Saturday, April 02, 2011



L to R: Joe Devine, Jeremy Lee Riley, Dar Parsons, Jesse Handlon

JEREMY: In the beginning there were four of us. Joe Devine was the mature one, wise beyond his years; Dar Parsons was the affable one, well-liked and easy going; Jesse Handlon had a quick mind and picked up on just about anything in a snap. As for me, I suppose if I had to play myself up I'd say I was the conductor, channeling the gifts of the other three into a singular powerful canon, lit and aimed at the heart of that which we all loved most...filmmaking.

I’ve always had a knack for just about anything creative. Since I first picked up a pencil as a child and learned it wasn't for stabbing myself in the eye I have used up a forest full of paper on countless stories and drawings. I grew up in Richmond, Indiana, a small city an hour’s drive from Indianapolis that is probably best known today as the place where Jim Jones lived with his mother for a time and sold pet monkeys door to door to raise funds for his church.  

I was a life-long movie junkie and had been aiming to make a full length feature film since I was in high school. My goal was simple: transform my short western story "The Dolan Ranch Shootout" into a blood and guts shoot 'em up that would impress my peers and launch me into the limelight. I was a big fan of the old west, which I studied religiously. By the time I was in high school I had written two full-length western novels "Desperate Outlaws" and "Return of the Gunfighters" along with the novella "The Dolan Ranch Shootout". I figured this last one would be the cheapest and easiest to film, since it had fewer characters and settings.

The plan was to use some of the kids I knew at school as actors. As for the settings, I figured the gorge (a large wooded hole in the middle of the city that was carved out by an iceberg during the last ice age) and "old town" (a section of Richmond that hadn't changed much since the 1800's) would suit my needs perfectly.  As for everything else, well, that was another story.

I hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that I didn’t have a camera or equipment, nor any western apparel or horses. Hell, I didn’t even have a ranch where the big ‘shootout’ was supposed to occur.  But I was only sixteen at the time, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

My biggest priority was finding a camera. Once I had secured that one essential item I figured everything else would fall into place. My stepfather owned a camcorder but he wouldn’t let me touch it.  I wasn’t about to let that stop me though. Since I planned to shoot the movie over summer vacation I would simply sneak the camera out of the house while he was at work and then return it before he came home.

As for costumes, one of my ‘actors’ said he knew a guy who could get me authentic western garb cheap. Like a green-behind-the-ears dummy I said "Great!" and forked over a bundle of my hard earned green to purchase the costumes. Little did I know the kid's family was in the process of moving to Illinois. Before the week was out he was gone, as was every dime I'd saved up for the film.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my stepfather bought a filing cabinet soon after and locked the camcorder inside along with his other valuables. I had no idea where he kept the key and I wasn’t about to try picking the lock or prying the cabinet open. Not if I wanted to keep my hide intact. The project fell through shortly thereafter, leaving me a little dejected but far from beaten. 

My first foray into filmmaking had been a disaster, but I learned a few things in the process.  For one, there was more to shooting a movie then gathering together some friends and picking a setting.  Not if you wanted to do it right.  I would also require equipment; but how to raise the money to purchase a camcorder that in 1990 cost nearly as much as the down payment on a new car?  For a shy, socially-awkward teenager working a part time job after school the answer was clear enough: I couldn’t.  Not by myself.

Unfortunately, I had no real friends or knew any like-minded individuals who would want to go in with me on buying a camera. It didn’t help matters that I was a favorite target for bullies, who misinterpreted my quiet nature as a sign of weakness. Thing was, underneath the geeky bookworm image was the mind of an adolescent who had grown up with Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Clint Eastwood movies, wherein the greatest lesson you learned was to never, under any circumstances, allow yourself to be a victim. You stood up for yourself or you died in the attempt but you never cowered.

So when these bullies pushed me I pushed back, hard. Hell, I didn't even bother to correct their perception of me, it was more fun to see the startled looks on their faces seconds before I bashed them in. I was good with knives and learned to do a lot of tricks with them, slinging them around in my hands and flinging them into trees, telephone poles, houses, etc. It was a favorite trick of mine to impress the crowds.  Little did I realize that these crowds more often than not looked at me like I was a complete loon, which wasn’t far from the truth in those days. 

I got so fed up with being bullied that I began carrying a tear gas gun that I’d filched from my grandmother’s house around school with me at all times. It was only a matter of time before some asshole gave me a reason to use it. In this case it was a fellow student who, wanting to impress a Teacher’s Aid he had the hots for, tried to intimidate me into following her orders.

