The Beach on the Corner

“Dude! Then the lady throws the apples down and starts cussing out everyone in the store. It was crazy. There she was damn near naked, wearing fancy underwear and parts of some Cosplay costume. Fucking tossing apples around the store.

Everyone was ducking. If they poked their head up they would get hit with an apple. I was hiding behind the dry bulk area, laughing my ass off.”

 

Did anyone do anything, I asked.

 

My brother answered, “Not a thing. What could we do? She walked in and went directly to the produce section and when the manager approached her she started throwing apples. I was coming off break and walked in to this mess.”

 

That’s insane. What character was she dressed up as? I hope it was Sailor Moon. Is Sailor Moon still popular?

 

“How the fuck should I know? Am I the crown prince of Cosplay?”

 

You’re right, you’re in to Furries.

 

“You’re a dick. Anyway that is not why I called. Guess who called me last night?”

 

Wait, what happened with the lady throwing apples in the store?

 

“Nothing. The cops came and arrested her. She screamed crazy shit as they took her in. I think she was on something. I bet she was at that rave down at the beach last night. Those rich kids party all summer down here and throw all kinds of themed parties. One night it’s Cosplay, another night it’s Pimps and Hoes, and the next is Jersey Shore. Which is funny, cause these asshats are straight up the West Coast Jersey scum. So, guess who called me last night? Well, they did not call. They messaged me.”

 

I have no idea. Was it from distant past or recent past? Guy or girl?

 

“Fuck it, you’re not gonna guess it. It was Big Tim.”

 

Big Tim…

 

I had not thought about him in almost 20 years. Seriously, Big Tim, I thought he had died or was in hiding in South America or something.

 

What’s he up to, I asked my brother.

 

“I have no idea. He wrote to ask for forgiveness. He lives in Washington State. He has a couple of kids and is married.”

 

I sat there silent for a while. My brother was on the other end and kept saying my name, over and over. I was stunned. Hearing his name brought back a lot of memories. Nothing bad, well say for that prick, Todd, who sucker punched me at the arcade. I have a lot of good memories that flooded back. Things I had not thought of in years.

 

“Hey! Dick! Are you there? Did you hang out on me?”

 

I hear my brother’s voice and it draws me back to reality and from my past. “That’s crazy”, I say. Are you gonna call him? If you do tell him I do not hate him and whatever forgiveness he is looking for from me he has it.

 

“I will. Well, I gotta go. I need to get back to work. That crazy lady messed up the store really good.”

 

I said, “Later” and hung up. I sat there silent in thought with my past creeping back up on me. The faces were the first to return. Then the names to match the faces. Then the memories flooded back in.

I saw Big Tim’s face. He was a mountain of a man. He was at least six and a half feet tall and well over three hundred pounds. He was a big ball of muscle layered in protective fat. He was the most loyal person I knew. He stood by his friends, always.

He did not drink much. Which was good for us. We drank a lot. He protected us. In an overly simplified way he was our Lennie. We loved him for it.

We used to hang out at his house all the time. He had a pool and a covered patio where we would assemble all summer. It did not hurt that he was only two blocks from the mall. We loved going to the mall. It was our palace.

Big Tim was the glue for so many folks. The circle of friends we had all orbited around him and his house. There was Jermaine or “Big Willy” as he liked to be called, who was the star linebacker at the local public high school. He had a big heart as well. He and his brother, Chico, lived across the street from Big Tim. Chico got in to trouble a lot. He was a schemer and dealt the drugs he did not use himself.

There was Thor, who lived in his mother’s garage. He could live there as long as he kept up the pool and tended to her prized roses. He sold shoes at the mall and slept with most of his co-workers. Seriously, he was the first bi-sexual person I knew.

Brian (AKA, Fredrick) was an Iron Maiden loving hesher that lived a few houses down from Big Tim. He was a few years older than us and drove a supped up Chevelle. He thought he could play guitar. We would listen to him play so we could drink his beers.

There was Mike. He looked just like John Oates in his heyday. He was the only one of us with a mustache. He and Brian rocked mullets. Only Mike had the stache. He worked at the mall and was a really nice guy.

There was the D & D crew that played at Big Tim’s every Friday night. Jason and Robert. Robert was the Dungeon Master and Jason was the resident Salacious Crumb. Robert was the smartest person I knew. He was pursuing a career in robotics. He was our age and already in college. Jason was pursuing a career as a professional soccer player. His only problem was he lived in the US where no gave a shit about soccer.

