Friday, April 30, 2010


“Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord”, at least that’s what my mother has always told me. I always said, “That’s fine, but I want it to be quick and I want to see it.” For the most part mother was right. I read something the other day by a popular minister regarding the very same thing and he said that if you go about getting your own revenge the Lord says, “Well if you want to handle it yourself, then just go ahead.” But if you wait, He’ll take care of the people who wronged you. It will be in His own way and His own time, but it will happen.

When I was fired at the Cadillac dealership in Midland on March 10th, 1981 I was absolutely devastated. I’ve never had a job to this day that I loved as much as that one.
I remember when I moved to Midland in 1976 it was by invitation from a guy I had a crush on named Rusty. I drove from my parent’s house in Lampasas to Midland with my clothes, portable TV, and stereo, all in the back of my restored green 1952 Buick Super coupe with three months growth on my head from my Air Force basic training buzz cut. I didn’t realize until I got there that Rusty didn’t even have his own home as he’s led me to believe he was renting a room from a gay couple and there would be four of us in the house. That didn’t last long. I woke up one morning to find Rusty leaning out the window above the bed kissing his ex boyfriend Mark. Soon after that Rusty told me that the two guys who owned the house didn’t like me and wanted me to move out. I didn’t know what to do. Many years later I asked them about it and they said they never said anything of the sort, they thought I was good for Rusty. I didn’t want to move back to my parent’s. Lampasas meant nothing to me but cheap wages and poverty, so I called a guy in Austin who’d told me I could move in with him, but in the two weeks since he told me I could he’d changed his mind. Gay men they never change they’re always as fickle as hell and always will be.

I got a copy of the Midland paper and began looking for some place cheap to rent. I was almost out of money and I was scared as hell. I saw a room for rent ad and I called the lady. She has one bedroom for twenty dollars a week and another with its own bathroom for thirty dollars a week. I drove over to look at them. The house was neat and clean rather little old lady looking, but the lady worked nights, so I would have the house all to myself. I chose the twenty dollar a week room because funds were tight and she’d let me pay by the week. I drove back, packed my car and started moving into Kate’s house. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the beginning of a friendship that would last until Kate’s death in April of 2003. I lived with her for about three years then and then moved back in for another couple of years from 1982, to 1983. There were many nights I cried myself to sleep in that house because I was so worried about finances. I broke my glasses and couldn’t afford new ones, so I had to find a kind jeweler in Odessa, who soldered them back together for me. I was flat broke, but little did I know what great things were about to happen.

A year or so before that before my short tenure with the Air Force I’d decided I wanted to be a car salesman and not just any car salesman I wanted to sell Cadillac’s. I’d been in love with them since I was a little boy and was taken in by those huge fins. I read about them, studied them and even knew the names of some of the colors. Back then Cadillac’s were like no other car in the world. I felt like the metal they were made from was blessed by the Pope. I had to find a job quickly and I soon found two. I worked for Pizza Hut during the day and I was a relief manager for all the Midland theaters at night. I was back to working almost eighteen hours a day again, but I’d done it before, so I figured I could do it again.

By the time May rolled around it was hot as hell and the Buick didn’t have air conditioning. I could feel the heat from the straight eight engine coming right through the floor boards. I happened to pass the Cadillac dealership one day and I noticed a maroon 1968 Sedan De Ville on the used car lot. It had a white vinyl top and maroon brocade interior, it was beautiful. A salesman came out and greeted me and told me they were asking eighteen hundred and ninety five dollars for it. He let me drive it, the air conditioning felt like heaven and it drove like a dream. I asked him to look at my Buick and tell me what he could give me for it. He had to make some calls, but with all the money I’d spent on restoring it including the real wide whitewall tires he just couldn’t get anyone to make him a decent offer on it. We parted as friends and I went on driving the Buick.

I decided I would try and get a job selling cars any kind of cars just so I could get some experience. I tried the Ford dealership and they wanted to put me on in the make ready department. The Lincoln dealership had me come back a second time, but decided they wanted someone with experience. I never even thought of going to the Cadillac dealership thinking they would just laugh in my face. I was just a twenty one year old kid after all. Then one day I was sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch and reading the want ads and there was this tiny ad for a used car salesman at the Cadillac dealership. I thought of the salesman named Terry who I’d talked to down there and I found his card and called him. It turned out he was the used car manager and the owner’s son-in-law, I couldn’t believe it. He had me come down and talk with him. I ran home between jobs and put on the only suit I owned, a polyester plaid in shades of red and white to go for my interview. I told him I didn’t have any experience, but I knew a lot about Cadillac’s. I kept thinking, “Man, if I can get a job selling used cars and I work real hard maybe they’ll let me sell new cars after a year or so.” On my third trip to meet with him he said, “Sam, I have some bad news.” My heart sank. “The position in used cars has been filled, but would you consider selling new cars?” “Would I?” I thought I was going to die right there. He took me to meet the new car manager and after we talked for fifteen minutes he hired me on the spot. It was Friday and he wanted me to start on Monday, so I went home on a cloud and quit my other two jobs. That Saturday night I took Rusty out to celebrate and spent my last one hundred dollars on a lobster dinner, dumb, I know. That Monday I got a brand new Oldsmobile Cutlass demo to drive and started learning everything I could about Cadillac’s and Oldsmobile’s. It was the happiest day of my life. Within two years I was the top new car salesman at the dealership.

