Robert Saunders Author
Dick Jones contemplates the meaning of growing older in America. It explores the inevitability of age through the eyes of a black man entering his sixties.
From the black streets of Harlem to the bright desert of Las Vegas Nevada, his desire for success is overshadowed by his fear of aging and his life long lust for young women. Finding himself living in Las Vegas is both a blessing and a curse as Las Vegas proves to be a world where young woman who are willing to satisfy his sexual obsessions are all too plentiful, but come with a price.
Believing that young women are the fountain of youth, he searches for his one true love on the underbelly of sin city. Each adventure is a mirror reflecting his own soul, his insanity and his failure to find true love. The cost of each adventure in money, time, trepidations and respect for human values is dear, but each part of the journey breeds the next step, which Dick can never resist taking.
Excerpt from the book:
One - The Wall
Sometimes you get pretty much what you want and sometimes you don't. In the idiom of my origins, sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. But as you approach sixty, the old problem of knowing what you want takes on new dimensions. As a young man, there seemed to be endless time to ferret through the mysteries of life, to separate the real from the non real. You didn't know what you wanted but it was not such a big issue as you had all the time in the world to try and figure it out. Few things were an obstacle to this; being poor, being black, living in a ghetto, none of this had an impact on the quest. All of these things were what they were, they were you and living with it was just part of living. But at sixty, you know that you not only don't have all the time in the world you don't have any! If there was ever any proof to the idea that each day is a gift you find it at sixty. At sixty each day truly is a gift because nothing that happens to you from that time onward can be a surprise; in fact anything that can and does happen is expected. If you woke up one morning at sixty and a half or sixty one in agony and pain, not being able to walk or breath, barely able to dial 911 for help, so what? Hey you're over sixty, and not only can shit happen it does happen. All rights at surprise or regret have been suspended.
In my case I can't see the wall but I can feel the wall. I know it's up ahead of me, still just out of sight, but up ahead of me for sure. I know the road leading up to the wall, thought still smooth and sure, can start to get bumpy and rugged at any moment, I can't see this either, but I can feel it just as surely as I can feel the wall. When you know these things, when you are absolutely sure the wall is just about to loom over the horizon in front of you at any moment, what do you d? slow down or speed up? At first thought the obvious answer, the common sense answer seems to be slow down! Hit the breaks, try and creep around that last comer, wherever it is and whenever it comes and try not to hit the wall. But this really makes no sense because you are going to hit the wall! You can't slow down and come to a stop in front of it; it simply does not work that way. Whether you hit the wall at 100 miles an hour or 5 miles an hour you're going to die either way, there is no getting around it.
It appears, looking out at the world around me that many, may be most choose to slow down. I meet men of 50 who act like men of 70 and who look like my father! They have slowed down but somehow in the strange math of the universe their slowing down has caused the road they're on to get more bumpy faster with the result of sucking any potential joy out of the inevitable meeting with the wall. If I slow down, give up and hobble to my meeting with the wall will it be any better when we meet? I can answer that one, no; I will be just as crippled or dead when I hit the wall! So what's a guy to do, slow down or speed up? In reality I think the honest rational answer, if you have the means and the mental, spiritual, and physical attributes to do it, is to speed the fuck up! As fast as you can go while still obeying and having respect for the speed limit and the law, speed the fuck up as fast as you can go and have all the fun and adventure possible to you before your date with the wall. What this means is clearly different for different people and at sixty one should have learned not to judge other people's decisions merely to embrace ones own. So no matter what it may mean to others one has to get in touch with what it means to oneself and to me, in the end, it all comes down to me being only days away from sixty and having a live in girlfriend of 23?
Chapter 12 - Stories I Told the Mormon Princess - Why she looked forward to email from me
Sailing Part One
I have a friend who has been telling me to write the story of my years passing Sense College, LOL. Actually the interesting thing about your comment is that it is based on the barest tip of the ice berg. Thinking about it I could pick any year and probably tell you a story worth listening too, LOL. Want to try it and see?
