The Sons of Oligarchs

My youngest son asked me the other day if I’ve ever been in a car crash.  He likes hearing my stories.   This is the story of my first automobile accident.

I was maybe 19 years old, somewhere around there.  I had just gotten my hands on a car.  A real working automobile.  1981 Mazda hatchback, stick shift, blue.  It looked like it belonged in a junkyard, but it drove, stopped, and turned.  What else do ya need really?  It was a hot summer afternoon,  I was cruising through the suburbs, drinking a beer and not giving a damn about anything.  Somehow I didn’t notice the stop sign.  I was going about 40 miles per hour, when suddenly a large SUV, towing a trailer, started crossing my path probably going 30 miles per hour.  “Oh shit.  This is gonna hurt.”, says the little voice inside my head.

BOOM!  I run into the side of the SUV, T-bone the son of a bitch.  Because it was towing a trailer, it rolled.  Three times, then skidded on the roof for a good 15 feet.  “Those people are fucked.  I think I mighta just killed someone.”, says that same little voice.   To make matters worse, I spilled my beer.  I just opened it too.  So now I’m smelling like a goddam beer wagon.  What’s a fellow to do?  It took about three nanoseconds for me to decide to turn the key, start the car back up and get the hell out of dodge.  But wait.  This car won’t start.  Ok, option two:  be a good guy and try to render aid to the other vehicle.

As I exit my own wreck, I see that the front of the hood is smashed all the way into the firewall.  How am I not injured?  I climb out and approach the upside down SUV to ask if anyone is hurt.  A thick Russian accent informs me everyone is ok, but they are trapped, the door won’t open.  I tell the front passenger seat occupant to turn his head and cover his eyes, then I kicked the window out with my steel toed boot.  After that, I started helping everyone out of the wreck.  There were six of them, three couples on their way back from a camping trip, all of them about my same age but with nice clothes, nice straight white teeth, and the soft dull faces of those who live happy lives.

The cops finally get there, and I’m sure I’m gonna get the bracelets put on me.  They surprise me and give me a ticket for no license, no insurance, and reckless driving.

A few days later, I head down to the public defender’s office.  What a joke.  They had this one lawyer as the sole public defender for six different suburbs.  Between Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Mill Creek and Bothell, they probably arrested a hundred people a day.  They just signed this dude up to fulfill their constitutional obligations.   The guy had a private practice too.  I ain’t bitching, I was guilty anyhow.

So I get to his office and ask for the police report.  His secretary says I can’t have it, but I can look at it.  Ok, great.  She hands it to me, and as soon as she leaves the room, I walk out the door with it.

I never bother going to court, end up with a warrant, go to jail, yawn.  I think they gave me 10 days or something, and a big fine.  But the names on the police report stick with me.  The kid was driving his dad’s truck.  Their names were uncommon.

Not very long after all this, I spot that uncommon name in the newspaper.  He was big news, a Russian mobster going around snatching up the college age children of Russian oligarchs in Seattle, then calling the parents back in Russia to demand ransom.  I seem to remember he cut off a finger or two to get his point across.  Of course, he claimed he was merely a businessman running an import/export business and was being framed as part of a vendetta.

Of all the fucking cars I have to run into, it had to be his.  The most dangerous man in the suburbs.  In retrospect,  I’m glad it was him and not some upstanding citizen.  This dude never sic’d an insurance company on me, never tried to sue me, never asked for a dime (Not that I had anything). He just bought another truck and went about his business.

 

