Category Archives: Blue Moon Baby – The Novel

Blue Moon Baby

Some folks have asked me about the title for my novel-in-progress–“Blue Moon Baby.” Well, it all started with a song I wrote back in 1998.
The song itself was just another song back then (15 years ago??? Holy Crap!!). Sacramento was going through a particularly rainy winter and spring, and my future ex-wife and I were sick of it all and wanted to get away for good. Thus, a song was born.
Well, fast-forward another 6 or 7 years, and I started to get an idea for a novel, and this song was the center of it all.
What’s the connection, you ask? Well you’ll just have to wait for the novel to complete itself.
Until then, here is another video made from my iPhone of me playing the very song in question.
I hope you enjoy!!
I have plenty more of my songs up on my YouTube page, so please feel free to browse them all. As always, all comments are welcome.

Thanks for stopping by!!

joel

http://youtu.be/Brta7sPsqFQ

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Healing

(continued from last Tuesday’s post, Back to the Beginning)

Tuesday, June 29, 1999 – 2:15 am

Cody lay awake in the bed the still shared with Lily.  After a night of passionate and desperate lovemaking that bordered on recklessness, Cody found the peaceful sleep that he had expected eluding him.  At first, he felt relieved that he and Lily were able to come together again, but the question of how realistic those expectations were haunted him.

Of course, he wanted to stay with Lily, but he also wished that none of this had ever happened.  He wanted to trust Lily to never cheat on him again, but then, he also wished that he had never given her a reason to want to run away.

Too many things had happened between them in a short period; too many hurts, and too many fractures in their trust.  Yet, here they were, urgently trying to bring their relationship back on track.  Neither of them wanted to return to the hurtful place they were at just eight hours ago; Cody was certain of that, but none of it could be forgotten.  They had to move forward with the promises they had made to each other.

As he was wont to do, Cody began to internalize all of the problems between them, and he placed the burden of their failures square onto his shoulders.  He knew Lily relied on this, and so he resisted, but he could not hold out for long.

            If only I had been more present in our relationship these past few years.

            I know I neglected her.

            Why did I get so wrapped-up with the drugs?

            Why do I spend so much time with Huey?

            Why do I try so hard to make Dutch Oven successful?

            What am I trying to prove?  And to whom?

Looking deep into his own soul, Cody believed that his actions drove Lily away.  He had already absolved her of her infidelity, and began to accept all of the responsibility for the near-dissolution of their marriage.  Of losing his soulmate.

Cody saw his heart closed behind an impenetrable fort, sealed away from hurt and despair.  He believed that this was necessary to meet his goals in life, and to prove to the world his own worth.  However, Cody did not anticipate hurting Lily in the process.  He believed that he had loved and cared for her during this time, even if he could now see that he did not always show it.

A song was coming to him.

Cody leaped from the bed and ran downstairs to his music room.  He grabbed his acoustic guitar and began strumming a simple chord structure in Dm.  It was a dark and haunting melody—one that fit the mood of his thoughts perfectly.

In almost the time it took to play the song through, he had written the musical changes and most of the lyrics in one sitting.  He would later make minor edits to the lyrics.

It was the easiest song he had ever written, and he could hardly wait for Lily to wake up so that he could play it for her.  Cody got no sleep that night, but not because he was using drugs; rather, he was so excited to play a brand new song that he believed proved to Lily that this fresh start would work.

At 7:45 am, Lily came down stairs to find Cody making the final touches to his newest song.  After a hug and a kiss, she sat next to him on his sofa and listened.

Soul Ray #5

By Joel C. Marckx

1999/07/11

From rocky peaks to valley lows, will this path ever plateau?

I never thought we’d ever have the guts to come to blows

I never thought that I would drive you to want to go

I never thought that I would ever have the chance to show

I could break through the ice around my heart

            And now so much has happened

            I know it’s just the start

            Two worlds coming together

            That never, ever should have been apart

            And now I’ve opened up my heart

 

Don’t know about the sharing, but I know that I never stopped caring

I always thought, “This is mine, you’d better leave it alone”

Why I couldn’t stop the hurt, I’ll never know

I never thought that I could tell you what you needed to know

I never knew that my feelings really wanted to show

I’ll never know why I took so long to grow

            I’m begging for my soul to

            Come alive again

            I’m begging for your heart to

            Open up and let me in

            I want to feel the love again

 

I have so much love that I’m needing to give, after all this time I kept it hid

I feel your electricity

I feel you fire inside of me

 

I feel your soul ray, I’m feeling okay

For the first time in my life

I feel your soul ray, I’m feeling okay

For the first time in my life

 

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Back to the Beginning

(Attention: This story contains profanity, suggested drug use, adult themes, and is intended for mature readers only.)

(continued from yesterday’s post, After the Fight)

Monday, June 28, 1999 – 6:15 pm

Lily knew there was no more time to stall.  Regardless of Justin’s drug habits and work habits, and of all the neglect she has felt in the past year or so, she knew that having an affair was inexcusable.  Yet, she learned that with Cody, offense was the best defense.

“I am sorry for what I have done…”

“What?  What did you do, exactly?”  Cody would in no way let her off so easily.  He wanted her to say it.

“Running off like that and…”

“And what?  What exactly did you do?”  He was not going to let her off the hook for this.

“ I had an affair with Charles, and…”

“You ran off and fucked some other guy!”

Lily, was beginning to fume with anger.  “Yes.  I fucked Charles.  I fucked him, and you made me do it!”

“What the fuck did you just…”

“I never would have done that.  Never!  You drove me out of our own home because of your stupid drugs.  You left me all alone while you worked in the studio.  You left me here with nothing else to do but study Kung Fu.  I’ve spent more time with Charles in training in the last year than I have with you.”

“You what?”

“No.  Not like that.  I mean real training.  Without you around, it was the only thing that interested me.  I get bored around here.  So, I trained.  Every day.  Charles had been making moves on me for a long time, and I laughed them off every time.  When I saw you stoned in the basement, I just wanted to hurt you.  And I wanted to feel some pleasure that I haven’t felt in a long time.” She paused.   “I didn’t feel anything, except guilt.  But, I was so goddamned angry with you, Justin.  You have been too busy for me lately, and we haven’t had any real time together in a long time.  We hardly make love anymore, and when we do, it is so fleeting because you are either tired, or you are heading off somewhere.”  Lily was sobbing again.  “I guess you are also too stoned lately to want to make love anyway.”

