. Apparently Myrtle Beach was either the Sodom or Gomorrah of the south because I earned myself another thirty minutes of lecture which ended in advice to cut my hair and go back to New York because Myrtle Beach is about nothing but money and sin. I refrained from saying “My kind of town” and instead thanked him and meandered back out onto highway 22.
When I was a kid I loved playing neighborhood games, especially tag. Hitchhiker tag however isn’t quite as much fun and a lot more one sided. With the sun going down and dusk setting in another pick up truck pulled over, but this one was an old beat up rusted out model with three boys in the cab. Being a fast learner I ran up and started to climb in the back but instead of asking me where I was going the dude rolled down his window and snarled, “What the Hell you think you doin’ boy?” He then proceeded to pull the truck up about ten feet as I fell to the ground. I stood up noticing the rifle rack in the back of the cab and the Deliverance image made a brief reappearance inside my head. The loud guffaws of condescending laughter riled me a bit. After a second time the voices said to me, “ Fuck them, lets kick their asses, we can take them” Fortunately I paid the voices no heed this time as the funny truck driving asshole yelled back at me, “Hawhawhaw, I’m sorry man, we was jess kiddin’, c’mon git on in the truck.” I weighed my options, didn’t want to piss them off and certainly didn’t wanted want to get fooled again so I moved forward with some trepidation. Slowly I moved towards the truck and that’s when the game of tag ensued. After four more antagonizing times I just said “Nevermind man, I don’t need no fucking ride.” He slammed on the brakes and both doors swung open. I gulped and thought, “Fuck me! No wait, I don’t mean like literally I meant please don’t fuck me, please!!” The three amigos walked towards me and I felt like this was gonna be even worse than the beatings I got from my favorite jailhouse guards, Billy Boy and Jimbo.
“Whatchoo mean Y’all done want no ride, we aint good enough foe yo dirty stinkin hippie shit ass? Maybe you needs to learn a little manners ya pig fucking longhair.” I tensed up to brace myself for another order of southern fried ass kicking when an authoritative voice broke through, “Now come on boys, Y’all know better’n at stomp this young lad fer no reason.” I opened my eyes and walking behind my three wannabe ninja’s was a huge figure of a man with an impressive trooper looking hat. The boys looked disappointed as they had been forced to reseal their cans of whip ass. Having feared the cops for most of my immature adult life I wasn’t sure if I was being saved or enslaved. I had visions of being taken to the basement of a police station naked and hogtied with a red ball strapped inside my mouth while some huge half witted yokel prepared to jam his self amused hard on up my digestive aperture……. Sorry, I’ll give you a sec to get the image out of your mind.
After a few minutes of the boys apologizing to the sheriff and swearing they “Was jess gonna have them a little fun, wasn’t akchully gonna hurt im” the would be assassins got back in the truck and the sheriff came over to get a closer look at me. I braced again, this time for handcuffing or Billy club enlightenment but the sheriff must have been a follower of Jonas from the Salvation Army because he spoke with the same God preaching condescending tone. “Praise the Lord I got here in time here boy. Now son y’all really need to watch out for yourself in these parts, where you from?” I took to telling him most of my story, leaving out the jail part but telling him I was abandoned in the night by my one time friends and was just trying to get back home to NY. He listened politely and then began practicing empathetic lecturing on me and leveled some tried and true southern advice on me, to cut my hair, take a bath, and go back home. He offered to take me to the town limits on 22 where he was sure I would get a ride. I told him I was much obliged and I actually praised the lord out loud for his coming around when he did. Like I said, I’m a fast learner.

Days Too Often Forgotten


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it -George Santayana-

Does any one remember when a hopeful generation
Of compassionate human beings made a peaceful presentation

Hell no
We won’t go
Break down barriers
Free Jim Crow
Stop the fighting
Stop the draft
Join the army
Get the shaft
No more murder
No more bombing
No Agent Orange
Stop Napalming

Give us your poor and tired huddle masses
Seeing the world through our rose colored glasses
Bending down to raise the downtrodden
These are the days too often forgotten

Now our friends bicker bitch and moan
Sit at the computer their internet throne
Haters behind the mask of the keypads
Yelling at liberals to put on their kneepads

Heads up their asses those conservative clowns
Those god damn liberals will destroy all the towns
Old white Republicans want us to live in the past
Communist Democrats want rebellion to last

Too many days we have forgotten
Too many riches were ill begotten
Better we let those days remind us
Not let political parties define us

The once united
Has become
A money vulture
Failed policies
Failed schism
Failure to every
Fucking ism
Breeds not sanity
Are any choices
Left to me?

A decree to jog the memory

Let us not forget
The barefoot, pregnant, and silent
Bought them needle and thread
Chained them naked in bed
Don’t let them vote
Let them clean the house instead
It wasn’t easy but we learned we could find the way
You’ve come a long way baby to get where you are today

Let us not forget
The sight of fibers hanging from branches
People crucified for taking chances
The sound of chains
The promise of pain
That was then this is now
That’s no reason to disavow

How easily we forget the war over cotton, these are the days too often forgotten

Now streets are alight burning with hate
Disingenuous rule makers holding out bait
Its always them against us or us against them
When the hell will this hatred end

How is it we traveled across many so generations yet still can’t stop warring against other nations

Foundations like United Nations taking donations to ease frustrations and improve relations
But continued accusations and insincere declarations bring condemnations from all congregations
They hope deportations and allegations will prevent confrontations by becoming celebrations
Will anything lead to sensible conversations?