Ding Biscuits

The older man had the look of one who has done a lot of time. At first glance, it was obvious he wasn’t some construction worker here on a DUI, or hapless victim snatched out of his home, human flotsam washed up by the wave of public sentiment against domestic violence. Driving offenses and vindictive women seemed to be the leading cause of incarceration in most county jails back then.
I had just turned eighteen, and was in jail for the first time. I asked this old criminal about the twenty or so inmates who were standing in line at the guard station.
“It’s six o’clock. Biscuit call.”
My ears perked up at the idea of a biscuit. The jail fed you just enough to stave off malnutrition.
“What kind of biscuits?”
The older man had a way of talking out of the side of his mouth, barely moving his lips.
“Ding biscuits. Just go up there and tell the guard you want a ding biscuit.”
This seemed too good to be true. I wondered if they gave you butter, or even honey……to the back of the line I go.
As I get to the front, I see that that a nurse is handing out little paper one ounce cups. Those biscuits must be small. Well, better than no biscuit at all was my thinking.
The nurse looked at me and asked, “NAME?”
I tell her my name, and ask for a biscuit.
“I dont have anything for you.”
“Well, how come these other guys get biscuits and I don’t?”
Someone in line behind me taps my shoulder, and says,
“Hey kid. Ding biscuits are psyche drugs.”
I look across the day room and see the old convict suppressing his laughter.
I walk over to him, and before I can say anything, he tells me with a laugh,
“Sorry kid, but that was funny.”
I wasn’t really angry, just a little embarrassed at having been the butt of a joke.
“Hey, if ya want more food, put in a kite and ask for a counselor. Tell em you’re hearing voices, and give em the crazy routine. They’ll ship you up to the fifth floor psyche ward. You get your own cell, and they give you seconds and thirds on the meal trays. They figure if they give the crazies extra food it’ll keep em happy and make em less likely to kill em selves.”
The next week I was sent to the county jail psyche ward. There were no seconds or thirds on breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, and bore the old convict no ill will. I could see the humor in it then as well as now. My gullibility and growling stomach had led me right into the loony bin.
While on the psyche ward I met a man who spoke only in rhymes. He was a soft looking white man with a kindly face. My first night on the fifth floor psyche ward, I watched him disassemble five bendy rubber jail pens and rub the blue ink into his hair. He told me in rhyme that blue hair was very much in fashion. He was being tried for beating his elderly landlady to death with a baseball bat. The next night he emerged from his cell bearing the marks of stigmata, for he had bitten his palms and the tops of his hands, chewed almost all the way through on both sides. He walked down the tier stairs with his arms outstretched, dripping blood, and once on the bottom floor, announced in a series of rhymes that he was jesus christ, back from the dead, then proceeded to draw a large red cross on the wall with his bloody hands.
The only upside of the psyche ward was the one man cell. The ding biscuits allowed me to sleep for long stretches of time in the peace and comfort of my own hovel. I no longer cared for food, as I often times slept right through chow. I was sleeping my time away.
Occasionally walking past the other cells, each with a number above the door, I’d glance in at the other loonies. Cell 5 became channel 5. Cell 6 became channel 6, and so on. One thing that seemed very common among these insane individuals was the habit of tearing pages from books and magazines into long thin strips like those that would emerge from a paper shredder. Hour after hour, the floors of their cells would come to resemble the floors of hamster cages.
I do not know why it was such a common activity, only that it was.
Dine and Dash Larry was another strange one. He was an obese homeless man in his forties who very rarely spoke. He had over 200 convictions, all for the same offense: he would enter a restaurant, order everything on the menu, and eat plate after plate of food. Once the check arrived, he’d very nicely tell the waitress that he had no money. He would would make no attempt to flee, and was always very polite. He would patiently wait in his seat for the police to come take him away.
Twice a week the inmates were handed disposable razors to shave with. After about an hour, the razors were collected by the guard, counted and inspected by them to make sure all were returned and still had blades, then put away until the next shave period. One time Larry broke the plastic blade guard off his safety razor and shaved his entire face, forehead, temple, cheeks, nose, lips, all of it off. He looked like an anatomical figure with no skin on his face by the time he had finished.

The anti-psychotic drugs became too much for me to handle after awhile. I found myself only able to walk with very small, unsteady steps, head down to watch my feet, it was the classic thorazine shuffle.  After I quit the ding biscuits, it was almost a full month before I completely regained my faculties.
The drugs were by far the most unpleasant part of my stay there.

Dealing with gyppos

“Hey Chris. You ever think of how all these groceries in all these trailers will turn into shit in the next few days? This trailer has forty thousand pounds of shit on it, just hasn’t fulfilled its destiny yet.” Before Chris can respond, we’re interrupted.
“HOSTLER! DOOR 143 READY TO GO!”
The handheld Motorola radio is almost impossible to understand. Only by experience and filling in the blanks of what words I think the radio may be saying am I able to do my job.
“Door 143. Copy.”
“HOSTLER! THIS IS THE GUARDSHACK! WE GOT A LOAD OF CEREAL HERE. WHAT DOOR?”
How the fuck do I know what door? I don’t unload the shit.
“Door 105 please.”
All day long, 10 hours of hooking and unhooking, pulling out and backing in semi trailers. Listening to the radio yell at me. And dealing with gyppos. Gyppos are the low class, non union truck drivers, most here for the first time, from all over the place. Sikhs from Fresno. Rednecks from Saskatchewan. Every kind of person from every kind of place. One thing most of them have in common is the marked inability to safely and efficiently drive a 53 foot trailer in reverse. I watch these guys struggle to back into a door, sometimes for an hour or more.

