The Year of Living Dangerously

I lived for a while with my mother’s cousin in a house on Mt. Rubidoux. I never really knew his given name, but everyone called him Skippy. He was middle-aged, over weight and divorced with a young son.  He was a jazz musician. a trumpet player who had played with the best of them . He also worked for an entertainment company who helped organize  large musical festivals in the Southern California area. Shows like the US Festivals and the now notorious Cal-Jams. My mother had mentioned to him that I had just gotten out of the military and had no real place to live. He offered to take me in, told my mother he could straighten me out and get me on the right path. I have no idea what the hell he was thinking.

His son lived with his x-wife and he only had him two weekends a month. So he let me sleep in his room on the condition that I never used his bed and had to leave on the weekends his son visited. Not on the couch or even on the love seat in the enclosed porch, but gone. So I slept on the floor in this kids room and worked days as a fry cook. Things were going pretty good for about a day or two. Then it got weird.

Skip not only smoked a lot of pot but did a lot of coke. Not sure how someone so bent intended on straightening me out. He would get really high and play his trumpet all through the night. He would ask me to hang out with him, but I was getting such little sleep as it was and worked full-time,   plus he never wore a shirt and was always so sweating. I got the feeling he was a lot stranger than I ever cared to find out.

The only telephone was in his bedroom, so one afternoon while he was gone I went in to make a call. While sitting on the edge of his bed talking I noticed large box at the foot of the matress. Out of curiosity I looked inside. There were huge diapers, baby powder, bottles and a paddle. There were also magazines of grown men in baby outfits. I left the room in a hurry. I guess I didn’t close the box all the way and he knew I was in his room. Because the next morning while I was leaving for work he told me not to bother coming back. Just like that, no warning, nothing. Just see ya, take your crap with you to work because you don’t live here anymore.

So while at work, now this has always been my luck, this guy from high school walks in. I had not seen this guy in over a year and he never came into the restaurant before that day.  He told me that his mother and father had separated and that she was moving to Mission Viejo  and he was going with her. He told me I could crash with them for a while if I wanted to. So I finished my shift that afternoon, told them I wouldn’t be back, and left everything behind.

The house was brand new and beautiful. His mother was seeing some married rich guy who bought the house for her to live in so she could be closer to him. So we all lived there rent free. I settled in quickly. Got another job as a fry cook, made some good friends, even got a girlfriend. Life was good for about a week. Then things got strange. The guy started buying lots of weapons. Rifles, pistols, knives. he dressed in only blue Dickies and tan shirts. He would crank Depeche Mode all day while cleaning his guns. He would whisper through the walls at night that he was going to kill me. He never went out, he never socialized, never slept. He turned into this freak of a kid. Sharpening knives on stones as loudly as he could so I would hear. Clicking the triggers on his pistols. He was the lone gunman who took shots at the president to prove his love for some child actress. I true nut. It was time to go.

So I answered an ad in the newspaper for a room for rent. I met with the lease holders of the condo the following day and they seemed very nice. A clean-cut couple in their late twenties. They were polite and cool and seemed to have everything together. The condo was in Lake Forest and  really beautiful. So I moved in right away. Everything seemed great, for a night. Then things got weird.

The next day the guy informed me that his girlfriend had moved out after they had been in a huge fight and he didn’t know if she was coming back. Then he told me that he was going to start selling cocaine to supplement for the loss of her income. The next few days were crazy. There were always people over. He stopped shaving or showering. There was a constant flow of people in and out at all hours of the night. Then one day he just vanished. I came home from work and he was gone. I never knew what happened to him. But I wasn’t on the lease and had no legal right to be there. So after about four months and in his remaining absence. I knew I should get out of there. I finally took an old tent he had left behind. He left all his stuff behind, and went to a near by state park for an extended camping trip.

When I arrived there the ranger told me I could rent out a site for the Summer, but that there were no other campers staying there so I would be all alone. It seems that there were a series of mountain lion attacks recently and all but a couple of the campers had gone home. I didn’t care. After the past year of living with crazies in a flow of insanity, I welcomed a good mountain lion mauling. I signed a waiver and set up camp.

That was one the best few months of my life. Went to work every morning, camped out every night. Peaceful and quiet. I slept like a baby…I never did live well inside.

About paulsdahlman

Born in Southern California, raised on the road and now growing roots in New England. I am on the journey of my lifetime. May the footprints I leave behind form the words to my story.
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