So why did I decide to move to Vegas. Well, Carl Bell lives here. And the only way to meet someone is to be where they are. Brett lived in New York. I didn’t want to live in New York. Too expensive and too much like Philly. I had a friend who lived in Vegas and during our (me and Arty Party) visit she had this amazing guy show us around. I saw enough of it to know I could live here someday. Also there was a little divine intervention again. AP and I were in Cape May in my favorite used bookstore on Beach Drive. While looking through the books, AP called me over to where she was. I went and she pointed to a book on a shelf. It was a children’s book, with a little girl chasing a black Lab on the cover. The title? Follow Carl. AP bought it, and we did.
So through some researching I found out where he lived. I’ve tried this same method on other people. So far it has only worked in locating Carl. Weird, huh? Not so much. Anyway, we moved a mile away from him. AP went out for a job at the premier salon at the time in Las Vegas, Canyon Ranch Spa Club at The Venetian. She got the job immediately. Me, I struggled for a bit. I applied at so many places, couldn’t get a job. In March 2005 AP and I were strolling through Mandalay Bay and noticed House of Blues was having a job fair the following week. “You should go,” she told me. “You have to get in there. It’s the first place we ever saw Brett perform. It’s magic. It’s how we’re going to meet him.” When we sat to eat lunch there, our table was in front af a wall of pictures. Yep, Brett’s was on there, larger than life. Okay. Gotta work here.
When I got home I went on the HOB website to see what jobs were open, what I could do. There was an accounting position, a cashier. It seemed a little intimidating. I told AP I wasn’t sure if I was qualified. She told me not to worry; the job was mine. She also remnded me how a few years back I was hired by a daycare center whose Chairman of the Board of Directors knew my stepfather and wanted me to come in and be their new bookkeeper and research some missing money. Within a year I had discovered who it was and that she had stolen thirty grand, maybe more. I gathered all the evidence and she was let go. That was a very proud moment for me, and it was in my accounting history. Whatever HOB could dish out, I could eat, and then some.
The job didn’t come to me as easy as I’d hoped and I didn’t become an official HOB employee until June. By that time AP had seen Carl drive out of a parking lot and we’d driven by his house. We were navigating our way through this new city, making friends, and focusing on our jobs. It wouldn’t be until 2007 when the Carl and Brett train would pull into the proverbial station, starting in January and ending in December. It’s strange how we met them both that year and haven’t seen either one since. Especially since Fuel broke up and when we saw them they weren’t together. They just both came around in the same year. Carl began it, Brett was in the middle, and Carl closed it. Here’s how it went down:
JANUARY 2007–AP and I took an after Christmas trip to Best Buy to spend some gift cards. We did our shopping and got outside when her face went pale. “What?” I asked. I thought she’d forgotten to get a particular cd and was now regretting the decision. “I think I just saw Carl,” she said. I asked her where and she said, “Going into Best Buy.” From that look on her face I knew it had to be Carl; no other man could have put that look on her face. A mixture of death mask and euphoria. So we decided to go back in. We found him looking at mp3 gear. AP said she was going to go talk to him. I was petrified. I said she couldn’t. I reminded her about what happened when she tried to talk to Brett five years ago. “This is different,” she said. “I can do this.” And she did.
I waited to see whether or not he called security before I joined her. And soon enough, there we were, talking to Carl in the middle of Best Buy like we were friends. We talked about Bear Grylls and I Shouldn’t Be Alive on Animal Planet. We talked about music and Chris Daughtry, whom Carl had asked to be the new Fuel front man. He was nice and down to earth and we must have talked for about fifteen minutes. AP even got to tell him in person that she was the one who made him Get Back Honky Cat. He told her he had it hanging in his house and was pleased to finally meet her. I told him I worked at HOB and asked if he’d be playing there any time soon. He said probably, when Fuel got a new singer. We let him go, thanked him for talking to us and wished him luck finding the right adaptor or whatever it was he was looking for and couldn’t seem to find (he’d told us he’d already been to Frye’s Electronics and couldn’t find it there either). We’d done it. We finally met Carl. One down, one to go.
