Well, well, well...despite what I thought were sufficient Hoodoo sacrifices placed at the feet of Football Loki last week, I reckon our best just wasn't good enough. Apparently, those damn Rebel Black Bear Akbars had a little Hoodoo of their own, which is more than enough explanation for that third quarter pinball reception and the apparent momentary blindness of the officiating crew. But alas, in the interest of good sportsmanship and upstanding character, I say que sera.
I refuse to believe that you people didn't just do your damn jobs in regard to your Hoodoo submissions last week, as the offering seemed pretty solid to me. That said, some of you may have stretched the truth...maybe some of you even committed the sin of bald-faced deception to Football Loki. If so, shame on you, and may you eternally bear the guilt that comes with a devastating loss the likes of which we suffered last week.
But alas, onward and upward is the way we Hoodoo operators like to live life. We must put aside the misfortunes of last weekend, and focus instead on keeping the Grandmaster of Football Treachery happy and satiated this week as we face a less-than-impressive opponent. So without further adieu, here go my Hoodoo...
Now any of you folks who have regularly found yourselves wandering down these here Hoodoo trails I've laid clear know that your faithful narrator is nothing if not a hell-raiser, moreso in my younger days, as I've sworn off of substances of all kinds as a God-fearing purveyor of only these here Hoodoo spirits.
But in my day, low ‘bout 20 years ago, your Hoodoo guide could party with the best of them, a veritable Keith Richardsian partaker of alcohol and other, less legal, devices. A constant companion of Evan Williams, Mary Jane and Sir Codeine of Sherwood Forest (I made that last one up...he ain't real, y'all), I have sojourned hither and yon across the Hoodoo landscape in my day, slizzered beyond belief on some vile substance or other.
Such is the fertile wellspring for many a Hoodoo meandering, and I proclaim that this here story is none different, sharing a lineage with many of the tales with which I have regaled you over these many pages. Though my past behavior shames me to this day, part of my penance as a man is laying bare my sullied chest to your barbs an arrows...I plead only that you be gentle as I recount yet another instance in which hugs may have, indeed, been better than drugs.
(As an aside, is that not the most inane sloga of the 1980s War on Drugs? Dear ole Nancy Reagan may roll over in her grave, but I have to say, I've not found, not on one single solitary occasion, that assertion to be factual and correct. No, drugs are indeed a worthy substitute for hugs at worst, and in fact, in my experience, drugs generally trump hugs ten times over. If you find in the course of your own Hoodoo journey the converse to be true, that hugs are indeed better than drugs in a literal sense, then I must implore you, you must not be doing said drugs correctly, or in sufficient quantity. But I digress, as I am oft to do.)
On to our tale, undaunted, lads and lasses. As I have recounted many, many times before in this Hoodoo ledger, my college days were a blur of bong smoke, fermented grains and hallucinogenic experimentation that would have made Ken Kesey stop to damn bus. Every day was a party...literally. I'd attend class in the mornings, work in the afternoons, jam in a couple hours of study time, then be ready to let it rip by 8 p.m. I thrived on three hours of sleep a night, a habit which I carried well into my adulthood despite my setting aside of the chemical folly of youth.
My constant partner-in-crime was my buddy Mook, a cracker sumbitch from an upper middle class family who had not known the hardships in life that I, as an unenlightened younger man, blamed for my own debauchery. No, Mook wasn't really running from something, or hiding from something, or trying to numb some pain from a childhood of tragedy. No, the boy just liked to get fkd up. Crazy fkd up, like to the point of scaring even your resolute narrator from time to time.
Mook was about as worthless as teats on a boar hog, truth be told, in most other endeavors in life. Had the mechanical ability of Curious George, was as athletic as Captain Kangaroo. He tinkered with computers, which I guess was his saving grace that ushered him into a respectable career as an adult. But the one talent that Mook had was his ability to locate narcotics at a moment's notice, and then imbibe inhuman amounts of said substances forthwith. He was like a damned DEA dope dog, able to sniff out whatever he wanted at the drop of a hat.
