Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Every so often I’ll throw in a diversion short story thats just got to get out. This is one of those. First let me preface this by telling my dear reader that I am now a chauffeur driving the wealthy and super wealthy to their destinations.
Picked up a family in Montecito last night at their double gated hilltop mansion overlooking the blue Pacific. I’m driving the black “limo van” because as it turns out I’m taking a family of 4 and two other guest to be picked up on the way in Brentwood all going to LAX to catch a flight. The youngest child a boy about 11 or 12 asked to sit shotgun. Sure dude, come on up” I say. All the way to Brentwood this little shit is telling me about how many gas stations his dad owns. “He used to own USA Gasoline till he sold it for $48 million and bought his own refinery. Now he owns the gas and the gas stations.” blurted the little dweeb. Soon we arrived in Brentwood to pick up the other guests who were waiting at one of dads gas stations. Jr. went to the back of the van. Then Mom moved to shotgun.
Much younger than dad which was no surprise, but still an attractive fading rose Mom starts with phone calls. Oh hello Madeline, Oh yes we will be staying in the Lesser Antilles up in the north island for a couple of weeks then we will be departing for Tuscany. Yes we will be staying in the Alps as well. Oh did I tell you? My Porshe Panamera was delivered to me last week. Well I don’t think I really like the color, I thought it was going to be a little more off-white.”
As we begin to enter the airport Mom gets off the phone and says to me “We are flying Air Tran are you familiar with them?” “Yes they are at terminal three.” I tell her. “Well we have never flown Air Tran. You see we were going to use our own jet but it came up for a routine maintenance schedule. We found out that it needed a part that we could not have installed in time so now we are forced to take this Air Tran airlines. I looked at her and simply said, “I just hate it when that happens.”
It’s been almost three years since I’ve decided to write this next installment. A lot has happened but thats another story. So lets close this chapter up so we can move on.
I discovered that being married was not much different from living together. We both did our thing and at the end of the day we were together at home. It worked out to be a really nice groove. Carol worked at the restaurant and I did odd jobs and surfed. Then one day Carol told me she was pregnant. Yep pregnant. I was stunned. I had been living in the bliss of ignorance for a long time. I’d never gotten a girl pregnant in my life until then. I thought I was shootin blanks. “Yeah thats it blanks.” Well you idiot you’re not shooting blanks she’s a very fertile catholic girl.
Carol was elated by her new-found condition. I on the other hand had to let it all sink in for a while before I could decide what I was feeling and I don’t think Carol liked that. It took me a week of soul-searching to come to grips with the whole situation. So out of necessity I warmed up to the idea that “I” was going to be a father. We told our friends about the blessed event including my in-laws which were “kinda” cool with it. So here we were 6 months into the marriage and with child. Things were changing faster than I could even imagine!
Having a new baby on the way meant it was time for me to really step up to the plate and get a good responsible job and maybe even a career. I never really knew what I wanted to be except when I was around seven years old. I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot flying F-86 Sabre Jets just like Steve Canyon. Well I was along way from that dream. So a meat cutter was my next option. At that time there was a large meat-packing facility just up the 101 freeway in Carpenteria about two miles from where we were living. I decided I was going to put in an application and try my hardest to land a job as a union working apprentice meat cutter. So I went in and filled out the long application and turned it in to the receptionist. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.” She said to me. “OK thanks!” As I left the building I really thought I was on my way to a new career. So I went surfing. For about a month. I kept checking back with the meat-packing house calling on the phone, showing up personally but I just kept getting the same answer. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.
Then one day I was looking through the want ads in the Santa Barbara News Press. “MEAT CUTTER WANTED WILL TRAIN RIGHT PERSON” I called immediately. “Hello?” “Yes I’m calling about the position you posted in the paper for a meat cutter. Is the position still available? Great I’ll come by today to fill out an application.” I spruced up and jumped into my Rambler wagon and sped off to Percals Meats on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. I met Jim the owner. Jim was a big thick meat cutter of a man wearing a blood stained apron. Percals was a retail and wholesale butcher shop supplying meats to the public as well as many restaurants in the area. Jim took me to the back office and we talked. I told him about my wanting to get into the packing house in Carpinteria and how much I wanted to break into being a butcher. He liked my dedication not to mention I was a 21-year-old man-child with a new baby coming. I got the job without filling out an app.
