Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Kindle Info!

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Monday, August 2, 2010

"Massachusetts" - 8

Early Saturday morning

Casey was sitting at the kitchen table sipping from a steaming cup when Mac walked in. He was carrying a bag and rubbing his shoulder.
“What happened?”
“Took a bottle in the line of duty.”
“Ouch!”
“That pretty much says it.” He sat down and leaned forward, resting his head on the table. “I’m tired of dodging bottles and dealing with Wendys.” Mac closed his eyes. “Maybe I’ll teach. Get a decent salary, tenure, maybe a pension.”
“Whatever you decide,” Casey said with a smile. She took another sip, then nodded at the bag. “What’s in there?”
Mac sat up. “My pledge to you. As long as we’re together, you’ll never go hungry.”
He reached into the bag and pulled out a soft pretzel.

"Massachusetts" - 7

Later Friday night

“Hello, Mac. How is it going?” Wendy shouted close to Mac’s ear.
Mac yelled his reply. “Band’s good, crowd’s into it.”
“Great!”
“I see you’re wearing your scarf.”
Wendy looked beyond him, to the stage. “Didn’t have time to change.”
Mac nodded, even though he saw she had.
The Headhunters finished their song, to long applause. “Thank you!” Jonny O yelled, and the band members began to shed their instruments and come offstage. “Looks like they’re taking a break,” Mac said.
“Jonny O’s still onstage,” Wendy pointed out. “And he’s got Natasha.”
Jonny O sat on a stool, under a spotlight, strumming Natasha, tuning her. “Hey, guys and ladies, howareya?” The crowd cheered. “Nice to hear you’re in good spirits. This lady in my lap here is Natasha.” Another cheer from the crowd. “We’ve been together, oh, seems like forever now. And just this morning, I was reminded of a song I hadn’t played in years…so, here it is! Cheers!”
The crowd roared again, and Jonny O waited for them to quiet down before he started singing.

If I could just hold you
Once more in the darkness of the night
If I could just kiss you
One more time so right
If I could just hear your laugh
Lifting up my day
Instead of hearing you
Slipping away.
I wouldn't let you go – no, no, I would never let you go.

Mac turned to Wendy, whose eyes were glued to Jonny O as he sang.
“Almost like Massachusetts. ‘Hakuna matata.’ The circle of life.”
Wendy didn’t stop looking at Jonny O as she said, “That’s pretty stupid.”

Jonny O finished the song. After a few seconds of quiet, the crowd erupted in applause and cheers. “Thank you, you’ve been a great audience!” Jonny O called out with a wave. Goodnight!” He leaped off his stool to thunderous applause and headed backstage.
The stage manager appeared from nowhere and grabbed Mac by the arm. “That’s your cue!”
“What, no encore?” Mac shouted, then looked around. “Where’s Sandy?”
The stage manager handed Mac his mike. “Let’s go!” he shouted, and shoved Mac on stage.
His microphone squealed with feedback. The crowd wouldn’t stop cheering. “How about that, everybody! Jonny O and the Headhunters!” The crowd cheered louder, and Mac looked backstage. “Let’s see if we can get them out for an encore!” Even bigger cheers.

Backstage, Wendy called to Jonny O as he made his way through a crowd.
“Jonny O! I just wanted to thank you…”
Johnny O held up his hand and kept moving. “No thanks necessary!”
Wendy circled around and planted herself in front of him. The crowd stopped when he did. “As I was saying,” Wendy continued, “I just wanted to thank you for causing over seventy-thousand dollars in damages with your little joyride this morning.”
“I’m sorry?”
“Let’s see, there’s …wrecking a limousine…”
“Oh…”
“…smashing the front end of one police cruiser, clipping two other patrol cars…not to mention the damage done at the hotel…”
“Look…”
“…oh, and the limo driver you clocked with that Jack Daniels bottle? He wants ten thousand in damages, plus pain and suffering…”

Onstage, Mac was alone. No Sandy. No encore. The crowd started booing. He pulled out a piece of paper. “I'd like to thank the sponsors of tonight's show….. Circle Pharmacy where you don't have to run around in circles to get what you need – and…” Just then a bottle flew by his head. “No thanks, I’m not drinking,” he said to a chorus of boos.

