We beat the bad weather into Baltimore! My last post was titled Bad Weather Fore and Aft because we’re supposed to be getting ice pellets and rain for the next two days. We pushed ourselves to do slightly longer days (though we ended up kicking ass and arriving in good time) in order to be tucked into our new slip before the second round boxed our ears.
So…the last I wrote was that we’d left Reedville and arrived in Solomons. And the showers really were nice. The rest of the visit was, well, expensive.
The first thing I did was pay for fuel and moorage. We put 14 gallons in the tank, which means that our Yanmar 3GM runs quite, quite economically. And in the office, the woman working the desk, Sam, asked the manager what to charge us. They gave us a two-night special rate – the super-off-season-snow-on-the-dock-almost-xmas-rate – and still our bill came to $140. Gulp. We’d planned to anchor out more than tie up, but with the cold, it’s really nice to have the electric heater in addition to the propane one. Plus, we needed showers!
The second thing I did was call my new employers. It worked out better to do my paperwork Tuesday – after Solomons, we wouldn’t have access to a rental car company – and they accommodated the scheduling change. Thanks!
Third, arranging the rental car. Enterprise would pick us up at 0900 and everything would work out fine.
Except that the Enterprise guy called at 0830 because the reservation was incomplete. And we found the sticking point – they won’t allow rentals to be held by debit cards. Grrrrrr. All the plans fell through, and I had to be in Baltimore at 1300.
I rushed to the marina office and tried to bribe Sam into loaning me her car for the trip. No go – she had an eye appointment (or said she did so I wouldn’t push the issue). The only other person working had driven to work, yes, but there was no way I’d be taking his ride. It was a Kawasaki dirt bike and – uh – no.
She did offer me the phone book, which I accepted with as much grace as possible. To make a frustrating story short, Hertz agreed to rent to me based on a debit card, but they didn’t do pickup. Sam offered to take us over there, which was really nice of her – thanks, Sam! It was especially nice since, on the other side of the rental, we had to get a cab and the cost was $25. Whew.
With a rental car under my ass and the borrowed Garmin 478 (combo marine/automotive GPS) on the dash, I sped up hill, over dale, to Baltimore, where I spent 32 minutes taking care of business. That was a very expensive half hour – the total price of car, fuel, cab, extra day’s moorage…about $200. That’s the worst negative income I’ve ever had for attending a required work function, and it doesn’t even include the 5 hours I spent on the project.
Sigh. But the figures will be positive starting on Monday. Or more precisely, on the 8th, when I get my first paycheck.
James had spent the day working on photos, doing internet stuff, and downloading movies. I was impressed, as always with his shots…
We filled the propane tank and bought a bottle of Myers rum. The lady gave us a couple travel bottles – tequila and whisky – how sweet!
The next morning, we were off the dock by 0715. We’d improved our time by 45 minutes since the beginning of the trip, since we’d gotten used to the morning routine. And oh, the sunrise pictures!
From Solomons, we pushed it hard to reach Galesville and succeeded handily. The entrance was longer than I’d expected and I brought the main down earlier than needs be. Oh, well – it was another smooth day, really. I left a message for the owner of the fuel dock we tied up at, but we didn’t hear anything from them. Score! A shot of rum each to toast our innards and we went out for dinner to celebrate. We made an early night of it.
The next morning was cold as usual, but beautifully clear. Oops, clear and still. We were off the dock at 0700 that time into a glass river snaking from Galesville into the bay. Excitement bubbled in us and I made James laugh out loud with my keep-warm-and-celebrate dance in the cockpit.
We knew we’d be in Baltimore at the end of the day and I enjoyed the trip quite to the limit. Every landmark and watermark was a new thrill. We passed the Thomas Point Light…
…a strange facility not on any charts we had…
…a couple of bridges…
…and a cement factory that meant we were almost there…
And then we were here. We tied up on the fuel dock long enough to not-reach Dick Mead, the owner of Getaway Sailing, before we moved the boat to our new slip. I’m quite, quite happy with it, and amused by the Safeway just behind us. There’s a West Marine that’s as close as the bathrooms on the dock in Blaine, WA. And we have free memberships to the great gym up at the main building.