I had been working at Percals for 6 months learning the ropes. I mostly learned to chop up chickens on the band saw. Then I learned how to de-bone chickens with a boning knife. Then I learned how to make ground beef with different percentages of fat content. Then I learned how to make sausages. I also drove the delivery van to the restaurants with their orders. I really liked my job and felt like this was what I wanted to do. Then one day the swell got really, really good. I hadn’t missed a day from work in six months and I was never late. So I decided to take a day off to surf. I called in and told Jim that my car had sprung a leak in one of the freeze plugs so I was going to stay home and fix it myself. He said “OK” So I jumped into my car and headed down the coast to my old stomping grounds the pier at Mussle Shoals.
The surf that day was soooo good! I surfed with some of my buddies that lived at the Rincon Cliff House Johnny, Dave, and Chuck. We surfed all day till dusk. I got home exhausted. Carol asked me how the surf was “Awesome!” I said. Then she handed me the note that had been stuck on our front door earlier that day. “Came down from the shop to take you to work. Didn’t see you or your car. Must be running OK. Surf looks really good too!” Mike was another surfer that worked at Percals. He knew what I was doing and he was jealous. “I hope it was good enough to lose your job over.” Carol said. “I’m not going to lose my job. Shit I haven’t missed a day since I started working there. Fuck! all I did was go surfing!” The next day I was fired.
Carol was getting pretty big with that baby in the oven and I was pretty pissed off at the world after that SOB Jim fired me. I had to find another job pronto. I looked, and looked, and looked. Nothing. We were just getting by week to week. Carols parents helped us out with some cash to live on. Then I found another job in the paper. WANTED LIQUOR STORE CLERK Oh yeah! I jumped on it! My interview went very well and I got the job. In retrospect I think people kinda feel sorry for you when your young and have a baby coming so sometimes getting a job is easier. Anyway I was now working in retail as a liquor clerk and I was also in the Retail Clerks Union. I was making $8.50 to start which was pretty good in 1976. I really loved working at Miratti’s Liquors. They had several stores throughout Santa Barbara and I worked at the main store on the corner of Mission and De la Vina streets. The clientele were awesome, my boss was cool, and the hours were great 3pm till 11:30pm friday through thursday. I was to be employed there for 5 years
Life was getting pretty darn good going into Carols final trimester of pregnancy. I was holden down the fort with my income from Miratti’s I was surfing in the mornings and on my days off. Everything was flowing. Then it got really, really sad
It was mid February and I had the day off from work so I walked down the road from the house to surf Rincon. It was late afternoon and I was starting to get a little edgy about leaving Carol alone this close to her due date. Then one of my water buddies told me that my wife was on the beach calling me. I looked back down the point and saw Carol in the cove wearing her Hawaiian moo moo waiving her arms and calling for me. “uh oh looks like it’s on.” Right away I caught a wave and rode it to shore. Carol had a really bad look on her face. “Are you OK ? Do we need to go to the hospital? Did your water break?” Carol looked at me I could see tears welling up in her eyes. “Whats goin on honey?” “Your sister is up at the house.” “Yeah so whats up?” Carol started crying. “your brother Guy has been in an accident.” “Now what?” I said. “Did he get into another dirt bike crash?” “No” “Did he do something surfing?” “He was hit head on by a drunk driver.” she could hardly get it out. I could not believe what I was hearing. Instead I thought “Oh boy he’s gonna be really banged up for a while.” We walked back to the house where my sister Gail was. When I walked into the living room and looked at her she looked like she’d been through the ringer. She gave me a hug and started crying really hard shaking in my arms. Thats when I started to grasp the reality of the situation. “How bad is he?” “He’s really bad we need to go to the hospital.” So we all got in the car and headed down the coast to Thousand Oaks crying the whole way. As I was drivng I asked Gail what happened. “Guy and Joe were coming back from a high school basketball game when a drunk driver in a four wheel drive truck hit them head on.” “Hows Joe” I asked. “Hanging on by a thread” Gail said. “Then hows Guy?” no answer. I knew then how bad it really was. I went into the emergency room where my brother was being kept alive with machines. I held his hand and told him how good the waves were that day. Then I kissed his forehead and told him how much I loved him. We buried Guy Leslie Miller a few days later with a stone that read. “May the Wind Always Blow Offshore”
Four weeks later Carol gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Olivia. In 18 months I had got married, lost my brother, and had a child. I was only 22 years old. Then Carols parents decided we needed a bigger place so they put down a down payment on a house in Ventura CA. five whole blocks from the water. All we had to do was pay the mortgage. I left Carol and Olivia after two years to march to the beat of a different drummer. Or so I thought.