Eagerly I pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger, imagining a WHOOSH of gas to spray into the punk's face, but there was just an audible CLICK as the gun misfired. I didn't let that stop me, though. I quickly reversed the gun in my hand and proceeded to knock the kid senseless until my fellow students pulled me off of him. I managed to talk my way out of expulsion by claiming the gun wasn’t real. The school principal believed me (apparently he’d never seen a gas gun before). 

I should’ve learned my lesson and left well enough alone but I continued to act out, attacking everyone around me whether they deserved it or not.  I engaged in several knife fights off school property, receiving some nasty cuts for my trouble. I was even shot in the shoulder once when an argument with a guy I'd known my whole life suddenly turned violent. As much as that scared me the thought of my parents finding out scared me even more, so I cauterized the wound with a hot blade at a friend's house just like I’d seen them do in countless westerns. I carry the scar to this day.  

Do not mistake this for bragging. My goal is to let you, the reader, understand how my life could've ended up had I continued on this downward spiral. I'm not proud of a lot of the crap I did in my youth. I was out of control, living in my own fantasy world. I wanted to be like Billy the Kid so badly that when I was arrested for beating up some guy in Target after he mistreated my little brother I gave my alias as the ‘Richmond Kidd’, being sure to tell the arresting officer as he typed the name into the system that Kidd was spelled with two d's (as in that old buccaneer, Captain Kidd).

I was thrilled at the time to have an alias in the RPD's police file. I strutted around like a rooster for months on end. However, as time passed, I grew weary of the constant fighting and having to "look tough" every time another male passed me on the street. I thought I was a badass in those days, but, slowly, I began to see that I was just pathetic. I was nearly eighteen and I didn't have a driver's license or a girlfriend. I was a long way from stupid but I didn't have the confidence I needed to completely pull myself together. 

I blamed a lot of this on my step-father, who was a bully in his own right; the kind who needed to tear other people down in order to feel big.  The worst thing he ever said to me was "You'll die alone and afraid in some gutter, knowing nobody ever loved you." I won't go into all the other shit he subjected me to, not right here at the beginning of our tale anyway. So let's move on.

I moved to Indianapolis after my step-father fulfilled his lifelong vow to kick me out once I turned eighteen. My grandparents took me in until I could get on my feet financially. I went to work at a supermarket called Marsh. Being a stranger in a strange land I had withdrawn even further into myself, for certain that everybody was out to get me. I carried a hunting knife with me wherever I went. I would carry rocks in my pockets that I planned to fling at anyone who challenged me.

I went to work and I came home and hid in my bedroom, drawing comic books and watching TV.  The only other places I ventured were the local movie theater and comic book store. I was as much a non-entity as one could get and still exist on this plain of reality.

Then, something happened that would forever change my life. It was on a sunny day within the first week of being hired at Marsh. I was out collecting carts around the side of the store. This was something I enjoyed doing because it let me be by myself, and God knows I could use the sun and fresh air. Another employee peeked around the corner at me. I remember vividly the shock of curly black hair and the nose that would put a Greek hoplite to shame.

What the hell does this fucker want? I thought, my muscles tensing, waiting for this unwelcome intruder to try something. My hunting knife was sheathed on my belt, hidden under my work vest, and my hand slid to it of its own accord.

"Hi," the fellow employee with the shock of curly hair and Barbara Streisand nose said.

"Hi!" I said curtly, hoping he'd catch the unwelcome tone and do a bee-line back towards the building. Instead, he wandered closer to me. My hand caressed the haft of my knife as he did so.

"I'm Dar Parsons." The curly haired weirdo with the Goslin Goose honker looked at me with the most non-threatening pair of eyes I'd ever seen. He offered a toothy smile and I felt my guard drop a little. My first thought when I heard his name was: What, did his mother name him after the lead character from Beastmaster?

Well, no. I would later learn that his name was actually Darren. As in Darren from the old TV show Bewitched. Darren hated the name so much that he had shortened it to Dar, and since that was the name he introduced himself as it is the name I call him to this day, even though most of his other friends refer to him by the latter.

"Jeremy," I said, slamming the carts together. He then proceeded to tell me his life story, ending with the fact that he and another employee of Marsh Supermarkets, some loser named Joe Devine, were in the process of forming a film company called DIP Productions. 

My half-hearted attempt at being sociable did an about face and suddenly I was all ears. "Movies? You guys are making movies?"

