Hi. I'm Jay. Hey! look down here! Yeah, it's me. I'm a 'little person', otherwise known as a dwarf. I'm one of the lucky ones--I'm a proportional dwarf and don't look like a mutant with a mal-formed head or short little arms or legs tacked onto a full-sized torso. I'm two foot ten inches tall.
As soon as I got that piece of paper in my hand granting me all the rights and privileges of a high school graduate I headed for the west coast. To put a finer touch on it, the porn market on the west coast. Sex sells, and in porn the unusual sells even better. I made out like a bandit and socked away as much as I could. The San Fernando valley was a despicable place with even more despicable people running and working for the agencies there. I got out after ten years in the business and it scarred me for life. I could not form a normal relationship with a woman or sign onto anything long-term. I'll probably be a life-long bachelor.
I spent some time in Lexington at the University of Kentucky. Due to a brutal conflict that ended up in four fatalities a university mentor of mine attempted to sabotage my education, and thus my carreer. After discovering this I packed up and moved to Champaign-Urbana where I completed my education. Not only did I hone my skills to be a writer, but I took minors in cooking, European languages and mathematics. I felt that I had a healthy basis to work from in almost any endeavor that I cared to pursue and my height would allow.
After I was granted my degree I decided to take a vacation. I swear that I was so burned out that given notice of an imminent nuclear war I would have commented, "Yeah? So what."
I packed my VW Golf and headed for the nearest natural attraction--Bull Shoals in southern Missouri. I got the urge to utilize campsites rather than hotels. I bought a thirteen foot Scamp trailer with a fiberglass shell, and had a towing package added to my VW. I bought the thing loaded with almost every factory option to be had and had them weld another step on the door sill to allow me easier access. I then hung around the Ozark Plateau and south down to Texarkana, shifting between the campgrounds, learning to fish and writing articles for Field and Stream magazine. I seemed as often as not to find myself in a child's size beach chair noodling a fourteen foot bream pole out over the water, lying in wait for an unsuspecting fish.
I became quite dissapointed in the production quality of my VW (Yes, it was a piece of crap!) and traded it in on a 1994 Subaru Outback with the larger engine package and an automatic transmission. That was the first year they were offered. It was a large vehicle considering my size but would tow my trailer with impunity.
I spent the summer of '94 exploring northern Texas and the winter exploring the southern half. I toured Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico. I took the time to walk down the path to the mezzanine floor. It was all paved in one continuous ramp so I had no problem with stairs. The views I observed once there had little in common with the fairy-lit photographs they had for sale at the concession stand. Professional advertising once more reached out its hoary hand and exaggerated the real. The elevator back to the surface seemed to take forever.
From Phoenix I headed north to Flagstaff, then west to Kingman then north once more to Las Vegas Nevada. There I took in a few shows and did a little gambling--nothing more than what I carried in my pockets. I met a few people there that I'd known in the valley. It was the sort of city that I felt comfortable walking about. The window shopping was amazing and the casino-supported buffet dinners were over the top. It was there that I bought a bulldog. I needed some company on the road and Daisy fit the bill. She was about four years old. She came from a pound. She didn't get car-sick and she seemed to enjoy my guitar playing. What more could I ask for? I made sure to keep her shot record up-to-date in case we crossed an international border.
There I indulged myself and took a couple courses in firearms training at Front Sight. Beforehand I did my research. I bought an H&K MP7-SF and had a professional gunsmith rebuild it for .22 mangum ammunition. That cartridge still had enough residual gas pressure to activate the ejection and reloading mechanism, but gave me a round I'd have much more luck finding over the counter without sacrificing much take-down power. The gel-block test returned a superior penetration profile and it didn't suffer in accuracy for the rebuild. The rifle fit my body nicely with the stock collapsed and the red-dot scope worked nearly as well as a laser, without the tell-tale reflexive illumination. The most difficult task was to re-engineer and mill a new receiver to accept .22 magnum magazines.
The staff at the training company were a bit put out at my choice of weapon, but after seeing me practice with it they considered my choice more than adequate in lieu of a traditional carbine rifle.
My route took me up to Tonopah then over to Reno where I spent several weeks. From there my travels took me south-west to Sacramento, then a bit further south-west to pick up the coastal highway system. Once out of California I followed the Rogue river north into Washington state. I spent some while in Olympia and up into the Olympic mountains, camping and writing. I bought a .22 magnum derringer. I had the grip modified to fit my hand and an aiming laser installed for speedy target acquisition.
