(a true story)
When I was in my early 20’s I lived in Southern California.
I used to manage a few record stores around there. I did all the buying of new music, watched the Billboard charts to see what was hot, and also cleaned the bathrooms so it really wasn’t that great.
But it was cool to be around so much music.
I did long shifts at this place, sometimes 10am to 10 pm. When I got hungry at these places I was pretty much out of luck because;
a) I was broke all the time like most young people...
b) I was usually working alone and couldn’t close up shop to get a bite.
c) There was no food places around anyway, at least none I could afford.
I never thought about bringing anything to eat.
That required forethought. Too much work.
But the store in Laurel Canyon was my favorite because it was right next to Taco Bell. And back then, much like now, you can feed your raging animal hungries for just a few bucks. And it’s not that bad either as far as fast food goes.
One evening around 6pm, I was there at the Laurel Canyon store watching copies of THRILLER and VAN HALEN 1984 fly out the door at an alarming rate, when I realized I hadn’t eaten all day.
I shooed all the customers out the door, locked up, ran across the parking lot, got my Bell on, and shoved it in my face hole.
A couple hours later as the evening wore on, I started to get this feeling. You’ve had it. When something just ain’t sitting right. You feel warm but you’re skin is clammy, stomach starts doing the urblie-burblies, getting kinda light-headed, intestines starts giving you a how's-your-father.
And you just know you're in for quite a special evening.
I got home, luckily, just before my body reached Defcon 4.
No need to go into any gross description here; suffice it to say I was doing 360’s and praying for death for about 9 hours.
Hey, TASTES GREAT - OPEN LATE.
I took the next day off trying to recover, just feeling about as precious as one can be. One of those sicks where your skin hurts to the touch and you go, “Oww...mommy...”
About 4 in the afternoon I just had started to feel a bit better when my then girlfriend, Linda called. She asked if I was ready to follow her down to the mechanic's shop so she could drop her car off.
It was something I’d agreed to do a couple days previous.
I hadn’t told Linda about my little end-over-end T-Bell event yet. Had I told her right then about it, she’d likely have told me to just rest up and she could reschedule her car appointment.
But, wanting to rally, and also prove to myself I could hack it, I said,
“Yeah, see you in a few...”
I followed her ‘65 Volkswagen Bug in my ‘76 Chevy van (complete with tear drop windows) down to Glendale.
I was feeling okay.
I was listening to a cassette of Elvis Costello’s IMPERIAL BEDROOM for the very first time.
I’d stolen it a couple days before from the store.
I used to rob that place blind.
Loading out grocery bags of cassettes, albums, petty cash.
Whatever I could grab I took.
Let me back peddle for a moment and say that I would’ve never dreamed of doing anything like that if the owners had been cool and even slightly respectful of their employees. But they were far from it.
Complete and total assholes.
One day I was reading a magazine in the shop, I heard the door buzzer go off but didn’t bother looking up.
Suddenly there was something cold and hard at my temple. I looked up and the boss's son had a loaded .38 pointed straight in my eye.
“Hey man, you should be paying more attention...”
He spoke with a Southern accent even though he'd grown up in Bakersfield. California rednecks - now there's a special breed of asshole.
“You better put that gun down unless you're gonna use it, you dick...”
I said, feeling rather film noir-ish.
That’s the kind of guys they were. Raging bone rods.
So as far as I was concerned they deserved everything they had coming to them.
I have no regrets.
And I have lots of albums.
So I’m there in my van listening to my pilfered copy of IMPERIAL BEDROOM following Linda.
The song playing was AND IN EVERY HOME.
I remember that vividly because I couldn’t listen to it for a couple years after the next thing that happened.
I started to black out.
When you’re going 45 miles an hour in traffic, blacking out..? Not good.
I swerved into the next lane, everything going black, by sheer luck not hitting anyone.
I tried to pull over, swooning, barely conscious. But there was no emergency lane, nothing to pull over into.
Then the blackout passed as quickly as it had come.
I was still following Linda, and I hadn’t killed anyone. Okay...
On the next block was the auto shop.
We parked. Linda hopped out. I hobbled out of the van.
“Hey, what’s wrong with you..?”
I told her I was just a little dizzy and I was going to nap out for a minute while she dealt with the car. She looked at me a skeptically, then turned and headed into the shop.
I noticed that right next door to the auto shop was a liquor store.
I figured this dizziness was probably dehydration so I went in to get a bottle of water...maybe that’d make me feel better.
I walked into the liquor store and WAMMO the dizziness came back full-force.
The last thing I remember is looking up at the owner’s face and him saying,
“Hey, buddy...you alright?”
You know those displays in liquor stores, where they stack up a bunch of bottles into a pyramid shape?
Well, I passed out while walking and fell face-first into one of those.
The next thing I knew, I was being beaten to a pulp. Blood in my eyes, someone punching me, kicking me, yelling at me.
Even in my helpless state I suddenly saw what the store owner saw;
A guy stumbling, walking into a liquor store, unresponsive to questions...
A drunken moron!
Then the guy then falls over into your Jack Daniels display?
Well, that's a drunken moron that needs his teeth kicked in.
So, brothers and sisters, there weren’t a thing I could do about it. T
he guy was knocking the hell outta me and I couldn’t raise a paw in my defense.
He grabbed me by the hair and dragged me out onto the sidewalk calling me every name in the book. He started into kicking me in the stomach and ribs.
I was just waiting for it all to be over, one way or another.
It was then that Linda came walking out from the auto shop.
That must have quite been a sight to see.
I was supposed to be catching 40 winks in the van.
Instead here I was covered in glass, blood and booze, being pummeled by a very angry man.
I remember seeing her face and trying to imagine what was going on in her head.
I have to stop typing this tale right now because it has no natural ending, and because I’m laughing so hard.