50 years Out of High School and What Have I Done? A Story in 4 Parts of a “wacko” artist, stinking commie, anti-mainstream anarchist.

Posted: October 26, 2016 in a story

remember

50 Years Out of High School and What Have I Done? (you know the rest)

By

Benny Bean

Part 3.

You know I gotta admit it. I really didn’t do anything since the days I left the halls of high school. No I didn’t sing for nickels and dimes on the street corners but shook my ass an made a few bucks from fucks with men who liked hot young things. I stuck out my tongue as much as I suck out my thumb going from place to place hanging out moving along with the times. No I never became a famous artist or a leader of the pack. I was terrible at singing, finances, sports or sitting in a cubicle at a machine all day, having to get along with people who had nothing in common with me or me with them. As I said old men and their memories are a strange thing. I always asked myself was it really as good or as bad as you remember it? Or could it be that I am only remembering the good parts but not all of the bad? Or does the bad come to the forefront and stand alive as can be, with a big fuck you and then I let out a sigh of relieve that the bad old days are gone?  How can I write such a long day by days, of what I did over the years reports when all I did was try to live. Each day was each day nothing more. My life up to now was most likely not even as interesting as those who boxed themselves in. They probably had a good time and still did what was expected of them and today on the path of leaving this planet have something to show for it. Some several houses, kids, gran kids and great grans, degrees from universities, large bank rolls, living on islands where the prosperous vacation, condo here and there, helping to save people one by one in the Emergency Room.  Settling in with just what they wanted to do from way back then, deciding early on and sticking to the plan. Here just old man memories and a apartment full of art, some close comrades and some not so close anymore. Sometimes I really believe I can go back but come to my senses and realize no I can’t, back is not in the cards. I get confused with the past and the present. Sitting in my chair, back then is alive, its safe I can manipulate all or none of it to my liking.  Remembering men like I do makes me horny. I jerked off last night thinking of all the men I could remember from my past, Bobby, Frankie, Ethan, Guy, Kenneth, Moons, Harry, Mr. Barley, Out Door Billy, Jeff and a hand full of others that came across my mind and became my evenings one night stand.

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But  you know the one who I really still love is Petal. The one man who I never really had any hot sex with. The one man who was more of a sister to me than a lover. The one I hope is still alive today. The one who I screamed in the movie theater with when Carrie’s hand came up out of the grave, grabbing a hold of him we kept the screaming going. Yeah we could fly and fly we did. Silly girls near the back. So silly that Jeff finally walked out on us. Girls that made curtains together and sewed outfits for the Halloween parade came up with some outrageous designs for display windows (thinking back so many of the designs were rejected as being just too “modern” for the people of Davenport and of course offensive to the owners of the store. Its a wonder they allowed us to keep our jobs. I think the boss and the other workers vouched for us, yes we can do what we are told when we are told, yes we know their windows border on the outrageous, (give it a chance folks might be drawn in to the store), yes I will tell them they have to behave and if they don’t we will split them up.

Our biggest challenge once was a window Coming Soon–Getting Ready for Fall. I remember it like I know my hand. We explained our idea to the woman who ran the better dress department and she said, I love it! If anyone complains tell them I am behind you 100%. Petal and I constructed dresses, wigs, hats, shoes and whatever else out of brown paper. Instead of covering the windows like so many stores use to when changing from one window to another we dressed up the manikins in the change over. We hauled in some branches and hinted each with the colors of fall. We folded up several beach umbrellas and stuck them in the corner. Connie painted a back drop of  two people walking on a deserted beach, helped make the leaves as she thought the window to be very artistic and wanted to be part of the art. Now that window was the talk of the store. Even old man Petersen came down from his office to see it, proclaimed it to be wonderful and said “I want to see more  interesting things like this. Send the display people up to me, I want to talk about future windows.” Well we thought there is our in. The boss just shook his head and said, “You must have caught him on a good day.” But sometimes good doesn’t last that long and good can’t be pushed further to good, good as the things of life get in the way.

Petal was offered a job in Chicago by our boss doing window displays in some high end  department store. The boss was leaving to go back to Chicago and I think he was so in love with Petal that he wanted to take him with him. Its a great opportunity for a career was all that I could say. I’ve been down the road of goodbyes before and this was just another one. But not just another one just like the other ones I went home and cried and cried. The boss and Petal left in late September. “Yeah just think of the store decorations we can do for Christmas. My head is spinning with new ideas,” Petal told the boss and me when we went out for a goodbye dinner. “Petal,” I said, “not to burst your Merry Christmas bubble but I am sure that by now most of the designs have been submitted for the holidays.” “I really thought you would stay here and together we can do many more windows, build our portfolio and then go on from there.” Nope he was going, “I have never been away from Davenport so now is my chance.”

