Tag Archives: toebock

Court Tour x Chapter 11

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Chapter 11:
After Hours with DJ Abair

Barely had I made my flight out of Long Beach. On my knees I begged, with sporadic desperateness dramatically choking my plea, to board that flight. All the passengers scowled at me heavily as I awkwardly walked down the isle; heightening the scowls when my computer bag would slightly scathe someone’s shoulder. The “technical difficulty” was me that day, and the inpatient fiends who boiled in their seats of comfort wanted to see blood. My blood. On every angry face, murder was drooling from their eyes and down their fire red cheeks. This will be a relaxing flight, I sarcastically thought to myself as I squeezed my way through an obese couple to my assigned window seat. Embarrassingly, I sat down, feeling their contemptible glaring beams slice into the side of my skull. Being the last one to board a flight AND sitting in the window seat is like rear ending someone then getting rear ended yourself. A pile up that is more humiliating than any accident I have ever witnessed. Or caused.

A day was spent in San Jose for a little R and R. Well, but it was far from resting and relaxing. The day was spent radically rushing around to gather my things, working, and coordinating the rest of this trip. The One Man Demo with Stephen Perdue was a success, but there were two more events, and without constant dedication, they could expire in a dancing eye lid like unattended milk. The next event was at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas with DJ Abair, a man who has proven to be a wild card time and time again.

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“.. a man who has proven to be a wild card time and time again.”

Among all of this, I had decided in my mind to ask Camila to marry me. Madre graced me with her Mother’s diamond ring and told me to follow my heart. She had always said that when that right person came along, the Leo fire in my chest would explode and burn up any doubts. This had long happened and any doubts were charred to a thin crisp the moment Camila’s smile initially graced my pupils.

Early, on noon’s horizon, I landed in Las Vegas. Adam had sent me the address to the hotel he had booked for me. It was a slimy Motel 8 somewhere off of North Las Vegas Blvd. It was apparent that he went way over his budget for this trip already, so I would be tasting the shit on the end of the stick.

“That’s what you get,” he said as I complained upon entering the rickety room. “How do you think I feel? I barely can pay my rent after this trip…” Adam paused momentarily, “your trip.” This confused me greatly, for Adam was living in his van, The Patriot, somewhere off the coast of California.

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As far as I was concerned, his land lord was the mighty Pacific Ocean. Now I was toiled by a new reality. One I never knew existed: What does the Pacific charge for rent?

A panic attack was pummeling my chest like the drummer from Helio Sequence.

Abair better fucking be there,
I thought to myself as uneasiness rattled my tired bones
and my new pair of Pig Wheels glided down Las Vegas Boulevard. It was Super Bowl weekend and I could hardly even skate down the street without running into someone, or something–the Wookies were out fore sure. Who knew how this was going to turn out.
The palpating in my heart sky rocketed as I walked up to the Mirage Hotel and Casino.

Broadcasted for all to see on the Mirage’s towering marquee, dwarfing The Beatles Love Circus Du Soleil which lay beneath it, was a massive Court Tour billboard that said, “After Hours With Dj Abair.” Wow, I thought to myself, Adam went all out on this one.

Abair was sucking down a cheap bottle of Taaka Vodka behind the DJ booth that overlooked a crowd of three hundred.

“You know, Abair,” I informed, “the bar is open for you and I.” Abair looked at me shiftily with sweat pouring down his face.

“Travis, this so fucking gnarly. I can’t do this. Look at all these people.” Then his demeanor switched off like a bedside lamp. “You are amazing, Travis. We are twins. I’m gonna get your name tattooed on my chest after this.”

The first song Abair played was, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. The crowd, all of them drunker than Hank Williams Senior, responded to this horrid song with shouts of joy. Every kook in the crowd started fist bumping and dancing, each egocentrically shining in their very own Universe. Abair was mic’d up and a thundering, “YEEEEAH!” blasted over the speakers. I tried to sew an expression on my face that hid the fact that this whole situation was completely fucked, uncomfortable and pretty hard to watch. Fuck it, I thought to myself, people are enjoying themselves. This is going well. Really well actually.

Carly Rae Jepsen shrieked her final “call me maybe” over the speakers and the crowd exploded in applause. All I could think was, I would never call her. Not even maybe. Still, I forced my lips to smile and dragged my hands to a clap. The wild cards started flaring in Abair’s eyes and he yelled some incoherent nonsense about Adam Crew and a Yellow Brand Tour. Then an acoustic guitar started picking over the huge speakers surrounding the venue.

