Around 1991, I was living in a small cottage behind a bigger house in central Austin. It was a great place, and about as conveniently located as one could ask for. I had only been in town a few months, and was enjoying living on my own for the first time. Then I got a phone call from Mike.
I knew Mike from Houston. He was one of the guitar players in a band I was friends with, but we didn’t know each other very well. He was the first person that ever asked me if I knew where we could get some heroin, so that was notable (and a little worrisome) but other than that, he just seemed like a regular band guy, although he was sort of the whipping boy in his Houston band – They’d nicknamed him “The Green Clown” for some reason. I never found out why… It was something he didn’t like talking about.
I was not expecting to hear from him, and most people in Houston didn’t have my number, but it was nice to hear from somebody from home. He asked if he could stay with me of course – the only thing I got asked more than “Can you get some heroin?” in Austin at that time, was “Can I stay with you?” – but it sounded like he was planning on visiting, so I figured why not?
He arrived a few days later, and I was alarmed to see that he had a lot of stuff with him. It didn’t look like he was just visiting for the weekend. He told me that he was planning on moving to Austin because the music scene was better than Houston’s, and was wondering if I might need a roommate.
I had originally planned on having a roommate – a woman that I had dated on and off for a year, had originally planned on moving in with me, but she changed her plans at the last moment. While that development hadn’t bothered me, it did leave me with more bills than I originally planned on, so I agreed to let Mike move in. Besides, he was a decent guitar player, so I figured he could show me a few tips.
Mike was odd. I wasn’t really judgmental, as I was pretty odd too, but we were different kinds of guys. He was a few years older than me, and seemed to have crafted his image after guys in bands like “Thin Lizzy”. He had long dark hair, but had bleached in a blonde streak. He was also prone to wearing things like leather vests without shirts, or when he wore a shirt, it was usually a blousy thing that was unbuttoned to his navel.
He wore snakeskin cowboy boots, and concho belts. Mike was originally from New Jersey, and was of Italian descent. He was tan, and just a little too paunchy to really pull off his look well. He always talked about wanting heroin, but must have been the only person that couldn’t find the stuff in Austin in the early 90s, because it seemed like everyone else I knew was able to. He did drink a lot of beer though.
We got along well enough. For the most part, Mike was an amiable guy, very friendly and outgoing, but a little sleazy and definitely lazy. He always talked about how he liked to “fuck women in their asses” (imagine that said with a New Jersey accent for full effect), and he didn’t seem in a hurry to get a job of any kind.
He also was fascinated with American Indians and their spiritual practices. He went to “Pow Wows” once or twice a week, which sounded like a cross between an Indian themed Ren Fair and a swap meet. He also talked cryptically of “The Chief,” some Indian leader that he knew back in Houston. He told me that I’d meet The Chief someday. I wasn’t sure I wanted that to happen.
Mike would always talk about getting a job, but only worked for a couple of weeks during the time he lived at my place. He got a telemarketing job somewhere, because they would hire freaky looking people. It didn’t pay much, but I was looking forward to a contribution to our rent. Unfortunately, the day he got paid, Mike disappeared to Houston, and when I saw him again a couple of days later, he was dragging a bear skin around with him. He had bought the “sacred object” at a Pow Wow, and was again broke. I was not pleased, but he was too comical too be really angry at.
A couple of weeks later, Mike went to another Pow Wow, and showed up with two strippers in tow. Now my place was small – about the size of a tiny one bedroom apartment, so I was wondering where Mike was going to store his new titty dancer pals. He told me one was his new girlfriend, and that he’d brought the other one for me to fuck. Nice of him, I guess, and she was attractive, but I had options at the time, and if I wanted to sleep with a dancer, I knew where to look.
That was an awkward weekend. I woke up with the extra dancer naked in my bed, grappling my man parts, and considered just going with the flow, until I snapped to my senses, and figured that was probably more trouble than it was worth. I told her thanks but no thanks, and then left to go stay with a girlfriend of mine that lived up the block.
The next day I came home, to find a dark mood had rolled in. Mike was kind of angry that I’d spurned the advances of the girl he’d brought me. I guess she was angry, and his girlfriend was angry too. “You fuck lots of girls, can’t you just fuck her too? ” he opined. He seemed genuinely surprised and offended that I didn’t want to sleep with this stranger.
