Yesterday my friend and brother KAZ from the far country of The Carolinas paid me a visit. As always, he came bearing gifts of Pirate Juice and goodwill. We spoke of many things, as we always do, but two points in particular I remember. I don’t remember much else, due to the Pirate Juice, but at the risk of breaking my two self-imposed guidelines of avoiding politics and religion and Walmart, I will relay to what is left of my readership the gist of the sit-down, as it were.
“This isn’t an interview,” I say.
“Were you peeing when you went outside just now?”
“Yeah. Go ahead, man, it’s one of the last freedoms we have as dudes.” As junior agent KAZ(he is only fifty), goes out to the giant palm tree the phone rings. Due to my vast wealth as a boogermeister and literary provocateur, I have one of the last remaining wall-mounted telephones that are hooked to wires that go out of the trailer to…uh...telephone-land.
“Hey! There’s a pit bull out here!”
“Nothing, honey. I forgot that Rocky was visiting.”
“I thought that bicycle guy was there.”
"Don’t pee on him, KAZ. It makes him mad.”
“Yeah. What’s up, Blondie? I’m busy.”
“Sounds like it. Now I forget why I called.”
“Me too. Call back when we remember.” I hang the phone back on the wall.
“I don’t remember that dog from last time.”
“He wasn’t here that time. I’m dog-sitting. In fact, there’s a good possibility none of this is even happening.”
“You’re right. So anyway, you asked about our community churches.”
“What do you mean by community churches, specifically?”
“My wife and I were involved in the development and growth of several churches in the past, but it just wasn’t getting the job done. Every time, it developed into something…big. It got too big and it changed and …”
“Turned into a car show in the parking lot and a wardrobe display inside?”
“Yeah! Not exactly, but… yeah. So we started having these small gatherings. Six or eight people. We did communion and a little music, a couple of us had guitars, and together we were somehow getting closer to, uh, finding…the Spirit, the comfort of Grace.”
“Whenever two or more of you…”
“I can see how that would get out of hand pretty quick. So, those six or eight people have six or eight friends and there ya go again…”
“Of course, we couldn’t turn anyone away, so what we did was encourage the new guys to start their own groups. It grew from there.”
“What you are describing is the exact model of a revolution, the cell system of organizing a large group of people who are not connected except by a precept, a single motive of change…typically, one member from each cell would go to help start the next group, establish some guidelines and patterns…”
“Yeah! That’s what we are doing, yeah…”
“He was the original revolutionary, after all, I suppose.”
Here we pause for more palm tree watering and a little rustling through the ice chest. A couple dashes of Pirate Juice get tossed into my best (only) glasses. I really like this guy, this Agent KAZ. He is a good operative. He leaves a trail of good.
“Did you ever give a rider a push, or get a push?”
“This isn’t an interview.”
“You mean in a group, someone is tired, or dropped?”
“Well, KAZ, you don’t push the leaders.”
“The fast guys aren’t in it. One time I caught up with a crew and in the back was this girl. She was crying. I wanted to be a superman, the Noble Trailer Park Cyclist and give her a push. Or at least get in front and let her get on my wheel so I could pull her up to the group. They weren’t that fast. I could have done it. But I was too shy, I was a real trailer park guy, goodwill clothes and so on and I just didn’t do it. I just turned off and came home and drank a dozen beers and thought about how I could have been a hero.”
“You are a hero, Tim Joe.”
"Aww, KAZ, you didn’t say that.”
“Well, I should have said it, if I didn’t. But yeah, there’s this guy in town who wants to join our group.” This makes me laugh. I see, in my feeble mind’s eye, a straggler, a lonely orphan like myself, yearning to be a member, a participant in this crew of brightly clad fast-riding men- of-war, this crew of the shining, the privileged, the few…
“We call him Grey Shirt. He always has on this grey t-shirt and some baggy gym shorts and old tennis shoes.” I laugh again. The Pirate Juice is doing its job. Manic and attuned to the ludicrous, I am Grey Shirt. I am that outsider, that lone straggler. I am Grey Shirt.
“His name is Ben Donaldson.”
“Grey Shirt. His name is Ben Donaldson.” This messes up my self-absorbed fantasy of Lone Ranger-ness.
“One time on a long flat outside Charleston, I forget the ride, I was done. There were still a lot of miles to go, you know? You’ve been there. There were still a lot of miles to go and I was done. I was way off the back of the pack and all of a sudden there was a hand on my back and I was getting a push. It was Grey Shirt.”
“Riding steel, right?”
“Riding steel, old steel like yours and later, we were sitting side by side on the curb outside a market, drinking beer. He told me his name was Ben. Ben Donaldson.”
“I love you, man.”
“I love you, too, Tim Joe.”
All of this counts, folks. It all counts and I want you to know it. I want you to know that to me, you count. Every single one of you. Remember yourselves, stand tall and strong, remember that you are here to form a cell, to give and get a push. We are here to fix it, you guys. Agent KAZ and I are here. We are here to help. But we cannot do it alone; nor can you do it alone.
Together we can.
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and House of Hope