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Midnite’s Journey

Midnite’s
Journey

One Man’s Improbable
Voyage Through America’s Reality

by Dana Silkiss

When slavery was legally abolished, a new set of laws called the Black Codes emerged to criminalize legal activity for African Americans. Through the enforcement of these laws, acts such as standing in one area of town or walking at night, for example, became the criminal acts of “loitering” or “breaking curfew,” for which African Americans were imprisoned. A system of convict leasing was developed to allow white “owners” in the South to literally purchase prisoners to live on their property and work under their control. Through this system, bidders paid an average $25,000 a year to the state, in exchange for control over the lives of all of the prisoners. The system provided revenue for the state and profits for the owners.

Just a few decades later, we are witnessing

the return of all of these systems of prison

labor exploitation. Private corporations

are able to lease factories in prisons, as

well as lease prisoners out to their

factories. Private corporations are running

prisons-for-profit. Government-run

prison factories operate as multibillion

dollar industries in every state, and

throughout the federal prison system. In

the most punitive and racist prison

systems, we are even witnessing the

return of the chain gang.

Amendment XIII. Section 1:

Neither slavery nor involuntary

servitude, except as a
punishment for crime whereof
the party shall have been duly
convicted, shall exist within the
United States or any place
subject to their jurisdiction.

-December 6, 1865

Table of Contents

Midnite’s Journey

Prologue

(Midnite’s Epiphany)

Chapter I

(Avenging Angel)

Chapter II

(I’m Mr. Midnite)

Chapter III

(The Nightmare Begins!)

Chapter IV

(Nightmare Reality)

Chapter V

(More Clues)

Chapter VI

(The Final Plan?)

Chapter VII

(Oh Lord!)

Chapter VIII

(Redemption?)

Chapter IX

(Freedom?)

Chapter X

(The Healing)

Chapter XI

(Commencement)

Chapter XII

(Music, Sweet Music)

Chapter XIII

(The Tour)

Chapter XIV

(Retribution?)

Chapter XV

(Exculpation!)

Prologue

(Midnite’s Epiphany)

Actually, I was eight years old when I first realized something was wrong. I mean, I had my share of fights in the neighborhood, due to my being half-Jewish. (What the other half was didn’t seem to matter, I suppose, as long as it wasn’t Quaker or some other “different” religion.)

Anyway, what made the impression on me started in a local Catholic church. I had gone to Sunday mass with my best friend and had particularly enjoyed a sermon, spoken quite eloquently, by the monsignor, relating the message of how one should “love thy neighbor” & “do unto others” etc. . . .

That night I was playin’ at my friend David’s house and, lo & behold, there was the monsignor talkin’ to David’s parents. The three of them had obviously had a few too many. As I had always been too curious for my own good, I snuck into the room and hid behind the sofa, figuring they were so drunk they would never notice me. I got myself situated just in time to hear the (very proper) monsignor saying “The gall of some people! I was in my pulpit, giving my morning sermon, when two niggers tried to get into my church. Of course, they were politely ushered out, as quickly as possible, and that was that! Why do they have to make trouble and come to my church? I mean why can’t they stay with their own kind?” he very indignantly (and drunkenly) proclaimed.

I felt as tho’ I had been hit over the head with a baseball bat. Yeah, the bat from heaven. Here was somebody highly revered in our community. This religious, prestigious and influential man, who, as I reluctantly, admitted to myself, had had a profound influence on my life, now became a devil to me. I had heard beautiful ideas and lessons coming out of his mouth in the church but the exact opposite spewed forth now. In my naiveté, I was dumbstruck. How could people have such a dichotomy of actions and thoughts, not to mention false preachings? Why say what you don’t believe? Merely to mouth something you didn’t believe in, or was it to uphold other people’s beliefs and views in you and/or your religion?

As the days passed, I pondered the events I had witnessed. Why? Are people really different? I was in turmoil. Were all those things everybody said about “other people” really true? (It seemed like everybody was “them.”) And then it hit me! People I hung out with, or knew, said things about my father, for being Jewish, which I definitely knew had no bearing in reality. At that point in time I realized I had just found one of my callings: to investigate the great paradox of mankind and life itself.

Chapter I

(Avenging Angel)

Florida was hot! So was the lady I wasn’t with. It had been a good week, up to that point. I had flown down to Miami to check out some friends & play some music. Political, musical and free lovin’ All the ingredients of a superb formula. What I hadn’t expected in Miami was the reactionary atmosphere blowin’ around. I had figured it would be filled with old, retired liberal New Yorkers. Wrong again! There didn’t seem to be anybody in view who wasn’t spewing the ignorant rhetoric of the times (no, not the N.Y. Times) Hippie! Nigger! Pinko-queer! Subversive Russian! Dirty Commie! The commentaries of our modern age. The ruling class. Uh, probably the elite of our country.

