Jack Kerouac Can Kiss My Ass
This is a very raw work in progress. It is a amalgam of people, places and things I have witnessed, dreamed or otherwise completely fabricated through many, many hours of lonely travel while roaming the countryside shooting my photographs.
Coolest thing is, this story keeps writing itself.
Wigged-Out Willie and the Great Stone Bar
The seventy-five Sportster was indeed a piece of shit, but it was a piece of shit with a halfway decent paint job so I bought and took it to a friend of mine, a mechanic, who immediately confirmed the piece of shit theory with a round of raucous laughter that would wake the dead and an intense brow beating about my ignorance of the value of a dollar. I didn’t have the energy to argue with Willie that the value of a dollar was actually less than twenty-five cents nowadays.
Wigged-out Willie as he was called in the Shores was the best mechanic in these parts and I was in awe as I watched him tweaking and tuning my new half-ton of freedom. He strummed that bike as if she was a finely tuned musical instrument, and indeed, she was once he finished with her. He spent the most of the afternoon getting her ready for the road and by the time he finished we were both itching for refreshment. “Hey, Willie, much of anything happening at the stone bar?” I asked. He glanced up over the gas tank with a look that reminded me of what a stupid question I had just asked. “Okay, is the band any good?” “Don’t know, never heard ‘em.” “Never heard them? You live in a loft above the bar and you never heard them?” “Wasn’t listenin’,” he replied, turning a carburetor adjustment screw. I decided that a night out on the town was just what the doctor ordered. My nerves could use some fine tuning. The ‘stone’ bar was just that, a bar that was made from old cobblestones that had once lined the streets of this two stop sign river town. Occasionally they had some pretty damned good bands so I figured I’d stick around for the night. “There ya go, she’s all tuned up and ready to go,” Willie said, handing me the keys. I handed him two crisp fifties and a hearty handshake. “How far ya plannin’ to take ‘er?” “Not sure, hadn’t thought about it much. California, Florida, maybe both. I’m just going to wander. After Willie picked himself up, dusted himself off and caught his breath from laughing so hard he said, “Shit son, that’s there is a ’75 Sportster, that tune might just get you to the state line. California,” he laughed so hard he started gagging. I could still hear Willie laughing over the rumble of the bike as I pulled out onto the road and headed for town. I swore I heard the damned thing misfire when I took off from the second stop sign. Fucking Sportster. Little did I know that would become my mantra over the course of this little misadventure. I wasn’t having a mid-life crisis, I was having a mid-life catastrophe. I picked up a six pack at the local inconvenience store and pulled the bike down by the river to enjoy some sun and scenery. The beer tasted like shit and was piss warm. You know you’re in a redneck town when then only beer taking up valuable cooler space is Natural Light, Busch and Keystone. The sun started to dip over the river so I made my way down to the ‘stone’ bar to get a cold beer. I hopped off the Sportster and adjusted myself. Strolling toward the front door, I headed into this roadside bar feeling like James Dean and then I caught my reflection in a bar mirror and realized I was looking a hell of lot more like Paula Deen. My feet glided along the sand that coated the floor of the place. A gentle breeze blew in off the river, in one door, through the bar and out the other open door. It was obvious there was a dead carp or an overflowing outhouse down on the river. I bellied up to the bar as far away from the olfactory assault as I could get which put me damned near on top of the jukebox which seemingly played Willie Nelson’s You Were Always On My Mind non stop. Things just kept getting better. “What can I get for ya?” a woman behind the bar asked.
I put her somewhere in her early sixties, a cigarette dangling from the side of her mouth, the ash ready to fall into her eighteen inch long cleavage. I tried not to eyeball her tiny A cups, but I am a man, and she was wearing a bikini, sort of. Her top looked like two socks with a cue ball in one side and the eight ball in the other. Her Spandex bottoms appeared to be holding the rest of the balls. I resisted the urge to yell out, “Rack ‘Em.”
“I’ll have a Bud draft please.”
