The only friend who didn’t betray me was my personal savior, my Dragon. Only the Dragon could silence the flutes and chase away all those demons. My sweet, sweet Dragon was the only remedy for everybody else’s insanity; the only cure for the pain. After a three day binge of mainlining anything liquid into my arms including, Tanquerey Gin and Nyquil, I finally got a hold of Socrates. He was a good old boy that only dished out quality merchandise. So last night I continued my marathon love affair with my personal heroine. Sometime during the evening, my heroine loved me a little too much. Something felt different as I nodded down the rabbit hole. I don’t know why, maybe divine intervention, but I called 911. Three rings and tiny voice answered, “911, please state the nature of your emergency.” I was losing my grip, and could hardly move my lips. “Help,” was all I managed to whisper as the phone dropped to the floor. I slid down the side of the wall, my head embracing the liquid floor beneath me. The last thing I remember was seeing the needle still stuck in my arm and being powerless to lift a finger to remove it. My name is Logan and for the second time in my life, I am dead. Five years, six months, and thirteen days after the Dragon and I first met, she had slain me. I am in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. I hear voices. I see spirits flickering in and out of existence before me. One of the spirits is speaking to me, “Stay with us, c’mon you’re stronger than this!” they shout. I see the old man at the newspaper stand where I use to stop in the mornings. I hear him try to preach Christ to me, and I wish I had listened to him. I wonder if Jesus Christ were here in this ambulance, would he try to save me? Or just shake his head? The grayscale shifts into color and I hear a bass drum. It begins barely audible then comes to the front, overshadowing all other sounds. Somebody whispers, “Thank God, we got him back,” and I feel what I think is someone’s head on my chest. I feel cold sweat on my skin. I am thankful for this, so very thankful. I open my eyes completely, and for the first time, in a long time, I can hear clearly. The bass drum I hear is not my returning symphony; rather it is my own heartbeat. I feel the pain from my battle with the Dragon and the paramedic’s resuscitation skills, and I cry because I’m tired of being numb and I want to feel everything. I cry because I never really wanted to be dead. I cry because I’m afraid of yesterday and tomorrow. I cry because I know I can no longer pet my Dragon. I cry because I don’t know how to really be alive, but I will try and I will fight. My name is Logan and for the first time in my life, I am alive.
Working the darker parts of the city for so long meant that was where I actually felt more comfortable. It was in one such place, the corner of 12th street and Oak, that I found myself standing after a long evening of walking nowhere fast. Staring out through the rain, I saw a former informant who went by the name Beetle. He was a piece of trash who would sell his own mother if it meant saving his ass. I knew he had what I wanted. I began to hear flutes playing somewhere in the distance as I made my way across the street to him. It really didn’t take more than ten minutes of negotiating to convince him I wasn’t wearing a wire and he wasn’t going to get arrested for satisfying my cravings. We slid around the corner to the shadows and exchanged our goods. He cautiously accepted my money, and I hungrily snatched up the three bindles of Persian Black he possessed. Beetle and I went our separate ways and I intended on racing home to open my new gift to myself, but the flutes became too loud to bear. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the rain-soaked pavement beside a dumpster rolling up my shirt sleeve. I had trouble holding the needle still my hands were shaking so hard. Thank God for my thirsty veins; they guided the needle home. Beetle and I had regular dates from that evening on and we developed a love / hate relationship. He loved me because I was his new, best customer; I hated him for making this shit so accessible to me. I hated him for not shooting me on sight that rain drenched evening. I hated him almost as much as I grew to hate myself. But in the end, it was always Beetle’s magic potion that would make the hate and the flutes go away. Entering the third year of my relationship with the Dragon, the paranoia we all read about took over my life and I became a captive audience to myself. I had taken out a second mortgage, installed a security system in my home, and hired general contractors to put iron bars across all the windows. My neighbors had forgotten who I was, and I had a delivery service drop off the occasional meal from the grocery store when I chose to answer the door. By the fourth year, I was unreachable. The message on my answering machine simply said, “You know what to do.” Whenever I thought about it, I would erase the fifty or so messages that had stacked up. My mother had given up any hope of my ever calling her back. I wore loose shirts to hide the fact that I had lost about twenty pounds. My complexion had turned a pasty white, my eyes were sunken in, and my ribs were showing. Even within my own prison, I couldn’t stand the sight of myself in the mirrors. I made it my mission to cover up or break any reflective surfaces or mirrors, in order to save myself from seeing the abomination I had become. By year five, my old friend Beetle quit selling me smack. He said I had gone psycho, even by his standards. I felt betrayed, but moved one of my other dealers up the food chain by the end of that afternoon. It seemed everyone was betraying me; even the alarm company which monitored my house wouldn’t take my calls anymore. They sent an agent over one day to explain to me, that calling fifteen times a week to complain about the army of voodoo priestesses trying to break into the closet where I was hiding was out of hand. I reminded them that voodoo priestesses weren’t the only ones trying to capture me. There were also the ninja midgets, the alien from the Predator movie, the endless stream of babies carrying butcher knives, and on one occasion Superman himself had tried to bust me up.
