We pull up the Stones’ driveway an hour later .
“Ya ain’t shittin’, ay. Who lives here.
“My guitarist’s folks. What’s with the Canadian accent. You ain’t a Canuck, are ya.”
“No more’n yer a farmboy bringin’ in the crops.”
“We both gots our secrets, don’ts we.”
“Still gonna ‘vite me in?”
“Only if’n ya don’ts laughs at Jack’s father. We call ‘im Daddy.”
“An’ wot kinda Daddy’s that?”
“Maybe ya best sits in the truck after all.”
“No way. Ya promised me one of yer adventures, like ‘Gatorsaurus. I’s yer ride. I will not be denied.”
“No denyin’ it, but if’n ya wants a real adventure today, jist keep yer mouth shut. It’ll be worth it, ‘less ‘course ya really gots sumtin’ ta say.”
“Got it, Captain, oh my Captain,” he even salutes.
While this palaver is going on, Isabelle comes out to see who has arrived.
“Senor Tim,” she exclaims.
“Best call me Huck, Isabelle,” as I stuff my hand over Vic’s mouth. “Este Senor Stone en casa?”
“Si. Come. Good to see you. Your friend’s name?”
“Este Victor, gracias.”
“She’s just the maid,” I whispered to him as we follow her in. Mummy and Daddy are by the pool, having their afternoon libation.
“Tim,” they both cry.
“Sorry to bother you, Mr. and Mrs. Stone, but can you help me call Johnny?”
“Oh, Tim. When did we get so formal around you,” as she opens her arms to me.
When I reach out and am pulled into a hug, I sob just once. “Oh, Mommy. I’m so sorry.”
“We’re sorry, too, Tim. We sent him away to protect him from evil people, not from you,” Mr. Stone answers. “And, please just call me Dad. Daddy’s okay but Johnny has stopped calling me that as well.”
He reaches out and shakes my hand. I can’t help it and pull him into a tentative hug, for about two seconds. They both smile at me.
“And your older friend?” Mommy queries.
“This is Vic, he rescued us yesterday. I promised to show him Miami.”
“Have you had anything to eat, Vic,” she asks.
“No. ma’am. Nots yet,” he answers.
“Isabelle, can you take Vic into the kitchen and fix Tim and him some food.”
Vic follows her obediently.
“You’re such a wonderful hostess, Mummy.”
“Of course, my dear. Now why don’t you follow Edgar into the study. Find out what my youngest son has done to terrify those poor Swiss monks. If I remember properly, he should be at evening prayers right now. I know your call will be an answer to one of those prayers tonight.”
‘Ha ha’ we all laugh. Huck is laughing at me. I could strangle him. I’m too excited to care about Huck right now.
“Tim, not to dampen your enthusiasm, but after calling Johnny, I have to insist that you call your dad,” Mr. Stone tells me.
“’Of course.” I’m tempted to say that Dad will only tell me to turn myself in. I realize that the Stones don’t know they’re harboring a fugitive. I just have to speak with Jack. I can only stay here long enough for a call.
I sit there trying to think what I’ll say, but nothing feels right. Mr. Stone is speaking French into the phone. He hands it to me. I almost drop it.
“It’s okay, Tim. They went to get him. He’ll be as happy as you are to talk.” He leaves me by myself.
Finally, Jack comes on the line.
“I told you I cannot have calls at night,” he sounds so snotty.
“Always whinin’, ain’t cha?” Huck takes over.
“Tim! Oh my god. Oh my god.”
“Yes, My son.”
“I miss you so much,” now he’s more sincere than whiny.
“Me. Too. I knows ya don’ts wants ta be over there. Wish you’d all come back.”
“Your accent – You been hiding up in Carolina with Floyd and the boys.”
“Sorta, more on my own in the sticks. I miss you so much. I thinks ‘bouts ya every day.” I’m suddenly overwhelmed about all we’ve lost. I start crying.
“Don’t cry. I can’t stand it,” and he’s crying too.
“How ‘cha git ta Switzerland? Is it all nice with cows and chocolate. Didcha meet Heidi and the von Trapp Family?”
