A few folks asked me about Dana, the girl that tried to kill me with her ample yet firm bosoms. If you missed that, you can find it HERE.
We met at a softball game. There was a baseball complex just catty corner from the ammo plant and the ammo plant just happened to have a fastpitch softball team, so during the season a bunch of us would pack up our coolers and go to the game if it was on a weekend.
They were a blast. Our team sucked majorly and yeah, it was for lack of trying. They were there strictly for the fun. We'd sit right behind the dugout and sneak the team beer after the cooler they smuggled in emptied out. Motherfuckers would be half in the bag by the time the game was over.
Jose, the best player on the team, would saunter up to the plate with a stagger in his gait, tug at his hat, tap the plate with his bat, then sneer at the pitcher. The pitcher would fire a pitch at Jose, and Jose would somehow knock it out to deep left field. Jose would then reach into his pocket, pull out a cigarette and light it, wave to all of his adoring fans, then get tagged out before he took a step. And we would go wild. After all, it was a great hit even if he was just showboating for both his wife and girlfriend.
We've all heard of players being thrown out of a game, but on more than a couple occasions, our entire team would get ejected usually for petty bullshit like drinking on the field during play or trying to grab a female ump's ass.
Back to Dana. I was making a piss run while she was making a beer run, both of us watching two different games. I saw her in line at the concession stand and decided my bladder could wait another five minutes before it got critical so I got in line behind her. We started talking and by the time we got our beer, I'd convinced her the game I was watching was a much better time than the one she was watching. Besides, we had lots of beer and other party favors. A lengthy pit stop for me first, and we spent the rest of the evening together laughing at the fuckups we called a softball team.
She was a couple years older than I was and worked as an RN at Memorial Hospital in Modesto and had some weird-ass schedule like ten 12 hour days on then five days off, so it took us a while before we really got to know each other. I like to think of that time as the Days of Innocence.
Don't get me wrong. We had some great times together and we shared a lot of the same interests. She liked to shoot, she loved driving around the Mother Lode and she liked to day drink. The Perfect Woman, right? Yeah, maybe for somebody else.
I think our biggest problem was that both of us enjoyed the different lifestyles we were living. We were attracted to each other but neither of us wanted to make the changes necessary to make it work so basically what we had a was 'friends with benefits' thing going on, years and years before I ever heard it called that. Only thing was, we argued so damned much it was more benefits than friends.
We'd get to nitpicking each other and it wasn't just her, I was just as bad. I don't know what it was but all of a sudden we'd both get critical of each other and neither of us was bashful about it.
Here's a good example: She'd show up over at my place on Thursday night with 4-5 days off and we'd have a nice sleepover. Friday morning she'd get up with me before I went to work to fix my breakfast and it was all about, "Would you like more coffee? How about more bacon or sausage or ham?"
Saturday morning, we'd just grunt at each other as we ate. Not mad at each other, just eating in silence, alone in our thoughts. Any conversation we had were kept to a bare minimum.
Sunday morning, the mood changes to, "Do you fucking mind?"
"You sound like a goddamned horse when you drink."
"Well, you smell like a fucking horse."
That conversation could be either one of us in either role.
But yeah, we were cool until we'd spent a couple days and nights in row together, then the fight was on. We'd end up getting into a big spat over something that wasn't worth fighting about, then we wouldn't see each other for a couple months until we cooled our heels or wanted to get laid, then we'd do it all over again.
Dana and my dog hated each other. Captain knew she was off limits as far as biting her so he had to show his disdain in other ways.
One morning we were sitting on the front porch enjoying our first six pack of the day, her on one side of the door and me on the other, and Captain was out in the pasture amusing himself doing whatever it is that dogs do. After a while I looked up and Ol' Cap was tearing in from the pasture, I mean he was flat out hooking it up. He zigzagged through the pole gate at lightning speed and came to a skidding halt about 3 feet in front of Dana, squatted and took a dump. And it wasn't one of those quick little dumps either, this motherfucker squatted with his back to her, looked over his shoulder to check his aim, dumped a log, looked over and grinned at me, readjusted his aim and fired again.