Tracy Chapman’s “You’ve Got a Fast Car” started playing. The crowd looked around at each other as if a squirrel had crawled behind the walls weeks prior and died. How embarrassing this is, I thought. There is always a time and place for every thing, and this was neither. I mean come on! We weren’t in a garage at three in the morning doing cocaine and having deep conversations about the Holographic Universe! People exceeded irritation and began to boo Dj Abair.

My forehead rose from my hand as Abair turned off the music and started ranting. “Fuck this! Fuck all of you! You are all losers,” he choked for a moment and with a prepubescent  voice continued, “ALL OF YOU!” Tears started pouring down his face and he wiped them away with the remaining bottle of rip gut vodka. “Fuck you Adam Crew!” Abair yelled at the ceiling, then he threw the empty bottle into the livid crowd.

A riot broke out in that dark venue. Everyone wanted Abair’s head on a stick, but he was no where to be found. Rooster haircuts, cocaine crazed models, bouncers and even bar tenders started beating the shit out of each other. With a profile below sea level, and like a snake in a meadow, I slithered behind the bar, stole a bottle of Makers Mark and got the hell out of there. Unlike the “One Man Demo with Stephen Perdue”, “After Hours with Dj Abair” was not only a failure, but a disaster.

A ruthless pounding in my head joined hands with a cold bathroom floor and slapped me awake. I was back in my hotel. Whiskey crept through my breath and the diamond ring I planned on presenting to Camila was on my left pinky finger. With my hand trying to contain the ferocious teeth that were clamping my brain, I walked into my room and saw the time. It was already six p.m. and Camila would be landing at nine p.m. sharp. After briefly brushing the remaining Maker’s Mark from my breath, I put on a nice shirt, rushed to The Stratosphere and caught the 108 to McCarren Airport.

Camila’s back was frowning at me as I awoke and tried to kiss her. She was a little upset due to multiple layovers she had withstood the day before, and a mix up of terminals causing me to pick her up an hour late. In my pocket, the diamond ring taunted me. Now is the time, Travis, I thought. It’s now or never. Camila would be leaving the next morning. If I didn’t propose at that moment, it would be the last time I would see her for years, perhaps forever. Fathoming a life without her choked any kind of future for love–for life. A life without her was no life. I wanted to share everything with Camila. Every sun and every moon to come. Every smile and every sadness to curl our lips. Every old demon to poison our past and every young angel to come and heal it. My fidgety heart had always been a hard one to hold, but she had it pinned down.

Her eye lids slowly arose, and her big beautiful, dark eyes sleepily looked into my fear stricken, nervous-as-all-hell stare as I knelt by the bed. The mid-afternoon desert sun was massaging my shoulders. Without seeing the ring and still trying to conceive the new day around her, Camila said with a cute chuckle, “Travis, what are you doing?” This was it.

“Camila, will you be my wife?” Her reaction completely surprised me. A smile stretched from cheek to cheek and her eyes gently closed.

“Yes, Travis.” Even now, and most likely for the rest of myself, I will never be able to describe the happiness that burst within my chest. On the dirty mattress, inside that seedy Motel 8, Camila and I prayed to God for His approval; something I had never done in my life. God and I both had enormous egos, ones in which always exploded like a dinner conversation about politics when met face to face… or religion.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” blared into an all too real setting as Camila and I walked out of the Clark County Court with our marriage license. We were bombarded by pastor after pastor to get married in their chapel. It seemed like they were trying to crucify me. At one point, two almost got into a fight over who would marry us. Any pan handler in the Tenderloin of San Francisco had nothing on these guys. They were ruthless.

Earlier in this story, during Camila and my first trip to Vegas, which ended horribly, we had tried to go to a strip club off of North Las Vegas Boulevard. Ironically, directly across the street from the strip club, was the little chapel that we decided to get married in. Who would have thought?

A flamboyant woman, cloaked in green with bright purple lipstick to match and a pair of ten inch high heels married us on that magical Las Vegas night. A night when simultaneously someone was hitting the big jack pot while someone else was getting arrested. Off somewhere in that shit show of a city, someone was vomiting in a Casino bathroom; but Camila and I were getting married. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I was hypnotized by the beauty of my soon to be wife, she was beyond stunning. Every second of my past led up to that moment as the strange pastor united us once and for all. All the many regrets, bad decisions, experiences fell into place while Camila and I joined hands and got lost in each other’s stares.

