Ramon Leaves Tecate


     Ramon, thee notorious town drunk of Tecate, as he barely and dizzily observed the searching of the purple truck and cannon, stood under the morning sun all this time screaming with all his wobbly might, "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo."

     When the truck finally drove away, Ramon fell over.  Still chanting, although not as loudly, he rolled down the hill into the heart of the little town of Tecate.  He became more caked with dirt and filth than he already was, and amazingly kept on rolling ~ out of the heart of the little town of Tecate ~ and into the hills of deeper mysterious Mexico, all the while chanting, "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo."



A Dirt Road


     On Highway 94 'tween Tecate in Mexico and San Diego in California, Road down shifted to third gear, second, and finally granny low, as he turned his truck n' cannon left, up a rutty dirt road.

     A highway patrol man in his squad car, who had received a message from headquarters to check out the legalities of a cannon being towed into San Diego, had been following Road now for about two minutes.

     But 94 was a wiggly highway that curved 'tween hills and canyons and great granite boulders.  When Road detoured up the dirt road, the highway patrol man missed the sight (and the dust) and kept speeding down Highway 94.

    "Where'd he go?" mumbled the cop to himself as he drove on.  An half hour later, he radioed into the chief and told him the purple cannon towing culprit had disappeared.

     However, 45 minutes later, while the same cop was detained on the side of the highway giving a ticket to an old Indian without a driver's license, but who was driving anyway, Road's purple truck and black rusty cannon, both wearing a brand new coat (of dust), roared by.

     The cop looked up from the ticket he was writing.  A wrinkle of pain grew onto his forehead as he watched the mettle rims of the cannon's wooden wheels spark against the asphalt and disappear around a highway curve.

     The old Indian who was getting the ticket, smiled with quaint amusement at the cop's unhappy forehead wrinkle.

     The cop radioed in.  "The purple truck towing the cannon has reappeared," he told the chief.

     "Go get 'em," said the chief.

     "I'm writing a ticket, chief," said the highway patrol man.

     He heard the chief moan in the radio and say, "Okay, I'll have Frank do it."



Cannon History (Incidently)


     In the early 1900's, a 63 year old confederate veteran, Captain Catalina, of the Civil War (he was a drummer boy in the war but called himself a captain now), with a small band of more youthful delinquents, smuggled 12 leftover yankee cannons across the Mexican border.  He'd had them hidden in an abandoned Arizona gold mine all those years since the "big" war.  Now he was going to sell them to Francisco Madero of the Mexican Revolution.  That was Captain Catalina's plan.  But Francisco Madero and the Mexican Revolution never saw the cannons.

     An independent army of I.W.W. political radicals from Los Angeles, bought the cannons from Captain Catalina, after the Captain had smuggled the cannons over the border and hauled them for a day thru the rugged hills of Mexico, where he found this army camping.  This army of political radicals, led by a man named Ricardo Flores Magon, was planning to take over the Baja California penninsula of Mexico and set up an independent state, nose in on the Mexican Revolution of the early 1900's.

     But first they took over the little border village of Tecate, Mexico, and were run out a few days later by Mexican federalis.  In this transaction Captain Catalina's cannons some how got lost (probably quite a story in itself) in the Mexican hills below Tecate, in an abandoned garlic mine shaft.

     Which is ridiculous.  You grow garlic.  You don't mine it.  But never the less, some one had tried.

     This some one had been the late father of Pedro Mendez, who in the year 1973, lived with his family in an adobe house built against the entrance of the mine ~ now used to store bottled peppers, 12 ignored cannons, and a lot of ignored ammunition.

     Excuse me.  11 cannons ~ now that road had bought one for 500 dollars and Pedro had gutted his storage cave and enlarged his front door ~ all in one night.

     In those earlier days of this 20th century, Captain Catalina and his delinquent band rode home richer, while Ricardo Flores Magon and his army never did get around to taking over Baja California.





     In the autumn of '73, near Highway 94, the highway patrol man, Frank, was sleeping on the job.  He was stretched out comfortably in the back seat of his squad car, snoring gloriously.  His police cap was slanted over his eyes ~ and besides sleeping and snoring, he was dreaming too.

     "Calling Car 88," sputtered the radio.

     Frank automatically awoke, even stopped dreaming, when he heard the number of his car on the radio, but he didn't move.  All he did was mutter, "I got a name," and kept his eyes closed.

     "Frank, you bastard!" cried the chief's voice on the radio.  "Frank!"

     That was more like it.  Frank heaved himself up, fell over the front seat with a lazy umph, and picked up the receiver.

     What?" he growled.

     The message was relayed.

     "Okay, Chief," said Frank, "Over and out and fuck you."  He climbed into the back seat again, stretched out comfortably ~ and mumbled to nobody in particular, "I'm going to lose this job any day now, I hope."

     This highway patrol man went back to sleep, snoring gloriously, his police cap slanted over his eyes.

     And dreamed.





     Road stalked thru a narrow passage between two buildings, accidently scraped his brow on the branch of some garden's tree ~ cursed in a low whisper but with great venom.  The passage opened up to a little parking lot behind a little business building.  Down a little hill a little drive way led ~ from the parking lot to a street ~ 56th street in San Diego to be exact.  On the other side of the street was a big brick church.

