I’m, apparently, anal retentive when it comes to my writing. This is why the manuscript for “Swamis” is 123,000 words long; evidently somewhere around thirty, forty thousand words too many. WAIT, maybe I’m actually just trying to share all the good, um stuff. Wait; that would possibly make me anal explosive, the opposite, I’ve been informed, of, you know… hey, I wouldn’t think anyone wants to be identified as anal, um, anything.
OKAY, so, if I have to be that; if I have to radically, ruthlessly cut out a lot of words from “Swamis,” I’m going to, yeah, save the stuff.
SO, I’ve set up a place to put it, knowing, or, more likely, hoping that some of the peripheral stories I’ve so enjoyed writing might be useful in the, say, Season 2 of “Swamis.”
Yes, my ego is pretty much intact, despite getting reviews of the manuscript by two trusted people who actually got through it, both of whom (nicely but firmly) informed me it’s just too frustratingly complicated. Not the same as badly written. So, okay. That is, yeah; I knew that. Explosive.
What I would like to do, then, is publish some of the outtakes here. Here is the first batch, plus an illustration for the manuscript by the fictional Jody DeFreines by the real Erwin Dence.
The first segment is an embellished version of two separate incidents, one in which my friend Phillip Harper, both of us 16, had me try to purchase cigarettes as I, according to him, looked older. Not old enough, evidently.
The other segment and the illustration relate to the fictional presence of Ray Hicks and Phillip Harper at the aftermath of Chulo’s death (also fiction; based, sort of, on a real story of the body of a well know surfer ending up in a dumpster in Encinitas. Phil and Ray did get busted for serial ditching as per the insert.
SIDESLIPPING- OUTTAKES FROM “SWAMIS”
Here we go:
SO FUCK-ING COOL… MAN
For a short period of time, but right about this time; well past ‘groovy,’ way past anyone remotely cool (or young) calling anyone a ‘Hippie,’ I made the adjustment, from ‘fuckin’, dropping the ‘ing,’ to Fuck-ing, emphasis on the ‘ing.’ This was after running into a guy, Gordy, a year ahead of me in high school, at a liquor store in Vista. He was sporting a full beard and long hair (longer- Fallbrook had a dress code and I’d just graduated), parted in the middle (of course), and clothing, Hippie-garb I called it, that denied his quite-upper class upbringing.
“So fuck-ing’ cool, man. We just don’t fuck-ing’ see each other, man; like, like we used to.” And he was, obviously, stoned, with an even more-stoned girl, possibly still in high school; headband, boutique-chic top hanging precariously on her breasts, nodding, giggling, eyes unable to focus or even adjust to the light from the coolers; next to him.
I was looking at the girl. Maybe I knew an older brother or sister. She looked at me, squinting, then nodding, a finger pointed way too close to my eyes. Big smile. “My brother Larry,” she said, “he says you’re a fuck-ing’ asshole; oh and…” She lost her thought. Emphasis on the ‘ing.’
“Larry. Yeah. Well.” Larry. Yeah. Larry’s little sister.
I walked toward the counter, looked at the guy behind it; older guy, sort of leering at the girl. “Larry’s little sister,” I said. The guy nodded. Appreciatively (by which I mean creepily). “She probably going to be, like…” I looked at her (questioningly, not, I hope, creepily). “…a Junior?” she nodded. “Like, uh, next year?”
“Class of, uh, a second…”
“Seventy-one! Yea!” She made a bit of a cheerleader pompom gesture, one hand, a jump motion without actually getting off the ground. Junior Varsity.
I looked back at the Counter Guy. He looked at Gordy. A little judgey, not that Gordy noticed.
Gordy put a hand on my shoulder. I looked at his hand. He took it away. I put two one-dollar bills, my package of Hostess donettes and a quart of chocolate milk on the counter, pointed to a pack of Marlboros (hard pack) on the back wall, turned back to Gordy and Larry’s sister. Gordy sort of gave me a specific (disappointed) look.
“I know, man… Gordie; you probably don’t fuck-ing’ smoke… cigarettes.” He and the girl both giggled.
The Counter Guy set the cigarettes on the counter, rang up the carton of milk and the donettes.
“Pack of matches, too; please.”
Counter Guy put two packs of matches on top of the Marlboros. “You’re seventeen, huh?”
I didn’t think. “Yeah, I am.”
“Well,” he said, “Got to be eighteen.”
He slid the cigarettes back toward him, a fifty-cent piece and two dimes and two pennies back to me.
“Oh,” I said, “I’m eighteen, too. I meant…”
“And you, sir?” he asked of Gordy.
“I left my license in my other pants,” I said. Counter Guy ignored me, smiled (still creepily) at Larry’s sister. She probably took it as flirting.
Gordy put one hand on the cigarettes, the other on my change. “I’m eighteen,” he said, “and I can fucking prove it.”
“Didn’t mean to be so… fucking uncool, Gordy,” I said, as we stepped outside.
“Nah; it’s cool,” Gordy said. He flipped me the cigarettes, one pack of matches, kept one pack; pulled Larry’s sister closer to him, put his hand out as two (obviously) off-duty Marines approached (obviously Marines, obviously off duty), both looking more at her than at him. “Either of you two gentlemen twenty-one?” he asked, pulling out several ten-dollar bills.
Neither of them was, but the next guy approaching, not a Marine, definitely was. He looked at the two Marines, at Gordy, at Larry’s sister. He put his hand out, said, “it’ll cost you.”
“Peace, man,” I said, walking away, waving my free hand in a peace sign. Gordy flipped me the peace sign with the hand holding the money, but quickly, and not where the Marines could see the gesture. Not that they or the Citizen taking money from Gordy and him were looking past Larry’s sister. She gave each of them a very quick, weak smile, and, in a moment of self-awareness, pulled her top up a little higher on her breasts.
Class of ’71. Yea!
Maybe I was trying to make up for my uncoolness in challenging Gordy. Probably. Yeah. Flipping the peace sign was pretty much over. On special occasions, perhaps; displayed and shared with what we would only later refer to as ‘ironically.’
NOTE- Phillip and Ray were (I’ll get to this) busted, partially because of this incident, for serial ditching at Fallbrook High. They had so many hours of detention to serve (the usual punishment, an hour served for each hour missed) that they couldn’t do the time before graduation. They were, instead, tasked with having to pick up trash around the campus at nutrition and lunch until the end of the year. While some students threw wrappers and apple cores and lunch sacks to the ground when they saw either (or both) of them approaching with their large canvas bags and sticks with a nail on the end; they were also folk heroes of sorts, rebels; an enviable status. Peace signs and nods, a few slugs to the shoulder (precursor to the high five and/or fist bump); maybe an already-dated ‘far out’ or ‘right on;’ probably not a ‘groovy,’ even from some otherwise-clueless classmate.