You might remember Donta’ (pronounced Don-Tay) Touchee Jackson from that time you wanted to kill him. When we first met, we threatened to kill each other at the Tavern open mic. That feeling passed as quickly as it came back and passed and came back and forth. To know Touchee Jackson is to curse him out.
He was a tall mountain of a man who spoke like the love child of Mr. T and Boomhauer. Touche spoke his mind and gave you a piece of it, (*whether or not if you’d want to hear it). 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.
Over the years, we always ran into each other for brief moments. An open mic here, a local show here or a night spot there. Those moments in the trenches between and after the mics up to no good.
81+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.
Then came 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. I get lost listening to other Houston comics.
“Man that preacher’s got good stage presence!
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 then I get lost on the way to the burial ground.
“Hmm, this flower shop might have directions.”
I wander to the flower shop and get in line behind the two people buying flowers. I ask for directions and out of guilt, I buy the cheapest flowers I could find.
“$7.00! Damn that’s a lot of money for flowers.”
I can now 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 comic cars I recognize and head to mourning tent to pay my respects. I get settled in line when I see Carolyn Agnew waving at me from across the street. I scan the mourners and confirm, I don’t know anybody here. Yup, I know no one here. The Houston comics are at the burial tent across the way. I wave hi to Carolyn Agnew and smile awkwardly. I’m so at the wrong coffin.
So, I have two choices. Do I walk away, let it slide and rejoin my fellow comics. Or should I go back and get those flowers back. 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 lady who smiles at me with tears in her eyes.
I head off to join the rest of the gang. 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 respects.