     Road stood in the middle of the little driveway, next to the little business building, peered with an intent squint across the street and into the open double doors of the church.  He fixed the bill of his soiled gray cap low over his eyes ~ peered harder.  His other hand unconsciously caressed the butt of the Colt 45 stuck down into the front of his pants.

     The big brick church's parking lot was full of empty automobiles ~ and both sides of the street.  There was a quiet ceremony taking place within the giant brick structure of religious worship and fortitude.  All Road could see in the interior shadows was the back of a single usher, dressed stoically in a white tuxedo coat and black slacks.  Road was late for the wedding.

     But not too late.

     He dashed back into the passage way between two buildings.  His brow was scraped by the branch of that same tree.  But this time he hardly noticed.

     About three minutes later ~ inside the church ~ Tulip and her blond bo  were married ~ a beautiful ceremony indeed.  Old ladies (and some young ones) were crying ~ and a few young (and old) men, well dressed, were trying not to ~ in the big crowd sitting in the pews watching the sacred sacrament and vows become fulfilled before their mushed over by sweet memory and sweet hope eyes.

     But before the organ had a chance to signal the grand exit, a gun shot echoed thru the great building.  Stained window glass shattered.  Another gun shot followed, and the ear on Saint Joseph's statue head exploded.

     Road stalked thru a side door into the church, a long barreled weapon poised deadly and smokey in his right hand at his hip.  He was dirty, unshaven, unkept, hungover, tired, and alone.

     He hopped over the communion rail, stumbled, approached the little group of people before the altar.  He cocked the Colt in his hand and raised it to the head of the priest 'til the end of the warm barrel touched the side of the priest's head.

     "None of you bastards better move," he whispered to the little group before the altar which included the fantastic beautiful Tulip.  Road's eyes glinted without a blink at the maid of honor.  "Especially you, Elizabeth."  He turned his insane steely gaze upon the groom.  "Sorry," smiled Road ~ grabbed a tight hold of Tulip's arm, and ruthlessly pulled her next to him.



     The congregation gasped.  The communion rail was suddenly lined by angry young men and a few old ones ~ cologned ~ wanting to tare Road apart with their bare hands.  One of them, about 3 inches taller than Road and twice as thick, leaped over the rail and with his hands outstretched before him made a mad dash for Road.

     The toe of Road's boot blasted the approaching angry cyclone directly in the balls.  The fellow fell over with a yelp of unbelievable pain.

     When Road did this, the Colt in his hand accidently went off.  A bullet harmlessly parted the priest's hair and blasted half a toe off the replica of our Lord Jesus crucified.

     The groom's best man lunged for Road but suddenly had the barrel of Road's gun stuck in his left nostril.

     "Don't," said Road, and cocked the gun.

     "Repent, you shameful devil, repent!" spluttered the priest, shaking with rage in his gilded robe, glaring unmercifully at Road.

     "Please be quiet, Father," quivered the rocky voice of Road.  "Or I'll blow this ass hole's head off."

     With that, Road dodged behind Tulip with his gun pointed in the general direction of everybody, and with Tulip tightly held in front of him, descended the altar steps, kicked open the middle gate in the communion rail, and slowly, boldly, walked up the center aisle.

     "Some one call the police!" raged the mother of the bride, angry tears storming down her cheeks.

     "They're on strike today!" exclaimfully explained her son, standing next to her, holding her hand and the hand of his own wife.

     Road stopped abruptly as he heard this ~ but only for an instant ~ and continued the long walk to the rear of the church.

     As he and Tulip passed beneath the balcony, Road nodded to the organist above, who didn't quite know what to do except play the ol' wedding song.  So she did.  The tune hopped and skipped and dove from wall to wall and from ear to ear like a crippled clown.

     Road motioned for the usher at the rear door to move aside.  Their eyes met briefly ~ and the usher did as he was bidded.

     "Hi, Steve," said Road as he passed.  He personally knew many of the people at this wedding.

     "You're crazy, Ralph," said the usher, almost breaking open with a grin.

     "My name's no longer Ralph, Steve.  It's Road."

     The usher watched, confused, as what's his name and Tulip walked out of the church.  As the usher stood aside observing, he noticed Tulip was dry eyed when she passed ~ and her face, expressionless.  In the doorway, framed by the sun light of the late autumn morning, the beautiful Tulip in a white gown and her pirate kidnapper stood for a moment ~ and disappeared.  Just about the entire male half of the congregation and a few of the women, including the mother of the bride (with a bad back), stampeded out after them ~

     And were faced by Road's cannon.



Roll On, Oh Ramon!


     Meanwhile ~

     Down Mexico way, Ramon, thee notorious ex town drunk of Tecate, languidly rolled up the slope of a mountain range.  Two peasant children walking down a mountain trail, stopped almost dead with a gulp in their tracks, curiously, almost fearfully observed this divine feat of thee old cantina drunk.  They commented to themselves upon the magnificents of the feat ~ and continued down the mountain trail, running instead of walking, in a hurry to tell their older brothers and sisters about what they had seen.

     The two peasant children described old Ramon as a dirty man like log rolling up a hill ~ and chanting strange words.

     "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo,"  continued the deathless now dry tongue of Ramon, as he languidly rolled thru the thick shrubbery and cacti between two mountain peaks, and onward.


(Copyright 1974, 2010)