Because we didn’t know his name, and he played air guitar outside Family Dollar, we called him Air Guitar Eddy. He had two dogs. We called the pit bull Pitbull, and the other, a terrier, Funky Bitch. Funky Bitch was pregnant, bursting at the seams, and she would sit and pant in the shade. Because it was Family Dollar, Air Guitar Eddy, Pitbull, and Funky Bitch didn’t get much by way of charity.
Day after day Air Guitar Eddy woke up, stood by the side of the store, and performed. He only pretended to tie the ends of Pitbull and Funky Bitch’s leashes to the light post.
We played in a punk band called Junk, and shared an apartment in Alpine Estates, a complex across from Family Dollar. We got our meth from Sam, who lived on the same highway, one half-mile east. Whenever forced to re-up, which was every other day, two of us would walk to the Sunoco, grab chips and a couple Cokes, spend an hour with Sam, then walk back to our apartment. We’d get high, check each other’s pockets to make sure we weren’t carrying, then, after looking both ways, cross the highway and get candy, Mountain Dew, and a liter of water. Two of us were nineteen, and two of us were eighteen. We were definitely punk—at least for Endwell—but we weren’t into any of that gender bender stuff. But we weren’t exclusive, either. No one had a bedroom. Where and who you slept with was a matter of the given day’s circumstance.
Because Air Guitar Eddy was blind, we felt bad for him. He wasn’t nice, he didn’t want pity, so his blindness worked in our favor. We could water his dogs and he had no clue. Or, if he did, he’d say, “What the fuck you think you’re doing? We live by a creek. It’s insulting. If you want to do me a favor, you four can fuck off. ”
Sometimes, if there were only two of us, he’d say “the two of you,” and, for a while, this blew our minds. Then we noted that he simply followed our conversations. We felt bad. Just because he was blind didn’t mean he couldn’t add. His eyes were terrible, though; we never got used to those. There were no pupils. They were incorrectly enormous, like looking at two small fish magnified by their glass bowls. He wore white jeans and a white sweatshirt.
We knew music. If broke, or if that seemed like a possibility, we played weddings and parties. Then, we billed ourselves as The Four Sails. We didn’t mind, because, in its way, this was punk. And it’s not like punk wasn’t dead or anything, anyways. It was fun to dress up and pretend. It was like the opposite of getting high.
We knew Michael McDonald, 10cc, Ambrosia, and Toto, but we could play anything. We played a lot of instrumentals, and, when bored, during Enya’s Only Time, we’d turn off our mics and mouth this game involving Van Halen or the Rolling Stones’ riders.
Once, when Air Guitar Eddy was in the middle of a solo, we shouted, “Kid Gloves. Woo-hoo!”
“I don’t take requests,” he responded, though it was obvious, to all of us, that he was playing Rush. We clapped and cheered. The Pop Rocks fizzed in our mouths. This was our Helen Keller moment.
Funky Bitch perked up. The dogs liked us, and while they were loyal to Eddy, they weren’t happy. This was a particularly hot day. We had filled bowls with water, but Eddy smelled us, or heard us, and he screamed in our direction, he wanted to know what the fuck we thought we were doing, and he poured the water on the ground. Funky Bitch, desperate, stood.
In her deep anguish, Funky Bitch took a step towards us. Eddy segued into Limelight, and we screamed, “Limelight, woo-hoo!” and we took off our shirts and whirled them around our heads.
“I already told you cunts I don’t play covers,” Eddy said, but he leaned into his solo, and we could see the frets, we could see the strings.
(A mom and her kids were barreling towards Family Dollar. Because Mom only hit Funky Bitch, the police weren’t called. We knew though. Mom was fat, wore a black bathing suit, and rubber sandals. Her mouth was smeared red with sangria. And her kids were eating Fudgesicles.)
As we kept cheering, Funky Bitch kept walking. She didn’t know the difference between Free Will and panting in the shade. Mom swung her Ram into the parking lot and clipped, more than crushed, Funky Bitch. The dog screamed. Mom parked her truck and shouted something; she grabbed her purse and the baby. Eddy fell to his knees and crawled towards Funky Bitch.
There was nothing we could do. Eddy prayed. What he said was not meant to be heard. He was crying. We talked about that later, how his eyes were still useful for something.
The woman exited the store with four pool noodles. One was blue, one was green, one was yellow, and one was pink. Her kids started fighting. She plopped the baby in its car seat.
“Hey lady,” we said. “You just killed this dude’s dog.”
“Like hell,” Mom said. “He’s lucky. Good thing I was paying attention, or I would have hit him.” Her kids quieted. Blood drained from the dog’s ears.
“How long you going to stay drunk?” we said. “There’s a camera up there,” we pointed. “We called the cops. I wouldn’t hit and run.”
“No, you didn’t,” the woman said. “And another thing,” she put her car in reverse, she slowed as she neared us. “I don’t want to see you junkies here, neither. This is a family store.” Then she went her on her way, opening an ice-cream sandwich, and her face was no longer downcast.
That night we wrote a song about Eddy. It goes like this