Anyway, I finished my musical obligation in a hurry, left Miami and worked my way up to Daytona Beach, figuring I’d catch some rays and just relax for a while. I got into town April 14, 1976. around 7:30 a.m., a Wednesday morning. I hitched across one of the bridges to the beachfront areas, walked down the strip and looked for a decent place to grab something to eat. Well, I was so hungry; I ended up at the first place I went to. Good ol’ Hojo’s. Land of the orange roof. As soon as I got inside, I headed straight for the bathroom, pissed for what seemed like twenty minutes, washed up and tried to make myself presentable. Feelin’ refreshed, I walked out to a table, sat down & waited for a waitress to take my order. Meanwhile I was daydreaming, trying to figure out what the hell my next move was going to be, when through a (very thick) haze, I heard someone saying

“Excuse me sir! May I take your order, or do you need a menu?”

Comin′ out of my daze, probably due to no sleep for the last 36 hours, I slowly looked up at the speaker and was momentarily stunned. This lady was a waitress? She was true perfection, classic art come to life. In other words, my type of beauty.

“Uh, give me two eggs over easy, toast, coffee and tomato juice”

I not too intelligently said for lack of any better verbiage.

“God damn, she’s fine! I’ve got to think of something fast. -Southern rap #forty-two, yeah right!” I thought.

“Excuse me, miss,” I half-assed spit out, “I’m new around here. Are there any good music clubs, or any like spots to hang out? I’ve only been here for a couple of hours and need to find some music contacts, so I can make some money,” I grinned.

She laughed, “I’m not gonna be much help to you, my man, I’m from Jersey.”

Trying to quickly regroup my shit, I said, in the vernacular of the times, “Why don’t we hang together and find something to do?”

The rest of my meal was great, as we got to know each other, with a little small talk, and then she agreed; we set a time & place and I left.

“Good lord, hot steamin’! I’m a lucky man,” I thought. “Lucky! Lucky! Lucky! Daytona’s gonna be alright! Enough free-wheelin', time for me to get clean. Um, let’s see, I have about six hours before ... before I’m to meet…., shit! I forget to get her name. Oh well, if &/or when I see her again, I’ll find out soon enough.”

As I walked along the beautiful beachfront area of Daytona, I checked out the local populace. People were loose and carefree, there was an almost California -type atmosphere. That I liked. What I didn’t like were all the police cars everywhere. Not cruising, just sitting...waiting... “Waiting for what,” I wondered. Ever get that feeling, that small knot in the pit of your stomach? That first twinge of paranoia. “Oh! Come on,” I chided myself. “The most illegal thing I’d done lately was hitchhike. Cool-out,” I told myself.

With a sudden change of mood, I walked briskly towards my unknown destination. I wanted a place to rest, but not some Ramada Inn or Hilton. Something just a little quainter. I wanted to be among the people. I stayed away from the tourist areas. I wasn’t in the mood for that scene. Day dreamin’, walkin', searchin', hmm, always searchin'!

“Guess I’ll hang here for a week, or so, I did leave Miami in kind of a hurry. Gotta get back to school soon. Well, fairly soon, anyway. But then again, I’ll see what happens with this fine young lady. As usual, play it by ear. There! That looks perfect!”

A summer cottage with a sign; For rent-daily-weekly-monthly (with a phone number). I slowly walked around the cottage, really inspecting it. Nice yard, pretty shutters. I peered through the windows. Wow! Absolutely gorgeous. I went directly to the nearest phone booth and called the number. The landlady gave me her address and told me to stop by right away. Twenty-two minutes later, I had made all the arrangements and paid for a week in advance, quickly walked back to “my” cottage and opened the front door. Whew. No hassles. Solitude at last. I inspected the entire house and was relieved to see the rest of it was as quaint and immaculate as the part of the house I had seen from the outside. The freakin' house had everything you could possibly expect. Out of habit I opened the fridge door and was surprised to see one beer.

“What the hell,” I thought, as I opened the can and silently toasted the landlady for being so thoughtful. By now it was all of 10:00 a.m. I’d been in town for 2 1/2 hours, had a nice little place to stay and had met a beautiful lady.

“Damn!” I was thinking, “I’d definitely been down worse roads before.”

Wanting to keep my “roads” open, I deduced that I’d better take a nice hotsteamin’ shower, as I always found I ran across fewer detours when I was clean and smellin' good. Twenty minutes later I felt like a new man. Calculating that I had about four hours before I had to meet Miss X, I decided to leave my humble abode and further check out my surroundings. Walking directly to the beach, I was pleasantly surprised to see cars, dune buggies and motorcycles actually riding on the sand! They weren’t even sinking! Strange, but true.

