Cash “Crash” Davis

Cash “Crash” Davis

This is what I know Cash Drummond thought thirty-four minutes and thirty-four seconds before he was to die.  He idled, building the anticipation. I may not know people.  I may not know marketing, or business, or promotion, but I know this.  Cash Drummond cranked the throttle.  The crowd roared.  He idled again.  He sat there, apparently doing nothing.  Some may have considered that he was dragging this out.  Those people don’t know.  I may not know all there is to know about Russian authors, mathematics, or business, but I know this.

EvilHe knew he was pay per view.  He knew he was a 12,000 seat arena sell out twelve nights a year.  He knew he was merchandising, the soda pop king, and the man who could only get a clean, close shave from a brand everyone that watched TV knew.  He knew was bordering on being a millionaire.  He was Cash Drummond, the greatest motorcycle daredevil since Evil Knievel.

He looked out on his people.  He smiled.  A large breasted woman waved a Cash Drummond flag—that was as big as her—back and forth, swaying with the momentum of the crowd behind her.  The flag cost fifty dollars retail, ten dollars wholesale.  Hugh Redmond said Cash would see three dollars a flag.  A young child screamed out so loud and hard his face was red and near tears.  The kid wore a ‘Cash da man!’ T-shirt: thirty-five retail, twelve fifty whole sale, and a dollar seventy-five of that went into da man’s pocket.  He waved to the buxom blonde.  A thirty-something male with a mullet began punching his chest, screaming out swear words regardless of the children around him.  The guy had the sides of his head trimmed close, almost bald, he wore Cash Drummond shades with heavy rims, and he wore nothing but leather.  The guy wasn’t as decked out in Cash paraphernalia as most, but he showed passion.  He probably had Cash patches at home in Ziplock bags hanging on his wall to protect their trading value.  He probably DVR’ed the event on his pay per view.  He looked like a man with disposable income.  He was a Cash man.  The guy probably threatened to knock out anyone that mentioned the name Crash Drummond, and with that man’s barrel chest and bulging biceps those threats were probably taken seriously.  Cash extended an arm to the man, and the man started going ape shit.  The man was screaming so loud at that extended arm that the veins in his throat and bulging biceps throbbed.  Cash held the moment, the man began to shake with his screams, and Cash extended a thumb to the guy.  The guy dropped back in his seat, overcome by it all.  He looked to the left and right of him, wiped the sweat from his brow and stood again to resume his screaming.  He knew Cash was da man.

“Good luck Cash,” Dana Jansen said after performing the final perfunctory checks of Cash’s bike.

“Got it,” Cash said with a bemused smile.  This was as close to getting pissy as Dana got.  He usually hit Cash with a ‘Good luck Cash and remember Katie and Gabe love you.’  It was Dana’s way of reminding Cash that it wasn’t all about the show, the fans, and Hugh Redmond.  It was also about Katie and Gabe.  It was about the people who loved him.  Drink in the glory, ululate in the roar of the crowd, and cash those checks with a huge smile, but never forget it’s about the people who love you too.  Be safe was the theme of Dana’s perfunctory parting.  Remember that after it’s all said and done there are two people who love you at home.  Dana watched too many movies.

Dana was a sentimentalist that thought it was all about the family.  He thought it was about spending as much time as possible with your wife and child.  “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family is not a man.”  Yeah, he actually dropped that line on Cash.  Directly from the movie The Godfather.  Dana didn’t so much as change a pronoun in it.  The guy got goofy like that.

Some people could quote lines from movie scripts.  Dana could quote entire scenes.  Dana could leave you bored with the movie by the time he was done with it.  He quoted entire blocks of a movie.  He quoted what side characters said to prompt the main characters to say things.  He mimicked expressions, cited scenery, and gave you three different meanings that could be interpreted from the scene.  The guy had never read a book in his life.  He didn’t need to, he said.  “Movies give me enough meaning.”  The guy got goofy like that.

Dana had knocked on Cash’s motel room door at just the wrong time last night.  “All that we’ve done!” Dana yelled at the sight of the curly haired, blonde laying in a white t-shirt and white cotton panties.  She smiled at Dana in a manner that suggested she didn’t know what was going on.  He screamed at that too.  He screamed at her and turned to Cash with that scream.  “We’re done,” he said as an avowed mystic.