After clocking out of my afternoon job as a gardener at the local necropolis (that's a cemetery, for the illiterate amongst you...I don't judge, as I'm here to educate), I gave ole Mook the daily holler.
"What's crackin' mane?"
"Aw nun much, just thinkin' about ridin' out to the house. Mom and Dad are going out of town and asked me to come by and feed the dogs."
This, folks, was good news. Good news, indeed. For you see, Mook's parents had a nice house, a wonderful house, out in WeMo (that's West Mobile, for you out-of-towners). The house was a large two-story jam with lots of amenities. Mook's pops was a lover of television, and he always had the biggest and best, with the accompanying premium cable package to boot. Not to mention, Mook's brother was prescribed the life-nourishing substance known as Klonapin, a benzodiazepine which erased one's inhibitions and worries, leaving one with the sensation of floating weightlessly in the silky caress of a pool of melted chocolate pudding.
"Dude, we need to have a throwdown. How long are they gonna be gone?"
"Oh I don't know, three of four days, long enough. I'm down, you buy the liquor and I'll get the rest..."
Now most of you may assume that "the rest" is a phrase he used to represent other party supplies...ice, Solo cups, finger foods, et cetera, et cetera. But to operate under such an assumption would be wholly wrong, and for me, as your trusted narrator, to allow you to labor under said presupposition would be callous and unethical. So let me stop you right there. No, in the parlance of a Mook-OWB Double-X Throwdown typa party, "the rest" referred to the litany of substances which would be made available to our VIP guests (and by VIP guests, I of course mean females.)
I told y'all, Mook had some superhuman procurement skills. He was a dang ole quartermaster of the quarter bag, a cocaine cowboy, a prolific purveyor of prescriptions. By the time I made it out to his parent's house an hour and a half later, the kitchen countertop was a vertible buffet of narcotic substances of startling variety.
There on the butcher block formica was (in no particular order) an ounce of weed in a fold-over sandwich bag, 15 blue-green speckles which I recognized as Klonapin, a dozen blue Xanax footballs, what appeared to be a sheet of white blotter acid, a half a plastic grocery bag of Psilocybin and 20-some-odd Lortabs. As I unpacked the brown paper bag in which my end of the bargain had been carried (a liter of Bacardi Limon, a quart of Evan Williams, a fifth of Smirnoff, a pint of Cuervo and a case of Miller High Life), I beheld towering above all the aforementioned my Holy Grail, the Scarlet Whore of Babylon for whom I'd sell my soul and the entirety of Creation...a rather large bottle of hydrocodone syrup, glimmering in the kitchen's fluorescent light in all of her crystalline ruby-red glory.
I have a thing for cough syrup. This love affair began early on in my college career when I first discovered her wanton pleasures. You see, my mother's significant other RB (they never married, but "dated" for oh, I don't know, like 19 years) had a crazy mother, like many men of his generation. Not crazy in the fun, happy-go-lucky, light-hearted Mary Poppins-kinda way, but in the Sybil "the people...THE PEOPLE!!!"-kinda way. Bitch would call the fire department every other day claiming mortal angina, only to attempt to entertain the first responders with milk and Oreos. Her family left her to wither in her Lott Road home, forgetting her birthdays, rebuffing her nearly constant calls for visitation under the crowbar-like lever of guilt. Few of her grands ever visited, and even mom's beau made himself scarce unless he needed something (like a couple grand to pay off his debt to the IRS.) She was lonely, indeed. Mostly because she was bat-shit crazy, and to quote the beloved Poet Laureate, Dr. Sweet Brown, PhD, ain't nobody got time for that shit.
