The Last Christmas Of Mike McCarthy...Part III
I wanted to finish this tonight but, as always, life gets in the way. I'll try and finish it very soon. Looks like I'll be having more free time in the next few days.
Back To The Story....
As we headed up the mountain like a bat out of hell, I could feel the tires on my car beginning to slip a bit and the speed decreased. The road crews hadn’t been out in the past half hour or so and with the constant downpour, the road was getting to semi treacherous. As usual when it was snowing to beat the band, conditions were even worse as we topped the mountain and arrived in the area known as Tynescastle.
I looked at Mike and he was absolutely wide eyed.
“Man, I’ve never seen anything like this kind of snow!” He gushed. “It’s a friggin’ blizzard!”
“Nah….this ain’t so bad.” I laughed. “We’re about ten miles to my house or two hundred yards from the bar I play at so its decision time dude. Do you wanna head to the house or go meet some friends of mine and have a few drinks?”
He thought about it for a second and opted to go to Nick’s. As I turned into the parking lot and went around to the back entrance, I looked over and saw Mike firing up another joint.
“Oh lord.” I said.
“Just puttin’ a little mellow on things Ronster.” He grinned. “I get nervous meeting new folks.”
I sat there and smoked the whole damned thing with him.
“Did you tell ‘em about me?” He asked.
“Sure I did.” I said.
“Damn man, I wished you hadn’t done that.” He snapped.
“Why?” I asked. “All I told ‘em was that my old bass player buddy was coming to visit.”
“You didn’t say anything about my…problem?” He asked.
“Hell no Mikey.” I lied. “They just want to meet you. They’ve met Dale, Tony, Mike H. and a few of the other guys I used to play with. You’ll like these folks.”
I HAD told a few friends all about Mike. With the weather being rough and everyone’s schedules, I just wanted to make certain that there would be some folks for Mike to party with. Something tells me I’ll be forgiven for the lie.
We got of the car and walked through three feet of snow to the back door. Mike was moving rather slowly and uncertainly so grabbed him by the arm and asked if he was okay.
“Yeah, I actually feel pretty good but I’m a little stiff after riding for four hours.” He said happily. “I could use a drink or twelve.”
“Well, you’re in luck big boy….the bar awaits.”
I don’t remember what time it was as we went inside, knocked the snow off our boots and walked to the bar but I do remember that we basically had the place to ourselves! I looked around the place and saw a dozen or so folks in the dining area and only a half dozen folks at the bar. All I could see were tourists….no one I knew!
I was extremely pissed off!
“Damn dude…this is a fuckin’ happening joint ain’t it?” Mike asked sarcastically. “I’ve seen more people in my damned bathroom!”
“Screw you Mike.” I snarled. “I guess everybody’s scared of the weather.”
We sat at the bar and I introduced Mike to the bartender, Suzy, a cute petite and highly neurotic young woman. She was a good enough bartender, very friendly but a little too found of cocaine and she possessed a laugh that made you wish no one would say anything funnier than ‘hello’.
Her version of a laugh would start out innocently enough with deep heavy smoker throated ‘ha ha ha’ but progressed rapidly into a staccato, rapid rate machine gun like noise that came out as ‘YaYaYaYaYaYa’ while her head tilted to one side. Her face would take on a maniacal ear to ear grin while her eyes looked wild. She always reminded of that crazy slasher woman in ‘Play Misty For Me’. Actually however, she was pretty much harmless if not a bit strange.
I left Mike and her talking while made a bee line to George’s office door. I knocked as I opened it and saw George sitting at his desk apparently doing paperwork.
“Hello Jorge…where the hell is everybody?” I asked.
“Whaddaya mean?” He asked.
“Man….John, Scotty, French, Sara, Paul, Linda, Danielle!” I said. “They said they would be here to meet my buddy Mike.”
I sat down in front of his desk and stared at him. He looked to be embarrassed.
“I don’t know man…I’m here.” He said. “I guess it’s the weather dude…the roads are bad and it ain’t supposed to let up anytime soon.”
“That’s bullshit George!” I snapped. “Hell everybody owns four by fours!”
