This morning I caught up on all NYC things with my friend Les and I tried to explain what it is like living here, outside of Abiquiu. My best example is to watch the movie “Off the Map” which looks and feels just like the area I am in. Just don’t confuse it with “Off the Grid-Life on the Mesa” that is a whole other NM story. But that got me thinking about what to write about today; my running which is getting a touch easier, my hike yesterday and the massive forest fire that started 20 miles south of us, how the truck that broke down on our way to pick up new studio doors and we had to push it, and then, the subject presented itself right on the side of the road.
I had driven to Bodes to get the newspaper and a Popsicle. As I turned onto County Road 142, the 10-mile stretch that I live on, I see a man, deep brown skin from the sun, grey polyester dress pants, a plaid cowboy shirt, a foot to knee black cast, and a big stick. He was hunched over the stick not wearing a hat in 90-degree direct noon sun. He did not have to put out his thumb before I knew I was going to pick him up. I stop and put the dogs in the back seat. The man takes what seemed to be 3 minutes to fold himself into my car. With a big smile and a firm handshake he said “Hi, I’m Johnny I was just coming from the bar.” This man has a real dedication to alcohol because Johnny lives 5 miles down in the road and the bar where one buys package liquor was mile in the other direction. In NM you buy liquor directly from a bar and the one by me, Los Caminos, has a drive up window so you don’t have to go in.
Somehow Johnny got himself to the bar and bought a pint of whisky. As he unbuttons his right chest pocket he asks me if I want a drink. As enticing as that sounds (sarcasm!) I tell him “no, thanks” and keep eating my Popsicle. Johnny then politely asks me if I mind if he has a drink. I said, “no, of course not”
As I drive Johnny home I learn that he was drunk and tripped over a dog breaking his ankle. He is the oldest of 11 children and the only one not married, he lives with his mother and father with the rest of his siblings in a little compound of trailers. Today all the kids were at mom and dads for father’s day and he just had to get away from them all, “especially his mother,” he said. Now mom does not like him to drink so after he took a few swallows from his pint he hid the bottle inside his cowboy boot. It was hard to tell how old Johnny is, maybe 40 with about 30 years of hard drinking behind him. I almost asked but decided against it. He had the typical alcoholic nose and his body was a wreck, he could barely get in or out of my car, how he could have walked the 6 miles in this heat with a broken ankle would be a huge mystery. Johnny seemed like a happy guy and it made me happy to take him home. He is a neighbor after all. Just this morning I ran past his family’s home. Who knows maybe one day after dogs chase me and am I ready to drop in the heat I will have to stop by Johnny’s and get a glass of water. I doubt he would remember who I am; he has probably already forgotten he received a ride home.