Music Driver

Sugar Mule 2002

It was around seven p.m., dark and moonless with occasional pockets of light drizzle and small patches of fog. I was, and I can't be exact, but can only judge from past performances, driving about 45 miles an hour in a 35 mile zone and thinking about my newest entrepreneurial project-THE GIBLETS.

It started about a month ago when we were having company for dinner and my wife Alicia had planned to serve Cornish hens. She was at the store and I kept walking by the pile of uncooked hens on the kitchen counter, and the next thing I knew I had put them in sexual positions and was taking pictures of them. Alicia came home before I could re-pile the hens and stared at them for a few minutes and then looked up at me standing sheepishly behind my tripoded camera and she cracked up. Not the reaction I had expected. She loved the concept and decided that after they were cooked we would reposition them (so to speak) and serve them to each couple.

The evening was a big hit and when I got the photos back I was surprised at how great they looked. Everyone I showed them to said that I ought to make greeting cards, so finally I went to a printer and began the process. The outside of the cards had sayings and inside were the pictures of the uncooked hens in raw positions with the FOWL PLAY one being a menagé á trois. Then I had two hens sitting up side by side with their wings draped over the other's headless shoulder and a cigarette sticking out of the neck and the card read, WAS IT GOOD FOR YOU TOO? There was also, WILL YOU RESPECT ME IN THE MORNING? YOU RUFFLE MY FEATHERS, and a half- dozen others.

As I drove along that moonless night, I remembered how my bowling group I was now heading to meet had laughed when they saw the hens. But since my last two ideas that the group had invested in hadn't worked out, I knew there would be no money coming from this source.

I admit that the jazz tape I had just started playing a few minutes earlier may have pushed my speed up another five to seven miles per hour. I'm a music driver. Music and speed go hand and foot. If the blues tape hadn't ended there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been driving slower; and who knows what the outcome would have been. But the outcome was the outcome and fate is fate and it was dark and drizzling and I was driving over the limit listening to the New Orleans Jazzmatics stomping away when I looked to the right and out of the corner of my left eye I saw an animal at ten o'clock. It darted across the street from my left to right, just barely passing between two cars going the opposite direction. I heard two sickening thumps and checked my rear view mirror to see what I hit.

At the end of the block there was a gas station so I pulled in and turned my car around to go back. Truthfully, I really didn't want to know, but I also didn't want the car behind me (which pulled into the station also and whose driver was now gassing up and glancing my way) to think that I was a hit and runner, so I waited for a break in the traffic and drove back as slowly as the other traffic would allow.

I saw a lifeless form lying stretched out on the center white line and even though I now thought 'cat' I wasn't positive because of the line of cars behind me so I pulled off into a liquor store lot and turned around again, waiting once more for my turn to break through the traffic to the other side. Finally I saw that the road was clear in the direction that I wanted to go and one car was coming up on my left, but I knew that I could get across before it. That's unless the driver was a music driver also and just popped 'The Beer Barrel Polka' into his tape deck. I took the chance. I wondered if the dead animal gauged the traffic on both sides as I was doing, but I think he probably had all he could do to plan his final run between the two cars coming from the side closest to him.

I pulled alongside my victim and stopped and turned on my left turn blinker, and the cars coming up behind me had to slow and go around. It was a cat. A dead black cat stretched out on its side - conveniently lying smack on the white line between lanes - now out of the way of traffic. I knew that I hadn't been driving on the white line so the impact must have knocked the cat there.

As I drove off I got to wondering about what would have happened to me if this pure black feline had made it across the street in front of my car. Most people won't admit to their superstitions, but I will. Was it good luck that I bagged the little guy before he crossed my path when otherwise I would have been jinxed, or would my life stay status quo? Is there a jinx for killing a black cat? Of course there is for the cat - but how about the poor driver?

As I continued my drive I began to wish that there were someone I could ask. Then an idea came to me. How about a superstition hotline? Someone to call to answer these kinds of questions, or even a 900 number. In that entrepreneurial spirit, I thought that if there wasn't one maybe I should start one. I could read up on all the superstitions, alphabetize them, throw a few ads in the local paper and on late night cable TV and I'd be in business. Just sit by my phone and computer and wait for the bucks to come pouring in.

I figured that even if someone called me with a superstition that I didn't have listed, I would have a group of stock replies for those occasions and I would be able to give them an answer, After all, who would be more qualified than the "superstition maven"?

I pulled into the parking lot at the bowling alley where I was to meet the guys, and I was still ten minutes early, so I leaned back in the seat of my forest green jeep and continued to think about my new business venture. I didn't know how much a 900 number would cost, but I needed a catchword or catchwords so people would remember. Most people hate dialing letters but they tend to remember and use them. I decided on 1 900 BLAK CAT at $1.95 for the first minute and $.95 a minute thereafter. I could envision a training class of superstition operators to help me with the overflow. After this took off locally, I would do regionally and then quickly go nationally before someone else tried to horn in on my business. Money, money, money. What a country, America.

I was in the nether land between consciousness and sleep - reality and dream - and fielded my first call on the 900 number. It was from Midnight, a black cat, who wanted to know why it was considered bad luck for cats if a green Jeep crossed in front of their paths. I was flipping through my index for an answer when the honking of a horn snapped me awake. I grabbed my bowling ball bag and got out of the car and greeted my friends.

As we walked towards the bowling alley I said to them, "Tell me what you think of this."

Before I could tell them one of the guys said, OK, what's today's scheme, and the others laughed along with him. This was nothing like the other ideas that they had invested in- the broccoli jerky for vegetarians or the Velcro wing tips for sneakers.

I decided that this time I had a winner. A real winner and I was going to be a real life success story, the kind you read about. My idea was too good to share with this crew, who I knew wouldn't come up with any bucks anyway, so I said, "Gotcha, just kidding," and laughed along with them as we went inside.

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