amazing adventures of a nobody by Leon Logothetis

amazing adventures of a nobody by Leon Logothetis

 

“The Amazing Adventures of a Nobody“

Author – Leon Logothetis

Bettie Young Books - $14.95

[excerpt used with permission; no unauthorized reproduction]

     And now I needed to find my way out of Albuquerque. I wandered from the parking lot back toward the fair, past vendors and games, weaving amidst the families and friends, and found myself in the classic car show. Dozens of perfectly painted, washed, waxed, shined cars spread out over the grassy field. I’d never really been a classic car fan, but these beauties would win anyone over. They were clearly nurtured and loved by some individuals committed to their upkeep. They were tokens of someone’s love.

     Whenever people are as enthusiastic about something - balloons, art, food, sports, whatever - as these people were about their classic cars, it’s easy to start a conversation. Simply ask them to talk about what they love. Of course, I was hoping that, after some fun car talk, someone would take me toward California.

     No such luck.

     As friendly as they were, all the classic car owners I chatted with were staying over another day or heading in other directions. Seemingly no one could help me out, until, as always, from somewhere came a glimmer of hope.

     A middle-aged guy wearing a checked flannel shirt and baggy pants with about a thousand pockets, suggested I check with the car show organizer, who he called “the head honcho.” In my experience, if anyone can do something for you, head honchos can.

     After several false leads, I finally located the boss, Michael, a tall, short-haired, clean-shaven fellow, with a habit of placing his hand on the shoulder of whomever he was speaking with. He was busily chatting with various car enthusiasts. After three or four attempts to get to him through the crowd, I finally made contact.

     “You the boss around here?” I asked.

     He continued signing a few papers in front of him. “That’s what they tell me.”

     “Excellent. Well, head honcho, if you’ve got thirty seconds, I’ve got a story for you.”

     He looked up. “A story? Is it a good one?”

     “That’s what they tell me.”

     He laughed. “Okay, kid. Hit it!”

     So in less than half a minute, I gave him the tale. My shortest retelling yet.

     He crossed his arms when I finished. “Well that sounds like a short story that has a long story behind it.”

     “You could say that.”

     “So if I want to hear the rest, what do I have to do? I mean, you weren’t telling me that story for your health, right?”

     I laughed. “Well, head honcho. I need a ride. Since the Hollywood sign is where I’m going, and I’m not there yet.”

     And there it was: his hand on my shoulder. “A ride for your story. Sounds like a deal. My boyfriend and I are leaving shortly, and we’re heading due west. But bring some water: I want the story from start to finish. Meet me by the silver Caddy in half an hour.”

     I kept my feet on the ground, though I wanted to leap for joy. I spent three dollars on a corn on the cob, and half an hour later, I was standing next to the most pristine classic Cadillacs I’d ever laid eyes on.

     “Well Leon. Whaddaya say?” Michael asked, approaching in long strides from the booth where I’d left him.

     “I say, let’s go!”

     He laughed a deep, hearty laugh. “Leon? You ready?”

     “Always! The road awaits!”

     “Then let’s not keep the road lonely and waiting,” Michael said. “Go ahead, Leon. Take the wheel.”

     “Sorry?” I was astonished to have been offered the opportunity to drive this beauty.

     “Come on, you Brits drive, right? I mean, you know, stay on the right side of the road and all, but come on. Drive and start that story.”

     I couldn’t resist. Settling into the leather seats, I adjusted the side mirror, put my hands on the wheel and took us onto the road.

      “Is this a ’52?”

     “Close – a “58,” he corrected me.

     We hit the open road, with the mountains behind us and the blue sky rushing up toward forever. What a rush. I couldn’t stop smiling.

     “Feel like James Dean?”

     “Or James Bond!”

     “My passion for cars is what brings me the most joy in life. Other than my time with Craig, who you’re going to meet when we get home.”

     We drove along in silence for a while. “There’s something spiritual about this, isn’t there? Almost like you’re driving in the past,” I said.

     “There is indeed a spirituality here. Most of the cars I have come out of a junk yard. And then, I bring them back to life.”

     “Resurrection,” I said.

     “You got it. That’s my pleasure.”

     “How many do you have?”

     “Oh, thirty-six in total, but they’re all in different states of repair or restoration.”

     “What’s the oldest car you have?”

     “A 1941 Cadillac Series Sixty Special with the battery sunroof. As far as I know they only made six of them. Pull over here.”

     I relinquished the wheel, and settled into the passenger seat to hear Michael’s stories. He was a fascinating guy who seemed to have found a real passion for life. I sensed it from his whole body language and cheery outlook. It’s quite telling how people who have a raison d’etre and true passion have far better energy than those who don’t. I have often been in the perilous state of low energy due to a total lack of direction. This was definitely not the case with Michael. There was a shining light emanating from deep within. I could feel it.

     “What is it about the west?” I wondered aloud.

     “Sorry?”

