Today is the first day back to work! Yay! Here is Rye’s Above part 3. I will post the new, completed version today as well in the Ergonomic Fiction section.
Darrel Andiano was a fucking savant when it came to fixing an amp or setting up a guitar. He just had the knack. He was a year younger than Ben but looked about five years older. The days of getting carded for beer were long over for Darrel. He was also a pretty damn good drummer.
“The Harvest were better than JFA,” Darrel finally said.
Chantal and Ben both turned and looked at Darrel like his head was on fire which made him smile even bigger.
“Bam Bam’s drumming in the Harvest was so much better and now in Rabid Rabbit … Damn!” Darrel continued, “When was the last time he was in?”
“Bam Bam” was Mike Sversvold, the original drummer of JFA but also a member of the Harvest and currently in Rabid Rabbit. Ben thought he was a bit of an enigma and even though he was older than Bam by a few years, he could never figure out what to talk about with him when they were in the same room.
He came in M.E.C. every once in a while, but Sonny had a strict rule about making musician’s deals.
“No deals unless somebody from their label asks,” Sonny said.
This meant that a lot of the Phoenix punk scene did not shop at M.E.C. That was okay with Ben. It made it easier for him to stay friends with a lot of people. If it were up to him, he would have cut everybody deals, and life would have been way more difficult. Sonny’s rule made Ben’s life a lot simpler.
“Bam Bam comes in here?” asked Chantal.
Ben knew the conversation had taken a turn, so he did his usual thing and slid out of it, pretending to be busy wrapping up guitar cords that needed to be put away for the next day. He heard Darrel and Chantal continue talking and let it go. Darrel would pretend to be friends with his fellow drummer (he wasn’t) and try to impress Chantal.
Ben didn’t know if that worked for him or not, but he was hoping that Chantal wouldn’t fall for it. She was way too young for him at the tender age of 22. Hell, she was way too young for Ben, too, but he didn’t think he would have to worry about that. She was only there part-time and Ben, in a way, was kind of her boss, too.
Ben worked at M.E.C. from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. most days but would occasionally take a Saturday shift if Sonny needed him to or work late if there was new gear to stock. He didn’t mind getting up early, even after a gig because it took him less than five minutes to get to work by truck or he could walk it in less than a half an hour if the weather was nice.
Ben liked walking a lot.
Walking gave Ben a chance to think. It also was one of the ways he got inspired to write songs. He’d see a person just doing their thing, maybe checking their mailbox, or sweeping in front of their store and he’d write about it.
In the fall of 1986, he had been walking down Indian School near the Jack In The Box on 22nd street and had seen a guy on his motorcycle swerve because of a car making a quick lane change to try and make the turn in for hamburger stand’s drive thru. The motorcyclist, who had been a biker and part of the infamous Dirty Dozen motorcycle club, tried to stop and as he swerved his front wheel had hit the sidewalk about twenty yards in front of Ben.
The biker flew over the handlebars, he must’ve been going about 40 miles per hour or so and bounced off the hood of the car as it turned in to the restaurant. Ben stopped walking and stood there, paralyzed, for what seemed like a minute.
The sound of screeching tires, horns, and screams brought Ben out of it. He ran forward to see if he could help, on some level, and out of curiosity, or another. Ben’s mom, Jane, was a nurse and had been teaching him the basics of first aid since he was old enough to open and apply a band aid.
When Ben got up to where he could see what happened, he wished he had walked another route to Ed Debevic’s that early Friday evening. The man was face down at the curb of 22nd Street. He had flown, by Ben’s estimation later, about fifty feet through the air and had hit the curb face first. There was a pool of blood forming around the upper part of his body and he wasn’t moving.
Ben counted his lucky stars that he could not see the man’s face, if it even existed anymore. Ben stood there staring, as did everyone who had been eating at the Jack In The Box and a growing number of cars that had stopped. This was well beyond Ben’s expertise in first aid, but he felt himself wishing he could have done something, anything to help.
There was a line of cars forming on 22nd street trying to turn onto Indian School. Ben locked eyes with a young punk guy in a blue Volkswagen truck that was sitting about three cars back of the corner. He shook his head and motioned to the guys to turn around. You don’t want to see this, he thought, and neither do I.
Ben decided that Ed Debevic’s could wait until another day and turned around to head home. He had some writing to do. There were plenty of witnesses, it seemed, but he wondered if anyone had seen the car cut off the motorcycle?
He decided to stay and tell the police what he had seen. They were already starting to arrive. He wondered who this guy was. Did he have a family? Where was he going that night? The Dirty Dozen were certainly not friends of the police, but Ben admired how respectful the police were in quickly closing off the scene.
When Ben finally got home, he wrote a song called “But Is He Happy?”
It would change his life, but not right away.
See you tomorrow.
Stolen from the internet. Thought this was better than a grizzly motorcycle wreck photo.