Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cassandra Complex

Telluride Colorado 1989

On the road through the four corners in Hopi Land, seeing the Grateful Dead in Tempe, Red Rocks, Boulder, Deadwood, and finally going to hell you ride….. It was the Harmonic Convergence as well and Olatunji and the Drums of Passion opened up the three shows, as well as having a sunrise ceremony drum circle every morning for a week with masses of people chanting and drumming in the cup between those great mountains.

We rented a couple rooms way in advance, well someone did, and I went along for the ride. I don’t remember who drove, I had a friend who toured with an Eldorado, his Dad wrote the book on Merrill Lynch, but I’d be lying to say I went with him. I do remember being in the hotel room and taking somebody’s Darvon without asking, waking up to the sound of PoliceOpenUp and getting a flashlight in the face. They were asking us if we knew Richard Scott, our old friend who did the best Mick Jagger with us in the Sloppy Drunks, and would we go to the jailhouse and bail him out.

Meanwhile the drums are beating, it’s the morning of the Harmonic Convergence, the Mayan Calendar is at a juncture, the Hopi Prophecy of the Fifth World is coming to pass, The Chinese Newness Principle is being evoked….. I guess Rich and Jill had been pulled over with some mushrooms in the glove box and whiskey on the breath. It was only the road from the campground some two miles form the hotelapartment we had rented. They always say it happens closest to home… Down to the jail we went and got them out for a couple 100 bucks, they saw the next show with the best Scarlet/Fire into Terrapin StationDrumsEyes that we’d ever seen…and then later Mark, Jill’s husband, drove them both back to Littleton in his red Mustang to appear in court.

Rich said one guy got in trouble for signing his name Mick Jagger on the court form and the judge called him out in front of everyone, making him change it. All the the other deadheads, who had come from the same set of concerts, filled the courthouse with uproarious laughter as the little wizard looking guy raised his hand and said ‘right here your honor!’

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sheriff of Laredo

....a spontaneous unfinished play....

Fern Gibson
Sam Littlefoot
Barbara Mellowfield
Rushing Batewell

All stand in a curved line side by side, evenly spaced so as to take up the middle of the stage. There is no other scenery, and a ladder can be seen off to the side. A man whistles backstage.

They are holding the scripts, not reading them, but looking at them, eyes not moving, as the lights come up.

A few minutes pass and Fern starts to dart his eyes around at the others nervously. He fixes on Barbara. He gestures with his head…

Fern: Well go on then.
Barbara looks at her script and then at Fern.
Barbara: What?
Fern: Go on then, you’re first.
The others smile with relief, lowering their scripts to their sides.

Barbara looks down again.
Fern: Go on then. And stop that whistling will ya?
Whistling trails off comically.

Barbara looks down and begins to read after a couple seconds, addressing the audience directly.

Barbara: Under the vast sky we pull daisies in accordance with nature’s plan. We fill our woven baskets and sell what we do not need in the town square and transportation centers. It is to you, the daisy buyers, that I dedicate this song….

A piano plays an arpeggio and Barbara finds her note….

In the land of milk and honey
They say you got a lots a money
When the well runs dry what will you do??
Cause its all goin down
Yeah its all goiin down
Yeah its all goin dooowwnnn the tuuubeeeessss

Fern butts in suddenly, the piano crashes a note.

Fern: hey hey come on the people didn’t come to hear this doom and gloom, they want a snappy show, something to send them home with a little smile on their faces, right???

He looks out at the audience for support.

Fern: Okay so how about Sam, what you got there, I think you have the next line, isnt that right???

Sam looks right at Barbara as he begins, the two of them start acting… a man brings out scenery little by little as the scene unfolds between them….

Sam: And then you were a bird?
Barbara: Yeah, a big yellow bird flying over the city, it was amazing!!
Sam: Wow, where can I get some of that stuff?
Barbara: I don’t know, some guy just gave it to me in a bar.
Barbara laughs stupidly like a ditzy blond.

Sam: I see. Well anyway its nice to have such a cool new member of the Super Team.
Barbara: Super Team?
Sam gets out the newspaper and shows her the add for the room.
Sam: Yeah, like in the add. Looking for new member of Super Team. See?
Barbara: Sure, but I just thought…

Suddenly the other two actors burst in in their Super Team costumes, music crescendos.