“You can’t put this all on me.  I will own a lot of that, but I will never believe that I made you fuck another man.  If you did that, you must have been thinking about it for a long time.  And, it probably wasn’t your first time.”

“It was”, Lily moaned.  “I swear it.”

“You’ll have to excuse me for not taking your word on that.”

“Well, I guess I don’t blame you for not believing me, but I swear on my life that I have never done that before.”

“I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I have never cheated on you, Lily.  You know that I have had had many opportunities, and I never cheated on you.”

“I know.  But, I never gave you a reason to.”

“Don’t give me that shit!  You have a beef with your husband, you talk it out, or you leave.  You don’t cheat!  You just don’t do that.  That is a level of betrayal that is simply unforgivable.”

Now that Cody had said that word—unforgivable–the real crux of the issue was out.  Cody had to ask himself if he could really forgive her or not.  Lily wondered the same thing. She wanted to equalize their crimes by comparing drug addiction and neglect to infidelity.  After all, were they not both different kinds of betrayals?  But she knew that she had crossed a line to which she may never return.  She could have left Justin, but she never wanted to.  She was afraid to confront him because he was so busy and tired, and a little fragile.  And, because she was afraid of the truth.

Lily was certain that Justin would choose his work and his friends over her if given an ultimatum.  Sure, they had a strong bond that they once saw as unbreakable, but it was now fraying at the ends.  She knew it.  Surely Justin did, too.

Once again, the deadly silent stare between them replaced the words they needed to speak.  Neither knew what the other wanted, or where the other would go.  Twenty minutes into this confrontation, and they still did not know how it would end.

Jamil was right, Cody thought, I do want to forgive her, but I just don’t know if I can.

“So, what do we do, Justin?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t even know what I want; let alone what is possible at this point.”

Lily began to sob again.  She was afraid that Justin would throw her out of the house and end their marriage, but she tried to believe that was not possible.  Hearing him admit that he did not even know what he wanted to do crushed her, and she feared the worst.

After finding Cody in the basement last Friday, stoned and apathetic, Lily wanted to believe that she had had enough.  She knew about the drugs, and she was tired of being neglected.  She imagined that she would break their bond finally by betraying him, and then she would move on with her life.  Now, she knew that was not what she wanted at all.  She wanted things to go back to how they were before Dutch Oven, MGHB, and all the drugs.  She remembered the happiness they shared together, on a daily basis, on the road with the Manatee, and especially at home during his off time.  That was what she wanted.

She hated how much Justin was working these days, and she hated all the extra time on the road touring that they have had to do in the past year.  Life had become chaotic with the success of Dutch Oven, and she hated it.  She wanted her old Justin back.

But now they were set on a frenetic pace bouncing back and forth between Sacramento and New Britain; between Dutch Oven’s commitments and Colonel Manatee’s commitments.  Before Dutch Oven and MGHB, Justin worked only half the year with the Manatee, and then they spent the rest of the year in Sacramento.  That, of course, opened the door to working with a side project—to working with his friends—and that is how this mess all began.

Lily only wanted her Justin back.

Cody broke her train of thought.  “So, what are you going to do?”

Cody was certain that she would want to go, and he was prepared for that possibility.  But, after careful consideration, he knew that was not what he wanted.  If she chose to stay, he would take her back.  He did not know how the marriage would survive in the long run, but he would take her back.

“I just don’t know how we even got here, Justin”, Lily cried.  “In just five short years, we are already like an old married couple that barely acknowledges each other anymore.  I just wanted to feel something that I was missing so badly, but I don’t want Charles, or anyone else for that matter; I want you, Justin.  But I don’t want the person you have become.”

Cody acknowledged her plea with a subtle nod.  He felt ashamed.  He knew that she was right; he had changed.  He allowed an obsession control his life, and it affected his relationship with the one woman he believed that he would ever love.

“I am not sure what to do about it right now”, Cody said.  “I have so many demands piled up so high, and I can’t just walk away.  I need to find some sort of balance.  I need help.”

“I could have helped you all along, but I felt like your Sacramento bands were like a private club closed to the public.”

“They are…”

“But you could have let me in.  You always did with the Manatee, so why not here?”

“I don’t know.  I guess I just wanted to hide that lifestyle from you, even before I got submerged in it.”

“Well, you had your mistress, and I had my own.” Lily tried to joke, but was met by Justin’s piercing eyes.

Cody simply brought the conversation back to topic.  “So, you are unhappy with the way things have been, and you had an affair with another man.  I’d say the choice is yours, Lil; what do you want to do?  You can either stay, and we’ll try to make it work, or you can go, and we’ll just start off on our own.”

Lily could not believe her ears.  Was he giving her a choice?  No ultimatums, and no threats, but a choice to stay or go.

“If you go, you’ll get a nice chunk of alimony or a settlement of some kind, so you won’t have…”

“If you think for a second that I give a shit about the money…”

“I’m just saying it’s there.”

Lily was disgusted, but also a bit relieved.  She was happy that he offered to let her stay and work on the marriage, even if she had doubts that much would change.

Lily smiled, walked over to Justin, and squeezed in beside him in his chair.  “I would like to make this work.  I love you, Justin, and I don’t think that I could ever love anyone the way that I love you.  But with so much hurt and betrayal between us, do you really think that we could fix this?”

“Maybe the only way to fix this is if we don’t trust each other for a little while.  I hope that we will again build that trust up, but for now, maybe we just have to keep an eye on each other.  I don’t know if that sounds right, but I think it may be the only way, for now.  And then, if we cannot get past the trust issues, then we will have to talk about splitting up.”

They gave each other another long, hard, and silent stare, except this one was soft and loving.

“I love you, Lily, and I am sorry for the hurt I have caused you.”

“I love you too, Justin, and I am so sorry that I hurt you, too.”

With no more words between them, they held each other’s hands and walked back into their bedroom to show each other exactly how much they loved each other.

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After the Fight

(Attention: This story contains profanity, suggested drug use, adult themes, and is intended for mature readers only.)

