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Thread: Crazy Love, The Odyssey of the Master Po.

  1. #11
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    Last night was rough, had a very long trip accross the eastern desert and it's boring! At least the western half of my route has old towns and distractions, east.. not so much. Dark, quiet and full of illegals coming accross with the odd Border Patrol in tow it seems. The driving is getting to me, pretty much every day around ten hours and all of that on the full run. Can't ***** too much it's a paycheck and I needed one.

    Didn't think of her all that much, some thoughts keep coming to mind, mostly tender moments but I brush them away. I tried to find comfort with the memory but it is like finding out your hot fast fast bag contains the wrong meal - and you paid for it! Bleh. So I brush her away and think of just about anything else. No much luck. No radio reception other than the nuclear ones blasting over on the other side, no idea what they are saying but it sounds festive. I like that about Mexican radio, bad news is always a party.

    Payday is days away and I've got $2 to make until then. Getting good at buying at buying hot bean dip and chips and making it last, not the healthiest of food but it is filling and doesn't get me sleepy. The big danger of this kind of driving is sleep, we run at all hours so you have to adjust your clock accordingly. New guys are always found sleeping in their rides and most times we try to get them up so then don't burn. It gets very hot down here. I watched a young mom make a sun tattoo, she put a taped cross on her arm the heat did the rest. She's very proud of it and annoyed that the rest of us don't share her religious views. Very opinionated and doesn't like her resulting nickname, Taliban.

    I've gotten to the point of the job to stop in out of the way places, former tourist traps that got mauled by the bigger, cleaner truck stops. They still don't offer much to the consumer, other than the aged bathroom and stale fast food. I like to stop because its history and sooner or later somebody is gonna raze the place. I find myself staring past the cheap whitewashed walls and following the skilled work of some past mason. Wonder how much they paid them to put this place up, probably the cost of my rich coffee per day. Yeah.. I started drinking coffee again. Went from coffee every day to diet coke..now back to coffee. About all I can say is it keep you awake and the hunger pains from distracting you.

    Every now and then I get a load of guys that ask to stop someplace for food. I oblige and drop them at whatever convenience store or fast food joint they want. Normally I pull away, keeping to myself while checking my vehicle. I don't want to owe these guys although I do know my fellow drivers are notorious mooches. If I'm cornered I usually ask for a bag of "yeller M and M's", makes me chuckle that so far everyone knows what that is. The bad part is starting a two hour drive and smelling all that food getting choked and chewed down. I tell my bod to burn fat cells and that better days are coming. Surprisingly enough that when they do, better days, I usually don't bother with fast food and am surprisingly stingy with the coin I have remaining. Ah, things will get better.

    Started to go down on the return trip, just eyeball raw tired. Found another former tourist stop and pulled in. Parked in a secure and open spot just away from the feeble security lights. Walked about, twisting and cranking my tortured muscles into place. Usually I do a set of pushups, crunches and maybe a fast walk to get the blood going. Old routines, when I used to wear the badge I did the same routine but in far remoter locales. I drink my water, and set the internal clock for 50 minutes, don't know why I can't get more it just always settles on 10 or 50. I then sleep. Nothing fancy, just close my eyes and hope I don't have horrified tourist staring at my drooling mug on the window. Now that was a good sleep.

    Got up. Felt better. Raw eyeballs are gone, mentally facilities are tuned and other than a screaming bladder I'm ready for the road. I look around, no surprised at all. For as long as I've done my 'rest periods', people seem to find me and pull up along side for the same reasons. Truly reminds me of the wagon trains of old. I get out quietly, checking my vehicle and the assorted lights. accross from me is four girls crammed into car designed for 3 it seems. The driver is X'd out but the girl in the back seat fixes pretty brown eyes on me. Suspicious and alert. I smile and wave with my fingers, not caring if she answers. The rest are guys and some older folks. I finish my vehicle check, she looks seaworthy and I roll out quickly and quietly. A glance over at the party of girls finds brown eyes tracking me and she looks wistful. Wonder what her story is?

    Neh, time to go and I have miles to cover. The EX will make her appearance somewhere along the way and I'm in no hurry to meet her. I'm going to miss these drives.

  2. #12
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    I received my orders a few days ago, I was to depart within the hour to a far point of the realm. After reading the brief, I looked over at my stacked laundry - perfect timing. I was good to go. As I finished packing the BGB (big green bag) a text comes in from my pimpled boss, he's so young that I do my best not to tussle his hair as he gives me orders. No big deal, glad he's open to suggestions and is fearful of me. Alpha male in me likes respect and men to run from my presence. I'm kidding. Mebbe.

    He's polite and as an afterthoughts asks me if there would be a problem with the departure orders. I run a cool hand through my fresh crewcut and tell him, neh. Things are good, I'm on my way and understand it will take 3 days of travel. As long as my rooms are set up, I will blaze in a good safe fashion and do our little bit town proud. He doesn't know how to take my comment and brightens up by telling me it's significantly more pay. I chuckle and tell him I'll call if I run into any problems. I don't. Usually solve them myself. Wonder if that works against me in a work cultural that's always whining about the job.

