Sixty-100

61 Caddy fade job

I find myself in “gas stations” now, which are really sugary-snack depots that sell lotto tickets and happen to have petroleum products on tap as well. This is where I often times see them. The injured. The walking wounded…those that shuffle along this life with hurts unknown, but plain as day to me. I see them more now than I had. Now that I am one of them.

“HEY MAN, what the FUCK is wrong you?!!” isn’t what’s bubbling up to my lips these days. I don’t want to know. I don’t have a bible thick enough to enumerate the hell they have suffered. Not my business, and I have a load of hurt I am haulin’ my damn-self.

Not choking each other out seems the greatest kindness we can do one another. “Motherfucker, get your mega-millions ticket, your fucking king size fucking Reeses pieces, and keep on keepin’ on, cause the pain on your face would make looking into your eyes a cryin’ experience for me rhat naw, and I ain’t got tear-one to spare….Go with God, you sumbatch.”

A truce.

I speak of my corner Chevron “Extra Mile” store in El Cerrito where between tattoos, I shop for drug drinks, chewing gum, and even lottery tickets sometimes, but every time, looking to get the fuck out of there with great immediacy.

My pasts collide, and it’s not to reason, it’s simply something to be with. Those that were, are no longer, that which was, is no more.

Like the “gas station”, times have changed, the object of focus has shifted, old goals are patinaed wrecks in the calverts on the highway of the heart.

A gas station proper was a watering hole of the desert community I was reared in. Men and men-children gathered to mend tires, talk about life, dispense fuel, wisdom, and whatever else seeped out between squeegee jobs and the dinging of bells as cars came and left. We men-children attended to our bicycles and were taught the spiritual value of a laying on of tools. Being a man meant something. There was a certain care and craft that came with it. Being a man meant helping when help was needed, squinting into the white hot sun and striking a strong silhouette against the world half brushed an astonishing blue.

From the beltine up.

My pops was always making the rounds being a man, dropping trannies, sluggin’ down Rocky Mountain Kool-Aids, spittin’ out gear ratios, gappin’ plugs, and callin’ “bull-fucking-shit!!” on the whoppers sent downstream.

And I made mine…Lee Marvin shit.

Easin’ down the driveway past my Mom’s ’61 Caddy on the envy of the neighborhood, my ’71 Stingray in a stunning candy apple red. Arms thrown skyward clasping the red sparkle grips against the half brushed part of the world.

The blue.

My 501s popping against spindly legs as I came alive, spinning the five spoke chain ring into a fine blur. Across the sage strewn open areas, pumping each rut in the road with zest, knowing each one more than I would know anything else in life. Popping out of the sage, I could see who might be at the Chevron on Inyokern road. “Padgett’s” they called it.

I reckon that’s why all those salty fuckers named “Padgett” were always around.

“You headed to Padgett’s? You tell ‘em ‘Darryl’s F-100’s got a busted u-joint, and I’ll be down later.”

“Let me guess, you’re Darryl…”

Hahahahaaaaaa….I always wanted to say that, that last bit, but would have got every last one of my teeth punched out of my smart mouth if I had. Even if I HAD never met “Darryl”, and truly didn’t give a fuck about him, his F-100, or knew what the hell his u-joint had to do with anygoddamnedthing. But, having been identified as one of the residents that posted up under the awning of Padgett’s meant I existed. I was known. Known as a man(child) about his business in the most important bastillion of manliness known to any sumbatch in the Indian Fucking Wells Valley. That crusty fucking Chevron station.

Shit, I might have moved one more step up to warming the padded tops of the stools inside Smokey’s NAPA Auto Parts store a tick across the dirt patch towards the Argus mountain range in the east sooner that I had dreamed.

Goddamn.

Goddamn!

Now I have my own shop full of tools measured in yards and tens of thousands of dollars, and there are no men-children hovering, listening, mimicking, or cussing in the driveway. There are no lone-bikers on their 20” bicycles out looking for wisdom or a 9/16ths and a swig of grape soda. They all get hauled from each event of life behind the sterile glass, prim little adults, never rolling roughshod over the neighborhood designing fates of stray cats, and righting the wrongs dealt the hero Evel Knievel that wicked day at Snake River. No, their idiotic patter never left unattended for long enough to ferment into something side splittingly funny to their chums. Or dirty. Or poopy enough in reference. Never left to the wilds of the gas station, its pecking order, rhythm of humor and concentric hazing washing away the secular filth of the unbaptised.

Curse the “man” that doesn’t clasp until death the 3/8” ratchet of his father.

I returned to this community of my birth, bordered by Death Valley, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the El Pasos…to Ridgecrest. So much gone, so much has become the same. The same as anywhere.

The ’61 Caddy my Mother trundled my older brother and I to so many firsts in our lives came up in conversation. I had returned from a junket to the local feed store/antique pit in Inyokern with my lady on her first visit. I came home with a piece of local history, a porcelain wall thermometer from “Auto-Kool”, an automotive dynasty in Ridgecrest. Conversation drifted from my score of the thermometer to whom it represented to my Pops.

“Oh man, Ernie…he never came back from that last beating the cops gave him…”

“What?! The dude from Auto-Kool got a ‘highsticking?’ just randomly?”

“Oh HELL NO, David…he was fighting the goddamned cop, he used to box every goddamned time that cop pulled him over, and the cop just had enough one day and walloped the shit out of Ernie….never the same. Just didn’t come back.”

“Auto-Kool Ernie, eh? That’s what happened?”

That’s when the old man tells me the ’61 is out front of some damn old garage out on Ridgecrest boulevard, right next to the old Auto-Kool building.

I just had to see it. So much had changed, I had to touch it again to realize all that had transpired since the last time I saw that Caddy in 1974.

There it sat, burnt to a perfect desert patina, it’s down off the highway on my baby’s first visit and my last.

My lady has had her ’61 Buick for 16 years, and I have had my ’61 VW 20 years this year. They are collectively 100 years old.

My hand rested on my lady’s thigh as I ushered us on towards the Sierras, west on Inyokern road, away from Ridgecrest, away from her first visit, away from my last.

I knew better than to let my eyes drift to the left as I didn’t want to see the dark shadow under the awning that covered the entrance of the long closed Pagett’s Chevron.

 

“I wish i could eat the salt off your last faded lips
We can cap the old times make playing only logical harm
We can top the old lines clay-making that nothing else will change.
But she can read, she can read, she can read, she can read, she’s bad
Oh, she’s bad

It’s different now that I’m poor and aging, I’ll never see this face again
You go stabbing yourself in the neck
It’s different now that I’m poor and aging, and I’ll never see this place again
And you go stabbing yourself in the neck

We can find new ways of living make playing only logical harm
And we can top the old times, clay-making that nothing else will change.
But she can read, she can read, she can read, she can read, she’s bad
Oh, she’s bad

It’s in the way that she posed,
It’s in the things that she puts in my head
Her stories are boring and stuff.
She’s always calling my bluff.
She puts the weights into my little heart,
And she gets in my room and she takes it apart.
She puts the weights into my little heart,
I said she puts the weights into my little heart.

She packs it away

It’s in the way that she walks
Her heaven is never enough
She puts the weights in my heart
She puts, oh she puts the weights into my little heart.”

 

“Obstacle 1” by Interpol

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