This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a bus full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.
“As any road musician will tell you, you meet all kinds of strange people in your travels. There was one guy I hired in a pinch when I needed a drummer. I didn’t have any idea when I hired him just what a weirdo he was. But, he told us that he and another guy had gotten busted when they were younger for digging up corpses in the cemetery, opening the caskets, lighting candles, and reading poetry to dead people. He was only hired as a temporary fill-in, but he was damned sure more temporary than he realized when I found this out.
Anyway, me being me, I asked him, “How come you guys to do that?”
He said, “Oh, man, you can really relate to those people.”
I replied, “Oh yeah?”
He got all excited. “You know, there’s something special about that.”
I tried to keep the sarcasm out of my voice, but am sure I failed, when I said, “Yeah, I bet there is.”
He went on. “We never would have got busted if we hadn’t started digging them high bones.”
“What do you mean, high bones?” I asked.
“Oh, them rich people. As long as we were digging up poor people’s graves, nobody ever said anything about it, but we started digging up the rich people’s graves and that is when they got cops out there and started watching. That’s how they caught us.”
I said, “Okay, Okay, sure.”
This guy was obviously a little messed up in the head.
One time he was playing drums with another band and he had taken some fighting roosters in with him in a bowling bag. Then when the dance floor filled up, he opened the bag and threw out three roosters. Of course, the roosters were flapping their wings and squawking and people scrambled and hollered. The guy that owned the club came up on the bandstand and politely grabbed him by the nap of the neck out from behind the drums and threw him, not out a door, but through a wooden door out back. He then took his drums, kicked the heads out and threw them out on top of him with a warning. “Don’t ever let me see you again!”
When I fired this same guy, I handled it as delicately as I knew how. I told him I had to let him go because someone else I had promised the job to had shown up. I just wanted to break it off easy.
But, that night, he came out to the club where I was working.
He said, “I brought a pet rabbit for your girlfriend.”
The girl I was with at the time spoke up and said she didn’t want a rabbit and I told him no as well, but he wouldn’t accept that.
He said, “Well, you’ve gotta take it.”
I started to get mad then, so I said, “Man, I don’t want the damn rabbit and she don’t want the damn rabbit so the best thing you can do is take your rabbit and head on down the road.”
“Well, okay. You’re so mad at me you won’t even let me give you a gift?” He asked.
I got a little more firm and he finally left and took the bunny with him.
Another crazy stunt he pulled was in San Angelo. He went into a bar without his ID and he was pretty young back then. So, when he ordered a drink the bartender asked to see his ID. His response was, “Well, let me see your Bartender’s license.”
The bartender ran him out. He went home and came back with an old army trench coat on, an army hat, belt with a canteen and a holster that he had a 45 revolver stuck in. He walked through the door, pulled the 45 out and hollered, “This place is under Marshall Law. Don’t nobody move.”
He walked up to the bar and pointed the 45 at the bartender and said, “Now I want a drink.”
So, the bartender served him. He had a drink or two and when he left, he told everyone, “At ease, men,” saluted them, snapped his feet together and marched out the door.
The bartender turned him in and they locked him up for a few days for bringing a gun into a bar. When he got out, he put on a bikini bathing suit, a wig, lipstick, and makeup and rented a Ford tractor from the farm supply house. He drove around the parking lot at the bar holding a sign that said, “This place is unfair to women. This place is unfair to everyone.”
He pulled some more stuff and I don’t know whatever happened to him, but he had some screws loose. His tenure with me was very shortlived. But this is just an example of some of the characters I ran across over the many years I traveled the roads.”