(continued from last Tuesday’s post, The Fight, part 2)

Monday, June 28, 1999 – 9:10 am

The silence in the car was toxic. There was plenty to say, but between the two lovers, there was a wall of shame, confusion, and fear that kept their mouths closed, and their eyes from making contact. Cody shifted in his seat. He was uncomfortable not only because of the terrible rift that had been created by both Lily and him, but also because he was going through withdrawals from the drugs that he had not had for nearly sixty hours.

Cody was arrested Friday night after the fight at NorCal’s, and he was not arraigned until Monday morning. There were lawyers from both the Dutch Oven and Colonel Manatee offices trying to post bail, but the judge refused to make an exception of Cody based on his celebrity status.

Cody did not mind. Every minute he was in jail was another minute that he did not have to face Lily. He was ashamed of his drug use, and he was ashamed of the fight that landed him in jail. He was also ashamed that his marriage was surely ending after Lily’s infidelity. This was the biggest issue for him to face, and he was not looking forward to it.

Now, in the car with Lily, on the way back to their home in Fair Oaks, he wished to be anywhere else but there. He sat slumped in his seat, staring out of the window, and tried not to acknowledge his wife in the driver’s seat next to him.

Lily also feared this meeting. She dreaded the drive home, but knew that she would have to confront the issue head on. Still, she did not visit Cody in jail; instead, she communicated with the lawyers and met Cody at the courthouse on Monday morning. Lily spent the entire weekend alone wondering how their confrontation would go. She was angry about his arrest, and was doubly angry about his drug use, but she knew that she would have to answer for her affair with Charles.

The closer they got to their home, both Lily and Cody felt their stomachs tighten and their hearts pound a little heavier. They were scared, and had no idea how this day would end.

Once inside, Cody tried to speak, but Lily was still not ready. He ordered him to bed. He needed some real rest, and she needed more time to think. She could tell that Cody was not ready to talk—was in no condition to speak rationally—and that he, too, would need more time.

Cody did not argue. He went straight to their bedroom, kicked off his shoes, and collapsed on the bed into a virtual coma.

Lily sat in her study and cried. Once he had come home, it became more real to her. She sobbed hysterically with the realization that their marriage was probably over. Once the tears had stopped, she walked into the bedroom and lay down beside Cody. When she realized that Cody was in a deep sleep, she curled toward him, threw her left arm around him, and held him tightly—perhaps for the last time.

She was in the living room when Cody emerged from his sleep some eight hours later. She heard him taking a shower fifteen minutes earlier, and made a pot of coffee in anticipation of him coming down the stairs. Cody poured himself a cup, and sat down in his chair on the opposite end of the room from her. They stared at each other in cold silence, waiting for the other to speak first. No movement, and no words; only eyes locked in silent battle. Just as Cody was about to make the first move to ask her directly about the affair, Lily spoke first.

“Why were you naked?”

“What?”

“Why did you strip down naked to fight that guy?”

Cody had to think hard for a moment about the question. He was so prepared to talk about the affair, or about his drug use, that he had almost forgotten about the fight outside of NorCal’s.

“I wanted to shame that punk all the more by kicking his sorry ass while naked. You should have seen this guy, Lil–all brawn and attitude, on a steroid-infused rage—he needed his ass beaten.”

“By a naked junkie?”

“Okay, Lil, which issue are we starting with? The drugs, the arrest, or the affair? We got a lot to cover.”

“You’re not kidding, Justin.” There was another moment of silent staring before Lily spoke again. “I would say the drugs started it; let’s start there. How long has it been out of control?”

“I don’t know if it ever was out of control.”

“You were barely conscious in the basement of our house. Your eyes were rolling back. I’m not even sure you knew that it was me yelling at you. You just had a stupid grin on your face…”

“I was just getting the last of the tour out of my system…”

“In our house? You brought that shit into our house, Justin! You have never done that before.”

It was then that Cody realized that Lily had known about his drug use for some time now. His shame deepened.

“How long have you known?” he asked.

“How long do you think, Justin? I am with you all the time. Did you really think you could hide that from me?”

“I only did a little bit, and you never said anything about it before…”

“You and Huey aren’t exactly sly about it. You make it look like you have been drinking, but it’s not the same. You are not the same when you are drinking.”

Cody had been open with Lily about all of the drug use in both the MGHB and Dutch Oven, but had always sworn that he stayed away from it all. He assured Lily that he would be fired from Colonel Manatee if he ever was caught doing hard drugs, so he would never even try. But when he discovered Huey’s penchant for heroin, he could not resist the temptation to share this one vice with his best friend. Cody and Huey never used needles; rather, they smoked it so that it would leave no trace. Once the heroin became a regular part of the band dynamic, cocaine soon followed as a natural counterpart.

“Besides, you have completely pulled away from me this past year”, Lily continued. “You work too much, and you spend too much time with Huey, Jamil, and all the others, and you have been pulling away from me. How long have I known? I’ve known the whole time, and I just watched it happen without saying a word because you were fulfilling your dream. I wanted you to be happy. I wanted you to realize your dreams. But, I also wanted to be a part of it, and I haven’t been for some time. I’ve just been your wife, not your mate. I feel like you replaced me with the drugs…or with Huey.”

Lily was sobbing hysterically now, and Cody was speechless. He had no answer for her. Of course he wanted to make a name for himself; to be something more than just a side player in the Manatee, but he had no idea that it had affected Lily so negatively. He was unaware that she was so unhappy, and so left out; just as he had no idea that his drug use had gotten out of control.

Picking at a fiber from a small hole in his leather chair, Huey took his eyes away from Lily. “For what it’s worth, I have decided to quit using drugs all together.”

“Why? Because you were caught? Because you are up against charges? Or are you only now quitting because you know that you can’t hide it from me?

“No. I’m quitting because I realize that it has gotten out of hand. You know how I hate to be controlled.”

“Well, don’t do it on my account.” Lily was not sure what to make of this new claim.

“Well, I am doing it on your account, and my own, for that matter. I told Huey and Jam on Friday that it had to stop. And yes, you catching me in the basement had a lot to do with that decision. So did the arrest.” Cody had the sudden realization that all the guys from the Manatee must already know about the arrest, and that he would have to answer to them about it, as well. His stomach tightened further.