The taste of anguish so bitter it makes me cry
We’ve forgotten how and forgotten why
Once we stood a rebellious culture united
But money is the root of all the shortsighted
We need to remember the peace we desired
And go back to being a nation inspired

Condemned to a world dank and rotten if we allow these day to be forgotten

Where are those brilliant minds that forged a union
Who stood firm against wrongs in peaceful communion
Youth’s banded together demanding a voice in their world
While defying all inequalities under a banner unfurled
A nation of families spreading blankets of peace and love
Sharing respect and integrity in the utopia they dreamed of
Days once filled with promise of the best of humanity
When those days are forgotten we’re left with insanity

Capitalism is tradition
Revolution is a mission
Hatred must cease
Increase the peace


The Imagination Generation cooks, or Culinary Revolution For The Hell Of It


Food glorious food, We’re anxious to try it. Its what’s for dinner, whether cool as a cucumber or easy as pie we love our food. Food has been essential since time began. Without food the world would be full of nothing but vegetation soaking up the sun’s energy creating oxygen for no one. But as it is we have a symbiotic relation with vegetation. Animals (including us) eat the greenery, digest it, then return it to the plants as composted food for their roots. So we all benefit from the cycle of life because of the cycle of food. Food has always existed even finding its roots in the garden of Eden. Yea, the forbidden apple the iSin that was as they say the fall of man. More like the rise of man which is why so many of us get hungry after sex. Food has had major impacts to the growth an development of all life, especially humanity. Whether it was chewing the leaves of tree’s or the capturing of some animal we survived on food. Food was so important to our development it can be attributed for the creating of societies. We formed tribes to both procure and protect food sources. With the advent of the agricultural revolution food became power. Whomever controlled the food controlled the masses. Humans learned to grow vegetation at will, capture and herd animals for milk and meat, and create warehouses to store food. At one point food was worth more than money. Why in ancient times you could by a chariot polo team for a few cases of wheat, a six pack, and a cow. Brothels accepted loaves of bread for making it rise and it gave cause for a new phenomenon arose, thievery. With people stealing food from one another and beating each other up or killing for food an important new force needed to be created. The police force formed in ancient Athens where the policeman were paid in what else? Donuts. The police eventually evolved into armies which as Napoleon so eloquently put it, marches on its stomach. He reportedly always hid a taco inside his coat which is why so many photos show him apparently holding his stomach. But that was then this is now, and now it costs a lot of money for a small amount of food. But we pay it because not only do we need food, we friggen love to eat. Home or restaurant, no difference, bring on the food.
Why do we love to eat so much? Properly prepared food can fill us with a plethora of wonderful emotions which is one reason we love to go to restaurants. What is a restaurant? Originally the French term for restoring it referred to the hearty soups that were said to restore ones health. What a great concept, a place to sit, eat, and converse in a Nice setting. Or was it Paris? Whatever, the concept gained ground and a new industry was born. Forks and knives, chopsticks, or fingers, food was bought prepared and served the world over and Auguste Escoffier took it upon himself to develop recipe systems and a set of basic tenets for cooking. That was the late 18oo’s and those laws stood firm for almost a century. Red wine for meat, white wine for poultry or fish (Pick your Poisson). Everything served within the lip of a plain white plate. Everything was standardized right down to the size of cooking utensils. This worked well for many years until a new generation grew up and took over the sauté pans. The imagination revolution was about to break the restaurant industry wide open.
Like most of my generation, I colored outside the lines on purpose. But some of us took it even further, like coloring the tree’s blue instead of green, or making the sun magenta because the word on the crayon looked cool. I was particular to periwinkle myself because I not only did it look cool, the name made me chuckle. It was one of the only crayons that made a daily appearance in the cheesy crayon sharpener on the side of my 64 color box of Crayola. That was the first known instance of thinking outside the box. We were the generation that would stretch the limits of imagination like silly putty, make it bounce around like a superball, and allow it to take flight from balsa airplanes, to water pump rockets, all the way the flying saucer Frisbee. Our entertainment was just as far out, with uncles who are Martians, talking cars, nose twitching good witches, and pretty genies in bottle seemingly common place events an acceptable. We even let our imaginations allow us to believe that a movie star on a three hour boat tour would bring an enormous change of clothes, and once stranded a professor could invent everything on a deserted island except a workable raft. Our minds were open and free and TV opened many dialogues on previously hushed or taboo subjects like racism, drugs, and the all time favorite, sex. It’s the generation that looked to the moon and said lets not just look at it but lets go there and find out if there really is any cheese, let not have a small concert lets have a festival for half a million. It was only a matter of time before some of these new forward thinking creative out of the crayola box coloring kids would grow up an become chefs of the future. Ha Ha.
And we did. The first thing the rebel imagination generation of cooks did was disregard all of Escoffier’s rules. No disrespect sir, your shit was incredible, but we are in the age of culinary renaissance and it was up to us to disregard the rules, deconstruct everything that had been done for so many years and color outside the roasting pans. Sauté the red snapper, throw in some shallots and fresh thyme, hit it with some pinot noir and deglaze. Finish with a touch of fish stock , pinch of cream, and spoonful of raw butter and man oh man you have one tasty ass snapper with a buerre rouge. Red wine and fish?? Blaspheme! We broke all the old rules, decorating our plates with fresh herbs, making wines work with anything, rare duck breast, barely cooked or half raw foods, crunchy veggies, nouvelle cuisine was taking its stand against the old strong brigade system of cooking. Women washing the pots and pans? Bullshit ladies, come on inside the kitchen and show them what kick ass chefs you are. The old regime cringed, knocking the cigarette ashes into their sautoise pans. Sacrebleu, what are zose crazy long hair chefs doing? And what kind of cigarette is zat they smoke? Sorry Charlie, but revolutionaries only want the best tuna, served mostly if not entirely raw. Salads took center stage as entrée’s with hot meats served over them. The imagination generation turned the culinary industry on its pigs ear. Sweetbread day in the morning we kicked some ass back then!
Now I watch proudly as a new generation of rebel chefs begin to take their place in culinary history, sustainable food systems, farm to table programs, and molecular gastronomy are the next new wavers an they have been doing a tremendous job. Women have made their major impact on the industry an in an ever evolving world its up to them to keep our interest in dining, not just eating. Personally I think the industry is in great hands, hope its no0t just my imagination

Where Have All The Flower Children Gone?

The Decade That Was
Once upon a time, there was a creative thought, which blossomed into a fine young idea. That idea was nurtured and guided so it became a sound and just suggestion . As it grew it evolved into a brilliant well thought out concept. Because the concept had such universally beneficial implications it rose up into an action. The action was pure an meaningful and reached so many other open minds that it morphed into a movement, and it was the most glorious movement the world had ever seen. It was a movement dedicated to equality, world peace, harmonious existence, and awareness. Seeking a better world through music, inclusive lifestyles, positive politics, and the ability to question injustices perpetuated by governments. Like most good things authorities believed it needed to be compartmentalized so it was labeled a decade. The decade became turbulent and pushed our tolerance to the limit. The decade ended. Time passed, and the decade was reduced to a memory of drug induced youth protesting without direction, and the memory began to fade.

Only wanted to live in peaceful bliss
World peace love and happiness
Place the hate down a deep abyss
That’s the utopia we all should miss

No one cared about your race
Accepted all in loves embrace
We were in such a happy place
Until it fell and crushed our face

Now so many years gone by
Often times I wonder why
Did the movement have to die
Was the decade one big lie?

