Chapter 32: The Bus Douche Fever



Chapter XXXII: The Bus Douche Fever

According to the Greyhound website, there was only one ticket remaining to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Traveling by Greyhound became the most viable option because neither the Megabus nor the Amtrak ran anywhere near Asheville. The other options included walking, hitch-hiking, or requesting a ride from a random stranger for the small fee of 18 hours of road head. The bus fare was $194, which was substantially more than I wished to pay, but I at least now knew the monetary value of 18 hours worth of road head should I ever need to resort to that in the future.

There were numerous better options, but they had not been invented. Why the fuck don’t we have jetpacks yet? And why the fuck was my driver’s license suspended? Despite the fact that my license were suspended, I had a clean driving record with zero points and zero moving violations on my non-existent license. Traveling by bus should have gone extinct decades ago.

I repeatedly encountered issues with the Greyhound Station, which was on the other side of the tunnel towards the normalcy, far away from Kelly’s place which, being as it was dubbed "The Land of Prostitutes," obviously wasn't near the mall; it's by Asheville Middle School. When I went to the bus depot the first time, I did not have the money with me and was merely inquiring if the rates were accurate—I did not wish to get there and find out that the rates were actually $500 and with no alternate Plan B. Furthermore, I wasn't positive if anybody would be willing to pay $500 for me to go down on them, even though the benefit package included driving through scenic Gary, Indiana.

No set plans had been made and nothing had been officially accomplished. The Asheville bus was once again not accommodating to my pristine time schedule; I feel should that TJNMT (Tony J. Neal Mean Time) should supersede Greenwich Mean Time as the appropriate means to set the clock and alter the time zones of all communities Internationally.

Tragically, my mp3 player died, and me going without music is not a good thing. The death of my mp3 player was viewed in the same state of harrowing depression as the 9/11 incident. In fact, going without music is not even a possibility, and that’s a sad thing. The time that I spent without music was a gloomy period of my life in which I nicknamed The Two Hour Prelude to the Revelation. Sometimes, I wished that I hated music and feel that has been the cause of all my problems; if I didn't like music, I could be exactly like everybody else. At times, I thought I was like everybody else. Other times I was certain that my head would explode Scanners style being out in the world without headphones.

Sitting on the bus, I simply envisioned that everybody was exactly like me… with the exact same thought patterns. There would be a series of deeply troubled people staring out the window in deep thought with a seriously concerned look on the face while they asked themselves, “Am I a douche?”

“Am I a douche?”

“Am I a douche?”

The bus took forever and I had to transfer to another bus that took too God damn long and all I wanted to do was go to mother fucking Walgreen’s so I could buy a new mp3 player and finally put an end to a shitty period of my life that had been filled with nothing but gloominess and despair ever since my mp3 player died. En route up Merrimon Avenue, I did pay special attention to Jen’s old apartment when we passed it—after all, I did stay there most of the time. There is something about seeing an old place of residency that sparks something in a lot of people. It was on the list of attractions that I wished to see and I thought about that place for the entire duration of the rest of the bus ride.

By the time I reached Walgreen’s and bought the mp3 player, I was getting even more ill while I was waiting on the bus. I felt the fever coming on strong, I was growing weak, and I was having troubles even standing. It felt extremely cold outside as well. Part of me just wanted to go home and go to bed, and I thought about leaving that night because I was unsure if I could uphold. I didn't even eat dinner that night because I heard you were supposed to starve a fever, even though I was craving both Luella’s and Doc Chey’s. This is the kind of shit that happens when I am forced to take prolonged bus trips without music... it's just as real as a gluten allergy.

I have never bought a thermometer in my entire life; my exact temperature is not useful information to me. My fever was running well over 100 degrees, but that was of no issue. Simply put, fevers go away eventually and the last thing I needed was some unreliable white person telling me that I had a disease. Being as I am capable of removing my own brain tumors, the exact severity of my body temperature is dismissed as irrelevant knowledge. There is no need to ever worry about a fever unless it reaches 110 degrees and by then I will know the extremity of the dangers involved and be able to cure it myself. They have mother fucking ice at every convenience store in America. Any person who goes to the doctor just for a fever is simply wasting money; a doctor's visit is even more useless than potpourri.