“I hates it here,” he’s picking up on my accent. “Martin took me to Cannes. Andy had me stay with him on Jackie O’s yacht. The Press had a field day with photos of us flirting. And the von Trapps are Austrian and live in Vermont.”
“Didcha do it with Andy, ya little pervert. Did he feed ya pot and you go crazy?
“No way. He’s got a condition from when he got shot. He hasta wear a shit bag all the time.”
“He’s really sweet, Tim. Father Frank said the Miami Police will charge me with indecent behavior if I come back. He arranged for me to attend school in Geneva. It really sucks.”
“Me, too. Everything fell apart when Max was shot.”
“Oh, Max. The bands done, Tim.”
“Yeah, Jay told me. Washed up at 16.”
“I heard they sent ya ta drug rehab. Are you finished?”
“It was a scam. No rehab, just juvenile jail out by the Everglades. Total indoctrination. I’s escaped with this boy. We’s bin livin’ out in the Everglades for four months. Gots us a cool camp. We caitch fish and have a panther who comes every night to listen to us singin’. We call us The Hillbilly Brothers, tryin’ ta make babies wid each other. We go by Tom & Huck. The local hippies sometime feed us. We sit around singing hippie songs.”
He laughs. Then seriously he asks, “He’s yer boyfriend now, huh?”
“Naw, we’s jist brothers. He’s only 14. He gots swamp fever taday. I has to bring ‘im to the hospital. They’s a’keepin’ him overnight, so we snuck on down to yer folks so’s I kin call y’all.”
“Ya’s always havin’ adventures. My life totally sucks now.”
“Ya went ta Cannes. How’d that go?”
“Great. Ya gots ta see Martin’s movie. It’s all ‘bout you and how much you loved Jace. They mix the concert footage in with our recording session. It got some award. Then I gots ta play with Pink Floyd in a bull ring in Nice. They’s crazy. T’was cool.”
“Whens the movie comin’ out.”
“It hasn’t been picked up by the movie industry distributors. They say it’s too gay.”
“Aw, man. I’ll never git ta see it.”
Suddenly a man comes on the line, speaking French.
“I gots to go, Tim. Please call me agin.”
“I gots ta tell ya. I cain’t feel Jace in my heart no more. You neither. They cursed me at The Program.”
“He’s there, jist like I is. I’ll never leave ya.”
The line goes dead.
I’m drained. As promised, I dial my house. Luckily Susan picks up.
“Hi, Mom. I miss ya sumthin’ terrible.”
“Tim. Is that really you. You sound strange. You okay.”
“Yeah. Fine. I’s livin’ out in the country. This’ns how we all talk. Sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry about, son. We’ve been so worried. Are you okay?”
“Yes’m. I’s doin’ fine. I guess I best talk to Dad.”
“He loves you, Tim. He just finds it hard that you are defying the Court.”
“Yes’m. I cain’t come in yet, that’s all.”
She yells for Dad, “Tim’s on the phone, dear.”
To me she said, “You come home soon, you hear me.”
Dad is quickly on the line.
“Where are you, son?”
“Out in the country, Dad. I had ta bring a boy in ta the hospital. First chance ta call ya.”
“You listen to me, Tim. You must turn yourself in. The longer this goes on, the more trouble you’re in. You’ve always accepted the consequences of your actions. You’ll be an adult soon. You need to finish drug rehab and clear your juvenile record.”
“Don’t ask me to do the wrong thing. You will not get out of this situation without standing up and being a man. Stop taking the easy way out.”
“Do you think this has been easy for me? I’ve lived on my own for four mouths.”
“You have a long way to go before you’re a responsible adult.”
I hang up without saying goodbye. I know he still loves me. But he sure has a strange way of showing it.
Walking back into the living room, Mr. Stone gives me an inquiring look. I just shake my head, “Dad isn’t about to forgive me.”
“How’s my favorite son?” Mommy asks.
I smile, “He’s as feisty as ever. Thank you so much. I needed that call.”
“Well, join your friend and get some food. You look starved,” she instructs me. Their good manners keep them from asking embarrassing questions.
“Where’s ya bin at?” Vic asks. “I’s ‘bout to eat your plate. That Isabel’s a mighty fine cook. This here’s called a BLT.”
