Featured Post

LGBTQtie Pie

              It was a blustery weekend in Muskrat Flats. The wind was conducting a symphony as the poplars bordering the vineyard...

Monday, June 15, 2009

One Bill Makes You Larger and One Bill Makes You Small ....

Gomer Eckstein sat underneath the oil portrait of Samuel Coleman Hawthorne the III. He was wearing a black t-shirt, black cargo shorts and army boots. His long black cloak was folded on the back of the empty chair to his left. His clarinet was in its case on the table and the hard case containing his four-string Fender Jazz bass was leaning against the wall. He was holding a newspaper as if he were reading it, but he was distracted.

He rubbed his eyes, thankful for the 10 hours of sleep he had gotten the night before. He held the newspaper, a flimsy and thin document, a tabloid style rendering of the paper he had grown up reading. The very same paper which had been two dailies and a whopping 2 inch thick Sunday paper at the height of its publication. He remembered breaking his back as he delivered the Sunday Journal, so many years ago. He put down the paper and tousled his long wavy black hair.

He had been staring at the portrait of Hawthorne, fixated on the name in the lower right hand corner of the canvas, the artist and alleged infamous vampire, Jean Luc Lemay. His thoughts swirled. He thought of Miranda, he thought of his father, who used to write for this paper before he achieved national notoriety back in the 60s. He thought of Allie a long lost running buddy who appeared to still be lost. He thought of Sveltie, also known as Mrs. Jenny Smith, his friend Jerry's wife, with whom he just planned some post show intimacy. He heard his sponsor in his head admonishing him.

"I love you man, you know what I'm saying. You want to hear God laugh? Take back your will and make some plans. With plans come a set of expectations and when you have expectations you are always going to get let down. So go ahead, make those plans. and call me when you are so hurt you want to use."

"Fuck!" Gomer thought to himself. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, what am I doing?"

He once again picked up the paper and felt the thickness of its meager pages in his hands. Its size reminded him of one of the inserts he used to have to stuff inside of the Sunday Journal before he delivered them.

"Fucking paperboys have it so easy these days ..." he mused as his train of thought was interrupted by his dad.

"Reading Poor David's Almanac?" Gomer's confusion at the question registered in his face. Moe continued,

"David L'Etoile ... the Publisher of that rag. He is going to save $300,000 a year on newsprint going to that format, that is what Crazy Jerry in the press room told me." Moe quickly wiped his nose with a hanky.

"You can't even swat a fly with that shit, and all the typos, heh! Where's the editing? Headlines with spelling errors ... it's not the newspaper I worked for ... " He moaned before he spied someone familiar walking toward them.

"Hey... will you look at this, it's another rock star, How are you doing Lee?"

Gomer looked up as his good friend Burleigh Coggins, the lead guitar player for the band PRY, the band playing at the Memorial Day festivities that evening. Lee reached out to shake Moe's hand.

"I'm fine Mr. Eckstein. I read your last article in Mother Jones, it was great ..." He looked down as if he were wondering whether or not to finish the sentence, but Lee did.

"I'm so glad you are feeling better and looking healthy." Gomer smiled. He knew that Burliegh felt that if anyone in the room were a rock star, it was his father, Moe. Burleigh revered Moe's status as the writer who in Lee's opinion was the voice of an entire generation.

Moe turned as he greeted Fennel Santori, the drummer in PRY.

"Well ... Hello, my dear." Moe bent down to kiss Fennel on the cheek. He ran his fingers through her bundle of blond and purple dreadlocks. "Oh, you kids with your crazy hair ... it works for me, Fennel," Moe said with a wink. Fennel squeezed Moe tighter and said,

"Moe, if my wife ever leaves me, I promise I will marry you." He snorted a quick laugh, giving her dreads a playful tug.

"Who said anything about getting married?" They all chuckled. The rest of the folks in the room turned to see why the volume in the corner of the Banquet room at the Odd Fellows hall, suddenly increased.

Donnie and Paul having graduated to status of official kitchen workers felt it was their duty to keep the new dishwashers Joe and Corey in check as they were obviously star struck by the appearance of Lee, Fennel and the guy who was now walking through the door, the keyboard player for PRY Skimpy Cooper. He looked and waved as Corey shouted out "Hey Skimp!" and twirled his fingers in the air as if he were playing a keyboard.

By now, Gomer was standing. Skimpy shook Moe's hand and smiled. He looked great.

He hugged Gomer and whispered in his ear,

"How are you doing, my brother? Hanging?"

