Let’s see. How to start?
They say that every person has one good story to tell. I think that’s bullshit. I think every person has many great stories to tell. You just need the right audience to listen to them. At any given time, there are upwards of 7 billion people walking the Earth. We walk by them daily, and even interact with them on occasion. Some are family,and some are friends; People who we have known all of our lives. Some we work with and some are just acquaintances. Then there are those we barely acknowledge. The rest of the nameless, faceless, world you see going through your average day. They are the teachers waiting for parents as you drive by a school. They are the Football Coach for the “other” team. They are the artisan jeweller who sold you your wife’s bracelet, the lawyer you see with a client as you wait to pay your ticket, or even the police officer that just handed you yours. We go through our lives with no real thought of them. What do we care? They don’t have anything important to contribute to our lives anyways, right? In most cases, you’re right, they don’t, but what if you stopped for just one moment and asked them to tell you a story. What if they agreed? What if, they told you a story that had the capacity to shape your entire existence? A truly incredible story. What if the story they told you, sounded just like yours, or worse, like something you couldn’t believe was real.
Like I said earlier , every person has a story to tell, possibly many, and the relevancy often depends on the audience.
The stories I plan to attempt in these following pages , I hope, will appeal to many audiences.
I say attempt for 3 good reasons.
Because these stories are about events that happened a long time ago and the details can become a little foggy. .
Because sometimes I find it difficult to differentiate between memory and dream, and
Because this story, is more of a collection of stories with one central theme.
Luckily, we live in an age where I can easily find the people that these stories revolved around and piece these times back together again, little by little. This is such a luxury to have; one we didn’t during the years that these stories takes place. See, the majority of this tale happened in the last decade before the millenium. This is important, because with the start of the new millenium, came the start of the real “Technological Revolution”. That means that this was the last decade before Smartphones, and, well, Smart-everything. This was before MP3 players and Alexa , even Google. If one would need to find information, they would have to dial-up to the internet,(You may have to Google what “dial-up” was),or since computers were not yet affordable for every family , they would have to go to this place called a “Library” and read things called “Books”. I know. It’s real Stone-Aged shit.
With every year that passes and the further I get from those days, I begin to forget what living in these times were like. Today, the entire country is engulfed in hatred and division. We live in fear of war; Civil, as well as, International. The country is struggling with over inflation and unemployment. Social Justice has become an everyday topic. Political Correctness has run rampant and the Federal Government has decided that they want to dictate every single aspect of our lives.
During this last decade, before the millenium, the country had no idea the global turmoil that lay ahead. We had begun to forget about Saddam Hussein, we had never heard of Osama Bin Laden and to be honest, other than sporadic civil unrest or nutcase political or religious zealots, things were relatively calm. I’m in no way saying that the world or even the country was at peace, only that , back then, the country really didn’t bother the youth with it, and young we were. I, myself, was still in High School for the majority of this decade, and a lot of this story takes place about 4 years before I even make an appearance in it, but like most good things, a solid foundation had to be placed, and it was placed by some very cool people, some I would come to call friends.
I wish I could claim to be the main character in this story but that simply wouldn’t be the truth. The truth is that without the dozens of people that you will meet in these coming pages, and without the building that we would come to call home for many years, there would be no story. They were all part of this experience. They are the story, and even though, in the end, we would all go our separate ways, each one of these characters will come to hold a special place in my memory.
It’s funny how one’s memories can be shaped by life’s experiences. Looking back at these people, now in my late 30’s, the one thing I remember most about them is that they were all so very beautiful. Every one of them. I’m not sure if , by coincidence, they were all just good looking people, or if it’s because I can still see the youth in their faces and the freedom in their movements. Young and free meant something completely different to us pre-millenium youths, but anyway, back to the people, and the story.
As I said, every one of them was unique and special , in their own way. Every single one had their own, fantastic, character and different in almost every way from one another. Fact is, aside from their love of partying and having a good time, the only other quality each of them shared with each other was that they could all shoot some stick! The majority of them were players; hustlers. It would seem obvious, the reason why they all would find solace within the walls of a pool hall. Many of the empty faces that would migrate in and out of those doors throughout the years, and even a handful of the regulars, were just tourists, looking to fill some empty time and maybe have a little fun. The residents of this building however , could always be spotted by the way they shot pool. Their demeanor was calm, serious. Their eyes would be thin and keen. Their body movements, slow and in control. There was a beauty in watching them play. Confident or maybe just cocky. Whether man or woman, it didn’t matter. When the Cue Stick was in their hands, they knew exactly how to use it, and those who would come, seeking to enter their church in attempts to prove their superiority, would either exit in defeat, or with their asses kicked. This is what inevitably bound them, not only to this building, but to one another. This was the camaraderie that kept them coming back. Everything that lies ahead of them; that lies ahead in this story, derives from this.
Finding us was usually not very hard, and not because one could follow our whereabouts on Facebook. Remember, these were the days before Social Media or easy access to cell phones. There was no Myspace, no Facebook. The best case scenario was to “Hit us on our Hips” (call our pagers) but most of the time, we could be found at Jukebox or “The Box” as we would come to call it. This pool hall was our Facebook, or at least, the best place to start looking for one of us. This is where a good part of each story starts or finishes. It was a simple building, nothing really special about it. It held 14 tables and didn’t sell alcohol.
In the coming years, The Box would become more than just a building to some of us. It became an experience. It became a philosophy. Jukebox was a building, a meeting place , but to some of us it became an entrance into something else. The Box.
It may have been different for everyone, but to most of us , it was the place we experimented with our lives(mixed with the continuous abuse of mind expanding and liver destroying, recreational vices) and ultimately found our true selves . It was the place where we set ourselves free and never looked back.
The Box became a reality that we had not expected, and most could not understand. Here we could become whoever we wanted. Here, we were invincible, untouchable. Where we lived our lives on the edge and ventured into the unknown. Some of us chose to be explorers and embarked on unbelievable journeys , others shed their insecurities and embraced their darkness. Some chose to be artists and created works of inspiration and entertainment, others embraced their perversions and sexuality, and though we all chose to completely ignore social constructs and moral obedience, individually, we were all searching for an answer.
Finding Jukebox was a matter of entertainment. Most of us found it by chance. The choice to enter The Box however was, in most cases, already influenced on us. Each of us had a defining moment that led us to take this journey; Overbearing or abusive families, overachieving expectations, religious indignation, neglect, trauma; something. You see, the decisions and experiences that were made and had whilst inside The Box were not those of regular people and though we may not have known it at the time, our lives outside of The Box created an artery that would eventually pump us out of one world and into another.
It's difficult to describe really. It was like a space between realities. Once inside of it, it was difficult to leave it. In this reality we became the shadows of the “real world” and the Gods of our own. As shadows, we would drift through the reality that most people called their own; we went to work, we attended school , we hung out with our other friends, with family. We did this however, within the confines of The Box. This reality was our verisimilitude, and though there existed other bubbles similar to ours around, this one was ours, but along with any story that includes Alcohol, Sex and Drugs, and along with the turbulence that was to come with the new millennium, our worlds would soon come crashing down on us…..