"Yeah. Me and Joe. You know Joe, right?"  I did. He usually stood up front by the registers with his arms crossed and a serious, almost scowling look plastered on his often scruffy face.

"You mean the guy who never talks?" I said, as if I had every right in the world to make such a judgmental call.

"Yeah, he's a good guy. You just gotta get to know him. We're going to Florida to attend film school."

"That sounds cool. I want to be a director myself."

"Yeah, you can come if you want to.  I mean, I don't know you...uh..."


"Jeremy. I mean I don't know you, but you seem all right."

"Well, I'm not some vicious serial killer who's going to kill you in your sleep, if that's what you mean."

(I should probably note that my hand was no longer caressing the knife on my belt at this point.)

"Yeah, you're more than welcome to come. We could use another guy. You know, for rent and stuff."

"Need any actors for your movie?"

"Yeah, we're always looking, but you won't have a big part starting out. Probably just be an extra or something."

"Hey, I can dig that. Just happy to be on board."


"So, what's the name of the movie you guys are shooting?"

"Blood Pudding. Joe's writing the script for it now."

"Blood Pudding, huh? Can I read it?"

"Yeah, I'm sure Joe'll let you. I gotta go back inside now."

"Sure. See you later," I said, wondering what it was he had come out here for in the first place. Was it just to meet the new guy?

"Yeah." He smiled that toothy smile again and shuffled off.  And just like that my life was turned around. Out of thin air I suddenly had a second chance at my dream. To get those creative juices flowing again after being stagnant for so long. Now all I had to do was get on DIP Productions’ good side.

DAR: I worked at Marsh before Joe. My brother got me the job.  He’s still working there as the head book keeper. It seemed like everything worked out for a reason. That’s where I first met Jeremy pushing in carts. I heard there was a new guy so I came around the corner and my first thought was “Dang, it’s like an alien with glasses.” They were huge glasses. You could burn ants with those things.

The first time I saw Jeremy I felt as if I already knew him. I felt connected with him even though we barely spoke to each other. So I think it was meant to be. Call it fate or destiny. Whatever.

Jeremy was way stand-offish back then. The first thing he discussed with me was how he used to get into knife fights, and how he got cut. Then he showed me his bullet wound. He’d talk about how he wanted to go down in a blaze of glory. He was a freaking nerd through and through. And he still is. But I liked him. What can I say? I was slowly gathering my team of X-Men. Joe, Jeremy and Jesse, they all met through me. I was the one who brought them all together.


JEREMY: My first meeting with Dar had been a cake-walk, but getting to know Joe Devine was a whole other story. This was because I would have to approach him if I wanted to be a part of his production company.  If you’ve read this far then you know that wasn’t going to be easy for me. Second problem was that Joe, like me, was an introvert by nature. So the first meeting between us went something like this:

I approach Joe between bagging groceries at Marsh.

Me: "Hi, I'm Jeremy Riley. You're Joe, right?"

Joe stands with his arms crossed, staring at me like I just called his mother a foul name.

Me: "Um, I talked to your friend, Dar, yesterday. He said you were making a movie."

Joe's eyes widen, his mouth creases into a tight frown.

Me (lying my ass off): "I'm a filmmaker myself. I've acted in a few movies. Nothing big, just local stuff. I can write too."

Joe's face goes red. A blood vessel ruptures in his head and he passes out.

As you can see it took me and Joe a bit longer to warm up to each other, but within the month we were on the fast track to becoming friends. We bonded mostly through our mutual love of movies. We would be up front sacking groceries and Joe would call out a movie title like "Dracula!" and I would give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down gesture, and vice versa.

JOE: Darren and I had been working at the local Marsh Supermarket as "Sackers".  I guess they are called "Utility Clerks" now.  It was about a year before our planned move to Winter Park, Florida to attend Film School.  Making movies had become our lifelong ambition. That past summer we put on a live comedy sketch show at St. Philip Neri's summer festival. It was fantastic fun. We were really looking forward to going to film school by then; so much so that we decided to make a couple of movies on camcorders to quench our appetites. More on those later.

Darren was a lot more out-going than I was, so it was easier for him to meet people. This included new hires at Marsh. I usually waited awhile before I'd talk to the newbies. Darren would meet them as soon as possible. This new fellow that went by the handle Jeremy Lee Riley started working there sometime in the fall of ‘93. It seemed to me that in two days he and Darren were the best of friends. That's just Darren. That stuff came naturally to him. I had to work at it.

