Twenty years ago Martin Williams came over to my fifth floor walk-up apt to borrow my twelve foot long, large mouth bass. I wasn't in a really good mood as he had the raging pink-eye and managed to drop my microwave oven about three and a half feet to the floor.
Whata day, but wait there's more. He actually had to come back a couple of days later cause I wasn't really on board with the debut of the giant bass at the giant puppet theater. As far as I could tell there was no real plan except get the large mouth bass down to the lot at Birmingham's Five Points South (where Johnny Rockets is now) and think of something. He also wanted to borrow my grocery sack and cardboard shark mask. Oh yeah, he had generously loaned me his pink-eye.
It was kinda fun getting the bass down the stair well. We had plenty of people so it was really easy, and it looked like a fish ghost swimming down the stairs. We put his head on the trunk of my primer-red 67 Devile convertible and drove him down to FivePoints with his tail draped over the windshield.
On the night of the show they were trying to hang the bass up backstage, but really had no idea how. After breaking lots of little ropes and dropping my bass a couple of times (damit), They switched plans and tied some green crepe paper streamers to a couple of fans pointing up and lowered most of the lights.
Martin put on the shark mask and swam it out from behind the makeshift curtain into the area near the faux sea-weed. He paused for a minute kinda swimming in place and started into this improv piece that began "Sharks Never Sleep." it went on for a few minutes talking about how sharks have to keep moving or smother. Martin continued to swim the shark in place, as the traffic went by about twenty feet away beyond the parked cars just across the sidewalk. There mighta been fifteen or so people, watching. I think it was a Friday night, lotsa not quite drunk yet foot traffic.
I was still illin a little cause they dropped my bass. The whole shark thing kinda surprised me. Its's definitely the coolest job the shark has ever had. I'd worked right through a halo-ween party trying to finish it a few weeks before. The party was over and the grey spray paint was still wet, kinda made me queasy at the time, but I saved it. Hell I've still got it.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
It's happened before. I awoke so full of comfort and contentment that whether or not I'd been dreaming was irrelevant. I spooked myself a little this time. I was trying so hard to imagine the little house I'd been working on, I kinda got lost in it for a moment. I was telling my friend Martin about this meditation, mantra, prayer. I was excited and couldn't decide how to describe it. I had a strong impression that if I could tell it right, Martin or anyone else who tried it would be able to access the same relief and comfort that had almost overwhelmed me when I had closed my eyes and gone through the motions.
We were sitting in the dark. I remember when he leaned forward he clasped my hand between his big warm-almost hot hands. I still couldn't quite see him. He seemed excited to be there, and glad I'd want to share my happy discovery with him. He was talking kinda fast and getting louder in his enthusiasm. I was concerned he would wake the neighbors, and shooshed him. We both continued talking in loud happy whispers, but now I was a little distracted. I was wondering what neighbors, what little house had I been working on, what porch were we sitting on? I began to notice my pillow, and my warm comfy covers. I was very wide awake, and didn't feel like I'd been asleep at all. I was really glad to have spent a little time with Martin. I could still feel how large, hot, and strong his hands had felt. The troubles I had put aside to go to sleep were like bad dreams that seem silly looked at in the light of day.
I was told years ago that Martin was dead. I had serious doubts even at the time, and said, "I'll be watching for him." Martin Williams had disappeared before, only to return in an almost impossibly simple manner.
I was married in a botanical garden once. It turned out to be a shorter than ideal marriage. The wedding had been photographed in 3d. Martin was right in the middle of it all boisterous and grinning, as sunny as the garden. 3d pictures can take a long time to get processed. This time it took six months. There was some question whether there would still be a marriage, when the pictures finally came.
They did turn up while they were still relevant, and there was Martin in the middle of the crowd in the rose garden. The detail was great, it was sunny. You could see everybody till you tilted the picture and then like turning off a light Martin was gone. Tilt it back, there he was all smiles. I didn't see his smile tonight, but I was wrapped in his good humor as completely as my hands were dwarfed by his big, hot, strong hands. It was great to see ya Martin, I'll be watching for you.