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Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Mother's Son

         “You want to do what?”
         “Rob this grocery store,” she said.
         “Why? Are you hungry?”
         “Nope, not at all,” she said and then lit a cigarette.
         “Then why do you want to hold up a damn grocery store?”
         She exhaled to her right, out the window, away from me. She knew the smoke bothered me. Just another little way she showed me that she loved me. “No one robs grocery stores, that’s why I want to do it. They won't see it coming.”
         “Maybe there’s a reason no one holds up grocery stores.” Every day it was something new with her. She was looking ahead, through the windshield. Sally was a spritely 50 year-old woman with long, dirty-blonde hair and horrible teeth. She was rough. I often wondered what her liver looked like and imagine it had surrendered years ago. She had once been a coke-head and looked it. The woman had more lives than an alley cat.
         Since Sally was paroled this last time, just six months ago, she’d started reliving her youth as a stick-up queen, only now, I, her son, was her partner and not some asshole that she’d met in a tavern who’d beat her daily. I’d never called her mom because she wasn’t my mom. Sally’s mother, Edith, was my mother, the woman who raised me while Sally was running across the midwest high on, “God knows what,” and doing, “the Lord only knows,” as grandma Edith would say all the time.
         Grandma Edith was all I had as a boy. She was a big, hard woman and spoke more German than English. Sally was her only child and Edith’s husband, my grandpa, had died young from a heart attack. I never knew him. Grandma would say, “She’s Satan’s baby, that girl is.”
         I remember the day I learned that Sally was my mother and not grandma Edith. “Scotty, come here, baby,” grandma said, “sit on my lap, I want to introduce you to someone.” In through the door came this strange woman, who even way back then looked like hell. “This is your momma,” I was told. The strange woman just stared at me. I sat on grandma Edith’s lap shaking my head from side-to-side, “That’s not my mommy,” then I grabbed onto and hugged my grandma, “you’re my mommy.” I was six-years-old.
          My grandmother was no liar as I found out. This Sally woman was my mother and I hated her immediately. I wouldn’t talk to her. Didn’t want to see her. Wouldn’t let her touch me, in fact, I once bit her hard on her wrist only to be slapped across the back of the head, “You little motherfucker! Mom, that damn boy made me bleed, look it,” Sally said, holding up her arm for grandma to see. It was some years before I saw Sally again.
         Every time Sally popped back into my life as I was growing up, it was always the same old thing. “Mommy is doing really good right now Scotty and I think it’s time that we start getting to know each other. Would you like that, sweetie?”
         “I guess so,” I would say after being nudged by grandma Edith. “You need to know your mother, Scotty. She ain’t all bad. She’ll grow out of it sooner or later.” I believe my grandmother believed what she said, but she wrong.
         Now, so many years later, I’m thirty-two and a gun moll to my own mother. Grandma Edith passed on 15 years ago. Since then, Sally has been locked up four times, the last time a five year stretch for stealing a car from a minister whose wife is a cripple and has to be in a wheelchair.
         Sally stole that car while the minister and his wife were in church one spring Sunday morning. The minister’s wife’s chair was in the back of the car when Sally took it because they couldn’t get the wheelchair into the church on account of the steps that went into it and the door also wasn’t wide enough. The crippled wife was a skinny little thing, so the minister just carried her in and out of the church.
         She didn’t drive far before stopping at a biker bar at the end of town. That’s where she was, drinking a bottle of beer, when the sheriff's boys put the cuffs on her. That car was only missing an hour and two old ladies saw her take it. That was Sally. She spent five years in prison for taking a car to drive less than a mile so she could drink beer in a filthy bar. “That girl ain’t right in the head,” grandma Edith said all the time. She was right about that.

