This is where youd normaly have a title page, but if you dont mind i’ll dispense with the formalities and justell you   my name is al dixon and the name of this book is the real pleasure in life. its not meant to be ironic, or metaforical. it realy is about the real pleasure in life.

one thing before you get started, re: the spelling. sorry, please dont take ofense. i’m an english teacher, i know the rules. but i dont write like that anymore. in fact, i will never write that way again.

why not?

to answer that, i’ll hafta tell you a story.

for claire,

over there. 

book one:


chapter 1:

an invitation

It starts on a wensday. on wensdays, my first class isnt til 10:45. but claire, my partner-slash-baby-mama, or soon-to-be baby-mama, she has to be to work at eight.

i usualy get up with claire and use the extra time to get shit done. but this particular morning, the moment she was out the door i was hit with the overwelming urge to go back to bed.

the dream i had was one of those epic dreams, the kind that seems to take years and you wake up feeling like you had this whole other life. it was a great life, too, i wish i could remember it. i have a terrible memory. not just for dreams but for evrything. but for dreams especialy. all that i now had left of the dream was the feeling i woke up with. it was the feeling of fulfillment.

is that what we all want? tho we go after it, as william faulkner would say, in myriad ways?

it sure is what i wanted. i lay in bed for half an hour racking my brain, tryin to remember what it was about the dream that was so fulfilling.

Eventialy i got up.

it was too late for a shower so i went straight to breakfest. while i was waitin for my bagel to finish toasting, i bent down to tie my shoe. thats when i saw it, peekin out from under the islanda pale blue card, like the back of a bisness card.

now claire is a planner. and since we got pregnant, it has become part of the plan to keep the house clean. that means sweepin the kitchen evry night, including under the island, and i’m not makin fun, it only takes a couple minutes and youd be suprized how it shuts down the bugs. so it was unusual to see somethin like that on the floor. unusual enough for me pickitup, anyway.

what i found there changed my life. totally. completely. in ways that i couldnot even have imagined. and i’m not bein hyperbolic, youll see that soon enough.

At this point, two things happend in quick succession. the first was that i rememberd somethin from my dream. the name of a coffeeshop. Blue Sky.

the second thing was i flipt over the card and saw this

blue sky punchcard

as far as i can remember, i’d never been to a coffee-shop called blue sky, tho i have been known to forget things. still, your thinkin, all that means is somebody else went there and got a punchcard and dropt it on our floor, and i caught a glimpse of it lasnight and it slipt into my dreams.

But your wrong, for two reasons

one, there was nobody who could have dropt it. it wasnt claire, i texted her but she’d never heard of blue sky, nor had she seen the card when we were cleanin up lasnight. and nobody else had been to our house in weeks exept the u-p-s guy and the fedex gal and one guy askin for a donation to his campain. and they didnt get past the door, seems we were well on our way to M  ’s prediction that the end of capitalism is the reduction of all human interaction to the exchange of comodities, it sounds depressing now but then it seemd perfectly natral, like M * said, the fish dont see the water.

and two, blue sky coffee does not exist. not on the internets, anyway. if itd been around long enough to printup cards, youd think thered atleast be a review in yelp orwhatever. but no, all i could find was a blue sky coffee roasting company in hawaii, and a blue sky coffee that is actualy a weed shop in oakland.

Sohow did the card get there? on the floor? in my dreams? good question, one i wanted to come back to but remember or maybe i havent told you yet, i teach english at a comunity college. i had a ten forty five and it was ten twenny four now and i still had half a bagel to eat. so i tuckt the card in my pocket, asuming i would forget about it for awhile, but that i would eventualy rediscover it, like a treasure, waiting for mean invitation from beyond.

My asumption proved corect, altho not when i hoped it would happen, between classes or in my office, when i’d have time to think about it. no, i made it almost the entire day without giving it another thought. until...

let me set a scene here. fort worth comunity college. like college, but at a mall. featuring open enrollment.

if youv ever been to a college with open enrollment, you know that any class is bound to have at least a few crazy people in it. especialy if that class starts after five.

this is my five-thirty.

now i liked this class. they were legitimatly crazy. one of them was schizophrenic. he wrote about what it means, to be, an american, with commas scatterd librally, evrytime, no matter what the assignment. but he wasnt even there that day, dont worry about him.

today we were doing one a my favrite stories, a good man is hard to find by flannery o’connor. the one about the famly on their way to florida, they run their car into a ditch and endup gettin shot by this guy calld the misfit. and the reason that story is great, is the last line. here it is for refrence

“Shut up, Bobby Lee,” The Misfit said. “It’s no real pleasure in life.”

thats it exacly, from the placement of the dialog tag down to the fussy capitalization of The in The Misfit.

i’ve taught that story to more classes than michael jackson had faces, all i hafta do in the way of class prep is open the book to make sure the line is still there.

it is.

i let them talk about whatever for a while. classes will talk about the most random shit, this one ranged from old folks homes to malcolm jamal-warner’s sweaters on the cosby show.

Eventualy they run out of stuff to say. at this point i would normaly ask a probing question. but for today’s lesson i let the silence continue.

a minute passes. . .

[ its longer than you think, in front of a class ]

just when they start to think maybe i’m havin myself a little freakout, i say, in a sinister southern drawl

shutup bobby lee. its no real pleasure in life.

say what you will about the iphone-texting-facebook-andwhatever generation, when it comes to memorizing litterture, they are easy to impress.

thats what the misfit says, right? at the enda the story?

[ a few nodding heads ]

its the last line, it must be important...

[ more nods ]

now i dont usualy do this. but since yall didnt do all that great on your last paperi know you can do betteri’m gona give you a chance to bring it up. bonus points, to anybody who can analyze the lastline. and remember, analysis means drawing your own conclusions, but based on evidence. and the evidence has to come from the story.

When an english teacher says somethin like this, they are usualy hoping for a certain answer. thats what i’d be doing if i knew the anser, but i didnt. i had some vague theories, somethin to do with K ’ s either/or, but you dont want me to go there right now. doesnt matter anyway, cause none of my theories were satisfying. i kept hoping someday one a my students would enlighten me. it had happend before, with prufrock.

two hands are up. i call on the closest.


whens the rough draft due again?

monday i think, altho i told yall i have a bad memry, did anybody write it down?

someone did, it was monday, we moved on.


can we put the points on the nex paper if its worse than our last one?

i dont care where you put  em, just somebody say somethin intresting.

[ another hand, a smartass, you never know what youll get from a smartass ]


define intresting.

smarter than me.

oh good, a new hand, the chick with the giant gold-cross necklace, she sits in the back lookin ofended if she comes at all, she’s got a lot goin on tho, two little kids and a full time job, or she had a ful time job until she got fired last week for bein crazy. this is not hearsay, she told me herself, she had a letter to that effect from a psychiatrist, whats her effin name? a sureptitious glance at my seating chart...


i got somethin intresting.

great, lets hear it.

howmany points you say it was?

i dont think i said. lets say five if its smart, ten if its brilliant.

oh, its brilliant.

she lookd around to make sure she had an audience.

she did. they lissend to eachother, they were a good class.

ok you remember how the one badguy was talkin to the other badguy after they shot that ollady? he was trynta be all hard, he said it was fun.

bobby lee said that to the misfit

i’m gettin there, hang on. i gota get all my evidence.

sorry april.

thats alllll-right. so, but now, that ollady, the grand-mother... she thought the misfit was her baby, she was pretty crazy. but the misfit, he kinda liked her anyway. he only shotter cause she toldim the truth. thats why alota people get shot.

so whats your analysis?

do what?

what conclusion have you drawn, about the misfits line?

dont need a conclusion, he said what he said.

yeah but whadoes it mean?

it means what it says, you read it. it aintizntno pleasure in life.

means what it says. the one posibility i had not considerd. thats an english major for you.

My hands when i’m nervous i put em in my pockets. i did it right then, and felt the flimsy cardstock

i didnt even hafta look at it for evrything to come back: the epic dream, the bluesky card, my fear that the misfit was right.

things were fallin off me, it felt like. i spose in a way they were. i felt light, or like i was filled with light. which was realy cool for about a second.

then it was terrifying.

my face went cold and tingly. then my neck, and my arms. my legs i wasnt in charge of anymore, my chest was gript with a fear i could not name, a physical terror

or as morrissey would say, i swoond.

grabd the desk in time to keep from hittin the floor, but just barely. judgin by their faces i lookd like i’d seen a ghost, maybe i was the ghost.

nobody was gona say anything, tho. i was gona hafta say somethin.

so what i did was, i employd a phrase ive often heard in the movies and on t-v, but which i’d never found occasion to use personly, until today,

class dismissed.

chapter 2:

evrything goes to hell


I havent said anything about my life before the bluesky dream, probly cause it wouldnt suprize youshelterd childhood, college, books-drugs-mind-expansion. gradschool, partner, jobby job, child on the way. the last one is the only one that surprized me, altho not like your thinkinthat shit was plandbut in the way i bet it surprizes anybody when you first realize someones gona have you as a parent.

now claireclaires a difrent story. claire actually pulld herself up by her bootstraps, like hardly anyone does anymore. i dont wana give specifics cause it would embaress her, but let me paint you one picture,

Claire, fifteen years old, in a car with her guidance counselorthe only responsible adult within shouting distance of her lifeon the way to a college interview. claire’s wearin a dress her counselor borrowd from his girlfriend because claire has not a dress to her name. the only reason she’s applied to college this young is that theres nobody else to take her, its college or the foster home. and what colleges has she applied to? why Smith, for one. youve heard of that one i bet. and she gets in! with a full scholarship! graduates at nineteen with honors, and i’m not talkin bullshit honors, i mean she was one of five girls a year pickd to do the honors thesis. hers was on lucian freud. i havent read it but its pretygood i bet. i dont know why i never thought to ask. so many things i should of done, but i just couldnt see it. its like K * said i guess, you can look back at your life but you hafta live it forward

now look at me, i’m craffin. which you dont know what that means yet but you will soon.