Jonny O cocked his head and considered Wendy for a second. “That pink thing looks familiar. Do I know you?”
“No, not really. But I know all about you.”
Jonny O shook his head and smiled. “All right, love.” Laughing, he turned to leave. “Love that pink thing!”
“You like it?” Wendy whipped off the scarf and tossed it to him. “Here, it's yours.”
Jonny O caught the scarf, smiled, and put it on. “All right then.” He and the crowd around him moved away.

Mac crossed the stage, dodging cups and food being thrown at him by the booing crowd. “Have a safe drive home and don't forget to rock with Classic Rock 102 all day every day.” The crowd booed again, and one of the bottles found Mac’s shoulder.
“That’s gonna leave a mark,” he said, rubbing his shoulder as he came up to Wendy backstage.
Wendy stared after the departing Jonny O. “I’m sure our insurance will cover it.”
“Hey, where’s the scarf?”
“Where it belongs.”

"Massachusetts" - 6

Friday night

“It looks like my dad’s company picnic.”
“It’s not that bad.”
“Geezers’ Night Out.”
“Would you knock it off? These people are my age.”
“Sorry.” Sandy paused for effect. “Grandpa.”
“I swear, I’ll beat you with my cane!”
Looking at the crowd, Mac saw that he was wrong. These people weren’t his age. They were younger. They would have been kids in the 80s when the Headhunters were hot. He was in his 30s then, playing Headhunters songs and taking requests from these people, who were now in their 30s.
A man with long hair and a beard, wearing a tie, slipped up next to them and began rifling through a stack of papers sitting on a shelf.
“You can’t stay there,” he said, not looking up from his papers.
“Sorry,” Mac replied. “The stage manager told us we had to stay here. Where do you want us?”
“I said, you can’t stay there!” the man said, still not looking up from his papers. “You’re going to have to move!”
“Where?”
The man looked up, but not at them.
“Don’t be stubborn. Move!”
“Where?” Mac demanded, and grabbed the man’s arm.
The man turned towards them and put a hand over the speaker end of a cellphone connection plugged into his ear. “Fuck off, man, I’m on the phone!” He grabbed some of the papers and kept talking as he walked away. “He’s only gonna cause you more grief, Melanie! Just get the hell out of there!”
Sandy laughed. “What an asshole!”
“You guys about ready?” It was the stage manager this time.
“You talking to us?” Mac asked.
“Yes.”
Mac pointed to the headset the stage manager was wearing. “Just making sure.”
“The band just arrived. The roadies will finish their sound checks in a couple of minutes, then it’s up to you to start the show.”
“We’ll be ready.”
Sandy nudged Mac as the stage manager moved away. “Hey, there’s that woman that got your autograph.”
Mac looked where Sandy was pointing and saw a plus-sized woman in a yellow t-shirt waving to him from the end of the front row.
He waved back. “I hope security is tight.”
“Aw, don’t be like that! You’ve got a groupie!”
“Lucky me.”
Commotion backstage signaled the arrival of Jonny O and the Headhunters. There was some hugging and laughing as the roadies handed over instruments to the Headhunters. Then the drummer climbed on his platform and started banging on the cymbals, bringing a roar from the crowd. The roar increased as the Headhunters walked out and took their places in front of the drums. The stage manager was suddenly in front of Mac and Sandy saying, “Showtime!” They switched on their hand-held mikes and headed out on stage, where they were greeted by loud applause.

"Massachusetts" - 5

Five years ago


“…and today we’re talking about local radio and TV personalities. Today’s Tribune has the results of that poll they took last week on your favorite personalities…Chuck Wagner, Channel 57’s weather guy, was top of BOTH polls, Most Liked AND Most Loathed!”

Frank turned the volume up on the radio. “Hey, I want to hear this!”
“Wagner!” Mac said. “Just what his swelled head needs. More publicity.”

“So we want to know what you think. Who on local TV and radio do you like….and who do you loathe? 547-88-99. That’s the number to call to share your views…
Click
Hi, you’re on Hotline. Who’s you’re favorite local celebrity?”
“Well, I want to talk about someone I don’t like.”
“Who’s that?”
“Tom McIlvane.”