It’s an adventure over, and another begun. We manage to make crazy shit happen, so though this leg is complete, stay tuned…
When last we wrote, the snow was beginning to fall across our lovely floating home. Since then, we’ve had drifts and ice-pack, washed her down in saltwater to break up the chunks, and failed, yes failed, to shower.
Reedville was somewhat inviting. The first walk we made was for dinner – the broken propane fitting pushed us off the semi-cozy boat and into a much cozier fireplace-front seat at the restaurant. Well-prepared food and a very nice staff, the place is called Tommy’s and yes it’s the only restaurant in town. I recommend it if your purse-strings are loose – we swallowed hard and realized that we were in trouble but in the end, a meal well worth it .
See, we were at the only food-serving establishment within walking distance. We could do sandwiches, sure, but we hadn’t stocked enough bread for days on end of that.
And the other piece of bad news – the marina’s showers are in the marina’s bathrooms. Now, I am very thankful that the water was not turned off in those bathrooms, because I don’t like using the boat head for solid waste (like the euphemism?). However, these bathrooms are unheated. With concrete floors. There was nothing – not an itch nor an odor – that could induce me to step out of my clothing, put bare feet on sub-freezing concrete, and take a lukewarm shower.
It was all about the whore-bath.
Anyway, we spend our first night at Reedville Marina with our brows raised – the wind made us keep our eyes on our electrical multimeter. The wind generator kept the battery just…barely…under the danger high voltage range. The propane cabin heater (Sig Marine Cozy Cabin, in case you’re interested) did a fabulous job of pumping heat into our environment. The propane heater really piles the warmth up at the top of the cabin, and it spreads downward from there, so it takes a little while for the cabin to really feel warm to someone sitting on the berth.
Next day we made coffee (I’m so glad we had electricity, or we would have been completely out of luck for that!) and decided that we would go on a photo expedition just as the sun was coming up over the rolling hills of snow. We had six inches of snow on the boat and thanked each other for deciding to put the sailcover on.
Reedville is beautiful in white, with some of the houses looking like they were meant to be under snow and others looking forlornly toward summer breezes from their buried rocking chairs.
We got some nice shots (check out the slideshow), especially at the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum. We didn’t go in – they weren’t open so early – but the outdoor exhibits include a hand-build John Smith adventure boat, old-fashioned fishing boats, the skipjack Claud W. Somers, and random nautical debris, including a charming pile of oyster shells.
We also discovered that – lo and behold – the people at Tommy’s weren’t lying. There was no other option for food.
Another thing we saw as we strolled and slid along the middle of the road (the sidewalks being narrowly and spottily snowshoveled and the cruising guide having said that cruisers were known by that tendency) was a Festival Hall. The board out front advertised the following:
“The Reedville Festival Chorale presents 2009 Christmas Concert”
The date? Same day! Yowza – it’s been years since I’ve gone to anything of the sort…I’m snowed and blown in…let’s go!
We got back to the boat and did the aforementioned salt-watering of the decks. James kept going after I was done in, and he cleared the decks of snow completely!
And what’s really great? Only an hour or so later, we got a visit from a salty guy named Walt. He had stopped by and talked with James – gotten a little of our story and why we were there at such an ill-chosen time, being the middle of the first solid freeze of the year. On this visit, he invited us to attend the concert and then to go with him and his wife to his house…for a hot meal.
I mean, yes, please and thank you.
The Chorale was everything I’d hoped for. It was people in the community singing together. I even had a terrible moment of sympathy. The pianist was wonderful – she obviously plays a lot, has a good relationship with the keyboard. And I’m not going to put her name in here, in case she googles herself some day. I don’t want this to hurt her feelings, but I have to put it in here anyway…because I felt her pain! I wasn’t watching in the moment, but here’s what I think happened. I think she turned two pages at once. What I know is that the soloist was soloing in French, quite the achievement of the event, when suddenly the only accompaniment – the piano – was not playing the song she was singing. And of course, it was a christmas song and everyone knows how those go. There was no pretending it was a “modern” interpretation or something.
A cold wave of heavy fog flowed across my forehead and into my neck and down from my shoulders to my hands and my breath caught in my throat. Can you imagine? I had such a visceral experience of that simple mistake that my fingers clenched. The pianist did a far better job than I did – with one hand, she kept playing what she could and the other hand found the right page. I can’t say her hands were steady, they shook for certain, but she picked up the song and played! She played the rest of that song and the rest of the evening with energy and surety. Bravo!