A lady stands before an open window
Staring so far away
She can almost feel the southern wind blow
Almost touching her restless day
She turns from her window to me
Sad smile her apology
Sad eyes reaching to the door
Daylight loses to another evening
And still she spares me the word goodbye
And sits alone beside me fighting her feelings
Struggles to speak but in the end can only cry
Suddenly it’s so hard to find
The sound of the words to speak her troubled mind
So I’m offering these to her as if to be kind:
There’s a train everyday leaving either way
There’s a world you know
There’s a way to go
And you’ll soon be gone — that’s just as well
This is my opening farewell
A child’s drawing left there on the table
And a womens silk lying on the floor
And I would keep them if I were able
Lock her safe behind this open door
But suddenly it’s so clear to me
That I asked her to see what she may never see
And now my kind words find their way back to me
There’s a train everyday leaving either way
There’s a world you know
You got a way’s to go
And I’ll soon believe — it’s just as well
This is my opening farewell.
“Jackson Brown” This is My Opening Farewell
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning in this corner of the world as I awake groggy from my Saturday night affairs. I make a pot of java and get a quick shower. I have no pressing engagements or responsibilities to uphold, don’t you love days like that?
So I decide to drive the 15 miles down the freeway to the only open music store in the area. It’s called “Guitar Center.” I find a place to park and I walk in. I need a capo and some picks so I go to the accessories counter and pick-up my stuff. I don’t get to this store very often so I decide to go look around in their “acoustic guitar room” a glass doored room filled with beautiful high quality acoustic guitars hanging from the walls saying “Play Me” So I grab a beautiful Martin 12 string to play. It sounds and plays absolutely amazing. As I finish another customer with his female friend comes into the room. I see him pick up another Martin and begin playing a beautiful melody in the key of E. He is finger picking and plays very well. I decide to pick up the 12 string I was playing earlier and acompany him with some lead phrases. We are sounding great together. He looks over at me, I look over at him and his friend. We all smile. We play for about 3 minutes and end the jam perfectly. “Wow!” he says that was awesome.” “Excellent playing dude!” I respond. “That was fun!” I put down the 12 string and walk out the door of the “acoustic room”.
As I’m leaving I hear a rare song over the store sound system called “It’s a Shame About Ray” by The Lemonheads. It’s one of my favorite songs and you will never hear it on the radio. I get a really big case of the goose bumps and for a moment life is really good!
”A few days later Carroll and I went down to what was once the place I lived. I went inside and grabbed my clothes, a few photos, my two guitars, my other surfboard and I said goodby to La Conchita and the single life.
It wasn’t to long that Carroll and I settled into the lifestyle of a young couple working and pooling our resouces together to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. I was able to buy a car from my friend Steve Padroni who lived at Rincon Point. It was a blue 1968 Rambler American station wagon with a six cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. It also came with a big bright orange bumper sticker that said “NATIVE CALIFORNIANS UNITE” I loved this car it was the perfect surfing vehicle. I continued working at the Plastic Factory. I was working three 12 hour days with four days off. I was also busy one night a week mopping and polishing the floors at Casa Ayala. This allowed me to eat there whenever for free.