Then he got up and walked about 6 feet and started to dig in, and I knew what was coming. I jumped out of my chair and snatched her up and out of the way before Cap could shower her with dirt in an attempt to camouflage his mess, then he trotted back out to the pasture leaving me hanging on for dear life to a wildly flailing, spitting and cursing Dana.
One day I was almost finished working on my truck when my pager went off. I looked and saw it was Dana, so I finished hooking the carburetor linkage up before calling her back, wondering the whole time what in the hell she wanted because it had only been about three weeks since our last fight. Surely she wasn't wanting to continue it after all this time. That would be against the rules.
"You paged me?"
"Yes, I hate to ask but can you come over? I have to ask a huge favor of you and I need to ask face to face so we can discuss it, and I know how much you hate talking on the phone more than 30 seconds."
She needs a favor? Oh, I'm going to have fun with this. "That depends. Are you ready to apologize?"
I heard her suck in her breath. "WHAT???!!! ME apologize to YOU? You're the one that said I was acting cuntly. Why should I apologize to you?"
"For acting cuntly. Besides, you're the one that needs a favor. Your 30 seconds are up. I'll be there as soon as I get out of the shower."
I walked into her apartment and straight over to the liquor cabinet, grabbed a bottle of bourbon and took a drink right from the neck knowing that was going to irritate the dogshit out of her. "You're an uncouth bastard, you know that? Coming into my home without taking those cowshitty boots off and drinking straight from the bottle?" she said as she took the bottle and poured me a drink, pecking me on the cheek to show she was willing to let bygones be bygones so I'll be more receptive to whatever the hell she was going to try to con me into.
"Yeeeeah.... and that favor you need from me? Is now a good time to ask what it is, or should I wait until you finish talking shit about me?" I said as I motioned to her to quit being stingy and fill that glass all the way up.
"Oh God, I really hate to ask this of you," she says, gritting her teeth "but my parents are coming to visit for a week and I really need a full time 'boyfriend', if you know what I mean."
"A full time boyfriend? You mean like a live-in? Fuck no, I'll end up going to the joint for killing you if we had to spend an entire week together."
She nodded her head in agreement. "Or I'd shoot your worthless ass. No, they're old fashioned, so you stay at your place and just come over for a couple hours every night after work. You know, for dinner and a drink afterwards, then go home. Try to be sociable, please."
"I don't have to eat anything green and crunchy?" Dana cooked weird shit. Mostly healthy shit. Every meal had a salad and and even that was weird - fucking nuts and seeds and and shit in it.
"You don't have to eat anything green and crunchy. I hope you come down with scurvy and the rest of your teeth fall out."
I thought about it for a couple seconds and thought, sure, why not? I'll get out of cooking for a week and be drinking somebody else's liquor. Plus I'll get laid for it. But I was curious about her needing a relationship.
"Okay, I'll do it. So what's the story gonna be? How long have we been seeing each other, what do I do for a living, where did I go to college, where do I live, do I need to rent a nice truck, what? And why do you need a boyfriend when they're here?"
"No no, just be truthful. Be normal. You live in a rundown shack surrounded by cowshit, flies, and cropdusters, you're a machine operator at a dead end job at the ammo plant and you were kicked out of high school.
"Look, every time my parents come to visit, they give me a hard time wanting to know when I'm going to settle down and get married. Especially my father. Seriously, it seems like it comes up every. single. day. If you're my alleged boyfriend, when the subject comes up I can just roll my eyes, point to you and say 'He's the best I can come up with around here'. Then they'll understand and hopefully shut the fuck up about it. Then there's the fact that they'll want to go out at least one night and it'll be less awkward for me when they point out all the adorable couples. I just think I'd be more comfortable if I could show I had somebody, even it was you."
"Why don't you ask one of the guys you work with?" I felt that was a reasonable question.
"They're all either married or in a relationship. Besides, they'd make a good impression and that would just defeat the purpose."
I poured myself another drink, all civilized and shit, and said, "You know, that's mildly insulting, but the more I think about it, that shit's so funny I'm looking forward to it."
