* Author’s Sidenote – This post comes live from Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. . I slept on the Golden Gate Bridge last night, haha. I am in a coffee place called, “Coffee to the People”. At this establishment there seems to be an unwritten law stating that all who sit here shall use Macintosh computers and iPhones. I fit right in. San Francisco is my favorite city, by far. There are beautiful girls coming in and out of here. Dogs are allowed in here too. Two guys next to me are talking to me about Vietnam and rolling a pinner. This is the real deal. Gotta be quick, parking meter is running out. I wish my Grandpa Bruce was here!*
In what a man from the desert would consider a wintry day, the story of WHAT WAS and WHAT IS unfolds. We are in the month of October on the Oregon Coast. The chlorophyll that once made the scene green has seasonally retired, leaving the hardwoods in the vibrant woody colors of autumn. Where the sky is concerned, an amazing range in greyscale built of mists, fogs, and rains exists and through this, Canadian “Honker” Geese fly south overhead. South has Joseph thinking of home. Almost.
Walter is in the zone, all his legs striding in unison, straight-lining to deaden the desert-man. As he approaches the mouth of the Bay of Alsea, a sailboat cruises in the surf above him at a cool 11 knots. Walter is the type of crab that checks things out. He paddles to a position 50 yards from the stern of the boat. The Alcantara.
He gets closer. 2 passengers, one male, one female, quarter century or so old. Walter would imagine they are in love. He hears the cheers of two Reidel crystal wine glasses purposely over-poured with Cabernet Sauvignon. He hates Cab. They are listening to The Shins, Walter god damn hates The Shins!! He starts feeling sick, not the infirmary type of sick, worse. The sick he feels, means action is necessary. He smells pot-marijuana. That’s enough!!!
Walter makes little more than short work of this vessel, destructively splitting it in two it with one graceful stroke of his metal-wrapped left CMD. After the murderous blast, he wades in the water, where the middle beam of the peaceful boat used to be. The Alcantara, the couple, the vino, the music, and the pot-marijuana all drown around him. Delightful!!
Practice. He continues toward Joseph, elated in the ease of his pregame warm-up.
In what a man from the desert would call a maritime bakery, Joseph sits enjoying coffee, studying pastries, and listening to the coast guard broadcast.
Mid maple-bar the shortwave radio offers this: In a developing story the Alcantara has sunk in calm seas and pleasant weather. Coast guard helicopter on scene reports a crab BEASTLY BEYOND MEASURE exiting the scene, grinning.
Joseph sets down both pastry and coffee and listens to the balance of the report. This is the first time this man has interrupted pastry and coffee for anything. Anything.
His chance at greatness. He knows it is now.
HE IS NOW.
He calls for his check. He follows his no pastry left behind policy, for it is a matter of consistency, and consistency has made him great. No use faltering at the brink.
Putting pen to merchant copy, he writes “Maple bar 98% – Bear claw 100%“. He tips in cash.
He passes the paper across the counter. With one look to the words-written, the waitress’s face becomes blank. Her beautiful blue eyes tear. The silverware she’s rolling drops and bounces on the concrete, near her feet. She knows what this means. She is worried he won’t be returning for breakfast any longer. She hates to think of life without him.
Although it happens constantly, Joseph is still not used to waitresses being in love with him. He does his best.
He tells her she is more than just a pastry server to him. He whispers softly to her about being the type of man that eats two breakfasts. He winks and she smiles lovingly. “Next time” is the last two words they share.
Joseph leaves her at the maritime bakery, he will never see her again but he suspects she will think of him during the majority of her most intimate moments.
The bass-filled horsepower of the 94 pick-up gives little regard as Joseph motors toward the dock. He goes through his crab-fishing list, he loves lists. Crab rings and stink bait – check. Cold beer and Sperry Top-siders – check. He never wears a seatbelt or sunscreen. That’s the John Wayne in him, sorry mom.
His training and his soul will be tested now, he knows this. His knots, his dancing, him. ” This is wear it pays off “, he says repeatedly. This is where it pays off.
The thunderous roar of the 94 pick-up reverberates through the depths of the oceans and lets Walter know that it is show time. Walter is adrenalin filled from deadening that unsuspecting sailboat. He hears the truck power off and silence at the top of the dock. Good.
Walter begins beating his knuckles together repeatedly. Over the terrifying, rhythmic clang he chants, “Only a crab that knows how to live, knows how to die!”
He walks with a confident gait through the mouth of the bay, repeating this mantra.
In the split second it takes Joseph to exit the door of his vehicle, he ties an in-stride-left-handed-no-look-cigarette-between-ring-and-pinky-finger bowline to secure crab ring to rope. It is this the best knot that has ever, or will ever be tied in Earthstory. He’s that good now.
With the crab ring underarm and the loose end of the rope wrapped diagonally around his torso, like a pro would do, he grabs the rest of the day’s ingredients. Cooler of ice-cold delicious beer, stink bait, comfortable chair. This load would be burdensome to most anybody beside Joseph, he was born for this.
He sets up shop atop of the dock, which I will call the DANGER-ZONE from now on.
Being a man of impeccable taste, and knowing what type of music giant crabs hate, he instantaneously picks the best song to await his EPIC DESTINY.
The Killers – All these things that I’ve done.
* Sidenote – Pay no attention to the video, but feel free to dig the song in the background if you would like. I feel it adds, you know? *
As the song starts, he opens a beer and drinks half of it while tapping his foot. He begins dancing in the most bothersome of ways, and finishes the beer.
