by Catfish McDaris
Uncle Bob called me from just north of Detroit, Michigan where he was stationed in the Air Force. He said he needed my help for three weeks, packing up his furniture and cleaning his house. He was getting a new assignment in Lubbock, Texas. I told him to mail me a plane ticket and I’d help drive his Chevy Impala to Buddy Holly country for him.
The Air Force base had a huge lake; my uncle said I could fish if I wanted. I went down to docks and there were motor boats and fishing gear for rent. The man that ran the office thought he was big stuff. I was seventeen and had long hair, I guess he thought that would make me into some kind of sissy boy. There was another young guy there watching how I handled this man. I laid some cash on the counter and told him to fix me up. The other guy asked if he could join me and I agreed. I noticed his eyes seemed strange like a cross between a goat and a Siamese cat. The motor cranked right up, we had poles, and bait and a small ice chest with sodas, sandwiches and chips.
David told me his name and he was twenty-one and his dad was an officer. He asked if I got high, I pulled out a joint and fired it up. He pulled out some orange barrel tablets and said it was Sunshine. I ate one and we started pulling in sheepshead fish and perch. We started throwing bread crumbs to the circling seagulls. Before we knew it, it looked like The Birds from Alfred Hitchcock. I cranked up the boat and hauled ass for the bait shop. We jumped out of the boat and took off running. The manager started yelling at us for not cleaning out the boat. We were so freaked out, nothing could’ve stopped us from running. I started hanging out with David, we’d get stoned and drunk. My uncle was none too pleased with this friendship. He told me this kid was bad news and nothing but trouble. He noticed his eyes and said he looked like the devil.
We decided to give fishing another try. The manager told us the boats were off limits to us. David had some sugar cube LSD-25. He told me he was going to dose the dude’s coffee. I pleaded with him not to, it was just too cold blooded. The man could flip out and never come back. David dropped two hits on the man. I heard the ambulance sirens and took off. I told David to stay the hell away from me.
Luckily I was going back to New Mexico a few days later. My uncle said good riddance to David. On the trip southwest, we talked about Kafka, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kant, Karl Jaspers, the bible, and Carlos Castaneda and The Teachings of Don Juan. Then we got into great guitar players, I told him I loved Jimi Hendrix, but he’d just died. I also liked Jimmy Page, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, and B.B. King. He liked Django Reinhart and Chet Atkins.
I helped my uncle, aunt, and three cousins get settled on the base in Lubbock and went back home, to Clovis, New Mexico. Almost a year later, an amigo invited me to a concert with our girlfriends in El Paso, Texas. Santana and Ten Years After were playing, so we drove south across the desert listening to Wolfman Jack broadcasting from Mexico. He was howling like a werewolf on peyote and playing some damn good rock.
The Civic Center in El Paso was full of marijuana clouds. We ate some magic mushrooms dipped in honey. Santana opened for Ten Years After, Carlos was tearing his guitar a new ass. His percussion section was on fire. Nobody wanted to let them leave the stage. After two encores, Alvin Lee and Ten Years After started cooking up a feast. Alvin was so damn fast, his hands were invisible. He made Carlos look kind of slow. He kept playing faster and better and faster, finally he jumped up on an organ and screamed, “If there is anybody out there that can play this guitar better than me, they can have it.” Everybody looked around and the first person I saw was Diablo David from Michigan. I could not believe this evil cruel person was standing next to me. He smiled like a thirsty vampire. A guy with a large sombrero and a long coat walked up the steps onto the stage and reached out his hands for the free guitar. He took off his coat and hat with his back to the audience. Alvin Lee gave him his guitar, Jimi Hendrix turned around started playing Purple Haze. Jimi played with his teeth and behind his back. Everyone seemed hypnotized; the walls were shaking and the floor trembling like an earthquake tornado hurricane all were happening simultaneously. Jimi slowed a bit and a thick fog of sparks blinded everyone momentarily. The roof opened and a magnificent red glowing Pegasus flew down from the trillion stars. Smoke billowed forth, engulfing Jimi and Diablo, they floated into the air. I could hear music hammering then whispering, as Jimi played Voodoo Chile, until the winged horse with its riders disappeared.
About Catfish McDaris
Bukowski’s Indian pal Dave Reeve, editor of Zen Tattoo gave Catfish McDaris his name when he spoke of wanting to quit the post office & start a catfish farm. He spent a summer shark fishing in the Sea of Cortez, built adobe houses, tamed wild horses around the Grand Canyon, worked in a zinc smelter in the panhandle of Texas, & painted flag poles in the wind. He ended at the post office in Milwaukee. Now he rehabs furniture, makes knives, & waits on nothing.