Monday, 12 November 2012
You're Nicked Me Old Beauty!
A few more days of relaxation in the sunshine finally led to my collecting a letter from Dr Alton for CO-OP Travel Insurance. It was posted to my brother Mark for the insurers approval and Mum and I prepared to fly back to the Bay Area. Our time together in Santa Barbara had been a strange mixture of emotions and behaviour. Stress, sadness, happiness, deceit, angst, fear and elation all mixed in to contribute to an unforgettable period in our lives. We checked out of the Motel and drove to the Airport, returned the car to the rental desk and waited for our flight. Santa Barbara airport could not at that time handle large bodied aircraft and so we speculated as to the type of plane we’d be flying in. A Pilot walked towards us and sat next to Mum and I. “Mrs Weaver?” he asked, “Yes,” said Mum, “I’m your Pilot, if you’d care to follow me we will walk out the aircraft together as you are the only passengers”. At last I had my own private jet! We passed through the departure gate and walked to a small jet parked on the apron. Climbing aboard there was a short row of seats each side of the aisle and we sat down and fastened our seat belts. The Pilot climbed into his seat not more than touching distance from us and started the engine. We taxied out towards the runway and with a thrust from the jet; we took off climbing up above the Californian coastline as we sped northwards towards San Francisco and home.
The jet hugged the coastline and mum commented as we flew over the sights of Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz and the numerous small towns and forests below. The pilot enquired and received clearance from air traffic control to fly north of San Francisco and so with the City laid out below Mum’s side of the aircraft, the skyscrapers appeared as fingers clawing up from the earth trying to drag the odd cloud spoiling the view down, into the streets. The sight of the Golden Gate Bridge drew gasps from my mother and a tear or two, as she considered its elegance and majesty as it leapt across the Gateway into the harbour. The plane banked around over Sausalito and descended as it flew over the Bay Bridge with Fishermen’s Wharf and the tourist haven of Pier 39 off to our right. This added extra to our journey courtesy of a prevailing wind and an indulgent pilot. The jet glided into SFO and parked on an apron near to the octopus like arms of the terminal. The pilot released the door and the stairs down appeared from the below and Mum and I exited the plane onto the tarmac. Collecting our bags from under the jet, we walked with the pilot to the terminal and thanked him for a wonderful trip that, if we’d paid for as a holiday treat, would have cost a great deal of money.
We caught a Taxi from SFO to my apartment and let ourselves in. Mark and Dave were at work and I settled Mum back into my bedroom again. The last time I had been here I was screwing Tammy in the shower when I got a call from her Dad. It seemed so long ago now. Marks cousin Trevor had arrived whilst I was away and had started working with Paul and Victor so I half expected that the boys would have been managing in my absence. I rang Shirley, (Marks aunt and Paul's Mum), to say we were home and she said they’d come over after work. Mum took a nap and I padded around the apartment trying to decide what I would do when eventually the time came to take Mum back to the UK. Later that day everyone turned up to see us including Tammy; my god Tammy! The girlfriend who I had never thought about whilst I was in Santa Barbara and the girlfriend who had waited for me, waited and expected me to return as she left me, whole and unbroken by my journey. As per usual, I simply slipped back into boyfriend mode, a deceit had been played out behind her back and none the wiser was she and I felt no guilt. I considered Monique a perk of the job so to speak, but I had also learned a small lesson in what it felt like to be on the receiving end so to speak.
I told Paul that I stilled wanted time off work with mum as I wanted to show her San Francisco before she and I went to the UK. My recollection of the next few days is hazy; I do know that Trevor’s Mum Vera flew in from England and stayed with her sister Shirley. Paul turned up and he and I had a discussion as to my return to work as he was struggling now with more work than people to do it, he said. He also raised the issue of his tax return. Apparently, whilst he had been paying me he had not been figuring how much tax he would need to pay, as my income was included in his. He had decided that in order to rectify this situation he needed $2000.00 back from me to pay my (his) tax bill. I told him there was no way I could find that and besides, his inability to manage simple math in terms of how much to pay me was not my fault. Shirley obviously took his side, but I explained that he should have worked out what the tax was on our combined salaries and if that meant he had to pay me less to cover his tax, he should not have increased my salary to $500 a week. We were never going to agree and I finally said that I would not be returning to work for him, a sour note to end that relationship on, although it never got hostile.
Unexpectedly, the two entrepreneurs who Paul sub-contracted his work from, called me and asked me to visit Cherry, whose daughter I had defiled in the bathroom when I was supposed to be lacquering her cabinets. I took Mum with me and Cherry and her husband asked me whether I’d be prepared to complete the lacquering, as Paul was not coming back? My main problem at this time was a fear of leaving Mum alone, of coming home to find her dead in bed, or worse in the street, having gone for a walk, (improbable given her recent success on the treadmill). But I refused none the less. They accepted this decision without question and then he offered me a G&T. I declined as I was driving. We walked around the house, Cherry showing Mum our work and once again I was offered a drink and again I politely refused. Back downstairs to the living room and he asked me again. This time I said “Look, I am driving so cannot drink, if you really want to get it on and get a session going, I can come back one night and we can get pissed together”. I don’t know where that came from and felt immediate regret, but not as much as when Mum turned on me and said “Jonathan, how dare you speak to these people like that, now apologise!” Told off by Mummy! I said sorry, but ended that apology still annoyed that he kept offering me a drink. But was that really it? Was I really annoyed about the drink offers, or was something else lying deep in my head, starting to grow and consume my happy little life? I look back now and see that I was starting to get very stressed. It was a combination of factors including, but not limited to Mums illness, my work, my music, Tammy, Mark Cameron settling down again this time with Andrea his girlfriend, where I was in life, where I was going, what would happen? I had also developed a deep fear of finding my Mum dead, of walking in and finding her lifeless body, of it being my fault. Totally irrational based on what I knew from Dr Alton, but there in my head anyway.