         Sally finished her smoke and tossed the butt out the pick-up’s passenger window.  Then she opened the metal glove box and pulled out her shiny long-barreled .357 revolver. “This is how we’re gonna do it,” she said, popping out the gun’s cylinder and looking to see if it was loaded, “I’m gonna walk to the store office and ask to see the manager. He’ll know how to open the safe. They’ll be thousands in there. We’ll get a new car and drive somewhere nice, like Florida.”
         “Are we really going to do this?”
         “You’re goddamned right we are, don’t be such a chicken-shit, boy.” Sally stuffed the big gun into her cheap purse and got out of the truck. She looked at me through the windshield and her blood-shot eyes screamed, “Come on!” Reluctantly, I got out and stuffed my .45 semi-auto into my waist on my left side. “Keep the handle where you can grab it,” Sally always said. “And when you pull it out, you best be ready to use it, or you’d be better off holding your wiener.” The things parents teach their children, I often thought. But then realized one day that a parent can only teach a child what it knows.
            Sally walked in front of me and I followed a few steps behind, looking at her twiggy body in cut-offs, tank and flip-flops. We went in the store and headed towards the office.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Job Today


         It was early in the morning and I was sitting in the plaza next to the cobblestone street. Not many people were up and moving around. I heard the old pickup truck before I saw it. It pulled up next to me, rusty. The cab was a blue Ford but the bed was from a green Chevy. There was a Mexican driving and five more in the back.
         “Good morning friend,” the driver said in Spanish. “You want a job today?”
         “Doing what?”
         “Picking pineapples.”
         “All right,” I said and stood up.
         “Get in the back,” the driver said.
         Two of them in the back helped me up. I looked all of them over. They were young and wore jeans, boots, long sleeve shirts and hats. I had on shorts, running shoes, and a short-sleeved t-shirt.
         The truck’s frame squeaked and rattled and we headed for the highway. When we got to the paved highway, the truck noises changed and now the engine was pinging. I could also hear the transmission whine and a hole somewhere in the exhaust.
         The sun was bright and the sky clear blue. No clouds anywhere. We were initially headed north, towards La Penita but had turned off the highway miles before. Now, on a bumpy dirt road with deep, scattered pot-holes, we all had to hang on to something or be thrown from the truck.
         We came up on a pineapple field that stretched back towards the green mountains as far as I could see. The thick, pointy leaves of the tropical fruit appeared to cover the ground, but looking closer, I could see the pineapples themselves nestled there under them.
         The driver stopped the truck. We all hopped out. The driver came to the back and handed each of us a large, stained white-cloth bag. I watched the others throw it over a shoulder like a paper boy. I did the same. They all put on work gloves. I didn’t have any.
         I followed as everyone walked off to a narrow trail that cut through a field. Then, each person took to a row, bent over and started twisting pineapples from their ground plants. Staying bent over, they steadily moved down their rows grabbing, twisting and stuffing their bags.
         The driver walked me down to my row and gestured for me to start. I bent over and began. About half an hour later, I’m dragging my bag heavy with pineapples. I looked over at the others, who were a good ways ahead of me, and none of them were dragging their bags.
         By the time I got three quarters of the way up my row, everyone else was on a new row going back the other way. Something on my forearms caught my attention. The undersides of them were red and blistered. It reminded me of what Poison Ivy looks like. It was the leaves from the pineapple tops that were rubbing my skin raw. I looked down at the insides of my lower legs and they looked about the same having been scratched by leaves from the ground plants.
         I kept going but my bag dragged heavier and heavier. At the end of the quarter-mile long row, the driver took my full bag and handed me an empty one. He walked off and was quickly out of sight. I stood up straight for a little bit and tried to stretch my aching back. Then, I walked to my next row and started again.
         At the end of my second row, the driver was again waiting for me. Drenched with sweat, I slid him my heavy, pineapple-filled bag. He grabbed my right wrist and turned my arm over to look at my forearm. It was bleeding and filling with puss. He looked at the other arm. It was the same. He shook his head.
         “You don’t have the clothes for this work.”
         He pulled a half-pint bottle from his back pocket. The label read “El Jimador.” Tequila. He twisted off the top, firmly grabbed my right wrist and poured the clear alcohol all over my forearm.
         “Ahhhhhh,” I said. “That burns.”
         “It’s good, it’s good.”
         Then he did my other arm. It burned as bad.
         “Here,” he said, as he began taking off his button-down long-sleeved shirt and then handed it to me, “Put it on.” I did.
         “You need this too, friend,” he said and put his dirty white stetson on my head.
         “Thank you.”
         He took a long pull from the tequila and handed it to me. I did the same but it made me hotter and didn’t taste good.
         “What time is it?” I said.
         “Almost nine.”
         I bent over my row and began picking more pineapples. The shirt sleeves covered my forearms nicely and the stetson kept the sun off my face and neck. It was going to be a long day and I would sleep well that night.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Stone

