Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chapter 12. Juan Carlos' Revenge

  
The chapter is based
on this story. I used
the name, Max Bear.

There’s a time when the darkest hour gets darker and when nothing so bad as the worst gets worse. I didn’t what it was that was happening; but, in looking back, it seems that I was being towed along by a thread towards something indefinable. Call it destiny if you like, but, at the time it was happening: from Celeste to Ariel’s birth, Vacaville and the concussion, Myra in Santa Monica, Kuka in Nicaragua, Nadya and the miasma of Santa Barbara, and now this. It felt more like I was being pulled along by serendipity rather than by any pre-ordained noose. I was offered choices where each choice led to a series of consequences ever evolving into a strange progression. Is that destiny?
A few days after that ride, about a month after the bloody Tien an Men square massacre, around July 4th of ’89, I flipped. Those kids in China camping out under Mao’s nose: … the liberty statue… the hope against a murderous oppression…, it was all a sore reminder of the emptiness of my life after Nicaragua. The superficial posturing of rebellion by our clubbing generation on State Street became an obscene display of privilege. In lieu of cries for freedom their cries were, “Where’s the party!” Rioting in Isla Vista for more beer! Just that one lone protester, standing off a line of tanks, waving his shirt…! I could almost hear that thin thread his sanity dangled from…snap!

It was a typical Saturday morning for me and, as I had Saturday nights off. I spent the first half of the day in Pal’s after his shift ended at six-thirty A.M. Claire was the barkeep on Saturdays and her shift started at ten so I already had a good load going by then. It was the first of the month, I had his VA check, the week’s earnings, and a few bindles of cocaine (cocaine was the common graveyard tip for some drivers back in the eighties) and I had Saturday nights off. I was in that place where alcohol oblivion was staved off by a line here and there of coke and stepping out back for a few tokes of pot. Next thing I knew it was getting dark and my best intentions were to head home and perhaps stop off for chorizo con huevos at the old Casa Blanca down on the four-hundred block of State Street.
Across the street from Pal’s, in the middle of De La Guerra Plaza, a statue of the 18th century king of Spain, Juan Carlos, was mounted over a fountain pedestal turned open-air public urinal. The bronze figure of the ole-bewigged-huge-schnozzled monarch presided daily into the night over a rag-tag assortment of vagrants, street level dealers, and pan-handlers. The statue became a tribute to improvised-assemblage-folk-art as people took advantage of the absurdity of the poor king’s foppish posture to adorn it with such things as underwear or a toilet plunger for a crown and white-faced make-up, et al: all of which changed daily. The city crews removed the work the next morning, making way for a whole new display to be improvised the next night.
I was tanked up and when I was tanked up I never knew what was going to happen next. Sometimes he merely wove my way home down State Street and crashed. Other times it was as though I’d developed Tourette’s syndrome as I made my way to the Virginia Hotel. I let out whatever peeve was bugging me at that moment to shocked, and frightened, tourists. This particular time it was the panhandlers that became the focus of his ire. I crossed the street to where we were hanging out. One scruffy character demanded spare change as I approached.
“What? You tell me what spare change is and I’ll think about it.”
I was counter-challenged with the usual panhandler nonsense, “You got plenty, part with some of it,” the wimpy creep demanded.
“It just so happens that I do have plenty…” I pulled out a wad of c-notes and peeled one off, dangling it in front the overly aggressive panhandler. The guy’s eyes lit up as he grabbed for it. Fooling with him at first I deftly snatched it away and surprised myself by tossing it to the hangers-on sitting on a bench at the side of the square. Now everyone was paying attention. I had an audience now and began a rant.
“What is a statue of a murderous monarch doing in a prominent place on a street called State?” I shouted, needing no megaphone. The onlookers were puzzled. I was no longer impotent Max that sat in the Judge’s chamber; I was The Max. A chord… the delicate chord that bound my sanity… that chord that reined in the wild beast and kept me pinned to a peg… the tamed elephant had gone rogue… I had begun what I would finish… I tried all my adult life to live right but that chord had been stretched to the breaking point!
This noise raised a few jeers and a crowd started to gather hoping I’d either heave a few more c-notes or an opportunity would arise to take from me the wad I’d displayed.
“Why do you panhandle and play games begging spare change and dealing street drugs?” I continued, “This town is wealthy enough… why don’t you just take some it from those who have more than they need?” I became transformed into an old fashioned rebel, haranguing the unwashed masses. I was imbued with the spirit of Jesus serving up a revolutionary version of the Sermon on the Mount. I was an anointed Thomas Paine spittin’ on the Brits, Saint Paul the Rabble Rouser at the Areopagus on Mars Hill. I was on fire with the not so holy spirit of Joe Hill, rallying the Wobblies: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth… six feet of it!” and this was my soapbox.
“That king,” I pointed at the statue, “was ordained by a Christian Pope to reign over and rip-off the lands of a thousand-year old civilization … yes, Chumash slave labor built the Santa Barbara Mission,” I harangued, “and you sit here on stolen ground pleading for that, which by the grace of a Christian God you are granted, a nickel or two! I say, ‘Fuck Jesus and fuck his bloody king too!’”
I was insane with virtue. I tossed the rest of his wad… about five-hundred bucks into the crowd… shouting out as loud as I could; “Jesus Christ did not die for my sins. He died because pigs like Juan Carlos could not abide him. Adding insult to injury, they use Christ’s name to bestow regal powers on a fop like this usurper! If you had any balls at all you wouldn’t be sitting here! You would be burglarizing those houses up there in the hills above us.”
One of the late coming bystanders, who’d missed out on the cash bonanza, called out from the crowd, “Why don’t you shut the fuck up and throw us some more money!”
The crowd laughed as the guy came at me swinging but I wasn’t going to back down. Shit… I recognized it was the Fedora Jerk! Did the prick’s trust-fund run out? What was a Montecito boy doing here? Or was he just there as a tourist buying drugs? I was untouched by him and, in spite of my boozed up state, I landed a few good blows before we were interrupted by pepper-spray.
A bicycle cop had pulled up and saw what was happening. Clearly it was a disturbance that could not be tolerated on State Street. The cop had seen the fists fly… he called for back-up and cuffed both of us.
I came to his senses as soon as my arms were pinned behind and the handcuffs clicked on my wrist. I had two bindles of coke in my shirt pocket. How in the Hell am I going to get rid of this cocaine? Longingly, looking down into my shirt pocket, I felt frustration at my powerlessness when the hammer came down. My last hope was that the cop would somehow miss the two bindles. But, in spite of my wishes, the coke in the aforementioned shirt pocket were found when I was given a thorough pat-down and before being gently tucked into the newly arrived and waiting squad car.
“Now, what have we here?” says the bike cop.
“Wha…? I don’t know. It wasn’t there before. Someone must’ve slipped it in my pocket when I wasn’t looking. Hey, maybe that ‘A-hole’ planted it on me!” I nodded towards the Fedora. I was thinking fast but knew it wasn’t even a good lie. I’d seen enough on the new reality show, Cops, to know a good excuse from a bad one and this one was very weak. But hell, I tried nonetheless to convince the cop that the Fedora had somehow planted the dope in my pocket while we scuffled. I had no shame at this point. I’d considered myself before then to be honest to a fault…. And never a snitch. One time I’d done three months because I wouldn’t turn state’s evidence. It was astonishing how hard and futilely I tried to push that lie.
My last thoughts were bleak: I’m no different than the toothless trailer-trash trying to lie their way out of a bust on those damned TV shows. Adding insult to injury I swore ole Juan Carlos was grinning down at me from my pedestal like the Cheshire Cat as they pulled away from the curb.
“Okay, you win.” I said under my breath from the cold plastic back seat of the squad car.

