Monday, December 31, 2012

The Midnight Train

New Year's Eve, 2012

There Is A Train
Where I live in a crappy trailer park on the side of Old US One on the East Coast of Florida, a train line also runs; it is the Old FEC, the Florida East Coast Railroad. The trains follow a schedule that I am familiar with, it seems;  it serves as my alarm clock when the Six AM rumbles through the neighborhood and I swing my legs over the side of the bed to start another day. The sound of that train has been with me here in my little town all these years and  it somehow comforts me.  It  grounds me in my day and reminds me of other times; better times and bad times and I don't think I would ever want to live far from the sound of that train.

Just now, though, the Midnight Train is roaring past, blowing its horn more than usual and yeah: it is another year. The midnight train has gone by and the fireworks are going off all around the Park and it sounds like gunfire. The surrounding neighborhood  just for a moment might be Afghanistan or Iraq or maybe a Mall somewhere or maybe even: a small-town grade school up the road from here, somewhere up the road a few miles from here in a little place called Newtown, Connecticut.

All's Well Don't Always End Well
The end of the year was not much of a fun ride for me. I went to Los Angeles on a trip that just about drained what's left of my soul, filling the newly empty space with a sense of age and over-the-hillness that is hard to shake. When I got home I was immediately fired (again) from what is without a doubt the worst paying-least-fulfilling job I have ever had; and yet, I miss it already because nothin' to do can be even worse than the worse job you ever had.

Saddle Time
So... I ride my bike. I have ridden more miles in the last two weeks than I rode in the previous two months and I can feel a change.  Riding my bicycle really helps.  I love my bike. I feel better already but there was a long way to go but before I could even start  to look directly at something that I have been only glancing at for a while now, a thing that I have set aside. I just had a little two much to think about before I could look at it straight; but now, at a few minutes after midnight here in another year, I guess I will give it a try.

The Kids
Chase Kowalski, 7
Allison Wheeler, 6

Anna Marquez-Greene, 6
Avielle, Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6
Emilie Alice Parker, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Grace Audrey McConnell, 7
James Matoli, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Jesse Lewis, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Josephine Gay, 6
Madeline F. Tsu, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Olivia Engal, 6

These are just the kids. I left out the grownups. They count too. Of course they do. But right now, I just wanted to spend a few minutes here after midnight, in between the last fifty-seven years and the one just starting...

I just wanted to spend a little time after midnight looking at these faces, saying their names. I just wanted to say I am sorry, I guess. I don't know why. But I am. I'm sorry, kids.

There is another train that runs by here at two AM. I'll be in bed. I have a lot to say about this, but none of it is pleasant. So this time, I will just keep it to myself. But right now, at a little before one in the morning, there is some jackass somewhere pretty close by still playing with firecrackers.

I'm sorry, kids.


Whispering Pines Trailer Park

Thursday, December 27, 2012

El Paso: Back Burner #2

This is a really rough first effort at a little metafiction.  I couldn't get a grip on it but due to the overwhelming response to "After the War Started"  I thought I would put this up for everyone to ignore also.  tj

At five AM in the early spring in the Ohio River Valley the grass is wet. It is wet and full of crisp valley dew and in March, you damn sure can see your breath as you squat on the corner where they make the drop and you whip those newspapers into that old time newspaper fold, hard and tight and the town ain't that big so the news isn't very large and the folded newspaper is just the right size to fit three hundred copies, folded tight and ready to throw. You stuff them into the big canvas bag that hangs across your handlebars. Man, you are out in the street before even your Mom is up and at five AM the cold bites hard, but what of that? You are fuckin' A twelve years old and a Giant in the Universe and these papers have got to be delivered; it is up to you and these papers have got to be delivered and you have done it through the hard Indiana winter and even when you were sick and now it is forty-five degrees and you fold the last paper and thrust it down into that big sack you got from Ricky Donovan back when he got his driver's license and then took off to St. Louis and got that job with the aluminum siding company.

You are a Giant of the Universe and as you stuff the last tightly folded newspaper into that bedraggled sack that you got from Ricky (that he got from his brother Reggie who got killed in Khe San) you look up into the Universe and say the Newsboy's Prayer: God, make me strong and let me ride swift and safe and deliver the News. I'm counting on you God and please, no rain today.

That's it and then you are off and fast and your bicycle is a 1967 Schwinn Stingray. You hit the first pedal stroke and that is all it takes; no longer are you a twelve year old boy in a small Indiana factory town. Now you are a Giant of the Universe and the cold dark Northern sky is deep indigo and yet filled with uncountable frozen lights that smile down on the Young Brave as he pedals furiously on his route. The chilled Ohio Valley Sun lurks just below the horizon. When this Stout Heart finishes his delivery chores there will be a Sunrise over glistening fields to behold; there will be morning hot chocolate laced with coffee and Mom in her giant rumpled bathrobe. There will be two little brothers to whom he is a God and then school. There will be school and good grades; for you have made a promise.

Promises should not be broken and in High School things seem easy and promises are easy to keep. There are girls and buddies and adoring teachers. But the lad is not typical. He is often seen far beyond the outskirts of town, pedaling smoothly and serenely while his friends are experimenting with drugs and sex and alcohol and some are already dead as a result of these experiments. As the dreadful teen years wash over him he rides. He rides his bicycle and works a night job and goes to school and manages to keep his promise.

Then comes the new bicycle and college to pay for and he is paying for it with his heart and his lungs and his legs. He is the only bicycle messenger in a bustling little college town where no one had ever considered the notion.

“I don't get it. I just don't get this whole bicycle worship shit.” It is 1973 and your tiny off-campus apartment is filled with books and talismans and lady's things and a bicycle and more than a little stress. The Lady doesn't live there, she lives in the dorms. But she has managed to fill your place with stuff, too.

“If you don't like it why don't you take all this crap and get out? Just get the fuck out! Jesus! I've got deliveries to make . I promised I would get it done and I really don't have time for this.”

The Lord of the Universe grabs his 1972 Schwinn Paramount. He carefully pulls it down from the hooks in the ceiling even though he is trembling with rage. Finals are only a few days away and this boy has been hitting the books. This little old newsboy has been hitting the books, alright. Astronomy ain't easy. But that old vaginal wrench has been tweaking his reality pretty hard and some of those faculty members that first noticed his abilities have now noticed the decline. They have noticed his distraction and some new odd lack of ambition. They might have understood better were they to see some of the books that crammed every free space of the little apartment.

