Tag Archives: court tour 2015

Court Tour x Chapter 12

mt. egypt x travis graves

Chapter 12:
Egyptian Mountains in Georgetown

Our honeymoon was quick and simple. After we got married, Camila and I got a slice of pizza and a bottle of cheap sparkling wine at a neighboring liquor store. Instead of going out on the town and getting wild, we went back to our hotel and held each other until the night lulled us to sleep. After all that time, we were finally united. Together for the long haul, and in it to win it.

Camila missed her flight by three minutes the following day; Super Bowl Sunday. We sat at the airport for seven hours trying to get her on a flight. Trial and error crop dusted us over and over, laughing the whole time like a shit head kid,  but eventually we were able to get her on the last flight to Austin that night.

Even though I would be seeing her two days from then in Texas–where one more court date awaited in a little town called Georgetown and the final Court Tour stop with Mt. Egypt would take place–I already missed Camila. Nostalgic tears battered my cheeks like hammering rainfalls as I passed the little chapel we had welded our souls together; less than twenty four hours prior.

Court was a failure. Charges still had not been filed. The lab, at which my blood awaited processing, was backed up worse than a grease bombarded septic tank. Las Vegas has the highest rate of DUI fatalities in America, which I would assume means the entire planet. It was no surprise that their blood labs were swamped.

Adam had booked me a room at The Hotel Riviera and Casino for that night. All I had to do was cover the deposit they would require. That would not be a problem. My deposit from the Motel 8 would be returned to me within a mere couple of hours.

Aimlessly, I wandered in and out of casinos on Fremont Street with one lumpy, unforgiving suit case from the eighties and a computer bag that was dissolving at the seams. I played penny slots to digest the minutes before check-in time called at The Riviera–which was around 1:00 p.m. Once past the toiling waiting game, everything from there on out would be as smooth as an early morning lake. The desert was ruthless that day.

It must have been 110 degrees and all the weight I was lugging added another 10 degrees to my body temperature.

My brain was simmering as I walked down The Strip. The deposit from Super 8 had not been returned as quickly as I had anticipated, leaving my pockets empty and causing even a bus fare to be out of my budget. Las Vegas was such a different place during the day. One could see the scum crawling down the sidewalks and up onto the casinos. It was like turning the lights on in a Brobdingnagian night club in Miami.

Disappointment patiently waited for me with a smug smirk and it’s foot tapping, four miles down The Strip at The Riviera. My deposit from The Super 8 had not been returned, which meant I could not pay the deposit at The Riviera. The busy hotel clerk told me I would not be getting a room, and before I could argue, a fat man in a plaid shirt shoved me out of the way and was granted my room. The prostitute he was with growled at me and I decided to let it go.

Most people in Vegas leave their slot machine when there is not enough money to make a bet. They don’t bother printing a ticket of 17 cents. My flight wouldn’t leave for another 27 hours, so time was something I could spare. Inconspicuously, while baby sitting a boiling beer in my sweaty palm, I wandered from slot machine to slot machine gathering these aborted tickets. 8 cents here, another 12 cents there. After gathering about two hundred of these tickets, I went to a slot machine and cashed out, gaining a whopping three dollars or so. How do you like that Casino? Looks like I win, you fucks. Pure desperateness had long sheathed any kind of reason because obviously I was the one truly losing.

Las Vegas faces flew around me. The families straight out of National Lampoon’s Vacation brought my thoughts to, Who would bring there kids to this place? Weathered, cigarette drenched women who had been chewed up and spit out years and years before. Bro’s who were there because they wanted to yell “Vegas” and somehow fill the never ending void within their insecurities. Young chicks with breast implants, yearning for some kind of purpose whose next stop in life was the “weathered, cigarette drenched woman.” All hopeful. All desperate. All mangled. My reflection dashed by a golden elevator, and a discerning horror washed over my mind. Which of these people am I? Sadly and inexplicably, the elevator told me that I was all of them. Every one of there tired expressions glistened in my face. A jolting cringe swam through my body and I left that damned casino. It was time to start the four mile tedious trek all the way to McCarren International Airport.

Between the Super Bowl crowd and some storm of the century in Chicago, flights were at a stand still. I stayed in that damned airport for 26 hours before I finally got on a flight. Sleeping in the airport was the last thing I wanted to do again–between the 11 mile hike from Fremont Street, and unforgiving ground of the McCarren Airport, by body was tattered. I was so happy to get on that plane, forgetting that I had no where to sleep, and no money for a hotel, in Austin. only to quickly stop in Houston and sleep in another airport: The Austin airport.

When I finally left the airport at nine the next morning, one could mistake this Court Tour to be an Airport Tour. Forty-two hours had been spent in airports and as I saw the Bus 100 coming to take me to downtown Austin, my fatigued brain mistook it for a mirage. This can’t be real, I thought.

the court tour

The tour was coming to an end. Part of me couldn’t believe I had made it this far. Travis Graves, also known as Mt. Egypt, would playing a show at Hard Tails Bar and Grill in Georgetown that night. It was his first show in ten years and Travis, as well as everyone else who was incorporated on this tour, was also a wild card. Austin is known as “The Music Capital” of the world, so why we booked a show in Georgetown alluded me.

“It’s gonna be a very intimate show, Travis,” Adam said after I shared my concerns.

” This isn’t some DJ Abair fucking blowout “

Adam paused for a moment to chew his food; probably a Whole Foods sandwich, “which, by the way, that fool is fired!” Adam then ranted for an hour about the disaster at the Mirage and how San Jose was a horrible place to live. Even after the door sales, it had cost The INdustries three times what was supposed to be profit due to damages in the venue.

Camila picked me up at a little market that had one dollar Lone Stars across the street from a laundry mat; a laundry mat that I had searched out to find for four hours, adding another ten miles to my walking resume on this trip. It was time to get to the venue… or whatever it was.

Travis Graves was outside the empty bar with an acoustic guitar on his shoulder, a half burned cigarette dangling in his mouth and a pea green scarf. I had no idea how he got there. Georgetown doesn’t have a bus route. Cabs don’t even drive out to the secluded, church going town. It is truly a no man’s land and the isolation existing there makes Bremerton, Washington look like New York City in comparison.

Travis was super stoked to see me and meet my gorgeous wife. It had been three years since the planets arranged a meeting between us. Travis Graves is truly a cosmic being and one will never meet him through any kind of cell phone call or email summoning. The heavens govern his mysticism, and quite frankly it was hard to believe he was even there.