And just how, you may wonder, did claire end up with me? i askd myself that same question, nearly evry day i did, tho now i realize it wasnt all that productiv a question to ask. and when she answerd with a smile or homemade ravioli or a roll in the hay, i was so greatful it was all i could do to keep from prostrating myself. i did prostrate myself.

we met at a bar. an unlikely place for us to meet since i had quit drinking by then and claire hardly ever saw the inside of a bar [ there was no time! ] claire had just foundout that two of her paintings had been accepted to a juried show in newyork, in chelsea, which even i knew was a pretybig deal.

oh miss claire was tipsy, celebratin with her friends, baskin in the glow of etceterathis is a great time to meet someone bythewayand my soberass somehow ran into her, and when i foundout why she was celebrating, i started buyin her shotsa tequila [ read: two shots, claire was not the kindof girl you got wasted, even if you were the kinda guy who would do that, which i was not ]

I dont have the foggiest what we actualy said to each otherheaven forbid a poor sap who wants to be a writer have a memory for dialogi just remember how claire kept blushing. and how amazing it felt to talk to her. amazing yall, you know what i’m talkin about. it was definately K  ’s aesthetic stage.

later that night, in bed [ i was alone, dont go gettin all excited ] i tried to think of the perfect word to describe her and came up with this onebashful. if youv ever loved a beautiful woman who manages to be shy about it, you know what i mean. you feel lucky to be there, standing next to her fire, lucky to be alive.

how long does it last? its difrent for evryone i spose, but for me it tends to be about three months. i mean the falling part, the salad days. i wish i could say it was longer with claire. it was more intense, but it was still just three months. but with claire, there was one big difrencethe plan. so, when the going got tough, we did what they say to do in all those love songs

hold on.

But where was i? class dismissd?

i didnt have to say it twice. the room emptied in less than a minute. they were realygood at leaving. they were little firemen, or firepeople.

i beat claire home as usual. she’d started workin til 7 lately, sometimes later, specialy with the way her boss was bein about the upcoming maternity leave. theres been some nasty bisness i wont go into except to tell you that on more days than not, claire comes home from work prety stressd out. its gotten so my chest instinctivly tightens when i hear this sequence of sounds footsteps on the porch, jingling keys, the tic-tac of high heels across the hardwood floor. normaly i use the time before she gets home to neaten up the house, maybe start dinner, to seem like part of the solution not part of the problem. but tonight instead, i pulld out my laptop and googled fainting spells and got myself pretty workd up, then googled the hell out of blue sky and found a bunch of random crap, two an a half pages on blue sky cola alone. but no trace of a blue sky coffee shop.

until i accidently searchd it as one word, “bluesky.”

there use to be a coffeeshop calld bluesky, in athens georgia. it closed in 1999, but a few people with blogs were still obsessd with it. one of them posted a picture of the sign

blue sky sign

it looks sorta like the punchcard. not exacly, but it could be the place.

athens, georgia. i’d always been intrigued by the town. i pland a few roadtrips, but due to a variety of circumstances i never actualy made it. i did see that documentary athens georgia inside out and it made it seem cool. pluswell, mainlymy favrite band is from athens. neutral milk hotel. maybe you knowem.

so i emaild the chick who seemd most obsessd with bluesky, inquiring if it had perhaps reopend, or if she had any other information about it. i sent similar emails to the other blogettes.

all of a sudden it was eight oclock. claire never workd this late without calling.

i calld her but it went straight to voicemail. left a message. calld her work number. texted her. checkd my email. checkd it again. e-pacing, lets call it.

at eight-thirty, the noises i’d been waitin for finely did make an appearance, but a variation on theminstead of a tic-tac it was a pitter-patter, and there was claire, in yoga clothes, six months pregnant.

wensday night. yoga night. now i remember.

bad as my memory is, its usualy dependable for things that are part of a routine, such as wensday yoga had become. but let that routine be interuptedby, say, a piece of flotsam from the dreamworldand evrything goes to hell.

i apologized.

she didnt say anything.

i offerd to make dinner realquick or atleast a salad.

she said she wasnt hungry.

which i knew was a lie.

so i changed tacticscheer her up! i was gona be the crazy one! i said i love you and planted a kiss on the top of her head, said i’d be back in half an hour, drove to the sushi garden, orderd four spicy tuna rolls, payd for it with my personal acount not our joint, and then, feelin extra crazy, askd if they would sell me a bottle of sake-to-go. they said sure, poor man who is obviusly desprate to make his girlfriend not mad at him.

soon as i got back in the car i rememberd the first thingclaire cant drink sakay dumbass, she’s pregnant. the other thing, which i also knew but temporarily forgot, until claire reminded mea pregnant woman should not consume raw or undercookd fish.


claire was not charmd by my absentmindedness. especialy not when she saw the sakay. she took thismaybe corectlyas a sign i was not gona turn into the kind of person you want to be in a family with.

Dont know if youv ever been alone in a house with a pregnant woman who’s disapointed in you, but i can tell you one thingthe house is never gona be big enough. even if its twentytwo hundred square feet. even if you both have your own office.

i thought it might get better after she cried, but it didnt. probly i got defensiv instead of apologizing, and when i finely did apologize it wouldof been too late. so i retreated to my corner of martyrdom, i am sure thats what i did, this was my power movetho i’m trying to adress my problems directly rather than cloaking them in sarcasm, so i’ll just say it was one of the things that mustof made me dificult to live with.

if your wondrin if i broughtup the blue sky thing, i did, later that evning, after things had calmd down a bit.

claire doesnt always take it well when i get obsessd with stuff like this, so i tried to bring it up casualy.

[ the better plan wouldof been not to bring it up at all ]

So was it a dizzy spell, or more like a migraine? i mean did you actualy faint?

not tecnicly. it was morelike, this thing, tryin to get out of memy brain or somethin.

your brain trying to get out?

[ i had said that, hadnt i? probly shouldnt have ]

i tried to refocus the discussion on the mysterius punchcard, but that didnt happen because claire had found a missionmake Al go to the doctor. i never go to the doctor unless someone makes me. my fathers a doctor so ive seen behind the curtain, i know its just people backthere pullin levers even if they do have fancy machines.

claires point was that i couldnt play russian rulette with my health anymore, there was a tiny almostperson countin on me. she stood over me while i programd a reminder into my phone. if anybody understands the limitations of my memory its claire.

The night ended with claire going to her office to do some work, while i went to my office, which was rapidly becoming a baby room

and what i thought about in there, was how we had so much shit for the baby, but we had nowhere to put it. which reminded me that i was sposeto go to roomstogo thismornin on my way to work, to price dressers and buy one if they had a good one on sale.

the worst part is that claire hadnt even askd if i’d rememberd. she had assumed i forgot.

oh the trials of domesticity, sometimes i think we werent meant for it, and i’m not just talkin about dudes here but still, it cant be worse than freezin to death in a cave, the wolf at the door etcetera, so i’ll stop complainin.

Since i had some time on my hands, i figured i’d fire up the ole macbook and see what all else i could find on bluesky.

nothin from the blogettes yet. rereading the emails i sent, i realizd there probly never would be.

i poked around and turnd up a few more leads but they were all deadends. i’d just about decided to call it a night when i stumbeld across a site called athensquotes. the link was dead, but i tried the cached version [ i’m crafty like that ] and it took me to an abandond blogno posts since march 2005with a buncha stuff people had said in athens, including the following quote

i’m secret, like bluesky.

chelsy r.

the curator had a gmail address, so atleast there was a chance of hearin back

Nothin for a week, a week an a half. long enough to forget about bluesky. or almost forget about it. but the dream, remember? the promise of fulfillment? thats not so easy to forget.

then one night i’m checkin my email, and you know that list of other gmail people who are online orwhatever? well bootydharma’s at the topa the list. so i send him a g-chat request.

to my surprize, he responds.

i’d never done a g-chat before, i guess cause a the word chat. but it was fine, its just like emailin backanforth instantly.

i toldim i saw his blog and i was curius about athens in the nineties, had he been in town back then? turns out he’d been there since eighty nine. so i had to ask if he’d seen neutral milk. they were already broken up by the time i discoverd em, by the time most people did

but yes, he’d seen them. many times. he told me one story about the day jeff moved to athens, the resta the band wasnt in town yet so he playd a set with elf power, as an encore they did garden head, jeff thrashd around the stage and knockd evrybody down, they ended up in a pile on the drumkit.

i read it three times, i wont lie. call me a milkhead, but atleast i’m aware of it, i know how to keep it under control, see, i didnt even ask a followup question, eyes on the prize

So I found this punch card from Bluesky in my house. I’ve never been to Bluesky. Trying to figure out how the card got here. Bluesky’s closed, right?


What do you mean “sortof?”

[ silence ]

i was a click away from ending it, when he typed one last thing

maybe you should come to athens

that was it. end transmision.

all followup emails went unanswerd.

Sowhat did i have to go on? an acknowledgment that Bluesky sort of exists, in athens?

not much. unless you are desprate.

which i aparently was. or thought i was, tho now i’m lookin at it and it makes me wana grab this Al fellow by his metaforical lapels and say what are you thinkin? you got an awsome woman, who is more together than some entire townswho loves you even if she does lose patience ocasionlywho wants to start a famly with you, has started a famly, in three months Gabe’s little head’ll peek out and thenhold onthe ride of your life.