Colorado in January is a very cold place. But if you have ever been there you also know it is worth the pain. The light from the nighttime sky is indeed a thing to behold. Even in summer, the stars have a brilliance that can dazzle and the mountains breathe down upon the lowlands a fragrant breeze that occurs nowhere else.

But our Hero never made it there. Wait! Take it easy, The Newsboy is fine. He never had any business or reason to go to Colorado. I just wanted to let everyone who has never been there in the Summer Time know that they should get off their asses and go. To the Rockies. At least once in your life.

The Newsboy? Hell, I don't know. He got all messed up somehow or another and ended up dropping out of school in his third year. His little brothers back in the factory town grew up to be factory boys. They did what all the other factory boys did in those towns that fell into decline: they got into the unemployment and then the methamphetamine and then the littlest one died. He was forty two.

Me, I dropped out also. I got into the construction business and did all right. There were pretty good times during the boom years and a sailboat and a house on the river. A wife and kids and all the trimmings. Of course, nothing lasts forever. Things slowed down and then stopped and the stress and the booze were too much and then the world was split asunder and the promise was broken. I also was broken and found myself contemplating a sad trail of loss, but I try not to dwell on it overmuch. Mostly I ride my bicycle.

The Moon is rising full and strong on the horizon and this nighttime desert highway is fully illuminated. It reminds me of my time on the open ocean when I was amazed to see how the nightime sea was as illuminated as a magical dream. The pedal strokes have become my mantra in the night and to tell the truth, I no longer know who I am. But these pedal strokes are my mantra into the night and I will pedal until it ends.

Does the salvation of one brother pay for the loss of the other? The God is huddled on the side of the road somewhere outside El Paso. Mom died a little while back but brother number two seemed to be okay. He was working and he was happily married and he was doing fine. But not now. Now he is whimpering into the telephone about being physically abused by his wife. It is three o'clock in the morning outside El Paso. Texas is a vast and lonely place. The night is very cold and the Universe and the Smiling Moon are shining down on their Little Darling. They are not mocking him; he really is a favorite of the Gods.

“This is the Evansville Police Department. How may we help you?”

“I'm calling from my cell phone in El Paso, Texas. But stay with me. My brother is being assaulted in his home in Evansville and called me for help.”

“Sir, why didn't he call 911?”

“Because it has always been up to me. Listen, right now you send a patrol over to that old saloon on the West Side by the railroad tracks that got boarded up. It was called the Crooked Angel. That's where they live now.”

“Sir, we need an address.”

“You listen to me. You get on the radio and tell them what I just told you.  They will know the place. Quickly, or whatever happens will be your fault.”  He clicks off his phone.

I can see Mexico. It is only a mile or so away from here. Mexico. Maybe I will go to Mexico.

The smiling moon and the deep blue stars are laughing now as the Newsboy climbs back on board his bicycle and resumes his pedaling mantra into the West. The cyclist rides alone, but not really. He is never really alone. He knows this to be a true thing and he rides his bicycle into the West as a faint glow washes over the land behind him and another day begins.

After the War Began: Back Burner #1

  Hey, everyone! Earlier this year Keith Snyder sent out a call for short fiction stories for his book "Ride 2", the second volume of his series of short cycling fiction.  I'm not much of a fiction writer, but I made first drafts of a couple attempts before deciding the heck with it, I'll just stick to my Blog and stories of  the real world, which are fictional enough for me.  But here in the Dead Zone between Christmas and New Years, I thought I would clean off the stuff from the back burner and see what you think.  These are just first drafts, so excuse the rough edges.  tj

After the War Began
When the War started one of the first edicts of the New Bush administration was a National Emergency Act shutting down all the gas stations.  Giant Government tanker trucks came out to every city and outlying suburb and to every little town and sucked up every drop of petrol from every tank.  The Gasoline Riots started almost overnight and  until all the gasoline was removed President Jeb would not allow the reopening of the gasoline stores.  But it was fast,  almost as though it had been planned in advance.  Where did all those giant tankers come from, anyway?  Suddenly they were everywhere at once,  like a domestic alien invasion and then just as suddenly it was over and Jeb came on the television and let everyone know that they could go out and get cigarettes and beer and baby formula from their neighborhood market once more.

This was fine except for those people who had never walked three blocks or more in their entire lives;  the “neighborhood market”  might as well be on the Moon as far as they were concerned.  A delivery network  quickly sprung forth as the more able and quick of the neighborhood began taking money from their neighbors to pick up food and necessities for their suddenly stricken friends.  This of course led to further conflicts as theft and chicanery had its way with the New Reality until it also was resolved by typically intrepid American entrepreneurialism.  Vendors and salesmen started showing up with pushcarts and pedal driven contraptions bringing all manner of products and services to every gated community and worn out trailer park in every city everywhere.

Highly self-important business men found themselves stranded in variously damnable places.  The high rise apartments of their mistresses and the downtown banks and brokerages,  their far-removed mansions and yachts at marinas not their own,  these are the ones Good Ol’ Jeb blamed for the sudden crash of the cell phone system.  It was there one minute,  then it was gone.  But the televisions and the land lines were working (except for long distance), and the internet.  Jeb was there, in black and white on the TV and in some oddly altered internet presence that would soon enough fade back to DOS.  But no one cared.  Food and water was what folks were now concerned with.  The infrastructure was sound and all the country had electricity and the government trucks came daily with more beer and cigarettes and frozen pizza to restock the little locally owned neighborhood markets.  The toilets still worked and when the national chain supermarkets and department stores slowly dwindled and died almost no one noticed.  Those stores were far from the houses and no one went far from home in the first few weeks of the War.

Until the Messengers came.  First there were only trickles of one or two riders and they were welcomed and then robbed of their bicycles for parts for pedal carts or stolen by miserable wretches looking for a way to get whatever illegal substance their bodies craved.  Bicycles had become highly valuable but most were of very inferior quality and slow and soon died.  The craftsmen who knew how to repair bicycles and had spare parts to do so were crafty, (after they figured out which way the wind was blowing,) and soon enough went underground.  The Messengers were coming and these bicycle repair guys didn’t know it, but they knew that they had what was needed to get away.  But to where?  No one knew. 

Humans are the best.  While possessed of questionable character, they are, for the most part, one hell of a surviving group of a species.  President Jeb came on the radio warning everyone to watch out for large, fast groups of riders on bicycles.  He said not to listen to their lies and propaganda and went on to say that the televisions would be back on soon enough and he was sorry about the internet but the fat cats and stockbrokers had somehow screwed that up too, but don’t worry,  the War is going great and  he wanted to personally reassure every American that their sacrifice and strength was what made America Great.