Sometime in 1979 they hired this guy named Jon. He seemed nice enough at first, but I soon found out he was petty and jealous of my success. He started doing the most unbelievable things to me, like calling me “Fag” and “Queer” and telling me to “Suck his dick.” If I left paperwork out anywhere he would hide it, he scratched the paint on a new Cadillac I was to deliver the next day. He poured paint remover all over two new Eldorado’s in the make ready area one of which I had sold. This kind of shit went on for two years and I couldn’t get the new car manager Bennie to do anything about him. Jon once told me, “I know something about Bennie and I can assure you he’ll never fire me.” It must have been true because he would follow me home and just sit outside my apartment in his car. I did find out later that Bennie was a convicted felon. He’d embezzling almost ten thousand dollars from a dealership he’d worked for back in 1965.

Once Jon took a new Eldorado off the showroom floor and delivered it to a man I’d sold it to earlier that morning, when I’d already made an appointment to deliver it that afternoon. He somehow got a key to my desk and would lock it when I was outside with a customer, so that when I returned I couldn’t even open it to get my paperwork out. Then if I left the showroom it would mysteriously unlock itself. A friend of mine and I spent thirteen hours detailing a 1976 Black Eldorado convertible I owned and left it in the shop at 1:00 AM on Monday morning, and when I got to the dealership at 7:00 AM to move out of the mechanics way the car had been keyed down to the metal on both sides. All the while Bennie kept telling me there was nothing he could do about it because I couldn’t prove it and what Jon did after hours was out of his control. I once left right after work on Saturday to drive to Odessa and I was headed down Highway 80 in my black Eldorado convertible. I approached a guy on a motor cycle and started to pass him when I noticed it was Jon. I swear to God it was all I could do not to jerk the wheel back to the right and run his ass over. I wondered where I’d hide the car and where I’d take it to get it fixed without being caught. That’s how crazy that bastard had made me, now days he would never be able to get away with any of that shit.
One day one of the older salesmen told me he’d heard a rumor that Jon and another salesman Stan were going to go to Bennie and tell him that if he didn’t fire me they were going to quit. I asked him, “What should I do?” and he said, “I’d just go to Bennie and ask him.” so I did. Bennie got the books out and said, “Sam, last year you sold two hundred and forty four cars. Jon and Stan combined only sold two hundred eleven. Now who do you think I’d fire if they came to me and threatened something like that?” I went home feeling a lot better, but a week later as I was the last salesman leaving the dealership Bennie called me into his office and told me he was going to have to let me go. You could tell he was just sick about it and he even said, “Don’t blame yourself for this. You’ve set sales records at this dealership that will probably never be broken.” He gave me two extra weeks pay and even offered to let me drive my demo for a couple of weeks if I needed it. It was March 10th, 1981 and I’d been there almost five years. I was twenty six years old and I’d just lost a job I loved through no fault of my own. That was on a Tuesday and the next Monday Jon gave them his two week notice. He’d already gotten another job with an oil company and he was just trying one last ditched effort to get me fired and it worked.

I had just bought the book “Getting Even”, and I thought I’d give Jon a dose of his own medicine. Terry had told me to start fighting back, so I called while I was still selling Cadillac’s to put a “Moving Sale” ad in the paper. I listed all kinds of things like oil paintings, antiques, and oriental rugs, and gave them his address and phone number for the next weekend. They said all moving sale ads had to be paid for in advance. I didn’t want to go down there in person and have them see me, so I called back the next day and placed an ad to sell his personal car for a really cheap price. I’d found a job three days later at the Buick dealership two blocks down the street and Bennie even had the gall to call me and ask me if I’d placed the car ad. I lied and said no, but what difference did it make anyway? It was outside of work wasn’t it? I think his phone rang off the hook with calls about that car. Well, little did I know someone at the paper went ahead and printed the “Moving Sale” ad the next weekend and there were people ringing his door bell at 6:00 AM that Saturday. I was shocked, but I thought it was funny as hell. They said people swarmed his house all weekend.

While I was going through my customer files as I was writing letters to all my customers to let them know I was now selling Buicks. Every time I came across a card with Jon’s name on it where we’d split the commission on a deal I would scratch through his name and think, “I wish you were dead you bastard!” The next weekend I guess Jon decided to take a fishing trip because a bunch of the guys at the dealership had taken one about three weeks before and hadn’t invited him because they couldn’t stand his loud mouth and smart ass ways. I didn’t know anything about it until Monday morning when the used car manager at the Buick dealership walked across the street and told us that two salesmen from the Cadillac dealership had been shot and killed over the weekend. He said one of them was named Jon, but he didn’t pronounce his last name right. The owner had warned me that the other salesmen would “jack” with me any chance they got, so I thought it was some kind of joke. I snuck to an empty office and called one of the ladies at the Cadillac dealership to ask her and she told me Jon had been killed, but she didn’t know who the other guy was. I was hoping it had been Stan, but it was one of his friends who worked for the phone company. I couldn’t help myself I just laughed right in her ear. After the two years of pure hell Jon had put me through I couldn’t believe it. When I called my mother she said, “See I told you, God couldn’t wait to get that evil bastard and he just got his quicker than most. On my way home that night in my new Buick Regal demo I bought a couple of those “Club” canned cocktails, and I drove past Jon’s house and gave him a toast, then went home and cranked up the stereo and discoed all around the apartment kicking my legs high in the air, drinking and laughing.

In the days and weeks to follow I found out that they’d gone fishing on a river somewhere near San Angelo. Apparently in Texas if there is a river running through someone’s property you can go fishing wherever you want to as long as you don’t set foot on the shore it’s not trespassing. They were fishing on this seventy five year old man’s river and all the locals knew he was crazy and would shoot at anyone on the river to scare them off, but when he shot at Jon and his buddy Jon shot back. His friend was found in three feet of water with five bullets in him and Jon was found in the boat with eight bullets in him. I know they dredged the water looking for Jon’s gun, but they never found it. I think the old man spent some time in the Big Spring mental facility, but I don’t know what ever happened to him. There was an article in the Midland paper that the motor cycle gang Jon belonged to was going to come in from Missouri to “avenge” his death, real classy, huh?