But some parta me musta wanted off that ride, cause what i did was, you guesd it

i pland me a roadtrip.

chapter 3:

last chance

I didnt just take off, dont think me barbaric, i waited for a time when claire was gona be out of town anyway. she was flyin to newyork, to meet with a gallery owner who was intrested in her work. her last chance, thats the way she saw it [ and in a way it was, another week and she wouldnt be able to fly ] if this didnt result in something concrete, she was ready to relegate painting to hobby and throw herself into career and motherhood.

but this gallery owner was a pretybig deal i think. she had among her clients elton john, dont ask me why i remember that. if she took on claire and the show went well, it could possibly allow herif things went realy well crossfingersto quit her job and try painting full time.

to make it as a painter, even if your talented you still have to be extremely lucky, have richass parents, orpardon my frenchsuck mad dick, none of which claire did. if you dont have those things, you better possess that rare combination of talent and drive. not just momentary impulses but the kind thats sustaind over years

you better have a plan.

i wanted it so bad for her. for us.

does evry relationship hafta have a plan? seems like it. somethin to do with the future i guess, maybe it helps us not feel stagnant. but we are not bodies of water, we can actualy thrive while standing still. in theory, anyway. i myself couldnot. or i’d forgoten how. i brushd my teeth with one foot already out the door, always ready for the next thing the next thing the nexthing

what about this thing?

But where was i? my trip, right? my own last chance. the plan went somethin like

take claire to the airport on friday, kiss her goodbye with asurances youll be safe. start drivin east on I-20, see how far you can get. when you get tired, pullover at a rest stop.

wake up saturday and drive the resta the way to athens, get a cheap motel, checkout the town, see if you can find bluesky.

leave sunday by noon, to be back in time to pickup claire at the airport sunday night. and pay for it all with the tiny amount you have in your personal account.

i explaind this to claire, all except the sleepin in a restop part. i stressd the my money thing i’m sure, possibly said somethin along the lines of

if i didnt do anything you didnt want me to, i wouldnt do anything,

maybe worse, i dont know forsure, its mercifly lost in the haze.

Before we get on the road, let me paint you one last domestic scene

its the night before we are to leave on our respectiv trips. the house is feeling rather small. at some point claire goes to bed without tellin me.

i follow after her like a yard dog. but she’d already disappeard into the masterbath [ we added that, now i was regrettin it ]

so here i am on my side of the bedseated, mind you, not lyin downwaiting for claire to finish brushin her teeth but realy waiting for her to tell me the state of our relationship, as i mentiond earlier or maybe i didnt, i needed constant reasurance, it must have been pretty annoying.

eventialy she comes out, words are exchanged i dont remember, but it ends with her crying and me atempting to cry but failing to do so.

then, thru tears, she asks me a question

if you had the time and the money, why arent you coming with me to new york?

[ good question, claire. the sad truth is it had not occurd to me ]

this changed things, too, removing the freedom-versus-responsibility frame i had wanted to hang on it.

Al i askd you a question.

why didnt i come with you?

thats what i askd.

well why didnt you invite me?

things escalated from there in the usual fashioni got defensiv and claire got disapointed then sad. eventialy i askd if she wanted me to sleep here or on the couch.

she didnt answer.

so i retreated to my office, threw myself back into the internets, the original source of my trouble if you dont count that bluesky card, and there found more trouble800-dollar-lastminute-ticket-to-la-guardia kindof trouble, which i was ready to pull the trigger on if claire was okay with me payin for it out of our joint-acount and payin it back next month.

did she even respond? i hope not. perhaps she faind sleep. but fakesleepin is easy as shit to spot. i lay there nexto her and assaulted her with pillow talk. one thing i know i said, sevral times

i love you.

which i meant at the time, tho now it sounds to me more like an acuzation than anything.

The D-F-W airport is in Irving, halfanhour from our place in medium traffic. dont know if youv been to irving, but unless you are in love with the kind of establishments that popup at interstate exitsand would infact like to see an entire town made of that shitits prety depressing.

not very many words were spoken on the drive.

i dont know what she was doing, but i was preparin my defense, workinup an answer for anything she might possibly acuse me of last minute. we were running latemostly my faultso the plan to park and walk together as far as security [ and my secret plan to get her fast-trackd since she was pregnant ] was not gona happen. it would have to be a dropoff. the dreaded curbside dropoff.

Follow signs for departures.

get in line. keep an eye out for american airlines.

clear your throat. say things like

you should be fine, as long as security isnt too slow.

[ and ]

sure you dont want me to park and run in realquick? if security’s slow i could wait in line with you.

[ how weak is that? the only way shit isnt gona blowup is if securitys fast and slow at the same time ]

i dont remember what we said to eachother at the dropoff. we formd a provisional peace, hugs and sniffles, probly somethin like

Claire you know i love you dont you?

i do know that.

and the babygabehe’s already an important part of my lifeour livesour life.

then why do you forget i’m pregnant and try to feed me raw fish?

i thought the tuna was seared...

[ yes! i got a laugh ]

...really claire, you know i have a badmemory, i think of you all the time

you do?

course i do. sometimes i’m so busy thinkin a you i almost forget your there, its likeyou know that seabear song i always play...

[ i attempt to sing tho i cannot carry a tune ]

i miss youuu, even when your around...

i think i know it.

just cause i’m spacey, it doesnt mean

i know it doesnt, oh Al watchout.

a pressure on my arm,

just above the elbow

the steely grip of authority.

Sir, i need you to move your vehicle away from the curb.

i should give him credit, he didnt exercise the full extent of his anti-terroristic capabilities, he understood there was a domestic situation here, and dependant as the state is on the famly unit

but lets not go there now.

We said the holy trinityiloveyou i’llmissyou haveanicetrip. at the last second i planted a kisswent for the lips but had to settle for cheek. she was distracted by airport cop and turnd her head.

i was then re-invited by my security-minded friend to move my vehicle away from the curb.

i jumpd in the car

rolld down the passenger window

[ thanks globe cap, for power windows ]



and moved my vehicle away from the curb.

as i drove off, i could see claire in the rearview, standin by her suitcase wavin goodbye, gettin smaller and smaller.

and then she was gone.

or i was, dependin on how you look at it.

chapter 4:


I felt good for about two minutes. then i didnt feel so good.

if she was just a girlfriend, no big deal right? drive to athens, have fun, we’ll see how it goes when i get back. but this is a partner, with whom i have created a new person. a life entanglement

but you gota watchout for metaphors, theyll take over if you lettem. and i tended to lettem. now my life was an entanglement, a network of vines, suffocating me. they even had thorns i think.

So the plan for tonight

start driving. when you get tired, pullover at a rest stop.

before you go gettin all worried, let me make a few quick points about sleepin in a resstop. one, its fairly safe, as far as sleepin in the car goes, just dont go tellin your mama your doin it, nor your partner-slash-babymama. two, saves money, or in my case makes it where you can aford to travel without breakin into the J-A or even worse the savings acount, which you might as well call the baby acount. and three, you dont waste time sleepin, not nearly as much as you do in a motel. you can drive till two a-m, pull into a resstop, and youll still be up by seven, with the sun and the old people walkin by and all that.

the plan went well excepfor one thing: when i got tired, there wasnt a resstop. i drove and drove and there just wasnt a resstop. this is I-20, a major thorofare, youd think theyd have one atleast evry hundred miles, c’mon globecap

course this was louisiana.

and mississipi.

eventially i started lookin for a motel6. i might have to break into the J-A, true, but it would put claire’s mind at ease, it would put us both at ease, it was the responsible thing to do, it wasnt just me i was takin care of now etcetera, which reminded me i still needed to make that doctors apointment. i took out my phone and put in a reminder for monday, which almost caused me to run off the road and realy need a doctor.

the near-accident gave me a burst of energy [ adrenalines an amazing drug, i just hope they never figure out how to make it ] which temporarily putoff the need for a motel.

i kept driving.

in vicksburg i had to stop for gas. theyv got this weird offramp that looks like a regular exit, then it seizes your car and makes you drive a mile down this highway and drops you off at their mall. the mall was closed ofcourse, but there were two mega-gastations. i opted for the biggest, brightest one.

While my tank filld up, i wanderd the isles of the Flying-J, marveling at the array of merchandise. there are some whole countries that dont have this many things for sale. the effect on the highway-hypnotized is that you start grabbing stuff off the shelvs at random. i got a vitamin water, a york peppermint patty [ fullsize ], some offbrand cheesypoofs, a bluetooth headset i thought might work with my phone, a mississipi paperweight that would make a funny souvenir for claire, and a 5-hour energy, maximum strength [the black one. ] a value was assigned to the items, i swiped my card, hit the green button, and was on my way.

walkd thru the automatic doors with my thankyou bag full of comodities [ anthropologists look no further, its here in this bag ] and when i saw my car, i was overcome.

the geo. had that thing since ninety-six. back when i was still runnin wild in austin. so many things had changed since then. evrything, it seemd, except the car i drove.

the paintjob faded long ago from gold to desert sand. theres so many dents it looks soft, like hammerd metal. and the way it smells inside, like coffee and old leaves. you have to use your muscles to turn the steering wheel now, the power steering pumps broken.

