Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Night Maneuvers With The Dragon

Lenny Feldman had a friend, Chuck Moon, whose "ole lady", Junie, called him one evening, still pretty early, and lets him know her old man's not home yet and there's some guy over there bothering her a little. They talked and she finally says, "Well, it's okay for now," but she'll call him back later if it comes to anything. Feldman starts checking the arsenal, trotting out rifles, handguns, and ammunition.

The thing is, Alton and I were both aghast. I was a dyed in the wool hippie and not exactly in my milieu. Alton, though he'd been a lieutenant in Viet Nam, had done every devious thing he could at the time to avoid going (the FBI caught him and gave him little choice). In country, he'd done every cowardly thing he could to avoid conflict and to get back home alive and let his freak flag fly. He was not the warrior type despite his war experience.

Feldman, though, was a West Texas cowboy who somehow coexisted with the hippie world and the academic world at the University Of Texas all at the same time. He was talking now about how we're gonna go over there and kick some ass if we have to, he's not gonna let his ole pal down. And, besides, she's a nice chick. What?!

Wait a minute, what does "nice chick" mean? What's "nice" got to do with it? Is she gonna cook supper fer us cowboys out of gratitude if we kill the guy who's annoying her? Gee, that'll be nice. I hoped we'd make a clean getaway.

Lenny took a few minutes to acquaint us with the guns—Alton is unfamiliar with the shotgun he's been handed. I'm unfamiliar with any gun. Alton understands his instructions pretty quickly, but I don't. In exasperation Lenny tells me to just make sure I hold it where it can be seen-if there's any shooting to be done, he'll do it, anyway.

Alton and I now feel like the Harmless Guy in "The Godfather", who brought flowers to Don Corleone's hospital room, but gets trapped into stuffing his hand in his coat and pretending it's a gun when the assassins show up. Like the guy in the movie, we're nervous and sweating bullets, wondering how appropriate the image may turn out to be. Alton and I don't know this girl Junie or her boyfriend Chuck Moon or the crazy guy who's bugging Junie. We only know Feldman, and he seems calm, albeit completely crazy. He was that evening one of those Texas guys who "don't care if the sun don't shine!" But he was enamored of saving this fair damsel with personal courage that night. Why it had to be his personal courage was something I figured out much later when I realized that the missing boyfriend was probably a dope dealer who couldn't afford to have the police come to his house.

Calls come in and calls go out to Junie. Things get more tense, things relax. Then tense all over again. We're smoking an awful lot of cigarettes. After a long wait and the sun's gone down and we're getting into Lenny's truck with an armful of guns and a gutful of butterflies, Junie calls one last time and says it's all right, the guy left, and that her boyfriend came home, too. All is well, la di dah. Thanks for contemplating murder for me.

"Thank Christ!" I thought, getting rid of the gun quickly.

Feldman thanks us for standing by him. Alton and I look at him like he's crazy, though we can't help but grin like idiots. Not having to fight the dragon will do that to you.


Current draft: 10/11/04
©1989 Ronald C. Southern

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