Greetings sports fans and welcome to the first ever self-published edition of Vegas Valley Sports Beat; that feisty little column that simply doesn’t know when to quit which is why we are open to suggestions until 9 A.M PST this morning. Too late.
It’s a cool but beautiful and sunny Saturday morning here in the Las Vegas Valley region. Moving on then I would like to say good Saturday morning to you Las Vegas and to all of my family and friends all over the world and welcome all of my visitors to this my newly refurbished website. I am the curator of B.B. Wolfe Publishing Charles Ramos, Jr. Happy Easter tomorrow morning is Easter Sunday
What is in a name? That which we call a rose would smell as sweet by any other name. Inversely a horses ass is a horses ass by any name, and you can take my word for it, they all pretty much smell the same too. So don’t expect me to be anything but the same me as I am anywhere else. Call it what you will but I gotta be me and that’s that.
B.B. Wolfe Publishing is a start-up publishing house that represents the fruition of a long-standing wish to do just this. To not only manage the publishing of my own work, which is quite voluminous as you will see in the coming days as I continue to transfer my previously published articles, poems, and reviews to this site and make them available to visitors in the site’s archives, but to promote my original unpublished works here as well.
I don’t keep a regular blogging schedule I write when the mood strikes me or not at all unless it’s related to my job with Vegas Valley News so don’t be disappointed if you don’t see a blog here every morning.I am dealing with numerous other issues like trying to recover form losing a kidney to cancerous tumor 19 months ago. It’s been a long slow recovery process and I really don’t feel any better but I try to keep swimming as best I can.
I am frequently asked about my experience as a writer and the short version is I have been writing for just over 21 years as a habit, hobby, or whatever but I started by writing a full-length novel titled, “Of A Silvery Moon-Lukah’s Tale.” That is the prelude to, “Arianna’s Tale which fleshes out the story of a relationship between a father and daughter who are both werewolves. He has been cursed by a bite but she was born that way. Her curse drives her to kill her 3 sexually perverse Uncles and into the Carpathian Mountains where time and circumstances brings her and Lukah face to face. It gets complicated.
I began writing it just because I felt like it and during the time it took to finish it I spent two years under the wing of a mentor who held a Masters degree in English Literature. He had published several books but they were technical manuals for the military. Mr. Sandness would read what I had written and give me advice which I have to confess I mostly ignored but I was listening in the subconscious mind if that makes any sense.
I already had 2 GED’s and on the second one I scored 100% in Grammar 20 years after I graduated ahead of my class in 1981. I never paid attention or did much to speak of all through High School English classes either. I skipped more often than not and threw my books in the trash. But I was listening.
They said all I had to do to graduate was sign my name to the GED test really and I would graduate because I had that many credits on my transcripts. I got 95% overall even though I could not stay awake for most of the test to save my life.
The last thing Mr. Sandness said to me regarding my writing was that, “I have a unique ability to transport my reader to my world the world that I create.” I told him that is my job and I guess I graduated because that was the end of that. I did learn a lot from him and I don’t mind paying the favor forward when I can.
Whenever I didn’t feel the muse to write I studied the entire process of getting my novel published. I sought out and learned all that I could about the publishers and agents to whom I could shop my first novel. Soon I was shopping for my second novel too, and then the third one was done, and then fourth book I finished was on yoga so I had to shop for non-fiction publishers and agents. Then the fifth novel was finished.
Don’t ever imagine that one is the same as the next when it comes to agents and publishers alike. They are anything but alike. Every one of them has their own wants and desires and they rarely compromise. I learned this as well. There are rules for submitting to them and snowflakes could never be so much akin and so unalike. Writing a query latter, writing a synopsis, writing a book proposal is a daunting proposition I learned but I learned how to do it right. And to avoid it at all costs. I studied book distribution and the standards of the industry which are complex. Many published authors can relate to having no option on returned copies.
Seeing your book in print takes on a whole new perspective when your garage is full of boxes of your returns for which you are responsible for finding buyers. I aced College Literature 1 at Ashford University 2 years ago and recently aced an advanced editing course through LinkedIn’s higher learning program. My work can be found here on this site but the sum is a couple million words written and that doesn’t even come close to counting query letters.