Rushing, dressed as Super Jinx Man, comes to the front of the stage and addresses the audience.

Rushing: I, Super Jinx Man, come to your fair city in good faith, do not misunderstand me and my ways. They are old and steeped in a long tradition of martyrs and saints, shamans and half man half wild boar people. Your only option is to submit to my spells of dexterous impediment if you indeed are of the criminal mind. You shall stumble and fall into the pit of hell….

Fern, dressed as Super Sticky Man, pushes Rushing to the side and begins his own address…

Fern: I, Super Sticky Man, shall foil the sinister elements of this fine city by plastering them in their tracks with my super sticky sleuth goo.

Fern, laughing, acts like he is squirting them with a sleuth goo gun.

Sam, sitting at a small kitchen table now, rubs his eyes of the tears of laughter.

Sam: Oh dear, this western life, oh dear.
Barbara: But we’re from the East.
Sam: What you mean?
The super men come to the table and help themselves to the coffee. Barbara begins…

Barbara: From the East, apparitions, ghosts. That’s what we are. We are products, manufactured, don’t you get it? We are made!! We from the East are made for those in the West, that’s the idea, I think.

Sam takes a bite of a donut.
Sam: So let me get this straight, we are made. But who made us? Can we meet them?
Barbara: You will never meet them, not really. Not unless you go nuts.
Barbara shrugs as if to say she had seen it happen before.

Fern: You mean?
Barbara: I was at The Met, Troilus and Croissantia, and Brutalus literally went off on his soliloquy about how he wanted to fuck the pope and all kinds of stuff. Stage hands had to cart him off…

They all look at each other in fear.

Barbara: But hey don’t you all worry, I’ve seen this kind of set before, its one of those mimimalist plays, I cant see there being any violence or pain for you to worry about for the next hour or so. I’d say be prepared for anything boys!!!

Barbara quickly gets up and walks across the stage and exits. The others sit at the table in disbelief, looking after her. They look over at the fallen scripts on the floor in the middle of the stage. Suddenly they get up and run for them, fighting over the scripts and then quickly perusing them for any bad stuff…..

Barbara comes back in dressed as a film director. She has a quick meeting with them to explain the shot. As she talks to them, a campfire scene is set up like in the old west. Sam stays behind while Fern and Rushing leave the stage after Barbara finishes the little meeting huddle.

Barbara: In this, the campfire scene, the cowboys are beginning to feel lonesome. They have been on the trail for many moon, killing buffalo and Indians until they are piled up in mounds. They begin to think there must be something more to life than rustling, eating beans and massacaring villages.

Barbara motions for Sam to go sit by the campfire and the other two exit. Barbara assumes the Director’s chair and gets ready to call Action…

Barbara: Action!!

Sam sits alone at the fire, poking it with a stick. He begins to hum Home on the Range….

Sam’s soliloquy:

Would that this fire keep me alive in body but dead in spirit, her flames lick my brain and scorch my heart, leaving me the shell of a man. The fortunes of men depend on my killing spirit, the destiny of a country on my willingness to become an animal.

Fern enters, zipping up his pants.

Fern: Ahhh I think that little Pocahontas is starting to like it, ha haaa….!! Say partner, what’s on your mind, you look a bit melancholy.

Sam: I’ve just been thinking, this is no life, I’ll never be able to wash the blood off my hands.

Fern, lighthearted and more brutal, sits down next to Sam, and puts his arm around him.

Fern: I still got some of that powder the old woman gave us, you know, makes you feel like you are a big yellow bird, flying over the prairie? Come on, you remember what we saw last time ??

Sam: No thanks, I want to keep my wits about me this time. I’m gonna talk to the trail boss tomorrow, see if I can get a different assignment or something, plate washer or bean cooker or something, maybe just help stack all the skulls…..something different.

Fern: Suit yourself, tonight I’m flying over the camp and seeing who’s doing who!!!

