SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS
“To a boy from Cascabel, New York City might as well have been Moscow: it was cold, and far away, and full of Communists. Warnings came to us from the pulpit and the end of Daddy’s belt. It was Sodom, Gomorrah, and Babylon wrapped up into one, plus it touched New Jersey and nothing good can come of that. Not idle diddlers, these city-dwellers: they were fiends of the most energetic nature!
“New Yorkers was fervent perverts, I had been led to believe.
“Little did they know that their warnings merely inflamed my poet’s heart and revved up my rumbly-tumbly legs. From the first time I sang for nickels in the front room of Miss Rosa’s cathouse, I wanted to take my talents to the Big Apple. I would bite down hard on the apple, and then I would stick the manliest part of myself into that apple. New York had sent a singing telegram to my soul, and I had drunkenly attacked the messenger. Texas is as big as the whole wide world, but Roy Head had outgrown it. Yes, that Roy Head.
“You should have heard of me.
“In ’65, Treat Her Right was storming up them charts and Mr. Ed Sullivan came a-calling. I would perform my hit while showcasing my razzmatazz to all of Texas, and also the rest of America. Everyone who was everyone watched Sullivan, even though he looked like an unwrapped mummy. He had the greats! The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Topo Gigio, and now myself. I had been to New York before, but only briefly, and never first class.
“Only thing better’n first class is first class someone else pays for.
“An insurmountable hurdle arose, but I surmounted it: there was only one ticket, and I travel neither lightly nor solo. Who will protect me from my loving and boisterous fans? Who will I caper with? A man can’t caper by himself, that’s just weird. You ask me to travel alone, and I ask you: from whence shall I receive my chimichangas?
“I won’t have my changa chimi’d by a stranger.
“The Sullivan show would not redress my grievance, so I employed lateral-type thinking and cashed in that first-class ticket and used the proceeds to buy a 1952 Pontiac Chiefton. Big Bucktoothed Pete and I got out of Skippy Joe’s way while he souped up that engine, but we quickly remembered what happened when you left Skippy Joe alone with automobiles.
“Skippy Joe bristled under supervision, but his history demanded it.
“We had four days to get to New York from Cascabel, and we had the means to navigate that geographical crevasse. There were four able and strong sons of Texas in that automobile: no distance was too great! Of course, we still let Skippy Joe do all the driving. It was for the best, as if you forced him to give up the wheel, he would run alongside the car.
“The shortest distance between two points is to let Skippy Joe drive.
“The highway was our lover, and we rode her until all involved were sore, and had to pee. Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois for some reason, West Virginia: we whistled through the Confederacy’s graveyard and we were not starved for entertainment. Louie Grabass (I forgot to mention we had brought Louie Grabass) had converted the back of the Chiefton into a bar and grill. There was a full Tex-Mex spread and alcohols from countries both saintly and nefarious.
“I have no idea how he fit the pool table back there.
“Now, Skippy Joe did not drink and drive. Only beers. Plus the speed, but let’s not delve into the inner turmoil of my good and gone friend. I mention him only to contrast his situation with that of myself, Big Bucktoothed Pete, and Louis Grabass. We had developed a powerful thirst; in fact, it was the worst of all thirsts: the thirst of boredom. Should we have edified ourselves? Studied a trade? Mentored an inner-city youth? Of course, but we were sinners.
“The Lord had parched our throats, and to drink was prayer.
“In honor of our destination, we concocted cocktails with a New York theme. We drank Peter Stuyvesants, which is the most expensive bottle of booze, but you only pay $24 for it. We had Apollo Theaters, which is a 7&7 while black people heckle you. Louis Grabass served us Greenwich Villages, which was a drink with fruits and nuts in it. We refused this drink, and told him it was a sophomoric and hackneyed drink, and that it cheapens the other drinks by its inclusion.
“There was a reason Louis Grabass was so rarely included.
“There were a lifetime’s worth of miles left in our journey, and though we drank both continually and continuously, our eyes began to flutter and hang like beagle ears. Morpheus joined us in the backseat of that Pontiac and we struggled against his sandy entreaties. The night called to us, even though it was perhaps 11 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon: we knew not.
“The highway scoffs at time’s insistence.
“Never blame Skippy Joe for what happened! If I asked, Skippy Joe gave! That beautiful man would give you the shirt off his back, were he in the habit of wearing a shirt. Skippy Joe had been having a conversation with the AM radio for several dozen miles, though it should be said that he was making good points. Big Bucktoothed Pete interrupted the dialogue with a mighty snore. Skippy Joe looked in the rearview and caught my drooping eye.
“Had it been any other affliction, he would not have had the cure.
“Skippy Joe got behind the bar as I steered the Chiefton with my prehensile legs. He combined his illicit wares to whiskey and sweet vermouth to create a Trade Center, which gets you high as hell until a terrible crash. The go-go mojo went directly to our heads and hearts: we had never loved Texas this fast before. Skippy Joe resumed his rightful perch and we motorvated all night to the Ed Sullivan show.
“Our arrival in Manhattan may be described accurately as shambolic.
“The hours had taken their toll! We arrived at the theater just in time, but in no shape! As is his custom, Big Bucktoothed Pete had removed his clothing and begun to preach the Word, which is less acceptable in New York than you might imagine. Louis Grabass was living up to his name. Skippy Joe disassembled a television camera. But that was nothing! I couldn’t see straight and when Ed Sullivan came onto the stage to yell at us, I put a clean chop-block on that man and sent him into the orchestra pit! I never appeared on the show!”
“¿Escucha, no desea que el chimichanga o no?”
“I THOUGHT I WAS TACKLING AN UNWRAPPED MUMMY!”
“Ve a ser una locura en otro lugar.”