It only came to art 500 years ago.....In Italy, of all places.
Today we had Crazy Jeff make another appearance at The Store. His big plan was to confront me and demand 50 cents to use the payphone because payphones are public and the public should be able to use them for free.
At that very moment Amanda was filing a restraining order with the Court to keep this whack-job asshole away from us.
Well, trying to. It ain't easy in Monterey County to keep nutballs at bay.
Payphones have gone down a little faster economically than print newspapers...... but not by much.
I used to get a check from AT&T for our payphone at The Store.
Every year I would make five or six dollars.
One year I forgot to cash the check for a while......and wound up being charged six bucks by my bank because the check bounced.
Now.....I have to PAY to have a payphone. We need a payphone so that lost delivery guys who are too timid to ask to use the Store phone and don't have AT&T cell service can bring packages to our customers. And so the Mexicans can call home with phone cards. And so our knucklehead friends have a fallback when they forget to add minutes to their cellphones.
I also have to pay to have the streetlight out front. I can't picture Downtown Cachagua without a streetlight and a payphone.....but I pay for them. Public has nothing to do with it.
But the Sheriff has assured Crazy Jeff that he can use my payphone anytime he wants to. Maybe he wants to call them.....
So this morning.....Crazy Jeff decides to ride up on his bike to The Store with a baggy coat....who knows what that conceals?.....and demand money so that he can use the phone.
While I am turning the compost.
With a great big pitchfork.......
I thought about it......
"Pitchforks Don't Kill People........People Kill People........."
Instead, I dropped the dime and called the Sheriff...... again.
And......truth be told....a sweet, concerned, intelligent, kind Deputy responded as fast as he could. He knew the whole drill.....what was legal, what was extra-legal, and what could be presented as sort of legal.......
A problem solver. I do not have high hopes for his future with the Monterey Sheriffs......the guy has a brain and cares about his work, and the people he is hired to protect.
I mentioned that we had already called yesterday and the Sheriff decided not to respond: "I always respond.....no matter how stupid it may seem. You never know, and it is my job."
See what I mean? This kid is doomed. He did not have his name-tag on, so I have no idea where to send the condolence letter when they fire him.
While this was going on.....Grandpa Fred Nason came in the Store. Grandpa Fred has seen it all. Grandpa Fred is the Cachagua equivalent of The Buddha......I can picture Fred and the Dalai Lama having a jolly afternoon.....
In the midst of the drama, Fred and I had a frank discussion about the merits of some Wyoming organic beef I had turned him on to. Someone sends me samples....who better to judge than Grandpa Fred Nason?
"It was a little soft. I think it was probably grass-fed."
We had a deep philosophical conversation about grass-fed vs. corn-fed beef....
While a lunatic with a gun was riding his bicycle in circles in the parking lot.
"People are afraid of that yellow fat that comes with the grass. And then they buy that stuff with big globs of hard fat stuck in the middle of their steak."
Fred argued....as would the Dalai Lama.....both sides of the argument.
We finally agreed that the best way was: feed them on grass....and finish them on good corn for a short time......
He was probably humoring me.
"So what is all the excitement out there?"
"Oh.....there is a lunatic with maybe a gun outside."
Another sip of coffee.
"Where is he from?"
"Down by Syndicate Camp...."
"I was witness to a murder over there once....."
I will dispense with the colloquial grammar shit and just tell Fred's story.
The Nason's once owned the property across the street from Syndicate Camp.....all of what is now the Bernardus vineyards.....and Galante as well....and Georis, for that matter. Giving directions to the Deputies, I told them to look for the place across from the where the sheep are.
Cabernet and Merlot are not great grapes for Cachagua......Sheep sometimes work out better.
"My dad and I were riding out to check fences down by the Syndicate Camp and found a truck stuck in the creek. There was no bridge then. It was winter, and there was a lot of water. These guys tried to make it across from the Camp and got stuck.
There was a step-brother, a brother, and the father. They were really mad that they got stuck. My dad and I........."
(Fred was 14 or so........this was probably taking place in the '40's).
We told them we could help them out, and my dad went back to get a team of horses to pull them out."
Meanwhile, they all started to fighting about getting stuck."
The step-brother slapped the father and the brother jumped in. The step-brother had a gun in his belt, and so did the brother. The step-brother punched the dad, and got him down and straddled him. When the brother came up, he pulled his gun....but the step-brother hit him, and the kid dropped. The dad then reached up and pulled the gun from the step-brother's belt before he could get to it.....and shot the step-son right up through the jaw and out the top of his head.
That was something......
All because they got stuck in the Creek.
And we had horses to pull them out....."
Fred laughed and shook his head.
"People are crazy."
At this point, Grandpuppy was going spare.......despite an hour walk in the morning.
Nothing was happening.
I was still waiting for both the Sheriffs and our fish to arrive, so we ambled off up the Cachagua mountain for a change.
As we made for the Creek trail we passed the Honeymoon Cabin that the Landlord's future son-in-law is restoring. The kid was up on the roof and gave us a big hello as we walked by. (He and Heather....our newest and sweetest caterer, and the Landlord's daughter, are marrying on May 2nd...and the kid is literally building their home with his hands). She lives in town, he sleeps in the partially restored Cachagua cabin.
We are not sure of his name....Kyle?.....but we refer to him as the "Nicest Kid In The World".
"You won't believe it! We adopted a rescue puppy on Wednesday! He is a Brown Lab....six months old...."
When we found him at the SPCA, all the dogs were barking and carrying on.....and he was just excited to see us......."
I threw a ball....and he chased it and brought it back to me! And he plays tug-a-war! We get him on Monday......"
I walk every morning on the mountain by myself.....How great will it be to have a buddy!"
My mind started to melt.
At one moment dealing with the worst of the worst.....a drug-addicted alcoholic scumbag fuck with a gun....whose only power left is causing other people hurt, and working the system to feed his weirdness.....
And bumping into.....
A sweet, kind, hardworking, skilled, 21 year old carpenter from Montana......building his own house to share with his equally sweet, kind, hardworking fiancee from Monterey......
And when I walk by with Puppy......the kid almost leaps off the roof to tell me how excited he is to have his own new four-legged friend to go on his own walks.....
I am still high on his energy, his enthusiasm and his naivete.......
I am thinking........
There may be a god after all.......
America might make it after all.....with kids like these.
I am still thinking........
I really should have stuck Jeff with the pitchfork....
While I had the chance.