Chapter 21 Unleashed

Chapter 21

“Un-leashed”

Vrandi and her boyfriend arrived for the summit conference. It was decided that I should move out of the big house and find a place of my own. I found that ruling quite agreeable. We then played “let’s make a deal” and divided up our meager belongings. She got custody of the stove and I the portable stereo. The wicker furniture was split up, I retained the small two person couch and she the chairs. All considered, it was pretty much an equitable exchange of communal property. Fortunately, I was able to find a place to live that very day and employed Vrandi’s boyfriend to help me move my belongings with his car! Irony abounds! She accompanied me to the door and with a tear rolling down her cheek she parted with, “I never promised you a rose garden”. At that moment I realized that my love for this woman would always be a part of me. My eyes started to well up. In our short time together we managed to have experiences that most people will not have in their lifetime. My fondest memory is our dalliance in the dunes of Morocco. Nevertheless, we had come to our crossroads and going our separate ways was the logical course to take. Anyway, I moved into a two room safe house for sixteen dollars a month. I would be sharing a small court yard with my friend S.David and la familia; a middle age husband and wife and their three children. They were just the best landlords ever! La Senora would bring us plates of wonderful homemade Mexican food. I got to play futbol in the court yard with the two older brothers and inevitably a flower pot would be knocked off its’ perch bringing their mother out to scold someone. “Que cosa” she would ask. The kids would laugh and knowing she wouldn’t believe them pointed at me as the culprit. With a smile La Senora would shake a finger at me and say something I didn’t quite understand. She and her sons got a big laugh out of it and things quickly returned to normal. Those were some of the best two years of my life.

One early evening I heard a series of knocks on the front door of the court yard. No one was answering so I assumed the task. I opened the door and almost had a heart attack. Oh, my God! Goga, the Mayan princess who tenderly tortured me with her seductive charm and then broke my heart by moving away, was now standing before me. My first instinct was to envelope her with a crushing hug of happiness. She beat me to the punch and gently embraced me and I returned the affection. Cholula is a small town and she through the grape vine learned about my separation from Vrandi. To add just a tad of intrigue, Goga and Vrandi were also friends! Not standing on formality I of course invited her in. After a few minutes we abandoned our efforts at small talk and drifted to the bed where we made out like two horny teenagers hyped up on hormones. It was a glorious introduction to our tenuous two year relationship. She would come into Cholula two or three times a month and stay with her older sister who lived a short walk away. Under the pretext of seeing her old friends Goga would make a nonstop hop to my place and resume our sexcapades. Not for lack of trying I was not able to fully consummate our secret encounters. On every occasion when we were so very close to the ultimate act of coitus she would balk and firmly rebuff the attempts. Now, I could relate to her reluctance and fear of losing her virginity; Catholicism! Even though she was already steeped in sin just from our ongoing sexual proclivities losing one’s maidenhead before marriage was in the top ten lists of mortal sins and being raised as a Catholic I understood how gilt and fear could be insidiously imbedded and stifle natural sexual urges and almost any other forms of pleasure. I sympathized with her conflict of interest and didn’t try to persuade her abandonment of ingrained beliefs and risking an eternity in hell. Without that pressure hanging over us like a dark cloud we had the most passionate and satisfying sex. Her favorite course was cunnilingus which happened to be one of my favorites too and when she came, oh my God, it was like tasting a torrent of mango nectar; intoxicating, I couldn’t get enough of her sweet vagina. The term “amor” would frequently pepper our convervations. Oh no, heaven forbid I was falling in love again. In her absence though, I did manage to fill the void with a variety of exuberant co-eds.  For the sake of expediency and modesty I will not attempt to elaborate on the lurid details of my indiscretions but suffice to say that I probably had more than my fair share of fun!

One day I bumped into a middle aged gringo with a young buxom blond hanging on his arm. I felt stirrings of sympathy for this poor guy. Did he have any idea what was in store for him? I invited the couple in for a puff of reefer and developed an immediate affinity for him. Little did I realize that I had just befriended a man who would drastically steer my life in unimaginable directions and also little did I realize that this man had a nefarious reputation that cut through a wide swath of the United States and especially in New Orleans. The mere mention of his name “James H. McShan” evokes a wide range of emotions from those who knew him. I was about to set off on adventures with someone who’s nick name was “Mad Dog” which should have raised concerns about prudence and my wellbeing. I threw caution to the wind and became a traveling partner with “El Diablo”.

 

 

 

 


Chapter 20 Surprise Surprise

 

 

Chapter 20

“Surprise, Surprise”

 

It was about two in the morning when I finally reach my house in Cholula. Oh shit, I didn’t have my keys and not wanting to wake the neighbors with loud banging on the iron door I thought of a rather devious way to enter by means of stealth. I scaled up the outer wall using a water drain pipe, carefully shuffled along a narrow ledge leading to the balcony. The door was open so I let myself in. I know now that my antics from that point on were a tad over the top but at the time they seemed like good tacky theatre. Now keep in mind everyone thought I was somewhere in Alaska, so my presence was unexpected and unannounced. The bedroom was next the balcony and the door was wide open. I was ripe with anticipation and a heavy dose of dread. What I did next was totally out of character and protocol resulting in a shock for everyone including myself. Whether it was a total collapse of reason or a morbid curiosity or even the Devil’s influence in my knee jerk reaction I flicked on the bedroom light and inadvertently yelled, “Surprise! Surprise”!

I was shocked but not surprised to see Vrandi in bed spooning with her lover. Vrandi was shocked to see me standing in the room. Her boyfriend was shocked and by the look on his face terrified to boot. I think I already said all I could about the situation at hand, “surprise, surprise”! I turned and Lord have Mercy, Beanie, in a state of shock, was standing right behind me adding another unexpected dimension, my head spun like a top. I suggested we all go down to the kitchen take inventory and see if we could come to some kind of kind of consensus. I ran down the stairs eager to find my stash of Popo Blue hidden in a Quaker Oats container. I thought a little marijuana would put a mellow on the cast of this soap opera. Entering the kitchen I had to take pause and gasp at the sight of a carefully placed pack of Camel cigarettes on the table. Just a small jab in the heart. So, I found my stash, rolled a dubbie and waited for the rest of the crew. I could hear Vrandi upstairs crying her eyes out. There is nothing sadder and more heart wrenching than hearing a member of the opposite sex cry. I started to develop a lump in my throat. Beanie was the first to enter the kitchen and by her arms akimbo and shaking head I got the message; she was very displeased with me. “Couldn’t you have made a less dramatic return”? she inquired. I confessed it was a spur of the moment reaction and not very well thought out plus the Devil made me do it. Vrandi still crying and her boyfriend (his name escapes me) finally joined Beanie and me at the conference table. Her boyfriend still looked shocked and terrified. I lit up the joint and passed it to him. That small jester seemed to lighten his little load of terror. We all sat around the kitchen table unable to speak. Vrandi was still semi-sobbing, her boyfriend was nervously avoiding eye contact, Beanie was still akimbo and shaking her head in disbelief and I was paralyzed from the tongue down.

Beanie was the first to break the ice and proposed that we all reconvene the next day allowing the heat of emotions to simmer down. My wife would go home with her new love and Beanie and I would spend the rest of the night together. I quickly second that motion. Vrandi left in a state of tears, Beanie and I went upstairs and silently slipped in bed. I’m sure I subconsciously envisioned a more romantic outcome with Beanie but she had no such intentions. Besides, the heavy slap of reality struck me down into a blubbering mess gushing tears the size of lemons. I felt like I was drowning in a thick sea of suds in this soap opera. I knew that our marriage had surpassed its’ expiration date but the vision of my wife in bed with another man put a heavy spin on my perspective. I re-coiled into a humble heap of humility. Beanie gently held me in her arms and comforted me to sleep. I woke up the next morning still smarting from the knockout blow to my ego. Beanie was down stairs rattling some pots and pans; I got dressed and joined her in the kitchen. She gave me a tender hug and asked me if I was ok. “Yes”, I meekly responded. The other half of this team was due to arrive at any moment to negotiate some kind of agreement on an equitable future for us all. Ug! I was not looking forward to this encounter. I felt another jolt of dread.

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter 19 North to Alaska

Chapter 19

“North to Alaska”

This run to Tijuana was the most demoralizing bus ride ever. For one thing I didn’t have a chance to bake another loaf of banana pot bread to smooth the way. Second of all I had three long and lonely days to think about the events that brought me to this particular trajectory. What the hell was I doing? How can this debacle that I embroiled myself in be remedied? I didn’t see any feasible solutions as I peered out into the endless Mexican desert. And last but not least, all the way from Mexico City to Tijuana a fellow passenger sitting very near me would periodically cut the most retched farts that filled the whole bus with a toxic cloud that made everyone gasp for air. Oh God, I almost blew a gasket. The ride from Hell finally ended at the border. I crossed into California with no problem. I jumped on a Greyhound to Bakersfield figuring it would be easier to hitch hike from there to Stockton on the infamous High Way “99″.