Looking back we had a goal
Drugs sex and rock and roll
Scuse me while I light a bowl
Get high on the grassy knoll

But in the end the dream is done
No more flowers in the gun
Flower power was on the run
If nothing else we sure ha fun

Quest for peace replaced by greed
The hell with what poor folks need
We all have our own mouths to feed
Don’t have time to hear them plead

But take a minute and reflect
At all the rights we keep in check
And thank a Hippie what the heck
For trying to make this world correct



beatles #1

It was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Peppers taught his band to play. I doubt there is anyone in America of my generation that’s not familiar with that line. But on February 9th, 2014 it was 50 years ago today that counted. That was the day America was ready to….Meet The Beatles. After that night came a plethora of new albums, Magical Mystery Tour, Rubber Soul, Revolver, The White Album and more. Help, Its Been a Hard Days Night here on Abbey Road. 50 years ago! Yea, a lot has been made of the recent 50 year anniversary of the Beatles conquering America. But nothing really caught any of the energy that one special evening created. Five songs transformed a generation, gave it something to identify with. The Beatles merely changed the way we spoke, the way we dressed, the way we listened to music, the way we viewed our politics, and in general the way we lived our lives. And it all started on one night all across America in households of families huddled around a Sunday night ritual. The Ed Sullivan show, an institution in the days when most families had only one TV set and the whole family sat and watched it together. Back in those days dinner was served at the same time everyday, an you couldn’t leave the table until you finished everything. Yea, even the vegetables! After dinner the family gathered around the TV set to watch whatever Dad decided we could watch. Saturday mornings we had cartoons and the television belonged to us (so long as our chores were done) but at night there was no democracy. Fascist Pops was in control of what we viewed and we were the remote controls. “JT, go put on channel four. JT, turn this up. JT, fix that horizontal bar.” Pretty much the same in every house, and Sundays were family night. For us it was the same every Sunday, Lassie, followed by My Favorite Martian, followed by The Ed Sullivan Show all on CBS. If I was allowed to stay up after that I had to change to NBC and we watched Bonanza. February 9th 1964 started out just like any other Sunday night, I had no clue what would occur on that special night.
IMHO the Grammy tribute fell way short of recreating any of that energy, not focusing on what that special night really created but instead used it as a promo for Grammy winning acts, popular actors, and an audience that never got a chance to understand the importance that night held to my generation. So I’ve taken it on myself to attempt to capture a slice of the energy released on that special night 50 year ago. For me and my classmates way back in February 1964 that performance was a game changer. A life changer! The moment the first set was over I understood intuitively that something had changed profoundly. For the first time I had my own music, a music made just for me and all I wanted to do was be like The Beatles and listen to more of their music. First I had to wash the Brylcreem out of my hair, remove the slicked back greaser wave and grow my hair. I would have bangs starting the next morning. I wanted to be like The Beatles, those dudes were fucking COOL!
Before that evening like most of my friends I was a follower, a sheep spinning my older brothers 45’s. Not that it wasn’t good music, it was great, but it wasn’t mine and it didn’t have the oomph I would come to know and love. The year before that special night I got my first record player for Christmas. It was a cheap record player that could only handle one record at a time and had one cheesy speaker built in its self contained carrying case that couldn’t go more than four feet away from an electric outlet without an extension cord. My record library consisted of Oh My Darlin’ by Huckleberry Hound, The Theme to Mr. Ed (of course of course) The Chipmunks Christmas song, a searing rendition of The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, and Sherry by the Four Seasons (That one I stole from my brother, hope he doesn’t read this). But that Sunday night changed all that. In my pajamas with spacemen in spacesuits all over it I sat right in front of the TV. I heard that some Beetles were coming to America, and all I knew at that point was they played music and made girls scream. I was prepared to hear something like The Everly Brothers, or The Beach Boys, or maybe even Bobby Darrin. My parents played Frank Sinatra, Al Hirt, and Andy Williams on the family console but I knew it would be nothing like that. Maybe its four British Elvis Presley’s? But when that first song began, a song called “All My Lovin” my mouth dropped. It was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. And the four guys, long hair shaking as they sang, were just about the coolest things in the universe. I watched and memorized their names, on drums some guy named Ringo. Who has a name like that?! Cool! George, Paul, and sorry girls he’s married John. I knew in an instant this was something I had been waiting for without knowing I was waiting for it. The next tune was called “Till There Was You” sung by the cute guy Paul. In the house next door I heard a blood curdling scream. I looked up startled and my Dad and Mom were chuckling, “Mollie, can you hear Christine next door?” laughter, “Yes I can Joe, listen to her screaming like a banshee for these kids” Christine was my 13 year old next door neighbor who sounded like she was being tortured by the boogey man when in fact in her mind she was asking Paul to marry her. Very loudly and in an eerie shrieking kind of way. Mom an Dad got a good laugh from those cute mop top boys from England. Not quite as funny the next morning when I came downstairs with my hair combed over my forehead in an attempt to copy the look. “You march right upstairs and fix your hair young man!” …..“But Mom!! I wanna………Yes Mom.” That was the first of many years of arguments I would have regarding the length and style of my hair. And it all started on that one magical special night. They finished the first set with a fast rocking tune “She Loves You”, which had all of the kids in school singing yea, yea, yea on the playground the rest of the year.
After another act or two the boys came back for two more songs but it wouldn’t have mattered, the die was cast they had already conquered the youth of America. We were in hook line and sinker. They played “I saw her Standing There” and “I wanna Hold your Hand” what would become two more love anthems of the young. In one special night I had five new favorite songs. I got rid of my 45’s and began swearing a collection of nothing but Beatle songs after that. I had MY music now, not my brothers, not the kid up the blocks, MINE! I bought teen magazines to read about them, had Beatle trading cards, bought many of their 45’s, and a Beatles poster, all of which would make me a bazillionaire if I had them now. As the years passed I could follow my social development by what album came out next. My hair, my politics, my view of love, my global presence all coincided with what the Beatles did on their next album. I didn’t realize it at the time, but every Beatle album I ever listened to could be called a greatest hits album. It was as though they couldn’t make a shit record if they tried.
Whatever The Beatles did I tried to do. As they grew their hair longer so did I, when they dressed more colorful so did I, they talked slang, I talked their slang too, they smoked pot I tried it. I couldn’t get enough information about them. I followed their trip to India in the magazines and adjusted my life around the Fab Four. I especially tried to be like John. Whatever The Beatles said or did validated my doing the same. Not so much for Mom and Dad though, the chuckling over the cute mop tops morphed into a major bone of contention with the generation gap battles. No longer cute and funny lads they were viewed as destroyers of youth, the antichrists. What they really did was to give a voice to a generation and let us know its not only okay to question authority, its a responsibility when authority is being misused. Protest against wrongness, against war, evil and hatred, share love and peace and harmony. What a horrible message to send to kids. Joe McCarthy would have been incensed. With music as their only weapon they conquered us and spread the concept of peace, love, and togetherness to the masses. The Flower Children, The 60’s fashions, The protests, the outdoor concerts, all the positive aspects of the era can be traced back to The Beatles. The Beatles were the truth and the truth set us free. It all began one special night.
I truly hope that another generation of youth will have a perfect storm, a perfect harmony of lives that can reset perfect balance in the Universe the way the Beatles did for mine. Four guys, strangers, all from the same area meet in another country and become a rock and roll band and set the world on its head. Why those specific four? Why that specific area? Why that specific time? Four guys, all with extreme talent that compliments each other forming an unstoppable force. When the world needs it the Universe has a way of supplying the perfect storm like The Beatles. We need a perfect storm now, we need another Beatles. But I just can’t see that happening, the good karma, the positive energy, the light through the darkness coming together at the exact moment, the exact time, for the exact reason. I just can’t! But Hell, I’ve been wrong before, and if it can happen I’ll be glad to be wrong again. C’mon Universe, now more than ever, we need some Beatle magic. Give us just one more “One Really Big Special Night”……PEACE

