It’s Hard Being Alive


From: Wesley Cunningham <>
To: Toby O’Rourke <>

Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 3:43 AM
Subject: The Future of Rock & Roll

Some say that rock and roll is a wheezing grandma, weakly rapping on death’s door, but don’t tell that to Gunnery Sergeant Fellatio, Fresno’s newest heavy metal studs. They’re here to shove some guitar-induced truth down the naysayers’ throats. They’ll smear the world in lamb’s blood and catapult the crowd down an express elevator to Hades. You can quote me on that, Toby.

Lead guitarist Joshy Deathwish writes all their soon-to-be hits and you might recognize his name from fronting local legends The Slobbering Dongs. Joshy is that perfect combination of songwriter, sensitive lyricist, and the young man is easy on the eyes. You’d think he just flew in on the Concord, fresh from a runway show in Milan. There won’t be a dry panty in the place when Joshy’s through serenading these women. Let the creaming commence!

And the creaming won’t simply be south of the border, Toby. There will be ear creaming for both women and men alike. Once the kidz get a chance to hear Gunnery Sergeant Fellatio’s spellbinding sound, before you know it, the wheezing grandma that is rock and roll, well, she’s going to pop up off that gurney. She’ll peel off her top and shake her ta-tas.

Toby, we are reaching out to you and only you. Why? Well, you are the gate keeper, mi amigo. You hold all the power. You singlehandedly have the authority to give Gunnery Sergeant Fellatio their first big break. We are regulars at Stink Phinger. Anybody who’s anybody knows that your joint is where young rock and roll cubs go to turn into rock and roll lions. Me and the band were at Stink Phinger last Wednesday and had the privilege of seeing those dwarves cover Black Sabbath songs. Stature be damned, those dwarves have hearts the size of wrecking balls. They worked all the moves, left no gyration unturned. I consider myself to be heterosexual, but I swear to you, those were the most seductive little rock and rollers I’ve ever seen and a man could do worse than waking up next to one of them. Not that I’m into that sort of thing. But not that I’m not. I think people should be able to wake up next to anybody they want, gay dwarves included.

Enclosed you’ll find a link to the band’s first EP. The kick-off track is called “Show Me on the Doll (where he touched you)” and it will someday win a Grammy. “Gangbang My Blues Away” opens with a syncopated drum beat that will make you think an African tribe is preparing to storm the adjacent village. Not that all Africans exist in tribes and villages. We’re no racists. We hate stereotypes as much as the next enlightened man. But surely some Africans still exist in tribes and villages. I haven’t researched the topic, Toby, though I’m confident if you scoured Africa you’d come back seeing at least one tribe, slathered in war paint with bones jetting from their lips. That’s not racist either.

And the EP’s final track, “No One Wants Herpes for Chanukah,” well, let’s say this one has the potential to transcend time. In my humble opinion, it’s the band’s “Free Bird.”

Toby, let’s get the grandma of rock and roll back on her potent throne,



From: Wesley Cunningham <>
To: Toby O’Rourke <>

Sent: Thursday, March 8, 2012 2:49 AM
Subject: Camel toe of the soul

Bad news is Brittany’s pregnant, Toby. And it’s mine. For sure. Believe me I asked. Boy did that conversation turn out to be a colonoscopy to the brain. She was basically like, “You’re not saying you think I’m a cheater and am carrying somebody’s baby besides yours, are you?” and I was like, “No, I was under the impression I drank myself sterile,” and she said, “This is the way all little girls dream it will be when they tell the leading man in their life that they’re knocked up,” and I said, “Sorry, you caught me off guard with this whole thing,” and she said, “Get out.”

I didn’t take it as an official, notarized get out. I took it as a mild mannered, perturbed threat. Look, she’s pregnant and all those hormones are making her wacky. I’ve skimmed some of the baby books and they’re all preaching big changes in Brittany’s body. Apparently, building a placenta is a huge undertaking, spinning and weaving that placenta sort of rewires a lady’s brain, and they can lash out even at the slightest provocation.

