Thursday, April 30, 2009


The mile marker campground was nearly deserted.  A single car, a newer model Subaru wagon with expensive looking mountain bikes attached to the roof rack was parked in their favorite spot. A man and a woman in tight fitting biking attire were efficiently setting up camp.

“Shit, who are those people and what are they doing in our spot?” Dave stuck his head into the front seats of the Cherokee between Billy and Rich.  He had risen from his nod.  He was rallying.

“Give me that, Billy.” Rich pointed at the travel bullet. “I need some of that.”

“Looks like we’ll have to share the campground with those folks,” said Rich.  He parked the Jeep on one of the designated campsites a respectful distance from their unexpected neighbors.  He shut off the engine, stepped out of the front seat and waved at the man and woman. 

“Goddamnit, don’t do that!” Dave hissed.  “If we get all buddy-buddy with those two yuppies we’ll have to hide the tackle box!”

“Yuppies.  They’re not yuppies.”  Billy had climbed out of the Jeep, fired up a Marlboro light and sat down at the battered picnic table chained to the fire pit.  He leveled his stare at the man and the woman in the neighboring camp.  “They’re winners.”

“What?”  Dave and Rich simultaneously responded.

“Hey, what’s that make us? Dave added, still too drowsy to deduct the obvious answer.


Rich emerged from the back of the Jeep with a large, red Coleman cooler.  “I’m no loser!”  He opened the cooler and pulled out a bottle of Mezcal, took a liberal swig and hoarsely whispered, “I brought it to wash down the blotter.”

“Well, maybe you aren’t and maybe you are.  I know I am.”

“Am what?” Dave took a swig from the bottle Rich handed him.  He passed it to Billy and turned back to the Jeep and his tackle box.

“A loser.  That couple over there look like real winners… well, at least to me.  Hell, practically everybody’s a winner, compared to me.  I lost a lot of shit, hundreds of jobs, places to live, guitars, cars, dogs…"

“Two wives,” Dave interrupted and stuck out his tongue.  There was a small square of white paper on it.

“Yep, two wives and a bunch of girlfriends, some of them were real nice.”  Billy took a deep drag from his cigarette.  His eyes were fixed on the two athletic looking people who by now had noticed the tanned, skinny man in the tank top at the picnic table, smoking and watching them intently. He exhaled, “And soon, I’m gonna lose my life.  Ebb and floe man, easy come and easy go.  Where’s my blotter?” 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


There was no Black Sabbath, only Alice Cooper’s ‘Killer’ on disc. Billy stuck the disc into the car stereo. They were nearly there. The Jeep began to pick up speed on the dirt Forest Service road after a law-abiding creep through the streets on the northeast side of Show Low.


The volume on The Alice Cooper Group climbed higher the further they got away from the paved roads and traffic. When “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” began screeching and pounding on the speakers Rich and Billy did a toot from Dave’s travel bullet and began take in the surrounding forests.

“Summer!” Rich beamed. They were making headway to the campground in the White Mountains. Billy looked up from the travel pack of discs he had occupied himself with for the last bunch of miles. The shadows of the thin ponderosa pines and late afternoon sun strobe lit Rich's wide grin.


“Summer, bro. You know man, shit. It’s just good we’re here right now, getting out in the summer one more… again. Right? This song always fucking reminds me of summer."

“It’s SUFFER, man! He’s fucking singing SUFFER”

“what, huh?” Rich’s smile slackened a bit. “I always thought it was ‘summer’.”

“Fucking Alice Cooper? It’s This is Alice Speakin’! SUFFER!! YEAH!

Now Rich was intrigued. He glanced slyly at Billy and grinned again. “Oh shit, man. It’s because Alice is fucking evil?”

“Of course he’s fucking evil, it’s not Kiss shouting about teenage pussy.”

“SUFFER, YEAH” Rich shouted at the top of his lungs. Billy pumped his fist as he took another hit off Dave’s bullet.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Rich did not heed Billy’s advice. Shortly before they reached the junction with State Highway 79, he pulled the Cherokee on to the shoulder and fucked with Dave’s nod. He got out of the jeep and walked around to the right rear passenger door. Rich lifted the latch and opened the door. Dave’s limp body started to fall out of the seat. Rich had to catch him before he made it all the way to the ground.
“Wake up, asshole.”