He looked down and busied himself with his paperwork. He wasn’t acting like himself and quite frankly, I suspected that everyone was really absent due to the fact that I had told them that Mike was dying. I didn’t say it but, it’s what I suspected.
Everytime I had EVER walked into Nick’s after five o’clock in the afternoon, George and I would, at the very least, have a couple of beers and talk a bit.
Something was rotten in Tynecastle.
I stood up and walked to the door.
“Later dude.” I said over my shoulder and left the office.
I went back to the bar and immediately heard that Mike and Suzy were getting along famously. Her laughter was ricocheting off the walls as I turned the corner.
Sitting back down at the bar, I downed my drink in two gulps and motioned to Suzy for another one. I was really fuming but tried not to show it as I listened to Suzy laughing at everything Mike uttered. Only a superhuman effort prevented me from suggesting that Mike begin reciting friggin’ Hamlet or James Joyce! Anything to keep that woman from laughing!
What I DID do was sit there for ten minutes working on a slow boil.
I was thinking of all the times I had done favors for my 'friends' and how they had shafted me on this one. Hell.....if not for me, John would probably never meet a woman! Envariably when John saw a girl he liked, he'd beg me to meet her first and steer her in his direction.
I could remember being called on a late Wednesday night. It was Scotty's grandfather and he was at Nick's getting hammered. He told me that Scotty told him about me and would I please come down there and play him a few tunes. Scotty got on the horn and practically begged me and of course....I went. It doesn't matter that I had a ball playing and partying with the old guy and his friends...the point is I DID IT!
All I had asked these assholes to do was show up and show a good guy a great time.
Yep....I was seriously ticked off.
Suddenly a voice boomed through the place.
“Ah’s done been tolt that our good friend Ron the Music Dude has dragged yet ANOTHER one of his old washed up musician buddy’s up the gotdamned mountain just to bore the hell outta usuns…..AGAIN!”
A roar of laughter rose up from the formerly empty back room.
I spun around on my barstool and looked behind me.
John C., one of my best friends, had commandeered the stage, turned on my sound system and was standing there doing an Elvis style stage dance.
Suzy broke into a HUGE round of laughter and was clapping her hands in delight. She pointed at me.
“We GOT YOU!” She screamed.
I’m sure I looked a bit sheepish as George came sauntering around the bar with his best evil leprechaun expression on his face.
“Did we hurt your wittle feewings you big pussy?” He said.
George completely passed me by and walked up to Mike.
“Well, Ron said you looked like Sasquatch so….you’ve gotta be Mike.” He grinned as he clapped him on the back and offered his hand.
“Yeah…he told me you looked like a fuckin’ leprechaun only shorter so…you must be George.” Mike grabbed his hand and laughed.
They both looked at me.
“If you ask me, he ain’t got no business talking about anybody else.” Mike said. “He looks like a big ole bucket headed bastard with a beard.”
“Nah, he looks like a dick with ears to me.” George snarled.
“In the immortal word of John C., I’d just like to say ‘Fuck Yuns’!!” I laughed.
We got our drinks and headed to the back room. As we approached, John began shouting over the mic again.
“Here comes George and Ron and….Oh SWEET JESUS!! Bigfoot done followed they’s asses in here!” John screamed. “Run for yuns life!”
The crowd howled as Mike looked at me at flipped me the bird.
“Hey man…it ain’t my fault that you scare the shit out of small children and pudgy little drunks!” I laughed.
We walked around the room as I introduced Mike to everyone.
When we got to big Paul S., a wealthy, body building, huge Harley riding contractor, Mike looked at me.
“This guy’s wanderin’ around unchained in here and their scared of ME?” He asked.
“These scrawny little inbred mountain people are amazed at ‘normal’ sized dudes like us bro.” He said wryly. “Hell, they think old Ron here is a big dude.”
“The only thing big about the Ronster is his mouth.” Mike growled.
“I don’t know…maybe his memory…he’s a Jeopardy playin’ fool!” Paul said. “The asshole knows all kinds of useless shit!”