While getting booked into County jail the sergeant asked twice; “Do you consider yourself a danger to yourself or others tonight, Mr. McGee?”
Thinking I would get another cell other than that damned stinking drunk-tank and prevent further confrontation with the Fedora, who had gone in cuffs before me, I answered, “Yeh, I am.”
“Let me ask you one more time,” the Sergeant impatiently asked again, “and answer so that I can hear you. Do you present a danger to yourself, or others, Mr. McGee?”
“Sir, Yes, Sir!” I answered boot camp style.
Three officers appeared out of the vapor: one behind me and one on each side. Next thing I knew I was being damned near carried to the Rubber-Room by my escorts.
Once in the cell I was ordered to drop to my knees. This was not so easy to do in cuffs; but, before I’d even bent a knee in compliance, my feet were kicked out from under by an officer from behind. I was driven face down to the concrete floor by the officers on each side, holding my arms as my pants were yanked off with very few deft moves on the part of the corrections officers. I had to admire the efficiency of the choreography. I hadn’t seen that move on Cops who were exceptionally polite in front of cameras.
The Rubber-Room had a bench, no toilet and the temperature was set so that only the most insane would want to stay in that room in underwear for more than ten minutes no matter how drunk. I passed time shivering that way.
The main thing was to get through the night. I was still insanely drunk but the antifreeze of Jack Daniel’s began to wear off and did no good. I tried exercising, doing jumping jacks, push-ups and pretending I was Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now flying around the cell in an imitation of drunk kung-fu. Sweat did nothing to keep me warm but reactivated the pepper spray. My eyes burned. When the nurse came by to check on me I got some water on my face and some valium to take the edge off the anticipated hang-over. After I got the valium, I accused the nurse of being a low-level Dr. Mengele’s: as though I was an innocent, persecuted by fascist oppression.
The night passed… the day began. I didn’t know how long I’d been in the cell. I was finally given some Jail-House pajamas and led to another cell where a bullet-proof-window with one of those grilled speaker holes separated me from a young woman whose decision would determine whether I would be let out on my own recognizance (O.R.) or rot in jail until a the day of my arraignment hearing. They had to reduce the felony drug possession charges down to a misdemeanor if I was going to get out that day.
The belligerence I came into the jail with had evaporated by the time I was photographed and finger-printed on the way out. I felt contrite to the female officer that led me through the process. “Oh man,” I said to her. Memories of the night before percolated up through the layers of booze and coke towards a bubble of consciousness and admitted, “What a mess I made of things.”
The officer was sympathetic and she assured me it would turn out alright.
Even though I’d been processed for release in the afternoon, I wasn’t let out until after three AM. No buses run at that time and I didn’t have a quarter to call Jimbo to get me downtown from the jail. I had to hike the five miles home.
The city automatically pulled cab licenses after any drug bust. Now I no longer had a job. I’d tossed out all my cash to Juan Carlos and, being unable to pay rent, I was going to be homeless too. I stayed at the hotel as long as I could sneak past Lucas, the desk clerk, or make up excuses if he caught me. Lucas was like a spider that caught almost anyone that touched his invisible web. When I finally got to my arraignment hearing I just plead guilty and was sentenced to time served, ordered to attend Zona Seca drug abuse classes that he had no money to pay for now that he was unemployed, and given three years’ probation.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Walk About Drive