If you can show need there aren't too many legal jurisdictions that won't grant a permit to carry a concealed weapon. D.C. is one of them. Cook county Illinois is another. Having once been in a fight to the death that was ruled a hate crime I qualified in spades. My little derringer rarely left my side. (Except when I travelled in Canada. That was another story!)
I came to the conclusion that my purchase of a tiny little mobile home was one of my better investments. I could go most anywhere I desired while towing it behind me. Even spending a night or two at a motel to enjoy a hot bath or a shower didn't throw anyone off as it was quite a bit smaller than most travel trailers. It didn't constipate either the parking lots or the managers. I ran into more difficulties with my dog than my trailer.
I mentioned that I was writing again. It was a total digression from my previous work. My working title was "There's something about her". It was virtually all dialog. I finally struck on a name for the second protagonist--Mary. After a final three edits I shopped it out to the film studios. Nobody bit right away but my previous successes kept it out of the trash bin.
Upon returning south from the mountains back to Olympia I filled in what I percieved to be something missing. I wanted, no, needed my research tools. I had my trailer's battery farm expanded, bought a small, quiet Honda generator to keep the batteries charged and added to my electronics. I bought a "Buffalo Box", a rather large-scale four drive data storage facility and a fast ethernet switch to link it to my computer. Then I indulged in buying an encyclopedia, a dictionary and a thesaurus, all in electronic versions. I spent over a week researching and downloading Project Gutenberg files to enhance my mobile library.
As fall came upon me I travelled north to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The climate was so temperate and the culture so welcoming that I wintered-over on the island. Property was fiendishly expensive and I ran into international ownership problems or I would have invested in a retirement property while there. Across the border and across the straight of Juan de Fuca lay more available property. If I was lucky enough to strike it rich with another lucrative titile then perhaps I could retire to a sea-side residence off of, say, diamond point. Four square miles of scrub and woodlands would fit me down to the bone. The cost of such a property gave me motivation to continue writing, which I desperately needed at the time.
Having noted the locale and the numbers of several listing services in the area I proceeded on my journeys.
I proceeded south to Portland where I picked up the 83 corridor east, then at Pasco I took a more northerly route to Spokane. My destination was Kalispell Montana. It was a short hop from there to Apgar where I found a site at their campground. It was pricey but you couldn't beat the landscape. I had a month to burn before the road would open at Logan Pass, the continental divide on Going-To-The-Sun road. The other campers had several kids, and being kids they ran around as a tribe and investigated anything unusual. I was found to be unusual enough to find myself thoroughly examined. The fact that I played my guitar for them didn't hurt. A couple were at the age where sexual exploration pretty well filled their world views but I discouraged it in my presence. Since I never had gone in for the young stuff they had nothing that attracted me and they had nothing to bring to the table to convince me to participate. If they had questions, however, I answered them; probably in a more honest form than they'd ever thought of receiving. I gave a few talks on birth control and venereal diseases that opened their eyes, for damned sure. I kept up my exercise regimen by attempting to pick up the rear end of my vehicle for nearly an hour daily, and running a course about the campground at speed.
The management didn't want people to set up a homestead in their campground so I was forced to move to another site after two weeks. There was a big parade and blow-out on the Fourth of July at which point the road was declared open. Rather than drive it myself I parked my rig in their expansive parking lot and took a bus over it both ways. I could rave and write for pages but it comes down to this; Perhaps the only places on earth that compare are the Himalayas, the Andes and the Swiss Alps.
I drove back east, taking the high line (route 2) to Fargo North Dakota. At one of my frequent hotel stops I took to take advantage of the hot water, I spotted a tourism pamphlet display. Once circular screamed out to me above the others--one for the international peace and rose garden on the U.S./Canada border. I backtracked to it where lay and spent several weeks. From there my route took me back to Fargo, then north. I explored Winnipeg and continued my journey east, hoping to bypass the drive around Lake Michigan. I certainly learned to live in my own head on that trip. Daisy kept me grounded, though.
It was a long, long way to Ottawa. Since French wasn't one of my languages and the natives seemed to forget the English language at the sight of a tourist's license plate, I back-tracked a bit and headed south once more into New York. At Syracuse I turned towards Boston, and from there proceeded north along the coast. I'd been driving for weeks and wanted a break. Near Portland I found a campsite within sight of the coast. I ate at several local restaurants featuring the day's catch, both shelled and finned. I'd found another area where I'd prefer to retire.
As an author I had the benefit of being able to settle down virtually anywhere I pleased. As long as the locals were convivial and I could reach the internet I was happy. I stayed there over a year.
