Chapter 24 - Almost Crazy
I needed more time to think, and I thought I had found the perfect place to do it. It was perfect for about three hours before I saw the lights of Dean's car stirring up dust coming down a dirt road on the other side of some tall oak trees. I was sitting in lawn chair at our favorite fishing spot by the side of the river, drinking cold beer and watching my fishing line. Mainly, I was just thinking about life.
It was on the dark side of twilight, and I couldn't really make out that it was Danny's car for sure, but I knew for certain it was him. For one thing, I could hear the faint sound of Deep Purple's Highway Star when he turned off the ditch bank about a quarter mile away. When he was driving alone, he turned his stereo to ear bleeding levels.
It was only about two minutes from when I first heard the music that his car cleared the last of the oaks and his headlights came shining through the trees and bushes down by the river's edge, blinding me and illuminating everything around me. I turned away, and when I did, I could see the two blurry dots of his headlights form a triangle with the reflected with the crescent moon on the dark flowing water of the river.
Then the lights of the car vanished, the music stopped, and I heard his car door open and slam. Dean came blindly stumbling through the brush and stubbing his toe on the stump of a small tree that we had cut down to improve our ability to see the road. He was high, or else he would have made it through the brush like a ballerina.
He was wearing a white Stetson hat and his dad's fancy dress boots. I had my astronaut thing when I wanted to escape; Dean had his cowboy moods when he would pretend that he was living in the Old West. It alarmed me somewhat because I knew he had his dad's pearl handled, silver plated .32 Colt in his glove compartment. I understood the cowboy act besides I couldn't judge him while I was pretending to be an astronaut. I had once asked him about the necessity of the gun. He grinned and said, "You can't be a cowboy without a fuckin gun, Danny. Duh! I thought you knew that."
I remember staring at him for a moment before replying, " Oh, yeah. I just forgot."
He was carrying a half empty fifth of Four Roses in his right hand, his cowboy drink. We had once gotten into a big drunken argument over whether Wyatt Earp had drank Four Roses or some other whiskey before he had ambled over to the OK Corral. Just to argue, I said, contrary to the movies, Wyatt and Doc had probably sipped on some first class Scotch prior to the gunfight. Dean near came unglued. "Fuck you, Danny. You know for a fact that there weren't any first class Scotch anywhere near Tombstone, Arizona back in them days. They drank whisky made from rattlesnake piss and muddy water." For good measure, he held up a pint of Four Roses and shook it in my face.
I conceded the argument, "I like that. Rattlesnake piss and mud water. That would be appropriate for a gunfight in Arizona." The complement calmed him down as quickly as the comment about Scotch had riled him up.
"I thought I'd find ya sorry ass down here. I looked everywhere else. I went by your house; Glen said you was gone. Then I went by your Ma's place and saw your dad's truck was gone. Figured you was still out exploring the universe. Then I was finally able to figure out that you would need a blast off....a launch pad, and from there it was easy to figure that this was the closest place, either here or the parking lot behind the Drug Store."
I toasted him with my beer. "Can't get nothing by you, Deano. You are a regular Sherlock Fucking Holmes, my man. And in a cowboy hat no less, a six shooting, saddlesore, sleuth of the Saguaro Plains." I was kind of drunk too.
He came over by me, turned over a white bucket and sat down on it. "Well just who the fuck sits out in the dark by hisself on a Friday night?"
He just shook his head and looked at me like he was still figuring shit out. "Are you going fucking crazy." He took a drink from the bottle and handed it to me. "People want to know."
"Who the fuck wants to know? Nobody even pays attention to what I do." I took a drink.
"Randy Meisner said you and him got into a drag race on main street at three in the morning."
"You on one sidewalk and him on the the other?"
I shrugged. "It seemed like a thing to do at the time."
"He also said that he first ran into you when you were digging out on Jill Booth's front yard." I didn't reply, so he continued, "Said you guys were playing bumper tag, and he lost you when you took off across the park."
He looked at me like he expected an answer, so I gave him one.
"The previous statement still applies." I could tell he wasn't satisfied, so I tried to clarify things up a bit, "Him and Mark Thomas were working together. They thought they had me boxed in on the alley by the park, but they didn't figure I would cut out across the park....It was the only choice."
"You had to knock over one of them poles?"
"Lorenzo Larriaga told me that later you and Mark pushed a big tractor tire out into the middle of main street and set it on fire."
I chuckled, "That damn Mark is fucking crazy." Dean kept eyeing me suspiciously. "I thought the darkness was closing in, and we needed some more light. Second Law of Thermodynamics kind of shit."
"What in our history would ever make you think I would know anything about the Second Law of Thermodynamics or the First Law, or the Third?" He looked at me like he was looking at a stranger. It made me thirsty,
I pulled my line out of the water and went and got a beer out of the ice chest in back of my dad's truck. Dean thought he saw something and rose up off the bucket. He scurried where I stacked my pole and squinted at the end of my line."
"You ain't even got no hook on here, fool! You are fucking crazy!"
I opened up my beer, took a swig and answered, "It might be crazy if I was trying to catch a fish, otherwise not so much."
He stared at me open mouth then stared at the pole then back at me, "Catching a fish is the whole point of fishing, Danny."
"Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I was trying to catch something else completely."
"Sumpin else? Like what?"