I only had to wait a few minutes before a man in a pickup stopped and gave me a ride to Fresno. He reminded me of a lumber jack with his short hair and full black beard. After a few miles and some small talk he asked me if I would like to join him in a puff of hash. Yes, yes I certainly would! The ride to Fresno was a breeze. He dropped me off, shook my hand and wished me good luck. A most pleasant ride indeed. Again, just a few minutes later another pickup rumbled to a stop. Alright, at this rate I might make it to Stockton before night fall. The driver was an average straight looking white dude maybe a farmer’s son. After some silent moment peppered with chitchat he asked where I was going. “Stockton”, I replied. He gave me a thoughtful stare and stated, “Look here, I’ll give you a ride all the way to Stockton if you let me give you a blow job”. Blindsided I was momentarily speechless. Not quite believing what I just heard, I coughed up, “What”? He reiterated and clarified his proposal, “I said, I’ll take you to Stockton if you let me suck you cock”. Oh fuck! That is what I thought he said. Not wanting to offend this chap’s sensibilities and yet be resolute so there was no ambiguity I responded by telling him I truly appreciated his generous offer but I was a hopeless heterosexual and therefore had to gracefully decline the invitation. He immediately swerved off the freeway and came to a sliding stop on the shoulder. “Unless you change your mind, this is where you get out”, he ordered. I got out and he sped away in a cloud of dust. Whew! That could have gone wrong in so many ways. So, now I was standing in the middle of nowhere; brown fields as far as I could see. The freeway shoulder was too narrow for anyone to safely pull over. The traffic was zooming by, this didn’t look good. A car finally pulled over but it was the Highway Patrol. Great! He ushered me into his car and asked for identification. The first piece I showed him was my honorable discharge papers from the Air Force then my passport and driver’s license. He asked me what I did in the Air Force. “Security Police”, I said proudly. He liked that answer and gave me a ride to a better hitch hiking spot and drove off with his red lights flashing to some emergency up the freeway. I stood for several hours and not a hint of anyone even thinking of pulling over. It was now getting dark, cold and foggy. No one in their right mind would pull over now. I heard a train coming down the tracks that paralleled “99″. Maybe I could jump the train and crawl into an empty box car. Not happening, the train was moving way to fast. Ok then, I made one last effort to hitch a ride before finding some kind of shelter from the cold. Just as I was ready to give up a classic white 1959 Cadillac full of young hippies pulled up to me. “Need a ride”, the shotgun passenger yelled. I jumped into the back seat between two young farm boys. “Smoke some pot”? the young long haired driver asked. “Is a pig’s pussy pork”? I quipped (a term I learned from my sergeant in basic training). They howled at my response, passed a joint and then invited me to a party. I was on board; maybe I could find a couch to crash on for the night.

After a few miles the driver skirted off the freeway onto a little two lane road towards some lights off in the distance. I began to get a little concerned; the four young men were acting a tad peculiar. “Where are we going”? I inquired. “Chowchilla” they sang in unison and then started to laugh hysterically which spiked my concern even more. The only thing I knew about Chowchilla was its’ reputation of being an ultra-conservations farming community saddled in the bible belt of San Joaquin Valley. We abruptly came to the only stop light in this one horse town. On the corner adjacent to us in an old gas station was a gathering of big young white farm boys. I mean these guys were authentic cowboys! From their Stetsons, tight Levi’s and fancy Saturday night cowboy boots to their pickups with beer stacked on the hoods, my God, they were the real deal. The gang of young men saw us and began to yell, “There they are”! They reached into their trucks and pulled out some heavy artillery, shotguns and rifles! I’m thinking, “Holy Hell, are they getting ready to shoot at the Cadillac full of hippies. They then aimed at us and began firing. I saw my life flash before my eyes, is this how I’ll go out, in a hail of gunfire and in of all places, Chowchilla! They kept firing but their aim was over the vehicle. On cue from the head Cowboy they stopped firing. He yelled at our young driver, “Hey Jimmy, this is the best God Damn acid ever”. Jimmy yelled back, “I told you so”. “Jimmy, get us some weed, ok”. Jimmy assured them, “Ok, we will be right back, stay put”. They started hootin and hollerin again followed by more playful gun fire. Whew!! All that gun play was just a relatively harmless but terribly frightening salute to their young hippy drug connection. The light turned green we sped off. Holy shit, gun happy cowboys on acid! This is an unnatural and probably dangerous combination. Who would have thought? The crew I was with started to giggle. Holy shit, these guys were also trippin on acid! What next?

We pulled into a small country house and piled out. God it felt good to be standing and alive. Jimmy disappeared into a bedroom and returned with a baggy full of pot. “Come on”, he ordered,” Let’s get this weed back to those crazy cowboys before they shoot somebody”. Just as we were leaving the phone rang and Jimmy answered it. His eyes got really big and slammed the phone down. “We gotta go now”! It was something about one of their cousins’ involvement in a gun battle. What is this and who is this and why do I have to go with them? Before those questions could be answered I found myself in the back seat on the way to an old fashion shootout. Holy Hell! Things just couldn’t possibly get any worse, but they did! The young stud sitting next to me realized that one of his kin was on the opposing side of the dispute. He freaked out and brandished a gun just inches from my head screaming, ‘That’s my cousin you’all are shooting at”! The youngster on my right pulled his gun out and pointing it just inches from my head and yelled back, “Put your gun down”! Holy mother of all fucked up places to be! Here I was sandwiched between the Hatfields and McCoys who are on acid and angry. Once again, my life flashed before my eyes.  At that moment I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty and let my sexual convictions preclude a blow job from that guy in the pickup; I probably would have been in Stockton by now.  Jimmy and his copilot were also screaming for everyone to calm down and put their guns away. Reason took hold and my two young adversaries re-holstered their firearms. We arrived at a ranch in a cloud of dust and scrambled out of the car. I’m still wondering how and why I have to be involved in this family feud. Someone came running up to Jimmy saying that everything was ok, the dispute was resolved no one was hurt. I took this moment of calm to reach in my pants to make sure I hadn’t defecated in a moment of extreme fear. All clear, what a relief. We all shoved ourselves back in the car and headed back to town and deliver the bag of weed to the acid buzzed cowboys. Sure enough they were hanging out at the gas station and acting crazier than ever. Jimmy asked me if I still wanted to party with them. I took this opportunity to escape and told him it was imperative that I get to Stockton and needed to get back to the freeway. Besides, I had enough excitement for one night. It was now very dark, cold and foggy. I would not be visible alongside the freeway. I found a little shelter under the overpass, slipped into my sleeping bag and thanked the almighty for sparing my life.

The next day luck was with me and I got a ride all the way to Stockton. I hooked up with some friends and sequestered myself in their basement for a few days. The time had come for me to stop feeling sorry for myself and try to resolve this convoluted situation I was sinking into. My ill-conceived plan of going to Alaska was taken off the table. I couldn’t imagine myself doing hard labor in the frozen Yukon tundra. Hiding out in Stockton was definitely not in the cards. I couldn’t stay on the lam trying to evade myself forever. I had to man up and return to Cholula to face the consequences. I borrowed some money to fly back to Mexico. I was not going to try and hitch hike again.

Touching down in Mexico City woke me from a vivid dream; I saw a pack of Camel cigarettes carefully placed on our kitchen table. I interpreted it as a premonition and a clue to what was waiting for me in Cholula.

 

 

 

 


Chapter 18 Meltdown in Mexico

Chapter 18

“Meltdown in Mexico”

So, as it stood, Vrandi was safely tucked away in Toronto for the summer and I remained in Mexico to fend for myself. The physical distance between us (three thousand miles) made me feel like the oppressive weight and insidious nature of contempt had been lifted and replaced by a sense of quiet relief. We both hoped the separation would lead to redemption. The next few months would test this exercise in futility.

Now, being left behind in Mexico was no picnic, it was paradise! Summertime in this part of the country is on one of the top rungs of the stairway to heaven. It’s the rainy season and like clockwork the clouds gather in the afternoon and release their content in a down pour lasting about an hour then clearing out moving on to the Gulf Coast. The valley turns into a thick, dripping green shag carpet of foliage. The outdoor mercados are flooded with fresh exotic fruit, vegetables not to mention marijuana and mushrooms which were all abundantly available. Another wonderful aspect of the summer was all the young gringas parading in halter tops and tight shorts a fashion that bewildered and sometimes shocked the locals. I on the other hand appreciated the display of legs. I really, truly did my very best to behave myself by resisting temptation and open invitations for promiscuous endeavors , after all I was still a married man and in theory trying to be faithful to the concept of marriage.