Fern takes a bit of the substance and kicks back as if waiting for the effects. Sam goes back to poking the fire. We hear the hoot of an owl and the howl of a coyote as the two sit silently. Slowly from backstage, a rumbling like thunder begins and they look up at the sky. A few flashes of light come from back center stage and a bit of dry ice smoke starts to come out of the back curtain. They get up to look at it, backs slightly turned to the crowd. They watch as a large Indian wearing a poncho comes out of the smoke, on a conveyor belt, head down to his chest like, looking like a cocoon. The cowboys draw their guns and fire a few times but we hear the ricochet of the bullets as they spend all the cartridges. The apparition laughs loudly and throws back the poncho to reveal a gold plated suit, like an old sci fi movie astronaut suit. Four lights come out on either side of him like the lights on Pl Espanya.

Indian: The four winds now converge on your twilight prairie scene, conjuring the demons you have created. They are thirsty and seek vengeance but they are sly. That is their nature, and patient too. They will not settle for a the blood of a few hapless cowboys, they have devised a bigger plan for you two…..

The ghost points his long bony finger at them and the music crescendos, tympanis pounding like thunder.
Fern, tripping by now, is on his knees in supplication to the Indian ghost, folding his hands in front of him on the verge of tears. Sam stands defiant and interested, unafraid of the ghost.

Sam: This plan, oh great one, does it…..hurt?
He winces a bit…

Indian: Only a little, but be not afraid. Your destiny is mapped out, you have only to step into these boots and you shall be……Sheriff of Laredo….

A pair of new boots comes out of the smoke on a mini conveyor belt, resting in front of Sam.

Indian: Go on then, put them on.
Sam: Hmmm let’s see if they fit.
Sam puts on the boots while Fern cowers on the ground in fear, not taking in any of this, but tripping like crazy. Sam gets them on and gives the ghost a satisfied look.

Sam: It be true, oh great one, I heard tell old Bill Middlestone was running for re-election, but his recent scandal with the Jimson Gang has made people a little suspicious of his criminal ties. Fifteen years of Middlestone style sheriffing could come to an end--the whole history of the west could change if someone could wrest power away from that one man…...

Sam is pacing around a bit, thinking over the possibilities, looking up at the moon, he begins a short soliloquy….

Sam: These winds do blow good news! Swept up in her current, I will sail over the grasslands to my glorious project. There, in Laredo, at the crossroads of East and West, the power center will shift. And am I not worthy of this destiny? True enough my daddy was a blacksmith and my mommy was a whore, but this emptiness never sat comfortably in my soul, I knew there was something more. Marauders come and go, and slaughter loses its appeal on such a small scale. These winds blow me to greater battles, into the memories of the Seven Generations, into the myth realm of collective consciousness. If Middlestone can be ousted, oh great one, then these boots shall be enshrined in glory and fame.

Indian, pulling his poncho closed, begins to recede into the smoke…

Sam looks down at Fern, lying on the ground still.
Sam: oh hey great one, hold on, what about him??
Indian: oh, he’s gonna be your deputy, of course!! So it shall come to passsssss……

He disappears backstage…
Fern slowly rouses himself, looking really disoriented.

Fern: Whaaa….what happened?? I was flying over the wagons, I saw Billy Boy and the Big Russian, then whamO I don’t remember a thing, how long was I out??
Sam: Ten minutes? I don’t know, it was more than a lifetime to me. We must surrender to our fate, soon you shall see the trail that has been mapped out for us to Laredo…
Fern: LarEdo??? Whaaaaa????

Barbara, who we have forgotten about, suddenly stands up….
Barbara: Cut!! Print!! It’s a wrap, ten minute break….
They all come out of character, mumbling and walking offstage.

The curtain closes……Rebecca Enters from the side to address the audience in between and two.

Rebecca: hello everyone!! This is not an intermission, they’ll be back in a second with Act 2, at the saloon in Laredo, so hang on…I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like the theater you know, just between you and me, it’s a bit pompous. People who go to the theatre are kind of well, stuck up and think they…ahh sorry not you all of course, no I mean, this is alternative theater, independent theater, you all are very cool for coming…..but anyway I have no idea whats going on in this play, they just wanted me to kill some time in between Acts, I think I do this between every act, ah we’ll see….