I received news that my script had sold. I had learned my lesson and required two percent of the gross. That would give me an annuity rather than a one-shot payment. I received notice from my management company that they received a two hundred thousand dollar check the week after the movie was released. Nice!
With that in mind I scheduled a ship to ferry my trailer, car and myself down the coast to Jacksonville Florida. I didn't relish the congested drive down the east coast, so I avoided it. Once in Florida I again leisurely explored the countryside. The population density was amazing! I cut short my meanderings and headed for Miami, where I booked a barefoot cruise covering a week-long exploration of the Bahamas. My luggage consisted of shorts, shirts, sandals, one pair of long pants, a wind jacket and a high-quality self-inflating life vest, sized for someone of my stature. I couldn't expect the tour company to stock such a thing in my size. It looked like a canvas vest but the clips and belts revealed its nature. Poor Daisy was relegated to a doggy hotel for the interim. I hoped that she wouldn't be returned to me in a family way.
The cruise was quite nice, if boring. The crew were friendly and the other passengers didn't get up my nose once the novelty wore off. The food was simple and well prepared, but for an adult cruise there certainly was a lot of real-estate aboard ship devoted to keeping kids entertained. I was disgusted. I spent a week on the prowl and came back with nothing but a sunburn. Fuck it. I resolved that the next time I had the urge I'd book a suite at a clothing optional resort instead. At the pound I picked up Daisy. She knocked me down, sat on my chest and proceeded to abuse me for leaving her alone.
I decided to see what my house looked like again. I picked up 75 north for the long haul. In Cincinnati I took 74, then all the way through Indianapolis and on to Champaign-Urbana. I stopped for fresh food at a Safeway then headed home. It was the third week of August and things were picking up for the fall term. I was taken aback when I drove up to the house. Someone had used a wood-burning tool to etch a stylized image of a tree from The Hobbit on my front door. In an arch above the tree was burned a phrase: "Dwarves abide here. Beware."
Beware, indeed. I introduced Daisy to the place, filled the refrigerator and the kitchen larder. I made a few phone calls to let my management company and services know that I was back in town before having supper.
Daisy seemed quite happy with her new digs. I surmised that her trip to the pound scared the hell out of her as she didn't wander even though I forebore to either fence her in or leash her. I took her down to the park most weekends for the kids to love up on her. I could tell that she liked the attention but at some point she would lie down and refuse to cooperate any further. That's when we would go back home.
I borrowed some music recordings from the library. I focused on the blues--T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson and others. Some, like the Black Keys and Buddy Guy focused on electric guitar work. That I saved for later. The flare, the fuzz and the detuner were skills I'd have to pick up, but later! Later! Daisy looked at me as if I were insane at first, then I caught her nodding along with some Mississippi John Hurt stuff. "Gotcha!" I thought. There were virtually no goddamnend blues acts in that town. I did my part on open mike nights. It must have looked funny as hell, this little bitty guy dragging a milk crate and a 3/4 size dreadnaught bigger than he was up on the stage. I had to turn the mike stand on its side to get it low enough for me. Once I started playing they stopped laughing though. I had a good ear, a decent sense of rythm and a fairly flexible voice. I wasn't one of those projectors like Johnny Cash or Jim Morrison that didn't NEED any damned amplified mike. I couldn't project like that.
It was damned hard to keep that back beat even while playing the voice as well. I hadn't had that much time in the saddle, but I did the best I could with what I had.
After listening to what a few guys could pull out of their electric guitars I felt it time to bite the bullet and experiment. I wanted a 3/4 sized body with three pickups. I was shown a playmate avalanche J and a Starcaster 15G 15-watt amp. I did a little boogie-woogie on it in the shop and bought it from the man. I bought the best cables that he had and a fistful of picks. Then I sat down and experimented with the voices that it could produce. Daisy damned near left me for good. After I stopped practicing that first day she gave me a look that obviously meant, "You do that again and I'm gonna shit in your shoes."
I bought into the level 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 levels of classical guitar training guides. They were all complicated scales at that level. I praciticed the fingering slowly at first to get the patterns under control, then began accellerating my tempo. It took a few years to get up to the 'Stevie Ray Vaughn' level but I bet that I could play backup for Eric Clapton in a pinch. I worked on developing my own ear and voice. Damn. It was the hardest thing that I'd ever done. It was like wearing my heart on my sleeve.
By the year 2000 I was a recognized face on the local professional performing circuit. If someone needed a fill-in or a lead guitar they gave me a call. I did a lot of covers but still tried to convert my writing skills over into songwriting. I wasn't too dissapointed that things went slowly as I'd already made my mark as a mainstream author. Breaking over into songwriting was another endeavor entirely.