Mac and Frank looked wide-eyed at each other. Frank started to laugh.

“The weather guy on Channel 23?”
“Yeah.”
“What don’t you like about him?”
“I think he shoulda stayed on the radio.”

Frank was laughing uncontrollably.
“Hey, watch the road!” Mac yelled. That just make Frank laugh harder. Mac switched off the radio. Frank laughed harder still. Mac pointed his finger in mock seriousness as he said, “Just remember, mister, when we get to the Four-H, you’re the photog, I’m the star!”
“Yeah,” Frank laughed, “the man with the perfect face for radio!”


Showtime


The station’s blue van pulled into the parking lot and Sandy got out and slid open the side door. Jonny O oozed out of the van and into Sandy’s arms as she propped him up for the walk across the parking lot. The mother-daughter trio squealed and ran over, asking for autographs. Jonny O smiled hazily, lifting himself from Sandy long enough to take the marker offered by the mother, make a quick black line on each of the three autograph books, then toss the marker into the hedges outside the buidling. The woman give him a puzzled look as he wordlessly ruffled the hair of one of the girls. He spun back into Sandy’s grasp, and she propped him up as they headed for the lobby door.
“I managed to talk Chief Slattery into putting him into our custody,” Sandy said as they entered the building. "Oh, and, by the way, the Chief says he’ll be sending along a bill for the damages. It should be in the thousands.”
Wendy turned her attention to the man hanging in Sandy’s arms.
“Hello, Jonny O. Welcome to the studios of Classic Rock 102.”
Jonny O smiled hazily again, then pulled away from Sandy and made a show of straightening his t-shirt. Sandy walked over to the remote equipment.
“Thank you,” Jonny O said to Wendy. Then he looked around the lobby as if he was trying to figure out where he was.
“Well why don’t we get you right upstairs to the studios?” Wendy said.
They started to move towards the stairs when Jonny O stopped short. He turned to Wendy, still wearing the hazy smile.
“I am a gentleman, and gentlemen don’t go upstairs with strange women!”
Wendy stared at him. He motioned to the other side of the room. “We’ll take the elevator!”
“Wait!” Sandy came running up to the two of them with a microphone, wearing headphones. “Okay, you ready?”
“Ready for what?” Wendy asked.
“Our live coverage of Jonny O’s arrival!”
“No, no, no! That is off!”
Sandy leaned over to Wendy, and in a loud whisper, said “What do you mean, it’s off? You’ve been whining about this live shot all morning!”
“Yes, but that was before this drunken lout wrecked a limo and dragged half the city’s police force on a wild chase across town!”

Over the rock speakers, Mac is saying: “And now, let’s go downstairs to Sandy Beach..."

“But …” Sandy started.
Wendy cut her off. “Right now what we have to do is get this drunken meathead upstairs and spiked with caffeine before he causes any more embarrassment to himself or us!”
“How thoughtful!” Jonny O remarked.
“Now you can either drop that goddam microphone and help me pour this liquored-up piece of crap into the elevator, or you can get the hell out of the way and let me do it myself!”

There is silence, followed by a squeal as Sandy’s microphone feeds back over the speakers shaped like rocks in the little garden. Sandy takes a beat, then speaks into the microphone.
“So there you have it! After arriving here at the beautiful Classic Rock 102 office park with a police escort, Jonny O is heading upstairs to our equally beautiful Classic Rock 102 studios, where he’ll be served a nice mug of steaming hot coffee before sitting down to talk with us. Back to you, Tom!”

Through the rock speakers, Wendy hears Mac say, “Thanks, Sandy! We’ll be back right after this!”
and a commercial jingle begins playing:

If you find yourself caught,
Without a thought
And you just can’t think
Of what to drink.
Don’t let your thoughts get tangled
Or your mouth get mangled
Just reach for the brew
That’s made for you – Meadowlark!
Meadowlark beer lets your taste buds soar!


