Thursday, March 26, 2009

* * *D E S P E R A D O* * *

About once in a lifetime if a man’s lucky he will meet his soul mate and enjoy years of matrimonial bliss. If he’s real lucky he may find his soul buddy and experience a bond of a lifetime. Many men never experience this, so this post is directed to those that have.

My soul buddy was a guy I knew as the Desperado. As far as I know he was not a real outlaw but now that I think of it he was wanted by some jilted husbands, broken hearted boyfriends and a few small town sheriffs‘. He rode the highways and bypasses of eastern North Carolina in the early seventies and his CB handle was…you guessed it “The Desperado”. At the time this was a popular song by the Eagles and was played to death by all the DJ’s. I met the Desperado at a time in my life when I had no more direction than a .39 cent compass. I had somehow landed a job in a textile mill in Rocky Mount, N.C. and had convinced the management that I could run the maintenance department after the previous boss was made a permanent guest of the Federal Penal System. To say that I was in a position that I was not qualified for is a gross understatement. Keep in mind that there were 800 looms in this plant and until 6 weeks prior I had never seen one. But….I could talk some shit and I needed a job so here I was doing things I knew nothing about. I had a desk and my own office in the back storage room of the plant and there was about 300 women right outside in the weave room and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. One day a couple of months after my “take over” this strange looking character came limping into my office (closet) and introduced himself to me as a representative of the Certified Chemical Company. Now while I did know a little about mechanic-ing, I did not know jack shit about chemicals. This dude went on to tell me that I should be concerned about the water treatment system on the roof of the building. Made sense to me so we climbed up on the roof and sure enough there was an impressive looking apparatus with water running in and out and mist going up in the air and I learned all about the water treatment system in about 15 minutes. While he was educating me about the system he convinced me that we needed about $2000.00 worth of chemicals to treat it. I had not made any big purchases in my maintenance career at this time and I decided that this should be my first. After I got him a signed purchase order he said “Meet me at the Holiday Inn tonight and I’ll buy the cold beer and some cow. Like I said life was good. We soon became good friends and learned among other things that we shared the same birthday. He was intrigued by my law enforcement background and when he learned I had shared a bunk with Chuck Norris while stationed in Korea he promptly proclaimed my CB handle should be Texas Ranger. About a year later, the textile mill had closed and I found myself in a lesser position with a local Masonite plant. One day while at work a major fire broke out. While myself and others were trying to put it out I became trapped and found myself pulling a 65 day hitch at the Duke University burn center. The Desperado all but moved to Durham and watched over me night and day. These were the hardest times in my life and he propped me up every day. All the staff at the burn center assumed he was my brother and in many ways he was. When it was clear I would not make a big company cookout he came to Duke, set up a portable grill on the top tier of the parking garage, cooked me a fine slab of cow and snuck that and a cold 6 pack into my room. Only your soul buddy would pull a stunt like that. When I finally was able to come home he threw me a big party and while I was hard to look at nobody seemed to care and I have never felt so loved. My hands and face were badly burned and he was the first to give me the new nickname “Crookedpaw”. Our friendship endured another 20 years until the Desperado finally bit the dust about 3 years ago. Until the day he died there was nothing as sincere as our friendship. There is little doubt in my mind that as we speak he has St Peter backed up at the gate and is trying to sell him some chemicals. In my eyes the Desperado cast a long, l..o..n..g shadow. We will both be 70 this year and I will miss him forever.

1 comment:

turdpolisher said...

A touching tribute to a lasting friendship. Got a few buddies like that. If you'll excuse me, I've got a couple phone calls to make.