Monday, May 23, 2011

Vice Squad, Open Up!

During my college years I had the bright idea of recording books on cassette tapes.  It was actually a good idea and the timing was right since Eight Tracks were being replaced with cassettes.  I pursued my dream by recording a number of books.  I was helped in this venture by my best friend, Callahan Burke. In my humble opinion, he is the best reader ever.  When he reads he not only changes his voice but his facial expression for each character in the story.  I have listened to numerous books on tape in the last few years and I still think Cal is the best.  Anyway, we were a team.  He read and I recorded and edited.
The only complication was that Cal also worked as a bartender and kept really late hours.  One of my jobs was to wake Cal up so we could work on the recordings during the day.  I would typically show up at his apartment around ten o'clock each morning to get him up.  Since we didn't get paid for doing these recordings we would typically grab some breakfast before getting started. 
Cal's apartment which he shared with a guy name Benny was in the attic of an old house in the Midtown area of Atlanta, Georgia.  His room was all the way in the front of the attic facing the street.  Unfortunately, the door to the apartment was right in the middle of one of the sides.  Keep in mind that we did not have cell phones back then so there was no way for me to give him a call.  For me to wake him up I would literally have to pound on the door and it usually took a while to arouse him.  This was sort of a regular routine and I just got use to it. Benny, his apartment mate, had a day job at one of the local banks and was always gone by the time I got there.  Benny was also a pot head. 
One notable day, I showed up as usual and wasted no time in pounding on the door.  I was not really paying attention to anything at the time.  For some odd, impulsive, thinking I was funny, reason I added a loud shout to my next set of pounds, "VICE SQUAD, OPEN UP!  I actually repeated this a number of times.  As I said before, it could take a while to arouse Cal so I was not expecting an instant response.  I finally heard some timid steps coming down the steps.  I figured Cal was hanging on to the hand rail and trying to wipe sleep out of his eyes.  To help wake him, I pounded again with the same shout, "VICE SQUAD, OPEN UP! 
The door slowly opened and a guy I had never seen before peeked out from the other side.  He had very long and not all that clean hair along with a full beard.  I knew Benny, slightly, and this was not him.  I had moved to enter the door as soon as it started to open believing it to be Cal so I just kept going.  What happened was totally unintentional and certainly not planned.  It really was not my fault at all.  As I entered and walked up the stairs with this guy following me I asked him, “How's it going”?  When I got to the top I found Benny.  Playing on my vice squad joking, I looked at Benny and stated that I had heard somebody up here had been reported reading a Playboy.  It wasn't that clever but all I could come up with at the time.  The funny thing was that both Benny and this other guy looked like a deer in headlights.  Their eyes were wide open.  I asked if Cal was there and Benny shook his head, NO.  I really don't think either of them said a word the entire time I was there.  I told Benny to tell Cal I had dropped by and I exited without a care in the world. 
Okay, obviously something was terribly wrong.  Only I did not see it.  Cal called me later, laughing hysterically, and said I couldn't come over for a while.  He explained that Benny and his buddy had flushed all their pot down the toilet because of my little prank.  It really wasn't my fault. How was I to know?   I do remember the water draining through the pipes as I walked up the stairs but I just figured nature had called one or both of them.  Needless to say, Benny and I were not ever going to be good friends after that.  I heard from Cal that Benny was going to make me pay for what they had flushed but Cal let him know it would not be a good idea.

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