What she didn't count on was her dad liking me.
The first night they were there, a Wednesday as I recall, I knocked on the door and Dana answered. She took me by the arm and walked me into the living room and said, "Mom, Dad, I'd like you to..." and I shook her arm off and announced a little too loudly, "Lane's the name, Kenny Lane! How ya doin', partner?" and stuck out my hand.
Dude looked a little startled but he half stood, took my hand and said, "Harold Smith and this is my wife, Helen."
"Proud to meet ya, Hal. Welcome to Oakdale, Cowboy Capital of the World, or so they claim." Dana's over there looking like she's having a series of strokes and Mama didn't look a whole lot better.
"Um, Kenneth? Can I see you in the kitchen?" Dana said when she finally recovered.
"Uh-oh, she called me Kenneth. This can't be good," I said, winking at Mr Smith. He actually snickered.
I barely made it into the kitchen when she grabbed me by the shirtfront and spun me around, pinning me to the icebox. "Normal!" she hissed, "I told you to be fucking normal!"
"Shit, I'm about 5 shots past normal. I was a little nervous so I had to fortify myself. Speaking of which, do you have a glass or should I drink straight from the bottle?"
"Please, Ken. Please listen to me. There's a difference between not impressing them and embarrassing me. Now just go in there and be yourself. Talk about your job or your truck or your guns or that fucking dog or whatever." She hands me a pair of glasses. "And before you say it again, he hates the name Hal."
I went back in there and went to the liquor cabinet. "Well, I believe I'm gonna have a pre-dinner snort. Y'all care to take a drink with me?" I was being normal with that one. I'm always generous with other people's whiskey.
"Uh, does she have the makings for an Old Fashioned?" Mr Smith asked.
"Don't know, but she's got the main ingredient. Drink up," I said, handing him a glass of bourbon. "So what do you do for a living, Hal?"
He named some law firm in some city in some state back east and said he worked in the billing department, nothing special but it paid well. I told him I couldn't add two 3-digit numbers together without paper and a pencil with an eraser on it.
He asked what I did and I told him I worked at a dead end job as a machine operator at the ammo plant, looking at Dana to make sure I got it right, then instead of just shutting the fuck up, I made the mistake of embellishing on the subject by telling him I ran a set of lathes, bringing the OD of the mortar round into tolerance before passing it down to the next operation.
Dude was fascinated by it. He'd never been in any kind of an industrial setting before and wanted to know the entire fucking process from bar stock to boxes of mortars being loaded into rail cars. He asked questions about every stage. We talked about it before dinner, at the table, and after dinner. He even asked if there was any way I could give him a tour, and the entire time Dana's sitting there with her face in her hands muttering, "No, this can't be happening."
As I was leaving that night, Mr Smith shook my hand and said "Ken, you are coming over tomorrow, right?" and I said "You bet, Hal. Every night this week," and I swear I could hear Dana whimper behind him.
The next day when I was at work, I stopped by the boss's office. "Hey Rod, I need a big favor."
Rod didn't even look up from his paperwork. "No."
"For real, man."
Heavy sigh. "What is it?"
"Do you remember Dana? You met her before, I do believe." Twice actually. Once was in Oakdale at a gun shop, the other I didn't want to remind him of.
"Oh yeah, I remember her," Rod said. "Sassy blonde girl, big mouth. She's the one that came up to me at the company barbecue and said that I didn't appear to be the little bitch you said I was, right?"
Fuck. "Yup, same woman. Maybe I should go ask somebody else."
"No, go ahead. I really want to hear this."
So I explained to him her folks were visiting from back east and her dad was wondering if I could arrange a tour of the plant.
Rod thinks about it for a second. "Is he anything like Dana?"
"No," I said, "He appears to be reasonably sane."
He grunts which is about as close to a laugh as you'll ever get from Rod. "All right, I'll set it up with HR and Security for Friday. Make sure that he brings a picture ID and something else with his name on it. And you're not doing it on company time, so it'll have to be when swing shift is running."