Carroll and I had been living in her apartment for about two months under the guise that I was looking for my own place. Which I kinda was. I had checked with a few people in town that were renting rooms or small studios. But whenever I brought these up to Carroll she would get all teary eyed and sad and ask me why I wanted to leave. “Well basically your parents don’t like our arrangement” I told her. “I know” she said “They don’t like the idea of us ”Living in Sin” “OK then I’m looking for my own place so we arn’t living in sin and then your parents won’t be on our case” “Do you really want your own place?” she asked me “Well to be perfectly honest I could live with you forever if your parents didn’t mind.” Really? forever?” “Yeah probably” I said. ”Then lets get married” Gulp! “It would be just like we are now but legal and then my parents would be happy.” “Maybe we could look for our own little place and get out of my apartment.” The wheels in my brain began to turn all the positives and negatives, you know weighing things out. “Humm maybe we could find a little house on or near the water. Do I really think I can make a long term commit… fuck long term, you mean a fuckin lifetime commitment to one women. That was the hard one. ” I don’t know Carroll that’s a really big step I gotta think about it.“ “Whats there to think about don’t you love me?” Whoa! now we’re throwing that word out on the table. It had suddenly occurred to me that I had never said “I love you” to her. She had me pinned down with her marriage proposal and the “don’t you love me” thing, a one two punch to the soul. “Of course I do baby” I blurted out. “But let me think about this and I’ll get back to you OK?” “OK” she harrumphed. We didn’t talk much that evening, I was doing some serious soul searching. But I still thought she was hot!
A week later we were engaged to be married and the planning began in earnest. Carrolls parents were elated to marry their first daughter and they were going to spare no expense. Then about two weeks before our wedding day we found our dream house. We had heard from a friend that a small cottage located on Bates Road was available for rent. Bates Road is a small two lane coastal canyon road that follows Rincon Creek back up into the avocado and citrus infested coastal mountains. It’s the divide between Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The small wooden bungalow was located right at the mouth of the canyon on the side of a small hill. It was lush with vegetation like a jungle and all you had to do was walk down to the point to ride world class waves. I was sooo stoked to get that place. I knew this marriage thing was a good idea. We were to move in one week before our wedding day.
The days and weeks flew by and before you knew it the big day was upon us. We got married in the historic Santa Barbara Mission and held the reception at Rockie Nook Park just around the corner. It was just another typical lavish wedding. If you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all. The best part was coming home to our little house on Bates Road.
I was really into Carroll and we started to see each other regularly. I was still sleeping on the couch when I stayed overnight and we were starting to burn more and more passionately every time I was there. But we didn’t fuck. We wanted to but there was something stopping her from going over the edge. Then one evening when we were really goin at it she asked me to go to bed with her. I was a little taken aback because I knew this was a big step for her and it meant alot. I asked her “Are you sure you want to do this?” “Yes” she said. She took my hand and we walked down the hall to her bedroom a room I had only been in once. She turned towards me and we kissed hard, deep and passionately. It was on, and it was good! Hours later as we lay in her bed with a full moon and a slight evening breeze bringing with it the smell of night blooming jasmine through her open sliding glass doors, Carroll began to cry really hard “Whats the matter baby” I said “Oh nothing I’ll be fine” “No your not going to do that. I want to know whats wrong.” Thats when she told me about her rape.
Carroll came from a wealthy Catholic family growing up in Orange County California. Her father had a successful thriving commercial painting business with some huge contracts. Her mother was right out of “Real Orange County House Wives” a real high maintenance glamour queen. They lived in very affluent upper class community. Carroll was an excellent student going to one of the best private schools in the area. She was also involved in community volunteer work with her church. She had one younger sister Judy. Judy was one year younger than Carroll and just as beautiful. These girls got what ever they wanted from mom and dad. Not spoiled but real close.
It happened a little over a year ago when Carroll and her girlfriend Connie decided to go to the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii during the Pro Surfing contest season. They thought it would be really fun to hang out and meet some of the Pro Surfers and locals that winter and watch some of the big wave contests. It was during a post contest party at one of the Pro sponsored dorms that Carroll ran into trouble. During the partying Connie and Carroll had no problem meeting a variety of surfers from all over the world some famous, some not so famous, and some just local neighborhood hangerounds. Carroll met the latter. He offered her a ride back to where she was staying and she took the bait. He drove her out to a secluded sugar cane road had his way with her and left her there bruised and battered. When she told me about this it turned my stomach with anger and thoughts of revenge. I had seen so much violence against my mother growing up and Carroll was such a sweet girl it just really troubled me very deeply.