S. David and I had free days to pal around and enjoy the life of leisure. One morning we decided to drink a mushroom shake and descend into the bowels of the enormous pyramid looming over the town. The mushrooms came on us like a torrent just as we arrived at the pyramid. The two poorly paid guards/tour guides took one look at us and waived us on into the entrance; we were on our own to explore the tangle of tunnels which were totally dark. At the end of each passage way we turned on a string of lights that illuminated the next length of tunnel. We were alone and beginning to hallucinate. I really don’t have the words to describe what we were seeing and feeling. It was like being the first explorers to penetrate the pyramid in thousands of years. The tunnels were squirming like radiant worm holes in a structure that was alive and breathing. As we passed through the passage ways the walls changed colors like a chameleon. This was wonderfully intense. At one point we came to the end of a tunnel and turned on a switch that lit up three different directions to choose from. We stood at that three way crossroad for the longest time unable to proceed because the transparent tubes were now undulating like snakes luring us deeper into infinity. We tripped for hours happily lost in ancient history. Pictured is one of the tunnels that we navigated through in an exceptionally altered state of consciousness. What a brain blast!

Beanie (my wife’s best friend) and I began hanging out together and became summer sidekicks. As mentioned, I fell in love with her the moment we met. That initial infatuation morphed into a longing and yearning for her. Lord help me, I was in love with this girl. Yes, I still loved Vrandi but the heart has the capacity to love more than one person. Knowing how badly this scenario could end I kept my feelings under tight restrictions all the while tumbling down into the valley of love. I wanted so very much to open the flood gates and release the torrents of feelings I had for her. Devine torture! At one point our hands accidently touched sending a molten current through my body. I could barely contain myself. A few days before I had to leave the country to renew my visa I mustered up the courage and with my heart pounding blurted out how I felt about her. Not knowing what kind of response I would get, she surprised me and quietly whispered, “I’ve been thinking about the same thing”. She quickly added, “It is an impossible situation, we just can’t do this”. My heart shattered but I had to agree with her and reluctantly dropped the subject. I didn’t see Beanie for the next couple of days and sadly thought it was probably for the best.

On the eve of my return to the States I heard a hesitating knock on the door and upon opening it I almost lost consciousness. Oh my God! Beanie was shyly standing at the thresh hold. I had to contain the explosion of utter delight that if left unchecked would have left pieces of me scattered about. Oh, Hell, oh Hell, my fantasy of sleeping with Beanie may happen. I couldn’t talk for a few minutes; got taken away in a swirl of scenarios and consequences. We walked upstairs, sat down and had a halting conservation about the very present and the near future. She started with a discouraging note and said, “You know what we are thinking of doing is so wrong on so many levels”. I couldn’t argue with that and agreed with her. We then weighed the pros and cons of having sex. In the con column – if we did sleep together would we be able to come clean and confess our sins which would hurt my wife and jeopardize Beanie’s friendship with her? Not good! If we kept it a secret, could we live with the spike in our conscious? Probably not! Then there was the fact that secrets have a way of festering and oozing. Not good! The scale was tipping heavily towards abandoning our ploy. We had one last card to play before folding. We could forsake better judgment by dismissing the likely consequences and cave in to our carnal cravings. A decisive decision had to be made and quickly. I looked into Beanie’s facial expression to get a reading on her leanings. Well, I guess this is it then. “Que sera, sera”. I got up, took her by the hand and with my heart pounding like a diesel piston led the way to the bedroom. The sex was an easy application; we slipped right into a quiet, slow motion rhythm making every movement a moment to remember. Only our deepening breaths could be heard. Looking up at Beanie as she was methodically and sensually writhing with her long dark hair draped over her shoulders creating a veil that sheltered both of us I was struck by how much I really loved this girl; a love which I knew would surely lead to complications. Nevertheless, this one night of sublime sex was and still is a precious memory. After a colossal climax we collapsed in each other’s arms and slept like we just completed a cross country marathon.

We were awakened by a sharp rap on the front door. S. David was there to drag me out of the house to catch a bus on a grueling three day and two night ride to the border. His eyebrows noticeably arched when he saw Beanie emerge looking slight disheveled. She gave me a quick peck on my cheek and skirted off. God, I wanted to postpone the horrid bus ride and stay a few days longer but my schedule didn’t allow time for this unexpected event. I had to return to Mexico City and reunite with my wife. To prepare for this dreaded bus ride S. David and I made a loaf of marijuana banana bread which helped us to survive the trip. I think our fellow passengers began to wonder why we would break out in muffled giggles for no apparent reason. From the border we hitched to LA and stayed with a couple of friends for a day. Our friend lent us her mustang to hasten the way to Stockton. We stayed long enough to renew our visas in San Francisco and zoomed back down to the border to once again endure the bus ride from hell. To make matters worse I had three days to ponder the possible scenarios looming in the very near future. I couldn’t for see anything but turmoil. We made plans to meet at a hotel near the central bus station. Approaching the hotel I felt rather queasy and had to take some deep breaths before entering. Oh holy hell, there was Vrandi standing at the check in counter. I marveled at the timing of our link up, this could be a good omen. We held each other in a reserved and awkward embrace. Our kiss was equally reserved and awkward; I knew at that moment our marriage was in question. “Que sera sera” It didn’t take long before the shit hit the fan. I was sitting between Vrandi and Beanie at a school event when the understanding of paradox hit me like sledge hammer. I still loved my wife but desperately wanted to be with Beanie. I had to get up and walk out before totally losing my composure. I went to S. David’s house and dumped my dilemma on him. He lit up a big fatty and offered his sympathy with my plight. After careful considerations of my options we came to the conclusion that I would have to come clean and release the truth letting consequences take their due course. All the way home I fretted over on how to broach the subject and spill the beans about Beanie. As I walked through the front door I could hear Vrandi in the kitchen. I could feel and hear my heart pounding in my ears. I met her eyes; ok the moment of truth had arrived. I started to choke on my words, “Vrandi, I have something to tell you”. Before I could confess she held up her hand and stopped me, “I know, Beanie just told me everything”. Wow! I immediately felt lighter as the burdensome weight of secrecy had been lifted off my shoulders. She then continued with her own confessions of infidelity. I seemed that she hooked up with an old flame and had an entanglement with a middle aged married man. Under ordinary circumstances I probably would have been enraged by such news but I was relieved, this was perfect! Our extra marital affairs in a way cancelled each other out. Not only had the secret’s oppressive weight been lifted but the corrosive poison of guilt had been neutralized. Without recriminations we were now at square one. How do we proceed from here?

Vrandi had a plan. There was a four day weekend coming right up. She was attracted to a fellow student and wanted to go off to Acapulco with him and Beanie would stay with me for the weekend. Despite it only being a temporary solution, I enthusiastically endorsed the proposal. I could spend four days with Beanie; I was beside myself with joy. On the day of transition Vrandi left with her weekend lover. Beanie informed me that she couldn’t go through with the sordid scheme. It was just too much for her to deal with. She ran off with someone else leaving me alone to wallow in self-pity. I couldn’t believe what was happening; my wife was with her lover and my lover was with someone else! Just how convoluted can a situation get? I felt betrayed and abandoned even though I knew such emotions were just a matter of a severely bruised ego and had no legal standing. Nevertheless, I lost my cool and melted down into a pathetic puddle of protoplasm. In a panic I did the only thing I could think of doing; I packed up and left the country. Before leaving I left a letter on the bed apologizing for my lack of strength and character to weather this storm. What seemed like a reasonable plan at the time, I added a post script stating that I had intentions of heading north to the Yukon and work on the oil pipeline. With my back pack slung over my shoulders I set out for Alaska.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chapter 17 The University of the Americas

Copy write 2015

 

Chapter 17

The University of the Americas

“A bilingual sex ed”

 


After procrastinating as long as possible, I finally enrolled and became a full time student at the University of the Americas. My major just had to be anthropology. What better location to pursue a low paying career than Cholula. From my balcony I could see the worlds’ largest pyramid in volume. The place reeked with history. The University was about a mile from town at the end of a rare paved street. The neocolonial campus was teeming with students from all over the Western Hemisphere. There was an unsubstantiated rumor circulating that the CIA had a clandestine listening post on campus to keep an eye on nearby Puebla Mexico’s second largest city and a hot bed of anti- government sentiment. In spite of this rumor, I quickly understood what the attraction was for this obscure little school; Sex and Drugs! Oh my God, this was a heavenly paradise for both of these vices. Mexico was an exotic and wild frontier in the sexual revolution phenomenon that was sweeping the world. Most of the students were temporary only staying for a semester or two. This was for a majority was the first time out of their country, away from home, away from parents, away from prying eyes and gossip. Everyone had a carte blanche check to spend on sexual indulgences resulting in a delightful explosion of promiscuity that dusted its’ powerful pheromones on the hapless community. Even the less attractive gringas were afforded the opportunity to sew wild oats because a rich source of sexually frustrated Latinos were ready and more than willing to make their stay in Mexico a memorable one. It was a win, win for everybody! Although, the sexual spell hypnotizing the population did have a side effect. Everyone I knew who arrived in Mexico as a couple, their relationship quickly deteriorated and crash landed, including yours truly.