Jonny O scratched his head. “I think I may have written that!”
Still grabbing Jonny O’s arm, Wendy hissed at Sandy. “Why didn’t you tell me we were on the air?”
“That’s sort of implied in the word ‘live.’”
“This isn’t over, young lady! Help me get him in the elevator!”
The two women shuffled Jonny O across the lobby and into the elevator. He sang the Meadowlark Beer jingle softly to himself while Sandy pushed the button that sent the elevator to the third floor. As the elevator passed from the first to second floor, a bell rang. Jonny O chuckled. “First floor! Ladies undergarments, bowling balls and umbrellas!”
The elevator dinged again at the third floor, but before Jonny O could say anything, Sandy said, “Oh, look, it’s our floor! Watch your step, there, Dizzy! The studio is right down here.”
“Sandy, you go back down to the lobby and get the remote equipment,” Wendy said, propping Jonny O up on her shoulder. “I’ll get our guest into the break room and get some coffee in him before he goes on the air.
“The pleasure is all yours.” Sandy stepped back into the elevator.
Jonny O pulled away from Wendy, straightened his t-shirt again and shambled down the hall under his own power. He belched loudly. Twice.

In a small kitchenette, Wendy opened a cupboard.
“We do have some tea, I believe.”
“What kind?”
“Um….green, decaffeinated pepperment…and orange pekoe.”
“Have you any coffee?”
“Of course!” Wendy moved to the coffee machine and poured a cup.
“I find I can drink bad coffee,” Jonny O mumbled. “Bad tea is an insult to God himself.” He took the cup with a wordless smile and hummed along to the music on the speakers – “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash – while he drank.
Wendy sat across from him and cleared her throat. She fingered her scarf as she spoke. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
“I’m sorry. Should I?”
“We…met…at a Headhunters concert, in Worcester, Massachusetts back in 1982.”
Jonny O shook his head. His hair fell down and covered a good part of his face. “Don’t remember much about that whole period, I’m afraid.” He chuckled. “It’s ironic, you know. I took drugs and booze to forget, and…it worked! I seem to have forgotten just about everything!” He took another drink of coffee. “ Well, maybe not ironic, maybe more like poetic justice.” He put the cup down on the table. “That’s all in the past, y’know! I’m back to rock’n’roll now! I’m kicking names and takin’ ass!”
“Of course you are.” Wendy checked her watch. “Let's head down to the studio.”

Wendy took Jonny O to the studio door, then held up a finger. “One second! Let me make sure everything’s ready.”
She slid into the studio, leaned over and whispered to Mac. “Let’s call it off.”
“What?”
“The listeners heard about the limousine, let’s just tell them he was injured and can’t go on the air.”
Sandy leaned in, also whispering. “Better yet, let’s tell them he’s a drunken spaz who needs some serious rehab before he can live among civilized people again.”
Jonny O leaned in and belched, then whispered. “Have we started the chat just yet?”
Mac looked over his shoulder. “Ooops!” He stood up and shook Jonny O’s hand. “Hey, hello, there! I’m Tom McIlvane! You can call me Mac!”
“Hello, Mike!”
“That’s Mac.”
“Are you sure?”
“Ready to go on the air?”
“Cause if you’re not,” Sandy said, “we can always do this later.”
Jonny O pointed to Sandy. “Don’t listen to Miss Bony Ass here. I’m okay!”
“My ass is not bony! Where are people getting this from?”
“Okay,” Mac said, “if you’re sure you’re ready, sit up here in front of that microphone, and we’ll talk!”
“All righty then!” Jonny O sat in front of the microphone and folded his hands on the desk like a schoolkid.
Mac put his headphones on and turned on his microphone. “7:56 on a Friday morning, with Tom and Sandy and the rest of the Morning Zoo on Classic Rock 102. Well, boys and girls, moms and dads, and everyone in between, here he is, at long last, ready to talk, ready to rock, Jonny O!”
Mac, Sandy and Wendy applauded as Jonny O said, “Hiya!” into the mike.
“So, how was your flight?” Mac asked.
“Well, Mike…”
“It’s Mac.
“..are you sure?”
“Yes, yes I am. Now about your flight…”
“Oh, yes…well, Mike, travelling by airline for me almost always ends badly. I was, once again, asked to leave the aircraft. Luckily for me, this time it was before we had left the ground.”
“You were drunk, right?” Sandy asks.
“No. Because of my fears, I needed to bring along certain…medications… that, while they’ve not been approved by the authorities, nevertheless allow me to put aside my anxieties for the duration of a given flight. On this particular flight, I believe my anxieties were getting the better of my medication, because some unpleasantness ensued, and the stewards and stewardesses asked me to exit the jetliner.”
“Drugged, not drunk!” Mac said, looking at Sandy.
Sandy snapped her fingers and mouthed "Damn!"
Jonny O continued: “I then found my way back into the waiting area, where I discovered the angel that would turn my fortunes around. I recall raising my voice a bit to her at first, saying with great urgency that I needed to be on the next available flight. Despite my bad behaviour, she repaid me with great kindness. There she was, typing away at her computer, giving me good advice whilst she was finding me a new flight."
"Good advice?" Mac asked.
"She told me, and I quote, ‘Keep your pants on, I’m looking.’”
“Wait,” Sandy said, “her good advice was that she told you to keep your pants on?”
“Exactly! And had she given that advice prior to my boarding the first jetliner, perhaps the original unpleasantness never would have happened.”
After a beat, Mac said, “Okay! We’ll be back with Jonny O right after this!”
Mac hit a computer key to start a commercial.

