Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Midnight in Mexico - Part 3 of 3

“She said she was working for the ABC news
it was as much of the alphabet
as she knew how to use.”

--Elvis Costello

Frank Bennes was about as respected in the legal profession as Jim Williams was in his neighbourhood. He boasted having sued everyone from a monk to a little old retired nurse, and won. Now he was poised to finish off his greatest kill yet, country legend Tim McGraw. What Bennes had not anticipated was the hottest young defense attorney in America, J.J. Bentley.

When Bentley was first approached by Tim McGraw, he laughed out loud. “Bennes is insane,” he said. “They’ll laugh this thing so far our of court Jimmy Williams’ll get whiplash. Sir, I have greater things to do than defend a case that so clearly should have been thrown out of court long before this stage.”

Tim McGraw agreed with that assessment of the case, but the suit was for 10 million dollars and someone had taken it seriously enough for it to go before a judge. “If I just wanted to win the case,” he said, “I would go to a cheaper lawyer. But I want to file a counter-suit for 40 million dollars. I’m offering you 10 percent.”

Bentley was curious. He couldn’t imagine how to pull it off, but he was curious. “I’m listening,” he said.


“Mr. McGraw, we have heard Mr. Williams tell us how your song has ruined his life. It has been stuck in his head for a year and a half now and he has been unable to pursue what was once a very promising musical career because of it.” Bennes was going in for the kill. He knew the counter-suit was a huge bluff, and he was about to call it.

“What damages could Mr. Williams possibly have caused you that warrant the payment of 40 million dollars?”

“Well, Sir,” Tim said coolly, “the song ‘Mexico on a Midnight Run’ performed by Dwight Yoakam and written by Jimmy Williams has been stuck in my head for the past six years. I too have been unable to write because of it. Andy you may note that I have not had a #1 hit in that time. All because of that man’s song.” Tim McGraw emphatically pointed at Jim.

“I figure if a song in a man’s head for a year and a half is worth ten million, then a s song in a man’s head for six years is worth 40 million. The math works out.”

At that point the judge did laugh the entire case out of the court, much to the chagrin of Bennes, Bentley and Tim McGraw, who had been walking around with dollar signs ch-chinging in their eye-sockets for so long they had convinced themselves that their plans could not fail.

Jim was so flattered by the startling revelation that his song has stuck in someone’s head for six years that for the first time since his awakening he felt inspired to write a song that was not about his tractor. Jim thanked Bennes for his efforts and promised that the bill would be paid soon. He was so excited that he ran six blocks from the courthouse to his home. Upon arrival he suffered a massive heart attack. A neighbour drawn by the smell discovered his body three days later.


Six years later the news of Tim McGraw’s death rocked Nashville and country music fans everywhere. When Jane Shaw heard the news she recalled how her ex-husband had been a big Tim McGraw fan. It was the first time she’d thought about her ex in years. She remembered how he always used to pace around the house, looking for inspiration, belting out ‘John Deere Green’ at the top of his lungs. Waving goodbye to her kids as they approached their school, she wondered what had ever become of him. Then she got back in the car and drove to work.

Mexico on a Midnight Run
By Jimmy Williams

I wanna see you in a leather jacket and tight jeans
Long auburn hair flowin’ in the summertime breeze
Lookin’ hot on a Harley just-a-waitin’ for me
I’d be so shocked if you pulled up my drive
And said ‘hop on baby we’re goin’ for a ride’
I’d do it Babe I’d be ready to go
If you said to me ‘let’s go to Mexico’

Take me somewhere where there’s sun
Long white beaches bikinis and fun
We’ll go on your Harley make stops to make love
Down to Mexico on a midnight run
Down to Mexico on a midnight run

I still remember when we first met
We got so drunk and I’m willing to bet
That was how you wanted it to be
As much I want you, you wanted me
And we came together so naturally
But now I’m someplace I don’t wanna be
Workin’ so hard just to make a dime
Doin’ my best but I think it’s a crime
The way I see my best thoughts escape
Into the mind of the man and it feels like rape


We could be happy for the rest of our days
Livin’ like children always at play
I wish you and I could leave it all behind
Hit the road on a midnight ride
Freedom would be all we’d ever need
But I guess that choice has already passed
Yet deep inside I will always believe
That if we tried you and I could last
And each day down south would be a blast

Chorus X 2

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Midnight in Mexico II

“Those who are conquered always want to imitate the conqueror in his main characteristics – in his clothing, his crafts, and in all his distinctive traits and customs.”
--philosopher Ibn Khaldun, 14th century

Jim Williams made over two hundred thousand dollars in royalties from Yoakam’s hit song. It was more money than he had ever had in his life. After his awakening he often recalled his days as a struggling musician. In those days Jane was the big bread-winner.

Now he lived alone in his little red bungalow, which he bought from the same family that Jane had sold it to four years before. Both Sony and Nashville waited for him to make his comeback. They waited for his next big hit. Jim wanted to write it as badly as everybody wanted to hear it.

He tried every day to sit down and write a song, but he couldn’t do it. Brain damage wasn’t the problem. There was absolutely no damage to Jim’s brain after those five comatose years.

Jim couldn’t write because every song he started wound up sounding like ‘John Deere Green’ by Tim McGraw. That song wouldn’t leave Jim’s mind. When he woke up in the morning, it was in his head. When he took a shower: ‘John Deere Green’. When he ate: Tim McGraw.

He wondered what was keeping him together at all. He had lost everything in the blink of an eye, and now what had once been his favourite song haunted him day and night. If there was a country music hell, he was in it.