I didn't know what to make of this "new guy" yet.  He seemed better kept than some of the other scum we had working there. I don't remember the specifics of that first meeting. I just remember that he tried to talk to me while I was in the middle of working (sometimes I set my mind on getting the job done and come off appearing rude). Apparently Darren had told him he could make movies with us. That caught me off guard.

Damn! I thought. We don’t even know the dude! At least give us a chance to see if we like him first!

Well, I did end up liking Mr. Riley, and today he is one of my best friends. We had similar tastes in movies and both liked to write, and he wanted to make movies as well. Jeremy also helped me clean up the script I was working on at the time called Blood Pudding. He helped me make it good. But the Blood Pudding tales are for another day.

JEREMY: I was big into writing and drawing comics in those days and before meeting Joe and Dar I had hopes of becoming a professional comic book artist. After all, it may not have been filmmaking, but it was creative. I remember showing both of the guys the comic book I was drawing at the time called Decade. It was the story of ten government-created super soldiers pursuing another superhero group that had been framed for assassinating the president of the United States (he wasn’t really dead, so don’t go trying to accuse me of being unpatriotic).

They were both impressed with my art and suggested I storyboard their movies. I liked the idea mainly because it put me another notch up from being just an "extra". It also gave me more creative input on their movies, both of which I would eventually help rewrite.

It wasn't long before we were going everywhere together. We took our breaks together at work, hung out at each other’s houses after work, and, naturally, went to see nearly every movie that came out together. In short, we were inseparable. People who knew us started calling us the Three Amigos, or the Three Musketeers (which I preferred). It got to the point that if we didn't show up at a particular place together people thought one of us had died.

If Joe or Dar’s shift extended beyond my own I would often stay after and keep them company. This wasn’t professional, but then I wasn’t looking to make bagging groceries a profession. If someone had a problem with it, well then screw ‘em. Unfortunately, someone did have a problem with it. Turned out one of the co-managers named John Wright didn’t cotton to me loitering around the store distracting his employees and bugging the customers. Go figure.

Now, I’m not going to justify my part in what follows, but here are a few details about John Wright you should know right off the bat. First off, the man was a religious zealot with a stick up his ass. He had taken a disliking to me because I challenged everything he said. To show just how screwed in the head this guy was Dar once jokingly said, "You’re a God, Mr. Wright!" to which Wright snapped, "There's only one God and you will respect Him!"

Wright was dead serious 24/7. He preached the word of God to everybody who would listen, and he expected those under his employee to bow to his whims without question. In short, I disliked the man. So me being me, I picked at him every chance I got.

Anyway, there I was, my shift over, standing at the checkout lane with Joe while he's sacking, jawing about some flick we'd recently seen when Wright walks over and tells me that Joe has work to do and I should leave. Now honestly, this wasn't an unreasonable request. Even back then with me being pretty fucked in the head I understood that it was bad business for me to be talking to the sacker while he's working. But I hated Wright, and he had the nerve to challenge me in front of everybody, including my good pal Joe. I couldn't just turn around and leave. I felt as if I would be losing face.

"You know, I'm off the clock," I said with just the slightest hint of a sneer playing at the corners of my mouth, "which means I'm a customer now. So you have to respect me."

"That's it!" Wright yelled. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me out of earshot of the others. "You want me to fire you, fine! You're fired!" He jabbed his finger into my chest. "And I don't want to see you up here bothering my employees anymore! You hear me?"

Well, the second that finger jabbed into my chest my first instinct was to take hold of his hand, yank out my knife, and slice that digit off. But I kept cool. I didn't talk back, didn't harm a single hair on his head. Instead, I just turned around and left. Joe later told me that Wright approached him after the incident and said “Your friend has a serious attitude problem.” And I did. I had so much pent up rage and frustration churning through me that I feared what would happen if I just lost it and went berserk on some unfortunate soul.

The reason Wright was able to walk away from our confrontation with all ten digits and both eyes intact was because he had dared to jab his finger into my chest. This was employer abuse, plain and simple. I went to Marsh headquarters and complained that Wright was out of control. I explained how he was going around preaching religion to anybody who would listen, employees and customers alike, and that he had manhandled me before canning my ass.