“Have you lost your mind? Let Doctor Phil Agrusti help you find it again...”

Jonny O put his forehead on the counter. Wendy leaned over. “Are you sure I can’t get you some tea? I believe I have some in my office.”
Jonny O looked up and forced a smile, followed by a weak, “Thank you, no.”
“Are you sure you’re okay? You look a bit ill…”
“I’ll be fine, thank you much.” He looked directly at Wendy for the first time all morning, and pointed to her neck. “Hell of a thing there. Bright.”
“Thank you.”
The commercial finished.

“…Doctor Phil Agrusti – he’s crazy. About you.”

“Just a bit after 8 here at Classic Rock 102. You’ve got Tom and Sandy and the Morning Zoo, and we’re chatting with ‘80s icon Jonny O, who’ll play a reunion concert with his old band the Headhunters tonight in the Fog Bank Centre.”
“Keep listening for your chance to win tickets,” Sandy added.
While Mac and Sandy talked, the studio door opened slightly behind Wendy. She talked quietly for a bit, then slid a guitar case into the studio and passed it over to Jonny O.
“Natasha!” He opened the case and gently slid his guitar out. “I've had her since before I got famous. We've had some great times together.”
“I must point out,” Mac said, “that Jonny O is talking about his guitar.”
Jonny O picked at Natasha’s strings, tuning her up.
“Some people are calling this your comeback album and tour,” Sandy said.
“It’s all just so bloody stupid, really! When the Headhunters started out, it was just about playing music with mates. But the record company starts ‘suggesting’ things, and before y’know it, you’re in tiger striped pants and eye shadow. You go from small pubs with a dozen patrons to stadiums with a few thousand, and after awhile your music is just… loud noise.” He strummed, satisfied that Natasha was in tune. “Funny story. I was just talking to someone, I cannot remember who, about this recently…. I was on tour with the band….it was …in the states here… in…where was it? Manassas?”
“Massachusetts?” Mac said
“Perhaps it was…anyway, the amps blew out a couple of songs in, and the lights went out.”
Mac looked over at Wendy. She didn’t move.
Jonny O stopped strumming. “Mind you, I have several anxieties, and one of them is a fear of the darkness. So I couldn’t stay backstage where it was pitch black. So I grabbed Natasha, and I went out front where there was this fuzzy yellow light, and I started playing this song I’d been workin’ on, waitin’ on the bus during the tour…”
Jonny O began strumming again and singing softly:

“If I could just hold you
Once more in the darkness of the night
If I could just kiss you
One more time so right
If I could just hear your laugh
Lifting up my day
Instead of hearing you
Slipping away.
I wouldn't let you go – no, no, I would never let you go.”

Still strumming, Jonny O continued. “There was one girl in the crowd that night. You couldn’t miss ‘er, even though it was mostly dark, ‘cause she had on this really, really brightly-colored thing on. And she was staring straight at me, fixed on me. So I stared right back at her, and I played that song straight to her, and like ripples on a pond the music went out, and all the crowd got dead quiet, and... it just worked. This song that I’d just made up on the bus, between gigs, never played before, it just…worked. Just me and Natasha, and it was good enough.”

