This was originally pubished in a 2003 issue of The-Logos.com online magizine.
By Gravy Train
I'm not a writer. I have really bad handwriting that even my parents, the old faithfuls of understanding and unconditional love, complain about. They call me when I write to them to help them translate my scribbles and scratches. I figure that it would be easier on my part just to call them rather than write and my letters have waned in length and frequency. People at my office complain all the time about the messages I leave them so I am required to e-mail all phone messages at this point. This thwarted any attempt at being a writer. So I am not a writer. There is my disclaimer, from here on you have been warned. Right now I am writing because I miss a very good friend of mine who I haven't seen in about 7 years, could be longer, actually. Recently I heard that he cut off his nose and has become a born again Christian, but I won't hold that against Tony.
I met Tony when I was a punk. I was a skinny, scrawny, obnoxious punk in eighth grade. I grew up in Montpelier, Vermont so I wasn't a threatening punk. I don't think we had those in Montpelier. I was just a kid who liked loud music and self induced whiplash. I hung out at a place called The Basement, which was a little room underneath the police station with a pool table and a Sega. It was designed to keep kids/punks like me off drugs. I went there by choice, to play pool and meet my friends. After a game of pool we would leave The Basement, run underneath the train bridge, smoke pot, drink beer, and then return to our "drug free" environment, stoned and drunk. I think The Basement staff knew that we were stoned and drunk but as long as we weren't stoned and drunk and harassing old ladies, we were as good as sober.
Tony was a big guy, a lot older than most of us. He was mean looking, shaved head, broken nose, Mexican, and there weren't many Mexicans where I grew up. He was really loud when he was pissed off, and he was pissed off most of the time. If he lost in pool he'd swear at the table, then at the TV, then at the kid who beat him, then at the window, then at the table again, then he'd take off and go under the train bridge. I never beat Tony at pool. He was a really good skater, and he looked good on a skateboard. Some skaters look gangly and awkward. Not Tony. He'd pull off pretty wild tricks like nollie kick-flips or something. I don't think he had his own skate, he would always use some other kid's board. He broke a lot of skateboards that weren't his. I never owned a skateboard back then. One time he was trying some trick for about an hour and he couldn't land it. His last try the landed wrong and the board smacked him in the nuts. That made him really pissed. A freight train of swears came out of him for the next five minutes or so. It was a run on sentence of strictly swear words. I think that I laughed and then he swore at me. He threw the skateboard at a parking meter then snapped it in half by jumping on it. Then he broke those pieces in half, swearing at them the whole time. Then he threw the pieces at the kid who owned the board and told the kid his skateboard was a piece of shit. Then he told the kid, who’s skateboard was a piece of shit, the he was a piece of shit, too, the kid that is, not Tony. I laughed again and Tony swore at me again.
But everyone liked Tony. He could burp really loud and really long. We recorded a one-minute burp of his one night. Someone had a handheld tape machine and was asking all of us about our opinion of the Montpelier police and the "rampant use of drugs in Montpelier." Just some punks having fun. Most of us said that we liked smoking pot and stealing stuff. Tony unleashed this monster belch right into the tape machine and we were all in awe. His face would have terrorized babies and grandmothers. His neck was pushed way out and the tendons were protruding. Veins on his forehead were bulging. This belch just kept going and going. I can't hold my breath for a minute, but there it was, on tape, one minute of belch. He was drunk and didn't remember burping into a tape machine the next morning, but when we played it for him he laughed and said something like, "holy fucking shit."
I got arrested with Tony once. We were playing hacky-sac on a one-way street when two police cruisers came flying at us from both directions. We were right behind a bank, so we thought there was some kind of bank robbery going on. A cop told us to get out of the road. We kept playing until one of the cops grabbed the hacky-sac away from us. I think Tony swore at him. That's when we got handcuffed. Then we all started swearing at the cops. We each got "disorderly conduct" charges for ‘Disruption of Motor Traffic’ (for playing in the street) and something they called "disrespect to an officer of the law," which was a misdemeanor. I think they just made up that last one. They handed us each $300 fines. I asked if I could do community service cause I was broke and wasn’t about to borrow $300 to pay the MPD, so they gave me a broom, a diesel weed wacker, some work gloves and about thirty hours to clean up the city of Montpelier. I cleaned up the spot under the train bridge where we smoked pot and drank beer. The cops never found that place. Tony didn't pay the fine or do community service. When he was arrested for assaulting an officer less than a year later, they tagged on the disorderly conduct charge and sent him to prison. I was sixteen then. A few days after I got my drivers license I asked my parents if I could borrow the car and of course they asked where I planned on going and I told them to pick up Tony from jail. I don't think they liked the answer but they let me take the car, so I loaded up a few friends and we went to get Tony. It's kind of weird picking up someone from prison, there is this big steel gate and when it opens, there's your buddy in a red Thrasher T-shirt. Nothing else, just a big steel gate and your buddy. He jumped in shotgun and said something like, "Well, that fucking sucked." That was the last we talked about it.
Tony flunked out of my high school. So did a lot of other people. I did pretty well in school, grades wise.
I was getting in a lot of fights at home with my folks. One night my pops almost smacked my mom until I got in the way. I punched him a good one, but he got me even better. I went upstairs to get my little baseball bat, the kind you pick up at a tourist novelty shop that say "I heart Vermontpelier." But I had made this one in shop class on a lathe so it didn't say any stupid crap like that on it. Anyway, I got my little bat so that I could smack my pops in the head with it. I swore at him, he yelled at me, I threatened him, he threatened me, blah blah blah. When my mom saw the little bat she dragged my dad out of the house. I was pissed so I went downtown. I met Tony there and he, for the first time, didn't swear. He took me to Dunkin' Donuts where we had a doughnut. I had my little bat with me. Tony told me I could crash at his place in Barre but he needed to call my mom to tell her I was OK. I didn't want him to but he did and my mom loved Tony ever since that day. We hitch hiked the ten or twelve miles to Barre, but when we got to his house, Tony's mom and stepfather were having a big fight. They kicked him out of the house right then and there. That's when Tony started swearing again. We crashed out on some park picnic tables in a playground nearby. Those things are not too comfortable and we didn't sleep too well. After about a week of hiding out at friend's houses, I returned home. Tony kept crashing at other people's places. I asked my mom if Tony could stay with us until his mom and stepfather let him move back in. That's how Tony and I lived together in the split attic of my folk's house.
He got a job doing tree preservation, stuff like landscaping and playing with cow shit and chain saws. He smelled bad when he came back from work. We decided to charge him rent because his stepfather was being an ass and didn't want Tony to live with us for free anymore. We charged him $35 a month. After a few months, Tony raised his own rent to $100. He got his GED and then bought a Saab. I graduated high school. Tony moved to Washington State to be a lumberjack. That's when he cut off his nose. I heard they fixed it up so it looks real but I don't remember who told me that. The last time I heard from Tony was two years ago on Thanksgiving. He sent my family a thank you card. Short and sweet, "Thanks for everything you have done for me. Tony." No cheesy turkeys or kittens in laundry baskets. Just a blank paper card. My folks talked to Tony's old boss at the tree place a few weeks ago. He said that Tony’s a born again Christian. That's okay with me I guess.
Fuck-shit-ass-damn-bitch-cunt-slut-mother-fucking-dumbass-shitbag-pussy-shiteater-bitchhole- ass-fucking-mother-bitch-ass-shithole-fucker: Tony, I miss you, man.
Written by Gravy Train on Feb 01, 2004