Mary and Walt didn’t rush us out afterward – we were able to mingle a bit, get some punch, talk a little. The marina’s owner was there. He was sitting next to me during the singing. After a little time, we rounded ourselves up and Walt brought the car around.
At their house, we had a lovely conversation about sailing, organs and player pianos, sailing, the finite number of unique plots, sailing, celestial navigation, sailing, sailing. They have a Westsail 32 and have traveled south in her – ah, to be going south! We spoke of the cold and drank rum in front of the warm raging fireplace.
The other guests were a couple, also sailors. The man had captained the skipjack at the museum for a decade – he told stories about races on the John Smith adventure boat, too. The big score of the night (besides the great company, hot fire, good food, and sipping rum) was due to their friendship with yet another person – the owner of the marina on the Little Wicomico (weh-calm-ick-o). He had our propane part! And they drove us out to another warm living room with more wonderful people.
By the time they dropped us off at the marina we were buzzing on a few different levels and as we settled in on our Sovereign Nation we both came to the conclusion that what we had just experienced was nothing less than a beautifully perfect definition of the word “civilization”…
And then the next morning, we made an early start. It was forecasted to be 26 degrees at the time we left, and I’m certain it wasn’t more than that. We motored out of the channel, slowing for a couple great shots (again, see slideshow), and then raised sail and started north again. It was a long, plain day of cold, cold sailing. Yep.
On arrival at Spring Cove Marina, we got the best welcome – a bundled dock guy wide-eyed and willing to let us stay anywhere we liked. We just kept her there on the fuel dock, since it was the only part of the pier cleared of snow, and settled in…
Oh, and the showers. Oh yeah. Hot, hot showers for hours.
We cast off at 0730h and reached the mouth of the Salt Ponds by 0800h. Clipping hard on a NNE heading, with a single reef in the main and the “Iron Jib” at 2500rpm, we pounded into the 4 to 5 foot chop with the lee-boards in the water for most of the day. This ride was wet, the winds ripping the tops of the waves fabric as though it had been weakened by battery acid. These white sprays traveled horizontally, and we strove hard into them. We made great time moving between 5.5 and 7 knots and lay fast in the snug little harbor of Cape Charles 4 hours after exiting the Salt Ponds jetties. I slept in a tight fetal ball for the rest of that day.
On Day 2 the winds and seas were perfect for an 8 hour beat due north from Cape Charles to Reedville, VA. The single-reefed main and full jib served us well for hours. The need to make good speed rode us as we watched the wind ease, slowing us from 5.5 to 6 knots to an average just under 4 knots. Then it died still more. This wouldn’t do, so after 4 hours of lovely sailing, we pulled in the jib and started up ol’ Iron. The main picked up the bits of breeze to add power and grace to our motion through the water. A winding route from big bay to little bay to river brought us past the menhaden ships and processor, around a tenacious, crumbling tower and to the Reedville Marina, where the marina and restaurant both are closed for the season. Just as I snapped the last button on the main sail cover I noticed the first sprinkles of snow… With that northeastern wind always comes a firece cold around these parts and this time she was carring about 4 inches of snow along. We made fast just in time to beat the weather at a nice secure dock where we are now waiting out this vile honker that’s trying to tear us away from the dock (AS I Write This).
The new heater works great!
The wind generator runs all of the on-board systems while underway, beautifully! It’s incredible, it runs the auto helm, the GPS chart-plotter and the depth sounder with 2.6 amps back to the batteries. And that’s with cloudy skies. Day one went by without me even grabbing my camera so doing data calculation in my head was my focus.
…And the bad news, the stove-feeding propane tank’s “Tighten By Hand Only” valve broke off so we can’t cook and the only place to eat in the whole town (I use that word loosely) is a REALLY (to us) expensive steak house.
And still, we’re snug and happy, watching the lines for chafe and keeping warm with both electric and propane heaters going. It would be nice to have the wind die down, but that’s out of our control. As long as we can keep lines on the pier, we’ll stick around. Of course, if the mooring lines part, we’ll be out to sea (or river, I guess).
We thought we’d be gone today, but a couple of not-quite-cleaned-up projects and some small-craft-advisory weather brought us to the decision that we would leave tomorrow. There’s a weather system taking over the bay – it’s moving in today at the tune of 25 knot winds with gusts to 30, but it’ll hang out for a week with 10-15 knot winds. And that’s what I like, for sure.