The studio fell silent. Within seconds, the silence was broken by the sound of Jonny O’s loud fart.
“Whoa, didn’t see that one comin’!” He strummed a finale, riffing a Spanish flamenco.
Mac turned on his mike as Sandy let out a loud “Ewww!” behind him. “Don’t forget, that’s Jonny O and the Headhunters, in concert, tonight at the Fog Bank Centre! Stay with Classic Rock 102, ‘cause your chance to win tickets to tonight’s show is coming up soon!”
Mac hit a computer key and another commercial jingle filled the room:

“If you don’t have any hair
And no toupee to wear,
Time to check in with Rug City!”

Mac turned the speaker volume down and said, “Well, aside from the stinky toot at the end, I think that went okay.”
Outside the building, a police siren popped on and off. Sandy, holding her nose, got out of her chair and grabbed Jonny O’s arm. “Okay, tooter, time to pack up and head downstairs. I promised Chief Slattery I’d have you ready when he came by. He’ll personally escort you back to your hotel, so that we can save our limousine industry from further tragedy.”
Wendy moved between them to shake Jonny O’s free hand. “I’d like to thank you again for coming by the studios today. And thank you for that wonderful story about the concert in Massachusetts.”
“But it wasn’t a story, love. It really happened.”
The siren popped on and off again. Sandy pulled at Jonny O’s arm. “Allright, let’s go, deadhead! Can’t keep the chief waiting!”
Jonny O picked up his guitar case and gently slid Natasha back inside. “No matter what, Natasha, we’ll always have that night in Manassas.”

Wendy stared at the closed studio door for awhile after he left.
“Well? Did you guys get a moment?”
Wendy sighed and turned to Mac. “What did I tell you about that? I swear I’ll have you killed.”
“Okay! Okay! I’ve officially forgotten about your college love tryst with that drugged out rocker who didn’t remember you. Or where you were.”
“You are a dead man!” Wendy walked over to the window. “He remembers the scarf, but not the person wearing it. He’s got more love for Natasha than for any person, anyway. Which is probably how it should be…”
The sound of angry voices drifted up from the parking lot. “What’s happening down there? It looks like….no, he’s not! He’s shoving Chief Slattery!”
Mac came around to the window. “Holy crap! He’s taking off in the police car!”

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Massachusetts" - 4

20 months ago


“The good news is that we’re only $200 in the hole this month.” Mac tossed the calculator onto the pile of papers on the table. “The bad news is, we’re $200 in the hole this month.”
Casey put her Snapple down on the breakfast bar. “That’s it,” she said, “I’m giving up food. No more eating for me. That should save us some cash.”
“True. Only drawback I can see is that you’ll be dead in a few months.”
“But I’ll be fashionably thin when I go,” she said as she came over and stood next to where Mac was sitting. “And I’ll be a light corpse. You’ll only need a couple of pallbearers.”
“That’s why I love you,” he said, hugging her waist. “Always thinking of others.” He sat awhile, silent, his arms around her waist. “We wouldn’t be in this mess if I’d landed that job in Hartford.”
She put her hand on his shoulder. “The only things Hartford could have given us was a nice house, two cars, paid-off bills and some money for Kelly Ann’s college.” She waved her other arm around the apartment. “And look at all we’d have to give up.”
He hugged her waist again. “Another reason I love you. You’re completely delusional.”
“Soft pretzels.”
“I was joking about the delusional part.”
“No, when I give up food, I think I’ll miss soft pretzels the most.”

Still Friday morning

Wendy stood in the lobby, arms folded. The sounds of the station came through speakers disguised as rocks, sitting in the little plastic garden next to the security desk. She scowled as she looked over the six people standing outside in the parking lot: a man with a cigarette and a cup of coffee that might work on the second floor; a heavyset woman and what looked to be her two daughters, all wearing matching shorts and “Daddy’s Little Girl” t-shirts; and three maintenance guys working on the hedges.
The elevator door opened, and Sandy plopped the remote equipment on the floor. It made a slight clanging sound.
“Where can I plug this stuff in?” she asked Wendy.
“There’s an outlet around behind the security desk.”
Sandy lifted the remote box and put it on the security desk. Wendy turned to her and said, “No, no, no! Don’t set up back there. I want you out front, in the parking lot.”
Sandy took a breath, then put the remote box back on the floor. “Okay, now I gotta go back upstairs and find an extension cord!” She walked back over to the elevator, and as the doors were closing, Wendy heard her grumble: “When I find one, I’m gonna wrap it around your….”
Mac’s voice came through the rock speakers, talking over the top of stinger intro music.