Nonetheless, following one of the visits from the local EMS crew, RB received a call. He was told that his mother had an astounding array of pharmaceuticals in her possession, specifically three shoe boxes of God-only-knows what kind of dope, some of which was out of date. The medics advised that because of her somewhat compromised mental state, such a stash was probably a liability and should be removed. RB, being the faithful son (when in need of money), did just that, leaving the stash at my mom's house, tucked in the bottom of her chiffarobe.
While looking for some money I thought RB had stashed in said chiffarobe (I'm not proud of it), I located these treasure chests of pharmaceutical glory. Among the assortment of goodies, I found no fewer that 10 sample bottles of hydrocodone syrup. I snagged a bottle to try, made shooters that night with the sweet scarlet and a little Stoli. What it did to me I can only liken to an out of body experience. It was as if I had been picked up and lifted in a thick warm ooze that removed the pressure and strain of gravity. The light filtered into my eyes, bright, white and shiny as if newly minted in some distant light factory. I floated, I danced, I drooled, I played NFL Blitz for three hours without blinking. And then, at the end of the night, I drowsed into probably the most peaceful, restful sleep I had ever experienced.
Needless to say, from that point on, I never, ever, ever-ever-ever turned down even a sip of Polytussin if the same was offered to my fortunate soul. The thought of having a whole bottle to ourselves made me giddy.
"Is that?...you got?..."
"Yup. That one is for me and you, man. Don't tell anybody else we got it, not even J-Thin." J-Thin was his girlfriend, and though she was cool and everything, what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her. In fact, what she didn't know would ensure me a third more of that seductive, syrupy sweet liquid held ‘twixt the thin plastic walls of yon bottle. My lips were sealed...for the moment.
A guest list was compiled, which, on such short notice, was impressive in its own right. Wasn't a large group of celebrants, but we didn't care. We elected to strive for quality over quantity, after all, as any wise man should. A few friends, a couple girls I met at the liquor store by the University of South Alabama who seemed to fancy sports and candid photographs (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). All told, about nine people in addition to me, Mook and J.
Because we were keeping the cough syrup to ourselves, we stashed it off in the master bathroom, where one or the other of us could sneak off and catch a swig now and then. We stationed the bottle on the sink next to a shot glass and a water glass full of vodka. We preferred to walk on the wild side, and there are few things wilder than a night of syrup and Smirnoff shooters.
Unless, of course, one has access to any vehicle with two wheels. Then, syrup and Smirnoff shooters and helmetless motorcycle riding can lead to something quite a bit wilder.
Mook had an old Honda scooter stashed out at his parents' house, a relic of his childhood and many hours of joy spent carving the dirt roads and hardpan wooded trails of his surrounding neighborhood. The scooter (like most good things in life) was red, and had accrued quite a layer of dust in its moth-balled state. It had probably not been cranked in years, but we didn't let that stop us.
"Hey man, your old man got any starter fluid?" I asked though a whomp-whomp haze of opiate-induced discombobulation. "I bet I can get that bitch started."
"Hell I don't know, look in the utility room."
Given the license, I rummaged and foraged, searching for the aerosol can that could well turn this night from a solid one into the nocturne of legend. I found what I had been seeking, and with rusty fingers, worked the filter off of the carburetor before applying a shot of the canned ether. Then I sprayed some in the carburetor (rimshot).
Mook, never the mechanic, sat astride the Iron Horse, awaiting my command to kick the starter.
"Go ‘head." It turned over, growled, sputtered. He kicked it again, same result. I gave it another good blast of the starter fluid, and on the third attempt, it fired and purred, yelping as Mook goosed the throttle.
"Hell yeah! Les' ride mane!" Mook walked the scooter back out of the garage after airing the tires. The whites of his eyes were red as could be, the chemicals creeping through his system like venom.
Hearing the motor in the garage, our guests filtered out onto the back lawn, where Mook decided to put on a show. He raced up and down the four acre yard, cutting hard at the corners and attempting to pop wheelies to the chagrin of his girl. The audience, already in a state of drug-induced euphoria thanks to the generous spread we'd laid before them, giggled and cheered as Mook did his best Evel Knevel impersonation. As much as anyone can impersonate Evel Knevel on a cotdang scooter, I reckon.