    It's early the raging, baking sun hasn't made a full appearance, I figure if I run hard and take a short cut I'll be in the low mountains where it's cooler and a bit more life to it. As I stack the BGB, I think of her, we used to do this kind of spur of the moment travel. Heavy sigh, I miss my friend - I miss her alot. To my one reader, you know who you are, I don't think I'm truly over her and it's okay to have these kinds of 'achey' thoughts. I'm in a far better place than I was 3 years ago. I have my spine back and to me.. well, to me its a far better place. I figure I'll live in this cardio purgatory until someone else comes along, hope she comes quick.

    The trip is rather fast, I drive-eat-sleep and get to my duty station. Meet the location boss and she doesn't like me. She doesn't say it so much but her body language is screaming it, probably remind her of somebody abusive or maybe old Marines are just a pain in the butt. I don't care. I do the job. When I leave she's going to miss me and she does, trying to give me a cheap coffee cup as a momento of our time together. I smile graciously and accept with humbled appreciation, knowing I'll pitch it out the window 2 miles down the road. LOL. I'm kidding, relax my one reader - thought you might need a laugh.

    One my drive back I come to the realization that I'm truly alone out there, if I have a vehicle breakdown or maybe emotional..lol.. there is no help other than what I can do for myself. For some reason that settles me down and I feel a massive surge of confidence. Things are getting better .. I'll learn to love again, stealing a line from PINK.

    Darkness is coming and my next rest town is an hour away, I picked my way through a gorgeous oak covered mountain pass. No animals but the air was fresh and the scenery recharged the hunger my soul has for mountains. After all I am a mountain creature by birth and in heart. Figures though I would be rebellious and live in a hellishly hot desert town.

    I see a train coming from a distance and brutishly calculate the intersection time with my foot, it will beat me and I'm on a restricted speed setting. Augh. No matter, I can arrive after dark - after all what am I going to do but sleep anyway. I'm fairly tired and look forward to a hard sleep and then maybe a lazy walk in the deep cold early darkness. The train is halfway through the crossing when I arrive and it fairly zips along. I entertain myself by looking for unauthorized riders, finding none I switch to the various graffiti signs. That thought brings to mine a college professor I had at the U, he wrote a book about railroad graffiti and explained with great enthusiasm how he became one of the covert taggers, he explains it as a matter of necessary social conformity to understand a covert, rebellious culture. I thought it was BS and the hard nosed cop in me wondered how many objects he defaced. He ended his research when someone shot him twice in the nuts with a slingshot, he has no idea who it was other than he spent hours crawling out of the rail yard he was illegally in. I think of him and wonder who did it. Probably one of the train guys tired of cleaning the mess up.

    The train has slowed down quite a bit, I'm annoyed as I hope it doesn't stop while I'm the only at the crossing. Nobody around it's getting dark. What I see next shocks me, sends a shiver of fear through me and in a way humbles me.

    On a rusted and aged chemical tank is my name scrawled in foot high letters. My name is not very common as far as names go is probably obsolete. Nonetheless, there it is and going by me at 3 miles per hour. I feel a chilling fear, a fear of the unknown that maybe its a warning. The Alpha male shows up and smiles tightly, its a just name and if death was calling it would be more original. I breathe deeply, yeah.. that's all it was, just a coincidence. I nod at the rail tank and immediately my heart kicks in, she was thinking about you and there lies the proof.

    I smile sadly. I wish. Miles to go and I wish her replacement would show up soon. More importantly I hope I'm ready and don't push her away. Achh..

  3. #13
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    School is over. Have a good life. I think those were the only words remembered from my college experience. It was a rough time and I damn near threw my books away many times, however I did not. Quite frankly, I don't recall my strategy other than to stop throwing the tantrums and books and getting busy again. Some classes were awesome and I truly enjoyed the time, others were not so much.

    I recall sitting in a anthropology class when 911 happened. The class and the instructor sat there drinking coffee and not talking very much at 8 AM. Some crying was going on and my thoughts were simple, what would I do if I got called up? Men I knew were disappearing hourly and I figured even if I was a few years out, skills and experience had to come into play. I would go but I didn't want to, I had a baby boy and there was no interest in facing what most fear. I wanted to watch him grow up and buying diapers was still a unique experience for me.

    Finally, I had enough. The instructor sat there with a bemused expression and I figured if he wanted to teach he would've done so by now. I respectfully walked up to him and pulled out a sheet of paper, wrote my name and smiled at him. He sort of glanced at it over his coffee and nodded. No words, I don't know why I did the name writing but it seemed.. appropriate?! I left and before I hit the door I heard shuffling and pencil scraping as others signed the sheet and left as well. Nobody said a word.