“So,” Travis said with wild eyes scaling the setting skyline, “I have decided not to perform.” Before I could even muster the thought pertaining to why he would even come this far to not play, he started speaking a mile a minute about being grounded, early 1990’s Nikes, gangster rap and the green scarf around his neck from Tibet that Kenny Reed had given to him. Then he hugged me, kissed Camila on the cheek and said, “You guys are beautiful.” There was a battle raging deep within his eyes. Music was a chapter in his life that he had closed long ago, and opening that chapter again would cause devastation for him. Just by looking at his expression I could feel his mental war.

“Well, at least have a beer with us, man. You came this far and who knows when we will see each other again.” Travis smiled with mischief on one side of his lips and love on the other.

Softly, he said,  “Ok Travis. Let’s do it.”

There were three people in the bar. An old drunk with a beard that most likely grew in that dive bar and a senior couple. They had probably been married for at least forty years. I looked over at my wife and smiled. She looked back at me with that overwhelmingly cute look of confusion. It was beautiful.

Travis ordered all of us Coors Lights and before I could wrap my hand around the perspiring glass, he sucked his down. That look of mental anguish washed over his face and under his breath, he muttered something like, “Fuck it.”

There was a little clearing in the bar where tables had been set aside and a lonely Court Tour poster lurked. Travis walked over to the space, took out his guitar,  plugged it into the amp and started playing.

Firstly, Travis played, “Song For My Mother.” The power from his soul lit up that clandestine, Georgetown bar. The suffering inside my strange, dear friend filled the surrounding emptiness and my air tube clogged with enlightenment. The old couple got up and started dancing slowly, so Camila and joined them. Now Adam’s vision had became apparent. Now I knew what he meant by “intimate.”

Travis played “Pirate Song,” Zuma Beach,” “NYC,” and finished with “Battening the Hatches.” Each lyric and note was expelled from him with an immense pain, but eloquently as a Puget Sound breeze. As he came to the end of “NYC”, people started loading into the bar. Young hip types with beards, flannels and Italian boots. Their chatter among themselves crept into my ease dropping ears. Apparently, word traveled through Austin that Mt. Egypt would be playing in Georgetown for the first time in ten years; but no one could find the bar. Adam had not made it very clear, as the online promotion just said, “Georgetown Bar.” As the last note settled in “Battening the Hatches,” Travis thanked everyone for coming out. He stared off into the crowd’s vast face and with a sigh, walked to a nearby back door and left the bar.  Leaving his guitar behind.

The packed bar exploded with applause and started to demand an encore. Travis came back into the bar and unplugged his guitar. I knew deep down he would not play an encore and it was understood by me that he had just forgot his guitar. Then he plugged his phone into the speaker and I knew trouble was brewing. The wild card had emerged.

travis graves x mt. egypt

” The wild card had emerged “

 

Riff Raff’s “Tip Toeing in my Jordans” quaked the entire bar and Travis Graves ripped his shirt off. He unraveled the Tibetan scarf from his neck and wrapped it around his face; proceeding to dance like a mad man all around the bar.
Weaving in and out of confused glances, Travis returned to the little stage area and bellowed a mad scientist laughed. Then he grabbed his phone, his guitar and left the bar.

An awkward silence lingered in the bar, much like a morning fog creeps over the Santa Cruz Mountains and into the Bay. Horrible flashbacks of the DJ Abair catastrophe came drilling into my mind. I was waiting for a blow out to erupt at any moment, but something entirely different occurred. Something unbelievable.

The crowd went wild and excitement that one would find at the end of a Rolling Stones concert frolicked throughout the watering hole. I told Camila I would be right back and rushed out of the bar after Travis.

Travis was walking down an empty street about a block away or so.

“Travis, wait!” I yelled. He turned around with that mischievous, magical grin. “Where are you going?” I asked

“To the airport,” he said.

“Um…” I halted my speech to gather my thoughts, “how?”

“Well, Travis, I am going to follow the stars.”

“You mean you’re going to walk? I’m pretty sure it’s like thirty miles from here.” Travis looked up at the clear, star freckled Texas sky.

“Yeah,” he said, “something like that.” A loud noise caught my attention from behind me. Nestled within the distant, muffled chatter rattling the foundation of the bar, a raccoon had knocked over a trash can across the street. When I turned around, Travis was gone. He had vanished like a shooting star on a crystal night, leaving a huge imprint on my life, yet again.

Travis unwillingly had touched the eighty or so people that sought out Mt. Egypt that night, with his spiritual sounds and encore of insanity. For all of us, it was a timeless moment that we would carry in our lives until the very end. A moment entwined by vines from an eternal tree that would one day sing our last breaths to sleep. Magic resonated in that tucked away sliver of time as it passed altogether, and settled in the barren, candle lit bar.

As the night grew older, and colder, the crowd slowly dissipated out of the bar and back into their lives; lives that were now most definitely changed forever. The Court Tour was officially over. Although the strange tour, that weeks before birthed from a silly comment on Instagram, met it’s end on that chili night in Georgetown, Texas.

Court Tour x Chapter 9

soup-of-the-day

Chapter 9:
Trouble on a Long Beach

My bus was leaving in twenty minutes, so I sucked down my second gin and tonic at the Ruby Tuesday’s type restaurant where I had dropped by for directions. Just directions, I had told myself, no drinks. It was noon and my flight would leave around four.

The first bus dropped me off on 6th Street in downtown, so I stopped by a little bar that had an inviting sign that proclaimed, “Soup of the day: Whiskey.” I’ll definitely have one of those, I thought. Or maybe two. Fuck it, I’ll do three.

After the fifth “Soup of the Day”, I struggled to even find my feet through the old saloon style doors. My phone began to complain at me, so I fumbled to grab it; dropping all possessions into the gutter. It was Travis Graves.

Travis Graves, known to many from the band Mt. Egypt, is by far one of my favorite humans to walk this earth. His trip to Italy left the Tower of Pisa in lean. History changed his name from Prometheus when, in actuality, he heaved the rock in which he was chained across the North Pacific and back to Kitsap County. HE is the most interesting man in the world. Stay thirsty my friends.

incoming-Tgraves

Travis and I talked for what could have been two hours about him doing a show at the release party for a book I have been writing, “Out of the Black Hole and Into the Open.” Already, as I slammed a Black Butte porter at the airport bar, my gate was announcing the time of departure. I finished the last of my frothy brew, with the desperation of any good drunk, and bid farewell to Travis on the phone; both of us agreeing to talk at a later time about him performing for the book release. Little did I know that in the next couple of hours, during my layover in Long Beach, I would incorporate the last planet into alignment for the Court Tour, and Mt. Egypt would be doing a show much sooner than I had anticipated.