Then I had poetry to shop for and soon I had a chapbook together and submitted to a publisher that printed one a year. Mine was not the one they chose that year. I didn’t let that get me down I knew they could say yes or no when I submitted it and beating one’s self up as I have seen other writer’s do is self-defeating and feeds a delusion that has no place in a writer’s soul. The delusion that rejection cannot happen to them. It does so get over it and send it to the next one.
You do your best and if that’s not good enough, you do it again only you do it better. Or you quit. Those who persist to write grow and those who do not fail. It’s just that simple whether you like it or not.
I have a file with every rejection slip I have ever gotten but I don’t care any more about them than a pair of dirty underwear. You clean them up and put them on again or throw them away. To hell with all that writer’s angst stuff. It’s nothing but a waste of time and effort better spent writing or studying the craft.
If writing was easy everybody would be a bestselling author and there would be no coffee houses full of angst-ridden aspiring writer’s staring at blank computer screens and cursing the silence of the Muses at the top of their social media lungs.
I have done all of my homework. Including learning editing and typesetting a book. I obtained my certification from Pueblo Community College in Pueblo, Colorado for Microsoft Windows Operating Systems including Word and Publisher. I did well enough that all I had to do was sign my name to the final exam and a grade of 0 would not change my final GPA for the course from 4.0 one iota. I had a spreadsheet that showed me the effect of every possible grade’s effect on the final grade point average with pie charts and colored graphs too.
By then novels 6 and 7 were underway but I put them both away for later. They have been completed since that time and I started number 8, another Western. For the past 15 months I have been a staff writer for Vegas Valley News. I’m living the dream with my own un-syndicated sports column that was originally meant for covering sports, music, travel, and entertainment but Valentines Day changed all that when I had to cover the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
I was in Denver 20 years ago today when Columbine went down and from my lofty perch atop the elevator building at Owens-Corning plant I was putting up we could see the choppers hovering around the school. I have been covering world news ever since. Mostly from the sidelines, but certainly not as a spectator. But that’s a story for another time.
I fell in love with storytelling in the 4th grade when I was assigned to write a short story for a grade. I wrote a story called, “The Rubber Band” which was a fictionalized story about how I was just walking along one day minding my own affairs and fell into a hole. Someone had dug it in an empty field and then covered it up again to hide the $30 million dollars in cash they had hidden there.
Being no fool I of course took every last penny of it to my bank. Yes I did have an account then at Commercial And Farmers which I believe is called Bank Of America now? Anyhoo, being a wise investor of 9 years and already a seasoned entrepreneur for two years I was nobody’s fool when it came to money matters. Or so I thought.
I began my first door to door lawn care business in Kennewick, Washington in the Fall of 1971 when I was in the 2nd grade. I went around the neighborhood, door to door to door with my Grandma Butler’s rake and raking leaves during the fall for fifty cents a yard. The leaves in question being sometimes as big as a dinner plate and the average yard being ankle deep in maple leaves it was never hard to find a yard to rake.
I’d go up to the door and if someone answered I’d say rake your yard for fifty cents Lady? Or sir, as the case were. I got extra for bagging the piles. The first day I did that I went to the market with a grip of change from raking 3 front yards and I couldn’t decide what to get myself as a reward because I could buy anything I wanted.
I left the store with nothing but I certainly did learn the value of a hard earned days wages and the pride of knowing that when I went back in the store again and bought myself a thing of Jiffy Pop Popcorn; took it home to my Grandparents house and popped it on the gas stove just like on TV that I had earned it. I didn’t like popcorn so much as I always wanted to pop one off of the stove just to watch it in person. I’m fairly sure I never got another one on purpose, at least not for myself.
I raked leaves until the leaves were mostly gone but needless to say I cleaned up. By 5th grade I would have parleyed my weekly allowance into a lucrative door to door lawn mowing service in Oxnard, California. My father gave us boys $0.50 which would buy like 3 comic books a week in 1972 maybe 4 if you were lucky or it might buy an ice cream, or two packages of Wacky Packages stickers, or a handful of candy.