“Blacks lives, too?”
“No, stupid, bacon lettuce ‘n tamata.”
“If’n you’s wants mo,’ jist say so.”
“Naw. Only spoil myself fer rice ‘n beans.”
“Ya wanna git high?” I whisper.
“Does the Pope shit in the trees?”
“Hush. They’s all Catholics here.”
Once we’re finished, I thank the Stones. Vic and I drive to Robby’s. I hope that Mary will get Flo to come over. I need someone to love me. We knock on Robby’s window. Vic doesn’t think it odd we don’t use the front door.
“He yer dealer?”
“An’ the drummer. Check it out,” I tell him how to hold the joint where there is a hole poked through it.
“Just pile in. Everybody else does,” Robby calls from inside his room..
I push myself up and in. Then I help pull Vic in. It’s as if nothing has changed since I first started getting high. Dave, Jazz, Dawn and Mary are either on the bed or the floor while Robby lords over his gang from his arm-chair.
“Tim. You’ve back. Come to get high and undo all the drug rehab?” Robby needles me. “Who’s the stranger”
“Howdy. Is y’alls in False Gods?”
“That band’s history,” Robby pronounces. “We’ve moved on.”
“Vic’s in my new band, the Hillbilly Brothers. We’s doin’ Country now.”
“Shure thing,” Vic confirms.
They look at me in shock. Then they all are laughing and come over to hug me and slap me on the back.
“Well, y’all gonna welcome us with a smoke?” I ask.
Robby reaches behind his ear and brings out the perfunctory joint. He lights it and hands it to Vic. Everyone watches intensely, ready to laugh about the Robby Special. Vic looks at it, finds the hole, covers it and inhales deeply. He coughs and sputters from the hit.
“This is some fine shit,” he pronounces after getting his breath back, passing me the joint.
“Primo Jamaican Ganja,” Robby beams.
Vic and I look at each other, high as kites on one hit. We smile and break into ‘One Toke Over the Line.”
Dave does the high chorus of ‘sail aways.’ I miss Tom’s cracked voice, making me realize how much I do love him.
“We gots a new band, The Hillbilly Brothers, tryin’ ta make babies wid each other.” I announce.
Everyone wants to know what has happened, so I tell the Tale of ’Gatorsaurus at Alligator Alley.’ After Robby brings out the bong, I ask Mary if she can get Flo to come over. She suggests we all meet at Michael’s.
“Where’s Hippie?” I ask. “Heard he’s married and all.”
“Yeah, that bitch of his won’t let him out until he gits her pregnant,” Dave says.
“Sounds like a true Hillbilly Brother, too,” I decide. “Get ‘im ta meets us’n at Michael’s. We gonna be a’jammin’.”
“No way I’m goin’ over there,” Robby states.
“Ferget yer beefs with Michael. He’s yer best friend.”
Robby looks at his feet. Then he jumps up. “We’ll invade his ass.”
“That’s doubtful,” Dave remarks. “But I know he’s ready to play again.”
We jump into the back of Vic’s pickup, with Mary and Robby in the front. I’m in the back where everyone is hugging me. Dawn grabs me and tells them to’ stop being so gay.” Everyone laughs. Flo is waiting outside Michael’s, grabbing me the second we arrive. Dawn relents but looks regretful. I still have my charms. Vic looks pleased for me, knowing I have a woman. He goes up to Edi and introduces himself.
“How old are you?” she demands to know.
“Twenty three, honey. Old enough to know better but still young enough to try.”
Edi and Flo both giggle.
Michael comes to the door, telling us not to bother him, after he sees Robby and the whole gang. Then he sees me. He lights up like the Roman candle he is.
“Tim. You’ve returned. Wanna jam?” as he leads us into the music room. This is one of my happy places. I pick up an electric guitar for the first time in months. It’s badly out of tune, which I set about fixing.
Vic comes over, “Ur gonna play wid ur ol’ band?”
“Hell, no,” I am starting to feel like my old self. “We’s gonna play ‘em sum country music. Ya ready?”
“I ain’t never play me no ‘lectric guitar.”
