In the novel Tocayos, Carlos describes meeting Charly in class:
I continued to move down the aisle, banging my metal lunch pail and my old leather book bag against the desks and shoulders of my fellow students. Some moved over, some shoved me into my fellow students on the other side of the aisle. It was pleasant mayhem until I saw Charly the American. He was sitting in the last seat next to the window, his desk tipped on its back legs in exactly the same way that I liked to tip my desk. Not only this, but contrary to not only school rules but school custom, he had discarded our school jacket, he had loosened our school tie, and he had rolled up the sleeves of our school uniform’s light blue shirt. His head was lodged into the corner, looking out at the gardens. He turned it slowly and rested his eyes on me.
I met the real Carlos in basketball practice. Shortly after we both made the team, I found out he took the bus to get home, and had to walk a half mile home from the bus stop. At the time, I lived a block away from school. I wanted an excuse to drive the car, so I told him I’d give him a ride if he would claim it was too late to take the bus.
We owned a 1967 baby blue Chrysler 440 Coronet similar to the one in the picture above, and a white Rambler station wagon. Showing up at dinnertime with Carlos in tow put my Mom on the spot. She had to either interrupt dinner preparations to drive him home, or let me drive him. She gave me the keys to the Rambler. I didn’t have a license, but in those days, you first learned to drive, then you got your license.
That’s how I learned to drive, and how I became friends with the Carlos on which the narrator in the story is based.
Tocayos is available for $4.99 from Smashwords. You can read the first 20% for free.
After receiving one too many kindly worded rejection letters from agents and publishers, I decided to self-publish Tocayos:
Tocayos eBook $4.99
It’s an old-school story, which means you have to read a bit before something explodes, but if you read it slowly enough, I promise you’ll enjoy it. I can’t write a pitch later that would get my own mother interested in reading it, which might explain all the rejection letters, but if you want to get a feel for the story, here’s the Prologue. The Smashwords site will also let you read the first 20% for free.
I am Carlos. I sit under the red umbrella on top of the wooden tower painted white, searching the waves with my binoculars. The waves arrive in many shades of blue. When the light from the sun is just right and the water is clear, the color can be so beautiful it breaks your heart.
I also have a whistle, a baggy red bathing suit, a round hat, and a jeep for chasing the seagulls off the beach in the evening, when most of the people have gone home.
Yes, I am the one who was in the newspapers. When everyone was calling the helicopters, I was swimming into the big waves to pull out the people who should not have gone into the water. That day I pulled out six people. The mayor of Malibu Beach, he gave me a medal. He called me a hero, a man of courage, and then he talked for thirty minutes. I am not a hero. I am not a man of courage. I am simply not afraid.
They are different things, no?
I had to get out of bed at 5:00 am, dig out my gym gear in the dark so as not to wake Missus Fender Bunny, trudge down the long and steep driveway covered with a fresh 9 inches of snow under what I was certain was the hostile stare of a gang of juvenile mountain lions eager to prove their cat macho by taking down an old man for breakfast, dig the car out of the snow, scrape the ice off the windshield, and drive icy roads to get to the Y by 6:00 am. But the reward was recognizing, over the course of a few games, some of the guys who used to play ball with me back in the day and, once I walked out of the gym, taking in the glorious view of the Front Range, covered in snow under a bright blue early morning sky.
I didn’t have my camera with me, so I grabbed a picture I took in April a few years ago. It’s not of the entire front range, but it’ll give you an idea.
I took this picture of Death Valley while riding Linda Lu to the Sun Reunion, in the Spring of 2014. Click to see the full size image.
I live in paradise, and in every single one of its moments the world is just right. It it does not seem so, it’s only because I have temporarily lost the ability to recognize how right it is. Or that I’m unwilling to let go of what used to be right and accept what is right now.
I have been operating under the assumption that life would be good and I would be happy once I got a raise, once my wife stopped smoking, once Spring arrived, and once politicians stopped lying. I also thought it was my responsibility to identify all the things that were wrong, and that if I missed one, I was being irresponsible. Lacking in watchfulness. Unprepared. When you take on the responsibility of enumerating everything that’s wrong with the world, you soon end up with a new companion: the delusion that you know how to set it right.
I wish I’d learned that sooner, LOL, but as it turns out, I learned it at just the right time.
This way of thinking applies to some situations. Obviously not to others. The trick is to know which. More on that later …
On the afternoon of Dec 2nd I ran a portion of the Section 16 trail as an unsolicited service to the runners who will participate in the Dec 6th Bristol Run. My report:
1. The trail head consists of stairs made of wood. Both show signs of moderate wear by human and canine species. A sign utilizes the word excrement.
2. Tufts of native grasses occasionally appear embedded in mineral samples. Their tenacity engendered in me an emotional effect not unlike admiration.
3. The trail offered ample opportunities to observe and study mineral samples.
4. I was able to identify the native fauna, which was also prevalent.
5. The trail included multiple curves, some of which presented me with an opportunity to make a decision as to whether a branch to the left or a branch to the right would was more likely to lead me to my ultimate destination. I explored those opportunities assiduously, concluding that sometimes the left branch offered a greater probability of success, while sometimes that opportune result was better proffered by the right branch. A complete accounting of each decision is beyond the scope of this report.
The trail is indeed where it was purported to be, and as far as I was able to ascertain given my unplanned explorations of its side branches, continues to proceed in the direction someone utilizing its surface would expect. In my professional opinion based on a thorough study of North American plate tectonics, it is safe to assume that it will remain in that approximate location through Dec 6.