Monday, June 21, 2010

Daddy Comes Around

Yesterday was Father's Day, as I'm sure everyone in America knows. An interesting fact about Father's Day: it's the day when the most collect calls are made. No joke...and it's kinda sad.

As I've mentioned before, my dad and I have a tumultuous relationship. We have some really bad times under our belt- and some really good ones. I've also mentioned that my father is a great storyteller-in fact, one of the first peaceful moments my dad and I had was over him telling a I'll tell you that story to honor him.

It was summertime in Michigan, and I was seventeen years old. My dad had come home for a visit, and he was due to go back (to where ever it was that he was working at the time) the next day. He was sitting in my bandroom (which was a living room at the furthest end of the house from the bedrooms, and given to me so that my friends and I had a place to hang out and play music), playing solitaire on the computer. I came in and put a Simon and Garfunkel album into my stereo, and started playing "America"- one of my all time favorites. I sat down on the floor and picked up my guitar, intending to pick out the song. Out of nowhere, my dad said "you know, this song reminds me of a story."
I kinda smiled, continued to pick, and said "oh yeah?"
"Yeah, turn it down a little. I wanna tell you about it."
I sighed, moved my hair out of my face, and turned down the volume. I sat down on the couch, looking at Daddy. He didn't turn around, just kept playing solitaire.
"When I worked out at the geothermal plant in Nevada, me and some boys used to go hunting when we'd get some time off. Well, we decided one time that we'd go deer huntin' in Colorado, so when we got a long weekend, we set off. We were in Old Faithful (my dad's 1974 GMC Sierra that still runs), with that camper on the back, and it was colder 'n hell. We made a stop once we got into Colorado to get some whiskey at this little general store, and got some provisions, cigarettes, stuff like that. While we were in there, it started to snow, and by the time we left, you couldn't see five feet in front of you."
I interrupted: "And you kept on driving? Are you crazy? In the mountains of Colorado, in a snow storm, you kept driving?"
This is about the time he turned around to look at me. "Yeah, I kept on going. I was the one driving, and I didn't see no need in stopping. Just mixed me a little whiskey in my Coke and kept on truckin. Well, about thirty miles outside of town, headin' north, I saw this hitchhiker. One of my buddies, Brown, said "Lord, what's that fool doin hitchhiking in this weather?" And I said 'I reckon doin' what we're doin'- tryin' to get somewhere." So, I start slowing down, and lord did those boys have a fit. Asked me if I'd lost my mind, cause this hitchhiker could kill 'em all, and all that. And I said "well, if I don't stop, this man's liable to die. Shut up, we'll be alright." So, I stopped, and the hitchhiker got in and took off the hood of his coat, and lo and behold it was an Indian girl with the longest, blackest hair I've ever seen. Then the boys really got loud, and Green said Lord, my wife's gonna kill me! We can't take a woman with us! Our wives will kill us!" and I said "My wife would kill me if I didn't. Shut up, Green." And I asked her where she was going, and why she was out in this weather. She told me she was a college student, and she was going to her sister's in Redwood, Colorado, which is by the mountains. So, I changed course, and that's where we went, 'cause I wasn't gonna let that girl walk all the way to her sister's house in a snow storm. We got to this pretty little old town called Redwood, and then she directed me to her sister's house, which was in the foothills. It was just this little log cabin, all by itself in the middle of nowhere. The girl asked us to stay so that she and her sister could make us some food, as a payment of kindness, so I agreed, and we went in, Brown and Green all atwitter about how their wives were going to kill them."
"Lord, you'd think their wives would have more sense."
"You'd be surprised at how little sense people have, darlin. Anyway- so, we get in the house, and there's nothing but a table and some chairs in there, and this huge fireplace- it must've been six feet long. And her sister was sitting on a rug in front of this roaring fire- naked as a jay bird, with her guitar, and she was playing that song you were just playing." So, I sat down at the table and the boys did the same, and Green asked "you think she's trying to seduce us?" You know, he whispered it, but that girl heard him, and without even breaking up the song she said "there will be no fucking here tonight"- really, she sang it. And I just about died laughing. And when she was done, they cooked us breakfast, and asked why we were coming to Colorado, and when theylearned we were there to hunt, they offered to guide us through the mountains. Those girls knew every inch of those woods, and where the deer and the bear were, and how to survive and butcher meat. So, they went hunting with us too, as our guides. When we left, I left them a deer, and we gave them about four hundred dollars apiece for guiding us up there. I bet if we hadn't had them with us, we'd 've been in sorry shape."
"Did you ever see them again?"
"I went back up there, once. I went back to hunt and was gonna check on 'em, see if maybe they'd want to be my guides again, make some money. Their mama and daddy were drunks, so they were basically on their own. But they weren't there anymore. I wish I remembered those girls' names so that maybe I could find out how they're doin' now, all these years later. They were so cool. And every time I hear that song, I think of them and wonder if they're okay."

That's my dad.

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