SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS, SOMEWHEN IN THE SEVENTIES
“If there be demons, you will not find them here. Not in this glorious land which, though it is hard and it is scrabble, was created by the Lord Hisself. Why do you think Texas is so large? It’s so God has somewhere to clear His head. I can see the Lord’s broad shoulders in the hilly woods of Nacogdoches, and all the Heavens He commands in the flat and boring parts, which are perhaps too numerous to mention. If Texas were not the stomping grounds of our God, then why are there so many water parks?
“Theologians never contemplate the important questions.
“But Texas is not the whole wide world. If it were, it would have glaciers, and be bigger. Bestride the border, the world waves, welcomingly. Some heed the call, others remain abed. Still others are cattle, and don’t understand the poetic nature of life. Did I envy them and their blithe existence, and freedom of poopery? Slightly I did, I must confess. Siren’s song, silenced? Such sweet stupidity.
“Longhorns bring me out in alliteracy, and it can’t be explained.
“Like a mixed metaphor, the world whispered into my eyes. Foreigners of all stripe had heard about my wiggly, waggly sassylegs and them two tigers don’t need no translating. From Oslo in the north, to Trieste in the south, everybody thought I was awesome. Letters poured in, some of them in languages that looked as though a pencil had thrown up on the paper, demanding my presence in their weird and scary little countries Boxes of them, most addressed simply ‘Roy Head, Texas.’ Yes, that Roy Head.
“You should have heard of me.
“America had been conquered, just like Genghis Khan conquered wherever the hell he conquered. England was a fancy notch in my bedpost, which Big Bucktoothed Pete had carved for me and contained many secret weapons, some of which were Oriental in nature. Iceland, where the plane was forced to land on the way home from the British tour on account of the fire Louie Grabass started while he was chimmying up some Mile High Changa, was also a great success, despite there not being a show and all of us getting thrown out of the country in less than an hour.
“It would be more correct to say Skippy Joe was expelled, and we was collateral damage.
“We would trek across Europe! There were fertile markets, and unexplored territories, and many women who had not heard our lies yet. My legs, Razzle and Dazzle, would live up to their names, and I would sing songs so sweet. Fräuleins would faint; senoritas, swoon; my voice would be the talk of Paris, and I would give a talk on the Voice of America. Battle plans were drawn, and exchange rates negotiated. I would win over 12 cities in 19 nights, and return to Cascabel a hero.
“We called it the Rio Grande Tour, and several t-shirts were designed.
“Besides the four of us, there was a band, a road crew, various family members, and an illusionist from Montreal who refused to speak English and stole everyone’s watches. The numbers had been crunched and crunched again, like an armadillo that didn’t look both ways, and they allowed no way to cross the Atlantic but via the sea. Also, though the Do Not Fly list did not exist at the time, an informal ban had been placed on us, again due to Skippy Joe’s airborne excitability.
“Skippy Joe was a hassle, but he was our brother.
“The Grande Tour would begin in Rome, where I had brand-new horn arrangements to be played in front of ancient ruins. I would then get stinky in Cologne, and then hot dog in Hamburg. We would make the trek to Toulouse, and then set Bern on fire with my immense talents and funky-dancing. I would knock it home in Stockholm. Through the power of music and me, Toledo would become holy. I was planning on pronouncing Barcelona incorrectly, out of respect for the citizens.
“They would be expecting an ugly American, but Texans are glorious.
“Our departure was calamitastrophic, which is a word I have just made up, but whose meaning is patent, as not only, to my dismay, had the trumpet player pawned the rest of the horn section, but the entire party, having had their watches stolen by the illusionist from Montreal, who was understandably fired with cause soon thereafter, was reproachably late, and, in the case of Big Bucktoothed Pete, liquored up, naked, and preaching the gospel which, sadly, had not the enlightening effect intended and doing nothing to relieve the dismay I mentioned in the beginning of this sentence, whose complexity has been shaped to mimic the situation it describes.
“The illusionist from Montreal was not the only one who knew good tricks.
“Due to the intervention of the Lord Hisself, those of us that had not been fired or pawned made it onto the ship. The reductionist view might award credit to Skippy Joe for tackling all the stevedores trying to cast the ship off, but I saw the Lord’s hand in events. He works in mysterious ways, and ain’t no one more mysterious than Skippy Joe, who has often been referred to as an enigma wrapped in a riddle and not wearing a shirt. His speedy violence bought us the time to board the majestic cruiser, the HMS Queen Latifah.
“It was luxurious, but still had flavor.
“We installed Louie Grabass in the galley, which we still called the kitchen around him, as Louie Grabass was as dumb as the changas he chimmied so expertly. It was a time-saver, and soon just as the ship floated upon the sea, we floated upon changa, and also friendship. The salt air had aligned the stars in the sky, and the frothy waves bid us become closer to one another. Was the moon our confidant? Did Poseidon sit with us in the elegantly-appointed bar, the Rear Admiral?
“We posited he did, and therefore ordered an extra drink for him every round.
“The road crew joined us, as did the remaining musicians who had not been pawned or thrown overboard by the trumpet player, who was becoming a problem. We were cowboys at sea, and we had thirsts no honest man could quench. The ocean called the tune at the Rear Admiral, and we began our ensloppification with Bermuda Triangles, which are equal parts rum and logical fallacies. We drank Titanics, which are served on ice, and Costa Concordias, which are served on the rocks. We drank Bismarcks, which did not live up to their hype in the slightest.
“By and by, the mighty ship could not challenge us in terms of rocking.
“Our party spread out to encompass deck after deck, and though bulkheads may stop water, they offer no defense against alcohol and its effects. The Lido Deck was hopping, and the Sun Deck shone with smiles, and also folks gettin’ nekkid. Jam sessions proliferated like funky fungi, and the cruise musicians and what was left of my band that had not been pawned, thrown off the boat, or also thrown off the boat, joined up in a many-headed wonder-group of low-down miracle music.
“Fellows danced the funky chicken; ladies did the boogaloo.
“Coaxed I was by joy, prodded forth from my seat by the crowd, and I took the stage to rapturous applause. Was it for me? Was it for my limber legs and their function, which was rambunction? Was it for my vocal stylings, which though angelic, caused emotions of a devilish nature? Was it my hair which, though battered by both the sea and the spirits I had been communing with at the bar, stood proud and tall and remembered the Alamo? We cannot know the answer.
“No one had seen Skippy Joe for quite some time.
“In my beloved friend’s defense, he had been able drive everything else he stole up until then, but the Queen Latifah presented Skippy Joe with a Black Swan-type development. It turns out boats that size don’t even have a wheel, and Skippy Joe was very far out of his element. The wheelhouse was not in his wheelhouse, and the massive vessel did not take well to his amateur fumblings! The boat thrashed from port to starboard, but as we were from Texas, we went left and right! The trumpet player used the chaos as cover to murder the remainder of the band! Skippy Joe crashed the boat into Portugal!
“The Rio Grande Tour was canceled, and the t-shirts unsold!”
“I’m going to stop delivering pizzas to you if you’re going to do this every time.”
“ONE WOULD ASSUME PORTUGAL EASY TO AVOID!”
“Please just pay me so I can leave.”