“What are you… whoa… hey man, what’s up?” Dave’s voice was distant and lazy. His body was like a big noodle. Rich pushed him back into the passenger’s seat and reached for the tackle box.

“What’s inside here that will wake him up?”

“Why do you wanna fuck with his nod, man?” Billy protested.

“No self control,” Rich complained. “You guys have no self control. That’s why nobody wants either of you in their band. This is going to turn into another Amsterdam!”

“Amsterdam,” Billy repeated and chuckled to himself. “Remember that luche libre mask I brought? Remember that whore in the window down by the canal? Oh man, the look on her face when she saw me coming back again with that mask on!”

“Where’s that cocaine?” Rich had the tackle box open on Dave’s lap and was sorting through various baggies of pills, powder and marijuana.

“Leave it, leave it alone.” Dave made a feeble attempt to shove Rich’s hands out of the tackle box. “I’m fine, dude. I’ll totally make us dinner when we get to Show Low.

Rich looked up from the tackle box. A bit of color had come back into his friend’s face. Dave weakly patted him on the shoulder.

“Stop fucking with my nod and get on with the driving. You do your job and I’ll do mine.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


“Hey Billy, maybe we should stop in at the penitentiary so you can catch up with your old buddies?”  Rich cracked himself up as they drove past the grim looking town of Florence and the walls of the state prison.  He took his eyes off the road for an alarmingly long stretch of time, waiting for some kind of reaction.  Rich reached over into the passenger side of the jeep, grabbed his friend’s shoulder and shook it.  “Whaddaya say?”

            “Nothin’, I don’t say nothin’ about that shit.”  Billy stared out the window at the empty buildings crumbling into dust racing past them as they drove on. 

            “Armed robbery, dude.  Possession of Schedule 1 narcotics, dude.”  You were a menace!  Looking at you now, it’s hard to believe.”

            “Hard to believe what?” Billy said as he turned away from the highway.  "Don't ask about that kinda shit.  That's all it is, man.  Just stupid shit.”

            “Hey come on, bro.  I was only…”

            “No man, you weren’t.  Wanna know something?  Here’s a little bit of advice from your junkie, ex-convict friend before he fucking keels over and dies.  The world is full of two types of people, predators and prey.  Yeah, that’s it.  Just like in those fucking nature shows on T.V., predators and prey.”

            “What?  What the hell are you…”

            “Yeah man, and like, you’re looking all confused and thinking ‘what the fuck is he saying’ but deep down you know what I’m talking about and you’re afraid.”


            “Hell yeah you’re afraid and you wanna know why?”  Billy grinned, giving Rich a close up view of his grayish, plaque encrusted teeth.  “You’re afraid because you don’t know which one you are, the predator or the prey.  HA!!”  Billy punched the roof of the Jeep in triumph.  Suddenly he snatched Rich’s travel pack of discs off the dashboard.  “You got any Black Sabbath in this thing?”

            “Hey Dave, did you hear this bullshit?  That’s gotta be the dope and pain meds talking.  Right Dave?”  When he got no response, Rich turned down the car stereo and glanced in the rearview mirror at the right rear passenger seat.  Dave was slumped in the seat, leaning against the safety belt.  He had a stringer of drool hanging from his mouth and he emitted a wheezy, rattling snore.

            “Oh shit, he didn’t… DAVE, ARE YOU OKAY?  WAKE UP, MAN!  ARE YOU OKAY?” Rich tried to steer and reach back to shake Dave at the same time, causing the Jeep to swerve back and forth on the road.

            “Quit fucking with his nod!” Billy reached out and punched Rich’s outstretched arm.  "He snorted Oxy back at the Circle K, don’t fuck with his nod, dude.”

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Experiment: Part Four

Rich went into the Circle K and came out a few minutes later with two rolls of paper napkins.  The car stereo had been turned off.  Billy and Dave were gingerly picking the glass shards from the dashboard and seat of the Cherokee.  Rich tore the cellophane wrapper off the two rolls tossed them in the front seat.  Soon, he joined in the search for glass shards in the jeep. The three of them cleaned up the mess in silence.  When Rich came back from tossing the last of the broken beer bottle in the trash he found Billy and Dave waiting for him back inside the jeep.

