Dairies and Berries

September 15, 2017 at 11:23 am (Cosmic Encounters, On the road again...)

Mizelle was lighting up my phone. “Hi there!”

“Well, hello sir!” she replied. After exchanging pleasantries, she got down to business. “Want to do me a favor?”

“Sure. Whatcha want?’ Her favors aren’t usually too annoying.

“I’m buying a truck out in Scappoose, and need someone to drive it back. You game?”

“Of course I am!”

And so began my summer vacation.

Forever too restless, I didn’t want to wait for her to come to me. I hopped the MAX to the airport. Positioning myself near her favorite Starbucks, I watched the tourists migrate by. Lots of happy hugs amidst the traveling angst. Soon I saw a familiar face. We took the shuttle to the parking lot five miles away, and soon we were rolling out Highway 30 on our way to Scappoose.

We had an envelope with two grand in it. Tucked into her purse, she handed the whole purse to me, which I put over my shoulder. (The old Armenian guy selling the truck smiled.) He showed us the wall-to-wall engine, muttering “Diesel… diesel…” as he puttered. He showed us the tricks to starting it, and other quirks. We piled onto the bench seat, he drove for about five miles of country roads, then switched with Mizelle. She drove it back to the seller’s house, and decided she liked it. They did some paperwork, and we didn’t even bother to dicker. In retrospect, I probably could have gotten it for about $1,200. But hindsight is 20/20. I’m nearsighted. I counted the money, then handed it to him. He did as well. He gave Mizelle a fistful of paperwork and we were done.

I slid behind the wheel of the three-quarter-ton Ford pickup. Aah memories. I learned to drive in a 1964 Ford F-100, not unlike this 1988 version. This was an automatic transmission, which was probably for the best. “Grind’em in, they fit better!” was my older brother’s mantra. I prefer a smooth ride.

I asked about the shocks, the old man laughed. “You are used to fancy car. Thees is a real truck. Bouncy bouncy!” I put it into gear, and pulled out with Mizelle following in the new Toyota. With all the electrical gadgets and microchips. At least if the truck breaks down I won’t a degree from MIT to get it running again.

Maybe. Diesel. Diesel…

I pulled onto highway 30, and looked back. A giant blue cloud hung on the horizon. Hmm. I kept an eye on that. It didn’t seem to smoke badly, until you put your foot into it. Zipping out into traffic leaves a moonrunner’s cloud of distraction.

I puttered along Highway 30. I was driving! I could pick the route! I was also in a three-quarter-ton Ford pickup. I would have to be careful of tight spaces if I wanted to cruise downtown.

I couldn’t resist stopping at Fisty Mart, the store Chuckles, Uncle Cliffy and I worked at in the early oughts. Dude, the “head n-word in charge” as he calls himself, was running the till. Dayle, his younger sister, about my age, was puttering around. I entered, glanced about, and asked, “Still got 40-cent cups of ice, eh?”

“Yes.” Dude looked at me. Something was registering, but he hadn’t placed me.

“Is that Dayle I hear back there?” I asked loudly.

“Yes,” Dude replied as she came out of the employees-only area.

I held my arms out in a look-at-me pose. “What? You don’t recognize me either?”

“Nope,” she said quickly, but the look of realization came across her face as I mentioned Chuckles passing. “Wow. You’ve lost A LOT of weight.” She broke into a big smile. “You’ve also grown A LOT of hair.” We always got along the best of the siblings. Other than thinking I was a black man, Dude remembered me. Dayle was a lot happier to see me.

We caught up, I looked around. Still no lottery, food stamps or credit cards. They sold cigarettes and malt liquor after 5 PM. Before that they were the lunch wagon for the neighborhood workers. Amazing they were still open.

Back on the road. Twilight turned to dark as I cruised the downtown streets. I honked at Kayo, who was busy smoking a hit of crack under a blanket on 5th Avenue. His head popped out when I honked. “I DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD DRIVE!”

Surprise.

After a couple loops I made my way home. After a doobie, I had a craving for a milkshake, so I drove to Carl’s Jr. I sat in the driveway, sipping and feeling like such a grown-up.

Sister was messing around in the kitchen the next morning, looking bored. “Wanna go for a ride?” Just like that we were in the truck and heading east.

Every time I get use of a car, I either go to the mountains or the beach. (Hopefully both.) We’d been talking about a trip to Sandy, to see what’s new, what’s gone. It was my last day off for the week, WTF.

We took Foster out to Damascus, then over to Orient, out Bluff Road past the Kingdom Hall. (Which we’d hopefully thought had been razed for a tree farm.) Turns out we missed it by one turn in the road. Goddammit. Still there.

So was the Bluff. Gorgeous. (See above.) I have so many dreams involving that view. We took a couple hits on the pen, appreciating nature. But not too many hits. Sandy has a redneck police force, and I don’t want to have to explain my hippie condition to a hillbilly cop. Temperance…

Sandy hasn’t changed much the past 30 years. It has changed a FUCK-TON in the past 40 years though. No longer a logging town, it’s now a retirement community and ski rental hot-spot.

Vegetary Mange

The memory contest began. “Remember the-” and “remember when” prefaced almost every sentence. I wanted to stop at Joe’s Donuts, but got sidetracked. Next time. We bought gas at Shorty’s Corner, and kept on toward the mountain.

We’d been having an ongoing debate on whether the Ivy Bear was still near Cherryville, so we went to find out. It was missing its ivy on the torso, but the head was still there, no doubt creating a generation of kids scared shitless of the giant bear head staring at them in the night.

Since we came out Bluff Road, we took Orient Drive back. Past the berry fields and cow pastures, dairies and berries as Sis calls it. More houses, but not completely gone to city-seed.

I dropped Sister off at home. It was early afternoon, and I had to leave my dentures with the dentist. (I thought my days of chipped teeth were over when I got dentures. Then my dentures met the bathroom floor.) Since I could, I took the truck.

Once toothless, I had a brainstorm. Festus was just getting off work, so I offered him a lift home. As we talked, I realized Angel was working, so we took a drive out to Happy Valley. In the process I ended up with a bagful of tomatoes, $70 in groceries, and a bunch of hugs. Big squeezy hugs from Angel.

I hadn’t done much but drive all day, but man, was I tired. Bed came early. But for the first time in a long time, I felt like I’d had a real weekend.

But the adventure isn’t over. We still have to get the truck to mid-Washington. Mizelle is coming to switch rigs with me today. She will take the truck and leave me with her new Toyota for the weekend. (One second: “Squeee!” Ahem.) So I have snazzy wheels.

The Toyota is so much easier to parallel park.

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