I crackt open the 5-hourenergy, opend the cheesypoofs, and started driving.

found a resstop outside of Meridian, but by then the 5-hourenergy had taken hold and i was startin to grind my teeth. there was no hope of sleepin now, not in the car anyway, i’d need atleast two drinks but since i dont drink anymore, i’d need a knock on the head, a soft pillow, and some airconditioning.

crossd into alabama around three, just me and the truckers now. stopt for another 5-hourenergymight as well at this pointand kept drivin. it was awsome, i never wanted to stop. who needs dean moriarty when youve got 5-hourenergy and cheesypoofs?

made georgia by sunrise. then all of a sudden i was comin up on Atlanta [ what a quartermillion confederate soldiers died tryin to prevent, acordinto some dude i cant remember*.

the sun was in my eyes, i could barely read the signs, i just let the city take me into its orbit, I-285, then sling me toward athens on a highway calld 316 [ as in John, yes ] i didnt realize how close i was until i saw a sign sayin:  Athens  52. 

holy shit i was gona make athens tonite! or tomorow, tecnicly. since it already was.

but i needed gas. and there were no gastations. there wasnt even an exit, just miles and miles of highway.

five miles. ten miles. nothing.

at mile twenty, the geo shuddered, i thought it was gona cutoff but i gave it some gas and it musta found some secret reserve or else it realy was runnin on fumes, cause it kept on goin til i finely saw an exit.

at the end of the exit ramp was a green sign with a red-and-blue zigzag and an arrow pointing left.

i went left.

didnt see a chevron. didnt see anything at all, cept a buncha pinetrees and a beat-ass country roadcracks and potholes galore, the shoulder was almost completely crumbled away, weeds intruded, the forest prest in, it was like driving thru a living tunnel, or down somethings throat.

dont get too excited, theres no stranded-on- the-side-a-the-road, almost-kild-by-crazy-redneck stories. somebody else has those stories i’m sure, but i dont have em. cause eventialy i did see it, the chevron.

it was an oldschool service station, the kind with one set of pumps and a garage, except theyd converted the garage into a convenience store. the pumps lookd pretty old, i worried they might not work but they did, they even took creditcards.

While the gas pumpt, i headed inside. for further caffeine i guess. or maybe just to briefly experience humanity. sory if this sounds like a lucinda williams song, but there was a sign on the the door that advertised worm’s for sale.

The cashier was laughing to himself. i dont know what tickeld him so. he was lookin at his lap, but i’m not gona go there.

well lettim ignore me. i’ll just use the bathroom and not buy anything.

the bathroom was the size of a closet, basicly just a hole for mechanics to piss in. but somebody had attempted to remodel it by going to the clearance shelf at homedepot and buyin some vinyl tiles, imitation italian marble, which they glued to the floor and also to the walls, mosta the way up til they ran out of tiles, then it was just flaky old cinderblock.

i was gona head straight back to the car, but then... i have this habit i get from my dad

when in doubt, ask a stranger.

i approachd the register and waited for the guy to lookup, which he didnt do, not right away. he was watchin a video on his phone i think, tho i didnt get a good look since it was in his crotch.

just when i was gettin ready to clear my throat he lookd up. i decided to give conversation a try.

What’re you watchin?


you can watch teevee on your phone?

if the 3-G’s workin. sometimes it dudnt bein so close to athens.

whada you mean?

they jam it.

they jam 3-G signals in athens?

4-G too.


their comunist.

i see.

if you were to do a demographic study of conspiracy nuts, i bet youd find convenient store cashier the number one profession.

so do you go ahead and ask directions?

like i said, i get it from my dad.

i’m actualy on my way to athens, ive never been there...

[ hopefully that put me clearly in the noncommunist camp ]

...but, so, is it best just to get back on that big highway...?

[ what was the number? somethin to do with the bible ]



well you can go that way.

is there a better way?

now you come this far, might as well keep comin on twelve, thats what your on now. hit athens inbout eighteen minutes.

so which way do i turn outa here?

[ a stupid question. but my sense of direction is almost as bad as my memory ]

keep goin the way you been.

he checkd to see if i was gettin it. my expresion was i’m sure as blank as any ive ever seen on a college freshman tryin to interpret literture.

make a left.

As you may know, conspiracy nuts tend to be good at predicting how long it will take you to drive somewhere. in eighteen minutes on the dot, i saw a sign

Athens shitty limits

or thats what i thought it said, but i was basicly a 5-hour-energy-zombie at this point, so who knows?

i rolld down the window to let in the morning, it was a nice one, the birds were up but nobody else was movin. reminded me of some other morning, i thought it was dejavu at first but then it came to me


i drove up there once, to visit a friend who went to gettysburg college. i drove all night, got there just before sunrise. we drank robitussin, threw our stuf into a backpack [ cigarets, journals, a copy of the last gentleman ] and headed for the battlefield.

as soon as i climd over the split-rail fence, i was overwhelmed. by history. not as in the channel, but personal histry. i had been here. somethin happend to me here.

i dont believe in past lives or anything, and my sober mind was later able to write it off to the combination of dextromethorphan hydrobromide and walkerpercy. especialy since it never happend again. unless you count now. which i wasnt sure i was ready to do that yet.

the speed limit dropt to thirtyfive, and the road [ it was calld odd street ] got residential. you started seeing old clapboard houses with sagging porchesmillhouses probly. the yards were patchy, but they had good trees. water oaks i think, or pin oaks. with some age on em.

judgin from the yards and mildew and the peelin paint, i’d say it was a student neighborhood. or a student getto. lota the porches didnt even have railings. thats against code, bytheway. in just about any place that has codes.

there was a guy on one of the porches playin banjo with his eyes closed. i could hear it long after he was out of sight, it was prety bucolic.

then the trees cleard out and odd street turnd comerciala traffic light, a goldenpantry, a donut shop calld the taco stand [ dont ask ] then finely at the topa the hill, like a beacon like a flag

Super 9

I had never been so happy to see a super 9 in my life.

i didnt know you could be this happy.

pulld up to the office.

put it in park.

stept outa the car.

s t r e t c h t

it felt good to be outside, aloose in this beautiful morning.

i took a deep breath.

comforting, familiar.

like walkin into the house of a childhood friend.

i had the sudden thought

i’m gona like this town.

the thought was less than a second old when the geo’s engine shudderd once

then died.

chapter 5:

the hotel

Now geo does have 211 thousand miles on it. and no, i havent exacly been religious about the maintenance.

still. i love that car. i guess for me love has always been more of an emotion than an action. i suspect that was a problem for my car. maybe also for my life.

get in. sit down.

put the key in the ignition.

turn it...

nothing happend.

well, one thing happend.

the check engine light came on.

i dont know much about cars. maybe somethin to do with almost runnin outa gas. or gettin bad gas, it wouldnt suprize me at that getto chevron. or what if the timing belt broke? i was way overdue on that, thats sposeto fuck your shit up, right? anybody ever had one break?


dont think jus turn the key


So this is what its like to breakdown. guess i’d never done that before. atleast geo was considerate enough to wait til we got to the hotel.

the first move [ aka the easiest ] was to get a room. if they had a room. but judgin from the parkinlot i didnt have much to worry about there.

thru the plateglass window, i could see the guy at the front desk smirking to himself, like he’d just watchd some dumass do somethin stupid for like the five hundreth time. but there was nobody else in the lobby, not even a t-v. that smirk was permanent.

you can do this.

walk in confident.

stick to the facts.

say as little as possibl, actualy


This was not a normal motel lobby. not at all.

about ninety percent of the available wall space was coverd in graffiti and stickers, it lookd like a bathroom in a rock club. this is where, i’m sure, i first saw

teabag a bo-bo

[ and ]

muggles go wait in the van

and a buncha the other greatest hits, tho i didnt process em at the time beyond a wiff of confusion and a little unease.

the lobby featured two pieces of furniture: a tweedy old armchair that was ducktaped to the floor, and a vending machine. the old kind, where you hav to pull a lever. your choices are altoids, condoms, p-b-r, and organic tampons. it smelld like an ashtray because there was an ashtray, velcroed to the arm of the chair, with a laminated note taped on,

hotel not responsible for ashtray maintenance

and dont leme forget hotel guy’s t-shirt. there was a picture of the roadrunner, laid out on a platter, wile e. coyote had a knife and was in the midst of carvin him up like a thanksgivin turkey, each of em had a plate. underneath, it said

from each, acordinta bility

  to each acordinta need!

hotel guy lookd up as i was readin his shirt. his face said Look at this asshole comin in here thinkin he’s gona get a room.

do you have any

Hello and good evening, sir. welcome to the hotel.

[ good eve-ning? ]

hi. do you have any rooms available?

for which dates?

for today.

you mean tonight.

yeah. tonight.

he lookd at his watch.

checkouts at noon.


thats in two an a half hours.

oh sorryi need it for tonight.

then checkouts at noon.

noon, today?

thats the one.

o-k, time to rethink strategy. we are dealing with a supreme smartass here. and also a rule freak. apologize for your stupidity. be that asshole, just be apologetic about it.

i’m sorry, i’ve been on the road allnight. i havent slept since yesterday.

join the club.

i bet you get use to it, but i’m not use to it at all. if i dont get enough sleep i cant concentrate, i get confused real easy, i’m havin a hard time just talkin to you now

what are you saying?


because it sounds like your trying to convince me your insane. i just cant figure out how it would be to your advantage for me to think that.

noi’m tryin to explain...

[ deep breath ]

...what i want, is to get a room, and sleep forlike ten hours.

i understand that. what i’m trying to tell you is the computer switches over at noon. if you want a room before noon, its 49 dollars. if you want a room after noon, its 49 dollars.

what if i want both?

you want me to add 49 and 49 for you?

i stormd out.

or tried to.

