"That's what dad's do!"
Was the unintentional punch line of a surprisingly lucid story about stealing a glass pipe from your step-son's friend.
"I wouldn't do shit like that if I didn't like him! Anyway he just got a settlement so he bought two cars (naturally). A '67 fuckin, (there was long pause here) Thunderbird and an 1817 Camaro that were just sitting up here on the hill and he just fucking went up there and bought 'em straight out. I had to give him a fucking a ride back to pick up the second one!"
The morning after, I was kicking myself for not getting to the bottom of the "settlement" specifics, but the way he said it kind of framed it like a local coming of age ritual.
"I mean, if you can't take care of a fucking sweet-ass pipe; look at this pipe! Hold that shit!" The pipe was warm and the approximate weight of a patented Hand-Gun. "How's he gonna take care of fucking two cars? He can't park 'em on my fuckin" lot! You know? What's he gonna do? Rent a small block of my yard to be his Wealth-Themed Car Park?" He laughed in a reminiscently pig-faced fashion and I only sort of saw why that detail was particularly significant, while simultaneously being deeply confused with the whole insistent "patent" and "theme" narrative device he seemed bent on employing. I wondered if this wasn't all just a bit obtuse foreshadowing, and I resented my stoned narrator's heavy-handed liberties.
"What's he going to do with the rest of the money?," I eventually asked.
"What rest of it?" We both laughed.
"He can have a vacation car."
Pipe-Guy contemplated this for a good minute.
As I examined the burnt DMTSS residue in the pipe, a gigantic Samoan dude came charging up the incline from the lodge entrance, attempting to propel himself up the gentle incline with one gigantic heft of his weight, only to lose momentum half way through and have to start all over. After three attempts, which I watched in complete silence for what seemed like a really long seven thousand years, he made it the 15 feet. He was teetering and glistening by the time he stabilized, coming to a rolling stop where we were sitting.
Pipe Guy bellowed, “This is the Captain, man! He has two boats!”
“Oh, yeah?” I asked.
The Captain replied in the wisest voice imaginable, “Vessels. Salmon, man. Got a place in Renton. You want my beer?” There was a steady stream of beer running through his beard and back into his glass.
“No, I took some mushrooms.” The words died in my mouth as I spiraled into a psychedelic shame spiral.
The Captain chuckled and farted empathetically, “Oh, man, I was scrapping mushrooms off some fucking... manure this morning. Yeah.”
Pipe Guy interjected in a panic of recollection, “Captain, man, tell him what you were telling me!”
The Captain took a moment to gather his thoughts and exploded, “Oh, man, he has to walk home uphill and I get to walk home downhill! See, he gives me shit because I have to walk uphill to get here, but when we leave I get to give him shit!”
We high-fived like two unicorns in a stabbing match.
This was, admittedly, a perfect arrangement, but I couldn't help but wonder if that wasn't the story Pipe-Guy had in mind.
The Captain lolled his head like he was catching satellite debris snowflakes, spread his arms and, after a few beats, howled at the sky before starting the easy walk home.
"That's what dad's do!"
That's what dad's do.
Brookdale is either a great place to make meth or the perfect locale for a an executive share-holder's trust-building retreat (last year's theme: "Be Everywhere"), depending on where your parts spend their time. The Brookdale Lodge is where biker gangs hold their initiation ceremonies in the haunted atrium; where a girl ("Sarah") drowned once. Right where the restaurant is now. I've never been in there when it was open for dining, and, unbelievably, one of menus, augmented with a few specials of my own design from a previous visit, appeared to still be in circulation. The fakest-looking real creek you've ever seen runs through the middle of the room. The Lodge is inundated with sex offenders who take up permanent residence and recreate in the parking lot all hours of the day, sexually-speaking. Strange, small groups of people in their fifties with the distinct look of real Satanists (black windbreakers, rings, sneakers) pull up, walk in through the back entrance and, after being inside for something like ten minutes, drive off. People franticly walk out of the surrounding woods to violently throw a coin in the wishing well before retreating immediately back. On a personal note, I once heard the voice of a young girl singing wordlessly as I walked past the rows of unheated rooms on my way to wait for the next day to come. Upon further examination, it ended up sounding more like Old Woman singing in her "wittle giwl" voice. Undoubtedly, she was smiling serenely as she held her knees in her arms and rocked gently on the bed, which, to anyone, is an infinitely more unsettling scenario.
Earlier that evening, before seeing the Captain off, I had the specific misfortune of watching as a varied crowd of very drunk, but seemingly benign, bikers, stoned caretakers, and patented Beach Bums turned into a leering rabble of Puritan huns, just loving the fact that an amateur stripper got sucker-pushed off of a 5 and a half foot stage by the meanest looking Pig-Face you've ever seen. The worst part was that the band playing, that everyone was there to see, and everyone was, presumably, in era-channeling, disbelief-suspending, harmonic fakery with, was "harkening" the sound of 1970's free-love and sexual liberation. After watching someone who was more or less an obvious ideological extension (or aesthetic inevitability) of their patented Band-Themed Sound get pushed off a stage by somebody who most resembled a Birther, one of them very un-groovily barked, "Thank you!" into the microphone before launching into a bass solo that was most likely about something.
Later, talking to the bartender, who seemed like the kind of lady who had probably danced on a few elevated surfaces in her time (the 70's), I mentioned how scary it was seeing somebody take a fall like that in high heels. Said bartender had been good enough to call her a cab and make sure she got home. Apparently, she (the stripper) had been the date of the local Marijuana-Food farmer, who was pointed out to me as being the individual high-fiving a group of what appeared to be, his patented Dune-Buggy riding Marine buddies, while joyously pantomiming, what could have been, pushing a large bale of weed into the back of a Hummer.
"It's just so sad," said the waitress, eyes down, busily wiping.
"I know, you'd expect people to have a little more sympathy, given the circumstances," I said, eyes down, busily talking.
"That's exactly the problem," she sighed knowingly. "Some people just don't care about anyone but themselves."
This had me feeling a little convicted. I had been in the kind of condition where all I could really manage, in terms of the rescue effort, was to stand agape, trying not to internalize what this whole sorry display said about my character.
"Yeah," I said.
"I mean, that slut was ruining the show for everyone!"
The next day I stopped at a Moving Sale on a turnout and bought a realistic-looking black windbreaker, some rings and a pair of sneakers for $6 from a stripper moving to a new apartment in Fenton. She was lovely and I hoped no one would ever push her off a stage, whatever the height.
A few days before and about an hour South, I had gone on a hike with a fellow I buy drugs from in Big Sur (more than once I've heard him described as "the quarterback of Big Sur"). Once we got out on some bluffs the quarterback pointed out the rolling estate of one half of the union who started the company Old Man works for. It struck me that the people who start these companies never begin with the dream that one day they'll own a $300,000 dollar home in a suburban-themed nightmare, conveniently located an hour drive from an urban-themed wet-dream. Fact is, they need people to work for them who assume that their dream is in some way congruent with the boss's. In Ordinary Reality, CEO's, shareholders, and Pant Otters want the patented Natural-Themed dream, but success, like most things we've been taught to value, is, like anything else we know, sanctified by scarcity. The people designing our gentrification want to live like Walden the Uni-bomber, hidden serenely up in the hills, oblivious to the stench of de-frosting death washing up at their multiple doorsteps. The bed bugs won't spare them.