Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends
of West Texas Music
by Christopher Oglesby
Published by the University
of Texas Press:
"As a whole, the interviews create
a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also
of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues
such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue.
This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets
to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often
inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is
the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor,
and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go
mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing
likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and
"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more
than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required
reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and
anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes
a part of Lubbock's living history."
- William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche Journal
Chris Oglesby's virtualubbock
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LOVE IS NEVER WRONG
by Christopher J. Oglesby, 2010.
Cale Davis pulled his hat down tight on his head, dipping the wide brim down almost to his nose, preparing for the howling brown norther. As he exited the north door of the new Lubbock County Courthouse, he winked at Deputy Peck Martin who sat behind the desk of the jail. Peck owed Cale twenty dollars from the card game, which had gone for the entire week that Cale and the county’s other notorious bootleggers had been ceremoniously sequestered in Sheriff Dink McCall’s iron and concrete hotel.
Cale tightly held the upturned collar of his black wool overcoat to his neck as he strode across Main Street toward Buck Peveto’s Hot Shot Café. Though it was an hour after noon, the earth-filled sky was dark as twilight, and Cale squinted to keep the fast moving ferric soil from his eyes. Cale opened the steam covered glass café door to a blast of hot air and the welcoming smells of warm grease, coffee, and cigarette smoke. Frankie Lane’s voice on the jukebox was singing about that lucky old sun.
Cale tipped his hat back on his head as he occupied an open stool at the dining counter near the back of the shotgun room. He noticed a shapely new waitress with reddish hair whom he had never seen before, moving busily behind the counter, pouring coffee and serving hot plates as if she had been waiting on others all her young life. She could not have been older than nineteen. The blue embroidered letters on her white serving blouse indicated she answered to the name Toots.
“Say, Toots,” Cale asked with a smile while she poured his first cup of coffee, “How’s the chili today?”
“About the same as yesterday and every other day,” the young woman replied.
“Alright then, have Lottie fry me up a steak and a plate of those onion rings.”
When Toots returned with his lunch, Cale asked, “Is Toots your given name or is that an alias?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out, honey pie.” She grinned.
“Hey, Toots. You ever go out dancing at the Paradise?” He was confident the answer was no because he surely would have noticed this looker if she ever once had entered his club.
“That tacky ol’ club out on the Levelland highway by the Air Base? No sir, I never been out there. I imagine I’d be afraid to go out there. I heard that place got shut down last week when the sheriff raided all the bootleg dives.”
“It was. They did. But it’ll open again in a couple of weeks. Smokey Mayfield and his brothers are playing there for the Valentine Dance. Maybe you should come out and see for yourself.”
“Sheriff McCall says he’s cracked down on the bootleggers and gamblers. What makes you so sure the Paradise is going to be open in time for Valentine Day?”
“Because I own the place, and I know a thing or two about it,” Cale said with a winning smile. “You’ll see. We will be open on Valentine Night. Bring some friends, come on out to the club and dance to ol’ Smokey. Here’s my card. Give that card to the gentleman at the door and he’ll let you and your friends in free of the cover charge. On me, Cale Davis.”
Toots took the card and smiled. “I like to dance. We’ll see.” She left him at the counter eating his steak, fried onions and green beans while she returned busily to refilling drinks and serving up blue plate specials.
Cale Davis was twenty-five years old when he first opened the doors of his private club in late 1946. The Paradise was a renovated Quonset hut which during the war had sat on Reese Army Air Base. Cale had grown up a couple dozen miles from there, in a railroad town called Ropesville, Texas, where his daddy grew and sold livestock feed.
Cale had joined the Army in mid-1945 but did not ship out for the Pacific Theater until the week after Truman dropped the Bombs, and Cale served his year of military service as an MP in Okinawa. He spent much of his time in the service playing cards with his fellow soldiers. Cale had always excelled with both numbers and bullshit, and he returned home to west Texas with a substantial stash in his duffle bag. In November 1946, Cale bought the Quonset from the Army for less than what it cost the government to build it and Cale paid in cash. As part of the deal, he had the Corps of Engineers move it off the base for him, out onto the Levelland highway west of Lubbock.