[ you actualy have to pull to exit the lobby, not push ]

jumpd in the geo.

slamd the door.

turnd the key


oh right. my car broke down. i’d momentarily forgotten.

geo didnt forget tho.

The thing to do was get it outa the way before i gave hotel guy the satisfaction.

i put it in neutral.

opend the driver side door.

got out and pushd

the geo moved forward a foot or two.

i dug in. as much as you can dig in when you weigh a buckforty and your wearin flipflops.

eventialy i got some momentum. about the speed of an old man walking, but atleast it was progress.

guess the pavement sloped down here, i didnt notice rightaway, but all of a sudden geo was rollin, and i wasnt pushin it.

rollin prety fast. and headin for a giant holly bush.

i jumpd in

hit the brakes

problem is the brakes dont work as well when the engines not on. i mean they workd. just not fast enough to keep me from runnin into that bush.

door scrapin open, hotel guy standin there.

what, may i ask, are you doing?

[ he didnt actualy say may i ask, but he mightaswell have ]

sorry, my car wouldnt start.

so you pushd it into a bush?

[ you know those people who are so good at bein a smartass you almost hafta forgivem? ]

i was tryin to get it outa the way.

mission acomplishd.

actually, d you think...

[ i couldnt ask him, could i? ]

turns out i didnt have to.

yeahsure. i’m bigger’n you, i’ll push you steer.

and he hoppd to it like an amish at a barnraising yall, i’m not kiddin, he climbd inside that hollybush and started pushin. and he didnt stop til the geo was in the parkinlot. not just in the lot, but in a legal parking space. he was not willing to compromise on that.

By the end of it, i felt like shaking his hand.

thank you so much, i realy apreciate it...

david. but you can call me hotel nazi. evrybody else does.

then my dad’s genes raisd up and i askd him what he thought might be wrong with my car. he lissend to my story. he even got in and tried to start it himself.

couldbe your battery. or your alternator.

would that make it cutoff tho?

no problynot.

what else could it be?

well the transmissionyour checkengine light didnt come on, did it?



what? you think it could be the transmission?

well i’m not a car expert whatchacallita mecanic.

is the transmission expensiv?

[ askin a motelclerk to estimate an auto repairmy dad would be proud ]

depends on whatcha mean by expensiv. more than your cars worth i bet. dollarwise i mean. i dont know if you have an emotional attachment,


we were comrades by the end. he even recomended a mechanica guy named C Fouls. he wrote it for me on the back of a super 9 bisness card.

c-fouls: sober mechanic. 706-353-2656

he’s the best in town, when he’s sober. and i happen to know he’s sober rightnow.

thanks man. i’ll givim a call, as soon as i get settled...

[ i could just ask, couldnt i? the worst he could say was no ]

please dont ask.

ask what?

if i gave a free room to evry poor schmuck whose car broke down in my parkinlot...

do a lota peoples cars breakdown here?

welcome to athens.


may i make a suggestion?


why dontcha go downtown? its an easy walk, take ya ten minutes. just stay on odd street, youll run right into it.

whats downtown?

evrything. altho at this hour probly just bars. which in some peoples opinion is evrything.

you dont happen to know of a place called bluesky?

sure do.

so it reopend?

never closed, far as i know. and i think i woulda heard.

i thought it closed in like 1999.

oh right...

[ he seemd to realize something thenaltho i couldnt say what it was ]

...the one over there did close.

over where? were there two of em?

in a manner of speaking.

whado you mean?

i mean there were two, and now theres one.

is it near here?

as the crow flies. but theres no way youd find it on your own. youll need somebody to show it to you. which i would be happy to do myselfif i wasnt otherwise ocupied.

i could try to find it.

i’d just get you lost, trust me. especialy if, as you say, your ‘easily confused.’

you could atleast give me directions.

realy, guyjust go downtown, get a couple drinks, relax. itll be noon before you know it. probly a lot later than that if its your firstime downtown. now if youll excuse me i have to get this.

but the phone wasnt ringing.

hotelnazi dared me to call him on it.

Chapter 6:


So now it was sleep in sleep in the car, or walk downtown.

or hangout in the lobby with hotelnazi. but i can tell you right now that wasnt gona happen.

i chose the one that required the least amount of imediat effort.

the interior of the geo was basicly a sauna. and crackin the windows didnt help. i set the phone alarm optimisticly for 11:55, put my glasses in my shirt pocket, and leand the seat all the way back…

as a person who’s slept in cars a number of times under a variety of circumstances, i can tell you that the essential ingredients for good car sleep are darkness, quiet, and sleepiness. what you dont want is the sun beatin down on you. you also dont wana be jackd up on caffein and bull testosterone orwhatever.

i woke up twelv minutes later, in a puddle of my own sweat. i wouldve started the car and cut on the a-c, i was ready and willin to sacrafice the environment in exchange for a few winks, but geo, remember, would not start. me and my memry we actualy did not remember. but like i said, geo has a better memry than me.

so here i am, exausted but unable to sleep, sweatin my ass off in a broken down car with no money to fix it

i coulda been in newyork, with claire. what was i thinking?

thats what i needed, was to talk to claire. its the one thing that would relax me enough to sleep.


thats how i calld her, thats how i always calld her cause she was always last on my recentcalls.

it went strait to voicemail.

Hello, you’ve reached claire.

[ should i tell her i’m already in athens? no. then she’ll know i drove allnight ]

i cant get to my phone right now,

[ definatly dont mention the car, dont mention yourself at all, you can tell her that stuff later ]

but if you leave a message, I’ll call you back.

[ but what if she’s in her meeting with the gallery owner rightnow? i wouldnt want to interupt ]

thanks, and have a nice day.

[ when was her apointment? i should know this, i do know this

b e e e e p


You know the south, in early june? those bright clear mornings at the beginning of summer, before the shit realy hits the fan? and the sky that morningif you could figure out how to paint a house that shade of blue youd be a rich man.

hotelnazi was right, it was an easy walk, before i knew it i was downtown. it was cute, quaint, whatever, sidewalk cafes and such, and sidewalks that featured actual pedestrians. kinda reminded me of austin, but more concentrated. i could see why there were so many good bands from athens. half the people in town were in a band, it lookd like. the dudes had a definat prediliction for facial hair, the bigger the better, and the chicks favord dresses, not fancy ones, just plain old dresses, which i aprove of wholeheartedly. yay for feminism ladies, but jobby-jobs and pants? thats like the two worst things we’ve got.

the first crosstreet i came to was calld lupkin, altho i should warn you, dont get too hungup on streetnames or locations or anything else you might think you are familiar with. theres something important which i meant to tell you earlier but i think i forgot

youv never been here. you may think youv been here, some of you. but you havent.

trust meyou havent.

there was a restraunt on either side a the street, each of em doin good breakfast bisness, or brunch.

or actualy, i take that back. they werent restraunts, they were bars. the people were drinking, not eating.

now i’m all for debauchery [ realy i am, i’m a hedonist, i’m just not allthat good at it ] but under the circumstances i started to freak out a little bit.

especialy when on the next block it was the same thing. one bar, hopping, and evrything else closed.

ok, a bar then...

ohthis is where all the tatoos are.

made my way to the bar. found an empty stool.

the bartender came in less than a minute. neck tat and henry rollins hair, but he had kind eyes.

welcome to lunchpaper what can i getcha?

do you serve food?


[ the music was blaring, plus i’m terible at projecting ]


nah man we’re a bar. we serv booze.

[ dont imagine the permanent smirk here tho, this guy seemd sincere ]

i mightcould russle you up some peanuts.

no, i need real food.

at this hour? pepinos’d be your best bet. or drunk sushi if you could findim. actialy nevermind, i saw aaron earlier, i’d probly get outa the way if i saw him comin.

how do you get to pepito’s?


i took out my notepad.

you dont gota write it down...

he laughd.

its just up the street, on the corner.

[ orient yourself. point ]

so, outa here i turn... left?

yeahman. left.

At the enda the block was a restraunt, i guess pepinos tho i never saw a sign. the menu offerd two choicesslices and pitchers. the pitcher was the more popular item, altho a few folks wanted to eat too, dude right infronta me orderd

two pieces of food.

the counterguy turnd around and yelld


the guy at the oven was brooklyn-italian, back sweater and a mario mustache, exacly who you wana see back there. i watchd him slide a pie in the oven, come out with four slices, slip them onto four plates, snatch up three new slices and throw em in the oven, all in one fluid motion.

when it comes to new york style i am a purist. i orderd the only sensible thingslice of cheese.

got my number, 43.

filld a cup with water to clear my pallet.

found a table near the door and setteld in for some people watchin. i love people watchin. i’m good at it. so good that sometimes i forget they can see me, one time a girl came over and askd me to stop, it was prety embaressing.

there was a t-v in the front and a t-v in the back, both of em turnd up. the one in front was famly guy and the one in back was southpark. you had to talk prety loud to make yourself heard over the t-v’s, so people were talkin loud, and evry so often the oven guy would yellout somethin like


without assistance of microphone, but you could hear im loud an clear. or i could. other people not so much. some numbers he had to call two or three times atleast, each time he had to call your number, he’d let you know how much more disappointed he was in you

NUMBA FODDY-TWO, TWO PIECES OF FOOD, come an get it or its goin in the TRASH!

i had a thought then that i want to mention, only because this was the first time i had it but it would later come to seem like a pattern. you know how oven guy yelld when drunk dude didnt come get his slice? at first i thought he was bein obnoxious. but when i thought about it, he already had drunk dudes money, who gives a shit if his slice sits there gettin cold? there was plenny a room on the counter for new slices, that wasnt it. the only person who benefited from his tirade was drunk dude. what i’m saying is that while it seemd like he was bein an asshole, he was realy bein compassionate.

numba foddy-THREE!

i husseld up there, ready to show that i’d been paying attention.

got to the counter just as he slid my slice onto a plate, cheese drippin off it like gold.

he lookd at me and said

number foddy three slice a cheese.

thats me.