    People had high hopes for me at the time, hell, I had high hopes for me. The first male in both my families to ever hold a degree, I think I was the 4th one to have high school diploma. Heady times. LOL

    I'm watching my nephew ascend with his peers and receive his degree, he will be No. 7, and I am so proud of him. Despite his spoiled parents he managed to get himself a full ride into an engineering program. Everybody has high hopes and I can see in his eyes some fear, that maybe it might be too much for him. I want to tell him to just do it, forget what others want or think, to live and enjoy the college experience. He won't. Too much like me. He looks like a taller version of me but I'm cuter. lol Uncles can say that.

    I traveled through his college town, looking over rentals and possible employment opportunities. This town was funky and nothing familiar about it. Even though its one of the bigger AZ cities, it was strange to me. Reminded me of the loathing I had for Lebanon back in the day. Just could not be comfortable there, even though it was very much like my home base of San Diego.

    This was the EX's hometown. How interesting that here I am and for family. Briefly wondered where she hung out and decided that was enough, I didn't need to dwell on that.
    Maybe a neighboring town would suit me better? Big decisions and I better make them fast.
    Last edited by MasterPo; 05-20-2013 at 07:33 AM.

  4. #14
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    Well my one fan... looks like you found me UA and need some a fix. Okay, I can do that.

    Been busy, really busy. Working two jobs with a some big life goals on the fire. Seems so strange that last year I was so not into doing more than walking and mooning. Ugh. Such a waste. I can't say I'm over her but I have no desire to be with her. Hope that makes sense. Still though, on long, quiet drives I wonder if the phone will ring and just what I'll say. I hope I'm a hard ass and hang up. I doubt it though, mom trained to be polite at all costs so maybe I'll just listen. For what? I don't know.

    Listening to Alison Krause and John Waite, MISSING YOU, it has a different meaning now. As in I miss the old me and feel glad he's coming back. Maybe not the old hard nosed clown but humble and a good catch. If you are reading this Jessica Alba, I'm almost ready for you to come over. You better know how to make Menudo. Just saying...

    Reading alot as well. Ask me anything about Nora Roberts and/or the Civil war and I got you. Nah, mostly whatever strikes my fancy. Keeps my imagination alive and a boring person to be in a car with. lol

    Dating. Yeah, did some of that. I'm a bit of a caveman though, have no desire to change either. Dates kind of fizzled out as I didn't care to hear about banking, hotel sales or .. I forget what the other was.. something in real estate. They were hot though and certaintly blew up my ego, it was nice to see people stare at all that gorgeous female and the drog behind her.

    I'll tell you about the dates, I'm tired and feel like a good sleep. Have some moving to do. Oh yeah, I moved to a new place. I think you
    will like my roommate stories, he is a bit eccentric.

    There you go.. be good.

    Mpo

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  6. #15
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    Hi my one fan and the new one. I shall name you OF and NF, pretty original eh. You can call me Master Po. lol Relax..

    Where have I been? Busy and sans computer. Really sucks when you go through the internet withdrawals. As I'm tech savvy lite, I decline to hear about gadgets, laptops, etc. that can give me access. I want what's familiar and so bear with me as I go through this life stage.

    I was in LA the other day, had bidness and it was quick and painful. Hate driving in mucked up roads and even more mucked driver, I say forget Guantanamo bay, just have the terrorist ride 1-15 every morning and twice on the weekends. To you careful LA drivers, all 3 of you, thanks, to the rest I'm holding up one finger.

    Ahem. I came over the mountains and stopped at the quaint little burgs scattered here and yon. Had a good time. Interesting conversations with the opposite gender and I found myself promising to come back. Oops. Bought some odds and ends that will get trashed when of if/when Mrs. Po decides to show up. I think maybe Jessica (Alba) might be bargained with though, I can only hope.

    My neighbor in my new 'hood came over as I was putting new battery cables in the battle taxi AKA Mark 5. She was all upset and needy. I puffed out my manly chest and opened up the one good ear. It seems she promised some people a pot of POSOLE and couldn't deliver, never made the stuff in her life. I'll let you google that dish. I nodded, indication my listening skills, as my 10 thumbs struggled to unscrew the bolt that could not be unscrewed. Figures I would find a virgin bolt in my ride. Every now and then I'd pop up, wipe the manly sweat from my brow and nod intently. Not telling her the one good ear had sketchy reception. Five hours later she finally got to the point, COULD I help her make the dish?? I realize I can never be a poker player as my eyebrows hung high in absolute surprise. What made her think I knew how to cook? Much less Posole? Achh.. must be the hard bod. Ahem.

    Two hours later, I had lips pursed over a big spoon, the dish was done and I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like. Once I got through swirling it in my mouth and the obligatory lip smacking I thought it... good. I would eat it. She says it had too much pepper and I wrinkled my nose in disagreement. Bleh. I thought it was good. She was happy and someone was getting a big pot full of eats. I was not offered any. Serves me right for being so damn helpful.

    I'm a bit tired. Had a fitful sleep and have to go hard this afternoon to get some errands locked up. I think Chinese sounds about right and maybe a DVD or two. Work is probably coming in the early hours so a little downtime must be planned.

