Richard King Perkins II Remembers Jack Nance and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

CBS // Showtime (c) 2017

It’s difficult to assess the degree of influence Twin Peaks has had on my life. It’s somewhere between

incredible and profound.

I can say with absolute certainty that Twin Peaks is what initially inspired me to write poetry. Not the original series, which is amazing, and not the transcendent artistry of Twin Peaks: The Return, but the greatly misunderstood and underappreciated movie. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me had never even come to a local theater near me. So when it came out on video, I went to the local video store and rented not just the movie, but a VCR as well. It was during the scene in which the Log Lady encounters Laura outside The Roadhouse and recites ”The Tender Boughs” poem of warning that I decided that I had to try and write something as powerful. That was about three thousand poems ago.

I soon after decided to memorialize my attachment to Twin Peaks with tattoos: The “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign on my right bicep and Laura wrapped in plastic on my left bicep.

It was also around that time that I started collecting Twin Peaks merchandise and participating in the Wrapped in Plastic magazine creative contests. I’m proud to say I was the winner or co-winner of every contest I entered. I’ve still got ten issues of the magazine signed by stars of the series which I received as prizes.

One of those prize packages was waiting for me when I returned home form the 1995 Twin Peaks festival. It was probably the least attended festival in terms of the number of actors from the series who appeared. But it was the only festival ever attended by the incomparable Jack Nance, who I had the pleasure of speaking with at length. During an informal meet and greet, he signed two cards from the Star Pics set for me. The first was his portrait card and the second was of “A Fish in the Percolator” card which he inscribed with the notation “My First Trout- Jack Nance.” Absolutely a beautiful, one-of-a-kind item. But better yet, after the signing, I saw Jack at a table in the hotel diner, alone, and mumbling to himself. I asked if I could join him and he agreed. We talked a bit about his involvement with many of David Lynch’s movies. I asked which of David’s movies was his favorite. He answered Wild at Heart, which was a bit of a surprise and I said so. Jack then told me it was because the movie was about a desperate, chaotic love affair which he likened to his relationship with his former wife, Kelly Van Dyke. That relationship ended tragically and I’m not sure Jack ever recovered. Although he couldn’t have been kinder, he seemed shrouded in an aura of tragedy. I wasn’t surprised to learn of Jack’s death a year later, where Jack seems to have been a victim of manslaughter.

After completing his explanation about Wild at Heart and his wife Kelly, Jack wandered off from the table, leaving behind a can of “garmonbozia” given to him by a fellow fan. I took it with the intent of giving it back to Jack the next day, but he never reappeared. Of course, I still have Jack’s can of garmonbozia and it’s one of my most cherished possessions.

I’ve often thought that if garmonbozia were real, I’m pretty sure Jack could have filled many cans with his own pain and sorrow.

The significance of Twin Peaks in my life has transcended the artistic and inspirational and become entwined with the personal. For me, Pete Martell was not a character played by Jack Nance. Jack Nance was a living, breathing and very real man with human frailties who once played a lovable character named Pete Martell on an incredible show named Twin Peaks.

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.