"I was hanging one day last summer, fortunately the tree limb broke." They all laughed. Lee and Skimpy high fived each other as they recalled the blog Gomer had written about the botched reenactment of Sherrif Hawthorne's hanging at last year's Fall Festival. Moe excused himself.

The four musicians sat down at the table and began catching up.

"Where is Les? Gomer asked inquiring about their bass player.

Lee looked over at Skimpy and then to Fennel. Gomer felt the tension and regretted asking the question.

"Les is still sleeping. He has been having a rough time lately," Fennel offered.

"He has been talking about going to detox the last couple of days but he feels like he needs to finish the tour, we're on the road for another two months." Lee said.

"What is he into?" Gomer asked knowing that booze would be the first answer.

"Oxys, which he is washing down with booze." Fennel said.

Gomer stared off processing the information. Skimpy shook his head. "I love the guy. I want to help him but He has to make his own decision."

Skimpy was thinking about when he had checked out and forced the band to take a hiatus. All the while he thought Les really resented him for that. Skimpy finally knocked on Les' door one day after a year long sojourn where he anonymously hitchhiked and walked across the country. Taking odd jobs as a means of supporting his new lifestyle, focusing on his recovery.

The day Skimpy knocked on Les' door. He opened it and simply stared at Skimpy for about 20 seconds before he began to weep, hugging his band mate and telling him how grateful he was to see him alive. Les had always been the anchor, the unwavering foundation of the band. Now his life was in jeopardy.

Gomer fidgeted a little. Fennel reached out and held his hand. "

If Les decides to go and we hope he does, I'm afraid he'll kill himself... will you play the rest of the tour?"

Gomer was shocked by the offer. Lee leaned in, "We finish up with a week long run in San Francisco ..." he wheedled.

Skimpy chimed in, "We've talked about it, Les wants you to be the guy."

"Wow," Gomer thought. He had to think hard about this. Lee and Fennel, he knew they still smoked pot, but Skimpy he was solidly in recovery as well as a couple of members of their crew. He was still reeling from the temptations of his last tour. And the kids on PRY tour, well they were hard core. His interaction with the tour kids, was probably Les' downfall as he always had a strong connection to what was going on in the parking lot outside their shows.

This connection was where Gomer had fucked up in the past, a door which he had closed but felt straining to open the last couple of days before he had met up with Miranda. Oh, Miranda ... the fact that they would finish in San Francisco definitely made their offer most appealing.

"What do you think?" Lee asked.

"I think about the tour kids, you know people places and things. But that's what they talk about as far as life on life's terms."

"Yes they do, I hear you loud and clear brother." Skimpy offered.

Lee and Fennel kind of looked at each other. They both realized that this arrangement with Gomer could change the dynamic of the band, the power structure. They had always been the ones who could drink and use safely. In fact they had slowed down considerably leading relatively sober lives, partially out of respect for Skimpy's situation and partially because it seemed like the thing to do, they weren't getting any younger.

Fennel cut out all of the pills and booze, Lee never really drank to begin with and was somewhat traumatized by Skimpy's drug use as he tried to get a glimpse into his world by experimenting with Skimpy on occasion only to feel like he was on the verge of death, one time seeking medical intervention as Skimpy just laughed and told him to calm down ... he would "be all right in a few minutes."

But Lee and Fennel still used. They had always been the sane ones, the ones who had their feet planted firmly on the ground. They had fought tooth and nail with Skimpy when he was all fucked up. They argued, they issued ultimatums and threats. They begged and pleaded for him to stop using dope. He cleaned up for a while and then relapsed while on tour. Nodding out on stage, constantly being late because he was out copping or just laying in the dressing room in an heroin stupor. At the time, Skimpy resented them for that and didn't want to do the same thing to Les, instead calmly and discreetly trying to carry a positive message to his sick and suffering band mate.

Lee and Fennel weren't prepared for the change they saw in Skimpy when he came back from his hiatus. They liked it. He brought a new and fresh energy to the band. as well as a new language with his lyrics, some of which Lee considered "preachy." Now they were inviting someone who had the same experience as Skimpy, a recovering heroin addict, into the band. Someone who spoke the same language as he, a language which was both welcome, although unsettling and foreign at the same time. It was a language they feared they may not understand in the long run.

Fennel said, "Look, you don't have to answer right now. Let's just have fun tonight." they all agreed.

