Posts Tagged ‘Apaches’

This evening I did something stupid: I locked myself out of the house. I was doing laundry, put on a clean pair of jeans, took the dirty ones off, took everything out of my pockets, and laid it on my desk. I put my old jeans in the basket, walked outside to put the laundry in the washer, pulled the door shut behind me, and went “Oh shit!” I’d locked myself out of the house wearing only flip flops and a pair of jeans.

Fortunately, my neighbor was home, sitting out on his patio drinking beer and listening to Banda and Norteños blasting from his boom box (or whatever the equivalent is nowadays). I walked over to the fence and yelled, “Hey neighbor! I just did something stupid — locked myself out of the house!” Fortunately, he’s a master mechanic and has every tool under the sun. We tried drilling out the lock first, which didn’t work. Then he hauled out a grinder, ground off the door handle amid a cascade of sparks, and after another ten minutes we managed to get the door open.

I thanked him, walked in, locked the remaining dead bolt, drove up to Home Depot, bought another lock, and then drove to Total Wine, where I bought a 12er of Bud Light, and a bottle of pretty decent tequila.

Upon returning home, I installed the lock, grabbed the bottle of tequila and the 12er of Bud Light (the official beer of Tucson), let myself into my neighbor’s yard, walked back to his patio accompanied by his vicious dogs — I’m on their good side due to occasionally feeding them meat scraps — sat down, and we started talking about our lives and families.

We eventually got around to reminiscing about what the ‘hood was like 20 years ago when we were a lot younger and his wife, who died from cancer a year ago, was still around: gun shots a few blocks away most nights, but also parties on the weekend going until 3:00 a.m. with dozens of people drinking to oblivion and trucks parked in the yard booming out Rancheras, Norteños, Rock en Español, and Banda. For my part, I’d sometimes have louder-than-hell band rehearsals going until midnight. Sometimes on week nights. Nobody ever complained. It was a fun time.

But times have changed. My neighbor looked at me and said, “Now? . . . . . Some asshole would call the cops.”

I could only agree.

Before I left, I ended by telling him one of my favorite anecdotes.

About the time this was all happening I had a girlfriend who was a dedicated vegetarian who didn’t speak Spanish, and I was sometimes playing music with Indians (don’t get on me about the term — that’s what they call themselves) — a good Apache friend regularly and for years, and occasionally Yaquis and T’ohono O’odhams.

Well, I got an invitation to a birthday party down by St. Mary’s Hospitals for one of the T.O. musicians, and the girlfriend and I went. We were the only white people there out of 50 or 60 others; almost all them were T.O.s, some of whom didn’t even speak Spanish let alone English.

After we arrived, I hauled my gear out of the truck and went to the backyard where I played music and drank beer with the guys for about an hour.

When we took a break, I walked into the house to grab a bite, walked into the kitchen, and found the GF standing there with a bowl of clear soup in her hand, with garbanzos floating on the surface. She told me that she hadn’t been able to talk to any of the other women, because none of them spoke English. She also told me that the soup was really good, but that she couldn’t figure out what the chewy stuff was on the bottom.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

I still don’t think she’s ever consciously eaten meat since then.

Good times. Damn but I miss ’em.


My closest friend died nine years ago today. Randy Oliver–a huge (6’4″, 240) Apache bassist I played music with for many years–died of a broken heart. Back when such horrors were still common, he’d been given up at birth and was raised by Catholic parents in Phoenix.

He later converted to Mormonism when he married a Mormon woman.

When I met him, via a drummer we played with for years and years, and who’s still a friend, Randy had just left Mormonism and had become a born-again Christian. Surprisingly, we got along well. According to him, I was a “left-wing wacko,” and he was a “right-wing wacko.” He was so far to the right, and I was so far to the left, that we agreed about politics 90% of the time.

During the entire time I knew him, he was suffering from the shunning entailed in giving up Mormonism; it scarred him for the rest of his life. (His ex is a wonderful woman; almost alone among his kinfolk, I have nothing but good things to say about her–she’s kind. His daughter, as religious fanatics tend to be, was cruel and unforgiving–the loathsome treatment she meted out to Randy contributed to his death.)

Nine years ago, Randy had been staying in a trailer on my property. We’d rehearsed that night with our new band, felt good about how it had sounded, and were ready to go out the next day and start booking gigs. So, we celebrated–stayed up drinking and smoking while listening to blues and country music until maybe 1:00 a.m. Then, after I crashed–he knew I didn’t want that crap on my property–he decided to ride his bike down to South Tucson to score some dope.

I got a hysterical call the next day around noon from Randy’s girlfriend: he was in intensive care. He’d had a heart attack, had plowed into the curb with his head, and was brain dead.

And that was it.

I still miss him.

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Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia.

Free Radicals front cover