“It lights up at night!”

it-lights-up.jpgThey call me the workin man thats what I am. “Rush”

That summer on Commerce Ave. in Tujunga California was full of beer, drugs, and sex with very little if any responsibility. No job, no car, no bills, no rent, nothing. My friends started to turn on me. I was the loser, slacker, free loader. All I had to offer was a place for them to hang out and party at if they had no where else to go. Then one evening a bunch of the people I had been associating with came over to my house. Everyone was in a great mood and we were all having a good time when a buddy of mine took me over to his car and in a quite tone said “Hey Keith I got some really good acid wanna try a hit?” “Sure” I said and I took a hit of Orange Sunshine. After about an hour I started to come on to what was to be the strongest dose of LSD I had ever taken. I went into a complete separation from reality with momentary fades into real world, or what I thought was real world. All I could do was sit on a chair for hours unable to stand or communicate, I was completely helpless. People started to come up to me with grotesque faces and spew insults about me, my mother, my life, they called me a fag, a fuckin nobody, a worthless piece of shit, they poured beer on me and threw empty cans at me, they flicked their cigarettes on me. They took this opportunity to just fuck with me and my mind, and there was nothing I could do or say. I was completely helpless.

Early the next morning I found myself alone lying in the driveway under that messy pepper tree amidst all the debris that was thrown at me. There wasn’t a sound except for an annoying blue jay above my head. I was a filthy mess both physically and spiritually I had not spoken to God in a long, long time but that morning while steeped in humility I prayed.

Now my faith has always been lazy but it has always been there, and it has always come through for me. On that morning it came through for me again. After my prayer I got up and went into my humble little place, took a shower and cleaned up. I walked down to the local liquor store and got a newspaper and sat on a bench and started looking for a job. I made a few phone calls with what little money I had and soon I was asked by two employers to come down and fill out an application. Two days later I had a job working at a machine shop in that God forsaken town of Sun Valley California. Sun Valley was about twenty miles from where I was living and I didn’t have a car or bus fare, so for about two weeks I would hitch hike my way to and from work. I rode with some strange freaks in those two weeks. As for food, I would pick cumquat’s, pomegranates, cactus apples, oranges and my personal favorite avocados from neighborhood trees for food. I also had to do a little bit of shop lifting at the grocery store every now and then.

After a couple of weeks at the machine shop I got my first paycheck $135 “Alright!” I finally had some cash. I went to the local Sizzler Steak House and had a steak a salad and a baked potato for supper. Then I walked to my local liquor store and bought a bottle of wine. I never purchased beer to bring home because I didn’t have a refrigerator. But a big jug of Red Mountain wine was perfect. In fact wine became my beverage of choice. I found the buzz from some red wine and a little reefer to be very mellow and relaxing after a day at the office.

I was working at “the shop” for about a month and I was getting really tired of taking the bus. The bus took to long. I wanted my own car. I managed to save about $200 that first month of work because I had no bills. Then one day a co-worker named David said “Hey Keith I heard your interested in getting some wheels” “Yes I am” I said. “Well my mom is selling her car for $500” “What is kind is it?” I asked, “It’s a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain and it runs perfect. Plus the Indian Head hood ornament lights up at night!” Wow that sounds really cool!” I said but I only have about $300 till our next pay period. “That’s alright we can go over to my mothers after work today and you can take a look at it and talk to my mom about it.” “Right on dude lets do that” I agreed. “Cool see ya after work.” I rode with Dave over to his mothers that evening to look at the Chief and see if maybe we could make a deal. When we arrived I saw the Chief in their driveway. It was so cool. It was big and black and kind of mean looking. Lots of chrome on the front end and an Indian head hood ornament that really did light up at night. The inside was spacious, a big bench front seat and a big bench back seat. The headliner was completely intact and there were no holes in the seats. I talked to Daves mother Mrs. Gonzalez about buying the car, she agreed that I could pay her $300 dollars and take the car and then give her $200 in two weeks. We agreed and Dave gave me a ride back to my house where my money was stashed and I drove my black Pontiac Chieftain back home with the hood ornament lit up and showing the way.

I paid Mrs. Gonzalez her balance as agreed, the Pontiac ran beautifully with it’s straight eight engine and HydroGlide transmission. I felt good, really good!  I started going to the beach again on weekends, I bought a new surfboard and a wetsuit. But what I find interesting about this period in my life is that during this “success” I was very much alone. I did not want to share  this with anyone. I became a loner and I liked it that way. Just leave me alone and I’ll be happy and for a brief moment I was.

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