The show was supposed to be a surprise show. the band on the bill was called "Odorono" The oft forgotten if not willingly suppressed name of Fennel and Lee's high school garage band. they played a total of two gigs. Before there were personnel changes and their college careers sent them, in opposite geographical directions.

"Check this out," Fennel said as she handed Gomer a copy of the newspaper. "I know Morbid Morty says any press is good press, but this is an extreme example of the kind of shit we have had to deal with.

Gomer looked at the article. It was the police blotter from the previous day's Journal.

Three Men Face Charges

Dana - Three unidentified men were taken into protective custody early Friday morning in the south end of Dana. Officers Clay Hutchison and Donna Falco were on routine patrol when they noticed a white rented van parked facing the wrong direction across the center line on Loring Street.

Upon further investigation, the officers found three Dana residents all of whom were disoriented and incoherent appearing to be under the influence of drugs. One of the suspects was naked.
A search of the van turned up two 9 MM pistols, five empty nitrous oxide cylinders and a small amount of marijuana. Evidence indicates that the three men had attended a performance at the Lakeside Pavilion where the jam band PRY had just played the second night of a three night run. The men were transported by ambulance the St. Alphonso's hospital where they were sedated. One was treated for blunt for trauma to the lower back and left knee cap. Detectives indicated that criminal charges are pending.

Gomer finished the article and looked at his three companions.

"What the Fuck? Guns, Five tanks of Nitrous? What's that all about?"

"We have had a big problem with the gas after the shows, lately. It seems to be that organized crime figures are targeting the audience. " Lee said. "The first night at Lakeside the scene was totally disgusting. One of the tour kids said it was these shady characters who were all guidoed out with black track suits and slicked back hair. Beyond that we really don't know how this happened?"

"If it happened in the Lot, I'm sure Les will tell us when he finds out." Skimpy said.


The scene after the first show at the lakeside Pavilion was like any other night. The crowd was stumbling around, bouncing off of each other. Hot and sweaty ecstatic concert goers basking in the after show glow. They were drunk, high, tripping, some of them were even completely clean and sober and still had the same goofy smiles on their faces.

Everywhere inter-lot commerce was happening and business was brisk. Whether it was the basics of food and liquid refreshment, or other itrems such as clothing, memoribila, glass pipes or other eye candy such as hand formed glass jewelry and marbles. And yes, there were drugs being sold. It was all discreet, for the most part.

One of the tour kids, a "wookie" named Doodlebug was standing there with his open glass case. He was wearing some patchwork shorts with a couple of large cargo style pockets. Out of one of the pockets protruded and aluminum slingshot. He had long blond dreadlocks, a shaggy beard and regardless of the night, he was wearing a pair of dark shades. He was also wearing a t-shirt that said "Hippie Mafia."

Across Shakedown St., he heard the constant roar and hiss of opening and closing tanks of laughing gas, their contents being pumped into large punching bag ballons and being sold for 5 dollars each. He didn't see any cops around. He handed his glass case to his twenty something companion, Star, who was similarly dressed. She surveyed the situation and saw who was selling all of the gas.

"What the fuck, dude?" She queried to her boyfriend. "That's totally fucked up."

He was on his phone texting.

"Dude, I'm on shake near the second lot, check out these gassholes."
The response came instantly, from a wookie named Muskie.

"I c them"

A few seconds later, Muskie showed up and hugged his companion.

Doodlebug was irate,

"Dude, what the fuck? This is not good. It's bad enough when one of us does this but these fuckin' idiots bring some seriously bad vibes to the scene. Plus they are taking money out of the scene away from the kids who need it. The fuckin' custies don't give a shit either."

"Comon now, Doodle dude ... how much money did you make schwinging Molly tonight? Muskie queried in a low but reassuring tone. "I can't begrudge them for trying to make some cash, But I don't like it either, too high profile they'll bring the heat down on all of us. There's nothing we can do about it now."

He looked around at the scene. Everywhere there were balloons. Kids were lying on the ground. passed out, some convulsing. He saw one girl with a gash on her head where it hit the hood of a parked car. He looked around at the other tour kids struggling to sell the drinks, food and hand crafted items. All of the stuff that brings good vibes.

"Nope, Doodle I don't like it, it's too much." Just then a kid walked by bitching to his friend. Muskie overheard what he was saying.

"So fucking Tony Soprano over there had a handful of cash and he said I had to get two balloons cuz he didn't have time to make change for a $10."

"What a fucking cock. Someone should do something about that."

Muskie looked at Doodle. Doodle shook his head and spat on the ground and said,

"It's fucked up, dude."