“Okay, Bud bottle then please.”
“Let’s make this easy, what can I get?”
“Natty Light for fifty cents.”
“Busch Light for seventy-five.”
“What about a Jack and Coke?” I asked, quickly changing the subject from bush around this woman who looked like she had a squirrel living in the front of her shorts. I would have bet my life I could see something squirming around in there.
“No Coke. Got Faygo.”
“Jack and Faygo it is,” I sighed.
“Rock and Rye or Diet Chocolate Cream Pie?” she asked, adjusting one of her boobs with a clunk.
“With Jack Daniels?”
“That’s what you asked for weren’t it? Look, mister, I ain’t got all day,” she huffed.
I look around at the empty bar and a rack full of filthy bar glasses with a handwritten sign hung from it that said ‘CLEEN’ and wondered what the hell occupied her time around here other than a pain in the ass out-of-towner. I began wondering when the hell it was I made that wrong turn and ended up in hills of East Kentucky.
“I’ll take a double shot on the rocks with a water back I suppose,” I said, against my better judgment.
“Listen mister, I ain’t got time for none of that city sarcasm.”
“Sarcasm? No, ma’am, I meant I would take it neat, without rocks, no ice, straight up and forget the trouble of the water, I’ll just go get some out of the river myself to save us both some time,” I replied with some of my city sarcasm, against my better judgment.
“Suit yerself,” she said, setting the near empty bottle of Jack Daniels in front of me and walking into a back room that might pass as a kitchen in medieval times.
I sat there for five minutes eyeballing every glass in the rack before settling for straight from the bottle. I laid a ten spot on the bar, took the bottle and headed out onto their deck to get some much needed sunshine. I set the bottle down on a wooden cable spool that served as an outdoor table and glanced down at the milk crate chairs and decided I had better use the restroom first. I was certain the smell would lead me right too it rather than have to bother the overworked bartender for directions. I was going to have to seize the day so carp be damned.
I passed a pinball machine that had a sign saying, ‘broke’, and I wondered if that was a general statement about the conditions of the town or just the pinball machine. The jukebox had switched from Willie to Hank Junior and was now on the third pass of Family Tradition. I almost lost it when I passed the pool table and there was a sign that said, ‘don’t work, missing balls.’ The bathroom made the carp seem like fields of lilacs and looked even worse than it smelled. I held my breath, rushed in and stared at the ceiling to do my business. After zipped up I fumbled around for the handle and couldn’t find it after three tries and I was out of breath. For some reason my boys were getting a cold draft blown on them. I looked down to see that the urinal was overflowing with ice. Well, at least I got something on the rocks anyway.
It wasn’t long before the evening crowd began shuffling in and I was starting to feel even more out of place. So far, from the looks of things, you wouldn’t have been able to get a full set of teeth if you combined all the patrons together. Now I knew where all the Wal-mart employees hung out after work. I was about to make other arrangements for the rest of my evening when three burly men came strolling in, each one dragging a large cooler behind them loaded with ice cold beer. My excitement was short lived when I realized that the beer was intended for the three of them and one scantily clad bleach blonde who must have been the barkeep’s offspring as she was only a few years away from being a spitting image.
“Happy thirty-seventh birthday, ma. Wooo Hoooo,” the blonde yelled and handed the bartender a bottle of beer with a bow on it. I quickly did the math and still wasn’t sure if the younger blonde was of legal drinking age or not, not that it really mattered in this joint.
The jukebox was on the seventh play through of Tom T. Hall’s, I Like Beer and I found I wasn’t a very Jolly Good Fellow, and I was definitely a dry one.
“Hey, Mister, would you like a beer?” one of the burley gents asked.
“Sure, what kind is it?” I asked without even thinking. At this point I really didn’t give a shit what kind it was just so long as it would get me drunk.
“It’s a little concoction of ours,” he indicated the other two burley dudes who were obviously related, but then again, I was beginning to think the whole damned town was related, “We calls it Hillbilly Homebrew, cause we make our own rules,” he slapped his knee and they all broke out into raucous laughter at some sort of inside joke.