Before my plane took flight, I called an old friend, and Toebock veteran, Corey “Kristos” Kozaites. He and his lady, Natalie, both lived in Long Beach, so visiting them for an hour or so was absolutely a must; it had been years since I had seen them.

Barely I made it off the plane. A stranger seated next to me had bought me a small bottle of rip gut red wine which I slammed back immediately; bringing forth amazement–and worry–to the stranger’s eyes. Outside the Long Beach Airport, Corey and Natalie were awaiting in a petite, lime green Kia. Two and a half hours remained until my next flight left the gate.

Antics began immediately at Corey and Natalie’s beautiful two bedroom house. It was great being around there contagiously good energy, and I began to get carried away with excitement. A bottle of Wild Turkey came out and shirts came off. Corey’s dog

Clicker clicked around the house as we got goofy; drinking shot after shot.

Time flew and my flight was to depart in less than an hour, so it was time to get going. All I had to do was board my plane. Simple. How could anything go wrong?

 

cory_trav

Cory Kozaites | Long Beach, Ca

Broken memories fought to float to the surface of my mind. The floor was cold and sticky. Sunlight slapped my face, but I ignored it. Where am I? The suit I was wearing horrendously wafted the stale stench of vomit, and the dress shirt beneath it looked as if I had battled a tiger. The grim reality of where I was became all too real in a flash of an open eye lid. Yup. I was in jail.

frank-sinatra_mug_shot

Frank Sinatra – 1938 | Bergen County, New Jersey

Long Beach County Jail released me around six p.m. that night. My mug shot looked like that of Frank Sinatra’s when he was arrested in New Jersey 77 years prior in 1938. It sounds cocky to make this comparison, and maybe it is, but combining my suit, ruffled hair and all around rough edged demeanor, similarities most definitely were there.

Corey and Natalie picked me up in front of the court house on Daisy and Third Street.

“Hey Trava-daddy,” said Corey as he handed me a frosty Budweiser. “I see you didn’t make your flight!” Natalie, Corey and myself laughed a ground rumbling laugh as we got onto Magnolia; shaking the car with jolliness.

Corey had been trying to bail me out all morning, but some kind of dilemma made this not possible. Still, I hadn’t a clue to how I went from getting on a flight to ending up in jail. Corey and Natalie, however, had the whole story.

When they dropped me off at the airport, the whole time Natalie doubting the decision due to my drunken idiocy, I bid them farewell and went to the gate. Or so they thought. Instead, I plopped down in the little smoking area in front of Long Beach International, on the picnic like tables under striped umbrellas, and lit up a smoke. Somehow, I had gotten into an argument about politics with a woman who’s age definitely tripled mine. Out of frustration, and worry, the woman walked away and informed some cops that I was really drunk and getting belligerent. By this time, I had already missed my flight by an hour.

The police officers were very nice, but I was acting like a dick, swiftly becoming very irrational and unpredictable. They tried to get me to go upstairs and sleep it off. Jetblue even agreed to get me on the first flight the next morning, but my raging, misdirected pride would not let this be. The whole situation could have been diffused right then and there. Instead, as I have many times before, I made the decision with an incapacity to even decide. A decision to ignite the situation.

The cop could see in my eyes that I was going to make a run for it. Unbeknownst to him was that I am a slippery bastard when someone tries to detain me, so when I tried to bolt–to where I haven’t a clue–his hand grabbed my shirt; shredding the white dress garment as I escaped. Can’t get me you fucker, I thought as I ran to… again I have no answer for that. Long Beach airport is surrounded by barren roads that even a cockroach would have trouble finding a place to hide.

I made it ten feet into the passenger pick up area where I tripped and fell on my face in front of a very confused driver; adding yet ANOTHER white trash display to my police record. The cops sighed, calmly walked over to where I was knocked out cold, and picked me up; stirring my conscience as they did so. The red neck scene was absolutely ridiculous as they battled me into a police cruiser to haul me off to jail. I was like Randy Marsh from South Park, pants down and all: “What! I thought this was America! Aren’t we in America?!”

The story sounded about right. Definitely something I would do when too much booze flooded my blood stream. Damn, I thought, now I have to come back to LONG BEACH for a court date! What am I doing? The court dates where lining up. After the final sha-bang outside Long Beach International, I was then faced with three court dates that fell on three consecutive weeks. Madness.

The next morning, my flight was cancelled until five that evening. Word traveled that Madre had not even made it back to San Jose as well. Irony tickled my lips. Here I was, stuck in the Long Beach Airport while Madre was forty minutes away stuck in a hotel a mile or so from LAX. Rumor had it from her sister that her back went out. It sounded like a bender to me. Like Mother like son.

Once on the plane, briefly before take off and after I spoke to Camila about our next meeting in Vegas, I decided to check my Instagram. There were pictures of Corey and I drunkenly in each others arms, shirtless with some kind of rifle. Of course I posted some bullshit. Another embarrassing side effect of over indulging. One comment was under it by Blake Johnson, Instagram’s notorious moon facing (?) prankster. The comment said, “Damn! What are you on, a court tour?” Then he hash tagged #courttour and #courtbock with, of course, his signature moon face Emoji thing. The person next to me leaped with a startled jolt from my voluminous laughter. That Blake Johnson, I thought.

That guy is hilarious! Look, he even moon faced me!

Little did Mr. Blake Johnson know that his little joke would soon solidify into tangibility. Moon face or no moon face, the Court Tour breathed; a tour that would dazzle many and change my life in some of the strangest, and the most beautiful, ways possible. A tour of skateboarding, music and an all out adventure that would take me far and wide through three states in three weeks; rushing to make it to the next court date amidst chaotic events. It would also be a tour that would, hands down, produce the happiest day of my life.

Court Tour x Chapter 8

court_tour_cocktail

Part 2: The Planets Align
Chapter 8:
Ano Anew

A month passed and the court date I had acquired in Vegas was quickly approaching. Camila and my relationship was flourishing in an exciting direction. She had visited me for a week leading up to Christmas and the final bond between our souls had been sealed. This slightly surprised me after all the shit I put her through during our previous trip together. An overwhelming feeling of destiny pulsated within, and not a doubt lurked in my mind about a future with this amazing woman.

