Monday, September 13, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part Four: Canines, Postscripts, And Even Fred Phelps

The start of my second and final week in Shreveport found me adrift in a haze of Vicodin. How I managed to get through the week just past was pretty much beyond me. But I was beginning to see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. On Monday I joined the Mike and Arthur on a trip out to a local Wal-Mart to get supplies, for me it was ibuprofen and Slimfast shakes, since the pain from my kidney stone had lessened to the point where the Vicodin wasn't necessary any longer, but the aspirin in my ditty bag dissolved in my mouth before I could swallow it, way too fast for my liking. By Tuesday the Vicodin-induced constipation and nausea had passed enough that I could entertain the thought of eating solid food again, though I wasn't really up to snuff until about Friday.

But we were kept pretty busy regardless of my health. Those minor sound problems that I'd mentioned before were persistent enough that we'd wind up eventually having to go through about six soundchecks to finally nail down a consistent sound. Fortunately for us, we were blessed with having a damn good soundman in Cary Jeter, who gets very high marks from me for his determination to get things right. And the good vibes we were getting from the management and employees were a very encouraging sign. Thursday brought the resumption of the gig proper, and things were moving pretty smoothly.

On Friday, I took a walk to take a picture of a building that I'd seen on my walk back from the hospital the previous Friday. The name of the business inside this building was quite close to that of my good buddy Brian Thrasher, leader of the Tacoma-based hard-rock cover band Just Dirt. I just had to get a picture of the place. Pictures taken, I started back towards the hotel. And that's when all hell broke loose.

Taking corners pretty much at random, I was walking along Lake Street, several blocks south and west of the casinos. There was this long one-story building on the south side of the street, and the businesses in the far end of this building were a tattoo school and adjoining parlor. An iron fence festooned with warning signs ran eastwards along Lake Street away from the building. There seemed to be some sort of residence beyond that fence. Well, if someone's going to put those kind of signs up along a fence like that, I'm not going to be inclined to even approach the fence, let alone hop it.

Something bit my left tricep!

What felt like a shoulder charge hit me from behind and scraped at my back as I went down. years of being bullied as a child came right back to the forefront, and I curled up in a ball as a fang found my right leg. Peeking through my fingers, there was a white and brown pitbull releasing from my leg, barking madly, then slowly walking away, never taking its eyes off me. Pain and blood were everywhere in my senses, and I started screaming like mad, hoping someone would hear. It might have only been three minutes or so, but it felt like an eternity to me. Eventually a man came up to the gate from the residence and called to the dog. This guy claimed to be a maintenance man for the building's owner, and took the dog back to its side of the fence. He then came back to help me up, apologizing profusely. The dog was a guard dog (which explained the attack, and why the dog stopped when I curled up), and had gotten loose from its pen. He told me that the building's owner would be there 'in five minutes', and said he would take care of things from there.

After thirty minutes of waiting out along the curb, I came to the realization that this jackass wasn't going to show, and if that dog could get loose once, it could do it again. So, holding my wounds, I started to walk back to Sam's Town. Along the way I tried to call the police, but my phone's 411 service spun me in so many circles I decided to just call from the hotel. I tried to call Mike, but had to leave a message. Once back at the hotel, the Shreveport Police Department referred the Caddo Parish (in Louisiana, it's parish instead of county) Animal Control Board. An ACB officer came by to take my story, and a supervisor from the SPD came by to listen in. When I told him where the attack happened, the super shook his head and told me that they'd had problems with the resident there before. A report was filed, the Parish would take care of my bills and hand them over to the owner of the dog, and the dog itself would be taken in and quarantined for ten days while they tested it for rabies and any other diseases that might negatively affect me. They'd inform me of anything that I'd need to have taken care of after I left Shreveport. That phone call hasn't come since, so I'd presume that the dog was healthy. I hope now that that the fucking thing is dead.

