Despite my most earnest efforts, I never could convince him that St. Anger really wasn’t all that bad of an album. In the grand scheme of things. The Big Picture!
Yeah, they’ve sounded better musically. Sure, there were no blistering solos and Lars’ drums sounded like some hyperspaz banging on empty soup cans. It was all about the LYRICS, this time ’round.
Nope. Young and cocky, he wouldn’t have it. I was either two bricks short of a proper heavy metal load, or deaf.
Training was boring. We had hired in together, so we consequently sat through it all together. Every boring speech about shit we had yet to encounter. We begged for smoke breaks. Took them when we said we were going to the bathroom. Argued about Metallica.
He made me feel young again.
We learned the Nordson together, under our trainer’s watchful eye. The three of us were part of The Smokers Club, and could always be found either on the benches by the guard shack before work or around a picnic table after the last bell. We’d talk about the Colts mostly, or the latest factory gossip, or he would chime in about some professional wrestling match he’d recorded the night before. Guy stuff.
Clint never walked. Instead, he sort of . . . bounced. Never flatfooted. Always on the balls of his feet, like the king strolling through his jungle, waiting to pounce. A literal spring in his step. And that ever-present smile. I don’t recall him ever uttering an unkind word. Sure there were the usual grumbles, but never anything hateful or pretentious. When we found out he was going to be a dad, we made him a special badge to wear on his lanyard. When we found out the new Metallica was coming out, he and I did a happy dance. Or a happy headbang. A happy mosh. Whatever. Oh, the heavens did rejoice in the fact that Death Magnetic didn’t suck.
We also shared a love of writing. As I attended classes to learn how to do it better, he bought a thirty-nine-cent spiral bound notebook and wrote a novel. In longhand. Pretty much during the downtime on the line. I’d glance his way, across the aisles of machinery and circuit boards, and there he’d be with his notebook open and his pen flying. A pen! That’s confidence. He’d share snippets with me, but held most of the plot close to his chest. It didn’t really matter what it was about. He did it. That’s what impressed me the most about Clint Mauller.
Sadly, I had just been thinking about him. We hadn’t touched base in a few years, ever since he moved on and I stayed behind. I wondered if he’d heard the new live Metallica stuff. If it was any good. How he liked being a dad. If he’d written another book while the coaches weren’t watching.
1) Buckle up.
2) Call an old friend.
Before it’s too late . . .