Friday, May 28, 2004

Fernando and Jesus 9: Epilogue

I thought about what had happened for a long time after the events I've just recounted occurred. The pragmatist in me was happy that Fernando had repented and was on the straight and narrow. Upon further consideration, I was somewhat pleased to see that ecstasy had done its work yet again--remember, this is stuff that used to be prescribed during marital counseling, because you just can't hate someone when you're on the shit. The goal of counseling is to improve your life, ergo, Fernando had successfully self-medicated himself into a better life.

In theory.

A week or so after all this happened (that is, when Jim lost that rather unreasonable conviction that what had occurred, had occurred for a specific reason), Jim visited the old tire shop to see how Fernando was doing. He was met at the door (he said) by a Catholic priest, who blocked his entry and intoned "Fernando is not accepting visitors here."

Jim, naturally, said "that's OK, I'll catch him at home."

The padre volleyed back with "Fernando will not visit that house. The house is possessed by the Devil."

What do you say to that? No matter how I turn it, it all seems contrary to Catholic teachings: if the house is actually possessed, the good friar should be over there sprinklin' holy water and genuflecting, right? And if not, shouldn't Father Karras be counseling Fernando about what's really going on? I don't know. I don't hold much truck with clergy of any denomination, and I wasn't there. But to me, believing in a higher power is a minor sin, and one that I can completely forgive if that specific shortcoming fortifies someone against other, worse character defects.

A couple of days later, Fernando showed up at Jim's apartment, to talk about what had happened and set some ground rules for their new relationship (Jim, as you might have guessed, is still a reprobate). As expected, Fernando started off with wanting to kill me because I had tried to poison him. This was completely understandable from my perspective, and we had previously worked out an argument to defuse that sort of ticking time bomb--because I was going to have to see Fernando again, sometime (although that was never the case), and the last thing I wanted was a SOBER, ANGRY Fernando on my case. I don't know how Jim managed it, but he managed to convince Fernando that it was actually my hair that he had hold of, without questioning Fernando's perceptions of the whole Jesus/Lucifer thing.

Three weeks after that, Jim called me (at work, of all uncool places) to tell me that Fernando had run into a little bit of trouble. In fact, Fernando had been deported.

To my mind this proves that a fucked up life is a fucked up life, with or without drugs. Fernando had gotten clean, but his life was still horrifying, and he'd upped his odds against by swearing off of all the shit he'd previously used to deal with it: coke and beating his wife. Or, preferentially, coke AND beating his wife, which is something I heartily support.

But Fernando had been under a lot of strain, trying to make an honest living with all those crackheads jeering at him and stinkin' up the neighborhood with those fucked up fumes. Finally, early one morning, Fernando snapped. He took off all his clothes (remember, this is in the dead of winter), grabbed a handgun, and stepped on over to the red crackhouse across the street. According to witness reports, he rapped on the door with a pistol butt until someone opened the door, then split that person's forehead open with said handgrip. He then dramatically entered the room (naked, and all of five foot four, yes) and proclaimed to the other two crackheads that: "SINNERS WILL BE PUNISHED BY THE HAND OF GOD. AND I AM THE HAND OF GOD!"

When I heard this bit, I cringed--but either Fernando didn't have any shells or he wasn't interested in that sort of punishment, because he just whipped on them for a bit, then took their blanket and left.

You know all that shit we're hearing about Muslim humiliation on the news? I thought for a bit that this is all being sort of blown out of proportion, until just now. I realized that one of the most provocative things one of our old crew could do to someone is to...yes...take someone else's blanket. I can remember the name and situation of every mother fucker that's ever stolen my blanket and replaced it with a leather jacket (Bob Swain, Dan's KCAI graduation, 1996--I'm not kidding) I can sort of see how something as innocuous as shaving can be a big deal. Anyway, there are dark days in my past (and Jim's), when stealing a blanket was almost as bad as stealing money or the attentions of a woman (Jim's antics in that realm are for another story). It's stupid, but it's true: Swain and I have been plotting to abduct Jim's blanket for at least 10 years, the ultimate goal being to make adult blue fuzzy diapers out of it and parade around in front of his slumbering carcass with a video camera in the background.

Yes, that's weird, but that's what you pay me for, right?

So, by stealing their blanket, he was doing the equivalent of throwing shoes at them. By the time he staggered back across the street to his place, the cops were starting to pull up. No one will admit to calling them, but of course I suspect it was Darlene. Fernando did too, because he grabbed her in a sort of choke hold and then TOOK HER HOSTAGE, there in his own living room, where I can visualize the whole thing unfolding by the gray light of a television stuck between channels.

This standoff apparently lasted for several hours, til one of the cops got 'hold of Fernando's sister, who according to eyewitnesses stomped right up the steps, smacked Fernando in the head, and took the gun away from him. Once they got the poor guy to jail, they realized he was illegal, so his newfound life (which was collapsing anyway) was cut short when he got shipped back south.

The most frightening thing was that it was one of Jim's guns. Well, let me correct that: the most frightening thing for JIM was that it was one of his guns that did the pistol-whippin'. The most frightening thing for ME was that it was a gun that Jim had carried around in a car that I used to own, and had loaned/sold to Jim--we'd always intended to do the paperwork, but never really got around to it.

Where are they now:

"Jim" is still a madman. Those of you who know me, know him. 'Nuff said.
"Fernando," and "Darlene" I haven't spoken with since then, and won't again.
I'm still me, although I'm a hell of a lot more cautious about giving drugs to newbies. That's wise, though, right?


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