 

Then there was the parade of Big Tim’s older sisters friends. It was as if every stereotype and assumption the late 80’s and early 90’s made were friends with Big Tim’s older sister and her aqua GEO Storm.

Hulk, Golf, and the Antics of One

The sun peaks through my blinds and grazes my face. Its warmth is welcome feeling. I stretch like a cat and reach for my phone. I notice I missed a call late last night. I am no longer  a night owl. I try to get to bed by 9:00PM most nights.

I am not familiar with the number and check the voice mail left by this mysterious caller. “WHOOOOO WHO! Answer the phone mother fucker! It’s Mon. We’re at The Crown hanging out. Where are you? Get your sorry ass down here and hang out.” Then there was all kinds of commotion, yelling, cussing, & general riff raff. Then they hung up.

I was pleased to miss the call. I did not want to go out last night. I am exhausted. I work at the damn bar anyway. I quit drinking a few months ago. I get out of bed and put on my shoes and go outside the dorms to a picnic bench. It is about 8:00AM on a Saturday and the campus is really quiet. Most of the residents are sleeping.

I pull out a cigarette and light it. The cool morning air surrounds me as the cigarette smokes collects around me, creating this highlighted cloud around me of toxic cancer causing exhaust. I love smoking. I smoked for seven years before I quit in 2001, right before 9/11. August 27, 2001 at 8:47AM I quit for the first time.

Then in March of 2005 I picked it up again. I never intended to start smoking again. It was almost a n accident. I was a missionary in Kenya and many of the men I traveled with smoked. They said it was mostly cause the smoke kept the mosquitos away and lessened their chance of getting malaria.

So, I began to carry a cigarette in my hand to keep the mosquitos away. Then a few trips to a smoke filled Nakuru and I was smoking again. I love smoking.

These early Saturday mornings offered a respite from the rigors of class as well as from the intense Austin heat. I enjoy them. I love the stillness that surrounds them. This silence was broken by joggers, a random UT student, and the occasional seminarian looking for their mail. I was its smoking watchdog.

Out of no where I heard, “What’s up mother fucker!?” It was Mon. What was she doing up this early. They had to have stayed out late. Her voice message was left around 12:30.

She pulls out an American Spirit and joins me on the bench. “Watcha doin’?”

I continue to make my toxic cloud and offer up, “Nothing. Just enjoying the morning.”

Mon proceeds to share about the antics of last night. That Jensen got the bar to sing “Dreamweaver” when it came on. He stood on the table tops and pluck starts out of the imaginary sky. Then “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on and the bar broke out in that tune lead by Forbes doing a strip tease to the rockier parts. All in all is sounded fun.

Mon then invited me to go play golf with them. I don’t play golf, Mon. The last time I touched a club I was rocking a Happy Gilmore at the driving range and broke 2 rental clubs. The place was some where along the 101 Freeway in Calabasas. The owner let us bring in a cooler full of beer and shot all night. I am not a fan of golf.

Mon begged me to go along. I would complete the foursome, Jensen, Forbes, Mon, and I to go golf? I agreed but demanded that I drive the cart and I was only carrying four clubs like a golfing ninja.

Mon told me to hurry that Jensen and Forbes would be there any minute. I ran inside showered and put on my best golf attire, cargo shorts and a t-shirt that read, “Show me your TETS!” that I got made after I passed Winter Hebrew Camp. I bolted out the door to the waiting crew.

There was Forbes in his hillbilly four-wheel drive, raised monster truck playing Rush or Journey with Jensen jumping around the bed of the truck performing his version of Ka Mate to the music and Mon still on the picnic bench smoking that god awful American Spirit. I walk over and climb in to the extended cab. Mon puts out her Spirit, Jensen climbs in to the cab and we are off like a rocket.

A goat in the truck is worth two in the bush.

This is part of a short story I wrote in late 2004 while in Kenya.

I thought it would be funny to buy two goats and keep them as pets after a conversation at a local pub. So when I was out in Pokot in the Rift Valley I purchased two male goats naming them Captain Bah Beard the scourge of the Cherangani Hills and his first mate Bad Ass Billy the kid pillager of the plains. It ended up costing me only 27 dollars to procure the two goats from a young woman and her son at the local market.

I secured their legs and piled them in the back of my Land Cruiser and began the journey back to Nairobi. Along the way I stopped for food, petrol, and sodas at a station just outside of the Nakuru town proper. I filled the vehicle and myself with the best Kenya has to offer. Driving along I had forgot that the goats were in the back of the vehicle. All of the sudden a blood curdling bah was heard which sounded as if the dam thing was ridding shotgun. I swerved to avoid the phantom goat on the road only to remember that it was I that was transporting the menacing creature.

