Friday, April 16, 2010

The Phone Call

I never escaped an encounter with Snake unscathed. 38 years since the last time I saw him and it was as if we picked up right where he left off. Only now his frantically manic ADD personality was a tad slower but still as intense as it was when we used to shoot drugs,drop acid, consume whatever was available.

For six years back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Snake was probably the closest thing I had to a real friend as I have ever had. No one before or since connected with me like he did during those tough years when we were both trying to kill ourselves by over indulgence of every kind in the book.

Eventually his appetite for opiates overwhelmed our friendship. One day I woke up and decided this life was truly a dead end with me more than likely ending up in some alley or rat infested shooting gallery with pale lips and no pulse. I stuck my thumb out and hitch hiked back to Maine to detox in my attic bedroom while my parents sat in the kitchen blissfully ignorant of just how low I had sunk. I stayed in that attic room for over a week, only crawling out to eat occasionally and use the toilet. One morning around 5:00 AM my father would have no more of it and he dragged my sorry butt out of bed and put me to work in the yard. I will forever be in his debt for doing that.

All of these memories I often looked upon with rose colored glasses were brought back into stark reality when I heard Snake's voice on the phone the other night. My first thought was why the Hell did I even pursue a reconnection?

It started over 20 years ago I guess. I wondered as many of us do, what an old friend was up to. Since Snake had seemed to fall off the face of the Earth, I figured he had finally over amped and was six feet under in some cemetery in Maryland. Unless he was nodding from a recent smack buy, Snake lived Life at several hundred RPMs past red line. He left totaled cars, wrecked relationships, and worn out welcomes wherever he went.

About ten years ago I dug deeper by using Internet magic. But still no clue about Snake. I did find a mention of his sister when I spotted a donation brick on the site her old high school kept. She had married another loser friend from that era. The search it seemed could yield positive results. But I stopped looking. I think I was afraid of reconnecting with a past I had no interest in reliving so graphically.

A couple of months ago I joined Facebook. Facebook is an insidious and evil network if you really want the past to stay in the past. But as I often do with something new, I dove right in and began searching for people I have not seen in 30 or 40 years. My search was underwhelming. I could only find three or four old friends from back then. It would appear that there is precious little information floating around the Internet regarding my contemporaries. Especially the ones who volunteered to fall into cracks starting back in the 1960s.

I can be a tenacious bastard when I get my teeth into something. Facebook whetted my appetite and left me jonesing hard for a fix. Come Hell or high water, I was going to find out what happened to Snake. I finally found his sister's phone number.

Yes, she assured me, Snake was still alive. She had talked to him only last week. She told me he had left Maryland for points South several years ago leaving his wife to shack up with some woman he met in North Carolina. Knowing that the two of them always had problems with each other, I figured it could not have been that simple. I wrote down the phone numbers she gave me and we said goodbye. As it turned out, it was that simple.

I could have called him as soon as I hung up. But I didn't. Something told me not to. But, the fact that I actually had found him yet had not talked with him became an itch only partially scratched to satisfaction. I dialed him up a couple of days later. Answering machine with a female voice. I tried the second number. Again an answering machine. Only this time it was Snake's voice telling me to leave a message. His voice had more gravel in it and his speech was less precise, but it was Snake. Of that I had no doubt. I left another message and continued my normal evening.

Classic Snake - he called at 10:45 PM. He was never one to be considerate of another's lifestyle. He was up. By God you should be also.

I ran the batteries down on both remote phones talking or rather listening to him until 1:30AM.

Seems Snake has somehow beaten the odds. Not only is he still alive and kicking, but when his mother and almost father died, he was left not a small inheritance, but a huge one. Many millions I guess. He was retired. He owned things. He took long trips to the Caribbean. And he had become a hard core Conservative. That surprised me as Snake never did anything remotely political back in the day except go to the protests to trip on acid and try to pick up chicks.

As he talked, and he talked a lot, I noticed that ADD tendency of his was not subdued as I have heard happens as we age. It was worse than I remembered. The tangents he got lost in came like machine gun fire. It seemed he could only focus on one thing for about 10 seconds and then he was off on a tear about something completely unrelated. I was getting dizzy trying to keep up.

I did however manage to sift out some information.

He had a heart operation at age 45. He is now packing some plastic where some valves used to be. He assures me they will last for 120 years. I can remember thinking hey that's cool, maybe there will be some salvage money possible after he croaks.

His lump sum inheritance is only part of what he inherited. He has an annuity and stock that pays him 6 figures annually even in today's economy.

He has stopped doing drugs, but still consumes massive quantities of alcohol.

His bookie is in Maryland so he goes home every six weeks or so to settle up.

There's a barmaid at the local bar with the biggest boobs he has ever seen.(That one dropped in right in the middle of his softball stories)

He owns more property in Maryland and North Carolina than he can keep straight.

He inherited the antique Porsche his mother bought in the 1950s, fixed it up and insured it for $160,000.

He owns pick ups, SUVs, Harleys, and a host of other fun stuff I couldn't keep track of.

Then the first phone died. I was numb by that time so the conversation with the second phone is blur. I remember hoping that second phone would die sooner than later.

All in all, I am glad I located him. And I could tell he was sincerely glad to talk to me. Even though he is as shallow as they come and always has been, his personality digs in and it is impossible for me to not like the man. The man knows how to party. It's the one thing he was always good at. But I wonder if all that money has provided him what he was looking for?



David Barber said...

I'm late for work because of you. :-)

I couldn't stop reading Mike. A great story, very well written. I have one much of it is true? ;-)

Great writing, Mike.

Regards, David.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I had a Facebook account, but about three years ago I decided I didn't need another account/password/timewaster in my life, so I logged off and don't use it anymore.

But a helluva great story about your old friend Snake. I just wish I had some sort of angle to obtain a six-figure annuity myself, without anyone having to die.

The Blog Fodder said...

That is an awesome yarn. Loved it. Even more if it were true. Don't we all have friends like that, though none of mine ended up rich that I know of.

Randal Graves said...

The perfect conclusion to this tale would be for him to ask you if he can borrow a few bucks to tide him over.

Four Dinners said...

Some people have all the luck!

PENolan said...

Excellent way to round out your birthday.

Demeur said...

I once dig up a few old school friends but....I had to rebury them because they were already dead. ;-0

susana said...

Excellent story, is it true? It sure reads like it's true. Is it?

MRMacrum said...

Seems many adults spend a good portion of their lives denying their past. Especially the past that was filled with stupid and destructive behaviour.

I wrote this the night after I talked with my old friend and then let it sit for several weeks before I posted it. I was not sure I wanted to air my dirty laundry in such graphic detail.

But I did what I did back then and to deny it does not mean it did not happen.

Yeah, it's true.

susana said...

I love this story, I relate to this story... it is validating. I once detoxed in my unsuspecting parent's basement and I have undeserving wealthy friends(for lack of a better term). Thanks MRMC for spinning your yarn.