As far as the drug scene in Mexico, close to Heaven! Anything to ones’ preference was available for the asking. I shied away from the pharmaceuticals and stuck with the organics, marijuana and mushrooms which were illegal but still easy to come by. Back then the going price of a kilo of grade “A” pot was twenty to twenty five dollars! There was no wanting for potency or variety. The mushrooms “hongos” were amazing. Horizons blended in with altered realities making a visual scape of other colorful and enriched possibilities. Didn’t have a mushroom trip I didn’t like except for one to be shared in an upcoming chapter. Through the “Gringo Grapevine” word spread quickly that the “Mushroom Man” would be in town. Several times a month a little old campacino would come down from his small farm on the side of “Popo”, the volcano, with his donkey loaded with bags of freshly harvested mushroom. A hippy from LA was the distributor for the magical merchandise. On mushroom day a steady stream of customers would file through in anticipating pleasant journeys.

So, Vrandi and I settled in and acted like newlyweds. It was a rather blissful stage to be in. We took advantage of our central location to branch out and visit places like Acapulco and Oaxaca. Oh, just a slightly humorous side bar here. While in Oaxaca we stayed in a cheap hotel where bed bugs ruled the night. Waking up in the morning Vrandi made a blood curdling screamed. Holy shit, she looked like some albino creature covered from head to toe with bright red spots. Sadly, it seemed that the bed bugs had a taste for soft white flesh to dine on; I didn’t have a bite on me!

Anyway, with the end of the honeymoon phase small hairline cracks began to weaken our foundation. Bickering became an all too familiar source of irritation. Upon an invitation to come down to Mexico, the arrival of my friend S. David who stayed with us for a few weeks in Toronto provided a brief but welcomed distraction from our crumbling marriage. Steve and I would wander off and do things that Vrandi wasn’t interested in. She also buddied up and did girl things with her best friend a foxy little Tex-Mex who as a term of endearment I nicknamed “Beanie” who I also fell madly in love with the first time we met; a recipe for disastrous complications. Anyway the timely breaks from each other did temporarily pave over the developing fissures in our marriage.

The time to return to the States and renew our visas crept up on us. We had to make the dreaded two thousand mile bus ride back to California and visit the dreaded Mexican Consulate for new visas. This time was much easier because I had with the encouragement from Steve and with outrage and ire from Vrande cut my hair. We stayed a few nights in Stockton with my parents; because we were now married we could sleep together. We finished our business and rushed back to Mexico in high hopes of rejuvenating our fragile marriage. To give Vrandi and I privacy Steve moved out and found a place a few blocks away. Steve liked Mexico so much he persuaded his father to break into a college trust fund set up for him and send money to attend the University of the Americas. Swift move!

The marriage revival lasted a couple of months but leaks developed in the hull of our love boat allowing contempt to trickle in. Senseless spats became the highlight of the day. On one fine afternoon while engaging in a heated argument over nothing Varandi launched a full bottle of wine at my head to make an assertive point! The bottle came so close to me that I could read the label as it whizzed past my face and smashed into a thousand pieces against the wall. If that bottle had hit me my skull would have been crushed like a ripe cantaloupe! I stood quivering in shock; Vrandi fell to the floor crying like a tortured soul. It was an eye bulging epiphany. We had come to the fail safe zone; turning back was an unlikely option at this juncture. We agreed that a little more time and distance between us would be beneficial. Vrandi returned to Toronto for the summer; I remained in Cholula. We were both alone with our own devices.

 


 

Chapter 16 Magical Mexican Mystery Tour

Chapter 16

“Magical Mexican Mystery Tour”

 


Let’s see, where did I leave off? Oh yes, Vrandi and I just moved into our departed neighbor’s two story house. We were happy to have taken over their estate but I was still stinging from a little heartbreak for the loss of “Goga” my gorgeous Mayan Maiden. But as I mentioned, providence provided for future entanglements with her. Vrandi and I settled in and struggled to master the nuances of marriage. Before I go any further into our attempts to sail through holy matrimony, I’ll take the opportunity and devote this chapter to Cholula. After a brief history of this historical area I have included some pictures that I hope will give you an idea of the paradise that I lived in for three years.


Cholula

It has been estimated that Cholula’s history goes back three thousand years the longest continually inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. Around 200BC Cholula transformed from an agrarian village into a powerful religious center coveted and conquered by various civilizations including the Olmecs and Toltecs. Each wave of new rulers constructed on top of the existing temple until it became the largest pyramid by volume in the world. Through centuries of neglect and indifference all but the very top pyramid became overgrown and covered with flora making it look like a mere mountain.

I think things were going along just fine until a Spanish scamp  by the name of Cortez and his merry marauders marched into town for a little stopover before he strolled into Teotihuacan to subjugate the Aztec empire and loot its’ gold.  Cortez stayed long enough in Cholula to slaughter over three thousand inhabitants in a preemptive move to quash any ideas or attempts to impede his conquest of the Aztecs. To add insult to injury the Spanish conquistadors destroyed the very top pyramid not knowing the bulk of the structure was hidden under dirt and over growth.  A church was eventually built on top of the remains and as an extra punishment the locals were ordered to construct three hundred and sixty five churches, one for every day of the year. The culture collapsed after the scourge of Cortez and his wrecking crew.

When I lived in Cholula (1971 to 1974) it was still a sleepy and rustic town nestled in a lush green valley surrounded by volcanos. Even though the new university attracted students from around the world along with their influx of money, the local inhabitants remained untainted and lived true to their wonderful nature. Today because of Cholula’s charm and the ongoing excavation of the massive pyramid it has become a major tourist attraction. I hope the inhabitants haven’t been jaded and lost their charm.

So, as promised the next few pages will be filled with photos of the place I loved and called home.

 

 

 

 

The two pictures below are of the zocalo and the church of San Pedro. The next two are night views. I lived just on the other side of this church.


Following the street down to the church and turning right you will come to the second door in the blue building. That door leads to the house where Vrandi and I lived.

 

The three pictures below are different views from my roof top.



Views of the church on top of the pyramid.

 

Street scenes of Cholula.


 

Two more street scenes.


 

 

 


Sunrise on Popo. Popo looming .


Popo and the church atop the pyramid.

 

 

 


Above Popo is coming to life. Below Popo is asserting its’ prerogative.


 

 

 

 

 


Chapter 15 Vamanos a Mexico

 

 

Chapter 15

“Vamanos a Mexico”

 

Vrandi and I liquidated our few assets, packed our backpacks and pulled up stakes in a matter of days. We boarded a train and railed it from Toronto to Vancouver. What an incredible continent crossing adventure and if it still exists I highly recommend taking the train which goes through a landscape dotted with thousands of lakes , an endless expanse of golden prairies and ultimately winding its way along sheer cliffs in the Canadian Rockies. We had to settle for second class fares; third class is absent from the Canadian vocabulary. Nevertheless, second class was actually quite comfortable. The bench seats were padded and long enough for one to stretch out and sleep. Two young unassuming chaps befriended us before the train left the station. They were genuinely gregarious but I truly believed their fancy was focused on my soon to be wife, a harmless crush to be sure. Anyway, these two likeable guys looked alarmingly like a couple of Bible toting young republicans on steroids, the epitome of all that is righteous and good. As it turned out these characters were actually drug dealers, what a perfect disguise. Their drug of choice, hash! At stations when the train would stop for ten or fifteen minutes the four of us found a secluded spot and smoked a pipe full of their product. After one late night stop and hash session, Vrandi and I waited until everyone in our car was asleep and tip toed into the men’s bathroom for covert sex . There is something very special about having sex on a moving train. I think the combination of the train’s motion and the clickity-clack of its’ steel wheels create a perfect cadence for intercourse. We locked into the train’s rhythm; lucky for us our visceral vocalizations were muffled by the roar of the mighty locomotive.

After a breathtaking cliff hugging ride through Banff we arrived in Vancouver. We adhered to our new best friends who led us to an extremely hip hostel which served as their base of operations. Everyone was anticipating their arrival. These two guys were approaching sainthood status in this community. When Vrandi and I walked in with them as their entourage we were given royal treatment. We were even afforded a small private room; yes it does pay to know people in the right places. After all their slabs of hash were distributed into the proper hands it was time to celebrate their good fortune. The two hash brokers sponsored an all-night party in their state room. It quickly became a standing room only fiesta. A thick fog of hash smoke lowered visibility to only a few feet. Vrandi and I retired early and had splendid sex before passing out in each other’s arms. The next morning I called the local office of Auto Drive-Away. They just received a car that needed to be delivered to Los Angeles. Wham! We got a lift to the office and completed the necessary paperwork. We were rewarded with a smoking hot, royal blue with white racing stripes Mustang “Mach 1″. We jumped in, put the pedal to the metal and sped off laying a trail of rubber from Vancouver to Los Angeles. God that was a fun car to drive, pure muscle!