I notice a nice ass and long auburn hair walking from her truck to the receiving office. Probably 25 years old. She looks….attainable.
An hour or so later, I drive up and knock on her cab.
“Hey, you got a green light. They unloaded you awhile ago.”
Lazily smoking a Marlboro, she tells me, “My comcheck isn’t working and I have to wait for my dispatcher to pay the lumper fee.” Even in a union distribution center they have scab illegal aliens unload the inbound trucks. The lumpers. Hated by all.
“So of course you sit here and don’t get paid a dime. It’s criminal they way they treat you over the road drivers.”, I say.
“Yeah. The most I’ve ever made is six hundred in a week. I basically live in this truck and only get to go home to Utah once a month.”
“It’s a fuckin crime. Well, good luck.”
“Yeah, thanks.”
About four hours later her truck was still parked in the dock.  I roll up and tell her, “Hey. Your company obviously don’t give a shit about getting you out of here. Don’t cost them anything after all. You ought to call right now and tell em if it ain’t figured out in fifteen minutes, you quit. They can come get their truck.”
She starts to cry. “But I dont have anywhere else to go…” She says this with an inviting, almost pleading look.
Oh boy. Do I ever hate being around crying women. The thought of inviting her back to my place is quickly disregarded. It’s usually against my religion to even talk to gyppos. But she has a nice ass and that ought to count for something in this world. I decide to help her out.
“Ok. Check it out. Wait until there’s no trucks checking out at the guard shack.  All ya gotta do is just drive on through, don’t stop at the fuckin security gate.”
She’s still crying, harder than before, and says, “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“Get in trouble with who? With MY boss? The lumpers? What are they gonna do? They ain’t the police. Fuck em. Just leave.”
“What if I get arrested?”
“It ain’t against the law to leave here. It ain’t a prison. If your boss says anything, tell him he ought to thank you for saving him the lumper fee.”
“Are you sure it will work?”
“Yeah. Look. These security guys make minimum wage. They don’t really give a shit. They’re just here to assign doors. They don’t know anything about the lumpers. It ain’t their deal. Just drive away.”
She seemed to think about it for a few seconds, then thanked me again. I drove away.
When I left four hours later she was still there.

I don’t understand how people can live lives of passive acceptance, following rules that are easily subverted, fearing the most minor of consequences, and ultimately striving for rewards that never materialize.

New Year’s Eve

Jesse is a 41 year old working class Mexican Indian/Irish Italian mix. Below average height, muscular, and very dark, sporting long hair. He has a violent past and an intimidating aura.

“So it was New Years eve, and I was at the old Funhouse, back when it was called Zach’s, right there by the Space Needle. All the black gangbangers would hang in the parking lot of the McDonald’s right there, and the Seattle Police riot squad was lurking around the corner, some shit always popped off on New Years.”

“There was a tradition at that bar, at midnight on the new year, everybody would throw all the furniture out onto the sidewalk. When we went out there later to get the furniture and take it back inside, some gangbangers started talking shit. There about 10 of us and at least twice that many of them. There was a pack of these ghetto black bitches, instigating most of it. One of ’em spit on my friend, and this chick who was my friend, she knew how to fight, she just instantly kicked the bitch in the head, knocked her out. After that, it was a very chaotic scene. Another one of the ghetto bitches came at me with her spike heel shoe in her hand. Tried to stab my eye out. Only thing that saved me was I was wearing a top hat, and the brim shielded my eye from that spike.”
“I punched the bitch in her face, clocked her good. Her boyfriend started coming at me and I just charged at him. I don’t know what I did to scare him so bad, I was pretty fuckin’ drunk, but he decided at the last minute to turn around and run away from me.”

I’ve seen Jesse go savage before. I suspect that the other gentleman had never seen a wild Apache on the warpath before and figured discretion was the better part of valor.

