THE NEVER AGAIN
The "Never Again" club was a big part
of my life when I first moved to California
in the early sixties.
It was a hillbilly bar on the mall in
Pomona in east LA county.
I met a lot of famous singers there
and got drunk with several of them.
They all drank too much and used drugs.
But so did I.
I can still hear old Wynn Stewart screaming
"Gimme a glass of horse piss!"
Wynn was a little guy with a big
booming voice and a love of alcohol
bigger than the Pacific Ocean.
A big star in 1962 and dead 20 years later from
too much of the good life turned bad.
The "pretty World Today" turned ugly.
"Loversville" turned to Shitsville.
Johnny Cash was a frequent visitor, washing
down pills with Black Jack and singing his ass off.
The late, great Phil Baugh was a member of the
house band, as was Bobby George and Vern Stovall.
The Gold Dust Twins made the scene often.
The joint rocked.
Sunday mornings the jam session began at 6 a.m.
You had to get there early to get a seat.
My buddy Scates and I would come directly
from the "Red Barn," a 7-24 joint.
At the Barn you bought enough at 2 a.m. to last
until legal sales began again at 6.
We'd sit at a 45-degree tilt on the sidewalk
outside the Never until Kentucky Jack unlocked the door.
He was the head barkeep and a wild sonuvabitch.
I once found Jack passed out in the storeroom
in back by the toilet and stole a deck of
benzedrine that was hanging out of his shirt pocket.
Another time Kentucky Jack had been hauled off to jail
for his part in a drunken brawl.
I took his beautiful wife Dixie
downtown to see him.
The cops wouldn't release Jack because he was
still drunk and ready to kick ass.
Dixie was upset, terrible so.
She was distraught and near hysterical.
Being the good friend I was I tried to comfort her.
She was not a big drinker but she was upset.
One thing led to another.
We wound up at the Rainbow Motel.
It was a hot pillow joint on 5th Avenue.
She was a big, sturdy blonde girl, almost
as tall as my six feet.
I was knocked out by her.
She was like sweet peach ice cream w/green eyes.
Her cheeks were the color of an autumn apple.
Her tits were monuments to womanhood,
large and firm.
She was just simply pretty in every way.
That one fuck ruined our friendship.
She never trusted me again.
I'd taken advantage of her at a low point.
She had needed something else.
I could see the mistrust in those emerald eyes.
And sadly I understood.
Later I thought I'd rather have had her kind
friendship than her sweet pussy.
But that had passed.
Jack never knew because he kept building
me screwdrivers like always.
He'd fill the glass with vodka and
then color it with a dab of orange.
German Ellie the owner wasn't so generous.
I would order them six at a time.
one morning the patrons got into my chugging act.
Free drinks started to build up before my seat,
glass after glass of glittering good times.
I was literally drinking with both fists.
I didn't seem to be making a dent.
After a time I staggered to the phone booth,
made a call to a woman and collapsed.
I awoke later in the storeroom where Jack
had dragged my lifeless form.
My head was throbbing and pounding.
I looked around for the owl that had shit
in my mouth.
"I can't fuckin' believe it," Jack said.
"You drank 52 of those fuckers before you went down
and they were straight vodka! I counted 'em!"
My legend as a drinker grew huge from that episode.
Scoring was the big attraction at the Never Again.
On a good weekend you could seduce several women.
Quantity over quality was the goal.
Back then I was more concerned with pure numbers.
I keep them in a little list of conquests,
both on paper and in my mind.
A feedbag for my ego's horse.
This was pre-AIDS, pre veneral warts, pre herpes.
Or at least pretalked about.
The only problem was clap and that was the price
one had to pay for variety.
"When you play you pay."
An old doctor said that to me as I bent over his table.
He had hands the size of small Virgina hams.
His fingers looked like the neck of my Fender guitar.
One of them was shoved up my ass doing exotic things.
And no, I didn't notice both hands on my shoulders
and get worried.
I wasn't sure where I got it but blamed it on
a Mexican lady I'd met at the Never.
I wouldn't have blamed it on anyone but the
system got involved.
A man came to my door asking questions.
Health department bureaucrat with a clipboard.
He didn't seem to buy my story that I didn't know
her name or where she lived.
She'd directed me there, but I was too drunk to remember.
It was the gospel truth.
I only remembered that she was plump
and had a loose pussy.
I might as well have fucked my pant leg.
I do recall that my old '53 Stude wouldn't start
when I went to leave her place.
It was like 4 in the morning.
I did what I always did when in a bind:
I called my brother-in-law.
He came and gave me a jump-start.
The woman stood outside nearby as
he connected the cables.
I remember one thing he said:
"Tell me you didn't fuck that."
I couldn't tell him that.
She must have been worse than I thought.
My friend Scates and I fought once in our lives.
Naturally it was over a woman.
Skeets was a ladies man himself.
He looked like a cross between Paul Newman
and James Dean and he was tall and lanky.
Women flocked to him more than to me in truth.
He had this aura of cool you seldom see,
The fucker could have been president of the USA.
He was born in LA and raised in the South and
charm dripped like spring rain from him.
One night I'd scored with this chick who had
come with her old man.
He came out on the dance floor while we were dancing
and told her, "I'm leaving, are you going
with me or staying with him?"
"I'm staying with him" she smiled.
He was pissed naturally but slammed out of
the joint like a whirlwind.
I figured I'd have to sneak the chick out since
Scates hadn't managed to score and he had come with me.
We sort of made our way toward the back exit and
were on the parking lot when he caught up with us.
"Hey fuckin' hold up!" he yelled, rushing up to
my old '53 Studebaker couple.
"I'm goin' with ya!"
Well shit, the chick gets in the middle and we take
off and Scates starts this line:
"Chan and I are buddies, we share women all the time
don't we man?"
We've shared a few and it's cool if it's cool with the chick.
"I don't play that shit, you can just let me out"
the babe sez and I can see some fine pussy going down
the fucking drain.
I tell her not to sweat it, she doesn't have to,
I'm taking Scates home.
I do, but he refuses to get out of the car when
I pulled up to the curb in front of his apartment.
"You'll have to kick my ass to get me out" he sez.
"You know I can do it" I reply.
"Well go ahead and do it, motherfucker" he sez.
I do, but it ain't fun.
I drag him out.
We fight all over the street.
Finally he backs up, throws up his hands and sez,
"Fuck it man, you can have her, you asshole!"
"That's the fuckin' plan" I snarl.
I take the broad to the Rainbow and fuck her.
Truth is, she was hardly worth the effort.
She wasn't worth losing a friend over.
When I wake up about daylight she's gone and
I check my wallet, figuring I've been ripped.
She told me later she woke up and realized
what she'd done and grabbed a cab to rush home.
Her hubby was pissed and ranted a while but forgave her.
He was a fucking idiot in my book.
Scates wouldn't speak to me for two weeks.
I saw him two days later in the Never, sitting at
the far end of the bar drinking whiskey.
He had a big bruise around his left eye.
My knuckles still hurt but not as much as my heart.
But we were both stubborn fuckers,
even if we loved one another more than brothers.
Finally I'm sitting there one day in about
the same configuration when Jack put a drink down.
"Yer buddy bought it for you" he sez.
I look down and raise my glass to Scates, "Thanks man."
"S'ok," he sez.
Fuck it, I gather my shit and walk down, toss it
one the counter and sit down.
"Man, hell, look, I'm sorry about that shit, ok?"
"It's cool, fuckin' forget it" he sez.
"I shouldn't have horned in on ya."
We drink and bullshit, things back to normal.
We're young as the night and lovely
California stretches out before us.
The world is a beautiful dream.