“How much?” I asked.
“How much for what?”
“Awe hell, it’s free, it don’t cost us nothing to make it,” he replied and handed me an ice cold bottle.
I was expecting some old cider jugs to be broken out and passed around with an old washtub and washboard. It was starting to look like this was the only entertainment I was going to see all night. And then the band rolled in and things got even stranger. I found myself wishing I would stand up, click my ruby slippered heels together and get the hell out of this nightmare.
Somehow, and don’t ask me, because I don’t know, I ended up at a table right in front of the stage with all the lights pointed at me. The guest of honor. I took another long swig of Hillbilly Homebrew and found myself contemplating the man’s statement. “It don’t cost us nothing to make.” I thought about that for a minute and shuddered. The more I tasted it the more I starting thinking the water came from the river. I stopped myself right there because I didn’t want to know where they were getting the sugar and I sure as hell didn’t want to know where they were getting the yeast.
My reverie was interrupted by this large Viking with a guitar around his neck shouting at the crowd to raise their glasses in a toast to the soldiers fighting in Iraq. I took a long swig and started to put my bottle down but then he started naming every conflict dating back to the battle of John Brown’s ear or something like that, I lost track after fifteen or so toasts. Best damned drinking game I ever played.
For all my trepidations, the music wasn’t half bad, and would have been a hell of a lot better had someone turned the jukebox down, or off. “Just take those old records off the shelf, I’ll sit and listen to them with all the girls I’ve loved before.” Just as I thought things couldn’t get worse, Willie Nelson started his loop again, “Maybe I didn’t love rock and roll, quite as often as I should have so put another dime in the jukebox baby.” I wasn’t sure if it was the Hillbilly Homebrew or the double assault on my auditory nerves but I was getting pretty buzzed up. Thankfully the band took a break so I could concentrate once again.
“Hey, what’s in this stuff? It’s pretty potent,” I asked one of the brothers as he handed me another.
“It’s a trade secret,” he said with a serious scowl.
“Okay,” I replied.
“I’m just shittin’ ya buddy. We been making it about twenty-five years now I suppose.”
“You don’t look old enough to have been brewing beer that long,” I questioned.
“Naw, our pa’s started it, we just continued after they passed.”
“Yeah, we had two pa’s. Me and Dave there had one pa and Scooter and Daisy had another.”
“But you all look so much alike?”
“I know, ain’t it weird? Wanna know a secret?”
“I guess so,” I said, against my better judgment.
“Scooter and me are twins.”
“With different fathers?”
“Yep, even got one of them there DNA test to prove it.”
“And the same mother?”
“Duh, we wouldn’t be twins otherwise now would we?”
Wanting desperately to change this topic I brought the conversation back to the Hillbilly Homebrew.
“So, what’s in this stuff?” I asked again, taking another swig. The flavor just sort of grew on me.
“Well, my two pa’s used to work together for that chemical place up there in Midland,” he started.
I set the beer down, not liking where this was suddenly going.
“They used to haul away some kind of waste from the place. One day they was screwing around and accidentally damaged one of the barrels. They didn’t want to take it to the place to be buried, it being damaged and all so they let it sit around the cabin for about a year trying to figure out how to get rid of it,”
“Yep, one of them got the genius idea to get rid of it by making beer out of it. Even gave their boss a six pack of the stuff. Ever since then, when hauling the barrels to the waste site, we swipe a couple for the brew.”
“What kind of chemicals are these?” I asked, not really wanting to know the answer and giving myself a once over for a nubbin that might be evidence of my sprouting a third arm.
“That’s what’s so great about it, it’s always different. We never know what we’re going to get. It’s great, we supply the town with the brew and ma don’t have to buy that good, expensive beer like Old Style or Strohs. Sure, we still have a few non converts who won’t give up their Natty Lights, but those codgers will all die off soon.”
