Writers, criminals, dharma bums, poets and lovers have always found comfort in the low down motels in the less desirable parts of cities- No lease to sign or credit to check, the brown skinned man behind the glass only wants cash and gives you a key to a hot shower and a bed – Television and heat! Away from the cold wind! Summer breezes float through the windows as do the moans from the next room over as you open a can of Spam and one more beer from the paper sack- Weeks go by and you learn some of the names who come and go with the wind and wonder how much longer with life be just these four walls? HBO and clean towels! Mini fridge full of beer!
Months march toward fall and the mirror tells your age and shaving becomes an option as does everything but a simple routine called life – motel life
Winter is gray and the windows rattle while you pack your battered boxes of stuff and get ready to move one more time as that old road calls- “Come back soon” the room calls and you do, again and again.
Page 21- 22 in California Beat Poetry Number Four Dharma Angels by John K Bucher
Whap!Whapwhapwhap! Then dead silence. Robbie’s old car came to a stop in the middle of Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood. “Shit! I’ll be late to work again.” He got out after shifting into neutral. Robbie started pushing with one hand and steering toward the curb with the other. Two more men stopped, and both started pushing from the rear bumper. The car then rolled so quick it hit the curb and bounced a little. Robbie lifted the hood to see what the matter was as the helping men came to look.
“It’s there, the fan belt.” Spoke one of the men. Robbie reached down and pulled the twisted broken belt out of the pulleys and sighed. “Where are you headed?” Asked the other man.
“Work, Piggly Wiggly and I’m late now.”
“I go right by there. Jump in.”
Piggly Wiggly was busy when Robbie arrived and his boss, Red Dawson was angrier than most days. With red hair and a florid face with red freckles he chopped a woman’s order behind the glass counter at the butcher’s block stained red and brown that spoke of the volumes of meat he already cut before Robbie came in late. After wrapping the woman’s order and sliding it across the steel counter, he turned to Robbie and vented.
“Goddamnit Bugglesworth! Of all mornings to be late again, I have worked my ass off and was supposed to be at school for my son’s Pinewood Derby! My fucking wife has called me crying. crying crying Goddamnit! I missed it. Say something you bastard!”
“Im sorry. My fan belt broke. I had to hitch a ride. I’m sorry Red.”
“That damn car of yours. Buy one that works.”
“I can’t afford to, you only pay me fifty bucks a week.”
“How about I fire you and then how much you gonna make?”
“Please don’t Red. Please don’t.”
Red stormed off to go for a smoke as Robbie waited on another customer. For the rest of the long day, Red sat in a chair off to the side of the butcher counter and watched Robbie work. He refused to help when several customers were in line, even when Robbie pleaded with him. At closing time Robbie clocked out and walked down the alley into the back door of the Tick Tock Lounge, a blue collar bar that nice folks did’t frequent. The bar was busy as people were getting off work and needed a distraction from the grind of the day. Robbie Bugglesworth found an empty stool next to Fred G. Woodley. “Woody” was a drunk, although a high functioning one. He ran a part time auto repair business but closed every day at three pm, so as to sit at the Tick Tock until bedtime. His age was uncertain but looked to be somewhere between thirty and fifty. Brown as a nut and lean as a pole, he read the newspaper as Robbie drank his fresh beer.
“Woody, I need a favor.”
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Cleo Wolfe was raised on a diet of armadillos, squirrels, possums, doves, stolen eggs, RC Cola, regular beatings from his bootlegger father, and Pentecostal beliefs from his mother. Educated along the Red River in a wet Oklahoma county inside a rough schoolhouse, he completed the sixth grade, far above his siblings and parents. The Wolfe house was barely a house. Four rooms in a shotgun layout crafted from cheap lumber and unpainted so it looked a dismal gray/brown color with a sagging porch and roof. The seven dwellers got used to loud arguments and rotten smells from their unwashed father and spoiled food he brought home in a gunny sack occasionally.
Cleo was small for his age and bullied by older boys as long as he could recall. When he turned twelve his mother sent him to Charlie’s Bar to fetch his old man. His father was drinking heavily and got angry when Cleo showed up to bring him home. The old man slapped him so hard Cleo’s mouth bled, and a customer took him to the dingy toilet to wash him clean. After wiping the blood from his face, the man proceeded to lock the door with a hook and take Cleo’s pants down. Cleo fought hard and the man had been drinking all afternoon. The man tripped as Cleo rained down blows hard into his groin and fell against the filthy commode. Cleo Wolfe unhooked the door and ran out the back door. He headed for the Farm to Market Road and began to hitchhike.
A car finally pulled over and stopped after about three hours into a long dark walk for Cleo Wolfe.
“Need a ride, son?” By this time Cleo was tired, afraid, hungry and disoriented from his hasty decision to run away from home.
“Yeah, I guess.” Cleo reached for the door handle and let himself in. The car started up and took off down the Oklahoma back road into a dark night. The man was wearing a suit that looked like he slept in it but had a cheerful attitude.”Where you headed son?” The man smiled at him.
“I…I just want to head out of here, out is this country.”
The man driving the car didn’t say anything for a least five minutes. When he spoke again his tone was lower and serious.
“Running away from your folks?” Cleo felt he had no choice but to be honest.
For the next twenty minutes Cleo recounted his poor and abusive young life. A cafe came into light as Cleo finished and the man pulled the car into the gravel lot under a neon sign that blinked green “Lorene’s Good Eats.” he killed the motor and opened the driver’s door.
“My name’s Elmer J. Johnson. I’m a preacher.” He stuck out his had and Cleo shook it.
Page 39 – The following night the weather was calm again and the boat Ambrose had hired was ready to go at 1 am. Carl Crane went with him as Jimmy McFarland agreed to wait back at the Inn. Not many local boat owners were willing to embark on a post-midnight secret mission to trespass on the feared Hollister Ranch and their armed guards. However, for triple the fee, after a rash of family setbacks, Willy Reese was hard put to turn down such a large pile of ready cash, even if the risk was high.
Ambrose and Carl brought several guns on board and gave Willy the signal they were ready to go. The thirty foot boat was old, but the engine was in good shape and roared to life and started out into the black night of the Pacific calm. The night waves were short as they glided past a group of dolphins who turned and went up the coast toward Pismo. Willy’s old fishing vessel cruised south along the shore but far enough out they would be hard to spot. Ambrose had Willy turn off the lights as they relied on Willy’s ability to captain the boat in the dark.
The trio stayed silent as they heard only the lapping of the waves as they could now see the faint lights on Hollister Ranch. The intelligence Ambrose had was the place had a night watchman at the front gate and two armed men who roamed the property randomly but only once or twice per night on the beach. It seemed that most were not foolhardy enough to try entry anyway, so the guards were usually trying to stay awake and finish their shift.
Willy guided the old boat near a small beach that adjoined the Hollister property and killed the engines. Ambrose and Carl went down a rope ladder with rifles, handguns, flashlights, and a knapsack of various supplies and dry clothes and shoes. They were waist deep in water and waded ashore. On the beach they removed their wet shoes and clothes and buried them under some rocks by a cliff. In dry footwear and pants the pair quietly slunk up the beach toward unknown danger in the dark night.
The Everwinter Files : #308 The Frolic Room Prophet is now available in hard back on Amazon.com.