Anyway, lets recap…the cowboys had a vision and one of them is somehow going to be the new Sheriff of Laredo. Hmmm something sounds familiar about all this, I’ll have to think about my old lit classes from college. Hero journeys and stuff like that, perhaps they are metaphors for something else, who the hell knows!!! In any case, its kinda zany, you never know whats going to happen, so that’s better than those slow drawn out dramas people seem to go for these days….gimme something with a little variety I say….besides, we’re all friends you know so im just trying to help out….ta taaahhh!!

Rebecca begins exiting the stage as the curtain opens on the saloon scene. Honky tonk piano chiming in the background, Barbara as the Madame, Rushing as Sheriff Middleton

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another Rude Awakening

Summer 1987, Portland, Oregon

My housemate and I started a painting business together and we needed a nice truck to haul around the paint and supplies. John was a firm believer in visualization, and he said if we visualized a nice new truck floating down to us in a pink bubble, bursting softly at our feet, we would get the truck. We did this for about a week, egging each other on, and one day a neighbor made us a deal on a Toyota SR5. It was practically brand new, and we got it for $750, a really good deal.

We were working a lot and the truck became indispensable. I got a really hard job demolishing someone’s chimney, and after ripping out bricks with a crowbar, I was ready to get drunk. I went to the bar and had some Bushmill’s with beer backs and then drove home. I made it home no problem, parked the truck, went upstairs and went to bed.

The next morning, my housemate came and woke me up. He asked me where I had parked the night before. Maybe I had left the truck downtown, but I assured him that I had made it home. He told me the truck was not parked out front anymore, where the heck was it?

I was still wasted from the whiskey the night before and slowly came to my senses, thinking I should roll over and look out my second story window to the street below and see for myself if the truck was there or not. I tried to push myself up to the windowsill but a sharp pain shot through my neck and right shoulder and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even turn over in bed. I had wrenched out my back in the chimney demolition and now I was completlely useless. As I would learn a few days later from the X-ray, my second vertebrae in my neck had unhinged itself somehow from my spinal column, pushed forward so far that the radiologist told me it was worse than if I had jumped off suicide bridge and survived. Five years of ramming into big guys with a football had finally come back to haunt me, and I cursed Coach Tryon for sending me back time after time to that bloody field.

We tried to figure out what could have happened to the truck, I was sure I had parked in front of the house. The phone rang. It was the police telling us that they had found it. A 16 year old had stolen the truck, gotten drunk and taken it for a joyride. Ten miles from our house, he had run a red light and T-boned another car, both cars were completely ruined, totalled as they say, but luckily no one was hurt. My housemate went to the scene of the crime and verified that yes indeed that was once our indispensable Toyota SR5, the front all crumpled and the engine spewing out steam and leaking fluid all over the road like blood. He said he cried in front of the policeman.

I wanted to get some kind of revenge on this teenager, but we knew we would never see the kid or get any money out of him. I finally made it out of my room, down the stairs, and spent three days on the couch until I could see a chiropractor and get my back put into place again.

My theory was that I had thrown out my neck when the kid was stealing the truck. It was right under my open window and I’m sure part of my sleeping drunk brain heard him breaking into the SR5. I probably jerked up to look out the window and screwed up my neck because I was too drunk to completely wake up.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Peter at the Cathedral

Thing go in cycles
I’ll tell it straight
Today I saw Peter at the Cathedral.

Playing Mendelssohn
His arms were dancing in the sacred air
Gently holding the bouncing mallets
While striking the strings.

Back home
He hung up his red sauce pan
Summer hot in the city every year
Went into his Rambla de Raval 4x4 room
Put on the TV a foot from his face
Laughing out loud and eating the chicken stew.

His wife in Belarusa was a bit ill
But they were building a house for the kids.

