My last dreams were about Iko and all the love we shared... nightmares that haunted my sleep. I thought I could see people, but I really couldn’t see anyone and they couldn’t really see me...a friend once told me not to become the Steppenwolf but because Iko was gone ... I didn’t give a fuck anymore and I ate another magic mushroom.
I got this cake for my fourth birthday and it had little red and black plastic cowboys and Indians on it. Somehow the image had just stuck in my mind for a long time. I had a dream about the birthday and the cake recently. I kept seeing the little plastic men on the cake who were suspended in battle. At that time I was happy because I wasn’t alone. My parents were divorced but they were together that day. I had a lot of friends around. The party was at Farrell’s but that place doesn’t even exist anymore. That fourth-year-birthday party was cool because I was happy and I didn’t think life could be any other way. A lot of people were around and I felt secure. Now if my birthday comes and there is no party, I don’t really care, though if I have a celebration that would be okay.
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My father always wore these dark shades, but he had a whole lot of sunglasses. I guess because he was always breaking them or losing them. I just remember him having a lot of sunglasses and I guess that’s why my sister and I like wearing them so much. I think it was to hide his eyes because he was on cocaine or weed, or just trying to be cool. He was tranquil, really chill and would be all cool and relaxed just taking it all in looking at the hips and asses of the women. Dad always made me feel cool and relaxed. I just thought of that now I had to see my father sometime soon. I should plan a trip to see him. I don't care if I had to ride a Greyhound bus or not. I missed him more than ever now.
Before, in another life, I was so lame. If only I could have been as together then as I am now. Not that I'm totally level but I'm not the nervous wreck I was in high school. Now I feel like I'm getting to know my father and myself in a new way. A way that was impossible before but maybe the same is true for him. I didn't want to fall into the cliché that things happen for a reason. There are so many things that have been ruined by my emotions. I had to kick myself sometimes. I let things just fly by me or into me. The relationship with my father is one of those things. He was someone that was more valuable to me now more than ever. There are a lot of stories written about women's relationships with their children but the relationship between fathers and sons is just as important and always will be. Now once again here was another one of those special times when I had to see him.
I become this way sometimes. Stuck in the past.
Just thinking on an impulse.
I hallucinated on mushrooms or weed and I walked. All these thoughts were inside of my head. Sometimes I just can’t stand still. Call it impulsive if you want but much of my life hardly seems like an impulse. These emotions that I have, that are so strong that they drive me insane. They're uncomfortable sometimes. I've become my own worst enemy and most of that has been due to my emotional state. I've scoured the city on just a thought, losing myself for hours and days. Sometimes it seems like years. Now I look in the mirror and realize that thought and time are one and the same. I think my father had seen something new in our relationship too.
Now I was trying desperately to inflate myself back up again and it's taking some time, so that I could explode again.
Cowboys and Indians are personas that could be any of us. At times I was an Indian attacking the covered wagons, other times it was my father. We all reverse roles sometimes. More than any of us would like to admit wrestling with our expectations. I couldn't be naiver to my own imagination. I couldn't be more Machiavellian. It’s funny how a dream could change your whole day. I was left with a lot of time to contemplate my emotions, sometimes too much. I had to step out of my head, but it was hard to do.
Every day you're shooting it out with people in an illusionary way. Some days I feel like a cowboy and some days I feel like an Indian and sometimes I feel like both. My guns were totally cocked at all times. Maybe I might go someplace and have a drink and blow somebody’s head
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off. The high-speed chases on television were runaway stagecoaches. It still looked cheesy though. I was eyeing everything from a distance in a small western town on the frontier drifting out on the landscape like a coyote. I waited high atop a bluff like Clint Eastwood looking down on unsuspecting passengers from the roof of my apartment building.
