Bud-guiled (Budweiser & Dr. Hook)
“Lee… I think I broke my hand.”
Let’s backtrack roughly 14 hours earlier that day. The year …1985…or ‘86… they tend to run together after awhile. The place: A lil’ ol’ town in northwest Georgia called Dalton. My friends and I were planning a big throw-down at Holly Creek. We were gonna stay all weekend, so we left out around 7 a.m. Saturday mourning. Lee showed up at my house in his old baby-shit yellow Volkswagen (at least a decade before self important pricks started buying them as some kind of middle class status symbol) with him was my other two friends Robert and Brian. “Come on man,” Lee said, “We’ve got to go get some beer.” What he really meant was, “We’ve got to find somebody to buy it for us.” All of us where well under the legal age in Georgia, except for Lee, who’s birthday was a week before they raised the age to 20 then a year later 21, so Lee was legal for about a week.
We found a guy that Robert knew and he was cool enough to help out. Around 8 a.m., we were ready to go. All four of us in an old VW, listening to Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show on a Radio Shack one speaker special powered by 4 D cell batteries (Ya’ll remember those, don’cha?) and singing to the top of our lungs. Idealistic thoughts of the weekend danced in our heads on our way to that small slice of heaven at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains called Holly Creek.
We got there around 9 a.m. and decided that we were going swimming. Just to let you know, Holly Creek during the summer, the water is cold, at this time it was mid-spring and the fuckin’ water was icy. It only came up to our bellies, so we stood there freezing our asses off, threatening bodily harm on who ever dared splash the liquid freon that we were in. Then, all of a sudden, a dude and two chicks jumped out of a 280ZX and dove into the water. One of the chicks was wearing a white T-shirt and a pair of Daisy Dukes. Much to our delight, that’s all. Let’s just say, if she ever had twins they wouldn’t go hungry. “Hey ya’ll!” her nipples seamed to scream at us. All of a sudden, we weren’t in such a hurry to get out of the water. Whether it was the chicks or the fact we all were trying to hide our excitement, you decide.
I forget whom, but someone said let’s go up to the lake on top of the mountain. We were on our way, thinking about diving off the platform into the slightly warmer water and a chance to finally start drinkin’ some beer. All was well, so we started talking about what we were gonna do and how wasted we were gonna get. All the time, still listening to the Dr. Why we only brought that one tape is still a mystery.
We got to the top of the mountain and saw a sign that changed the mood of our outing for the duration. “Jack’s River 9 miles.” “Let’s go to Jack’s River!” Brian said. “Hell Yeah!” the rest of us chorused in. In our excitement over going to the river, being the city boys we were. (Yeah, Dalton’s a city. Just not a big one.) We were used to 9 miles on a highway, we didn’t realize that this was 9 miles on a curvy dirt road through the mountains. Five, maybe, six miles down the road we had a flat. “Scott,” Lee said, “We’re gonna fix the tire, you stop the next car and asked them how to get to Jack’s.”
Now, I know my limitations. I knew what I was and wasn’t good at. Some folks tell me I’m very talented, but getting directions is not one of my talents. “Excuse me, sir,” I asked ever so politely. “Could you tell me how to get to Jack’s?” “Sure,” he said. “Go down the road a lil’ ways…take a left… take a right… pass the ol’ blue tick hound… around the opossum…” and about 12 other points of interest in about 5 seconds flat. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, sir, could you repeat that, please.” (Like my mamma always told me.) Or “What the fuck did you say?” (Like my daddy always said.) I said, “O.K.” Going back to my friends who were just finishing up. Lee with sweat and break dust all over him panted, “Well, how do we get there?”
With the fear of me looking like a dag-gum idiot I said, “Uh…. that way,” pointing down the same way we were heading.
Down the road we go still listen to the Dr. (Even though he sounded more like Barry White on Valium.) We finally get to this small country house in the middle of nowhere. “I’m going down there and find out myself how in the hell we can get to Jack’s,” Lee said with more than a hint of venom in his voice. “Ya’ll stay here.” So we waited…and we waited… and waited some more. About an hour has gone by and the Dr. was sounding less like Barry and more like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. “Where the fuck is he?” we all wondered, remembering old stories about mountain people, and their eating and mating habits. We started getting a wee-bit concerned. “Hey Brian, go down there and see if he’s O.K, ” I said. “Fuck you,” Brian quipped back. “You’re riding shot gun you go down there.” When I was going to argue the point, all are questions were answered. We saw three teenage girls frolicking with a volleyball in the front yard of the country house. A minute later, Lee came back with a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Well… where is it?” Robert fumed. “It’s about a hundred feet down the road,” Lee mused. So off we go again. Finally our visions…. our Avalon…. our Shangri-la…our Jack’s River…. was one foot deep…. just deep enough to submerge our too damn hot beer.
Now, myself, I’m a fairly mild tempered person… not known for fits of rage… I was getting more than a little pissed. My friends who were trying to make the best out of a bad situation and rightly so were saying things like, “Well at least the beer will be cold in the water.”
We must have pissed off the old Appalachian gods that the Native Americans used to pray to because the water was warmer than…well it was pretty fuckin’ warm. The Dr. gave up the ghost a long time ago and the sun was sitting gently were it usually sets, and we started getting hammered on two cases of warm-ass beer (Budweiser no less).
