For Barbara

Barbara was my little sister, 2 years younger than me. Yeah, Ken and Barbie – I don’t want to fucking hear it. Seriously. What’s worse was her middle name was Jean – BJ. A sure way to get a crack in the head with a beer bottle was to call her Blow Job. Don’t ask me how I know.

Me and Barb were best friends growing up. Any military brat knows how it is, you have no friends for more than a year or two – if their dad doesn’t rotate soon, yours will. If you’re an army brat your friends are by geography, not choice.

When I got out of the army in 81, Barb loaded up her car and came out to California to see me. She was a major club patchholder’s #1 old lady and was living in Oklahoma City at the time. I’m not going to mention the club by name out of respect.
Anyways, me and Barb hit the bars after she’d been in town for a couple weeks and we were drinking at the Southern Comfort down on Crow’s Landing Road in south Modesto and bro, let me tell you, this place was a fucking biker/cowboy/okie dive. There was a shooting or cutting every weekend. They kept buckets of sawdust scattered around to soak up the beer and blood on the floor. The stage had a chicken wire screen in front of it to protect the band from thrown beer bottles. You getting my drift here?
My kinda place.

That night had some band with a male and female singer and they were playing old timey Country and Western. All of a sudden they came on with “You’re The Reason” and my sister’s head snapped up from where it was laying on the table and then she jumped up and ran into the arms of the meanest and baddest and biggest fucking biker I have ever seen in my entire life.
It was her old man. I guess M got to missing her so he rode 20 hours straight on a fucking hardtail (!) to pay her a visit. He’d stopped off at Mom and Dad’s and found out where we were, drove to the bar and then snuck in and requested that the band play their song.

My evening with Barb was shot. I walked down the road and bought them a room for the night and then went back for a beer or 12 to get acquainted with M before driving home all one eyed and shit.
The next day Barb showed up, bowlegged and sore, and I asked where M was. “Oh he split, he’s got to be back to work and only had one sick day left.”
20 hours there, one night and then 20 hours back. And you thought romance was dead.

A few weeks later I came in all fucked up and decided that I needed to talk to Barb so I called her. It was maybe 1 AM in California, 3 AM in Oklahoma. M answers the phone growling “What the fuck do you want?” and then after I identify myself he says “Oh, hold on a minute, Kenny, let me wake her up”. Hell of a nice guy, he treated me with respect because of me and her’s relationship, not his and mine.

My sister died back in ’96. I believe that her current old man killed her but the cops weren’t all that interested in checking it out so I’ll never know. I have my reasons, but it makes no difference and it’s something I don’t want to go into now but he died a few years later. Her dying and my mouth almost caused my death on more than a couple of occasions though.
We were pretty much estranged at the time of her death, I hadn’t spoken to her in months even though she lived 5 miles from me – when I get around to writing that fucking book I’ll explain why – but as time goes on I tend to forget the bad and remember more of the good times. That’s a good thing for memories, not so good for real life – a man has to factor out emotional shit, you know?

But yeah, I hear this song and my mind drifts to better times.

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16 Responses to For Barbara

  1. DixieDennis says:

    Kenny,
    Thanks for sharing an emotional building block, Man, I think I got something in my eye.
    DixieDennis

  2. Tom says:

    We were created with a memory but not a “forgettery”. Not sure why but I guess God had a reason.

  3. anonymous says:

    Family issues can be tough to deal with. Friends you can walk away from and never give a 2nd thought. Family – completely different matter.

    R.I.P. Barbara Jean, your big brother still remembers and cares.

  4. Fjord says:

    Blood is thicker than water.
    Im sorry for your loss.

  5. Craig says:

    It’s time Kenny………write the book.

    Craig

  6. Rustbucket says:

    It’s good to see this side of you. I had you pegged as a kind, but hard-hearted bastid. But seriously, that’s some emotional writing there. I, for one, can’t wait for your much-talked-about book.

  7. John Deaux says:

    Man it seems like life is like 80% bullshit and maybe 20% fuckin A, it’s that 20% that keeps us going.
    Remember the good times
    Condolences on your loss

  8. Rob says:

    Start writing the book now while you still remember…

  9. Drew in Michigan says:

    Yup songs can do that

  10. Mad Jack says:

    I’m truly sorry for your loss. Sit down and start writing.

  11. Stevie says:

    Ok, I won’t harp on the book, Ken, but there is a need for writers like you to write. American perspectives like yours are sorely lacking…just have a look at your local bookstore and you will see that is true.
    By the way, thanks for the Frizell and West song. I love real country and didn’t know about them.

  12. Alex WindDancer says:

    ((HUG))
    I am truly sorry for your sister’s loss.
    music helps.
    write your memories, put them away, add when you can. Memory fades and can be dimmed.

  13. elric says:

    Thanks for sharing man, sorry for your loss.

    Agreed on the book.

  14. Madmike says:

    Sorry for your loss, hang on to the memories, and yes by all means put the pen to the paper I do believe you could write a great book think of a title and the rest will come!!!

  15. Bagley says:

    Write the book, Kenny.

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