Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Fifty-three

Posted by ilbebe on May 25, 2010

A phrase that gets bandied about like a young person with daddy issues is The Average American. I feel it’s a very misleading notion, but if there’s any credence in it, I think the average American will agree that the average American loves a good detective story.

My old friend Tom, the fella who lost his father in October 2001, went missing in March 2009. He had left a bad situation in Arcata where he was falsely accused of crimes he wouldn’t dream of committing and persecuted for their supposed occurrence towards the end of the year before. He knew what he had to do and he did it: make the circuit and see his old friends; people he knew he could trust to hear his story and give him decent counsel. He went north, then east, and then came to see me via train on Friday, March 6. When he called me a few days earlier from the Land of Lincoln to tell me he was heading my way, I remarked “Ah, just in time for my birthday ”, and he replied “Oh yeah, yr birthday…” He’s just that sort of guy.

I told him how to get on a shuttle from one train station to another and that I would meet him at yet a third station, the one closest to my house. We met up, we walked back to my house, and a few hours later I ate mushrooms and we took the drain downtown to see my roommate’s band play. It was a blast, and as I smoked cigs and drank beer, he sipped on a glass of water. “Didn’t have any laser show in Chicago, I’ll say that much.” “Tom, I love you. Can you believe we made it?” “It’s a trip, as you wild maniacs are so fond of saying.” He grinned. He’s just that sort of guy.

In the following days, we saw a mob movie, we ate Indian food, we saw two of the many women who would love nothing more on Earth than for Tom to smile at them, we laughed, I smoked cigs. He left before dawn on a Monday, heading south, saying something about trying to live aloha if funds held out. A few weeks later, I called the last number I’d had for him, and it was disconnected. I emailed an address he’d given me a few months earlier for the first time, birds789, and got no response. I got no delivery failure message either…he’s just that sort of guy.

I probably should have tried looking for him earlier, but I had sunk into a new depression. I laid in bed all day for most of the summer and worked twelve hours on the Fourth of July to earn just enough money to feed myself while I piloted a Budget truck through the heartland with my friends Jenny and Indie at the end of the month. I got a call asking if I wanted to be promoted to manager while traversing Reno, and it washed away the pain of Rock Springs. I delivered Jenny and Indie to their new home in East Oakland off of Seminary, and used a rubber mallet to dismantle her bed frame so that we could get it upstairs. This was after backing the truck up over the curb and knocking the fence slightly askew. A passerby looked at me and shook her head, and I said I’m sorry and she said Ain’t My Fence. I got it right the second time. I’m just that sort of guy.

I thought about the birds that stay, and how our heaven has no reign. I became a manager in the middle of September. The increase in pay helped alleviate the financial worry that had been limiting me, and I started to be more social again. On a Friday night at the end of the month, Jenny got mugged called me I went to an ATM got on BART got in a cab gave a generous tip and was there an hour later. We split a bottle of Carlo Rossi Sangria and talked about being living Californians. We stayed up until Jenny felt safe, and when she fell asleep, I laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling in the dark. In the morning I washed my face woke Jenny she packed a bag made sure Indie had food and water walked past the place she’d been attacked and some scary barking unleashed dogs to the bus stop waited for the bus got on the bus heading north. Got off the bus. Walked her to my house. Gave her my phone, went to work. Had to tell some co-workers I couldn’t go to a party that night, I had to get home, and anyways, I was exhausted. I would have really liked to go the party, I’d been informed that there was a girl there that was into me, but I couldn’t possibly tell them the whole story. You are not getting nor will you ever get the whole story. I’m just that sort of guy.

I got home and Jenny was feeling better. She’d spoken to her parents and her sister and was set to be picked up in the morning. I checked my phone and saw that I had missed/was missing another party. I told Jenny I’d have breakfast with her parents and her in the morning, and wrote out detailed instructions to the spot I recommended in case I didn’t make it. I stayed up drinking and smoking weed until 5AM, and oddly enough, I didn’t make to breakfast, but they did, thanks to the directions. The power of the written word, which is no justification for the word as law. As much as I use words, I cannot submit to an authority based on them I’m just that sort of guy.

