Teardrop – Jed (ii)

Some think that Teardrop went up the backside near Rattler’s Creek.  Most figure he fell into it and probably rolled around for awhile until climbing out.  There are a lot of sheer cliff faces on Anna Belle Mountain. I hate to think about what he went through. He was skinny as hell. Had been gone almost a month since chewing his way to freedom. Minnie was about one back then. Now she’s five. Teardrop and Minnie became friends when Minnie was two. Minnie doesn’t remember it and then when Teardrop died Minnie watched as we put him in the ground and she didn’t much act like anything was wrong, but she stared a lot, so much that I thought to myself that maybe we shouldn’t be showing this little girl so much at such a young age, but Moxy didn’t think so. Moxy said we should show that little girl so much that it hurts to have to listen to her. And I have to say it worked. It sometimes hurts to have to listen to Minnie Priestess. That’s what we all call her. She truly is smaller version of her mother. I made it clear, though, that Minnie’s full name was put on her birth certificate: Minnie Mary Jones. After all I’d done to my mother I felt I had to include her name in there somewhere.

But Minnie is funny. She’s the queen of Millsville kindergarten prep without a doubt. Her best friend is named Mimi. They met, of course, due to this name sound similarity. Mimi was taller than Minnie, and Minnie seemed to like this, maybe because it made her feel better that she wasn’t the one that everybody would stare at. Probably not. I never could figure out the minds of children. You can’t apply psychology to them in the same way. But in figuring out my life over the last few years it sure has helped to have some of those, what I now term, Minnieisms. What was it yesterday. We were at my mama’s house where Albert lives in the back still with his hamster and computer and Minnie was talking to her uncle about life. They tend to do this a lot. Later, when we’re riding home, Minnie’s sitting in her chair in the back looking straight ahead the way she does at the road and she says that Uncle Albert said that life is like a hamster cage. I think about it and figure that Albert would know working around all that lettuce all day long and figure I gotta tell my daughter something positive so I say, nah, only sometimes is it like a hamster’s cage. But she doesn’t buy it like she doesn’t buy a good 90 percent of the things I say. She needs her Minnieisms like a teddy bear. So she says “Well, if life is like a hamster’s cage then I guess I just have to make it the most comfortable Hamster’s cage I can!” And she’s right. She’s absolutely right.
But, anyway, it seems that my genius daughter is smarter than most, very eloquent and yet just five. Perhaps its a curse. Perhaps its a blessing. I tend to think its the latter. She gets it from her mom. Moxy, the most beautiful Jewish Princess I ever could have imagined, being the country boy that I am,  never took shit from anyone. I think I’m right about this. Moxy Priestess never took shit from a single living soul.

In Denver, we played the University, about 7,000 seats, packed.  Some guy jumps up on stage and I can’t get to her quick enough, but it doesn’t matter.  I’m nuts back then.  I would have ripped a guys liver out with the end of my guitar and I’ll bet I could have too, but I didn’t. Moxy used to wear these seven inch, black stiletto heels on stage.  She took one of them and pierced the guy’s groin with it, literally. I liked to think that I was the reason that Moxy Priestess made it to the cover of Rolling Stone, but it was news of little Helen Capowitz of Fort Lee, New Jersey, that drew the American people to the band.  I was the maestro and she was the style.  She was the attitude. She was Moxy Priestess. I can’t not call her Moxy now.  She just is.  Sometimes when she wants me to, I’ll call her Helen but that’s usually when we’re alone in bed and Minnie’s asleep and maybe she’s feeling a little tired and misses her dad or mom. Then I’d sing a little bit for her even though I can’t sing much and sound somewhat like a baboon. And she’d smile at me and when she really loves me she’ll look shy and say “More diamonds please” like the good little Jewish Princess that she is and I’d give em to her. I’d give her all the diamonds that she’d need and we’d go to sleep.