---Summer 2006, Barcelona, Spain

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Don Moíses

1996 Temixco, Mexico

I went to say goodbye to Don Moises, lying on his deathbed. I had helped Tony carry the bed over for him the previous day, and now he was hidden from view behind a large curtain in the main room of Tony and Sandra’s little square concrete house.
I slid the curtain aside and caught him frozen in mid-reach, trying to pick up something on the bedside table. He didn’t notice me as he struggled to turn onto his left side, and now I was standing right over him. I whispered his name and he jerked back down onto his back, looking first at the ceiling and then at me, slowly focusing with wide eyes. After a couple seconds he gave me a smile of recognition.

I shook his hands and told him it was a great pleasure meeting him, that I would be leaving for D.F. in a couple hours, heading back to Portland. He nodded his head affirmatively, nose all plugged up unable to breath, his cavernous mouth hissing out an unintelligible response. Then he started to cry, loosening his hands from mine and grabbing his face like someone who has a terrible toothache, but with both bony splotchy hands, weeping uncontrollably.
I said oh Don Moises don’t worry, we’ll see you in the future, everything will be allright, as I reached for his shoulder to offer some comfort. His mouth opened and closed, the air passed through, the eyes searched the ceiling for something, but the words didn’t come.

For over forty years, Don Moises had squandered most of his money on prostitutes. That may be common enough, but these were HIS prostitutes, he owned a large fairly high end brothel in Cuernavaca with 25 women and a couple floors. You might think the pimp always gets if for free just because they are the pimp, but Don Moises was a romantic. He gave them elaborate gifts and took them out to dinner so they would love him and gladly offer themselves to him whenever he felt like it. He didn’t force them into anything, and most of them stayed on for longer than average. He was the Duke Ellington of whoredom. Meanwhile his seven kids and wife were left to fend for themselves. Not to even mention a couple mistresses and other unclaimed kids, par for the course. Now as he lie on his deathbed, it was family payback time.
Sandra was the youngest daughter and so it was just assumed she would deal with Don Moises. After all, she had been doing all the work for her brothers since she was eight years old, cooking, cleaning and babysitting. I was helping her get the bed because she didn’t want to talk to Tony anymore, they had had a fight at the hospital earlier in the day while they were getting Don Moises. I guess they were carrying him in his wheelchair down the hospital stairs and Tony said she wasn’t carrying her weight. He snapped at her, making the effort all the more difficult and dangerous. At the bottom of the stairs they had it out and their argument echoed down the sterile hospital halls.

Sandra said that in her culture the men are machos, its true, but that’s good cause that means that they help the women more. I don’t know why Tony don’t help me more, that’s the problem, he too lazy.
We went to Reina and Elisendra’s house up the road to get the bed. Sandra carried her brother’s machete, clearing a path. She chopped down one weed and held it up to me. She said this is the Bad Woman plant, you must always kill these when you see them or it is bad luck. We both laughed in a groaning way, unable to fathom the depths of lies people had to live through. Suddenly Tony’s cherubic face poppep up between the fence posts, a smile offering help, as if he had heard Sandra’s complaining. Then he and I huffed and puffed up the road and put the bed in place. Don Moises waited in his wheelchair and we put him into the bed and closed the curtain.
Sandra said Don Moises would cry a lot over anything after he had the stroke last year. He was now too proud to ask for help from anyone, and actually no one offered so he was left to die in the home of the daughter he knew least, with the granddaughters and grandsons who only knew him as a sweet old half senile papa and weren’t privy to tales of the brothel he had sold before they were born. He kept himself behind the curtain while everyone stood around in the kitchen, occasionally looking in on him and asking if he needed anything.

Only two weeks before we saw him sitting in his usual spot in el Zocalo of Cuernavaca, just across from the fresh juice stand, sitting in the shade. Airam and Lluvia said we would probably see him there and sure enough there he was, big kisses for the abuelo. His bony splotchy hands were placed neatly on the cane he balanced between his feet. He proudly talked to his granddaughters, stroking their hair and grabbing their faces to get another kiss. He told me he walked from the day house everyday to watch the people go by, it’s a beautiful place to spend your days, and he kicked a pigeon away from his feet.
Now on the other side of the curtain, Lluvia quietly cried for her dying grandfather. She had never seen him so bad, not even after the stroke, at least he could talk and knew what you were saying. Now he was like a living skeleton, and was left abandoned by all her aunts and uncles and she didn’t know why.

