One night over by Cripple Creek when Buzz was working as a Bus Boy in Mama Leone’s Fish Factory, I went by to see how things were doing.
That place was dead, I mean real dead, I mean as dead as Jimmy Manson wanting to play quarterback after that photo of him dressed as Shirley Temple went around the team; that dead.
“S’up?” I said to old Buzz.
Buzz just looked real bored, he’d heard the door open thought it was a customer and then he had to find out it was only me. Okay, he was happy to see me an’ all but I sure wasn’t going to tip him, not like a real boney fidey customer would.
“I need money,” says Buzz to me as if that was news to anyone. “I mean real money, I wanna start a musical band with geetars and stuff.”
Well that was the first I’d heard of Buzz and the geetar thing. Sometimes it is hard just to keep up with his ideas, he has so many, then he gets tired from having all these thoughts and he just goes to sleep. That’s the way it was back then, Buzz sleeping even in the middle of the day.
“You’ll be in the band too,” he says to me as if I could play something. But let’s just say it out here and now, Buzz didn’t know the first thing about any musical instrument – so who was going to play what in the band - was just a moot point.
“Buzz, we can’t play anything,” I says to him stating the obvious.
“Didn’t stop the big New York bands,” he says right back at me.
“I think, you’ll find it did, Buzz,” I says to him.
Just then the Mayor and his latest lil’ girlfriend sashayed in to try some of Mama Leone’s fish and that was the end of our talk, especially since the Mayor was well known as a BT in eating circles (a big tipper).
Buzz never mentioned nothin’ about the band again – least ways not for a while until the night we were sharing a soda at the railway tunnel and he says ‘I’ve bought a geetar.”
Well you could have run me over with the next cargo train bound for the coast, I was that shocked.
“You what?” I had to be sure I had heard what I had heard.
So he said he’d not really bought a guitar but found it in a dump truck right behind the old jazz club on Washington Avenue.
“Musta cost a pretty penny, that’s for sure, Hawkeye,” said Buzz. I asked him who Hawkeye was and he said:
“Why that’s your new name in the band,” he says to me without even a hint of joking in his voice.
“Yup and mine is Running Wolf,” he said with a, ‘I thought all this up myself’, smile on his face.
“You say some stooped things, Buzz but that has got to be the stoopidist in the history of stooopid things and that saying somethin’.”
Buzz told me if I didn’t like it that I could ‘skedaddle’ as there were plenty more fish in the sea (I guess he had been working at Mama Leone’s a little too long) and that I had never shown any signs of being a geetar player anyhoo.
So we parted pretty badly that night with me shouting “Run away, Running Wolf” and thinking it was clever at the time when it was just plain embarrassing.
The next time I saw Buzz was a couple of weeks later when he was playing his geetar on the corner of Vine and Stanford. There was one string on the geetar and he was pluckin’ it within an inch of its life. He was singing real loud to make up for the lack of music. When I say singing.....well I reckon you can work that out for yourselves.
I looked in the hat he’d placed on the sidewalk and it had a 5 bits already in it.
“Buzz,” I said.
“What?” he said.
“Who gave you the 5 bits?” I asked.
Then he looked real red in the face and I knew he’d put it there himself and it was most likely a tip from the Mayor or his latest lil’ girlfriend.
“How’s things?” I asked.
“Not good, not good at all,” he said with a real sad face. “People just keep walking by.”
So right there and then I decided to help my bestest pal in the whole world and did a lil’ monkey dance to accompany the song. Before you knows it, all the folks in town were throwing money in the hat and shouting ‘dance monkey boy, dance.”
By sundown we’d made nearly a dollar, a whole dollar just for dancin’ and singing.
As we walked up towards Cripple Creek I asked Buzz what we should do with the money and he said: “it’s going in my fund to help when I run for President of these, here United States.”
I reckon he probably will and all.
bobby stevenson 2012