“Here.” I hand him the guitar I just tuned. “Jist think it’s that beat-up acoustic you like. Be amazed at wot sound ya kin git with an amp.”
I stand up and address everyone. I see new people coming in, including Jimmy Olsen.
“I’s so happy ta see y’all. There bein’ times I thought this ain’t never gonna happen agin.”
“Tell us where ya been, Tim,” Dave shouts.
“Hell. Me and my buddy Vic here will tell ya that story in a song. We’s part o’ my new band, The Hillbilly Brothers. See if’n ya kin keep up.” I pick up a second guitar, tuning it quickly.
I whispered to Vic, “Truckin’. He looks a little lost until I strum the opening blues chords.
‘Truckin’ got my chips cashed in. Kept truckin’, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just kept truckin’ on…
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone….
Truckin’, I’m a goin’ home. Whoa whoa baby, back where I belong…
Hey now get back truckin’ home.’
Writer(s): Bob Weir, Philip Lesh, Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia
Copyright: Ice Nine Publishing Co. Inc.
“Ya back for good, Tim?”
“Naw. Still gots John Law on my ass. Jist poppin’ in ta say hello and show I ain’t done yet.”
I tell Vic ‘Me & Bobby McGee.’
“These are the songs we’ve been playing at the campground.” Vic likes the sound he’s getting from the amp. He has a big grin on. More people have come in. I tell Michael to set up the tape recorder, so we have the jam for posterity.
‘Busted flat in Lauderdale, waitin’ for a ride
And I’s feelin’ near as faded as my jeans
Tommy thumbed a pickup down, just a’fore it rained
He rode us all the way to Sawgrass Dreams
I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna
I was playin’ soft while Tommy sang the blues, yeah
Windshield wipers slappin’ time, I was holdin’ Tommy’s hand in mine
We sang most every song that driver knew (I pointed at Vic)
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ man if it ain’t free, no no’
FOSTER, FRED L / KRISTOFFERSON, KRIS
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Everybody is just watching us. That’s no fun.
“Y’all gonna jist sit on yer asses. Robby, spark one up.”
As he pulls out the joint I know he has behind his ear, I see that Hippie has arrived. My heart jumps in joy.
“Finally, a real country boy. Git up here up, Greg Boy.”
It takes him a second to realize I mean him and several more to get his bass. Vic and I start in on ‘One Toke..’
“Now, we know, Hippie, ya ain’t givin’ in ta Satan’s temptations, ‘less there’s groupies around.” I look out at about 30 people jammed into the music room, smiling directly at Flo and Edi, who jump and start a slow deadhead dance for Hippie. Soon there were at least ten girls dancing. It’s too much for Robby and Michael, who jump on their drum kits and join in the country jam.
“All the goodness inside this here boy helped me through all the bad times I’s had, alone and lost in a world that only had hate fer me.” I have an arm around Hippie. “He has the faith and shared it with us all. This song’s fer you, Hippie Boy,” as we play ‘Shine a Light on Me.’
‘Angels beating all their wings in time
With smiles on their faces and a gleam right in their eyes
Whoa, thought I heard one sigh for you
Come on up, come on up, now, come on up now
May the good Lord shine a light on you, yeah
Make every song you sing your favorite tune
May the good Lord shine a light on you, yeah
Warm like the evening sun
Come on up now, come on up now, come on up now, come on up, come on
May the good Lord shine a light on you
Make every song you sing your favorite tune
May the good Lord shine a light on you
Warm like the evening sun, yeah, yeah’
Songwriters: Keith Richards,Mick Jagger
© Abkco Music, Inc.
Everyone looks at us in amazement. Was the band back? Who’s this adult playing guitar? What happened to rock n roll? Is Country the next thing?
“I gots ta take a break. I’s jist plum’ wore out.” I look at Flo, who jumps up and holds me as I try to get steady on my feet. She leads me to the secret make out spot. She knows what’s good for me.
We make out for a good while, until hear Mike Sr.’s voice.
“What’s going on? I thought you boys weren’t playing any more. And who’s this?”
“I’s Vic, sir, Pleased ta meetcha.”