         He stood there looking to the west and saw only blue ocean water. The morning sun warmed his bare back that was brown after months in Mexico. The wet sand under his sore feet squeezed between his toes. Drifting, cool foamy water spread across the lower beach, rising to his ankles and then flowed back out. He looked to his left - south - and saw the gentle curve of the coast. Down there were small wooden fishing boats pulled ashore quietly sitting unmolested.
         He could see the plant debris that had been washed up during the last high tide. Wet and brown dead sticks, parts of trees and leaves made a staggered line as far as he could see. He wondered from where they came to be here, on this beach, washed up only to be taken back by the ocean when the water again ran that high later in the day.
         To the north, the stretch of golden beach ran for one mile before ending at a wall of rocks that formed a jagged point extending fifty feet into the water. He had walked out on those rocks before and knew another beach lay on the other side. One day, he thought, he might carefully navigate the razor sharp rocks and explore the other beach that seemed a world away. But not today.
         He began to run north along the water’s edge, so that waves frequently covered his feet as he ran. He liked how the coolness of the water balanced out some of the heat from the high, intense tropical sun.
         Running made him feel free. His breathing told him he was alive, though there was no one around with whom to check. His stride in the wet sand shorter than on roads and his legs heavier. The pain is his feet from too many miles on the roads but the sand offered no reprieve. No, the pain was still here throbbing across the backs of both heels up to the thin, exposed length of the lower Achilles tendon.
         Some days he wished one of them would snap, so he’d be forced to stop running and might, just might, heal and be able to one day again race. The last race had been the best, though. At least he had had that. One perfect race. One morning in the right cool weather when the 26.2 miles went by in a blur. When his training peaked perfectly and he finally ran like only he knew he could. That was why he raced. It was to prove what he knew about himself to himself. The marathon tests a person in ways only a marathoner knows and no two have the same experience. He knew that, too.  
         As he ran north, the noise of the water calmed him. The sound of moving water always calmed him. Now a quarter mile in, to his right, he saw the red, square plastic tables under the palapa that was vacant of people and realized he had not yet eaten there. Maybe tonight, he thought. Tonight there would be people there eating and drinking cold beer while watching the sunset but there wouldn’t be many people, not here, not this desolate place to which so few traveled. This pueblo was tucked away and on no maps. Here in the morning, when he ran, this full stretch of beach was his own and he liked it this way. He liked being alone, except when he felt lonely.
         He ran up the bank of sand to where it flattened and wasn’t so wet. Tiny beads of sweat collected on his shoulders as he thrust his arms with his feet churning through the packed sand. Now up a little higher on the beach and still running north, he saw the lagoon just behind the sand wall to the east. During the rainy season, fast-moving chest-high water drained from the giant pool of brackish water cutting a wide lane through the beach to reach the ocean. But it had been months since it rained and the break in the beach had been covered with the packed sand on which his feet landed.
         The beads of sweat grew until they were too big and burst. Now sweat ran in streams down his arms, chest and abdomen. The top of his black running shorts now damp. He looked up and saw a group of brown and white colored pelicans flying in a V formation just out over the water and in his direction. Feeding time, he thought.
         He loved watching the pelicans. They flew thirty feet above the water and then suddenly would halt as if their wings stopped working, pausing briefly suspended in air before heavily dropping beak first into the water with a thunk. The bird then sat on top of the water like nothing had happened only to tip up its long beak a few seconds later to swallow the small fish inside its mouth. They never seemed to miss, he had noticed.