When I returned, I still felt awkward entering the house. This time, I was feeling even more ill and was just ready to pass out and fall asleep. But, there was already somebody there for the band rehearsal. Honestly, I didn't feel being a part of it and contemplated crawling underneath Kelly’s bed and falling asleep. However, I had no business being in Kelly’s bedroom while she wasn't there and no way would I ever attempt that. I pictured her coming home and swatting me out from under her bed with a broom handle.

The other woman in the house was not an official member of the band, nor did she live in Asheville. She had brought a flute and was merely auditioning. Even though I constantly refer to myself as The World's Biggest Douche, I did not, repeat DID NOT, attempt to engage in any sort of flute conversation related to Jethro Tull. I did not ask her if she liked Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, and definitely did not attempt to wow her with my knowledge about a Flute Concerto in D Minor that I once heard on a radio program back in 1936.

I figured this was going to be a noisy affair with awful singing, and people were going to be here partying until 4:00 AM. Generally I do not mind this, but I had not yet remedied my fever and was concerned that I would be the lowlife of the party; my presence would dampen everybody else's mood and people would resort to abusively making fun of me for the sake of enjoyment. Maybe it would have been best to board that Greyhound Bus and simply return home to Milwaukee and make all the essential preparations for my move to Portland.

Another guy showed up with some bongo style drums; then the bass player showed up and I once again remembered that I was in Asheville. The bass player looked pretty cool and he was a quality musician.

Prior to living in Asheville, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. People in Cincinnati would request me to come watch their bands perform as if I was the person they needed to impress. Sadly, a good portion of them were not the caliber of bands that I generally prefer. There were some decent ones, but mainly cover bands and whatnot—none that played my style of music. Plus, I am considered a music snob and I am not easily impressed. I should be the one person that people hope does not show up for a less-than-stellar performance.

When I first moved to Asheville, I was gaining popularity from working at the shitty ass convenience store. Even on this visit, more people than just the cab driver still referred to me as the douche who used to work at the Shell. Some guy I had never met repeatedly entered Shell while I was working and insisted that I come see his band. He was a drummer, seemed OK, but because of my past experiences in Cincinnati, I was not exactly overly enthused to go see his band. And for whatever reason, he kept pestering me about it.

One evening, I stumbled into The French Bar that supposedly had a $5 cover. However, while I worked at Shell, I was never required to pay cover charges. I would have my money out and ready, and they would still let me in for free. They’d be like, “hey, you’re the dude from Shell! Yea, just go on in.” This was a most unusual phenomenon in which I could never explain. For an entire year, I only paid a cover charge maybe once or twice.

Coincidentally, the aforementioned guy who was persistently pestering me was playing—and I had only gone in there by accident. Much to my surprise, his band was spectacular, and he was an extraordinarily great drummer. There were no covers at all, and it was my kind of music. I would have even bought their CD if they had one.

After that, I was constantly pestering him when he was going to be playing next; I was like that little dog Chester in the old cartoon, “hey Spike, you wanna be friends?”

After that, whenever somebody invited me to see their band, I always made an effort to do so. It’s amazing how much great music is in this city and a travesty why most of these bands are virtually unknown. I also noticed that Asheville was a hub for all the up and coming bands who were yet to be signed, and they came from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Chapel Hill, Athens, GA, Atlanta, Austin, Memphis, and Nashville… all with great independent music scenes.

Mary was tuning her hammered dulcimer, which is an arduous task, and I went outside to try and rejuvenate myself for what was inevitably taking place. Going to bed was not an option, so I had to be prepared. While I was outside, the musicians inside went into an improvisational session that actually sounded pretty good. They played another song that was also fairly decent, but they were still waiting for another person, some woman named Leigh who played the violin. This would probably sound pretty good with the addition of a violin—assuming she could actually play.