But the Messengers were telling a different tale.  They were coming in from all points and telling of riots and death and rumors.  `The worst was that President Jeb was broadcasting from Saudi Arabia.

To be continued

Monday, December 24, 2012

And Just Like That...It's Christmas!

An End To Despair
What the hell was that all about? Man!  Lost In LA! I gotta tell ya, all that serious arsty stuff will take a lot out of ya, I'll tell ya. Serious writing is...serious. No wonder Hemingway blew his brains out. I mean, I would love to be discovered but after the first big check I'm buying a new bicycle and a keg of beer and maybe get some cute pizza delivery girls to come hang out by the pool. Notice that I will not let it go to my head and become a spendthrift: I am wisely planning on doubling my dollar by only getting hot chicks who also deliver pizza. Hah! See? These years in the trailer park have made me quite the thrifty little Nobel Prize winner to be. Plus...I don't even have a swimming pool! That's right...I will always remain your humble little buddy, the good ol' Trailer Park Cyclist. Maybe.

Do They Still Have Bicycles Out There?
While I was suffering through my sufferfest in the Land Where Everyone Else Goes To Have A Blast I was also secretly doing Agent Tim Joe of the Trailer Park Secret Agent's Club stuff. I forgot my miniature tie clip mounted camera (I forgot the ties I don't own, too) but who needs a camera? Every image known to man is available on the good ol' interwebs! BEHOLD!:

Pugsley Cage

That's a bike locker! You ride your bicycle to the train station and lock your bike in there and...well, I don't know what you do next. It seemed like a really good idea to me when I was standing there looking at it and looking around for a place to pee.

"Anybody seen that Coppertone Chick?"

That's not me but it was about to be me because the train stations in LA offer plenty of secure parking for your bicycle but not one damn place to pee. And now that I reflect a little reflecting, why would you leave your bike at the station? You can take them with you on the train!

Bike on train.  You can't make this stuff up.

Man, I realize that I am a hillbilly (actually a swampbilly) and easily impressed: but this got my attention! Ride your bike to the train, get on, (with your bicycle!) Ride on the train to some other place, then get on your bicycle (It's already there with you!) and pedal off to the next train, plane, bus or opium den.

"Oh Why, Lance?  Lance, How Could You? Oh Woe..."

O.K. Maybe not an opium den. But I'll bet they probably have those too, in LA, or they might as well.

More Damn Intermodality
As both of you know, I have recently become enamored of intermodal transportation, as in bicycles and anything else: reindeer sleigh, intergalactic pod transferal system, yak, donkey, elephant (tee hee) bus or the back of Uncle Bill's flat bed pickup truck. I don't care. I find it noble and adventuresome that many of my friends and thousands of people who I never met choose to travel solely by bicycle; it is salubrious and exemplary in their natures that they would do so. It also makes me wonder what the hell they are thinking. I have driven the Interstate system of this country and I have driven, for example, I-10 from Jacksonville to Santa Monica more times than I care to remember. It was a drag. But to ride it on a train, contemplating the swiftness of man's genius, or to fly there, god-like and airborne; or  perhaps to ride shotgun with some mighty trucker, eighteen wheels roaring behind as we flash across this our mighty continent...all the while secure in the knowledge that my trusty little two-wheeler is tucked away here with me and ready to go...

"Hey Bicycle-Boy. Need A Ride?"

Sigh. Forgive me my friends. I have been simultaneously bit on the ass by the allure of travel and yet...never again will I let me Little Darlin' out of my sight. Not for long. And by not for long I mean in increments of time measured in minutes, not hours or days and for damn sure not for a week.

I am a cyclist. I am hindered and elevated by this fact; but never am I ashamed about it and from now on that is how it is gonna be.

It seems to be all that I am, and all that I have left.

Merry Christmas! Hug the one you're with and slam a grog of Nog for me! Stay out of the opium dens, ride your bicycles and hang tight! The End (of the Year) is Near!

Yer Ol' Buddy,


"And to all a good night..."

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Yuletide Bringings

Sunday, December 23, 2012


“Sir, can I help you?” I snap out of my reverie. I'm standing in the lower level of the Los Angeles Metro Rail System. I had leaned my head against the cool wall of this cave-like place, momentarily disoriented by the very confusing map of routes and timetables and and prices and the events of the past few days. I have spent nearly all my money, now; the motel last night was a surprise expense, and surprisingly expensive. In front of me there is a tall, slender young man. For some reason he is wearing lightweight cotton gloves.  He is soft spoken, earnest-looking and right now, yeah, I do need help.

But I am a little confused, and a bit wary.

“I have to get to the airport," I say. “I have a flight at ten p.m.”

“Oh, you have plenty of time,” he says. “Here, I'll show you.” He walks over to the huge map, backlit and confusing. With his finger, he traces out the routes I must take, and the changes I must make to get to the airport.

I take a pen and my scrap of notebook paper from my bag and write down his directions. It is all color coded and seems easy enough. Red, Blue, Green, and Shuttle. I turn to the young guy.

"Thank you. What are you doing, Christian work?” He smiles.

“You're welcome. And I am a Christian, but actually, I get paid to do this.” I look around. This vast cavern is empty except for him and me. “After they got the trains going, they found out that the maps and the ticket machines were not all that intuitive. So they hired us to stand down here helping people sort things out.”

“So you spend your days down here under the ground helping lost people find their way home?”

He smiles. He has a very handsome face. His voice is calm and comforting and it is easy to envision him in a white clerical collar and a black suit. Suddenly, I am near tears.

“Something like that.” He turns and points. “That's your gate over there. Just follow the signs and you'll be fine. Good luck.” He turns and walks away a few steps to where a couple of European-looking kids have approached with loaded bicycles. I guess they let you take bicycles on the train. I look at the bicycles for a moment. He starts talking to them, then pauses. He turns back and looks at me. The two kids with the bicycles look at me also.  They all smile.  I'm between them and the map.  I'm finished here and in the way.

I shoulder my bag and head through the gate.  I'm going home, now.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Confessional

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Standing on the busy street corner in the dusky twilight of evening, I am impressed with the absolute abundance and energy of life that surrounds me. People are walking across the intersection in small groups; the cops have an expensive sports car pulled over nearby; Beau is shouting into his cell phone yet again at some poor victim as he pumps gas into the rental car. There are people and cars everywhere, here at this random intersection, a bustle that makes me think of a busy movie lot filled with hundreds of extras. My son clicks off the phone and we get back into the car.