My court date was on the day after New Years Day. For the past month I had been working fervently, trying to save money for plane tickets and hotels. Also, I still had to go to the car rental place near McCarren International (Las Vegas) to fetch all of Camila’s hostaged gear from our trip. Souvenirs, clothes, shoes, blankets, coolers, phone chargers, as well as almost anything else one may accumulate on a long camping trip, were all sitting in purgatory somewhere in an air conditioned office–bagged up and ready to be thrown out. It was a now or never scenario to reclaim our belongings.

Madre needed a vacation badly. She had been caught in a web of Jim Beam and depression; sulking for weeks on end. I really needed help getting all the stuff from Vegas back to the Bay Area, especially if I was to be put in jail; which I had long accepted as inevitable. At six in the morning on New Years Day, Madre and I once again hastily shot off in her drop top VW Bug, rushing to catch an early flight to Las Vegas.

The plan was to fly there early in the morning, get the shit out of the wrecked rental car, go to court the next morning, and return in the late evening to San Jose. Simply a two day trip. Well my friends,

this “two day trip” was about to quickly transform into a six day shit show.

After almost getting stranded in LAX, Madre and I made it to McCarren International. The air around us blasted an arctic, 20 degree breeze in our face upon exiting the airport. After gathering all the supplies at the rental place, a whopping four garbage bags stretched to their limit, a cab driver informed us that it had snowed the night before. It had been literally a lifetimes since it last snowed in Vegas, and the cab driver was completely in awe about this.

“I just can’t believe it,” he kept repeating with astonishment shaking his vocals. Behind gritted teeth, I tried to pretend that I was amazed by this information, but the driver snarled at me. He could smell the reality in my breath; the reality containing me not giving a shit about snow in Las Vegas. All I wanted to do was go to court the next morning and get the hell out of there. Las Vegas is a black hole, and as my skin toughened over the years, I had come to realize that avoiding black holes is absolutely necessary in my life. We’ve always played a love/hate game. A game I have always lost.

chapter8-pic3

The night was spent playing craps, drinking tall margaritas, dancing to a zealous cover band called “Fan Halen,” and heckling Chippendale’s as they shivered nearby with their silk bow ties, meticulous diets and frost bitten nipples. I grabbed the black hole I was faced with by it’s swirling horns and tamed it; forcing myself to leave the insanity on Fremont Street and get some rest. Madre stayed in The D Casino downstairs and was later 86ed for loitering.

Horror hid in my chest as I walked through the metal detector inside the Clark County Courthouse. A newborn wit approached decision that morning, and it cried for a change in plans. I wanted to change my flight to Austin so I could spend some time with my beloved Camila. Her departure back to Brazil was approaching, and I needed to spend as much time with her as I could before that dreaded day came and strangled my heart. Going to jail could not happen. It could possibly mean that I would never see her again, and her smile would have to be nestled back into my dreams. Switching flights to Austin, although financially inconvenient, was a necessity.

Jail did not happen. In fact, the court hadn’t even filed charges. I was burdened with yet another future court date. Frustration crumbled my patience in the presence of this happening, but hey, at least I was free man.

I have heard people say everything happens for a reason and always I have teetered on the fence when it comes to this idea. People, in this particular case, were right. An extended court date would be the first component to a Court Tour Cocktail. A cocktail, unlike most I have consumed, that would, for the better, change my life forever.

 

chapter_9camilla_lake

Lake Travis | Austin, Tx

Only an hour remained before I was to board my flight from Las Vegas to Austin. Madre and I had managed to go to the wrong terminal. Usually, something like this would not matter, but at McCarren one must take a bus to the next terminal, then a train to the gate. I have never been able to find that balance in catching flights; it’s either I find myself sitting at the gate for hours on end waiting, or frantically rushing to the plane, if not just missing the flight altogether.

Fatigue, luggage and Bloody Mary’s weighed Madre and I down like a harrowing tidal wave as we deliriously hobbled to our gates. Somehow, with enough time spared to suck down a smoke in the slots room, we bid farewell to each other. Madre walked to her gate where an idling 747 would land her in San Jose that night after a brief stop in LA and I–of course being the last person to board my aircraft–entered my sky taxi. The woman who I deeply loved waited for me in Austin, Texas.

A monsoon badgered the city of Austin that night. Nervously, my spine clenched the passenger seat as Camila squinted through the heavy droplets hammering the hatch back she drove. The soothing sight of her beside me calmed this terrible nervousness. Camila was more beautiful every time I saw her, and each time was a blessing larger than the previous.

Camila dropped me off at a Motel 8 in North Austin; right off of Interstate 35. I begged her to come inside, but she could not. Work started for her at seven, and it was already almost one that morning. Like a puppy who’s master has just gone on vacation, or maybe a young cat, I whimpered through the pounding rain into my hotel; kicking up puddles along the way.

After grabbing some smokes and a newspaper the next morning, a shady figure’s eyes found me down the street. A block or so away, as I walked by a sign that informed me that I would be shot for trespassing, the sketchy character stared me down with a “you are about to get robbed” glare drooling in his pupils. I could tell he was trying to hide his excitement from a quick “come up” under his stern intimidation. Lightly, I chuckled to myself. There would be no “come ups” this day.

I was broke, so the joke would be on him.

As I got closer, I grabbed his primitive glare like a rope and pulled myself in. The man was appeased by my prison response, so he decided not to rob me. Instead, he wanted to sell me a DVD of “As Good as it Gets” with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. I refused and gave him a couple of smokes to cool the fire in his eyes.

Camila met up with me after I waited for hours and hours, like a teenage girl might wait for her prom date. Love is so exciting, and the love I shared with Camila was nothing I had ever come across. Finally, she arrived, beautiful as always.

Austin was cold that night, so we got some pizza and decided to go back to the hotel and cherish every passing second we had together. On the surface happiness shone, but below this feeling, hiding behind cheer and feeding on it like a wild boar, dejection lingered; knowing that the moment we were encountering was going to meet end eventually. That’s when we decided to see each other one last time in a month from then in Vegas–when I would return there for court. One last dance you could say.

lake_travis

Lake Travis | Austin, Tx

What a great change of plans this was, I thought over and over as Camila and I sat in the presence of Lake Travis the following evening. The sunset’s sharp pinks and soft oranges frolicked with the rippling body of water below. A server brought us some kind of Tequila Sunrise and as her lips found the straw, her head found my shoulder. Tears of happiness came parading into my eyes, but were sopped up by the melancholy that knew it would all be over soon. At least for a month. After that month, I would deal with the sadness then, for I was just too damn happy in the current moment.