About this time, Mike finally got back to me and I was able to tell him and Arthur what had happened. At first he claimed that I hadn't called him or left him a message, then he actually checked his phone and found my voicemail waiting for him. Arthur went to the pharmacy again and returned with hydrogen peroxide and bandages, while Mike brought some neosporin from his medicine bag. Nobody could believe my rotten luck. Two Fridays in a row that I was destined for the hospital, though this time I was going to have to wait until after the show was over before I could get my wounds tended to. After much debate, we decided that I should return to Christus Schumpert, though on a Friday night, I might have to wait for the local wildlife (gunshot wounds, stab wounds, motor-vehicle accidents, etc) to be tended to before I could get bandaged up. As it turned out though, the ER was empty when I got there, and I was treated (including a tetanus shot) so quickly, by the time the woman from the admittance office got me to sign the papers saying that they could treat me, the release papers and a script for antibiotics came as soon as she'd left. I was in and out of hospital in a little under an hour, and I fervently hoped that I'd never see the inside of that hospital again. Two ER visits in a week. A week!

Aside from pain and bruising, there was no really extraordinary inconvenience for me in the wake of the attack. Ironically enough, this was when my appetite finally came back to me, the shows got better and better, and the band's mood was about as good as it could get, all things considered. Even my voice being shot from all that screaming wasn't that big of a deal. It all culminated with a killer show on Sunday night, topped off by a pleasantly rowdy batch of airmen and women from nearby Barksdale Air Force Base, whose enthusiastic enjoyment of the show really gave us a good send-off.

Getting home got a little hairy, though. Cliff overslept and made us late starting the trip back to Dallas, but that wound up being the least of our problems. A tropical storm coming ashore from the Gulf of Mexico delayed our flight out of Dallas far beyond any chance of meeting our connecting flight in Houston. Big props go out to Southwest Airlines for recognizing our problem and redirecting our flightpath to get us back to Reno before Reno-Tahoe International closed down for the night. We were stuck in Dallas for over five hours, but we got out okay, flying first to Austin, then on to Las Vegas. When our flight from Las Vegas to Reno was announced as being overbooked, Mike and Arthur were tempted to just give up their seats and fly to Reno the next day with an additional $300 apiece, but by the time they agreed to give up their seats, others had beaten them to it. We got back to Reno a little after 11pm, and came across something I'd completely forgotten about: the Burning Man Festival held in the Black Rock Desert a few hours north of Reno had just concluded, and festival attendees ("Burners") were camped out in the baggage claim, waiting for flights out the next morning. One final oddity: Our luggage actually beat us to Reno, arriving on a flight an hour ahead of us. Cliff and his wife drove me up to Sun Valley, where I picked up my truck. I found damn near the last hotel room left at the Motel 6 in Sparks (where they kept the light on for me), and I managed a heavenly seven hours of sleep before trying in vain to purchase a new headset microphone the following morning. After all I'd been through the last few days, the long drive back to Port Angeles seemed almost inconsequential.

So what did I learn from all this? Well, I learned that Mike and Arthur really do like me after all. Okay, I'm just being a smartass saying that. But the fact that they took as good a care of me as they did speaks volumes. I can put up with them nitpicking about my playing after that. I found that I have a really good friend in Cary Jeter. Soundmen like him don't come along very often. I found that Sam's Town really liked us, even after I went and had such a disaster of a time as I had. I just smiled and told them that the next time I came back to Shreveport, things will go perfectly, because I got all the shitty things that could possibly happen to me out of the way all at once. I found out that Southwest Airlines' reputation for customer service is well-earned. I found that I really don't have that much of a problem with flying. I also found that I really, really wanted to go home and see my wife and family.

And I even have a new winner of the Fred Phelps Award for The Dumbest Humanoid On The Planet: the unnamed owner of the property at 403 Lake Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. I hope your fucking dog mauls you not to death, but to permanent disfigurement and disability, so that you can appreciate the pain I felt as an innocent fucking bystander walking along the street minding my own fucking business before your fucking piece-of-shit dog attacked me and damn near cost me the ability to do my fucking job!

May God have mercy on your soul, even though you don't deserve it, you bastard.

UPDATE: I recently contacted Caddo Parish Animal Services on the status of my case. I was informed that I was not going to be reimbursed for the cost of the antibiotics, and was basically told that the case was closed. Why, you ask? Well, it turns out that the pigfucking bastard owner of that mangy-ass dog refused to turn over his animal when the authorities came for it. Pigfucker had the balls to actually tell them that he had no idea where the dog was! And when I contacted the Shreveport Police about this, they referred me right back to CPAS. Let's just say that when I come back to Shreveport, I think I'm going to consult a lawyer about this. Do the words 'depraved indifference' mean anything to you, needle dick?

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