Lily was not sure that this decision would affect her at all. She still had to answer for her own crimes, which she was not yet ready to do.

“So, how are you going to do it? Quit, I mean.”

Cody never really thought about it. “I guess I’ll just quit. When I gave up smoking cigarettes, I just quit. Simply made the decision to stop, and I stopped. I guess I’ll do the same now.”

“And what about working with Dutch Oven? The whole lot of you are constantly high on something.”

“Well, I guess I’ll have to set some boundaries. You’re right. It’s everywhere on every level of the organization. I’ll have to change things within the band. I don’t know…hire more handlers, I guess. I’ll worry about myself first, then I’ll see if I’ll have to play boss with anyone else. You know I’m not comfortable having to tell anyone what to do.”

“I think that’s part of the problem, Justin.”

“Yeah, well, maybe I’m going to have to get more involved in a lot of matters in my life. Things have gotten slack in a lot of places, haven’t they?” He gave a hard, accusatory, glare into Lily’s eyes, and the silence returned to the room. For about two, long, uncomfortable minutes, they said nothing; only stared at each other’s eyes, knowing where the conversation was headed next.

“Okay, we’ve talked about my shortcomings in this world…”, Cody started.

“Oh, not by a long shot…”

“…what about your own? Are you even aware of your own? Let’s talk about you now.”

(to be continued tomorrow…)

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The Fight, part 2

(Attention: This story contains profanity, violence, and graphic drug use, and is intended for mature readers only.)

(continued from yesterday’s post)

Friday, June 25, 1999 – 8:40 pm

There was a distraction at the other side of the room, but Cody barely acknowledged it. There were four college-aged boys; the macho, muscular type, yelling across the room at Cody, Huey, and Jamil. Huey and Jam had been trying hard to ignore it for several minutes, but Cody was only now becoming aware.

The boys were drinking cheap beer and bothering some of the bar’s other patrons when they noticed the three friends sitting in the far booth. The obvious leader—a tall, muscular blond wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and jean shorts—was pointing at Cody, Huey, and Jam and yelling “Hey Big Time!” in a mocking tone. Some girls were chattering on about how they thought the men in the far booth were celebrities, and wanted to get autographs, and the boys decided to impress the girls.

Led by the muscular blond, the four boys walked over to the table and demanded to know who the three men were.

“Hey! You guys big shots, or what?”

Huey looked as if he would be glad to jump into a brawl with these bozos, but Jam was not the fighting type, and Cody was in too fragile of a state to be bothered.

“Hey guys, not tonight, okay?” Huey tried to dismiss the boys.

“Aw, come on, big shots, you too important to talk to some regular guys?” The blond leader was clearly amusing himself, and his friends, but not Huey.

Jamil tried to be more diplomatic. “Look, you guys, we got private business here, and we’ll have to give you a rain check on…whatever it is you want.”

“What we want is to know who the fuck you guys are, and who the fuck you think you are thinking you’re so fucking big?”

“Look”, Huey was getting irate, but still tried to keep his cool, “We are just hanging out, trying to have a peaceful night. Go bother someone else.”

One of the other boys—another tall, muscular, blond with a baseball cap on backwards—figured it out. “Hey, it’s those Dutch Oven guys. Sacramento’s newest superstars.”

The muscular leader smiled a drunken, roguish smile, and decided to taunt them further.

“Oh, the famous rock stars. Those girls want your autographs, but how about you sign my dick instead? In fact, sign all our dicks, and those bitches can suck your names right off. That should make everybody’s night.”

Up to this point, Huey and Jamil were doing all the talking, trying to keep the peace, but Cody finally felt compelled to step into the conversation.

“Go back to your table, and fuck off”, Cody spoke calmly, and did not even turn to face the boy.

The blond leader zeroed in on Cody, apparently feeling as if his night was about to be made. “And what if I don’t want to fuck off? What the fuck are you going to do about it, Rock Star? You’re the big rock star, why don’t you sing something for us? Sing me a song, sign my dick, and then I’ll fuck off.” The four boys were howling with laughter as if this were the funniest thing they had ever seen.

Cody turned to meet his attacker head-on. Something in Cody’s eyes rattled the blond leader for a second, but he continued his taunts.

“Why are you three little faggots sitting all alone in a dark corner? You guys jerking each other off, or what?”

Huey stood up as if to punch the blond leader, but physically, he was no match for the larger boys; neither of them appeared to be. The blond leader pushed Huey back into his seat, and one of the other boys held Huey back, lest he should try to rise up again.

The blond leader ignored Huey. He had found his prey, and went back to taunting Cody.

“I asked you a question, Big Shot. Why are you little pussies jerking each other off in your own private corner of the bar?”

Cody had never felt that he needed a bodyguard. Even on tour, when fans can get aggressive, Cody felt that bodyguards and handlers only drew more attention to him, and so he eschewed them and chose to handle matters on his own. Before this night, he had never had an issue; certainly not in his own hometown, but he really wished that he had someone to remove this problem right now. The bartender had warned the boys to stop, and the boys ignored him, and continued their catcalls. The bartender even phoned the police, but the boys finally pushed Cody too far.

Cody rose suddenly. ”You want to see how much of a pussy I am, motherfucker? You want to see? Congratulations! You’re about to find out.”

The boys all cheered as the anticipation of a quick fight between their leader and this skinny celebrity pumped adrenaline into the night. Everybody headed outside. Huey grabbed for Cody’s arm to hold him back. “You don’t need to do this, man”, he pled, but Cody was already half-way across the room before Huey could finish the sentence. Jamil just laughed a knowing laugh, grabbed the tequila, and followed them all outside.

“You little bitch”, started the blond leader, “you have no fucking idea what you’re getting yourself into. And you know what? It’s too late to back out. Your ass is fucking dead!”

Cody just stood there staring at his attacker. It was too much. The last twenty-four hours had been too much for him. The haze of drugs; the fight with Lily; the realization that he may be in over his head with an addiction problem; and finally, a bunch of punks looking for a fight. It was too much. He came to the bar to meet with his friends and try to take the edge off the situation, but it had escalated further than he had ever imagined it could. All the cocaine and tequila he had in the bar, combined with the adrenaline surge from the impending fight brought a sudden focus to him.