“You know me,” Cash responded to that scream and that accusation.  “You know that I have to do everything full boar, whole hog, whatever it is you say.”  Even with those words, Cash couldn’t entirely conceal some apology, some regret.  “I could’ve never live the way you do.  Not in the long term.  Who were we kidding Dana?”

“It’s done,” Dana said with as much horror in his face as any starlet seeing a monster in a hallway of some slasher movie.  “It’s done…you’ve ruined it.  You won’t have a way back now.  It’s in the cards.”  He walked away.  Cash watched him walk from the hotel doorway, and when he returned to the curly haired, blonde laying in a white t-shirt and white cotton panties he laughed with her.

“Who was that?” the curly haired, blonde laying in a white t-shirt and white cotton panties asked.

“My handler,” Cash said.  “He’s supposedly the best in the business.  Takes his job way too seriously.  He believes there’s something mystical about surviving jumps.  Says you have to keep your soul aligned to survive these things on a consistent basis.”

“Well,” the curly haired, blonde laying in a white t-shirt and white cotton panties said. “Maybe he’s right.  I mean if he’s the best in the business maybe you should listen to him. You’ve survived this long listening to him.  Maybe you shouldn’t stop now.”

“I live life on the edge baby,” Cash said.  “He made me forget all about that for a while, good guy and all, but I can’t continue down that road.  I’m no monk for God’s sakes.  You know that,” he said to the person he had just met on that night.  “Besides, types like him are only right in the movies.”

It was with all that in mind that Dana issued the simple two word parting ‘good luck’.  It was Dana getting all pissy with him.  It was Dana saying he loved Katie and Gabe as much as he did Cash, and he didn’t approve of Cash moving into a motel the night before a jump.  Cash ignored his hysterical friend’s hysteria.  A confluence of events led him to believe that he no longer needed to count on karma or the mystical hysteria of Dana.  The gods were taking care of him just fine.

***

“We got you The Corinthian,” Hugh Redmond had said after a great deal of dramatic anticipation.  He called Cash to his office with the promise of a surprise, he let him sit, and he asked him about Gabe and Katie.

“They’re fine,” Cash said on the edge of his seat.  “What’s my surprise?”  Ignoring his question and loving the suspense of the moment, Hugh asked Cash if he wanted a shot of his prized Tennessee Whiskey.  “Yes, yes,” Cash said.

“Aric,” Hugh said rolling a finger out, “the good stuff.”  Aric stood with a smile, cracked open the bar and went into the private stash in the hidden compartment of the bar Cash had attempted to find on a number of occasions when he was left waiting for Hugh in the office.  Aric pulled that bottle out and swiveled around with it.  He showed it to Cash like a waiter in a high priced restaurant.  Cash smiled back and swiveled that smile back on Hugh.  “What is it?” Cash had asked with anticipation that was nearly painful.  “We got you the Corinthian,” the man had said as soon as the glass of Tennessee Whiskey hit the desk.

“Holy Crap!”  The ‘H’ had come out in mystified whisper.  The ‘P’ came out punctuated.  He put his fingers in his hair and messed it up a little.  He fell back in his seat in a stupor.  Hugh was laughing.  Aric was laughing.  Cash was laughing, but he was laughing with his eyes wide and his mouth open.  He fixed his hair.

“Whatever it takes,” Redmond said his hands splayed out in a welcoming gesture.  In other words, I have done my part.  Welcome to the fruits of my labor.  ‘Whatever it takes’ had been their catch phrase for years.  ‘Whatever it takes’ pulled them through the hospital stays when it appeared Cash would not survive.  When he had broken nearly every bone in his body, Redmond said ‘whatever it takes’.  When Kimberly threatened to leave him if he didn’t quit, when it appeared no promoter would back him, no civic arena would book him, and when he first came to Redmond with his dream of becoming a stunt cyclist, and he said he was willing to do ‘whatever it takes’.