My second experience with Karma wasn’t quite as exciting, but it did come. I went back to work at the Cadillac dealership in October 1984 and enjoyed it almost as much as I did the first time. It was the second happiest day of my life. The office I got was the new one they’d built in 1980 right on the corner of the showroom for Jon. As I sat down in the chair and began putting my things in the desk I thought, “I won you son of a bitch, I made it back and I won!”

My sales started getting better and I felt as if I’d never left. I actually quit for three weeks in April 1985 to take a job at a Cadillac dealership in Arlington, but I hated it and they hired me right back. In fact Bennie said, “Get your ass back up here before Terry hires one of his softball buddies.” Most of my customers didn’t even know I’d gone and I even got my same office back. Sometime in 1986 Terry did hire one of his softball buddies, but Shane seemed likeable and he and I got along fine. He once told me, “You know the rest of the guys here aren’t worth a shit. You’re the only competition I have at this dealership.” I thought it was a compliment at the time. I didn’t realize his mind was working on something. I knew he’d worked there one summer while he was still in college and on his last day the guy he worked with told them he’d been getting new car gas tickets and putting it in his own car. Someone called Shane at home and he drove back down to the dealership and beat the shit out of the guy. The guy had been injured getting his hand caught in a fan a week earlier and he had one of his arms in a sling that was really a fair fight. Someone from the Midas Muffler shop saw it and called the switchboard and told them to get someone over there before he killed the guy.

After having my three open heart surgeries I was back at work within a week each time. Then on March 22nd, 1988 Shane got pissed off at me over a car deal and told me he was going to rip my wig off and beat the hell out of me. I wore an expensive hair piece at the time. The next morning on the 23rd he punched me through my open car window as I was parking my car and did just that. Here I was less than ninety days after three open heart surgeries, five foot eight inches tall, weighing one hundred and sixty pounds and a guy who was five foot eleven two hundred twenty pounds broke my nose, tried to pull my hair piece off and as I bent over to pick my pen up he shoved me in the middle of my back and made me fall flat on my face. I tried to fight back, but I wasn’t much of a match. I had blood in my eye that didn’t go away for almost three weeks and I spent four hours in the emergency room. When I got back to the dealership they fired me for fighting, nothing was done to Shane. They were just pissed because I called the police and filed assault charges against him. I heard later that some of the other employees were furious because they knew I’d never start a fight and they knew Shane’s reputation from before. I decided they weren’t going to get away with it this time and I found a lawyer that would take my case on a contingency bases. He told me if I’d been black, Hispanic, or a female, I could own the dealership I could own the dealership, but being a gay white male there wasn’t shit I could do, but he hated bullies. I think a year and a half later I finally netted eight hundred dollars from the lawsuit, but I just wanted to let them know I wasn’t going to slink off in a corner this time.

They seemed to go right on with their jobs and their careers while I had to move in with friends in Dallas to try and find a job. I loved Midland and wanted to live there the rest of my life. I had a few drinks and called Shane one night while I was visiting Todd and Shane told me they’d all gotten what they deserved. Terry had decided to divorce the owner’s daughter, so the owner fired him and brought his other son-in-law in to run the place. No one liked his style, so Bennie quit after twenty five years and Shane had quit and was moving to east Texas. So three years after firing me none of them were there anymore.

My third experience was the most dramatic of all, but it did take a while. When I first went to work in Dallas there was this manager at an Oldsmobile dealership that I developed a strong love, hate, relationship with and it went on for fourteen years. He was a heavy drinker, but so were most of us and we could have a ton of fun sometimes. Rob loved playing practical jokes and sometimes they got a little out of hand. One day I left on an errand and when I got back they’d wrapped my entire desk in duct tape. The desk cost about eight thousand dollars and the owner would have killed them if he’d seen it. It took me forever to get the residue off my phone and other items. I was really pissed, but you learned not to let it show, or next time it would be worse. We always said Rob was the only person we knew who got a DWI on the showroom floor. What happened was there was this little dive of a bar a couple of blocks from the dealership and Rob had gone there one night with some of the guys. When he came back to the dealership to get his brief case the off duty Dallas police officer wouldn’t let him drive. He made Rob call a cab and Rob lived in Fort Worth. We laughed about that for years. He would wait until someone was in the bathroom and slide a whole row of lit “Black Cat” fire crackers under the door while the poor salesman was sitting on the toilet. A bunch of us decided we’d get him one day and the guys went through this elaborate plan of drilling holes through the wall of the sales manager’s office into his office, and hiding the wires under the chair pad. One of them bought some kind of detonator that worked by touching two wires to a battery. When Rob came in sober he was mean as a snake. He would stand in the middle of the showroom and look at each salesman. God help you if you made eye contact with him because he would belittle you and rip you up one side and down the other. You could tell by the look on his face when he got out of his car. Whoever spotted him first would warn the others by saying “Rob’s tweaked.” When he came in with a hangover all he wanted to do was to be left alone. That day he showed up looking like death warmed over and went in his office and shut the door. Glass surrounded all the offices and I was working the finance office next to his, so I had a clear view right in his office. When he sat down and slid his chair under his desk I gave a nod and they touched the wires to the battery. Two entire rows of “Black Cats” exploded under his desk and his office filled with thick, acrid smoke. All he could do was sit there and grin because he knew he had it coming to him.

Rob suspected I was gay and was having an affair with the finance manager. What they didn’t know was that we’d already moved in together. Bill and I had been very careful, I had a separate phone line into the house and I had a P.O. Box, but my checks had our shared address on them and Rob was so nosey he looked at a check I was writing one day. He didn’t say anything, but I know he recognized the address. Then he and the sales manager would call me when Bill was home sometimes in bed right beside me and ask where Bill was. I would say, “I have no idea where he is.” I guess they thought it was funny as hell.