I rolled a blunt and stuck it in my mouth. Now I was feeling like Mario Van Peebles. I was feeling like Sweet Sweet Back. Night turned to day. There were fiends that existed in the day and the night. In the laundromat across the street that would pose as a saloon, a crackhead broke into coin-operated washing machines that were already broken; he was a fishing for quarters and then he would later buy a crack rock. Central American Indios, mestizos and children ran around the laundromat. An old mestizo drank vodka until he needed to cut it with water to keep from having to buy another bottle. He said people called him Cucamonga. He had been around. He told me a story about a famous prostitute in Arizona that he knew that had become a millionaire and she had bailed him out of a bad situation when he needed some money and when he was trying to get to Los Angeles. Now he’s an alcoholic wasting away in front of a laundromat. I can see him on the curb in suspended animation, an inebriated mannequin. He always looked thirsty. I could see him in the laundromat drinking a fifth of vodka. The gangsters were always around, and it had all of the potential for some really fucked up situation but there was this intergalactic peace. I ate a doughnut and drank large cups of coffee filled with sugar that drifted to the bottom of the Styrofoam cup. I played soccer video games, sometimes
against other opponents, who were doing their laundry. Everyone seemed to hate where I lived but it was something else to me. It was home. It suited me. It was fucked up.
Prostitutes wandered in and out of a bar across the street looking shaky and desperate and arguing with a homeless man who cleaned up the parking lot for handouts. He had dreads that were graying and he could talk fast and break you down into a molecule of street intelligence and my neighbor called him Spirit. I always gave him change when I saw him. Shopkeepers were friendly but weary. It felt like a dozen vultures would descend upon me as soon as I entered the laundromat or left my apartment. I had my six-shooter ready. I drank Cuban espressos and smoked weed. My clothes were never dried and sometimes the machines ate my quarters, but the crack fiend showed me a trick of how to get my quarters back. I looked at his hand. It had a huge gash in it. Once he put his hands around my neck because he was high on crack one day while I was writing in my journal and he was so wacked out of his head. He could have killed me right then, but he drew back like a wraith or a broken piece of glass from a bottle, stuck in flesh.
My glasses tinted automatically and I took to the streets. There were women all around with children and more on the way, young girls in jeans so tight I wondered if they could really breathe and the youths on skateboards and older Central American fathers with their families. The sun seemed intent on wielding its power. There was a lot of crazy shit happening around me all the time, little people in a big city.
Some Central American gangsters were selling crack 49
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and trying to look like they were hanging out. Gossip ran through the saloon laundromat about someone getting busted in the motel next to my apartment building. I stayed as far away from that place as I could. The Honduran restaurant next to the bad hotel had good food but the people seemed like they only wanted to serve their own kind and they always served me the wrong dish. I felt like a stranger in my own country.
I talked to people on the street. Mathew, who was from some part of New York, talked to me about the crack scene and how if you went toward the McArthur Park at a certain time of the night you could see people with money coming into the park trying to get drugs. He said that they had a lot of money and if you had a crack pipe you could sell it for a hundred dollars. It was hard for him to walk but I would see him out there all the time and sometimes we would smoke weed right there as traffic would role by. I used to smoke weed on the stoop and people would look up and I would be smoking a joint, but Mathew stayed in the streets; he was homeless.
He knew all about the streets.
I bought collectable comic books from some old Sammy Hagar–looking rocker who was crippled from some motorcycle accident. He talked about some old club in Hollywood called the Zero Club started by Eddie Van Halen and how his father created quadraphonic sound but his idea was stolen. Maybe he was just another crackhead with stories. My heart called out for compassion but if I showed too much, I would be shot down soon in a hail of bullets. Gangster men with shaved heads and women with too much eye makeup and dyed blonde hair roamed the boulevards and everyone seemed like they wanted to be a
street tough and everyone was in some type of way. We all assumed our positions and levels in the hierarchy of the streets. We all wanted the same thing. I had a college degree, hopes and dreams of becoming some famous writer. I didn't have a hungry family waiting for me to bring them worms. I didn't adorn myself with a lot of 14k gold or drive through the streets blasting music, nor did I look bourgeoisie. I only drew attention because of my hair, which looked matted and dreaded at the same time. The mestizo women distanced themselves from me on the sidewalk and on the bus or maybe they gave me curious looks trying to wonder where I was from. Nothing was normal. It just wasn't. There were no families in my apartment building and if there were, they moved out. Racist hipsters looking for apartments always asked if Latinos lived in the building with too many kids.