I didn't hesitate, "Like a clue, Hopalong. Maybe I just needed a clue."
Now he looked at me, then the pole, then the water. "And it's out there in the river somewhere?"
I drained the rest of the beer in one big gulp and burped loudly. "Fuck if I know. I figured it was a good a place as any to start looking. Last few days, I been sleeping in the back of this here pick-up. It's starting to worry my parents."
"And no fucking wonder. Grown ass man pretending he's driving around in a spaceship."
I laughed, " That's really funny coming from you Cowboy Bob. Rustled any cattle lately?"
He looked down at his Dad's fancy boots, looked at me and burst out laughing.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
With the pleasantries exchanged, we settled down into an effort of getting seriously muddled. Dean got my other lawn chair and fishing pole out of my trunk. I told him I had bait in the ice chest.
"I don't know, man. I'll think I'll try out some of this Space fishing. Might learn sumpin new."
We talked about a lot of things but the the conversation wound it's way back to Jill Booth. "I knew from the start that things would probably end bad, but I went for it anyway. The only regret is that I cried in front of her the other night."
"Yep, I lost it just for a second. I was thinking there had to be way, a perfect way for sure, but a way to pull it off. And I thought I was up to the challenge but I was way over my head, Dean."
He picked up a rock by his feet and tossed it in the river. When it splashed the bull frogs got louder and the reflection of the moon got blurrier. "At least you got her in the sack. I know a lot of dudes who would made the same trade, " he thought about it a second, "including me. Thing was I was rooting for you. Me and Stoop were talking about it the other day with BaBa, and we all wanted you to pull it off for the Southside, man. We wanted you to rub Mickey's face in it."
"You weren't jealous?"
"If you're asking if I wanted to fuck her, I ain't going to lie to you. But that don't mean I didn't want you to prove it could be done."
"Even if it meant I would start spending all my time with her?"
He got serious as a heart attack, "Even so. Dude, you are already gone from here in a lot of ways."
"Fuck yeah. The rest of us going to be our daddy's legacies. We'll get their jobs or sumthin similar and end up living the rest of our life reliving their lives. Hell, more than a few of us will end up living in the same houses we grew up in."
"What, you don't think, I'll end up in Concord too?"
"Maybe Concord, but I doubt it. At least, you'll be living on the other side of Baily."
"You are fucking crazy, Dean. I hate that place."
"Place ain't bad. It's the people that are fucked up."
" That's what I'm saying, man. Them fools fucked up."
"Some of them is and some of them ain't. It's just like the Southside."
"What the hell you talking about, man? Surely, you ain't saying them people are better than our people."
"Like I said, some is, some ain't. A lot of them stuck up Northside bitches have forgotten where they've come from, and a lot of these beat down broke ass fuckers on the Southside have forgotten what their dreams were."
I thought a second about what he said, and it made some sense. " Hell, I'm just like them. Besides, Jill just crushed my dreams."
Dean gulped his beer and crushed his empty can beneath his boot. "Danny, there's a reason you go to space when you want to get away from all this shit. It's higher, and let's you get above it all and see over all the obstacles and shit. You are looking for the future. And there's a reason why I put on my daddy's fancy boots when that crap starts getting deep. It reminds me of better days, but the Wild West is dead; it is a dead muthafucker, and the Southside of Concord ain’t nuthin but a Boot Hill for the dreams of all our people who came out here chasing their dreams. Nowadays, it's either escape or die, dude. It might take years to before they throw the dirt in your face, but you ain't really living if you ain't trying find a way out of there."
I felt a wave of energy rush over me from the head down. God damn, this damn fool was getting deep, and it made some sense too, hell, it made a lot of fucking sense. "Damn it, Dean. That shit was good. For a minute, you sounded just like that dude we were talking about a while back."
He didn't know if I was pulling his leg, or not, so he asked hesitantly, "Who dat?"
"Cyrano. The dude in the play we were discussing back when this shit started happening."
"That long nosed dude?"
"Yeah. I know his nose wasn't near fucked up as yours, but that shit you said was pretty deep."
He didn't know what to do at first. He still didn't know whether I was kidding or not. Finally, he grinned and reached over and gave me a high five. "Damn right that shit was deep. Come from the heart too." He settled back into his chair. A little while later, he slurred," Remember that shit for me, Danny, and remind me what I said when I sober up."
He looked over at me and grinned again, and I fucking lost it. I laughed so hard, I completely forgot about the reason I was out there fishing with no hook.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We were still there when the sun began to yellow the eastern sky. Dean was asleep and snoring, but I was still awake. Then some long assed white bird flew over us squawking and woke him up too.
He turned in my direction with squinty eyes and messed up hair. His boots were off and his white cowboy hat lay in the grass behind his chair.
"You know what I was dreaming bout?"
"How the fuck would I know that?"
"I dreamt that I was on the space ship with you and these alien smart-asses were giving us a whole mess of trouble. You was pretending to act crazy trying to scare them off without us having to use our nuclear weapons on them."
"Oh, I'm the one pretending to be crazy?"
He looked at me disappointed. "Danny, you set a tractor tire on fire on main-street." I nodded. "Then I woke up from a dream just like this one and told you something to the effect that if they ain't afraid of you acting crazy it's because they ain't seen real crazy yet."
"And what did I say?"
"It's the only choice. Them fuckers think they got us boxed in."