The lion produced a knife and began tugging and ripping at my coat sleeve; clawing through my shirt until my arm was naked to his hot breath. All I could hear were the flutes, building into a crazed nonsense which had no right to be in my song. I prayed for my gun to materialize in my bound hands as the lion reached for his syringe and hastily plunged it into my flesh. The needle felt like teeth sinking into my soul as the flutes finally stopped playing. My name is Logan and for the first time in my life, I was afraid. I felt myself sinking deeper into the chair. It was an instant intoxication of complete calmness; something I had never before experienced. There were no drum rolls, no cymbal crashes to mark the denouement. I heard the hunter grumble, “Dump him.”Then, there was only silence and rest. I woke up three days later in room 202 of Jenny Edmondson Memorial Hospital. Everything hurt. Everything burned. The doctors had said I was found in an alley by a Good Samaritan who called an ambulance. They say I should have been DOA if not for the brave paramedics who saved me. They had jabbed a needle full of adrenaline into my lifeless heart, then shocked me a few times for good measure en route to the hospital. I found it ironic that one needle killed me, while the next one saved me. The next few days were spent in endless interviews by Internal Affairs and psychologists of every shape and size. It was determined that I was most likely emotionally traumatized, and should take a forced leave. I fought the valiant fight and protested with all my might, but in the end I turned in my badge and gun until the time came when the upper brass saw fit to reinstate me. There I was, a man who once lived for the rush, being force-fed pure boredom. I spent my time trying to get into three or four books, watching reruns of M.A.S.H., and going on long walks. I would often shove some food and a change of clothes into my gym bag and walk for hours, sometimes not returning home until two days later. I tried everything to pass time, but there remained a hunger inside of me. I was experiencing hot chills and cold sweats. I had trouble making minor decisions. My hands were trembling. My mind could only focus on one thing; the one thing nobody else had accounted for. I was going through heroin withdrawals.
For me, working the vice unit was like a symphony. Each character is a piece in the orchestra and I am the conductor. Most times it was my own heart which provided the beat for the others to follow. I knew how each concerto should ultimately build up to the crescendo and finale. I knew I had to direct the chorus in the path I intended. To fall short would set back the investigation months, or longer, and could result in the premature, and most likely, permanent end of my heartbeat. I rang the buzzer to the penthouse, and without an answer from the intercom, the door opened. The apartment was lavishly decorated with all the things I couldn’t afford on a cop’s salary. I was envious as I scanned my surroundings and took in crystal vases with wild orchids, lamps and furniture I’d only seen in catalogues, a balcony which overlooked the thirty story drop to the pavement below, and three large men. To be clear, there were two large men and one extremely large man. They could have been triplets; they all had the same designer suits, all had long hair slicked back in a pony tail, and all were looking at me like a caged lion waits for the next slab of meat from the zookeeper. The real difference between them was the obvious respect that two of the lions were showing for the third. They were standing on either side of the imposing leather chair which their master was seated. Each one was standing with hands folded loosely in front of his waist. I could see their suits had been tailored to conceal shoulder holsters, and the look in their eyes told me they were willing and able to unleash hell. I was directed to sit in the chair directly across from the lions. I heard the strings in my orchestra begin the concert, and somewhere I heard a flute dancing strange arpeggios. “My boys tell me you’re looking to move product,” the revered one growled. His two cubs shifted their weight from one foot to the other, almost in unison. “It would be unwise for a man to do business without completely knowing his merchandise.” The edges of his lips curled up revealing a macabre imitation of a smile. He raised the index finger on his left hand, and the cub on that side of his chair obediently leaned over the table between us placing a small wooden box in front of me. It was no larger than a pencil box and had the letters “D.O.A. “engraved in the lower right hand corner. The flutes grew louder in my head. I was waiting for the woodwinds to begin. I could always count on the woodwind section to take charge and move things in the right direction, but they were strangely silent. All I could hear were those damn flutes. I had hoped my nervousness wasn’t showing as I reached into my inside coat pocket to retrieve my own little brown box. “I always use my own rig,” I said as Tweedledee and Tweedledum flinched slightly in response to my movement. My own rig contained a syringe with a mixture of baby laxatives and water. I might spend a while in the toilet later, but my mind would be clear and my reflexes sharp. In the past, using my own set up had done the trick just right. I could simulate the act of poisoning myself, without actually doing it. It was all just another note to be played in a measure that would complete the song. “I insist you use ours,” the lion sneered. Before I could protest, the lion cubs were on me. I felt the cold steel of two guns pressed against my head on either side. The other instruments backed off and the flutes continued playing. Damn flutes. With surprising agility and quickness the boss rose from his throne and was at my side. I cursed myself for not informing the shift supervisor that I was going solo tonight. The hungry predator knelt before me with that stupid smile, looking like a grotesque proposal. I was waiting for him to say something like, “until death do us part” before the goon squad’s bullets made oatmeal out of my brain.
