Sudden Leghold

7

June 9, 2018, Montreal- 

I will remain here. In a mostly majestic city, for two more days, and possibly three.

No details, and I am safe. In fact, thanks to the Grand Prix that is taking place here, I am alone in a big, empty palace.No one else wanted it, and I had no place else to go, so here I am, for one night. Tomorrow, it’s back to a hostel. I am without a computer, for several days, so The 2018 Road series is on hold.  No details beyond that, for the time being. I am safe. I have a car that works  and now, I am going to sleep. See you tomorrow.

No Habitant, He

8

May 14, 2018, Prescott-

(This is Segment 4 of the Antonio Ribeiro saga.)

Antonio found his way to one of the few remaining public phones in Valleyfield.  He had made it away from the Palmieris. for the time being, by jumping on the back of a flatbed truck and staying prone, so quiet that the distracted operator of the vehicle didn’t know of his extra passenger until he drove into the small city, south of Montreal.

“Sacre Bleu!”, the discomfited truck farmer sputtered, once he did find a wayward Acoreno on his premises.  “Voulez-vous un grand battement, EH?”  Tony kind of, sort of, put the message together in his head and bolted down the street-not looking back at the still raging driver, who was now on the phone to the Provincial Police.  It took a good ten minutes of bobbing and weaving around the alleys, before he figured he had a shot at getting to Montreal.

So he rested in the shadows of a dumpster, before noticing about three Canadian dollars worth of coins, lying near a phone booth.  “God rules all!”, the former florist told himself, deciding to call the number that his late cousin had given him.

“Allo?”, Astrid Conejos answered, whilst lounging outside on her patio.

“Hey, my name is Tony R., from Massachusetts. I need to speak with Toro.”

“Voulez parler avec Arturo?”

“Yeah, ……I mean oui”, Tony said, using one of the five French words he actually retained from his high school class.

“Un moment”, the teenager sniffed, before bounding up to find her brother.

Arturo Conejos had come to New Bedford from Vigo, a Spanish city with a fair amount of traffic with Portugal.  He therefore fit in with the Azoreans, quite nicely.  The family moved to Montreal, after Toro had been arrested for drug trafficking, a few too many times.  They had kept a low profile, until Arturo came of age.  His sister had been born two years after the move, and mainly spoke French.

Arturo was a baggage handler, at Pierre Trudeau International Airport.  He would be an integral part of Antonio Ribeiro’s next move.  Toro was, at the moment, a bit tired. He was awake enough, though, to switch to the King’s English, once he got on the phone.

“Ya sumbitch, why call me here?  You come alla da way to Montreal, for what, exactly?”

Tony was flustered, but held his composure.  “Listen, Toro, there was a shootout, near the border.  My cousin, you remember him-the blond, blue-eyed Guanche?  He got blown away.  The border patrol nailed the Palmieri goons, but I took off.  The Italians, they don’t know where I am.”

“So, this involves me, how, exactly?”, the still-irritated Galician snapped.

“I got a card, a Visa, from my uncle.  Cuz gave it to me.  I need to get a flight out.  Please just get me to the airport.”

“A shootout, chaos, and you still have a Visa card?  Whattabout da passport?”

“I have that, too.  I just don’t have much cash, maybe two bucks, American though.”

“I didn’t think you were carrying Cuban pesos, El Tonto!”

“So, can you do this?”

“Yeah, and you get to experience life in a duffel bag, for the next seven hours.  Don’t worry, it’s cotton, it breeeeathes!”

“Hey, you mean I’m gonna be luggage?  I told you I have a Visa card.”

“That’s right, and you pay ME, instead of the airline.  C$ 300.00, all the way to Barcelona.”

“Aaaargh!”

“Antonio, take it or leave it.”

” Okay, I’ll do it.  But if the Catalunes flush a stiff from underneath the plane, guess who gets a visit from New Bedford.”

“No worries, I got this worked out.  Here’s my address.  I’m calling you a cab, right now.”

Two hours later, Arturo Conejos was putting a heavy duffel bag on an Iberian Airlines flight to Barcelona.

Crossing The Line

4

May 6, 2018, Prescott-

I called Papa and told him of Antonio’s ruse.  He uttered a Sicilian oath and then told me to stay on his tail.  “Keep the receipts and remember, this is business.”

