Is Jed Dead? – Albert

My brother rocked. I mean, my brother rocked like nobody else’s brother rocked.  When he was 22, he filled Wembley.  That’s when he was with Moxy Priestess.  Kids now don’t remember Moxy Priestess all that much, but everybody around here knows that at least they were famous. Stadium rock famous.  I grew up with that music with Jed around.  Zeppelin, Rush, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, April Wine, Blackfoot. All that shit.  But Jed was the best.  I don’t care. I’ll say it.  Van Halen opened for him in ’79  for God’s sake.
The Priestess played for four years and that’s all.  Jed was lead guitar and sometimes he sang backup if they needed him to, but they didn’t ask him much because, like I said, Jed rocked on the guitar and they didn’t want to interrupt him.  He was easily as good as Stevie Vai, comparable to Eddie.  Jed worshiped guys like Clapton and Page.  He got to play with Page, eventually, and I saw him on a T.V. show talking about it and he sounded excited like a little kid, and you didn’t get that much from Jed, because he was all grown up by that time, sticking the needle into his arm everyday.
The last we heard from Jed was March 11, 1990. He was high on dope.  I remember it was March because everybody was putting up green all over town in the businesses, and when my mom screamed over the phone at Jed that he was banished from the house, she used that very word “banished,” I noticed that my mom had on a green pin of a shamrock, and I thought to myself how that word didn’t sound very happy like a shamrock was supposed to be.  My mom never talked about Jed after that.  All she ever said about that phone call was that he was on drugs and she left it at that.  But over the years of not hearing from Jed, I could tell she hurt inside.  I noticed this more and more as I got older.
I don’t know what happened to Jed.  I imagine he became one of those people you see in those tragic futuristic movies with oil on their faces huddled together over some street grate spewing off steam, or sitting in sewage tunnels waiting to die unless they get another hit of crack or smack soon.  Simply put, we lost him, he fell off the earth just like Lady Diana.
Now, I work at the same market that Jed used to.  I remember that short story we had to read in high school by John Updike about a kid who quits working at the market after the manager kicks these girls out of the store for wearing bikinis.  Not a chance for me.  I need the money.  I’ve got something to do. I’ve got a plan.

Like I said, everybody in my town of Millsville, a name not quite thought out but typical of the mind set of the people in my town: bland, boring, given by people who couldn’t even think to just call the damned town Mills, everybody at least knows Jed was famous.  But who are we?  Millsville, Tennessee.  Population 14,782 according to the sign leading into town that was last changed as far as I can remember never.  I think we’re over 20 now easy.  People grow up and move away.  Our town is getting bigger.  Nobody cares anymore, really, that Jed was famous.  I mean, where do old rockers go?  Probably hell.  It doesn’t matter.  It takes a lot to be remembered as a rocker because music changes so much, even rock, and people don’t want to give away their age by claiming an allegiance to an old band.  Suddenly it’s like you’ve got to love Rage Against the Machine or Garbage or, you know, new bands, to be cool, but even these bands are going down.  There are very few supergroups.  Rockers generally end up playing Vegas eventually.  Ludicrously, they do everything they can from actually greasing back their balding heads and putting on lavender suede suits.  Elvis wasn’t stupid.  He knew he was going down so he went all the way while he was alive so nobody could ever say he would have ended up a schlep.  He chose to be a schlep first and say fuck’em.
Anyway, like I said, I don’t know what happened to Jed.  I’ve got no real problems here in Millsville.  Got a job, got no brother, but that’s no problem unless I think about it.  I try not to. But when I do, I wonder about the nature of problems in general, I mean, is a problem a problem when there is no proof that the subject of the problem is even alive?  Yeah, it is.  It’s the same old thing as the MIA’s in Vietnam.  Jed’s MIA and that’s a problem.
The market’s a problem only because it sucks.  You check through people and ask them if they need plastic or paper.  You give out so much plastic and paper that you wonder how long it can last.  This shit’s got to run out eventually I figure, but I give it away anyway.  “Paper or plastic, ma’am?”  “Paper, please.”  But wouldn’t you rather save a tree today? But I don’t ever say it.  Hell no she wouldn’t.  “Paper, please.”
Why don’t they just get smaller garbage cans and put the plastic in their cans?  Come to think of it, why don’t they just shove the garbage cans, the plastic, and the paper bags right on up their too well-to-do asses and give us all a break?  In case you can’t tell, I make $5.75 per hour.  Sometimes I take home old chicken from the deli at night and have even been known to throw in a polish sausage on the sly under the eyes of co-conspirators.
It’s an awkward feeling that I possess when I take a little bit of food from my protectors, but thinking about it now, and relating it in this way as I am, I feel that if management could listen, only listen to my thoughts, I would have only this choice morsel of wisdom to relate: Fuck You.
I’m a member of the club of losers in this world.  I, for one, a newly conscious member of my station in life, holding this knowledge close, have obtained by it a certain freedom that will allow me to detach myself from the masters of the world if their veritable and, according to themselves, non-existent thumbs ever proceed to descend from on high.
I am a master dodger, an artist truly, a playwright, musicals.  I write musicals.  I never told you this, but I do.  So I am not unarmed, you see.
Well, so far you know this: I live in Millsville and I write musicals.  My brother Jed is dead or so we think, everybody but me. But that’s the standard line.  No body has been found.  My life is a joke with nobody left to laugh at it, and I am much too young to feel this way.  I have been improperly received, conceived, and laughed at by the world who doesn’t generally take kindly to people with mouths like mine.  I shoot my wad through a pen, and at the end of it all is a splatter of hope that maybe, just maybe, Jed isn’t dead. But even then, that is something of a shot idea.  Beat.  That is, without hope.  I just can’t stop wondering what happened to my brother.
My friends laugh at me, but I’ve decided that I’m going to look for Jed.  I’ve got a few hunches as to where he might be. I figure he’s in New York because Jed always gravitated toward the big time and New York has got the big time everything.  So he’s in New York, I figure.  They got the best crack houses there.

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Published in: on August 29, 2009 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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