Neal Cassidy is back......
I started to write about my crew’s bar battle last weekend, and realized that it was all about Adrian….and Adrian needs introduction.
I first met Adrian when I picked him up hitchhiking when he was about thirteen. He hit me up for a donation for the Continuation High School gym fund. They were hiking up to Sniveley’s Ridge and looking for sponsors so they could buy some sports equipment.
I allowed as how I would be happy to donate some soccer balls. Adrian said, “Thanks but no thanks, dude. We already stole a bunch of those from you guys……We need footballs!”
I used to pick him up often after that, usually outside our old kitchen at Rippling River. Cripple Creek was the last stop in Carmel Valley Village before the uninhabited ranchland beyond, and last resort of hitchhikers. My turn off was at Cachagua Road, only four miles out, and this meant leaving my hiker in the middle of nowhere to wait for a ride the final five miles to Tassajara Road. Of course, with a kid involved, I would drive him all the way out to Tassajara Road, and then up the dirt roads to Lambert Flats. I had no clue that this simple kindness would earn me a friend of almost unimagineable ferocity and loyalty.
One time when I picked Adrian up, he had five pizzas. “You want a pizza, dude?” I declined, figuring this was a major expenditure for him. “No, dude. We call Dominos in PG, order eight pizzas, then don’t show. We wait an hour and then go in and buy some sodas. We point at the stack of unclaimed pizzas and give the guy five bucks for the whole pile…….You sure you don’t want a pizza?”
I found out later that when rides didn’t materialize at Cripple Creek, Adrian would go down to our kitchen, pop the lock on the laundry room and curl up in the dirty linen. In winter he would pull the vent duct off the dryer and crank it up to keep the room cozy……
Turns out that at age 15, Adrian was already a recovering car thief…and recovering meth head…..He had a gig for a Fagan-type guy who would take orders from the Mexican Mafia and get his kid crew to scout and steal in exchange for rocks. I hired him anyway, because I admired his style, humor and intelligence.
Sure enough, about two weeks into his employment…..we hung out at the kitchen one night and drank too much champagne. I went home, only to be awakened at 4am by Adrian. “Dude. I wrecked your car.” “Wha? How did you get my car?” “Duh…..I fucking STOLE it from the kitchen…..but I’m sorry. I rolled it and wrecked it in the vineyard at 80. I owe you, Dude.”
Well……Turns out the car was a Jetta. We paid $17k for it. After two years, Brendan was ready to dump it. Blue Book was $14k, so we listed it at that. No takers. $12k. No takers. $11k, nothing…..$10k….At $9k the local dealer offered to take it off my hands. Then Adrian stole and wrecked it. Farmer’s gave us $14.5k for it. How mad could I be? Then he wrecked my Alfa…not his fault…..but I made another $4k. Weird Car-ma.
Adrian is good at wrecking cars. He somehow talked Toyota into giving him a truck. He and Brendan rolled it jumping sand dunes at Moron Bay. When I next saw it was definitely tweaked and crumpled. “Jesus, Adrian….your brand new truck is all fucked up!” “No, Dude……It's not wrecked. It is stone-washed!”
When Adrian took the truck in to try to get the frame tweaked back at the dealership, they fiddle-farted around for a couple of days and came up with a huge bill. It was Friday at 5pm when he went to pick up the truck. They handed him a bill just for examining the truck, which he refused to pay. “Pay it or you don’t get your truck back….”
Adrian walked back to the lot, picked up a rock and broke his own door window, snapped his own ignition and fired it up. The Toyota guys tried to slide the gate shut to trap him, and Adrian drove directly through and over it....wood, steel, wire and glass flying everywhere. He still has the truck…..it kinda goes crab-wise. Still Stone-Washed.
When Brendan came back from Prague last June I was completely immersed in CaterLand. Getting to SFO at 1am was going to be a stretch. No worries…Adrian was going to pick him up. Adrian was running a little late, though and I was the middleman between the two friends. “Who is coming to get me?” “Adrian.” “What is he driving?” “Adrian, what are you driving” “A brand new Porsche Boxster.” Oh, no…….” I am going about 140…..I’m 15 miles out……I think I will be there in about five minutes……”
Turns out the remodel job he was on involved an emergency replacement of a leaky water heater in the garage. The brand new Boxster was in the way….so the owner left the keys so they could move it……..to SFO and back at 140mph.
The last thing to know about Adrian is this: there is family violence in his background. He does not take well to being touched without permission, but he is so cocky that a certain type loves to fuck with him. “Don’t touch me…..” Often followed by an overhand right that ends all discussion.
After one such discussion, as he was being loaded into the squad car in Monterey….he was actively hitting on the female cop who had cuffed him: “I know you want me…..I love the way your gunbelt and your mace sets off your fat ass…..hmmmm, so sexy!”
Still, despite his propensity for violence….there is a wild intelligence behind everything, and a fierce loyalty to his friends. Adrian is Neal Cassidy back from the dead……Once, bartending for me at 13th St. in Carmel, he was assaulted by a Yuppie realtor with a half-gallon of tequila who resented our geographical intrusion into his daughter’s birthday party zone...... on a two mile beach. Adrian took the hit, fell badly, and missed three months construction work. “I was picturing the headlines, Dude: ‘Caterer attacks Realtor on Beach’…..so I didn’t break his jaw. I still owe you……”
Anyway, Adrian eventually found a kind, loving woman….Alana….and has a new baby, Zane. His spirit is tempered if not calmed….and his energies contained and directed………
There are happy endings….
Except I can’t help but notice that Zane looks a lot like both Adrian and Brendan…..sweet, but with that evil glint…….
Alana…..hide the keys!