"I know," Muskie responded, "I know ... They'll be here tomorrow, keep your eyes open. I think we can persuade them to, at the very least, give us an ... honorarium."

"Damn right, dude."Doodlebug began to laugh raising his hand in the air, they slapped each other's hands and shook. They hugged again. This time a bundle of cash went from Doodle's hand into Muskie's. With the other hand he delivered a package into Doodle's hand.

The next day as the pre-show marketplace began to unfold, two wookies noticed the white van pull into the lot. They texted Muskie who was there within minutes. Some of the other kids who had been there the night before noticed as well. Those wanting some of that sweet air began to gravitate in that direction.

The three gangsters were sitting in folding chairs outside the van, one was reading a newspaper. The other two were drinking and checking out the women walking by, when a kid rolled up.

"Hey man, you got any gas?" the one reading the paper, Vinnie, looked at the other two.

"Yo Rocco, Tone ...You believe this fucking guy? Does it look like we have any gas? You dumb hippie fuck? Get the fuck outta here, come back later." The kid scowled and slunk away cursing under his breath.

A number of other curious concert goers who remembered the trio from the night before got the same treatment. Each leaving pissed off. It was worse with some of the young women who approached them as they were turned away with ribald misogynist taunts included for good measure. The gassholes were not making any friends in the lot. All around them was a wonderful party. People playing music, dancing, getting revved up for the show and their presence was just a downer.

Vinnie got up and barked at his cohorts.

"Let's open it up for a few minutes." They began filling balloons at kids quickly ran over, some against their better judgment. After about 20 minutes they shut it down. They went back to reading the paper and basically doing nothing as most of the crowd headed toward the entrance to the amphitheater.

Vinnie looked up and saw a tall lanky dreadlocked kid with a beard wearing Ray Bans.

He said to the others, "Who the fuck is this guy?'

"My name is Muskie. Who are you? "

Vinnie, the big guy reading the paper, did all the talking. The other two just grunted and looked imposing.

"I'll tell you the same thing I've been telling the rest of you for the last 10 minutes. Store's closed, get the fuck outta here, come back after the show."

"My aren't we polite. You treat all of your customers like that?"
Vinnie did a double take. and scowled at Muskie.

"I don't want your gas. I'm here to talk business. You guys seem pretty vulnerable, out of your element, I'm here to offer you some protection. You pissed a lot of people off last night, and even more today."

"What the fuck?" One of the goons in the back blurted and lurched forward. Vinnie, raised his hand.

"Tony, stop!"

The guy in the back stopped in his tracks. Smoothed down his slicked back hair and primped his track suit. Vinnie started laughing.

"Protection, YOU are offering me protection? Are you fuckin' serious? Protection from who?"

"It would be a shame if you guys sold the contents of all of those tanks and your money disappeared before you got out of the parking lot." The three looked at each other and began to laugh. One of them leaned forward opening his track jacket slightly, briefly exposing a gun.

"I don't think that's gonna fuckin' happen kid, now get the fuck outta here."

"Oh, it will happen, trust me. You keep pissing people off and cause a big scene, you are sitting ducks, I'm not threatening you, I'm just pointing out what can happen if you don't work with me on this." One of the three was eye-balling him suspiciously. He looked around and saw at least five or six dreadies on the periphery intently watching the conversation.

"Yo, Vinnie, I think he's serious." He began to whisper. "Look around Boss, we're outnumbered.

"Ohhh," he exclaimed as he turned to his companion and slapped him on the shoulder. "Shut the fuck up! Of course he's fucking serious dumb ass, but you think he can REALLY do anything about it?"

"You should listen to your partner. What did you have last night 5- 6 tanks? (They had 10) I figure with breakage you probably averaged about 1000 bucks per tank? Give me $1500 and shut down for a few minutes every 10 minutes or so. What you can do is get the tanks away from the van ... set up in those trees over there have a couple of tanks going at the same time. That way if the cops move in you just leave the tanks, take the money and run. You do that and we have a deal. I suggest you accept my offer, after all you are doing business in MY neighborhood."
He tipped his sunglasses down and made eye contact with Vinnie as he said,

" You understand?"

The three looked at each other. Vinnie looked at Muskie and sized him up for a minute before he began to laugh and yelled,


Muskie smiled and said, "If you change your mind, ask any of the kids selling food over there for me, they know how to find me. "

He walked away, shaking his head, as he heard once again,

"Fuck you , you believe this fuckin' guy?"

The trio did however take Muskie's's suggestion of moving the tanks into the trees.

