Monday, November 2, 2009

Beyond Thunderstick

The best thing about being white on Atlanta public transportation is that no one wants to sit next to me.

—Jim Goad, August 20, 2009

Thunderstick and I had only been at the fairgrounds for an hour, but it was painfully clear that I’d made a terrible mistake. It was barely one o’clock in the afternoon and he was already shitfaced. He had exposed himself in plain view of the Tilt-A-Whirl, and I’d just spent the last 20 minutes convincing the local constabulary that Thunderstick was mentally ill, not drunk, and that I was his chaperone from the group home and he had just gotten away from me for an instant and no, sir, officer, it absolutely would not happen again.

“What’s with the mask?”

This from an oily teenage “security” enforcer who had suddenly materialized in the officer’s considerable shadow. The cop, with his orange-tinted Oakleys and walrus mustache, shot me a look indicating that he, too, would like to know the answer to this question.

“Oh, uh… well… it suppresses his fear of being in public,” I stumbled. “It’s a defense mechanism. He’s really quite shy. Acute agoraphobia, they tell me.”

The mask was a black leather job covered in glittering studs, with openings for the eyes and mouth. The mouth hole boasted a working zipper, through which Thunderstick had already rammed three corn dogs, four soft pretzels and a pair of Dee-Lux Polish sausages.

The cop cocked an eyebrow over the top of his Oakleys. He looked over at Thunderstick, who was—mercifully—subdued now, shoulders slumped like a scolded child.

“You sure you’ve got this under control?”

Thunderstick is 6-foot-8 and weighs about 260. “Absolutely. You can rely on me, sir.”

As soon as the fuzz and his teenage sidekick were out of sight, Thunderstick slapped me hard on the chest, grunted, and loped greedily in the direction of the concession stand. Within seconds, he was lost in the crowd again.

When I found him, he had a Foster’s oil can in each hand and was chanting “Rule, Britannia!” at the top of his lungs. He seemed to know only the chorus:

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!

Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!

And then this, to the tune of “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic”:

Glory, glory, Man United

Glory, glory, Man United

Glory, glory Man United

Your troops are marching on! On! On!

“This is America,” I reminded him. “These people don’t give a shit about soccer.” He unzipped the top of his black satin jumpsuit to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with the pithy slogan, “I Fucking You.”

“I’m pretty sure we’ll get tossed out of here for that,” I said.

He peeled the shirt off and stuffed it down the front of his tights, leaving a misshapen bulge protruding obscenely from his crotchal region. He was shirtless now, the upper half of his satin bodysuit flapping behind him in the breeze. He was sunburned in that particularly brutal British way—angry, incandescent pink—his chest slick and sticky with misdirected lager. How had it come to this?

Simple, really: Thunderstick was hitchhiking on the westbound side of route 26 when in the spirit of Really, Really Good Samaritanism I offered him a ride to the carnival. I’d recognized him from the old album covers—Head On, NWOBHM ’79 Revisited—the custom bondage mask was a dead giveaway. But I was immediately sorry. After repeatedly cueing up and playing the first 30 seconds of Europe’s “Cherokee,” on my iPod, he finally froze the thing before breaking the volume knob off the stereo. He spent the rest of the trip grunting and fishing through my glove box for pills. In the parking lot he took a hot, sloppy dump in front of some old biddies and Rotarian types. Needless to say, they ran off shrieking.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Thunderstick spent the night in County after hurling himself down the Xtreme Rapidz waterslide completely naked. Except for the mask, of course. That stayed on. The police tell me he had a massive erection.

This bullshit originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Decibel magazine.

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