Or, I could take Dad’s gas can up to the ARCO gas station next to the Stop & Go market where said treasure lie and get fifty cents worth of gas, take it back home and then push my father’s lawnmower down the street offering to mow lawns door to door for $1.00 a yard. Needless to say I had my choice of the best and the latest in comic books and read everything from Richie Rich to Scrooge McDuck, Archie and Friends was always a favorite, as was anything from Marvel save for Batman whom I never really got into in print. I was a faithful fan of the TV series though.
You can bet your assets on that. The Incredible Hulk in print or on TV especially because, Bill Bixby has been one of my favorite actors since when I watched The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father while it was still on. I never missed an episode if I could help it.
As for Wacky Packages stickers when we moved out of that house on Yucca Street my closets sliding doors were covered with them and they’re probably still there beneath a lot of paint. Needless to say business was good and I cleaned up again. But it cost an extra dollar and you had to provide your own garbage bags as always.
I was also in the 4th grade when discovered that I had a talent for storytelling when I lost a very expensive pair of gold framed prescription glasses while meandering home from school one day. My mother refused to believe a word of the truth which was that I
that I had lost them or that had looked high and low between my classroom and home and had even walked all over and over the big field behind Larsen Elementary where I’d last seen them. I even checked on top of my head numerous times having been made a fool of that way before. They were gone. Period.
But try to tell my mother that. She hounded me unmercifully well into the night. She interrogated me like a KGB mechanic and I was in bed at the time. The hell of it was that she was in her own bed across the hall. I finally told her a big fat story about how I had accidentally broken them and freaked out because they were twisted out of commission permanently. I told her I took them up to the empty field across from the Stop & Go market and buried them somewhere in the field but I couldn’t remember where.
She actually insisted that I go and look for them. I did so I wasn’t lying when I reported this to her. I looked but alas I could not find them no matter how many times I looked. Bet I caught more than the lion’s share of grief from her even to this day she gives me shit about it and she’s 74. What can you even say to someone like that? But that is on her record not mine.
And this was the basis of my first short story “The Rubber Band Man.” I got the idea from a song that was popular at that time for the title.
I wrote about how I had stepped on the flimsy cover to a pit someone had dug in the field and I landed on a huge pile of money that was hidden underneath. Not being stupid in the meaning of money I bundled it all up in a quilt that had been part of the cover over it and I went to see my friendly bank manager. I put the bundle in a shopping cart swiped from Hughes Market just up the street and beat feet. I had plans already.
So then being stinking rich from the booty I fell on that day and having the Princely sum of $30,000,014.35 counting the $14.35 I already had in my Commercial And Farmers savings passbook; I did what any smart kid would do. I left home without going back to say adieu.
Instead I went down to the marina where I also happened to have misspent a goodly potion of the actual youth I wasted, and I bought a respectable sized boat of my own. Now I would no longer have to fish off the docks at the marina, while everyone else went out on the big charter fishing rigs.
I paid the man from petty cash and then I took my newly acquired 40′ foot motor yacht, which I had christened the SEA YA, on her maiden cruise out to the Channel Islands. I wanted to see where the girl lived from the book, “The Island of The Blue Dolphin,” which my teacher, Mrs. Munyan, had read to the class just prior to to my sudden windfall.
When I got to the island I docked SEA YA at the marina and proceed to tour on foot and I discovered a lively marketplace selling trinkets to the tourists. I looked but didn’t see anything I cared for until I happened to find a peddler who was just setting up his little stand which consisted of a TV dinner tray the tin kind like Archie Bunker might have used. On top of that he placed an old briefcase that had seen better days that Samsonite had ever foreseen by the looks of it, and he placed a card on the briefcase that said simply,
FOR SALE-1 Rubber Band, $250,000. Serious inquiries only.
I thought it was the most ludicrous thing I had ever seen. One rubber band for a quarter of a million dollars?! He must be insane was my impression but the old gentleman had a way about him that didn’t strike me as being that of someone who was given to foolishness. Then again you never can tell can you?
So I went up to the man who was dressed in an old tan gray suit and a natty black bowler hat with a gleaming black ribbon around the brim and I know now that it was rude of me to just come right out and say so like I did but I was like, “Come on? Seriously? $250,000 for a rubber band? Is this some kind of twisted joke?”