Many times in my turbulent past, fueled usually by drugs and self destruction, I have met suicide in multiple settings. On the sharp edge of a knife, in the reflection on a porcelain draped bath tub, or over the railing of a golden bridge. Every time a little shining light would pull me out from the lake of despair I seemed to always find myself drowning in. A light at the end of the tunnel, one could say. I never knew what it was going to be, or what it would look like, but I knew it was out there, somewhere, waiting. Holding my joyous tears back, and as I said, “I do,” I was not just looking at my best friend, lover or new wife. I was gazing deep into that light. The light which promised it would shine on one far away day. All those years the light that had always been hazy and dim, blinded my eyes for the very first time. Softly, it resided back into the glistening ivory of Camila’s white dress and finally, for the first time in my twenty five years, life had made sense.

Court Tour x Chapter 10

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photos : Austin Iles

Part 3: Happy Endings
Chapter 10:
The One Man Demo

Blake Johnson, Instagram’s moon facing bandit, had no idea what his tomfoolery birthed. This was nothing like the time when he insulted a rapper about sleeping with Ice T’s wife and designated the blame to some white, unsuspecting kid from the Mid-West. His little “hash tag” created a full blown tour after I pitched the idea to the president of TMG Creative, Adam Crew.

With Adam’s wealth and success, he wanted to sponsor and fund this trip; giving me full creative direction in the line up of people for this tour. I chose three people in particular; one for each state to incorporate their amazing talent into the existence of this flopping tour. Hell, we all get old and deserve one last bang.

Three cities in three different states; Long Beach, Las Vegas and Georgetown, Texas. I wanted Stephen Perdue to skateboard in Long Beach, David Abair to DJ in Las Vegas, and Travis Graves, also known as Mt. Egypt, to perform in Texas. Adam was instantly skeptical about Abair’s credentials and punctuality, but I promised his legitimacy; DJ Abair had drawn large crowds at the one and only Hound Lounge in San Francisco. We had our people, now was the time to make it happen.

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Official Tour Flyer

Court in Long Beach was at the rooster hooting hour of seven in the morning. Natalie Kozanitias had picked me up the night before and let me sleep on her and Corey’s high end, L shaped couch that stretched from one end of their living room to the other. Corey was in Santa Barbara tending boats, but Clicker the pooch sent me Corey’s Grecian love with slobbering kisses as I settled on that Godly couch. Camila and I talked for hours about a possible marriage in their Budweiser backyard, as I rudely ignored Natalie’s Sloppy Joe feast; deliciously seeping through a kitchen window. As usual, life was moving at light speed.

I represented myself in court after writing almost nothing across the street at a corporate, bully coffee shop. My argument with the judge was primarily the fact that I had no money and mostly no time at all; so she waved all fees and sentenced me to AA meetings for six months. My cheap suit shined with Law and Order’s Raul Esparza’s confidence and, in my mind, victory had never been more fluent. I tasted it on that proud day.

Not much time remained before the One Man Demo would begin with Stephen Perdue at the Houghton Skate-park in Long Beach, California. Adam had flown in Perdue, and TMG’s one and only Fred Zahina to document the event with his Super 8 camera, unique eye and all out CURMUDGEONRY . This duo made me very nervous, however, and part of me would be surprised if the two of them even showed up at all. Adam briefly had told me that he had gotten each of them rooms at the five star Renaissance Hotel in downtown Long Beach with a budget of one thousand dollars for living costs. Those two definitely were blacking out.

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Perdue & Fred Zahina | Official Demo Flyer

” Those two definitely were blacking out. “

One hour remained before the One Man Demo, and word had traveled that my oldest friend and highly talented artist, Brandon Hurley, better known as Bear in Woods, had just done a showing the previous night to promote his business; Brandon Hurley Arts where one can find multitudes of flawless strokes of fine art mixed with urban rawness. After calling him, we agreed to grab a quick bite at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles before the demo.

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Brandon Hurley Arts | Official Tour Flyer

Bear in Woods and his girl friend whom I had never met, Natalie, stared at me with a wide eyed awe as I inhaled my dish. Time was running out and I needed to get to the demo pronto. The One Man Demo with Stephen Perdue was scheduled for an hour. That would give me enough time to show my face, execute a little PR for The Court Tour, throw some product and get the hell out of there to catch my flight back to San Jose. Long Beach was the short part of this three week stint, so every move I made had to be delicately coordinated with time. Quickly, I paid my bill, gave them both my love and hailed a cab. I liked Natalie, and throughout the twenty years Brandon and I had been friends, he had never introduced me to a woman whom I liked.