         Flying high above the pelicans in slow, elongated spirals were the dark scavenger birds with enormous wing spans that picked at the dead sea life when the ocean brought it for them. On other mornings when he’d run here, he saw dead sea turtles, sting rays and many species of fish, including the porcupine-looking puffer fishes. He always wondered how the dead had died.
         Passing the lagoon, he was just over half way to the end of the beach. Up ahead, he could see how the beach narrows as a hundred feet tall rock cliff topped with tall, lush green trees merges with the wall of volcanic rock that divided this beach from the hidden one on the other side. At the very end of the beach, the narrowest part, there was barely twenty feet of sand from the water to the rocky cliff. There, he would turn around like every morning.
         It was bone spurs on both heels making his feet hurt be he didn’t know this. The spurs, caused by chronically tight calve muscles, had developed in such a way as to pierce and aggravate his Achilles tendons where they attached to his heel bones. Even walking hurt on some days with each step pushing the sharp, bony spurs in and out of his tendons at their thinnest and weakest spot.
         The end of the beach was coming closer with every short stride. He would soon turn around and head back directly into the sun and then swim for a while when he got all the way back to where the morning runs always began.
         He began to run faster as he daydreamed about being in a race. He could sense the cheering crowd along the course that yelled, “Keep it going. You look great.” Yes, he remembered how that felt but he never saw the people, only the road ahead of him. The racing focus prevented him from seeing them but he always felt their energy and heard them - he fed off it and used it.
         The solitude suddenly returned as he felt something strange in his right foot. It was pain but unfamiliar and caused him to limp. Something was very wrong, he thought. He was almost to the rocks and thought he’d walk back once he turned around. Then, it felt better and the limping faded in just a couple of strides. 
         He reached the end of the beach, here at its narrowest point. He stopped briefly and looked to his left at the sharp, dark rock ledge that ran into the water and saw dozens of small, black crabs scurrying over the rocks exposed by the low tide. He tried to wipe the sweat that ran from his forehead into his eyes making them burn. He squeezed his eyes shut several times to rinse them and then turned to the south.
         Pivoting off his right foot, he didn’t feel it pop. The right leg collapsed under him and he fell on to the sand. Then, the most intense pain he’d ever felt rifled up from his right foot through the rest of his body. It was excruciating and he instinctively pulled up his right knee towards his chest as he lie on his side writhing along the tawny sand. A wave came up and completely covered him in cool salt water and then receded.
         He looked down at his lame foot and saw it just hanging there, dangling and he could not make it move. An area the size of a half dollar just above his heel was purple. Another wave came up and covered him. He choked as water filled his mouth and then he crawled back towards the cliff wall, away from the water’s edge. 
         Standing was impossible. He looked back down the beach hoping to see someone, anyone at whom he could try to yell or wave for help. No one could be seen. Pain flooded his eyes with tears as he grimaced, bitting down hard on his teeth. He knew the great tendon in his right foot had severed. This he knew. The purple spot was growing and the pain worsening. He had to get out of there, somehow.
         He looked around hoping to see a thick, sturdy branch he could use as a cane but only saw sand, a few damp coconuts and dozens of rocks that had fallen from the cliff directly above him. 
         Crawling through the sand with one leg while dragging the other one was going to make for hard work. How long will it take me to crawl all the way back? he wondered. Maybe all day. A sharp bolt of pain shot from his foot making him nauseous. He lie there vomiting stomach juice, his entire body covered in wet sand.
         He couldn’t have heard, even if the ocean were somehow quiet, which it never was, when the heavy piece of stone, weighing at least several hundred pounds, broke free from seventy feet up the cliff face above and fell right down.
         Then, there was no more pain or anything else. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Motley Crue LSD Trip