“The Road to Hell goes through Paradise;” that was the reputation Cale Davis’ private club had earned among the churchgoing citizens of Lubbock Texas in the four years since Paradise opened for business.
Paradise was advertised and operated as a dance hall and live music venue. Cale Davis hired all the best local dance bands as well as any swing bands passing through Lubbock on the way between Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles or Denver.
Like many of his local competitors in the live entertainment business, Cale Davis allowed patrons to bring their own bottles in brown paper bags and boot flasks; moreover Paradise provided bottles of high quality bootleg beer, wine, vodka, and whiskey for those who arrived empty-handed or who otherwise could not obtain forbidden alcohol. Like much of northwest Texas in 1950, Lubbock County was dry and the closest establishment to provide booze legally was Post Texas, down on the edge of the Caprock canyons, forty miles southeast of Lubbock. Other stimulants were readily available at Paradise. Benzedrine capsules were very popular with the pilots, graduate students, and truck drivers. Folks said most anything you might want or need could be obtained at Paradise, or if not readily available on site then arrangements could be made. Contraband was one keystone of Cale Davis’ young fortunes.
There was the not-so-clandestine poker game running virtually continuous in the storage room in the rear of the Quonset, from which the House, being Cale, earned thirty percent of gross winnings. The Game was the real source of much of Cale Davis’ cash income, which he put back into the business by guaranteeing a fair wage to talented dance band musicians and providing high quality bootleg booze and contraband. Cale Davis believed it to be his patriotic duty to facilitate his fellow citizens in their pursuit of happiness. Fun was his sworn profession.
Paradise notoriously hosted impromptu fistfights virtually every weekend. Cale Davis would end each night’s dance by leading the revelers in singing the Baptist hymn “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow” in hopes of calming down the rowdy crowd before he kicked them all out into the red dirt parking lot. However on most nights the cowboys, college boys, and air force non-coms would commence the weekly drunken bloodbath in the light of car headlights. Good times truly were had by all at Paradise. Rarely did an ol boy pull a pistol and the Sheriff rarely had to make his presence known.
For almost four years, Cale Davis had operated Paradise in full view and with unspoken consent of Sheriff Dink McCall, who by early-on arrangement took his modest share in the form of four cases of Canadian whiskey each calendar year, which he kept in his tornado cellar for his own and his wife’s personal entertainment. They had some good parties but you had to be somebody to get invited.
McCall reserved the option to make a spectacle of arresting Davis and other friendly local club owners whenever political necessity required such measures. This is why Cale and his regular business competitors had spent the week in jail playing cards with deputies: Dink’s sole opponent in the upcoming 1950 Democratic Primary was a teetotaler Baptist from Slaton named Smith Duncan who vocally promised to rid Lubbock County of all illegal alcohol and other vice if elected, and everyone believed he meant business. Dink McCall was from a long-line of Presbyterians who maintained a quiet appreciation for wine and spirits and he felt it to be an American’s right to gamble his hard earned wages how he saw fit.
In order to ensure the church communities would again support the reelection of Sheriff McCall and business as usual, McCall had to round up all notorious purveyors of vice, lock them up for a week to show he meant business, and temporarily shut the doors of the sin clubs until after the primary election. The charges all eventually would be dismissed on technicalities or otherwise forgotten.
As usual, there was no Republican candidate so whoever won the Democratic Primary would take office by default in the November general election. This is how Cale Davis knew his club would be back in business in time for the Valentine Dance; he and the Sheriff had shook on it and Dink McCall was a good ol boy and loyal customer.
McCall was reelected and Cale Davis was back to business as usual come Valentine Day.