He had come to the bar half-crazed, strung-out, and deeply saddened by the events at home. Now, he was faced with an idiot kid who looked as if he made a weekend habit of starting fights with smaller, weaker targets. Cody now faced a bully who had three equally muscular and testosterone-driven meatheads behind him to back him up. Cody knew this was never meant to be a fair fight, and so, he would not allow one. He knew that he was in no condition to allow one. Cody meant to give his attackers something to ponder for the rest of their bullying career.

Cody gazed into the eyes of his attacker. Then, he peeled-off his T-shirt, showing a thin, and stringy upper body. At six-foot two inches, Cody only weighed about one hundred and fifty pounds. The drugs had made him thinner than usual, but his Kung Fu training had kept him lean and strong. Even during the two years that Cody had used the hard drugs, he still continued his workouts and training.

Cody’s eyes never left the eyes of his attacker. He then kicked-off his shoes, and peeled-off his socks.

“What the fuck is this?” mocked the blond leader.

Cody then took off his pants and tossed them aside.

“What the fuck are you doing, faggot?” the blond leader cried out. Huey and Jam just giggled. The crowd was getting larger, and the bystanders were just as baffled as the attacker.

Finally, Cody stripped off his underwear, and stood naked before his attacker and the crowd surrounding him. Suddenly, cars driving by on “J” Street stopped to watch the spectacle. They had no idea who the naked man was, only that there was clearly going to be a fight between some nude lunatic and a very puzzled muscular boy.

“I’ll tell you what”, said Cody to the blond leader, “I’ll let you have the first punch. It’s free, just take it.”

The blond leader was flummoxed. All of his bravado was lost as soon as Cody stripped naked. He turned to his friends, who were just as puzzled; “What do I do? He’s fucking naked! I don’t want his shit touching me.”

Cody stepped forward and pushed his right cheek up close for his attacker. The blond leader, not knowing what else to do, summoned his earlier rage and charged Cody. His right fist smashed into Cody’s mouth, knocking Cody backwards and causing a spray of blood from Cody’s lips. The boys all whooped and cheered, mocking Cody, and pointing at Huey and Jam as if to suggest they were next.

Cody took a second to gather himself, and then smiled maniacally at the attacker, who, for the first time, realized that he might have made a mistake.

It took only about 15 seconds. In a flurry of movements, Cody punched, jabbed, and kicked his attacker in a series of moves he had practiced in Kung Fu training for years, but never used in any practical reality. Three swift punches to the face forced the blond leader to raise both hands for protection. Cody then gave two jabs to the kidneys, and a series of punches to the ribs, forcing his opponent to bend forward. He then gave two quick roundhouse kicks to his opponent’s hips and left leg, dropping him to one knee. It was Cody’s turn to taunt.

“Come on, little boy. You wanted to kick my ass, now get up, and kick my ass. You’re getting beaten down by a naked dude, you little fuck, now get the fuck up! NOW!”

“Hang on a second…”, the attacker groaned.

“No, now! You said my ass was dead tonight, now make me dead. Get up and kick my ass, motherfucker!” Cody was yelling like a lunatic, spraying blood and spit onto his attacker.

The regular Friday night brawl that the onlookers were hoping to witness had quickly become something darker and sickening. The three other boys, who would normally step into a situation like this, were frozen in awe of Cody’s assault.

The blond leader was stupid enough to stand up again. He charged at Cody, who then delivered two punches to the blond leader’s nose and jaw and a series of punches to the ribs and solar plexus.

All of the anger and frustration that Cody felt in the last twenty-four hours, and all of the fears and angst he had felt his entire life. All the years spent proving his worth to anyone he cared about, it all crescendoed in this one moment of time in an explosion of violence and hatred.

Cody finally decided to finish the blond leader off with an Inside Crescent and Tornado kick combination that broke the blond leader’s nose and jaw. Cody’s attacker crumpled to the ground unconscious.

One of the girls who had originally asked the boys to go get autographs vomited on the sidewalk.

Cody looked crazed at the three remaining boys as if to ask, who’s next? But before Cody could inflict any more damage, three police officers broke through the crowd and ordered Cody to stand down. The fight was over, but Cody was standing on the sidewalk on “J” Street, outside of NorCal’s Pub, naked, and pulsating with rage.

By the time Cody had come down from his adrenaline high and realized exactly what had happened, he was in handcuffs in the back of a police car charged with assault, battery, public nudity, public drunkenness, and two counts of narcotics possession. He also realized that his clothes were back on his body.

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The Fight, part 1

(Attention: This story contains profanity, violence, and graphic drug use, and is intended for mature readers only.)

Friday, June 25, 1999 – 7:35 pm

After the fight with Lily, Cody stormed off to NorCal’s Pub. On the way, he called Huey and Jamil to meet him there.

“I’m calling an emergency meeting. Get down there now!”

Neither Huey nor Jam questioned or protested the sudden call to arms; they knew that Cody was on the edge, and that he needed them.

Cody, strung-out and spun-out on a three day binge of heroin and cocaine—the same binge that sent Lily away and started the fight—drove recklessly down the narrow streets of Midtown Sacramento before pulling to the curb just outside the pub. He stormed in, put two twenty dollar bills on the bar, demanded a full bottle of Cuervo 1800 and three Heinekens, and found his usual booth in the darkest corner of the bar.

I can’t believe that bitch! How dare she? After all that I have given her! How dare she judge me? I should have thrown her out the upstairs window. Two stories up, and a long way down!

Cody could no more lay a hand on Lily than he could ever throw her out of his house, or his life. They were bonded beyond space and time, and no temporal crises could ever destroy that. He knew they would have to work it out.

But not tonight!

Tonight was a night for nurturing anger, spite, contempt, hostility, insecurities, and, most importantly, self-pity. Tonight, he would continue the binge, and add some much needed alcohol to the mix.

Huey and Jamil walked into the bar, found Cody in their usual spot, and asked the bartender for three glasses. Cody was already drinking the tequila straight from the bottle.

“Alright, Code”, started Huey, “what’s on the agenda for this evening?”