         None of what you’re about to read is true...or is it?        

         At that time, it was 1990 or so. I was an enlisted infantryman in the U.S. Army stationed at Schofield Barracks on the Hawaiian island of Oahu - where Honolulu and Waikiki are. Schofield, as we called it, was sort of in the middle of the island aways from anything really, except pineapple fields. Those were around. But that’s not the point of this story. This story is about...well, read on.
         Motley Cure, then touring their album ‘Doctor Feelgood,’ were coming to play a show in Honolulu and I had a ticket. My buddy Freeman had a ticket for the seat next to mine.
         Some time before the show, perhaps a week and a half or two, our battalion got sent off to the field, which means we went out in the jungle and played army. We dug foxholes, busted the darkest of gulches at night, went on ambushes, attacked defensive positions and smoked a lot of cigarettes. You know, army stuff. At some point, both Freeman and I said, “Looks like we’re going to miss the concert.” You see, when they sent you to the field, you never knew when you were coming back. So, you stayed in the woods and  didn’t shower or have a good shit for weeks at a time. The food was also rotten and you didn’t sleep much. 
         By the morning of the concert, I’d given up hope of seeing it. I was probably pissed that I’d wasted $17.00 for a ticket because that was a lot of money back then. Hell, that was worth at least worth five cartons of Doral Lights at the post commissary, my smoke of choice then. Later that afternoon Freeman found me trying to take a shit in a hole I’d dug with my e-Tool (foldable shovel). “Hey, Jackson is that you?”
         “Man, I’m trying to shit out nine days of MRE cheese and peanut butter. The hell you want?”
         “I heard we’re going back in a couple of hours. The five-tons (big trucks) are on the way.”

         Now rumors in the army are a dime a hundred. But Freeman was in the know. If he told you something, there was a little better than 50% chance it was true. I stood up and yanked up my fatigue pants. “Great. I’ll save this shit till we get back and I can eat a couple pieces of pizza to flush all this out.” I did not like shitting in the field.        
         Freeman was right. We did get picked up and driven back to Schofield. However, our attendance at the show that night was still up in the air. I spent more time in the army cleaning this or that than anything else and especially weapons. At times when we returned from the field, we spent two days cleaning field gear and guns before they let us off. Fortunately, however, that didn’t happen. The rock show Gods smiled on me and Freeman and we were cut loose that night before 6:00 pm.
         Showering after the field is a multi-day process. It is impossible to wash off all the stink in one shower, no matter how long you’re in there washing your feet, ass and armpits with industrial strength cleaners. Ordinary bar soap melts when placed near the rank ass fumes that hover over a dirty grunt’s body. But, screw it. We weren’t going out to meet chicks. We were going out to rock out. With each of us now heavily doused in Polo cologne, we head down the Honolulu in Freeman’s dingy, gold 1970’s Cutlass that is so infested with cockroaches it's called, “The Roach Coach.” It’s outfitted with an AM radio and swamp-green vinyl seats. All four tires mismatch and it smells like spoiled bologna and dirty gym socks. But, the car runs and that’s all that matters. Point A-to-Point B.

         We take our seats at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, off the right side of the stage in an upper section. We have a perfect view. The Crue come out and start heavy. They might have opened with ‘Kickstart My Heart,’ but I’m unsure. I know they played that song, though. About 30 minutes into the show, I see Freeman talking to some random hippy-looking dude in the aisle. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, Freeman has an aisle seat. There is nothing strange about this. Strangers talk at concerts all the time. Some even share weed with you. Or, if it’s a Slayer or Testament show, strangers try to beat the shit out of you in violent throws of moshing. That’s another story.
         Freeman leans over so he can shout above the loud music into my ear. “This dude’s selling acid, feel like tripping?”
         “How much?” I was always up for tripping. 
         “Ten a tab.”
         “Here,” I say, reaching for a $20 bill in my front pocket, “It’s on me.”
         Freeman covertly hands the hippy the cash and the hippy slyly places the LSD in Freeman’s hand, then nods and moves down the steps and out of sight. Freeman hands me one and I immediately place it on my tongue where it stays until the paper melts from saliva.
         An hour later as the show is near finishing and I’m still sober I lean over and yell, “I don’t feel a goddamn thing. That shit was bunk.”
         “I don’t feel it either. Bunk”
         Now, I’m out $20 rather than $17. 
         The Crue finish, then there’s two encores and finally the house lights come on telling everyone it’s time to leave. Both of us still sober but feeling good about the show because back then, the Crue put on very powerful live shows. Yeah, they're old now but in their prime they were a mean rock n' roll band. In other words, bunk acid aside, it was still a pretty good night. After all, we could have still been in the field and running out of smokes. 