Always with me...
07/17/16 Sun’s Day (10:20):
   Big brands… lube… ready to go-o-o-o-o! Trunk is packed to the lid… shouldn’t be long. ETD was planned for 11:00 and I think we’ll be going before that... car’s on the rack.
   Reading group yesterday went well enough. I like where the story is going… ready to interrogate Doc on acid. Should be good. Fort Huachuca next.
   (21:37) Arrived at Red Bluff M-6 at 20:04. Pretty good. Sleepy now. This M-6 room is small and bare… like a jail cell and not much bigger. I was going to stay in a better motel but decided I wanted no hassles.
(23:54) Reserved room at Baymont Inn Kennewick for tomorrow. Going to have to get goin’ early. Nighty-night.

07/18/16 Moon’s Day (06:19):
   Feel exceptionally good. I like this bare-bones M-6… luxury compared to a Jail cell. Cramped compared to a luxury room. Gotta make it to Kennewick today… let’s GO!
   (21:18): Kennewick… had pizza in my room. It’s an upgrade but not as much of one I thought… no elevator but the room is okay.
Talked w/Joy and Vic. Too bad Bonnie missed this one with all the kids.


07/19/16 Twi’s Day (06:08):
   The longest part of the trip is over. I’ve become such a wusss. I mean, I used to drive straight through when I travelled alone… nap at rest stops and plow on through. I couldn’t do it now. Yesterday was about as long as I can bear it… This leg from here to Coolin will be much easier. According to Google maps, it’s a 4 hour drive. I always add an hour to their estimates if they are over a couple hours… just in case… 5 hours. So, leave here at 9am and be there by 2pm?
   Big question…. Should I stop to see Mom on the way up or should I on the way back? I’m thinking, on the way back. That way I can spend more time with her. It could very well be the last time. Vic says she has a tumor on her liver that’s quite big but she is doing well in spite of it… eating and even gaining weight. She comes from hardy Newfoundland stock.
   Joy was upset because there’s no room to stay inside at her place. I have to insist on camping. She thinks it’s a horror at my age and seems not to believe me when I say I prefer it to indoors. Indoors, I’m likely to be glued to the TV after dark but, by the fireside, I love being out there.

07/20/16 Woden’s Day (05:06):
   Campfire at Priest… slept a bit but started to get paranoid… some outdoorsman I turned out to be…. Thinking about the box of incense I kept in the tent and how that might smell like something good to a bear so I tossed it outside…. Lit the Coleman to warm up the tent. Lay there for a while and once the thought of a bear enters the mind it doesn’t let go. I know from long experience that the black bears up here are not so dangerous that they’ve been known to maul campers… I know that but the seed of paranoia is planted and is quite tenacious. I finally went to the car and dozed for a couple hours. I went back to the tent before sunrise… ego… didn’t want anyone to know I wussed out.
   (14:40): Have the day to myself. It is good because I don’t feel like dealing w/people that much. So much goes unsaid. I have an honest family. Anything can be said, for sure. Bonnie is on my mind all the time. I am reminded of her always in all of the small things. It’s painful and I don’t want to go there but I can’t stop myself.

07/22/16 Freya’s Day (06:28):
   Deer at the salt lick. Woke up to a sprinkle of rain. 
   Good day at the beach on the island. Kids tubed most of the time. Adults that weren’t driving the boats… were on the beach drinking beer and telling stories… catching up on each other’s’ lives.

07/24/16 Sun’s Day (07:55):
   Yesterday at Don’s. Fond memories of Bonnie there. How I miss her…
   Back went out this morning. I was walking from my camp to Joy’s house for coffee when, “Click”… I felt it… could hardly move... back went out. Not doing anything special… just walking normal. This is what I wish the VA could see in their evaluations… never knowing when it will happen.