After graduating college my friend Drew and I decided to go to the Bahamas, buy a boat and go sailing. We knew nothing about sailing or the ocean or the Bahamas for that matter but that was the point, we wanted a new experience one not related to anything we knew about and we felt to accomplish this we needed to escape the land. I was (this appears to be usual) ready willing and able to go. Drew had some family (or some such) obligations to take care of first so I decided to go down alone and he could meet me there in a week or so.
So in short order I had booked a flight to Freeport, Bahamas, which was the biggest island in the chain of 800 islands which is the Bahamas.
One might note here that though I was born and raised in Harlem I was one of a hand full of people who went to college. The college I went to, CCNY, happened to be on a hill overlooking Harlem and as such overlooked my entire life at that time and actually this in itself is another story. For the purposes of this story it is only important to note that each day, especially in the summer time when the streets became a zoo I was the only person waking through the crowds who was on his way to a 17th century English poetry class or some such. Even at that time the dichotomy of this did not escape me, because even I had to stop and wonder who this guy was and why he was doing what he was doing or how could he be doing what he was doing under the circumstances. So our future sea fairer is this young black guy with zero roots or connection to anything remotely nautical and who has never been out side of the USA.
I prepared hippie style as I was in fact a hippie. Actually I was a lot of things, a Black Nationalist, an English literature major, a black revolutionary, a beat poet but mostly a black hippie and of course this is another story.
Hippie style consisted of a back pack and in my case, as I thought I was going to the jungle, a machete (which you could not get anywhere near an airport today!).
On the plane the guy next to me asked me where I was going and I told him the truth, which was that I did not know. He said, "well mon, where are you going to be staying, what hotel?" to which I replied that I did not know and had not booked a hotel. He thought this was funny and advised me to be careful on the island as bad things could happen, he then invited me to come and stay with him when we got there. Well this was great, here was a real Bahamanian guy inviting me to the real Bahamas not the tourist Bahamas and that is what I really wanted to see. Over all he was clearly a working class kind of guy, he seemed really nice and he was clearly amazed at the naivety of this black kid from America who was just flying around anywhere.
For my part I felt like the luckiest guy in the world as being with the "people" was every revolutionaries dream and goal, for after all it was the people who would make us (and the world) free.
When we arrived we went by taxi to his home (the taxi was on me) and I was refreshed to see the hotels and typical tourist locations pass outside the window as we passed further into the island. However when we arrived at our destination I have to admit to being taken aback a little, though this was not something that I could admit to myself at that moment.
You see we arrived at a shanty village on the out skirts of town. A shanty village is a random collection of living spaces made out of anything that could be found, mostly wood, plywood, tin, cloth and card board. Further, it was built on an outcropping of volcanic rock. This rock looked a little like brains in that it was grey and convoluted the way grey matter is. But this grey matter volcanic rock was running with urine and feces as it was where the town went to the bathroom. You had to step over it, (and doing so, which required almost ballerina dexterity did not look very black revolutionary macho to say the least, people looked at you wandering if you were retarded) to keep your feet from being covered in shit and piss. But the most striking aspect of the "village" was the children of whom there were many. All of them were only partially clothed and 90% of them were covered with open, mostly running sores! Suddenly I was in the reality of the "real world" that I had so sought to be in.
His house (shack) was identical to all the others including the lack of a real door or lock, electric, heat, running water, windows with glass in them, floor covering, paint or any of the things that even the poorest American would associate with a domicile.
His wife ran to meet him and they exchanged the type of greeting that two people in love exchange when one of them has been away for some time. In the movies this would have been beautiful and the character playing me may have felt happy to witness such a scene. But as his wife was one of the ugliest woman on earth it was sickening and I wanted to (and did) turn away and not watch. He then introduced us and she was very pleased to have me there and even more curious as to what I was doing on their fine island. Putting her appearance aside she was a lovely person and as fine a host as one could wish for. She was only retarded by the environment in which she was being hostess.