Ice cream was had and we stopped by a Barnes and Nobles so I could buy her one of my favorite books, Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. In the hotel parking lot, we kissed longingly and time ripped us apart. It was late, and she had to work early. The red break lights of her car, with the yellow turn signal twinkling, dribbled into waves within my eyes, and as I wiped the tears from my trembling cheeks, she drove away.

Court Tour x Chapter 7

fig7_sipiritair

Chapter 7:
Spirit in the Sky

There was still money in my account, due to successful gambling from the night I was arrested. The first thing I did upon release was buy a pack of smokes. How depressing. Then I hailed the first cab I saw, got in, and asked him to take me to the Motel 8 where my bags were hopefully still being held.

The friendly desk clerk gave me my bags and I was ecstatic. The cab driver patiently waited outside for me as I continuously thanked the mid aged, dark haired woman for holding on to my belongings.

“Where to, sir?” Asked the cab driver.

“The airport, I need to get to the airport and get the fuck out of here.” The man laughed as his eyes found my “compliments of Clark County Detention Center” brown goody bag.

“Ah,” he said with his thick, West African accent, “I see Las Vegas has treated you well.” Both of us hysterically laughed.

“Well,” I coughed and caught my breath, “what happened to me in Vegas won’t be staying here.”

Just let me leave this hell hole! Already I had been to Southwest, Delta, American Airlines, and none of them had any flights that matched my current budget. The bored woman at US airways monotonously told me to try Spirit Airlines. Spirit Airlines?

Spirit matched my budget. The one way flight to Oakland was a mere $75.00. It was now six p.m. and my flight wouldn’t depart until eleven the next morning.

“Please! Just let me leave this place!” I pleaded aloud to the sky. A passer by witnessed this and chuckled, then froze when I gave him the glare that better says “watch it buddy”. His nervous look scanned over the “Merry Fucking Christmas from Metal” shirt that now stuck to my back with grime, and he scurried away like a wet cat.

Now, the waiting game was upon me, a game a I loathe more than most things. Twelve hours still remained before I would even be getting on a flight. To fight the increasing rate of restlessness that was bubbling inside my bones, I picked up my bags, asked a traffic cop where the nearest gas station was, and began walking the two miles to the closest place where a cold beer could be bought.

A tall Canadian man named Rich who was down on his luck crossed my path at McCarren International around eleven that night. Camila and I had spoken for a couple hours, before I met Rich, and cleared the air. She was so understanding and obviously also very upset, but forgiving. Perfect balance, I had found myself thinking. You don’t come across that very often.

new_friends_vegasairport

Rich offered to pay for a cab so we could go back to the store in order to obtain more beer. He felt obligated after I shared with him that I had just returned from the two mile hike for but a single brew.

Rich bought an eighteen pack and shortly after he shared his story with me–and what a bummer that was–an older woman, possibly a prostitute, joined us on the bench inside; tucked away behind a post to stay hidden from the check-in counters. She started sucking down beers and feeding Rich and I pills. More Xanax. I’ve always avoided Xanax for the most part in my life, but Xanax was surely the motif in this trip.

Six in the morning is when Rich and I parted ways, but the raspy voiced woman leeched onto me. She just crossed the gate into the terminals right behind me. With no intention of getting on a plane, she told me HER story–something about living in Vegas for twenty years. I had been smashed drunk since midnight, and the Xanax intensified my delirium. All the woman’s life stories were overflowing in my mind and had long flooded away before my brain had a chance to absorb them.

For the remaining time at my gate, I got drunk and played slots, winning a hundred dollars at one point. The old ash tray lady really tried to grip onto me after that. Luckily, I lost it all in a flash and she mingled off somewhere; out of my hair. That was the only time in my life when I was actually happy that I lost money.

Finally, I boarded my plane. Finally, I was going home.

The flight was terrifying. Every second that passed confused me, as it had not been my last. Turbulence was quaking,

the plane kept dropping like a horrible theme park ride, and the engine sounded like it was going to explode. Norman Greenbaum’s one hit wonder, “Spirit in the Sky”

melodically spun in my head as the reality of becoming one taunted my thoughts. To stay about my wits, I sucked down seven dollar mini bottles of wine and eight dollar Jack Daniels shooters. By the time I got off the plane, kissing the stale airport carpet with thanks when I did, my wits were long gone.
This had been some trip. I was just trying to look at all the positive things over the low points of the trip as I entered San Francisco from Oakland on Bart. Now, I would have to go back to Las Vegas. Fuck. Also, there was another court hearing I had to attend in Texas in the next month or so for tomfoolery that had happened some months back.

Like the moon and sun dance during an eclipse, court dates were starting to align, and a Court Tour was brewing. It wasn’t quite there yet, but have faith my friends; my stupidity would complete the cycle in the forthcoming events. The eclipse would become, and Court Tour 2015 would live.

Court Tour x Chapter 6

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Chapter 6: Lacrimosa

Chow time was at the appalling hour of three thirty in the morning. I am not a person who just eats a single meal and is ready to go–I am a binge eater; stuffing my face in small portions as the day grows older. With this in mind, I stowed an orange under my shirt for later.

My name was called over the eerie intercom as I sunk back into my bed. The sun hadn’t even come up and the doctors wanted to give me more drugs.

“Look at you,” the nurses accompanying C.O. said to me as I swallowed the prescription put forth. “What are you doing in here? Man, you look like a good kid. You care about your appearance. I can see that you shave to look up-kept, not like some of these people who obviously don’t give a shit. You’re a good kid, go talk to a judge and get the fuck out of here.”

“Thank you, sir,” said I, turning around to go back to my bunk.

“Wait,” the C.O. interrupted.

“Yessir?”

“Has anyone told you that you look like Ethan Hawke?” Forcing a fake laugh through my lips, I turned around, rolled my eyes and dragged my feet back to my bunk.

The Xanax, or whatever it was, already had a grip on me. The familiar feeling of exhaustion gripped my entire body, and I fell asleep.

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When I awoke, it was almost eight a.m. How long was I going to be in here for?  I must have surely missed a chance with seeing a judge. Another day would be spent in that Ken Kesey ( author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ) setting, and this I now knew most definitely.

A blonde kid, not much younger than I, sat next to me in his bunk with a broken leg and an IV running up his leg, into the jail house pants that were fading from a yellow to a soft beige. He was reading a book, so I asked him if there was anywhere that a book could be found in the broad medic block. Without eye contact and silently, he pointed to a distant corner of the block where I could find some literature.

