I remember thinking how disgusted I was at Les and Tommy chuckling at the little video on his cell phone. It was Saddam Hussein being hung. These guys were both about 60 years old, and not the kind of men I would call tech-savvy. They had somehow figured out how to get this atrocious scene on one of their phones, however. They sat around cracking horrible racist jokes and laughing at this guy’s being hanged.
These guys were just reveling in this man’s death. They reveled in everything terrible. I hated being around Tommy, and so did Jim. Tommy drank himself to death a few months later. Despite my disgust with their actions, there I was, reveling in this guy’s death. Jim and I were actually laughing at this guy dying of liver failure. Lots of people were. Tommy was a mean and sarcastic prick, and no one liked him. Even his friend, Les, didn’t shed a tear for Tom. He even cracked a few jokes, right along with the rest of us.
Jim drew this cartoon, and a few others that I can’t seem to find, of Tom getting to meet Satan in the ever-after. We laughed at this son of a bitch’s death for a couple of weeks. Deep, satisfying laughs. As if justice had been done by this guy’s dying. We talked about how bloated and yellow his body was just before he passed, because of the liver failure. We talked about these things with a loathsome glee, like I’ve never felt about anything before or since. Jim said he’d never been so cold about something in his entire life. That pretty much sums it up for me, too. Hope you’re enjoying hell, Tommy. Sorry I was so cold, before…
Jim and I used to play chess all the time. Almost every day. That’s Jim on the left and me on the right. Jim drew this one day when I think I asked him to draw me. He always drew really hilarious pictures of people. I wish I had saved every single one of them. He would just throw them all away.
Jim would beat me about half the time at chess. I could beat him more easily when he got really stoned, because he didn’t pay attention as much, or maybe he just didn’t care, and he’d let me win. He was really good at the game. Sometimes I’d win, though. Now that I think of it, I wonder if I ever won fairly, or if he just always would let me win a little bit, because he really did win a lot of the time. Hard to say, really. I doubt he’d even tell me if I went back and asked him now. He’d probably just say he didn’t remember.
Jim smoked a lot of weed. He liked to draw the plant, talk about the history of it, etc. He grew the stuff in random places on state land, all over the place. Anywhere people weren’t likely to stumble upon it Jim would plant a few plants. If there was some growing there still at the end of the season, he’d nab it. Pretty smart growing method, if you ask me.
When my boss was showing me around on my first day, he pointed to Jim’s shed, and said “That’s the roofer, stay away from that guy.” Above Jim’s shed was a sign that said “Smoking Area”. It was a left over from when smoking cigarettes was allowed in Massachusetts. The state had a bunch of little booths everywhere that you were supposed to smoke in, and each booth had one of these signs. After it had been outlawed, they pulled down all the signs, and Jim got a couple of them. He had drawn one of these Marijuana leaves on the sign, all in green, right under the “Smoking Area” bit. I knew I liked the guy before I even met him. What a weird introduction that was to this place of “business”…
Jim was big into Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism. He used to draw symbols like this all the time. He loved to read weird little passages from The Bible or quote the Vedas about weird stuff. He loved Erich Von Daniken’s books, and all of that “Ancient Aliens” stuff that Von Daniken talked about. They have a whole T.V. series about that crap now, and it’s really popular, but back then it was really mysterious and interesting to me. Jimbo even saw an alien spaceship over the lake where he lived when he was a kid. It wasn’t just Jim, though. The whole lake saw the ship. His mom told me she saw “something”, the locksmith that worked with us also said that his parents saw something. It was even in the local paper because one of the town cops saw the thing. No one likes to call it an alien ship, so people would only just say that they saw “something”, and then only through the side of their faces.
I love hearing about ancient stories, and strange history. The Bible has some great tales, the Vedas are full of amazing allegory, and of course all of the Greek and Egyptian myths are solid gold. The epic of Gilgamesh is basically the same as the Noah’s Ark story. I think that’s a Sumerian one. All of these little drawings have a variety of stories to go with them. If religion is good for anything, it’s a great excuse to tell a story.
No one is naked in this picture, but these are the mad men. Jim used to describe to me “rooms full of naked mad men”, running amok on each other. One guy would be behind that door, there, guarding the entire room. The door would be locked, and the guard would have a flashlight and a broomstick. These guys locked in this room were treated like wild animals. They’d be in there throwing their own waste at one another, beating each other up, as well as far, far worse.
This type of thing stopped in the mid seventies, and the building in which this madness occurred was torn to the ground. I only ever saw the empty parking lot where the building used to be. This type of thing is the reason that these institutions have such a horrible reputation. Nothing of this kind goes on any more, but the residual effects of this prison-like torture can still be felt, if only in the form of an echo.
Jim loved pirates. There was an ongoing theme in his doodles of pirates, Indians, and just random nature scenes. I really love the way he draws pirate ships. It’s like being in the middle of a battle, despite the fact that you are really sitting in some stupid chair at your incredibly boring job, waiting to be called upon to fix a broken window or something of that nature. Jim would draw these pictures and then tell me stories about famous privateers that sailed to and from the Boston area.
He knew about treasures that had still never been found from vessels that crashed just off of the coast of Massachusetts, and he knew a great deal about battles that occurred between King Philip and other such famous Indian figures of that area. Jim’s family was loyal to the Crown, consequentially, and they fled to Canada during the revolution. They came back when all was said and done, though, and settled back in the same area.
The man was also quite fond of drawing Vikings, and other Nordic-looking types. He told me a good deal about “America’s Stonehenge”, which was in Salem. I thought that interesting because Salem is the area where I’m from, more or less. My friends would go to the “Stonehenge” when they skipped school and smoke pot there. I had never been, but I decided to go after hearing some of Jim’s stories. Apparently, there is a large Sacrificial Stone there, with a groove cut in it to allow blood to drip down into a reservoir, for blood sacrifice purposes. (This is obviously a contested theory) This was something that was never practiced by American Indians, and lends itself to the theory that white people were in the Americas centuries before people originally think. In the same area, in fact, is the Merrimack River. Merrimack was the Indian’s name for the river, and yet it is also the Gaelic word for river, lending further weight to the theory. (This was according to Jim. I haven’t found any proof of this.) There are other such stones around Massachusetts with grooves cut in them, running down to a catch basin for unknown reasons. Jim has showed me one in the Wrentham area. None of this equates to proof of theories, but all of it makes for interesting stories, and terrific nature walks.
For more stories and doodles check out “True Tales From The Nut House”. Thanks for reading!