Beckman Day 1
I was hitching north from San Fran to climb Mt Shasta but It looked like a climbers convention and I wanted solitude so I walked for a couple of hours until I saw a ramshackle building with BAR painted on the fading clapboards.
Stopped in and there was an old man drinking a draft and the bartender asked, “What’ll it be?”
“Give me a gin tonic-double limes.”
He walked away, pointed to a sign that read, Free Beer Tomorrow, grabbed a tall beer class pulled the handle leaving an inch of foam and on his way back to me grabbed a shot glass and a bottle of whiskey. He set the beer down and poured a shot. “$1.75,” he said.
“What about my GT?” I asked.
“That’s as close as I can come.” He was polite but weary as if he had said these words too many times in his life,
I tossed the shot against my tonsils and followed it with a sip of beer to put out the rotgut fire.
“Got anything to eat here?” I asked. “Sure do,” he said. “I live here.”
“I mean to sell.”
“Pork hocks or beef jerky.”
“I’ll have the jerky.”
“That’s a buck,” he said.
I finished my beer in silence left a $.25 tip grabbed my backpack and walked out heading north.
Fifteen minutes later the old guy that was nursing his beer drove by and stopped fifty feet past me. “Ride?” So, I got in his truck.
It was another fifteen minutes before he said anything and then told me to open the glove box, ignore the pistol and take out his wallet. I started to hand it to him and he said, “Look at the pictures”
There was a sepia colored picture of 3 boys in a photographer’s studio all dressed and smiling ages 2, 6, & 7.
I looked at him and asked where he got it and he said “Got ‘em a while back.”
It had to be quite a while because I was the 6-year old in the picture and I was about to turn 65 and this old guy looked old but couldn’t have been more than 75 hard years.
He told me to look at the others and I did and saw three sepia graduation pictures of me and my two brothers. The pictures, all the same physical characteristics, wallet size small, scalloped edges, and confusing. When I flipped one over it had my name and age in pencil. My mother’s handwriting almost worn off. “Who are you?”
“Don’t recognize your father?” he asked.
“I haven’t seen or heard from my father save for one letter on my 13th birthday since I was in kindergarten.”
“Oh, your bar mitzvah letter,” he said, nodding.
“Let me out here. Right now,” I said spooked as hell and worried about the pistol and who this nut job was.