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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Quality stuff.

You didn't actually meet this guy, did you?
Wouldn't it be nice if all writers block payed so well.
I like this.

The idea is so real.
Hopefully, this lawyer works on contingency. Otherwise, $500g won't last six months, let alone a year.
Hey, thanks for dropping by my blog! Thought I'd return the favor!
This story was really good! I'm very impressed that you wrote it at 19. Like kissa said, it was very real.

So very, very American. :-)
Hee hee!

Perverse and enjoyable.
Ivan: pure fiction, though I do know a few Tim McGraw fans.

TC: be even better if writing paid so well.

Kissa: thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

X: any lawyer brash enough to sue a country music artist for putting a song in someone's head must work on contingency.

Rachel: Thanks, and thanks for dropping by. I'll be popping back by your blog and see how things progress for you with finding an agent.

Ant: thank you, sir. Quite a feat for a Canadian to write an American story that convinces a Scot, no? ;-)

Toast: like peanut butter and marmelaide.
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