Salem Willows Black Magic and Additional Verbiage (a 30:30 report)

07/07/2020 0 By BuddyCushman

Billy Budinski was this guy I knew back when I was living in Salem, he himself lived out in an old wooden shack in the Salem Willows which was and I’m sure still is this jut of land out into the harbor and whether it is the Salem Harbor or the Beverly Harbor or you might even make a case the Marblehead Harbor – I say this because there isn’t any kind of official boundary out there in the water like there is on the roads when you come to a sign saying entering Beverly (out of Salem) or entering Marblehead (out of Salem), nah you don’t see any officialdom out in the water so someone on the Dane Street beach, which is Beverly, might look out and (correctly) say that is Beverly Harbor just like someone might (correctly) stand at the tip of the pier down the Willows and look left where the water pools up against roads and causeways and railroad trestles and such and say that’s Salem Harbor and then you kind of have to go around a big corner, still out at the end of that pier where they have some small shops with fishing tackle and bait supplies and I remember salt water taffy too, and other stuff, anyway if you look around to the right and around that piece of Salem homeownership property you could see, if you could see around a curve, that would be Marblehead harbor, but my point if somewhere water is moving around, waves and such, and maybe even more under the water down deep currents and so the water mixes all together like if you have a see-through washing machine…..

And why I got into this somewhat too-long discourse on what’s what out there on the salt I don’t know because I want to tell you about Billy Budinsky and being back in Salem back then which is not ‘now’ by any stretch of the imagination – though – you will see  — it might be. And somewhere along the way I’m thinking you are going to catch my drift that, like all that water and the flowing into and out from and that nautical action and activity, time in this story begins to swirl a bit and even, you could make the case, folds back over on itself though I get that that is a pretty darn wild statement so I’m guessing just telling the damn story is the way to go, and it will begin with Billy Budinski and me back in Salem and I will arbitrarily pick a year, so say it is 1972 because it’s hard to go wrong with that year unless you were one of those dumb fucks leaving a door open at the Watergate, which is pretty much neither here nor there, so it’s ’72 and while I wouldn’t technically (or any other way) refer to Billy B as “my friend”, not like some of the other guys I was drinking with every night and a lot of afternoons, but in the long run I did actually spend more time with him than them and usually down at the Willows or very near there,

And here it is important to share that Billy Budinski played in the swirly even ethereal world of black magic and if that sounds putting off to you I don’t think it should because more than you know and probably more than you’ll ever know, some of the greatest discoveries of all time and leading to human and animal and food advancements of all time were the result of the efforts and devotions and determinations and sweat-gushing never-endings of practitioners of black magic and for sure Billy Budinski was one of them which it makes sense when you remember I was, along with Billy and my drinking pals, living in Salem which has as a nickname, this — “The Witch City” – and you don’t necessarily get to call yourself a ‘witch’ just because you do black magic stuff day and night and double on weekends, but it is probably cooler to think of yourself that way in Salem than, say Oklahoma City or even Daytona Beach which is in Florida, like Salem on the “east coast” and which no doubt shares some of the same water with Flagler and New Smyrna beaches too, if you remember that exchange of liquid talk I was doing back there,

So he says “I practice black magic” and no one who knows him would ever dispute that and there was one early fall afternoon where the weather was so stunning and gorgeous and beautiful, like New England weather gets every so often, here’s a good word – balmy – and that is not Indian Summer, another New England description, because I’d say that is a little cooler and without humidity and obviously leaning in the direction of fall whereas the day I’m talking about was more like a little left of Labor Day, like the last week of August where a lot of summer has been blanched and bleached out but not all of it and so there was way less humidity and the blue of the sky was to the right of pastel but not hard October blue and that is a setting idea so you get the picture when I tell you it was an abrupt changing of my sensory input to go down into the basement of Billy Budinski’s wood shack, where I did spend a fair amount of time for, say, two and a half years, not every day of course but enough and this particular day I go down there, I follow him down the stairs, and on the long table, which with its dimensions I have absolutely no clue at all how he or even with other people, how they could have got that table down there because no way it fits through the door and yes, there is a bulkhead, which may be another New England word for all I know, I’ve been living in California the last eight years and I never once have heard the word bulkhead, so getting back to the table one time when I had smoked an incredibly large reefer on my way down to the Willows, I was by myself because I’m not like that, I would have shared, anyway, I was what you would technically term “high” that particular day, which was probably 1970 sometime, an idea came barreling into my head and the idea was that someone – possibly late relatives of Billy Budinski, like a great-grandfather (because the shack was what we like to say as “weather-beaten”) meaning it had been there an awful long time and whoever, this is more “high” talk, duh, my distinct barreled-in thought that day was that someone had set that table down there in a big square hole that had been dug – which would become the cellar — my way cool and I’m guessing right on the money thought was that someone put the table down there in the soon-to-be basement and then they built the house up around it,

Which there I go again, not even “high”, weirding my story words all over the place because you probably remember me all the way over to Dane Street in Beverly when I started talking about heading down to Billy Budinski’s, I get like that sometimes, my girlfriend here in Venice Beach which is California and a whole different bunch of ocean – hmmm, how long would it take for some of the water here in Venice Beach to make its way over to Salem Harbor, — holy shit if I start thinking about that while I’m smoking a jay with Missy I might think I’m having some kind of 1967 mescaline flashback, but what I meant to tell you, what I started out to say, was so I go down into Billy B’s cellar that early fall day – which was truly lovely, weather-wise – and Billy has  a new potion sort of experiment, bubbling on sterno, going and there are two live humongous sized rats he caught in this trap he made, I actually helped him build it, and he has a scalpel in his hands and his eyes are wild, and,

wow, how the heck did I run out of time?