7/25/16 Moon’s day (6:29)
   Preparing for Canada trip. All packed up and ready to go.

07/26/16 Twi’s Day (06:26):
Canada… cross one border… to Merritt. 
   

   The town and the Coldwater Hotel are exactly like I expected. It has some development beyond but the downtown is as it was except for the paved roads. If you stand long enough you can almost see old ranch hands tying up their horses outside the hotel and coming in for a drink. It would also be miners and lumberjacks.

07/27/16 Woden’s Day (08:20):
Huckleberry jam and toast. Last morning at Priest Lake. Getting ready to call mom. I don’t know why it is so hard to call her. Booked a room at the Ramada nearby so I can spend a day or two with her before heading out on the big adventure part of the trip. Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico… Taos!!!! Then Arizona and California.
   Staying at the Ramada near where mom’s place is on Evergreen and the Ramada check-in time is at three so I have time to do lunch w/mom. I feel like some sort of sociopath because I don’t want to deal with anyone. Not so sure what a sociopath is but I are one for sure.
   I just can’t feel any empathy for anything beyond my dearest Bonnie. I feel like I didn’t even care enough for her until she was gone. It hurts to be this way. My heart breaks when I think of all the little pleasures I denied her… like when we pass by a fruit stand or take time to lay in bed a few more minutes or make love. Damn, she was good too. Unbelievably good. Her face glowed and smile radiated when we made love. How can a man deny that? What was wrong with me? I am so sorry, Honey.

07/30/16 Saturn’s Day (0641):
   
I’m at the gate of the Little Big Horn Cemetery and monument. Seems strange to be parked in a car punching a keyboard in the same place the tribes were gathered taking potshots at ole Yellow Hair.

08/01/16 Moon’s Day (07:23):
   Stayed at the Kachina Lodge last night and love the place and I extended my stay another day. Though it hasn’t been updated from the outside since I used to pass by it on the way into town back during the winter and fall of 1970, it maintains the charm of another era. From the looks of the insides it hasn’t changed that much either (unless you count the TV [1990s], microwave and fridge). The room I’m in is huge with double full sized beds. I can see this place is one whose glory days probably came to an end in the seventies but has been holding on. If I owned it I would upgrade the rooms with minor improvements to fit its architecture; like paving stones on the driveways and walk ways. It has ample electrical outlets and doesn’t need much on the interior. Perhaps a designer would know more about how to give the rooms a fresher feel without compromising the integrity of the buildings. The lobby is good as it is… I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
   I loved the trip from southern Colorado after turning off to Fort Garland from the main artery, (I-25) at Walsenburg (I swear the highway sign read Waisenburg). From Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, it was freeway driving… not as bad as the 405 but it was equal to rush hour on any other freeway.
   After passing through Walsenburg (which had a charm of its own) the highway’s two-lane ribbon wrapped itself through a scenic landscape that was a precursor to the glory I knew awaited me in Northern New Mexico. I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, it has changed but so has everywhere else. However, this place ain’t ruined yet. It might have another ten years before the hordes discover it. I feel guilty posting about this town for that reason… knowing only a few people read my posts gives me some respite from any such notion.
   I also did a touristy thing at Fort Garland (population 433). I checked out the museum there. It was well done. I love these small towns with history. The Fort is restored and the presence of Kit Carson was everywhere but there was so much more than that. A bloody history at that… of rounding up the Cheyanne’s using Apaches (who were later rounded up) of one tribe after another subdued after the Civil War was over… I knew of Kit Carson’s role in the hanging of the leaders ( I believe it was eleven or so) of the Mexican revolt of the Arroyo Hondo land grant area but there was no mention of his role in that.
   Tried texting our friend, Mary Lampe. Lost connection and couldn't send... retry... retry... retry.... No... No... No!
   Then on down through the high chaparral flanked by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to my left of Southern Colorado and Norther New Mexico. Crossing the border I gassed up at Costilla New Mexico where I was treated in an especially kind manner by the lady behind the counter. Through Cerra, Questa, Lama, and Arroyo Hondo… I love these small towns that are barely corrupted from the time I was here.
   Now I am at the Kachina Lodge in Taos. I once passed by this place (forty-six years ago) dozens of times hitching a ride back to Arroyo Hondo… downtown Taos... streets are swarming with tour-bus tourists. The Kachina is the same as it was in 1970. I mean... dated, but nice. The rooms speak of a time when the town was more innocent. This town was always a tourist mecca but sssshhhheeeezzzzeee!!!! Everywhere I go. But there is a part of the town in which real people live.... lots of empty buildings going to seed once away from the center of town.