We drove non- stop except for an occasional power nap. San Francisco was our first pit stop. I enlisted a friend from high school and a leading member of the Victory Park People to be my witness and best man. We had a very civil ceremony in the SF courthouse. We were now new members of the legally bound. Below are pictures of the deliriously happy newly- weds basking in front of the San Francisco court house.

 


 

 

I will have to digress here for a moment. After the shock of affirming her surprise marriage proposal wore off and I could again focus, Vrandi convinced me that our marriage could very well provide a financial boost to our personal coffer which was perilously close to nothing. She surmised that both sides of our families would gladly contribute to a marriage therefore assuring we would no longer be living in sin under the watchful eyes of the Lord. By God, the slightly devious extortion plan worked! Both of our parents chipped in to help facilitate the marriage thereby helping to deliver us from sin and the embarrassing stigma of adultery. It was a win- win situation. They were happy and we had a comfortable nest egg to start a life in Mexico. After the brief but emotionally charged ceremony we dropped in on the Mexican Consulate to procure visas. We completed the paperwork and were issued student visas instead of the regular tourist/visitor status. The difference was the length of time one could stay in Mexico without having to renew. Student visa – one year; tourist – six months. At the time to renew a visa one was obligated to leave the country and reapply in the States. The reasoning was lost to me. Anyway, making the long gruesome trip up to the border and then return was every Gringo’s worst nightmare. A once a year renewal was the lesser of the evils. As we gathered our visas the Consulate General briskly walked up, looked in my eyes and barked, “You are going to have to cut your hair or you will be denied entry into Mexico”!! He then turned on his heels and dropped his bulk behind a big desk. Vrandi and I were stunned into silence. What a Pinche Pendejo! Neither of us wanted to have my mane sheared. The solution popped into our heads at the same moment. Short wig! We walked a few blocks and ducked into a wig shop on Market Street. We were able to find one that kind of matched my color. Stuffing my big wad of hair into the wig was a painful struggle. Oh my God, when I looked in a mirror a slightly deranged Beatle was staring back at me. My head looked swollen and lopsided. Shit! This pathetic disguise wasn’t going to fool anyone. It would have to do though. We jumped back in the Mach 1 and peeled out of the City and fishtailed into Stockton for a brief stay long enough to introduce my new bride to family and friends. We then piled into the car and sped on down to Los Angeles. The grateful owner of the Mustang gave us a handsome tip and a ride to the Greyhound station where we boarded a bus to Calexico a dusty California border town. Before we made the walk to the border crossing into Mexico I made a quick dash into the men’s bathroom and again struggled to shove my hair into the short wig. Exiting the bathroom I saw the look of horror on Vrandi’s face. She just shook her head and shooed me back into the bathroom to fix the sham sitting on my head. I did the best I could. Adding a pair of black horned rim glasses to the disguise made my look even more bizarre. With trepidation we slowly walked up to the Mexican Customs office. Fortunately for me the customs agent’s attention turned towards Vrandi. Distracted by her presence they just gave me a disapproving once over probably thinking, “What is this pretty young blond babe doing with this demented dork”? They eventually stamped our visas and let us pass. Leaving a trail of relief we jumped into a cab and dumped out at the train station. We purchased third class tickets and boarded a wooded relic that should have been in a railroad museum. We claimed an empty bench and watch in amazement as the car filled up with an array of solders carrying rifles and campacinos with an assortment of livestock, mostly chickens but the squeals of piglets could be heard. Another group that made up a third of the passengers was the colorful indigenous Indians carrying baskets of fruit and vegetables. They had a distinctively old world look that differentiated them from the Mestizo population. Just relying on my poor High School Spanish I could tell they were speaking a language that was unrecognizable. Children were already running up and down the aisles laughing and making a game out of chasing down escaping chickens. Oh man, I thought I knew the proclivities of third-class, but this was the best ever. And of course we were the only gringos in the car and attracted many curious glances.

The train finally pulled away from the station just a few hours late. It was dark and the passengers were settling in for the evening. We did the same. I took first shift as the sitting pillow. Curling up into a tight ball Vrandi nestled into my lap and passed out from the rigors of a very long day. I was astonished she could sleep on the hard wood bench not to mention the erratic bouncing and swaying of the car. It was like being in the last seat of the old roller-coaster in Santa Cruz; a rough but thrilling ride. Sometime in the middle of the night we switched positions. I couldn’t curl up enough to fit so I laid on my back and propped my feet on the arm rest. It was actually quite comfortable. I quickly faded into a fatigued sleep. I was awakened by a series of tugs on me feet. I peeked out of half opened eyes to see a small goat nibbling on my shoes! My God, this just gets better and better. I sat up petted the goat and gently shooed him on down the aisle. The little old women who were watching gave me a smile of approval. Wham! I was suddenly hit with a piercing headache. The pain was like a blinding flash of white light; my head was ready to explode. Feeling my forehead I realized what the problem was. Because of all my hair stuffed into the confines of the wig, it was actually serving as a tourniquet cutting off the blood supply to my brain. I could feel my brain cells starving to death. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom muttering, “Got to save the brain”. I pushed the door open, locked it behind me and immediately tore the wig off. Oh my God the relief was instantaneous. I began rubbing to get the circulation going and let out a silent scream; a crease running across my forehead felt like a miniature Grand Canyon! No wonder I was in such pain, I was slowly being decapitated. Whew, ok then while I was occupying the bathroom I might as well relieve my bladder. Now the bathroom was the size of an old country outhouse and looked like one. An unsanitary toilet seat was loosely attached to wood planks placed over a hole that emptied directly on to the train tracks. So there I was desperately trying to keep my balance with one hand holding the wig and the other gripping my penis when the car violently lurched like it was derailing. I had to release the wig and my penis to brace myself against the walls to keep from falling into the hole of no return. I watched in helpless horror as the wig did a few flips in the air and quickly disappeared into the toilet. Someone was knocking on the door. Shit, shit, shit! Well there was nothing I could do but zip up and vacate the bathroom and hope no one would noticed my transformation from a short hair bearded geek into a long hair hippy who looked like he just performed a botched lobotomy on himself. My appearance raised a few eyebrows with looks of confused concern. I sat next to the window and tried not to make eye contact with anyone.

The train bored into a tunnel leaving everyone stranded in the dark for a few long minutes. Only the sounds of chickens and children screaming with delight broke through the silence. The train shot out of the black hole and stopped at a mountain village. With my mouth agape I stared in bewilderment at the scene before me. It was another “Twilight Zone” moment. The train while in the tunnel must have been transported to another place and time and from the looks of it I would have guessed Africa a couple of centuries ago. Rudimentary earthen huts with thatched roofs sprouted along the tracks. I didn’t see any signs of electricity or roads; the train was probably their main link with the outside world. Everyone got off the train blended in with the villagers. Not so with Vrandi and me! Stepping off the train and into the open we became the targets of curiosity and were immediately surrounded mostly by children who stared at us like we had just landed from outer space. Where did this hairy cave man and blond beauty come from? The children were fascinated with our hair. They touched Vrandi’s hair as if it were golden silk. I bought some sweet pastry from a young girl. I was intimidated by the looks of other food being sold, a lot of meat preparations. The train’s whistle warned of its’ departure. We boarded and waived back at our new flock of fans. It was pleasantly disconcerting to be the focus of unbridled attention; I believe we just had a mini fifteen minutes of fame moment.

On the very outskirts of Mexico City we passed through a vast area of abject poverty. While in Morocco I thought I had seen the worse conditions that the very poor could endure but I was shocked and dismayed to see unthinkable poverty in such a massive concentration. As far as the eye could see were hundreds of old discarded box cars that were converted into condominiums housing a community of desperation and hopelessness. Small naked children waved from their boxcars, older children would run alongside the slow moving train with their palms open hoping someone would toss something of value preferably food. Fuck! I choked up and stoically suppressed tears of hopeless sympathy. We threw the rest of what was left of our rations to the eager hands below our window.