“You have the boys playing again? I’m Mike, Vic. Michael’s dad.
“Huck and I’s been showin’ the boys what we’s playin’ at the campground, sir.”
“Huck? Not many boys use that name anymore.
“Well, that explains that.”
“Git over here, Huck. Explain ourselves, won’tcha.”
I look around the corner. Mike Sr.’s mouth drops a mile. I know I’m in real trouble.
“Sorry, Mike. I knowed I ain’t ‘sposed ta be here.”
“You’re damn right you’re not. What am I supposed to do? I have to turn you in.”
“Cain’t ya jist say you knows where we’s at. Let us ‘scape ta where we’s come from.”
“I should have known you were behind getting the boys to play again. Did you even think what a spot you put me in. I’m an officer of the court. I cannot hide you from the authorities.”
“I know. We jist gots carried away. I ain’t bin so happy since I was sent away.”
“Your tears won’t work on me, Tim. Now get out of here before I change my mind.”
Vic and I start for the door, with everyone following us. Jimmy Olsen grabs my arm. “I’m going with you. You need the Press on your side. This story is bigger than you.”
“Ya gots no idea where I’s goin’.”
“Just humor me. Hi, I’m Jimmy Olsen,” he says to Vic.
“Vic says, “I got no clue what’s jist gone down, but jump in. We’s goin’ back to Lauderdale to check on Tom.”
We all jump in the pickup, me riding pussy, of course. The fans crowd around as Michael tries to apologize for his dad.
“Don’t sweat the small things, Michael. I knew he couldn’t see me without a fuss.”
“He really feels badly that he hasn’t been able to help you.”
“’S’cool. We all jist wants ta sees y’all. Don’t give up on the band yet. I’s talked with Jack today. He’s as sad a sack as ya kin imagine. Git his dad ta lets ya call him. The boy’s hurtin’ too.”
Off we go. I can see Robby shaking his head at me. It feels sad and good that they miss me. Flo waves with a big smile on her face.
“So how did you meet Tim?” Jimmy starts interviewing Vic.”
“Well, it was jist like we sang. They was busted flat in Lauderdale, lookin’ fer a ride as I drove by. I pulled out a joint and they started singin’ ‘One Toke over the Line.” So ya say his real name’s Tim?”
“What did he tell ya?”
“They always says they’s Tom & Huck, and I went along ‘cause I knew they ‘re jist kids lookin’ for adventures.”
I whisper to Jimmy, “Ya cain’t be interviewin’ Vic. He don’t know we’s escapees. He’ll be arrested for knowingly harboring criminals.”
“You’re hardly a criminal,” Jimmy whispers back.
“Ya don’t knows all the charges against us since I had that sip o’ beer.”
“Will you talk to me later so I can get the correct story out. Dade County says you’re in drug rehab.”
“That’s a crock. But I’s gonna tell ya later. Okay?”
“What’s yer all whisperin’ ‘bout?” Vic demands.
“Jist ta not ruin yer life by gittin’ it all in the papers.”
“Whoo eee. The legend of Vic and False Gods. Ya’s really a reporter? I thinks I’s in Wonderland with Huckleberry Finn and Superman’s sidekick Jimmy Olsen.”
“Yeah. We’s all down the rabbit hole.”
“Yer boys looked mighty shocked now that’s Huck’s a’gone country.”
“They cain’t do nothin’ ‘bouts that.”
“Yer band’s all rich boys, huh?”
“Jist Jack an’ Michael. I’s like livin’ wid the Widow Douglas, jist like Huck Finn.”
“I gits it. Yer in like Flynn with them rich kids. Yer famous, man.”
“Cain’t say that anymore. Jist gittin’ by wid the help’ o’ my friend, Vic.”
He punches me on the arm to show he’s pleased. The joys of riding pussy.
“Ya knows the legend o’ Alligator Alley, Jimmy?” Vic prompts our intrepid cub reporter.
“Meaning people go out the Tampa turnpike, never to be seen again?
“Tell ‘im, ‘bouts ‘Gatorsaurus, Huck.”
“More legends?” Jimmy asks.