   I’m staying another night at the Kachina to check out the mesa in Arroyo Hondo. I might have to make contact with the Butler family and see if I need permission to enter the property. Or, I might just go and find out that way.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Bonnie Anne Rapkin


Eyes for Your Heart
I first noticed Bonnie at the Thursday Meditation Meeting held at the Saint Mary’s Retreat House next to the Mission.
She sat near the entrance to the room on the armchair where her feet dangled like a child's several inches from the rug, it hadn’t occurred to me that she was kind of short.
What attracted me to her was a mystifying… ever so slight quirky smile that had a mischievous nuance forewarning me that I best be on my toes if I wanted to get to know her better.

Several months went by while I admired her from afar… well, a few feet from where I usually sat.
I saw a few of her assemblages at the annual Buddha Abides art show and I liked her sense of humor and jewelers eye in her pieces. Most others in those shows displayed work that was reverent and serious but Bonnie’s had a wry quality that was respectful but down to earth.

At that time, I volunteered at Central Office. I’d been sober about 8 or 9 years. Tim W. was the manager then and what I liked about volunteering there with Tim was that it was quiet time for me. We spoke shortly, getting to know each other, and in those days, Central Office was a serene place in which an alcoholic could come in a chat without it being too public. On one particular occasion Bonnie came in to get a card or something. Tim planted the seed after she left saying, George, Bonnie never comes in here.”
“Really? What are you saying, Tim?”
“I’m just saying she never comes to Central Office, that’s all.”

One of my fellow dispatchers at Yellow Cab, Robin W., had been a friend of Bonnie’s too. They had been pals in Casa Serena. I told her I was interested in Bonnie. Robin paid no attention to my probe and it really got under my skin when she hooked up Bonnie on a date with one of our drivers. He was a nice, normal, and stable, guy but I could tell he wasn’t a good match for Bonnie. One has to appreciate Bonnie's non-linear ways. This part of her can’t be explained… you have to see her art work to catch that or hear one of the wildly revealing open-ended honesty of hers shares in AA. I just knew I would never be bored in a million years if I could just get close to her.

It wasn’t until I got a motorcycle that she began warming up to me. Fellas, there’s nothing like a motorcycle as an aphrodisiac for a woman like Bonnie.
She began asking me to come over to her pace to replace light-bulbs. She was too short to do it on her two-step ladder. Those damned thing burned out on a regular basis. After performing my manly duties her body language said, okay, thanks but see ya. I’d kind of insisted on a hug and she obliged with one of those pat-pat hugs.

Okay, nothing was happening there. This went on for a year.

Finally, one March Sunday, after the service at the Vedanta Temple, our friend Judy J. asked, “Are you and Bonnie an Item?”
“No, I’d like that but she doesn’t give me much feedback. Besides, I’m concerned, she seems to have a lot of health problems and I’m not sure if I want to get involved.”

I had to work that night so, after the Vedanta I went home to be. I was dozing off when I got the call… Bonnie was crying. She’d been told she couldn’t be admitted to 5 East without a Dr.’s okay. Could I please come and get her.

Now, I’m no knight in shining armor… at least not for anyone else. Without thinking about it at all, I was there in a few minutes at the ER. We got to her house… I tucked her in I asked her to tell me where all her drugs were and dumped all the Soma in the toilet. She asked me not to leave… I stayed.

March 18th 2007 was the beginning of an unbelievable and never boring relationship. The bond was so strong that nothing could break it.

I wouldn’t be telling this story if I didn’t feel honored to tell it. For all the lonely hearts in the rooms of AA I can say that at 9 years of sobriety I had resigned at the age of 60 to the idea that I would be alone the rest of my life and that any chance for meaningful love had passed me by. It took 9 years of preparation to be able to love. The remarkable thing was that Bonnie reciprocated and doubled down on it. No matter what we went through it was easy for me because we cared deeply for the best to come for us both. And my feeling now is that I have experienced a love I would not have believed existed except for that "Ever After" BS from fairy tales. I now know that I am one of the few happy ones that can say I found love that was "Ever After" and I need no more proof of it.

Besides, Bonnie sometimes wore a Ramones T-shirt and she loved the Blues and Reggae. My feeling has always been that any woman that could love the Blues, Reggae, and the Ramones was okay with me even though I could never get her into Country it was okay… three out of four was pretty good. I didn’t want a Stepford wife that likes EVERYTHING I do.

Bonnie loved Northern Idaho and my family at Priest Lake in spite of the pain she suffered to get there via the long road trip with me. They loved her too. She fit right in and was so comfortable there. I rarely saw her that happy anywhere else.

I might add that, though Bonnie was loved by so many, she suffered from depression. Depression is a cruel disease that tricks the mind into thinking we are all alone. This happens no matter how thoroughly one works the steps, gathers a gaggle of sponsees, or becomes a paradigm of service to others. Drinking and drugs aren’t the solution and the program of recovery in AA doesn’t claim to be the cure for everything. We yield all we can to the Heart of Compassion no matter whether we call it God or a Higher Power. It is compassion that saves us all and compassion sometimes says, get professional help. Bonnie did that but still felt isolated and fought the disease with her whole heart and soul.