Jim took to puttering around the yard, gardening and weeding during the hot summer days. Two months after his awakening his old lawnmower exploded as he went around the last corner of his backyard. It started with a little spark when Jim accidentally pushed it over what was likely the only rock in his entire lawn. The spark somehow ignited the entire mower into a large ball of flame, sending him backward through the air.

As Jim landed in his prized rosebush schrapnel from the mower spread across his lawn and against the house. The fire spread quickly, and soon the house was engulfed in flames. The firemen stormed the yard with their hoses at full flow, dousing the house.

Jim watched their effort humming softly to himself, ‘John Deere Green’. He knew what had to be done.


John Deere settled out of court, giving Jim half a million dollars and a brand new ride-on mower, guaranteed not to explode except in the most exceptional of circumstances. Jim bought a new and bigger red house down the road, two kilometres further away from his ex-wife. He was happy to be alive, and decided to give up on his aspiration of becoming a country music legend. He found that he no longer liked country music, or any music at all.

He liked the idea of a lawsuit, and considered suing his ex-wife for ruining his career with that goddamned song. When he confronted his lawyer, Frank Bennis, about the idea, Frank told him to go for the big money. The big money was Tim McGraw.

Jim’s trial would not begin for a year, but half a million dollars would last him until then, easily. When winter came he moved to California, where he was able to garden year-round. Nothing pleased Jim more than riding his new lawnmower, which he named Janie.

Every day he would mow his lawn, even though it didn’t need it. Every morning Jim would get up, go to the garage, kiss Janie on the steering wheel, and say, “Morning, Girl, you ready to rock?”

As Jim would drive Janie across the lawn he would sing ‘John Deere Green’ at the top of his lungs.

“That boy is completely insane,” Jim’s neighbour Mrs. Bower would say to her 12-year-old son Phillip. “Stay away from him. Only a moron would mow his lawn every single day. Singing the same old song all the while. He’s nuts!”

Phillip didn’t have to be told. He and his friends all knew the legend of crazy Jim, and how his wife had left him for a tractor salesman. The kids would often stand outside of Jim’s expansive yard and chant, “Craazy Jim! Craazy Jim! The cuckoo’s nest got nothin’ on him! His wife left him for a salesman, and now all he has is a tractor for a friend!”

Jim never heard the cries of the children. All he heard was Janie purr, and his own powerful voice bellowing McGraw’s tribute to her. Jim knew that if he could spend his while life mowing he would be as happy as any man, if it weren’t for that damn song. He knew it would never leave his mind, but that was okay. He would have his revenge on Tim McGraw. He would make enough money in the process so that all he would ever have to do is mow for the rest of his life.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Midnight in Mexico - Part I

“Her profession's her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness”

Here begins a story I wrote when I was 19:

Midnight in Mexico

“So, what happened to him?”

“Apparently he’s a musician. Just signed a deal with Sony. Guy was so excited he ran 15 blocks from Sony to his house to tell the wife. Then he collapsed.”

“So how did he end up in a coma?”

“Hit his head so hard on the coffee table that he had an aneurysm.”

“Poor guy. What’s with the stereo set up?”

“His wife insisted. He’s a huge country fan. His favourite song is ‘John Deere Green,’ by Tim McGraw. She dubbed it over and over again on that tape. The idea is that he’ll hear it through the earphones, over and over again, and remember his record deal, have the will to live again, come out of the coma, and become a big star in Nashville.”

“Same damn country music song over and over again, poor bastard.

“Well Doctor, should we finish our rounds?”


Jane Williams was at her new home when she first heard the miraculous news. Her and her boyfriend’s house was just two streets over from where what was once her and Jim Williams’ little red bungalow. After the accident Jane had spent two years living with her mother. About two months after the accident she decided that she could no longer bear the sight of her husband lying motionless, unaware of her presence, or of anything. She gave the hospital her mother’s address and phone number, and hadn’t been back since. Five years after the accident, when the phone rang at 3:00 am, Jane had a bad feeling.

“Jane, something unbelievable has happened.”

“What is it, Mom?”

“It’s Jim.”

“Oh my God. He’s dead.”

“No, Dear. He’s awake. He’s come out of his coma. He’s been walking around singing ‘John Deere Green.’”

Alan Shaw had to carry his girlfriend Jane to the car and drive her to the hospital. She had a slight concussion from when she hit the floor, but fortunately no aneurysm.


Jim Williams suffered the worst shock of his life that morning. He awoke to his favourite song playing in his ears. He had no idea that he had just listened to the song 567,000 times in a row. He was a little blurry on the events leading up to his present situation. How did he end up in a hospital? He recalled the record deal with Sony. He also remembered running home to tell Janie. Something had gone wrong.

When the nurse entered the room she discovered the man whose body had been kept alive by machinery for five years pacing around the room, singing softly to himself. “You’re up!” was all she could think to say.

Jim turned sharply and said, “How the hell did I get here? Where’s my wife?”

Jane arrived, leaning heavily on Alan, 30 minutes later. Jim wrapped his arms around her and cried softly. “It can’t be true,” he said.

She told him that she planned to marry Alan and that she wanted a divorce. S he cried as she apologized, 16 times.

She also told him about his song, the one that had earned him a record deal. It had been recorded by Dwight Yoakam. It had gone number one on the country chart. The royalties awaited Jim in an account at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Jim was an unaccountable miracle. He was alive again, broken heart and all.

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