To my surprise — because I had completely exaggerated everything in my thirst for vengeance — the heads told me this wasn't the first time somebody had issued a complaint against Wright for that very reason. I got my job back, this time in the meat/seafood department along with a big fat raise. Wright was transferred to another store. Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

I liked the meat department mainly because they had a deep fryer. I deep fried just about anything I could get my hands on. Once I wondered what a fish head would look like after a visit to the hot grease pit.

Well, after I finally got the revolting smell fried fish head out of the store I thought I'd best lay off the fryer for a bit.


JESSE: I got my first taste for filmmaking in the seventh grade. About three weeks into the school year I found out about the AV (Audio-Visual) club. The librarian came into our science class, announced the club, and asked if anyone would join. I was the first one to sign up.  Why, I don’t know. I guess it sounded interesting at the time. I was taught how to use all their equipment.

I was then put in charge of shooting the morning announcements (ours were broadcast over the TV every day). I also shot a lot of the sporting events like basketball and football. The club met after school three times a week. I loved setting up the equipment and planning out the shots. The librarian edited everything together at the Indiana Central Library.

As cool as this was I didn’t decide to be a filmmaker until after seeing Goodfellas, which is the best movie ever made. I now knew what a filmmaker did and I wanted to be one. Martin Scorsesse was my hero in all things film-related (my Father and Mother will always be my real heroes). I also started to write screenplays that year. 7th grade was the year my eyes opened up and I realized my dream. It was one of the best years of my life.

However, I didn’t begin down that long road to achieving my dream until my senior year of high school.  That was the year I met the four guys who would not only become my best friends but my partners in crime (and by that I mean film, so stop dialing 911 you nark).

It began at Arsenal Technical High School. As far as I know Tech was and still is known as the only inner city High School to win a football game by threatening the other team with murder (I weep remembering this time in my life). It was the second day of my senior year.

I had been accepted into a class for Television Production at CIRT (Center for Instructional Radio and Television). I had experienced your typical second day of school in which you had to locate all of your new classes, meet new people, and learn all over again why it is some people prefer to drop out of high school.

I had just finished my lunch hour (which I always spent in the library) and was walking toward my bus stop. The CIRT class was off campus and all of the students had to be transferred by bus. I sat reading a copy of Entertainment Weekly while I waited for the bus to show. I remember the issue was one of the seasonal movie reports. A young gentleman walked over and asked me if this was the bus stop for CIRT. I looked up to see a curly haired fellow with a scraggly goatee. I told him it was and went back to my magazine. He then told me his name was Darren Parsons. I nodded and returned to my magazine.

At this point another young man appeared and Darren walked away with him. This scumbag’s name was Mike Wallace, who will be mentioned again later. I was happy to see him go. My first impression of him was that he was a hippy, and I didn’t like hippies (one spat on my Father when he returned from Viet Nam). So I went back to my magazine. Ten minutes later the bus arrived and we were off.

The next day found me waiting at the bus stop yet again. I had foolishly forgotten my magazine at home. I had my notebook out and was working on a screenplay. Darren again walked up to me because no one else was around. He asked me what I was working on. My first thought was to tell this nosy hippy to fuck off. But I was looking for someone to bounce ideas off of, so I curbed my tongue and told him it was a screenplay. We then had a fairly interesting conversation about movies.

Here's a little secret about me: If you want someone to talk hours on end with you, walk up to me and begin a conversation about movies. I will not shut the fuck up. I have wasted my life learning about movies instead of math or anything else truly productive.

This was the beginning of a friendship that would have its share of ups and downs. Yet, even after all these years I still consider him like a brother. I can say that the best part of our friendship was that he introduced me to two of the four men I will consider friends for life.

DAR: Just like with Jeremy the first impression I got when I met Jesse was that I knew him from somewhere. I felt connected with him right off the bat. I thought he was interesting. I can’t say anything bad about Jesse. He’s been my best friend and worst enemy all at the same time. But he’s my brother and I love him.

JESSE: During our conversation he mentioned his friends Joe and Jeremy. The three of them were working on a movie written by Joe and Jeremy and directed by Joe called Blood Pudding. He asked me if I would be willing to help out on it. I of course said yes. I asked him what the plot was. He proceeded to tell me and I didn't understand a word of it.

I was still in like Flint though. Here were the only other guys I knew who wanted to make movies. I had to get involved. I think I have some talent and could work alone if I had to, but I’ve always been a team player. I like working in groups and this was right up my alley.

