Donny’s Dead

Donny got his wings.

He didn’t die with his boots on. He was barefoot.

My Dear Donny,

We played a lot of music together. I’ve been missing that music, for a long time.

I’ve not been writing long posts. Who has the time to read them? Who has the time to write them?

But Donny’s life is worthy of words. He should have been a star/was a star. Donny was like an old time, country music legend. The way he looked, the way he lived and the way he played his songs.

He wasn’t always old and out of it. When he played his ballads; he was a chick magnet. I would watch them fall in love with him, as he sang and smiled. He should have stuck to singing and never talked.

He would get himself into so much trouble. Donny was the kind of person that would test your nerves. He would push a person to their limit. He was the kind of person, who would get beat up, but would never hurt a fly. He just couldn’t get along.

He lived his life between Amelia Island, Florida and Cripple Creek, Colorado. His mother had introduced him to both. I don’t think he had a favorite. He belonged in both worlds ~  the mountains and the ocean.

I went to visit him, out west, one year. That was a true adventure. The same as all of my stories, about Donny.

On this particular trip, I found myself in the home of Linda Goodman, the author of Love Signs. The butler let us in. Yes, the butler. Linda was in Boulder, working on another book. We went to her meditation room. He told me that he had made the stain glass there. Did he? Who knows? Donny always had outrageous stories. Some of them were true. I know because I was there. With a person like Donny, you never could tell. He had no boundaries.

He once tried to talk the mayor of Jacksonville, into having a parade. Dorcas Drake, would be driven around the city, in a convertible, following police cars that were representative of Santa’s reindeer. What! It was a Christmas thing. I think it was a  bi-polar thing. He didn’t care it was the year that people were being shot on I-295. The city had an extreme, danger rating with triple A, due to sniper gunfire. I know he didn’t get that gig off the ground, but he did end up with a limo full of Santa’s helpers, at the Blue Bird Cafe on Beach Blvd. and all hell broke loose. That was in the early nineties, when he still had energy. Excessive doses of energy. No one experienced Christmas like Donny.

We once found a Christmas tree on a bench, took it to his apartment and he decorated it; him and his son, Shawn. I watched. I had a picture of that tree, that showed off his room. An animal skin bed cover. All of his albums and music books. A guitar on its stand. Donny was naturally, an interior decorator. Every place he lived in, would soon take on a look. Magazine worthy.

I don’t have that picture, or any of the other pictures I took of him. He would harass me until I gave him the photo.

There should be a picture of his face in the dictionary beside the word harass. He was relentless.

I once listened to him talk to a Delta Airline’s ticket agent. He wanted to change his son’s ticket for free. It took him two hours but he did it. Smiling and enjoying the entire conversation. He told the agent about his family and his aunt that had worked for Delta, blah-blah-blah. Who even has that much wind?

When I complained to my mother about him, she said, ” Donny is just Donny.” He even got to know her. She once bailed him out of jail, and held his Martin for collateral. He tried to scam her. He offered to trade a cancelled airline ticket for the instrument. He was only granted visiting privileges.

It was alway something with Donny.

I can remember looking at the toes of my boots, as I climbed the back stage of the coliseum. Merle Haggard had just opened up with, Okie from Muskogee. I couldn’t believe it. I was going on stage with Merle Haggard. Merle didn’t know it. I was following Donny. The one time in my life, I told myself, I might go to jail, but I’m doing this anyway.

Actually, I’ve probably had that thought, many times, but not in this context.

We walked onto the stage, and I thought, this is what it’s like. We went to the left and sat on a box that was for the equipment. We sat there and sang along. We knew the words to every song. Merle was our favorite. We later met up with him, by his bus. I watched Donny talk to this man, like he’d known him all of is life. Merle seemed to like him.

Everyone always liked Donny, until you got to know him. He was vociferous and demanding. His pushes were taxing.

Later, he thought he would meet Paul McCartney, when he was here for the Super Bowl XXXIX. He had it in his head, that if he got the chance to talk to him, he could invite him to sing at his church. A church where he had generously, written a check to buy stained glass, for all of the windows. Of course, he didn’t have any money in the bank.

Following a fracas, at the Ritz Carlton, where McCartney was staying, he had numerous agencies, along with Homeland Security, throw down on him and haul him off to jail ~ again.

After 9-11, the world was not a safe place for Donny.

Donny ended up being barred from every church, bar and AA hall on Amelia Island.

He set a stage on fire, simulating the Jimi Hendrix Experience, at the Hammerhead Tavern, and scared the hell out everyone. He thought he was boosting the entertainment. He thought it was a compliment to the guitar player.

A local church had a sermon one Sunday, exhalting Wal Mart. I kid you not. The mega store had just given the church a large donation. He stood up and said something about it. He was escorted out of the venue. I was at the second sermon that day, and had the same thoughts, that I was told, Donny had expressed.  WAL MART. What does that have to do with God? But you can’t speak out. You scare people. You have to stick to the script!

At first, the local AA-ers, thought he was a spiritual guru. Women threw themselves at him. I thought, there he goes again, with his Rasputin ways. But, like clockwork, they turned into a lynch mob, when he lapsed into his second language, Northside Redneck. Where, “I’ll blow your brains out,” is everyday, conversational lingo. They threw him out. The day of his reckoning, I agreed with every word he had shared. The same as in the church. I just don’t have to stand up and tell anyone.

Donny never knew who he was. He never knew the depths of his beauty. He glimpsed it, but remained like chaff.

Or, do I dare make this assumption.

Donny was a BIG spirit. Too big for this world.

Now he has flown home.

I’m sure he spit in the devils eye. St. Peter said, come on in, the bands playing,

Save a seat for me, music man, my friend ~ amen.

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