(editor's note: It is with great reluctance that I am doing a redux and have resumed blogging my Road from Ruin story, but the following bit of craziness just had to be put in words. Each of my experiences with people I meet on the road gets more and more bizarre as you will see below.
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Irving was waving for me to come over, parked about fifty yards away. I held up my hand, palm towards him in a 'stop' gesture. But he kept on insisting. Reluctantly I turned away from the rig I was helping Greg McCroskey, a Vietnam vet, repair and walked over through the wind and dust.
When I got to his truck, he turned and pulled a guitar case out of the back. Crestfallen I was when he opened it. Completely beat up. Useless.
"I'll get it repaired when I go to my luthier in Van Nuys." Irving said rather proudly.
Why I took it, I don't know. A guitar with strings attached even though it didn't have any. Nor any tuning pegs.
Then, a few days later when he crashed my camp site out in the desert, he flipped.
"That guitar is out of my hands. Get some rosewood sawdust and glue and fix it yourself." He said, rolled up the window and then drove back to town.
Then on the day before I left Terra Cotta Springs, with the sole reason to get away from him, he saw me and pulled into the parking lot of the local hot springs resort. Irving got out and approached me and then extended his arm when he was about twelve feet from me. I thought he was getting ready to shake my hand and extended mine. But when he got closer, I could see that there was something coiled up around his fist.
"Here." He said and handed me what I could then see were a tangle of used guitar strings. I went over to the my car and stuffed them into the case of my travel guitar.
A couple of weeks after I departed, an FB mssg from a woman that works at the communitycenter appeared on my page. It read: Irving is here at the community center now, so give us a call. He wants to talk to you.
Why I did, I'll never know, other that the mssg. triggered me into a dissociated state and rendered me unable to make a rationally defensive decision.
"Hey." He said. " I couldn't get that guitar fixed, bad truss rod. But I got you another one. A classical. It's got a laminated top but I'm sure it plays o.k. I mean, that's what I got on the trade. How can I get this guitar to you?"
"I guess mail it to general delivery in Mammoth."
"I can't do that. $100.00 minimum."
"Well, I never mail stuff, so I wouldn't know. Give it to Sheila and when she comes up here she can drop it off at the community center in town."
"The community center." He repeated. Then silence.
"Where are you planning to go when it gets too hot there?" I asked, gritting my teeth.
"Left, right. I don't know."
Back out in the desert, I was able to process the exchange and knew what was at hand, having grown up in Scandinavian plagued Minnesota. I should have told him I was going to spend my summer in Lake Isabella several months ago when he kept asking me, should have been on to the passive aggressive ploy at hand. But I really have trouble with even white lying.
Last Saturday, I found myself taking a different street than usual when I headed back up into the mountains. Before one intersection, I slowed down for the stop sign and then saw it. The truck. I did a double take and refused to believe that it was a Minnesota license plate on the back. Instant dissociation. Then I craned my neck and looked at the front of the vehicle as I passed by, hoping I saw otherwise. But no. Minnesota.
"Jaye!!!" I heard booming through the windows and jolted. Unable to hear what direction it was coming from, I panicked and looked around, only then to see him on the steps of the Mammoth Public Library with someone sitting next to him. He beamed a smile. "Pull over and come here!" and did the hand waving thing again.
"I need to get gas." I said.
"Well come back."
"I need to get out to the desert. I'll call you." I said, rolled up the window and drove away.
All, all, all I wanted to do down in Terra Cotta Springs was record my desert inspired music on his vintage instruments-the most beautiful sounding that I have ever heard in my 45 plus years of playing guitar. But the barbed wire maze he trapped himself in made it virtually impossible to do.
"The mother of my children knows how I refuse to get emotional about her cancer." He said one day, looking westward, after he told me she was flying into LAX and I asked if he was going to go see her, hoping he would.
He then showed me photos of his beautiful daughters. One had not spoken to him for years. He wanted to bring them to Terra Cotta Springs and put them on some kind of payroll, get them out of L.A.
One day, I shared with him my theory that Scandinavians are so neurotic, insecure and dysfunctional because of the constant exposure to the Northern lights and how the radiation from said lights mutated our Finnish, Swedish and for him, Norwegian DNA. As much as I would like to believe this, it really isn't something so cosmically grandiose. Rather, it is the ice cold Scandinavian parenting that has inflicted the most damage.
About a week prior to Irving's undesired arrival, the high e-string on my travel guitar broke, one from a set he had sold me for $4.00 and which turned out to be tarnished after years of storage. I then pulled out the coil of strings he had forced upon me and after untangling them, took the replacement and put it on my guitar. Then about an hour after I saw him in Mammoth, I took the guitar out and placed it on my car bed and sat in the driver's seat and recorded some music on my iPad. Growing frustrated, I took the ear phones off and tossed them aside. They landed right on the guitar, causing the replacement e string to snap.
Now, my guitar, at present time , is 5 stringed.
Road from Ruin readers: What is described above here and in many other of my blog entries is unconsciously programmed sabotage. I've come to believe that evil forces uses what I call 'weaponized humans" to bring me down. These humans are not weaponized with guns, knives and ammo, but rather unresolved complexes that are activated via occult technology causing said humans to act up on me and throw wrenches into my gears. It is one of the main reasons I live alone, out of my car, in the desert, in the mountains, wherever I can keep away from them.
I recently came across a website run by some makeshift guru in India that claims that if we open our antakaranah channels and dump our negative relationship karma into the center of the earth where it will get incinerated-then 100% optimally functioning people, one after the other, will then come into our lives.
I'm working on the opening/dumping/incinerating right now in hopes that I can get my music recorded professionally for posterity.
Oh...p.s. last monday, I got another FB mssg. from Sheila down in Terra Cotta Springs: We have a guitar here waiting for you.
Jaye B. is a writer, musician and artist. His art criticism has appeared in Art Paper, New North Artscape, Art Muscle, Northfield Magazine and elsewhere. His articles have also appeared in City Pages, Twin Cities Reader, Mysteries Magazine, Fahrenheit San Diego, High Plains Reader, New Dawn, and Rain Taxi. He has appeared on BBC Radio, WGN Chicago, Red FM Ireland, WLW Cincinnati, The Howard Stern Show, The Daily Show and other places in the mediasphere to discuss his work.