Darren then told me about the project he was working on. It was a movie called Laugh A Little. Again the project was co-written by Jeremy, only this time with Darren. I remember thinking that this Jeremy fella was throwing out scripts like nobody's business.
Darren asked me if I would direct the movie. I agreed to it almost immediately. Not on the strength of the story, mind you, I just wanted to direct something.

Two days later he told me he wanted to direct it himself and I easily gave it back. What the hell, it was his movie after all. He offered me the job of director of photography, though, which I accepted.

Sometime later I received a call from Darren asking if I was free to hang out that night. At the time I was a 250 pound loser and movie nerd. Of course I was free. Darren said he wanted to introduce me to his two associates.  I figured, sure, why not? and met the boys at their place of employment, Marsh Supermarkets (haha, losers).

Darren was standing at the entrance, eating a cup cake. He pointed toward the parking lot where two young men were hanging out. He told me they were Joe Devine and Jeremy Lee Riley. I waited for him to introduce me, but he shooed me over and said he would be there in a second (he had an appointment to flirt with the cashiers apparently).

I walked over to the two and the first one, a tall fellow with glasses and a baby's face, pulled a pistol on my fat ass. Luckily for me I could instantly tell it was a BB gun. I grabbed the pistol and gave it a quick look over. I then returned it to him, telling him how cool a BB gun it was. I then made my first mistake. While giving him the gun I called him Joe. He replied, "No, I'm Jeremy, the genius."

Ah, I knew this was the kind of person I could work with. Joe just gave me a fuck off look and asked where Darren was. My immediate mental reply was maybe he's up your ass, but, not wanting to get off on the wrong foot, I simply shrugged my shoulders. Joe then said, "So, you like movies?"

Things pretty much proceeded from there.

JOE: Darren had been telling me about this Jesse fellow for some time. He always tried to imitate the way Jesse talked: "Yeah, Jesse talks like this: Fuck Ya!" He'd say in a high-pitched voice. OK, I can't show you how bad an impression it was so just take my word for it. I thought "fuck ya" was the only thing this Handlon fellow was going to say since those were the only words Darren would use to imitate him. I don't remember the specifics of that first meeting. My memory is going! I remember it was at Marsh and Jeremy was there and Jesse didn't sound at all like Darren's impersonation of him.

I don't really remember much other than he amused me and wanted to be a filmmaker. He also shared a love of movies and liked to write. Darren, Jeremy, and I lived within walking distance of each other so it was easy for us to get together.  Working at the same place helped a lot as well. Jesse lived within walking distance of downtown, which was a twenty minute bus ride for us. At that time Darren was the only one of us with a car and it belonged to his mom! In the beginning, it was harder to hang out with Jesse. Today Jesse is one of my best friends.

JEREMY: Dar told me one day that he had met this kid at school named Jesse Handlon who wanted to make movies with us. My first reaction was typical and totally territorial: Who is this stranger wanting to come between me and my two friends! If he joins we will no longer be The Three Musketeers!

I was about to tell Dar that we couldn’t just let anyone into the group when another thought occurred to me: The Three Musketeers also had a fourth member, right? D'Artagnan! And he was nothing but a benefit to the group.

Reluctantly I conceded to meet with this Handlon kid, my intention being to sniff him out and see what he had to offer the group. We were shooting Joe's short feature Blood Pudding at the time and I had it in my mind that this asshole was going to try to come in and preach his ideas and foul up our production.

Well, turns out I was only partially right. Jesse was an asshole, there was no denying that, but he would ultimately prove to be nothing but a benefit to our group. Dar arranged for him to meet us at Marsh. So there was Joe and I standing in the parking lot, both hostile against this interloper that Dar had dragged out of seemingly nowhere.

I was determined to give him a good scare. I had my BB gun under my coat. When the kid came over and tried to talk to us I would point it in his face and scare the shit out of him. Hell, he'd probably take to the hills and our circle would remain unhindered. 

It wasn't long before this chubby guy in a cheesy Hawaiian shirt ambled over to us. "Hey, I'm Jesse," he said in a high-pitched voice. Joe grunted a reply and I whipped out the BB gun, relishing the look of shocked surprise that was sure to cross his face at any moment. Instead, he says "Cool," and reaches out and takes the BB gun from my hand. I stood there, baffled and grudgingly impressed. He studied the gun and handed it back to me, talking a mile a minute.

It was my first meeting with a guy who I wouldn't get to know until Florida, but then and there, unbeknownst to either of us, the first seeds of a lifelong friendship had been planted. The three were now four. And the real adventures were about to begin.

Next: Beginnings


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