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Accidentally Yours
Notes on Postmodern Nomadism: 4/3/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
SEP/29/23
It is strange to become part human so late in life, to have a home town and a circle of friends who are, simply friends, people met in life rather than training partners in the knucklehead fraternity which has been my tattered refuge. This last weekend was a bit of both.
This time last week I woke with bronchitis, with tarry goo clogging my lungs. The Baltimore City pharmacy had been declining to transfer my refills to the Portland pharmacy I use, for a solid month. I was out, a week from the death bed with no antibiotics as my garbage can lungs filled with puss.
Doctor Dread to the rescue.
Last Wednesday a script for the simple steroids and antibiotics came in the mail. I took it to the darling pharmacy tech at the Safeway. Back east, pharmacy people treat me like scum. Here, the darling smiles and says, looking at the envelop from Baltimore, and hearing my tarry voice, “Oh My God, what a great doctor! We will get this filled ASAP, James—feel better!”
The fever came just as I started to dose and I was two days sick in bed, delirious, listening to Ovid and writing a little.
I had scheduled training in Centralia, Washington with James Anderson, who Joe was taking Neal and I to train with at a park.
I wrote something and Dove called near dinner, wanting to know if I was ever coming back to The Dive Bar, saying that Joshua Weed was not a regular and they didn’t know him and I need not be embarrassed for putting a hand on him, as the others were glad I did. Further, though we were two weeks into Spring, on April’s doorstep, that it was going to snow and I shouldn’t sleep “in that cold garage.”
She picks me up, takes me to the Other Dive Bar, where we have one drink, and home to her family. Her father and son are glad to see me and I end up playing cards until 3:30 in the morning. When I wake, the eye is seizing, the fever is pounding in my head and she insists on driving me back to the Three Bear Den, where I get into training clothes and forget everything but the gear and keys, leaving my wallets and I.D. in the garage.
Joe picks me up, then gets Neal at the train station and we are off, three ludites in our 30s, 50s and 60s, with our flip phones driving up I-5 to spar with James Anderson, young rugby player and MMA stud. There is a conversation I cannot recall, my brain fuzzy. We drive through rain, sleet, rain, sunlight and more rain. Lost in Centralia, we finally find James at the Rotary Riverside Park, [1] having warmed up, lacing on his shoes under camo pants filled up with Odysseusian thighs, looking up from under buzz cut skull and grinning under rakish mustache, “If this doesn’t look like a trio of ne’er do wells!”
Neal just started boxing in his 50s.
Joe, the welterweight has been sick.
James is limping, “Just joined a bad-ass MMA club, not a big club, but ten real-deal dudes to roll with. I got worked over by this giant gorilla last night. Maybe this will straighten me out, get some perspective at least, little guy there, big guy here...”
So it goes, Neal and Joe sparring with glove and stick and James and I pairing off. He too had just been sick. I said, “Don’t take it easy on the body—I have a real bad bronchitis and can’t cough it up.”
He punches me in the sensitive eye and it hurts less then when I talk.
I head in peek-a-boo and he reaches around and ham fists a left hook behind the rib and a full pad of lung butter gets ejected five feet out the other side of my mouth. We were boxing in a hail storm under giant cedars. Then we were boxing in the rain, then under gray skies.
We switched to sticks and—lo and unfold—I felt good, began stalking the big side of meat and playing Captain Crook to his Peter Ham. He did win the “Last can of beans,” knife duel. We finished with boxing and did some sparring with Neal, who rattled my teeth with a right hand—and I felt right as rain, just like the rain that was coming down while the local kids watched us from the jungle gym platform.
Back east, we would have been interviewed by cops and warned about outraging the locals. Here, we were a family attraction.
Walking back in the gathering rain—a new batch—James had an even gait, Joe had not puked, Neal was refreshed, astonished that I seemed to be feeling better than earlier despite my face and forehead being scuffed up and pink, “Like you just stepped out of the prize ring.”
We committed healing by tactical battery.
At the cars, we parted, James showing me four paperback books by our favorite author, Robert E. Howard: Swords of Sharazar, Three Bladed Doom, The Lost Valley of Iskander and Breckinridge Elkins: A Gent from Bear Creek. “James, have you read these?”
“These three are collected in El Borak and Other Desert Adventures. I read these paperback versions as a boy and again in the collected hardback. But Elkins, I have not read.”
“Here you go then, a gift from me for all the good training and I look forward to reading your review of it. We will keep in touch, sir, and when our paths cross again we’ll train.”
Three of us trained sick or hurt, and Neal, the oldest boxing freshman I know of, actually ran two miles to catch a greyhound bus to get into Portland for the pickup. I am proud to be associated with such men.
On the way back we discussed Plantation America. After dropping Neal off at Union Station, Joe dropped me off at the Three Bear Den in a downpour of hail. I got dressed in the garage while Yeti Waters and Gary the Apache tuned their guitars for the April 1 Saturday jam session. I had a movie date with Dove, Ken and Swan. Afterwards I agreed to return to The Dive Bar to eat some Cantonese crow.
“Hello, hello, glad to see you—Coors light, right!” said Amy.
Mister Lee nodded to me, so I approached, “Mister Lee, I apologize for the other night. I was out of line.”
“Oh Jimz, no worry—welcome back!” and we shook hands, me discovering that he had a good deal stronger grip than had that knave Joshua Weed.
I sat down at the Regular Table and Ken said, “People like you here—a shame you’re leaving soon.”
Leaving the bar in the midnight snow Dove looks at me, “I know you have girlfriends in other towns. Please don’t make me run over some young girl for going after you here.”
I put up my hands, “Deal,” then smiled and said, “A white woman or a black bitch would threaten me.”
She said, “That makes no sense, you’re not the competition, they are, all those lonely young witches out there!”
It’s been a strange trip.
The next morning Kelly took me for a drive out to Cascade Locks, Bonneville Dam, Hood River and The Dalles along scenic highway 30, through rain, sleet, hail, snow and “slush or I don’t know what.” As he checked his fishing holes and conferred with other fishermen, taking me to a sturgeon hatchery, I found myself once again guided by a learned local historian, a man who has fished these waters and knows every spot along the river and hole in it for 50 years, like Bob in Utah and Paul in Missouri.
Is this really the accident it is supposed to be?
Notes
-1. Ironically, my father was a fund raiser for Rotary International.
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