Every day it was the same circus, the same bandits waiting on unsuspecting settlers. I awoke early sometimes in anticipation of work. I would catch two buses and travel farther into the city, across town or downtown. Then I would arrive at some school and I was always a stranger until I had substituted sometimes there, and the children became familiar with me and liked me because I gave them a lot of freedom and spoke Spanish. They were curious about my hair and everything that I did and watched me like a hawk. I was being observed and studied and sometimes the class turned into a discussion about me. Sometimes it wasn't so easy. It was combative or near the brink of war with shouting and students being removed from the class. A young man standing inches from my face and saying, “Fuck you!” When I would go to cover another room during the day I would receive a mysterious phone
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call from the classroom phone and I would pick it up and “Fuck you” would be screamed at me again.
The young girls dressed too provocatively for their age and the young men were trying to be too hard. Their environment didn't allow them to be any other type of way or maybe they weren't letting themselves. Some students already had kids and what could I say about this? What could I tell a fifteen-year-old girl about life that already had size-D lactating breasts and children?
I didn't have a girlfriend, a car or a cell phone. I went out with my friends and we drank beer and liquor and talked. Women became something of a luxury, like having a nice car or a nice apartment. It seemed like everyone had gone away. The women I met were always demanding and had an indifference to my lifestyle, which put me at odds with their material instincts. I stood on top of the roof at night and looked at the Los Angeles skyline that looked like a fake movie backdrop, the type of place that I could piss on and melt into a little ball of plastic.
My grandmother saved a cowboy and an Indian from my four-year-old birthday cake. When I visited her and put my dishes in the sink, I would look at a little glass jar that held a sponge and I could see the cowboy and the Indians facing off with one another for eternity. Later it would be little green army men, but something was more appealing about the Indians and cowboys than anything else. When you played Westerns you always got to come back to life, or when you played guns. In reality you died and an ambulance came and hopefully you could cling to life long enough for them to take you to the county hospital and you might live.
There was a morning when I woke up and it was my 52
first day on a long-term school assignment. When I got downstairs to the lobby I found blood all over the walls and floors and there was blood in the elevator.
Day and night were one.
At that hour anything was possible. Dreams were real. There was no doubt about it. The building had become a prop downtown and my life was an even bigger facade. Blood on the concrete and life was cheap. All that could possibly happen was happening. Nothing now seemed out of the ordinary. Life rolled along like fire and water and oil. There was a war that we were all fighting each day that drew down on upon us. I kept a rap song inside of my head so long that I forgot about time. I didn't wear a watch anymore. Life became a theater and a magnifying glass by which I looked at everything in life. I couldn't escape the past even if I tried. I cried every day inside. I retraced steps occasionally, sometimes literally. Thinking back to my old elementary school field days trying to think about how I would do things differently. Here I was waiting for life to move on to the next phase. I had somehow propelled myself forward. There wasn't any other way for me to turn. I burned slowly and the fires I had kept shoveling coal into, inside of my head. What kind of cruel game was I playing with myself?
The girl in the magazine was real; she looked like Iko, only I would have missed it on Alvarado Street. I thought back again to the blood I found one morning all over the lobby of my apartment building and how the building seemed like some giant human Aztec sacrifice. There was a trail of blood that led to the basement below where I had found some books that belonged to a former tenant, who was black and had obviously worked at some old movie
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theater where they showed porno films before beta and VHS and who appeared to be some intellectual, renaissance invisible man. It was there that I found a cache of old black exploitation film posters. Classic editions of black literature, books by Franz Fanon in French and English and rare compilations of black poetry and poets I had never heard of. It seemed like it was meant for me to find. It sat in the basement for who knows how long. It was dusty and moldy and decaying and I salvaged what I could and returned with the lost treasure to my apartment and got lost. It seemed meant for me to find, an African- American El Dorado of classical history and culture.
