Returning home I took stock of myself. Almost 21 years of age with no real prospects, no real future. I had been out of school now for 5 years and was no further ahead than that first day after graduation. My parents and most of my associates thought of me as some sort of restless loser: an undergraduate of the University of Hard Knocks and Bad Experiences. Nonetheless, I never regretted anything that I had done thus far and was quite defensive when vocational criticism was thrown my way. I just didn’t have a clue at the time and lacked direction in this very adult course called living 101.
I returned to the normal everyday grind. Jimmymum has established himself in corporate finance and accounting. Good for him. He was steady, mature and had good prospects. In that regard it seemed as if life was programmed for him. Graduate high school. Check. Now what? Get a job for life. Check. Now what? Get married. Check. Now what? Get a house. Check. Now what? Have some kids. Check. Now what? Slit my wrists. No, not Jimmymum. Me!
O’Grunts was still living the hippy life without regrets; at least he couldn’t remember any in that fogged out mind of his. Bruce, our lead guitarist, was still caught up in self discovery only this time in Nepal, trying to find himself among the Himalayan Mountains. Unfortunately, they had to call out the Sherpas to find him. Timmy was still asleep out west and me? Well, I found employment with a national railroad and spent the next year or so unloading freight from an endless line of box cars only to reload said freight into an endless line of local delivery trucks. Great job! And, horror of horrors, I didn’t quit right away.
The sickness returned, eventually. Believe it or not O’Grunts convinced me to head back west yet a third time. Only this time in my own car – a 64 Chevy Impala. I loved that car and it survived that west coast excursion returning safely to this shit city of a city only to be impaled by another good friend of mine on a brick wall. I needed some money so I sold it to him for a song. Shortly thereafter he came by my place in my old ride, which now resembled an accordion, as the back end of the car was thrust up and back in mangled folds almost to the back seat. “What happened” says I, incredulous? Seems he drove home in the early hours quite inebriated from a night a drinking and debauchery, parked the car in the lane beside his flat, turned off the engine, managed to find his bed, passed out with sweet alcoholic dreams to a reality of a throbbing headache and jungle mouth a few hours later. He desperately required some hair of the dog and with cupboards bare he decided to head to his local for the requisite nourishment. Going down to his car he found to his astonishment that the car wouldn’t start. Being the industrious lad that he was he popped the hood and seeing nothing really amiss decided to jump – start the car. Now those cars may have been ancient relics of a distant past and different era but they reflected mechanical simplicity, technical beauty and dependability through their classic, masterful and graceful lines and design.
The car came to life, jerked momentarily, and then thrust itself in a backward motion, reverse as it turned out. That beautiful Impala took on a mind of its own. Technically challenged as it hightailed itself out of the laneway in full reverse, where it crossed the adjoining roadway before becoming impaled into the brick wall of a building that was across the road, all the while with my friend in hot but panicked pursuit. Fortunately for him, unfortunately for the car, the brick wall won the day. Luckily, except for his wounded pride, no one was hurt. It was a miracle that the car still ran. Turned out that when my friend arrived home, pissed to the gills, he didn’t realize that he shifted the car into reverse and not all the way into park. Of course it wouldn’t start in reverse and being heavily hung over he didn’t realize this simple fact of car life at the time. He just instinctively opened the hood and crossed the ignition wires at the starter. The car came to life immediately and the rest as they say was automotive history. Imagine my dismay as he came by to pick me up a few days later in that accordion styled sedan. Sadly my friend had to put that car down and take it to the car cemetery….