Lindsey Mueller was seventeen years old and beginning to feel she was too old for her parents to accompany her to the South Plains Fair, and it meant she had to ride the rides with her younger brother Ricky which was humiliating and annoying. Lindsey did understand why her parents believed they needed to chaperone their children to the fair. Walking down the midway, rock-n-roll music by a band named Cheap Trick blared from the speaker of the Himalaya ride, “Do you wanna go faster?” the deejay shouted over the PA, and “Hell, Yeah!” thrilled teenage riders yelled; in the gaming booths kids were winning cocaine mirrors painted with AC-DC logos and Rolling Stones lips, roach clips with long unnatural colored feathers appending, and day-glo fuzzy posters with skeletons, devils, and unicorns.
Her parents had bought enough ride tickets for her and Ricky to ride three rides: bumper cars, merry-go-round, and they saved the best for last, the Ferris wheel, when they were working their way out of the loud and stinking midway toward the livestock pavilion and garden arts building where the sights and smells were less offensive.
They were in front of the Fair Park Coliseum when Lindsey’s father had stopped to buy Ricky overpriced lemonade. The marquee above the doors to the arena indicated local rocker Joe Ely would be headlining that night and the Maines Brothers Band would be opening the show. Lindsey knew some friends from Coronado High School who were going to the show that night but Lindsey would never even dream to ask her parents, much less consider sneaking out like Ingrid planned to do.
A tall man almost bumped into Lindsey and then at the last moment shifted his stride easily and quickly strode inside the arena, which was not yet open for the show. He muttered “Pardon.” Right then Joanne Mueller looked away quickly, gasped and intended to say under her breath “Dear Lord” but Lindsey heard, and it was highly unusual for Joanne to take the Lord’s name in vain.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“Nothing. Never you mind.”
“Momma, you swore. I heard it. What’s gotten into you?” Lindsey knew her mother was upset about having to spend time on the midway but Carl Mueller had fond childhood memories of carousels, bumper cars and Ferris wheels, felt they were wholesome entertainment for his children, and was willing to abide some sinners to preserve tradition.
Joanne looked closely and softly at her daughter, appearing to Lindsey almost as if her mother were on the verge of a tear, “Yes, I suppose I should tell you,” she resolved. Joanne straightened as Carl and Ricky approached and said with practiced calm, “We’ll talk about this at home. I think you are almost old enough, and it occurs that you should know the truth. For now, never you mind, like I told you. We’ll talk at home.” Joanne tapped the tip of her daughter’s nose. Lindsey noticed the wrinkle of concern in her mother’s brow.
Lindsey nodded. Carl took her hand as he handed Ricky off to his wife. Carl said, “Now, let’s go see the chickens and rabbits. You always like the rabbits, don’t you sugar?”
“Dad, I’m seventeen,” but Lindsey could think of nothing but her mother breaking a Commandment and then pronouncing her old enough to know why.
Raymond was not complicated. He liked girls and football and getting drunk when it meant laughing with his buddies. What made Raymond unique is that he could draw pictures and he liked to take photographs and was talented at both. He was not unusual in his fondness for rock-n-roll music except in degree of enthusiasm, and Raymond was tight friends with just about everyone in Lubbock who played music for fun or bread.
He started by working the doors because he was fiercely immense but he never could stay away from the action inside and always soon wandered backstage and everyone liked Raymond and wanted him around. He was funny and fun and made us all feel safe.
Jesse Guitar Taylor frequently remarked that Raymond Davis was the only one who could keep up with him. Being mostly raised by his momma, Raymond naturally would take whatever was going around. “You want some of this Raymond?” “Sure, I’m taking whatever is going around,” and Raymond could take it. Big Raymond never lost his cool and he never fell down, never quit playing, whether the game was football, drinking, pills, or chasing skirts.
