Eddie sure as hell didn't want spend the rest of his life in Burque, but it sure seemed like it would go that way as he loaded another pizza into the Pontiac. And the moon shone down on the elms and cottonwoods, the cicadas buzzed and nineteen-hundred and ninety-six was not a bad year.
He came back to town like a lightning storm from the Caribbean that January. A man with a scar across his belly and hands like starfish held a knife across Eddie's throat in Tobago because Eddie told the dude his haircut made him look new wave. The way it was tied up on his head like an abandoned coral reef made Eddie think it was just a convenient disguise; the kind the po-po used when they wanted you to be comfortable because they needed more information before they stepped in with machetes drawn and handcuffs at the ready.
He got to walk away from that incident on two accounts, the first being his fluency with slang and the second having to do with the civil war presidents that hung out in his left front pocket.
After that he wandered through town cursing his luck and studying the night sky. The next morning he left Crown Point with acid burning a glorious hole in his gut. The 10 seat Cessna that bore Eddie away made for the coast of the southern continent.
The Isle of Margarita was better, some of the streets were lined with orange trees, but even the good hotels had plumbing hanging out of the walls. Eddie hired a car and headed for the coast. The cabbie tuned in to a station that was playing "Stairway to Heaven" over and over. The sea was grey and despicable. At dinner an old European couple hit him up for a threesome. Eddie feigned shock and wandered back to his cabana alone.
Two days on and he was stranded in the student ghetto again, reading want ads in the Daily Lobo, smoking rolled up frajos made from butts found by the front door of the Frontier Restaurant.
Eddie finally scored a job as a substitute teacher. Shorn and shaved, wearing his old man's cast off business attire, it was easy enough to think he might be a teacher.
The year was burning by kinda like a rocket to the moon might look like from the proper vantage point. In May Eddie took a full time gig at the school.
He liked all the responsibility; the pizza in the cafeteria kept his spirit calm. But at night his head was still filled up with the mountains and seas and people that made up a faraway earth he reckoned he ought to conquer while youth permitted.
When summer school ended, he walked away from the job and rang up an old flame. Lorraine was living at the edge of the Himalaya mountains and goddammit if it didn't sound fine and picturesque where she was, with fruit bats a flyin' and the monsoon petering out to reveal an infinite, mountainous majesty that beat Burque to hell by comparison.
Since he needed some feria to get out there, Eddie took a temp position at the same college he had run screaming from four years before. They were pleased as punch to see his sorry ass and let him get their internet connections sorted out. Then he was in charge of dispensing keys and also sat in the front office typing memos.
Every night he would tumble out of there and walk downtown. He'd spend everything he could come up with drinking with acquaintances and coaxing beautiful strangers back to his pad for jazz cigarettes and strong coffee.
As summer waned he ran into a gal he had known in the 1980s. She was a townie with yellow hair and hands like a clock. They ended up back at Glenda's house where she wept while telling Eddie about her life. All Eddie could think about was that woman's mother sleeping in the next room, the scent of her dead father's shoes wafting solemnly through the family home.
Eddie picked up the phone at work the next day.. It was a trunk call from Nepal. The operator asked if he wanted to be connected. The voice on the other side was dulcet, was like velvet. Come out here, the voice said and we will make it work this time.
Eddie was all torn up. He liked the yellow-haired woman, even though she said he dressed like a punk and should trade in his patronage at Pacific Coast Sunwear for the comfort and cultural cachet of Macy's. And he had a history with Lorraine, could not resist her Oxford accent—especially given the hot dry air, the crackling insect desert, the dull clerk's identity he had gathered up into a bag called Albuquerque.
One morning after a party at Glenda's, he borrowed her car and drove over to Allsup's. Eddie bought a burrito with a Grant and poured the change—196 quarters—into the pay phone so he could tell Lorraine what exactly he had decided to do.
Eddie returned the car, took his skateboard and left. He withdrew all of his money from the bank, skated over to his favorite tavern and got good and drunk.