“I can't believe how...busy this place is. I just don't remember there being so many people.”

“Yeah, it's a busy place.'

“You seem to be making the best of it, though, son.” It is full dark now and we are, as always, crawling along in traffic. It is the evening hour and these drivers seem more hyper than usual, in a hurry to race home to their suppers and family and the television set. Me too, except that I am far from home and even were I there, I don't have a television. But I have a dog and a river and the warm glow of the computer screen. Seeing the old house and the accompanying rush of memories is behind me, I think. But yeah, I am weary.

“Dad, do you think I am doing good?' Here it comes. I ponder my answer. Is he? I don't know. I flash back over the events of the last few days.

'Well, Beau, I don't know what to say. It seems like you are searching for my approval, or for me to pat you on the head or something. This is just life.”

“I want your respect, Dad.” We are sitting where most of this sad little opera has run its course: in an overpriced rental car in maddening traffic in the San Fernando Valley.

“Beau, I never gave the least fuck what my parents thought about what I was doing. It isn't important what I think about you. What's important is what you think about yourself, about what you are doing and how you feel about yourself.”

I'm sitting in the audience watching myself make this speech. This is the denouement, and the actors on stage look unready. I know I am. I'm tired and when my littlest brother died a few years back, of neglect and alcohol and loneliness, it changed me. I took a hit that I never quite recovered from, completely; it changed the way I viewed my hour upon the stage and how I saw my fellow actors.

Many times I have been told that I have a cold heart. That I am not worthy of love, and unable to give love. Maybe. But this is me, here, me my ownself, and I know the truth about my heart. The truth about my heart is that it has grown weary with too much pain and hurt and loss. There are shields in place that I cannot easily remove, although I try. I'm trying right now.

“Listen, son, you got a bad deal. The way it went with your mom and me was a lousy deal for a kid. And for a long time when you were growing up and making mistakes and getting in trouble I stuck by you because I am your Dad and because I knew the kind of deal you grew up with. That's why I'm here now.”

“But Father...” a crazy-ass LA driver cuts us off at the corner and we get caught at the light. The light is red.

Go ahead, said the Voice. You know it is only theater, but he doesn't. Go ahead and make a symbolic gesture for his sake. It won't kill you.

I turn in my seat. “Son, do you want my blessing? Is that it?”

“Yes, Father.” These red lights last a long time.

"Bow your head,” I say. He does it and I put my big old gnarled fifty-seven-year old hard-labor carpenter's hand on his head.

“This is my son, in whom I am well pleased,” I intone, using my most sonorous wise man voice.
“Beauregard Comstock, my first born and favorite son, I am very proud of you. You have become a fine man, brave and strong.”

I take my hand away and the light changes and he pulls out across the intersection. In the glow from the dash and the streetlights all around us I can see that his eyes are glistening. I think that maybe I was put on this planet to do something, someday, somewhere, but I am saddened to think that play-acting might be what it is I am placed here to do. And yet, I actually am very proud of my son; armed with far less back-up and hope and ammunition than I had when I hit the streets running; he is doing alright.  My son Beau is doing alright and making mistakes and fumbling about but certainly doing alright and up and running.

We drive along in silence for a minute. I'm starting to think about that Motel 6 and that pizza joint and right now, that liquor store is on my mind. These have been strange days indeed; passing strange. Then, once again, I am stricken with a sudden dire realization.

“Did you say she didn't book me a room yet because she was at the beauty shop?”


“And there is some kind of family Christmas deal at her parent's house? Does she go to the beauty shop every day? Does she work there?”

“No, Dad, it's their family Christmas and she wants to look nice.” There is a new edge in his voice.  A cutting edge.

“The reason I don't have a room is that I'm going to a Christmas party tonight, isn't it?”

“Well Dad it's only right...” He's heating up. He knows me. He knows what he is doing.

“Pull over.”


“Pull this fucking car over right now.” He pulls into a strip mall parking lot. Traffic has not let up. The parking lot is full but I am done. It's over. I turn in the seat to face him fully. I cut loose my seat belt and put my hand on the lever for the door. He is stiff, erect in his seat, rigid.

“When were you going to tell me this?”


“Shut up. Listen. I'm your father, not some shabby apache you captured and put on display. I had no desire to come out here and you have played me like some kind of jack-ass street person that you have adopted ever since I got here.” He instinctively reaches for his phone then throws it back down, angry and thwarted and furious.

“Fine! If that is how you want to twist all this up, fine!” The misty-eyed supplicant of moments before has transformed into a raging warrior ready for battle.

“Look, I'm getting my bag out of the back. Don't even think about pulling away before I get it."

I bust the door open quick and hustle around to the back of the car. Split seconds count, right now. I pop the hatch and grab my jacket and my bag. He revs the engine and I have no reason to believe that he won't jam it into reverse and break both my legs. I step to the side of the car and slam the hatch. I'm clear now and only moments from freedom. The shabby apache is making his escape.

When the hatch slams shut, he floors the accelerator and roars out of the parking lot, scattering some pedestrians and eliciting some angry horn blowing from the river of automobiles that flows past  I find myself wondering if he can see me in that little video screen on the dashboard.

I shoulder my bag. That Motel 6 is only about five miles from here.  Suddenly, I don't feel so tired anymore. I start marching off, headed out on a long march but still strong.  I am a soldier. Five miles ain't nothin'.   I got what it takes.  I cross the busy intersection and march off.  I'm finding my stride.

And then it hits me.  Without warning and in a giant all-encompassing  guilt-laden wave of understanding and failure and loss,  for the first time I understand.  I see it now.  I finally see. It was me.  It was me all along.

I am the Wolf.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Wildlife Society

Orpheus Descending

The chasm yawns wide before the Traveller. It descends into a gloomy darkness. There are many steps that lead down into the entry to the Underworld and his heart is filled with dread at the prospect of what he might find there. But descend he must, for he is Orpheus: doomed to lose all that he holds dear and all that he doth cherish if he fails to make the dark journey down the infinite steps. With one last look behind him at the sun-dappled plaza, he takes the first step, then another. His journey has begun.

My son comes around the back of the house where I am working on the deck, sorting and re-stacking lumber in an effort to try and get a sense of order and a clear path to completion.