Frankie had a chance to make some quick money running grass up from the El Paso area. The idea was to bike it down to Texas pick up the goods and drive a car back to the Chicago area. “Hey,” he said, “a few runs and I will be sitting pretty for a awhile. Too dangerous Frankie I said and no I don’t want to get involved. We can set you up in a house down there, you be there when I come back down and who knows. A very different life to be sure. Frankie left on Tuesday came back the next week hung out for a few days and then left again. His territory was expanding and he was ready to go. Too bad you didn’t drive you could get in on the deal too. Yeah I will stay right here, keep the home fires burning just leave me a good ounce and I’ll be okay.

Petal gone, Frankie gone and the biggest surprise  Jeff met a girl and started dating her. I was alone with Boline, Ruthie, Connie and the smell of burning pig parts. “Don’t be so glum,” Jeff said, “I still want to stop by every once in a while and hope that we can get it on.” I began to think, What the fuck is wrong with me. Do I smell? Do I cling? Can’t I please a man? Maybe I didn’t know how to have a good conversation. I guess I am just not all that interesting.

I told Boline I was itching to travel. To go again. Where I don’t know. Maybe back west. I have some friends up in the mountains of California who always want me to come and stay with them. In early December Marcy wrote that our father had died and that I should come home, nah what would I do in a one horse town that was named city but wasn’t a real city. What would I do in a town I despised and that most folks there despised me. One thing I knew I had nothing in Davenport. No other friends, no circle of men, no movement comrades and now no lover. Shit I was still under 30 and maybe there was a light out there that I should go and find. Man did I need to find that something. You know stupid me, I had a secure job, an apartment, nice places to walk to and hang out and maybe I could meet some new friends. Why leave when you got something going?  Go to the next opening at the art museum and see what you can find. Just go with it flow along like the Mississippi River. The trouble was I am a young man, looking to find what is on the other side of the mountain. Just to see what I can see. Lots of going on still in me. To young to sit on the porch and roll along with each day. Go see what you can see. I want it now.

Off To Old El Paso

Frankie came back on Saturday and I said, “If you are still open to me coming to El Paso with you I would like to do it.” I needed something to hold on to. I was scared, alone and very needy. Not only was I scared of being alone I was scaring myself being scared. Never was before. We left for El Paso on Tuesday. Frankie looked very clean cut in a suit and tie with his hair slicked back, driving a new car. Each time he came he had a different car and was posing as a encyclopedia salesman. I cut off my long hair, shaved off my beard, borrowed a tie from Boline’s collection and looked just like another encyclopedia salesman. Two peas in a car. The furniture in the apartment all belonged to Boline, some dishes that I bought at the Salvation Army, my clothes, linens and the poodle dog curtains I packed and brought along. Frankie was happy I was back with him and I was happy too. Now we just have to find a decent place to live. Frankie was staying in an old trailer told me he really didn’t care as it was just a place to rest his head, hang out in but with you with me we got to do something better than that. We camped out in the trailer for a short while.

There was a small place outside of town belonging to Sgt. Bob that we could rent, Sgt. Bob just wanted some decent folks in there who wouldn’t wreck the place. Give me $40.00 a month and that will do it.  The house hadn’t been lived in for awhile a bit dusty but no holes in the roof or walls. Glad there isn’t any varmints living in here. We went to look at it and decided yes this place is just right for us. It wasn’t too far from town and the bus came right down the road passed by once in the morning and back again at night. You could walk up to the gas station and get the bus into town so transportation for me was no problem when Frankie was away. There was an old garden right out back and Bob told Frankie that Joe’s the local landscaping firm could come by and dump a load of mushroom soil back there for us. You gotta put something into that soil or you won’t grow a damn thing. The garden hadn’t been worked for years so need some care. I heard of  mushroom soil years ago when I stayed in the mountains with a uncle of mine. The soil there was very poor but with the addition of mushroom soil his plantings thrived. If we are going to do it Frankie lets do it right. I got 5 chickens and a rooster and began my life as a country gal.

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Country gal Benny Bean enjoys her chickens.

Francisco a neighbor of ours came by and said, “Frankie you gotta build some raised up beds and get a bale of hay for mulching.” There were two big tanks for collecting of water from the gutters, “Don’t let a drop of rain water go to waste, the old lady that lived here was smart she put her garden in on the east side of the house her big water tank too. Nice sun in the morning then shade comes in at mid-day and all afternoon. Little things like that make a big difference.What a job to get the weeds out of the garden dig and hoe around mix in the mushroom soil and at last I was ready to start planting. Frankie had built raised up beds with some boards he found in the barn. I planted with strong advice from Francisco, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Black-eyed peas, Basil, and of course as he said you must plant Okra and some sunflowers. Francisco was the type of guy who just knew what there was to know and had answers to questions that hadn’t been asked.