I walked for about two hours. Fresh air, sun, sea, dunes and scrub grass. Man, this was a different world. Clear, pollution- free skies & everything. Shit! New York (my home town) was still 30 degrees, not to mention in Colorado, where I had come from, before my journey to Miami. Here it musta been close to 90 degrees. “Was I nuts to think about goin' back to the Apple, or Colorado?” I wondered.

Suddenly my attention was ripped from my thoughts by an occurrence directly across the street. I saw three cops throw this black man onto his back, slam a billy club directly into his testicles and repeatedly smash his head into the sidewalk. Not being able to just stand by and be a witness, I ran to the other side of the street, and as innocently as I could, I asked, “Excuse me officer, but what exactly has this man done?”

“What has he done?” He mocked me, “Well, let me see, he was born a nigger.”

He looked me in the eye and spat out, “And I had nothing else to do this fine morning. Why you asking?” he snarled at me. “You’re not one of them commie niggerlovers, are you?”

“Well,” I said, “you got one outta two right. Listen, please give me your badge number, and when I speak to your captain, let’s see who loves who, o.k., Mr. Super cop?”

At this moment the other two cops stopped hitting the man, who I determined was about my age, and picked him up by his hair. Either they looked slightly worried, or angry, I couldn’t get a clear vibe on them right away.

The cop I had directed my questions at put his gun to my neck and “whispered” in my ear, “Listen to me, you’re lucky there’s a crowd, or I’d let you join your buddy over there! You have twenty-four hours to get the hell out of Daytona or no one will ever hear from you again.”

“Fuck you!” I screamed, as loud as I could, tearing myself away from him and towards the crowd that was gathering at a fast rate. “Where do you think this is, fucking Germany, this is supposed to be Amerika, you asshole, you fucking asshole!” I screamed repeatedly.

The three cops dropped the man and jumped into their prowl cars, put their sirens on and screeched out of there. I was shaking, angry and scared.

“Whew! Either I was nuts or just plain stupid,” I couldn’t decide which. But what the hell was I doing? Worrying about myself?” I leaned down and took a careful look at the man I had just saved. He was dressed in ivy league clothes, had expensive jewelry and two diamond earrings in his left ear. I slowly turned him over. Wow! The cops had really done a number on him. His shirt was ripped open and his chest was bleeding from the midpoint and along his entire left side to his waist. His scalp was bleeding, but I couldn’t tell from where, cause his afro was about ten inches long. He was moaning and incoherent. I looked around and shouted at the onlookers to call an ambulance. One by one they drifted away, without saying anything. It was fuckin’ incredible. What the hell was wrong with people? I wasn’t asking them to get involved. Seeing that I would have to take things into my own hands, I said, “Listen buddy, I’m gonna help you, I’m picking you up and bringing you to that bench over there. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

He mumbled something and nodded his head in the affirmative. I slung his arm over my head and around my neck. I grabbed his waist with my other hand and, as gently as I could, hoisted him up. We limped over to the bench, where, luckily, there was also a pay phone. I put him back down and walked over to the phone booth, called a cab, (luckily, the Taxi company’s number was on the wall of the booth!) told the dispatcher to hurry and making a quick decision, gave him my “home” address. I figured the black dude’s injuries weren’t life threatening and didn’t want to go through all the inevitable red tape that the hospital would make him and me go through. I ran over to my new friend. He was looking around with eyes that appeared much clearer than before.

He looked at me and just studied my face.

“Why did you do it, why’d you help me?” He asked.

“Why?” I foolishly repeated. “Because I saw you gettin’ hurt and unless you had robbed or murdered someone, I couldn’t see anyone gettin’ done to them what I saw back there. And seeing where we are, I highly doubted that.”

“Man, I have never had a white dude help me, or many black people, for that matter,” he dubiously said. “What do you want, white boy?”

In spite of the circumstances, I started laughing and said, “Direct your paranoia to where it belongs. I just stuck my neck out for you, which should tell you something. And as far as what I want, I want to take you to my house and fix up your wounds, get you something to eat, and then you can do whatever you want. Well, here’s our cab, what do you want to do? I’ve got things to accomplish today.”

“Listen, I’m sorry,” he said, as he extended his hand.

I grasped his hand and said “Let’s forget all the bullshit; you’ve been through a lot. My name’s Midnite.”

Still grasping my hand, he stared at me and said “Wait a minute! Midnite, fucking Midnite the guitar genius? I don’t fuckin’ believe this. Holy shit! Man. Uh, my name’s Marc, Marc Johnson.”

“What the fuck you love birds doin’?” The cabby shouted.” Are youse guys comin’ or what?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said, “we’re with yah.”