I worked for Rob twice there and then twice ten years later in Fort Worth. I quit each time because it seemed every time he treated me worse and worse. He would get me to quit another job to come back to work for him by telling me he loved me, or missed me, or “Come on back here where people love you.” And each time I’d fall for it and come back to work for him. The last time in 1999 was the final straw. His hateful mean ways were worse than ever, but once when he had me so upset I was in tears he followed me on my way to the restroom in the service department and put his arms around me in a full body hug and told me he loved me.

He treated his wife in much the same manor, so I don’t know what kind of demons he was wrestling with. Once his business partner told me he’d met Rob when he’d “picked him up” in the airport in Lubbock. I knew his partner was gay, so I asked, “You mean picked him up, like you gave him a ride, or picked him up, like you had sex?” He just smiled, and wouldn’t answer me. Rob had a brother who was gay and an uncle too, so I think there were some issues there.
Back in 1988 and again in 1999 Rob would do this thing while I was sitting at my desk writing up a car deal as he was giving me the numbers. He would put his crotch on my elbow. Back in 1988 I just moved my arm like I was writing another line and I’ll be damned he would step forward and place his crotch there again right in the middle of the showroom. In 1999 when he did it to me I moved my elbow up and down against his package and he jumped back. I looked up and asked, “Was it good for you?” He just laughed.

One night soon after I started working for him again we attended a party for his new business partner Joe who I liked a lot. He had worked for Rob since 1988 and they were in the process of opening up more dealerships of their own. I didn’t know anyone there, so I was uncomfortable and had too much to drink, so Rob offered to take me home, so I wouldn’t have to drive. We were gone a long time and I found out the next day he told everyone I was so drunk I couldn’t find my own apartment and we had to drive around and around. I guess that’s as good as “We ran out of gas”, or “Had a flat tire”, but a whole lot more than that happened when we got to my apartment. After that I was a marked man with Rob. I think he was so ashamed by what we did he couldn’t stand to have me around, so he just got meaner and meaner. Once he wanted me to type up a deal in some strange way, so I asked Paul to explain it to me and he couldn’t understand it either, so Paul called Rob at home as he was getting ready for a trip out of town. Rob told Paul to have me pick up the phone, and he began screaming at the top of his lungs, “THIS IS NOT FIRST GRADE! THIS IS NOT FIRST GRADE!” He proceeded to scream at me so loud and so long Paul could hear it through the phone. When he was through with his rant I just lost it. I had to get up and close the door because I began sobbing uncontrollably and couldn’t stop. One of the guys felt so bad for me he went out and brought me some lunch and told me I needed to eat something. Everyone kept wondering why Rob kept on treating me so badly. I think he felt he could get away with it because I’d filed bankruptcy and Rob talked me into selling my car because he’d given me a demo. He knew I couldn’t buy another car and he felt he had me right under his thumb where he wanted me. Once, I walked outside where he and Joe were talking to a friend of theirs and the guy had this little dog. Rob said, “You’d better watch out that dog bites queers.” I said, “Oh, has he been nipping at your heels?” Joe busted out laughing, but I could tell Rob was pissed.

It was about that time I began plotting his murder. I bought a set of serrated knives because I read that they caused more damage when you stabbed someone. I have a painting in my bathroom that I painted with those knives I bought, I call it “Angry Tears”. I even took his gun out of his desk one night when I knew his wife was out of town because I was thinking of shooting him and making it look like a suicide. He was left handed, so I had to remember to shoot him on the left side of his head.
When I told my mother my plan she and my father drove up in two cars the next day and she gave me my grandmother’s 1988 Cadillac, a credit card with a seven thousand five hundred dollar limit on it, and said, “Now you get away from that son of a bitch”. Rob didn’t like it one bit that I suddenly had a way to get out from under him.

Every time I’d go into work and he wasn’t there I’d ask Paul where he was and he’d say in Mexico, or Ruidoso, and I’d grin and cross my fingers and ask, “Did he fly?” If he said yes, I’d look up, and hold my hands in prayer and say “Oh Lord, please, please, please?” Paul would say, “Sam, if anything happened to him you’d feel terrible.” I’d just look at him and say, “No I wouldn’t.”

After I quit that summer and went to work for the Porsche dealership I didn’t see him very often, I didn’t want to. I was terribly happy at my new job and told him once I’d finally found a home. He’d call from time to time to check on me and once he came down to see about buying a new Jaguar for his wife. It was in a different department under a different manager, but he still insisted I wait on him. When I gave him the figures on the car he called back and cussed me out because the manager hadn’t told him about twelve hundred dollars of dealer money the car had on it. I thought “I don’t have to take his shit anymore why don’t I just tell him to go fuck himself?” I held my tongue because of all the years and things between us and because I figured I might need him someday. In fact a few months later I went with my parents to buy a new 2002 Dodge truck from the dealership he’d set up for Joe in Brownwood. Rob later called me in August to thank for the purchase. Little did I know it would be the last time I’d ever speak to him.
On a Friday night November 8th, 2002 my phone rang. The television was still on, but I was asleep. It was my mother and I could tell she was upset. She told me it was just on the local news that Rob and Joe had been killed in a plane crash in Flagstaff on their way to Midland. I couldn’t find anything about it on my local news channels, so I got up and searched for Paul’s cell phone number. I called Paul and sure enough Rob, Joe, another guy, and their pilot had flown to Las Vegas to a car show and were on their way home with a stop off in Midland for re fueling when the wings iced over and the plane spiraled to the ground from seventeen thousand feet. When I called and told mother she said, “Rob got what he deserved, Joe and the other guys didn’t, but that’s what happens when you shake hands with the devil.”