She finally showed up, and unfortunately, I found her incredibly sexy. I say unfortunately because I found her superbly attractive while I was veering on deathly ill and still probably resembled Doc Holiday from Tombstone because I was both sweating and shivering at the same time. There was no way that I looked even remotely decent and the odds that she was attracted to me were -8000.

Leigh tuned her violin and they played an actual song…with me sitting there as the only “fan” and I was sick with a fever and not even wanting to deal with this. Kelly was not home and at work at Hannah Flannigan’s.

Let me sum up what they sounded like in three short words—Pure Heavenly Bliss! It was all instrumental and had the perfect blend of rhythm and free instrumentation. The hammered dulcimer was the featured instrument and every note Mary struck was in perfect harmony with all colossal movements in the entire Universe. The name of the band was Space Medicine, and that was exactly what the doctor ordered. 

Somewhere, out there in some doctor’s office, some white people with a purchased degree was attempting to write an expensive prescription to remedy a fever with a fabricated name. On this night, I needed no such thing… nor will I ever.

Instead of hoping for them to hurry up and leave so I could go to bed, I was hoping they would remain in my presence for the rest of my life. I was even thinking of ways to stall them so that they would play longer. On a scale of 1 to 10, I rated the performance a full 10.

They were discussing the flute with the new woman and she said she was playing soft because she was still trying to get a feel for the sound. I accidentally spoke up and told her that she should play louder because it sounded great. Then, I realized that I need to shut the fuck up because these people are professional musicians and I don’t know jack shit about what I’m talking about. So, I didn't say a word for the whole rest of their rehearsal.

The final song had singing, and Leigh the violin player sang. It takes a lot to swoon me, but when Leigh sang, I saw hearts floating in the air as my mind switched to a different variation of Space Medicine—Spiritualized, as the line “I think I’m in love,” went through my head. I had to resist the temptation to stare at her love struck with my hands together pressed against my cheeks; I felt like one of those crying little girls from those old footage videos of The Beatles.

As I was sitting there on bed #6 of my trip, petting little ass dog #3, Leigh asked me if I was allergic to the dog or if I was sick. I took that as a sign that I wasn't looking so well, even though I was trying to act as if nothing was wrong with me. Mary answered for me and told her that I was sick had been looking progressively worse throughout the day. That was a good answer because at least my newly found love knew that I didn't always look this bad. 

I remained steadfast throughout the entire evening, and listened attentively to the conversations taking place; only speaking occasionally though. Leigh was the last one to leave and declared that I was a “trooper” for staying up with them while I was sick; I interpreted that as her thinking I was absolutely gorgeous and that she hoped to someday go out on a date with me to a place even better than Waffle House. Even so, I would ride the bus 458,000 miles, with a fever of 106 degrees, just to accompany her for 20 minutes at a Waffle House with a busted heater. The odds she will ever know this: also -8000. I am so smooth!

Even though I try to be a polite house guest, I too am prone to occasionally become the house douche. Kelly woke me up in the middle of the night by beating me across the face with the string from her robe, and mind you I was extremely sick and had just fallen asleep. “Make sure you put the toilet seat down, you bastard.”

Index: Chapter List

Chapter 32 Soundtrack Listing:

1. The Band
"Chest Fever" 5:12

Music from Big Pink

2. Clann Zu
"Lights Below" 6:12


3. Women
"Lawncare" 4:27


4. Pink Grease
"Fever" 4:03

This Is For Real

5. Fleetwood Mac
"Albatross" 3:09

English Rose

6. Blue Cheer
"Babaji (Twilight Raga)" 3:46

The Original Human Beings

7. The Red Krayola
"L.G.F." 5:07


8. White Noise
"Your Hidden Dreams" 5:00

An Electric Storm

9. Spiritualized
"I Think I'm in Love" 8:10

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

10. Mazzy Star
"Look on Down from the Bridge" 4:48

Among My Swan

All Sections Written, Designed, and Music Compiled by Tony J. Neal

Spike & Chester reference from 1952 Looney Tunes "Tree for Two" directed by Friz Freleng
Violin Player cigarette ad shared from E-bay.  (Sale ends 02/22/2013)


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