“We gotta hit it, man.  We’re losing daylight.”

“Oh, you and Billy are bros again, just like that?”

“No, but we’re sorry,” said Billy squinting at Rich in the afternoon sun’s glare. “We forgot what we’re doing this for.”

Rich eyes narrowed and a toothy grin emerged.  He rapped his knuckles on the hood as he walked around to the driver’s side door of the jeep, opened it and jumped in.

“We even forgot where we were goin’, dude!”  Dave cackled as they pulled back out on to the Highway.  “We’re goin’ to have the last good, goddamn time of our lives.”  Dave and Billy both began to laugh loudly.  Billy reached over and turned the car stereo on.  The deafening thud and shudder of Blue Cheer rattled their skulls as they soldiered on through the traffic.  Rich shouted over the music that the Circle K clerk had told him the bicyclists’ triathlon course veered off the highway a few miles ahead. As they drove on, Dave and Billy made woozy pledges to not stir up any trouble between them.  Rich occasionally interjected but kept his attention focused on the road.  Rich liked to drive fast, much of time the faster than his ability or reflexes would safely allow.  He sang along with his beloved Blue Cheer and pummeled the suspension of his jeep as they flew through the hilly desert just north of Florence.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Experiment: Part Three

The mostly empty bottle of Shiner bock burst like wet brown light bulb on the passenger side front door handle. Foamy shards of glass sprayed the windshield, dashboard, the pavement outside the jeep, and Billy.



For several seconds, the three of them sat in the stationary car, startled by the impact of the bottle and the ear splitting volume of the car stereo. Rich’s Blue Cheer disc thundered out of the speakers a split second after Dave threw the bottle at Billy.

“What’d you throw at me?” was the first thing that came out of Billy’s mouth when the stunned shock wore off.


Rich saw an opening in the stream of cyclists to his right and gunned the engine. He made a quick turn into the parking lot of a Circle K and came to a jerky stop.

“Both of you assholes are gonna clean this up and start playing nice.” Rich abruptly got out of the Cherokee. “Jeezus Kah-RIST!! Can’t we just get our shit together for once in our lives?" He slammed the door, moved toward the sliding doors of the Circle K, paused and turned back.






‘Out of Focus’ by Blue Cheer continued to blare out of the open windows of the jeep in the parking lot. Dave and Billy sat inside, making threats neither of them could hear.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Experiment: Part Two

A slow creep of traffic met them as soon as they merged on to Route 79.  The shoulder of the highway was coned off.  Bicyclists in racing gear with numbers safety pinned to their backs wheeled through the desert past them as they crept along.  Billy reached into the bag at his feet in the passenger seat and passed out some bottles of Shiner bock. 

“I’m gonna miss the drive-thru liquor store when I die.  I’m gonna miss cold roadies like these.”

            “What the hell is a bicycle race doing on this highway?” Said Rich as he pulled on his Shiner and rode the brake with the hiccupping traffic.  “This is gonna totally fuck up the schedule.”

            “The schedule is to get fucked up… eh, what the FUCK did you do back here?”  Dave had opened up his tackle box on the rear passenger seat next to him and struggled to keep the camping supplies from belching out of the back storage on to his joint buildings.  “We’re going to Show Low to party with Billy, not earn a fucking goddamn merit badge, Ropkins.”

            “Gotta set up camp to party," said Rich.  “Maybe it’s some kind of triathlon and they’ll stop riding bikes and start running off into the desert.”  Rich finished his beer, distracted from the rolling slowdown by flipping through a travel bag of compact discs.  “There’s cold cans of Shaefer somewhere back there, wanna get me one?”

            “Damnit Fabbie, SHIT!” Dave tossed a spent box of rolling paper forward onto the console between the passenger seats, diving back into the tackle box.  “FUCK, her mom’s gotta get a grip on that bitch.

            “Fabiola got into your stash again?” said Billy turning away from the cyclists and surveying Dave’s progress.  “No offense man, but she’s one top shelf piece of ass.  All of the best parts of the Irwin DNA busted through that barrio rubber the night you and Christine lit the fuse on Fabbie.  Your kid is a thirteen year old, slut drug addict psycho!  Billy spun around, stuck his thumb in the neck of his Shiner bock, shook it up, and pointed it out the window. 