Later in the evening the kids who didn't get into the show or chose not to go in, were milling about. Listening to music, dancing, drinking. It was about 10 o'clock. They heard the whining roar of a freshly tapped tank of nitrous. Gopher and his brothers in the lot watched for a few minutes. They had two tanks going.

The three nitrous vendors were chattering at each other. Vinnie was collecting the money and the other two were filling the balloons.

Muskie handed his girl a $50 bill which he'd just dosed with liquid LSD

"You know what to do? You, Amanda, have the bottle that is dosed, be careful don't spray anyone else or your self it is strong. "

She walked over with three of her friends. She patiently waited a minute. She handed the big guy the fifty. He really didn't notice that the bill was wet. Nor did he notice the girl was wearing rubber gloves. She asked for three balloons. He put the fifty in his pocket. He withdrew his hand from the pocket, instinctively licked his moistened thumb before he peeled off a couple of bills for change. Rocco and Tony were were in the dense trees, sweating in warm May evening. Two of the girls were giggling and bouncing around. One produced a squirt bottle and started spraying her companion with water.

"oh, that feels good, Amanda said. She produced another and said,

"You guys look hot." She took aim and squirted two blasts of the psychedelic solution in the face of each of the guys on the tanks.

"What the fuck? Knock that shit off, get the fuck outta here." Tony wiped his face. He took a direct hit to the eye, Rocco was wiping the liquid off of his upper lip and mouth. The girls scurried letting the balloons deflate and getting rid of the rubber gloves they were all wearing as the LSD began working its way into the narrow and feeble brains of the mobbed up nitrous vendors.

The show got out about about 45 minutes later. Shakedown St. filled up again with the stumbling smiling masses. And a good chunk of them wanted some laughing gas.

Vinnie, Rocco and Tony did a roaring business for about 45 minutes selling hundreds of balloons. They figured out a system the night before, and with the help of the hippie kid earlier in the evening they just became more efficient. They were so busy and moving so quickly they didn't realize what had begun to take place.

All of the sudden something happened, things began to seem a little weird. Tony, the one who got hit in the eye from the dosed spray bottle, all of the sudden seemed incapable of doing something as simple as turning a valve after putting a balloon on the nozzle.

Rocco noticed this and he began to feel like his clothes were too heavy, he was hot, sweating profusely and he couldn't feel his feet. Where did his feet go?

"Yo, Rocco. what's that?!! he asked with a twinge of fear in his voice. He turned, sure he saw something behind that orange tree which was swaying back and forth.

Vinnie began to freak out as this kid in front of him wouldn't stop talking.

He was handing Vinnie a 20 dollar bill. And said, about 20 times in a cartoon voice,

"But you don't understand, Mister, you gave me too much change, Mister, Don't you understand, Mister? Too much, you know what I mean, Too much change, Mister."

He handed Vinnie a 20 dollar bill. Vinnie peered at him his pupils filling his retinas as the 20 dollar bill began to melt in his hand. Vinnie was grooving on the swirling mass in his hand. When he was startled again.

"Aw man!!! the kid shouted. You did it again mister, you gave me too much change, Mister Tooo Much change. How you gonna make good business if you give me too much change, Mister?" Vinnie turned in horror as Rocco was lying on the ground howling in pain.

"I been shot, Someone fucking shot me!!" he was holding his back.

"You didn't get fucking shot, there was no gun.

Tony pulled his gun out and stared at it with the look of utmost fear in his voice. He happily handed the weapon over the to the stranger who beckon him to do so. There were about 4 dreadlocked kids swarming around making a big fuss. Asking Rocco if he was okay? Then they all started on Vinnie again. who was standing there staring through them with a fist full of cash and his pockets bulging. Some one tapped him on the shoulder.

"Hey mister, you gave him too much change. Mister? Mister?? Why do you keep giving him so much change?"

Vinnie was helpless. He heard his companion on the ground howl one more time as a glass marble silently cut through the air, launched from Doodlebug's nearby slingshot, it splintered the top of the howling man's knee cap.

"I've been shot again!!!" Vinnie looked around even though he didn't hear a gun. In the confusion one of the kids who was asking Rocco if he was okay reached down and discreetly took his gun. It seemed like Vinnie was unarmed.

Vinnie looked at Muskie who suddenly appeared before him.

"Help me ..." He squeaked.

Their van had already been ransacked. The three full nitorus tanks inside were stolen and already en route to the Shady Grove Campground, Five miles away.