We were lost in our own thoughts on the ride back to my house. When we arrived, Marc said, “I’m paying the fare.” I thanked him; we got out and went into the house. “Nice place,” Marc said.

“I’m just passing through,” I replied, “here for a little R&R in between gigs.”

“Well, it sure looks like heaven to me right now,” Marc wearily replied.

As I watched him painfully go into the living room, I said “Marc, listen, man. I want you to feel at home here. There’s a phone in the kitchen, there’s a clean bathroom and I think you should take a hot shower, clean up those wounds, and, maybe you’ll start feeling a little better. While you’re doing all that, I’m gonna do some food shopping. Is there anything in particular you need, besides bandages and shit like that?”

Marc looked at me and said, “You know, I don’t understand you. I mean you don’t even fuckin’ know me and you practically save my life, bring me to your house, let me do whatever I want, go to get me supplies, and now you’re gonna leave me alone in your house. What the fuck!!?”

“Yah, man,” I said, “I’ll see you later, dude.”

“Wait a minute!” he yelled, here, take some money, don’t fuckin argue, get us some steaks, champagne, cognac, lots of food, lots of ointments and bandages, and whatever else you want. Now here, just take this and I’ll see you when you get back.”

I went outside, smiling. “This dude seems to be alright. At least I didn’t save some asshole from those country cops.” As I was putting the money he gave me into my pocket, I saw a one-hundred-dollar bill on top of the pile. Incredibly, all the bills behind that one were also hundred dollar bills. “What the fuck,” I thought “either this dude was extremely grateful, or he was totally wacked. I’ll deal with that later.” Before an hour and a half went by, I returned with all the “necessary” supplies, as well as anything else I thought would be fun to have. “Damn”, I thought, “I gotta meet the waitress soon. Shit, how am I gonna do this?” Entering the house, I saw Marc talking earnestly on the phone. He saw me and gestured that he’d be off in a minute. I nodded and proceeded to put the food in the fridge and pantry. Listening to Marc’s conversation, while I was putting everything away, I heard some interesting information. Marc apparently was talking to a member of his family, relaying the events of the last few hours. He was alternating between agitation and calmness, shouting and laughter. Finally; he hung up the phone and came over to me.

“Man, that was a trip, my whole family wants to come down here and press charges against the police force. I still don’t know what they’re gonna do, neither do they. I think they’re gonna hold a family meeting to decide what to do,” he said.

“Wow! They ain’t playing around,” I said," “What exactly is your family into?”

“Well, my father’s a N.Y State Supreme court judge, two of my uncles are in the NYPD and I have an older brother that’s a litigation lawyer. Oh, I’m in my third year of law school.” Marc innocently said.

“Not exactly a bunch of bums,” I laughed. “That’s a whole lot of firepower. Maybe we will see some fireworks. I’d really like to see some asses roll around here. By the way, what were you doing earlier? Where are you staying and why did those assholes beat the shit out of you?” I asked.

Marc said, “I’m here on spring break. I had walked up to a woman to ask directions to a hotel, when she just started screaming. I tried to calm her down, but she just kept screaming, help, help! A cop car was passing by, the cops jumped out, didn’t ask me anything and just started hitting me. You saw the rest.”

“Yes, I did,” I said. “Welcome to the South, huh? Even though the North, West and East are the same, no?” Marc nodded in agreement.

Suddenly, I jumped up and said “Listen, Marc, I’ve got a date and have to meet this fine young lady in about twenty minutes. Make yourself at home, eat some of that food you paid for, and I’ll see you sometime later, hopefully much later.” I mischievously said. We shook hands and I proceeded to my destination. As I approached the restaurant, I was trying to figure out what we could do. Hopefully Miss X would have a few good ideas, cause I sure as hell wasn’t feeling too creative, especially after the events of the last couple of hours. I felt a sudden quiver shake me from top to bottom, trying to erase the “doom & gloom” feelings caused by the day’s ignorant-filled realism.

There she was! She wasn’t a dream, but my immediate reality. As she confidently came through the door, she grinned and exclaimed, “Right on time, I’m impressed.” Have you had a boring morning?”

“Boring,” I replied, “that wouldn’t even begin to describe it. However, we can get into my day later. Number one on the hit parade, is the question that’s been bothering me all morning. What the hell is your name?”

She looked at me and laughed. “Do you mean we’ve had the same thoughts all morning? To be honest, I didn’t really expect you to show up. I mean I didn’t know your name, you didn’t know mine, and I figured you were just killing time this morning. But I am glad to see you again.”

“Enough, enough!” I interrupted, “what is your name?”

She slowly stuck out her tongue, licked her lips, smiled and said, “My name is Deanna, Deanna Antoinette. Now you tell me yours.”

“Well, Miss Deanna Antoinette, it is certainly a pleasure, people call me Midnite.”