“Tom and me was a’swimmin’ in the Everglades, when I sees these 4 green knobs a’comin’ right towards our asses. I yelled ‘gator and Tom jumped on me squealin’ like a stuck pig. We scrambled up the bank and was laffin’ at the ‘gator ‘cause we’d ‘scaped. He come outta the water with his jaws wide open and legs goin’ 50 mile a’ hour. I pushed Tom up a tree and clamber’d right up his ass. We sat there on a branch, naked as jay birds while the ‘gator kept snappin’ his jaws and showin’ his big ol’ teeth at us’n. He finally gives up. Tom refuses ta sleep in the shelter, ‘fraid the ‘gator’d be back. We walk back to Vic’s. ’Course Tom was soon tellin’ everyone how he was the big hero in defeatin’ ‘Gatorsaurus.”
Jimmy s busy scribbling notes.
“Ya gonna put us in the paper?” Vic asks.
“’Course, long as ya says its okay.” Jimmy is falling into his own good ol’ boy act. “Why not tell me about the new band, The Hillbillies.”
“It’s The Hillybilly Brothers,” Vic corrects.
“Tryin ta make babies wid each other,” I add.
We all laugh.
“So, Huck, when’s I git ta meet ol’ Tom?”
“’Bout five minutes,” Vic notes, as we turn off I-95 into Fort Lauderdale.
I barely remember how we got to the hospital when we first brought Tommy in. It starts to look familiar when we get to the right hospital floor. It’s late but the nurses say it’s okay to visit for a short while. I start to get that tingly feeling in my bare feet, hoping it’s just the air conditioning. Tommy is awake when we walk into his room.
I run over and give him a big hug, while Vic is patting him on the back. His eyes go extra wide open when I tell him Jimmy is a reporter for the Miami Herald.
“Ya means I gits to be in the paper?”
“Well, our new band. Vic and I played with the guys tonight and it was recorded. So, probably.”
“Y’all’s got the band together again?”
“Just ta jam and show ‘em how country we is.”
“The Hillbilly Brothers? No shit?”
“We played all the camp songs, plus ‘Shine a Light..’”
“Man, I missed it.” Then he looks suddenly sad. “Was Jack there?”
“Naw, he’s locked up in Europe in a Catholic seminary. I did talk wid ‘im by phone.”
“He misses ya, don’t he?”
“Yeah, he’s pretty sad.”
“Y’all is okay?”
“Yeah, we got so smoked out, Vic tripped on an electric guitar. Clean fergot he’d never played one before.’
“We’s really gots a band?”
“Well, once ya gits better, we kin make a plan. How’s the foot?”
“’S fine. My head’s woozy like a buzzin’ bee without honey.”
Suddenly a chunky football type comes marching in.
“Tommy, ya little shit. Git yer skinny ass outs that bed. Yer comin’ home.”
Tommy shrinks back against the head of the bed, shaking harder than he did when we faced ‘Gatersaurus.”
“Yer Tommy’s brother, ain’t cha.” I step between them.
“Who the fuck is you?”
“I’s his new brother. The one who stands up fer ‘im to you.”
He doesn’t hestitate one second, throwing a punch at my head. Still quick enough, I duck and throw a hard right to his balls, straightenin’ him up. I come back with an uppercut. He goes down fast.
“Stay down, asshole, if’n ya knows wots good fer ya,” I warn him, with my right foot on his neck.
“Whooeee. Git him Huck. I never seen ‘im down afore,” Tommy is beside himself.
Vic reverts to hippie status and just watches. Jimmy has his camera out and records the fight. The nurses come running and shortly thereafter Hospital Security arrives.
“Wot’s goin’ on here?” a large security officer asks.
“The boy on the ground threatened Tom. When Huck stepped in, he threw a punch which missed. Huck took him down and has him under arrest,” Jimmy has all the facts, intrepid as ever.
The guard put cuffs on Tommy’s bully brother, leading him out of the room.
The bully yells, “He’s my brother. He’s a runaway.”
I see an angry white trash adult storming down the ward corridor.
“Stay with Tom,” I tell Vic. Then I grab Jimmy, “We gots to leave. Now!”
In the confusion we make our getaway. I lead Jimmy to a seawall beside the Inland Waterway. We sit above the water to catch our breath.