Marco Siqueiros opted to get off I-84, at Rte. 9, and headed north.  I figured, correctly, that Tony just didn’t want to pay tolls- so there was no Thruway and no river crossings.  The chiselers blazed past Albany; so we did, too.  When they stopped for gas, in Lake George, we waited by the curb, until they were almost ready to leave.  Aurelio, a Mexican chauffeur for my Papa, was not known to Tony, so with cousin Donnie and me slumped down, “Rico” was able to gas up.  As luck would have it, Marco had to use the facilities, so we still left in tandem with the schmucks.

The woods and plains of northeastern New York passed by in agonizing slowness, as Marco seemed rather leisurely in his northward jaunt.  It was dark, when we followed them into Plattsburgh, where they took a room in a lakeside motel.  Aurelio got a room in the same motel, while Donnie and I walked across the street to the Motel 6, with Rico promising to take cat naps and set the alarm for 3 AM, then for 6, and to alert us when he saw movement.

It was 4 AM, when the Acorenos woke- and the God of us all rousted Aurelio, with a full bladder.  The driver threw himself together, mercifully taking a minute to brush his teeth, before following the two of them at a discrete distance.  We got the signal, and were ready when our vehicle pulled to the curb.

From there, Tony and Marco took a predictable route- headed for the Canadian border.  Papa had foreseen this, and had a plan in place, for this eventuality.  When we buzzed home, Sonny answered and told us to turn around.  “Youse don’t have any more to do.  Papa has men to take over, on the other side.  Head back to Baltimore.”

“Jeez Luweez!  What are we, chopped chicken liver?”, I protested.  Papa got on the line, posthaste.  “Listen, Gino, you did a magnificent job.  Now it’s time for me to call in a favour, from the Palmieri family in Montreal.  Their guys are already waiting for Tony and his cousin.  Come on back home.  I love you, boy!”

We turned around, on a side street in Champlain.  Aurelio did not see the bogus police cruiser pull in behind us.  In a matter of seconds, the gunfire had taken him out, and wounded Donnie in the chest.  I got by with a flesh wound, but we all were transported to the hospital, by a random farm worker, who called in the hit to the county sheriff.  New York State police nabbed the two hit men,  about seventeen miles out of Champlain, headed towards Massena, on a county road.  Tony’s Plan B had run amok.

Poor Marco, though.  The Palmieris took him out, with a single shot, three minutes into Quebec.  Antonio Ribeiro was now in hiding, with no knowledge of the French language, and no car, as Mikey Palmieri had seen to the getaway car’s tires and radiator.  At least he remembered his passport.

My Life Thus Far: The Seventies

12

February 11, 2016, Prescott-  Today was brutal, for many people about whom I care.  It wasn’t so bad for me, personally, because I stayed put-mostly out of financial prudence.  Things will be better that way, tomorrow.

So, I will continue recounting what has been good, and not so good, with the years gone by.  A lot of you, my faithful WP readers, despised my account of the Sixties.  Brace yourselves:  Things went a tad south for me, as twentysomething, but I lay the blame at my own two feet.  Therefore, if you were rankled by me as a teen, skip this post.

1970-High Point:  Being in Fort Myer for the entire year.

Low Point:  Stan E. getting killed in combat.

People in the heart:  Cathy P., my best long-distance phone friend; my three faithful roommates in the TriService barracks; Don and Charley,my co-workers; Stan E., who died for his country.

Places in the heart:  Georgetown, DC; the C & P Canal Towpath; Lynn Beach, when I was on leave.

1971-High Point:  Being stationed in the Cholon section of Saigon.

Low Point:  Wretched, crowded, chaotic Long Binh Army Base.

People in the heart:  Jim T., who stood up for his girls; Tay Lanh, who honoured my dignity; Bill B., Arnie P. and Roger D., my buddies in Cholon; the Henderson family, who overlooked my surly temperament, while I was in Sydney; Tommy W., who didn’t deserve to have been left alone, while injured.

Places in the heart:  Cholon; Vung Tau; Tauranga Park; Woollahra.

1972- High Point:  My hitchhiking trip across North America.

Low Point:  Ignoring what I had been told about spiritual truth.

People in the heart:  Dave G., who gave me my first post-Army job; my workmates, Jimmy, Jan, Donna and Franny; Jim F., my long-suffering boss; Lillies S., the college office manager, who told me to always set my sights high; my hometown buddies, who welcomed me back from ‘Nam; the Gordon family, of Toronto, who camped with me, along Lake Superior; Kathy B., with whom I almost fell madly in love; the Bullocks, who hosted me in Baltimore, for a week; the anonymous truck driver in King of Prussia, who introduced me to the Baha’i Faith; Sandy and Al, my housemates; Donna G., who tried to be a good friend.

