In the first two installments of this story:

I flew to Wisconsin to be the best man in my brother’s wedding. At the airport, I was greeted by two of his college friends, Chris and Mark. They were to be my brother’s groomsmen. While on our way to the hotel, we drank. We smoked. Once we reached the hotel, we proceeded to raise hell at a local cheese store. Then we went to a bar across the street and got even more shit faced. So shit faced, in fact, that we completely lost track of time and were late for the wedding rehearsal. After that, the problems didn’t cease. At the wedding reception my brother, Chris, Mark and I decided to go water skiing. Needless to say, we’d been drinking. While skiing, my cheap Dipsters bathing suit ripped to shreds. I then continued to ski naked. Very soon thereafter, we were pulled over by the Wisconsin Water Police. That’s when I got another very stupid idea…

 

Part III (Final installment) – Reckoning

There we are
Chris, Mark, my brother and I
We’re drunk

We’re face-to-face with the Wisconsin Water Police
We’re ready to be cited for lewd conduct

That’s when Shit-Faced Me comes up with a desperate plan to try and save our asses

“Hey, officers,” I slur to the two burly water cops now standing on our boat. “I’m from LA. You can’t give me a ticket.”

The officers look at me

My brother, Chris and Mark look at me

They’re all looking at me like I’m completely insane

Me, however, in my drunken state of mind
I’m the one thinking that they’re all crazy

Besides, they haven’t heard the rest of my plea
So I continue

“Really, officers. If you guys don’t give us a ticket I’ll take you back to LA with me and get you your own TV show. You know. Like CHiPS.”

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As I’m saying these words
I’m wobbling on my feet
At one point, I even fall down

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“Shut up,” says my brother

But I won’t shut up
All my drunken brain wants to do is make things better

And while, deep down, I know that my CHiPS plan is complete bullshit
That doesn’t stop me from trying to make it all so real

“Come on,” I say, slapping one of the officers on the shoulder, like we’re old buddies. “Don’t give us a ticket. I promise I’ll make you a big, big star.”

But no matter how much I plea
The officer isn’t tempted by my offer

In fact, he’s ready to cite me for public drunkenness

“Please, officer,” my brother says. “Give him another chance. Please.”

That’s when Chris and Mark grab me
Sit me in the back of the boat and tell me to Shut Up

My brother continues pleading with the officers
Eventually he gets them to agree to only cite us for lewd conduct

Not for my idiotic intoxication

Much later
After we’ve paid the citation and we’re back on shore and have eaten dinner
My brother pulls me aside and says:

“You’ve done nothing but fuck things up the whole time you’ve been here. I don’t deserve this.”

He’s right
He’s done nothing to deserve the wrath of my absolute ignorance and immaturity

“I’m sorry,” I say

“That’s it?” my brother says. “That’s all you have to say? You’re sorry?”

I want to say more, but my head is

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That’s because this whole trip I’ve heavily abided by the words of DJ Pubes:

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But now I’m realizing that that’s been a terrible plan

And besides all the alcohol that’s heavily clouded my logic this whole trip
There are also my cloudy emotions

I’m at a strange crossroads in my life

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I’ve just turned 30
And am now understanding that a lot of my drunken stupidity
Has been due to the fact that I’m having a hard time coming to grips
With the fact that my brother’s getting married

And while he’s getting his life together
I’m wandering around out in California
Playing music
Playing around at trying to have a steady relationship
With anyone, anything

I start crying, blubbering like a baby

“I’m sorry.” I keep saying those two words over and over

“You better get your shit together,” says my brother. “Before it’s too late.”

With that, he takes off to tend to his guests

As for me
I flash on the block of Swiss cheese

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That I jammed into the tailpipe of his car
Earlier in the day

If he finds it
He’ll never speak to me again

I grab a flashlight
Bolt out into the dark
Do my best to make my way to his car

As I draw nearer to the wooded dirt parking lot, I hear a commotion
Spot shadows darting in and out around the back tires of my brother’s car

Once I reach it
I notice six dogs doing their best to gnaw the block of cheese from the car’s tailpipe

I drop to the dirt ground
Crawl beneath the vehicle

The dogs belly slide beneath there with me

Now we’re all huddled together like one big dirty, sloppy family

I begin dislodging the block of cheese from the tailpipe
As I do so, it breaks off in my hands

I begin feeding chunks of cheese to the dogs

They’re a collective frenzy of barks and tail wags

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In all my life
I’ve never seen such unadulterated joy so clearly and so unapologetically expressed

I keep feeding the cheese to the dogs

They want still more
So I keep feeding them more

I keep doing whatever I can to make them happy

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RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

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