I’ve related these stories about Karma to others and their remark is usually, “Remind me never to piss you off!”

Monday, April 26, 2010


Growing up, I never wanted to admit the thought in the back of my mind that Danny was my parent’s favorite. Yes, I wet the bed until I was about eleven, or twelve years old and every time I tried to play football in the backyard with my father and brother my heart would go into tachycardia and I would say, “I’m having a heart attack!” My father would reply, “Oh you’re just a sissy, a crybaby, kids don’t have heart attacks.” I was only about eight at the time what else did I know to tell them? I hate, loath, and despise, the sound of a football game on television even now because I knew as a kid if I paused for half a second to look at one my dad was watching on TV he’d have me out in the backyard in a football helmet and shoulder pads. Somewhere there is an old black and white Christmas photo of Danny and me in our new football gear. I remember being so disappointed when we opened our presents, I’d much rather have had a Barbie, or an Easy Bake oven.

I still thought that if I behaved and was a “good boy” and made good grades in school I could win out over Danny who never studied, got bad grades, and was even held back in the third grade. The very thought of failing a grade was just unthinkable to me. Looking back I realize that maybe the real reason I got good grades and could read on a ninth grade level when I was in the fifth grade was because I could get the attention and praise from my teachers that I never got at home. Danny got attention with his grades, but not the good kind. I remember once when he was about thirteen my father was screaming at him at the dinner table about his grades and Danny just sat there crying. This was about the third night in a row of my father’s bullying and I’d had enough. I screamed, “Why can’t you just leave him alone? You make him cry every night and he can’t even eat his dinner, just shut up!” You could hear a pin drop after I said it, but that was the last time I remember my little brother crying at the dinner table.

Danny and I were often each others only companions. We moved so much that we had to make new friends often and that wasn’t always easy. In the 1965-66 school years we changed schools three times. We fought constantly over anything and everything, crossing the imaginary line in the back seat of the car, or in our shared bed was enough to get us going, but if anyone ever touched my brother they had hell to pay coming from me. I was such a frady cat and frightened by the skeleton I thought was under our bed that I crowded him because I wanted to be out of reach of that ever threatening boney hand. When we saw a movie about Lon Chaney Jr. with a scar on his hand shaped like an X turning into a werewolf, he took a ball point pen and put an X on his palm and said, “You see this? If you crowd me in bed tonight I’m going to turn into a werewolf.” That night I watched him sleep being very careful not to touch him to see if I could see any hair growing on his face.

He witnessed the beatings I got from my mother some mornings when she’d wake me by ripping the covers off slapping and hitting me, while yelling, “You like sleeping in that warm piss, don’t you, don’t you?” I’d head to the bathroom for a bath, crying the whole time and walk to school feeling dirty and worthless. Years later we discovered what my parent’s already knew. My maternal grandfather was a bed wetter and so was my father. Why didn’t they tell me that? When Danny found out his son was a bed wetter too he told my mother, “I’ll never make him feel the way you made Sammy feel.” Mother told me about it and said, “I can’t believe he said something like that to me.” I said, “I’m glad he did, maybe now you understand just how much you hurt me.” Often when we played childhood make believe games Danny wanted to be a super hero like “Superman” or “Popeye” and since it was just the two of us I was glad to play “Lois Lane” or “Olive Oyl”. He never told my parents because he knew it would get me in trouble and cause them to call me names.

Danny knew just how to work my parents while I was cautioned about taking care of my clothes because we couldn’t afford any more. I caught him deliberately dragging the toe of his boots on the sidewalk when we lived in Germany. I said, “Danny stop doing that, you’ll ruin your boots.” “I don’t care, I hate these boots and I want to ruin them so I can get another pair.” he said. Every year we were over there my mother would order our clothes from the Sears, Montgomery Ward, or J.C. Penny catalogues. I guess he noticed that mother never sent anything back if it didn’t fit because each day he wore a new outfit to school he’d come home take his clothes off, throw them in a pile at the foot of his bed and say, “I’m not wearing those anymore cause they itch me.” After mother ordered him another entire wardrobe and when it arrived in the mail he suddenly picked up everything and hung it in his closet. He then had twice the amount of school clothes that I had. If mother asked him to do chores around the house he would fuck things up so badly she’d never ask him to do it again. Once she told him to start the dishwasher while she and I went to the store. When we walked in the front door there were soap suds three feet high spilling from the kitchen into the living room. We were out of Cascade, so he used Joy in the dishwasher instead. It took mother and me two hours to clean up the mess and the dishes all had to be washed by hand to get the soap crust off them. Yes, he was dumb alright, dumb like a Fox.

As we got older in our teens the fights were less frequent, but more intense when they did happen. I had to work after school to earn the money to pay for my school clothes, car, gas, and lunch, while he never worked because he had football practice. My parents bought their first movie camera and projector not to take film of my baby sister, but to take movies of his football games. He ate like a pig to put on weight and outweighed me by at least twenty pounds by the time I was sixteen. I would look at his clothes in a sweaty pile on the floor of our room only to discover he’d worn a new white pair of my briefs to football practice and now they were so dirty and stretched out, no amount of washing could ever get them clean again. One day mother and I were pulling up in front of our house, I saw him squatting down changing a tire on one of the cars wearing one of my favorite shirts. I got so mad I got out of the car, walked over, grabbed the shirt by the back of the collar and ripped it off him. It ruined the shirt of course, but I made my point. I’d worked hard for those fucking clothes and he had no right wearing and ruining them.