SEPTEMBER 2007–Brett was acting as lead singer for a Doors revamping with Robby and Ray who called themselves Riders on the Storm, and they came to HOB in September. The entire production staff knew it was my life’s mission to meet Brett so when the band came I asked the stage manager if it would be possible. He said absolutely, come see him day of the show. Day of Show was a day long event. Got my hair professionally done and arrived at HOB six hours before showtime so AP and I could watch the soundcheck. We set ourselves up in one of the skyboxes and watched. Oh, seeing Brett that close was amazing. Hearing the pureness of his voice. At one point I actually went downstairs, walked through the backstage area to find the stage manager. I had one excuse or another, I forget, I just wanted to be in the same room as Brett. He was on stage and looked right at me, smiled a little. I died. I had come a long way; I went from Lansdale Wawa deli girl watching him on television to HOB Staff Accountant whose job it was to cut his check and look over his band’s contract. What what? Amazing. I had just processed his check (well, Riders on the Storm’s check) two days ago. I almost did a ceremonial dance. I could have. No one would have thought it strange. I was a rare breed around there, and they all accepted me. We were like a rock n’ roll family. I miss it. Anyway–
After the show AP and I went backstage to meet Brett. He had several people crowding around him and when he got a free moment I asked if he wouldn’t mind taking a picture. He said of course he wouldn’t and stood between us. A guy using AP’s camera couldn’t get it to work and I joked, “Of course you can’t. That was our plan so we could take longer standing here with Brett.” I squeezed him then and he said, “I never mind standing in between two lovely ladies.” What a sweetheart. We talked about being from Philly and he asked what brought us to Vegas. Ummm, well, I wasn’t exactly going to be forthcoming about that one. I deflected the question and he asked us if we gambled. He said he has no luck gambling, doesn’t understand the concept of parting with money and getting nothing in return. I told him I didn’t gamble much and he said, “Then what are you doing here, darlin’? You’re in the wrong place.” Oh no, Brett. I’m exactly where I should be.
Someone pulled him away from us and we thanked him for talking. He nodded and said for us to hang out, he’d be back. Since I worked there and knew to leave well enough alone and because that’s polite bandspeak for breaking away from someone, AP and I took our cue and left. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to talk to Brett again in my life. I would hope so, because the Muse train is still running. Also I’d love to tell him that honky cat story, see if he remembers and what his take is on it. And apologize for acting like such a crazy stalker, being so disrespectful to his privacy. He is only a human being. One who completely affects me and my work, but a human nonetheless. But if I don’t get to chat him up again, I’m okay with that. I got what I was supposed to. He was amazing and beautiful and a southern gentleman and I still love him and the dream is still alive.
DECEMBER 2007–We’re back to Carl. He got a new lead singer and Fuel was playing HOB. This time the Promotions Manager got me in to a private acoustic session. And then my wonderful stage manager (I still love him, he was so kind to me, I hope his ultimate job goals come true, he’s also a fellow screenwriter, so cheers to him) let me and my good old friend AP come backstage again. We got our pictures taken with Carl and reminded him of our first meeting in Best Buy. It took him a moment, but when we reminded him about I Shouldn’t Be Alive, he instantly remembered. He also remembered that I worked there and asked me what I did. I told him I was in accounting. I also said, “I cut your check yesterday,” which I did. He asked me if I could add a few zeroes. I said I would if I could–he was certainly worth it–but it was already cut, had the signatures, to which he added, “Yeah, and already spent.” Again, we were like old acquaintances. It was awesome. This was the last time I ever saw Carl, too. I can’t say whether or not I feel done with him; he’s not “mine,” he’s AP’s, so I guess it’s about her path. Although I do still listen to his music and even have a character inspired by him in one of my novels, the one I’ll get to when I discuss Muse II. But as with Brett, I’m happy with what I got with Carl. If it stops there, I can say it went full circle.
So there you have it, lovelies, my journey with my greatest writing muse. It took a little over six years for it to go from discovery to meeting, and it was all well worth it, took me places and introduced me to people and things and experiences I never thought I would encounter. And I’m beyond tickled at starting this next leg of the journey chasing Muse II will take me on.