All the books were in Spanish, except for two. The one that caught my eye was a collaborated science fiction piece written by Frank Herbert and his two sons. Never had I read Herbert, and I loved science fiction, so this pick intrigued me. Also, it was the only book in English besides a copy of the first Twilight Saga. Gross.

My eyes had eaten ten pages before my name was called.

“Knight,” said the C.O. who over saw everyone. Obediently I went to where I was being summoned. “Knight? That’s you?”

“Yessir, that’s me.”

“Pack up your shit, you’re leaving,” he said with eyes fixed on paperwork below his ball point pen.

“Wait, am I going to see a…”

“Knight, don’t make me ask again. Pack up your shit. You’re leaving. Lucky you.”

Doing as I was told, the orange I had stowed away slipped out of its hiding place while gathering my county granted property. The C.O. was staring at me. Fuck, I thought, leave it to me to screw this up at the last minute. When I am so close! Fucking orange! Luckily, the he turned his head. To my left, an old man was staring at me with hunger in his gaze. In a low key manner, I slipped him the orange and he slipped me a letter.

“Please,” the sixty year old man begged, “my dog is stuck in a hotel. Please do what the letter says.” Mozart’s Lacrimosa started playing in my head. Suddenly it felt like I was in a scene out of The Big Lebowski–when The Dude is being pulled out of the Big Lebowski’s office by Philip Seymour Hoffman–as the CO pulled me out of the block by my arm and the old man dwindled away saying, “Please. My dog.”

Six hours went by as they processed me OUT of Clark County. I had glanced at the letter the old man had given me, only long enough to see the words “transfer money” before I inconspicuously disposed of the letter in a pile of dirty laundry. By the time I got out, it was already three p.m.

Court Tour x Chapter 5

Chapter 5:
Vacation in the Grand Slammer

 

Why was it so cold? What was this nuisance poking my back and tickling my ass?

Bright white, fluorescent lights pried my eye lids open. Foggy memories from the night before came rushing into my mind’s vision. A scene of people on Las Vegas Boulevard surrounding me, scurrying in madness–our rental car completely mangled–ambulances and arguments with a large nurse–needles in my arm and a concerned woman–an officer maybe? Panic came thumping, and paraded into my chest. Panic. Fear.

When I was arrested, no shirt was on my backm adding yet another white trash display to my police record. The police officer, a shorter built woman with stern shoulders and kind eyes, grabbed the first shirt she could find in the car before they took me to a hospital.

Looking around me now, it was not hard to see where I was. Looking down presented even more of a grim reality. The shirt the officer had grabbed for me was a tie dye shirt that Adam Crew had given to me years ago. On it, there was a cartoon setting of Charles Manson with a machete, Santa Clause’s head in hand, and a swastika on his head. In big black letters it said, “MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS FROM METAL.” This shirt had something to do with Fred Gall and someone named Lou. That brought a smile to my lips, but the fact of maybe having to appear in front of a judge in this offensive shirt did not sit well. For about four hours, I silently convulsed. No one was telling me shit and I could only get out of my chair if I raised my hand once an hour. A couple times I laid down, only to be rudely awaken by a baton tapping my head and a voice saying, “Get the fuck up unless you want to be detained.”

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” having to appear in front of a judge in this offensive shirt did not sit well.  “

The only thing that weighed on my mind was Camila. What happened to Camila? For hours I sat in dwelling, wondering “what ifs” and uselessly iterating “I should haves” to myself. At that moment, I could have been in route with home on the horizon, and the love of my life next to me; with that intoxicating smile she had. Instead, I was in Clark County Detention Center, and there was no telling how this could end up.

Eventually, I talked to my Father. He had spoken with Camila. Said she was really worried about me and even tried to visit me. Finally, she gave up and went to the airport where she bought a ticket back to Austin. Now I KNEW holding her in my arms would surely not happen again. That was it, I blew it. That was our last trip together before she had to go back to Brazil. My heart almost imploded with grief. Finally, I curled up inside my Lou Metal shirt like a turtle, fought my sluggish body to stay upright, took some deep breaths and fell back asleep.

Another sixteen hours was spent in that cold hell of a waiting room. Supposedly, some drunken gibberish that flew rampant out of my mouth the night before gave the correctional officers reason to believe that I was a potential 51/50. For almost two days, I ate, slept, and watched the History channel in that ruthless chair. Finally, they got me processed and it was time to go to a cell block.

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Clark County Correctional Facility

Once you start moving through the booking process, you will notice that morale goes up between you and the lucky inmates who have just been selected to go to a cell block. When you get called to go upstairs, or somewhere else, you feel like you have been chosen, knowing that the horrible waiting room is behind you and a bed awaits. The worst part about jail isn’t even the jail aspect, it’s the fucking booking process. The waiting room of justice.

They brought us to another dungeon room for about two hours. Everyone I was in there with said we would be in there for at least nine hours. It was nothing new to them; this had been protocol for their in and out of jail life style. Then, like a prophesy, I was called with two other dudes in the small cell. It was time to go to our beds. Disappointment toiled the remaining fellows as they’re faces sunk and we pranced out like self-proclaimed messiahs.

In a moldy bathroom, I was told to strip, grab my balls, bend over and cough. Then I was given the yellow garments in which Clark County represents.

What did I say? I kept questioning myself this over and over when they brought me to the medic block; a place for the sick, the injured, and the crazy. I wasn’t sick or injured, that was for sure!

Old men and mangled people were my new neighbors. I unfolded my bundle of mattress and blankets and began making myself at home, continuing to therapeutically organize my area.

By the time I got out of the shower, a Nurse Ratched voice called my name over the shorting intercom. The main CO pointed me to where I was being summoned. Curiously, I followed the designated direction and ended up in a little office.

“Here,” the nice woman said handing me a tiny, paper cup. “These are your meds. Knight, right?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I answered.

“Yup, these are yours. Take em’.”

“What are these?”

“Anti-anxiety pills. Do you know what those are?”

“Yeah,” I paused to laugh, “like Xanax.”

“Exactly, this is a weaker Xanax.”

Very interesting, I thought.

My lights shut off the moment my face touched the pillow. It could be a while before I’d be out and this brought a horrible trepidation, but I calmed myself and accepted what cards I had mindlessly dealt myself. I was trapped in this dump, and fighting it was just going make it worst. It felt like poison oak covering my life.