Joseph grabs his Home Depot bucket of stink-bait – a precisely measured mixture of raw turkey necks, hot cat food, chewing-tabacco spit, cheap beer, and urine stirred together and left to sit in the sun for at least a week. He grabs a piece of the putrid meat, and baits a ring.
As the crab ring descends to the floor of the bay, he rolls and lights a cigarette, He pulls from the beer can. His dance looks uncontrollable, that’s his style. He is ready.
The bouquet of the stink-bait tickles the tip of Walter’s palate and sends him into a crustaceanal frenzy. Walter is an old crab, and knows the tricks of fisherman, but never before has he had chance to fancy such a delicately-built flavor. He his rapidly dock-bound, now.
It is about half-cigarette, when the danger-zone starts to shake beneath his feet. Every crab within 20 or so miles has converged to savor the world’s best bait. Oh Yeh! Joseph says. He extinguishes the cigarette and reserves it atop his ear, concealing it from the weather in his fiery red coif. He de-shirts. He has to.
He looks port-side from the danger-zone and sees a red behemoth coming straight toward him! If he knew what scared felt like, he surely would be scared. But this man is fearless! He has come too far for fear now! He tenderly whispers, “Walter.” and wipes away the mist collecting on his brow.
From Walter’s vantage, there is mayhem. Thousands of frenzied crabs fight to get to the danger-zone for a chance at the bait. Walter pummels through the mess, killing crabs that wont move. He has battled to within twenty feet of the danger-zone when he hears The Killers, the only band he hates worse than The Shins. He shouts loudly a multitude of vulgarity, at this point, that is entirely too heinous to type in this forum.
The shouts are audible above water, but Joseph doesn’t understand crab language. This is a shame, because if him and Walter could have communicated, this situation might have been more diplomatic, or avoided all together.
Walter is so pissed at this point, that the water around him starts to boil and cooks most of the crabs in the proximity. The cooked crabs rise, and aromatically give notice to the bystanders at the dock. People of all sorts swarm the danger-zone collecting these food crabs.
Walter rises, steaming and grabs the rope Joseph has tied to one of the pile-ons. Joseph shouts warning to the crab-collectors, but not in time. The crab pulls, the knots do not give way, and half of the danger zone collapses. People are struggling in the current shouting, as Walter grabs for Joseph.
With a mixture of dancing and top-siding, the desert-man is able to elude the crab and quickly clove hitches the offered claw. As he turns to run, Walter’s other brass knuckled claw lands square on Josephs left eyebrow, obliterating it and spraying blood, into the rain, and onto everything else. Joseph and his rope are sent flying from danger-zone and slide into the curb in the parking lot above the dock.
Joseph lies still for a few seconds having dreams of Nogales. Not again!! Rain taps his face awake, and he makes it to his feet. He notices blood all over his favorite “I’d Rather Be Flying!” shirt, tucked in his belt. He hopes that it will wash out as he runs to his truck for his knife. He ties the other end of the rope to the bumper.
Everybody is screaming everywhere. Walter has ascended the dock and is killing people of all ages on his way to finish Joseph. The rope hitched to his massive claw is tangled in a mess of scattered dock material and dead bodies.
The mayhem has attracted all of the townspeople of Waldport, who stand in awe of the spectacle.
The wild red-haired man runs shirtless toward the mess. The rope between claw and truck has become taut, limiting the crabs mobility. As Joseph gets near, the crab swings his free claw ferociously. Joseph dodges the efforts and stabs the crab in the soft underside of his shell. Walter is hurt. He stands for a moment holding the knife and then twists the blade to kill him, like in the movies.
This doesn’t work. The crab sharply gives Joseph a straight right hand, knocking him cold out.
The great man lies on his back, bloodied and unconscious. The fight is seemingly lost.
The crowd watching at a safe distance from the danger zone starts to sing, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier! …. I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!”
Joseph’s foot starts tapping to the beat involuntarily while he is unconscious still, it’s instinct.
“I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!”
He nods awake and looks down to dancing legs. He makes his way to his feet and hears the crowd’s voice!!
“I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!”
He starts, what many today would consider, the best dance ever!! His legs are so wild with dance, he struggles to stay upright, while his torso moves like a frantic jellyfish – it is perfect!
The crab knows it is over, his health is about 50%. He can’t remove the knife. He lacks dexterity because of his huge claws. There is a shirtless, bloodied, 150-pound man dancing like a maniac coming to kill him.
“I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier! …. I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!”
The rest of the fight is what you would expect, really: A crowd of strangers holding hands and harmonizing perfectly the words, ”I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier! …. I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!” while a drunk shirtless red-haired man – dancing like he has birth-defects – mexican knife fights a monster brass-knuckled crustacean to death in a pool of stink-bait, mixed with bloody dead bodies.
As Walter takes his last breath, a clap starts from the crowd and continues while Joseph walks to his truck. He rolls what will be his last cigarette in Oregon. He has to get home, this is getting ridiculous after all.
For his efforts, the mayor of Waldport gives Joseph his own holiday. Joseph agrees, on the condition that Walter gets one too.
On Dia de San Joseph (August 17th) in Waldport, no one wears underwear!
On Dia de San Walter (April 22nd) in Waldport, everybody dresses up like crabs and gets hammered!
Oregon is a crazy place, it is a long way from home.
* I have recreated the dance Joseph did this day. I will post it when I can. Meter’s running out!! *
PEACE AND LOVE!!!