I had been away for several months. Most of the time on the eastern seaboard, the Catskill mountains, Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island. Mostly just to get out of the islands and see old friends. Attending music festivals was an added bonus.
But the time comes when you have to go home. There’s weeds to pull and trees to trim. The islands suffer the pain of the summer monsoon which means it rains three times per day and causes massive growth to all organic entities. A shit ton of growth! And its still the monsoon season with hurricanes lurking around every corner. Its hot and the humidity is through the roof.
To get back into an old routine I begin my daily trips to the bait shop for beer and shoot the breeze with my old friends. On Tuesday I still play trivia down to the Tiki bar across the highway. I get caught up on what I’ve missed and it seems I’ve missed a lot. The local characters never cease to amaze. One of the best parts of being away is that you are not involved in the local shenanigans. That’s a very good thing.
Just yesterday Harry, a local laborer of sorts, got arrested for drunken driving. He had just gotten a regular job with an air conditioner company and was driving one of their vans. Sadly for him he was driving the company van while extremely intoxicated. Got his picture on the Sheriff’s web page with all the advantages warranted therein. I always thought of him as a dope. Mostly because he was a doper. That isn’t unusual down here. Drugs are part of the culture. But most people have the inner smarts that keeps them off the road. If you want to drive the sheriff’s department will make you famous for a day. Its entirely up to the individual.
Sometime in July another buddy, Alonzo, got into a fight at the Tiki. Seems that a local insulation contractor decided to deride Alonzo’s girlfriend. Over and over again. He’s a big guy and known locally as “stupid”. Everyone had a good buzz going and Alonzo was quite forgiving to a point. He gave a few warnings but apparently they went in one ear and out the other. Alonzo left to take a leak but came back with a plan.
The Tiki is basically an outdoor bar with a thatched roof and open sides. There’s a railing on the outside edges with a counter to set your drinks on. The deck is about two feet off the ground and is open to the grass below. Stupid was standing next to one of these railings. Alonzo came out of the restroom with a plan. He had also snorted four or five lines of coke. Instant courage! He came around on the outside of the bar and caught stupid by the legs. He dragged him under the lower railing onto the grass below. Then he proceeded to pummel this 250 pound man to sensibility. Or a lack of sensibility. Apparently he got what he deserved. Alonzo got a standing ovation and the three piece band stopped their set to join in the festivities. When it was all over the band did a rendition of Jimmy Dean’s, “Big Bad John”. Wish I could have been there.
A week after I got back Alonzo and another friend, Benny, decided to go on a bender. This was an alcohol, cocaine fueled bender. I saw them down to the bait shop one morning after their first day. Total wrecks! They asked if I would like to join in. Nope. Not at my age. They put in another drug fueled day spending the night on lawn chairs at the Tiki after it closed. At the bait shop the next day I saw them again. Zombies! Safe to say there was one wife and one girlfriend that showed up and threw appropriate shit fits. If it wasn’t so pitiful it would have been funny.
Just after I got back the bait shop changed hands. Time marches on. Its still in good hands and will continue to make money. Bought by a nice young couple whom I like a lot. The bait shop owners historically have appointed the mayor of northern Lower Sugarloaf Key. A position I’ve occupied for the past year. I issue dictates and platitudes that no one pays attention to. You just expect that. If I say you guys should lay off the drugs for awhile I get laughter. Then the guy that got arrested for drunk driving shows up and they all head to the cab of a pickup truck in the parking lot to do some more lines. None of these guys will reach the age of 60. But that’s their business. Pretty good human beings in all other facets of life. Preaching to them would be a total waste of time.
I still go down to the bridge every morning for a little figurative fishing and some peace and quiet. As always someone will come by in the early morning that want to shoot the breeze. How the hell do they find me? Who wants to talk at 7:30 am? The hurricane is off in the distance and I get a few rain squalls because the storm is sucking up all the atmospheric energy it can. Every drop of rain means another weed I have to pull. God, I wish I was still in Newport!
So I continue to pull those weeds and trim those trees. On and on it goes. Its so hot and humid that I have to hit the air conditioning multiple times. When I go outside after one of these rest stops the recently arrested drunk driver shows up on a bicycle and asks if he can borrow my car. Borrow my car. Not yet convicted but soon to be and wants to borrow my car. Are you bat shit crazy? Hit the road, bud!
Twenty Coast Guard cruisers have arrived in town to load up supplies to take to the
Bahamas. Another sad situation. A private organization is starting up a plan to take supplies and personnel to Freeport to help with the recovery. All three of the above mentioned dopers volunteered for this endeavor and were accepted. Two of them have serious carpentry and electrician skills. The drunk driver is a good boat coxswain. Maybe God has a plan for them. Won’t be any drugs in the Bahamas in the near future. And the beer is sure to be warm. I guess the destruction they will see will be a form of rehab. Any port in a storm.
So, I continue to pull weeds and trim trees. Has to be done. Going to play trivia at the Tiki tonight with Marty. Marty just got fired from the new restaurant in front of the Tiki for fooling around with the owner’s 24 year old daughter. The owner chased him around the kitchen with a baseball bat. To hear Marty tell it he just gave the daughter a hit off a joint and then gave her a harmless peck on the cheek. Somehow he’ll come out of this smelling like a rose.
Just had three downpours in the last two hours. Weeds everywhere. Sure could have used another two weeks in Newport. Maybe next year.