[ where was my number? dont tell me i left it ]

dont worry boutit, i trust ya.

he trusted me!

i expected him to get right back to the oven, but he held me with his eyes.

this your first slice a pepinos?


bet it wont be your last.

he winkd at me in this way that was not anoying at all, then he transformd back into oven warior.

if looks were any indication, he was right. the smell was that oregano-sweet-tomato thing, and the cheese was positivly molten, not burnd or the leastbit dry. i couldnt wait till i got back to my table, i took a bite right there and tho it burnd the roof a my mouth, goddam it was good, better than anything i’ve had in newyork except one random place near pratt i could never find again. quality mozarella, not too much sauce, just enough to taste the oregano, crust soft with a crisp finish. the secret to a good slice is simpleundercook the pie. that way, when you reheat the slices, they finish cooking instead of overcooking.

i did what i always do when i discover a great slice, orderd another one. the second one was almost as good as the first, maybe a litle less fresh but still amazing.

midway thru the second slice, i had two thoughtswhat if me and claire moved here? and, i should call claire.

the second one overshadowd the first. infact once i’d thought of it, i couldnt think of anything else.

Lupkin street wasi think this is an apropriate time to say itrowdy. If i calld claire from anywhere on this block, she’d think i was at a party.

at the end of the next block there was a bank. it was closed, but atleast the parkinlot was quiet.

took out my phone.

anticipating. nervous. remember to ask about her trip.

you know that little battery icon in the corner of your phone? you know how it flashes when the batterys almost dead?

and no, i didnt have the charger with me. i’m not even sure i rememberd to pack it.

if you have a good phone you can still talk a while. my last phone was like that, but my new one even tho it has more bells an whistles its actually a much shittier phone. the battery especialy sucks. it went from two bars to this in an hour. now i had about two minutes of talk time, if the call even went thru.



[ thanks for the phone globecap ]


[ its prety cool you can talk to anybody anytime you want,

in the old days they woulda calld it magic ]


[ altho sometimes i wish we could just give it back ]

Hello, you’ve reached claire.

[ her voice, it sounded like home but it also sounded sexy.

i wanted to curlup inside it and fall asleep ]

I can’t get to my phone right now, but if you leave a message

thats when my battery died.

I had a feeling this town wasnt exacly teeming with payphones.

on the other hand, i could walk back to my car and maybe find my charger, if i’d rememberd to pack it. or, it would be eleven by then, who knows? hotelnazi might even let me in a room.

i went with the path that required the least amount of imediate effortkill time. walk around checkin shit out. i mean, thats what i was doing, esentialy.

as i mentiond, i’m a dedicated people watcher. and this place provided plenty of fodder. between the drunks and the crazies and the ladies

now i’ve never cheated, or even almost cheated, so understand this was harmless lookin, but there were some foxes out. if this was the twenties theyd of been at Gatsby’s place in furs and pearls, but this is the twothousands so theyre downtown athens in salvation army dresses.

but rather than make me wish i was single, it just made me miss claire more. remember how her voice sounded like home but also sexy? that was awsome. i’d been so busy worryin she might be mad that i forgot how amazing she is. how lucky i am. i couldnt wait to get back to her, to getback to us, to start bein a famly. i mean i was psyched.

i took a left at the next street, washington, atleast thats the way i read it, the sign actualy said

Washintong Street

these were regulation street signs by the way. it wasnt a joke. or it was an official joke.

washintong was prety dead, it lookd like, i thought maybe i’d reachd the end of downtown.

but no, there was one last block. and it was definatly not dead. there were three bars on this side of the street alone. you could easily spot a bar cause they all had patios and the patios were always populated with drunk people, it was so distracting i forgot i was even lookin for a payphone. until i saw one on the corner.

it was an oldschool phonebooth, the kind with the folding door.

i opend the door, stept inside

there was no phone in here. not even a trace of one. where the phone shouldof been someone had written in black magicmarker

self-phone booth

as soon as i stept outa the booth, this guy appeard outa nowhere. friendly-lookin, sweaty, earnest, kinda reminded me of a dog. he had on a t-shirt that said

self-phone booth

you need a make a call? [ he askt ]

oh... no thanks.

[ am i really afraid to accept the kindness of strangers? ]

coolman. if you change your mind come find me, i’ll be around, i’m jesse.

he profferd a paw. i shook it.


new to town?

nah, i’m just here for the day.

you mean you just got here?

[ somethin about the way he said that ]


happy firsday!

happy what-day?

firsday. first day.

[ ? ]

welcome to athens.

he bowed with a flourish. i felt welcome, in spite of myself.

so can i ask you a question? [ i said ]

nock yerself out.

why is evrybody at the bars at elevn in the morning?

you remember what summer was like when you were a kid, you just kinda did whatever you felt like doin?

yeah, it was awsome.

well here its still awsom.

he started to walk off, but i stopt him.

actualy d’you think i could borow your phone? i can be realquick.

no dude, take your time.

he gave me his phone like he was lettin me borow a lighter.

i closed myself in the self-fone booth.

diald, without much hope.

it went strait to voicemail.

this time i left a message. i didnt want claire to start worryin. i hope i didnt sound insane, probly somethin along the lines of

Hey, its me, i’m in athens, but my phones dead, thats why i’m callin you from this weird number, or you probly cant see that, since it went strait to your voicemail. anyway, i’ll try you again when i get to my hotel...

[ sigh ]

...i miss you. i’m sory weve been fighting, its stupid, i love you so much claire, i cant wait to see you, i wish i could talk to you now, i wish i was there, i hope your kickinass in newyork, i’m sure ya are

but the beep cut me off before i could finish.

chapter 7:


When i got out of the cellphone booth, jesse was gone. i lookd up and down the block, across the street. no jesse. there were a couple dudes in front a the tatoo shop, smokin cigarets and lookin kinda tuff but in a sensitiv way. i askd em if they knew where jesse went.

he said ‘not a bar’. so that leaves what? low yoyo and xray?

X-ray, and Yo-Yo-Yo?

they laughd.

low yoyo.

wheres that?

behind the fortywatt.

wheres the forty watt?

right there...

[ he jerkd a thum over his shoulder ]

dont get stressdout. its jesse whosevrywhere. youll run into im.

So there it was, right under my nose.

or right above it.

40 Watt Club

said the sign,

and the marquee read

Friday: Some shitty band from Atlanta. $5

of course i started thinkin about neutralmilksposedly you could see em here for five bucks back in the daybut before i could get too far down that road, i was distracted by the sound of two men arguing. i couldnt hear what they were sayin, but they were definatly upset.

i folowd the voices around the corner. . .

into a parkinlot.

dont go thinkin i’m a good samaritan oranything. i like to helpout as much as the next guy, maybe more. but for me the ethics were only a sideffect. i was in it for the thanks.

i didnt see the guys anyway, whoever was arguin. it sounded like they were aroundback.

Lowyoyo was kinda tuct away back there in the alley nexto the dumpster. i didnt see a sign, but it was obviusly a record store, cause all you could see thru the storefront window was records.

the door was propt open, and out of it spilld the voices of two men, who, now that i could hear what they were saying it wasnt exactly an argument, it was more like ‘spirited repartee.’

you have five copies of it, todd. five. and you cant even locate one?

d,d’youknow what its like to own ahunred, ahunred, ahunredthousand of something?

if we cleard half the shit outa here, we might actialy sell some records. we could stash the rest of it in the warehouse, itll sell faster on ebay than in the store i bet.

howmuch you wana bet?

i dont want a bet.

you said you wanted a bet. hhhhow much?

i walkd in at this point, tho they didnt stop talking for a second. but let me describe the store realquick

you know those used bookstores in the french quarter thatve been there since the begining of time and acumulated so many books its hard to walk around? like that. exept records, not books. they werent just cramd in, tho, they were organized after a fashion, but i’ll get to that in a second. oh and jesse wasnt in here. altho at this point i’d almost forgoten i was lookin for im.

so the one dudetodd, the proprieterlookd like mr. magoo in his younger years, back when he was still playin a lot of tennis. todd liked to punctuate his points by puttin his hands on his hips and lookin around as if he had an aproving audience. i gues he didme.

now the other dude

dont worry about the otherdude. he was just a dude.

you dont even care do you? cause you dont actualy wana sell records. you just want to amass them.

then what the hell do i own a recordstore for? and dont forget who p,pays you

when was the lastime you paid me?


i’m serius todd.

remember that jjjoy division thing i got you?

thats not money. pay means money.

i p,pay peoplemoney.

people on ebay youv never met. but you dont pay me. and you dont pay tony either. you keep sayin your goin to, and you keep givin us more records. well guess what?

dont even think it.

oh i’m thinkin it. i dont want any more of your records. not even if their ultra-rare. your gona hafta start givin me atleast a little bita money or i cant keep workin here.

tho it was obvius that guy had no intention of quitting. you couldnt fire him. youd need a swat team to get im outa there i bet.

i pretended to look at records so i could eavs drop. then after a while i was lookin at records. it was the way they were organized that drew me in. instead of band names, you saw strange microgenres like post-gospel and anti-neutch.

captain beefheart took up an entire wall. it was organized into three categories

beef heart, beef heart you want, and beef heart you need

todd spoke up

d’you realy notwant anymore a my records, or were you jusbein hhhyperbolic?

i was tryinta make a point.

what is your p,pointagain?

money. thats how you pay people. didnt you take economics?

i never ww

went to college, i know, you keep remindin me a that like its a badge of honor.

aroundhere it is.

well i dropt outa college.

e,evrybody drops outa college.

not evrybody todd. just evrybody you know. a lota the fuckers that come in here have phd’s, and they work at the taco stand.

a dude with a phd works at tacostand, whho is it?

not a dude todd, a chick. and its just partime, to suplement her posdoc.

does she work inthefront or intheback?

you dont know her.

does she come in here?

once or twice.

you have a crush.

i do not, she’s like eight years older than me.

ssso, my wifes older than me.

by like two years. plus you got your records. i, on the other hand, need

self esteem? is that why youll date a t,twenny year old but you wont

she’s nineteen, actialy.

that Abbey chick is nine teen? and she’s already comin in here? she’s gona turnout arright. specially since she had the good sense to dump you. sso whos this olderchick you got a crush on?

can we please just talkabout records?

you can probly guess my test of a good record store

how much neutral milk do they have?

but this was athens, ofcourse they had it. there were genres aranged around it, aparently.

still, you gota check.

it had its own section.

and a note sayin lots more in back just ask.

they had 16 copies of aeroplane.

i picked one of them up. felt the heft.

its 180-gram vinyl.

but you probly knew that.