Mike looked at me and grinned.
“Yeah…he knows US don’t he?”
Just then, John walked up and offered his hand to Mike.
“I hope yuns is better’n all them other music folks Ron’s done drug up the hill!” John drawled. “This ole boy’s got some strange friends.” He said as he pointed at me.
Mike looked John up and down slowly.
“Look’s like he ain’t getting’ any better at pickin’ friends.” He snarled. “You’re John?” He said.
“How’d yuns know that?” John asked.
“Cause he told me your name you stupid fucker.” Mike growled. “I don’t like being called ‘Bigfoot’.”
John looked at me nervously and I simply shrugged my shoulders.
“Hey…ahm sorry Mike…” John began. “He told me to call you that!” He pointed at me.
Mike just glared at him until John was left standing there looking like a chastised child. Finally, Mike couldn’t resist smiling and offered his hand.
“I prefer ‘Sasquatch’….it’s much more distinguished soundin’ don’t you think?” He chuckled.
John looked as though he might pass out for a second or two. He then offered a weak smile.
“Yuns will excuse me ahm sure.” He said as he shifted from one foot to the next. “Ah fear ah may have done soiled mahself.”
He shook Mike’s hand quickly and rushed away. Halfway across the room, John turned around and threw both pudgy middle fingers in my direction accompanied by a mischievous grin.
Mike looked on and laughed.
“You were right…he’s a strange one.” He said.
“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet…wait until you see him do the imaginary sword fight with an invisible Errol Flynn!” I replied. “He’s one funny, brain damaged little fucker.”
We joined George at his table and I introduced Mike to all the folks seated there.
For the next half hour or so, we all sat around talking, drinking and laughing. Mike was a hit with everyone at the table. After awhile, Mike leaned over and told me that he had to go the restroom so I pointed the way.
“You gotta come along with me.” He said seriously. “I’m gonna need help.”
Yet another thing I hadn’t planned on!
Quite frankly, I really hadn’t gotten an explanation from Mike as to what his medical condition actually WAS other than that it had something to do with a brain tumor or something.
Suddenly, I was freakin’ MORTIFIED!
I remember that, within seconds, I imagined all sorts of ‘I’m gonna need some help’ scenarios…..NONE of which was I even REMOTELY prepared for.
WHY ME GOD?
I’m not proud of it but damn it……it’s true!
I WAS prepared to go get him, I WAS prepared to throw him a party, I WAS prepared to hang out with him, I WAS prepared to provide him a place to stay for a few days…..Hell, I was even prepared for a whole bunch of scenarios INCLUDING the friggin’ ‘being there for him if he needed someone to talk to' scenario!!HOWEVER….I had never even considered the possibility of helping him go to the john!
God forgive me but….I hadn’t signed up for THAT!
To my credit…I handled it rather well I think, considering my true nature.
While every instinct in my psychological DNA screamed at me to run from this awkward situation IMMEDIATELY….I instead, stood up and leaned close to him.
“Come on asshole….I’ll lead the way.” I growled.
A well handled situation right?
He stood up slowly and swayed a bit for a second or two.
I watched him as he collected himself and then motioned for him to follow me. Since I was didn’t want to place him OR me in an embarrassing situation in the public restroom, I guided him into George’s office and began to lead him to George’s private john.
Seconds after we entered George’s office, Mike stopped walking abruptly and spun around to look at me.
“Let’s do a bump!” He grinned.
I stared at him with what I’m sure was a shocked look on my face.
“Well?” He demanded. “You wanna split a few lines or what?”
I stood there in total disbelief as he gazed upon me with an enquiring and comical expression on his face.
“WHAT?” He asked loudly.
I basked in the weirdness of the situation for what seemed like minutes until I finally slumped against the wall.
“You said that you needed help going to the men’s room!” I shouted.
He looked at me as though I was insane.
“Yeah….I do.” He laughed. "Unless you wanna snort this shit on George's fuckin' desk!!" He waved a small baggie of Coke in my direction.
Damned if I wasn't one relieved S.O.B.!!
