My father had some admirable qualities, but equanimity wasn’t one of them. For example, once, during my teenaged years, when the phone rang once too often to his liking, he ripped its wires from the socket and hurled the entire apparatus against the wall. Although incidents like this were rare, they occurred often enough to put us on edge. Unfortunately, after I left for college and his business started to go under, financial pressure exacerbated his anger. When my younger brother Fleming and sister Sue Ellen entered their adolescence, the household became more and more turbulent.
Not too surprisingly, Fleming started to get into trouble. Anger is contagious – or at least it was for us. While I was up in Columbia playing the role of angry young man, Fleming was back in Summerville mouthing off, experimenting with drugs, and getting arrested for this and that. Eventually, he was expelled from Summerville High School.
Nevertheless, he earned a GED and later a BA in mathematics and got a job teaching high school for Berkeley County.
Thanks to a fairly robust his drug habit, his teaching career was short-lived, and Fleming spent years in and out of rehab, ultimately getting hooked on crack. Oh yeah, before that, he suffered a couple of strokes and had a heart valve replaced while still in his twenties.
Although I do not believe in a personal god, I know that Jesus can save lost souls, because he saved Fleming, who has been sober/straight now for going on a decade.
During this time, he has been writing and playing music. Just recently, reverb.com invited him to Brooklyn for a recording session.
My hope is that some established star records one of his songs because they’re really good, both melodically and lyric-wise.
Here’s a clip from a recent gig at Bowties in James Island.
The song is entitled “In the Holy City,” a tribute to the love offering of the relatives of the victims of the Charleston massacre.
Anyway, never give up on someone. If you’re in the Charleston area, you can catch Fleming and his band at Bowties Thursday 18 October at 7. I’ll certainly be there.