...Nobody could stay mad at Jim for long.
No one could stay mad at Jim when
he didn't want you to be. He'd just hit you with that almost goofy,
"what the hell... let's party" smile of his. And the hours would pass
in delightful conversation, dissecting the universe, soaring the skies, wandering the
plains on mars, an almost vision of a very strange universe flashing from his mind to yours.
Hell, after setting my house on fire, I could only remain pissed for a day. Getting my girlfriend arrested, along with myself, a week later could and did destroy our friendship for maybe a week. I couldn't even stay angry when he claimed, with that oh so helpless, "who me?" smile, that it was all my fault to begin with.
It started, skipping back, during one of Jim's stays with me. I had extra room, he needed a place to crash, so it seemed a workable situation to him. At first he stayed at the Scientology Org in downtown LA, then decided it was more interesting to crash at my place in Upland. They made him work, I didn't give a shit. His Mom was sending him enough money to eat on and life was fun. I had extra room, so what the hell. No rent from
him but his company was enjoyable and it didn't cost him me anything to put him up.
Now this was not a bad deal for him at the time, either, since I spent much of that period in Vegas organizing the County Hospital and could only make it back to my house (after the first month, during which I put in 100 hour weeks and never left the campaign), two or three weekends out of the month. Right after that I gained (found?) a cute fem roommate by the name of Pam. (She was mail ordered via Missy, yet another story), who moved in with me.
We -- I'm sure nobody will find this hard to believe -- enjoyed wine, whites and weed. Drugs weren't Jim's thing at the time but he was willing to put up with my misbehaving (it was, after all, my place).
I won't talk about Terry Peck here, our other roommate. He lived in the back bedroom. I became friends with him from my former job at Mt. San Antonio Gardens. John Welsh worked there first, got me hired on, then the two of us in a moment of complete insanity got Jerry Smith a job there. Terry didn't start off as a friend... he grew into it, a very, very fannish type mundane.
There is only one thing I'll mention about him here, Terry liked to steal
the trash can from the dentist office in back of our house...and go through it trying to find interesting drugs thrown out. Lay out plastic on the
living room floor and sort out the old vials, needles, packages or whatever. Amazingly enough he was fairly successful in that, as long as one wasn't too
fussy about what one used to get off on. (When he couldn't find anything
would buy a bottle of auto starter, a very cheap, nasty, way to get fucked up. And I mean, fucked up in all senses of that saying).
One night I hear a scream... running downstairs, I stumble across Jim. It had been his yelling that woke me up. He explained that his bedroom (the front room) was haunted by a (please forgive if I screw up the religious naming a bit) a disembodied "Thetan " -- Some poor spirit doomed to haunt Jim's room until the end of time or some such. He couldn't sleep there anymore so he was moving into my den.
Okay, I suppose... It was the only room with good heating (a floor heater) in the house. It was winter, the house was cold, and I had never had a ghost show up before, but what the hell.
(Most of the readers will remember the Euclid Ave. house. We had a couple of ValSFA meetings there, on Euclid, I took over renting the place from my folks.)
Too make a long story short (or shorter), one morning Jim got up. Threw his sleeping bag on the floor, and went out to buy a donut. I awoke, my upstairs room filling up with smoke, woke up Pam, grabbed her one year old Jason, and rushed downstairs. Pam phoned the fire department and as they were about 150 feet away (as was the police department) they made it over quick. Just in time to watch me as I dragged the smoking sleeping bag out of the den.
It had been dropped on the heater and had started burning. The house suffered no damage except a bit of smoke. The firemen went though the house checking out everything carefully. The police went through the house just at the right time to see Pam pick up a baggie of whites from the fireplace to take upstairs. She gets stopped, the whites get taken, everyone goes away.
I think my problems are over. The "whites" Pam tried to hid were only out because they were bunk, a rip off. I figured they wouldn't test positive at all. I was wrong. Two weeks later, around 4:00 on a Friday, on a three day weekend, the cops show up to search my house.
Search my house? What a joke! They take a quick look around. Book cases everywhere, three/four hundred boxes of books on the back porch put away for a future bookstore (the remains of the Old Trading Post in downtown Pomona which Fred Whitledge and I had bought out with the idea of opening up a store together), piles of magazines, paperbacks and records. They decide not too. It would have taken the entire Upland Police Dept. a week to search my house. But there is something else the three of them can do. They can arrest us.
If it wasn't for friends we would have been in at least three days, but Fred Whitledge put his house up to bail us out. Me, because we were friends, Pam so she could look after Jason. Fred always was a nice guy in all ways.
Now as for Jim? Well Jim was lucky, in one way because he wasn't around when the cops showed up so he wasn't pulled in. (But he had a warrant against him in California for years afterwards, which later he would always bitch at me about, reminding me that it was all my fault. He finally took care of it.)
So Fred bailed us out. We got back just in time to find out that Lynn Pederson had shown up to visit from Vegas. As he was leaving (we got good and loaded), he let me know why he was headed into L.A. He was going to see Dylan. Good tickets. One extra ticket but he supposed I wouldn't be in a mood to go. The hell I said. Not much would have done it, but that cheered me up no end. Great concert by the way.
It took a year to clear
up the bust...I had my bookstore by then (down the street, on Euclid, West side of the street, a couple of places off Ninth). I was too do some drug rehab
classes and such, had been given a year to do them, missed the deadline, managed to get another six months out of the system, had only a week to go
when... Out of the blue my parole officer showed up to visit. Had
never seen him in a year and a half, had always mailed in my paperwork. He
talked, looked around the store. Talked about sf with me for awhile, said,
"Well you've reformed yourself, I think you meet your rehab requirements. Don't worry about going back to court, everything's over. Besides it was a
crappy bust to begin with and it should never had held up in court."
We shook hands. I decided it wouldn't be wise tto offer him a joint
to enjoy later, so he departed never to be seen again in my life. (Not a shame, not a shame at all.)
Pam cleared her case slightly before I did. We weren't together by then (a young lady by the name of Susan was living with me at the time). As I said ,Jim always said he took care of his case later, though he would never tell me the details. But then I saw no reason to doubt him. Never did.
Those were the days. I miss Jim. I miss Fred Whitledge. And every so often whiffs of long forgotten memories of those two float into my mind. What fun we had.