Of course, the real problem isn’t 25-30 knot winds – it’s that those winds are coming from our destination and so we have to beat into them in order to get where we want to go. We wouldn’t make good progress today in the head wind and the chop, so there it is…we wait.
Tomorrow, we’ll have the same wind but less of it and very little chop. I’m hoping that our lovely sailboat will slip right on through the water and bring us to a safe harbor on the Eastern Shore (as far north on that shore as possible…) for the night. At which point…
We will be able to warm ourselves with our Cozy Cabin propane heater! I’m so excited about this – it’s real independence in an area where sleeping would be difficult due to cold. Makes me hurt for homeless people, it does.
Hopefully James will be able to upload some photos of our improved main cabin with its beautiful new appliance.
So wish us a good time. Fair winds and following seas is the usual wish, but we’ve already put that wish away…
We’re moving to Baltimore (which I persist in mistyping as Balitmore), and I started looking for moorage today. I found a neat-o place that could be perfect for us. This is the letter I sent the owner and president, Dick Mead. Would you hire us?
Hello Mr. Mead,
My name is Dena Hankins and my husband is James Lane. I left a phone message for you moments ago, but went to your website right afterward. I think we could be a great addition both to your marina and your staff.
Let me introduce us a bit. James and I bought and moved aboard our first boat in 1999, in Seattle, WA. She was a 50′ Seawolf ketch, a William Garden design, done in mahogany on oak. We tore the deck off and replaced it right away, then brought the rest of it into condition to sail up through the San Juan Islands, into southern B.C., and then slowly down the West Coast. Once we reached the San Francisco Bay, we sold her and bought a Gulf 32, a pilothouse sloop that was also designed by Garden, but done in fiberglass. That sturdy, comfortable boat took us up the Sacramento River Delta, down to Monterrey, CA, and, in 2006, all the way to Hawaii. Great boat!
We sold that boat in Hawaii and moved to India for a while. Boating wouldn’t let go of us, though, and we moved back to the US and bought our current boat, a Phillip Rhodes designed 32′ Chesapeake sloop, also fiberglass. We’ve redone the electrical system, the plumbing, the propane system, and redesigned the interior. We’re skilled and confident sailboat mechanics for all systems, and not only because of the work we’ve done on our own boats.
James has been the woodworker for a high-end resort in Birch Bay, WA, and a fleet mechanic for a sailboat club in Oakland, CA. He is currently the dockmaster for the Salt Ponds, Hampton location of the Carefree Boat Club. I am the assistant dockmaster. There are seven vessels in our fleet ranging from a Formula 37 to a Catalina 25. We have done preventative maintenance, improved systems, fixed items broken by members, and kept all of the boats looking great for the members and for prospective members. We also perform all of the check-out and check-in customer service and make sure that the members have an easy and enjoyable experience every time. James is the club’s sail trainer, and both of us are perfectly able to handle sailboats up to 50′ in length.
Now, I have been hired on a temporary basis to process Census forms and will be working second shift, which starts at 4pm. This job is bringing us up to Baltimore, and when I called, it was to inquire about slip rental. Now that I’ve seen your club’s website, though, I believe that we could have a much better relationship than simply renting a slip.
Once we arrive in Baltimore, on or around December 23rd, James will be available for full time work as the Getaway Sailing Sailboat Mechanic. I will be available for part time work at the same time, and then for more work once the census job ends (somewhere between April and July). If we live on the dock and work for Getaway Sailing, we could work out a compensation package that eases the tax burden on both of us while giving you the workers you need and giving us moorage.
Please let me know how this sounds to you. If you are not hiring for sailboat mechanics until later in the spring, I would like to talk about moorage regardless and we can discuss the job when you are ready. However, if you want reliable, expert help in making sure that all of the sailboats are in safe, working, and good-looking shape before the beginning of the boating season, we can help sooner.
Thank you for your time and attention. I hope to hear from you by phone or email. My phone number is blahblah, James’ phone number is blahblah. James’ email address is youknow and mine is yepyep.