My name is Logan and for the second time in my life, I am dead. I am lying on a gurney in the back of an ambulance. I am listening to hurried voices question each other about the value of putting the keys in the ignition and tearing off through the metal and concrete canyons of the city. Their voices ebb and flow into my fading consciousness like a foamy tide that’s tickling the edge of a beach. I can only guess what the paramedics are doing right now. I open my eyes and everything is out of focus. There are no hard edges; nothing to discern one object or person from the next. There is only a whirlpool of colors with no meaning. The colors melt away, leaving behind shades of grey. I know it’s coming soon; the blessed silence I have often prayed for. There is a familiar bite into my flesh. My mind flirts with the possibility of sinking even deeper into this comfortable darkness. The few shreds of reasoning I have left convince me that these jesters do not offer the numbness I crave; instead they are trying to cram Narcan into my already collapsed veins. I wait anxiously to see a tunnel with a light at the end, or ghosts of those who have already passed on. I keep waiting for something I can never have. I’m sure all those ghosts I’ve sent there wouldn’t offer a warm reception anyway. There is another bite in my chest. My skin tingles and screams in anticipation. My nerves await nourishment like baby birds with beaks wide open waiting for momma to come and satisfy their hunger. I know the routine though; I know this would be the adrenaline needle straight into my heart. They are still trying to save me. I wonder why I am worth this effort. Why am I worth saving when I can’t save myself? I sense movement and hear a siren in the distance. I know this should hurt but I have been numb for so long. It feels like just another passing moment. I am hoping even the gray will fade before they break out with the paddles. If I live through this, the resulting pain from having electricity jolt through the body is all consuming. I know, because I have been here before. My name is Logan and for the second time in my life; I am dead. To understand the end of the story, you must understand the beginning of the end. My first waltz with the Dragon took me by surprise in the dead of a Nebraska winter five years ago. The snow was slamming against the windshield as I cursed the icy road for not letting me move past third gear. I reached to the small of my back and took out the concealed nine millimeter and holster I carried. I always felt naked without my security blanket, but removing it was a necessary evil for tonight. As I arrived at my destination and killed the ignition, I realized I still had my badge lanyard around my neck. It sparkled by the glow of the streetlight overhead for all of creation to see. I hastily tore it off, causing an irritating burn around my neck where I broke the chain. I crammed the badge and gun into the glove compartment and locked it. For a moment I had forgotten who I was meeting in the upstairs apartment, but taking the stairs instead of the elevator afforded me those precious moments I needed to rehearse my lines and prepare for this evening’s performance. Something they don’t teach in the squad room is how to act. The art of convincing somebody that you are who you say you are, despite the fact that you are the complete opposite, is Oscar material. It’s all a matter of getting in the right head space, meaning theirs. You have to learn how to read body language, tonal inflections and the way other people act and react to their actions. In order to catch a thief or a drug dealer, you need to act like one. It’s a thin line agents walk on, constantly in danger of becoming the very thing they despise. When one plays the role long enough, they become the role. There is a constant threat of losing yourself in your work.
