May 22nd, 2017
“If you own a home with wheels on it and several cars without, you just might be a redneck.” – Jeff Foxworthy
That Tuesday night Karin met up with Shawn and some other girls for a meeting of The Pontifical Biblical Institute of the Holy Hippie Sisterhood. They were going to catch up on old times, and maybe even talk about religion. Karin and I waited in the Harvest Café for the other women to arrive. When the first one showed up, I took my leave.
Hans was working a long shift that day for Capitol Concrete. We didn’t know quite when he would be done. Karin and I knew that he wouldn’t have the time or energy to make himself any supper, so I planned on getting us all a big pizza from Mr. G’s, and then taking it back with to Hans’ trailer, once he was off of work. In the meantime, Karin would have coffee with her friends and I would find something to do.
There is an Irish pub just down the block from Harvest. I went inside and asked the bartender to cut me a slice of Guinness Stout and put in a glass for me. Then I found a quiet booth and started reading some more in Joseba’s book, That Old Bilbao Moon. Joseba is a Basque and he teaches at UN-Reno. I met him at Creech AFB in Nevada. The book is about Joseba’s experiences with Bilbao and the boys in the ETA. I love the book, mostly because much of it is so alien to me. Some of the stories are pretty wild, but clearly authentic.
Eventually, the beer was gone and it was time to pick up the pizza. I put it into the car, and went into Harvest to alert Karin that we needed to move on. I knew the women in the coffee shop. They seemed glad to see me. Shawna shouted out, “Look at Frank! You can tell he’s retired. He’s positively glowing!” It was true. It’s hard to hide that sort of thing.
We met Hans back at the trailer. He had his pickup truck parked out back. It’s an ’88 Chevy diesel with a blown engine. Hans had the truck bed full of bags of garbage, mostly because the dumpster at the Shell station was already full of trash.
We started to eat the pizza. Hans looked at it with suspicion.
“Why did you get a pizza with all this weird stuff on it?”
Hans sniffed at a slice. “These are mushrooms. I hate mushrooms. And I think this is an olive.”
“It’s all good for you.”
Hans chewed on the pizza, and looked out the door at the Toyota.
“Why didn’t you get a cool car? Aren’t you going through a mid-life crisis? Was the BMW the only cool car you were ever going to buy?”
I replied, “Yeah, the Beemer was it.”
Hans said wistfully, “I wish you still had the BMW. Then you could give it to me.”
“That’s strange. Your brother says the same thing. He thinks that he should have had the BMW.”
“What?! I’m the eldest son. I should have gotten the BMW!”
“Really? Are we going to stand here and argue about a car that doesn’t even exist anymore?”
Hans smirked and said, “Yes.”
Hans said, “You should get a truck. But you can’t get one like mine. It’s hard to find a truck like mine. It’s a collector’s item.”
I replied, “It shouldn’t be that hard to collect, seeing as it doesn’t move.”
“What?! You hush now! Enough of this foolish talk!”
Hans ate more of the pizza that he didn’t like. Then he asked, “Do you know what pisses me off?”
“I can’t imagine.”
“Those young, college kids that talk shit about veterans. They even do that at A&M.”
“Really? At Texas A&M?”
Hans nodded, “No place is safe. Bunch of liberal punks.”
I shook my head and said, “Yeah…those goddamn liberals.”
Hans gave me a stone cold stare. “You know what I mean.”
“Do I?” I smiled.
Hans rolled his eyes. “You’re a liberal, but you’re a Vietnam-era, hippie kind of liberal. I can deal with that.”
“These young guys. They go to school with their daddy’s money and their nice cars. They don’t know what work is. They got to have their ‘safe zones’ where nobody will talk mean to them.” Hans’ voice was full of disgust.
Then Hans said, “They don’t respect their elders.”
I raised an eyebrow at that comment.
He went on: “I got into it with one of those guys.”
“Oh, how so?”
“Well, one of these guys was talking shit to me, so I pulled back the edge of my jacket a bit so he could see my knife.”
Hans shrugged, “Just standard military issue. K-bar.”
“And then what?”
Hans continued, “The guy started backing up. I didn’t threaten him or anything. I never said a word to him. I just showed him my knife hanging off of my belt. The guy was still talking shit even as he was moving away from me.”
We finished the pizza.