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About that day
So. You wanna know how it all went down? Fine. I’ll tell you.
Well, I’ll tell you what I remember, anyway.
It was a pretty long time ago. 76? 77? Something like that. Back when I was living up above the shoe store.
Yeah. Remember that place? It was crazy. I think they called it a railroad flat. Like, the whole thing was laid out consecutively, like cars on a train. Room after room. You couldn’t get to one without passing through the others. No hallways or anything. Just these four rooms, stacked together… Like… 1, 2, 3, 4.
The place had a window that looked out over Front Street. Remember? You could see all the action downtown from there. Well… what action there was.
Small town. Yeah. Not a hell of a lot going on. But summers were always busier, what with kids out of school and nothing to do. They did a lot of cruising… just walking or driving around downtown… looking for parties, scoring drugs, getting laid. The usual.
Seemed like Rog was everywhere that summer. On his bike. I remember looking out my window and seeing him, turning slow circles in the empty street… all by himself at dusk on a Sunday.
We laughed at him. Remember? Weird old dude on a bike. Like, he must have been 30 or something. And into the young chicks. Always the young ones. I think the older ones must've been way too smart for him.
The day you wanna hear about… it was pretty hot. Typical summer day back there. My place was hot, being upstairs and all, and not having any kind of air circulation, what with the only one window and all. So it was pretty sticky up there.
I didn’t have a phone, remember? So I went down to the Red Rooster. Put a dime in the coin-op phone and called up Steve, and said What’s doin’, man? and he agreed to meet me by the tracks.
We really didn’t have anything in mind. We sat there, just across the tracks from the store, by the lake, and smoked some weed. Rob and Richie came by. And we smoked some more weed. And it was hot. We were all pretty bored by then.
When Rog came by, we kinda perked up. Because we always got such a laugh out of him. I dunno, man. I still don’t really know what his trip was. Retarded, maybe? Crazy? Fucked in the head from too many drugs? I dunno. But man, that dude was weird.
Remember his hair? That big fuckin’ fro? Never seen that on a white guy before. Big fuckin’ fro. On that long skinny body. And him always cruising on that bike with the banana seat. Looked like some kinda freak, man. Like an overgrown kid with a really old face, all wrinkled and hardcore tanned from the sun, and those perma-stoned looking half-closed eyes. Or maybe they were crazy eyes.
Wasn’t he French? He talked funny. Yeah, I think he was French. Whatever. It was one more thing to make fun of.
That day, when he came by the tracks where me and Steve and the guys were smoking, we were bored, so we asked if he wanted a toke. He said yes. And I guess it started there.
Nothing much happened at first. We just sat there, smoking and talking, watching the geese and whatnot on the lake. Then a train went by. And we all shut up because the rumble was so fuckin’ loud, we couldn’t have heard each other anyway.
As this train is rumbling past, Rog starts shaking. Like, his whole body… vibrating. First he’s just sitting and then he’s standing up, and it turns into this whole, like, spastic kinda dance. He’s mouthing something, but we can’t hear him. Can’t hear anything over the train. After it’s passed, he looks at us all bug-eyed and smiling. Says, Hey you guys, wanna do some shrooms?
Of course we do. Shrooms, man. Like, instant escape from boredom. Only trouble is, Rog doesn’t have them on him; he’s got them stashed in Canoe.
Canoe, man. Like… really. What kinda dimwit shit is that? Why would anyone stash their drugs like, 10 miles away?
But Rog was a freak, right? And we had nothing else to do. So we said Yeah, sure, let’s go to Canoe.
I dunno how much time you’ve spent down there, but it’s a hole, man. Really depressing. All these little houses, and they’re all sort of home-made. Like, no right angles or anything, anywhere. But it’s so out in the backwoods, it’s sort of safe. Or feels safe, anyway. And maybe that’s why Rog stashed his drugs there. He thought Canoe was safe.
No one had a car so we hitchhiked. Me, Steve, Rob, Richie and Rog with his fuckin’ bike. I kept telling him to just fuckin’ ride to Canoe on his bike and we’d meet him there, but he’d latched onto us and wasn’t letting go, and it was really starting to get on my nerves.
Just because a guy’s gonna give you drugs doesn’t mean he’s your new best friend. But sometimes you have to play like that. At least till you get what you want.
So there we are on the highway... the TCH... in the blazing sun, five guys and a bike. No one’s gonna pick us up, I keep saying, over and over. Like, who’s got room for five guys AND a fuckin’ bike? Most of what’s go
44: My first home
Or, at least, the first one I can remember since I lived in another home in Ocean View until I was two.
9426 Atwood Ave, Ocean View, Norfolk, VA 23503. The school where I attended pre-K and kindergarten is right up the street, a beautiful Art Deco monstrosity, and a building that had that unique scent of "old" that actually smelled good.
We moved into this house in 1981 when I was just two. Our room, the one my sister and I shared, is the double windows on the right. Our room was pink and featured bunk beds made up with Strawberry Shortcake bedding. The kitchen was painted a super bright orange, and had a fake brick backsplash behind the stove. I was always fascinated by that fake brick as I rinsed the dishes that my sister washed, mainly because it looked substantial but was really just plastic.
To the right of the house is a dirt driveway leading to the enormous backyard in which we spent many happy hours, playing on our old metal swingset. We even camped out back the summer my grandmother stayed with us, since we had to give up our bedroom for her to stay in. One time the neighborhood kids and I were playing Red Rover, and right as I went to break through their arms, the kids let go -- and I landed on my face in the dirt of the driveway. I used to love to take my bike with the training wheels and straddle the ruts of the driveway, so I would pedal and pedal and pedal but go nowhere. That driveway was bordered by a huge bush of honeysuckle that smelled heavenly when it was in bloom.
It's amazing all the things I remember from living in this house, especially when you consider that I only lived here full-time for four years. But I suppose it's something burned into my memory, something I'll never forget.
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