I doubted these yokels would outlive the codgers who weren’t partaking of this mystical elixir. Suddenly no longer thirsty I set my bottle down and hoped the panic on my face didn’t show too much. Luckily the band came back from break and took everyone’s attention away from me.
The bassist was now no longer a Viking but a pirate complete with a parrot on his shoulder. A living fucking parrot! I knew I had died and gone to hell when between songs that damned parrot started singing songs from the jukebox until the band started again. Before the third song of the set we were once again instructed to raise our glasses in a toast to the servicemen.
“Get ‘em up!” he cried out hoisting his Absolute shooter in the air. “Here’s to all the young men fighting in Iraq, and Korea, and that fucking Bosnia place.”
I resisted the urge to correct him and just played along with the greatest drinking game of all time. It was about that time when I noticed something was different about the stage.
“Hey, where did that little monkey go?” I asked the brother who had never given me his name.
“Yeah, the little creepy looking monkey statue with his hand out asking for tips.”
“That weren’t no monkey, that was my brother Able, he’s from our third pa, he’s the eldest.”
“Third pa?” I asked before my brain told my mouth to shut up.
“Yeah, but not like Scooter and me. His dad was just some dude ma shacked up with when she was mad at my two pa’s before I was born.”
“We know Able is a little bit off and runs around here dressed kind of funny, but he can’t help it. Ma drank a shit ton of Hillbilly Homebrew when she was pregnant with him. He freaked her out when he came out looking pretty much like he does right now and she lernt her lesson. She made damn sure she drank no more than a six pack a day when she was pregnant with the rest of us and that seemed to work out jest fine,” he explained.
I had no response so I felt it best to just sit back and listen to Silverbeard doing his rendition of Ted Nugent’s Fred Running Bear. He wasn’t the greatest as vocalists go but he sure played a mean Richenbacher. At one point he was bass soloing where there wasn’t even a solo in the song but it was unique as hell so I just watched and enjoyed the show. My enjoyment came to an abrupt end when a huge blue loogey flew from the stage and hit me straight on the lips. I fought back the urge to spew Hillbilly Homebrew once I realized that the bass player had taken out his teeth and was using them for a pick and I now possessed the knowledge of what an Absolute, Polident, phlegm shooter tastes like. I gagged, grabbed two cold ones from the cooler and chugged them both at the same time. The Double H as I was now calling it was really beginning to takes its toll and I found myself asking the waitress for another shooter from the band. The bartender, Ma, must have gotten off shift because she was now hugging me from behind. Her tits were over my shoulders and resting on the table in front of me and instead of freaking out, I kept knocking them back and forth like a pair of clackers waiting for them to explode into a gazillion pieces. “Good thing you’re fucking cute city boy, cause you sure are a pain in the ass,” she said and then whispered in my ear. “Maybe later, I’ll be a pain in yours,” I swore her voice dropped two octaves and my sphincter tightened to the point I was sure I wouldn’t be able to crap for a week. The third set was interrupted as the other two had been with the voodoo priest bass player holding his glass high in the air. Something was really off about this speech and at first I thought the Double H was getting the better of me and I shook my head to clear the cob webs. When I did this I got just a tad bit woozy and fell out of my chair. Then, while looking at the musician from this angle I realized he had put his teeth in upside down. “And one more for the kids fighting in Toledo,” the bass player slurred. “Toledo?” I asked one of the burley dudes sitting next to me. I wasn’t sure if it was Dave, Scooter or He Who Shall Remain Nameless. “Yeah, ole’ Red there, he doesn’t get out much.” “Is he talking about the Toledo War way back in 1835?” “Yessir.” “He does know that war is over, right? And that none of our ‘kids’ are fighting in Toledo?” “Shhhh, mister, be quiet about that if you know what’s good for you. It’s a thirty mile ride to the nearest hospital, all bad road I might add.” “Hospital?” “Last person who got up the nerve to question Red wound up knowing what Viking helmet felt like shoved up their ass. And since you’re sitting next to me, I don’t want any of that there guilt by association crap.”