Frankie was home off and on. He traveled sometimes miles for a pick up as it all depended on where the drop off was and what direction that the boss wanted him to go in. I never liked it but didn’t say too much and no I never went with him. How could I say anything. Someone had to run the grass from here to there and if they didn’t there would be no grass to smoke.

“One of these days when I am off to work,” that is what he called the drug running business, “you should take a trip over to Juarez. I have a contact over there who you can look up. I think you would like him he’s an artist that does carvings and puts together these very strange sculptures of birds and other animals. He is a descendant of a tribe that lived in the area way back in the day before the Spaniards came and well you know the rest.” Maybe I will go and see him, I’ll take some of my drawings for him to look at. Could be interesting to meet some people around here. I thought. We didn’t need a pass port back in those days to cross over the border only some form of ID. Humberto had his studio on the 2nd floor of a large old building. All I remember was the building was painted pink and had a beautiful balcony where we sat in the afternoon drinking wine, smoking grass, ended up in bed and me staying the night. We spent many days and nights together after that. I would always leave a note for Frankie on the table in the hall just in case he came home when I was away. Humberto had some Peyote buttons and said,  “Would you like to try some of these?” We drove out of town to a remote cabin, better out here away from town in a more peaceful setting. We ate about 7 buttons and sat around. Humberto began to chant and I began to puke. I thought I would never stop. Drinking some water I began to feel real light like I would float away. Suddenly out of nowhere a blue dot came zipping in.

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 It stopped right in between my eyes I stared at it and stared at it and it said, What you looking at? Then it began to talk and talk in a language that I didn’t know. I tried so hard to understand it. Well maybe the blue dot is saying this and saying that I know its saying something to me. Is it god. Hi god, I asked Humberto if he knew what the blue dot was saying and he said, hell no I don’t hear anything. Next up came a deer. A young deer not a fawn but maybe a young adult. It too stood there looking at me for awhile and then said, You had better go home, leave this place, go with Joe. I was so confused at this point that I wanted to cry, I wanted to stop this feeling, I wanted to go home, let me out of here but who the hell was Joe? Along came a deer and that is all it would say to me, tell me to go home. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my drawings and Humberto did some sculpture with things he found around the place. Hours later we drove back to his place and we crashed.

Frankie left for good. Said he was staying in Chicago with some guy he met. That was all. No goodbyes, no been good to know you, so long maybe I’ll see you again sometime, a last night of hot sex, no nothing. All he said was, “I am going to be staying in Chicago with a guy I met.” Very strange but then I guess that is how some things are. Stuffed a few things in a bag, walked out the door, got in the car and drove away. Now I was alone what to do? I really had no money coming in as he was the main source of income. I had a stash maybe enough to get me through 6 months but not much more. I contacted Sgt. Bob and he knew nothing about what happened but that Frankie owed him several thousand dollars from the recent grass run. “No he didn’t stop by my place and give me any money. Damn, this shit is going to cause some problems. It was so unlike him to stiff anyone let alone just get up and leave,” Sgt. Bob said, “There is something more to this than meets the eye, I’ll contact my cousin in Chicago and see if he knows anything, Oh you can stay in the house until you decide what to do. Just stay there, I really don’t need the money.” I stayed the winter. Sgt. Bob got his money. It came Western Union. Funniest way I ever got paid but at least he did right by me and the boys. No telling what they would have done. Stiff some of them if even for ten bucks and you got trouble on your hands and how to get out of it is your problem. Tiny Louie knows where Frankie is staying, seems he is with his new boyfriend they are shooting up and he is strung out. Spiral told me the guys family is from the Kenwood section of town and he’s got a large trust fund.  All I could do was shake my head and think what an asshole. He must of got the money from that guy to pay off Sgt. Bob.

In early spring I got a letter from a friend back in Goon City. An artist up in Woodstock that was the sister of Joan needed a helper. The job comes with a cabin to live in and you really only have to work from around Memorial day until the fall when she comes up from NYC.  Joan thought of you right away as the skills that you have are ones that her sister needs. I wrote back, let Joan know I want the job. After selling the chickens, getting rid of things that I wouldn’t take east with me, going to see Humberto a few more times, Sgt. Bob drove me to the bus station in El Paso. Hugs all around and I wish that we had become a pair, well is it really too late he asked, yes I said and if that Frankie ever comes back give him a good one for me. A sudden panic attack came over me, maybe I should just stay here, I liked Sgt. Bob and we could very easy get together maybe even fall in love, at least I wouldn’t have to learn all new tricks in how to survive. Sgt. Bob slipped me $100.00 to help you start a new life he said. Yeah along with my poodle dog curtains and a few tokens of my past. I left on the 2:35 bus heading east to NYC.

End of Part 3.

To read Part 1 go to HERE.

To read Part 2 go to HERE.

 

 

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