"The underbrush surrounding the narrowing path became so thick it was nearly impassable. Mitch bit his lip to keep from cursing, as a patch of thorns ripped the side of his shirt and pierced his skin. He was about to retreat, when he heard the movement of water at a distance just beyond his view. “Snoop,” he called out. Mitch lifted his foot high, and stomped down on a huge section of branches, then pushed aside others as he made his way toward the river ahead.
Mitch went a good thirty feet, stepping over and crawling between the dense growth of wild bushes and prickly weeds. Then, in a panic, he grabbed tightly onto a fistful of small branches as his entire body bolted around to the right, leaving him dangling over the edge of a steep embankment. “What the hell?” He grabbed the clump of branches with both hands and pulled himself up to a small clearing at the left of where he had come through the brush.
Mitch’s heart was beating wildly, as he stood catching his breath. After a moment, he turned cautiously to face the shallow river that ran beneath him at the base of the cliff. “Man.”
He anxiously surveyed the scene below. The river was eight to ten feet wide, but not more than a foot or so deep. In the section just beneath Mitch, there were dozens of large rounded rocks poking up through the surface of the passing waters.
As he was turning to make his way back Mitch gasped aloud. His eyes fixed on a small mound of fur wedged between two of the rocks about halfway out across the river. “Snoop!” he hollered. Mitch rubbed at his eyes with both palms and refocused on the lifeless form. “Snoop,” he whispered exhaling ..."
Ok, so "the cat is out of the bag." The movie set we're building is a soon to come vape shop in Dickson, Tennessee ... "Fall-Out Vapor." It’s the fourth location in their franchise. Unofficially based on the post-apocalyptic themed world of the Fall-Out video game series.or something like it. You know, Mad Max. We are turning an entire store space into a dystopian movie set. In my last entry I talked about acquiring the skills to build such a thing by working for "DreamWorks" on the movie "The Last Castle" ... but there is more. I've dabbled and done visual arts all my life, but to do enlarged projects and illustrations, there will be two large wall murals on this set, I have to credit the time I spent painting billboards for a company in Dickson ... Hampton Signs.
Here's how I got that gig. I was yard-saling one day when I met this older gentleman named John. His sale had some very cool art items so we began to talk. John was an artist who had done many things and was currently painting billboards on the side. He also was looking for another artist to comprise a team to do the interiors of the "Rio Bravo" restaurant chain ... nation-wide. He quickly came to the conclusion, and I'm still not sure why, that I was his guy. He was looking for an apprentice, and believed he had found one in me. What ... ?
For the next several months, he taught me how to paint billboards, and had me submit artwork to Rio Bravo Corporate. I along with John and another artist were eventually approved by Bravo as an official artist team to paint the interiors of their restaurant chain. And there was only one other team doing them nationally. They were going to pay us a ton of money and fly us all over the country to work our magic. I was dumb-founded. Sounded too good to be true. It was actually real ... but never happened. Rio Bravo went bankrupt right when we were to start. I'm not kidding. It was extremely disheartening.
In the meantime, I learned to paint huge images on signs. My mentor John moved on and left me with all of the billboard work. At one point, I had painted nearly two-thirds of the roadway signs in Dickson County. But, that gig ended when billboards went digital and vinyl a year or so later. Nice ride.
But, there is one more twist to this tale. As many of you know, I published a novel this year ... "Lost in America / Lyrics by Theo." I began the writing of it back in the days of all this. And a few days into this work my wife Sally pointed out the importance of the character Mitch in that story and it clicked. I had used Mitch's name when developing the story.
When finally meeting up with Mister Hampton, we got caught up on things. Then I told him about his namesake and gave him a print copy of the book. He grinned wide. We both laughed. Again ... very small world.
... More to come.