The Monarch Of The Universe

mon of uni

Another never again moment. I’ve had way too many of them, late nights hugging the toilet bowl somehow empting more contents from my stomach than went in. How many times was I thinking I may have just thrown up my liver or pancreas? How may times have I said never again? Well at least this time I’m saying never again not because I’m puking up my internal organs from mixing every alcohol I could get my lips around. Nope not this time, this particular never again moment is because my hallucinations are over the top. Never again will JT take five hits of barrel acid, a favorite tripping substance for LSD users like myself. One is sufficient for a fantastic trip because barrel acid is pretty powerful, two is pushing it a bit closer to the edge and not normally recommended. Taking three hits is unusual and dangerously close to going over that edge but its not unheard of. But five?! That’s just fucking insane man, something that even the most seasoned tripper stacked with frequent flying miles wouldn’t do that on purpose. To be honest clinical insanity was what I feared most.
So how is it that I am laying in bed in a room I share with my brother tripping like McMurtreys cast of loonies in the cuckoos nest? Because in a moment of sheer marijuana driven panic I made an ill advised choice. My Mom came back unexpectedly and I had five hits of premium trip-worthy barrel acid on the table. I was looking longingly at my freshly acquired controlled substance contemplating who I would abuse them with when I heard the door open. In a rush of paranoia I grabbed all five and shoved them quickly in my mouth. Not in my pocket where they would have been safely stowed from sight but in my mouth! I heard her threatening heels clanking closer as she approached the kitchen and I did the only thing I could think of. I swallowed. Mom came in and glared at me, “What are you doing here in the kitchen? What are you up to now young man?” As I swallowed the tabs I nervously responded, “What do you mean up to? I ain’t doing nothing.” Mom believed that parenting was a responsibility in which she was obliged to constantly belittle me and correct my English. She was relentless at making me feel like shit, “You aren’t doing anything JT, and don’t lie to me I can tell when you’re up to something, you look like the cat that swallowed the canary.” I had recently smoked a joint blowing the smoke out my window and I almost chuckled thinking about Tweedy Pie and Sylvester but I needed to keep it together and switch the focus, “Okay, okay I’m not doing anything mother, just looking for a snack. Why are you back so early anyway?” she stared at me in an all too familiar way, deadpan suspicion “Yea well I forgot something and your dad is outside waiting. But if you don’t want to tell me what’s going on maybe I should just stay home.” Jesus Christ no! Just the thought of that made me shiver perceptibly. Time to use my ultimate teen weapon, the disdainful you never trust me sarcasm, “Yea sure Mom, I’m planning an mass murder, I was just in here choosing which of your knives will make the cleanest stab! Why is it you always think I‘m up to something? You never trust me.” I knew I sold it. Mom shook her head in mock disgust and started towards the door, “One of these days JT you’re gonna say something you’ll regret and someone will take you serious. For gods sake grow up. You stay out of trouble and we’ll see about lifting your grounding tomorrow. Go clean your room and then we can talk about trust!” As she walked out the door I sneered while under my breath I spoke bravely, “Yea fucking right, my groundation! What a fucking joke!”
I was pissed off because most everyone else I know is at the Civic Center at the Jethro Tull concert and I’m stuck here because I missed and assignment in social studies. Social Studies, another joke! Anyway this acid is gonna start coming on in a while so I need to prepare. Time to head up into my sanctuary away from this screwed up world. Up to my bedroom which I share with my older brother who just won’t move out so I can have it to myself. 22years old and still living home the damn loser. Not me man as soon as I turn eighteen I’m outta this shithole of a house. Fuck it, at least I will be tripping my brains out tonight. Little did I know how close to literal that would become.