And this is their online job listing:
SAILBOAT MECHANIC: This position reports to the Director of the Fleet
and is responsible, along with other mechanics, for maintaining
Getaway Sailing’s fleet of approximately 20 sailboats. Preventative
maintenance includes painting, varnishing, and engine fluid and filter
changes. Corrective maintenance includes repairs to sails, fiberglass
and gelcoat, deck hardware, plumbing and electrical systems, and all
other boat systems. Priority is keeping all boats in safe, usable
Required skills and abilities:
* Boat handling skills for sailboats up to forty feet in length
* Maintenance and repair skills for all aspects of sailboats
* Supply your own basic tools
* Five years experience with boat maintenance
* Pleasant demeanor and ability to communicate positively and
effectively with customers and other employees
Hours and working conditions:
* Full time or part time
* Five days per week, including at least one weekend day
* Flexibility for time off
* Work outdoors most of the time
* Occasional interaction with customers
Gypsy Jill has died. I’m sad, so sad, but it’s my birthday. I only celebrate three occasions: my birthday, James’ birthday, and our anniversary. I’m celebrating with a special meditative consideration of age and death.
I’m not a person who meditates on death on her birthday; it seems so melodramatic and morbid. I have tremendous amounts of fun. I pack in moments of joy, looking for every reason to be joyous (and many can be found when walking around the birthday-enhanced world).
Except that I sit, still and solemn, sipping a mocha and typing these words that negate themselves.
Also, I got a job I applied for. I’ll be working for the Baltimore Data Capture Center, processing forms for the 2010 census. I even got a team lead position, so I’ll be making decent money. I have a move to plan and execute, and it will take several days by sail, even if things go well. There’s nothing I like quite so much as pulling up stakes and embarking on a journey. The destination doesn’t matter as much as the fact and moment of motion, but Baltimore has the possibility of being a better place for me. Another reason to rejoice.
And I do. I do. And I’m sad.
I loved Jill from the first five minutes of our acquaintance. She helped me, with a dozen words, two or three sentences, feel hopeful that I’d be able to cover up a terrible tattoo, a blemish on my left hip, of which I was inordinately self-conscious. It reflected badly on me that my judgment had been so bad. I wanted tattoo work, but I had the idea that it ought not to be a crapshoot. That I ought to have been able to better judge the artist and the situation. That I had every right to love my tattoos, every one of them. She vindicated me in those ideas, and empowered me further.
In the process of getting the coverup (a pomegranate, a symbol of fertility for a belly that would never grow a baby, to remind me that I could be fertile in many meaningful and long-lasting ways), I loved her deeper and deeper. We discussed a body plan; I had three tattoos and needed to decide whether I was going to get a collage of unrelated pieces or tie the rest of my tattoo work into a united theme. Jill didn’t seem to be judging either possibility, but she did think that not considering those questions was ill advised.
I learned a lot of my attitudes toward tattooing from Jill. She shaped my understanding of my body as a canvas and shape and color as elements that would flatter and lend meaning to the planes and curves and texture of my skin. I conceived of the idea that I could take my home with me, wherever I traveled, and she designed my backpiece from a tree-branch (which she still had at the time of her death), photos of my favorite Madrona tree, and a small bronze statuette by Chiparus, the model for which was a gypsy woman and the name of which is Shiva.
That backpiece took three years to finish. I moved several times in the meantime, and I enjoyed my visits so much. Though Jill and I spent a great deal of time together in the first year, strongest in my memory are the years after that, which encompassed the completion of my backpiece and that of my cornucopia. The cornucopia is on my ribs and, descending from it, an apple and an avocado begin the tumble across my belly. The apple represents Seattle, Washington, and the avocado represents the Bay Area of San Francisco. My plans are to add a fruit, vegetable, or spice from each place I visit, so that by the end of my life, these bits and pieces of places will wrap around my hips.
Because of Jill, I created a body language that expresses me well. Behind me are lessons of the past and what sense I have of rootedness and home. They contain some lessons I’ve learned and are retrospective. Before me and eventually encircling me is travel, moving and learning and growing, and then also remembering and storytelling.
I’ve had a hard time getting tattoo work from anyone else. I have been completely unable to choose an artist who could continue my work – the cornucopia lacks the coffee cherries from Kona, the chai spices from India, and the corn from Virginia. I’m about to move again and I’ve fallen so behind already, but I am used to falling in love with my artist and it’s too much to expect that I will be able to walk into a tattoo shop and in will whirl a tornado of energy, style, and talent. Is it too much to expect?