That is how Raymond Whittaker came to be driver, poster artist, photographer, historian, contraband procurer, and bookmaker for most of the rock-n-roll and country western bands in Lubbock Texas, which in 1969 consisted of about forty and more talented homegrown musicians, most considered half insane and all condemned by church, family, and friends. There were no solid bands, or rather it was one big happy musical art mind-blowing supernatural philoso-psychedelic family band in which most musicians swapped gigs, traded band members and girlfriends, and made up new band names almost every gig they played. Gigs were rehearsals and parties were life. None took music serious as a business. Music was not a profession, music was a vocation. Art was life and so was grass which was hard to come by in these parts.
Joanne Kincaid became the girl singer in several local bands more by chance than by her own intention. She learned to sing at Broadway Church of Christ, where by doctrine no musical instruments were used in worship services of which hymn singing was an integral portion, and standard attendance amounted to thrice weekly. She knew from the time she was allowed to enter the sanctuary that her voice was the only instrument God had given her, however she honed and perfected that instrument at a young age mostly out of fear of humiliation for sounding out of key. One thing about the Church of Christ, it puts out some powerful singers.
Joanne was certain Jesus was her personal Lord and Savior and that He was soon to return to Earth for His Millennial Reign but by the time she turned nineteen years old she had diverted somewhat from the more orthodox tenets of the Church of Christ. Her relationship with Jesus was more immediate, passionate, and mystical than the conservative Church of Christ could abide. Her family had pretty much given up on her and decided they would just have to love her and accept the fact that she was probably going to Hell; that was resolved the day she came home from the soul record store over on the eastside over in blacktown with LPs by obviously satanic artists like Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters.
Joanne believed that she believed in love and justice and civil rights, if that meant treating folks decent, and she was determined to learn to sympathize with colored people. The only black folk Joanne knew were maids who worked in her friends’ parent’s homes, and Sam the bartender at the Lubbock Country Club. She liked Martin Luther King, Jr. and Otis Redding. Joanne figured, through the spiritual feelings she had while singing at church, that the fastest way to understanding truth is through music, so she chose to immerse herself in soul and rhythm and blues, in her effort to figure out the blacks.
That is how Raymond and Joanne got together, the music scene. They both spent much of their time around that house on 14th Street in the Tech student ghetto where the Flatlanders all congregated to rehearse and to plot promotions of brilliant proportions but with limited possibilities. Joanne did not know who actually lived there, though it seemed to Joanne that Raymond did not legally reside anywhere in particular. Raymond was the first person whom Joanne had ever heard use the phrase ‘couch surfing.’ He was a hobo as far as Joanne could discern.
So it was a sort of a miracle when Joanne found herself in a mighty inconvenient situation, although she knew exactly when it happened, which was that endless weekend that Tiny Reynolds returned from a west coast journey with a significant stack of fully dosed blotter paper and they all ended up in the cotton fields south of 82nd street watching the sunset and sunrise and knowing that they were both the most important and least significant beings in the universe all at once.
Afterward, Raymond made it clear he had little interest in conventional family life, and he went too far when he tried to convince Joanne that the church was nothing but a front for Babbitts and Gantrys; Raymond said that was the only thing on which both Toots Whittaker and Cale Davis agreed and both his parents made sure that he understood that truth growing up.
Joanne quit all the bands. She mostly had been a backup singer but she had been in the scene as much for her legs as for her voice; Joanne was known for performing barefoot and this drove the college boys wild, and they were about the only ones who paid for bands so Joanne was missed by many of us for years. But there were other girl singers around who were willing to show their feet and more so we made do.
Joanne moved home with her parents and stayed hidden and repentant for the duration of her pregnancy. Her father asked a young student named Carl Mueller from the Sunset Church of Christ Seminary over to the house to minister discreetly to Joanne. Within six weeks Joanne Kincaid married Carl Mueller. He quit the seminary, and he took a job at Yate’s Carpet and Tile. Carl became determined to open his own his own floor covering business within five years, a goal which he beat by five months and which happened to coincide with the first birthday of Richard Carl Mueller, Lindsey Caroline Mueller’s brother and Carl’s only son. Carl Mueller continued in his vocation for Jesus as an Elder and as a lay minister at 22nd Street Church of Christ, providing the Wednesday night sermon once a month.