After she confided in me she said that I was the first guy she really felt comfortable being with since her tragic experience. She felt comfortable being around me, hanging out with me, and now sexually. I began to spend more and more time at her apartment. Then one day when I was at “Smiths Food King” getting some things for supper at Carrolls I ran into my roommate Dave. “Hey dude we havn’t seen you around much at the pad” “Yeah I know” I said. “Well I should let you know that I’m moving out next week and I think Antman is going back to his parents house on the rock” Whoa! your moving out of Shangrala? Yeah I’m going up to San Luis Obispo to work with my dad driving a big rig.” “Cool, you’ll make some good money workin for your Dad.” I said. “Thats the plan bro. What are you gonna do?” “Uhh I don’t know, I’ll figure out something.” “Well if I don’t see ya take care and good luck!” I didn’t like the way he said “good luck” it had a sarcastic ring to it. “Yeah whatever” I said.
I had just started a new job in Carpinteria at Percal Plastics. I was operating an injection mold machine at a place that made everything from skateboard wheels to those dark green soil pots for all the wholesale nurseries in Carpinteria. That night over eggplant parmesan I told Carroll about my roommates departure from La Conchita. “Well now that your working why don’t stay here with me. We’re practically living together as it is” I thought about what she just said. I had never lived with another girl let alone one that I was romantically associating with. “Yeah but what about your parents” I said. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. But I couldn’t sit there and think for to long. “We’ll worry about that later” she said. I had to respond. “Yeah lets do it!” Uhh Oh…did I say that?
Well that holiday is over and New Years is no big deal with me. I’ve always thought of my birthday as a new year of life to plow through.
After I hung up the phone with “The Man” Thelma asked me who it was because a call for me at her house was extremely rare because nobody knew where I was. Except “The Man” “UUuhhh it was just an agent with the Federal Secret Service Department” I tried to make it sound nonchalant but thats hard to do with the words agent, federal and secret. “What! are you in some kinda trouble?” Thelma asked. “Yeah I think I am” “What do you mean you think you are? That was the Federal Secret Service your damn right your in some kind of trouble! So what is it?” “Uuhhhh I think it might have something to due with forgery” I said. “Forgery! what the hell did you do?” When my grandmother said “hell” I knew she was pissed off. “Well about a year ago I received an income tax check in my mailbox for a friend of mine that was fighting in Viet Nam. I held on to it for awhile then one day a buddy came over to my house and we managed to get it cashed at my bank.” OK I spilled the beans to granny. “Why did you do a stupid, idiotic thing like that?” she asked. “Because I was broke and hungry. I think those are two pretty good reasons.” I didn’t tell her about all the beer and weed we bought.”
So what are they going to do come over here and arrest you?” “No they gave me the option of going down to L.A. tomorrow on my own accord” I said. “Well it looks like we are both taking tomorrow off from work then” she said.” I’m sorry grandma but I’m trying to turn my life around” “Well your life might get turned around sooner than you think!” she said to me. “What do you mean by that? “There’s a good chance that you might be going to prison for a stay.” “Fuck! I hadn’t even thought about that yet.
“I didn’t sleep well at all that night. Early the next morning Thelma and I got up early to get ready for my big day in Los Angeles at The Federal Building. It was a beautiful sunny day as we made our way through the morning traffic. I had been thinking about going to prison all night long and I was getting to the where I had resigned myself to the point of accepting my fate. I had imagined how I would deal and cope with prison life with a thousand made up senereos going through my head over and over. I’ll just shut up, lift weights and kick ass if I have to.