Court Tour X Chapter 2

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Chapter 2:Trees to Lights

Briefly after leaving the town of Visalia, the silver Dodge four door trekked onto Route 98, a two lane freeway that plunges into Southern California’s giant Sequoia Forests. Camila and I looked at each other with a new and more intimate look this day. We knew we loved each other, there was no doubt. Every thing we had already embarked on during the timeline of our friendship was all seemingly connecting at a connecting point. All odds always seemed against us before, but now it was becoming apparent that we weren’t gonna let anything stop the love that pulsated for one another. I never felt more relevant and understood than I did with Camila. We were the exact same, but oddly opposite. A perfect balance in harmony. A perfect combination for love.

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Giant orange groves pummeled the hill sides to our right, so we stopped and plucked some of the delicious citrus. Before entering the National Forest, we stopped at a lake and basked in it’s reflecting sun light from afar. We bought more shit at some little gift shop and then encountered the long, windy one lane road into one of the largest standing forests that breaths on this earth.

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At a lung snuffing elevation of 14,505 feet, we made it to a little tourist area where a giant Sequoia slept. Everywhere people rushed about, frantically taking pictures of the surrounding trees and their massiveness. Camila and I found this huge wide open area of rocks, with Sequoias and California Pines peaking from under enormous boulders here and there. In the distance, the great Sierra Nevada mountain range weaved like a dragon throughout the valleys below. Civilization was far below the clouds.

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We made our way to this little museum in the tourist vicinity and read about The General Sherman Tree, one of the largest trees in the world. This gargantuan elder lives in the Giant Forest; containing five of the ten largest trees on the planet. Glances were exchanged that better said, “We are going to see that,” but not before we hit the little gift shop to buy more shit! The car was filling up with shit. I mean shit was just thrown everywhere. Trash and clothes. Shot glasses and magnets. Blankets, pillows and pans.

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After we saw the General Sherman tree, a short trek through the woods away, we hastily made our way back to the car so we could catch the sunset at the rock kingdom we had previously come across.

The sunset was out of control. Camila and I sat in front of a wall of soft colors pouring down over the mountains and mountains of forests. The universe was having a bonfire in the sky that day. We got lost in its marvel, and each other.

The irreplaceable moment of bliss was soon fading behind us in the dark as we mashed back down into the valley and eventually onto CA-65 southbound.

We drove relentlessly through farmland and flat nothingness, only stopping once for gas, to CA-99 south and down to CA-58 east. After 126 miles or so, we ended up getting on the I-40 East towards Needles, the scenery never varying. The time was late, and we still had a whopping 380 miles to go. We checked in a little Travel Lodge in the desert, right past Barstow. After showers, we started getting drunk and blasting Os Mutantes. Camila and I got into a big fight that night. A fight that most couples, when both drunk, get into. A fight about nothing, or at least nothing remembering.

An obnoxious, eight in the morning alarm drilled into our hung over, muddled brains the next morning. We ignored it and held each other, drifting back to sleep.

An hour passed and I awoke, this time empty armed, as Camila was flying around the room in a fury trying to gather her things.

“Come on, Travis! It is eleven o’ clock! We will never make it to the Grand Canyon leaving at this time!” Wordless, I arose from the ruffled sheets and rubbed my eyes. Camila looked at me with a glare that could slice through a hefty toe, but then she buried it; perhaps into her very own toes. One could wonder

Back on the 40 east, or Needles Highway known by some, silence pierced the car. I was so mad and didn’t even realize why. Some kind of Leo pride was boiling in my depths. Shoveling my ego down from whence it came, I finally mustered a word up.

Camila pulled off the road at the first exit so we could talk and re-gather. She turned onto a road that had been running parallel with us to our right for some miles. It was the historic Route 66.

Court Tour x Chapter 1

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Due to many bad decisions made in my past, I was living with my Mother; a woman who I have addressed all my life as Madre. Don’t ask where the term Madre came from. There isn’t a drop of blood in me that derived from a culture in which Mothers were called Madre. I’m an Italian Polish mutt who was slammed into existence on a long ago day in 1989. A day when God got drunk on a beach in Broward County.

To pull back relevancy, I found myself struggling to fall asleep in Madre’s smokey apartment on a November night. Camila was flying in on the following morning, and I had to get my shit together.

On the way to SFO that next morning, in Madre’s baby blue, drop top VW Bug, I was teaming with excitement. I was about to see Camila and go on this awesome, American Vacation, some what unrealistic, trip with her. A child like smile graced my lips as Redwood City flashed by. Twenty minutes later, I met Camila at her gate, and we embraced in a long, much needed hug. It was heaven.

After we got the car at the rental place, a silver Dodge four door, we packed up the car, bid farewell to Madre, and hopped on the anthill-packed 101 South to begin the adventure.

Golden humps soared by in my view. The passing plains looked like marble as the mighty wind and the pounding sun molded them together. Time passed as it does and the GPS annoyingly informed us that it was time to merge onto the 120, a winding mountain road that would coast us through Mariposa, and into Yosemite.

Mariposa is an awesome little town. Camila and I walked into a tucked away gift shop and bought shit. A coaster, a shot glass that said something about being redneck on it, and a magnet. Before departing, we went to a gas station to fill up, and as I smoked by the street, I stood in awe of this town. I could really see myself living here being a black smith. Or maybe a mason, I thought.

The magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountains swallowed us before the sun went down. As the last ray kissed the sky, we pulled off for a moment to inhale the beauty upon us, and stood dumbfounded as the sun vaporized standing peaks into our eyes. It was one of those timeless moments; one I will take with me to my grave.

It was pitch black by the time we made it to the little ranger booth in Yosemite. After some trouble finding our camp site, we unpacked, built a fire, froze our asses off, drank some beer that was beginning to freeze itself, and tried to sleep. We shivered violently in each others arms, waiting for the sun to come back.

Glorious was the sun! It was thirty degrees, but at least the early morning sunlight licked warmth on our faces. The whole camp site around us exploded with life. All that was a solid pitch black the night before was now crawling with people. Families and their dogs, college students, rednecks–they were all there. Camila and I cooked breakfast over a fresh fire and filled our stomachs for the day. The day was already past noon and our plan was to leave Yosemite that night. It was time to get going for Camila could not miss a single sight.

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Camila had this beautiful way of living. It was a little nerve racking at times to be around, but it is one of the things I also loved most about her. She was always trying to pack countless things into a day, utilizing every sliver of every moment in every day. It is so invigorating to be around that kind of energy. A line from a Mort Garson song about Pisces comes to mind, “Careful not to bruise a single second.” Yup, that was Camila.