I have to admit that my inner Encyclopedia Brown got the best of me and of course Sherlock Holmes was no stranger to me by this point in my life.
I simply had to know the meaning of this sign and what this man thought was so special about this single rubber band that anyone in their right mind would even look twice at it. Save to make sure it really did say that, and then they might have an even bigger laugh perhaps.
I don’t know what it was that kept me from laughing in the old gentleman’s face I suppose it was the same thing that kept me from laughing in Waylon Jennings’ face when he told me he Willie Nelson was his best friend.
My father taught me to respect my elders, the Bible taught me to never cease showing kindness to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. I had read almost every book of the Bible by then too, thanks to my father, who insisted we do an hour of study and homework as soon as we got home from school. It was either that, or we could read the Bible for an hour. I of course decided from the moment the edict was spoken that I would never spend one second doing homework so I read the family Bible. I’ve always been a rebel I guess.
Even though I was thinking he might be a few screws short of a full deck (metal roofers joke) (ha ha) I hit him up and to my complete amazement he told me that it was not just one single rubber band but a whole bunch of them.
You can believe I laughed my butt off then. I wanted to know what the difference was and that was when I thought he had lost his mind for sure because he leaned over close to my ear as if he didn’t want anyone else to overhear and told me that they were not just any ordinary rubber bands. They were magical and they played music. They were an actual band. You know, like you see at a band concert when they have a band.
I was like, “I think I hear my yacht calling me I batter go see what it wants,” but he stopped me in my tracks when he snapped open the briefcase and I saw the Rubber Band for the first time. The Leader of The band was by far the only recognizable one of the bunch as he was one of those gigantic red rubber bands which one seldom saw in my 9 years of life experience anyway.
The rest of the rubber bands in the briefcase were of the more common variety one might find at Kinko’s or Office Max these days. They were much smaller but they were multi-colored and there were a bunch of them in the bottom of the old man’s case.
The Bandleader, however was lying on top of a small podium at the top of the case and there was a tiny bandstand at the back. Both were lined with red velvet that was as worn and faded as the gentleman’s suit and looked like time had worn it thin in some places while in other places it was still shiny and crimson as if it were new.
I snorted and walked away but then I head the old man say, “Wait just a minute now before you leave son, you haven’t even heard them play yet.”
That stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned around to see if he was grinning but he seemed too earnest and the only hint of a smile was more of a guileless one than a sneer so I’ll admit I was intrigued but only to about one more point and then I was going to blow him off for the pop-sickle stand down by the marina. The one that sold chestnuts.
“You’re right, sir” I said, “I have not heard them do anything worth $250,000 dollars that’s for sure.”
“That’s because they don’t play unless you give the Bandleader his baton to lead them with.”
I was about to say something about his sanity when he pulled a tiny gold baton like ones you oftentimes see drum majors twirling at the while leading a marching band.
The sun gleamed off of the burnished gold that had a patina of age far greater than even the old gentleman himself did. The tiny jewels that studded the bulbous head of the baton were minute to my eye but the sunlight gleaming through the ruby’s diamonds, and emeralds were proof they were real gemstones whose facets had been cut by the hands of a miniature master stone cutter or someone with really good vision, very tiny hands, and a lot of time on them.
“Watch this, kid,” the old man said with a bit of a showman’s flair reminiscent of a carnival barker even to my own young mind. He gave me a wink and a sly grin then he held the baton out to the big ribber band that was lying as limp as an overcooked noodle on the podium. He touched the tip of the baton to it and I jumped back in shock as the rubber band leader came to life before my very eyes and took the baton from the old man’s hand.
As I watched, completely transfixed by what I could not possibly be witnessing, the bandleader twirled the gold baton in a rubber hand that grew form his rubber form which was now a little more fluid than one normally sees in a common rubber band. But of course this was anything but a common rubber band; by any stretch of the imagination.
The old man then bowed formally to the bandleader who snapped to attention smartly, bowed low in return and then rapped the gold baton on the top of the tiny podium. Instantly all of the rubber bands snapped up and began playing Dixieland rag in full orchestral force. Every rubber band had it’s own instrument because they were the instrument too.
