Friday, July 15, 2011

AMMO AND CAMO

     Lido's gripping a metal cane and he's limping.  I stop and hit the window.  ‘You hanging out?’ I say.

     ‘Waiting to catch a train.’

     ‘Where are you going?’

     ‘Rancho.’

     ‘I’ll give you a ride.  You going across the street to the bakery?’

     We meet up at the corner table just outside the door.  He settles in, puts the cane down.  I ask him about his foot and he gets that vague, distant look, and starts in with a disjointed series of half-phrases, hints, references to Indian ceremonies, going over to ‘the other side’, almost dying, being in a hospital for a month.

     ‘The foot was burned to the bone,’ he says. 

     With Lido, when he gets going on his Indian references, I find it’s best to nod as if I know what he’s talking about, even if I don’t.  This time, I have less of a clue than usual.  I try and gather some idea about what really happened.  He passes it off as something of ancient history.  I ask him if he stepped in a fire.  He sidesteps the question. 

     ‘In a coma for a few days.  Skin grafts.  No infection, that was a break.  Everything stopped.  I was dead.’   

     What hospital, I ask.  

      ‘Arrowhead.’  I have no idea where Arrowhead is.  He says San Bernardino, I think.   

     He slightly slurs his words.  He’s not as alert.  Lido has always talked in riddles, speaking on multiple levels, intentionally or unintentionally he confuses, obfuscates, masks his meanings and raises his voice and temper when he wants to veer off point when asked a direct question.  He’s an attorney.  His skill is directing attention to his agenda, even when his agenda is nebulous and he’s referencing the Red Path, his Native American path to spirituality.

     He’s been evicted from his house that he shared with his buddy Daniel.  Staying now in a room in Upland, he says.  He hates Upland.  I wonder if he got beat up.  The story doesn’t make sense, Lido is evasive and mysterious, and he appears to have been fairly badly damaged.  I think about asking him if he was thrashed, I think about suggesting that I don’t buy his pseudo-explanation, but I stay silent.  He’s told me what he’s been telling everyone, I think.

     ‘The cane is a huge chick magnet,’ he says.  When he says that, I’m thinking he’s concocted a story to fit the inquiries from these fine and lovely ladies.  Something eerie, hinting of romance and a certain amount of danger.  Maybe not all of the danger, though, I’m thinking.  Lido is wild and untamed, and his nature is to fly with the eagles and the crows, to seek the spiritual path of the Native Americans.  Perhaps he’s run afoul of the boys at Soboba.  I mention the evil Chief there and he agrees, saying Salgado is a menace, but not for the same reasons I think.  He’s been accused of having sheriffs shot, his boys picking off deputies sniper-style, and when I mention that, Lido shrugs it off saying he’s no different than other political leaders.  He veers, changes course, to ward off an ‘argument’, he says.  He stood up to Salgado he says, standing for another tribal family, and I let it go.  His story is his own, and he’s not obliged to tell me the truth.  Lawyers never are, are they?  

     ‘What I want to find is a native girl who wears cammo and has an AK-47,’ he says.

     ‘I know where you can find that kind of girl.  Take a firearms safety course.’  He laughs, as if he’s not really serious about guns and weapons. 

     Then comes the litany of sexual escapades, the misses, the near misses, the black girl at the bank, the barista at the coffee house, a waitress at a café where they play Christian Rock that Lido finds abhorrent but she flirts.  He finds her phony, a suburban princess.

     Lido is back on track laying out his new rules of engagement, how he scores, with whom, what in particular he’s looking for, what he’s not looking for, the downsides of suburban 9-5 girls confined by their jobs and dreams of millionaire husbands and backyard barbecues.  Certain girls will ‘taste so fine’, he says, others couldn’t get him to drop his pants.  LuAnne, his old flame and a psycho, one who he’d given up on time and time again, is back, fucking his brains out and making him scream.

     ‘The best fuck I’ve ever had, ever will have, the absolute most bad-ass rack job ever,’ is how he’s seeing her in his dreams now.  Others pale in comparison to LuAnne.  But they must be young.

     ‘Twenty somethings, that’s the limit.  Thirty three, thirty five, forty?  They have to be out-of-this-world-smoking-hot.  To get past the suburban princess factor, the whiney ‘I’m too old’ rants, the hormonal rage that sets in during middle age.  Kids.  That’s why I’m staying with twenty-somethings.’

     On the way out to Rancho, I engage in my little exercise of talking to myself out loud as if Lido is asking me questions about my life, and I’m answering.    

     ‘So, Kurt, what’s going on with your life?  

      Hey, same old thing.  Writing.   

     Yeah, so how’s life Kurt?  Treating you okay?   

     Yeah, man, not too bad.  Wandering around, looking for trouble, getting into some.’  He chuckles.  I’ve used it before.  It works, in limited quantities.

     We get to his office and he gives me the fist bump.  I check his phone number and he corrects the last digit.  Fist bumps again. 

     Thanks for the ride, Bro. 

     No problemo.

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