Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Square Peg - New Moves in Old SA

The Square Peg - New Moves in Old SA
© S. Bradley Stoner
I’ve been told that I’m set in my ways. Not true... well, mostly not true. There are some things I would prefer didn’t change. However, I am pretty flexible in most areas, and where I’m not flexible, at least I’m adaptable. For example, some folks my age have no real sense of adventure any more. They find nothing so comfortable as settling into some place and becoming home bodies. Not me. I like to travel, especially to places I haven’t seen before. Now, I will grant you that there are some places I’d rather not see. I mean who wants to see Detroit decay? Not me. If, however, you mention an out of the way spot in Podunk, Montana where I can go pry up rocks to look for fossils... well, heck, who wouldn’t want to go there? Besides, there’s likely to be a fishing spot somewhere nearby. Man, that’s like a double jackpot!

Here’s the deal, we are a mobile society. We move... a lot. Take me for instance. I’ve moved no less than twenty times in six different states. Mostly the moves were work related, although not all. Also, for a good stretch of my career a colleague and I were fond of saying our second home was a Boeing 737. Buying a home is supposed to settle you down. It doesn’t. Nor does it remove the itch in the feet. Just ask my lovely. Anyway, this means that cities, towns, and neighborhoods are in a constant state of change. People move in... people move out... new people move in... and on and on. In south central Texas, especially in San Antonio, more people are moving in than are moving out. That creates a great sellers’ market, by the way.

In our neighborhood we have a pretty good mix of folks, including most colors of the ethnic rainbow. It’s kind of like a mini-cross section of America. We’ve got retired folks, we’ve got young professionals, we’ve got young families... and we have liberals and conservatives, although the balance tends toward conservative simply because SA is home to a lot of military bases and military families. On the other hand, we have some rabid liberals. When rabid liberals and rabid conservatives get together you might expect fireworks, but most people just avoid talking politics... with the exception of Bingo Bob and Duncan Donutz, and even they put differences aside if there’s a golf outing or fishing trip involved. There are some things just way more important than politics.

A couple of days ago I found out we’re losing a good neighbor. They’re being shipped off to Japan. I’ll miss them, but we’ve had a good run together. We also got a new neighbor about a block away. Somebody told me his name was Frank. The first time I saw him, he came roaring up on a big Harley Davidson, whizzed by me and left my ears ringing. Frank isn’t a youngster... at least not age-wise. As he flew past me on his hog, long, silvery locks flowing back, I had a brief look at his leather club vest, but he disappeared down the block before I had a chance to read it. I don’t think it belonged to some outlaw biker gang... I mean the only thing I saw on the back was this big green duck with some lettering around it. How bad can that be?

Yesterday he zoomed past me in a shiny, mint condition 73 T-top Corvette with a gorgeous, long maned blond in the passenger seat. She even tossed a kiss at me as they went by. I’m thinking to myself, “Midlife crisis.” Yeah... I know that’s kind of judgmental coming from a guy who married a woman who is fourteen years younger. I’m happy, so sue me. At least I didn’t run out and buy a hog and a ‘vette. Shoot, I even traded my Lincoln in on something more practical, and I loved that Mark V. Oh well. Besides, this isn’t about me... it’s about Frank.

I’m not sure whether Frank has a job or not either since he seems to be coming and going during the day. A lot. Who comes home at ten o’clock in the morning and has a regular job? Okay, maybe I’m being a bit old fashioned here. I know all about telecommuting. Heck, I did it for about two years. The thing is I wasn’t ducking out for a ride at one, three, and five. And I wasn’t coming home at two a.m. I’m not really spying on old Frank, but the racket that Harley makes is hard to miss, not to mention the glass pipes on the ‘vette.

Duncan just called me and asked if I’d like to go shooting with him and Frank. Duncan makes it his business to get to know folks as quickly as possible. I think it’s the cop in him. Anyway, I said, “Sure, why not?”

“Okay,” Duncan said enthusiastically. “Bring your pistols. We’re not going to do long guns today.”

“Works for me,” I replied. “Does anybody care if I bring the Colt?” I have to ask this because the Colt is an old Navy .44 caliber black powder gun. Some folks don’t like them and I didn’t want to offend Frank before I had a chance to get to know him. I mean, how bad can a guy be if he likes to go shooting?

“No, that’ll be fine. Frank even mentioned he might bring his antique Walker Colt.”

Uh-oh. You know what this means? It means I have to revise my thinking about the new guy. Anybody who shoots black powder guns is a kindred spirit. I started to wonder what else we might have in common. Duncan let me know before I had a chance to ask.

“I really think you and Frank will hit it off. He likes the stuff we do... you know, golf, fishing, and hunting. He’s already asked if we want to go to Port A where he has his boat parked at the marina.”

“Whoa!” I exclaimed. “I suppose next you’re going to tell me he has a hunting lease.”

“Well, actually no, but he does own a fifteen hundred acre ranch somewhere up by Fort Hood.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” That’s prime Texas hunting country. “Now if you tell me he has a big pond full of bass on it, I think I’ll have died and gone to heaven.”

“Geez,” Duncan paused. “I don’t know. We’ll have to ask him on the drive to the range.”

“You guys want to take my Explorer? It’s got plenty of room.”

“Um, I kind of committed us to ride with him. He’s got a new Hummer.”

About twenty minutes later, Frank and Duncan pull up in front of my driveway in a steel-grey Hummer, Duncan wasn’t kidding when he said it was new. It still had the temporary plates on it. Frank got out and came around the rear.

“Hi, I’m Frank,” he said sticking out his hand. The grip was firm... eyes steady.

“Of course you are,” I smiled. “I’m Brad.”

“Well, just chuck your gear in the back and let’s get out to the range and make a little noise!”

On the way out and the way back, I learned a lot about Frank. I learned that he had raced motorcycles when he was young. He must have been reasonably successful at it because, even though he admitted he had raced Yamaha and Kawasaki bikes for the most part, he had made enough to buy a Harley dealership. Then another, and then another. Texans don’t go small. In any case, after years of hard work, he now had time to enjoy the fruits of his labors, and he intended to enjoy them to the fullest. Oh, and I found out about that gorgeous blond. Turns out it’s his nineteen-year-old daughter who is attending UTSA. 

Oh, and we found out Frank’s last name. It’s Furter... Frank Furter. Kind of figures, doesn’t it?

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