    I must include "HER" so here it is, not too bad this month. It's been 4 year this month, I'm okay. Walked through that nightmare but something in me still misses her. Let's hope I run that feeling off. There you go.. OF and NF .. some more to read.

  7. #16
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    The weather went sucky on me, it was cold then it started to spit snow every so often, now its icy mush and annoying to me as my vehicle doesnít know how to get through without a wild-ass slide.

    Tonight though, I managed to get by the worse and now Iím on my way home. Miles from anywhere but homeward bound Ė if you would call a motel room home. Iíve been out too long and I think I need to get back Arizona. Yeah, I think Iím done with the idea of being loaned out.

    The other night was the Marine Corps birthday; we are 238 years old and still have pimples for the most part. I generally find a bar and get close enough to outright inebriation for my own YOUTUBE video but I suppose Iím getting older as that did not appeal to me. Instead I chose a fancy chophouse up near the Montana border; figured I would wrap my lips around a good prime rib and thank god Iím not sleeping in cold mud. I did so, got in early so there was only a few couples scattered about. Felt a little self-conscious but then again, Iím me and that feeling passes way too fast.

    Service was lousy, got a menu and brief annoyed look when I asked for a diet Coke. Oops. Most times I walk out when I get this kind of wait staff but I was hungry and I was seated so there. Ate my skimpy salad with grudgingly served salad dressing, waiter was probably taking pics of me in case I jumped my bill. Screw him.

    My ribeye was pleasing to the eye but was barren, I guess anything else with it is extra or you need to ask for it. I was hoping for some mushrooms but ehhh.. it was still a platter of meat and the waiter was gone. So I sliced my beef and ate in reflective silence. It was a good piece of meat, just enough fat to make it flavorful and wrinkle the nose of any date Iíve had to date. Seems it isnít proper to eat meat fat in front of gorgeous women, one always has to make a comment and Iíve since learned to ignore it.

    There was a time though I would drop fork and have it wrapped up Ďto goí. I was bit immature I gather, I would sit there eating bread and stoically ignoring them while they ate their food. Yeah, very few second dates and yeah, no more comments about fatty meat either. LOL

    I could hear dance music in the bar, I tuned in half-heartedly and started thinking the last time I danced. I mean flat-out danced until I was winded and sucking beer to cool down. I would gather it was around Nov. 10th on any given year, more so when I was young and adorable.

    My good friend, Iíll just call him Vasquez, was handsome SOB from the hills of California. He was about the most squared away Marine Iíd ever meet, the guy just loved everything about Mother Corps and so did she. I was always a month or so behind him in promotions. He was good friend and we had love of oldies music and dark, dangerous BS of our chosen work. WasÖ he wasÖ strange how that word effects the veteran.

    Itís not important what happened to him, just that he didnít make it and I did. I took another bite of ribeye this one more flavorful and intense- I guess memory will do that. The music grew louder and the so did the crowd, my waiter came over and hovered quickly Ė depositing a big check and small half smile, he wanted my table it would seem and resigned himself to no or miniscule tip from me. He was right. Imagine that.

    We were 19 years old when we became friends and it was on this night many years ago. Marines were strutting about the dance floor, some with enough medals to make a Russian General jealous. I vaguely remember being pleased at the clinking mine gave off when I walked; a boyish pleasure if you will. The band struck up LA BAMBA and Vasquez became entirely possessed, his drink glazed eyes brightened and he bailed on his date to hit the dance floor. As he passed me, I was grabbed and dragged along, angered a little because I spilled my beer. In minutes Vasquez and I bounced and strutted through the entire song, I recall laughing trying to follow his moves. I suppose I did alright as the crowd was roaring and the band was persuaded to hit the tune one more time.

    Afterwards we gave each other manly abrazos and for the rest of the evening and our service together, it became our skit to hit the dance floor every time the song came on. Guys used to pay the band to play the song, usually waiting till one of us was in the head and roaring as we came out in a frenzied rush. It would not do to have the song waiting, honored demanded the dance.

    After he was gone; I went to one more ball and as they say, the song must go on. I walked out to the floor and stood there. Some of the guys came out and stood with me until it was over. I suppose I was pretty drunk or sweaty because I couldnít see anything, so much moisture in my eyes. Just as well, he wouldíve been mad that I didnít follow his moves or show him something new.

    I cranked up my ride, left a few bucks in tip and nodded my head as the song came through the window and into the parking lot. The band was sucky but they played it, I wish you well my friend and I miss you.

  8. #17
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    The Cousin

    Every now and then work sends me to some obscure railroad town, places I like to call ‘the land that time forgot’. As I get older some of those places begin to appeal to me, as in low population, real estate is rather cheap and I would rather spend this time in my life measuring boards, pouring concrete and carefully stroking expensive paint. I think pop culture calls it ‘nesting’ – well so be it.

