One Day with Johnny Voodoo

MRDA Champs weekend would be the first time I met someone in person who I’d spent hundreds of hours on the phone with. Countless texts and messages. We already knew each other, though I didn’t realize how tall he was. He took me for my first ever Tex-Mex and I had a thing called a “mojito.” I cannot recommend.

The first night, I fell asleep as Brett’s little spoon (completely platonic, for the record), and could hear myself answering whatever he was talking about nonsensically in my sleep. He eventually caught on that I was too loopy for more words and went home.

By Monday, I’d been up so late all weekend, and then up so early. A combo of an important tournament and inconsiderate roommate had left me a bit haggard. He’d been up late into the night on the phone with me, but had still gotten up and gone to work. I threw all my stuff haphazardly into my bag. We were going to go to the fair, but for some reason decided to go to Dave and Buster’s.

The place was pretty much empty. I’d never been to one before. I wandered around trying to take pictures, but everything is very tall. I lost Brett somewhere in there and texted him for a location. In the meantime, I saw the ski ball machines had shot out random tickets all the way down the line, and I walked by, snicking them off and cramming them into my pockets. I’m only an okay person, to be real.

When I found Brett, I told him about the secret tickets and he counted them up and got us a ticket cup. I bought a card and decided… well, frankly, I wanted to get ticket prizes, so we played a lot of really stupid games. We started off with this one that you lobbed balls at clowns. Fuck clowns. That’s something we can all agree on, I’m sure. We moved around the place, picking silly games that are clearly rigged enough that you have to spend mega bucks to get down how to win.

One we really had fun with was Kung Fu Panda. There are three drum heads on either side and you’re supposed to hit them when something flashes at the right part of the screen. He took the right side and I took the left. I’m happy to report, neither of us hit a bomb. We played it over and over, because we kept coming within one point of getting the 10k ticket prize, or whatever it was. Finally, we gave up.

We played a DDR type game, but Brett picked some insane song for his, and we both ended up standing on the board, heaving, until I suggested we just fuck off it. There was a GIANT claw machine, and I am sucker for claw machines. There was this giant dog, like the size of a beach ball, and Brett stood on the side of the machine to tell me when to drop. We one-shotted that doggo, but I knew it was going to be too big for the plane, so I told him to hang onto it until I could get it another time. Go, team us!

There was also this game where you lit up pegs with pingpong balls, which we were having too much fun doing. Then some ski ball. Then it was back to the clowns.

We ganged up on those clowns. We had balls from other booths and both lobbed them with both hands one after another in tandem. It became a vicious battle of Team Voodoo Sleazer vs Motherfucking Clowns. The balls were going nuts, one grazed my glasses, flying all around. We were laughing and getting worn out. We had started with reasonable accuracy, but by game one million, were kinda of sad about ourselves. Not really, but you know.

So, we counted up our tickets vs what we had on the card and headed to the toy shop. I was SO CLOSE to having a toy BMO, but not quite. Brett told me he could check his cards at home later, and maybe he had enough between all of them. There, of course, was a lot of goofy stuff. We ended up picking out these sad bees. The one picture of us together, Brett is making a ridiculous face, and I look like I haven’t slept in 14 years.

Brett was someone who knew literally things I don’t say out loud. He would listen, he’d give advice, he’d joke, he’d send stories, he’d tell you about whatever. He would be sad with you, or happy for you, or whatever middle ground is called. He was a real person, and a true friend, and you can’t tell me you encounter that everyday. 

We lost Johnny Voodoo this week. Actually, we did not lose him. Brett died and cannot be found except in your memories. Write them down.

In February, I’ll go down to Texas to say goodbye. Our bees will be reunited at that time. Today, I’m going to drive down to Oregon, throw balls at clowns, and try to get that BMO.

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