While I tried to get my jaw off the top of my sneakers the bandleader gave a signal and 5 rubber bands broke away from the rest of the band and took to the stage at the back of the briefcase. The orchestra in the meantime segued into, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and the musicians I have to admit were nearly flawless in their performance of that favored classic which I loved even then thanks to having joined the school orchestra that same year.
When they started playing A Fifth Of Beethoven however I was snared like a tuna in a gill net. I knew I had to have this amazing band and considering their talent I didn’t think a quarter mill was too much to ask for. I wasn’t about to tell the old man that though it might induce him to raise the price if I seemed to eager to buy the band.
All things considered, I think I negotiated the sales well. “I’ll take it!” I though I had to shout to make myself heard above the twangy din of the band who was still going strong and blasting out rubber born boogie-woogie beats like only a blasted boogie-woogie blaring rubber band can.
“I take it you have $250.000 dollars?” the old man said and the band fell silent at a gesture from his hand to the bandleader. “You know that is a lot more than three dollars.”
“”Yeah, I know how much money that is I want them and I have the money too.” I assured him.
“Well yes and no, I have the money here with me but I’m not carrying it around with me in my pockets.” I told him, and I turned my pockets inside out to prove my poiint.
“I see. Well… I don’t know son, I have places to go and people to see. I can’t just stand around here all day waiting for you to come back with this money you claim to have when for all I know you might be pulling my leg. You might just run off and change your mind. If you’re not fibbing me altogether that is.” he said as he stroked the wisp of beard that flowed down from his chin.
“Would you take a check? I asked hopefully.
“Do you have a check? he asked leaning back he looked at me like he could never believe that a 4th grader could have a checking account. “I find it hard to believe you have a checkbook with that kind of money in it. he said, confirming my suspicions.
“Well no not really but I have my passbook from my savings account.” I offered. “Does the band play any kind of music you want?” I asked, hoping to maybe change the subject because I was enchanted by the rubber band and scared they might be sold to another buyer before I could come to agreeable terms with the gentleman.
“Yes they do. And don’t go changing the subject neither kid this is business an…”
“I don’t believe you.” I affirmed rather firmly.
He gave an old stink eye look with a cocked brow accent I’d seen from Principal Anzana a few times already at school. (I did say I gotta be me right? Okay, as long as we’re on the same page here, cool).
“and business is… What? Yes it is business, and as I was saying, before I was interrupted, business is….”
“I don’t believe they can play every kind of music there is. That isn’t possible.” I most assuredly assured him. You know how it is when you’re 9. Especially you 9 year-old reader’s. Grown-up’s need to be assured all the time. They’re funny that way.
“Yes it is possible, I assure you. Everything is possible. Even a rubber band. But that’s irrelevant. This is about money and money is about bus…”
“I still don’t believe it, and yes it is relative.”
“Relevant.” he corrected me, but in a gracious way that wasn’t the least bit condescending.
“Same difference,” I countered I don’t believe they can play anything more than what I just heard. And since it’s my money that’s involved here which makes it my business whether or not they can play any song or type of music there is. I think I have to see that for myself.”
“What kind of proof would that take to convince you? he asked, glancing over at the Bandleader who was standing at rigid attention in front of the podium, the gold baton held firmly in its rubber hand against its rubber body, then back at me. “A demonstration perhaps?
“Yeah, that would work. I told him.”
The old man looked at the Bandleader again and it pointed the baton at me for a moment then stood at attention again. “We don’t believe you have the money and that is our business in a nut shell.” He said
“Yeah I was kind of hoping you might overlook that.” By then as you might well imagine I was well on my way into the depths of my imagination. I could just see it right in front of my own eyes. My name up in lights in front of Carnegie Hall and below my name the marquis read,
TONIGHT ONLY-RUBBER BAND!- SOLD OUT!
“Nope.” he said. And the bandleader waved his baton slowly back and forth in front of himself in silent accord with the old man. “We also require a demonstration.”
“Yeah, I was king of thinking you might say that.” I admitted sheepishly.
I’ve set a hook or two in my time and I knew that he was about to take the bait. I hoped. But in my old age I understand now that wily old sharks don’t become wily or old by being stupid. The whole time I though I was about to set the hook his was already in my bottom lip and set firmly. I just didn’t know it yet.