After three days of an enlightening train ride we finally arrived in Mexico City. Wading through the madness of the city we found the main bus terminal. I left Vrandi for a few minutes to purchase tickets to Cholula. A young man ran up to me, tugged at my arm and yelled, “Come quickly”! I followed him to a big circle of people. He shoved his way through the crowd paving a narrow passage for me. Holy Shit!! Vrandi was passed out on the floor shaking from head to toe. The only other time I had ever seen her in this condition was during our orgasmic moment in Morocco and this was a totally different scenario. Cradling her head in my lap I gently wiped her face with a moist cloth given to me by someone in the crowd. Thankfully she came to, fluttered her eyes and asked, “What happened”? Whew, that could have ended badly. I had to practically carry her on to the bus. We had to jump on a local bus from Puebla for the last leg to Cholula. We found the hotel that the University had made arrangements for newly arriving students as temporary lodging. It was late afternoon, we both trudged into our room and flopped on the bed. We didn’t wake up until the next morning. After a complimentary breakfast we set out to find a suitable place to live. Fate once again intervened. The first American looking lad I ran into was a bro from California. As it turned out he was a friend of a friend of my friend in Barcelona who gave me the heads up about the University here. He hooked us up with a local store and property owner that had a newly built house available to rent. We followed him to a large metal door that opened up into a long drive way and standing at the end stood a two story house with a balcony. Vrandi and I became very excited but our expectations were curbed when we were shown the house that ran the length of the driveway. It was a long drab cinder block dwelling with pale green rooms. It looked more like a clinic but what it lacked in ambiance the rent made up for its’ shortcommings. For forty dollars a month we could live with the drabness. We met and were immediately made to feel welcomed by our next door neighbors a widow and her three daughters. The eldest a twenty four year old was engaged, the second a twenty two year old cutie sought our help in learning English. Now it was the youngest daughter a nineteen year old Mayan Princess that caused considerable consternations. “Dios Mio”! I fell in love with her the moment our eyes met. I know, I know, my fledgling marriage wasn’t yet into its’ second week and here I was coveting my neighbor’s daughter. The shame and guilt! But I couldn’t help it! She was tall and graceful with a coco almond skin tone. Her hair was thick, long and jet black not to mention her big brown eyes. I couldn’t ignore my pounding heart whenever she was near. To make matters worse, she would intuitively know whenever Vrandi was gone and sneak over. She would then send erotic shock waves through my body by slowly running her long delicate fingers through my hair and braiding it. I was putty in her hands. Resistance was futile; I didn’t have the will power or desire to at least make a feeble attempt to dissuade her from the unauthorized attention she was administering to me. Just as I was ready to blow a gasket the family packed up and moved to Atlixco a town about thirty miles away. I was ultimately relieved by her departure yet saddened to see her go. Fortunately though, that would not be my last encounter with her.

Vrandi and I moved into their vacated house. We were now alone and without distractions. We settled in and began practicing being a husband and wife. The future seemed to be filled with rainbows and unicorns. We were too blissfully blind to see the dark storm clouds developing on the horizon.

 

Well, that basically concludes the first year in the Decade of Dr. Zorro. I have nine more years to account and atone for. There will be more adventures and misadventures, hijinks and epiphanies, close calls, brushes with the law the devil and death, drugs and sexual escapades, loves and heartbreaks; in other words just more of the usual debauchery.

 

 

 


 

Chapter 14 Canadian Cruise

 

 

Chapter 14

“Canadian Cruise”

 

The plane started its’ decent into Toronto over the Great Lakes. Looking out at the vast bodies of water below I couldn’t help but wonder about the depths I’ll soon be plunging into. I had never (in the Biblical sense anyway) lived with anyone before. I would be in unfamiliar territory. Oh shit, oh shit! What am I doing? I’m casting my lot in with a girl who I really didn’t think I would ever see again. I barely knew her except for the brief but exquisite sexual encounter in Morocco. Wading through a thick mixture of optimistic anticipation and terror, I felt paralyzed from the neck up. I was walking blind folded off the end of a diving board trusting there would be water in the pool; a perfect moment for a panic attack. Before I knew it the plane was landing.

Canadian customs proved to be the most grueling I had ever been through. I again assumed that my appearance had something to do with it! I was singled out and taken to a private room for an exhaustive interrogation. My name was crunched by some kind of data system to see if I was a fugitive from the law and on the lam or had a drug conviction. Further background checks proved that I was neither a deserter nor a draft dodger. The Nixon administration considered these two offences as tantamount to treason and applied extreme pressure on the Canadian government to thwart the exodus of future fodder for the Vietnam debacle. After an intense grilling about possible affiliations with terrorist organizations or other anti-American groups such as the Weathermen they had no incriminating evidence to deny passage into Canada. I was set free! Riding up in the elevator to the waiting area I felt my heart pounding like a Taiko drum. Oh Hell, this is it, the door opened up and there she was, the Danish Goddess was waiting for me like a beacon of light and love. Our embrace was crushing and convincing. God, it was heavenly to have her in my arms. Yes, all seemed right in the universe.

She pulled me out of the airport, shoved me into a car, whisked us away to our destiny and on the way, Varandi informed me that we would be staying with her parents until we found a place of our own. What? Living with the “Parents”! I could only envision a heap full of awkwardness in this scenario. I’ve always felt uncomfortable around parents because I knew that they knew what my intentions were towards their daughters but this situation was way beyond my sphere of experiences. As I was mentally crunching the possibilities, we pulled into a driveway of a modest upper middle class brick house in the suburbs of Toronto. Gulp! This is it! The dreaded moment has come, time to meet the parents! As we entered the front door her mother and father were standing in the foyer waiting to meet the new attraction in their daughter’s life. It was a perfect “Kodak moment”. I immediately I felt empathy for Sidney Poitier’s character in the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. Her parents were formally pleasant and courteous but I could see the shock and horror in their eyes. I didn’t know how thorough Vrandi was in debriefing her parents about me. They were most likely thinking, “Just what the hell has our precious princess brought home with her”? The first eon of awkward silence mercifully passed their shock wore off. After a hand shake and a cautious hug they invited us in to sit and chat. The conservation inevitably came around to the ultimate question, “Well, what do you do for a living”? What could I tell them, the truth? “Yes, I am an unemployed earth wanderer and I am here because your daughter and I had an extraordinary sexual encounter in Morocco and I love her”. Vrandi’s mother zoomed in from the kitchen and interrupted the line of questioning, “Dinner is ready” she sang out. Holy shit! I walked into another awkward moment. The dinner table was lavishly laid out as a feast for an honored guest. The elephant on the table was the massive amount of artfully arranged meat dishes. It broke my heart to confess that I was a vegetarian. From the subtle glances passing across the table I could hear them thinking, “Really, just what the hell did our precious princess bring home this time”! I wasn’t chalking up many good points so far. I tried to become invisible as I ate my plate full of slightly over cooked carrots. The dinner mercifully came to an end. We retired to the living room and watched an episode of “All in the Family” on TV. Being without a television for several years I had not previously seen the show. I immediately related to the “Meathead” and his tenuous relationship with Archie Bunker. And then came the last awkward moment of the day, “Bed Time”! As I suspected her parents were from the old school of proper conduct. Until we were legally married in the eyes of the law and God, sleeping together under their roof was forbidden. Vrandi led me to the guest room, gave me a quick peck on the cheek and followed her parents upstairs to their rooms. Fuck!! I couldn’t sleep knowing that the blond goddess was in bed just a few feet above me. So physically close yet held at bay by subjective standards of morality.

The next morning I opened my eyes from a restless sleep and saw Vrandi standing in the doorway with a look of passion in her eyes. She quickly slipped out of her robe and leaped on me. I was more than ready for her. The father was at work and her mother had to shop and run errands. With few precious moments to be alone we had to forgo foreplay and swing for the home run. We quickly established a harmonious albeit slightly rushed rhythm. Oh my God, were on course for another spectacular climax when a car pulled up in the driveway. With a single bound Vrandi leaped off me and zipped upstairs before her mother opened the front door. Suffering from a gran coitus interruptus I was left writhing in a state of wanting. During breakfast Vrandi’s mother gave us a sly knowing glance that a little hanky-panky may have taken place in her absence. After clearing the dishes, Vrandi pulled me aside and whispered, “We have to get a place of our own, today”! I whole heartedly agreed. She scoured a newspaper for rentals and found a few that were available. We borrowed her mother’s car and sped off to find an apartment. Not wanting to waste time searching and not relishing the prospect of spending another night in separate rooms we rented the first place on our list. It was in an older neighborhood a couple of blocks from High Park. We would be sharing a bathroom with another tenant in the second floor flat. The first floor was occupied by the owners of the building, three generations of Ukrainians, a grouchy old grandfather, his son and wife and a young daughter. Vrandi enlisted her sister’s boyfriend and his van to move a mattress into our new pad. A mattress was all we really needed for our first night together since Morocco. All I can say is that we properly christened that mattress.

Over the next few weeks we transformed the apartment into a hippy chik love nest and played house like two terribly happy and horny newlyweds. We would awaken at our leisure after a night filled with raucous romping. Each day we would walk hand in hand in a blind bliss around the neighborhood and in nearby Hide Park or see the sights and sounds of Toronto. Vrandi even took me on a romantic day excursion to Niagara Falls. Ah, life seemed too good to be true. Alas, the honeymoon train ran out of tracks, after a couple of months we were burning through Vrandi’s savings and at the end of the line was the dreaded prospect of having to work. “Work”! Just the thought of it made me double up in mental anguish.

Vrandi quickly found a job but I had to apply for a Canadian work permit. Vrandi came with me as my sponsor to the permit department. After reviewing my application which included a required account of my past work history which was almost blank, I was denied a permit to work. The Canadian government was looking for immigrants who could contribute to society and I didn’t measure up. But I had the option to apply again in three months. Vrandi broke out in tears I on the other hand feigned deep disappointment but was internally rejoicing at the last minute reprieve.