"Cool, daddio. I appreciate that. Can I have a cigar?"
"No. Get the fuck out of my office."
"Well," I sniffed, "you don't have to be a little bitch about it."
That night I went back over to Dana's and told her father the tour was set up for 4:30 Friday afternoon, then when I was alone with Dana, I asked if her folks were hassling her about still being single. "No, thank God" she says, "They haven't mentioned it yet. I can't figure it out though because my father actually seems to like you."
"Yeah, I can't call it either. Maybe he just realizes I'm not husband material. Who knows."
Friday night rolled around. I got off work, went home and got cleaned up, then headed to Dana's place on the other side of Oakdale, Cowboy Capital of the World. I'd already told Dana that it was gonna take a couple three hours, so her and her mom had made plans for a Girl's Night Out - have a nice dinner and a couple drinks somewhere, male strip club, that sort of thing.
We go to the ammo plant. Security checks us in, then we head to the crib to get the proper safety shit, then to the boss's office where I made the introductions before heading to the hot press at the beginning and working our way to the end of the line where we watched 4 sweaty line workers who had somehow pissed off their boss and were being punished by handstacking boxes of mortars into a rail car.
Now swing shift was about half of what day shift was. All the operations still ran, just less machinery and crew per operation. Because of the reduced production and manpower, they only had two bosses on the line, one at each end, making it real easy to dodge those motherfuckers. So not only did Mr Smith get a tour, he got to run the machinery at a lot of the stations without a boss going berserk over the very real possibility of liability issues in case he got hurt.
He had a great time and I have to admit, I did too. He got to be all blue collar and shit for a couple hours and I got to visit with friends that I didn't ordinarily see except for a few minutes when our shifts overlapped. The best part of the tour was when he ran a part through one of the presses. When that ram came crashing down and shook the platform he was standing on, the expression on his face reminded me of a kid at the circus.
So his tour was over and right when we got into the truck, he turned and asked, "This is cattle country, huh? Are there any western saloons where we can quench our thirst?"
I laughed and said "This place is loaded with 'em," and I started to turn towards the nearest bar, which was Sanchez's before I came to my senses.
I gotta take a break and tell you about Sanchez's Bar, or as it was known to all of us, Tony's Place, because it was owned by Tony Sanchez, one of the line bosses at the ammo plant.
Tony was one of those bosses that didn't give a fuck about what you did at work as long as production got out and you didn't tear shit up. He ran the press room on the 81mm mortar line and his son Lumpy (we called him that because he was rather stout) worked as an oiler in the maintenance department.
All the other bosses out there wore blue jeans and a decent button down shirt, but Tony's uniform was khaki pants and a grimy white wife beater - cholo clothing. I've never seen him in anything else.
Tony and Lumpy would get off at 3:30 in the afternoon and Tony would head home to grab a 2-3 hour nap while Lumpy would open the bar at 4 o'clock, then Tony would show up around 7 so Lumpy could go home. Tony would close the bar between midnight and 2 AM depending on how many customers he had, then go home for another 3-4 hour nap before getting up and going to work.
While Tony's Place did fit the bill of being a saloon similar to what could be found in a 19th century cattle boom town, nowadays it could best be described as a dump. It wasn't a place I frequented on a regular basis, only if I needed to talk with Tony or Lumpy about something.
It was a rundown shack on Santa Fe Street in Riverbank City of Action that had no air conditioning, no parking lot, and when the wind blew outside you could feel it inside. The bar itself were a few planks nailed together, supported by a framework of unpainted 2x4s. Tony's total inventory of alcohol never exceeded more than maybe 4 bottles of tequila and whiskey along with a case of Tecate floating around in tepid water, stored in an styrofoam cooler behind the bar. I don't believe a bottle of mixer or soda ever passed through the door and the drinks were served in little Dixie cups for the tequila to keep Tony from having to wash glasses. There was no cash register, Tony kept his money in his pocket, and a single light bulb dangling from the exposed rafters provided the lighting. The tiny 8'x8' dance floor had a big ol' bloodstain in the middle of it, or so Tony claimed it was and I had no reason to doubt his word.