Jill told me that I had to fall in love. That I had to find a woman who will have the energy, style, and talent to demand my love, of her work, if of nothing else. And that she exists, that I just need to do it. Because the women who work as tattoo artists need the love, they need the canvas and the thoughtfulness and the passion that I bring to my conception and realization of tattooing. And she’s right.
I am focusing on Jill as the tattoo goddess, and it’s true that she had other interests and strengths as well. But it is her tattoos that I live with, that James cuddles into at night, and that help me be more expressive of myself than I could have been without her.
So many of my best stories come from Jill’s deep well of experience. In Phoenix, where there’s a large population of neo-Nazis, Jill had a standing offer – she would cover up any tattoos of Nazi imagery for free, after hours. She became so skilled at coverups that she won tons of awards (including one for my Rocky Horrible Tattoo). In another story, a tattoo helped a woman reclaim ownership of her body after rape and attempted murder, enabling a new, much changed but powerful, life.
And it goes on from there. I couldn’t possibly tell you all about this woman. Jill lived such a huge life and it was a life of uncompromising authenticity. She refused to pretend, knew there was no reason to be anyone but herself. She went to amazing lengths to explore exactly what that meant. She tried all kinds of things, looking for a spirituality that expressed her experience of the universe, looking for a style of loving that fit the heart that overflowed her body.
I believe that our lives are like books. Once the last page is read, the story is over. Jill has a story that will be told again and again, and that is the only immortality I believe in. I will love her even though that’s all I have left of her. But I will miss her.
“You’re listening to ‘Pussy-Cock Juice is Weird’ live on 89.1fm FUCC, Belltown’s only totally illegal Micro-Radio source. I’m Snatch, one of three delicious fem-fantastic hosts and this is Azer-By-Jane, say hi Jane.”
“And this is our totally sexy Fem-Studies doctoral student, Frankie. Say yo Frankie.”
“Tonight I’d like to do something a bit different. I want to re-tell a story I heard the other night while enjoying a dose of post coital bliss with, umm, a special friend of mine. It’s such an incredible tale that at first, like most things this man tells me, I thought it was a bald-faced lie. Upon further inspection and a re-telling of the same story by said lover’s mother, I have found that this tale is true and relevant to tonight’s theme of ‘Overcoming Random Violence’, though its male-on-male violence is outside our usual subject matter.”
Throat clearing. “We all know that the guy that started this station is a really cool guy named Popeye Kahn right?”
“Right, hi Popeye, he’s the only person in the world that listens to every single show on FUCC” replied Azer-By-Jane.
“Well, Popeye was unlucky enough to have grown up in the USA’s ‘Random Violence’ award-winning state. Yes, Texas. So here goes, people, Micro-Radio at its best.”
“’Parents are indeed a strange persuasion. It’s like once a person has a kid they somehow stop being a person and start being an influence and let me tell you, when you’re a ten year old boy in the mire of seventy’s suburban south Austin Texas, your friends and their parents become your most powerful influences. Besides TV of course.
David Reynolds was my best friend and his dad, Tom “Shit, call me Tom” Reynolds, was undeniably the biggest man I knew. My hand always got lost shaking his, and it made me feel like the “wet fish guy”. I’m never the wet fish guy. I hate the wet fish guy. Ugh.
“Gentlemen,” ShitcallmeTom would boom, “these are your streets. When you’re riding down your streets spread out so’s people can see‘ya and if some asshole in a car should come up ahonk’n, give‘em one of these,” and Shitcallme would stick his giant middle finger right in my round-eyed face. He’d send us away with a parting thought like, “You men are the future, ‘n people ‘round here gotta respect that. Now shut up and eat yer sugar!” Boom, Boom, Boom, he would laugh whilst his socked feet would boom, boom, boom into another part of his home.
Summer in Austin is tar-melting, sidewalk-egg-frying hell so the only time to ride your bike is late evening from dinner till dark. So what is there to be done in the time between 1000 when you roll yourself out of bed and bike time?
What else? TV!