The cid was kicking in so I got settled in. What to do? First things first. I lit some patchouli incense and turned on my blacklight to make my psychedelic posters burst with colors and movement. I pranced over to my cheap stereo to choose an album. Being in a Jimi mood I put on Bold As Love, side A. It starts off with a funny UFO spoof then quickly kicks into a typical Jimi Hendrix guitar explosion. The album was awesome and premium tripping material. I laid back on my bed and began seeing some very strange visions. The ceiling was normally blank but because of the LSD I perceived it to be full of images, most of which were moving like a film strips. Popeye strangling Brutus, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote running in circles like a dog chasing its tail, and that sort of thing. High def hallucinations. After watching these assorted hallucinations awhile I had to keep reminding myself that they weren’t real. Then I focused on one in particular, Wimpy humping Olive Oyl and he was pumping away to the music. Popeye, Brutus, and an array of cartoon character I don’t remember were all watching and cheering them on. Olive was panting and moaning her skinny and boney legs way up in the air, and Wimpy had lost some weight and was unbelievably in time with the music, thrusting along with the chords. Other characters were clapping, Olive was screaming “Ohhhh Popppppeye!!!“ and Wimpy kept saying “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a good fucking today” still pumping as if dancing. I laughed out loud until I realized something strange. Not that the scene wasn’t already strange enough but this was scary strange. The music Wimpy was humping to was not the album I put on. As a matter of fact it was music I never heard of before, filled with really weird electronic sounds. I jumped up, the hallucinations disappeared and I ran to my stereo. The album was over and I had no clue how long ago it ended.
I shook my head trying to get straight and flip the album over. I stood to reassure myself, “Its just a trip JT, you’re tripping and everything’s okay. Only a trip, it’s the acid, none of this is real.” Feeling only slightly better I headed back to my bed but someone stopped the album. When I looked over it started again, then happened once more. I was certain my asshole brother had come home, knew I was tripping and thought it would be funny to goof on me. “hey cut it out man, that’s not funny!” No response. I looked around. No sign of Robert, no one anywhere, but the music was now playing normal. I turned to get back to my bed when one of my posters, an American Indian chief with tie dye colors all around him began moving. He was breathing and flexing his muscles, holding up a tomahawk. “Holy fuck! This isn’t fucking real man, it can’t be.”
The full force of the five hits of acid were hitting me now. I slinked back into bed and closed my eyes tight but they kept popping open. I had to keep reminding myself I was tripping so I wouldn’t flip out. Can’t sleep, no one to talk to, I gotta see myself through this. But right now I have to take a pee. Off to the bathroom. One of the things about tripping is it intensifies every feeling, whether its making love like never before, hearing music that pulls at your soul, or even pissing. Even better than that pee held in during a long road trip waiting for the next rest top. But there is another oddity when tripping, when you see am image of yourself and its distorted you need to focus and look away before you begin to freak out thinking its how you really look. As I turned from the toilet bowl I was confronted with a full length mirror that had a most frightening and imposing figure staring back at me.
Everything seemed to come to a halt, even time itself. I was staring at a foreboding image of myself painted like a warrior of some sort complete with a bizarre war paint. Split directly down the center of my face and body was a line, on the right side everything yellow except two stripes of dark brown war paint on my forehead angling upwards, a semi circle around my eye, and two more stripes on my cheek in a downward angle. My left side was a dark brown yang to the bright yellow yin. I must say I looked fierce. I stared for a few seconds trying to intellectualize the event and put it into perspective but my perspective had gone out for a walk in the woods and I wasn’t sure it would ever return. The war paint began breathing, or pulsating and changing colors. War paint of dark brown, bright yellow, and dayglo orange were spinning around my face. My cheeks were drooping, my nose twisted and my forehead protruded immensely. I was hideous, a worse image than finding a face full of pimples the day of a date. I issued a long drawn out “Ohhhh My God” and forced myself away from the image. Like I was a Piccaso portrait escaping from a Salvador Dali landscape Nothing was real, I had never come close to hallucinating this hard. I trembled and forced myself to head back to my sanctuary feeling like I was stepping on feathered mattresses repeating “that wasn’t you. That wasn’t you” as my Mantra.
“Shit man, I gotta get a hold of myself here and start enjoying this again. Where the fuck is Popeye and shit?” I thought I was alone but to my surprise I received an answer. “maybe I can help.” I looked about the room, no one here, only me. Oh Jesus now I’m hearing hallucinations. I walked over to the stereo thinking it may have come from the speakers. Nothing. I laid down and tried meditating when a butterfly fluttered in front of me and landed on my chest. I stared in confusion when out of nowhere it began to talk to me. That is to say it communicated to me, it didn’t actually move its lips and speak. It communicated in an unspoken language it called the language of the cosmos.