 Her heart was so big that it just gave out. So, Sweet Bonnie, our friends are here to bid you farewell and to express our shared gratitude for the love you gave us all.

Namaste.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Bonnie

The Last Time I saw Bonnie
I stay with Bonnie on Tuesday nights. There was nothing unusual about that night… that’s why it’s hard to remember. It would’ve been our Tuesday meditation meeting… Yes… we went to that and had a nice… very nice talk…Then it was TV… & dinner…& bed.

The last time I saw her… 
The morning routine when I stay at her place, I get up about six & go home. I get up at six... at my desk by seven & work ‘til noon. Mornings… that’s when I write… brain shuts down after the noon hour and I do something else.

We try to arrange ourselves around those hours. She likes to sleep-in till about ten so I never call her before noon. But Wednesday would be different. She had some appointments on Thursday morning and would most certainly be at my place Wednesday night. That was the plan.
Before I leave I always give her a peck on the cheek and tell her, “I love you.”
“Can’t you stay with me a little longer today.”
“Sorry, hon. I’ve gotta proofing to do.” I pecked her on the cheek again, “I love you but I’ve got to get this done.”
“Okay, love you too.”

One AA meeting at the Alano Club that she liked is the Wednesday one where chips and cakes are given  for anniversaries. Though she didn’t like big meetings, it is an upbeat meeting that she sometimes enjoyed. It's normal for her to be at my house on Wednesday nights and I cook.

She called beforehand, “I’m not feeling well… like I have a flu or cold. I have to stay home tonight.”

I’ve been with her nine years and, in that time, we’ve been at Cottage Hospital so many times for one thing or another but never has she ever had a cold or a flu, “What’s wrong hon?”
“I’m just feeling weak and can’t handle the meeting today. George, I’m supposed to meet with Vicki and I have that appointment at nine with Radiation and that one at ten. Can you call them and cancel for me?” and she gave me the numbers and was confused about them. Turned out that a couple of the numbers were wrong

None of this was unusual for her to make a call somewhat like this one when she just wanted some time to herself. We understood each other and didn’t take offense. That’s one reason our relationship was so strong over the years. We trusted our love for each other. Though we wished to live together wherever we lived would have to have room for each of us to have our space… space to retreat to. So, we kept our separate apartments across town from each other a couple miles.

She called me later that evening… around nine. “I need to get some rest… okay?”
“Sure. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Okay.”
“I love you. Take care of yourself, okay.”
“I love you too.”

There it was, our last conversation. I talked with Vicki… wrong number for the therapist and couldn’t find her in the old school phone directory. Radiation was closed so I had to call in the morning. I didn’t tell Bonnie… I just forgot to.
The next morning, I called Radiation as soon as they opened. The woman was a bit cross, “She’s done this before. The next time she comes tell her to bring her credit card. We have to charge her two hundred and twenty dollars this time and insurance won’t cover it….”
“I’m sorry, but she’s not able to make it.”
“Well, she has to bring her card…” and on and on.

I waited ‘til noon to call her. She didn’t answer but I wasn’t overly concerned. Bonnie suffers from depression and I always let her ride it out when she wants to be alone. We have that agreement. When she doesn’t answer the phone it is because she has it under her pillow but always calls back after she hears her messages. It might be that night or it might be the next day. Again, I wasn’t concerned and left a message telling her about the charge on the appointment thinking she would call back sooner because of that news.

Before going to bed Thursday night a tried one more time and told her I check with her if she didn’t call me before noon. It was just to see if there was anything she needed but I was getting a little worried. Vicki called after that and I told her about my message. She said she tried too and was very worried. I tried to reassure her that it’s okay. Bonnie is probably just isolating a bit. Vicki said she’s check on her in the morning and we left it at that.

It was about eight-thirty when I got the call.
Weeping, crying, “George…. She’s gone…”
I knew but I was pulling straws… “What… to Cottage?”
“She’s gone, George… I found her on the floor…”
“Are the paramedics there?”
“The police… too… I don’t know… a bunch of people.”
”Oh no!... don’t let them take her away before I get there.”
“The coroner has to come… please hurry, George.”

I was in my sweats the same as any other day at my desk. I rushed out the door and got halfway to the car before I realized I didn’t have my keys… I was locked out… take my bike… it’s up there too… tried to open a window. So many times I’d gotten through it but I had it secured good. The air conditioner window… maybe I could take it off from there… It wouldn’t budge… impossible to do the credit card trick…
 I picked up a two-foot-long 1 ½ by 1 ½ stick and pried the handle off but I needed something to stick in there to turn the latch… a screwdriver. I saw my neighbor that’s always working on things…
“Do you have a screwdriver?”
“Sure, I have to find it though….”
He had tool boxes with every tool imaginable but nothing like a screw driver. He finally found one and I got the door open.