I know in my heart that Tony paid off the Health Inspector every year because I'm pretty sure the dead flies floating around in the cooler and roaches scurrying across the walls in broad daylight would've gotten him shut down in a heartbeat otherwise.
There were 2 beat up old tables and maybe a half dozen chairs. The entertainment was a boom box that played that Mexican carnival music which was okay because 99% of Tony's clientele were wetback field workers anyway.
It was a rough place. Monday through Thursday wasn't half bad because the customers were too wore out to drink after working in the fields from dawn to dusk, but Friday and Saturday nights were hopping, bro. In case you haven't gotten the picture yet about how rough it was, let me put it this way: Tony kept an ax behind the bar in case things got too far out of hand. Not an ax handle, but an ax.
In case you still haven't gotten the picture, here's just one little story:
Lumpy had just gotten there about 3:45 and was getting shit ready so he could open, visiting with his carnal Junior who had stopped by after he got off work at the lumber yard, but he had left the front door open because like I said, there was no AC and this was in the middle of the summer. He hears a Harley pull up, then this biker comes strolling through the door and demands a drink. Lumpy growls at him that he's not open yet and to 'get the fuck out.' Now this was back in the mid 1980s when a biker was a biker, not some fucking yuppie on a Harley acting out a Billy Badass fantasy. This dude is big, heavily tattooed, and is wearing no shirt but has an open leather vest with a lightweight chain running from the ring in one nostril to the ring in his nipple, not something you'd ordinarily see in Riverbank City of Action back then.
Dude evidently can't take a hint because he tells Lumpy to shut the fuck up and pour him a drink. Now Lumpy's about five and a half feet tall and close to 250 pounds, but he's fucking strong and he's fast. He's notorious for his short temper and takes no shit from no one. He reaches across the bar and snatches the biker by the vest, snagging the nipple/nose chain in the process and slams him with an overhand right, likely breaking his nose and driving that motherfucker clean out the screen door, tearing it half off its hinges at the same time. After all this had taken place, he looked down and saw the biker's jewelry chain still in his left hand. Lumpy had ripped that thing out of his nipple and nostril in the process. A few seconds later, Lumpy hears the bike fire up and that was the end of that. Lumpy told me later that he grabbed a mop for the blood but couldn't find a drop inside, but there was a big puddle in the dirt outside. "I couldn't have planned that better if I had tried, homie."
Okay, so you can understand why I decided against taking Mr Smith there.
Instead, I headed towards Oakdale and the H-B (read it like a brand, H Bar B) saloon there on the main drag, which is a pretty nice place and served a decent steak if you liked it rare. Plus there were actual ranch hands and owners in there acting all cowboyish and shit.
We got fucking hammered. I knew he was copping a pretty good buzz when my pager started going off about 8 o'clock. After about the 3rd time I looked down and said, "It's Dana, probably worried about us. I better give her a call," and he says "Fuck 'er. Let's order another drink. I'm having fun for a change."
I turned the pager off and we kept on shooting the shit and then he says, "So you seem like a pretty good guy. May I ask when you're going to make an honest woman of my daughter?"
I couldn't resist it. I said, "Hey, that's up to Dana. I've asked her several times. You need to ask her, not me."
We finally made it home about 10 or so, him so fucked up I had to go get Dana and her mom to help me get him out of the truck which made them gag when they realized that the redneck racing stripe going down Hal's side of the truck wasn't rust after all, but the contents of his stomach. Thank God I didn't have air in the truck and we had the windows down.
Once we got him into the house and semi-reclined on the couch with a trash can handy, he looked up at Dana with bleary eyes and asked "How come you won't accept Ken's marriage proposals?"
That lightweight motherfucker couldn't even wait for me to leave before starting shit.
I was ejected from the apartment much faster than I could stagger under my own power, and my full time boyfriend obligation ended several days early.
Me and Dana danced around a relationship for a few more months, then she ended up getting a job someplace in Kansas or some other flat place where she'd have even a harder time finding a husband. We said our goodbyes and I haven't heard from her since.