Father! I brought some food!” The sun is out now, and the mists have been dispersed by the warming glow of a California day in full swing. “It's a vegan burrito!” I am certainly hungry enough. And strangely weary. Since this trip began I have never quite felt as though I were myself.

Thanks, son. I got all those deck boards replaced up top.” He goes up to take a look.

Good job, Dad! I knew you could do it!" Once again I get a feeling that this is somehow scripted. While I eat, he starts carrying long boards up the stairs. It looks like we are going to do the handrails next. I finish my lunch and climb back up to help.

I hold one end of a long two-by-four as Beau pulls it into place at the top of the worn old post. He is working fast; perhaps a little too fast. Already we have had to pull out a couple boards and start over. These nail guns make for rapid work. They also make it easy to make mistakes rapidly, too. Once slow is faster than twice fast. But the day is exceptionally fine and the Canyon is beautiful here today. As a carpenter helper, I don't have much to do but hold the other end of the board and gaze around and enjoy the day and the scenery. We aren't talking, much, except to communicate anything necessary to get these boards cut and nailed in place. And we do it for a few hours. We have spent many, many hours doing this, my son and I; but this is the first time that he is the Carpenter and I am the Helper. I wonder at the role reversal. But it is, after all, his job. He told the other guys to take the day off and then left me alone up here. I don't mind, really, but I don't get it.

At the bottom of the stairs there is a large cavern lighted by an eerie glow with no visible source. Orpheus sees a withered crone, dressed in rags and surrounded by many bags and bundles of shifting, amorphous shapes that he cannot quite make out. Looking at him, she cackles and stretches forth a withered arm. He shudders, clutches his pouch of charms closer to his side and hurries on his way. There is a clanking and a distant roaring and he sees a tunnel stretching into still greater darkness. There is another long flight of stairs going yet deeper into the Underworld and Orpheus hesitates, then takes a step down. There can be no turning back. The roaring grows louder, then ceases. Looking back, he sees that the old crone has disappeared.

Another long day is drawing to a close. Again, we are in the rented car creeping down Ventura Boulevard. The work is finished for the day and we plan to return tomorrow and work some more. My return flight is scheduled tomorrow for ten p.m. and it looks to be the longest in a series of long days. We sit in traffic and I watch a guy flash by on his bicycle in the gathering gloom. He has his headlight on and one of those go-pro cameras on his helmet. He is gone before I know it and I wish I was him.

My reservations at the Hilton had expired this morning and while I waited for Beau to pick me up at seven a.m. for the day's work I had been in the computer center, trying to find new housing. I had seen a likely-looking Motel 6 the evening before. There was a likely-looking pizza joint next door and a very likely-looking liquor store next to the pizza joint. And to tell the truth, I was also trying to reschedule my return flight to earlier in the day. No luck. I have run the roads for a lot of years and I always know where I will sleep after a day's hard work. But not today.

"Beau, did you guys get anything figured out about the motel? That Motel 6 I told you about would be fine with me.”

Oh, yeah...let me call her and see.” We could just drive there, I think, and I'll check in myself with my own credit card. I don't really enjoy flying on the wings of others. Beau takes an unexpected turn off Ventura onto White Oak. I wonder where we are going. This is my old neighborhood where I lived out my LA existence in the Valley. This is where I met his mother.

Yeah, honey, did you get a room for my dad yet? What? I don't believe it. Fuck! I'll call you back. No, don't get mouthy with ME, we talked about this!” He slams the phone into the the console of the expensive rental car. With Beau, the violence is always there, bubbling beneath the surface. I'm tired. Plus, I have done my hour upon the stage, and, wearied by life, these days...well, these days my time is spent in gentle pursuits involving quiet companions who are close to my heart; I concern myself with my dogs and the trailer park stray cats that count on me for scraps, and of course, long contemplative bicycle rides and beer.

Look, son, I have enough money for a room. Just take me over to that Motel 6...”

No, No Dad it's all good. She's in the beauty shop and all tied up with this Christmas Party at her parent's house and not taking care of business. We'll get you a room.” I don't like it, but before I came out here I had made a promise to myself to keep it pleasant and to just be a Dad.

Isn't this your old neighborhood, Father?” He knows damn well that it is.

"Yeah, Beau, we lived over on Newcastle Street by Victory.” The sun is going down.

Hey! I know where that is! Wanna go see it?” Not really. I have already seen it many times, lately, when drunk and singing the blues and wondering what the hell went wrong. I can see it now, in my mind's eye, the way it was thirty years ago when I was young and strong and full of piss and vinegar like he is now. And I have seen it recently, using the miracle of the internet and the mad geniuses at Google Earth.

Sure, why not?” I say, resigned to the inevitability and the mysterious necessity of all of He whips the car through a series of turns that are burned into my soul from a past long ago. I loved his mother like I never loved again. I am suddenly more drained than I ever thought possible. We have been in this damned automobile for what seems like eons and a thought occurs to me.

When was the last time you put gas in this thing, Beau?”

And then, there it is: not on a computer screen, not in my fading memory, but there, right here in front of my own two eyes. Here it is, the scene of so much of my youth and probably the place where the promise of a joyous life first faltered. I am ripped back in time as I remember me and my '68 Plymouth convertible pulling away, on this very street; I am ripped back to the image in my rear view mirror of the young, the beautiful young girl waving goodbye, barefoot and wearing a long white skirt, her shining blonde hair bound with a silk scarf from someplace far, far away. I am ripped back in time and maybe my heart will burst with the realization that it all went wrong, this cannot possibly be how my life turns out and...

Fuck! Dad, we're on fumes! We gotta get gas RIGHT NOW!”

I don't say anything. I can't. I turn my head for one last look. I know that I will never see it again. I will never see her again. I had come back, eventually, and spirited her away. I had come back and reclaimed my lost woman-child and spirited her away to my home in the Florida sunshine. The sum of it all sits next to me, driving fast for more fuel, slamming around corners in a car he can't pay for and young and headstrong and apparently filling in missing pages from the book of his life, coloring in mostly inside the lines with the crayon of a worn-out father and a yearning for the life he was denied, a life of Mom and Dad and Home.