Oh yeah, Raymond. He left Lubbock in the winter of 1971 in a pickup caravan with a group of pickers calling themselves the Lonesome Postholers and ended up in Sedona Arizona, where the band fell in with a teenage guru from Thailand to whom Raymond never warmed up. The band followed the guru to Oregon, leaving Raymond with the choice either to fend for himself in Sedona or hitchhike back to Lubbock.
It was in Sedona that Raymond learned he could make some sort of living with his own art in a way that might be more meaningful than taking pictures and printing posters for psychedelic outlaw country hippie bands. And it was in Sedona where he met folks with as much class as cash, and with good hearts as a grand bonus, who steered Raymond to the west coast. Raymond settled in the Bay Area and found a nourishing community in Sausalito. There Raymond made his name as a cosmic cowboy sculptor and earned critical and financial acclaim in two, three, and four dimensions of art.
Lindsey Mueller walks by that odd abstract sculpture on the Texas Tech campus everyday trying not to wonder about her natural father. The strange form of the abstract sculpture is frightening to Lindsey, and once she saw an owl perched on it and she had never before or since seen an owl in Lubbock. She holds a secret guilty pride that Raymond Whittaker is presumably an artist of national renown and that his work is displayed so prominently there on west campus but she never mentions it to her Kappa sisters or even to her fiance’ Rick Caldwell.
Lindsey has dated Rick Caldwell since Kappa Christmas formal when she was a freshman pledge and Rick was a senior, and the president of the Panhellenic Society. Rick had already been admitted to Tech Law School. She has not see him as often since Rick has been in law school but she would have plenty of him after she graduates; he takes the bar exam, and they get married in August.
She does not care much for art and she knows little about the artist other than what her mother has told her, being that Whittaker is a wicked man who now lives in Taos. Lindsey Mueller is deeply grateful that her good daddy Carl accepted her as his own and raised her in a Christian family, and no one needs to know. Her mother made it clear furthermore that Raymond Whittaker is the bastard son of that pillar of the local underworld Cale Davis.
By 1989, Cale Davis is believed to own about sixty-five percent of the entertainment related business in Lubbock and many surrounding counties, including: all the cigarette machines, pinball tables, pool tables, and more than ninety percent of the video arcade games, four restaurants and a part-ownership in perhaps twenty others, eight taverns which feature live music and that is nearly every music venue in town other than Fair Park Coliseum; Davis also owns the larger of the two chains of fully automated laundromats and his are open 24 hours, and much of the self-storage in the area.
Cale Davis became somewhat legitimate in Lubbock society when he managed to marry wild Lucy Ratliff, daughter of Doctor Roscoe Ratliff, and in 1958 they moved into one of the big new houses on west 19th Street and joined the Lubbock Country Club, where Cale ran the poker game in the men’s locker room for decades.
Cale and Lucy’s two kids turned out pretty good. Jack Davis was an All American first baseman at UT-Austin and now he plays in the major league for the San Diego Padres. Sandy Davis became a cover model in Paris at the age of seventeen and is mostly legend in Lubbock as she rarely returns but everyone knows her face and knows she is from Lubbock.
Lindsey would not be terribly ashamed to assume that she may somehow be related to Jack Davis and Sandy Davis as they are two of the more admirable local heroes who made good names for themselves in the world out there. However, she does not often allow herself to ponder or to explore the nefarious legend of her natural grandfather or much moreover to consider the nature of her own siring by Raymond Whittaker.
