Friday, July 3, 2015

Reno’s Honky-tonk, Cabin Tavern

 (A neighborhood Escapade) 1965

Part Five

Reno, was a fat-faced person. You’ve seen that kind, cheek-bones barely seen, if seen at all, chin flopping over another lookalike chin, and forehead one layer of fat over the top of another, everything, total, making for a lopsided roundness to a human head; and the nose suck into the head, like a little sparrow on the flat part of Mount Rushmore. Everything a bit pudgy, like a dough-boy, about him.
       We all liked him though in the neighborhood, even if he was a fat offence to our eyes, and thought if not the whole of humanity thought likewise: cumbered with his presence, perhaps we were all a little too belittling at times to him, and looked at him wrong, but he was a fighter also, and good hearted.
       By and large, it was as it was, that is how we saw him, not that he done us any wrong, or ill turn. Quite the opposite.

       We had two fights, him and I, one when I was thirteen with him, the other when I was fourteen.  He didn’t move all that quick, and I was weightlifting, and a lot quicker, and doing some wrestling, and had a few fights before, and when the guys egged me on, and Reno onto fight, he went to punch me, and I went for his legs, grabbed them both and he fell down like the tower of Pisa.  And I must have hit him in the face a half dozen times, and he gave up, lest he be made into hamburger. The guys liked to egg on fight, they done that also with John L., and me, in the Cayuga Street turnabout, they egged-on us to fight one another, and I ran into the empty lot, knowing he was more friendly with the guys than I was, and they’d help him if he was losing, thus, once in the field we fought, I stopped, hoping he’d not want to fight, but he did, and I beat him, and he said on the way out: “It’s best you say I won Chick, because they’ll beat the shit out of you if you don’t,” so I did. And once Richard Z, was trying to take a bat away from me, we both found this bat and we both thought it was more ours than the other person’s, I was fifteen at the time, and we were both pulling on the bat, I gave him a right hook to his temples, and he dropped back like a dead pigeon, hit by a rock, right fast into the bushes, and had to be taken to the hospital. His father called my mother up, told her, her ape like son, put his perfect catholic altar boy into the hospital (well, what can you say, in ten years down the road, he’d be in jail for rape).
     And as for Reno, the evil he done, he done to himself, and family and quite deep it was. Drug related.
       He got so entangled with drugs as to define clearly, or give a definite analysis of what he was doing in words. We all take the crooked path, at some period in our lives, we do something we never dreamed we’d do, but it’s only for a fleeting moment in our lives, or perhaps period, but it ends: at least for most of us it comes to some kind of an end. You say: “I do not like this lifestyle.” We do not know who whispers this inside our heads, our brain, but it says, what it says, perhaps an angel.  God uses other sources as well, like books, and common folk, and short stories like this, etcetera.
       Some don’t beat the odds and have taken such a liking for such a lifestyle, that is all encompassed, and death is the only relief for such a person, and it comes in an assortment of packages: I have seen this side of life too much for my liking. And so it was with Reno, and drugs.

       Well, onto Reno’s neighborhood escapade: the honky-tonk Cabin Tavern.

I want to step back in time, back to my High School days at Washington High! Reno, was really Steve L., he and I walked the same hallways at Washington High, between, 1963-1965, to which he was such a happy go lucky fellow; an optimist you might say. Always with a smile and laughing. Everything was hunky-dory, with him. Curse him, I could never quite reach that plateau. But the fat-man, the clown always happy, could at times be annoying. It didn’t bother me when other men laughed, but when he did, it made me stop laughing, don’t ask me why, I don’t know but it did. I took a double-take. Perhaps it somewhat humbled me, his laugh, and stuck on me like white on rice, or mud. He had a kind of gargantuan laugh. It would make the noonday, evening or morning whirl, jar, thump hard on guitar strings, and spoil my revelry.  I think he dashed the birds with his laugh:
       “Ha! Ha! Or “HO, ho!”
        Once we went to his parent’s cabin hidden in the woods of Spooner, Wisconsin. A good, but small part of the Cayuga Street gang went, and surprisingly his parents showed up, late that evening. We all figured he’d buckle under, like a hound dog digging a hole to hide from his master, but he didn’t.
       “It’s nothing guys,” he said, “but it looks like we’ll have to leave real early in the morning before they wake up.  She wanted (his mother) to kick us all out now this very evening but somehow I got a reprieve, till morning.”
       We all were half loaded up with alcohol, God forbid should we have to leave I figured, if so we’d have all been in jail.  We had drank the liquor we brought along with us, and what he had at the Cabin Bar, more like an out of the way, Tavern in the woods: Larry L., was there, Gunner, Mouse, I think Sam and Nancy were there, and Big Bopper, and myself Chick Evens, and Reno, we all fit in two cars.  
       I looked at it at the time as his parents figured as to us being some poor dumb beasts who strayed into forbidden pastures, at her son’s leading us down the crooked path, and took pity on us. And perhaps that is how it really was; in any case there was no streetlights, no houses nearby, not anything. If the police didn’t get us for drunken and disorderly conduct, the bears would.
       Well, in the morning, we jumped inside the cars and scooted on back home, some 90-miles away.
       Once back on Cayuga Street, I went over to Reno’s house with him, he said he had a hidden six-pack of beer, he said it on the sly so the other guys wouldn’t hear him, lest they tag alone, and so like a duck I followed, and we sat at his kitchen table and drank, knowing his step-father and mother were in Spooner:
        Reno had an old bird, a huge colorful old parrot that talked, he said it was over 100-years old, or so, bird life I suppose, who’s counting? Anyhow, it was always in his kitchen, by the back doorway, by where I was sitting.  When I came visiting, I’d nearly always bump the big cage; I’d mock the bird when he spoke to me, or spoke generally.  And when Reno caught us fighting with words this one morning, he started laughing that horrendous laugh, thinking I suppose thinking I was dumber than the bird.
       Looking back, was there ever such an impossible person, and likeable at the same time! He was surely a character. No matter what, he lived what I perceived gaily—and I don’t mean ‘gay’: in those strange far-off teenage years, no one in the neighborhood took to that kind of behavior, it was considered nasty, if not downright immoral, and looked down upon, not like today where even the President of the United States waves their flag. But then of course, our neighborhood didn’t take to blacks, Asians, Mexicans, and alike, although Native Americans were fine, and Richard Z., was Italian, and that also was fine. That’s how we were, reality, right or wrong, we didn’t recognize the word prejudices, couldn’t even spell the word, didn’t know what it meant, and fat people were blubbery, we liked them but we made fun of them, what can I say!     

       Serious Reno could be, but less than serious he was most of the time I was with him. Unfortunately, he died in prison, drug related I hear, while in his fifty-third year of life (2000 A.D.,) thin as a beanstalk, leaving behind a gracious wife, and children.

No: 1052 (4-28-2014)
Revised/ reedited: July, 2015