Crazy-Ass Sons of Bitches

Marko y Yo, bro.

I was sitting in jail one fine evening, thinking about stuff– mostly jail stuff, but also life stuff.  My thoughts weren’t exactly deep as Dostoevski’s, but they were deep enough to make me feel shitty.  I watched an electrician replace a thermostat in the booking office.  He joked around with a few of the guards, then packed up his tools and left.  Suddenly, I wanted to be an electrician, or anybody else that could leave.

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again…there was the fact that I refused to heed loud warnings.  My buddy, Marko, deciding not to do something that I proposed should have been plenty loud.  He didn’t buckle under the yoke of reason easily.  So now I was in jail, and Marko was at home, finishing off all of my beers.  That was a bitter, bitter fact, but try getting any sympathy for your troubles in jail.  Anyway, that whole night is another story, for another time.  The main point is that even Marko thought it was a bad idea.

Marko and I never got into bad trouble when we were together.  This was incredible given the fact that we ran Full Bat-Shit Crazy for so long.  We reassured each other that it was okay to push it a little further.  If an idea came to us, well, it was obvious wasn’t it?  We had to answer the call.  We didn’t have much materially, but we could claim an expansive range of experiences.  We could walk like gods if we didn’t stop and ask “Why?”

We met when we were 16 and worked together at Denny’s.  Our bus boy and dishwashing shifts overlapped for an hour every Friday evening.  It didn’t take long to realize how much we had in common.  “Do you like to party?”  ” I’ve been known to.”  So it began.  One day I found a green pill when I was vacuuming.  I brought it back to the Marko who was elbow deep in club sandwich and patty melt remnants.  I asked him what he thought it was.  “There’s only one way to find out,” he said, and popped it into his mouth.  Holy shit.  Marko was the mad scientist and his own monster.  This was a man with an intrepid spirit of investigation and discovery.  He would go places.  That time, however, he only went to sleep, for 45 minutes during his 10 minute break.

Many years later, we continued to work together, mostly as laborers humping a jack hammer and tamper, but also scraping rocks with a pick and shovel.  Hungover like drunk-tank Indians, cursing, sweating, and puking together, we toiled at our version of The American Dream.  The work pretty much sucked year-round. We sweat beer out of our eyeballs in the summer, and ate frozen tuna sandwiches during the winter.  So much shared misery couldn’t help but create a special bond, and some rather anti-social behavior when it came time to “unwind.”

One night we went to Rodeo Nites, a local hay and oats joint.  Neither of us liked Country Western music, but since I worked there part-time as a bouncer, it would be easier to cage free drinks.  It was also a scientific fact that girls who liked Country Western were notorious sluts.  So were we.  Who cares about music anyway when you have so much else in common?  However, that night even the most desperate lady shit-kickers weren’t taking our bait.  That’s what kind of shape we were in.

At one point, Marko was trying to grind it into one of the cocktail waitresses we knew, with his version of The Lambada.  This was hardly appropriate.  Not only had that dance craze died four years earlier, but it wasn’t even Country Western.  Still no reason not to try reviving it with a busy (and slightly pissy) waitress.  Only the fact that I worked there saved us from getting our heads plowed into The Pillar of Shame.  Every bar I worked at had some version of this.  Some pole, wall, or door jam that you would accidentally smash someone into on their way out the door. You saved it for those deserving an extra little treat.  Our antics that night earned us enough for several treats, but my co-workers showed mercy.  Instead, we were asked to “Chill the fuck out,” and given a beer each. We nursed them for awhile, until we got too sleepy and decided to leave.

We walked around for a while looking for his car.  It was hard to find because it was a magical automobile.  It had the power of invisibility.  It was an Oldsmobile his father gave him when he bought a new car.  This was not a Public Enemy 98 Oldsmobile, but a Fuddy Duddy AARP Bonneville, or some shit.  This car said “Driver is a law-abiding, golf pants-wearing Republican, with premium insurance and a healthy fear of God.”  No satanic punk rock stickers on this Citizenmobile.  Nothing that would draw attention to or help witnesses identify.  It would even change color sometimes from blue to green, depending on the light. We once drove from New Mexico to California and back without getting arrested.

We finally found the car and buckled up.  Marko drove towards the exit, but saw it was taped off with yellow caution tape.  We would have to drive to the other exit, which was, oh… about 9 to 11 seconds out of our way.  Fuck that shit!  We had things to do. We were two Renaissance men on the move.  “Don’t fuck around, Dude, just go.” I told him.  “But it’s blocked,” he balked.  “Blocked by what?!  Thin plastic with the words “Caution” all over! Caution is for cowards. Caution is for the slaves that serve.”  I told him that driving through that tape would make us feel like we won a race.  “You want to feel like a winner don’t you?”

He floored it, and we broke through the tape.

He turned on to Cerrillos Rd., one of the main streets through town.  We drove just a few yards before we noticed the sparks.  Huge Roman candles worth of sparks shooting from both sides of the car.  The yellow plastic caution tape had concealed a steel cable behind it.  The cable was attached to two metal poles sunk into 5 gallon drums filled with concrete. These were now being dragged along beside us.  The Olds pulled at the cable caught in the teeth of its grille like a swerving shark, concrete and steel buoys battering its body. It was highly conspicuous.

A cop drove by going the other way.  Fuck.  This was unnerving even when really drunk.  We watched and waited for the u-turn, but it never came.  The cloak of invisibility held.  Just some good citizens taking some buckets of concrete out for a walk.  The car lurched into a gas station.  I remember laughing and laughing as the two of us struggled to pull the cable out.  “Why the fuck do I let you talk me into this kind of shit?” he asked, and then just yanked out the whole grille.  His dad would’ve been so proud to see how strong his son had become.  That made me laugh even more.  It was good to laugh.  It was good to be with good friends. It was good to unwind.