He could be very creepy at times. I had a bed in the living room, and left the bedroom for Mike. This arrangement was fine for the most part, as I would often stay up late watching movies with friends, and the bedroom was too small for that. It could be awkward if one of us had a date over, but usually wasn’t a big deal. Usually.
I was watching movies with a female friend of mine one evening when Mike was around. He was in his bedroom playing guitar, and bellowing this song he’d written called the “Queen of Tattertown” or something. He sang that song a lot. It was horrible. But we were watching a movie, and although we weren’t making out or anything, we didn’t want to be interrupted either. So it was a surprise, but no surprise when Mike appeared from his room wearing nothing but a towel, walked over to our little dark corner, and loomed over the bed we were relaxing in. “You guys want some…company?” he slurred. I figured the guy had at least a couple of 12 packs in him.
“No, we’re good!” my date and I replied in unison. Fortunately, Mike slithered back to his lair in the bedroom, but I always had to be careful around him.
Several times he would come home with a woman, and disappear into the back bedroom with her. I’d be up front watching a movie or something, and about thirty minutes later, the woman would suddenly emerge, and then abruptly leave without saying anything. After witnessing that a few times, I realized that Mike was doing something that scared them off. Since they were probably there for sexual trysts, I shiver to think what it was that spooked them so consistently. I always assumed that the ones that ran didn’t enjoy “anal” as much as Mike.
On the plus side, I occasionally met cool and interesting people that Mike would meet and bring back to our place. I met my friend Doug that way, and we shared many an adventure later on.
But, meeting cool people didn’t exactly balance out having a mooch for a roomie, or make up for the frequent creepiness that Mike brought to my place.
I had to listen to him constantly talking about his mystical Indian experiences. Seeing sentient glowing lights in a sweat lodge, summoning protective spirits, that kind of thing. I was used to being around people with goofy spiritual views, but there was something off-putting about Mike’s involvement with that stuff. First, it sounded pretty hokey, secondly, he was an Irish/Italian mutt from New Jersey, something just seemed “not right” about his interest in that stuff.
One night, I returned to our place after having stayed away at a friend’s for a couple of days. When I got home, I could tell before I entered that Mike had a visitor. When I opened the door, I came face to face with a person I knew instantly had to be “The Chief” I’d heard so much about. This guy had great “powers” (according to Mike), and lived off in a camper somewhere in the “woods” of North Houston.
He DID look like he could be a Native American, but he was dressed like a cross between the Indian guy in “The Village People”, and a roadie for Van Halen. Maybe he was a part-time carnie, I don’t know.
He was wearing leather lace-up pants, moccasin boots, an enormous turquoise belt, had no shirt on, and had a bunch of dangling bones and teeth from a necklace he wore. He also had the practiced observation skills and banter of an ex-con or person that’s spent a lot of time on the street. He and Mike had been busy burning sage in the house (I hate the smell of burning sage) to “purify” the place, because the Chief sensed that I had a lot of demonic entities following me.
Mike explained all of this in a matter of fact manner, but I was not happy, and told him “So what if there ARE demons here? They’re my demons, maybe I want them to stick around?” That shut him up, but the con man Chief guy was definitely trying to size me up. I figured he’d be hitting me up for something soon. I was surprised when he didn’t.
More unwanted news came when the Chief tried to impress me by saying “Did you see my wolf?”
“Wolf?” I asked, worrying about what might be coming next.
“Yeah, he’s staked out in your back yard. It’s awesome!” came the reply.
I walked outside, and sure enough, there was a wolf staked in my backyard.
I told Mike that he needed to get the wolf out of there, before someone called the cops.
When I mentioned the cops, Mike and the Chief looked at each other quickly, and then made plans to go somewhere else. Before he left, the Chief gave me an ancient Indian spell for harnessing a demon, and making it do my bidding. I thought that was nice of him, but puzzling since he’d spent so much effort chasing any of my demons away from the house already.
Soon after that, Mike moved out. He’d met some topless dancer that was going to support him while he got his band stuff worked out. I figured that was probably the best way for a guy like Mike to get by. I didn’t see him for a few years, and then ran into him at a Cheap Trick concert. He was tearing tickets at the door. He’d cut his hair shorter, but was still the same basic Mike.
I haven’t seen him since.