Orpheus has reached the deepest level of the pit. He finds that he is in yet another vast cavern. There is no one to be seen. Across the way, he sees some faint glow of light and he is drawn towards it. His heart is heavy and he is haunted with doubt and his footsteps feel as though they are mired in some ancient morass of guilt and anxiety. He makes it to the glowing sign and sees that it is some manner of indecipherable map of the Underworld. He is exhausted and slumps against the wall of the cavern. It is cool and solid and as good a place as any to rest. He can once again hear the roaring but it is far away and he is beyond caring.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park on location: Escape From LA!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Carpenter

 All of this is a dream, I think. The Sun goes down and the Moon rises and the dream begins. But also are there the stars and they too must be a dream, a sparkling symphony of hope and wonder and if there is truth to be found, I think it must lie out there among the stars.

This morning mist is a cloud of mystery and I wonder why I am here. I am a child of the Sun, my home is a place of warmth and sunshine and these California mists are a mystery to me, a little, but I remember them well enough. I have been here before. When I was about twenty-five here was I:  hacking away at a room addition right around here somewhere in Laurel Canyon...

And now here am I again, thirty years later, hacking away at this whacky deck perched precariously on a steep canyon hillside. I am alone in the mist, fog bound and wondering why and for what reason I have been brought here to this place from my past. I am a one who seeks economy of motion, on both the physical and spiritual planes. Life is indeed short and at my age life is getting shorter. Wasted motion is life-time wasted, something that I am loathe to do.

This is Laurel Canyon, a fabled place and the scene of much youthful drama and joy.

I understand the reverence people have for this place. For all of this California. So many of them are ensconced in dreary lives in dreary places around the planet. This must be a vision of heaven to them. Not to me, though. I live in a beautiful little fishing village by the sea. I have a bicycle, a beach, and a river. The sun shines most of the time and it is okay to be poor there, to not chase fame and fortune and it is okay to just ride your bike and look back on the dream that was life.

I have been cutting and fitting new boards for the upper level of the deck. It is about nine A.M and I have carefully spliced in six new boards in a little over an hour. That is more than were installed all day yesterday while my Son and I were out bothering Buddhists and climbing mountains. But that is beside the point; I have been cutting up boards and nailing them back together for a lot  longer than any of these guys have been alive and it is easy for me.  It would be nice if I had my own tool kit here with me, though.  My tools and I are old friends and we know each other well and the work would sing a happier song.

 It is cool and wet here in the early morning fog. I'm thinking about something Beau had said back before I ever left Florida about how I could show those guys a thing or two. He had told them his Dad woulda finished this deck by himself a week ago. And now, here his Dad is: working by himself, doing just that. But why? Beau has left me here with a bottle of water and his rusty tools. The blade in the saw is so dull that I could chew through these low-grade pieces of redwood faster than the saw is cutting them. I don't get it. That boy never even laid eyes on a rusty tool in all his years with me. Hell, our Sunday Father-Son ritual was to drive down to the car wash in Satellite Beach with my work truck and wash it and vacuum out the inside. Then we would go home and he would sit on my work bench with a clean rag just like mine, his rag  impregnated with baby oil and mine with WD40 as we cleaned and wiped and oiled my tools and put them back into the truck. He was three years old.

My knees are feeling the cold and damp as I crawl around on the wood surface. I'm shimming and backcutting and using a bag of tricks as old as Noah as I make sure these new boards that I am fitting look good. Not every joint is a tight one, I am matching each existing joint by compromising between snug and proper and the weathered joint next to it. This is what I do and for many, many years I have started early in the morning: oiled, sharpened tools in hand, a pile of fresh lumber stacked and ready for whatever we were building. I would watch that pile as the day went by; my practice was to only put out as much lumber as the day's work required. I could tell how things were going by the rate that our lumber stack diminished. On good days late in the week I would watch that pile and after lunch tell the boys that when that pile was gone so were we and call it eight hours. After a while the crew learned to expect that early day and I would quietly make the Thursday pile a little larger than other days. But it was usually gone by two in the afternoon anyway. I was a pretty good carpenter, but I was a great crew boss.

But listen: I'm tired. I'm tired and cold and damp and working with tools that need work themselves. I'm disoriented and alone and far from home and there was work to be done at home, too. Maybe. With those screwy bastards I work for at the trailer park, you never know.

I don't know why I am here. This ain't my style. I am always somewhere because I want to be there or because I have to be there. This is...

These morning mists are taking forever to clear. I will have the last new deck board finished in a few minutes, then I will clear and sweep the deck. I will walk all around, bent double, looking for any missed nails or uneven joints or anything else that needs to be fine-tuned before we call it finished.

Then? I don't know.

Raising children is tough, I guess. It was for me, and I don't mean just in choices and tribulations. Beau got kicked out of every school he ever went to, starting in second grade. When I went to Texas on a big job that led to another big job that kept me gone for ninety days that became one hundred and twenty days away from home, his step mom packed up his little brother and the dogs and the cats and him and moved back to her parent's big old house outside Chicago. I came home to the Beach and the house was empty. I drove up to Chicago but no dice. It was over.  Off and on over the next few years he would find himself banished to Florida as a kind of punishment, I suppose.  Life with me meant work and reading.  There were books to read but that was no problem, they were good books. There was no television, but there were a lot of books.  Luckily, he liked to read.  And the work? It is not always work.  Sometimes it is craft.  Sometimes it  And being part of a hard-working, skilled crew building something is a special thing not everyone gets to experience.  It means something, I think.

I nail in the last board. I spend thirty minutes clearing and sweeping and putting the sad tools into a pile near where the next work will be, down by the hot tub. I go sit down for a minute.  This really isn't my style.  The sun may be coming out. That would be good.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park on location:  Back to LA!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


After our adventures on the mountaintop we drive the hour back to Laurel Canyon. We have to get up to that deck job, make sure the tools are put away and give the guys a ride home to Love Street and their amazingly high-priced little apartment next door to Jim Morrison's old house. It takes very little time to get to the heart of the Valley, but slows. The 101 Freeway is a parking lot most of the day, it seems. Ventura Boulevard is even worse. My son and I have lots of time to talk and we use that time in highly charged and dangerous conversation that can lead anywhere. Once, when he was only sixteen,  the cops had to come to our waterside condo to quell a father and son riot.  His crime?  He had called me a Republican.  This damnable traffic, though, and being cooped up in a New Age automobile that effectively seals out the outside world is getting old. I roll down the window, then roll it up again. Exhaust fumes and traffic noise. 

This sure ain't Malibu.