When mother told me I’d have to move out of the house at nineteen because they couldn’t afford me even though I was working full time for her for no pay, I was hurt to go back home once to discover one of Danny’s football buddies living with them and mother making breakfast for them both. When I confronted her about it she said, “Mike lives out in the country and it’s easier for him to live here and go to school than to make that long drive.” When I asked, “What about money? You said you couldn’t afford me.” She said, “Oh his mother gives me eggs from their farm to help.” Eggs? A fucking couple dozen eggs was enough to live under my parent’s roof. What the fuck was up with that?

Relatives made an occasional comment regarding my parent’s partiality to my brother. My aunt Agnes commented on a trip my mother was going to make out to Monahans and couldn’t come until Saturday, “Your mother and father can’t go anywhere because they live for Danny’s football games and he’s not really as good as they think he is.” My mother’s sister once said, “Yes, Danny is their little fair haired athlete.” My seventh grade girlfriend’s mother later told me, “You know I always resented the way your mother told you to have the house cleaned up before we got home from shopping, while Danny was out in the yard playing.” That was when I began to realize what I was trying to keep in the back of my mind all those years was really true and everyone seemed to know it even if I didn’t want to admit it myself.

While I was trying to scratch out a living in Odessa and having to rent a room in my cousin’s trailer house my great uncle said something about Danny totaling his Oldsmobile. I asked, “What Oldsmobile? Mother and Daddy haven’t owned an Oldsmobile since 1952.” He said something about a black 442 and I was so certain he was wrong I called mother and asked her about it. There was a long pause and she said, “I didn’t want to mention it because Danny was so upset about it, but we did buy him one and he wrecked it.” Turns out they had bought him a used one and he rolled it four times three days later and mother had forgotten to call her insurance company to have the car added to their policy. She only got around it by calling them and lying, telling them she’d traded her Mercury for it, so they would cover the replacement cost. I was livid because here I was struggling to make ends meet, but I was hurt too because they’d never done anything like that for me.

Danny wasn’t totally thoughtless. The Christmas I was home after my doomed stint in the Air Force he came home one day with a stack of albums. They were those awful acid rock groups that I hated. As I worked my way down expressing my disgust for each one at the bottom of the stack was the brand new album “Mahogany” by Diana Ross. I stopped because I was truly speechless and he said, “Merry Christmas! I had to chase some black girl around the store for it, but I managed to get it away from her.” It was the only Christmas present he ever bought me and I still have it.

By 1974 my parent’s five year old Mercury had cratered on them and despite money being tight they somehow managed to buy a new dark blue 1974 Plymouth Fury. Danny was without a car again, either because he’d wrecked his, or destroyed the engine I can’t remember. He was constantly drag racing the Plymouth even my mother could tell by the sound when he’d turn the top of the air cleaner over to make it run faster. After his friend Mike got drunk and threw up in it mother would still let him drive it. One night a girl at a dance backed into the right rear door and Danny refused to tell them who’d done it because the girl cried and he wanted to be a hero. He would have rather my financially strapped parents have to scrape together the money to have it fixed than to tell on the girl. Mother told him he wasn’t going to be allowed to drive the car anymore and he said, “Fine, then I won’t babysit Stacy anymore.” and he refused to back down. Mother said, “I just can’t believe your brother is acting this way.” She finally tricked one of his friends into telling her who hit the car, so she could call her parent’s and get their insurance to fix it.

As the years went by and I was busy making good money in Midland he joined the Coast Guard, married, then moved to Puerto Rico and later to New Orleans. I didn’t see him very often except maybe once or twice at my parents for Christmas. My heart problems became worse as I got older and I’d begun to have blackout spells and once I went completely blind while driving home from a wake for a friend. I decided to stop messing around and I insisted my cardiologist send me for more tests where they discovered I had WPW. Then in October, 1987 I was scheduled for open heart surgery in Houston to try and repair my Wolf Parkinson White syndrome. The first one was on the 30th, and it didn’t work, so they rolled me back into the operating room on the 31st, to do it again. The plan was for my mother to stay at my brother’s house in Conroe and drive her mother’s Cadillac while her mother stayed with her sister in Tomball. On the way there my grandmother made a left turn in front of an eighteen wheeler and was partially thrown out of her car and had a broken collar bone, so not only was the Cadillac destroyed, but she was in a hospital in Tomball. Needless to say there was a lot of stress on my mother. Danny came up to the hospital to wait for me to go into surgery and I kidded him about being an East Texas redneck because he was dipping snuff. Then he kept sitting there letting out long exasperating sighs like he wanted to be somewhere else. I said, “Will you please stop doing that? I’m nervous enough already.” I didn’t realize I’d pissed him off, but after I went into the operating room he told my mother she couldn’t use his car to drive back and forth from his house to visit my grandmother and me and he left. When the doctor came out and told my mother I was alright, she burst into tears. The doctor said, “Mrs. Fowler, your son is just fine.” Her sister had to tell him, “Oh, she’s just under a lot of stress right now. After my mother called my father at work, he was the captain of the Big Spring police department and told him what Danny had done. My father immediately took of work and drove to Conroe where he had every intention of whipping my brother’s ass. That night while my parent’s were at his house he didn’t come home until way after they’d gone to bed after he saw my father’s white 1988 GMC truck in the driveway. My father went back home the next day after one of my cousin’s drove down from Dallas and offered to drive mother anywhere she needed to go. Less than two months later in December mother and I had to fly to Toronto and then drive a rented Pontiac to London, Ontario where I had to have another open heart surgery at the University Hospital. When I picked mother up the night before at their home in Sand Springs, my father walked around to the back of the house instead of going back inside because my aunts Ruby and Agnes were there. He had his head down and was crying. Mother told me he’d said, “If that boy dies, I’m not calling his brother.” I was afraid of dying myself, but the first two surgeries hadn’t been that bad. That time I was in surgery for eleven and a half hours the others had only been two hours. The doctor wouldn’t come out and tell mother anything. We later found out that every time they tried to take me off the heart and lung machine my heart would stop and since I was only thirty two they wouldn’t give up on me. When I woke up that time I told mother, “God, I feel like I’m waking up after being dead.” She didn’t mention anything to me until a few days later. I had a huge sore on my mouth where they’d clamped the breathing tube and my throat was so sore that drinking Coke was like drinking battery acid. We flew back on December 23rd, and of course the flight was full. We were sitting in the very back of the plane and the cigarette smoke was killing me. When the flight attendant came around for our drink order I said, “I’d like a Sprite, or a Seven Up and could I have the can?” She told me curtly, “No, the flight is full and we may not have enough.” I turned and told mother in a whisper that I knew she could hear, “Then tell her I want two and if she says anything I’m going to get up and kick her ass!” We had to transfer in Dallas and by the time our flight arrived in Midland I was so glad to get home I said, “I’m not waiting for a damned wheelchair I can walk.” My father was waiting at the bottom of the ramp with a shocked look on his face. He didn’t say anything then, but he later told me, “In all my years in the Army, and on the police, force I’ve seen my share of dead people, but I’d never seen anyone look as bad as you still walking around.”

