(Pictured above: Spence to the far left, me to the far right – with hair! )
Salt Lake City, UT – 1997
There was a local coffee shop down the street from my parent’s house. Every now and then I would see a punk guy hanging out there. On several occasions my mom even mistook this person for me. We had not met yet, but he and I would become best friends.
It began under totally hostile circumstances though. On a day like any other, I was driving around the neighborhood with several friends. As we pulled up to a light by the coffee shop, a car full of pop-punk kids pulled up next to us. They had the typical pop-punk stickers on their car – Blink 182, Green Day, and other garbage bands. We were not impressed.
I believe I started the shit talking. A few words were exchanged, a few things thrown from our car, a small chase ensued. It was all pretty half-hearted. We went on our way not thinking much of it.
Several months later a friend of mine asked me to drive him to the coffee shop to buy some weed from someone he was supposed to meet there. We pulled into the parking lot and he went inside. I sat in my car and listened to music.
As I sat in the car, a tall punk guy emerged from the coffee shop. We looked hard at each other as he approached. “Sup,” he said as he approached my car. “Nothing, sup with you,” I replied.
He stared hard at me. Then he turned his gaze to my car. I had a large Cannibal Corpse decal on the driver’s side door. “You like Cannibal Corpse?” he asked in a challenging tone. “Yup, love em.” I said. “I saw them play a couple weeks ago,” I added. “Damn, that’s cool.” he replied, nodding with approval. He stared hard and spit on the ground.
He walked to the back of my car and looked at the other stickers. “GG Allin?” he laughed, “That guy’s hardcore.” “That’s how I like it.” I responded. “You heard of that local band Endless Struggle?” he asked. “Hell yeah! I work with the guitar player! I was just at their show last weekend.” I pulled up the lapel of my leather jacket so he could see the Endless Struggle patch stitched there. “That’s rad man, I know those guys too! I’m surprised I didn’t see you there.”
“I’m Spence,” he said, sticking out his hand. “I’m Matt. I’ve seen you hanging out over here a time or two.” “Yeah,” he said, “I’ve seen you drive by a bunch of times. I always wondered who you were.” “Well we should hang out sometime,” I said. He agreed.
He said, “before you go, come meet some of my friends.” “Cool,” I said, jumping out of my car. We walked indoor to the tables. A group of teens sat quietly and stared at me as we approached. “Hey, this is Matt, he’s cool,” Spence said. I shook the hand of each person at the table. Each one looked down or away and hesitantly shook my hand.
By this point my friend had finished his drug deal and was ready to leave. Spence gave me a hearty handshake as we left.
Only later did I find out that the kids Spence introduced me to were the pop punk kids I had started shit with previously. Unbeknownst to me, they had been hanging out at the coffee shop that day with their hardcore, tough-guy friend Spence. Seeing me pull into the parking lot, they sent Spence over to fight me on their behalf.
But within minutes of meeting me, he decided that I was cooler than the people he was protecting. He had asked me to come meet his friends simply to see if any of them had the balls to stand up to me in person. They didn’t, so it was off with them and on with me. We got together the next day; for the following years we were like peas in a pod.
Spence was a hardcore punk with fire in his heart. We bonded like brothers. We had the same stories and routinely found ourselves in similar circumstances.
Much like as had happened to me, as Spence was driving home one night when a man cut him off in his car. Spence pulled up next to the man who flipped him off and pointed and laughed at his hair. Being highly intoxicated, Spence flew into a rage. Driving a Ford Bronco, he did the best he could to run his opponent off the road. At one point Spence flicked his lit cigarette into the man’s open window, hitting him in the face and leaving a large burn mark on his cheek. (This would only be discovered later from the police report.)
He chased the man through a neighborhood until he lost him. Feeling confident that his opponent had driven down a dead-end street, Spence pulled his Bronco across the road. He grabbed a roofing hammer from his floor boards and jumped out of the car. He got in a stance and waited for his opponent to return with every intention of throwing his hammer through the windshield as he passed. He saw lights on the horizon and prepared himself.
Squinting through the headlights, Spence could tell that the car didn’t look the same as it approached; this looked like a cop car. Suddenly he was hit with red and blue lights, and a spotlight froze him where he stood. He knew he was busted. He dropped his hammer, left his Bronco parked across the street, and ran as hard as he could.
He heard the cop yelling behind him and call for backup. He jumped the first fence he could and ran through a back yard. He hopped another and ran across a front yard. He hid in the bushes and heard a cop car speed past his hiding spot. He peeked out and ran again, jumping fences and hurdling hedges.
He recognized the neighborhood that he was in and realized he knew a girl who lived close by. He made his way to her house, running and hiding all the way. He arrived and rang the doorbell. The girl’s parents answered and looked at him with concerned surprise. He was wearing a white wife beater t-shirt; it was torn from the neck to the hip on one side. It was smeared with dirt, motor oil and blood. His arms were scraped to pieces and his legs bruised and dirty. He was panting, sweaty and drunk. Not to mention his eight-inch, neon orange Mohawk.
He asked to speak to their daughter and they hesitantly agreed. When she came to the door, he asked to use her phone. She agreed and let him in. He called one of our other friends for a ride. He said if they cops called or came looking for him, to tell them that we was at a movie and that his Bronco had been stolen.
His friend came shortly to pick him up. He rode in the trunk all the way home. Once he got home, he and his friend corroborated a story to tell the police. They would tell the police that his Bronco had been stolen and that he had been home all night. It wasn’t long before the phone range:
“Hello?” Spence said hesitantly. “Why did you run??” the voice on the other end of the phone demanded. Frozen on the spot and unable to remember his story, Spence buckled immediately, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he repeated. The cops were at his house within minutes hauling him off to jail.
It all made a great story.