Of course there was dinner which I had both to pretend to eat and enjoy, after dinner I was to sleep on a tattered couch, clearly found on the side of the road somewhere, while the two estranged love birds went to bed on a makeshift cot not 6 feet from me. Not having seen one another their night was one of unbridled passion as mine was one of unbridled revulsion and horror.
They were really lovely people, they really were and they had taken a total stranger into their home and lives and shared with him all that they had. They had done much more for me than anyone could reasonably expect, certainly much more that they could have expected state side. But they had given me a much bigger gift than hospitality and friendship. Without knowing it they had given me a reality check and contributed to my maturity and growing up, for you see they forced me to realize that in spite of being the great revolutionary black champion of the people that I was, I was really just another ugly American, spoiled on the fat of the richest evil place on earth, God bless America! I knew by the time the sun came up, having spent an entirely sleepless night that I had to get the fuck out of there and into a hotel! And of course with profuse thanks and fond farewells this is what the fuck I did, never to look back again, as soon as my powerful "I love the people" feet would allow me.
Sure enough a week later Drew showed up, where unbeknownst to him, he was happy to find me in a nice hotel with an ocean view (Ok, revolutionaries of the world unite for an ocean view).
Drew's arrival is where our actual adventure begins for now we started to look for our boat, not just any boat but a boat that we could both afford and live on. You see we did not have any plans to return to the USA anytime in the near future, we figured we would be out for at least a year or more.
Well looking for a boat is an adventure for anyone but especially for two guys who only knew boats from photographs! We would tell people we were looking for a boat to live on the water and go sailing and when they asked us what kind of boat and we said we had no idea, they thought we were nuts. But we kept going to piers and docks and a few of the people there eventually took mercy on us and began to both teach us something about boats and where to find them and what to look for when we did find them. We were still in Freeport but we were sent to "West end" which was the next biggest island. On west end we discovered another important reality to adventuring. As two young healthy (horney) black guys we of course had dreams of encountering beautiful native, island girls. We soon discovered that in a town with only one restaurant it did not take long to see just about everyone in the place and this was disappointing. More significantly we discovered that in places like this "Women" in general were a rare commodity and when a human one did come along they were almost certainly married by 12! If you want a woman on an adventure like this you have to bring one with you!
We did meet one island girl who used to come down to the beach at night and talk with us. She wanted to know who we were, what we were doing and where we were going. She marveled at two black boys who could travel in the world and lamented that she would never get off the island. She was both nice and smart, she wished she could go on a journey like ours and it was really sad to have to leave such a soul in such a place with virtually no way out of her destiny. It was only later that we also realized she was a de facto representative of the community and that through her the entire town formed its ideas about us. We also realized that somehow word of our coming had filtered down from Freeport (drums may be?).
What we eventually learned in West end was that there was an island in the Bahamas that was famous for making boats, that in fact some of the best and most beautiful boats in the world were made there. It was the place the super rich went to have their yachts over hauled, refurbished, remodeled or repaired, so clearly this was the place for us, right.
We first heard of this place while still in the one little bar in town having a drink. We met a big white guy there from the states who struck up a conversation with us. He was the only white guy there and I guess we were the only nuts. He had a big boat in the harbor and he sailed the Caribbean frequently, he was as they say an old salt. He was interested in our quest for a boat and asked us what the draw was of the boat we were looking for, when we told him we had no idea of what he meant he looked down at us and said, you guys don't need no boat and never said another word to us.
The name of the island was "Man of War Cay" (pronounced Key) and one could only get there by boat. So shortly after discovering its existence we made arrangements to get there on the boat that went there to provide provisions. It only took the better part of a day to get there but it was the first time on our journey that we had actually been on a boat on the ocean. The sea was beautiful and fish were everywhere, swimming beside the boat and clearly visible in the crystal blue water. On the way we made one stop on a small island that turned out to be a grocery store. The island was owned by a white guy from New York who had bought it years ago and built everything on it by hand from the house and dock to the cistern to catch rain water. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw us! But he was a nice guy and he was living one of our dreams.