The road from Nakuru to Nairobi is good in some areas and bad to worse in others. It usually takes a bit over two hours to drive the distance. As I trucked along the highway I began to drift of into my own world. I had a list of things I had to do when I got back. I had to stop at the market and pick up groceries. I had to check my email and correspond to some nagging matters. As I heard the goats again I added pick up goat food. What ever that looked like.

I fell back into my robotic non-responsive daydream mode. I thought about home and the shite I left behind. I imagined what this person and that person were doing. I got nostalgic about my favorite Mexican food joint back at home. What I would not do to get a burrito here in Kenya.

The chard grilled asada. The warm flour tortilla. The shredded white cheese. The atomic hot sauce. The lard filled refried beans. The tangy yet subtle rice. All of this washed down with a few chicken tacos and a horchada. Man I would kill for some Mexican right now. Soon I drifted of to other things I missed from home, which largely revolved around food and drink.

The BBQ my father makes with it ever so quaint burned on goodness. The magic that happens when I order and consume a pepperoni pizza from Mulberry Pizza. The cob salads from Red Devil with the extra side of Blue Cheese dressing. The ice cream, the milk shakes, and grilled cheese from Frosty Queen. The Sunday morning donut from the house of Gods baker…Winchell’s. My moms home cooking.

The thought of food drove me deep into hunger and a desire to be back home in Los Angeles. So I attempted to advert this amazing threat by thinking about other things. I looked around at the scenic beauty of the surrounding area just outside of Naivasha. I spotted a bunch of zebras grazing at the side of the road. I contemplated the beauty of this moment.

A large baboon and his harem caught my eye and eating the crisps I had bought back in Nakuru I thought that they need to have some of these. Against my better judgment and against all of the advice I have received from anyone that has traveled here I pulled over and began to toss food out of my window. Laughing to myself, no I was giggling like a Japanese schoolgirl at Disneyland. Only I did not flash the peace sign at these mongoloid primates.

Within minutes ten or fifteen baboons surrounded me. Some on the ground, some sitting on the roof of my Land Cruiser, and still more approaching from all sides. I still thought it was funny until I saw a baboon approaching my open passenger window. I reached over like Indian Jones slipping under a steadily moving rock wall towards the open window I moved. Only to be restrained by my seat belt and thrown back against my window.

Shaking the white from my head I made another attempt to reach the window in the same motion of unbuckling my seat belt this time in rather impeccable timing the baboon had its hand in the window as I rolled it up on him. The baboon was reaching around at my hand and the air searching for food. Staring back at me with his hand in the window and sitting to top of the roof now. He asserted dominance upon the others around him. It was the discovery channel live right outside my Land Cruiser!

I handed this frantic waving hand a crisp and out it went for me to continue the securing of my fortress. The dumb ass I am I had dumped half a bag of crisps outside of my window prior to the escape from the baboon, Goliath. There sat the baboons fighting and eating the fried bits of potatoes. I continued to giggle and smile. I drank my coke and opened the chocolate bar I had picked up.

When another piercing belt from the goats reminded me I had to hurry back to Nairobi. With my fun and torturing of the baboons complete I attempted to drive away. Only to my dismay the dam things were in front of me, behind me, and on the top of me. I started the engine to drive off. The sound of the engine drove off a few. The hooting of the horn disposed of a few more. When I engaged the vehicle and began to drive off I became free of the baboon sea that I had created.

Driving off in the direction of Nairobi I again was in motion. Satisfied that I had caused a primate traffic jam at the intersection of the highway and the plains. The funny thing was that the zebras did not move nor did they even glance over at me and my baboon army. I arrived back in Nairobi in a little over an hour. I went home to drop off the goats and then went out to the pub.

I arrived at Gypsies still smelling of goat. I ordered a Tusker and light an Embassy Light. I glance over at the table next to me. It was full of old white Europeans being straddled by young beautiful African women. all of the ladies were feigning interest in what the old clappers were saying.

I light the smoke and drew it that nutty full flavor tobacco goodness. I exhale as I dial Tropical Rob. He answers and I tell him where I am at and he declares he will be down there soon. I hang up and order another beer.

I drink down the Tusker in my hand and cozy up to the table by myself. Knowing that Tropical Rob has been in Kenya far to long to be here any time soon. It will be at least an hour if not longer for him to arrive. I search the tables looking for someone to talk to. Will it be the old clappers with the beauties, the tourists bragging about their early morning safari, or the regal young aid workers?