I spread my genes around and had one hell of a good time doing it. I wanted no part of the New York music scene, equating it with the San Fernando valley porn sausage machine. Los Angeles likewise held no fascination for me. I spent some time in Chicago listening in at the blues shops and eventually borrowing an axe here and there and contributing. L.A. had the high-speed hispanic manic jabber. New York had a polished drug-oriented line. Chicago had a slower blues thing going which was much more traditional, paying homage to its Mississippi roots.
I wrote a series of biographies of blues players from the thirties through the seventies. Then I turned them into screen plays and pushed it out. PBS bought it for four million, which came out to two hundred and fifty thousand bucks per screen play. I believe that the only reason that I was paid so much was I included film clips and photographs of each of the musicians along with the screen plays, thus minimizing their follow-on investments.
Nearly fifty miles west of Champaign lay Clinton Lake. I bought a fishing license and spent many a quiet Saturday afternoon noodling for fish while Daisy explored and hung out. Occasionally I had a fish dinner but usually I had pizza from town or a warmed up can of beans.
I didn't intentionally wall myself off from a social scene, though in hindsight it was obvious that I did. I simply didn't go out of my way to initiate or promote any relationships.
Eventually I noticed the lack and began to pursue companionship. I was vehmently opposed to the barfly avenue. Instead I generated my own target rich environment. DVD movies were available for rent at the local library. I found a laptop capable of playing most DVD movies and I purchased an LCD projector that would easily connect to said laptop to project the movies. I painted my side of the brick wall separating my property from that of the fraternity and the sorority behind me flat white, and invited everyone, including my neighbors, over for Friday night movies on the lawn. I had a hole drilled through my foundation and a pipe laid to bring up a 110 Volt A.C. outlet shielded by a faux well house some twenty feet from the wall. I played Peter Sellers movies, John Wayne flicks, award-winning movies from the last ten years and Humphrey Bogart flicks. I drew fifty to seventy people most nights which really filled the back yard. I went to the expense of arranging for four porta-potties each show night. The film festival continued until the temperature dropped into the thirties.
I got my wick trimmed almost every weekend, sometimes by young ladies that really shouldn't have been pursuing such game. However, I was determined to remain a consumate professional and did my best to leave them happy; satisfied and without guilt. The more sophisticated ladies got the full treatment and I came away feeling like Tarzan.
Come the winter I threw my card into the hat at a few escort agencies as I'd done before graduation. I was flattered to find that several of my previous clients held a torch for me. I brought my guitar along to each of my designations and did my best to serenade my dates. It gained me a new, more enthusiastic following. I wondered if Willie Nelson knew what he was passing up...
Over the winter I explored a different writing venue. I attempted a semi-fictional biography of Roald Amundsen., one of the first men to reach the South Pole. I interlaced brutal passages reflecting the unforgiving environment and his suffering with vignettes reflecting on his love live and his lessons given by the people of the alaskan and other arctic tribes. I made a half million on it.
Next I wrote of Napoleon's domination of Egypt and the many scholars and technicians bound to his service that explored the mass of artifacts that germinated into the egyptian revival. His was the discovery of the Rosetta stone and the translations of the Nile lanugages. The translations of the languages was exciting yet dry, scholarly work. The discovery and exploration of the valley of the kings was by far more exciting, even though it was largely speculative. I made much of the few journals which I was fortunate enough to have gotten copied for my research. It rode the coat-tails of the Indiana Jones phenomenon and caught the imagination of the people. It made me another seven million dollars, handily doubling my investments once the smoke, law suits and income tax liabilities cleared. I used journals. The Indiana Jones authors didn't.
It came to the point that I was getting headaches from reading. I needed glasses. I didn't have any problem getting a perscription. It was the choice of frames that infuriated me. Mickey Mouse? Pluto? The Adorables? Please! I found a 'roughneck' frame in silvery metal designed never to kink or bend as once bent, the metal would return to its previous configuration after a few minutes. They only cost a minor fortune.
My life was empty and cold. My dog kept me relatively sane. In retrospect I find that I was lucky not to engage in risky acts and become an adrenaline junky. Life held little interest for me and nothing really brought me joy. I was but a bobber on the surface of society, separate from it yet controlled at every avenue. I was the orphan child, never truly accepted at the family table, always given the same grudging acceptance and acknowledgement as the hired help. Bitterness came easy. My words did not come and I ached for the sights, the smells and the sounds of the seashore. I packed the trailer and once more headed for points east, then north. I made it there in time for the winter season. I rented a small house with a long driveway that would accomodate my trailer and moved in.