“I have the proof but it’s at the marina on my boat.” I said pointing towards the path that lead back down to the docks where I had tied up the SEA YA.”
“Your boat.” He said in a manner that suggested I told him I was the owner of Mars. “You have a boat? Don’t you mean your parent’s boat?”
“I’ll wager it’s probably their money you’re going to spend on the band too, isn’t it?” He said and I saw the bandleader shaking a little with laughter. In a rubbery sort of way. I guess you had to be there.
“Nope. I mean my boat and my money. They’re both down at the marina. One is getting gassed up and the other one is in the map box on the bridge.” Sinker, line, aaand, hooked. Fish on!
“On the bridge.” he said giving me that Principal Anzana look again. Boy if you have a boat here it’s a rowboat that you somehow managed to get all the way out here in without getting your fool self lost at sea or killed by a head on collision with a seal.
“And I still don’t believe you either. About the band’s musical abilities I mean.” I said folding my arms in front of me.
“Yeah well I have to get going soon and I need to sell the band so I can retire in style. I don’t have a penny to my name so I need the cash influx to carry me through my golden years. My dream is to retire to a nice little cabin in the woods where I can hunt, fish, and grow my own food.”
That should have thrown up a huge red flag but hey I was 9 so give me a break.
“We can go down to the marina if you like and then you can see my yacht and my passbook and the band can play while we have a bite to eat and if all goes well maybe we can seal the deal.” I suggested hopefully.
To my delight he agreed to the idea after a moments consultation with the Bandleader who simply shrugged a rubber shoulder and handed the gold baton back to the old man. When it left his hand again the Bandleader slumped over the podium limp and lifeless as before.
“i have a long standing policy never turn down a fee meal or the opportunity to give a man the chance to prove he is honorable. But only once and then they’re finished in my eyes.” the old man said as he put the baton back in his coat pocket, shut the briefcase, and folded up his TV tray. “I hope I won’t be needing this anymore, but it sure was nice that it happened to be sitting here just when I needed it.” he said as he leaned it against the tree he had set up in the shade of. The day was a bit hot as I recall now.
To make a long walk short the old man could hardly believe his eyes when I took him on board the SEA YA and got out my bankbook.
“Holy smokes!” He exclaimed when he first set eyes on her from a block away. “You sure didn’t get that out of your pool did you?”
“Nope.” I agreed as we marched on down to the docks. The old man kept the briefcase between us the whole way back and I could hardly take my eyes off of it long enough to watch where I was going. Blinded by greed I was.
“Hee-hee! I guess you didn’t even know about the counter checks your bank puts in the back of your passbook did you, boy?”
“no, I didn’t know.” I admitted sheepishly. I could hardly contain myself then because he had said he would take a personal check hadn’t he? “Will you still take my personal check for the Rubber Band, sir?” I asked him suggestively.
In the background the Rubber Band was playing, “In The Mood” and then they switched u and began playing bluegrass music and gospel in the salon behind the galley.
All I heard was CH-A-CHING!$ ringing cha-ching a ling a ling with every song they played as they ran through a rather impressive repertoire of music genres seemingly in random order.
The old man sat back in his deck chair there in the galley which I was using for the first time since buying her that morning. She was all polished Teak wood, spotless glass, and gleaming stainless steel. A cleaning crew which the salesman at the marina yacht trader’s yard had come in to give her the once over and had done the SEA YA proud.
He looked me dead in the eye for what seemed to me an eternity before he took a deep breath and sighed. “If it were anyone else but you young man I would be inclined to say no.”
But.” He stopped me with a raised finger that was as old and bony as a bony old finger can be and said.
“But, I see now that you are a man of your word. So, given the circumstances, yes, I will accept your check, just as long as we can verify the funds by making ship-to-shore call to the bank manager first.”
My heart nearly skipped a few beats when he said the magic word I had been waiting all afternoon to hear. Yes.