Cash glanced around the room, in that stupor, without seeing the Cash Drummond posters that surrounded them.  He didn’t look at one poster, that is, he looked at all of them at once.  He looked at the accumulation of them.  He saw all the posters that were the history of Hugh Drummond Agency, but he didn’t see one.

“All this…” Cash said, unable to complete sentences.  “Everything we’ve worked for…”  His head went to his hands.  He didn’t want them to see him cry.  “We did whatever it took.”

Cash made Hugh Redmond and the Hugh Redmond Enterprises what it was, but Hugh took it to another level.  He took representation to a level few had seen.  Here was the top 100 tennis player in the world on one poster, there was a poster of the IBC’s top ten boxer on another; here were two football players, and there were two basketball players.  None of them were top tier athletes.  None of them could achieve top salaries, but Hugh got maximum value for them.  He was a master at it.  He was willing to do whatever it took himself.  They grew together.  Hugh got those certain someones in the upper echelons of the business to do something for his pseudo somebody clients.  He found beautiful people that saw beyond sport to product, and he got them some value.  He did whatever it took for them.

“You’re a fricking genius,” Cash said when he could finally speak fluidly.  It was a fellow jumper named Black Abbot that had been scheduled for The Corinthian.  Somehow, someway, Hugh stole the booking from Black’s agent.

“You’re an event baby,” Hugh said in agent speak.  The guy knew how to make his clients feel like they were a somebody.  He always said he was willing to work as hard as you are for him.  He said he was only willing to take on clients who were willing to do whatever it took, and he was proving it here.

When he gathered himself, Cash took that glass of whiskey and downed it.  He slammed the empty glass on the desk.  “Mother of God,” he said as the whiskey penetrated.  “You’re beautiful Redmond.  I’ve never said that to another man in my life, but I say it now.  Can I kiss you on the lips?”  Cash said bordering on serious.  “Can I give you a full on kiss that leaves us all questioning my sexual identity?”

“Let’s hold off on that,” Hugh said, “until it’s official.”

“It’s not official yet?”

“Not yet,” Hugh said.  “There are no signatures on dotted lines, but I’ve been assured that that will be a formality at this point.”

“I don’t get it,” Cash said.  “I don’t know if I want to get it.  I just want you to know you’re magic.  You’re beautiful, and it’s still the best thing I ever did getting hooked up with you.”

“You’re the new ‘it’ guy now Cash,” Hugh said.  “You’re becoming the easiest sell on my client list,” Hugh said with his unbelievably charming smile.  “I pick up the phone, tell the venue that you have an open date, and they come flocking.”

Aric Franz hadn’t laughed at anything Cash said, but the minute Hugh said anything the guy guffawed.  Aric could guffaw on command.  He was ever present in Hugh’s office.  Cash often wondered if that was Aric’s job description: Sit there and laugh.

The truth, a truth Cash knew all too well, was that Aric was Hugh’s rock, and his enforcer when things went downhill.  When Cash didn’t like something Hugh said, Aric was always there to add a comment here or there and act stern when Hugh needed a majority of the room to be against his clients.  Aric was Hugh’s yes man.  For that reason, it was a little shocking to hear Aric add a comment out of the mainframe.

The comment he made was made amidst all the laughter and joviality.  Hugh and Cash were making comments in rounds and laughing.  “If Black Abbot had a better agent…”  Hugh said that in a self-congratulatory manner.  They were happy.  This was a huge steal.  “If Black would add more showmanship to his show…” Cash added.  They were all clinking whiskey shots on one another.  It was Hugh’s private stash, and they were downing it like it was Pepsi.  “If he would one day learn that it’s not all about him…” Cash furthered.  “Right,” said Hugh.  “A product like Black, and you for that matter, is built from the bottom up.  He hasn’t learned the showmanship of show.”