         On the way back to Schofield, we stop at a 7-11 to get something to drink - not alcohol because we were both underage. Old enough to get shot as a soldier but not old enough to buy beer. Freeman parks the roach mobile in front and then some strange looking kid pulls up next to us on my side. He looks like a cat and a demon and his car is at least 50 yards long. We both see it, then look at each other.
         “Dude, I’m so fucked up,” he says with pupils blown wide open.
         “Yeah, man, me too. When did that happen?”
         Of course, we’re tripping our asses off and now colors have tastes and sounds have colors and tastes have sounds. Being inside of a 7-11 with a head full of acid is scary, the sort of experience that spawns nightmares for life.
         We barely make it out of there after buying something to drink and staring at the candy aisle for what felt like a year on Neptune. Acid warps time and space and suddenly hot dogs start talking and furniture breathes. 

         Fifteen minutes later, we’re back at the barracks and the acid is still coming on. We stop at the duty desk to chat with our mutual buddy, Kenny Stevenson. He had no idea we were fucked up. We look business on the outside, but inside, our minds are racing trying to figure out why we can taste the air we're inhaling. We tell him about the Crue concert and then the phone rings. It was Stevenson’s job to answer it. He does, announcing the name of the unit.
         “Yes, Jimmy Treehorn is in this company.”
         We can’t hear what is being said to him.
         “Where is he? Oh, is that right?”
         Confused looks.
         “Hold on,” he says and then covers the speaking end of the phone. “Can you guys run down to Hickham and pick up Treehorn? These are MP’s from the gate on the phone and they said some Honolulu cops just dumped him there and he’s really drunk.”
         Freeman looks at me and he knows I’m up for about anything because even watching grass grow on LSD is a lot of fun, a road trip back towards Honolulu to pick up a wasted fellow grunt is a Homerian adventure. “Tell those MP’s we’re on the way. Be there in about an hour,” Freeman says.

