Monday, January 1, 2001

Pinball DJ Hotel Wizard

I am sitting in the control studio of a small-town radio station.

I am researching some kind of book on AM radio and interview the DJ that is on duty. It is early evening.

The man is a little older, perhaps in his fifties. He tells me he is the owner of the station.

I wonder why he was working such an odd shift. Usually, a radio station owner wouldn’t be on the air at that time or wouldn’t do on-air work at all.

I ask him about it.

He tells me that he has broken up with his wife recently. He has joint custody of the kids and has to take care of them while they are on break from school.

We talk about the way radio is changing. He is sad that small stations like his are disappearing.

I stand on a hill in back of someone’s house. In the yard is a camping tent, much like one that would be used by a family at a campground.

It is a rural area, sort of like East Tennessee or the mountains of North Carolina.

A black woman is there. We know each other. She reminds me of Weebe, for some reason, but it isn’t her.

She tells me she is spending the weekend there for some type of gathering. A woman connected with the event lives in the house and is allowing her to stay in the tent in her yard.

We step into her tent as we continue talking. It is decked out with all kinds of furniture ­ it is more like the room of a house than a weekend camping tent.

She is annoyed with the woman in the house.

“I’m trying to stay away from her,” she says.

I walk outside the tent. The woman who lives in the house has just come into the yard.

She is rather dour. She tells me about all of her problems. I have never met her before.

She tells she has a “no good husband”.

“I’m going to look for him,” she says.

She walks up a hill in back of her house. I follow, curious where she will go.

Soon we come to a large hotel. It resembles the one in “The Shining”. We walk inside.

The hotel is crowded with people. It looks like a cross between a hotel and a bizarre. We pass a check in desk and chairs in the lobby and then booths and tables where people are selling things.

I look around, watching people mill about.

I have lost track of the dour woman.

I walk around the lobby, watching the people talk and buy things from the vendors.

At the far end of the lobby is a room that looks like a gambling joint. It has blackjack tables, slot machines and roulette tables. It is crowded with people.

I see the owner of the radio station, gambling on a rather odd machine.

The machine has a glass front and reminds me of the machines they have in convenience stores and truckstops with all of the coins in them. The player stands in front of the machine and looks down in it, through the glass top.

The man keeps putting money into the machine, over and over again. Once in a while, he wins and a few coins fall out of a slot.

I talk to him as he plays and ask how he is doing.

I know that he is the “no good husband” the dour woman is looking for.

He continues playing, getting a little more lucky with the machine. However, it still only spits out a few coins.

Another man comes up to him and talks to him as he plays.

“I’m getting more lucky,” the radio station man says, “I can almost feel when it’s going to pay up.”

“Perhaps you should follow the yellow brick road,” the other man says, “You’re so lucky, you’d probably get rich there.”

“Yeah,” the man says, “maybe I will.”

The radio station owner walks away from the machine towards a road.

Through the gambling joint and leading out into the hotel is a road. It is made of tile, not yellow bricks. The tiles of the road have odd shapes and are in colors that no one else seems to have wanted.

I follow the man as he walks on the road, through corridors, into rooms, through hallways, through the kitchen.

Finally, we come to a set of big metal double doors painted brown. There is nobody else around.

He knocks on the door three times.

The doors open.

We walk into a strange kind of empty room.

It is full of bright, colorful light -- very warm, calming light that pulsates in red, yellow, green, bright blue, white. The room seems infinitely large, with no ceiling or walls.

We walk for a few moments further into the room. We see a man there dressed in shabby clothes.

"You must be the wizard,” the radio station owner says.

"Yes," the other man replies.

"I feel really lucky today," the man says, "I can almost feel when I'm going to win."

"Yes," the wizard says.

The wizard motions towards his right. In the room is a large pinball machine, several stories high. It has bright blinking lights and is filled with all kinds of levers, switches and shiny metal balls.

"Go ahead," the wizard says, motioning at the machine.

The man takes a token out of his pocket.

“This is the only one I have left,” he says.

The man grasps the token in both hands and closes his eyes.

"C'mon, baby," he intones.

The man drops the token in the slot of the machine.

The machine springs to life, emitting all kinds of colored flashing lights and strange metallic sounds and bells.

The lights and sounds keep building, louder and louder ...

The machine burps.

Literally, the machine just lets out a big belch and sits there.

The man is disappointed.

"It's okay," the wizard says. "You've found your heart's desire anyway."

Then I woke up.

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