I ran back upstairs in shock and called the police and then called the school to tell them I would be late. It was 6 a.m. when I found the blood and the police showed up at 7 a.m. I left the camera rolling, that I had brought down to document the horror and then they asked if I would turn it off and I said can leave it on and I did and recorded our conversation. I gave them the manager’s apartment number and then I took off to work. I was late but when I got to school I was speechless. I took the train to Santa Monica Boulevard and then I boarded a bus. It was weird getting to school and seeing all these young Russian, Latino, African-American and Armenian kids looking at me and then no words would come out of my mouth and then I fell apart and told them what had happened to me that morning and they were as curious as they were horrified. I didn't know who had done it, which was a common question I was asked. I probably would never know. Strange things had happened to me like this in my neighborhood. I never stopped being shocked. I was hoping I would never become immune to what I would see
because that would mean that I'm accepting it and I didn't want to accept it. It wasn't right to see prostitutes every day flashing me. To go to bed at night and hear people fucking from the bathroom window, which faced my studio apartment. To hear my neighbors fighting below who were lesbians and then they moved out and more lesbians moved in and when I woke up in the morning, I smelled Burger King chicken sandwiches coming through my window from across the street. I counted the accidents at the intersection of Third and Alvarado. I walked outside once and saw that a young Korean girl was trapped in her car and had crashed through the front doors the of Los Burritos across the street. There were just days when I didn't want to get out of bed, when I wanted to smoke a lot of weed and drink espressos and watch the sun come up and not care and turn off the phone and not have nightmares in the middle of the night thinking that I was talking to myself or screaming or talking in German, which was amusing to my college dormitory mates.
I awoke this morning with this dream about Jober’s sister. I didn't really know her. That's what was so strange about the dream. It was nighttime. I was working on her mother’s car or maybe I wasn't. I spoke to her while being partially covered by the hood of the car. I was trying my best to fix the car. All I could see was this massive engine and her hips. She was wearing low-cut jeans, the kind that all the girls are wearing now, and the really tight-fitting kind. Her body was peeking out on the other side the car. I saw a math book near where the battery should be underneath the hood. It looked like an old math book. There were some other objects and papers too and they didn't belong there. Everything was totally abstract. Then
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I was finished. I think some papers had flown away. I spoke to her and she was really frank. We talked about things as if we had known each other for a long time. Her sunglasses were the cheesy silver reflective mirror kind. I was a little scared as well as amazed at our encounter because she's really beautiful. Then I woke up. I had an erection. I had met her only one time and she wasn't speaking English, wore tight low-midriff shiny gray pants and she moved like a salsa dancer across the room of her mother’s living room.
Jober was on my mind a lot now because he had returned to Cali, Colombia. It was his sister that was in my dream this morning. It didn't seem like such a long time had passed since we had met. It now seemed like minutes but thinking about Jober’s sister left a stinging sensation, like from a wasp, as well as the feeling of quick sex in my mind. But I remember Cali too and I remember getting a different sense of myself when I was there because I am African-American.
That dream was spiritual because it wasn't connected to any type of reality I know. When you have certain types of dreams somehow you just know it has a higher meaning. I realized that time had passed so suddenly now that Jober was gone and I could now easily identify our friendship. I was teaching now. I was enjoying a life that I thought wasn't possible for me years ago. My friends created the scenes and I made mental notes of all my experiences. I used to smoke joints out on the front stoop of my building and that's how we met.
"I could smell your joint all the way down the block," he said to me that day. Things would never be the same after that. I had seen him on the subway before. He looked
like a traveler, rugged and nonchalant like Jack London. We met at one point that I could draw a line on so easily. He asked me the day of our meeting if I had any more pot.
"No," I said.
I told him to come back tomorrow and that I would have some more. At that time I knew Rambo. He sold all the drugs I could ever want and half of them I wouldn't need. He was a short, stocky guy from Mexico City. I had met him through another musician I use to jam with but whom Jober had cunningly asked me to leave alone so that he could have me all to himself. Rambo didn't speak much English, but he had a lot of weed and other drugs and the best prices and I thought I had found the El Dorado of weed. He didn't live too far away. He also sold heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and crack. I never took ecstasy or smoked crack;something about all that shit just didn't appeal to me. I just liked smoking pot. All we had to do was page Rambo and he would be there and have whatever we wanted. I couldn't have had it any better.