“He ran into a car, and I smashed the window with my elbow, I was fuckin’ goin’ for him. The car started driving away, and I had to let go of him. Like I say, it was a chaotic scene. Full on brawl. The cops were on the scene almost instantly, helmets and shields, and the owner of the bar yelled at us to all come inside.”
“We just went back to drinking like nothing even happened. I was shit faced.”
“The next morning, I woke up in the backseat of a car on the other side of town. My whole arm was purple from breaking the guy’s window with my elbow. I tried to open my eye and it was the most painful shit ever. My cornea was damaged from that bitch’s shoe. I woulda lost my eye if I wasn’t wearing that top hat. I had to wear sunglasses for the next six months.”

This is actually one of Jesse’s more tame stories. I’ve known him for 26 years and can vouch for the authenticity of his anecdotes.

On call

“Hey baby. How you been?”
“I miss you but I still dont trust you. But I do miss you.”
“You’re smart not to trust me.”
“I’m just suspicious of you.”
“Know who I’m suspicious of? I’m suspicious of these young alt-right kids.”
“Yeah, well you’re suspicious of everyone.”
“There’s a kid at the gas station. Always talking about politics. I get to bullshitting with him, I’m there everyday ya know? He uses all the phrases, asked me if I was ‘woke on the JQ’. Well, come to find out, six months ago he was shooting heroin and banging trannies. Just saying I dont trust these guys. Politics is the new religion.”
“Yeah I can see that. You know, I saw your ex wife yesterday. She was wearing a hijab. I don’t even wanna tell you what she said about you.”
“I didn’t care what she thought about me back when we were married. Why would I care now? Anyway, the hijab don’t surprise me. She got some tattoo awhile back that was a bunch of Arabic letters. The feminists never were really very smart.”
“They make the rest of us women look bad. What even is feminism?”
“Vaginal hegemony is what is is baby. You know the ancient Romans had a saying. Even if a woman ruled the empire, she’d still need a man to change the oil.”
“I don’t wanna tell you, but you’ll think it’s funny so I will. I saw her at that clothing store we both shop at. Plump Patty’s. And she was telling Plump Patty that the only thing you were good at as a husband was sex. Said you were the best she ever had. Then she looked at me, wanted me to say something. You realize this is the third time other women have tried to have this conversation with me. You wonder why I don’t trust you….why are you laughing?”
“Baby, I’m sorry, but the idea that the ladies at the plus size clothing store are talking about my sexual prowess is the funniest thing I’ve heard all week.”
“You still spending the night on Wednesday?”
“Yeah. Want me to rent a movie on the way over?”
“No, let’s watch that liberal politic show I told you about. I like it when you make fun of my politics.”
“Ok baby. See ya then.”

Clyde

Clyde is a working class white man, born and raised and lived his entire life in South East Portland. He is approaching fifty years old, is of below average height, handsome, muscular, and smiles a lot. I didn’t set out to ask him about violence, but after asking if he watched the Fury-Walleen fight, the conversation drifted towards personal experiences with violence. I let him do the talking, and asked questions here and there.

“It’s lawless around here alright. Didn’t used to be. I’ve had the cops beat the shit out of me pretty good back in the day. Now, they let you off without even a beating. You know, Portland cops used to have a reputation for being brutal. You didn’t want to fuck with them. That’s all changed now…..”

People have the habit of throwing around these terms, beat the shit out of, beat the hell out of, beat the piss out of, when they don’t really apply. I’ve been guilty of it myself without realizing that I’m doing it. Getting your nose broken and a couple black eyes is NOT getting the shit beat out you. That is just a beating.

“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I came from a pretty abusive home. I got beat at home everyday as a kid, and then I’d go to school and the first person who looked at me wrong, I’d drop my books and it’d be on. I grew up fighting, spent my whole life fighting.” Clyde has previously told me he studied boxing for a time and was a standout wrestler back in school.
“I used to go out looking for fights. It’s what I did for fun. All through my 20’s and 30’s.” I ask if he would target men he knew he could beat, or if he looked for guys that would actually give him a good fight.

“I had little man’s syndrome.”

