On the Run in the Getaway Car

Streetlights in the fogMy car plunges into the early-morning darkness, sweeping along the curve of the freeway onramp. My brother, Scott, rides shotgun. My sister, Kathryn, sits quietly in the backseat as the bubbling synthesizer of Pink Floyd’s “On the Run” from ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ begins.
 
I feel the music, feel the pull of the centrifugal force from the arc we are making towards the freeway below.
 
‘On the Run’ is less music, more sonic sculpture. There is a flight announcement…echoing footsteps. The pulsing synthesizer intensifies.
 
Ahead is a streetlight. The moisture in the air carves a bright sphere from the darkness.
 
The music crescendos as we pass into-then-through the sphere of light. It fades as we return to the darkness.
 
I smile for some reason. Something is happening. But I don’t know it yet.
 
Now two synths build together, divide and sweep around the inside of the car as a man mumbles something about living for today. The pulse peaks and squeals as the car punches into another bright bubble from the next street light. My stomach tightens, smile broadens as we are swallowed by the darkness again.
 
The synth quietly gurgles in the background.
 
Another cycle rises to crescendo without the histrionics, but still matched in synch with the passing of the streetlights.
 
It recalls the urban myth of synchronizing ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ with ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
 
The piece begins to build again. A buzzing becomes a plane descending rapidly.
 
No more streetlights. Ahead is an overpass under construction. Work lights and scaffolding covered in sheets of clear plastic.
I think it’s over, but I am wrong.
 
The plane crashes as we pass the scaffolding. The work lights strobe crazily amid mad laughter as we streak past the scaffolding. I feel it inside. I grip the steering wheel.
 
We roll out from the overpass into the morning darkness as the piece fades completely.
 
Kathryn, from the darkness of the back seat: “Did you feel that?”
 
I’m stunned. Before I can answer, Scott looks at me, nodding.
 
“Oh, yeah”.

The Day I Became a Writer

WritingMother’s Day, 1986.

Mike Stewart and I are killing time before I head to brunch at my mom’s. Mike and I met working on the newspaper at the local community college. He does the page layouts and design, I take the pictures and write the stories. It’s a good partnership.

We have stopped by his brother’s apartment. They have two young girls, Holly, three, and Allison, two. Allison pushes herself around in a little scooter. Holly is busy at the table. Holly is ALWAYS busy.

Everything in the apartment has a label, written in Crayon, by Holly. She followed the broken guideline in the middle of the label to help her shape the characters. Her parents are doing this to encourage her to read. She is a very smart little toe head in Huggies.

I’ve been here before. Holly’s progress is amazing.

Mike has a Betamax player. He has a Betamax copy of Alan Parker’s film ‘Pink Floyd’s The Wall’. I’ve never seen it. We put it on. It is still the only Betamax videotape I have ever seen.

While we are sitting on the couch watching the movie. I catch little Allison looking at me curiously a couple of times. After a few minutes, she motors across the room. Her strong little legs propel the cart over the carpet. She pulls into the space next to Holly at the table. I catch whispers coming from the two little girls.

“Who is that?” Allison asks Holly. Allison looks over at me.

Holly looks up from her work. I look away quickly.

“Who, him?” I can imagine Holly’s face as she’s saying it. Maybe an eye-roll?

I steal another look.

“Uh, huh.” Allison nods.

“Oh, that’s Steve Deeble.”

I laugh at her matter-of-fact tone.

“He’s a writer.”

I stop laughing. I’m stunned. If I hadn’t already been sitting, I’d have sat.

I started writing screenplays for short films in elementary school. Then I started writing stories. In church school I wrote parables.

I have written press releases that ran in the L.A. Times and other papers. I am freelancing for an advertising agency.

But this is when I see myself as a WRITER.

Riders on the Storm Drain

Storm DrainIt is 1981.

I arrive at Ken Spears’ condo to find Mark Reynolds pulling up the manhole cover in the back patio. Mark has shaved off his long hair and there is definitely a ‘Taxi Driver’ vibe. Anything can happen.

An extension cord is dropped into the bone-dry storm drain and a floor lamp is lowered for illumination. Mark descends purposefully and we lower his amplifier and guitar to him.

He turns on and tunes up, and begins to assault the guitar at ear-splitting volume. We replace the manhole cover and I head out into the night. Iggy Pop and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd come from every storm drain I pass.

That night the Irvine Police are frustrated in their attempts to find the source of the mysterious music.