Naturally, since I didn’t think she was all that serious with her get out, I tried to lighten the mood, saying, “Man, that baby’s making you sorta crazy.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s changing you from the inside out.”

“Excuse me?”

“Our baby might be a demon.”

“Don’t talk like that.”

“Maybe we should name the baby after the devil.”

“Shut up, Wesley!”

“We should name it Beelzebub the Cock Blocking Baby.”

Which to me was just a little joke.

A funny jab to cut the tension courtesy of the peanut gallery.

I mean, I wasn’t really suggesting the baby was Beelzebub, though that baby is a pretty big cock blocker. I haven’t gotten laid once since it’s taken residence inside Brittany. She’s so sick all the time that nookie’s not in the cards, so we’re both a bit more pent up and tense. Normally, we’ve got a pretty good thing going. Or so I thought. Starting to think I don’t know much about our life.

Anyway, it was a mistake to call the kid Beelzebub the Cock Blocking Baby—I know that now—because that was when Brittany totally, like, lost it. She got mad, madder than I’ve ever seen her during the eleven months we’d been together. Her anger made her lash out and break a coffee cup, and I don’t deal well with being treated like that. I start playing old tapes from back in my formative years and I’ll spare you that crybaby saga but it’s safe to say I cut my teeth in a world where kids weren’t treated like little princes or princesses. We grew up fast, grew up hard, and I don’t do well when feeling cornered.

So she got mad and then I got mad. Toby, I have a temper. Believe you me, this isn’t your average temper that’s under my hood. No, mine’s a temper that always revs in the red. I’m not afraid of any style of confrontation. I’m a renaissance man when it comes to all the various interpretations of quarreling. I am not afraid of anything, especially a worked up woman who’s mad about a little (and funny) joke about Beelzebub the Cock Blocking Baby, and that was when I spit in her face.

Was this inappropriate and loco?


The problem is I have trouble controlling these impulses when I feel threatened or attacked. She screamed about the cops, Wesley, I’m calling the cops, Wes, you psycho, which no doubt they will not understand a little face spitting from a guy who’s still on probation for something as harmless as an innocent bar fight a few months back over a drunkard not wanting to pay me for a bet that he lost fair and square, so I stomped the dollar equivalent out of his ass. He welches on a bet and I’m the bad guy? Me, who is only taking the dollar equivalent of what’s rightfully his? Me, who would pay up if he lost the bet and feels the tug of decency to hold this alkie responsible for his end of our wager?

I mean right?

In the name of self preservation, I split from our residence. What else could I do? Brittany was heated and ready to rumble and I’d be no kind of husband-to-be/father-to-be if I spiked up her heart rate any higher. Expectant mothers need to remain calm at all times. I saw that on the boob tube.

What getz my goat is now I’m sleeping in the band’s rehearsal space. Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty thankful they’re letting me bunk down at the Pube Palace—named for obvious reasons J but hot damn if it doesn’t sting, being kicked out by Brittany. I didn’t mean any disrespect with my joke about Beelzebub, and as for a little face spitting, my stance is this: in a committed long term monogamous relationship, we’re going to do stuff we’re not proud of. I would never dismember our relationship if Brittany spit in my face. I’d say, “Brittany, it’s not polite to spit on me, honey, but I know we can work past this small bump in our road because we truly love each other.”

I’m pro compassion, Toby. I think empathy is man’s best friend.

So here’s me squatting at the Pube Palace. You don’t expect to be sleeping on a blow-up mattress next to a drum set, using a space heater to keep from freezing to death. I’m wearing a god damn beanie and two pairs of socks. I can see my breath in this bitch.

Point is it would be an understatement to say that things have been better. Things are getting worse. I’m a good person. I try to play by the rules. I show up to my day job and cook all those pizzas like Italy’s good name rests on every pie I shove in the oven. I try to provide for Brittany. Sure, we fight. Sure, I’m not perfect, but if we both keep trying, we can give Beelzebub a happy life.