“Midnite,” she said, “what kind of name is that? I don’t care what “people” call you; I want to know your real name!”

“Sorry,” I said,” but that’s my name.” She looked at me strangely, and asked, “Why does that name sound familiar, there’s something about it I know.”

“I dunno, maybe you heard me play,” I said, “I hear my name’s starting to get around.”

“Heard you play?” she asked. “What should I have heard, and when?”

“Never mind, never mind. Maybe my ego’s just gettin’ in the way. We’ll get into it some other time.”

“Let me ask you something, Mister Midnite, what’s up with you? I mean I don’t know you for more than, what is it now, six hours, and you come off as this big mystery man. What gives?”

“You’re misinterpreting me,” I said........ “You’re a tuff one, heh. O.k. here’s the deal. I’m a college student, going to the University of Colorado at Boulder, senior year. I’m majoring in communications and music. I consider myself a musician, first and foremost. I really started gettin’ serious playing guitar when I was about ten years old. I mean I live with my ax, uh my guitar, for you non-musicians. I’ve been traveling around the country playing my music, on and off for the last four years, while going to school. This year I’ve taken a sabbatical from school so I could do this. And that’s the name of that tune.” I said. “So, my nosy friend, now that you know all about my life, hip me to yours.”

“Well, that was an interesting story,” she said. “I’m afraid my life is boring compared to yours.”

“Try me,” I said. “Something tells me you’re not as boring as you think you are.”

“Alright, here goes. I was born in upstate New Jersey. My father died when I was six years old. I don’t really remember too much about him, except that he was really handsome, had a great sense of humor and was always really, really good to me. My mom was also a great person, a great lady. She hung in there until I was eighteen. She died of a heart attack, but I think she really died of a broken heart. You see she truly loved my father, I mean they were really in love. I am an only child and don’t have any close relatives. So, I left NJ when I finished high school. Let’s see that was four years ago, and I’ve been trying to find myself or something since that time.”

“Jesus,” I interjected, “you must be really lonely. Have you made many friends?”

“No, not really, I mean I’ve traveled around a lot. I’ve met many people, but no one I’m close with. Probably because I’ve built a wall around myself.”

“Well,” I said, “hopefully things will change for you now, you know, from this point on.”

“Why do you think that? Do you know something I don’t.? Or are you pretending to be a psychic?” She skeptically asked me.

“No, no, nothing like that, I mean it’s just a feeling I get. It ain’t based on anything concrete.”

“Well, do me a favor, alright?” She asked, “Just don’t make me any false promises; I’m really tired of all that shit!”

“Relax, babes,” I said, “don’t be so uptight, but you’ll see soon enough, don’t worry.”

“Well,” Deanna said, “let’s talk about happy things. I’m sorry, but sometimes I get my guard up at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.”

I thought to myself, “I’m gonna have to be careful about what I say, until I get to know her better.” Aloud I said, “Deanna, listen. We don’t know each other very well yet, so let’s hold hands and go for a walk on the beach, O.K.?”

Deanna looked up at me and smiled, “That’s a great idea, come on.”

Deanna took my hand in hers and we walked silently for a while, occasionally stealing glances at each other, grinning and looking away.

Finally, I said, “If you had one dream in the world that you could have come true, what would it be?” Deanna appeared lost in thought, contemplative. I asked, “Haven’t you ever thought of a dream before?”

“Ooh, that’s not the problem. I just don’t know if I feel comfortable enough to tell you,” she said.

“I just thought if I knew where your heart was at, I could find out what your inner being is about, that’s all” I replied

“I’ve never known anyone like you before,” she said. “I mean, most guys are trying to get down my pants by now and you’re asking me about my quest in life.”

“You sound disappointed,” I said. “Is that what you want me to do?”

“No,” Deanna said, “this is a very refreshing change, believe me. But, getting back to my most personal dream. It is simple pleasures, really, and quite naive. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve just wanted to know a happiness that I can’t describe too well, but I’ll try my best. It is a happiness that is almost heavenly. A pure joy that emanates from the soul and heart of a person, not from any ulterior motives, not by a need or want from anything or anybody. And, I think it is obtainable only when it’s shared with someone you love.”

“That is beautiful,” I said. “I think that what you’re after has to come from within yourself. Then and only then, will you be able to share that kind of joy with anyone else. With anything outside of your being.”

“So, what you’re saying is I’m insecure, or not in tune with myself?” Deanna defensively asked.

“No, I don’t get the feeling you’re insecure. Actually you appear quite the opposite. What I “see” within you is the ability for you to pursue your inner quest. However, you have had to face so many bullshit obstacles that dealing with them has made you lose focus on your primary goals. I think your biggest problem is getting over the loss of your parents. You never really had any type of closure. What you should do is go through some kind of regression therapy, or do you have the ability to communicate with people from your past lives?”