“Fucking bitch!” Cody could barely get the words out. He hated to admit any weakness, and admitting a fault in his perfect marriage to Lily was the toughest thing to speak aloud. “Fucking bitch cheated on me.”

“What?” Jam was incredulous. “No way.”

“Yeah, “ continued Cody. “Ran off with Kung Fu Charlie, and then came home and blamed me for making her do it.”

Cody retold the story of how Lily had found Cody in the basement, half passed-out with his freebasing rig still in his hand, a fog of smoke and the smell of sulfur and ozone hanging in the air. She had screamed at him, punched him a few times, and when she was sure that he was not overdosing, she ran off, slamming every door on her way to the car. Cody barely remembered, being in an opiate haze, just as he barely felt her blows. It was as if the entire incident was a dream. But he was very lucid twelve hours later when Lily returned home. He knew where she had gone, and a battle royale ensued the second she walked into the house.

They sparred verbally against each other while Lily delivered several swift kicks and punches to the head. Cody could never bring himself to hit her, even though they had practiced Kung Fu together for years. No, he could never hit her, but he did catch a few of her punches and pushed her down to the floor.

All the violence in their fight brought out five years of unspoken angst. Suddenly, Cody and Lily faced the reality that their perfect love story was not so perfect after all. Cody was a drug-addled workaholic trying to prove his worth to everyone, and Lily was a philanderer; possibly a habitual one at that.

Cody needed the comfort and solace of his best friends.

“Well, I’d kill her, if I were you”, scoffed Huey. “Fuck her! If you aren’t good enough for her, then let her go.” Jamil snickered. “You guys have a famously perfect love affair, Huey continued, “no one would suspect a thing. How good is your acting?” Jamil practically snorted his tequila out his nose from laughing. Huey was being flippant because he knew that Cody would rather have them all laughing than stewing in his anger.

“Not exactly what I wanted to hear, Hue.” Cody cracked a wan smile.

“She broke the ultimate sin—betrayal—and that is not okay, Code”, Jam chimed in with all seriousness. “I can see in your eyes that you desperately want to forget that the whole thing happened, but you know you can’t. Even if you find it in your heart to forgive her, you know that you never really can, right?”

Jam’s got a point, Cody thought to himself while pouring and cutting an ample amount of cocaine onto their table. The three of them all dipped their heads to the tabletop and took a hit off the Peruvian Gold.

With only a few months of fame to their credit, the members of Dutch Oven had carte blanche in NorCal’s, and the bartenders and owners turned a blind eye to their illegal habits. And why not? Cody, Huey, and Jamil were regulars whenever they were in town, and they brought a lot of business to the establishment even when they were out on tour. Besides, their booth was dimly lit and in a discreet corner where prying eyes would not make out the actions of its denizens.

Yeah, Jam’s got a point, but then, he’s never had anyone like Lily. He has yet to meet his soulmate.

“I’m not here to solve the problem tonight, you guys”, Cody declared. “I’m here to blow off some steam. Whaddaya say we just get shitty drunk and curse the world for all of it’s shitty problems?”

They drank their tequila and beers, and stared off at the television. The baseball game was on, and the three of them were content with watching in silence.

Cody’s cell phone rang. He knew it was Lily, but there was no way he would talk to her anymore tonight. He didn’t even care if she ran off to her Kung Fu hero’s fuck palace again, he was done with the issue for now.

Cody was exhausted from the drug-fueled binge that landed him to this place, but the drug-fueled binge was a product of having just come off a five-month tour around the world. The heroin was meant to calm his nerves and bring him back to a place of normality. He usually only imbibed on the road between gigs. He needed the cocaine to keep going, and the heroin helped him to sleep. This habit started two years ago when his first side band, MGHB, started touring, and he never brought the drugs home with him before.

At least until this year, with the explosion of Dutch Ove,n and their first album, “Me & Whoever.”   The demands piled higher, and the road extended further than he had ever anticipated.  At first, Dutch Oven played shorter sets as opening acts for larger bands, but they soon graduated to headlining tours and two-and-a-half hour shows. Then, there were interviews, and autograph sessions, and radio promotions, and record store appearances, and more dates added to their already full schedule. The drugs became necessary.

Cody did not really notice the increased drug use. He, Huey, Jamil, Randy, and Butch all participated heavily and openly. It was as regular as making music–a sort of sacred ritual. It was a Sacramento thing, for Cody, and one that would never occur in New Britain with the Manatee and their strict “no hard drugs” policy, at least, until about a year ago when Cody actually started to use the drugs regularly in both bands. He hid it from the Manatee, and felt ashamed for bringing the forbidden substances into that inner circle.

For the first time ever, Cody realized that he might have a problem. Sitting with Huey and Jamil, openly snorting cocaine off a table in a public bar, and recently having been caught red-handed freebasing heroin by his wife, Cody realized that the drugs were no longer just for medicinal purposes.

“In a way”, Cody started, “I sort of feel like I betrayed her first.”

Huey almost wanted to slap him. “What?”

“Well, I’ve been hiding this shit from her,” he pointed at the cocaine, “and getting more and more into the work. Think about it: what do we do besides play music? What are we doing right now? What the fuck, guys? All we do is get high and play music, and I think that the music is playing second chair to the getting high.”

Jam nodded. Huey looked nonplussed.

“I mean”, Cody continued, “why are we working so hard right now? We just released an album, did a huge tour, and now we are rehearsing new material for another album. Why? Why so soon? So we can get together and party, that’s why. And I have to go back to New Britain next week for the Manatee’s summer tour. It never ends.”

“Dude”, Huey looked confused, but knew that Cody had a point. “Do we really get high that much?”

“When was the last time we weren’t high?”

Jamil chimed in. “I don’t know about you two, but I am not always high.”

“But you are every time we get together and play. On tour, you do the same thing as the rest of us; get up for the show, and go down for sleep and travel. And…AND…”, Cody emphasized, “what were you doing the past few days at practice? The same as the rest of us.” Cody took another shot of tequila, and fought the urge to sneak off to the bathroom to freebase some smack. He felt cornered and vulnerable, and it was all his own doing.

Have the drugs really come between Lily and me? Is the music driving a wedge between us? Or, was there always a problem between us that we only now see?