I had driven up to Daly City (just south of San Francisco), to see my chiropractor a number of times over my time in California and he had taken x-rays and had been working on my back, off and on, depending upon the pain I was experiencing. I had been suffering again whilst we were in Santa Barbara and he worked on my back a final time and as I was heading back to England, he gave me the X-rays to take home. The last two weeks were spent taking Shirley, Mum and Vera out and about to the City, Sausalito; to the Golden Gate Bridge and Park and of course to Alcatraz, all the good stuff that Mum and I should have been doing instead of using the American Health Care system. I told Mark that I was flying home with Mum and would be back once I was sure she was settled.
I had to go to the Pharmacy to collect Mum's medication;Nitro Glycerine tablets, some pain meds and Aspirin and so five days before we were due to fly out, I drove to the Pharmacy four or five blocks north of the apartment. The speed limit was thirty miles per hour and each block had stop signs, (requiring the car to come to a full stop, wait for any traffic to pass in turn and then carry on). My head was somewhere else as I drove and looking behind me I saw a Police Motorbike, lights flashing, the Officer waving me to the side of the road. My guts turned to water as I realised I did not have insurance, a licence (other than my UK paper licence) nor registration. I parked up and got out of the car as the Officer walked over. He told me I had failed to stop at a stop sign, that my speed was higher than thirty miles per hour and he asked for the documents. I admitted to having no insurance and opened my wallet to take out my paper licence. This is what followed…
“You're British?” he asked, “Yes I am” I replied. “Been in California long?” “No, just a few weeks. I am here with my Mum, but she has had a heart attack whilst we’ve been here, I am on my way to get her meds” I offered back. “Hmmm, I'm sorry to hear that about your mother” said the copper looking at my wallet as I am closing it, "I can see a Californian ID card in there?” “Shit” I thought, “I am fucked”. I opened the wallet again and took out my Californian ID card, the one I had bought within two weeks of arriving here over a sixteen months ago, which we only got as a keep sake and to save having to carry our Passports around as ID when going to Bars and Clubs. The Officer looked at my ID and ran the document through whatever search he had access to at the time. “Says here you’ve been here since May ‘87,” he said. “Well, yea, it may say that but I got that as a memento last year and only stayed a while, then I came back recently with my mum”.
“I don’t believe you, I think you have been here since May 1987 and you are working illegally,” he said. I was definitely fucked. “I am writing you a ticket, you’ll have to appear in court just down the road there” he said pointing back in the direction of our apartment and the courthouse on the same road, “You will need to bring this ID, your Passport and any other documentation with you.” I looked at the car, “What about the car, can I drive it home?” “No, it stays here until someone with the correct papers and insurance can collect it”. I traipsed off to the Pharmacy and then walked back home knowing that the game was up. I expected that when I went to court I would be fined, possibly jailed and more likely, deported. Shit!
Back at the apartment I told Mum what had happened. Quite incredibly Mum was totally indifferent to my dilemma. Totally unsympathetic, “Well, you should have had insurance” she said. I explained that the car was a simple run around we rarely used and I only used it this time to get her medicine. “Oh, so its my fault” was her stock answer. I told Mark when he got home and he walked to the car and collected it despite not having any documentation. He just checked no one was watching, got in and drove home. We didn’t use the bloody thing usually anyway, as Mark had a car with Andrea his girlfriend and Paul always collected me for work, plus Tammy drove a car as well. In the weeks since Santa Barbara, Mum and I had hired a car to get around the Bay Area and had returned it after two weeks use. I resolved the following day to walk to court and plead ignorance; it was my only chance. I walked into the building and went to the reception desk. All around me where the usual dropouts and the dregs of society you’ll find in a court building anywhere in the world. I explained my situation to the woman at the desk who whilst sympathetic, said there was nothing to be done, I needed to get a lawyer or one would be appointed for me and had to appear before the court as ordered. The court date was the day after our flight back to England, so I wouldn’t be going.
I packed as much of my stuff as possible, gave my TV and anything of any value to Mark. I said a very emotional goodbye to Tammy who was terribly upset and said she did not think I would be coming back. Although I did my best to reassure her, in her heart she knew. I bid farewell to Dave, Andrea, Paul and Shirley and Victor. It was strange as I was in a little world of my own without any deep disappointment, no regrets, and no sadness at all or so I thought. I was walking away from a life I had made for myself. I was successful and I had earned a lot of money; I had great friends, I had met some amazing people, I had made love to some really beautiful women, (a preoccupation of mine apparently!) and was heading back to a life doing what?
A life on the dole queue, a life of no money and finding old friends who had probably moved on and I would be living at home with Mum. I seemed to not care, but was to find out shortly that I cared deeply.
Written and Posted by Jonathan Weaver