“Past lives, what the fuck are you talking about ?” (I realized I had hit upon an area of sensitive matter for ninety-nine percent of the humans on this planet, or at least in the western hemisphere.) “I’m telling you about my inner dream and you’re saying I’m unable to attain it without communicating with the dead.”

I could tell Deanna was completely exasperated. “I’ll continue this at a later time,” I said, momentarily backing away from this avenue of logic. “It’s obviously not the right time for you. I was just trying to help.” I knew she either thought of me as a complete nut case or she was a step above the norm and would eventually be able to assimilate this, as yet, unknown information.

Anyway, I tried to lighten up the atmosphere, told a few jokes about our surroundings, the people and the state of our country in general. Deanna was quick witted, and not only understood the gist of what I was conveying, but added her own observations on the attitudes of our society. She asked me what I had been doing since the time I had met her in the restaurant. I really didn’t want to get into all the events of the past few hours, but I figured it would give me a much clearer overview of where her head was at, intellectually, politically and emotionally.

I took a deep breath and relayed the events of the morning. She listened intently, only interrupting to ask a question, or make a comment. As I was talking, I realized she was quite a unique person, for she had a deep understanding of people, our society and life, way beyond her years, more than most people ever achieve in their entire lifetime.

When I had finished speaking, she asked if Marc was still at the cottage. “Yeah, he must be,” I responded, “because what I didn’t tell you before was that he gave me a lot of money to go out and buy supplies and food. I’m sure he’s at home repairing the damage done by those asshole cops and making himself something to eat.”

“Ok. Let’s get going,” she said.

“Uh, where are we going, my spontaneous one?” I inquisitively asked.

“To your place, dummy. I want to see where you’re living, I want to meet Marc and I figure this’ll be the best way to get to know you, Mr. Midnite!”

Chapter II

(I’m Mr. Midnite)

“Hey Sarge, what are we gonna do if that long haired freak and that nigger from this morning start any shit and report us?” asked Joey D.

“Blow it out your ass, shithead,” the Sarge responded. “Do you really think that could happen in a million years? The colored jerk probably can’t even spell his name, and that hippie freak is probably so zoned out on every drug in the world, he doesn’t even know what state he’s in. Anyway, he’s probably so scared that he’s hitchhiked ten states away by now.”

This intelligent conversation transpired between two of Daytona’s “finest”. The Sarge was, in reality, Sgt. Frank Scirelli, a fourteen-year veteran of Miami’s mean streets. He had flunked out of high school at sixteen, drifted from job to job, until his father, who was a thirty-year veteran of the Metro-Dade police force, had “persuaded” him to get his GED, and used influence to get him on the Miami police force.

He transferred to Daytona to get away from the bad elements of Miami, the Cubanos and Blacks that were all over his beloved streets. Frank flourished. He was a natural cop. He finally had a mission in life, to get rid of every low-life punk he ran across. He didn’t care about human rights, civil rights or much else in the category of what was right. After three years on the force he had not only been promoted, but received numerous citations for arrests and convictions. He had more arrests (and complaints of brutality) than any cop on the force. Frank was god. He fanatically disliked “faggot” cops, especially those that had any kind of sympathy or empathy for an alleged criminal. To this day he couldn’t understand how his beloved force had to “allow” nigger cops on the force. What was this world coming to!

Joseph DiGregorio, aka Joey D., was one of the reasons Frank thought of himself as a god-like person. Joey “babes” was a rat like mole compared to Frank’s huge proportions. Frank came in at a good two hundred and seventy-five pounds, bone dry, whereas Joey D. weighed in at one hundred and forty pounds, soaking wet. They took pride in the fact that the rest of the force had nicknamed them “Mutt & Jeff” a long time ago. They were societal outcasts who were also very dangerous. Both had a subverted and dark view of the world around them. Even their brothers on the force kept their distance from them, whenever possible, all except a select few that shared their same sick views.

“Let me ask you sumpen then, Sarge. Is the plan for Thursday still gonna happen, or what?”

“Oh, yeah. Fuckin’-a, it’s gonna happen. I talked to everyone involved. They all made their excuses, you know, told their respective wives and girlfriends some story or other. Yeah, we’re ready.”

“Sarge, how you come up with this stuff, I mean, I can’t think of nuthun like this, how the hell do you do it?” the befuddled Joey D. asked. Frank, who usually enjoyed this type of praise being bestowed upon him, suddenly became hostile, and lightly slapped the Mole on the side of his head. “What the hell was that for, what’d I freakin’ do?”

“Listen to me, Joey! You didn’t do nuthin’, o.k.? I just want to make sure not a whisper of this leaks out, not a whisper, you understand?”

