1 Chapter One / Best Laid Plans

In life we can make plans but life doesn’t care what our plans are or how long we have had the plans. Jay Branch had such plans. Growing up in the city of Atlanta as a boy raised on Kiss, Blondie and the Sex Pistols he had made many plans. He would one day become a famous rock star that would travel and conquer the world. Unbeknownst to him he had traveled a familiar path of many of the musicians he had idolized. He had started out like any normal child in the suburbs being the perfect point five in the two point five members of his household. Playing little league football and baseball and getting along with all the other kids in the swim tennis community his family lived in. Until his father lost his business and sent the family into financial ruin and young Jay into his first season of emotional eating. It was bad enough his perfect family was crumbling and the lovely subdivision life was becoming a memory but the weight gain did him no favors. The Branch family moved from the nice section of town and Jay moved off of the expensive sports teams. Moving to the new school accompanied by his weight gain and lack of sports team camaraderie left Jay in an awkward place for the first time and the school bullies were quick to point that out. He soon found solace in music, the heavier the better. In an act of defiance to the world that had turned on him he wore the battle gear of the metal head proudly. Ripped jeans and a black t-shirt had become his armor against the evil two faced people that had once befriended him only to turn their backs when the cards were down. Then in the days before Lollapalooza made Alternative and Punk mainstream, Jay found skateboarding to as a way to replace the emotional eating, and would routinely have eight hour skate sessions. The end result making him a slim athletic kid again but just in time for a haircut and clothing that inspired taunts of “fagot” instead of “fat ass” from the school bullies.
The music that set him free had become his life. He spent the better part of his early twenties in seedy Atlanta clubs screaming his heart out at the top of his lungs. Until one fateful night after a particularly bad show when he met a better reason to live and breathe. Beth James could light up a room when she walked in the door. She was always happy, she never met an enemy and she always had an encouraging word. Even when Jay felt like throwing a temper tantrum like a spoiled child and storming off because something had upset the perfect ebb and flow of his universe; Beth could single handedly bring him down to earth and make it all better with a simple smartass comment.
On a cold October night Jay’s band was playing a pre-Halloween show in a little club off of Edgewood Avenue in the heart of the run down section of Atlanta. When too many technical problems and too many drunken band members threatened to put the final nail in the coffin of one more group of worthless musicians in Jay’s life, he felt his only recourse was to throw his guitar over the heads of the crowd towards the bathroom doors in anger. Just then he saw a pleasant happy face staring right at him. She looked him right in the eyes and said “Well that was quite the spectacular train wreck.” With those words the angry world melted away from Jay’s sight and he lost all thoughts of the best made plan that he had followed his entire life.

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