During the day, my friends and I were hypnotized by television. (O-CedarMakesYourLifeEasier…) Like most ten year old, all boy brat packs trapped in those environs in the 70’s, we loaded up on sugar all morning, watched stupid late sixties (OneAdam12) and early 70’s flop (RunForYourLife…) reruns, passed out in the afternoon, and came to in time for Star Trek. Everything about TV from the test pattern to the pilot’s-prayer validated our very existence and made us a part of the real world. We screamed at each other using the language of TV and laughed at all the sad scenes. We sang jingles and mimicked the Marlboro Man. Our houses sported the very products we saw on TV.
In the evenings, we rode our bikes on our streets as Men of the Future!
“O-CedarMakesYourLifeEasier, O-Cedar makes your life, doo-doo-doo,” six of us sang on our six red bikes as we rode up Choquette from the dusty trails in the Aroyo Seca. “…makes your life, doo-doo-doo!”
Yo-Yo, we got motors a-stern, we gots to moses or hot rod Nova’s gonna run us flat. So we parted our red sea of bikes and the redneck in the red 1971 Chevy Nova with the tires that measured 60 centimeters wide on the back with twin 78.9mm front rubber drove through our fearless pack as we sang “O-CedarMakesYourLife, doo-doo-doo…”
“Stupid fuck’n assholes!” said Redneck.
“Yo-Yo, looks like dude’s gotta have …one of these!” Six little middle fingers shot up. The Red Nova screeched to a dead silent stop.
“BMX Grenade, explode!” Albert yelled and we shot off in six directions as the Nova’s tires squealed in smoke and reverse.
I hit the back alley of the Church of Christ at the base of Choquette and headed south-southwest up Roth, cut due south uphill through the Presbyterian parking lot, shot across Grover through the Baptist foyer, through the Catholic playground, and jumped the privacy fence with my bike to the “Holy Faith Revisited” Methodist back lot. The whole way I heard the screaming of the Nova’s tires as it roared though our streets in hot pursuit of…
Why me? Out of the six of us, why does he have to choose me? I’m not the slowest, everybody knows Danny’s the slowest. Wait a second, I’ve seen that car in the garage next door to Albert Allen’s house. Albert’s ‘ol man’s a cop so of course the dude’s not going to fuck with him. My poor ass family lives four doors up and across the same street so I’m the only other kid he knows. He’s coming after me!
As that thought dawned somewhere deep inside my skull, I was hauled by the hair over the privacy fence I had jumped and was trying to hide behind. Staring into the shit brown eyes of an incredibly strong, Texas bred, lightly educated adult male covered in a hot summer day’s worth of engine grease, I was truly scared shitless.
“You cayn’t outrun my car, you little dumb fuck!” he/it/(fuck that hurts) held me just off the ground by the hair with my back to the splintery cedar fence.
“Yer coming with me,” he said and punched my lights out.
I awoke too soon with a scream and as much fight as I could muster, being dragged to the red Nova. He tossed me rag-doll into the front seat and the arms of another man whose size and body odor were astonishing. Fat-man buried my face against his fat greasy blue-jean-covered thigh and I battled suffocation.
“Ow! That little shit kicked me in the nose!” Fat-man whined as we sped through the neighborhood in their souped-up ’71 Nova. “Where too?” Fat-man asked.
“I’m taking him home to his mama and I’m gonna tell the bitch she better start raising her kids right or we’ll do it for her.”
“Fuck you, you big dumb redne…” And Fat-man’s fist busted my lip wide open with a squirt all over his big ‘ol disgusting Wranglers.
The Nova slid to a halt in front of my mom’s house and both men got in a few good punches before they dragged me out of the car, rolled me into my front yard, and boot-partied my already limp body right there on the lawn.
“Now let’s see what yer mama has to say about you,” the first Texas torturer sneered as he dragged me towards my family’s shining, infamous front door. Fat-man landed one last kick before we reached the door and then all hell broke loose in the heavenly form of my mother.
The front door on our house at 1407 Choquette Street in Austin, Texas, was a formidable sight indeed. Made in the late fifties by the home’s original “Nuke-Paranoid” owners, it was a solid piece of Texas White Oak completely covered in a giant, seamless, reflective tin coating that would surely repel any “Red Army Reign of Terror”. That door got so hot in the summertime that you couldn’t even touch the thing. It was also slightly too big for its frame and opened out with a loud metallic tearing sound when it was heated up and fully expanded in high summer.