The Needle And The Damage Done


I couldn’t help but fixate on my conversation, or maybe slurversation with Artie last night and the China white heroin. Horse, the big H, dope. Heroin took the starring role in most of the PSA movies we were force-fed in high school as the ultimate villain. The Damien of drugs that was where all roads end and would surely be the death of us all. What worried me mot was that it didn’t worry me at all. My life was slinking along the gutter and rapidly evolving into rotted sewage. Carrie cheated on me and my best Ken is gone giving credence to my “JT is a jinx” theory. Everyone I care about either moves, dies, or gets pushed away by me as I wallow in my self loathing. No doubt just more of my self full-filling prophecy of dying a lonely young man. Just everything in my life sucks right now so what do I have to lose? It was like the angel and devil on each shoulder, one whispering “fuck it JT, just go for it” while the other was telling me to stop and think. What do you have to lose? You can handle it, you can handle any drug. The devil was much more convincing and eventually even the angel agreed I should go for it. The downward spiral was set in motion.
I gave Art a call hoping he remembered me even being there last night. “Here there little man, what’s on yer mind?” I took a breath and proceeded cautiously because drug users have built in paranoia and are always worried about cops listening in on phone. “Ah, I was like thinking about what we talked about last night, ya know, that uh, Chinese thing ya know? Well I think I’d like to try it.” There was a short pause before he understood my idiotic cryptic message. “Oh yea, of course little man, I can hook it up, come over tonight and we can get high. I’m partying with Penny and Pam man that’ll be perfect.” I bubbled with an extra air of excitement.
Penny and Pam, the twins, partying with me and Artie? Jesus shit that was unbelievable. Penny and Pam were identical twins, both with long straight black hair and high cheekbones. Either on could pas for Cher with a body to match. Such long legs an such a high tiny waist. Definitely out of my league but drugs are a fantastic equalizer. It was amazing to see them together, they not only looked the same but sounded exactly alike too. They even finished each others sentences. They were two years older so I would need to put on some extra charm. There was a rumor that Pam had a birthmark just above the hair line of her groin and if I had the chance to find out for sure my life would be back on track. Or was it penny that had the mark? Either way, if I had a chance to be with either of them I would be all over it. I would just need to dance the fine line between experimenting with dope and being a full fledged junkie. This could make me a social outcast or an instant legend depending how it goes! I took extra care in blow drying my hair that evening as if it would matter.
When I finally got to Arties I was nervous. The twins were already there and one of them winked at me. They loved to play with peoples heads and pretend to be each other so I have no clue which one winked but it was exciting either way. Artie handed me a glass of vodka while I pulled out a joint, lit it and passed it around. “Hey little man, go put on a record.” I wish he hadn’t call me little man at that point but on the other hand it showed a special connection between me and Artie which enhanced my coolness status. But pressure was on, which album? I chose a Santana album, Abraxas which would set a great mood and took note that Artie had the “Eat A Peach” album by the Allman Brothers. With any luck that will come in handy later because it had a tune called “Mountain Jam” which was an entire side and was the best tune ever to make love too. Gotta remain optimistic, I need a good vibe.
We laughed and partied for forty five minutes during which it seemed like Artie was deciding which twin he wanted to be with, because it was almost a given he had his choice. He’s ultra cool and the man with drugs so he gets special considerations from most everyone, especially the ladies. “Well my little dumplings, I think the time has come. Lets get high.” They both visibly perked up and began getting prepared. Obviously they’d done this before. “ladies this is JT’s first flight so lets help him out here.” They both smiled huge smiles at me and I was ready. One of them grabbed my arm as Artie began pouring some powder into a spoon and lit a candle.” Roll up your sleeve JT honey an lets have a look at your veins.” She inspected my arm, “Cool Artie, he’s got some big veins here, this one should be easy. I’m gonna tie him off.” Artie acknowledged as Penny or Pam looked at me slyly, “You want me to hit you Hon? I never gave anyone their first before.” I gulped a bit harder than I wanted to hoping she didn’t sense my apprehension. “Sure, I’d really like that but which one are you? I mean like for my record.” They both laughed lightly, “Dose it matter? I’m Pam and that’s Penny but we both answer to either so you choose.” She tied an old necktie around my bicep and tightened it then looked at my forearm and slapped it. “Okay, Pam sounds good, their both sexy names.” I felt like an asshole as they both giggled but Pam looked me straight in the eye, “Listen JT, I’m getting your veins to come up and then I’ll choose one. I’m gonna put the spike in your arm and show you how its done. Next time your gonna want hit yourself.” She smiled and instead of thinking about what was happening I found myself thinking about how pretty she is. Artie had put the spoon with the powder and a little water over the candle flame until it boiled lightly, “I’m cooking it up now JT. Soon as it boils I’m gonna draw the liquid up into the syringe. The spike. Pam’s gonna stick you, then pull back to make sure she hit a vein. When you see a touch of red in the spike it means she’s in and then she’ll pull back slightly then push and pull back and forth slowly. Its called booting. Once you start hitting yourself you decide how much you like to boot but for now Pam will choose. In about ten seconds you’ll feel the most intense high you’ve ever fucking had man so just sit back and enjoy it. Don’t try to talk, just dig on it little Bro.” He ripped off a small piece of a unused cigarette filter, put it in the liquid and drew in the liquid, handing the spike to Pam.
“Ready babe?” Pam snapped a finger at the syringe an pushed up until a tiny spurt of water shot out. “I’m making sure there’s no air in the needle, you don’t want air shooting into your heart. As soon as I get a vein I’m gonna release the tie and start booting.” Pam grabbed my arm and studied it locating the perfect spot then she injected the needle. I did my best not to shake. I wasn’t actually scared but I was nervous not knowing what to expect. Pam smiled at me, “here we go baby, enjoy.” I saw her pull back on the plunger, a dab of red liquid mixed in with the dope infused water as she undid the tie around my bicep. She plunged about half of the liquid into my arm and that’s when I took off.
I watched the plunger as Pam went in and out with it about six times, the last time plunging it all the way and then removing the spike. Immediately a warm sensation traveled across my shoulders into my back. I smiled involuntarily and all I could manage to make come out of my mouth was a long airy “Whoooaaaa!” In an instant every ugly, sad, and shitty thing in the world disappeared. Not one thing mattered. Nothing! A faint buzz sound filled my ears blocking everything else out and making me want to just smile. I never felt so good in my entire life and it felt like minutes before I remembered where I was. The first thing I saw was Pam smiling warmly holding my hand. “How ya feeling JT? You okay?” It was spoken in an even easy tone and Jesus shit I was beyond okay. I looked back at her, smiled, and softly and slowly said, “Holy shit Pam, that, thats incredible. I think my head is numb.” Pam laughed then reached her face over and kissed me tenderly on the cheek, “Its my turn baby, you wanna watch? Watching is sexy as hell” I just shook my head unable to form any rational sentences and rocked slowly back and forth. I looked on as she prepared her own batch of China white. Penny and Artie were gone and I assumed shooting up somewhere else. Everything was beautiful, every minute negative anything from the world was gone entirely. Nothing existed but me, Pam, the highest feeling ever, and China white.
There’s something special about getting someone high for their first time JT. Now your gonna share my high with me.” She dumped a packet of heroin into the spoon and filled an eyedropper with water. Pam had a remarkable sparkle in her eye when she gazed at me and said, “I think this is sexy. Watch what I do and maybe next time you can hit me. Pam instructed me on the proper way to use heroin as she got her hit set up. “I’m ready. I have great veins so I don’t even tie off, I hit a vein every time” She smiled and I thought it was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. It took everything I had not to blurt that thought out loud and look like a dork. I just smiled back as she rubbed her arm where she was gonna inject. I was still numb, and don’t know how else to describe the feeling. I have never felt so good. In mere seconds I had been transported from a loser seeking asylum in drugs to King of the world with a beautiful woman sharing my moment. I watched as Pam skillfully hit a vein and pulled back revealing the swish of blood, then began booting the dope into her arm smiling the whole time. She put down the spike and looked my way. Her eyes rolled back in her head and her lips parted sensuously allowing a long drawn out “ohhhh” to fill the air with an almost pornographic feel. We began making out and everything after that became somewhat foggy.
I woke up naked with my body wrapped around Pam’s. I didn’t even remember falling asleep but I do remember having the best sex of my life and how for one night every aspect of my life was beautiful. I didn’t want to go back to reality, I just wanted to stay high forever. It never dawned on me what a destructive omen that was because last night was the single most awesome night of my life. We had partied a few hours, smoked more weed and hit each other up one more time before we made it to the floor and made passionate love while listening to “Eat A Peach” I had an opportunity to inspect Pam’s naked body and no birthmark but I had no plan of sharing that bit of trivia with anyone. She began to stir and then woke up. “Hey babe, how was your first flight?” I wasn’t sure how to answer, everything happened so fast I was afraid I was falling in love again but this was much to soon. I was beginning to worry that I fell in love with any female that acknowledged my existence so I didn’t want to sound over enthusiastic “Holy Jesus shit Pam it was amazing.” I was about to blubber “And you were the most amazing chick I‘ve ever known” but Pam interjected, “Well its best we don’t mention this to anyone, I don’t want my boyfriend to find out.” Two shots of heroin followed by a shot of reality. A sure sign of danger ahead.