The next day Jober appeared. It was the frosting on the cake. I welcomed him in. He liked my place. "Bernal Devereaux," I said, and he introduced himself as Jober Trudeau. He gave me a few dollars and I gave him some weed. We smoked a joint. It's always nice in the beginning. I was starting to like where I was living. I took the bus to work. I was committing a Los Angeles sin but nobody noticed. I found my own sort of satisfaction.
The pot was good. I had everything I needed. It always had to be cool. When it wasn't cool it wasn't fun. I told Jober that I lived in 208 and he returned the next day. I didn't believe it. I was so open. He could have been the police. He could have been death.
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"During the year 1998 I didn't smoke any weed," he said poignantly. I thought I had had a few dry spells, but for the most part I was a steady smoker. We began to talk often, always about Colombia, mostly in his apartment. Later we moved to the fourth-floor balcony and then to the roof.
I always tried to be optimistic, but my expectations of people and situations and I was too high and that made me naive. Then I found myself in Cali, Colombia. Of all the places in the world where one could find oneself and everybody was telling me not to go. My father told me that if I saw any suspicious drug lab then I should tell my friends that I had to go home. Others were more inspiring.
I didn't want to think that I was running away. My job was giving me the blues and so I knew it was time to resign. I felt for the children I was leaving behind. I was teaching special education at an inner-city school. A student in my class had assaulted a female classmate. I grabbed him and threw him out of the room. I got in trouble for it. I almost lost my ability to teach. I'm glad that I resigned because I can't stand betrayal. I felt so betrayed. So, I bought a ticket, sold my car and flew to Cali, Colombia. I ran away. Teaching was important to me, but I was living a dual life. I was a teacher by day and an artist by afternoon and night. On the weekend it was worse. I knew a lot of people but for the most part I was on the outside of life in the city looking in. It happened in spurts. I was trying really hard to make something happen. I bought a ticket and Cali was only the thought in my head. I had to escape.
I couldn't wait. My mouth was watering. I couldn't stop jacking off. I felt like I was fourteen. I masturbated
four times a day. When I worked at the paper, it was worse. I was so exhausted afterward but the emotion is so great I feel like I'm going to burst. No woman was free from my imagination. If I saw a girl and I liked her, I had fantasies of fucking her. On the bus, in the metro, in the classroom, on the sidewalk—it didn't matter where. The urge was too great to resist. Then sometimes I felt nothing. I was numb. I couldn't even move my dick. Springtime and summertime were worse. Iko couldn't take it. I fucked her into unconsciousness. She didn't want to be fucked that hard. She would start getting loud and then I would cum. Now I just had to jack off. I wondered if there was a limit or if there was such a thing as jacking off too much.
Jober liked porn. He pondered the thought of his ex- roommate girlfriend watching him jack off. He thinks she saw him do it. That's one of my fears of masturbating— getting spied on. But those types of thoughts make you feel even more depraved.
The window to Jober’s room had been at an angle and he heard a tap at a window, meaning that his roommate’s girl didn't have her key. Then he went outside when she was gone to check the logistics from where she was when she hit the window. Bull’s-eye—she could see everything, he thought, so he had to assume she had seen him. I asked him if he knew how long she might have been standing there and he didn't know. Fuck-it but then you have that feeling of being violated.
Time became irrelevant.
I always thought it would be different. It was funny how thoughts became reality and I was living my imagination. When Jober and I would meet daily after we finished working, all he talked about was Cali and his life
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as a punk rock musician. About heroin at fourteen, sleeping with prostitutes, good weed and more punk rock music, passing out on Rizatriptan. It sounded cool and I lost brain cells listening to him and but I couldn't get enough.