Half Dome towered to our left as we drove up to a fork in the dirt road, but we decided to go in the opposite direction. Camila wanted to go to Tioga Pass, a beautiful mountain road with powerful valleys of vibrant green trees and crisp blue lakes. I Googled it and the status was: a closed down road due to weather conditions. She didn’t care, she was going to see Tioga Pass, no matter what anyone said.

“I have to go there. I don’t have much time in the states. I have to go back to Brazil. I have to go to see Tioga, Travis,” she said, pronouncing my name as Traves. My heart leaped into a velvet sheet of love when she said my name. Tioga Pass it was.

We never made it to Tioga Pass. Instead, we found a place where cars huddled next to a tunnel. The tunnel was the door way to a middle of no where highway better known as CA-41 towards Fresno. We parked the rental and climbed up into a mountain.

After a short hike uphill, a trail came into play, so curiously we followed the trail. It led us to a clearing on the side of the mountain, and it was just astounding, this place. Off to the right was the giant Half Dome playing with the clouds, and in front of us was an ocean of California Black Oaks, Ponderosa Pines, and spiraling Sequoias crashing into the mountains. A little blanket Camila had been carrying came out and we just laid together and drank cold beer, staring at the wonder ahead.

During the hike back, we decided to stay another night in Yosemite. We molded the original plan into just staying one day in the Sequoia National Forest and not camping there. Camila had to see more of Yosemite, and a mere half day was not enough for that. I agreed. So we gathered food at a little market, headed back to our campsite, built a fire, cooked and tried not to freeze our asses off.

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Illustration by Marlon Baliow

The night got so cold that I had enough. Drunkenly, Camila and I decided to move the tent directly up to the fire, as if to savor off coming heat into our tent. We didn’t have sleeping bags due to our lack of budget, but the ten quilts that were SUPPOSED to suffice were no match for the brutal cold. She fell asleep and the fire’s flames began to wither, so I threw some cardboard in the fire to stoke it up. As I sat next to a slumbering Camila in the entrance of our tent, a fire wall blazed in my face, searing the little facial hair I could grow, and I jumped up, frantically trying to heave the tent away from it’s fiery doom. Part of it caught fire, so a large hole corroded the tent’s flesh. The Toebock move went out the window: purchase camp gear at a Walmart, then return it after using it.

Haggardly, Camila and I awoke the following morning. We had maybe gotten four hours of sleep based on our lack of preparation and below freezing temperatures. After cooking the last of our breakfast, we packed up and rushed off. Camila wanted to get to Tioga Pass.

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This one lane road, known as Tioga Road, slid in and out of the broad, extravagant mountains we found ourselves weaving through. Countless stops were taken to enjoy the enigmatic beauty around us–canyons, hill tops, lakes. A winding river sparkled countless feet below at one of our last stops, and Camila rested under my arm. It was like the first Lord of the Rings movie when Bilbo and Gandalph are chillen, smoking their pipes. Except I was smoking a Fortuna Red, and instead of a burly, grey speckled wizard man, I was there with a drop dead gorgeous Brazilian babe. Way better. No offense Peter Jackson, but take notes.

It was getting dark, and we never made it to Tioga Pass, which was closed anyway. Tioga Road was just as ground breaking to us, so on our way out, the car stopped one more time for one last picture, and then we were off. Our plan was to get a cheap hotel in Visalia that night.

The Dodge rental scurried down the dark, desolate 41 to Fresno. We were about to run out of gas. Luckily, like an angel in the clouds, a dilapidated gas station came forth. A static light illuminated the gas pump from the darkness which cradled the dense night–like a dancer on stage.

It was about midnight when Camila and I got to the little $49.00 a night hotel off of Second Street, somewhere in downtown Visalia. Both of us took much needed showers, drank Bud light, and made love for the very first time. It wasn’t much of a surprise to me that one of the most immeasurable moments in my life would take place in a dim lighted, kind of shitty, middle of no where hotel. It was perfect.

Court Tour x Introduction

Introduction:

In the criminal justice system, this man has met his match countless times based on two separate yet equally important groups. Whiskey and relentlessness. These are his stories. (DUN DUN)

This story, as many have in our time, starts with a woman. In this case, it was a beautiful Brazilian woman who went by the name of Camila. She had stolen my heart almost immediately on a far away night, when the stars aligned on the ceiling of a dingy bar I tended. Since that, we became very close over the phone. Since Camila moved around the States frequently for her international program, phone communication was our only means for communication. Conversations were mostly dictated by the different languages we spoke, causing difficulty in understanding, but love still peaked its head over those broken banks of speech. A river of time had made its path between those rickety banks that one could call a relationship. Where it was going, no one could tell. Maybe in a vast lake somewhere yonder, with shimmering ripples of new life effortlessly frolicking on it’s flawless sky blue surface. Hell, when I found myself at the end times inevitable river, the result was more mystical than any magical, Frodo Baggins shit lake; I can tell you that much. What can I say, though. Life’s a trip.

A visit to Camila in Austin, Texas–where she worked as a nanny for an international program called Au Pair–had taken place three months before our journey begins. On the first night I found myself battling tasers and torture chairs amidst a Williamson County jail house, but that my friends, is another story itself. Nonetheless, it plays a great factor in this tale.

After our amazing time in Texas together, after I was released from jail of course, the voice in my heart grew louder, shouting for Camila’s love. A voice I tried to smother beneath a heart’s sheath, a nasty thing I had crafted around my blood pump over the years. It was becoming apparent to me that Camila and I were meant to be together, and this became evermore so real when her warm heart gave me yet another chance after that magical, yet disastrous, visit to Texas. She invited me on a week long trip; one that her adventuring soul longed for ever since she entered the states from Sao Paulo, at the end of 2013.

She wanted to cram countless hours of driving into a seven day trip. Her plan was to leave San Francisco International Airport in a rental car, drive to Yosemite, stay there for a night and a full day, drive to the Sequoia National Forest right outside of Visalia, camp there for a night and enjoy that for a day. Then she wanted to drive a toiling nine hours to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, camp there one night, enjoy a day there, and then party in the heart of the American Dream–as the late Hunter S. Thompson dubbed it–Las Vegas. Then somehow make it back to San Francisco International to return the car at 1:00 p.m. on that following Monday. It was absurd.

I thought she was crazy for wanting to embark on this radical journey, but as long as I was with her, I would be happy. Her hand in mine would allow happiness to prevail in any unsettling setting. I really thought she was crazy. However, there is one thing I cannot resist. More than a smoking stick that promises death. More than a free bad idea offered at the bar. More than anything at all. I could never resist a woman who was crazier than me.