You might remember Donta’ Touchee Jackson from that time you wanted to kill him.
He was a mountain of a man with a voice that was a cross between Mr. T and Boomhauer from “King of the Hill”. He spoke his mind and gave you a piece of it whether you’d want to hear it or not. Once you got to know Donta, you already knew you’d want to hear it twice. You knew where stood with him and he knew where you stood with him. When we first met, we threatened to kill each other. That feeling passed as quickly as it came back. To know Touchee Jackson is to curse him out.
Over the years, we always ran into each other for brief moments on a semi regular basis of at least once every two weeks an open mic here, a local show. Those moments between mics turned to weeks, weeks turned to months and months turned to years. One year, on his birthday, he took the time to help me replace the water pump on my 1997 Nissan pickup truck. As you move forward in life, you don’t spend time with someone you hate just because. I offered him some cash, he didn’t take it, but he did take a beer.
The news of Touchee’s death spread out and evolved in it’s own way. Random texts of “You talk to Touchee’?” to multiple phone calls leading to social media posts through the different parts of the city and the world. Then more frantic texts leading to frantic calls leading to frantic voicemails and a somber realization while prepping out dick jokes at a Monday night open mic at a bar.
The church service was the first time some comics actually saw each other in years. “Man that preacher’s got good stage presence! To wow! I had no idea old dude is still alive?! His son’s so big now! Man, Billy D. gave a good eulogy! You riding out to the the burial. Yea, I need to fuel up first, I’ll be right there.”
And I get lost on the way to the burial ground.
Hmm, this flower shop might have directions. I wander in the flower shop and get in line behind the two people buying flowers. I ask for directions and out of guilt, I grabbed the cheapest flowers I could find.
“$7.00! Damn that’s a lot of money for flowers.”
In my head I hear Touchee heckling from beyond, “Albee you’re stupid! Men don’t buy men flowers! Put that back fool! Put that back!” I ignore imaginary Touchee, pay the cashier and follow their directions to the burial ground.
I park my car, next to cars I recognize and head to the coffin say a few words to myself and lay flowers down. I then turn around and walk to the join the rest of my fellow mourners. I scan the mourners and confirm I don’t know anybody here. Yup, I know no one here. Most of the folks I know are at the burial tent across the way. I wave hi to Carolyn Agnew and smile awkwardly. I’m at the wrong coffin.
So, I have two choices, do I one, keep walking away and rejoin my fellow comics and let things slide. Or well $7.00 is a bit of money and I should go back and get those flowers. As I turn around to retrieve my $7.00 offering, I feel a tug at my sports coat. I turn and I see an old frail black lady who tells me, “God bless you sir.”
I then walk away and head off to join the rest of the comics. Somewhere outside of space and time, I can hear Touchee Jackson calling me stupid. I curse his name one last time as I pay my respect.