Part Two: Alan Graham
The show was in San Juan Capistrano. I drove my rent-a-car down the most scenic routes on the way to Cliff's show, in order to settle myself down so in case I had to shake Cliff's hand, he wouldn't feel it sopping wet from sweat. And you know what they say - never let 'em see ya sweat. But that didn't work because I found out, hanging with Cliff Morrison, there's never a dull moment. So I didn't just sweat, I nearly shit my pants - in just the first minute of our meeting. So here it is.
I arrive at Cliff's show three hours before showtime. There are people all over the parking lot smoking marijuana, smoking heroin, smoking speed, smoking coke, and I think they were also smoking sugar cause some of that stuff smelt pretty damned bad. Drinking beer, drinking hard alcohol, drinking GHB which is a man-made amino acid that rumor says gets ya high as a kite. Huffing gasoline, huffing freon straight out of the automotive a/c...Let's just put it this way: These people waiting for the show were just trying to get high on anything they could get their hands on. And that day I found out that it doesn't cost nothing at all to get high, for some people, if you really put your mind to it. If you have a mind left, that is. But maybe they are just nervous to see Cliff too. Who knows? Cause I definitely ain't no stoner but I was almost willing to try something to slow my damn brain down after the conversation on the phone with Cliff a week before the show night...
But anyways. Considering that I got to the show early, I noticed that there were a lot of people already there waiting for the door to open. And there were also people hanging out in the back of the venue where the equipment gets loaded in from the trucks onto the stage. And in the midst of looking around, I heard a man say “Where’s Cliff?” to another man that was standing outside between the back door and the entrance on the corner of the building. So like a journalist, I got my ear as close as I could to that conversation. And I heard one of the gentlemen say “I think he’s way over there hitting on that fat chick,” pointing down the street. And when I looked down the street where that gentleman was pointing, I saw a man wearing a country hat and a blue shirt with black jeans sitting down on a curb in front of another building next to a heavyset girl with blonde hair - sitting very close at that. And I thought at that very moment, “I’m gonna walk up there and talk to Cliff and see if I can start the interview before the show, rather than after...”
So while I was approaching Cliff and the girl he was speaking to, a man stopped me. He said “Excuse me, who are you?” And I said to him, “Who are you?!” Then he said to me, “I’m Cliff’s manager. And you can’t go over there.” So I said “Why is that?” His manager replied “Because Cliff Morrison told us to keep everybody the #### back!” And I said to his manager, “Cliff said it just like that? Keep everybody the #### back?” And the manager said “Yes, that’s exactly the way Cliff said it.” Then I said “OK, I’m gonna walk over there ####in’ anyways. Cause I’m supposed to meet Cliff. He invited me personally to this show tonight.” So the manager says “Whatever” and waves me on.
While I was walking up to Cliff and getting closer and closer to him and the heavyset blonde, I was thinking to myself “Shit, man! Cliff’s manager is uptight and he’s a real asshole too!” Now, walking up to Cliff and the girl, I noticed there was a large, tightly stuffed military duffle bag sitting in front of both of them. And I noticed that Cliff was holding hands with the girl VERY tightly - but when I got right up close on them to introduce myself, I found myself looking closely at their hands locked together and seeing both their hands were locked over a small black box with a blinking red light that looked like something out of a movie. But before I can say “Hi, my name is -” Cliff Morrison looked up at me very quickly. “I need some private time with this girl here. You have to leave right now. Go back to the building. And if you can, tell everybody to go on the other side of the building.” Then I told Cliff my name and he said “I’ll love to talk to you as soon as I’m done with this conversation, with this young lady. But by all means, please, go back to the building and tell everybody to get behind it.”
When Cliff said that, he had a look in his eyes that I hadn’t seen in a long time, so I turned and walked back towards the building. But when I got about fifty steps away, I knew it would be a good idea to start running as fast as I could because I knew there was something terribly wrong.
I was gasping for air when I made it back, because Cliff took the girl five buildings away from the venue to talk to her. And I think it was about what was in the bag and what they were holding in their hands. But I wasn’t sure. Until I told everyone to get back behind the building and then I went up to Cliff’s manager and said “I think Cliff’s in big trouble, man!” And Cliff’s manager said, “Yes, he is in big trouble. The girl that he took over there that he’s talking to has a bomb in the bag. And we already called the cops and they are on the way.” And I said “Shit! Man, why didn’t you stop me from going over there?” His manager replied “I did. But you didn’t listen to me. You were just calling me an asshole under your breath when you were walking away. So why should I tell you there is a bomb in the bag?” So I said to him “I’m sorry, man. I just hope Cliff makes it out of this okay.” And the manager looked at me with a smile and said “Well, Cliff can be dipped in shit and come out smelling like roses. He’ll be fine.”
About a minute after I had my conversation with the manager about the bomb and Cliff’s well-being, I started getting dizzy and very thirsty and I said out loud “I gotta sit down. And I need some water, please.” Cliff’s manager said to me, “It looks like you’re going into a bit of shock.” He helped me to a curb on the safe side of the building and after he sat me down he said, “I’ll go get you a drink of water. Just hang on, buddy, and I’ll be right back.” So right there I noticed that his manager wasn’t such an asshole after all. And that was the second time I was wrong in a week.
About a half minute went by since that thought about the manager and here he came out of the back door of the venue with a large cup of water. When he brought it to me it was ice cold. And I said “Thank you.” Right then he said “The cops are coming - I can hear them” and I could too. At the same time Cliff’s manager and I said “Thank God!” He helped me up and we both looked to see the outcome of the most terrifying situation I’d ever been in. Looking down the street, we saw four police cars speeding towards Cliff and the girl. Behind those cars was another four or five police cars and a truck that appeared to be a SWAT truck, plus quite a few more cruisers following them. At that time, I knew this wasn’t only a situation, but it was my very very first adventure.
The police surrounded the area encompassing a four building distance towards us, so where Cliff sent us and told us to stay back was a safe distance after all. So he must have known something about demolition and blasting radius as well from his past training in one of his earlier careers before he got into music.
To make this long story short, from the time the police showed up in force to the time they left it was only about two hours long from beginning to end, including the interrogation which is the police asking questions to get all the facts on the crime that was committed - or what could have been the biggest tragedy that had ever taken place in the very small town of San Juan Capistrano. Which included the police, Cliff Morrison, the girl that Cliff stopped from blowing up twelve packs of military C-4 explosive, and Cliff’s manager who called the police for Cliff - and the people they saved on that day. Including me. The journalist that wanted to hate Cliff Morrison, the man the world loves to hate - that I now see as a hero. And also a person that thinks about more people than himself. Unlike Alan Graham...
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