The near miss with work came at a most opportune time. S. David Feinstein a friend from Stockton’s Monroe St. gang of hippies stopped by on his way to Europe for his coming of age walk about. He had recently been busted crossing into the US from Canada at Bonners Ferry, Idaho. At that time he was sporting a massive head of hair that was festooned into long tightly coiled ringlets. If that wasn’t enough to raise flags he was driving a VW bus with California plates! US custom agents made an intensive search and found his pot stash hidden in the bottom of a dog food bag. He was immediately thrown into the town clink and his bus impounded. His girlfriend and her dog were released on their own recognizance. He was eventually released on bail and had to pay an exaggerated fine to keep from going to his own private Idaho prison. Anyway he stayed with us for a few weeks before going on his hippy trek to Europe. Since I couldn’t work the days were free to play with. We would start the days with a long puff on some hash that I purchased from a pirate clad hippy playing soft ball in High Park. The irony didn’t escape me! We would then enjoy the benefits of being members of the idle class. One day we mustered up enough ambition to attempt a hitch hiking adventure to Montreal. After four or five hours of waiting by the road side our thumbs were numb. Discouraged and tired we were ready to throw in the towel when out of nowhere Ginger a young, ultra-cute flaming red head strolled up and joined us. She was a most welcomed addition to our hitching team. But even her radiant presence didn’t advance our cause. We abandoned our attempts to visit Montreal and returned home only to surprise Vrandi with our new friend Ginger. She in turn surprised me with a new friend of her own. It appeared to me that Vrandi rescued a wild and kind of crazy girl off the streets. A benevolent gesture for sure but also rather naïve, I mean was there any vetting done on this person who called herself “Cat Girl”? Again, I see the irony here, Steve and I just brought a stranger off the street with us. Perspective! Anyway, the five of us sat around, drank some wine and smoked a lot of hash eventually passing out on the floor. In the middle of the night I woke to the feeling of a hand gently caressing my dick. I was not about to stop this amorous moment. I then felt warm kisses on my breast which made me quickly rise to the occasion. I had no idea that Vrandi was so progressively bold. I put my hand on her head to guide the kisses in a southernly direction. Wait a minute! Holy fuckin shit!! This was not Vrandi! I opened my eyes to see Cat Girl on the verge of engorging my erection. I panicked and let out a little yelp like a frightened puppy. That woke Vrandi up. “Are you alright”, she asked? “Yes” I croaked, “Just a crazy dream”. Regardless of Cat Girl’s crazy antics, I had to admire her brand of craziness!

Just before Steve was to embark on his journey Vrandi’s parents invited the three of us over for an evening of repast. The shock of meeting me for the first time had worn off but they were not prepared for the second shock of Steve and me together. His hair was a massive snarl of tight black coils springing from his head like a giant “Jewish Afro”. Entering their house was like being in the sequel, “Guess Who Else Is Coming to Dinner”. As anticipated her parents were pleasantly shocked. We worked our way through several awkwardly silent moments and had a wonderful evening. The next day Steve caught a flight and crossed the big pond.

The realization that we were drifting into financial instability hit us in midstream. Not being able to work I couldn’t contribute to our coffer. Vrandi hated her job which didn’t pay enough to keep us above water; we were adrift in a quandary. One day just as our little life boat began to show signs of sinking a manila envelope forwarded by my mother arrived. I opened it up and shrieked with excitement. It was a letter of acceptance from the University of the Americas located in Cholula, Mexico. While languishing in Stockton for several months I requested an application to the University, received one, filled it out and sent it back. I learned of this school while staying with friends in Barcelona. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Being a veteran I could subsidize my student status with the generosity of the US government through the GI Bill. I liked the concept. Anyway, with the move to Canada I totally forgot about the application. Oh my God, I was holding in my hands a document that would change our lives forever.

Vrandi came home from work in a particularly grouchy mood. Besides working for no money her boss made some unwanted advances. I gave her a warm sympathetic hug and gently pulled away at arms-length. Looking into her deep blue eyes I asked, “What would you think about us living in Mexico”? I could see her eyes rolling back as she tried to contain the thought. After explaining my vision of our future; we could live comfortably in Mexico on my GI bill and not have to work. Her eyes suddenly filled with an explosion of understanding. She smiled and in a mini-second blurted, “Let’s go”! I asked her if she didn’t want to think about it a tad longer. “I thought about it and my answer is let’s go”. We hugged in a big sigh of relief; we were getting out of here. She unbuckled, unzipped and pulled my pants down in one swift motion. She then proceeded to give me one of the most sensual and heart felt fellatio jobs I have ever had. At the point of no return she stopped, looked me in the eyes and with a slight coyness in her approach said, “Let’s get married” as she brought me to an unbelievable orgasm. I heard myself hissing, “Yes, oh yes”. She sprang up and began to clap and do what looked like a victory dance. I was then showered with kisses. “We are going to have so much fun together”, she pronounced. Wait a minute! “What happened here”, I asked myself, “Did I just agree to marry Vrandi”? Oh my God, I guess I’ll be heading to Mexico with a wife!!!

 

 

 




 

Chapter 13 “California or Bust”

 

 

Chapter 13

“California or Bust”

 

We made our escape from New York City and were now floating down the highway in a boat sized Oldsmobile “88″. With enough cash for gas and enough reefer to put a pleasant mellow on the long cross country drive, we felt like “Kings of the Road”. Indeed, life was good! We decided to make an all-out nonstop run to LA; it was in the middle of winter and we wanted to get to sunny California ASAP. The plan for this ambitious endeavor was to rotate our positions so one of us would always be behind the wheel while the person riding shot gun would be the spiritual navigator and the third person had the luxury of spreading out in the back seat and in the “88″ it was like sleeping in a queen sized bed.

We had to steer through a winter storm from Pennsylvania to the Mid-West. I swear we hydroplaned across three states. We slid into a shopping center somewhere in Missouri to stretch our legs and buy some staples. We were spotted by a gaggle of teenage girls who immediately descended upon us. Completely surrounded we were pounded with questions. One girl asked, “Where are you guys going”? When we replied, “California”, they squealed with delight and pleaded, “Please take us with you”! Before we could respond to their cry for help shocked and horrified mothers rushed in and snatched their precious princesses from the wicked lure of long haired devils. Entering the super market looking like weathered road warriors we quickly became the objects of unabashed stares from startled shoppers. I think their bewildered gazes were mostly of a curious nature rather than malicious, regardless, it was unnerving. We quickly gathered our groceries tried to make a stealthy exit and scurried back to the sanctuary of the “88″, put the pedal to the metal and never looked back.

As we were cruising down the highway just outside of Tulsa, a car full of teenagers pulled up alongside in the fast lane. The driver started honking hysterically while the rest of the passengers yelled and waved in a like manor. We initially tried to ignore them fearing they were probable local homeboys looking for a little down home fun with some of those damn hippies. We finally made eye contact with them. Holy shit, it was a car full of young wannabe hippies flashing us the peace sign. They were still infants in that evolutionary process. The boys all had early Beatles mop tops; one had the courage and conviction to sport sideburns! A chorus of shrill giggling came from the back seat which was stuffed with coquettish long haired hippy girls in waiting. We rolled down our windows and engaged in a sixty miles an-hour conservation down the highway. A lad looking a lot like Ringo Starr shouted, “Where are you guys going”? “San Francisco” we yelled back. Their car erupted into cheers and more peace signs. The girls shrieked, “Take us with you”! What’s this, another plea for help in escaping from Oklahoma? We could smuggle them out and set them free in California. A novel notion but summarily dismissed as a bad idea no matter how noble our intentions would have been. We had to decline their request but as a consolation prize I rolled up a joint, reached and handed it to a girl leaning half way out of her window, a delicate maneuver as we sped down the highway. Again, their car exploded into shouts and squeals of joy and even more emphatic peace signs. We pulled away from them and continued on down the road.

Road weary and atrophied we pulled into a rest stop in Arizona. The three of us had to stretch out on a stationary flat surface and get a proper sleep. Picnic tables would do just fine. We rolled out our sleeping bags and settled in for the night. I was awakened by a feeling of something light and cold falling on my face. Damn, it was snowing! We bolted out of our bags and packed ourselves into the car. Well, nothing to do now except torch up our last joint and drive on. After a heavy dusting of fresh snow the desert looked like a moon scape. The cacti became moon men sprouting up and reaching for the sky. Some looked as if they were waving at us. As the sun peeked over the horizon we crossed into California. Just a few more hours and we would be in LA, two days ahead of our deadline. We delivered the “88″ to the designated location, received our bonus and scattered in different directions. Both Dutch and Ben were anxious to get back to the Bay Area. I was tired of moving and stayed with my cousin Mike for a few days to reset my sense of balance. I lost touch with Dutch for years until a chance meeting in Lake Tahoe casino that rekindling our friendship; material for a future chapter.