Back at the job I saw exactly what I expected to see: not much. It was one of those days when there would have been more production if everyone had stayed home and learned some new guitar chords or just slept. But this is not my project nor is it my problem. The early evening is coming on and already the light of the sun is leaving the Canyon for another long night. I am starting to think about my room on the eleventh floor of the Hilton, some miles from here. I am also thinking about my writing table back at the Whispering Pines and my dog and my porch and and how the light at my table is a warm glow where I don't do much, myself. But it is home.

I still don't know why I am here, exactly. Just for a visit, it would seem. Ill-timed, perhaps, but we all know that if we wait for the perfect moment to journey forth to see a loved one or a special place, we might never make it. Perfect moments are elusive and quite often a product of serendipity.

“Beau, dude, d'ya remember you were gonna drive me to class?” One of the guys is in some kind of post-incarceration treatment class.

“Uh, yeah, dude, I forgot about that. What time do you have to be there?”

“Five.” The place he has to be is only about fifteen miles away. But it is an hour and a half drive. Soon enough, we are out of the Canyon and back on Ventura Boulevard, again moving at a glacial pace. This is crazy. On my old ten speed I would be flashing along, all my senses heightened, aware of my surroundings and cutting around all over the place.  But here I sit, trapped like a rabid hyena in a steel cage of my own making.

At first we sit in awkward silence, then the guy in the back starts working into a comedic monologue that I suppose is a kind of audition for the Old Man.  Me.

“Yeah, man, these drug classes suck. Piss tests every Friday. Everybody in there is fucked up and in denial.” He shifts into a spot-on California stoner voice, which for him is not a large leap.

“Whadaya mean, I failed the piss test? No way, man, I don't even smoke pot. Maybe it's mixed up. Yeah man, that's not my pee, no way. That's not even my penis, dude...”

It's pretty funny and it goes on all the way back down the Boulevard. My hotel is right around the corner from his classes and I am looking forward to a hot shower and a little down time back home at the Hilton. It has been a long day. I never realized how comfortable I had allowed my trailer park life to become. Morning coffee and writing, a few hours of trailer repair and then another couple cups of coffee. Then it is time for a bike ride and then back home where I spend long evenings reading my friend's Blogs, commenting in a half-witty fashion; drinking beer and sometimes stronger stuff; reading about bicycles and making furtive shopping forays on the webs, looking at my lengthy wish list of bicycle parts and yeah, fantasies of new bicycles.

None of that is happening right now. Right now is a lot of car time. A Lot.

We get to the place in the North Valley where we drop off the budding Lenny Bruce.  It is perfectly natural to pull over in the middle of eight lanes of traffic.  Where I live even the Interstates are only six lanes at the most.  And this is Ventura Boulevard, a neighborhood thoroughfare.  We pull back into traffic.

“Dad, I want to take you to dinner tonight. There is a vegan restaurant that you'll like.”  I'm getting hungry, but my secret plans for the night involved a pizza delivery and about a half dozen beers. Maybe a tot of rum. But I am not here to fulfill my own desires. This trip is for Beau. There is a nagging problem, however: during the interminable hours in the Space Ship, there have been many phone calls back and forth between the Boy and his Fiance. The conversations were guarded and encoded, but I am, after all. The Trailer Park Cyclist: All Knowing and something of a psychopath. I mean psychic. The gist of the nagging problem is the money financing this fancy automobile and all this petroleum and these high-priced (to me) meals seems to be emnating from a source outside of Beau's own bank account.  She has a full time job and I am beginning to realize there is a financial backer in the.. uh, background.

“What?! What do they want? We paid the deposit! They got their three hundred dollars!” I've rented enough airport autos to know what that call was about. I'm guessing he has kept the car past the scheduled return date. “Just take care of it, OK?”

Later, he calls her but she can't talk because she is at the beauty salon. I was only vaguely aware that such places still existed. Then it hit me.

“I'm meeting the girlfriend at dinner, I suppose.”

“Yeah, Dad, is that alright?” That he has to ask  indicates that he is aware of possible reluctance on my part. Look, the plan was this: he was going to get that deck job straightened out, get some money and pick me up at the airport and we would blast away up the Pacific Coast to Big Sur. He knows that I have been wanting to visit the Redwoods one last time. I had often talked about riding my bicycle along that part of the planet for quite awhile. The fact that the visit has strayed so far from the plan is no surprise; in fact I expected it. And of course he wants me to meet his girlfriend.  Why not?  She is paying for it, isn't she?

“Son, that's fine. It's just that I wasn't really ready to come out here. They didn't pay me until right before I got on the plane and I didn't have a chance to buy any clothes or get a haircut or anything. I feel like a bum walking around this town.”

 It's true. The blue jeans I'm wearing are six years old and worn beyond belief. Not cool-worn, bum-worn. During the height of my alcohol-fueled vision quest I had taken some dull scissors and whacked off my really long gray hair and had achieved a perfect mental-patient coiffure. I had shaved with a too-old razor and when I saw my reflection in an airport mirror I was shocked that they would let someone like me get on the plane.

“That's not important Dad, you know that.” Not really. My current look is fine for my little backwater trailer park town, but this ain't the trailer park. But also, this whole puppet show has been, it seems, a little odd and a little less of a Father-Son reunion and something  more of a wish-fulfillment passion play staged by an inept producer-director using purloined funds.

But ever am I loyal and I keep my mouth shut.  I am an old tyrant but also am I a loyal Father and this is my first born son.

“What time are you picking me up?”

It's been a long day.  And it ain't over yet.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park on location: Back to LA

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Solstice Canyon

Having found ourselves summarily evicted from the Holy Land. Young Beauregard and I blast forth in his spaceship around a long sweeping bend and there she is: my old friend the Pacific Ocean. Many times in my day my trusty old '68 Plymouth convertible and me were wont to  make this long sweeping turn that deposits you onto the far edge of the continent.  These New Age automobiles are swift and silent and ready for outer space; but give me Old Steel anytime. I knew just how much I could push her on a turn like this before the rear wheels would break loose. I really loved that old car and she was a loyal friend through a lot of adventures. Today my loyal friend is this here little rascal of a first born child and we cut right up the coast and pull into some kind of seafood place that wasn't there thirty years fact, this whole area looks different. Something has changed. But right now I am hungry and order a swordfish sandwich and fries. Beau has picked up a little dish of granola from the deli counter. I head around the side of the restaurant to the restrooms. When I come back, Beau is bringing a big basket of fries and my sandwich. As we sit down I notice that he doesn't have any food, just that little dish of granola.

“Aren't you eating?"   I squirt a big dose of malt vinegar all over everything in front of me and plop a large dollop of ketchup next to the basket of fries.