That night he fell alseep in a friend's back yard. When the short night had ebbed he hauled his sorry ass over to a travel Agency by the Sunport and bought a one way ticket to Kathmandu. He sure as hell hoped it would work out this time.
Six month's later when he returned for his mother's funeral—thin and worn with a head full of incense—Eddie took a job delivering pizzas. The third delivery ticket was for an address in Nob Hill; it was Glenda's house. He took her the pizza. She stood at the door, staring at the stars and weeping. As Eddie held the pie out toward Glenda her hands moved around and around in small circles exploring the space all around them.
Barbara Jean Ruther, former corporate speaker for Trans World Airlines (TWA), will be at Page One Books 3pm Sunday, February 21, to talk about and sign her new book of poetry, Dirt Roads: Poetry and Memoirs.
The book touches on life, love and memories.
Ruther was a corporate speaker and writer for Trans World Airlines. She wrote destination travel programs, and gave presentations and seminars to travel groups. She is a poet and has been published in small press publications. She also has written a novel, Saving Snowflakes in My Pocket. Barbara was born in New Mexico, has lived in New York and Chicago, and is now back home, living in Santa Fe.
Page One Books is located at 5850 Eubank Blvd NE, Suite B-41, in Albuquerque's Mountain Run Shopping Center (southeast corner of Eubank and Juan Tabo). The Ruther event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 294-2026 or visit www.page1book.com.
Three versions of van Gough’s The Bedroom will be shown for the first time in North America in Chicago.
New planet! New planet!
More space stuff (and aliens??????)!
Some photos from a journey across Turkey (with hot air balloons!).
How are insomnia and depression related?
‘Cause gals can only be pals.
Ladies, are you ready to get fucked up? Because this will fuck you up.
Read about the entrepreneur weed chef, Jaime Lewis.
Rick Snyder—Michigan’s governor who is at the center of the Flint water crisis—has released all his emails concerning Flint and the toxic water.
A couple 8balls for my sweetie.
A Canadian robot is about to embark on a hitchhiking journey across the U.S.
Marijuana is proving to be quite the wonder drug. What can't cannabis do?
The city plans to give the Sunport a seemingly unnecessary $16M Facelift. A petition against the removal of the '70s brown seating cushions will be in circulation shortly.
Here are the most popular curse words by state.
Foxy Knoxy, aka Amanda Knox belted out a mean tune at a karaoke joint in Manhattan this week.
Helping to diminish our faith in humanity, this man witnessed a car crash, then quickly approached it so he could film the victims and make fun of them.
60-year-old Glenn Danzig put a fan in a headlock yesterday.
A communal Facebook experiment went pretty much as expected.
This time round the sun, June’s solstice falls upon the same day as the American holiday called Father’s Day, on the 21st day of the month.
The same coincidentally calendrical conjunction came to pass 23 years ago; the day called twenty June nineteen hundred and ninety two was the last day of spring in Albuquerque. Practically everyone dwelling amidst the middle latitudes of the North American continent celebrated fatherhood the day after. I’m sure they did that here too or so I was told.
I was in Cuenca, Ecuador where the earth was preparing for winter, though you sure as hell couldn’t tell at the latitude of 2 degrees south. It was hot and humid all over that damn country and I had to carry around a cotton kerchief to keep the sweat off my eyes. I kept the towel in a pocket with my father’s Swiss Army knife. It was the fancy kind with a fork y todo. He told me at the Sunport it would come in handy in the jungle and I couldn’t wait to use the goddamn thing on a tasty lizard or a stubborn piece of bamboo.
I planned to stay a couple of rotations and then drive down from the highlands to the northeast, where the Amazon Jungle crept up into the land. There was a town called Macas out there; I had already chartered a plane to ride me out along the Rio Pastaza to an indigenous settlement in the rainforest. I’d be working for some anthropologists as a sound recordist.
I wandered around Cuenca. There was a fine pizzeria. For a 10 more Sucre, patrons could have their pies topped with small purple potatoes or guinea pig meat. Being a bit nervous about consuming either, I opted for the four-cheese pie.