 

Perdue was already on the course ripping. Fred was drunkenly skating around with his camera in hand. Both of them looked a little rough around the edges. Who wouldn’t after being granted a thousand dollars for but one night? I remember the old Toebock trips when you had to get yourself to an event with your own money. How so much had changed.

 

Perdue killed it. The crowd of skinny pants wearing teenagers, with blinding braces and bleached hair, screamed like they had just seen Jesus himself after Perdue effortlessly landed every trick he tried. His male model smile curled under his flowing curly hair as he cruised through the park, while nineteen year old girls shrieked from his dreamy demeanor. Now I knew what it was like to go to a Beatles concert in the early sixties.

I heard one girl, who could have only been twenty at the very least, say,

” He is SO hot. I am going to fuck him tonight. “

 

Her friend disagreed and the two minors started violently slapping each other, which led to them both being escorted off the premises by a nearby, enticed police officer. This was out of control.

Fred found me in the crowd and led me to a box of product. He handed me a megaphone and called me a piece of shit; for what reason I hadn’t a clue.

I threw product out and the crowd went into an all out frenzy. Court Tour posters and shirts were thrown, but every pair of hands that touched these items immediately dropped them to the floor. No one gave a shit about the Court Tour. I mean, could you really blame them? I myself was having a hard time understanding what exactly I was trying to accomplish with this strange tour.

Pig Wheels and a couple of Habitat boards, a Silas and a Gall, were heaved. Also, I threw some “Don’t Act Famous” videos out into the wild crowd. Three DVDs were tossed out into the wave of hands and one came hurling back; belting me in the face like a Big Gulp in The Weatherman. Harsh.

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“..one came hurling back; belting me in the face ”

 

Perdue was trying to land some kind of demo-ender trick as I packed up my shit; a loose pair of wheels and my flyers which only Fed Ex made a profit from. Upon entering a cab I had bum rushed in the middle of a busy street, I heard the skate park explode in applause and excitement. Perdue must have landed his demo ender. Like a kid leaving his hometown in a cheesy movie, I peered out of the back window in the cab; but instead of witnessing a teary eyed best friend shouting against my departure, I only saw Perdue’s scruffy, dirty blonde hair bobbing above a jagged silhouette of women, swarming him like a flock of termites do to a decaying log. His shirt had been ripped off and in my dwindling sight I could see Fred Zahina with his shirt off, too; shot gunning a beer and trying to feed off the less fortunate girls who just could not break through the barrier of hormonal maniacs encompassing Steve. Meanwhile, Perdue’s smile remained UNCHANGED with that male model smirk never leaving his lips. It seemed to me that he didn’t even realize what was happening, let alone where he was. He was like a parrot trying to hold onto a swaying palm branch as it’s being tossed around violently by a Florida hurricane. Never really knowing the danger of the situation, but loving every moment of it.

Court Tour x Chapter 9

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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.

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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?

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 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 4

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Chapter 4: Smile

Pounding. Someone was pounding on our door. A voice accompanied the up-roaring door.

“It was check out time at eleven!” The voice was just a bit quieter than the thundering knocks, but no where near quieter than the thunder in my head. “It is four o’ clock PM! IT IS TIME TO LEAVE!” When the time just granted settled in my head, I shot up, creaking my neck as I did so. The shower was running and as my pants found my legs, it shut off. Camila came out looking just as burnt as I was. What the fuck happened? Why would we take Xanax at five in the morning? Wait, did we take Xanax? There was no times for answers, let alone more questions. It was time to get the hell out of there.

The coffee at Denny’s smelled amazing. Camila sat across from me with sorrow drooping her lips.

“This sucks, I didn’t get to see anything. I can’t even see the Grand Canyon, unless we leave right now. I didn’t get to see anything in Las Vegas. What will I tell my bosses when they ask me what I did? Not only that, I will go back to Brazil in maybe February, March for sure! I didn’t see…” She paused in sadness. I had an idea to fix all of this. It was a long shot and, soon to be known, a horrible idea.

Now the plan had shrunk immensely, with distance heavily out weighing time. The plan was to party until eleven, or so, in Las Vegas, then wake up at four in the morning, drive the five hours to the North Rim, spend a few hours there and drive the straight eleven hours back to San Jose. Arrival time would be around five or six in the morning, so a quick nap would take place, and then returning the rental car to SFO at the drop off time of 1:00 p.m. would follow. It was definitely hectic, but do-able.