Cale Davis never married Raymond’s mother Toots Whittaker, and he never gave Raymond his surname but Cale did openly acknowledge his relationship and duty to Raymond. Toots took on much of the responsibility of raising her son but this was mostly because she was defiantly independent and Toots Whittaker felt genuine twisted pride out of being a working single mother in Lubbock Texas during the 1950s and ’60s. She had no interest in getting saddled by a man like Cale Davis. She had many friends at the Lindsey Apartments who helped raise Raymond. Cale provided infrequent but irregular supplies of new clothes to his boy because Raymond grew so persistently.
After Cale married Lucy and started his own family, he invited Raymond over to the Big House for every Christmas to feast and to open presents with Jack and Sandy. Raymond genuinely loved his younger half-siblings and if he held any envy of their more traditional living arrangement with his father, well you would not guess it. Cale went to all of Raymond’s in-town ballgames and often brought Jack and Sandy. In fact, it was Raymond Whittaker who taught Jack Davis how to dominate the baseline, and it was for Raymond that Sandy vested her first cheerleading outfits.
It is not uncommon for college sweethearts to marry and divorce but Lindsey never thought she would ever find herself on the short end of that sorry situation. She had sworn in front of Jesus, and their extended families, and nearly all the active Tech Kappas and Phi Gams, and her childhood friends, that she would remain with Rick through better or worse. Only after Rick started beating the Jesus out of her did Lindsey consider talking to one of Rick’s former friends from law school about a divorce. She got the hell away from that nightmare.
During the three long years she was married to Rick, Lindsey had sought temporary escape by joining the Junior League. She was in the same initiation class with five of her Kappa pledge sisters, and it got her out of the house during the day. She was good at organizing, and she caught on easier than she had imagined to the arcane art of grant writing.
As a function of her Christian altruism and frustrated energy, Lindsey soon became instrumental in organizing a volunteer farmer’s co-op which processes, packages, and provides staples to victims of famine and disasters. The Manna Center in northeast Lubbock soon became a national model of charitable success. After her divorce, Lindsey was hired by the foundation to be a full-time manager at the Manna Center and she immersed her soul into feeding the world as Jesus had commanded.
Lindsey was going to Hell as far as Joanne and Carl Mueller were concerned. Though she took back her maiden name largely out of somatic revulsion toward hearing or seeing the name of her ex-husband, Lindsey’s parents still referred to her as Mrs. Caldwell. Her parent’s rarely spoke to her after her divorce, since she had been acting like a crazed harlot and started going out to bars on weekends.
Lindsey has reconnected with her best friend from Mackenzie Junior High and Coronado High School. Ingrid Heinrich owns a coffee shop near Tech called The Edison & Tesla Electric Company but everyone usually called it Etec. Ingrid allows and encourages any local musician with an instrument and an amp to set up and play for tips, and she allows art students and other local artists to hang their work in consignment. Ingrid is deep into Lubbock’s underground scene, an occasionally vital community of musicians, artists, and wild west iconoclasts.
Over Thanksgiving holiday, Ingrid convinced Lindsey to go out to the Texas Spoon Café to see local guitar legend and Coronado graduate Darren Welch play with his band Ground Zero.
Lindsey had avoided the Spoon in college because she did not drink, at least not often, and she could not stand cigarette smoke, and since she had been engaged to Rick before she was old enough to get into the bar, she had never set foot in the Spoon.
Michael Fuentes is the bass player in three or four bands in town, including the regular Friday night gig at the Spoon with Darren Welch; he also plays regularly with John Sprott at the Central Lubbock Brewery. He works as hard as anyone in town, sometimes playing eight or nine gigs a week.
When Mike first started learning electric guitar from Trini Marquez, a former rock star turned evangelist who took a particular interest in helping a young Mexican-American musician advance his skills and career, Trini suggested that Mike master the bass guitar and the standup fretless bass. “Guitar players are a dime a dozen in this town but you can always find work on the bass. Bass may be the easiest instrument to learn but it is the hardest to be any good at, and the bass guitar is essential to any good music with rhythm. You’ll never starve.”