Now what would you expect the nature of a world famous boat building location to be like? A place that was frequented by the rich and powerful? Well we thought the usual thoughts, that it would be this big boat yard filled with sophisticated equipment, an island with beautiful hotels and fine dining.
When we got to "Man of War Cay" it was like arriving on Gilligan's island! There was nothing there that we could see, only the beach we arrived on and a small row of bungalow looking buildings not far away. One guy came out to meet us and he was expecting us. He was to prove to be one of the only two people that we met while on the island. He was the rental representative (the term agent does not fit this situation) and took us to the bungalows and showed us our room. He told us that there was a store not far away and after we put our gear down he showed it to us so we could buy a little food, etc. It was late in the day and getting dark when we got back to our room and that was the last time we saw this guy until we left.
The next day we got up and decided to explore the island and to find the boat yards. I believe this was a Sunday because as we eventually learned one of the reasons we did not seen anyone was because they were all in church. By this time we were becoming aware of an amazing fact, this island was entirely populated by white people! The only black people who ever came there were day workers who returned home each and every night. We were the first black people to ever visit there! As it turned out all of these people were the descendants of German boat builders who had somehow ended up there 100 years or so ago. Not only that but they were living at least 100 years in the past. When we found the church there were indeed people coming out, but they were all dressed like pilgrims. The women were in big pilgrim dresses with the bonnets that came down over the side of your face and the men were like wise attired. No one spoke to us; everyone acted as if we were not there.
Later that day, back at our room on the beach, a lone man came to us and said he heard we were looking for a boat. He asked how much we wanted to spend and what kind of boat. He had the same reaction to the fact that we didn't know shit about boats or the sea as everyone else but we could see that he did not intend us any harm. He said he had a boat for us and would come by the next day to take us to see it. You know how in the movies one guy from the village comes to meet the strange white guys who have just come through the jungle to them, well here it was again (the second time for us) only in complete reverse.
As you might imagine there was not much to do at night there, in fact saying that is about as big an understatement as one could imagine. There was "absolutely" nothing to do there, no restaurants, no bar, no nada.
So we are in our room late that night (11 or 12) just laying there quietly staring into the space of the ceiling when we suddenly become aware of a rustling sound. At first we thought may be it had started raining but soon realized it wasn't that. The sound seemed to come and go but then it started to get louder, to the point not only where we could not ignore it, but to the point were we were getting worried. We began to see ourselves as these two black guys all alone on this weird white island in the middle of the black Caribbean. No one knew where we were back home; no one would ever find our bodies! One could not call this reaction paranoia because paranoia is when you are afraid for no reason, where you are imagining that things are or could be happening to you. We, on the other hand, were in the real thing!
We eventually fell back on the best defense is a good offence theory, plus we decided that we would have more places to run, and went outside. I had my machete and Drew had something, I don't remember what, but he was armed as best he could be.
When we went outside the cabin it was jet black as there was no moon. From outside there was no question that there was movement all around us, there were people out in the bushes, moving all around us and it was then that we heard it. Chanting, the people were circling the area and they were chanting, as we stood there listing the chanting became louder and we stood there in utter amazement when we realized what it was they were chanting! 50 billion dollars to the man woman or child who can guess what they were chanting! This is what it was..
"come out, come out tall dark strangers"!..
Want the rest of this story? There's more, like how we got our boat and what happened, LOL. Tune into all Dick Jones all the time, LOLâ€¦.
P.S. "If it were possible for me to hold you tonight I would."
This is an easy one, all you have to do is wish for me to be there and low and behold I will beâ€¦â€¦.
I really need hugs and tenderness, LOL