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It was nine ‘o clock pm, and the two of us found ourselves walking down Las Vegas Boulevard. Some drunk asshole in a Chubakka costume came in hot with harassment on his mind. Or hers. Fuck, I couldn’t tell. It was a Wookie! The derelict got Camila in a bear hug for a second, but she escaped and we slipped away.

The Bilagio Hotel sprouted geysers in the air. A huge glass air balloon towered next to the Eiffel Tower. Lights were everywhere. Never had I seen Las Vegas, it was interesting. Like one giant circus with the people as the acts.

After dancing to music that both Camila and I despised at some club offering free drinks for women, thus going our attendance, we decided that it was time to get back to the hotel. It was already almost one and, following the plan we had crafted, we would need to leave in no more than four hours.

After shortly entering the room, we left again to a little run down Casino next door. Drinks flowed, cheap whiskey mostly, and I found myself at a Black Jack table…winning.

“Come on, Travis. Let’s go back to the hotel. It is late,” said Camila with a tug at my shoulder. I was in the zone, and I was up a hundred dollars.

“Hold on, baby. Let me just play until I lose,” I said with eyes glued on the dealers wedding ring. “Is that cool?” Silence. Vacant was the floor behind me where she once stood only seconds before. I sucked down my beer and made another bet.

Two hands went by and I lost. My phone came out of my pocket and queasily waved by the time four o’ two a.m. My eyes started scaling the smokey casino for Camila, but she was no where to be found.

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Camila and I had been conversing with some security guards that night, so I asked them if they had seen her.

“Oh, you’re Brazilian wife,” one said.

“She left,” said the shorter one. “She looked pissed, buddy.” Before he could say another word, I was out the door.

Camila was back at the hotel, pretty drunk and super pissed. I couldn’t blame her. Our agreement was to stay out only until eleven or twelve. Already had we breached that idea by staying out ’til four. Then when she asked me to go back with her, I had said something stupid about winning. My heart coincided with hers, and I just wanted to make it better. Too late. She was irate. Without a word and fire in eyes, she stormed out of the hotel. Leaving the entire room trembling in the wake of a slammed door.

She just needs some time, I told myself. Ten minutes went by and worry shattered my whole state. Here was this gorgeous woman in a one piece mini skirt, from a different country, drunk and angry walking around by her self on a sketchy side street that slithers next to the Strip. I had to do something.

“There’s gonna be some stuff you gonna see, that’s gonna make it hard to smile in the future. But whatever you see, through all the rain and pain…” Tupac and Scarface’s, “Smile” was blasting as I recklessly drove down the dark street that I hoped she had even went down. I left my clothes, besides my pants, at the hotel; so I was definitely lookin’ white trash. Ignoring this reality, I swallowed my beer, trying to calm my worry as I shot down the dark street. By this time, I was freaking out. She was no where to be found, and now I was lost. In a panic, and on the verge of a nervous collapse of some sort, I drifted the car into a right turn. Then right again, this time screeching a bit during the turn, onto the Strip. “Smiiiiiiiiiiile for me. Won’t you just smi…” SMASH!

Court Tour x Chapter 3

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Chapter 3: A Big Step Towards Forever

Being the oblivious person that I am, not a clue to how we ended up on Route 66  found it’s way into my cloudy thoughts. The only reason I knew Route 66 even existed was from Bob Dylan’s Route 66 Revisited (1965). I’m not sure if that’s awesome or pathetic.

So we talked, Camila and I, right there under the sign, and a few yards away from the old, famous, white Route 66 brand painted white on the two lane road. It was strange to think that it was painted almost a century ago, in 1926; the road symbol was still quite intact.

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Time froze as we found a median–that median when a couple ends a quarrel by looking past themselves, and into the other person–when reason is met, and through this complete understanding, the couple is not just brought closer to each other, but to themselves as well. It’s when two people who love each other let go of those insecurities, or hard headed non-sensibilities, or lack of reality. It’s when two people who love one another explore that fear of change and really embrace the other person’s differences. It’s that big step towards forever. This magical happening radiated off of our now embraced bodies as the wind squinted our eyes, desert bushes rattled in the distance and a semi truck roared by on the nearby 40 east. We kissed in the middle of Route 66 and held one another; together peering down the never ending two lane road below our feet.