“If he would only crash every once in a while, he would be marketable again.”  That was the comment.  At the time he made it, Aric probably thought he was just doing what he was supposed to do.  He was trying to make Hugh look better.  He was trying to make Hugh’s client look better.  He probably thought he was doing what he was trained to do.  He did that well.  The poor guy had no idea he had stepped outside the mainframe.  Cash didn’t either.  Not at first.  Cash even added a comment beyond Aric’s: “If the guy would do something with that hair, he might win over the female demographic.”  Cash couldn’t wait to say that.  He waited for Aric to finish speaking so he could get that out there.  He had been sitting on that comment, with a desire of congratulations beyond it.  He got it.  Aric and Hugh both said he had great hair.  God had given him great hair, he couldn’t deny that, but he did something with it too.  He enhanced God’s gift to him.  He spent good money on it.  Vitamin enriched conditioner.  Katie worked at a salon.  She got him the good shit at cheap prices.  Cash loved to flaunt the idea of his hair without providing anyone the secrets of how he got it there.  That was why Aric’s comment didn’t register.  That was why he looked at Hugh to gauge Hugh’s expression.  He wanted Hugh to ask him how he kept his hair so moisturized and vitamin enriched, but when he looked to Hugh he saw the man was merely smiling, and there was something going on behind that smile.  That smile had a corner of its attention on Cash and a corner of it on Aric.  Had Hugh been better able to conceal the salvo, things may have been different, but that comment put weight in the air that Cash went back on.

“Wait a second,” Cash said turning to Aric, “what did you say?”

Aric’s smile left his face as abruptly as Hugh’s did.  “What?” he asked.  He looked to Hugh.  Hugh did not look back at him.  Hugh’s face flashed anger as he fiddled with the pen on his desk.

“You said something about Black crashing more,” Cash said.

“I don’t remember,” Aric said.  He fumbled for his words.  “I said…”  He looked weekly to Hugh for assistance.  The lack of recall was the card Aric usually laid on the table when he said something he could tell Hugh didn’t like.  He did it occasionally.  It was how he was trained, like a courtroom witness.  He was Hugh’s puppy dog, and when he was a bad boy he knew it.  His tail went between his legs, and his puppy dog eyes came out begging for forgiveness.

“You fucking remember,” Cash said now out of his seat.  “Say it motherfucker.  Hugh, make him say it.”

“Tell him your little theory,” Hugh said.

“I don’t have a theory,” Aric said.  “I was just joking.”  That was a half truth.  He wouldn’t say the whole truth in the same manner a man standing before a noose wouldn’t slip a noose around his neck.  Aric was a parrot.  He was a recorder that sat in the corner of the room and mimicked everything his owner, his surrogate parent, his lord, god said.  He was kept around for that very reason.  The intimidation was a happy byproduct, but it was the primary reason Hugh had not fired the man to this point.  The intimidation was a result of Aric’s size, of course, but it didn’t hurt that the man had naturally arced to anger eyebrows.  He had a look that would’ve looked great on a Goebbels’ propaganda poster to intimidate the sedition right out of those that sought to speak out against Hitler.  Aric also didn’t ascribe to the grooming standards that the rest of us did.  He wore slightly stained t-shirts that no normal human being would be comfortable wearing.  He wore a leather jacket that he never buttoned.  He used the leather jacket, a fairly nice one, as perfume to cover for his poor hygiene.  No one cared what happened beneath a sweet leather jacket seemed to be his motto.  You can do what you want.  You don’t have to bathe, if that jacket is cool enough.  If he didn’t have this job, he would probably be selling raffle tickets at a semi-pro hockey arena.  He looked that sweaty, like he had just finished a two hour cycle on an elliptical.  It was his natural appearance.  The man didn’t work on his appearance or his brain.  He didn’t have his own theories.  He did not have a mind of his own.  One could not get mad at anything Aric Franz said.  He was Igor to Hugh’s Dr. Frankenstein.

Hugh’s inability to change the subject and the silence that occurred between these attempts prompted him to just be done with it.  “Aric has a theory,” Hugh said, “that the reason that you’re more marketable than Black Abbot is that Abbot never crashes.  Aric believes,” Hugh said, “that people don’t want to watch a guy jump over busses or sharks or Caesar’s Palace without the possibility of a crash.  He thinks it’s similar to the reason people watch NASCAR hoping for a crash, hockey hoping for a fight, or bull fighting hoping for a dead matador.  It’s the thrill of disaster that has had people attending these events for generations.”  He said the latter in a manner that suggested that he wanted it out there, that he wanted to be done with it, and that he felt cleansed once it was out.

