Rod Tyler and The Toxic Woman

We would ride our bikes to school. Fifth and sixth grade. All the way across town.

The schoolbus was far more convenient, yet riding a bike to anywhere wasn’t far when I was thirteen. Time was a factor. It was fascinating. From east of town. From sand, weeds and sagebrush to old oaks, cottonwoods and pines of the west side. Six or seven miles apart. Always a headwind blowing from the west. Always. Everyday. Every goddamn day.

Like it blew to keep us away.

Gliding through office and government building parking lots I would later work in or have cause to enter. Jumping curbs and sending shopping carts careening down loading bays.

Eventually, we stopped going to school on the days we rode our bikes. We just explored. I learned the beginning of everything back then. Time no longer a factor. I began to spectate. I understood it was important to observe. Watch and learn.

Nothing too serious. A few days a month. Sometimes we took a cab. We earned money by visiting his mother at the grocery store. She gave us cold currency for the coupons we clipped. Completely illegal but she took it right out of the register. She was every bit as confused as we were. Not at all a good mother.

We’d walk away with twenty or thirty bucks a piece. Mad cash for a twelve year old in the 70’s.

I remember smoking pot for the first time with him and his mom. We watched Carrie and the first Rocky movie on cable. All of twelve years old and we were doing bong hits with his mom while mother and son passed a Benson & Hedges menthol back and forth. She was the first woman to cause me to notice misdemeanor eyebrow tweezing abuse.

Not a bad woman, just not equipped to deal with two teenagers on her own.

There was an older sister with huge boobs named Tammy. The third girl to live on our block by that name, my sister being the first. In the middle was a girl belonging to Tim and Mary but overseen by Fred and Mary. I actually kissed her once while she was in hypoglycemic fugue. The third, not the middle. We stole a bottle of Ten High whiskey out of a truck at the end of the block and she drank most of it. We all made out with her.

Then there was the stepfather, Bill. A large unpredictable man with a baby face and a history of being institutionalized. It was a four bedroom trailer and he had his own room. It was always locked. Cool Budweiser poster on the door.

I was smart enough to be wary of the man. I avoided him. I understand now he was bipolar. Effusive and friendly one moment, red faced and raging the next. He wasn’t always around. Sometimes he was in the “hospital”.

It being a trailer with weak internal doors, my friend and I soon figured out how to access Bill’s room. What we found was fascinating.

Guns and ammo. Lots of guns and lots of different kinds of bullets. Everything shining. Neat as a pin. Beer posters and porno mags. It was his paradise. He smoked a pipe and there was evidence everywhere. Cleaners and scrapers and multi-tool instruments that looked like nail clippers. All the attendant paraphernalia……

There was a twin bed and somehow his pillowcase was the same as mine. It was the exact same Star Wars pillowcase as on my bed.

I lifted bullets and powder from that room for my own experiments. I think he even had blasting caps. Drove a lime green faux wood panelled station wagon. It was the the impetus of my pyromaniacal season. It ended up being a long season. I wanted my own fort in the desert filled with porno mags and guns.

I ended up blowing a lot of shit up.

To this day he is one of the most dangerous and unbalanced men I’ve ever met. But a giant vagina nevertheless. I always knew that if things went south to black, I could call my old man at the other end of the same street. Realistically, there was six to eight inches between the two and probably sixty to eighty pounds.

Dad would have shown up in his workboots and his concrete caked hard hat, he never took it off until he showered before dinner. He would have kicked the big whiteboy’s ass or scared the living shit out of him. The next morning, well before the sun, he would have read the paper while smoking a cigarette on the toilet in our only bathroom. lit the furnace, and gone to work pouring concrete on some highrise in the dead of winter in the high desert.

I think it’s pretty obvious why I hung out there. The most interesting lives on my block.

We’d steal chewing tobacco and donuts from the blind man stands in the government buildings. A few times we found kitchens in office buildings and helped ourselves. I can only guess there were no security cameras in those days. I remember being fascinated and somewhat in awe of the amenities provided to office workers. Cool.

Somehow we avoided real trouble. I think because we became excellent thieves. We were shitty liars so we did our best to not end up having to lie. It was only when we had to lie that we got caught. We stole all the mail on our block once. I think we both ended up talking to Carson City’s finest on that one.

Somewhere in this time I had a bully. His name was Ron Dalton and I’m still confused as to how or why I let him push me around for as long as I did. Skinny little prick with a sour face straight out of a Beavis and Butthead episode.

I stood up to him one day and that was it. He was a giant vagina. It was that easy. I burned way more angst over it than I should have. I was a giant vagina too. I should have just beat his ass. Years later, his older brother pulled a knife on me and a friend we called Thos B. Right there in CC in the House of Ormsby.

Somehow it was a walk in the park to shut him down. He was at least as dumb as his brother. I actually got him out in the parking lot and got it away from him. We didn’t struggle, he gave it to me. Ask Thos B.

Anyway.

My friends place was filled with cheap paneling, avacado colored appliances, gold shag carpeting, bad linoleum, macrame, orange plastic ashtrays and knitted stuff.

Plenty of juice in the fridge and granola bars in the pantry. Far less supervision than my house.

If you lived in a Double Wide in that era, there were two huge windows at the front of your trailer facing the street. The windows were bisected by an architectural artifice intended to conceal where the two halves were joined. These windows were always so big as to bathe the forward most chambers with as much ambient light as could be.

When I was twelve, I put my hand through one of those windows and lost a chunk of flesh from my right wrist and muscle from my thumb. It all took place at my good friend’s trailer. He called the ambulance but sent them to my house. Told me he was looking to get in as little trouble as possible. This, despite the front of his trailer sporting the random graffiti of my sprayed blood.

We wrapped a roll of paper towels around my wrist and hand and pointed our bikes towards my place.

The ambulance ride was something.

There’s a lot more I want to tell you. Ketchup packets are an enviromental disaster but it’s the best ketchup there is. I’m now forty three. These events were thirty years ago. I imagine there’s plaque in my arteries and my teeth are gonna start falling out eventually.

I have no children and that’s ok because I never really grew up.

I entertained the notion but it’s just not for me.

I twisted and cheated but mostly in my younger years. I spent some formative years way off the map. I am flawed. I have regrets but I don’t lose sleep. I never really fucked anybody. Not nearly as hard as I’ve been, for what it’s worth.

I bought a house once. It was beautiful. Me and my fiancee lived in it for over two years. It makes me sad to think about it. The Bean died there. We painted and landscaped to make it our own. I still smart when I think of that cat and that life. I think her death was pregnant with things I could no longer avoid.

The whole thing certainly seems to have marked the end and the beginning of many things.

It’s always ending and beginning.

What to do with melancholy on any given day.

Sometimes I wish I could start over. I’ll bet that’s not uncommon.

Did I tell you about the five cars waiting for us at the county line and being issued foam slippers and an orange jump suit? Making the front page of my hometown paper?

Um, there’s plenty more. Lots more. Yep.

Life’s been good to me so far.

Drinks for my friends.

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