I drove like mad to get to my Bonnie…. Bonnie… damn it…. No… No… Bonnie… NO!
Several police and emergency people were standing-by… Vicki rushed to me…
“Have they taken her yet?”
“No.”
“Can I see her.”
“They won’t let us…”
An officer approached us… another was a service chaplain or something. They asked me cop type questions that all were around the notion of whether or not she OD’d. I told them about her heart.
“Let me see her… please… one last time.”
Service Chaplain was trying to do his job, “You don’t want to see her this way. You'll be able to see her later…when they have her for viewing.”
“What do you fuckin mean. Don’t try to protect me… man, I’ve seen ten times worse than anything you can imagine! I'm a fuckin' Vet.” 
My pleas didn’t work.
I want to see her now, while she’s still there!”
I started to go for her stairs. A cop stood in the way, “Not while the investigation is going on. Sorry.”
“Why, I’ll stand back… I just want to see my Bonnie!”
The chaplain came to me and said, “It’s the law.”
Man, that’s the wrong thing to say… “The law? The law has never fuckin’ help me. Fuck the law!” I said to the cop… “The laws are made for Judges, lawyers, and cops… they aren’t made for people!”
I had to drive back and get my phone… I left my phone at home… it had all my numbers in it… people I needed to call. By the time I got back thy had taken her away…

I insisted on an open coffin so that I could see her one last time. Her father, Bernie, would come in the room while the lid was open. When I finally saw what was left of Bonnie, it was terrible. They had her laid out all made up pasty and perfectly with her favorite lipstick but no resemblance of life at all in her. Her face looked fuckin’ stern like churchy prigs do in 19th century sepia prints. I wish they could have at least given her back her sly imp smirk… an upturned cheek… like it’s all a trick but no… her body was cold… she was gone… the cops would have spared me of this sight.
Last night I didn’t sleep at all. I wasn’t thinking of her all night but whenever I began to drift off a line from the song, You’re learning the Blues… Armstrong and Ella…, came to me… or a conversation… a laugh... the last time we walked on the beach… why do I cherish these things thinking I’m glad we got to do this or that before… or she didn’t get to do this or that… the trips we didn’t take… a selfish moment when I rushed home and didn’t hold her a little longer… it’s all so sad and useless. Why would I think it matters now?

But the truth is somewhere else. I should know it’s impossible to love perfectly… a sudden departure does that. I know there’s some of it that goes on when it’s a long lingering ordeal… but nothing like the intensity of her being in my arms one day and gone… cold body left but she’s gone to the ether the next moment and took her warmth with her when I was busy doing something else.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Prologue of Anadel (continued)

Forensic Pathologist, Doctor Kate Williams, was about sixty and had always looked that age as far back as Ryan knew her. She didn’t look any older, nor any younger, as the years passed.
They stood next to the cadaver while she pointed out the wound in the back of his head, “You’re early Ryan. I haven’t cut him open yet. No exit wound. Probably a hollow point .22 caliber. When I crack open this coconut, I’ll find it likely took out three quarters of his brain. It’s not speculation, I’m thinking this one’s a homicide.”
Ryan scratched his chin, “No evidence of a struggle at the scene. No cash on the driver… could have been robbery or one of the kids dirt-grabbed it. We have the weapon. Twenty-two caliber revolver. Wiped clean. Nine round cylinder. One emptied cartridge… short casings. Ballistics is testing it. You’ll find it matches the empty in the cylinder.”
“I would say so if I were to say so,” she quipped. As always she came to few conclusions until all the evidence was taken into account.
Ryan and Dr. Williams were quiet. Ryan said under breath, “There were two of them in the back seat.”
“Why do you say that?” Rogers asked.
“Two sets of shoes in the gravel, if you bothered to look.”
Out of the blue, Rogers said, “His friend, Craszhinski was thrown in jail last night. We could’ve talk to him there but that Gook Whore of yours bailed him out.”
Ryan thought Rogers was a punk and let the insult slide but the kid’s point was plausible. But Ryan had been around long enough to recognize a bum steer. He played along anyway, “You got something there, Rogers?”
“Maybe Craszhinski’s her pimp and Perry owed… Sides, I read about that Ed Kemper dude. He made friends with a Santa Cruz cop while he dined on co-eds.”
“… quite a stretch there, sleuth,” Dr.Williams interrupted. “I don’t deal in speculation.”
Ryan had seen enough, “Come with me, Rogers, let’s see if his boss can shine any light on this.”

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Prologue of Anadel

Prologue: Ryan's Day

November 13, 1987:
Jewels of light below Camino Cielo were coming alive and sparkling in that hour before dusk slips into the black sheath of night. Sunset's clicking and buzzing nocturnal solace was interrupted by the rattling angry buzz approach of dirt bikes a couple of hairpins from the Painted Cave junction. Three kids on dirt bikes came upon the taxicab waiting at a turnout; its motor running; drivers side rear door open. Its headlights lit up an old pine that stood tall over a turn-out near the junction of Painted Cave Road and Camino Cielo. The driver of the taxi was behind the wheel. He wasn’t waiting for a fare. He wasn’t waiting for anything at all.