Life During Wartime

In the backrop of the Viet Nam war we heard of kis being killed on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. JT never once believed his brother James would be one of those statitics. It was an uneasy time and the youth of America learned firt hand how to self medicate.

I Heard The News Today Oh Boy

We partied through the night, Patrick tried once to put the move on Sue but I took him aside and set him straight. No harm no foul, it was the ludes that really made the move and Patrick wasn’t the kind of guy that would steal his friend’s girl. That is to say not without being coerced by a number of Quaaludes and herbs. It was late and time to head home so the three of us headed out. We first dropped Sue off at her house, then Carrie and I hid in the bushes just on the side of her house. We made out for ten minutes and we both wanted to make love, but doing it on her front lawn was not a good move. It was late and we had nowhere to go to exercise our throbbing hormones so time to cold shower our desires. I gave her one last kiss goodnight and began my trek home.
A myriad of thoughts were flooding my head and I began hallucinating wildly. This was a common practice when you have been trying to maintain all night so no one would know you were tripping. When you let your guard down the hallucinations flowed with the fury and passion of young love. Which by no accident was one of those swirling thoughts. The smile on my face was so huge that my ears had to take a step back and make more room. The delirious joy from the ludes and the spiritual wonder of the mushrooms had begun a tag team match. They both won and I felt unbelievably great. “Jesus shit, nothing in the world could possibly take me down. Not nothing!!” But as we have learned, never say never.
I walked up the driveway and noticed the kitchen light was on. “Oh fuck. Someone’s awake, this can’t be good.” I walked into the house with an uneasy feeling. That wonderful feeling of good life was quickly replaced with trepidation. I could hear my Mom whimpering in the kitchen. When I walked into the kitchen I could feel the tension in the air. It was obvious Mom had been crying for some time. The old man just stared at the floor with a blank expression on his face. “Whats going on?” The silence only made the tension more evident. After about 10 seconds of eerie nothingness my Pops broke the spell. “We got a visit from the army. James was killed in battle.” Mom broke out in a renewed set of loud heaving cries that I was sure had been going on for quite a while. I knew it. Jesus shit I fucking knew this was gonna happen! The rage built up quickly and I felt my face fill with anger, sorrow, and total disdain. I looked over to my old man and he never took his eyes off the floor. Not even the balls to look me in the eye. I glared at him and all I could think of was how Ken had described punching his old man out. I wanted to go over and wail on him but my Moms crying stopped me. I walked over to hug her and my eyes filled up with salty rivers of sorrow. I began to cry as well and just held her tight as she cried in my arms. My whole world was now upside down, inside out, half assed, and backwards. The various drugs teamed up with the raw emotion and the result was a vortex of confusion.
Mom had an empty soul at that moment. Her eyes were empty, all red and beaten not just from tears but from many years of worry and stress over her kids. I knew I was a major contributor to the weathered and worn orbs and felt somewhat ashamed at the moment. Her expression was blank, vacant. I had never seen anyone so detached and it worried me. As I held her I reflected on the better times James and I had, arm punch contests, purple nurples, and wet willies aside we were very tight as kids. Jameson always let me play ball with him and his friends and I thought back to the time when we played quarterback and helped me score my first touchdown. “Okay JT, you take one step over the line, I’m throwing you the ball. You catch it, turn and run to the endzone.” Ha, the endzone. An obscure piece of real estate in between two large trees. The promised land of schoolyard football. He then turned to the rest of the guys in the huddle. “Any one of you mother fuckers lets JT get touched by anyone gonna get their ass kicked by me!” We laughed for days because I caught it, turned and ran my little ass off down the field and James and his friends used the most unethical and illegal forms of blocking, but not a soul touched me. For weeks all anyone talked about in my Jr. High school was how JT made a touchdown playing football with the high school kids. It was gold. Jesus shit I’m gonna miss James.
I looked my Mom in the eye and said “Mah, remember the time James was chasing me around the house and I ran through the sliding screen door Dad had put in that morning? I thought you were gonna kill us both.” I could see the smile taking root on her face and her eyes lit up just a tiny bit for the first time since she got the news. “Oh good god JT, you two were such terrors. You have no idea how much you guys put me through.” Mission accomplished, Mom was now reflecting fondly too. We exchanged stories for what seemed like hours, but it just felt good just to not see her crying. As for the old asshole, still not a word. Most likely he was wallowing in guilt and remorse. He was pounding down beer after beer and he looked drunk. I almost felt sorry for him because his sorry ass aura had no glow at all. Nothing, nada, zilch! Zero emotion as though he didn’t even have it in him to shed a tear. Beneath those eyes it was an empty sandlot.
I sat up with Mom for a few more hours until the sun began to shed light on what was a normal day for everyone else. Mom offered to make breakfast but I declined. My head was now pounding from the loss of James compounded by a killer hangover that promised to take residence. My worst fear compounded booze and drugs. Fuck this war. Fuck this world! I went to my room slapped on the headphones and lay on the bed, not even bothering to take off my clothes. I have no idea how long it took, but I stared at the ceiling until I fell asleep. I slept hard all the time hoping when I woke up it will all have been just some shit ass dream.