“Well damn Mike, I thought you…..” I began to speak and then a blast from the past hit me like a quick tap on the head with a rubber mallet.
He continued looking at me with a confused and humorous expression.
Suddenly, I remembered that our ‘code phrase’ when we were going to do a line of Coke or smoke a joint back in the old days was…..
“I’m gonna need some help.”
I began laughing and Mike continued looking at me as though I had sprouted a set of wings and a purple head.
The more I thought about what I had been dreading.….the harder I laughed.
I couldn’t help myself….
I friggin’ lost it!
After a while……I calmed myself enough to speak.
“Damn dude….I forgot that we used to say that!” I howled.
“Used to say WHAT?” He demanded.
I almost slid down the wall while laughing but, finally, I settled down.
“I thought you meant you needed HELP in the damned bathroom!” I screamed. “You friggin’ asshole!”
He stared at me for a second then staggered over and fell face first across George’s desk all the while laughing his damned head off.
For several minutes, we exchanged partial yet hysterical comments as the humor of the situation hit us in waves. I can’t remember EVER having laughed so hard in my life as Mike pantomimed dropping his pants and motioning for me to wipe his ass!
To this day, I can recall the relief, hilarity and intensity of the moment.
After a while, Mike gathered himself, sat on the desk and looked at me.
“If I ever need help going to the toilet….just shoot me in the fuckin’ head okay?” He said seriously.
“Hey, I didn’t say I WAS gonna help you…I just said that I thought that’s what you meant!” I laughed. “I was gonna lock the friggin’ door and call 911 if you needed anything more than a hand up!”
He grinned at me.
“I appreciate that dude.” He said quietly then he looked at me and grinned. “I gotta tell you though….I ain’t NEVER gonna help you in the toilet!”
I couldn’t help but break up again.
We were still laughing when the door opened and George walked in. He stood there looking at us like we were from another planet for a few seconds.
"You wanna let me in on the joke?" He asked.
We just kept laughing.
He began laughing as well even though he didn't know exactly what he was even laughing at. We've all been there I'm sure and I felt sorry for him but........how the hell do you explain? We just kept laughing.
"Guys!!" George shouted. "I'm dyin' here!! What's so fuckin' funny?"
Just then, Mike gained enough control to look at me.
"OH...." Mike roared. "George is DYING!!"
Well hell....we went off again!
Poor George just stood there while we howled. Of course, he knew about Mike’s situation but….he couldn’t let on that he did so…..he just stood there uncomfortably.
Finally, he had endured enough.
“Screw this!” He said. “I don’t even wanna know!”
He promptly spun and went into the restroom.
While George was in the restroom, Mike and I finally stopped laughing enough to breath.
“Oh lord…I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.” Mike said.
“Yeah, me either but I feel sorry for George.” I laughed. “That little bastard LOVES a good joke.”
“Well hell, we’ll tell him!” Mike announced. “Who am I to withhold a good laugh?”
And so it happened that when George emerged from the restroom, Mike walked over to him and draped his big arm over George’s shoulders and told him the story.
George tried to act surprised but then again…..George ain’t exactly an actor.
I had already told him about Mike’s condition so it was no shock to him. He feigned surprise and tried to console Mike but Mikey continued on to the reason we had been laughing. As Mike revealed the whole story, George went from mock surprise to hysterical laughter at the speed of sound!
He exploded into paroxysms of laughter and of course…we joined him.
We laughed until we couldn’t breath.
Once things settled down, we looked at each other and squirmed a bit in the uncomfortable silence. Mike finally broke the silence.
“You told him didn’t you?” He asked me.
“Yeah…I did.” I admitted.
“Damn, I’m glad you did.” He laughed. “I’d hate to think this little fucker was cold hearted enough to laugh at this shit if he didn’t already know!”
We all laughed nervously until George pushed Mike’s arm off of his shoulder.
“Well, you ain’t dead yet so….let’s go have a drink.” He ordered as he looked at Mike. “Just remember asshole...my fuckin’ insurance don’t cover big ole Sasquatch lookin’ assholes dyin’ in my place!”
To Be Continued.....