The Gist: 6 kids growing up from Innocence to Cynicism, and the choice to decide which path is right-in the face of their tormentors -all in the span of 3 years over a 1-mile strip of land called . . . The Wash.
(so I guess that means you probably don’t have to read it)
: A Place For Innocence
I WANT YOU TO GET ONE-THING-STRAIGHT from-the-start: It was dangerous growing up as a kid.
-And I don’t mean it was “dangerous” the way a kid living in a ghetto would use the term “dangerous”-
what do I mean by that?
I guess I don’t know what I mean by that.
Can we skip this chapter?
I suppose because there were bullies . . .
(Do those three dots bother you?)
To put it straight, the real dangers I’m talking about are both animal in nature and primal in loss..
..and that danger was this: Walking the line of innocence; trying not to lose it.
Thus begins the tale of how I lost my ‘virginity’ . Well, sorta . . . It started out with a childhood curiosity, a flirtation at the way the world works after seven ’o clock, Mountain Standard Time, MTS.
Oh, about where I live:
I live in Arizona.
Let me introduce you two. To the wilderness. First, there were
COYOTES (pronunciation: “Kai-o-tees”) are like wolves in that they travel in packs, only they’re smaller than wolf-mites. Some people say they howl, some people say they sing. I like to think they’re romancing the moon.
Occasionally, while I’m sleeping in my bed, I hear them outside and know every time exactly when they’ve made a kill, whether jackrabbit, house cat, a small dog, a rat, a hobbit, a human toddler.
You’ll hear them and their kill, screaming out love songs from a mile off, dancing on wildfire, and you’ll know there’s nothing but blood being spilt. .
BOBCAT: Bobcats (pronunciation: If you seriously need a pronunciation key for “bobcat”, you’re an idiot) are cousin to the Northern Lynx, only they have bumblebee fur.
(A bear cub was seen on Channel 5 News in a palm tree right next to my house one night.)
So. . . “What the heck is a Wash? AHH!!”
It’s a space where the tall trees grow. In the water, in the wash.
In the backwash. In the wash. In a dry river bed. Surrounding.
When the green rain pours, and the people look up, and some of those people are termites, and others, antelope; one of them says, “Hey! What’s that hole in the sky?” and the termites say, “Move! Or we‘ll drown.”
. .it all gradually took on the appearance of a Midwestern forest. All very out of place in these cowboy towns you see on TV.
So the Wash–Our Wash–is the only place in the desert of Arizona!- (besides the Northern parts) -where you could real-ly expect to find any leafy greens–trees and bushes and orangutans, I’m sure.
The rest of the area surrounding was drenched in a dry, ugly gray. Oh, and cacti and hoppin’ cholla and prickly pears, and all other cactuses you Midwesterners and Easteners and even distant Southerners, among all other Non-Arizonans, might find interesting; but people who live here don’t really give a stink,
So the rest of Southern Arizona that wasn’t The Wash was pretty barren.. Oh, Dexter! I’m even prettier when I’m clean. Oh, what! I guess you could say The Wash had all the life in it. Because that’s where the water was.
. .And where Life was, there was action and there was danger and there were the fears and dreams and superstitions of six little boys, their Tonka tools, and a kaleid-o-scopal blur of small-town memories.
But mostly, there was childhood nostalgia . . . One needs no pronunciation key for that.
(Our Side of the Story)
Physical Descriptions of a Few. .
THE GENERAL: White boy with freckles, pimples, and brown hair. Carries around a BB Gun. Bends down on his knees and writes things in the sand with the nostrils of his BB gun. He usually writes his plans in the dirt.
Hands out printed copies of his plans to us from home. Has thick-rimmed Elton John glasses that are always broken and that are stuck together with duct-tape. Sets the glasses back on his nose by wrinkling his nose.
Cheddarhead: White man with a sunburn like tomato-juice, all red in the face laughing, and hair the color of cheddar cheese.
..A certified midget no taller than 4 feet tall.
BUZZ MITCHELL: Black man with black hands. Very, very, very dark, but he speaks eloquently. Has thick, protruding lips, his chin strong and gloved like a fist. Always staggering like a drunken sailor lost at sea and tossed.. His cookies again at this descriptive monologue. “It stings!” he tells me.