I’ll never forget the firstime i heard it. summer of 99, i’d just broken up with my girlfriend of three years and was stayin with my friend charles at his place on MLK, sleeping on his couch. thats where i was when he came home one night around 2 a.m., a little drunk and with a crazed look in his eyes. in his hands was a copy of aeroplane. what we were about to do, he told me, was lissen to this record. the whole thing, strait thru. without doin anything else. without even talking.

as soon as he dropt the needle, he leand over and whisperd

this is gona blow your mind.

and it did.

and music hasnt been the same for me since.

i almost wana ask you to lissen to it now, if you hadnt heard it yet. in the aeroplane over the sea by neutral milk hotel. and not just random shit on youtube while you fuckaround on facebook. the whole thing.

but speakin of, i’d been meanin to make a CD of bootlegs and rarities for my cousin. i tookout my phone to program a reminder

course it wasnt my phone, it was jesse’s. my phone was in the other pocket.

sorry man no sell fones.

[ that was dude ]

its not actualy mine.

dudnt matter.

wwhat are you, my henchman now?

[ todd gave me a simpathetic look ]

you said no selfones [ dude said ]

thats only for outatowners.

you said evrybody.

you knowhat that means.

my instinct was to protest that i was an out of towner. altho it was quickly overcome by a blush of pride that i’d been mistaken for a local.

dude went outside with his tail between his legs, joind the tough sensitiv dudes smokin infronta the tatoo shop.

Just me and todd in here now. i felt exposed. he took one look at me and seemd to understand evrything. atleast evrything a recordstore owner would need to know, which is a lot.

welcome to lowyoyo, lookin for anything special?

not realy.

hhowlong you been intown?

oh, noi’m not in town...

you figured out how to be in t,two places at once?

[ his deadpan delivery nearly got by me ]

i’m just visiting. from texas.

if you found lowyoyo already you got a chance, i spose your a fan.

of who?


[ was i that obvius? ]

i guess so, yeah.

you dont hafta hide it around here, evrybodys a fan exept me, you need one a those b,bluerose things?

[ i’ll explain later ]

actialy, i might.

i’ll give you one if you come in on the rightday.

give it to me?

wellnot g,give. but let you hav it at a goodpriceless than half a what it goesfor on ebay. course if you wannit for free we could arrange somethin. if you feel like m,movin some records around.

i turnd him down. i had a feeling one afternoon of work would turn into weeks or even months. a strange feeling i admit, considering i was leavin tomoro.

I left low-yoyo and started walkin down washintong, headin vaguely for the hotel i think, it just seemd important to keep moving. i made my way thru the weaving pedestrians and the cigaret smoke and the buzz, i tried to screen it out but it somehow got into me, it felt like i was on drugs for a second

then i crashd.

i guess the 5-hour-energy wore off orsomethin, cause allofasudden i had to sit down.

but lookit

a bench. an empty bench!

i pounced on it.

it was a nice benchrought-iron frame, wood slats smooth from years of bein sat on. a leafy ornamental grew on either side. the word arbor comes to mind.

i propt an elbow on the armrest, put my chin in my hand, felt my eyelids gettin heavy. a little shut eye could be just what the doctor orderd, clear my head. just a few winks acourse, then i can take care of etcetera. just a few winks first, and then etcetera

the thousand overlapping conversations, the laughter and the shouts, the music spillin outa the bars, all that i could ignore. but the one thing i couldnt tune out was kermit the frog, singing rainbow connection. i think it was a record. the record musta had a scratch in it cause kermit kept singing

So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it, so we’ve been told and some choose to believe it, so we’ve been told and some choose to believe it

over and over and over, as i d r i f t e d o f f  t o s l e e p

chapter 8:


…so we’ve been told and some choose to believe it so weve beentold and some choose to beleev it sew weav bin tolld

we’ve all woken up and not rememberd where we were, sure. but have you ever had it where, even when you rememberd, you still didnt believe it?

i mean i believd it. i just couldnt believ all the trouble i went to to make it happen. all that time and energy cause of a dream and a punchcard, probly only the power of suggestion linkin em.

and all these folks carryin on at eleven oclock in the mornin, they seemd desprate. just a buncha people who had nothin better to do than get drunk in the middla the day.

new plan: get the fuck outa athens. figure out evrything else later. ohbut i still had dude’s phone

just then, a woman walkd by pushin a stroller, which made me realize i had not seen child one [ or old person one for that matter ] since i got to athens.

the woman frozelike she’d just rememberd somethin urgent.

stroller didnt freeze, tho.

it rolled,

r o l l d ,

r  o  l  d 

ended up on the patio of a bar. parkd itself at a tableful of revelers, like the baby had pulld up a seat. it was imediatly wrapt in a cloud of cigaret smoke.

the mother, meanwhile [ or whoever she was ] had no idea. she’d duckd into the place nexdoor.

somebody had to do something.

me. i was gona do something.

i was gona save the baby, sweet! somebody’d be real thankful for that i bet.

i walkt over to the bar patio and got the atention of a revelerthis redheaded chick, of the type you call firey, who was sittin nexto the stroller puffin on a cigaret.

Scuse me ma’am

did you just call me MA’AM?!

sorry. its justa baby shouldnt be around smoke like that.

baby? he’s like three years old.

with that, she exhaled directly into the stroller. it was one of those big strollers where the baby’s inside this capsule. and she had just fild the capsule with smoke.

i didnt even look at her, i just grabd the stroller

yankt it back

spun it around

thats when i realized: it wasnt a baby in that stroller.

it was a cat.

the cat took off took off.

the redhead yelld

cat at large! we hav a CAT AT LARGE!

tho she made no move to go after it.

the cat darted into the place nexdoor. which luck would have it was the same place its owner just went,

x-ray cafe

the chalkboard outfront advertized, home of the recordplayer from which kermit continued to sing

so we’ve beentold and some choose to believe it so we’ve beentold

The X-ray, i dont know what it was, but it wasnt a cafe. more like a surrealist-museum-slash-junkshop. lava lamps and pez dispensers, birdcages, toupees and wigs, an extensiv collection of he-man figures, dont get me started. you couldnt tell what was forsale and what was on display, there wasnt a pricetag in site. or a cat-at-large. course there was a lota shit to hide behind.

there were only two people in the place [ i guess cause it wasnt a bar ] the cats ownershe had crazy blue eyes, and not necesarily the good kinda crazyand a tall pale guy in sunglasses and an eighties big-hair wig, it lookd like he’d just stept out of a whitesnake video.

they were in the middle of a conveeconversationthat went somethin like

why did you ask me to come in then?

[ that spoken by the woman ]

i didnt ask you.

[ this was aparently the proprietor of the xray cafay. its not a wig, by the way, its his real hair ]

you didnt?

no. you justlikeshowd up.

the fellow spoke in valleygirl, he never came out of caracter. his thumb held his place in a fat paperback, can i buy a vowel? the unauthorized biography of vanna white. maybe an irony freak, maybe just a freak. or a littla both probly.

i spotted the cat then. he’d minced his way to the backa the store, where he was investigatin a knicknack shelf full of the most delicate litle collectibles you could imagine, so many it’d make your grannys head spin.

i tried to get somebodys atention.

scuse me, hi.

oh hi, didyou see the new menu? its not like, on there yet, but i hav gummy salamanders now, their fifty cents, three for a doller, does that sound good? i gettem at daily for eight ninedynine a pound, their organic, their pretybig, i bet one weighs like an eighth of a pound orsomethin.

do you know how much a pound is, paul?

[ that was crazy-eyes ]

yeah. its like, twelv ounces. no waitsixteen. i hafta thinka that tab comercial, you know where their like sixteen ounces and just-one-callory?

the cat was gauging the nicknack shelf, thinkin about scalin it.

i cleard my throat

well sorry to interupt

name somethin that ways a pound [ the woman said ]

i dont know, a shoe?

a guinea pig ways a pound. thats a lot more than eight gummy salamanders, trust me.

then i noticed the eponymous ‘cafe’a folding chair, a cardtable, a mini fridge, a coffeemaker, and a jarful of money labeld cash reji$ter. on top of the table was the new menu

x-ray new menu

paul turnd to me.

maybe they should be four for a doller.

i dont need any gummy salamanders thanks, but theres a cat over there.

paul followd my gaze to the nicknack shelf...

my curio’s!

the cat crouchd at the base of the shelf, on the edge of leapin.

you could see his muscles twitchin.