“Frankie, you know I wouldn’t say a word, you know that. Are you worried, or sumpin?”

Frank actually looked thoughtful before he carefully replied, “Well, there are gonna be twenty of us, out in the open, in the middle of the night. Plans have been carefully made to make sure none of our unsympathetic brothers are gonna be anywhere near the vicinity, but you never know who could be snooping around, for whatever reason. So, yeah, I’m worried. Anyway, my brain hurts, enough of this bullshit, let’s get something to eat.”

“Marc, I’d like you to meet my friend, Deanna. Deanna this is Marc and the rest of this is up to you two.” Marc and Deanna linked arms and went into the kitchen together to fix some drinks.

“Shit, they seemed to hit it off with each other quick enough,” Midnite thought. “I wonder what they’ll have to discuss with each other?”

Actually, Midnite was glad to have a few minutes to himself, to think and make plans, He wanted to hook up with some pro musicians, to try out some new songs and ideas with people who might understand what he was trying to accomplish musically. Who the hell did he know in this neck of the woods? He was drawing a blank. Midnite decided to call his friend and musical guru in N.Y.C., Carlos Ramirez. Carlos knew every musician in every town, what their schedules were, what kind of music they were into, everything about their lives that one could possibly want to know.

Midnite got excited thinking about the wealth of information that Carlos could give to him and looked up his number in his little black book, which was filled with information about the people he encountered in his travels. Midnite dialed his friend’s number and waited for someone to answer. He knew it usually took about thirty rings before Carlos ever picked up the phone………...

Meanwhile, in the next room, Marc and Deanna were in deep conversation, explaining to each other how they met Midnite. They were both in awe of him as a person, as a free spirit who seemed to follow his own destiny; his personal path seemed clear in his mind.

“Let me ask you something, Marc. Do you know why he calls himself Midnite?”

Marc replied with another question, “Do you know who Midnite is, besides a new friend? Have you ever heard of Midnite in any other context?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” She excitedly asked. “What is he a celebrity or something?”

“Only to some,” he replied. “Midnite is the most talked about up and coming guitarist. But he’s not just another hot-shot guitarist who’ll come and go with the wind. I mean he’s supposed to be on the same level as Hendrix, and believe me, I would never say anything like that lightly, ‘cause anyone that really can play knows Hendrix is and was the best that ever lived, bar none, and that includes on any instrument played by anyone. He was on a mental and innovative plane that was light years ahead of anyone in the world, but, you know, Midnite does have something about him that has that same ethereal quality as Jimi, that distance from people, a different level, and yet, people are drawn to him like magnets.”

“Yeah,” said Deanna, “he’s very strange, in a good, different way, almost holy. He’s definitely driven by something other than what this world has to offer.”

“I have to get Midnite in here and ask him something!” Marc exclaimed. “Hey Midnite, come here a sec, I need to ask you something!”

Midnite shouted back to hold on for a few minutes, he was in deep conversation with his friend.

A good amount of time passed before Midnite came into the room and looked inquisitively at Marc. “You called?” He asked.

“I have to know if it’s true what they say about you playing lead riffs at ten years old,” Marc asked. “And how did you ever get on the road at so young an age?”

“Man, you two are a nosy pair. I prefer being the mystery man, ya know?” Midnite laughed.

“No way Dude.” Deanna said “I want to hear all about you, where you were born, when you left home, you get the gist.”

“Yeah, the gist.” Midnite replied, “You mean the gist and the rest of my life, don’t you? Well, let’s grab a few brews and some munchies, get comfortable and I’ll tell you the saga of my life up till now, at least.”

A few moments later they were situated and Midnite started recalling snippets and scenes of his life that had been stored away and forgotten for quite some time. He carefully thought to himself, however, exactly which events he would reveal to his two new friends. Some things he would never talk about to anyone, others he would reveal only to a select few.

“Well,” he began, “I didn’t actually do any lead riffs until I was eleven, because I didn’t start playing the guitar until I was ten, so that’s an exaggeration. I used to dream about playing for as long as I can remember. I mean, I have vivid memories from about age three or four. It was something I’d always known, I guess. I felt as though I was hugging a dear old friend, the first time I actually picked up a guitar- and the feeling’s never left me. I mean I just played and played all the time, it was meant to be!” He emphatically exclaimed. “So, when I was eighteen I went to college at The University of Colorado, Boulder campus, where until recently, believe it or not, I was a senior. Over the past three years I have been on the road close to twelve months, plus kept up with my schoolwork. I got to play with some extraordinary musicians, learned from them and applied what I learned into what I incorporate into my thoughts and translate it into my music, my sound. Recently, however I left school, maybe temporarily, maybe not, although I only had six more months before graduation. So please don’t feel free to lecture me on that score. I’ve already come to grips with my decision.”