We arrived at the Federal Building at 7:40am for my 8 O’clock appointment. Thelma waited in the lobby of the Secret Service Office as I went in to see “The Man” I sat alone in an office not unlike one you would see at a police department. There were men in suits and ties as well as a few uniformed officers around. Then a gentleman in a black suit came out to the room and said “Mr. Keith Miller” “Yes sir” I formally replied. “Come with me.” We went into a stark room used for questioning where another “agent” sat waiting for me at a table. The scene was just like in the movies where they beat the shit out of you. I sat down at the table while the man who brought me in stood behind me. The man at the table started his questioning with “Why don’t you tell me why your here today Mr. Miller” I told him why I thought I was there and I was right. “Do you know you could go to prison for up to five years for this kind of offense?” the agent said “Shit five years!” I thought to myself. “No I didn’t sir””Well Mr. Miller we are going to have to arrest you and put you in the holding cell until later today when we can put your case before a judge” Then they handcuffed me and a uniformed officer took me to my cell. As I was being escorted I said to anyone that was listening. “Hey can somebody tell my grandmother in the lobby what’s going on so she knows.” “We’ll tell your granny” the rookie cop escorting me said with a smart ass attitude.
About an hour later a man that I hadn’t met entered the room where my holding cell was. He said he was a public defender and he told me exactly what to say when I met the judge that afternoon. “When the judge asks you how do you plead say guilty.” he said “But if I say guilty I could go to prison” I said “So you think lying is going to get you out of this? Listen kid you screwed up and they know it. That was a federal income tax check that you forged. Your in the big leagues now.” Fuck I’m up the creek for sure” I thought to myself.
Around 1:30pm I was finally sent to the courtroom to see the judge about my case. I was led into the chambers through a door that came out in the front of the courtroom off to the side. I was in handcuffs and my grandmother was in the courtroom seating. I felt so ashamed for her to see me like that. The judge announced my name and crime then he asked for my plea. “Guilty your honor” I said. “Mr. Miller this is a serious offense I don’t know what you were thinking but I think you know now it was wrong. Because you have no prior criminal record and you are employed and have a place to live I am going to sentence you to three years probation as well as a $1000 dollar fine and you are to pay back James Colton $500 for his income tax refund” he slammed his gavel down.
I was immediately lead back to my holding cell to be released. It’s a very strange feeling when a huge chunk of stress suddenly comes off of you, but I was feeling it then. All I knew was I was not going to prison. I could be good for three years and I had the money for the fines in my bank account. No problem.
I sat in my cell and waited for my release. I waited and I waited and I waited. First an hour then two then three.” What the fuck is going on” I thought. There was no one around to ask and no one was coming back to my area. Finally an officer came back in and I asked him what was going on “Officer I’ve been in here since 2:00p.m. waiting to be released can you find out what the problem is?” I asked “Since 2:00p.m.” he said “Yeah!” “What’s your name? he asked “Keith Miller” “Hold on I’ll go find out.” “Thanks man.” About another half an hour later he came back to my holding cell with the news. “Mr. Miller!” “Yes sir” “Your still under arrest” he said “What! for what!” I yelled. “Apparently you have a traffic ticket that you haven’t payed and it’s gone to warrant.” “FUCK!” I yelled. The officer turned and walked out the door. “WAIT!” I screamed but he didn’t come back. I thought of my poor grandmother out there waiting for me. “She’s out there wondering why I’m not released yet.” Then about another hour later the same officer came back to my cell and said “Mr. Miller your free to go now” as he unlocked my cell. I walked out into the same office that I started this fucked up day in and saw Thelma standing there. “Are you alright?” She asked “Kinda” I said. “Lets go home” “Thats the best thing I’ve heard all day grandma.”
“As we both rode back to Newbury Park in the Camaro I asked Thelma what was going on with her while I was stuck inside the jail. “Well I waited for about two hours and then I asked someone what was going on with your release. They got back to me about an hour later and told me about that ticket you didn’t pay. I asked how much is the bail and they told me $1000 dollars. So I decided to call your Uncle Tom at the District Attorney’s office, he pulled some strings to get you out free and clear.” “Oh yeah uncle Tom” I thought to myself. He had worked his way up through LAPD to an assistant to the District Attorney.
“Thanks grandma” I said with deepest sincerity. “Your welcome. Now do you have anymore surprises?” “UUuuhhhhhh not that I’m aware of.” I half jokingly said. We stopped at Dupars Restaurant in Thousand Oaks on the way home and had dinner. It had been a long day and we both had work tomorrow.