My mother kicked open the front door of her home like Beretta. The door popped open with a loud tin screech and the seamless, shining corner of the heavy wood-n-metal slab caught Fat-man square in the forehead, dropping him with a sick splat like Kojak’s head rag.
“Get your hands off my son, you big bully!” my mother gritted and brandished her terrible weapon, a small powder blue asymmetrically cut house broom with the plastic “DustGard, for your protection!” where the bristles met the handle. She choked up and prepared to swing.
“Now hold on a second lady, this little shit was in the middle of the street and he flipped me off!”
Whack! My mother’s perfectly placed first blow shattered the pretty little blue plastic “DustGard, for your protection!” against the left side of Redneck’s face, taking a chunk out of his ear lobe. He dropped me to raise his left arm for defense but mom had already switched for the right shot, an upper-cut to the other side of his head. Redneck hit the grass with a flop and gush of red drool right next to my shocked form.
“I don’t care what he did!” Whack!
“He’s just a little boy!” Whack, whack.
“You don’t hit a little boy!” Whack.
“You don’t beat up a little boy” Whack, whack.
“Ow, you bitch, stop hitting me!”
“And you don’t cuss in front of a little boy!” With those last words, my five -foot, two -inch mother unloaded on him. She hit him until all the bristles broke off of the broom then beat him with the broom stick until it broke in half. She whaled on him with half of a broken broomstick in each hand until he finally stumbled back to his car and sped away, stopping briefly for Fat-man, who was running down the street holding his head with one hand and his dirty pants up with the other.
Boom, Boom, Boom. “He did what?!?” Shitcallme rhetorically asked my sobbing mom. “I’ll show that little bastard what he gets when he beats up on children in our neighborhood. Boys, get in the car and keep your filthy feet off my seats!” The 351 Cleveland in his 1940 Ford coupe exploded to life and the 8 track of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s greatest hits blared a southern nasal hymn as we tore off in search of cold vengeance on a hot summer’s night. We stopped four doors down that same street.
“What do you want mister?” Redneck mumbled as he came to the front door of his darkened dingy little house.
“Shit, call me Tom!” He grabbed Redneck by the throat with his massive right hand and dragged him out of the house and into the light of the front porch right in front of our shocked little gang.
“‘et me go,” Redneck wheezed, falling to his knees in front of the giant Tom Reynolds, who held a death grip on his neck.
“I’ll show you…” Tom stopped short when he got a good look at Redneck’s puffy, beaten and bruised face in the dim porch light.“What the hell happened to you, boy?”
“That kid’s crazy mother beat me up with a broom!” Redneck sniveled pointing my way. After three full seconds of pin-drop silence, Tom Reynolds exploded in a cacophony of laughter and saliva all over Redneck’s swollen face. Tom let go of the guy’s throat and he fell with a flop to the ground. The six of us had to help ShitCallMeTom back to his car because he was laughing too hard to walk.
Leaving the Reynolds’ garage to walk home, I was embarrassed that my mother made Mr. Reynolds and all my friends laugh at me and crushed that my hero, Mr. Reynolds, hadn’t smeared that asshole. Pain dominated my battered little body.”’
“Popeye told me he could still remember the wet smell of freshly cut grass intermingled with the crusty dried blood in his sinuses for year’s afterwords. He stopped to stare at Redneck’s blood on his lawn. A split-lip grin threatened as he finally started to get the joke.
I’ve heard that no one is ever the same again after being tortured by another person. After looking into the eyes of the person who is beating you, you can never again trust or truly feel in control of your own world. Unless of course you get to watch your torturers get their asses kicked by your own mother wielding a powder blue, asymmetrically cut house broom with a “DustGard, for your protection!” where the bristles meet the handle. That’s different, that…
…makes your life easier.”
Frankie asked, “What’s that got to do with radio?”
“Goood question, Well, about a year after Redneck beat his ass, Popeye built his first 12 volt FM radio station but didn’t have enough money left over to buy a car battery to run the thing. So in the middle of the night he went back to Redneck’s house, stole the battery out of the guys hot-rod Nova, slashed all four of his tires, drenched the car in gasoline, and lit the thing on fire right there in front of his house. He went home, hooked the battery up to the transmitter of his crude little radio station and told this story on the air.”
“Once again, you’re listening to Pussy-Cock Juice Is Weird here on 89.1fm, FUCC. How do you deal with random violence?”