The long distance service was spotty back then. The cook told me I could send a telegram from the police station. I walked over there, regailed the machine-gun carrying officials with my shitty Spanish and sent a telegram to my old man. I told him I was having a grand time and wished him a happy Father’s Day.
The city also had a magnificent plaza built around a mountainous cathedral. The church had gold accouterments, baroque domes. The Andes rose up behind the basilica like a greater order of magical edifices imposed upon the viewer for the sake of comparison.
Come Saturday night there was big party in the center of town. Many citizens walked down to the plaza holding hands, singing songs about the sun and the land. One of them stopped me, asked me where I was from, guessed that I was Israeli or Persian. I tried to tell him I was an American from Albuquerque, but he ran off, laughing and pointing at the sky.
My hotel, the Inca, was nearby to the church – which by now was surrounded by people filling and releasing paper lantern/balloons into the air. The paper bags, each lit by a candle, drifted around the cathedral like angels might and then floated away, towards the mountains.
I picked up an old copy of Time Magazine in the lobby and took the stairs to my room. As I settled in to read a fine article about 1977’s Man of the Year someone pounded on the door. I opened it. The man on the other side had a gun. He flashed an identification card, told me to come with him and waved the gun around like it was just another celebratory instrument of the solstice.
Downstairs, there was a car waiting. I turned around to protest and realized the gun had been gently pressed to the back of my head for what I reckoned were at least two very long minutes. I was urged to take a seat in the back of the car.
By now, night had fallen. It was dark as hell. We drove around and around the outskirts of Cuenca while the driver and the gunman argued. Occasionally the latter, wearing a dirty Adidas baseball cap, turned around to face me, brandished the gun, winked and smiled a toothy smile. Finally we were on the road out of town. I began to think of my father as two paper balloons passed by the windows of that automobile.
Remembering I had his knife in my front pocket it occurred to me that I could stab Mr. Adidas in the neck and thereby save myself. But as the vehicle slowed down to cross a bridge, I came up with another idea. I quickly unlocked the backseat door, opened it, yelled “Fuck It Dude, Life’s a Risk!” at the top of my lungs and rolled out onto the highway.
Mr. Adidas and his friend screeched the car to a halt. I hid under the bridge and covered myself in mud. After a few minutes splashing around the creek rather angrily, the two stormed off, still cussing and yelling. I remained absolutely still when I saw the muzzle flash from the receding coche.
Soaking wet and tired as crap, I walked along the highway until I came upon a farmhouse. There was a phone there. The farmer offered me a drink and a cigarette while we waited for the police.
It was dawn on the first day of summer when we arrived at the police station. One of the policemen took me aside and said, “You’re that hombre from Albuquerque, no? I replied I was and wondered how he knew that, since my passport didn’t mention it. He told me my father had replied to my telegram, that I could pick up his telegraphic response on my way out.
The telegram from my father was succinct. It was too hot in Burque. He was going to have Father’s Day Brunch with my sister at the Rancher’s Club. He hoped the knife he had given me came to good use, out there in South America.
Marion Barry died.
An ex-NBC employee claims he stood guard at Cosby’s dressing room door.
Kohler unveils an odor-eliminating toilet seat.
A giant isopod stopped eating and died.
Venice is going to ban wheeled suitcases. They’re noisy.
Kean University bought a $219k conference table from China.
There are rules for dating Miley Cyrus.
Lee Harvey Oswald died on this day in 1963.
There was a fatal crash at 4th and Montano this morning.
Happy birthday, Denise Crosby.
Soccer fever may lead to other illnesses.
A German vagina sculpture trapped an ugly American.
The new X-ray gun can see what you’re hiding.
Introducing the $250 hangover cure.
Vodka erases bad smells as well as bad memories.
Stress causes heart attacks by over-producing white blood cells.
Times Square weirdos face a costume crackdown.
Are the French rude? Mais non!
There was a fatal hit-and-run at Carlisle and Indian School.
There was a fatal crash on 2nd Street.
Mushy sparks flew when I saw you.
Happy birthday, Bryan Brown.