After a couple of hours and the day’s turmoil, we decided to go ahead and camp. Lee slept in his VW; Robert, Brian, and myself shared a small tent. Once we settled down, we started bull shitting. Robert said something that changed my life (at least at that time it did).
What was actually said remains a mystery, but I could have sworn Robert said that he slept with my girl friend. Getting a combination of angry and claustrophobic, I had to get out of the tent. Confused, angry, and hurt I was at the bottom of the abyss. Then I saw It – It being the physical manifestation of all my problems, of all that was not right in the world, of all the evil that encompasses the universe, in the form of a big Georgia pine tree. Then, it hit me. Actually, I hit it. I pulled back as far as I could and hit that evil pine as hard as my 16-year-old fist would.
“Uhhhh…Lee,” I said.
“Huh?” he mumbled with the enthusiasm that one gets when they’ve been asleep in the front seat of a VW.
“I think I broke my hand,” I said calmly.
“What?” he said groggily.
“I think I broke my fuckin’ hand,” calmly.
“Let me see. Yeah, it’s broke,” groggily.
“Shit. What do we do now?” calmly.
“I guess we go home,” too fuckin’ calmly.
“Uh, O.K.,” I shot back. (I have such a way with words.)
“Let me go tell the others… Brian…. Robert… We got to go.”
“Why?” they said in unison.
“Scott broke his hand.”
“WHAT!” they said in unison, again.
So we were on our way back home and I was feeling like t-total-shit and my three best friends in the world were looking at me like I was a big ass ant at a small ass picnic. Once again, those old Appalachian gods worked the hard-on they had against us by magically hiding the turn-off we were supposed to take. We hit a paved road long before we were supposed to.
“Where the fuck are we?” Lee was always the philosopher of our not so merry band. Not to be out done, I said, “I dunno.” Then, we came to a small convenience store called the Rebel Yell. Lee jumped out and said, “Scott, you pump gas. I’m gonna find out were we are.” By this time my hand was throbbing like a monk’s organ at a bordello, but feeling bad about being the shit-heel who screwed up our weekend, I meekly said O.K.
Lee went into the store and said, “I need 5 dollars worth of gas and were the hell are we?” The man behind the counter with sage like wisdom shining through his eyes said, “Hell boy, you’re in Blue Ridge.” For those who don’t know, Blue Ridge is on the other side of the fuckin’ mountain.
While Lee’s jaw was dropping in the store I was busy dropping things myself, mainly the pump handle. I bend down to pick it up and notice to my right that there was a gang of bikers laughing their asses off at me. “I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die and I’ll never get home,” I bemoaned. Looking at Robert and Brian in the back seat, hoping to find compassion in there faces to see that unspoken bound that best friends have for each other that says, “Yeah man, we got your back.” Well, you can guess what I saw. Those cock-suckers were laughing at me too. “You’re gonna die,” Robert and Brian was telling me without saying a single word. “You’re gonna die and we’re gonna laugh about it because you fucked up our weekend.” I slither back into the VW (because that what snails do) and Lee came back.
“Well…find out were we are?” we said.
“Uh-huh,” said Lee. “We’re in Blue Ridge.”
“Fuck,” in unison.
We traveled down the road with a vague since of where we were going. I was thinking about what kind of excuse I could come up with when I have to come face to face with my mom.
Mom never wupped me… she had something that was far worse: “The Look.” The Devil himself would say, “Damn I wish I could master ‘The Look.’” All kinds of excuses were swimming around my head: “Slipped on a rock, attacked by ninjas, aliens tried to probe me but I showed ‘em, mom.” While I was lost in my own lil’ world we stop in a gravel parking lot in Elijay. Still on the wrong side of the mountain but in bad need to stretch our legs we get out. Well, when I say we, I mean Brian, Lee, and myself. Somehow, Robert got his legs stuck in between the front seat and the back in such a way it was having a nutcracker effect on… well…. his nuts. “AAAAAGGHHHHHHH…GET ME OUT…GET ME OUT!!!!!!” he yelped a couple of octaves higher than his baritone voice is used to.
We started laughing our asses off. Don’t get me wrong, we did have concern and we did our damnedest to get him out but the combination of his girl like screaming and his bucking around like a bronco in the back seat of the VW, we just couldn’t help ourselves.
We finally got the seat to let loose and Robert, poor girly screaming Robert, poured out of the seat like beer through a funnel. Gaining our composure back we started back home. Drifting in and out of thoughts and just trying to figure out what went wrong. How did this weekend turn out to be such a fuckin’ disaster? And about my ex-girl friend…gently stroking the hat she bought me as a birthday present and wondering about her guilt, I threw it out of the VW were it flew over the Elijay Mountains into parts unknown.
“Why did ya do that?” Lee asked. “Don’t know. Closure maybe….” We finally get back to Dalton around 5 a.m. We let Brain out first. Robert was next and we settled what was said and what was not said (fuckin’ teenage bullshit). Robert was still walking funny when we let him out. His dad was outside doing something and saw us coming. When he saw Robert walking up the driveway, he had a look on his face like, “Yeah, son I know what your feeling.” Then, Lee and I went to his house and I crashed on his couch. Waking up face down, not only face down, but on my FUCKIN’ HAND.
Oh…by the way I went with the “slipped on the rock” story.