Decisions were made and plans were changed again. Now, we were going to go to Las Vegas for the night. The “plan” was to party and drive to the Grand Canyon early the next morning, but you know how plans can go sometimes; especially ones as outrageous as this one: We would have to sleep one hour at most, drive five or six hours to the Grand Canyon, stand there for ten minutes, then turn around and leave to begin the grueling twelve hour drive back to the Bay Area. Camila had to drive the entire time, because I didn’t have a license. It sounded like madness, but with Camila sailing the ship and me navigating, we could do it.

Finding hotels in Las Vegas was way easier than I had expected. Simply I found some promotion thing on Google and had a one bed suite in the Hotel Riviera within seconds. We drove the same distance from Barstow to Las Vegas BACK on the 40, now going west, and hopped on I-15 East to make our way to the city that never sleeps. Doubts nervously paced back and forth in my head about making it to the Grand Canyon, but I kept them to myself. The last thing I wanted was another fight.

We got off the 562 exit, and the display before us was beyond a shit show. The eight lane free-for-all was a combustion of horns and vehicles merging in a mania of madness. It took about thirty minutes to move thirty feet. Already, I thought Las Vegas was fucked.

After about two hours, between getting parked at the hotel and getting our room, upstairs to the twenty third floor we went. Once settled, we hit a TJ Max on the strip so I could obtain clothes that Camila approved. That’s right, I said it. Clothes that she approved.

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Camila was tired as hell and I couldn’t blame her. She had been non-stop driving; not to mention the maybe ten hours of sleep we had acquired over the past four nights. With her napping on the large Queen bed under it’s satin sheets, I decided to go explore the Casino downstairs and pick up some 7-11 sandwiches with my reeling EBT funds.

I was dazzled by the chaos unfolding everywhere around me in the lobby, until a strange man sidled me; snapping me out of my trance.

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“Hey man,” he said, “There is this AA Convention going on over there. So far, I have seen at least ten people at that convention now sitting at that bar,” he paused, “knocking ’em back.” With this, his finger guided my eyes to a portly man drinking a scotch on the rocks, bar stool shoved up his ass, red faced, jolly, and headed straight for the bottom again.

What a great story that would be to write, came to mind. Who would have an AA meeting in Vegas? Eagerly I investigated this phenomena, but was quickly shut down when the door man asked for some kind of pass. What the fuck! I was an alcoholic! Even the alcoholics have become privileged?! What next? NA after hours parties for VIP ex junkies?

Upstairs in our room, I got ready and started to slowly awake Camila. I knew she was tired, but it was already one in the morning. That didn’t seem to matter, for we were two humans who were known for blowing it, in a city that never stops blowing it.

By the time we hopped in a cab, it was three thirty in the morning. The cabby, unbeknownst to us, worked for a strip club and told us the city was shut down. Camila asked him to bring us to Fremont Street, but he insisted that we don’t waste our time. The strip club was the only place that had anything going on. Wow… and we believed it.

The bouncer wouldn’t let us in at that seedy strip club somewhere off North Las Vegas Boulevard. The bearded walrus said Camila looked too young, and without an ID to show, there was no way she would be allowed entrance. Camila became very upset. We came all this way to not see a single thing. She wanted to see all the famous hotels on the strip, the famous “fuck you Las Vegas sign,” Fremont Street; and here we were getting denied at a scummy strip club! Full of melancholy, we headed back to the hotel to call it a night. It looked like our hotel Casino would have to make due.

A shifty man approached me in the bathroom as I shook the remaining urine free from my bladder. It was now five thirty in the morning and drunken skies had long fallen over my mind; my shirt had already come off once that night in the lobby, and I was rounding for a second display within any moment. The strange man mumbled some incoherent question to me. With donuts-glazed eyes, my head jerked like a chicken in his direction and my penis was sloppily fumbled back to it’s place of dwelling. Xanax. He wanted to sell me Xanax.

Hell, I could always go for a bad time, so I gave him the fourteen dollars he summoned for the little yellow brick bad ideas.

Stumbling out of the bathroom, I noticed Camila coming out of the ladies room. I told her what had just conspired; the strange moment when two men “do business” in a public restroom together. Painted on her face was the same drunken smirk that I had on mine, so we agreed to go back up to the room and party.

A desert sun was beginning to peak above the horizon. Rock ‘n roll was bouncing off the windows, rattling rusty curtains that sought to sheath the seeping sunlight, a glimmer creeping through corners of our trashed hotel room. The last thing I remember was the burning, Alka Seltzer-like, yellow-powdered, black-out brick bombarding my right nostril like a wind storm. My head rose up and darkness swallowed a grainy scene of Camila dancing wildly on the bed. I think it was seven in the morning.

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.