“The First Downward Spiral”

spiral.jpgMy last year of high school was a total disaster. I just didn’t give a shit about anything. The only class I went to was drafting, I was really good at it and I liked it. The teacher Mr. Gardener who was also a surfer/sailor would let me come into his class and work on my own projects and assist other students with questions and problems. I guess you could say I was a drafting rat.

My social life with the girls was non existent. I slept with a couple of girls from school but it just wasn’t the same thing as being with Debbie. So I just didn’t even try. I immersed myself into drugs. Drugs like pot, bennies, reds. rainbows, LSD, stuff like that. I started hanging around like minded individuals and we would share our drugs with each other like it was a form of honor as to who could provide the best stuff. These people didn’t have a clue about surfing.

My new “friends” and I would go up into Tujunga canyon with guns that they borrowed from their fathers collections. We would get some beer and drop acid and drive the narrow canyon roads and go shoot stuff. Blast a tree in half or kill a jack rabbit or bring an old car battery up to blast apart. “Look! a Blue Jay blast him with the shotgun!” “BOOM” “look here’s his head.”

I wasn’t working or going to school. I had no car. My mother was constantly telling me to “Get the fuck out of her house” So at seventeen I did. A “friend” of mine had told me that there was a place in Tujunga on Commerce Ave. were I could stay. It was a one room cracker box with a toilet and a shower. It was the servant quarters on an old estate a 1/2 acre lot full of weeds, old boats, old cars, cactus and those messy pepper trees. I grabbed my clothes and an old throw rug that my mother had forgotten about and got a ride to my new “place” I thew down the rug, put my clothes in a built in dresser and lay-ed down on the mattress that was already there on the floor. “Ahh…home.” The next day at my new house I was sitting under the pepper tree talking to a neighbor when I suddenly saw my mother and my sister Linda driving up the long narrow driveway that headed up to the compound. “I wonder what they want? Maybe their bringing me some stuff that I might need that would be nice.” I thought to myself. My sister Linda got out of the car and came up to me and said “where is it?” “where is what” I said. “where is that god damn rug you took from US!” “You mean that little 6X4 braided oval that was rolled up in the garage?” I said kinda stunned. “Yeah that one!” yelled Linda. “It’s in my place” I said. “Go get it, it’s not yours.” “Are you fucking kidding me? I take an old rug that hasn’t been used in years to cover the cold concrete floor and you want it back?” I went into my house and rolled up the rug and started walking down to the car to give it to my mother. “Is this what you fucking want you piece of shit fuckin whore?! Well here take it bitch, and get the fuck out of here and don’t you ever, ever come back to this place again because there is nothing left of yours here anymore, not even your son!” Those two bitches got back into the car and left for good.

I walked back into my little place and I was pissed off big time, I started crying. Later on that day a couple of my friends came over because I now had a place where people could go to party. We drank beer and got high. A girl named Susan stayed the night with me. She made me feel better on my mystery mattress.

The best thing about my new living arrangement was the fact that the landlord was on a European vacation that summer and was not to return for 3 months. It was my responsibility to send a check to his house each month until he returned from his holiday. Well I didn’t. I just lived rent free for weeks and months at a time. I would work here and there but not much and as soon as I had any money I spent it on beer and dope. I don’t think I surfed once that summer. My surfing friends had abandoned me. Then one day I went to the mailbox and I found a check inside. It was an income tax return check for James. James was the former tenant that had lived here before me. But James was now in the Army and in Viet Nam. I took the check and put it in my dresser and forgot about it. Then one day another “friend” named George came by my place just to hang out, I asked him if he had a few bucks and he said he was broke. He asked me the same and I said ditto. “But I do have an income tax check for James in my dresser” I said. “Really?” said George “How much?” “I don’t know I never opened it” “Well lets take a look” said George. I went inside and got the letter and went back outside and opened it up. $200 “Wow” I said. “Hey I got an idea” said George. “What” I said, “Do you still have a bank account” George asked me. “Yeah but there’s only $5 in it just to keep it open” I said “Cool here’s what we’ll do. I’ll go in the bank with you and tell the teller that I’m James and that we just got back from the river and I lost my wallet, but you have an account here and you will vouch for me that I’m James then I will sign the back of the check and you endorse it for me.” “It’s worth a try I said.” We drove down to the bank in Georges 65 Buick Riviera and went in. We walked out $200 dollars richer. Lets party! This was going to catch up to me later in life

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