Funny the things you remember about people. I was out like trout, crashed in my banana chair near the water's edge. Flat worn out, beered out, just done. It was a hot sultry Colorado River night a long dang time ago when some jackass shined (shone?) a ten D-Cell blast of white light in my face. I was about to be all kinds of PO'd until I noticed the glint of the badge. Face in twilight, badge clear.
Badge: Know this guy? Says he knows you.
TWC: Yeah, I know him. Why?
Badge: Well, we found him out on Rice Road past Vidal Junction. Refused medical attention. Asked us to take him here. He's yours.
Jim was a mess. A little delirious from dehydration and his face had the perfect impression of the bottom of a Bud can circling his left eye, giving him the appearance of a raccoon pirate. Some bonehead thought it was a great idea to toss him a beer at 70 miles per. Hanging out the window...hey man, you look hot, have a beer. Laughing all the way to Vidal Junction, never realizing they hit him in the face. Hard to figure how long Jim lay by the side of the road before somebody reported it (no cell phones in those days). And here he was. Got dang, Jim, get yourself some ice. Drink some water. Stretch out. Sleep it off.
I don't know, the memory is kind of fuzzy. It was a guys-only weekend trip and some of the guys got his dander up over something. Anyway, he decided he was going to hitchhike home. Problem was that all the traffic heading back to the big city was absent on Saturday night. Sunday woulda been a piece of cake. Of course we tried to talk him out of it, but he was proud.
Jim was an eclectic sort of guy who once introduced me to Robert, a stoner hippie-artist Eastern-religion drop-out who needed a bath and once painted a picture of a Peterbilt for Jimmy Hoffa. I mean, how cool is that?
But I suppose I owe him the most for that one night at the gas station. Lawdy I was pissed off. Pretty sure it was a Texaco station at Goldenwest and Garden Grove Blvd at, like, 3:00 am. Jim was fond of the middle of the night for some reason. It was fate or coincidence or karma or whatever. Jim was big on karma. Mike, everything is happening just the way it's supposed to be happening. I awoke alone sometime after midnight and realized that skank Ruth Ann (hope she's reading this) was naked in somebody's bed besides mine. Somehow, I found myself filling the tank with hi-test with a loaded 7.35 mauser tucked behind the bench seat of that hopped up El Camino I used to have (that's now worth $15,000.00). 350 with an Offy hi-rise, four speed, dah, dah, dah, dah.......but I digress. It never was fast enough to beat Jeffie-Pooh's Duster. More digression.
So I look up and there's Jim, lit cigarette, Cheshire grin, hanging out the window of his green Camaro with a hey, what the heck are you doing out at this time of night?
TWC: I'm going to kill that b**ch.
He thinks I'm kidding. Then I show him the rifle. He wonders out loud if maybe a handgun would be better and asks where the .357 is. I don't answer because I'm an idiot.
Then, without thinking twice.......
Jim: Glad you're going to kill her. She deserves it. Tell you what, I'll help you do it. Let's go across the street to Spires, have some coffee, maybe some breakfast, and we'll plan it out so you won't get caught.
Now I'm not saying that anything might have happened, but the point is that Jim never missed a beat. We had our coffee and eggs, didn't talk much about the slut, and that was that.
And now, apparently everything has happened just the way it was supposed to and Jim's gone. He'd moved off to New Mexico with wife number one. Then there was Michelle and her daughter Allisha (thanks, Sean). Anyway the important thing is that he loved that little girl (although she's not little any more), that much was pretty clear.
We hadn't seen much of each other in the ensuing years but, damn, thirty some-odd years is a long time to know anybody. Got dang, has it really been that long?
At the rate things are going I'm going to be out of friends by 2011. Don't much pay to be friends with TWC lately.