“Now here’s our old buddy Chopper Dave in the Simpson’s Family Rest Home Classic Rock 102 Eye In The Air! Brought to you by Finnegan’s Farmers’ Market, where the produce really produces!”

Then Chopper Dave’s voice played over the sounds of the helicopter.

“Thanks, Tom! I’m hovering above the airport arrival terminal, and I’m happy to report that Jonny O has exited the terminal and is headed for his limousine, ready to ride the roadways directly to the Classic Rock 102 studios.”
“Dave, are you sure it’s him?”
“Oh, it’s Jonny O all right. I can see his bald spot from up here.”
“How many in his entourage?”
“Looks like it’s just him, Tom. He appears to be holding his guitar, and something smaller in his left had….it looks like…yes, it is, it’s a bottle…a bottle of Jack Daniels, if I'm not mistaken…”

“Holy crap,” Wendy muttered.

“…the limo driver is tossing Jonny O’s guitar in the back seat… now he’s holding the door open for Jonny O….but Jonny’s not getting in…Jonny O is not getting in the limo, he’s shaking his head and rasing his arms….he seems to be having an argument with the limo driver….the driver is still holding the door open…now he’s pointing into the back seat…Jonny O is shaking his head again, and raising his arms again…now he’s pushing the limo driver, a little shove, bumping him up against the limo…the driver is grabbing hold of Jonny O’s arm, he’s trying to guide him into the back of the limo, but Jonny O is shaking him off…looks like they’re wrestling a little bit…seems like Jonny O just doesn’t want to get in the back of that limousi --- ooh! Oh! Wow! Jonny O just cracked the bottle of Jack Daniels over the limo driver’s head!”

“Holy crap!” Wendy said it louder this time.

“…the limo driver has fallen to the curb….Jonny O has leaped over him and …it looks like he’s getting in the limo now….oh my god, he’s driving away in the limo!
“Holy— “
Mac said.
“ – crap!” Wendy said.

“…he seems to be waving to people out the window….no, he’s not waving….he’s flipping the bird! Now he’s flipping ME the bird! Now he’s driving up on the sidewalk in front of the airport arrivals building….get out of the way, people! Jeez, he just missed that couple…ow! He didn’t miss that mailbox! Letters all over the street!”
“Where’s he headed?”
“Right now he just seems to be driving around in a circle in front of the arrivals building…hey, watch out! That was close! Now he’s gunning the engine and he’s heading….watch out, people, for God’s sake! … he’s now heading down Airport Road and –ooh! – there goes the gate! Make a left, you bastard, make a lef---and he’s turning right onto Fremont….”
“Fremont? Isn’t that –“
“Yes it is, Tom. It’s a one-way street. And he’s headed the wrong way.”

Mac and Wendy simultaneously said, “Holy crap!”
Suddenly, there were sirens behind the helicopter’s drone, prompting Mac to say:

“Dave, don’t tell me there’s a police car chasing the limo!”
“No, Tom, a police car isn’t chasing the limo.”
“Whew!”
“Three police cars are chasing the limo.”

The elevator doors opened and Sandy came over to Wendy. “Okay, I got an extension cord.” She noticed the sirens. “Sounds like something’s on fire!”
“The only thing burning around here is me,” Wendy said.

“Now he’s turning right onto Maple.”
“Once again, wrong direction.”
“Well, Tom, when you think about it, it is the most direct way to the station.”

“Who’s driving the limo?” asked Sandy.
“Jonny O,” Wendy answered.
“Holy crap!”