Now that he has laid all of his faults on the table, he thought hard about Lily’s? What else has she been hiding from him? And did he drive her away, or did she drive him to this haze of drugs and constant work?

continued tomorrow

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Interview With Lily Maelgwyn – A Character Development Exercise

From a February 2000 interview for Business Wives Monthly

Lily Cerise Maelgwyn is a bracing, and unexpected beauty, carrying a natural grace about her that shows no contrivance. She is rather tall, and even though she is eight-months pregnant with her first child, she still looks thin and toned. She has striking dark features that contrast with her pale skin. Dark hair and dark eyes and full lips that sport the only makeup she will ever allow; ruby-red lipstick, she looks as though she could have been a runway model, if not for a touch of hardness to her countenance.

Born June 21, 1973, she is younger than her 32-year old husband, Justin Cody, but seems much wiser than her years would suggest. Justin Cody is the leader and founder of Dutch Oven, who recently won the Album of the Year award for their multi-platinum debut album, Me and Whoever. He is also a member of the underground touring sensation, Colonel Manatee.

She invited Business Wives Monthly to discuss her role as the wife of a successful rock musician, and to reveal a few tidbits about herself. One gets the sense that Justin Cody could not juggle two successful bands, and all the fame that comes with it, without his wife to help point him in the right direction.

As she welcomes me into her home in Fair Oaks, California, she is all smiles and propriety, yet she has a tendency to swear a lot as she speaks; a habit she insists that she has had long before she ever met Justin (most of the foul language has been edited out, ed.). Wearing a casual maternity pantsuit, she looks as though she dressed-up for the interview, even though she still wears no shoes or socks.

One would expect a successful musician of Justin Cody’s caliber to own a palatial compound hidden away from the rest of the populace, but the Maelgwyns live in an older, established, suburban neighborhood by the American River. Lily and Justin’s home is relatively modest, resting on a 1 ½ acre property, and Lily complains that this home is much larger than the ranch they own in Connecticut. During the interview, Lily explains their humble home in their unassuming surroundings: “Justin believes that the moment he starts acting like a celebrity then everyone else will start treating him like a celebrity. If he acts like everyone else, then everyone else will essentially leave him alone. He is not afraid of success, but he is terrified of fame.” While Justin still drives his old Toyota 4-Runner, Lily recently became the recipient of their sole luxury item: a new BMW. “It’s for the baby”, she claims.

It is an unseasonable gorgeous sunny February day in Sacramento, and we conduct the interview in the Sun Room. They do have one servant who helps to clean and cook, but Lily says that she prefers to keep busy while at home, and so she does her own fair share of the chores. The servant, Marie, brings tea and home-baked bread for us to sustain us throughout the interview. Justin, of course, is in the home recording studio in the back of the property with his so-called “bar-band”, Dutch Oven, rehearsing new material for what will eventually be their second album.

 

 

So, the first question I must ask is this: Why do you go by Maelgwyn while Justin seems to disown that name?

Well, Justin’s legal name is Maelgwyn, whether he likes it or not <laughs>, and so that is the name I took when we got married. I love the name, and it is not much different from my maiden name, Michaelson, and so I wanted to be a Maelgwyn, too. Besides, I have a bit of Welsh in me somewhere, so it suits me.

 

Are you the only one who still calls him Justin?

Yes. His Mom & Dad still call him Iestyn (pronounced Yes-tin, ed.), which is the proper Welsh name, and his sister has called him Cody for years now, so, I think I am the only one left who calls him Justin. I do a kind of motherly thing with him where I call him by his full name when I am angry with him <laughs>. Justin—Cody–Maelgwyn!!!

 

How did you and Justin meet?

I was a waitress at this old seafood restaurant here in Fair Oaks called The Bait Shack. It’s closed down, now, but it was kind of a hot spot for a time. Every time that Justin was in town to visit his friends, they would all come into The Bait Shack and eat and drink and whatever else. They had been doing this since The Manatee first toured California in 1991. Well, in 1994, this was in May, I had been working there for about three months when in came Justin, Huey (Huey Guinness, Justin’s best friend, and guitarist for Dutch Oven, ed.) and Huey’s brother Terrance. Justin and I made eye contact and immediately connected. They were in the bar eating while I was in the main dining room. I kept making excuses to go into the bar just to check him out. Everyone was making a fuss over him; mocking him, and fussing over him at the same time. I guess whenever he would walk in, everyone would yell, “Hey! Rockstar!” in a facetious way, but at the same time, he was a local boy made good so they all loved him there. I didn’t care about any of that, I just wanted to meet him.

Well, it didn’t take too long before he started talking me up, and then he waited for my shift to end. We went out for coffee and talked until about 2:30 am. This was a Thursday, and The Manatee played in San Francisco on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. He asked if I wanted to see them that weekend, and he put me on the guest list. I think Sunday was my only night off from work, so I went on Sunday. I got to hang out backstage with the crew and the other girlfriends before he put me in a special section for family members. It was a great show. I fell in love with him instantly that night.

You weren’t sure before then?

Well, I knew there was something there, but it wasn’t until I saw him on stage that I knew I wanted to be a part of his life from then on out. After that show–which was the last show of the tour—they were all getting ready to fly back to Connecticut and Justin wanted me to come back with him, which I thought was ridiculous at the time, so I went back to Fair Oaks; back to The Bait Shack. For the next three weeks or so, as the band was preparing to hit the road again for the Summer—they used to tour constantly—he would call me almost every day and ask me to come out. Finally, he said, “Look. I’ll fly you out, and you can go back home whenever you want. Just stay a week.” He was very insistent, and to be quite honest, I really didn’t play that hard to get! I went out there planning to tour with him for a week or so, and I have been with him ever since. Within a month of me being there, he had already written four songs for me. How could I leave that?

You sound so cavalier about it. I’ll bet there are thousands of women who would love to be in your place.

Well, they can get their own waitressing job! <laughs>

 

How did you get Justin to move back to Sacramento?

We had been on the road together for almost a full year, and I missed my family. By September of 1994, I had officially moved into the ranch in Connecticut, but after the first winter in Connecticut, I really wanted to be back in California. I loved the snow for the first week or two, but it got old very quickly for me. Besides, I missed my friends and family. There was no way that I was going to leave Justin—we were too intertwined by this point, so I asked him…no, actually, I never asked him anything. I just told him that I really missed California, and that I wanted to go back more often.