     “Oh, nothing.” But there was something about the American west. There was a reason people had kept migrating farther and farther west over the decades. It wasn’t just for gold. Sitting next to Michael I felt a small vindication in having left my old life behind. I was now part of that long train westward, that large group that had left an easier world behind and taken a course toward the better, the harder, the more beautiful. And I could see in Michael’s eyes what I was looking for, what I’d seen in Katherine. I sensed purpose and joy in him, a joy to which we are all entitled but that few of us actually acquire. “We all die,” my grandfather had once told me while we sat upon one of those massive Greek rocks looking out over the sea. “But few of us live.”

     “And . . . .” said Michael, pointing ahead. “Here we are.”

     We’d arrived at a concealed yard filled with old cars. It seemed that Michael had taken a small detour instead of going straight to the house.

     “This is my work lot,” Michael said. “I’ve got to grab a few things, and I thought you’d like a look. This is, as you said, where the resurrecting happens.” He smiled and slapped

my shoulder and wandered off toward the garage.

     I looked around at the endless variety of ears, each in a state of disrepair, or re-repair. It certainly looked less like Resurrection Central and more like Auto Graveyard. The empty tomb it was not. But miracles happened here nonetheless, I supposed. Who knew where one of these dilapidated units would be in five years? Perhaps Michael would be showing it off at a show, and using it to give a ride to some wanderer.

     I ran my hand along the top of an old sedan that looked a great deal like my father’s old car, the one he used to drive on the weekends when we’d head to the countryside.

     I imagined, for a moment, that this was that same car that somehow had made its way across the ocean to say hello. As I was indulging in my fantasy, I was distracted by a disheveled looking guy, who was watching me silently from a few yards away.

     “Hey, man.”

     “Hey there yourself. I work for Michael. You like that one?”

     “Oh, this one? Yeah, yeah. Reminds me of my dad’s old car, actually.”

     “So, you’re the Brit - the madman traveling around relying on kindness.”

     “I see my fame has preceded me. Yeah, I am the one: Leon. Who are you?”

     “Marco!” carne back the reply. And a quick bear hug completed the proceedings.

     As he pulled away, l realized the one fact I couldn’t ignore about him: Marco had no front teeth. Not one. It turned out that he had had a losing argument with a shovel earlier in the week. Apparently he and his brother were digging a hole in a field. Why they were digging a hole, in the middle of the desert, I did not ask. But they were digging. And while they were digging, Marco’s brother abruptly smashed him in the face with the shovel. Yes, that’s right. Marco was smashed in the face with a shovel by his brother. I never found out if this was an accidental assault, or if Marco’s brother had been digging the hole in the ground as the coup de grace for a long-term sibling rivalry; Cain meets Abel, Southwest-American style. I didn’t pry too deeply. Anyway, if Marco had been on the other end of a botched murder attempt, he was obviously still standing, so things couldn’t be too bad. This did of course, beg the question: where was Marco’s shovel wielding brother?

     After digesting Marc’s unpleasant run-in with a shovel we got chatting about his journeys around the world.

     “After your thirteenth year or so, you’d be tired of it, too.”

     “Really? You went traveling for thirteen years?” I asked wide-eyed. “That’s a very long time to be on the road.”

     “Yeah. I’ve been a welder, carpenter, everything. Just went all over the country. Just trying to see it, you know, just go from one end to the other. Just working your way through it, you know what I mean. Got tired of traveling, ran a strip club for a while in San Morgan and I went down with it after my break up with the missus. About a year ago, I hit the road again and found Albuquerque. This is the greatest spot, I think, on earth right now. I wish you could stay longer - we’d get you drunk!”

     “Oh, that’s nice of you, but --”

     “Seriously it’s like a New Mexican tradition here in Albuquerque, you know. The highest DWI rate and everything else. If you don’t get drunk here, man, you’re not part of New Mexico. Everyone is trying to kick my butt for bringing that up but that’s the truth, everybody I know always does it.”

     I certainly wouldn’t hire Marco as the face of the tourism board for New Mexico, but maybe he did have a point.

     “All right! Let’s go!” Michael said, emerging from the garage with his boyfriend, Craig, in tow.

     “Hey Leon, good to meet you.” Craig said with a slight Midwestern twang.

     “It’s a pleasure meeting you to.”

     “Marco, let him go, no time for beer tonight!” Craig teased.

     Marco waved good-bye as we sped off down the road. Michael, Craig, and I munched on sandwiches and snacks they’d brought along, and talked about traveling and cars and the past and the west and the late afternoon sun. After crossing miles of barren terrain we pulled off the freeway in Gallup, New Mexico, Where Michael and Craig had planned to drop me off before they headed south. The town was desolate and had an uncanny resemblance to the area surrounding the infamous Bates Motel. There seemed little to say about it that would endear me to the local population. In a word, I felt: fucked.

     I hid my anxieties and wished Michael and Craig success for the rest of their trip. They wished me well, and we exchanged warm-hearted hugs. My stomach was full, and my time had been enjoyable, but once again, this didn’t seem a promising place to emerge at the same time as the desert night.

 

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