    It was in one of these places that I found myself one late Sunday afternoon. My motel was a good hour away and the railroad crew was late for an infinite number of reasons. No big deal, usually I finish up a book or start another resume. Sometimes but not often, I’d do some exercise (Physical Training = PT) but I hate being interrupted and liked a long cool down.

    This particular day I was perusing the map and noticed that my eventual route home took me to the outside corner of an old Police patrol route. I once wore the badge for a semi-modern department, we were modern in terms of equipment but mindset and training was still in the 14th century.

    I left the department for what I thought was a better gig but as in all ‘old jobs’ there are some things that you fondly remember. For me, it was the people, they were hard-working folks frustrated by the economic reality of their times but for the most part patient and glass half full people. I liked them and cut them far too many breaks which disturbed my 14th century administrators.

    Breaks you ask? I’d always enter their area with a long yelp of my siren. The canyon country would echo it long and loud, I’m sure even the dead got a good shaking and behaved themselves. By the time I parked at some highly visible portion of their bustling three car road all the scofflaws would be closing their doors or standing in the shadows. If you wanted to be in agency custody, well you had to work damn hard at it. Never had a DUI or aggravated assault during my patrols through there and believe me crime statistics pointed hard to that area.

    I’d sit there for a good hour, letting them eyeball me and for ‘word’ to spread. Sometimes I would get approached, usually with an arms length list of complaints or perennial legal advice. At first I was happy to accommodate but as the sameness of company and complaints developed I began to realize it was better to listen, nod sympathy and change the subject every chance I could. I suppose that worked as the complaints grew fewer and I started getting hard notes about criminal behavior, such as so and so is selling weed at this location, illegal alcohol over there with assorted domestic violence. I’d spend the day dragging the badge through those places and sometimes arrests were made.

    My radio barked to life and I groaned with dismay, my railroad crew was delayed for what I guess would be another hour or so. Not that I had any where to go, I was billeted in a small one-way town that became famous for once being part of Route 66.




    What was I going to do if we got back early? Probably PT and take a few pictures for the memories. My thoughts in those desperately quiet hours would drift back to her. I hated that. Before I knew it hours would pass as I replayed some of our moments and conversations. If you haven’t been in love then only by experience can you relate. It is a hard road to travel and relief only comes with frenzied activity or dark sleep.

    So I thought of her. What was she doing? Where was she at? Last I knew she went back to her home to family and whatever else. I coldly estimated it would take me three hard days of travel to be near her but forever for me to actually ring the doorbell. No, it was over I could never be with her again but the heart doesn’t play. It’s a very long healing period. Better to let it heal and endure the babble of ‘get over it’ or to rush healing it with pop psychology. Endure it and as the saying goes, ‘all suffering is its own reward’. It will pass.

    I found myself pitching rocks down a lonesome road, my cargo van perched shiny and safe a few hundred yards away. I slowly turned and started walking back. On the horizon I could see the bulky angles of the railroad cars coming my way, almost time to go back. Back to hot chicken-fried steak and a lonely night at the motel. I thought of her and decided it was a good that I was going home tomorrow. Perhaps a sharp detour to my old stomping grounds would do me some good.

    My last thought before I dismissed her for the moment, did I ever take her there? Hope not.

  9. #18
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    A Cousin Part II

    The phone rang in the dark bleary hours that it only seems to know, I answered at first with dread and to rapid joy – I was going home. After listening to the drone, pre-recorded message I hung up and dressed quickly. No shower, I’d do that at the next motel as I jumped my way back to Arizona. It was better to dress, check out and be on the road.

    I met my partner down by the vehicle. He was doing laundry late as he always said nobody does laundry after midnight. I could tell by the surprised look on his face that he hadn’t gotten a ‘go home’ call from the soulless work phone. I waved and mimed that I was going to eat. He didn’t stop me and waved with his back to me. Thank god, the man would question my orders and try to order me to confirm the call. Screw that, I was going home. Overall he was a nice guy but a lousy supervisor, as he worried too much and second guessed simple orders. It made for a long day when he was near. Yes, I was glad to be away from him.

    Miles went by and the travel of new country was refreshing and I did not think of her once, little things like that are gold to me. I looked at the time and figured it would be a great time to get something local to eat. As I was in my old patrol grounds, I had a few places in mind but as I passed by I could tell that economy dumped hard on these guys. No food vendors and even less traffic. Grimaced, I hated to see that and wish I had a few million to help them out.

    There is a big Y in the road and there was once a bar right above the split, named with great originality the “Y Bar”. One of those places that produced a generation or two of dedicated alcoholics and innumerable road kills.

    My training officer once remarked to the owner that he should sell crosses and placement services as a side income, being that he was responsible for most of the local deaths. The remark got us both in trouble and required a day of incident writing and standing at attention. My training officer was not one bit remorseful and refused to deliver the department apology. I was sent instead. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it was not well received, something along the lines of apologies for insulting the business but the cross idea was probably a gold mine. I stood at attention later that afternoon.