         We swat away roaches from the vinyl bench seat in the Cutlass and tear back down the H2 towards Hickham Air Force Base, which is right next to the Naval Station Pearl Harbor. It must have been just past midnight by this time.
         We pull up at the air force base. Neither of us can see Treehorn. I get out of the car and walk towards an MP. “Somebody called about a drunk army guy that cops dropped off here?”
         “Oh, he’s over there somewhere in the bushes,” says the MP, pointing at some shrubs 50 yards away. I walk over there. Freeman is still in his car giving me a “What the hell?” look. Then he gets out of the car and merges with me. We’re both calling Treehorn’s name. No response.
         I look back at the MP watching us and shrug my shoulders. He shrugs back.
         “Treehorn. Hey, Treehorn.”
         No response.
         Then, I hear a thud over my right shoulder and see Freeman picking himself off the ground. “Here he is. Just tripped over the fucker.” And Freeman is laughing. Now I’m  laughing.
         From his clothes we can tell Treehorn had been at a club. He's wearing all black and reeks of cologne, booze and BO, which never mixes well. He's lying on his back passed out or possibly dead.
         “Is he alive?” says Freeman
         “Wait, I see his chest moving. He’s breathing!”
         “That might be the acid, dude. You could be seeing things. Check his pulse.”
         I grab his wrist. “Shit, I don’t feel anything. This isn’t good.”
         “The underside of his wrist, dumb ass. Check there.”
         “Ah, ok, now I feel it. Yeah, he’s alive just had too much to drink.”
         “Let’s carry him to the car,” says Freeman as he grabs Treehorn by his shoes. I hook my arms under the armpits and we lift him up. Suddenly he gains some consciousness and starts to flail like he’s drowning. And we drop him on a concrete sidewalk. Thud. He wakes up a little more.
         “Hey, what the fuck assholes? I’m sleeping. Leave me alone,” says Treehorn without opening his eyes.
         “You drunk bastard, it’s Jackson and Freeman. We’ve come to rescue your ass,” I say. He passes back out and rolls on his side like a baby. “Look at this sorry son-of-a-bitch,” Freeman says.
         “Why don’t you go move your car as close to here as possible,” I say. Freeman does this, leaving only ten more feet we have to move this guy to get him in the backseat of the Cutlass.
         A half hour later, he’s still not in the car. Every time we lift him up, he starts fighting, forcing us to drop him and fall down ourselves pissing with laughter. The MP’s are standing nearby watching and also laughing. Because drunk people, when they’re not assholes, can be a lot of fun. Finally one of them comes over and offers to help.
         “Let me handcuff him.”
         “Do it!” I said. Can't think of any other time I enthusiastically told a law enforcement official to cuff a buddy of mine. 
         The MP cuffs the baby’s hands behind his back and then his ankles. Now we got him, I think to myself.
         The three of us and then a second MP, carry drunken Treehorn to the Cutlass face down and slide him across the backseat. During this, Treehorn is screaming obscenities that aren’t fit to write. The MP’s take of the cuffs and walk away after we thank them. Treehorn has other words for them. 
         Freeman drives back out to the highway and heads back towards Schofield. On the way, Treehorn eventually manages to sort of sit up in the backseat and starts telling us - as much as possible given the state of him - what happened. He and this other guy we know, Doug Pope, went to some clubs in Honolulu looking for girls but struck out - probably because they had been in the field and still smelled like it. Cologne only covers so much. 
          They were headed back to Schofield in Doug’s 1968 Chevy Camaro when Honolulu cops pulled them over. Doug got arrested for DUI but the cops didn’t know what to do with him (Treehorn). He told them he was stationed at Schofield but it was too far to drive so they dumped him at the closest military facility, Hickham Air Force Base. Because, you know, army and air force are the same thing.
         By the time we get back to the barracks, we no longer have to carry him and thank God for that. We probably would have left him in the car to sleep it off. He's still very drunk. We hold Treehorn up and walk him to his barrack's room. We strip off his mattress and lie him right on springs face down. This is called a drunk bed. If the person vomits, it goes through the springs and lands on the floor rather than possibly being choked on and causing death.
         As we’re heading back downstairs, I say to Freeman, “What a weird night.”
         “Yeah, no shit.”
         We’re now back at the duty desk. The acid is still going strong. We tell Stevenson about Treehorn’s night and how we found him passed out in the bushes down at Hickham. We tell him about the MP’s cuffing him and how much Treehorn loved it. Then, the phone rings again.
         Stevenson answers and then mouths to us that it’s Doug Pope on the phone calling from jail.
         “Freeman and Jackson are standing right here, they just picked up Treehorn down at Hickham. Oh, which one do you want to talk to?”
         He hands me the phone.
         Pope says, “Can you come bail me out?”
         “How much is it?”
         “Three hundred. I can pay you back as soon as I get out and get to an ATM.”
         “Freeman, feel like making another drive back to Honolulu to get Pope out of the crink?”
         Still tripping, his eyes light up, “Sure. Let’s go!”
         “We’re on our way,” I say back into the phone.
         After I take money out an ATM, we drive towards Honolulu for the third time that night. It’s easily three in the morning or later and neither of us knows exactly where the police station is. “Just drive into downtown and I’ll ask a cop where it is,” I say. Talking to police while tripping is never a good idea, but we had a buddy to take care of, so that’s what we did and were directed where to go.
         Here, my memory is sketchy. I remember Pope coming out of the drunk tank and being handed his shoelaces. He’s pissed off and almost fully sober. We’re walking out of the police station and Pope yells, “You fuckers. Go arrest some real criminals. Sons of bitches!”
         “Dude, shut the hell up!” I say. 

