Monday, June 10, 2013

To Chuck

Charles Longstreet 1947-2013. Father. Friend. Dharma Bum of Barra de Navidad.

(I have no words to express the loss of one of the co-founders of the Bar None Group. But Charles Longstreet's best friend of more than 40 years and fellow co-founder of the Bar None Group, Russell Rosander does. With love, affection and a clean sheet of paper.)

   
Hey Chuck.
   
I know you´ve got a lot of heavy reality goin´ on at the moment, so I thought I´d send a little imaginin´ your way.  I know they´re givin´ you some mind alterin´ substances right now, but maybe you can imagine this along with me. I figure some pleasant thoughts can´t hurt.
   
Anyway, this is how it starts out.
   
It was a beautiful spring morning.  You and I are heading east on highway 200 in the old Goose, your old sixty-somethin´ Chevy panel truck.  She´s runnin´ great.  We just crossed the border into Montana.  You´re drivin´ and we´ve both got a beer in each hand.  You can do that in the imagination, though it doesn´t work too well in reality where you need one hand for the steering wheel.  There are also a couple of bottles of good tequila layin´ on the seat between us.  We´re the only ones on the highway and there isn´t a cop anywhere.
   
Then we turn north at the junction and head in the direction of Bull Lake.  Were on our way up into  the mountains to the Halfway House, only they´ve changed the name now.  It´s called the All-The-Way House now, and it´s situated way up there in the mountains, by the ocean in Mexico.  I say, “No use goin´ halfway when you can go for the whole shee-bang.
   
The drive is the prettiest we´ve ever seen it.  Up the river to the ocean.  It´s going to be a hell of a weekend, an endless weekend, the best one ever.  The higher we go, the younger we get.  We oughta be in prime condition by the time we get there.  For you, my friend, no cancer, no cirrhosis, no bag.  You´ve never had, and never will.  Are you still with me here?
   
Here we are, headin´ up the highway. A beer in each hand. Laughin´ to beat the band.
   
We pull in and go around back.  I set up my tent under a big tree, maybe thirty feet from the waves lappin´ on the beach. You park the Goose next to it.  Your bed is already set up in the back.  The air smells of cedar trees and salt.  There are coconut trees next to the conifers and a beautiful warm tropical breeze.
   
After we get set up, we take the tequila and head to the bar up front.  Sippy is there and she gives you a big hug. 

We haven´t seen her for a long time.  It´s going to be a great weekend.  Both our pockets are filled with disposable cash, but she tells us we don’t need it.  Everything is free.  They threw all the money in the creek awhile back and don’t use it anymore.  It isn’t worth a damn here.  We break out the tequila and Sissy goes back behind the bar and throws out all that Jose Cuervo crap.  The stuff we brought is better than any other, and will never slow you down.
   
Ah! There´s Chynna, comin´ through the doorway.  Her hand is all healed up, good as new.  She gives you a kiss and tells you how much she loves you.  She´s smillin´ as she sets up the shot glasses, the green lipped ones from Barra, just down the beach.  We drink a toast to all the good times we´ve ever had.
   
We all head down to the beach.  We all take a dip in the ocean, sweet and cool, then go back up to the palapa to sit in the shade.  Piper´s got cold beers waitin´ for us, our first of the day.  Every drink is the first of the day here and tastes like it.  In the imagination, we can have it anyway we want, so that´s how it is. 

So we set out to enjoy the rest of the afternoon, drinkin´ one first beer of the day after another, waitin´ for everyone to show up for the party tonight.  Some of them are comin´ from a long ways off. From everyplace we´ve ever been in our lives.  Everywhere there´s been people we´ve loved and who have loved us.  From Browntown and Hope and California and back east and all the other places.  There all comin´.  No one has ever died and they´ll all be here. 

Funny.  Even those who thought they had issues with one another have discovered that they weren´t all that important after all, and no one is mad at anyone anymore.
   
So we spend the afternoon enjoyin´ the waves and the gentle sunshine.  Tellin´ stories of all the good times and nappin´ when we feel like it.  What better way to spend the day.
   
Later, after everyone has arrived, we gather on the balcony to watch the sunset.  Even though it´s small, somehow we all fit.  Space is not a consideration in the imagination.  That big white building across the street they put up a couple of years ago got washed away in the last hurricane and the view is perfect now.  We watched the sun go down over the ocean and it was the most beautiful sunset any of us have ever seen.  The green line spread out and encircled us all as it does every evening here, and it never fails to fill us with awe.
   
It´s incredible how big a crowd it is.  Everyone in your family is here, including Dylan.  Every friend you’ve ever had has shown up.
   
Now the band starts playin´.  Startin´ out, it´s the world famous Texas Meatballs, but every musician we´ve ever known is tradin´ off.  No one has ever played better.  No one has to think about what to play.  The notes come through their fingers and out their voices like sweet honey. They couldn’t play a wrong note if they tried. It´s something that just can´t be stopped.  Piper has the blankets down on the street side of the bar and there´s a crowd outside ´cause they´ve never heard anything so amazing.
   
Then the dancin´ gets started.  Every lovely lady you’ve ever known and loved wants a turn and you give it to them, only stoppin´ once in a while for another first drink of the day, and you never get tired.  They all want you to know how much they love you and care about you, and how you made their lives just a little bit richer.
   
Towards sunrise, we all go out onto the beach to watch the stars turn and the moonlight shine on the bay.  Everyone is in awe.  After a while the sun comes up and we all go to our beds to sleep till noon or do whatever else we care to imagine.  The All-the Way House is closin´ down for the day. Tonight it happens all over again, and will keep on happenin´ all through the endless weekend. 
   
Anyway, I know I´ve left a lot out of it.  But you can remember the rest, I´m sure, and you can fill it in.  Your imagination is a good as mine.  So I´m headed for a little siesta for now.  I hope your feeling better, Chuck.  And know for sure, I´ll catch ya further up the creek.


– Russell Rosander