“I kept hearing you like to fight, but that’s the first time I seen it.”
“Hell, first night in juvie I’s in three fights. Won ‘em all widout throwin’ a punch. That kid right now, he was big.”
“The harder they fall,” Jimmy giggles, getting me to smile.
We walk over a bridge across the Waterway and settle into a booth at an all-night Sambo’s. The food makes me drowsy, so Jimmy helps me to the nearest motel. The clerk looks at Jimmy suspiciously, asking how old I am. I just shake my head, while Jimmy looks embarrassed. I can care less.
I sleep late after my big day. I’m out of partying practice from living in the wild. Jimmy gets me up in time for breakfast at Sambo’s again.
“Gimme those pancakes. I’ll make them tigers run round ‘n round ‘til they’s turned to butter,” I tell the waitress, who just smiles at a joke she’s heard a thousand times before.
“Ya ain’t lost yer sense of humor,” Jimmy smiles
“An’ you’s caught an accent,” I mock him.
“The Hillbilly Brothers tryin’ ta make babies wid each other?”
“Ya like that one?”
“I’m down the rabbit hole again.”
“Ain’t that the truth?”
“Hows ‘bout we go back up the room an’ y’alls tell me yer story. That way, I’ll git me my expenses.
“Yer gittin’ purdy good there, wid the accent.”
“Yer infectious, Huck.”
“Shur thing, Jim Bob.”
We sit in the room for the rest of the morning. First I tell him the day by day sequence of the last six months since Skynyrd. Then I go back over the whys of the important incidents; why I’m to blame for Max’s death; why the canine unit is trying to cover up their actions; how Robby, Tom Petty and Ronnie Van Zandt incited the fans to break down the fences; why Dad won’t back me up with the police, which is how I ended up in juvie, where I got into all those fights at first; why Tommy sees me as his hero and latched onto me; why The Program is so screwed; why we had to escape and how we made it through the swampy Everglades; how Mike Sr. and Jay didn’t help me with my legal troubles; Why we stayed out in the ‘Glades for so long; why we told everyone we were country boys from Central Florida on a summer escape from the farm; why no one could know the truth without being accessories for harboring hardened criminals; and finally, how he as a reporter could be told it all. I leave out all the sex parts because it’s a news story, not a porno.
Jimmy promises to clear everything with Mike Sr. before giving it to the Herald. I call Jay, still using the Max deBowser alias.
“Max. Mike says your master, Tim, showed up last night. He’s mighty perturbed.”
“I tried to keep out of his way, but he wasn’t to be denied.”
“Mike had to notify the Court. He wants you to come in. We need your direct testimony about conditions at the Program.”
“I’m here with our friend Jimmy from the Herald. He’s gonna interview the boy I escaped with. The boy knows exactly how they operate.”
“I better be there fer that interview, too.”
“Ya best git there soon. His asshole family found out where he is. They shure ain’t gonna let ‘im testify if’n they can stop it.”
“Let me talk to Jimmy so’s we kin arrange it.”
“I’m gonna leave again today. I’ll stay in touch. Ya gots ta get Mike to clear me ‘fore I’s comin’ back.”
We go to an instant photo kiosk to have the film developed. The photos are dynamite, from the jam at Michael’s, my farewell, our ride up I-95, and the fight at the hospital. He takes some posed photos at the motel pool. The clerk keeps giving me the evil eye. My feet start tingling again. They’re saying to hit the road.
“I cain’t ask where you’ll go next and don’t tell me. I know you’ll land on yer feet.”
“Ya ain’t heard the last o’ me yet, Jim Bob.”
He reaches into his wallet and hands me all the cash he has. I look into his eyes, pocket the cash, and it’s time to go. The clerk has seen the transaction and is reaching for the phone. I can’t help myself from giving Jimmy a total lip-lock kiss – no tongue, though.
“Ya don’t havta put that in the story.”
“Only if’n I sell it to the Rolling Stone.”
I’m out onto the street, putting out my thumb after turning left, heading north on A-1-A. I’m a Parrothead, whistling ‘Wasted Away Again in Margaritaville.’