Saturday, August 15, 2009
DRIVE, HE SAID
it probably has everything to do w/being bobo's son.
bobo loved to get in his car & just drive. he didn't care where he was going because he figured one way or another he'd find something interesting to do. drive long & far enough in any direction, he reasoned, & you'd find a bar & women in that bar. that i was initially his unwitting companion on many of these drives didn't really matter to him. it's true, i proved to be the perfect cover for his escapades but he'd have driven on alone w/o companionship & he did too.
when i was younger his disappearance into some roadside bar "to see someone" would become annoying after 15minutes in the car alone. sure, i had the radio to listen to but i was a little hyper-active as a kid & after 30minutes i was usually going batty. as revenge, i'd set all the various dashboard accoutrements to go off when he came back & started the car. i never thought to get out of the car & go into the bar after him. eventually, i did & was usually allowed to sit in the bar, somewhere out of the way but never so far out of the way that i couldn't see what went on in this strange new world of adults.
before that, though, i sat in the car. of course, the smell of alcohol emanated from him when he got back to the car. the thick redolence of whiskey & cigar smoke pervaded the upholstery of his car. it was a heady combination for me, one that i found slightly intoxicating even then. i remember on rainy weekend days, going out to bobo's car, laying in the backseat, listening to the rain & inhaling the car's aroma deeply as i fell asleep. on our nights out together, riding on to krispy kreme(my reward for sitting in the car)or chasing some ambulance(nothing but a thrill), it never struck me that he wouldn't get me to where ever we were going.
years later, i was following bobo through some alabama back woods roads. my car had broken down in gulf shores & we'd gotten shorty white to come over there w/us to fix it. shorty had listened to the vw choke & gag & sputter to start, thought for a second, gone over to a tree & broke off a small limb that he jammed somewhere into the engine, & directed me to try starting the car again. it started right up & purred like a finely tuned porsche. shorty was hopping about like some barnyard animal, cackling & gurgling. "ok, let's go. you follow me," was bobo's command. shorty continued his cornpone pantomime as he climbed into the car w/bobo. he was sure tickled w/himself.
so i kept following bobo as we curved & dipped our way over what was becoming roads that could only be described as pig trails. "where in the fuck is he going?," i kept wondering. he took a left onto a side road you couldn't even see from the main road, into thick, seemingly impervious woods. suddenly, there in the middle of nowhere was an abandoned motel, decayed but still rotting in the sun, a testament to someone's failed dreams & ambitions. i remember seeing the algae laden pool, stagnant & green, festering away & suddenly felt sad. the abandoned pool seemed to carry some deeper significance beyond what my immediate image repertoire recognized. we'd both slowed down to take in this odd apparition but bobo suddenly accelerated & disappeared into another clump of thick alabama forest. by the time i caught up the forest had fallen away again & we were pulling into a small marina, w/about 3dozen boats anchored & the intercoastal waterway glistening expansively. i'd have never thought we were anywhere near water, much less such a beautifully languid scene.
shorty scrambled out of bobo's car, doing another version of his arcane jig. he looked like a spastic walter brennan. "i'll be damned, i'll be damned," he was chanting, "who'd a'known, who'd a'known." i had to agree but i should have known. i'd done this kind of thing before w/bobo & he always seemed to lead me to mystical fishcamps or private eating clubs or fully equipped hunting lodges & they were always way off the beaten path, which always made them feel like unique discoveries or hidden treasures. the marina had, as its central point, a rundown bar & grill. the three of us sat on the dock outside, drinking beer, while shorty & bobo talked about "big titted mary" & the other whores in p'cola's red-light district way back when. after about 30 minutes, i realized it was quiet except for the bar patron's laughter, an occasional motorboat pulling up, or the water lapping up against the pilings of the pier. if you listened hard enough you could just barely make out the sound of time slowing down & feel the sadness of a million abandoned swimming pools slip away into the large space of blue sky & clear water.
this guy's work got me thinking about these things.