"You’ve got to go to Cali," said Jober. Somehow things always came down to that statement. I was a good listener. I gleaned every word he spoke. We smoked weed and swapped stories and the city was the stage for our misadventures. It wasn't real. It could have been a dream. When you're permitted to step outside of your life it all looks different but it all looks the same too. I was pissed every day. I couldn't keep my marbles anymore. I was emotionally deteriorating from teaching. It was my first full-time teaching job at a middle school. I had experienced everything emotionally that a teacher could experience except sex. Teaching was tough. I loved it. I tried to make the most of it. In the end I asked Jober where to buy a ticket to Cali.
"Pan-American at Sunset and Alvarado," he quipped. I was always somehow connected with Latin America. It's in me too. We had talked about Cali so often. The only thing we were missing was plane tickets. I loved good stories and I loved adventure. It's cool when you could have both and some people experience it all at an earlier age than others but that doesn't make them better people, it just makes them more experienced. I considered his friends to be more expats than foreigners. They would return home sometimes, others wouldn’t. That's something that Jober knew a little more about than me.
It seemed that as crazy as I was, I was doing the right thing. Jober asked me one day how I could have stayed in
school for so long and for me it was simple. What else was there for me? I wanted to be a famous writer. Jober had seen the other side but he had landed in Spain and had found that his friends had found other forms of escape, strung out on ecstasy, and that there was no turning back for them. Colombia was truly far and fewer in between. Jober could return but for the others life awaited them outside. The decades of civil war at home would take years to conclude and then would life ever be the same? If there was some insane solution to the problems facing Colombia it looked like life was going on as usual in Cali but in reality it wasn't. But what were people supposed to do? The expressions on the soldiers and the graffiti on the walls that stretched en masse along the landscape showed a completely different picture than what we all wanted to believe. In a state of war, life moves forward regardless of terror that surrounds the people. It's funny how even death and destruction, turmoil and frustration can make one insensitive. That's when we find that as humans, we were like any other creatures that exist. We were cold blooded and cruel and made life seem as cheap as crushing an ant under one’s New Balance running shoes. The stories were endless, the little forms of resistance, but the escalation of chaos and the almost humorous ways in which such brutality has been acted out by its participants made it seem like a dream.
South America seemed like Tom Sawyer’s island on cocaine, after hearing Jober speak. I wanted to go but it just wasn't the right time yet. If I only knew how soon I would be there in the tropical sun looking at low-midriffs- jeans-wearing novella models. I was constantly in unknown territory. I somehow winged my trip later but
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not without scars. Nothing in life comes easy. I should have been aware of that by now. I knew that for every frosted cake there could be something distasteful underneath. I was looking for that. I had short perception. I really did. But I just lived life sometimes thinking that I didn't have to think about certain things. Who wanted to think about racism or class or failure?
Jober loved porn and he loved to talk about it. Somehow pornography was as natural as watching Friends on television. When we communicated, we had certain openness. Everything was fair game. It wasn't always fair. Sometimes it was ego. Sometimes it was racist.
"I taught this ESL class today and this girl showed me this picture she printed from the internet of some woman sucking a man’s dick! I couldn't believe it. Diablitas!" I said.
"I saw them later on my way home from the school. I didn't expect to see them. I boarded the bus with my head down. I was tired. Then I heard someone call ‘Teacher!’ I looked up and it was the girl who had the picture in class. She told me to sit next to her. I was a little reluctant to but then I sat on a seat in front of hers. She was with her friend. They both had the dirty pictures in class of the women performing fellatio on men. I didn't know what to say to them. They were both Latinas. One of them had a lot of acne on her face, especially the one who liked me. If
I had to choose one of them, it would have been her friend. Suddenly their stop came up and then they said bye and exited the bus but not before one of their friends pushed her into me. Her breasts rubbed against me. She seemed a little embarrassed but politely said sorry and exited the bus. I can’t fuck a high school girl!" Jober laughed.
"I felt a little awkward. I mean, I looked in the trash later after they had left class and I examined a piece of the picture printout that one of them had thrown away. It was picture of a woman sucking a man’s dick. I was shocked that those girls could be so daring, so young. It seemed almost normal for them. Maybe I was just very conservative. Maybe I was fucking stupid!"