Before the show, Ingrid introduces Lindsey to Michael and Lindsey is surprised to find him almost handsome; she has never been interested in Mexican men but she has never really known many Mexicans who were not maids or laborers. During the break between sets, Michael invites Ingrid and Lindsey out into the parking lot to cool down in the breezes of the mild west Texas November night. There is laughter under the stars. A joint is passed, and Ingrid takes a hit and passes it to Lindsey, who for some unknown reason fights her revulsion to smoke and tries it this time. She does not take too much smoke but she finds the stoned experience to be pleasant and nothing to fear. She has a crush on Mike, totally. Phone numbers are exchanged. They return into the Spoon, Michael and the band complete another high energy set, and the patrons are mostly drunk, sweaty and happy by the end of the night.
Lindsey Mueller and Michael Fuentes were married on Valentine’s Day the next year by Judge Blair Cherry in the 72nd District Court. Michael’s parents and siblings were in attendance; Lindsey’s were not. In fact, Lindsey’s parents have never sanctioned her divorce from her “real” husband, and now that she has taken a Mexican last name and remarried out of the church, she will certainly burn in Hell.
Carl and Joanne Mueller have sworn they will never again speak to their daughter Lindsey and have disowned her in their last wills and testaments; this state of renunciation has held true without variance and no one expects the unholy schism to heal. To this day, Carl Mueller can be found once a month giving his Wednesday night sermon to the small but aging congregation at 22nd Street C of C and Joanne never misses a service.
Lindsey now is hooked on live local music. She has learned to forgive the smokers. She is not afraid to dance because God commands us to dance in The Bible. And the music is the realest thing she knows in her spiritual life; although she does not know she shared that common interest with her mother, who herself had long ago forgotten that mystical immediate experience. Now she had discovered that many of the most honest, moral, loving, and intelligent people whom Lindsey considers as her friends are musicians.
Lindsey and Mike Fuentes had been married for seven years but had no children. Their babies were his and hers Harley Davidson roadsters; he called his Eastwood and hers was named Cheetah. She was still managing the Manna Foundation and she now organized an annual “Ride for the Cure” event to help those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, which has afflicted Ingrid. In addition to playing bass in several bands, Mike custom built cycles for his friends, a side business for which he had as much talent as with the guitar and which became almost another full-time job due to word-of-mouth, and now the custom cycle work was bringing in almost as much income as the music.
Last year on the night before New Year’s Eve, Mike found himself with a rare night off from playing music. He would be working hard as hell the next night – he was booked to play with two different bands on New Year’s, one until midnight downtown and then a late night private party. But no bands in town were booked anywhere tonight because the Texas Tech football team was playing Cal in the Holiday Bowl and every bar in Lubbock would have the game on TV. Some of Lindsey’s old Kappa friends and their husbands or boyfriends were meeting at the Spoon to watch the game. Lindsey was caught up in the Red Raider Fever for her alma mater, and Mike had money on the game with some points, which was amazing luck because Tech had been lighting up the scoreboards that year with their record breaking pass-happy offense.
Soon after Lindsey and Mike entered the bar, a quick survey revealed that Lindsey’s friends were not yet there. This was expected because Lindsey was usually the first one there for anything and she especially wanted to make sure they got a good table for the game tonight. The couple found a seat close to the big screen so they could hear over the bar din. Mike ordered a pitcher of beer and Lindsey some ice tea. She became aware of a group of older people sitting on the other side of the room by the bar.
“Who are you staring at?” Mike asked.
“That’s Jack Davis over there, I think.”
“The first baseman with the Padres who played at Monterey? Yeah, I think that is him. I thought I heard he lives in Austin; must be home visiting family for Christmas.”
“And I think that man sitting across from him is Raymond Whittaker, this kinda famous artist – he did that big scary statue over by the architecture building at Tech and apparently he is well-known. There are some statues in DC which he did, and in several modern art museums. If that is Raymond Whittaker, then that’s my real father sitting over there. I guess I never told you Jack Davis and Sandy Davis are my aunt and uncle.”
