It’s 2:30 in the morning. It’s quiet here in God’s Country.
Suddenly, the sounds of the late, great Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze” blares from my night stand. It’s my ringtone because…why not? It was either that or a recording of me screaming: “THE PHONE IS RINGING! THE PHONE IS RINGING! ANSWER THE FECKING PHONE, YOU IDIOT!”
I move to answer my phone, only because I have left strict instructions to everyone on my address list NOT to call me after 9:00 at night unless they are on fire.
With that in mind, now I am interested. Is one of my family or friends ACTUALLY on fire?
“HEY MAN! WHAT’S GOIN’ ON?”
I knew that voice. My mind reeled through my past, images playing in my head: horrible weirdness, substance fueled, degenerate behavior, mind-numbing madness.
This phone call was going to cost me…
The voice on the other end of the line was Air Wreck Martin. He was born Eric Martin, but became Air Wreck after he spent one night in the 1980’s tripping balls on 27 hits of blotter acid. That was the night he decided he could photosynthesize…
He was one of the most talented fretless bassists I had ever heard. He could play Hendrix’ version of “The Star Spangled Banner”…on the bass…He was absolutely amazing. For almost three-and-a-half years, we toured the Western United States playing some of the best music I had ever played, and partying like the sun was never going to rise again.
I’m not sure what happened, but I think, one night, we partied so hard one of us stepped on my tongue.
We played together until, one day in 1987 I checked his hotel room in Oklahoma City and he was gone.
I hadn’t heard from him since.
ME: “Sleeping. It’s like two thirty in the morning. Where are you?”
AWM: “Sleeping? YOU? What the hell happened to you?”
ME: “Nothing happened to me! It’s late! People sleep at night! Where the hell are you?”
AWM: “Oh, no! You’ve gone to the other side! You’ve gone all NORMAL on me! You and I used to stay up for DAYS! This is NOT good…”
ME: “Wait…What? Where ARE you?”
AWM: “I’m out on my back porch, looking at the stars. Angie fixed me a spaghetti dinner with my secret “Magic Mushroom” sauce, and I came out to smoke a little and found a half full bottle of tequila.
ME: “So you’re tripping, high, and drunk on your back porch…and who is Angie?”
AWM: “Yeah, and I am in the middle of fending off an attack!”
ME: “What do you mean…”
AWM: “Hang on a minute!…”
(I hear the sound of him putting down his phone.)
(He picks up his phone.)
AWM: “Ha HAAAAA!”
ME: “What the hell was THAT?”
AWM: “Shotgun! Was it loud?”
ME: “WHAT? What are you…What is…WHAT? What’s going ON?”
AWM: “I’m shooting CHICKENS! You should SEE it! Feathers everywhere…looks like SNOW!”
ME: “What chickens? Why are you…”
AWM: “I told that neighbor of mine to KEEP HIS CHICKENS OUT OF MY YARD! NOW I have a virtual chicken STAMPEDE going on! I will NOT be INVADED by FOWL! Do you HEAR ME YOU BASTARD? Hang on a minute…”
(Puts the phone down.)
(Picks the phone up.)
AWM: “A TWOFER! You should SEE this! Anyway- I know you’re still playing. I’ve heard your music, it’s GREAT! I’ve got a couple of guys and I’m singing, and we want to work with you on an album! What do you say?”
ME: “Well, that’d be great, but you have a voice that’s a combination of Satan and a foghorn. When were you thinking of…”
AWM: “Fantastic! I want to do some REAL METAL! Really edgy. We will take off later tonight and we will be in your area TOMORROW!”
Me: “Tomorrow? Wait…I…”
AWM: “Hang on…”
(Puts the phone down.)
(Picks up the phone.)
ME: “What in the HELL…”
AWM: “OK! I HAVE A SITUATION HERE! (Screams off phone.) ANGIE! GET THE HOSE! (Speaks to me again.) HOLY HELL, MAN!”
ME: “What WAS that?”
AWM: “Part of that was a stick of dynamite. Part of that was a can of gas I forgot was along the fence line. I GOTTA GO! WE HAVE A LITTLE FIRE HERE! I’LL SEE YOU TOMORROW!”
I was stunned. So many questions, and no answers. I still had no idea where he was, I didn’t know who “Angie” was, and I hadn’t had the chance to tell him where I lived.
Somehow, I knew he would find me…Like the CIA, or a stalker, or a madman.
Or the bird flu.
As I put the phone down, my wife rolled over, and in a sleepy voice, without even opening her eyes, she asked: “Who was that? Is someone on fire?”
Sarcasm. Even while half asleep…My wife is amazing! She still hadn’t opened her eyes!
“You remember that bass player I told you about? A guy named Air Wreck Martin?”
“Was he the one that thought he could photosynthesize?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “He and a couple of his friends will be here tomorrow to start working on an album.”
“Hmmmmm,” she said dreamily, rolling back over on her side. “Over your dead body, honey.”
I am truly and completely doomed.