A less-than-intelligent police officer once quipped to me (at a vehicular accident involving a scooter, no less) that riding a scooter is like riding an obese woman...it's a lot of fun but you don't want your friends to find out. Well, as a lover of Rubenesque women myself, I never fully grasped the humor behind said "joke." And just as I had no shame in chasing full-figured women, I felt no shame when my turn arrived to straddle the tiny-wheeled clown-car of the motorcycle world.
Imagine, if you will, a hulking 6'4", 230 pound lummox sitting astride a 125cc scooter with eight-inch wheels. The scene was reminiscent of those circus-bear-riding-a-bike images we've all seen during our childhood consumption of some Looney Tunes cartoon or another. I looked ridiculous. Adding to the folly was the fact that I was three, nay, thirteen, sheets to the wind drunk and high when I plopped down on that there mo-sheen and wrenched back the throttle. I had, in my system, no less than six hydrocodone shooters, two Klonipin, three rum-and-cokes, portions of five passed joints, a few hits from a bong crafted from a five-gallon water cooler jug, and more beers than I could count. I'm surprised my aim was true enough to sit upright on said scooter, let alone maintain the balance to hold it steady.
Mook had put on quite the show, and as a man of valor, I had no choice but to best him in the company of our peers. I scanned for something sensational, something that could capture the imagination of my fellow party goers. Spying a loose square of plywood leaning against a shed, I began giving orders.
"Mook, grab tha wood o'r there and lean it ‘gainst them bricks." Despite my slurring, Mook obliged, fashioning a make-shift ramp for my first stunt of the night. I walked the scooter back to the opposite side of the yard, which took something akin to fifteen minutes in my altered state. That was okay, however, as it only served to build suspense.
I hunkered down, leaned low over the handle bars like an Easy Rider extra, and gunned it towards the ramp. Never once did it enter my mind that this probably was not well-advised, but Fortune favors the dumb. Right, isn't that the saying? Maybe it's Fortune favors the bold...but I digress.
I scooted across the yard to the ramp, hit it and launched into the air. The word "launch" there is a massive example of overstatement, as without a lip to elevate me, it was a little anti-climactic, something akin to driving off of a super-sized curb. Just kinda plopped down. The force was enough to nearly knock me off balance, though that's not saying much in light of my current level of intoxication.
The crowd most decidedly did not go wild. A few golf claps at best. I needed something bigger and better, more stuntier, if I was to impress this crowd after Mook's exhibition.
Mook's mom, a master gardener, had a nice water feature in the yard. Nothing huge, just enough water to babble and provide a calming oasis for anyone so inclined to partake. I decided that incorporating this feature into my next stunt could only ratchet up the sensationalism, so I had Mook array the ramp so as to propel me over the bathtub-sized body of water.
Because the fountain was near the house, I would have to begin my run-up from the darker, less developed rear portion of the yard, beneath the gallows of a pecan orchard. The path there was a little less worn, the grass a little taller. Ever the fearless showman, I was undaunted, however. I flipped on the headlight and motored to the back of the lot before turning and facing the water feature and the surrounding group of fellow travelers.
I put the bike in neutral and fired off the motor, "brum-Bruuuum-BRUUUUMM." It sounded as intimidating as any 125 cc rice-burner of a motor could sound (which falls somewhere in the category of "PeeWee Herman scary"). I wasn't sure of the top speed for this hog, but I left confident that I had plenty of room to get to it before my jump. With the crowd clapping and cheering, urging me on to my destiny, I pinned the throttle of the scooter and it lurched forward.
The ride was rough, but I held on, a modern-day cowboy atop his steed. I flexed my wrist back and wrenched that throttle, speeding ahead like a comet, the beam of the headlight barely keeping up with me as it illuminated the ground as I raced over it.
