What exactly does fear smell like? Sometimes it smells like an Italian sub sandwich to Greg Taylor. How do you derive fear from a harmless sandwich? How about a sandwich run at 6 AM in the morning, after the night shift just as the sun was coming up over the ridge in Bay Front, flooding the street with daylight. A brief trip to Marty’s Deli to delay grocery shopping another day. A sandwich and a bag of chips, a little work in the rehearsal studio, then a few blissful hours of sleep, then repeat the cycle. It should have been so simple, but sometimes, the most simple things become complex.
There was Greg Taylor throwing on his dad’s Vietnam coat to thwart the autumn chill then walking two blocks from the rehearsal studio to the deli. He went inside Marty’s, said hello the staff, grabbed the sandwich and chips, then headed out the front door. In the distance, he made out two guys walking toward him on the narrow sidewalk. These two dark figures walking with swagger, and as they came closer, Greg saw what that they each had a golf club, swinging them as they drew nearer. Crips or Bloods, how do you tell? Does it even matter? These two had been out that night seeking their own brand of justice, trying to right some wrongs, bringing down whatever got in their way, cars, locks, adversaries.
There was no where to go, nowhere to hide even if you wanted to. Greg could feel the sweat forming on his upper lip as it seemed to pour throughout his body causing the Vietnam overcoat to suddenly become too heavy and becoming slick across his skin. Sandwich and chips in one hand, one hand free. Two guys approaching with an agenda, with a score to game that nobody can win.
What goes through your mind in this situation? No coward here. Keep your dignity, his grandmother always said. Explode through your opponent, the head football coach always said. Dawn. Two guys. Two golf clubs. One tired guitar player.
The moment of truth was at hand, they were face to face. Greg Taylor’s gaze fixed on the path ahead of him, and in the seconds they met on the sidewalk, he said, “It’s okay amigo, just let me go.” With that, Greg Taylor walked unflinching between those two who suddenly parted and let him through. He did not look back. His ears went to supersonic mode, he could almost hear leaves falling, the groan of a branch, a breath, a sigh, the slightest sound. Greg listened with new ears, the smallest sound could mean everything. He expected with almost certainty the whack of a golf club to the back of his skull, but it did not happen. With every step, he breathed a little easier, walked a little brighter. Clockwork Orange on an average Tuesday. He walked straight back to the studio thankful for Thin Lizzy and the promise of another day. Although the Italian sub sandwich might have embodied fear, it did taste pretty good in the early morning light.