“I'm a raw vegan now, Dad.”

“Uh...oh. Well, you should have said something.” I'm a little embarrassed by this huge pile of batter-fried wonderfulness in front of me. “So, you can't eat some of these fries.”

“No, Dad, they were cooked in animal fat.” This is taking a lot of the fun out of the feast. But I have not had a solid meal since I got off the plane close to seventy-two hours ago and I'm ready to eat. So he sits carefully chewing his granola while I plow through about two pounds of fish and chips. A couple beers and maybe a two hour nap on the beach would make this a splendid day indeed. But Beau does not drink, and when I am with Beau, I do not drink also.

“Your Mom and I used to hang out on the beach here.”


“Yeah. Here and Zuma.”

“I haven't talked to her for a long time.” he says, looking west, gazing out over the vastness of the Pacific.  "I don't remember the last time."

It is a problem. We are an absolutely fractured family. And my West Coast version ain't the only one. I also have an estranged ex in Chicago and another son there. The cause of all this fragmentation of hearts is me. It all centers around me, obviously. But I don't really understand. I didn't do it on purpose and the reason Beauregard hasn't spoken to his mother in a long time has more to do with her serious immersion into biker-gang drug dealing and addiction. It is an unbelievable tale and if you knew her, you would never guess. She is a perfect front for those rotten bastards, well dressed and articulate and hanging on to her beauty but she is the Mother Lost and here we are, Beau and me, a couple orphans sitting in the sunshine at the side of the Pacific Ocean and both of us, my son and I , have been through enough blast-furnace pain and loss to kill a squad of infantry. But I am still here and so is he.  I guess all we have is each other, three thousand miles apart.  I wrap up the remains of my food and put it into the trash can.

“I didn't mean to bring her up Beau. I'm sorry.”

"Oh, hell no, Dad, it's okay. It isn't your fault.”

 Yeah it is.

Back in the Time Machine we roll down the windows and blast on North up the Pacific Coast Highway. Man! All that Hollywood and Laurel Canyon crap was a big part of my old life here, but it was the PCH where I came for fun. It was Malibu and points north where I could punch the old Shark into high speed and just roll along with the wind in my hair. I'm ready to climb up on the roof of this Magic Bus and start singing LA Woman at the top of my lungs. Hell, I used to LIVE in a Hollywood bungalow.

Beauregard turns right up a canyon road. This ain't Topanga Canyon.

“This ain't Topanga, Beau.”

“I know. Did you ever come up here? Liz and I come up here all the time.” Liz is his fiance.

“No, this is new to me.” It is called Solstice Canyon. We come to the entrance to a County Park, but he goes on past.

“We always go to the Park, but I never went on up the road. Let's see if it goes over to the Valley.”

“Fine with me.” I'm pretty sure it doesn't. I really combed these hills and roads back in the day. But it was a long time ago. Who knows? Maybe it is a new road.

We wind back and forth up a steep, really steep little canyon road and it keeps on going. Every once in a while he sweeps around a cliff-side switchback a little too fast and I get a shot of adrenalin. I almost never ride in cars and this is like a roller coaster ride at an amusement park where anything goes. I have been in Florida for a long time and the highest I ever get above sea level is the sixty feet or so of a big bridge. These rail-less hairpin turns are carved into the side of steep cliffs and going over the side would be a wild ride indeed. Then, just like that, we reach a little roadside parking area. End of the road. We get out and look around. Man! This is a view we should be paying for by the hour to enjoy. You can see for miles across the vast arroyos and pinon scrub and there is a foot trail heading even further up. We don't say anything. We just start climbing.

There are some kind of stratified rock eruptions up ahead. The climb is steep and I am old and that swordfish feast is still right there. I'm breathing hard but granola-boy is sprinting up the trail like a mountain goat. The trail leads to some kind of natural amphitheater. But there is an old foundation here. Incredibly, someone must have at one time built a house here. An odd thought crosses my mind.

“You don't have a bunch of friends up here in black robes waiting for the human sacrifice, do you Beau?” He laughs.  But after all, the Sostice doth rapidly approach.

“Of course not, Dad. We wear green robes now.” It does indeed look like the perfect spot for a solstice sacrifice and given the name of the road up here...

“Man, son, this is incredible. Who the hell would build a house way up here? And how?”

“Did you call me Manson, Dad?” It is a game we started playing when he was just a lost teenager running the roads with me, building commercial restaurants and sleeping in motels. Start a theme and riff on it all day.

We stand there at the top of this little mountain for awhile, looking around. It is about seventy-five degrees out, the sun is smiling down on us and we are way the hell out there and alone on a mountaintop together. I don't know what I am doing here so far from home, but if this moment, this moment just right now is why I am here, it is good enough for me.

“It's just that I haven't seen you for a year and I got that big deposit check and I said the hell with it, I'm going to fly my Dad out for a visit.” We are standing in the sky in a fantastically beautiful place. You can turn in any direction and see forever. He speaks again. “I came to Florida on that three day trip last year and you and I just spent a couple hours walking around the old neighborhood together and then we went and sat at the Crooked Angel and you drank beer and I drank grapefruit juice and the whole thing, the whole visit was like a dream. It lasted just as long as a dream.”

“We saw that white dog. The stray.”

“Yeah! I forgot about that!”

“The wolf?”


“You used to always see a wolf. You would wake up in the middle of the night because you thought you saw a wolf.” He thinks for a moment. Far below us I can  see some kind of huge bird flying along,  floating on a rising thermal. I could live here.

“The Wolf! I forgot about the Wolf!”

“It was a pretty big deal. That wolf cost me a lot of sleep.”

“I'm sorry, Dad. When did that end?”

“I don't know.” We turn and head back down the steep rocky trail.

“I don't really remember that wolf thing all that well, Dad.”

“Good. I always wondered what it was about. I mean, a wolf is pretty standard imagery but I don't remember where you got it. Probably from my Mom.”

“I don't really remember her much, either.”

“That's okay. It was a long time ago. At least you remember me.”

“Hah!” He bounds over and gives me a bear hug. “I love you, man!” Risky business, two big men hugging and stumbling down this precarious path. Risky business indeed.

“I love you too, Son.”

 From where we stand on this high ground the sun is not a mystery.  There it is right there, smiling and warming these exposed boulders and these two orphans.  There it is but not for long;  our old friend the sun is headed for the horizon and we have got to head back to town, ourselves.  Back to LA.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park on location:Back To LA