It was no lie that Black Abbot was a machine.  The man never drank, never did any kind of drugs.  The guy never smoked as far as Cash was concerned.  He didn’t know how to live the life to Cash’s mind.  The guy graduated from some prestigious school of engineering, and he achieved some high degree in physics.  Black sought the accomplishment of man over matter, as he put it.  He sought the pure accomplishment, in a mechanical and logistical manner, of accomplishing jumps.  He was a bore.  He had no business being a daredevil, but in the immortal words of Roxy Music, he loved the thrill of it all.  The man did not exhibit the devil be damned, carefree persona of the jumpers of lore.  He studied blueprints for God’s sake.  He talked with engineers and sought their input to disprove the mechanics of his jumps.  He was too exact and boring.  He was a machine.  He had no business being in the business, Cash now realized, because he was too good at it.  He was a machine.

Cash took another look around Hugh’s pantheon of clients: lovable losers he now realized.  He couldn’t believe he never saw it before.  Injured athletes that were stringing out their careers, female movie stars who had porn on their docket, guys who spoke out of turn, girls who mouthed off to the press and belched in news conferences, guys who did ads for immoral companies, and guys who created chaos on their teams even though they weren’t as good as their prima donna image.  There were stars of reality shows, and the products of scandals, and Cash now realized he fit in the Hugh Redmond Agency files just fine.

“Crash Drummond,” Cash whispered with venom and anger.

“No,” Hugh said, “that’s not what he’s saying.”  Hugh fought this like a man falling off a cliff grappling for hold.  He knew what this meant long term.  He knew Cash hated being a laborer, but that he would go back to it in a second if he thought his pride was being tested.  They spoke on that before.  It was a truth Cash wanted known, and he repeated it so often that he was trying to convince himself as much—if not more—than Hugh.

Hugh had never put out a Crash Drummond poster; they never put out Crash Drummond literature; and they never alluded to the “Crash” name in any ads or promotion billboard, but the name stuck.  The name appeared at least once in every message board and blog devoted to motorcycle jumping.  Diver Dan Doobie, the host of the “Zany in the Morning” show asked him about the name once.  It was the only time he was ever asked about the name publicly.  He blew up.  He overturned tables and left the “Zany in the Morning” studio in shambles.  They learned.  Everyone learned not to ask him about that name.

Diver Dan Doobie was shocked at the display.  He uttered a small apology and watched Cash walk from his studio in a stride of profound indignation.  Cash portrayed a strut, but it was difficult to portray true righteous indignation while wearing a cape.  Diver Dan learned that day that Cash had boundaries.  Everyone knew it from that point forward, that strut said, or if they didn’t they would learn.  They would know that Cash was a star in his own right, and he didn’t need the Crash persona to succeed.

And if Cash hadn’t led a largely sheltered adulthood, he would’ve learned a primary lesson in life that no one tells you about: never tell people what bothers you most.  It was a huge mistake.  People learned how much he hated that name, and they used it more often as a result.

They giggled when they called it out to him at signings.  When he took too long in hotel rooms, they chanted it outside the auditoriums.  When he was forced to cancel shows, due to hospitalization, they called into talk shows with it.

Everyone knew the name Crash Drummond after the Diver Dan Doobie incident.  He cursed himself for not getting a better education.  For not being smart enough to see through it all.  He was a motorcycle jumper.  The other guys took care of the business end.  They handled his ‘all of the aboves’.  They cashed in on Crash, and they didn’t care as long as he paid off.  They didn’t care about the long-term.  It was his job to cultivate the long-term.  They only cared that they got paid.

He always fell back on the fact that no matter how many people called him Crash, his fans would always be there for him.  He now saw that for the lie it was.  They wanted to see Crash Drummond.  Cash was an overly complicated little baby, who had feelings and all that shit.  It was about the show, Crash Drummond, and the hair.  He was a package Hugh Redmond bought and sold with a bow.  He was Crash Drummond.

Cash barely heard Hugh rip through excuses and track records.  He barely heard Hugh try to console him and tell him that he was not a joke.  Cash heard all that he needed to hear.

