For Nikki part 9
One of the first things I bought with my tree-planting money was a truck. Ever since I was 12 or so, I'd been wanting an early-sixties model Chevy pickup, short/wide bed with a big back window. What I got was an old 5-window '48. It'd been sitting out in a field for two or three years, not running, but I went out there, fiddled with it a bit, fired it up and drove it home. It smoked like a house afire and had a little bit of rust, but what the hell; it was a cheap truck and it ran.
At 16, I was already a pretty handy mechanic. I'd helped my dad restore his '57 Chevy pickup, my cousin re-build his '46 Chevy flatbed and I'd been turning wrenches since I was 10. I figured I was up to re-building this old '48 on my own and I was, but it took a little more doin' than I'd originally anticipated. I ended up tearing it all the way down to the frame and re-building every piece and part of it, right down to hand-building the wire-loom, with no pattern, from scratch.
I signed up for an Adult Ed auto-shop class, nights, over at Mack High so I could use their equipment to do the machine work, bored the block out sixty thousandths, shaved the head down and did a few other things which gave me a 235c.i. six-cylinder that ran stronger than most V-8s.
At one point I took a break from working on the truck to go to a birthday party for a friend. Dale Cash and the Strand Band were playing (or maybe it was the Last Strand – I don't remember which incarnation they were in at the time). There was good food, good friends and lots of beer. I was walking around about six inches off of the ground, buoyed by a mixture of peyote and Lebanese hash, when I saw a vision of loveliness sitting under a tree.
She smiled at me, so I floated on over and the next thing I knew, I was 17 and standing beneath Ceremonial Rock up at Patrick's Point State Park, marrying a big-titted 23-year old hippie-chick in a meadow overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On Valentine's Day. Once that snow-ball started rolling, it was hard to get it stopped.
We took our honeymoon in the truck. I had all the running-gear rebuilt by that time but I hadn't gotten around to painting it yet, so it still had bright-yellow rear fenders, a blue hood with a white stripe, one green door, one red door and the rest of the truck was a tannish-beigeish-pinkish color. We had the tailgate down and and an eight foot camper on the back. With my long hair (I could hook one finger in my belt-loop and grab my hair, in the back), we looked like a hippie-crew, for sure.
We planned on going up I-5 through central Oregon, crossing the Columbia River into Washington State, then following the river down to the Coast. Once on the Coast, we figured we'd hit every tourist-trap between there and home, just so we could say we had. It wasn't flying to the Bahamas, but it sounded fun so we did it.
About half-way through Oregon we realized we had an escort. In between towns, we had a constant DPS presence behind us; in each town we were followed by a city cop. The DPS would pick us up again on the edge of town. Finally, they pulled us over. We told them what we were doing, but they didn't seem to buy it.
We let them search the truck (we had nothing to hide) and then they asked to see under the hood. Oh, boy. Once they saw that brand-new running-gear underneath that old hippie-looking rig, they knew they had us for sure. Pot-runners! It took us a while, but we finally convinced them we were exactly what we said we were, hippies on a honeymoon and they let us go.
We got back from our honeymoon and settled in but it didn't take long to figure out that this had been a huge mistake. I sat Carol down and told her I thought we should call it quits. I could see nothing but bad coming out of all this if we didn't. I couldn't see any sense in staying together until we hated each other. She saw things differently. In that charming way that women have, of believing that making a bad situation worse will make it better, she decided that if we had a baby it would save us.
We did Lamaze. You know – focal points, breathing, chipped ice, cool cloths. All that stuff went right out the window, once labor started:
Carol: Get away from me you bastard.
Me: Here's a cool cloth for your forehead...
Carol: Don't you dare touch me you bastard stay away from me touch me and I'll bite your hand off.
Nurse: Here's some chipped ice. Your mouth must be dry...
Carol (Starting in a low-pitched, demonic growl, ending in a high-pitched wail) : Fuck your ice you eat your ice ice ain't gonna help meeeeeee...
Nurse: Remember to breathe.
Carol: (Gasping) You ain't on this table, bitch. You fucking breathe.
Me: My hand! My hand! Let go of my hand!
Carol: Your hand? Your HAND? What about me, you bastard...
But Heidi was beautiful.
That winter was cold, extremely cold. I went through firewood at a rapid rate, trying to keep the house warm for the baby. By Christmas I'd burned a year's worth and by New Year's I was getting desperate. Up on the hill was a thick spruce forest with lots of dead, standing trees which had no value as sawlogs. Spruce doesn't burn all that hot but this was close by, there was lots of it and I had a baby to keep warm. Assuming the property owner to be some out of the area timber company, I tossed my chain-saw in the back of the old '48 and went up the hill. Two or three loads later, I looked up to see a Sheriff's car pulling up to my truck. The Deputy got out.
“What are you doing?" he asked.
“Loadin' up this h'yere firewood," I replied.
“Do you have permission?”
Well, he had me there. I got down off the truck and explained my whole predicament with the baby and the cold and my thought processes on the value of the timber and how I hoped to God all of it put together would affect the inclination of the powers-that-be to treat me in a benign way what with Christmas having just passed by so recently and me being a young man with a new family and he told me what he was going to do.
“What I'm going to do,” he told me, “is, I'm going to call Dispatch. I'm going to have them look up the owner of this property. Then we're going to call them and ask if you can cut up here. If they say yes, you're good to go. If they say no, you're going to jail.” I asked him if I could keep loading while we waited or sit in his car as it was too cold to be standing around doing nothing. He told me no, I could just stand right there by my truck. I shivered around for a while and about the time I was thinking maybe Dispatch couldn't find a property owner and I'd be able to go home, they came back with a name: Hooven.
Well, that wasn't good news. Old Man Hooven was a crusty old character who owned a construction company and a fair amount of timberland in the area. He was not known for his sense of humor or his charitable ways. The Deputy got him on the line and explained the whole situation. I could hear the old man barking out questions, then the Deputy handed me the phone. “He wants to talk to you." I put the phone to my ear.
“So,” a voice barked. “You've got a newborn baby to keep warm and these guys will let you alone if I say you can cut up there, is that it?”
“Yessir. That's pretty much the gist of it.”
His response kept us warm all winter. "Well son, I think you ought to cut the Hell out of it! I sold that property ten years ago!”
Last edited by JustcallmeEd; 05-22-2014 at 10:14 PM..