BEE-BEE! what are you DOING?!

[ the woman askd the cat ]

AVA-LOUdo somethin! he’s gona get on my CURIO’S!

pauls hands were clenchd. he shook vizibly. i dont think i’d ever seen a human fret to this degree before.

ava-lou yelld

whadja get outa your basket for?!

bee-bee lookd ashamed of himself.

i said stay in your basket. now go! back to your BASKET.

bee-bee went. back to his basket i guess.

paul calmd down instantly.

so why do you have beebee with you anyway?

cause i’m on the lam.

whats that, some kinda weird diet orsomethin?

it means runnin from the law.

some choose to believe it so we’ve beentold and some choose to beleev it

my plans were rapidly evolving from make excuse to leave, to get out while you stil have your sanity.

its just vince, right? its not the real law?

its vince. but he look prety pist when i ran away from im.

whad you like, do?



i just askd madi to stop playin her gittar, while i’m trynta sleep.

did you ask herwith a knife?

ava-lou lookd at her purse, from which protrudedi forgot to mentionthe handle of a cheap steak nife.

i waved it around anstuff.

i must of atleast atempted a graceful exit, but now it seems like i strait up fled.

paul came after mei thought he was chasin me, i was gettin prety paranoidbut he just calld out

thanks come again! i’m open evryday. no wait, i’m closed on sundays now. i’m ona start goin to church. you knowfor the hats.

chapter 9:

the other odd

Jesse’s phone was ringing. it sounded like wooden sticks knockin against eachother. that was sticks! the same ringtone i had on my first cellphone, an old nokia [ it was a great phone, i wish i still had it ]

it could be claire calling. i did call her from jesse’s phone. she could be calling back.

deep breath.

remember to ask about her trip


said the phone.

i was temted,

but i didnt anser.

Beebee’s basket was still parkd out front of that bar at the tableful of revelers. i checkd in on him as i walkt by.

he was in there alright, makin short work of a white russian.


said the fiery redhead.

thats the dude who calld me ma’am.

sorry bout that, i didnt know how else to get your attention.

whats wrong with YO, BITCH?

she introduced herself, kathleen. and her boyfriend dave, who lookd like a young stanley kubrik. when i told them my name, kathleen said


no, Al. A.L.

[ i hated to disapoint her ]

well, A-L

just Al.

sounds like you got suckerd into takin jesse’s phone.

i have his phone.

he didnt make you talk to his mom, did he?

no. somebody calld. it said dont anser, so i didnt anser.

nice move. so you seem realy new. did you juslike, get here?


like, today?

yeah. why?

where are your peeple?

what people?

y’knowyour peeps?

i dont know anybody here.

dave and kathleen exchanged a look.

what? [ i said ]

dont worybout it, we’re just bein weird.

why did you look at eachother like that?

we lookd at eachother cause we’re in love, bitch, you gota problem with that?

[ i think she was kidding ]

dave stood up.

we’ll walk with you.

to where?

where are you goin?

the hotel but

if we’re goin to the hotel we better geta move on.

kathleen scooted out her chair.

you dont hafta do that [ i said ]

all the more reason to do it. like terry-e said, the point is pointlessness!

whos Terry E.?

it doesnt matter.

realy, who?

terry eagleton [ dave said ]

see? [ kathleen said ] it doesnt matter.

i’ve heard of terry eagleton.

great! lets go.

I must of askd a million questions on that walk. i definatly askd about the misspelld street signs. kathleen said they werent misspelld, they were spelt, and thats all i could get out of her on the subject. at some point i got nervous and thrust my hands into my pockets and rediscoverd the bluesky punchcard, which reminded me what i’d been meanin to ask

yall dont happen to know where blue sky is?

whered you hear about bluesky? [ kathleen ]

i dont remember.

no realywhere?

why does it matter?

maybe we should go there first [ dave ]

you think theyd go there, if [ kathleen ]

thats where i’d go [ dave ]

where who would go? [ me ]

just some peeple...

[ kathleen rifled thru her purse, found somethin ]

here, take your medicine.

she handed me a pint of sailor jerry.

i dont drink.

you do now, your in athens.

no. i quit drinkin like three, almost four years ago.

your gona wana drink tonite dude, trustme.

why do you say that?

dave cleard his throat.

athens sometimes gives people... culture shock.

dont wory tho [ kathleen said ] soon itll all make sense. like way more sense than over there.

then kathleen made a gesture i was to see repeated countless times over the next sevral hours, by countless peeple. as she said over there, she lifted an arm and flickt her wrist dismissivly.

over there? [ i said ]

you know‘the world’ [ dave ] where’re you from?


austin? [ kathleen ]

fort worth.

ohmygod how horrid.

[ there was no malevolence in her voice, only pity ]

its not that bad actialy.

she did not look convinced.

we’re just there for a couple more years. my girlfriendpartnergot a realygood job.

its always a job.

its a good job.

i’m sure it is.

they ended up convincing me to walk with them to blue sky. theres no way i’d find it on my own, of that they were even more certain than the hotelnazi. plus it was on the way to the hotel. orso they claimd, and i think i believd em.

it took awhile, cause they [ kathleen, realy ] couldnt pass a single person without atleast exchangin a word, she introduced me to half of em, eventialy i stopt tryin to keep tracka names. this is where it was cemented that i would henceforth be known thruout athens as A-L.*

we eventialy hit odd street and started walkin up it. atleast they were right about it bein on the way to the hotel. kathleen was tellin a story about some ancient injustice she had sufferd at bluesky, it had too many peoples names in it, i couldnt keep up, tho it was still entertaining, her impressions were especialy hilarius, she stopt in the midle of one and said

oh, here we areotherodd.

no sign ofcourse. it didnt look like a street either, morelike a driveway. a steep driveway. like, geo-couldnt-handle-it steep.

how much further is it? cause i need to getback to the hotel.

do you wana go to bluesky or not? [ kathleen said ]

like seven or eight more minnits [ dave said ]

The otherodda street more fit for a burro than a car. come to think of it, i only saw one car, tho it was a memorable one. a red yugo, chuggin up the hill at like five, blastin hiphopoutkast it was, ATLiens [ great record bytheway ]the windows were crackt and the smell of weed comin outa there, we were practicly hi just from walkin behind em, which we did for a while, the yugo was barely outpacin us.

at the top of the hill there was a bench with a cardboard sign taped to the back

the overlook

we were relativly high up, so you had a nice view of downtown. there it was, still raging, you could hear em from here.

pop. pop-pop!

i guess it was fireworks, tho it coulda been gunfire.

kathleen spokeup

if athens was a chick, i’d hafta invest in a strap on.

yeah... [ dave said ]

they were waitin for me to say somethin, so i said somethin

its startin to grow on me.

across the street from the overlook, at the top of the hill, was this tiny house. you know the end of down by law, the shack where roberto benini meets his wife? like that, exept in athens, not a swamp.

there were a couple rickety metal tables out front. a bike leand against the front stoop. two cars were parkd in the shade of an oak, one with a cat sleepin on its hood. a sky blue vespa stood by the door, and around the side was an old van the same shade of blue as the vespa. lookd like the van hadnt moved in a while tho, there were weeds growin up around it.

thats when it hit me

this is bluesky.

not like i recognized it oranything, none of this was familiar. atleast no more than the whole town sorta was, in a weird way. its just, what else could it be?

So this is it, yeah. what were you expecting again?

i was gona ask dave and kathleen, just to make sure. but they were makin out.

i lookd around, i dont know what i was lookin for. anything to tell me what to do.

but i already knew what to do.

breathe in. breathe out.

dont think, just walk up there.

grab holda the door.



more than just a smell. the air was filld with a fine mist, it was like walkin into a coffee cloud, i was already catchin a buzz.

didnt look as divine as it smelld tho. lookt like they bought some olladys house thatd gone to seed, stuck an espresso maker in it, and calld it a coffeeshop. the only thing that past for remodeling was somebody knockd a hole in the wall between the kitchen and the front room and put in a counter.

there were a dozen or so people in the front room, the cafe i guess youd call it, tho it lookd more like a parlor. in a brothel. some a the furniture you wouldnt believe it was still in circulation. there was a piano, too, and somebody was playin ita pretty litle barroom ditty. familiar. real familiar. but i couldnt quite place it.

the guy behind the counter was a swarthy felow, kinda yachtish, like a badguy from RipTide, like he’d worn a gold chain so long that now it was just implied. he had a menacing stare, thats for sure. and he wasnt afraid to use it.

right then a disturbance. or i thought it was a disturbance at the time, it later turnd out to be par for the course.

a tiny chick pickd up somedude [ a big dude, he was nearly twice her size ] and lifted him over her head.

then, i kid you not, she threw him

he landed in a chair, which promptly collapsd [ or re-collapsd ]

evrybody seemd to think this was hilarius, including the dude who got thrown.

or evrybody except the badguy from riptide


thats when i recognized the piano tunegardenhead, off avery island, but in double time.

[ it was like a whole new song. just as great as the original, but for difrent reasons ]

thats also when the riptidian villan redirected his menacing stare

at me.

i gave him the who me?

turnd around

but there was nobody behind me.

he was definatly lookin at me, yall. and he was definatly not happy.

then he spoke, and his voice dript with malice.

Al dixon, i presume.

i felt acused.

i dont remember if i admitted or denied it, if i said anything at all.

but the next thing he said i do remember, i will never forget it as long as i live

Youre late.