Patches, Chesty Joe. Motherfucking Joe. Every good story from my 20s ends in Joe. Every sentence I could start about that time in my life starts with a Capital Joe. We are grown ups, now, with children and spouses but if anyone ever asks we were once wild.
It's sort of impossible to tell a story and encapsulate Joe. It's a sum. It's about a dozen stories: there's the day we were photographers capturing Americana for Time Magazine and we stopped at miniature horse Farms and ended in a second floor brownstone in Chicago sitting on the keg, tucking the party go-ers in, There may have been no film in that camera, but there is a train shot I will remember as if it was a photograph. And I don't think in images. From that to driving home from Rockford or some place with the headlights off at 2 am. We missed a deer by feet. It's Pat puking in Joe's boots. It's waking up on his couch. It's drives home neither of us remember. It's Miller Lights and Winston Lights and neon lights and so much more that the act of putting this in a sentence makes every bone in me sing that words will never be enough and that memory is eternally referent.
Joe could tell you that story in a barrel chested baritone, rich and jagged, soothing as any trap you'd ever fall in.
I think I thought I was an artist when I was 24. Maybe we all do. I think I did. Joe was the human thing that kept me from being in my head. We stayed drunk and side by side from Thursday to Sunday and met people. Talked to them. Found out the random family in the hot tub at the hotel were on a vacation from his job at the Railroad and her job at home. Heard the stories in the VIP at Crobar on bondage night. Hit the social clubs in Aurora and talked to the old guys at the bar. I still couldn't tell you what the hell that guy at Duffy's was saying, but Joe reassured me he was gonna sleep it off in the cab of his rig.
I love you, Joe. I miss you a ton. I wonder how you're doing. How's the wife? The kid's are healthy? Growing up big, I see. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that is pot growing by your front stoop. I'm surprised the cops who took apart our party didn't notice it. Me? I had most of my shoulders into Kathy's sister under that tree, I couldn't see a thing. I never even saw the cops. What? No. Kathy caught us and broke it up.
Goddam it. What was Kathy's friend's name? The one I really had a thing for. Damn it. Donna. That was it.
Either way, I love you, Joe. I always did.