Not wanting to rely on hitching I hopped aboard a bus to Stockton. I found my friends Bush Baby and the lovely Bim cohabitating in the old duplex that I had vacated. The duplex was a notorious refuge for a crazy cast of characters. This is where I had an ever so brief encounter with my current wife of thirty five years. Anyway, I cleared out a little nook in the junk filled basement for my hidden headquarters. My presence was kept a secret especially from the landlord who would have evicted me. Except for occasional visits from special girlfriends I was living like a fugitive hiding from the real world, a self-imposed exile. After a month or so I realized this was a dead end existence. I didn’t know what to do or where to go from here. One day I visited my parents to see if they needed anything or help around the house, my father was getting a tad old and wasn’t as agile anymore. My mother handed me a letter postmarked from Canada. I tore into it wondering who this could be from. I let out a scream that scared my mother. Oh my God, the letter was from Vrandi! She was now in Toronto and wanted me to come live with her! After a flurry of selling and borrowing I was on the next available flight to Toronto.

 

 

 


 

Chapter 12 “Burrowing in Brooklyn”

 

Chapter 12

“Burrowing in Brooklyn”

 

As the ship passed the Statue I looked behind me at the bridge and was quite amused at the sight of panicked passengers tossing all kinds of contraband over board. I had a momentary panic attack; Holy Shit, did I get rid of all my prohibited substances? I ran back to my cabin and thoroughly searched my bag for any traces of questionable products. Whew, I was clean and ready for inspection. We were hustled off the ship and ushered into a large warehouse to begin the entry process. The waiting custom agents were not very amused to see so many suspicious characters waiting in line; they would now have to work and thoroughly search every one that fit their profile of likely suspects. I could understand their concerns after all we had just arrived from Tangier a major drug capitol. Furthermore, Dutch and I looked like the poster boys for the menace that was now tearing apart the moral fabric of a civil and God fearing society, therefore we received special scrutiny. As expected, every article in my backpack was scrutinized but when my gruff agent pulled out a plastic bag from the bottom of my pack his demeanor changed to a gleeful anticipation of perhaps finding the Mother Lode of a drug smuggling operation, I felt a tiny nudge of apprehension. As the agent unraveled the last of six tightly wrapped plastic bags my deepest fears were realized. A God awful odor burst out of the bag and filled the immediate area with a putrid aroma of rotting fish. I had packed away a fish vertebra that I found in the Canary Islands with the good intentions of drying the bones out and making a groovy necklace but the opportunity never presented itself. The gagging agent yelled at me to get myself and my shit out of the warehouse. On my way out I deposited the reeking bag of bones into the nearest garbage can.

Dutch, Ben our buddy from Marrakesh and I reconvened outside of the customs warehouse. Well, here we were three clueless hippies stranded in the notoriously rough waterfront with no ideas, directions and no place to stay. Appearing out of nowhere a “Bro” with a fabulous “fro” boogied on up checked us out and asked, “You dudes want to a buy some righteous weed”? We answered politely, “Love to but can’t afford it”. What little we had was needed to get us back to San Francisco. “San Francisco, that’s cool dudes”. He then pulled out a joint hidden in his fro, lit it up and passed it to us. While we stood there in plain sight of customs getting stoned with a street hustler who looked like Sly Stone, he paused and asked, “Where you dudes coming from”? “Africa”, we chimed in. “No shit”! “Man I envy you dudes, that is where I really want to go some day”. Black power and pride were in vogue and setting foot on African soil was the ultimate goal to fulfil the “Black Experience” and realize their legacy. It was like making a holy pilgrimage to the “Mother Land” where humanity began its’ journey. He was very impressed and moved by our hippy safari to Africa. He then reached into his pocket, pulled a small packet of pot, handed it to us and said, “This one is on me dudes”. He shook our hands and boogied on down the street. We looked at each other and nodded in unison, yes, this was a good omen to begin our California quest.

Dutch Boy suddenly became alert and animated while frantically looking through his wallet. He found a piece of paper with a telephone number that proved to be our salvation. We befriended a three pack of New York Jewish Princesses in Marrakesh. Dutch bedded down with one of them and made such a good impression on her that she gave him contact information on a safe house in New York City. We rushed to the nearest phone booth and dialed the number, what the hell, we had nothing to lose. A man by the name of Carl answered and Dutch launched into presenting our credentials, who we were and who gave us the number. Dutch retrieved a pen and paper out of his pack and wildly scratched down information. It seemed that Carl and his girlfriend Rachael had been expecting us. Alright! We had a place to crash and a stash to boot. We followed Carl’s directions and jumped out of the subway at our designated stop but balked at the sight before us. It was getting dark and the streets of this blighted neighborhood of Brooklyn were nearly deserted except for pockets of hard looking characters checking us out. Fuck, we stood out like three sore hippy thumbs. Our exaggerated gate quickly turned into a gallop as we ran down the seven or eight blocks to the safe house. Finding the address we rang the bell and Carl, our host, opened the door and quickly hustled us in as if he didn’t want the neighbors seeing who he was harboring. We were led up stairs into a typical hippy pad with an old broken down couch swaddled in madras bed spreads and a day glow painted table and matching chairs served as the room’s center piece. We instantly felt at home. Rachael invited us to make ourselves comfortable and offered beers. We accepted and countered her offer with one of our own. “Would you like to help us smoke a joint”? Their eyes lit up with joy and excitement. Due to New York State draconian drug laws marijuana was very expensive and hard to come by. Pot was a coveted commodity. They were impressed that we actually had some and even more impressed by the way it came to us. They hadn’t smoked grass in months and were beyond eager to get high. They had papers we had pot; it was a perfect match. The Bro was right, this was “righteous weed”; just one joint got the five of us totally buzzed and of course the inevitable marijuana munchies struck with a vengeance. Our hosts had a paltry pantry which prompted us to volunteer for the fabled late night munchies run. Carl and Rachael tried to dissuade us from venturing out into their dangerous hood at night. Stoned and starving to death we were undaunted and without a clue stumbled out into the mean streets of Brooklyn which now looked even more bleak and foreboding. I don’t know if it was due to pot paranoia or what but it felt like we were being watched by shifting silhouettes silently lurking within shadows. I’ll have to admit, I was kind of spooked and would have turned back but the need for nourishment ruled. We found an all-night deli just a few blocks away. The caged in night clerk was surprised to see the likes of us strolling into his store. He was probably thinking, “What are these three hippy rubes doing out at this time of night”? “They are either crazy or stoned”! Well, he was right on both counts. Upon our return Carl almost broke into tears because we made it back unscathed and with bags full of snacks. We all laughed hysterically for hours and gorged ourselves into a junk food coma. Sweet sleep came ever so swiftly and a hardwood floor never felt so comfortable.

The next morning Ben woke Dutch and me with a burst of excitement. “Get up you guys, we have a ride to Los Angeles, we have to leave now”! He just got off the phone with an agent from Auto Drive-away a company that provided a vehicle delivery service for people who wanted their car hand delivered without having the tedious task of driving it themselves. Dutch and I sprang out of our bags, dressed in seconds and ate a few hands full of potato chips for breakfast. I rolled a joint for our gracious host who were barely awake and staggering out of their bedroom. We thanked them for sharing their burrow with us and exchanged hugs and fond farewells. I think they were actually kind of sad to see us leave so quickly. We piled into the public transportation and arrived at the Auto Drive-away office which was just a few blocks from the Empire State Bldg. What a mad house! Everyone was in overdrive moving by in a frantic blur except for one character approaching me in slow wobbly motion. He had a wad of money clenched in one hand and his other hand was making a clumsy attempt to zip up his jacket. He stopped in front of me and in a drunken slur asked, “Can you zip me up”? In spite of how odd this might look I zipped him up proper. He pulled a twenty dollar bill from his wad, gave it to me and teetered on down the street. Oh man, a twenty for a quick zip! This would be a nice contribution to the gas kitty. The way the operation worked was a vehicle owner contracted with the company to deliver their car to a specific location. The company would in turn subcontract the actual driving responsibility to anyone over twenty one with a valid driver’s license and pass a physical administered by a MD. There was a doctor’s office conveniently located just a few doors down the hall. For a fee of twenty five dollars apiece and after a very cursory exam we were given a clean bill of health certificate. What a great little racket the company and the doctor had going. We filled out the paper work and then were taken down to the basement parking lot. We were handed the keys to a new Oldsmobile Delta 88 a monster of a vehicle. The company started us off with a full tank; from that point on we had to supply the fuel ourselves but gas was only thirty six cents a gallon in 1971 so we were comfortable with our cash on hand. If we delivered the car on time and in one piece a bonus would be paid by the customer. We had five days to reach Los Angeles. We sped out of New York in a cloud of exhaust and plotted a course to the West Coast.