I’m in the basement. It’s a Fernando’s Hideaway of sorts. The music is playing; the beer is brewing and my alarm clock finally turns itself off. Time to crack open a Brewington Beer.
There was no totem pole. We were both at the bottom but played important roles. Thinking back to how it all started, I wasn’t easy to work with. I felt bad for bro. If only there was some way to help.
Don’t judge. I knew Ottis O’Toole a bit. The twenty-seven-year-old with boyish charm and charisma knew how to act on the airwaves, at least at first. Too bad he was stuck in Hellstead Apartments. Unfortunate, but he was talented. He was great, but it was not okay.
The Rude Native, Brewington’s classy bistro, not like a coat factory chain, but a converted farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Near Weber’s Warehouse, farmland and dirt. A high-class joint. The bar reeked of urine, yesterday’s farts, and rotten asparagus. The heart of the Karaoke scene.
His rural fanbase wanted the Karaoke performance of a lifetime. He flew in like Clark Kent. God was he stoked. He started with Bad to the Bone and sang his heart out. A real natural, but he wouldn’t stop. Ottis, a familiar face who was dabbling in drugs, faking suicides for attention, chasing underage girls, not paying his taxes, doing Karaoke shows, singing, and remembering back to his past auditions.
He was supposed to play this guy that was a loser boyfriend, a rock-and-roll guy who is scum, the impetus for new Aztec settlements, stumbling into radio broadcasting. Everybody in Brewington knew that. When it was pitched to him, they said it would be two or three episodes only, then he would be done. He was very intentional about staying up the whole night before and really just come in the studio and be a wreck. But Ottis just wanted to be helpful. Mike Rogers was auditioning for Buck Rogers, a real Mr. Rogers, doing a bang-up job and everything, but buddy wondered what was wrong with Ottis, because he looked terrible. Ottis rambled on about on-air method-acting, conditioning to go full-on Native American. Even bragged about it. Took to a peace pipe. Watched retro baseball. Cleveland’s double-headers. Mike thought he was more of a meth-head. But Ottis didn’t care what anyone else thought.
Back then, Ottis gave up acting like Mario Juan Valez. A flick of the switch. He became someone else, even branded the name. I never really made it through the first month. A fearless Superman warrior, Daniel Blowden would’ve tied me down to watch Bram Stroker’s Cockula then smash through the door, but bud just stared me straight in the face, wearing beads, necklaces, tribal headgear, feather-work bracelets, and a wampum belt. With a Voodoo mask and a war bonnet tucked in his duffel bag, Ottis had a pretty nice studio set-up in his lush, green apartment, about the size of a coffin. “Daniel, how are you doing?” I said, but bud never answered, bobbing his head from side to side. God, did Ottis ever reek. The music was good, but he smoked one too many super blunts on company time. Smoked pipes and cigars. But that wasn’t the problem. A hard worker who maybe worked a little too hard. In it on his own. Ottis oozed a bit too much confidence. Thought he could do it alone. He told me to get the fuck out of his apartment.
The plague was tough. Ottis took fate into his own hands. I’m not like Ottis playing Daniel, the native bro from the gutter. But I remember what it felt like to live without hope in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wanted to reach out. WRICH wanted to help. But I had to end it. The last pay bought Ottis a squeegee, a “cool” window cleaning tool.