Jack Daniels in hand, he acts very, very sober.
He says to every guy around, “And never spit in front of a woman,” then gathers a lot of phlegm, aims, and spits a good three or four yards.
BIG BOSS MIKEY: White boy with a dark complexion and strong, handsome features. Like a desperado.
. . He doesn’t like girls yet.
Heavily muscled, out-thrusted pecs. Girls fall all over him.
Wears a baseball cap pushed backwards on his head and a football jersey with basketball shoes. Reads a lot. Magazines, mostly. Baseball cards.
In the habit of sucking popsicles, especially on a hot day.
Ashley “Smilez”: White, spoiled rich girl. I hate her!
.. even though she isn’t a blonde (because her natural hair color is brown, though she seems to forgotten . .), I forgot what I was going to say. Do you remember what I was going to say?
She smokes already, anyways. It makes her mouth cough.
.. gliding around like a ghost, her clothes stuck tight to her soft body. She constantly frowns, pouting out her thin lips. She never seems truly happy.
ALFREDO VALENTINE: As round as an elephant devouring an engorged pastry chef, but then, that wouldn’t add much weight to an elephant. Something to think about. Sometimes mistaken for a Spanish-bred, though he doesn’t like that &frequently accused of being an illegal immigrant, especially by minor characters and those who don’t know him yet personally. Some people tell him to “Go back to Mexico!” Alfredo consistently climbs tall trees and falls on his nuts, yelling “Oy, my frankferturs!” every time. Whenever he laughs, you will smile.
Farts a lot, but somehow remains somewhat popular.
THE ‘NEW’ girl: Black girl. Very Beautiful. Wait, is she white now? Now, she’s Japanese. Remember to practice your cheers, darling-!
A cheer leader.
..always inventing knew ways to twist her body out of shape. She likes to walk on her hands and sometimes she puts shoes on her hands and gloves on her feet and walks about, shouting. Sometimes, she likes to pretend people remember her name. When they forget, her hair color changes.
SCOUT: White boy. Pale blonde hair. Fat. We tend to forget who he is at the moment. He doesn’t have the best personality.
Potential to be handsome, but not seen through his baby fat.
Likes to sit on top of his trees and stand on watch, saying, “I am guard, I am guard, everything looks okay!” But sometimes he just stands up there and stares…if suddenly coming out of a good dream.
Then he turns around and says, “Why doncha just kiss my assets!”
-Sometimes when he’s not climbing or fighting or proving that he’s a man, you can hear him gently singing a song with no words. Not humming, but singing, “La, la, la, la . . . La-di-da-di-da- . . . La, la, la, la, la . . . di-la-di-la . . . ”
–Didn’t we cover her? How can you cover her? She’s so very big!
. .not too good looking, except for her face, which hides a secret. She consistently shoves cakes in her mouth and cries, “Wah!
“I’m a little piggy!”
OZZIE: White. Pale. Tall kid, young kid. Looks much older than he actually is. People commonly mistake him for 5 years older than he was three days ago until they get to know him, and call him ‘my baby’. Shivers in a cold that isn’t there.
(He hates the cold.)
Didn’t we cover him? Oh, well . . LET’S DO IT AGAIN!
Can you see him now? I just threw a blanket over him. Big Korean man with slanty-eyes. Came over on a boat with his parents all the way from North Korea to escape an oppressive Communist society.
Stuffs his face. Its brown paper saying “From Mother, with love”. Tubbs picks up sticks and brush as he walks by and chews on them like they were a shaft of straw. I suppose some ethnic groups do this, though I never wonder why. They really were quite starvish.
BEEF JERKY: He’s me. But you know me already. I wrote this book!
Look up my biography if you want to know how I look. Jeez!
An ugly kid with a dime-sized gap between his two small front teeth. Strong chin. (I’m indulging.)
Later he gets braces and loses weight and gets even more handsome than you might imagine a nerd would. You should marry him someday, really, he’s quite wise.
Man, can he swim!