“By the way, Tom, did I mention he’s also driving on the wrong side of the road?”
“Of course! He’s a Brit! Now all he needs to do is – “
“Park in the middle of the road?”
“Not what I was going for, but that’s good, too! Shows he’s thinking outside the box. Or outside the limo, anyway.”

Wendy reached into her bag, grabbed a set of keys and handed them to Sandy. “Take the van. He’s just over on Maple! You can be there in two minutes!” Sandy handed Wendy the extension cord and ran out of the lobby.

The song “Cars” by Gary Numan started playing over the rock speakers under Mac’s voice.

“And so, as Jonny O gets a chance to meet and greet our city’s fine boys and girls in blue, we thank Chopper Dave for his tireless work this morning in bringing us today’s somewhat weird morning commute in the Simpson’s Family Rest Home Classic Rock 92 Eye In The Air.”

Dave’s voice popped in for one last report:

“Jonny O” is getting in the back of the police cruiser, clutching his guitar, and – dammit! He’s flipping me off again!”

"Massachusetts" - 3

18 months ago


“Didn’t you used to be Tom McIlvane?”
The guy was stocking the bread aisle. Unfortunately, Mac needed some bread.
“Still am,” he said, as he reached across the guy to grab a loaf.
The guy shook his head. “No, I mean, didn’t you used to be on TV?”
“That’s what they tell me. It’s really all just a blur.”
“I almost didn’t recognize you with that beard.”
“Oh, darn.”
“It looks good. The beard, I mean.”
“It’s a goatee.”
“Do you miss it? Bein’ on TV, I mean?”
“Yeah, a little. But life goes on.”
“I hear you, man. Lemme ask you, will it be really cold this winter? ‘Cause if it is, I gotta put in for some wood for my stove.”
“Couldn’t say. I haven’t seen a weather map in months. But it’s a good bet it’ll be cold in winter, so I’d go ahead and get that wood if I were you.”
“Thanks!”
“You bet!” Mac turned around and found himself at the end of an old woman’s shopping cart. She smiled, and he smiled back.
“I watch you every night,” she said. “You keep up the good work.”

Later Friday morning


The push of a computer key started a commercial jingle:

If you’re looking for a treat
Just grab a bunch of wheat
It really isn’t hard
It grows right in your yard

Mac turned the speakers down as the studio door opened to the sound of clanking equipment. Sandy dumped the remote box, headphones, a microphone and an antenna into a chair with a loud groan.
“Jesus H. Christ! I’m halfway to a hernia carrying all this crap! I did not get into radio to become a pack horse!”
“Why did you get into radio?”
“I was told there’d be ice cream and balloons.” She nodded towards the studio door. “So, learn any secrets?”
“Sorry. She threatened to have me killed.” Mac tapped out a few commands on the computer keyboard. “She knows people who can do that.”
“Yeah, she probably does. So maybe you can tell me why we’re going nuts over this old dishrag?”
“Jonny O? You’re talking about a living legend.”
“Really?”
“Yes! He’s a survivor! This is a man whose intestines have seen more crap than the sewers at Dow Chemical, and he’s still alive!”
“So we’re basically honoring someone who had two hits in 1982 and has been a walking drugstore ever since.”
“We’re in radio, Sandy. We do stupid things, and we get paid for doing them.” He grabbed his headphones, paused, then turned and fixed Sandy with a stare. “Seriously? Yes, it’s stupid that we’re giving carte blanche to a guy who’s nothing now and wasn’t all that much when he was something. But Wendy sees where she can use him to make a few bucks for the station. So suddenly, he’s Keith Richards, and we’re all his roadies.”
She pointed to the computer. “Your spot break is over.”
“Shit!” Mac turned, hit a key, put on his headphones and cracked open the mike, all in one fluid moition.
“Love is Like Oxygen” by Sweet started to play.
“My, how time flies when you’re getting paid! It’s 7-15 with Tom, Sandy, Chopper Dave, and the rest of the Morning Zoo on Classic Rock 102! Coming up this hour, a visit from rock legend Jonny O! Sandy’s on her way downstairs right now, ready to prance her bony little butt in front of him the minute he gets here!”
Sandy paused at the studio door just long enough to flip Mac the bird.
“Sandy’s just given me the okay sign that she’s ready to go, so stay with us!”