This was the first Lindsey had ever mentioned the situation to Mike.
“Wait a second; you’re telling me that you are related to Sandy Davis, the Victoria’s Secret model? Why’ve you never mentioned that before?”
“It never came up. Did you hear me that I think that is my real dad over there? I think that man with Jack Davis is this Raymond Whittaker, and if so he is my birth-father. I am not sure that’s him because I only saw him once when I was seventeen but I know that he is Jack and Sandy Davis’ half-bother and look at those two guys, they look like they are brothers. And that is Jack Davis over there, isn’t it?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s him; he’s sure built like a pro athlete. How is Raymond Whittaker your father? I thought your father’s name is Carl.”
“Turns out, Carl ain’t my real daddy. I’m not sure why I never mentioned it until now. I guess because we never see my folks. It’s not something I’ve thought about much, until now. Cale Davis is my grandfather, too.”
“Hold on, your grandfather is the biggest gangster in Lubbock?” That was Cale’s reputation these days; he was not afraid to use muscle to enforce his monopolies on the local entertainment business, and Cale Davis still owned nearly all the fun in town. Also, he did a few years in federal prison for income tax evasion in the 90s, which confirmed Cale’s long-rumored outlaw reputation to most of Lubbock’s citizens.
“I reckon that is the truth,” is all she said.
“No one is gonna believe that,” Mike replied. “Are you thinking about going over there and talking to that guy, ask him if he’s your father?”
“I think that I am. Will you go with me?”
“Sure, I’ll ask Jack Davis for his autograph and then you can introduce yourself. This should be interesting. Damn, I wish Sandy Davis was over there.” Lindsey socked Mike in the arm.
New Years Day, “Mike, I think I am about ready to initiate a real relationship with my birth-father.”
“He was pretty cool, huh? Hell of a nice guy.”
“And I loved meeting his wife; I didn’t even realize Raymond Whittaker was married to Angela Thorne.” Angela Thorne is a documentary director who won an Academy Award a few years back for her film about the “white squaw” Cynthia Ann Parker and her half-breed son Chief Quanah Parker, the last of the Comanche warlords. It was the highest grossing documentary film to-date.
“Linds, chica, you are related to some pretty amazing people. I am impressed. I always knew you were special but damn, that’s all pretty cool. And unexpected.”
“So I want to take him up on his offer to come visit them in Taos next month. I’d like to get to know my natural daddy Do you think that’s wrong?”
“Lindsey, love is never wrong. You haven’t had parents in a long time, and I think it cannot be a bad thing to get to know your father. Let’s do it.”
They went to Taos in March. Lindsey and her daddy and new mom have spoken on the phone or e-mailed almost every day since. Lindsey has learned she loves almost everything about her amazing father, and she has learned that there is much good in his world that she never imagined.
Whittaker’s work is displayed in the NYMOMA, Guggenheim, Chicago, and LA, and she hopes to see it all someday. Lindsey even has learned to like some abstract art, which she had never really understood before meeting Raymond. Lindsey was thrilled to meet Natalie Maines, one of her heroes, because Raymond is friends with her daddy Lloyd from the 14th Street days. She has pictures. Raymond has a ’68 BMW racing bike, which he lets Mike ride when they come visit to New Mexico. Raymond and Angela have a beautiful hot air balloon shaped like a parrot, which they ride in the Albuquerque Balloon Festival every year. They have invited Mike and Lindsey to a Hollywood opening for Angela’s newest film which is about the Dalai Lama and is released next year. Lindsey actually is thrilled to meet the Buddhist leader, who she has read and finds to be wise.
Lindsey hardly misses her mother and Carl, although she regrets she has not seen her brother Ricky in years.
Yes, Mike, you are correct: Love is never wrong. Except that makes no sense whatsoever. Jesus loves me, this I know.
-this is a work of fiction. any similarities to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental.