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Storms, Flames and Spirits
By John A. Mayer
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Rated "G" by the Author.
Saying goodbye to a friend amid Canadian thunder, lightning and flaming spirits. A good man, Charlie "Brown" Walker has left the building and Florida's Space Coast will never be the same.
Storms, Flames and Spirits
By John Mayer - Dec. / 2004 - 560 words
A thunder crash bolted me upright at 3:00 A.M. while a storm raged outside the cottage on Lake Katchewanooka, Ontario. The power was out and it was a completely black September night except for lightning strikes. After groping my way to the flashlight, I lit some candles, started a fire and looked out the window to watch the light show reflecting on the water. Without a trace of the moon, nature’s fury seemed even more intense as thunder shook the floor.
Denied my computer, microwave, toaster and T.V., I opened a beer and reached for my guitar. At least that worked without power. The fire was crackling while I strummed a few favorites by Neil Young, The Eagles and Cat Stevens with the storm providing thunderous applause. It was time to put another log on the fire. Charlie “Brown” Walker’s “Flintstone bowling ball” stared up at me from the shelf by the woodpile. It was basically a twelve inch log with three finger holes drilled into it and he had painted “Surfside Johnny, Christmas 1995” on it. That was my stage name in those years. He must have made hundreds of these things and gave them out as gag gifts to his friends and neighbors in Florida.
Charlie was a practical joker and crowd pleaser. You could always depend on him to get people excited. His favorite expression was “Somebody Help Me!” and he could rock and roll, jitterbug and jive all over the dance floor with four ladies at once. Every Friday he would make a “personal appearance” at Bumper’s Lounge and yell “Charlie Brown has left the building” as he went out the door.
It was now 4:30 A.M. and the wind still whipped the trees outside. I reached for another piece of wood from the pile and then picked up Charlie’s log instead. I carefully placed it on the fire and sat down to watch it burn. Charlie passed away in June of 2004 and the Cree say you can see spirits in the flames. I waited for a “personal appearance”.
Baltimore Bandstand’s 1950’s dancers twirled and twisted on the log with “Crazy Legs” Charlie getting everybody excited. An original dancer on the show, he never lost his touch even though he slowed down a bit in his sixties. A loud crack and burst of flame revealed a solemn soul sitting in his screened porch at 6:00 A.M. on Sunday morning, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. He was talking to his beloved wife Shirley whose ashes were buried just outside the door. The same CD’s, including mine were playing as part of his "church service" and they rarely changed over the years. Charlie was never the same after Shirley died even though he had plenty of friends and projects to keep him busy. He was always building something or helping someone.
Blue flames were all over the log now and shaping themselves into “Blue Suede Shoes”. I picked up my guitar and played one of Charlie’s favorites, “Proud Mary” very softly. The storm had subsided and the log was almost gone. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Goodbye my friend. It’s just your time to rock and roll on a higher dance floor. The Space Coast will never be the same without you.
Site: John Mayer's Music and Stories
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|Reviewed by Tracey L. O' Very
|This is a very beautiful heartfelt tribute to a man that loved life.
I can just see him dancin' w/ 4 ladies at a time. Never missing a step.
The ending ripped my heart out though Got me some tears streamin' here.
I'm sorry to hear this sad news in your life My heart felt and warmest condolences to you.
A wonderful tribute beautiful full of fond & very happy memories.
Thanks so Much John for letting meet Charlie Brown.xo
my life's now fuller.