By this time, The Manatee was already talking about slowing down their touring schedule. Everyone wanted to spend more time with their families. They were already making a small fortune at this point just from touring and selling out every show they played, and so the financial drive to keep touring was no longer there. Everyone was getting a little burned out. Justin suggested that we buy a second home in California for the Manatee off-season. He had to jump some hoops within the band to make it happen because they all thought that he was going to quit the band over a girl. <laughs> Once it was clear that he would be in Connecticut during the important, scheduled, Manatee time, then it was a non-issue.

 

You’re pregnant. When is the baby due? Details?

You noticed? <laughs> Well, she is due on April 1st. We tried so hard to have a millennium baby, but couldn’t pull it off until it was too late.

 

She?

Oh yes. We found out a few months ago. We couldn’t wait. She will be Hannah Isabella. I am so relieved that she is not a boy, because now I don’t have to fight with Justin about not naming the baby after Adrian (Valero, guitarist for Colonel Manatee, ed.)!

 

Will that slow Justin down?

Do you mean that Justin will stop touring and stay home with me and the baby? No. This will be a road baby. Adrian’s wife has two kids that are always on the road with him, and Seth (McAllister, keyboardist for Colonel Manatee, ed.) brings his daughter on the road. The wives bring nannies to help, which I will have to do, as well. The Manatee has slowed down their touring schedule in the last few years, so it won’t be as much of a problem as it would have been say, five years ago. Plus, we upgraded from tour buses to jets a couple years ago, so that helps.

 

Is there a wives club?

<laughs> Yes. We having secret meetings and plot against our husbands. No, not really. We do hang out during the shows, and once in a while one or two of us will get together for lunch, but it’s not an exclusive club, or anything.

 

What is a typical day for you on the road?

Well, so far, I act as a sort of assistant to Justin—making sure that he is awake and in the right places at the right time. I help him with his schedule and manage his finances a little. I mean, he has professionals for all of that, but I get to micromanage a bit since I am always with him. I do some shopping and sightseeing, but I really act as a sort of surrogate mother to Justin. I make sure he gets his laundry back. Kind of the same stuff I would do at home, I guess. Once Hannah comes along, I will have my hands full to do much of anything, really.

 

Where are you during the shows?

Backstage. Sometimes I will hang out on the wings watching the show, but after almost six years, let’s face it, I’ve seen the act! I usually only come out when there is new material, or something special planned. You know the Manatee; they always have some gimmick up their sleeves. Dutch Oven is a new thing, so I am out in the wings more for those nights. Some nights, I would prefer to just stay in the hotel, but Justin insists that I am there before and after each set for a good luck kiss. It’s more of a tradition than a superstition.

 

Does life on the road get old for you?

It does get a little old living out of suitcases and checking into hotels. But it’s only for about 6-8 weeks at a time.

Are you still excited to travel and see new places?

Absolutely. I have no say in the matter, but I always try to lobby for new cities when I get the chance. There are usually one or two new cities each tour. Especially with the Dutch Oven tours from last year. We went to Australia and New Zealand for the first time last October!

 

Do you have any ambitions for your own career?

Well, I used to want to open my own Kung Fu and Tai Chi studio. I had an idea for a full wellness center based on the ancient Asian medical arts with acupuncture, herbology, and Martial Arts, but I am not so sure I want to do that anymore. I am more interested in nutrition, and I would like to find a way to foster new Vegan chefs.

You and Justin have been doing Kung Fu for several years, right?

Yes. I have been doing Kung Fu and Tai Chi since 1992. Justin was doing Aikido since 1991, and then switched to the same Kung Fu and Tai Chi that I have done after we met. We still workout regularly, even though I have been limited to Tai Chi for the past three months. But, we have also been Vegan for the past two years, and I want to continue to explore that. Maybe write a cookbook, or open a Vegan restaurant.

 

What would you be doing now if you had never met Justin?

Hmmmm, probably not waitressing. I would probably be actively involved in a Kung Fu studio, I’m sure.

Do you have any great anecdotes from the road that you would like to share?

Hmmmm, from which band?

Well, what’s the difference between the two?

Well, Colonel Manatee is more sophisticated and refined, whereas if Dutch Oven were a real business, there would be HR meetings every day.

Okay then, I think we should definitely hear something from Dutch Oven.

You would have to edit too much out, I’m afraid. <laughs> Well, I guess I can tell you about the night that Justin decided that he was going to act like a Diva at the White Lotus Awards last month. He kept demanding other celebrities to get him drinks and open doors for him, something that only he and the other members of the band thought funny…and me. <laughs>

How an anecdote from home?

We like to keep our personal lives personal. Not that we are hiding anything, but whatever happens within our own walls is our own business. Besides, I’d hate to admit this, but we are quite boring.

Okay, what is in your refrigerator right now?

Fruits, vegetables, soy milk, and lots of beer.

 

What is your perfect idea of happiness?

Security, and sharing my life with my soulmate. And having a little baby on the way!

 

What is your most marked characteristic?

I have always had a little mama bear in me. I can be shy and insecure, and people think that I am weak because of that, but I can be vicious when needed. Justin says I scare him sometimes. I say, good!

 

What is your greatest fear?

Being alone, I guess. That’s pretty standard, but I would hate to have to face some things in this world without Justin.

 

What is your greatest regret?

Oh, there are plenty of things from when I was younger that I would like to take back, but since I’ve been with Justin, it’s all been great. No regrets.

 

What quality do you like most in a man?

Well, I like to think that I am an independent woman, but I think it has always helped me to have a man who can keep me in line. I can be flighty at times, and I guess I need a firm hand to put me in place. Not in a violent or abusive way, but direct enough to keep me focused.

Does Justin have that quality?

Actually, no. He hates to tell anyone what to do. I think he figures that if I can’t figure it out, then I am on my own. He hates conflict, and will not get involved in someone else’s issues. For me, he’ll do it grudgingly, so I try to make sure that I don’t ever put anything on him. He thinks I am more independent than I really am.

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