“Can I ask you why?” Deanna asked. “You can, but I’m not answering that one today. I do have my reasons.” Midnite coolly responded.

Midnite drifted within his mind, recalling the events that had led him to the circumstances he found himself in at the present time. He remembered with total clarity his reasoning and motivations for his decision.

“Let me digress and as things pass my brain, I’ll relay them to you,” he said. “OK,” he mused, “I guess things got really interesting for me right after I got out to Boulder. I was in school for about four months when I realized school was too easy and much, much too boring. I needed something to get into, musically speaking, of course,” Midnite winked at Marc and Deanna blushed. “Anyway, I spoke to my professors and the dean, I did what I had to do to get “permission” to do a real life work study and I must say, innovative program, so I could hit the road, Jack and play some music. So basically I’ve only been back on campus to take exams and hand in required work, on my way to some gig or other.”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute!” Deanna exclaimed. “Do you mean to tell us you’ve been keeping up with college courses, traveling around the country and playing gigs, as you say, all at the same time?”

“Well,” Midnite replied, “I’ve probably been doing better at traveling and playin’ than at my school work, but yeah, that’s basically it. I do manage to study on the road and pass my subjects. And, if I may say so, I still have a pretty high scholastic average, but who cares about that? I mean, what exactly is school going to do for me anyway? That’s just the bullshit that gets you through the door, figuratively speaking, of course. I don’t have any intentions of going that route. Anyway, enough about school. Where was I? Oh yeah, three years ago I took a chance, left school for a while and headed for L.A. I just left to see the world and attach myself to musicians I felt could teach, guide and help me on what I always knew was my calling, my fate…………. Enough about me, for now!”

“Tonight, we’re going to spend the night on the beach,” Midnite announced. “I want us to experience something different and unique. Believe it, or not, my buddy in NYC told me about a happening right here, in Daytona. There’s a great band playing and we’re going!” All of a sudden, everyone had a million questions and the excitement grew, as they prepared for an experience that would change their lives.

Chapter III

(The Nightmare Begins!)

Midnite was lost in thought as he and his friends headed towards the beach area. Carlos had said some big- time producers were looking for Midnite and wanted him back in NY as soon as possible. Midnite had told Carlos that he had no immediate plans to return to the Big Apple, but would keep in touch with him and let him know his plans, as he went along.

Midnite’s entourage arrived at the beachfront area, just as the band, whose name was The Magic Mushrooms, finished tuning up and was making (all the) introductions. Carlos had informed Midnite that the Mushrooms were an acid rock band with a funky back section. He also said they had a kick ass drummer.

While the band was starting their first set, Midnite noticed that there were quite a few police officials in the area. Probably due to their paranoia, with so many rock aficionados around, Midnite mused. His interest returned to the Mushrooms. They were tight; all right. Midnite appreciated the band’s efforts and admitted that they would probably make it big. He also thought they were too simplistic for his tastes. However, he took a huge interest in the drummer’s poly rhythmic beats. He not only kept perfect time, but flavored his playing with brilliantly improvised fills. Looking over to the side of the stage, Midnite was puzzled, as he noticed Marc talking to one of the band’s security people. The man disappeared for a while, came back smiling and gave Marc “five.” As Marc sat down next to him, Midnite asked him what had just transpired.

“Oh, you’ll find out, soon enough”, Marc slyly said.

Sure enough, about twenty minutes into the second set, the band’s guitarist announced, “Ladies and gentleman, I have the honor to introduce someone you may or may not yet know, but believe me, you all will soon. Midnite, can you come onto the stage? We all want to meet you!”

Midnite quickly turned and looked at Marc, not sure if he was mad or happy to face this sudden unsolicited attention. “I’ll talk to you later,” he fiercely shot out, looking at Marc.

As Midnite climbed onto the stage, the band members started clapping, as did a few people in the audience. He shook hands all around, talked to the members, then walked over to the drummer and said, “When can we get together for a jam?”

The drummer said, “My name’s Sunshine, most call me Sunny. We’ll be in town thru Saturday. Meet me at the Riviera Club, next to the Marriott, tomorrow morning around noon.”

“‘Bet,” Midnite shot back, “at noon.” As he was preparing to get off- stage, the band started chanting, “We want Midnite, we want Midnite” over and over. Soon the audience took up the chant. Midnite said, “I would love to, but I don’t have my axe. I just wanted to say hello to you all.”

The Mushroom’s guitarist walked over, handed his Stratocaster to Midnite, as he said, “It would be my honor, please take it!”

Midnite took the guitar, looked it over, tuned it, and as he checked out the feel, smiled and said, “Well, I guess I have to play!”

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