Of all of us I think Albert is a lot like Teardrop. There is no doubt about it. Teardrop came looking for me and so did Albert. I figured by moving up here to Anna Belle Mountain my family would know for sure that they’d found me. I didn’t want to do any more of my shit on them. I was too cool for too long. Now I’m done. I’ll be forty soon. Albert liked Teardrop but he was a little bit afraid of him since he nipped at him once while he was feeding him a carrot. Albert looked like Minnie looking at an existential problem when he looked at Teardrop. He just stood there and stared and sometimes shook his head thinking about what that mule did. Before Teardrop made his lonely trek through nothingville Albert never looked past him or at least never gave him much more attention then he’d give the chickens when he’d come over, Petals under his arms, a tape recorder in his pocket with which he’d been humming tunes that filled his head like the tunes used to fill mine but don’t anymore. I always laughed when I saw Albert, but when he opened up Petals I looked at it with love. Some would say I am a professional musician. A professional musician is somebody who can see intent within the conception of a song, I believe. Since I gave to Albert his intent, so to speak, by playing for him as a kid, I now had to finish what I started. Perhaps God brought Albert to me so that I could write Petals. I don’t know if the script is any good by the standards of Broadway, but after looking at what Albert wanted me to look at, by listening to him finally instead of him listening to me, I was able to see that my brother had a first rate idea, but all it needed to come into something was great music and I didn’t feel it anymore, but I couldn’t say no.
So we worked on Petals and worked on Petals until we couldn’t work anymore. That’s where we are now. Albert is at mama’s biting his lip, thinking about his song he’s writing called I Think I’m Dead, Galaxy Glue. I wrote a few catchy tunes, tried my hand at how I thought opera might like to sound if the genre belonged to rock and roll. Listened to the band Radiohead which influenced Albert’s creative process back before I’d even said yes to the project. It took me awhile. I had a lot of healing to do just by being back and then to throw my world into that of a woman who died at the hand of a drunk guy driving a car and then Albert putting Henri on a UFO and all. It seemed like a bunch of junk. But it took a lot of time to see what Albert was seeing. What was Albert looking at when he looked at Teardrop, not the mule, but the hero? What was Teardrop looking at when he looked up the mountain, not the hill, but the home. And I started thinking about all of these people who were looking up to me as though I could provide them with something that I was in no way, shape, fashion or form providing to anybody but myself through the use of a goddamned needle! So I said okay, Albert. I took Petals and read it cover to cover all in one night. Cover to cover and when I was done I’d felt a lot of love. I’d felt a lot of joy. I felt like everything would be alright and if somebody like my brother Albert, the same one who listened to me, the only one who it seems ever listened to my music in a way I needed it to be listened to, if he wanted me to help him, for me to listen to him, I could never say no. So now, I guess, I’m going to make Albert famous. We’re kind of like the Judds.

My mama has been a saint through all of this. When I was seventeen I stuck a needle in my arm up in my room, but I only put in half. I waited a little bit and then walked downstairs and put in the other half in front of my mama who was cutting onions. I walked outside and knew that I would never again be allowed to walk into the house. My guitar was in my GTO so everything was cool. I never went back, not that is until recently after Albert came and found me. Albert told me about what happened to mama over those years. He said he tried to keep it cool for her. He would play her some of my ballads that I wrote and Moxy sang and would say to her that everything was cool, that it was impossible for a drug addict to write such beautiful music. He learned his art by lying to my mother. My mama got old while I was gone. I never thought of my mama as old, but she’s old. My daddy died when we were kids. I know now that after daddy died I lost something somewhere inside. They didn’t mess with shrinks where I come from so we all just bucked up and took our shots when it was our turn. Daddy was a pipefitter and mama was a secretary with some college under her belt. I don’t like to remember how he died.

Albert does though. He says to me, Jed, when that man killed daddy did you want to kill that man? And he’s got a similar line in his rock opera where Diana asks Dodi why he wanted to kill Fargo, a thief who broke into their hotel room, and yet Fargo didn’t want to harm a single soul. And then I feel like Fargo and I start saying to myself that maybe I can play the role of Fargo in Petals so I secretly keep that in mind and it starts to brew inside of me so when I see Albert I don’t tell him that I’m secretly enthused about his rock opera Petals. I’ve been sitting on my ass for ten years putting shit in my veins! I’m a musician and I’m here today because I’m a musician. If Albert hadn’t have noticed I was a musician when I played for him when we were kids I wouldn’t be here. I’d be dead. I’d be dead. I’d never have made it even so far as Nashville most likely. But Albert’s eyes were in my head staring at me playing my guitar like I was a conduit to the spheres, the holy spheres. And it was all just rock and roll, but I liked it. I thought of slicing my wrist every day of my senior year. Instead I just made money selling dope to the kids, getting laid. You don’t care about shyness when you’re as stoned as I was in high school. I got two girls pregnant. Two abortions never talked about in Millsville, at least not in the public arena. One of those girls moved out of the area. The other one is still there. Moxy knows all about her and she’s like, you ought to take her to lunch someday, let her know that you still care. And after she says that little Minnie speaks up whose taking a bath. She says, “Mama, my duckie just barked at my doggie!” And we look at each other and I remember how Trevor Rees in Albert’s play pleads to everybody, bandages all over his body, he says “Love Everybody! Love! Love!” And Moxy gets this without ever having read the play and she’s not a whit jealous. So I go find the girl who I got pregnant. At first she’s scared. Of course, she’s not married and this puts a scare in me because I think she might think I want her back. But we talked over coffee at Denny’s for three hours and it was a good thing to do. A good thing. And that night when me and Moxy and Minnie were curled up in front of our fireplace talking about the happenings of the day I told her that this girl, Elizabeth is doing just fine, and she kissed me on the forehead while Minnie played and I knew, like Trevor, that it is possible to love, to really love, and to get the job done.

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Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 7:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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