    I took the right arm of the Y and rolled slowly passed the ruins of the old bar. In a weird fashion it was the media and vigilante action that blew it out of existence. A band of brothers, actual brothers, 17 to 30’s, stopped there one afternoon and bought a case of cold refreshments.

    As it is among the drinking crowd, they were miles away finishing up the last of their alcohol when the decision was made to go back to the bar and reload. They never made it, all five of them perished in a head-on, high speed collision. I know as I was the first on the scene. About all I could do was promise the barely living that I would tell their families they weren’t drunk. It was not one of my better memories. The youngest was going into the Marines and I could still hear him asking me the 1001 questions Marine boots have. Damn shame.


    The local media got involved and fairly stoked the local populace into a rage, someone with knowledge – probably one of the nefarious ones that the statistics were always pointing to – developed some type of flammable substance and delivered it covertly. I was on my way to better employment at the time and sources remarked that the firemen were slow to respond and even slower to unload their equipment. The place burned hot and not much left except for gutted rooms, collapsed walls and a deep black pit of char only high octane fuel can cause. Bet it was pretty hot.

    Up the road if my memory was blessed, there would be an outdoor market of sorts; basically offering hand-me-downs, old cooking utensils, with various food merchants scattered about. One of those places that my aging home economics teacher liked to call ‘acquired tastes’. Hell yeah and it was good too!

    There it was, all loud and smoky and took me back to when I worried I wasn’t buff enough and my gun belt had a slackness that allowed me to eat whatever I wanted. I wore that uniform like a glove and probably raised local eyebrows; some amused, some thoughtful and some indifferent. The law was about and in hindsight; I bet I was like the juvenile grizzly wandering a parking lot. Nobody knew just what it would do but they’d be damned if they turned their back on it.

    Time to eat and mentally reproached myself to make damn sure I had extra for dinner, damn the cost.

    I had filled a dingy plastic bag with a few paperbacks and action DVD’s, so far nobody remembered the kid that once rode herd – I suppose I changed and got more handsome, it happens. My lunch was grilling and once I passed through the one long consumer aisle I would go back and pick it up.

    With a few exceptions, time had stopped and even the prices were about the same. The people still had that tired, resigned expression of suppressed hope. As I said my kind of folks and I was glad that I amongst them again. If I were smart I would find ‘the one’ amongst them and grow old and fat with no remorse whatsoever. I’m not that smart.

    The murmur made me look up, the wreathed smiles made me wary until I realized the vendors, two older ladies, were looking behind me. Whatever or whoever was behind me was obviously a pleasurable entity. The entity gently shouldered me aside and I was swirled in expensive perfume, cloying and pleasing to the nostril. I moved with the gentle shove and slowly turned to see what entered my airspace. I viewed a gorgeous woman, hair long and smile infectious, genuine. Once she noticed I had recognized her, she shoved roughly and excitedly greeted the vendors.

    Hmmm… I wandered away from the cheerful clucking, checking wares as I went.

    Family arrived and it was in cousin form. Oh joy.

  10. #19
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    A Cousin, Part III

    “I was thinking about you the other day… almost put in a call to your parents but decided I would find you before that. How about that??

    I glanced over at her, “I’m not one bit surprised, we always had that about us…the caveman psyche in us I gather. Remember the time you came for me hitchhiking??

    She chuckled and we slowly walked back towards the cook shacks.

    “I remember… the girls were furious at me for going your way… told them it was a guy I needed to get…” I laughed.

    Back when cousin and I were very young, we, along with her three sisters and my Dad, did the weekend rodeo circuit. Dad and I roped and every now then rented out our second string roping horses. It was Dad’s thing and he loved the competition and prize money. I’m certain it was type of gaming lust but I was young and didn’t have much say. My mom had her hands full with my sisters and I think considered our time away a vacation.

    Cousin and her sisters had a father that was a functional alcoholic. When he could function he got them to where they needed to go but when it grew quiet and restful, he disappeared into his liquid bliss. Why he drank I didn’t know but it was long time thing and the family made their living on the weekend rodeos. Their mom was absent and the grandparent’s, Dad and assorted relatives raised them.

    As for the rodeo they were much like the carnies (carnival folks) each sister had a job and they worked seamlessly to get it done.

    Cousin(14) was the backup driver/mechanic, she and the youngest(8) could sling wrenches well enough to make NASCAR envious. Cousin 2 (11) was the barrel racer/horse healer, it fell to her to place in the money and keep the horses healthy. Cousin 3(13)was the cook/banker, it seemed they always had plenty of poached deer and assorted vegetables. They all rode when funds were available and competed in assorted events.

    I didn’t know their schooling situation but I imagine they stayed with grandma until the weekend and then busted loose to be with Dad.

    I wouldn’t say they were totally helpless, they had beauty and knew it. Just about every single male in the given rodeo locale would show up and hang around their camp. You can bet each one was suckered in with a smile and chatter, work and funds did their part to keep the bunch down to the in love and friends.