***

Cash Drummond wasn’t about to let this revelation hurt his performance however.  A sold out show at The Corinthian was vindication.  It meant that his true fans like boobs with the flag, that young boy screaming his face to redness and tears, and mullet man were in his corner.  They had his back as it were.

Hugh had seen to it that ‘Cash at The Coliseum’ racked up a record number of pay per view hits.  Hugh set it up so that by the end of this event Cash Drummond wouldn’t have to perform again for ten years if that was what he wanted.  When the man set his mind to it, Hugh could be incredible.  He booked Cash into thirteen pre-promotion radio interviews, and one incredible TV interview.  There was a countdown ad that led up to the event in the country’s largest newspaper.  Cash had never seen his name, or his face, on TV so often.  He even saw street flyers attached to city poles, like he was a rock star.  His name was in laundromats and convenient stores.  People asked him for his autographs on the street.  He had been to signings and all that, but he had never been stopped on the street before.  He was huge.  He was Cash Drummond.

Maybe it was a good thing that Aric said what he said, Cash thought idling atop the ramp.  Maybe it scared Hugh into thinking this was the final show.  Cash told Hugh as much before he left the office that day, but he had said that so many times before that Hugh and Aric probably didn’t believe it anymore, until Aric’s slip up.  Hugh was scared now, and it showed in his promotion efforts.

“Only when the roar subsides, should you begin your ride,” said a former pro.  He couldn’t remember which former pro told him that.  He had listened to so many former pros over so many years, that they all began to get comingled in his head..  Hugh brought in coaches and former pros and individuals who had worked with the great Evil Knievel, and they all told him all their horseshit and Cash remembered about a fourth of it.  He took little sniglets here and there and digested them.  For the most part, he lost track of just about everything they said.  He remembered that one piece of advice about the ride though.  He remembered that now.  He began the ride.

He let loose.  He gunned it hard.  Too hard.  His back wheel slipped out from under him momentarily.  He should’ve stopped went back to the top of the ramp and started over, but that was too precise.  That was too Black Abbot.  His fans loved him for his ‘who give’s a rat’s ass’ mentality.  I’m going to conquer this bitch was something a Cash Drummond said and a Black Abbot refrained from saying.  Black would’ve even said the word refrained, Cash thought as he descended the ramp.  A rabbit will run, but a lion has nothing to fear.

“What’s it all for?” was something Dana said to him back when he was listening to Dana and trying to live.  “Nobody cares about you as much as Gabe and Katie.  I don’t even care about you that much.”  All he could say is, “Dana you have no idea what he was talking about.  You’re gay.”  Dana had no comeback for that, and Cash couldn’t think of anything more to say either.  It was illogical in a logical way that Cash couldn’t continue.  He cursed himself then for his lack of education.  He cursed himself now, now that a great comeback came to him.

You have no idea what it’s like to have a woman jibber jabbering in your ear for hours on end with some of the most useless, pointless shit imaginable.  You have no idea how hard it is to maintain your sanity when she asks me, Cash Drummond, to mow the lawn, help her do the dishes, or talk to her.  The talking is the worst Dana.  ‘We never talk anymore Cash,’ she says.  That’s all we ever do babe, he wanted to say back.  All I do is listen to your pointless shit and try to pretend like I’m interested.  That can be a tougher feat than jumping Caesar’s pond at times sweetie.  You bore the fuck out of me sweetheart, but I’m afraid no one else will want to be with me, so I stay with you, but you can’t say these things to them Dana, and do you want to know why?  They cry.  No matter how right you are, they cry, and you lose the whole ballgame.  Guys don’t cry and ask for talk time, and if they do you can tell them to be a man, and that’s an effective tool, even against marys like you Dana, but women cry and you apologize and you listen to them talk about how Gertrude is a bitch and Magdalane has no business wearing that brazier, and who does she think she is, and you smile because you just got done doing a curly haired, blonde laying in a white t-shirt and white cotton panties in the motel room.  It makes it all bearable, Dana, that’s what for.