From the Memoirs of a Hippie Chef

When Life Give You Lemons Take Some Pills
With just a month left of school before our last official summer vacation we had become psychedelic travel agents. We tripped on Acid, Peyote, and our favorite, mescaline. Mesc. Ken was selling a lot of mesc lately and one particular batch was cut into Nestles Quick and half the student body was buying little containers of milk to make “chocolate mesc.” It was so cool, drinking chocolate milk that exercised your laugh muscles to near exhaustion and stretched the boundaries of your mind. We laughed and tripped for two weeks straight drinking chocolate milk mescaline everyday. You could tell who was tripping and who wasn’t just by looking in their eyes. Ken and Artie had become closer and closer and Ken had become his number one salesman. Anyone wanted pot or pills or hallucinogens went to him. I was beginning to get just a little worried because he was not as careful about it as he had once been. Its not good for too many people to know, but he was making pretty good money and he always had plenty of buzz. He bought a scale to keep in his room and now he was weighing the drugs out himself. He had become a full fledged dealer and people were getting more and more demanding of him. I was really glad summer was coming because school had just become to dangerous. Carrie and I had completely cemented our relationship and everyone was sure we would get married after school. Marriage wasn’t in my immediate plans because everything would have to wait until Ken and I cruised across Rt. 66 and documented the journey. Maybe then I would send for Carrie. She knew this and was not happy about it, but she also knew Ken and I had planned this long before we started going out. For now we would enjoy the summer baking our bodies in the sun at the beach, water skiing, swimming, and just cruising the Long Island Sound by day, and partying our asses off at night. Cavalieri’s slowed down for me as well because the managers son worked there part time in the summer so my days got cut. It didn’t bother me too much, of course I had less money, but I had more playtime.
Carrie and I had gotten very serious and I felt like she was the love of my life. So funny that someone who has been a female friend for years suddenly becomes the most important part of your life and you begin to make your plans around them. But that was exactly what I did. We tripped together, went to concerts and movies either high from pills or so stoned we sometimes forgot where we were. I had become a cooks assistant and head suds buster at Cavalieri’s. This was promising to be the best summer ever, and it was just about to begin. Still, I was looking forward to going to work on this warm spring evening if only to get away from the chaos of daily life. At Cavaliers I was in a separate world which had a total different set of characters that somehow seemed somewhat refreshing. I had become a central figure in the restaurant and had achieved the enlightened feat of reaching a new plane of visiting a parallel universe. It was a culinary Mecca which absorbed my inner spirit and astral projected me to another world.
I had learned quite a bit at Cavalieri’s, Jimmy had sort of taken me under his wing and shown me his paternal side. He had become my sensei, my benefactor of cooking. Even Andre had begun teaching me although I suspected his motives were more about getting me to do his work. But I had become the kitchen protégé in line to one day have dominion of my very own kitchen. All the basics plus some tricks on soups and sauces. The more he taught the more I absorbed. I became a gastronomic sponge soaking up the “tricks of the trade”. I was learning as I was earning.
When I walked up to the back door of the kitchen I was surprised to find it locked. I peered in the grease smeared window but it appeared all the lights were off. I double checked my watch then looked to the parking lot. Jimmies car was parked in front with a few other cars so I walked around to the front. Fuck man I hope Jense isn’t gonna yell at me again for using the front door but what else was I to do? I opened the door and what I saw was rather perplexing. Across the dining room at the bar sat Jimmy, Andre, Didier, and even Rod the bus boy all getting served by the bartender John. I walked up and noticed an almost deathly glumness in the room and on their collective faces. “Hey, whats up? The back door is locked.” Jimmy broke the ominous silence and said “Zeet down JD. We gots some bad news today. Johnny, give JD a cervesa .” My happiness was rapidly being replaced with worry as John poured me a cold beer. It was Didier who spoke up next. “Jense and Laura have run off with all the restaurant’s money. They broke into the safe, took all the cash, emptied the cash registers and disappeared.” I felt my face turn a whiter shade of pale. “WHAT??” If I told you I was stunned I would have been doing the emotion a terrible injustice. More accurately I was shocked, flabbergasted, bewildered, in a funk and totally blown away simultaneously. My entire world and every world within a hundred light years had been rocked! I looked intensely from face to face hoping one of them would reveal the fact that they had played a fabulous joke on me but none offered a scintilla of a smile. “Jeeeeesus fucking shit! When, what, how did, did you call the cops?” Didier being the manager took control again and explained everything as the news slowly seeped into my cerebellum. He had come into work this morning and found the front door open and the alarm shut off. The cash register was open, there was an empty bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne on the bar with two empty glasses. He ran to the office which was also wide open as was the safe door. He called the cops first, then Jense. Jenses wife said he left for work early and should be there by now. Didier started doing the arithmetic and called Laura whom he had expected of having an affair with Jense. The cops came and took away the champagne bottle and glasses but it was pretty obvious what has happened.
It was a lot to digest. So many things raced through my mind. “Wow! Laura and that fucking airhead asshole Jense? They took all the money? They took ALL the money? Wait, what does that mean?” “It means JD that we ain’t got no more restaurant. No mas trabajo amigo.” I looked at Jimmy with an empty confused stare. So that was it man. No more job. No more Laura. No more money coming in. No more Cavalieri’s. It was painful. Didier explained that the restaurant would have to withhold my paycheck until the investigation was over. The six of us sat at the bar and drank for hours until finally it was time for everyone to leave. We said good bye to each other, and Jimmy and I talked at his car for another 30 minutes as he assured me when he found another job he would call me. But I knew this was the last I would ever see of Jimmy, or any of the other people who had become such an integral part of my life. My restaurant family was getting divorced. Now they would all just be a speck in my memory bank. Feeling sad and somewhat broken I walked home. Actually I sort of stumbled home having consumed more than my share of the free flowing beer. The summer was barely beginning and Cavalieri’s was done, over! I stopped off on the way at Kens and scored some ludes to help me forget all the bullshit of the day.
When I got to Kens room he was flying high and slurring even worse than me. “Hey bro, what’s the matter? You look like you been crying or something. Here, take 2 of these.” Ken had handed me two white tablets that looked like huge aspirins. “Jesus shit man, what the fuck are these monsters?” I trusted Ken to the end so I downed the tabs without waiting for a reply, but still I was curious. “Those were morphine tabs bro, gonna kick your ass six ways to Sunday.” Artie crushes them and snorts em up his nose. Says it gets him way fucking high. I think he shoots them in his veins sometimes too, but fuck that man, none of that shit for us.” I was beginning to wonder how much he really meant that or of he was only trying to convince himself, but that shits for another time. “Hey man, fuckin’ Cavalieri’s closed. That chick Laura ran away with the dickhead floor manager and took all the fuckin’ money. They even downed some Dom Perignon before running off. Now I ain’t got no job. Sucks man!” Ken seemed shocked but had a hard time convincing his face to respond that way. Almost vacant. “Whoa! Holy Jesus fuck man! Oh you are really gonna need those fuckers tonight. Here, take some weed home too.” As always Ken knew what I needed and he lit up a bowl and handed me a small baggie of preamo weed. We puffed the weed in his chamber pipe and in the middle of talking I saw Ken nodding off and falling asleep. I couldn’t help but notice some fresh bruises on Kens arm and it made me sad. I snuck out of his house quiet as a mouse and walked home. I had no doubt his old man was beating him now. Man things were changing way too fast. But for now, I’ll just head home, smoke another bowl, and dig this new morphine high.