Yes! the Rubber Band was mine! Yes yes yes yes yes! My heart jumped for joy in my chest. He said, Yes! I of course wasted no time whatsoever connecting with my bank manager on the radio thanks to a very nice Coast Guard operator who patched it through. They remembered me from the day I was fishing over the side of someone’s boat while I watched it for them and got a shark hook in my side accidentally. They were the best they took me to the station there on shore and gave me a free tetanus shot after explaining the joys of lockjaw to me and how you get it.
The old gentleman smiled and I would almost swear his eyes were deeper then than the end of space but it passed just as quickly when the band began to swing and all I saw was world tour. It was not all greed based I really was looking forward to seeing the world since after all I was headed that way when I found, no when I discovered the Rubber Band. Yeah sure that would fill the playbill quite nicely.
Game set and match I thought as I sat there on the deck of my own big asset of a boat. A fish out of water and floundering. Flip flop. But I’m coming to that.
So to make a long story of a short one I wrote the counter check out like the directions in the passbook illustrated made out
Pay To: Sir. The sum of: $250,000 and 00/100——-
Signed. you know who. Yep. The old man smiled as he slipped the check into his inner coat pocket and then he shook my hand, tipped his bowler hat, bid me bon voyage and he was gone just as quietly and quick as that.
In sharp contrast the Bandleader struck up a rousing rendition of Flight Of The Bumblebee just then so my attention span may not have been as far reaching as it might have been.
I cast off shortly after paying the fuel bill and made steam for Hawaii where I had everything all mapped out in my mind . I could put some Pacific Ocean between me and California. How hard could it be to cruise to Hawaii? I had everything I needed for a long cruise already so Hawaii it was.
If you are thinking this has a happy ending it doesn’t really but in retrospect I have to say it was an expensive education in the dark side of money. Meanwhile, back in Honolulu I had rented a lovely berth for the SEA YA and spent a ton of money promoting the Amazing Rubber Band to the masses via expensive ad campaigns then I hired a PR firm, and a high profile press agent to hype the event and subsequent world tour kick off. Oh yeah I had it going on like Donkey Kong and the memory of that opening night is etched forever in my brain. It’ll haunt me that way for a long time too.
The crowd was start lit all the big names from Hollywood were in attendance as were the creme DE Le creme of society from numerous societies or wherever snobs come from and it was a black tie affair but only for the gentlemen. The ladies dresses put many a sequin sewer’s child through college just from that one event alone. It was glitz and glitter galore. I watched form the wings stage left as the house speakers came up and the lights went down in the theater.
I can even hear the absolute silence of the crowd as the curtains rose and the stage lighting came on. I looked over at the stage that had been constructed just for the show. I choreographed the set changes and the playlist that moved the whole show along and oversaw the design process as well. It was so going to be a thing. I was ready, the Rubber Band was ready, and the whole wide world was waiting breathless as the curtain rose.
And all you could hear was a continual silence where there should have been fanfare and trumpets and music aplenty Rubber Band members marching all about and playing their little rubber hearts out for the paying public who were waiting to adore them and make a great big honking deal out of them and me and make a whole bunch more noise. You get the picture. So did the audience and before I knew what had occurred on stage I saw the faces of everybody in the theater break into a grin and then an explosion of laughter so I turned to look at the stage and I almost threw up.
Where a moment before there had been a rubber orchestra ready to boogie, there was nothing but a motionless pile of colored rubber bands lying on a now silly looking stage setup. The only thing standing was a tiny gold Drum Major’s baton stood propped against a red velvet covered d.
You should have seen their final opening night rehearsal you would understand how it was supposed to look in production that night. But that didn’t happen. I told the rigging guy to drop the curtain and that turned the laughter into an angry mob soundtrack that I can still hear too.
As the heavy curtain fell cutting off the surging mob who was already calling for torches and pitchforks to be passed out. I ran out with the old briefcase the band came in scooped them into the case and exited stage right. I made it to the backstage door just as the mob broke the secret of crawling under the heavy bottom hem of the curtains and saw my chance to make a clean getaway by going straight up instead of trying to escape unseen across that parking lot and face the possibility of being tarred and feathered.
That is what the tabloids said was in store if my poor publicist should ever show his face again because I couldn’t very well use my own image to promote the band so I hired Barry The Face to be me until I grew up and was old enough to be me in real life.