His approach to the ramp was not optimal.  He knew that when he hit it.  He was far from the speed necessary, but a true man, an adventurer, and a man who does ‘whatever it takes’ makes do.  He leaned forward just a tad more to give the bike greater aerodynamics.  The silence in The Corinthian was epic.  They couldn’t believe he was going through with it.  He could normally hear a shout from someone like Dana on the ground.  He heard nothing.  He heard some of those experts Hugh brought in talk about singular focus, and how one can wipe out the crowd once this is achieved.  He believed this was all it was, until he was airborne.  When it reached a point where it was definitively too late, he realized what an historic mistake he made.

He saw the final bus coming before he hit it.  The trajectory was obvious.  It seemed to take five minutes.  He thought of failure before he thought of pain.  Crash Davis would be in the headlines.  The final bus was yellow with black ridges sloped down to allow for water removal.  Gabe and Katie would be devastated.  Dana would be so happy that Cash thought of them right then and there.  The idea that he would think of those that truly cared about him when he was about to die would be vindication for Dana.  The pain in the ass.  Of course I love them.  A guy doesn’t have to be there every day smothering them with kisses to show love.  Every guy is different.  Who agreed that every school bus should be yellow?  Is that so you can see them at night?  They’re huge, for God’s sakes, if you can’t see a bus coming, you must be drunk out of your mind.  He heard his spine snap, and he heard a scream.

His back wheel hit flat, cold, or however one puts it.  There was very little buffer.  He would never walk again.  He was sure of it.  He took the impact full on.  Something snapped.  He assumed it was his spine.  He heard that scream again.  He heard it in his good ear.  He heard it like the woman screamed it right in his ear.  To wake him up.  He wondered if it was the flag waving, big boobed female.  It sounded like her scream.  She wasn’t that good looking.  Too old.  He wasn’t all that interested in her other screams.  She looked like the type of girl that wasn’t used to being looked at.  He loved that type.  They were the only ones he could land for much of his adult life, until he upgraded to the curly haired, blondes laying in a white t-shirt and white cotton panties.

When he realized it was his scream, he knew his career was over.  When he realized the scream was too close to be the big boobed female, he knew his career was over.  Even if it wasn’t.  Even if his spine hadn’t snapped and he wouldn’t be confined to a wheelchair, or a breathing tube, or a colostomy bag, he would be infamous for that scream.  The entire auditorium heard it.  They were silent, watching him.  Chewing on popcorn, flags waving, cheering.  Crash Davis strikes again.  He didn’t have enough speed.  He should’ve known that.  Even the novices would be saying that, to display to all that they had some mechanical know how.  I was there.  I heard the scream.  I knew it was all over right then and there.  I turned to my wife Lucy and said that.

One’s never sure if everyone’s looking at him.  You don’t know if they have heard your embarrassment, or if it’s your own insecurity.  At other times, times like these, you know they’ve heard it.  When they silence, and look at you, and their eyes get wide, and their cheeks flex in fear, and they go home and talk about it, and regale their friends with their concern, and others mimic the scream while slamming beers, and everyone laughs and tells their friends that’s how it happened, you know you’re done.

When his front wheel hit, upended and over the bus at a diagonal angle, he heard all kinds of things snap and break and twist and lodge in and under the bike.  Ligaments, bones, capillaries, memories, and a future all crashing and snapping and breaking for a live audience and a pay per-view event.  The other screams were not his.

There was a time when Cash Drummond sat among educated people talking about the latest issues of the day in an educated fashion.  It was his employer’s cafeteria.  The job was a way station for all of them, until the bigger and better arrived.  It was a career for him then.  He was the mild-mannered Walter Kizer then.  He was a person who listened to others back then.  He listened to their dreams.  Maybe dream isn’t the right word.  How about complain, or bitch.  On and on.  They hated it in the office, and they weren’t afraid to talk about it.  Behind closed doors, among themselves, they hated brown nosers who laughed too hard at the boss’s jokes.  They hated the guy who sat up straight when the boss was in the room.  They hated the girl that talked about productivity numbers with the boss man, and how she could improve herself to work up the ladder.  They hated the guy that raised his hand and said, ‘We should listen to the customer more,’ when the boss asked for suggestions on how to improve the business model.  It wasn’t the idea, they said behind closed doors, among themselves, where no one could hear them, it was the way he said it.  Cash Drummond, or the mild-mannered Walter Kizer, bought into it all.  He dreamed and complained and bitched on and on about the mechanics of the workplace.  He even addressed such issues with the boss man.  Big mistake.  ‘Wow, I can’t believe you said that.’  They create distance from him while they laugh too hard at the boss man’s jokes, and they talked productivity numbers with him, behind other closed doors, and how they could improve themselves and work their way up the corporate ladder.