No one else offered any help. Out of spite they said let the old man die, he never did anything for us. Sifran showed up a couple times, having a word behind the curtain with Don Moises before meekly saying goodbye after a cup of coffee with all of us. He neglected his wife Reina and his four kids to be with his girlfriend. He said he would come back but never did. Juan the oldest brother was some kind of cop, and Tony told me he had a bad reputation in the family for being corrupt. One time he put the finger on some big time drug dealer and some other cops just busted him out of his apartment and shot him in the street. He was the only one in the family with any money, but he didn’t offer any during his one hour visit.
A couple other family members came to pay their respects and say goodbye to Don Moises, but no one could or would do anything.

I stayed in the Hotel Monte Carlo room 201 for a couple days in Mexico City before going back to Portland. I was sitting and writing about Don Moises and honestly my door swung open for no apparent reason, like someone had shoved it open. I was scared, but then I heard a faint whistling in the hallway, so I ran out to look. Spiraling quickly down the stairs, I saw a young woman, her bountiful hair was pulled back into a bun, clickety clacking down the steps, the sound of her heels landing on the black and white checkered floor of the lobby at the bottom. I watched from above as she left the hotel, her song fading away into the traffic noise.
Maybe Don Moises had just died? He sent a messenger to me, a happy messenger to tell me he waited to die until after I had left, and that he was now out of pain. He only wanted to die amongst his family, with no strangers around.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Nirvana ‘blown-out’ Guatama
Eight Fold Path—right views, aspirations, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, meditation, rapture.

Avalokiteshvara who regards the world in mercy

Yellow river fable
Swift horses and arrows
No religion

Boddhisatva appears with a basket full of willows and fish scales.
He who can recite the sutra of the compassionate Kuan Yin she will marry.
Mero is left to find her footsteps leading to the sea.

Fall 1985, Iowa City, Iowa


I have realized the relationship between the reader and the poet:

One must not leave out too much or there will be danger.
We speak of the poet’s duty, and that it mingles with art.
This craft is an illusion when images float on psychic energy.

Peter Blue Cloud who came traipsing in with winter crows in the hour of Coyote could not be found in an intellectual shroud.

Summer 1984, Iowa City, Iowa

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fourth World Blues and Southern Hospitality

Spring 1997, Greensboro, Statesville and Wilkesboro, North Carolina

I took the shuttle from the airport to downtown Greensboro. I had tickets for the 12th annual MerleFest Bluegrass Festival in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, but had no idea how I was going to get there from Greensboro. When my folks bought me the plane tickets to visit them in their new snowbird home in Florida, I added an extra sixty to get me to the four day festival of my acoustic music heroes.
I was traveling light as usual, just a big hiker’s backpack, so I find myself in downtown Greensboro. The only person I know from there I don’t even know and his name is
Dr. Eugene Chadbourne. You may have heard his great records like Chopping Down Weeds, or Big Boys With Little Balls. He played in Bongwater and Camper Van Chadbourne. A true legend and his name just happened to be in the phone book.
A woman’s voice. Hi you don’t know me, I say, but Im jus whistling through town on the way to MerleFest, y’all going? Eugene was in the studio but his wife said call back later, maybe their daughter is going with a bunch of friends.
I thought of a carload of southern Jewish southern belles leading me to four days of high lonesome paradise.
I still had to find a place to stay for the night. As I hung up the phone to the Chadbourne’s for the second time (no news yet) a man approached me with a half smile and a slight lifting of the chin that made me suspicious. I don’t think I was suspicious because he was black, but I couldn’t be too careful, so I acted friendly.
He wanted to know if I had somewhere to stay and suggested the shelter in the church where he was a member. We walked the ten or fifteen blocks across the bridge together to a large white building with an empty parking lot. He was an honest person. I checked in, got a bed in the large room and stuck my head in a book, not talking to anyone. After resting a couple hours and realizing this was no place to find a ride to a bluegrass festival, I left stuff safely there and went back to explore Greensboro.
No luck on the streets after a couple cafes and bookshops asking around, even calling a pottery place in Asheville thinking there would be a ride. Back at the shelter, the junkies told me they would give me ride for fifty bucks, a lot less than a taxi, which would be close to a hundred. I told them I would think about it, picturing my decapitated head and my fifty bucks going into their arms, then discreetly finding out the nearest town on the Greyhound Bus and bought a ticket to Statesville.
The afternoon is quiet and the little church shines at the edge of Main Street. Men’s chins seem different than I have seen before, even the young and fit have a flap of skin, and all appear to have buck teeth, vestiges of clever selective breeding.
There’s a pizza joint advertising all you can eat so I go in. Hey Baby, they all look up at me, the waitresses on break with the place empty. They say are you hungry Baby and point to what’s left on the steaming buffet. I put my pack down and dive in. They said they weren’t into bluegrass but they would give me a ride. We went to their house and did bongs, listened to Kid Rock first and then drove the convertible down Highway 12, one of them saying good thing they were giving me a ride cause right down that road is a town where they outlawed glass bottles on account of too many people getting cut up in bar fights. If some one of them guys picked you up hitchhiking, no telling what they might do to you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lucrecio and Ajax Part Three