Places in the heart:  North Shore Community College; Montreal; Lake Superior; Edmonton; Jasper; Lake Louise; Babb, MT; Morgantown, WV; Baltimore; Ocean City; Bethlehem, PA; my little room in Beverly, MA.

1973- High Point: Visiting Prince Edward Island.

Low Point:  The Chelsea Fire.

People in the heart:  Geary C., Alan A., Sandy G. and Angie D., my friends at NSCC; just about everyone I met on PEI; the hipster who filled my tank with gas, for giving him a ride from Ellsworth to Boothbay.

Places in the heart:  Beverly,MA; Salem; Boston Public Library; Prince Edward Island; New Glasgow, NS; Boothbay Harbor, ME.

1974- High Point: Working at Quisisana Resort, ME.

Low Point:  The botched attempt to serve as editor of “Sage Revisited”.

People in the heart: All my NSCC and Beverly friends; Kathy H., Annette K, Tom & Fricky J., Sandy M., the Grices and Dave B., who were my friends and co-workers at “Quisi”; Dr. and Mrs. Ziv, my “Jewish grandparents” from lower Manhattan; Jimmy S. and Mr. McGregor, who offered me work close to home; my dorm mates in Orchard Hill, at UMass-Amherst.

Places in the heart: Quisisana Resort, Lovell, ME; Bar Harbor; North Conway; Amherst; Fisher Island, NY.

1975- High Point:  Hiking the Presidential Range, in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Low Point: Getting fired from a part-time job, on my 25th birthday.

People in the heart:  My campus buddies at UMass; Mrs. Braman, the housemother in my rooming house, in Northampton; Steve R., Paul W. and Ken C., my brainy, irreverent and totally sloppy first housemates in South Deerfield; the Rivard family, who moved in, after the guys were evicted; Allan D., my internship co-op teacher; Lloyd Z. and Linda D., who imparted good pedagogy; every child who put up with me in that little U.S. History class; the Zivs.

Places in the heart:  Amherst; Northampton; South Deerfield; the White Mountains; lower Manhattan.

1976- High Point:  Graduating from UMass.

Low Point:  Almost losing a sibling, in an accident.

People in the heart:  Dave C. and Janet C., my Quisisana friends and a most unlikely couple; Fred L., aka “Doctor Dirt”; Clay R., my younger doppelganger; the Smalls, who lodged me in Bangor; the Bryants, who fed me, whenever I tutored their son; Mr. Bluestein, who stressed the value of a dollar; Peter W., who hired me as a Teacher Aide; Cheryl Q., who mentored me.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Brewer and Etna,ME;

1977- High Point:  My brother, David’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Being evicted, on false pretenses, in the middle of February.

People in the heart:  Cheryl Q., Peter W., Greg F., Susan C., Grace P. and Evelyn L., who tried their best to be mentors and friends; Lucy and Ronnie R., who took me in from the dead of winter; John and Mary M., my cousin and his wife, who were always there for me; my eight unsettled, troubled and always worthwhile students, in the Behaviorally-Challenged class; my first and fourth-graders, that second year, who re-assured me that I could serve as a teacher.

Places in the heart:  Brewer, Etna, Vinalhaven and Fort Kent, ME; Fredericton and Edmundston, NB; Riviere Bleu and Lac Megantic, QB.

1978- High Point:  My sister, Cheryl’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Losing my temper on a school field trip to a museum.

People in the heart:  My friends and well-wishers at Etna-Dixmont School; my new supervisors at Villa School, Toltec, AZ; many of my students, at both schools; Mrs. Knox, my landlady, over the summer.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Etna, Dexter and Kingfield, ME.; Mactaquac Park and Saint John, NB; Toltec, Casa Grande, Phoenix, Tucson and Grand Canyon, AZ; Amarillo; Chicago; Toledo.

1979- High Point:  My first solo visit to Mexico.

Low Point:  Encountering a dangerous sex offender, in the New Mexico desert.

People in the heart:  Lynda E., Patrick G., Bill K.,  John G.- my co-workers at Villa; the vast majority of my students; the two sisters who drove me from Little Rock to Albuquerque, without regard for my disheveled state; the majority of my fellow travelers, between Phoenix and Boston, and back; the young lady who gave me a ride from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, in an empty tour bus, just for the sake of having company.