I scrambled up a fire escape that went up to the roof located close to the back door like a squirrel with his tail on fire and vaulted over the parapet wall onto the roof just as the mob started pouring out of the same door I had just used.
I was safe in my lofty perch and they were looking for Barry anyway. To his credit Barry has assessed the situation a few seconds faster that yours truly because he was watching the band and he saw them go limp at their first sight of the audience. I only found all this out later on. Right then I wasn’t going anywhere but across that roof and down the other side on another fire escape. I walked past a few gaily dressed hunters but they didn’t give a nine year-old kid carrying a battered old briefcase more than a brief glance. I ran when the coast cleared ahead of me and then I was out on the street that ran in front of the theater where it was easy to lose myself in the crowd. Don’t forget Barry was still running around out there somewhere and that last thing I needed was to run into him in public.
After I paid all the bills and paid everyone back for their tickets and settled all the lawsuits out of court through my attorney’s I wound up selling the SEA YA to break even.
The most ironic thing about it was that came up smelling like a rose because I still had $17.50 remaining in my account at Commercial and Farmers National Bank. I was $3.15 ahead of the game and I did have a grand adventure. On paper anyway.
As for the fate of the infamous Rubber Band they faded into obscurity thanks to a lot of money and a gag clause to go with the check. It helped a lot that nobody really had the courage to admit to their friends they were ever there in the first place, and those friends who knew were there and didn’t care to admit it either lest they be ridiculed for being duped by a scam artist who sold them the idea that rubber bands could make beautiful music.
Talk about your perfect storm. And like every storm does it quickly blew itself out from shame and faded away to nothing. But as to what befell the rubber Band that dreadful night in Honolulu I caught a cab to the marina where I boarded the SEA YA cast off her mooring lines and slipped out to sea.
When I cut the engine again 4 miles offshore and out of the reach of the law in international waters I opened up the old briefcase and set it on the table in the galley and tapped the Bandleader with the golden baton. Instantly he sprang to attention and the Rubber Band began to play the first song for that night’s show.
As I stood there watching they went through the entire 45 minute routine flawlessly right up until someone shouted ahoy the SEA YA from inside the salon and right in the middle of the grand finale they all fell down limp and lifeless again.
My visitor and the first person outside of myself and the old gentleman who sold me the band to hear the Rubber Band play was the the Harbormaster. He was checking to make sure he said, that everything was okay because he had seen lights on inside the yacht and was just making sure all was ship shape. I looked at him and then at the Rubber Band and that’s when I made the connection and a little light flashed on in my brain.
The old man had neglected to mention that they all suffered from a debilitating case of stage fright that left them paralyzed in front of an audience besides their owner and whatever sucker he managed to sell them to. As I cut the engine 4 miles off the coast of the Big Island I flew into a rage because the Rubber band had been playing, “I’m sorry” by Connie Francis the entire time. I chopped them all including the big red Bandleader into tiny little rubber band pieces and put them in a sealed glass jar where they remain to this day.
Today my dear friends and family I dedicate this website to all of the amazing people I have met between 1971 and today for being a part of whet makes B.B. Wolfe Publishing what it is. The result of a story based upon a lie told to cover the truth a long time ago. I have written many more stories since then including a stack of noel manuscripts which you all shall see published in the future.
have read extensively since then and I have written extensively as well. I even studied with my own creative writing coach for two years and while I was writing my first novels I began studying the publishing industry to better understand it and the process of publishing a book. I also studied methods of distribution and desktop Publisher in preparing for this day when I would celebrate the Grand Opening of B.B. Wolfe Publishing.
I still don’t have much of anything to my name but a big lesson to be learned from my own point of view is that you cannot truly appreciate having nothing until you gain the world and then carelessly lose it all again and the world owes you nothing in return. The real kicker was that when I finally went back home again two weeks later my mom asked me why I was late getting home from school I told her it was because I stayed late to search the field behind the school again for my glasses. She didn’t believe that, but it makes no difference. She’d never believe me if I told her the truth anyway.
On a happier note I have been re-cementing all of the chopped up little pieces. But it’s going well and I hope to get the band back together again soon.
Charles Ramos Jr. 4/20/2019