He was an outsider back then who thought that they all had it on the ball.  The sleek Bret Bertram spoke with his fine polo shirts, his goatee, and his quaffed hairdo, and the tick of his mouth whenever a moment of concern arose.  He spoke about his master’s degree from Leotard University and how a person of his capability should never be subjected to the things their boss said to him.  “I’ll own him in three years,” Bret Bertram said about the boss that had no idea how to cultivate his incredible skill set.  “They should have me doing something more here,” the intellectually gifted Bret said.  The real question, dear Bret, is why aren’t you doing something more?  What’s going to happen to me, the intellectually gifted all asked at that table, as if they had no control of their own destiny.  They were young.

‘I’m fine,’ Cash told the rescue squad workers that scrambled around him.  It’s tough to see injuries on the surface, but he could see that his left leg would require at least a year of physical therapy.  He had seen a leg at that angle before.  He knew what it meant.  He knew the pain, the hatred directed at the physical therapist, and the humiliation he would have to endure at her behest.  He knew his next month would be one of misery, and no solids, when he got a look at his mid-section.  He’d been through all this before, when he first started.   The hospital bills would probably take more than half his purse from this event, and the awful people that worked on him would probably take more than half his pride.  He would have to listen to Dana all over again.  He would have to heal his body and his mind.  Purification is what Dana would call it again, purification of the mind and soul.  Ramping one’s self up to a point where a jump like the one he planned was possible.  He would have to apologize to the man for the transgression with the curly haired, blonde laying in a white t-shirt and white cotton panties.  He would have to say he was serious, again, and that he was willing to do whatever Dana said…again.

It was a rookie error.  He’d grown complacent.  He was Cash Drummond.  “Crash” was three years ago.  He could correct errors on the fly now.  He was at the top of his game, in age and capability.  He was in his prime.  The sleek, goateed Bret Bertram would never know the heights Cash Drummond, or the Walter Kizer he knew, would achieve.  Even with all his degrees and education, Bret would be a desk jokey.  He may have achieved some sort of supervisorial role, but he would still be behind a desk, he would still be pushing some sort of numbers, and he would still be bitching about how someone else didn’t understand his full capabilities.

The sleek, goateed Bret Bertram wasn’t willing to do whatever it takes.  The sleek, goateed Bret had had a future prepared for him by a Dad willing to do whatever it took for his son, but his son wanted to do whatever it took for others to do for him.  Bret wasn’t willing to take risks.  He would never be one to correct errors on the fly.  He would consult handbooks, and management guides, and management personnel to hold his hand every step of the way.  Bret didn’t know risk, and he never wanted to.

Rescue guys, trained veterans of their profession, were running away from his body with elbows over their nose.  ‘C’mon guys,’ Cash said.  ‘These people can see you.  I can see that reaction from some rookie that just walked up on someone who fouled themselves for the first time, but you’re trained veterans.’  They were ruining him, and his reputation.  Even if he never performed another event, he had his pride, and these guys were damaging it.

“Are you okay?” someone asked.

‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘but I just realized that I’m watching myself.’

“How are you doing?”

They must’ve seen something Cash realizes.  They must’ve seen some sign of life, or why would they be speaking to him.  Cash tries to speak.  Nothing comes out.  He’s incapable of speech.  Some horrible dream.  He must’ve passed out.  His mind must’ve shut down to avert the shock of the injury, and he’s now experiencing one of those surreal dreams where you can’t scream or talk or warn your friends from going in the haunted cave.  He tried to wake up.  He couldn’t.  The crowd cheered.  It was a cruel joke.  He would watch his son become a stunt cyclist over the years, the young Gabe “Cash” Davis.  No one would call him Crash, for he would never crash, and after a while no would attend his shows, and the young Gabe “Cash” Davis would eventually find steady work as an office manager.

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