Places in the heart:   Casa Grande;Grand Canyon; Tucson; Puerto Penasco; Hermosillo; Ensenada; Woodfords and Bishop, CA;  Hodgenville and Mammoth Cave, KY.

This decade brought a lot of painful personal growth to my doorstep. There are many people from those days who, if they were never to see me again, it would be too soon.  There are others whom I miss, sorely.  The big lessons are that alcohol and autism are a  wicked combination.  Lack of even rudimentary social skills surfaced, at the worst possible times, though thankfully, it was all pretty much done by the time I moved to Arizona.  When a rough-edged former co-worker tried to nail me with  the label of “loser”, towards the end of 1979, his words fell on deaf ears.

The Eighties would be, by and large, awesome.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 33, Part II: The Gate Stayed Open

3

December 31, 2014, Prescott-  When I returned to North America, on 6/29/14, I had the pleasure of a long and varied conversation with a fascinating young lady from Montreal, who is a baker by trade.  The flight back was thus energizing, rather than draining.

July- I spent the first week of July visiting family in the Boston area.  My brother, SIL and I took in a Red Sox game on July 2, which was as marvelous an experience as the team itself was awful, in its play. Fenway Park and the surrounding area are old enough to be somewhat a cross, to me, between old Europe and the modern U.S.  Our fireworks, two days later, were rained out, but some local youths tried anyway- so we had some sky colours.  Going back to Phoenix was an experience.  I ended up staying overnight in Charlotte, as the plane out of Boston was delayed for six hours, due to some problem in Miami, of all places.  At least this way, I didn’t get to Phoenix at 1:30 A.M., so the Universe was looking out for me, in an oblique way.

August-  The interment of my father-in-law’s remains, in Arlington National Cemetery, brought me back to the East Coast, at the beginning of the month, for four days. This was the least a grateful nation could do for him.  I also visited several war-related places on the National Mall, and the 9/11 Memorial west of the Pentagon.

In a rustic camp, west of Prescott, a group of us formed a well-running team, serving Slow Food Prescott’s 50-Mile Dinner,consisting entirely of ingredients from within a fifty-mile radius of our town.

September- In the middle of the month, I drove from Prescott to Salt Lake City, for an annual convention.  Staying in a cheap, Baha’i-owned motel and scrimping where I could, got me through this time, and still I got a  lot out of the convention itself.  Driving all the way back home, in one fell swoop, though, is probably something I would prefer to avoid in the future.

October-  There is very little I won’t do for my son, the only responsibility I really still have, outside of self-care.  When he called, in July, and said I was on the list to take part in the ship’s return cruise, from Honolulu to San Diego, I got the paper work done, made flight arrangements to Honolulu, and enjoyed  1 1/2 days in that exquisite city.  Waikiki, Iolani Palace and Pearl Harbor were each every bit as fascinating as others had said.  The cruise itself was 6 1/2 days, and I learned much about day-to-day shipboard life and about the many hues of blue and aquamarine that are visible from the deck.  After a short few days in San Diego and Crystal Cove State Beach, I drove home, exhausted and just wanting to be in Prescott again.

November-  The month was quiet, until  Thanksgiving weekend.  I went back to San Diego, enjoyed the holiday with Aram and a friend, in Julian, and celebrated my 64th, in low-key fashion, visiting La Jolla and enjoying a Korean lunch.

December- Western New Mexico was where Penny and I first met, 34 years ago, in the Pueblo of Zuni.  I had a salubrious visit to some of our old favourite spots:  El Morro National Monument, with ancient Puebloan ruins and petroglyphs/inscriptions of several time periods and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with its myriad sandhill cranes and raptors.  The town of Truth or Consequences, named for a 1940’s and ’50’s radio/TV show, was a lovely revelation.  Its Old Town, centered around the original hot springs resorts, kept me fascinated to the point where my original plan, of visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings, was put off until another date.  Paying respects to the Apache chief Cochise was accomplished, as was Christmas Eve and Day with some friends who had moved to the Tucson area, from Oklahoma.  The 30th annual Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference was a fitting end to this most filling of years. We got eight inches of snow, on New Year’s Eve.  I rang in the new, by watching Prescott’s midnight fireworks, from my front porch.