A month or two later my parent’s came to see me one evening and we went to “El Chico’s” for dinner. When the subject of Danny came up my father said, “Your brother is an asshole.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing coming out of his mouth. He said, “You always had a job and worked for everything, your clothes, your car, your spending money, and Danny never worked for a damn thing. Your mother and I paid for every car he ever had and all he did was wreck them and tear them up. He never appreciated a Goddamn thing.” I could tell by the look on my mother’s face that she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her right there. Here my father was telling me things she’d denied for years and she’d have given anything if he hadn’t told me, but my father was disgusted with him. He got over it later, but it took a while.

At my grandmother’s funeral in 1989, Danny and I sat side by side and my mother later told me, “I’m so proud of you boys. You didn’t act up or get in an argument or anything.” I reminded her, “I was never mad, he was the one who got his panties in a wad.” She said, “Well, I guess that’s true.” I spent Christmas 1995 with my parent’s at Danny’s house. His wife shopped all year long for presents and hid them all over the house. The twin girls were sitting in the floor opening gifts so fast you’d have thought it was a contest. They’d tear into a package, look at it for a second, and then toss the present to one side while tossing the wrapping paper to the other side in a heap. Soon you almost couldn’t see them for the huge pile of wrappings. I happened to glance over at Danny he wasn’t aware I was looking and he was slowly shaking his head from side to side. It was a pitiful sight, like sharks in a feeding frenzy surrounded by blood. I wasn’t sure if he was thinking of the over indulgence or the fact that our Christmas’s never looked like that. I personally think it was the sheer volume of presents and the lack of appreciation on the children’s part. I didn’t stay long because it seemed the entire family screamed at each other constantly and it got on my nerves, but I did feel that when I left a fence had been somehow mended and we would see more of each other than we had in the past few years.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


My grandma Fowler died of a heart attack in July, 1989. She’d been a hypochondriac and complained about anything and everything as long as I could remember. She should be in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for surviving the most heart attacks, strokes, and blackouts, of anyone in recorded history. I guess she did it for attention, but it had the opposite effect. No one believed her, or took her seriously when she really was sick, but she lived to be eighty two, so I guess she did alright.

I was living in Dallas at the time and when my mother called me with the news she said, “Your grandfather is really taking this hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if he grieves himself to death. You know that happens sometimes with elderly couples. One dies and the other follows soon afterwards.” This shocked me since it had only been a month earlier that he’d gone over to my parent’s house crying because she’d threatened to stab him with a butcher knife while peeling potato’s to fry for his lunch. They’d had a strange relationship to say the least her screaming and yelling at him all the time and him ignoring her by singing silly little ditties he’d made up long ago to drown her out. “Oh, boogie, she rode the shugie!” Her death hadn’t been sudden and she’d been hospitalized for a couple of days before she finally succumbed. My mother said, “Your grandfather couldn’t even bring himself to walk into her hospital room. We’d try to take him, but he’d get as far as the door then he’d just fall to pieces. You’d better be prepared to attend his funeral here pretty soon.”

That was hard for me to imagine I always said if there was a God in Heaven that he would take my grandmother first and give that old man a few years of peace before he died. I’d seen it before though some old lady wouldn’t stop bitching and griping about her husband he couldn’t even eat his eggs to suit her and when he died he was the sweetest man who ever walked the face of the earth, a dear saint, and she the grieving widow.

I flew back to Midland to attend the funeral in Sand Springs, and the burial in Colorado City. Most of my grandmother’s people are buried there, so many years earlier my grandparent’s had bought burial plots in the little cemetery right off the interstate. The funeral home that took care of the arrangements had a seventeen year old Cadillac hearse and a limousine just about the same age, so my mother told them we wouldn’t need the limo we’d just use her mother’s new Cadillac instead. It was decided before I got there that I would drive my aunt Agnes’s Oldsmobile, and she and my aunt Ruby would go with me in the same car. Lots of my grandmother’s people showed up, so it was a nice little turn out. My grandmother looked very pretty in a new floral print dress my mother picked out and a pair of vintage earrings I’d given her. My brother Danny had driven up from Conroe and my mother told us, “You boy’s need to stay close to your father in case he needs help with your grandfather, he may pass out, or fall down, he’s so upset.”