    On the night of my road rescue, my father had made one of his many tactical blunders by loaning our roping rig (truck and trailer) to a friend as he couldn’t make that particular weekend. Dad was the rare rodeo gypsy as he had a great job and had just enough sense to keep it.

    Normally I stayed home if Dad couldn’t go but on this trip I went along and did very well, well enough that it angered the friend and he drove off without me. His BS excuse was that I said I was going home with another person, Dad knew it was BS as I wouldn’t leave my horses. I suppose his friend talked his way out of Dad’s wrath and we never loaned out the rig again. Mom didn’t know and I never told.

    Those were the days when phones were enclosed and it took a long finger with quarters to get a message going. I was 22 miles from the nearest place that could be called a town. It was dark and cold, so I rolled the dice and started hitching. I figured if I couldn’t make time in 2 hours I would stop, build a fire and get some sleep. Cousin found me inside that 2 hours; cold, thirsty and near bawling as I was scared and feeling sorry for myself.

    She later told me that she knew something was wrong and spun the wheel, heading back towards the empty rodeo grounds. When she spotted me or sped by my hitching form, she was happy that she obeyed her instincts and I distinctly remember her asking if I wanted the rifle. Justice was and probably still is pretty severe out there, I declined. Dad would make the rifle seem like a blessing. The friend would get his. Cousin didn’t say a word and I was babied into a pile of blankets sleeping until they hit my doorway.

    Even though I hadn’t seen cousin in 11 odd years I immediately went into brief mode and covered my entire family’s known activities or whereabouts. I figured she knew most of it but it was our family nature to speak as if it were not known. As we walked I flipped open my phone and broke open the pictures of my blue print, the sweet prince - my son.

    In that late afternoon sun, in a smoky venue we walked slowly, talking, every so often a squeal would be released as she discovered the cuteness of his pictures and activities.

    “He looks just like you… old wranglers and that monster straw hat you wore and it’s you!… *squeal*…it’s like going back in time…”

    “Hey, I liked that hat!”

    “I don’t doubt it, guys wear stupid #$#$ and think its cool!”

    I paused and glanced over at her. She noticed immediately, apologizing but still thumbed through my phone. I also noticed she was reading my mail. It was alright, she was that way, always inquisitive and always wanting information nobody else had. We are all insecure in our own way but still I snatched the phone back.

    “I don’t want you reading what my fan club sends me…”

    “Which one? … New Mexico Correctional or Pelican Bay?”

    “Pelican Bay doesn’t allow cell phones but Vincentes’ does (women correctional)”

    She put her hands in her back pockets and sashayed quietly, I could tell she was thinking and that meant a big question was coming my way. A big ‘none of your business’ question but what the hell, she needed to hear no every now and then.

    “How’s that girl you were with?…the one that %#$#$ you over?”

    “You have to be more specific….I’ve had quite a few…”

    “The one that put you off everybody’s radar… people talk…and it wasn’t good. Shall I find her?” With that she smacked her fist into her palm.

    I laughed. Looked at her appraisingly and laughed some more- she was too cute.

    “Nope, no need that for that… Vincentes’ got her handled”

    “Really??!!”

    “No”, I glanced at her sideways, “she’s far away and couldn’t find me if she wanted to…just how I want it”. I emphasized the last words, finite, no more talk of it. She moved her hands to her front pockets and we walked quietly.

    She filled me in on her life, it seemed that cousin 3 had married and the guy was from the area but passed on. Walked into a truck and nobody knew why. As Cousin 3 was fairly independent and useful, her in-laws were comfortable with her staying. Having kids as well probably had something to do with sealing it. This cousin showed up to baby sit and run horses with her sister on their little spread. It seemed cousin was on her second divorce and swore off men for time being.

    “Let’s eat and you can figure out some other way to interrogate me”

    “Okay.. but I only have ten dollars”

    “Did I ask you to pay for anything?”

    With that we settled into a late lunch and I glanced at my watch, I had time but it there wasn’t much of it. A few hours of travel was still on the books.

  11. #20
    Platinum Member MasterPo's Avatar
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    The Cousin Part IV

    One of my great weaknesses is a well-grilled piece of meat wrapped in stretchy tortilla – tortilla that is handmade and doesn’t come from any major grocer.
    For the meat I don’t care what it comes off of as long as its lovingly laid on a hot bed of coals and cooked to pink perfection. Generally I prefer it off a cow but I’ve had it in other forms, each as mouth watering as the next. For the moment, I had it right in front of me and I chewed slowly, damn close to ecstasy.

    “So tell me about her… heard she was some kind of pretty”

    “Where you hearing all this? Got me bugged?”

    “Ha ha….I talk to your sisters…they don’t leave much out”

    “Oh…” Yeah they didn’t and she probably knew more about me than I did. With little preamble I laid out the last great relationship I had. Cousin listened, sharp and attentive, I knew she was laying out the blame frame as in where it went wrong and who started it. I didn’t care as I’ve been analyzed by many and it was all just opinion. Generally I was spared and she got the barb.