Being a big guy myself, I know what this looks like from the other side. I like Clyde, but make a mental note to never go out drinking with him. His smile says a lot.
“I was driving downtown and some asshole in a Corvette cut me off and said some shit out the window, told me to pull over. I get out, and pretty soon I got him down, I’m on top of him, on some bushes, just smashing his face in.”
“The cops drive by and see what’s going on and pull me off of him. One cop gets me up against the wall and starts screaming at me, calling me a fucking punk. I push him off with one hand and start walking off……and then, BAM! This pretty little blonde cop brought her nightstick down on the top of my head. There were six cops there, and they couldn’t get my arms behind my back. They did a Rodney King on my ass. They beat me with their sticks until I was unconscious. They cuffed me and shackled my ankles, then took me to a private cell in the county jail. Once I got there, these six cops beat me with their sticks, kicked me all over, and didn’t quit until they got tired out.  I was still hogtied.  I passed out and then a couple hours later, they came in and did it all over again. I was saying shit to them the whole time, I shoulda just shut up. They gave me the worst beating I’ve ever had. They finally let me out and I never got charged with anything.”

I ask if he ended up hospitalized.

“No, I probably should’ve gone to a hospital. I had a pretty serious concussion. Both shoulders were separated. I was black and blue all over. Couldn’t get off my couch for a week.”

“I don’t hate the cops though. It’s a tough job. But they shouldn’t have done that to me. It was brutal.”

Clyde’s story is compelling to me. First of all, because it’s true. He’s not a bullshitter. But it also raises some relevant questions about life in Portland. The cops have their hands tied. They are under a microscope by the liberal city council and black church groups that are the defacto oversight committee. The county jail is basically a drive thru window, get printed, get out, no charges. There is an undercurrent of lawlessness that is kept in check only by the demographics and relative affluence of the city’s inhabitants.
For now, I think that I will go ahead and say that I’m in favor what of the liberal cop haters have accomplished. I don’t need the pigs to protect me, and I sure as fuck don’t need them bashing MY head in. If the only two options are mild anarchy or living under a police state, I’ll take my chances with anarchy.

The Great Escape

I had been gone from my group of homeless youth for a month or 2,
riding the rails.
When I came back to Seattle my good buddy Erek told me I’d better have that case of beer I promised him.

What case of beer?

Well, Erek was always meeting girls and fucking them. He claimed over 900 before he died in his 30’s. No small feat, considering he was a drunk bum who once went 2 years without showering or changing his shirt. His nickname was Filthy Erek.

“You told me you’d buy me a case of beer if I introduced you to a big titted fat girl, as long as you fucked her that first night”, he said.

I did vaguely remember saying that in a moment of drunk despair.

Right about then she came walking around the corner.

Trust me dude, it’s a sure thing, he whispered.

She was a homeless kid too.  Junkie parents, ward of the state. She recently ran away from a foster home. She had even given birth to a kid of her own a couple years before, snatched away by the state of course.

After being together about a month, I got arrested and went to jail for 3 months.

When I got out, she announced she was pregnant. I was in the doctor’s office with her when he confirmed she was indeed 2 months pregnant.

I was in the condemned vacant crack house with her when she had a miscarriage on the bathroom floor.

We eventually scraped up enough money for a cheap room on the 8th floor of a crumbling building on 42nd and University Avenue.

She got too crazy for me.
She’d get hysterical and try jumping out the window, started shooting up meth. Trying to stab me with steak knives…

When she would get nutty like that, I’d walk downstairs and buy her a can of Sprite then dump about 2 or 3 capsules of benadryl in it.
Say,
“Here ya go baby, I got you a soda. Just relax and have some Sprite.”

Her ass would fall asleep and my ass would take off and get drunk.

One time I fucked a homeless chick and caught scabies, gave it to her. Chicks just know when you’re cheating.
“I know you fucked that homeless skank and brought home these bugs!”
Of course I denied it.

Another time, she was all horny and I had just got done snacking on some anejo peppers. I got to rubbing her pussy and after awhile she jumped up and started screaming, ran into the bathtub and began digging in her snatch.

The tub was filling with cold water,
She was desperately fingering her pussy,
Screaming
“You motherfucker! You put a jalapeno in my pussy! You sick fuck! I’m gonna kill you!”
I tried explaining that there must have been some hot stuff still on my fingers left over from the peppers, but she wouldn’t listen. It took 10 minutes of me laughing and her digging before she finally felt safe there wasn’t anything inside of her.

About a month later I quit my job and bought a bus ticket to the east coast.

As I sat on the bus looking out the window,

I decided that it was the most expensive case of beer I’ve ever bought.