Ajax followed Lucrecio everywhere, even to the new school, but the kids there didn’t like the two of them very much. It was hard enough to make friends as the new kid in town, but even worse when your parents have mysteriously died, your Uncle is the town weirdo and your only friend is a crow.

Lucrecio knew he was different. He knew it every time he took out the Gold Pocket Watch and tapped on the cracked glass, trying to get the hands to move again. Each tap sent a tickling shock through his little bones. But as the other boys and girls at school kept growing taller and taller, Lucrecio didn’t grow an inch. It was like time had stopped for him at the fire, just like it had for the Gold Pocket Watch.

Now his parents´ old house in the forest was paved over with a four-lane highway.

After a few years Lucrecio got used to the trains rolling by and shaking the little shack. No matter what he and Ajax were doing, when they heard the whistle blow in the distance, they would run to the tracks and wave at the engineer as he went by and run after the caboose as it winded off into the distance. Sometimes a passenger train like the Zephyr went by, and Lucrecio would stand with Ajax perched on his shoulder, waving at the people, wondering where they were going. He loved the looks on the people´s faces as they headed off to their comfortable homes on the other side of the Silver River , wondering what strange people lived next to the railroad tracks.

Sometimes a train screeched and grinded as it slowed down and stopped in front of the shack. Lucrecio, Uncle Milton and Ajax watched as railroad men got out to inspect the train.

One sunny afternoon Lucrecio was alone on the porch when he heard the whistle in the distance. He ran out to the tracks to wave at the engineer, who passed by slower than usual, greeting Lucrecio with a blow on the whistle as he slowed down the train for inspection.

The train stopped and a few men walked up and down the tracks, looking inside and under the boxcars.
´Hey whatcha lookin for?´ Asked Lucrecio.
´Hobos. They are trying to get a free ride across the Silver River to break their leader out of jail.´
Lucrecio had never heard of Hobos before, but he knew some people were not allowed into Gold County after the Diamond Highway was finished and they built more towns. A lot of people moved east over The Silver River in the Great Migration. Almost everybody except Uncle Milton and a bunch of hobos.
´Well kid, keep an eye out for the hobos, they kidnap and make slaves of little kids like you!!´ he laughed loudly and headed back toward the front of the train, which slowly rolled down the tracks, whistle blowing, as the men in the caboose waved goodbye.

Lucrecio walked to and from school everyday with Ajax , following the railroad tracks from his Uncle Milton´s shack to the rickety old wooden bridge across the Silver River where Lucrecio caught the bus to Grantswood School .
They didn’t have any other friends and a lot of the kids were hostile towards them. Kids on Uncle Milton´s side of the Silver River aren’t allowed to attend Grantswood, but the tragedy of the fatal fire and the subsequent media attention and ongoing search created enough publicity to grant special privilege to Lucrecio. He even met the Big Boss Fingerling once when he went on TV with him and was walked into the school on the first day.

Lucrecio got off the bus and started along the path in the woods to the Silver River .
´Caw!! Caw!!´ Ajax was waiting for him on the rickety old wooden bridge and they slowly crossed together.