Listen, I know I laid it on a little thick about the Fellatio fellas. Fine. You got me. Maybe you listened to the EP and thought: this is the band he’s touting as the future of rock and roll? Hey, I know they’re not Zeppelin or Hendrix, but I really need this gig to pan out. They’re talking about firing me, if I don’t deliver on my promise to get them some better shows. You can imagine that if they do in fact fire me, I probably can’t keep crashing at the Pube Palace for free. I can kiss that good-bye, which means what, now I sleep in my car? The car with only three actual tires and one donut? The car that burns oil and smokes all the time? The one with cardboard taped over a broken window?




From: Wesley Cunningham <>
To: Toby O’Rourke <>

Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012 4:02 AM
Subject: A Heinous Crime

I realize now that I deserve your silent treatment, Toby. I mean, who is this guy? Who is Wesley? On behalf of me, I’m apologizing. Straight up.

I got fired from the pizza place tonight. My boss thinks that if he yells at me, I’m not supposed to yell back—that I’m supposed to be a good little subordinate. Under that logic, when he screamed to me, “Wes, where’s that fucking pie for table eleven?” I’m supposed to fill my pants and sweat bullets and hop to attention because he’s the manager and I’m a lowly cook. But I’m the kind of guy that if you swear at me, I might be inclined to square up.

Which was what I did. And did this fake tough guy really want to have a fistfight? He did not. He walked away and fired me from over his shoulder. So no job. So no income. So no idea what to do next.

No idea until I realized that the thing with the band was at its breaking point anyway. I mean, are they being cool catz by letting me crash at the Pube Palace? Yes and no. Outwardly, yes. Secretly, I think there’s something sneaky afoot (engineered by conniving Joshy, of course). I have the suspicion that they’re trying to take advantage of me. What I mean is this: if they think they’re doing me some great shakes by letting me sleep on an air mattress at the Pube Palace on a gratis basis, maybe they also think that I somehow owe them more of myself, more of my time—that their generosity in letting me crash means that I shouldn’t work my fingers to the bone as their manager/booking agent/roadie—which I already do—but I should work much further down my fingers. That I should give these noobs a knuckle or two. Well, I won’t do it. If these skidmarks want to try and take advantage of ol’ trusty Wes, maybe I should head them off at the pass and take advantage of them first.

It’s called survival of the fittest, muchacho.

So in that spirit, this anonymous and innocent citizen would like to report a robbery. This completely blameless and not guilty resident of Fresno has stumbled upon a felony. Yes, Gunnery Sergeant Fellatio has been the victim of a heinous crime!

It’s pure happenstance that I even know about it. For the record, I certainly had no hand in this odious ordeal.   Luckily, the thieves didn’t see me in the corner of the Pube Palace. Luckily, I stayed shushed on my flattened air mattress, which is basically a doggy bed. Thank my lucky stars that these thieves never suspected the presence of a booking agent/manager/roadie huddled off in the corner or who knows what would have befallen me?

Toby, these thieves stole everything. All the instruments, the amps, the PA, the mics, even the stands. You name it. By the time they split, there wasn’t one piece of equipment left in the room. Skeptics might think I stole the stuff. No chance in hell I’d steal from this band I’ve been breaking my nuts to help, even though they regularly treat me like a breathing snowman made of feces (I’m talking to you, Joshy).

Please quote me on the fact I’m innocent.

After leaving the pawn shop, I in no way have a newfound $4200 burning a hole in my bulging pocket J There was a coin flip this morning. Heads, I go to Hollywood. Tails, off to San Francisco. This non-snowman-made-of-feces is heading north to Frisco. It’s a town full of loonies so what’s one more matter in the long run?

I’ll try to make this my last email, but I can’t make any promises. I get lonely and then I like to reach out to old friends, even a selfish good for nothing prick like you who can’t muster the decency of responding to anything I say. Doesn’t much matter, I guess. I’m doing what I have to do. So are you. It’s hard being alive. No one’s nice anymore. It’s a shame the way we treat each other, but maybe a planet full of old dogs can learn something new. Probably not but here’s hoping. Anyway, kiss those dwarvez on top of their wee heads and tell them I said to rock and roll with the best of them.

To new adventures,



Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, most recently “All This Life.” 

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