    “Wow…she’s very young… I don’t see you to as the type that goes for youngsters… hell, she was born right after you came back from the war”

    My gut tightened and in quick fashion so did my expression, cousin raised up her hand, temporary surrender and went back to her meal.

    “She was my friend… she was not a youngster. At least I never saw her that way. Anyway, it’s over and I don’t look back…”

    “Damn… you got your pride don’t you? It’s okay to grovel and swallow some of it if it means you want that person!”

    “Okay…. Say that’s true… what happens if the other person sleeps with another? Can you swallow that?…Grovel for more time together??”

    “Oh…” Back to the meal and heavy furrows as she thought it over. I was getting impatient, I’ve always had diarrhea of the mouth when it came to the ex. I hated that I sought confirmation for my side of the argument and couldn’t shut up about it when asked the why of the breakup. I suppose that is the nature of broken romances, some can put it away and apparently I wasn’t one of them- yet!

    “She loved you, probably still does… but she waited as long as she wanted to or could… probably gave you a deadline which you blew off… at least that’s what I think…someone else came along, it doesn’t matter if he was good for her or not. He was there when she needed someone and you got replaced.” Clicking her fingers to indicate the speed of the activity, she patted my hand and I waited for the sympathy statement which never came.

    “You are such a … but that’s US… our way… she couldn’t understand that, in a way I wish I had met her… I think I could’ve helped…” I straightened up, slowly blew out suppressed air and made a wry face. We went back to the meal and cousin stared at me with my own eyes, we shared the same dark eyes and smile. Looking at me but not looking at me. Probably pondering my mental state, I ignored her and finished my meal. The waitress slowly made her way towards us dinner was coming to a close.

    “How come you didn’t go after her?” We stood outside toothpicks dancing accross our lips. It was a good meal and I could tell the waitress was ecstatic with her tip. I liked to spread the joy.

    I shook my head. Starting to clam up, the whole conversation was getting painful and pointless as in, why talk about it anymore? There’s no revelation or joy to be found.

    “I couldn’t get over how fast she hit the rack with the other guy… how she threw it at me… and later on…the many guys she slept with … I couldn’t deal with that… felt betrayed…but that’s US I suppose.”

    “She was just having sex. Nothing more, bet she called out your name afterwards or even during. Betcha this ten bucks…”

    Cousin tried to push it on me, paying for her dinner and I caught her thrust and pushed it back at her, pride runs deep amongst us.,

    “… that she cried afterwards and all that stood or laid there next to her …hating your guts!”

    “Get the next meal… and here…” I handed her a $20, another one of the gypsy mannerisms, we always gave away money because someday it might be our turn in need. She took it automatically. Slight pause then slid the bills into her back pocket.

    “You should stay with us… we have room… kids would be happy to know you…”

    I glanced at her, all cute but hard as nails, wish I had my camera as she had the kind of looks, bathed in the soft afternoon sun that sell calendars.

    “No, I’m on the job… still have three hours to go… that way.” Jerking the direction with my chin and spitting out the toothpick. Nasty.

    I got a tight hug, the squeeze getting tighter as she formulated her thoughts. My ribs began to ache and just before I began to squirm, cousin spoke.

    “ I think she misses you…if she was smart she’d come for you soon. She’s had enough time to figure out men and knows what she gave up…”

    “You forget…she’s married.. .has a child or two.. “

    “Doesn’t matter… I think she wants to come back.. if she does… listen to me!” Her voice growing sharp and the hug a little more painful, “let her in.. and be happy… if it doesn’t happen.. at least with her… someone else is coming… don’t be stupid.. let them in!”

    Cousin released me and stalked away, not looking back lingering sentiments were not us as we were programmed to plan ahead. Nothing existed behind us.

    Miles rolled by, every so often a herd of wild horses blanketed the roadside probably lonesome or thirsty. I thought of her and Cousin’s remarks, ‘let her in eh?’

    I doubted I would, time to make distance and pray that my pain would subside as this was all so new to me. I did know that although I thought of her at least once or twice a day, I didn’t hurt when I did. That to me was important, I didn’t hurt anymore and I didn’t wish for or pray for her return – thank god that time had passed.

    A big coyote stood at the edge of the road, I was beyond stopping speed and knew impact was a possibility so I increased my speed and angled towards it. I knew the coyote would choose self-preservation and run directly away from me, which in turn would save its life. It did and I decreased my speed, no sense in avoiding one and hitting another.

    Yup I wouldn’t say I was over her completely but I did waste a major portion of my time waiting and wondering. It was time to keep on keeping on, as the good folks of ENA once told me, “it will pass… you won’t believe us but it will pass”. I’m grateful and I think I’m firmly on the other side, a relationship or two is not out of the question. Time to let it happened.

    Yeah. Let it slide and be happy. I could do that.




    For the fan club, hope it was worth the wait. Mpo

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