         Again headed back to Schofield, Pope tells a clearer, more sober version of that night but it was more or less the same, just had more detail. “Where’s you car? Did they impound it?” Freeman says.
         “No, they fucking left it on the H1 where they pulled me over!”
         Now I start thinking. “How about Freeman drops you and me off at your car and I’ll drive it back. That way it doesn’t just sit there until you get a ride back down to pick it up later today.”
         All three of us agree it’s a good idea. “Do you have your car keys?” I say. Pope pulls them out of his pants and jingles them.
         Ten or fifteen minutes later, we’re speeding north on the H1 headed towards the H2, which leads to Schofield.
         “We’re getting close to where they pulled me over,” Pope says. A minute later, “There it is!”
         This part of the H1 is a 12 lane highway with ample shoulders. Pope’s Camaro was neatly pulled over just sitting there under the glare of the tall bright lights that illuminate the wide highway.
         Freeman pulls over the Cutlass in front of Pope’s car. Pope and I get out, Freeman speeds off and we walk back towards his car. This car was Pope’s baby. He had put a lot of time and money into fixing it up. From the outside, it didn’t look like much with a few panels still painted primer gray. The engine is where Pope had really put in some work. Had had recently rebuilt it, added a new four-barrel carburetor and outfitted everything under the hood in shiny, new chrome. The interior was also in restored condition. 
         I unlock the driver’s side door, get in and unlock the passenger door. Pope gets in. I put the key in the ignition, looking forward to hearing the mean Caramo eight-cylinder 350 engine fire up. I turn the key and get nothing. Not even a click. I turn on the radio. Nothing. I crack open my door and the dome light doesn’t come on.
         “I think your battery is dead, man.”
         “Maybe there’s a cable loose,” says Pope. “Let’s pop the hood.”
         We get out and walk around to the front of the car. It’s after 4:00 am. He releases the hood, lifts it up and says, “Motherfucker! Those motherfuckers! They stripped my fucking engine!!”
         I look down and see nothing but the engine bock. “Oh man,” was all I could say. I turn around hoping to still be able to see Freeman so I can wave him back. He wasn’t there and was probably a couple of miles away by then.
         Pope is defeated. There’s no air left in him. He gently lowers the hood. “What next?”

         I had been told all of my life up to that point that hitchhiking was a no-no. But what else could we do? At least I wasn’t alone, which made me feel a little better as we walk along the highway with our thumbs out. 
         We weren’t hitching long before a tiny little car pulls over that’s driven by a huge 350 pound Samoan man. “Where you guys heading?”
         “I’m not going that far but I can take you to a pay phone.”
         “That would be great. Thanks,” I say.
         We squeeze into the little car and drive off. I'm riding shotgun next to a giant Samoan in a flowery, colorful Hawaiian shirt and I’m tripping.
         “Your car break down back there?” the Samoan says.
         “No, I got pinched for a DUI and the cops left my car there and some assholes came along and stripped the engine,” says Pope from the backseat.
         The Samoan turned his head towards me sitting next to him in the front seat. I only shrug because if I open my mouth, I’m gonna start laughing and Doug Pope is not in a pleasant mood.
         “What’s that smell?” says the Samoan. I shrug again. 

         A couple of minutes later, I realize we’re off the highway on a road I’d just been on recently. Then, there it is...Hickham Air Force Base again. He drops us off in the same exact spot the cops had dropped off drunken Treehorn. We thank him and pry ourselves out of the little car.
         The same MP’s are on duty. “Hey, weren’t you here a couple hours ago?”
         Walking toward them I say, “Yeah, that was me. Can I use your phone?”
         “Sorry, only official military business. But, there’s a pay phone over there,” he says, pointing to it.
         We walk over to the pay phone. It takes quarters. I don’t have any and neither does Doug Pope. I walk back to the MP’s. “Anyone have a quarter I can bum?”
         “Yeah, here,” the MP said. “Take it. Looks like you’ve had a long night.”
         “You have no idea.” I’m tripping! 
         I call the duty desk knowing that Stevenson should answer and he does.
         “Jackson? I thought you were with Freeman picking up Pope from jail.”
         “I was and we did. Look, I’ll tell you the story later. When Freeman gets back, tell him to turn around and head back to Hickham to pick me and Pope up. Tell him we’re in the same damn place Treehorn was.”
         “Oh, Jesus. How did you end up there?”
         “Tell you later.”
         “All right, I’ll tell him when he gets here.”

         The sun is beginning to come up. It's now after 5:00 am or 10:00 am back home on the mainland. Pope lies on a bench and starts to snore. I'm still hours from sleeping. Using the pay phone, I call my father collect because he’s an early riser and likes to hear from me.
         “Hey Brett, how you doing?”
         “I’m okay, dad. How are you?”
         “I’m good, I'm good. What time is it there?”
         “Just after five.”
         “Up early today?”
         “Nah, haven’t gone to bed yet.”
         “Rough night?”
         “Strange night. Like Hunter S. Thompson strange.”
         “Oh, really? I want to hear this.” My father was a fan of Thompson and had turned me onto him when I was in high school. 
         “Really? Well, all right. I’ve got some time. You see, it all started when...”