by Hayden Bennett
Where I grew up in Indiana (Gary), it wasn't good to ask about Gōōm's Code. I asked my mom and she said, don't ask about Gōōm's Code. Then she said, you're getting old enough, Otesco, what do you want to do with your life? Open a record store, I said. That's good, she said, and handed me five thousand dollars.
With the money I bought a small storefront in Ambridge Mann, off fifth. I wasn't sure what to call the place (I've never been good with names), so I made my way to the vinyl factory and asked a worker. He said he knew what I wanted, but he was tired and asked if I could buy him a beer. We walked out of the factory and down the road to Elbow's Pub, where we sat side by side on stools made of green felt. I've always liked how felt feels on my fingers. I ordered two tall ones and the factory worker got to talking.
If you want to know Gōōm's Code, he said, you're in the right place. No, I replied. I'd rather take the five thousand dollars from my mother and open a record store. Then he said that at this point, there wasn't much of a choice. I walked over to the ATM to withdraw some cash (the bar was cash only) and when I walked back over to the seat, the factory worker had three darts in his neck. Slumped forward, dead.
On one of the darts, wrapped around the metal base, was a note that read, Look no further for Gōōm's Code, Otesco. Which I thought was just fine, because really it was the record store that I cared about.
Over the next week, things went great. I called the record store Henry's (to remember the factory worker), and I got all kinds of customers. One day a skinny kid walked up to the counter and asked for a copy of Deja Vu. Sure, I said. Can I listen? he said. Sure, I said.
He put the vinyl on the test player, put on the headphones, and started nodding his head. He was mouthing along the lyrics, which is something I never like to see. I have a problem when people mouth along the lyrics. It makes me feel like I'm listening to the person mouthing, not the person singing. I hate it. Call me a neurotic, I just hate it. Anyway, I can read lips, and I saw he was saying, Carry on, Carry on, death is coming, Gōōm's Code is—and I shut my eyes. When I opened them, the skinny kid had a knife in his back. He had fallen onto the floor (I was able to buy a nice green carpet) and he still had the headphones on his head.
Naturally I was a little frazzled coming home that night, and even more frazzled to find Horse Goam in my apartment living room, sitting on the blow-up bed. I hadn't furnished the place yet, but Horse Goam had brought fifteen folding chairs and told me to sit, because the conference was going to start soon. I said I was frazzled and not in the mood for a conference, but I don't like to make anyone angry, so I sat down. The topic of the conference was contemporary photography and covered very briefly was a young man named Bucky Miller. I liked the photography because it took my mind off the two dead bodies I had seen, but somehow also reinforced that I was doing with my life what I wanted, which was keeping a record store with a good stock of classic rock, which has always been my dream.
The next day was like the last, but this time, when the guy listening to Deja Vu died in front of me, I wasn't so frazzled. Is that because of art, or routine? In the bath that night I decided that it was art, and that I wanted to get to know an artist. I emailed Bucky Miller and asked if I could come see him in Austin, Texas. He said sure, and I went to see him. We didn't talk about Gōōm's Code or anything, but we did see Richard Linklater. I've always liked Richard Linklater, so I said goodbye to Bucky and got in the truck with Richard. We drove a couple hours to Houston, and then went into a taco place. Richard ordered three shrimp tacos and I only had chips because I had this terrible headache from the car ride.
I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, Richard said, Otesco, I've written down Gōōm's Code and mailed it to your record store. I didn't want to tell you, but I realized these aren't shrimp in my tacos, but Gōōm's Goblins. Mark it, Otesco, I'm not long for this earth. Richard Linklater died and I took the keys from his pocket, and drove back to Austin.
I never really know what to do in Austin, but it's a cool city, as far as I'm concerned. My mom said she spent some college days in Austin and definitely check out the main drag. As I was walking down, I saw that CSNY was performing that night, and i got tickets. I love the band, they're top three, as far as I'm concerned. I think the music is a little unequal, but if you've got all that talent, something interesting is bound to happen sooner a later, so what the hell, I was on vacation.
I got up in the front row and they all started playing a guitar and I was singing along. It was a fun concert and I took the plane home to Gary the next morning. In my room I found Horse Goam who held a copy of the sleeve of Deja Vu. This came in the mail, he said. It has something written inside. Do you want it? No, I said. I'm perfectly happy not knowing.