Muskie took Vinnie by the arm, Rocco and Tony were also helped along. Rocco was limping and trying to take his clothes off. The kids ushered them into the cargo area of the van which conveniently had a metal cage separating the passenger compartment from the cargo area. After Muskie had relieved Vinnie of all of his cash. He stood at the back of the van. looking at the three men amidst the empty cylinders. A clean cut kid hopped into the driver's seat.

Muskie peered at the men, and simply said,

"I'm sorry I couldn't keep this from happening to you guys. Perhaps you'll think twice before you fuck with our scene next time. It was a pleasure doing business with you." He slammed the doors to the van shut.

The driver said, "We'll have you home in no time flat." Don't freak out too much. He turned on the music and White Rabbit began with Jack Casady's bass thumping away and Jorma's searing guitar lines filling their ears. The next tune soothed them a little bit as Frank Sinatra began crooning Come Fly With Me.

The van traversed the short distance between the amphitheater and the south end of Dana. Old Blue eyes was still crooning away as the driver quickly, parked the van in an intentionlly haphazard manner. He opened, the rear door and threw the bag with the weed and the guns in the cargo compartment. He hopped into the back seat of the car which had followed the van. The car containing the four tour kids then headed to the Shady Grove Campground where most of the tour kids were staying. Beer, food and camping were compliments of the three nitrous vendors that night. The three who were caught unawares as they encountered themselves in the parking lot of a PRY show that night.

Vinnie held onto the bag containing the guns and weed as he peered out the open door into the Dana night. The street lights had a purple glow. He felt more afraid than he ever had in his life. Rocco moaned in pain again as he removed the rest of his clothes. Then the cargo compartment filled with a beautiful flashing blue light ...

Sure you could say Vinnie, Rocco and Tony encountered themselves in the Lot in the whole psychedelic realm of interweaving segments of hallucination, paranoid thought and stark naked reality as the LSD sawed through them, dissolving their egos and priming their brains for some terrifying but honest self-examination.

In reality they did encounter themselves in the lot. Muskie and Doodlebug may be little shaggier, and lot more down to earth, than the gangsters the trio were used to dealing with. They sure were smarter than most of them. Tony saw the Wookies for who they were, but was shot down by Vinnie's inability to take a suggestion from a subordinate. After all, at the end of the day the hippies were the same ruthless criminals who took them down as the trio would have taken anyone who was a threat to their home turf in the south end of Dana. The drug induced psychological warfare may have been a little over the top, but they lived to tell about it, didn't they?


Les finally woke up and joined his band mates and Gomer. The Shady Grove Campground emptied out as the tour kids headed to Muskrat Flats. The scene around the stage was buzzing with anticipation. The word was out that PRY was playing this free show. Gomer stood back stage with Lee, Fennel and Skimpy. They looked on as Les was engrossed in a conversation with a couple of Wookies. One of them handed Les an envelope. He hugged them both. Lee thought he saw one of them slip Les a package during the hug. Les ambled over to where the band stood. He handed Gomer the envelope.

"What's this?"

"It is a $1500 donation to the Blackstone Foundation."

"Seriously from them? Where did they get the money?" Gomer asked as he handed the envelope off to Coley Blackstone.

"Gomer, you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Let's hit it."

Les played the show relatively sober, trading licks with Gomer. They did a few Satans songs that they all knew. The crowd went wild. And right up front, as Gomer and Les hammered away at their basses was Sveltie watching his every move like a star struck groupie. From the stage Gomer could see the Hotel at the Farm Museum. He couldn't wait to meet her there, but for now, he had to rock out.

It is amazing what the brain can conjure up sometimes, whether you are drunk, stoned or tripping, there is always room for that one revelation, that one moment where everything make sense and your life will never be the same.

That moment has ruined some lives and has saved others. Les had his moment of clarity as he jammed with Gomer and Skimpy, Lee and Fennel. He wanted what they had. He wanted it more than anything and would do anything to get it ... even if it meant leaving the tour. He knew after the show, he was going to pack his bags and head for a destination of hope ... a chance to enjoy the wonderful life he had carved for himself. To truly enjoy it as he never had before.

Somewhere else in Muskrat Flats, Jerry Smith was wishing for the same thing, but he had not caught enough pain yet, he isn't quite done as he sat there alone in the dark with his best friend.

On the stage behind the Odd Fellows Hall at the corners of Petersen and McKernan Streets. Les knew. He knew he was done and his new life was about to begin as he prepared himself to be ...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats.