Thursday, March 2

Radio City Raiders

The summer of 69 wouldn’t have sounded better if it were the summer of 79. He would have liked it that way though, but then that summer; the song was number one across the country. Manu came first, as usual. Almost the same time everyday for the past 5 years, and sat almost at the same place for as long it has been. Almost distinctive considering he doesn’t like being routine for almost anything. Rafa walked in as the song ended, but he knew Jacob would crank up the old jukebox in a few minutes just for the heck of it. Just to hear the number one song for one more time. Dalian came in with a huge smile on his face. It was Wednesday, and everyone knows what Wednesdays are for. That one day every week they would ride to the outskirts of the city to catch the Night Birds on their amazing night routines. The best damn air show pilots in the west. They’re that much good for almost forever. Yes, that much.

The old radio is nearly bald of every feature. The dials are devoid of groves and the plastic panel in front is blurred to some sort of yellowish white candy like transparent color. But it played the old classics as good as new. And at 5 pm everyday, the snazziest DJ in the city will play all the new songs. Jacob liked old pop songs. The classic music almost magical as he recalls his past, as he recalls his childhood drowned in Sinatra. But he liked Tim and his gang of pretenders too. And they would listen to Bryan Adams almost all the time. Dalian and Rafa drank Bud like there’s no tomorrow. But Tim reminded them to hold the packs for they’ll end up seeing fireflies instead of Tomcats. Manu is strangely a coffee man. Maybe it stuck to him as he’s a long hauler. But almost all his life he’s been around his beer guzzling buddies and he haven’t picked up a can at all. Maybe it’s his visions of his grandfather reminding him subconsciously. His grandpa was an Apache in the aged desserts of Arizona.

Jacobs Moonlight Diner was opened back in the 60’s. Jacob was eighteen then and his diner closes before midnight. So much for the name, but no trucker would give a damn of any name in the middle of nowhere. This wasn’t much of an inheritance as his old man died in Korea servicing some misadventure with the traveling soldiers. So he was left nursing his wounds in some North Korean ‘correction’ camp while his wife walked out the back door from the old town half a world away. Jacob was left with his brothers and a sister and his ‘dead’ dad’s 300 bucks pension. His dad passed away for real about ten years later still lost and not much of a remorse for Jacob as he slugged to raise his own troop in an uncertain world. Elvis and The Beatles continued to dance the world as the Jackson 5 are practicing their baby walks. Jacobs Moonlight Diner was born on a torrential Saturday with a ten year old girl cashier. It was an American dream like none other.

Rafa continued to preach his now biblical version of the Night Birds Air Stunt fliers. The six odd F-14 Tomcats painting the skies of air shows from Nevada to Ukraine like war pigeons on their messenger sorties. They were that good that the president had them perform for his kids’ birthdays. Dalian started to worry of tomorrow as Tim pushed another can to Manu. Days end almost as fast as they come and these old raiders of the northwest aren’t getting any younger. So they made a pact under the Nevada moon not too long ago no to get married to any sweet talking candy girl for almost all of eternity, but then it was not any eternity they wanted to be because everyone around them are hitched to everyone else the know. So what.

The sight of the river running through Hoover's Dam rekindled memories worth telling in the drunken minds of Rafa and Dalian. Rafa crossed the border from Mexico decades back with his papi and mami, crossing the death river under the moonlight as the border patrol went quarterback chasing a few hundred eager Mexicans. No regret, it was the free world. Dalian is one of the famous boat people. None of the new kids knew what boat people really are. He was a year old kid when his family floated away into destiny’s hand under a century storm and landed smack in a refugee camp in the middle of nowhere. Tim’s dad was a government officer who saved this kid to school and college where he would smoke weed and dance with hippies almost a generation too late. The coincidence ends here, almost.

In the 80’s like in any other decade of this crazy century, stories become almost folklores in the great highways of America. Manu crashed his 18 wheeler into the drunken ass of the Chevy Tim was driving. God came in the form of a Bud loving county Sheriff who let them go with a hiccup and a free tow to Las Vegas. There they found religion. Manu loved classic music and read old American literature. Dalian studied literature at Nevada U in Reno and Tim studied both of them in his legendary northwest jokes. Rafa worked in a second hand book shop selling almost anything and after hours selling lives to Latinos who found the new world a bit too late to know there is no free world. You don’t ask life stories to this kind of people but they ended up being friends for the sake of sharing a few cans and the whole year it took to pay for Manu’s hauler.

The thought of four mismatch friends is genuinely interesting to Jacob and he was the fifth dude who organizes occasional desert BBQ’s on a lazy Sunday out in the rattle snake dens of Sierra Nevada. They went to the movies watching rotten sci-fi flicks reminding them the world is much more worst out there. Tim was a die hard fan of the Red Soxs, and he will spend the rest of his life explaining why they are called the world champions when only America plays. Stories like that interest anyone.

By 1985, Jacobs diner was bustling and was one of the hundreds opened along Interstate 15. Truckers from all the coasts and dust states stopped there to get bacons and overnight girls. Devil had a discount booth up along the freeways of the free world. His brothers are all in the army, and his sister still drops by every thanksgiving. This year Manu took them to the Indian reserves near Los Alamos where they discovered Anasazis made better pottery that some hack in New York’s fine art district. Apache was a real warrior and Rafa lost his culture when he walked north. Dalian cried silent tears for the country he would never see again, not that Vietnam was far away, but the Saigon of 85 was in ruins. Tim was quiet all the while, wondering whether to apologize for his ancestors collective sins, but that’s what the world is. Almost devoid of compassion for historical contemporaries like the ruined walls of the ancient settlement, and he knew no chief sitting bull is going to blame him for white mans deed’s or for not gambling in Atlantic city. Las Vegas, Nevada and Bryan Adams ruffled few emotions in him unlike the red dust floating into his heart now warm and sullen. So they were friends whom destiny never imagines would ever be.

The hills overlooking the air force base out in the dessert were like ice creams lumps on a banana split. Bald and scattered with Joshua tree’s substituting for spectators on this warm evening. The Night Bird’s flew for hours during the Wednesdays as a special tribute to their crashed counterpart a few years back. The grid’s of melancholic light on the runway is not enough to illuminate the birds but the Tomcats had special lights on them outlining their wings, which after a few cold Coronas looks like lights on rides in small town funfairs. They had to remind Tim every 10 minutes he’s too old to become a pilot while Jacob tries hard to tune in Nevada FM under the skies of Sagittarius. Far away under the southern mountain range, the twinkling lights of Las Vegas struck a smile on Dalian’s face while Rafa cracked bonfire jokes. The stars seem to be applauding them, these raiders who made no mark for anyone but themselves. They’re just small town guys running away from century old stigma and the summer of 85 was suddenly the summer of 69. Under the motionless sky and dancing Tomcats, catching warm breezes in their baseball caps and cowboy hats, they were dreamers from the radio city raiding imaginations thousands of miles away. They were that good. And they sang over the sparkling wood fire...
'I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played 'til my fingers bled
It was summer of '69...'

© Ghost Particle, 06.
(creative commons license)

[-] This is what you get if you have an hour to write everything that runs in your crazy mind. Pardon the geography because I’ve almost certainly had not been to the states, but the characters could be real. If you like this story please do leave some comments, it would help me write more.
[+] Maran came back from India with amazing shots of the people and culture;[UmaiPadam] head there and be amazed!

Ghost Tags:


Ponnarasi Kothandaraman said...

Hi GP,
Tht was a very nice post and well written.. I missed ur post on RDB.. tht was too gud. Keep writing!

Have a nice day,

Nahuatl said...

Oh when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Ya - I'd always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life


still_figuring_out said...

you are a creative writer, GP. to be able to visualize and write sure is awesome.

keep writing!

Mike's Drumbeats said...

This story made me smile...I can imagine a story I would write about Malaysia...wouldn't compare to this!

Ghost Particle said...

[Ponnarasi] thanx ma, certainly love writing and even better if readers like it. RDB was sumthing hemm...but i suspect a few more did not like the movie in india, found out reading the reviews.

[Nayan] right on the spirit bro...right one. keep the fire burnin!

[still] thanx still...there are alot of good writers, you and visi r good better than me...

[mike] thanx bro...its a work of profound imagination and unrelated events. one day when i come to the states ill write the real one...

Jeevan said...

really you should have a endurance (porumai in tamil) to write this post. very nice to read my friend. keep on writing:)

sophie said...

nice read...
GP...keep going...

Marutham said...

WOnderfull Post GP. A little OOC, Do you draw or paint? And did you see the comment i left the other day, tried those to befriend Sanjana?( For those who r wondering who SANJANA is itsGP's neighbours KID)How is it btween u 2 now? Learnt any new games?
Well soon u 2 r gonna be best pals.


it rains around the world sleep welcomes the dream, and  enigmatic souls awaken along the eternal shores of destiny