The following Friday, Jenny’s grandpa died. If she hadn’t been mugged, she would have been back in Chicago for a friend’s wedding when it happened, but as it was she was at home with her mother, and when they got the call, they were able to head straight to his house. Jenny got to talk to him a last time. The following Friday I went to the memorial service for him, and heard dozens of testimonials to his character as a good friend, husband, father, and grandfather. It would be nice if more successful businessmen were like Denny. He will be missed.

The next Friday nothing happened, but the Friday following that one I got mugged. That’s a different story. A month later, Jenny and Joe and Aaron and I went to the horse track a month later and Aaron played foolish for Jenny. We went back to a bungalow in Berkeley that had been benevolently boarding Jenny since her beating. Aaron started laying it on a bit thick, and neither me nor J was sorry to see him leave. A few weeks later I rented a car with an old friend/sleeze, crossed a bridge with one man, one woman, one cat and several boxes, and exited on Silliman. Unpacked the car, went into the Mission, ran into Joe and Aaron. They were broke and on their way to a chic pet grooming salon to beg for work. I gave ‘em a ride and then headed towards SOMA, where Jenny wanted to buy a temporary bed. I dropped Jenny off at her place, me and the sleeze headed back across the bridge, parted ways, met up again later, had drinks and laughs and cigs. I drove the rental car home very, very drunk. I’m just that sort of guy.

Aaron stabbed Joe in the back later over a woman. Joe told me about it the last night he was in town, and I can’t say I was surprised. Joe left on a Wednesday morning for chillier climes, and I wished him well and knew he’d be fine. When I printed the first copy of the last section of this work I had last week, the first copy went to JWDN on Humboldt Street in Brooklyn NY. Bless ya Joe, don’t know where I’d be if not for you. Might not even find the floor. Joe, you’re my kind of guy. Love ya.

I had at that point in the middle of December started into what would become the most corrosive relationship of my life with C. Don’t really feel like talking about that now, but it colored my winter more red than anything else. I started spending more time in SF with Jenny and my sisters, subtly for the purpose of avoiding C. Jenny started talking about finding Tom. No one we knew had any contact info, and a google search of his name didn’t come up with anything useful. Jenny and I spent a lot time re-hashing how strange the past six months had been, and how good it was to be in California. Tom faded in and out of these conversations.

I finally broke free of the bad situation with C and took my first vacation in nine months in the middle of April. San Diego was just what the doctor ordered. I went to a Padres game with my youngest sister, and spent most of the rest of the weekend with my friend Justin. During one conversation, I mentioned the Tom Question, and he whipped out an application on his phone that did background checks. It came up with no results for Tom, but several for relatives of his, and ultimately what was gained that day was a sense on my part that a little leg work was all it would take to find Tom. I’d been so mired in worry that it hadn’t really occurred to me that I could do some further investigating.

After returning to Oakland, I made a directory assistance call, called one number, called another, and got Tom’s uncle on the phone. He said Tom was alive and well in Ventura County, just kinda spinning his wheels. He gave me a number I could reach Tom at. I called it and left a message. I called the number again ten days later and it just rang and rang. On a Saturday morning a few days later, I received a call from an anonymous number. It was Tom. We talked for an hour, and I was able to tell him how good it was to hear from him.

There is warfare, and there is peace, and there is everything in between and beyond those notions. Dunna let yr mind be clouded by warfare and y’ will find peace or something close to it. The sound of an old friend’s voice through the phone…

Peace.

5/25/10, Oakland, home. Happy. On my way to play music of profound volume, hatred, and love.

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2 Responses to “Fifty-three”

  1. I forgot about the scary dogs!

    • ilbebe said

      Yeah, when I saw/heard those dogs, I remember thinking “Not this morning guys, please…” and also “Wow, ghetto as all fuck. We gotta get you out of here.”

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