It was just the type of thing Jober liked to talk about.
"Don't women know what they're doing to you when they wear tight clothes? It's funny how women behave as if you're not going to look at them. If you see an attractive woman you're going to look her body," said Jober smiling.
"Lips, tits and hips," said Jober.
He was always drinking water and he was now filling himself a glass of distilled Sparklet’s Water. Something about the tropics had made him that way. Los Angeles was dry. You felt it and Jober’s necessity for water confirmed it. I could tell that he loved women. He was intrigued by their design and he put them on a pedestal. Porn was the ideal, like owning a pet. In porn one found the perfect woman. The woman never complained and never looked ugly but real life was harsh and the worst thing being you could be rejected. With porn one could be a conquistador.
Jober spared nothing. Not long after I had known him I had visited his apartment. We probably spent about equal time in both our places. But his place always brought the
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fire out of us. He was quite a photographer and he had a huge portrait of his sister in his living room. Somehow I couldn't stop looking at that picture no matter how hard I tried to steer clear of it.
"I remember when my sister had a boob job!" he said rather candidly one day. I didn't know what to say. I hadn't even met her.
"After her operation I saw her lying there in the bed and I went and took my finger and poked one of her boobs. She was sort of bandaged up," he said solemnly. Jober’s sister was beautiful and he knew it; so did she.
I could see the disbelief on his face and in his words. I wondered what he thought about me. In my dream I spoke to Jober’s sister the way I spoke to him in reality. Alvarado was my Nesky Avenue that Gogol and Dostoevsky described in such detail in their novels. This reality seemed impossible but so was going to Cali, Colombia. At least Brazil would come first, I thought.
Smoking weed out on the fourth-floor balcony was cool. After Jober’s living room, that was our favorite place to talk. He was loud and spoke without discretion. He was a one hundred percent Colombian. I was more discrete, and that's what he perceived as my strange style of conservatism, but we could talk about anything. I had started smoking pot at eight years of age and he was doing heroin at fourteen and playing in a punk rock band called Los Rudas, around Cali. His father was a businessman but he was also a narco-trafficker, a gentlemen trafficker. I didn't find out about the drug part till later but it still wouldn't have made me feel different about who Jober was. And I'm sure after I resigned from my teaching job because a student had attacked me with a chair, which I
had kicked back at him after he assaulted a girl in the classroom and that he might see me as a little crazy. But he wasn't in the classroom and I could sense those scenes bouncing around in his head. We had a delicate friendship. It was on thin ice. I didn't trust a lot of people and I know that he felt the same way too. I think I was a little too trusting. But what is friendship? I didn't really know. It's a gut feeling you go with. Friends fight and that's something that people don't really talk about. His dad was in Vietnam. His parents met at UC Berkeley and then drove in an old Dodge Palomar police car to Cali, Colombia. You can't get any more daring than that. Our families had crossed paths, we felt, somewhere in the past Bay Area Tower-of-Power scene. We were sure of it and well maybe we hit the mark more than our relatives had. There was some sort of providence in it all and we rode on it. The other aspects of our lives weren't so synergetic. We were worlds apart in class and race. We loved James Brown, beautiful women, Bad Religion and De La Soul. Between us we were of different ethnicities and races, though he was part white and I was part black, but my mother was Creole by way of New Orleans and his father was a mestizo from Colombia, but we were both of French extract. His mother was from a wealthy wasp California family from Tennessee, former slave owners. I was from a working-class bourgeois African-American and Creole- French background but I was college educated and working toward joining the intelligencia, however I definitely wasn't rich.
Jober was a rock and roller. He lived it and now life had once again brought him to America but when he left he had become something grotesque. He liked Sublime,
John W. Horton III
the Ramones and Screeching Weasel. I liked everything but country music. I was no stranger to punk, but he was punk unlimited. He loved what I listened to and our parents had similar tastes in music. We even played music together before egos turned our emotions into pit bulls. It's always fun in the beginning. It wasn't easy being Bernal Devereaux around him. We were both at odds with society, social outcasts, stoners but proud of it.