The Telephone Conversation
FOR SALE: 1977 PLYMOUTH STATION WAGON -$300
Originally, I had guessed that 900 dollars would
have been a good price for a classic car that cost $2,000 six
months earlier and required having everything from the engine to
the tires replaced. I listed a price of $600 in the first ad,
then lowered the price to $300 when no one called. Then, I
received three phone calls about the classified ad.
"Does it have any rust?" the first caller
"I am on a fixed income," the second caller
Maybe, I need to offer some kind of creative
financing, I thought, or give the car to someone with an
allowance included for repairs.
Then one day, the Rolls Royce of all phone calls
"Ello, M calling bout the care," a voice with a
heavy English accent announced from the other end of the
"Is she drivable?'
"Yes, but it needs brake repairs."
"Okay, then where ye located?"
"Kerry Lane," I said.
"K-E-R-R-Y, Kerry," I said.
"Eh? Terry Lane?"
"No, Kerry Lane. K, like in (what begins in K, in
London, I wondered). K, like in, like in, ah, Khrushchev."
"Oh, Perry Lane."
No, Kerry Lane. Kerry Lane, K-E-R-R-Y, Kerry, like
in Khrushchev." K, like in kat--no, that isn't right. K, like in
kane--no, that isn't right, either; but close enough.
"Yeah, K, like in kat, kat, kane, Kerry Lane."
"Kerry Lane, eh, I'll find it."
"No, you won't find it. It's a short street, off
"Okay, then, ow do I get there?"
"Where are you coming from?"
"Bahia Vista, eh?"
"Take Bahia Vista east to McIntosh Road, turn
right. Go to Webber and turn left."
"Wesser Street, eh?"
"No, no, no. Webber Street. Webber, R like in
"Wetter Street? Where is Wetter Street? I never erd
of Wetter Street."
"Do you know where Bee Ridge Road is?'
"Yeah, Bee Ridge?"
"What is the first street north of Bee Ridge?
"Oh, Webber Street?"
"Yes, Webber Street. Go east on Webber four streets
"Old on, me mate will take it from ere."
(Enter mate) "Where e go from Webber?"
"Four streets to Stratford. Turn left."
"Oh no. Bullshit. Stratford."
"Me mate is coming back on."
(Enter first mate) "Where e go from Webber?"
"Four streets east on Webber to Stratford. Turn
"On Stratford. Are you from England? You do know
who Shakespeare is, don't you? The Bard of Avon. Stratford on
Avon. Stratford Street, got it?"
"Yeah, but how do you spell it?"
"Spell it. Why the hell do I have to spell
Stratford, if you know who Shakespeare is?"
Then, the first mate told me that he couldn't
spell, and I was dumbfounded wondering why he kept asking me to
spell out the streets.
"Just remember Shakespeare, then Stratford and go
three quarters of a mile to Kerry Lane. We're on the corner."
"When will you be here?"
"Maybe six or seven. Got a cell phone and will call
if we're lost. Bye."
I waited past six, seven, eight o'clock, and they
Copyright ©2012 Michael Jackson Smith
Overview of The Road To Fort Worth
Jack Wendell's rite of passage into adulthood began
three hours before midnight on the eve of his twenty-first
birthday. On his stroll across campus, he watched one foot follow
the other in a rhythmic pattern and thought about time. As he
stepped from the past into the future, he was stunned by the
realization that the present moment was so fleeting that it
couldn't exist. His breathing became shallow and feelings of
horror flushed through his body in spasms, like waves crashing on
the shoreline, retreating, then returning in another blow. He was
convinced that he had entered a portal into hell, and he endured
the agony of the next three hours. When the clock struck
midnight, he entered a bar, ordered a glass of whiskey, and the
elixir washed away his panic with three magic bends of his
This was only the beginning of Wendell's long love
affair with booze, his only relief from the anxiety attacks that
haunted him in an era when little was known about the disorder.
He couldn't function with the anxiety that possessed him and
drank in an attempt to control his horrifying feelings, but
couldn't work in a perpetual state of intoxication. On his
journey, he encountered a host of unlikely companions and
circumstances, including rehabs, institutions, therapists and a
horde of dysfunctional people who would harbor him for a time,
yet, sooner or later, he was forced onto the street again in
search of another haven, where he could drink to his heart's
The Road To Fort Worth is a long overdue
novel about a man suffering from panic disorder and alcoholism.
It could be seen as a continuation of Charles R. Jackson's
classic novel, The Lost Weekend. It's the story of a life
on the rocks with a twist of lemon. It's the story of how one man
learned to untie the inextricable knot binding two debilitating
disorders that so many people have been unable to unravel.
-Michael Jackson Smith
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will
set you free."
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