So here I am sitting outside with the wookie (aka-Cassie the Golden Retriever) trying to prepare for a speech I am to give tomorrow morning at an Honor's Breakfast. As usual there are a million things I could say afterall, I have a story for everything. But how does one sum up life experiences in a short address? Who wants to hear about "this one time...at band camp?" My mind races in the endless circles it's so use to. I can feel my heart beat begin to pound my rib cage. The wookie chews on a tennis ball. I wonder how she can be so content lying there in the sun when there is clearly so much to be done. I look at her and slowly begin to understand. I will admit that lately I've been a little stressed. I've returned to college life after a two decade hiatus. I've recently accepted a promotion at work. I still need to prepare a set list for this Sunday's show at the Glass Onion Cafe from 2-4pm. (shameless plug) I need to write this speech which needs to be age appropriate for all school age children and they're adult mascots. The wookie has moved over to bathe not so gracefully in the sun. Maybe the wookie is on to something here. The sun warms the pavement. There is a slight gentle breeze tickling the hairs on my arms. I attempt to shift positions because my leg begins to cramp. This takes a few moments because the cramps and slowness of movement are both cute little gifts Parkinson's has given me. I am now struck speechless. I stop fighting with my own body and just let it be where it wants to. Everything stops. The scenery around me shifts into some kind of "Matrix" slow motion thing. For a moment I am completed by my surroundings. I have an epiphany of sorts. This moment was created for me. I am a key ingredient in this moment. Whatever challenges I may face on a minute to minute basis on any day cease to matter. Every moment is presented to us as it should be. It is up to each of us to accept the moment and bring it into our hearts and souls. The wookie is staring at me. Each moment is a unique gift. How we face these moments is what defines us. There are no ordinary moments. Each one presents itself as it was designed to do. Each one creates within us an opportunity to embrace it and possibly face our fears. Challenges? I don't see the word "challenge" as being a noun with a negative meaning. Rather, I see it as a verb with a chance to face those things which might frighten us. I see the word as a positive defining characteristic of being who we are meant to be. Being all we are capable of being. The wookie wags her tail and walks over to me. Looks like its taking quite a bit of effort to do this. I take a quick time out to stroke her forehead and rub behind her ears. I know she likes this, we seem to be connecting here. In this moment maybe the wookie and I were placed together on this patio for each other. Maybe we were here today to give each other a little nudge and offer comfort. (I have to admit that I enjoy the attention she gives me also) I challenge anyone who reads this to see for yourselves that there are no ordinary moments in this life. I challenge you to lie in the sun and feel its energy. I challenge you to sit still and feel the breeze flow through you. I challenge you to open the door for a stranger or say "hello, how are you today?" to someone and recognize that right then and there could be the moment that other person needed in they're day. I challenge you to do the next right thing and perpetuate positive energy. The wookie is smiling at me.
As I sit here sipping coffee and listening to birds chirp I have reminded myself to be thankful for the blessings in my life. I have recently felt engulfed with homework and I still wonder what kind of a bone head was I to go back to college after two decades. Which brings me to my point. November 7 at The Glass Onion Cafe I will be performing from 2-4pm. This will be a most welcome change from the drudgery of reading and writing and critical thinking. This upcoming show also reminds me to count my blessings. With so many family and friends who regularly attend I often forget to say "Thank You". Without your love, encouragement and support I would be playing my songs to passing ants on the back patio. So, Thank you for attending! As always, proceeds from this show will benefit my Team Fox efforts to aid the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Collectively we can share our blessings with others.
The August 1st fundraiser for Team Fox (The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research) was a raging success! Thank you to the Glass Onion Cafe in Tucson, AZ for hosting our little party and especially thanks to Greg Bryan reporter/photographer with the Arizona Daily Star for taking the time to speak with me and for the fabulous article in the newspaper. Events like this are only a success with the generosity and support of fans and people in attendance. Together we will continue to share our love of music and raise awareness for people with PD everywhere. Together we can help put the money into the cure and not just the next best medicine. Thank you !!!!! To see the article in the Arizona Daily Star copy and paste this link into your browser. http://azstarnet.com/news/local/northwest/article_33f035bf-4b1a-52f4-af4b-e1ba13306af6.html
I remember picking up my first guitar and saying to myself, "I'm gonna be a rock star!". After learning a few chords and figuring out what adding distortion and crunch would do to my parents mood, I then changed my outlook to "If it's too loud, your too old." Now here I am over two decades later and I have learned that music speaks where words fail. These days my efforts are centered more on the 12 string acoustic sound. The way the guitar sings and reflects whatever mood I'm in is a lovely experience. My guitar and I have formed a symbiotic relationship of sorts. I am constantly impressed with the level of talent in other artists and musicians I see. I try to draw from each experience and add to my own. When words fail us, when we can't describe to others or ourselves what we are feeling, music speaks. I know if other song writers are reading this right now, they will understand what I mean. So I would like to thank all the musicians, artists and song writers I've listened to on the radio, worked with or watched perform over the years. Thank you for sharing with me your tremendous talents and speaking to me through music: the universal language.