“Hey, look… the driver’s sleeping. You think he’ll wake-up if we…”

One of the kids opened the driver’s door. He shut off the ignition noticing a wad of cash bulging out of the driver’s shirt pocket, he shouted, “He’s not sleeping, Jason.”
*****
The hour was magic between the dark of night and before the first light from Ryan’s low-rent studio apartment on the second floor on Foothill Road. The coffee machine began its morning drip, pop, fizzle grumble set for five AM. He’d been at the scene of the taxi cab past midnight. These calls rarely happen at one’s convenience. Still dark outside, he made the single bed, went to his kitchenette, and poured a mug of coffee. Black, and filled to the brim, he took the mug to his desk in the corner under the window that, from the second floor facing Southwest, allowed dawn to decorate his view on one side. It wasn’t so dreary for him. When the divorce papers were signed, he’d reflected philosophically, “We hardly knew each other anyway.” After all, they were no kids. His passion was in his work and his only vice had once been Cuban cigars. It hurt him worse than the divorce when the cardiologist insisted he quit smoking. The desk was the only piece of furniture besides a dresser and the bed. He raised his cup to the picture that was still on his desk, “To you, Imelda, the hair of the dog.”

Narcotic/Vice Detective, Ryan, opened a folder that contained several polaroids he’d snapped the night before and played back the interview of the kids on a micro cassette. The photos were of the taxi cab and close-ups of the driver, head slumped over the wheel. They were of Douglas Perry… his most reliable Confidential Informant. He pinned the pictures to the corkboard above the desk. There were others too. The untrained eye might think some were accidents… camera went off… shots of the ground. But closer scrutiny showed they were of dirt bike tracks, foot impressions in the gravel, and car tire tracks.

The tinny voices of all three kids from the recorder told the same story of riding up on dirt bikes when they found the cab parked in a turnout on Camino Cielo. None said anything about the wad of cash in the driver’s pocket and none was found anywhere else on the body or in the cab. Ryan suspected it was probably robbery and nothing about it looked like suicide. He only had to drive up San Marcos Pass to Camino Cielo from his place again after he finished his second cup of coffee… about ten minutes. The body was still pliable by the time Ryan saw it taken away in the meat wagon before midnight. He’d been around corpses long enough to know it takes two or three hours for rigor mortis to set in.

He ripped the dry-cleaners’ wrapper off one of four dark blue sports jackets, chose from a selection of identical light blue shirts, and a clip-on striped, grey, blue and white tie. He pulled up his chino slacks over stout, muscled, legs that spoke of years of roadwork training for the ring. He stretched his belt to the last notch over a paunch from lack of exercise. His exercise was restricted to light cardio workouts on the treadmill… doctor’s orders to go light. He drove back up to the crime scene at sunrise in his blue 1970 Chevy Caprice. Turning right off San Marcos, a squad car passed him going the other way off Camino Cielo. Two City Police cars were parked behind a flatbed tow truck so he parked on the other side of the road. The driver at the winch was loading the taxi while the rookie, Rogers, clipboard in hand, acted the supervisor of the whole operation while three other uniforms stood back and watched.

“Who ordered it towed?” Ryan barked.

“Take it easy, Ryan. What’s the big deal? It’s been here where you left it last night.”

Ryan’s eyes scoured the dirt within the yellow crime scene tape.  A set of tire tracks were scuffed up in the dirt in front of the cab and two different shoe sizes were in the gravel next to where the rear door had been. He had snaps of the tire tracks but hadn’t noticed footprints the night before or he would have snapped some pics. Frustrated he asked, “What’s the use of this tape if you’re letting a herd of buffalo traipse through it?”

“Come on Ryan you know it was self-inflicted.”

“No prints anywhere on the car?”

“Clean.”

Ryan nodded towards the tire tracks, “Homicide’s been here? I don’t suppose plaster casts were taken of these before you stepped all over them?”

“Yep to one and Nope to two.” Rogers’s made no attempt to cover his annoyance at being questioned by this old fart.

Ryan drew out a tape measure next to the foot prints and snapped a few more shots from the cheap Polaroid One-Step 600 he carried with him to every crime scene. He could see that there was little use in hanging around much longer. The new Coroner’s Office had moved down the hill next to the County Sheriff less than a mile from his place. He needed to run things by someone whose judgment could be trusted. “Let’s see what the coroner has by now. Ride with me Rogers, you might learn a thing or two.”

Almost at the junction of San Marcos Road, they had to pull over to the side to let three lit up, lights flashing County Sheriff cars speed towards the scene. Rogers said, “Right-on. We’re off the case.”

*****