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Experiment: Part One

   The whole thing started out with good intentions. Rich and Dave just wanted to do something nice for Billy before he got too sick to appreciate it.  Billy had stage 3c liver cancer and had decided to skip treatment in favour of riding out his last days on dope and pain meds.  Rich and Dave hatched a plan to take Billy up to the woods outside of Show Low for one last blow out.  Rich threw down a wallet full of cash on beer, mescal and steaks while Dave made the rounds on the phone for the pharmaceuticals.  Rich’s thinking was that the endless pine forests of Navajo County made for a good place to cut loose, get strung out, and holler at the stars without attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Dave kept Rich and Billy waiting on the Friday afternoon they were to head north out of Tucson.  Outside Dave’s place, Rich punched the horn of his Jeep Cherokee and kept it there. 

“FUCK YOU, RICH, I’M TRYING TO GET THIS ALL TOGETHER FOR US SO NOBODY FUCKING O’DS, AWRIGHT?” Dave spat as he flailed around inside the cluttered garage.  For a few tense minutes the horn wailed in the heat while Dave darted back and forth in the shadows, occasionally kicking at dusty boxes and swearing.  He eventually made it to the curb with only a tackle box.  “I’ve got it all sorted out in here, man,” he bragged. 

“Did you get the acid?” Billy asked.

“I got the acid and the coke and the oxy, mi hermanos.”

“Oh fuck, you’re gonna be the one who dies, dude,” groaned Rich.  “Is that all you’re really bringing? It gets pretty cold up there at night.”

“Yeah, and with this, I ain’t gonna feel a thing.”

           Dave shook the baggie of white, horse-pill sized tablets next to Rich’s ear as they pulled out of the cul-de-sac and on to Speedway, heading toward State Route 79, which would take them right past the State Prison at Florence, up to the junction with 60, and a straight shot to Show Low.    

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blow To The Head

"Hae'd ye geat that knoock oon y'ear aye?"
I looked up at a tree trunk of a young man 
polishing glasses behind the bar.
Come again?
"Hae'd ye geat that knoock oon y'ear aye?"
He had a slight smile on his face.
I noticed the bright red scars above both of his eyes
and touched the swollen mass on my eyebrow.
Well, you know, whiskey.
"HA! Aye knae ate! Goot sumuvum maesel!"
The big young man leaned forward 
turning his chiseled block of a head 
to give me a closer look.
Yep. It's in the blood, 
I said.  
What are you gonna do?
I squared up my tab
and walked out into the rain.

Friday, April 10, 2009

When It Rains On Friday And You Miss The Bus

I used to think.
I used to think I was.
I used to think I was an artist.
I used to think I was a musician.
I used to think I was a writer.
I used to think I was young.
I used to think.
I used to think I was.
I don't think so anymore.

I might.
I might be.
I might be the smile of recognition
on my dog's face
when I approach her
walking along the lake.
I might be
the touch of my mother's hand
on my cheek on a Sunday
when we both realize how lucky we are
to still be here.
I might be
a blown save opportunity.
I might be
a bit too much
but mostly
I might be
right where I should be.
So there.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

American Exceptionalism

you keep reading these stories
about rugged individuals.
Rugged individuals 
scaling the supply side approach
to the summit of their dream.
Rugged individuals
who get caught 
in the leveraged white out
and flame out.
The mass of their helplessness
increased by the measure of impending doom
triggers violent supernovae.
Rugged individualism
This is a new thread
in the ongoing conversation
concerning the widely held belief
in American execptionalism. 
Lately you may have noticed
increasing reports
of white dwarves exploding
in gas clouds of little black holes.
Little black holes
that bore through the flesh 
of surrounding heavenly bodies.
These little black holes
are purchased and spent 
by the white dwarves exploding 
in increasing instances of rugged individuals 
exercising their god-given right 
to bear witness to their unwavering belief 
in American exceptionalism.
we have all suffered
but I am not afraid.
My country has chosen change
and my country has dared to hope
and my country is filled with rugged individualism
because in America
everyone is a star,
burning bright 
or burning out.