Any of y'all ever had a car accident? I'm sure you have, that's a silly question. Remember how in that moment of truth, time seems to stretch, grind into slow motion, so that one can remember each second, each detail leading up to the faithful moment of impact?
I was probably only ten feet from the hole when the headlight first cast over it. Not a big hole, but a wide hole, maybe six inches deep and nearly a yard wide. I thought to clinch the brakes, but my body failed me, unwilling to heed the panicked instructions spilling forth from my sullied brain.
I hit the hole full speed ahead, the suspension of the scooter buckled and the bike became airborne. I, too, was airborne, my only tether to terra firma being the single hand that remained agrasp of the handlebar. Being high, figuratively speaking, it felt kinda cool to be flying through the air literally, weightless if only for a second. However, gravity is cruel, and after that mere second, I was snatched back to its brutal reality. Apparently the scooter had been snatched back to its own brutal reality just a moment before, because I landed back astride the cycle, racking my nether regions, before being once again bucked from the bouncing bike and over the handle bars, where the phantom rider now piloting the scooter proceeded to run over me. After goring me, it tipped onto its side, motor still running, headlight looking directly at me like the Eye of Sauron, as if to cast judgment down upon me.
I laid there for a moment, wondering if I had indeed died. I was a little disappointed, because I thought death would be much cooler, like some kind of spiritual awakening deal wherein I'd rise up from my body and gently swim around in the air above like some vapor-made manta, watching loved ones as they mourned my triumphant passing on to the next plane.
Nope, this was way different. I was promised by multiple films that there would be no pain after death, and I most assuredly felt pain. Pain everywhere. And that was despite the rather sizable dosage of pain-relieving pharmacopeia with which I had been transfused. My blood-hydrocodone count had to be something like 75%, but I'd be damned if I didn't feel like I had been molested aggressively by an ill-tempered pachyderm.
And if this was death, where were the forlorned mourners, singing songs of my exploits and commenting about how I had "always had a smile on my face?" (As an aside, anyone else find it odd that everyone who has ever died "always had a smile on his/ her face?" Now, I don't live in New York City, but I see a fair number of people every day. They ain't all smilin' and they're all eventually gonna die, so somewhere along the line, somebody is lyin'. That's some dang ole revisionist history right there.)
Nope. No mourners. What I did hear was laughter, nay, cackling. I think I heard some impromptu theater via the film Friday,someone quoting movie lines ala "Damn, you got knocked the fk out!" Moments later, I found myself staring up into a circle of my cohorts, all of whom were leaning over me, not to see if I was dead, but rather to see how badly I was bruised and bloodied.
"Hahaha, man that was hilarious, you should have seen yourself," Mook hollered. "You were bouncin' around like a super high-bounce ball in a microwave. Talmbout some dang ole 'DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUNBALL!' hahaha..."
I tried to pick myself up, but I decided it wasn't worth it so I laid back down in the dewey tall grass. The crowd receded to imbibe further while rehashing the spectacle to which they had just borne witness. Me, I just stayed put for a moment, not only because of the broken state of my body, but the tarnished state of my equilibrium. And then there was my shattered pride...but then again, I'd had given up on maintaining any airs of that nature some time prior.
After a while, I heard a metallic rumbling, then Mook appeared at my side with a wheelbarrow, or as my fellow south Alabamians often call it, "a wheel-barrel." (For cryin' out loud, Mobile, get your shit together...)
"Hop in...I sure as hell can't carry you."
He wheeled me up to the house, where I went immediately to the codeine bathroom. There, I partook of that sweet elixir raw, no chaser. Fifteen minutes later, I was doing the Cabbage Patch on the dining room table to Mook's Gucci Crew CD. Pain-free, to say the least.
Hydrocodone is a hell of a drug. Roll Tide Roll, y'all...no injuries.