After the church service and the rest of the family had walked by the coffin to pay their respects it was our turn to go. I walked up to the coffin at the same time my grandfather did. My grandfather placed his hands on the coffin and bent over as if to speak to her. He then let out an anguished “Oh,oh!”, and I had to get out of there. So far I hadn’t cried, but the sight of that old man breaking down might have pushed me over the edge. I walked out into the courtyard and was given a hug by my second cousin Linda. Soon my sister Stacy walked out with a tear in her eye and a funny look on her face. She looked straight at me, but before I could ask her anything Linda was hugging her too. Just then I looked up to see my father and my brother almost carrying my grandfather from the church. They were holding him under his arms and by the back of his pants and had him almost off the ground as they drug him to the waiting Cadillac. He stayed in the car as they carried the coffin to the hearse, and we finally got on the way for the forty mile drive to the grave site. On the way Agnes, Ruby, and I, talked about just how hard Sam was taking Arlena’s death. We couldn’t believe it after she’d always been so mean to him. They told me stories I’d never heard before like the time back in the fifties that he came home drunk and she knocked him in the floor and hog tied him until he sobered up and her saying things to him like, “Sam, if you don’t mow the yard I won’t make you any fried tater’s for supper!”

After the grave side service the preacher asked my grandfather, “Mr. Fowler, wouldn’t you like to visit with your guest?” He just mumbled “No, I just wanna go to the car.” It was nearby, so Danny started it up to get the air conditioner going and he and my father placed him in the back seat with the right rear door open, so people could stop by and give their condolences. On the way back to my parent’s house we again discussed his overwhelming grief and his inability to cope with her death.

We stopped by the motel room Ruby and Agnes had rented to change before going to my parent’s. I don’t remember how or why, but they got to the house earlier that I did and when I walked in the door my mother started laughing. I knew she wasn’t fond of my grandma, but I thought it was rude of her to be laughing at a time like this. I asked, “What’s so funny?” “She giggled, “Didn’t you see it?” “See what?” I asked. She responded with more giggles. About that time my grandmother Edna came around the corner and said, “I told them, but they wouldn’t listen.” “Told them what?” I asked. Mother was laughing out loud by then, and said, “I’m not saying anything, if you didn’t see it, you’ll have to go find your grandfather and get him to tell you.” It was obvious he wasn’t in the house, but I spotted him out the kitchen window sitting on the patio with Ruby and Agnes and they were all laughing. I couldn’t wait to get outside so I could find out what the big mystery was. I didn’t have to wait long just as I stepped out the back door my grandfather said, “Sammy, something happened to me today that wouldn’t happen again in a hunnered years!” “What?” I asked. “When I walked up to your grandma, I reached out and put my hands on the casket and my pants dropped to the floor. It’s a good thing I had my hands on that casket and not on her arm, or I’d jerked her outta there.” Agnes laughed, “I don’t think I’d tell that story on myself Sam.” He said, “I might as well, by tomorrow that preacher’s gonna tell everybody.” We all busted out laughing.

Later my mother asked me where I’d gone off to when it happened. I told her that I was afraid he was going to break down and I had to get out of there. Apparently the “Oh,oh!” I’d heard was the sound he’d made when his pants fell down. Mother said the preacher was trying to help him get his pants up when she had to tell my father to help him and she had to reach over and slap Danny on the shoulder to get his attention to go help them. That’s why they had their hands on the back of his pants when they carried him out to the car.

At the airport on the way home I had to use the pay phone to call my aunt Nell. When I told her we both laughed till we cried. She said, “Sammy, it’s a good thing you and I didn’t see that, your mother would have to have thrown us out of there!”
I know my grandma would have gotten a big laugh out of it, hell, I’m not so sure she didn’t do it. I think it helped that old man get over her passing. As I’d always wished, he lived another eight years after that.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Having spent twenty eight years of my adult life selling cars for a living I’ve had many life experiences while working ten hours a day, six days a week, at my profession. Most of them have been good, but there have been some things that have even caught me off guard and being gay in the straight mans world of car sales isn’t easy either. Even if you don’t tell them they always whisper behind your back.

We’ve all heard the story about the old man in coveralls needing a shave who went into the Cadillac dealership in the 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s, in whatever city in the U.S. you want to make it and was turned away by an arrogant Cadillac salesman because he wasn’t dressed just right. So he went down the street to the Lincoln dealership and paid cash for a new Lincoln with money from an old brown paper bag. It’s what we now call an “Urban Legend” so it really doesn’t matter when it was, or what kind of car it was, I still hear that story today, although these days it’s always about a Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus dealership. Our status symbols may have changed, but the story remains the same all these many years later.

I’d like to say it really doesn’t matter how you dress, but that isn’t true. You don’t have to wear a three piece suit or designer dresses, but use a little common sense. While it’s nothing today to sell a Porsche so people wearing shorts, jeans, tennis shoes, or kakis, in fact it’s more common than someone dressed to the teeth. I’m always suspicious of over dressed people trying to purchase an expensive car. They’re either trying to impress you, or they’re trying to pretend to be something they’re not. People who actually have money never brag about having money. I know multi millionaires who dress in kakis and sport shirts who act just like you and me.

I had a man and his son get out of a truck in front of the Porsche dealership in Fort Worth and run right over to the used cars. When I greeted him he said, “Man these cars sure cost a lot of money.” I agreed, and told him they were all hand built and retained extremely good resale value. “Is there anything in particular you’re looking for?” I asked. He said, “Yeah, I want a new 911 Turbo Convertible with an X50 package.” I immediately took him to the only one we had, which had a sticker price of over one hundred and fifty four thousand dollars. He asked me, “Can I buy it for a hunerd forty eight thousand?” I said, “No Sir.” He then asked, “Can I buy it for a hunerd fifty thousand?” I said, “No sir.” He asked, “Well, What can I buy it for?” I looked at the window sticker, deducted fifteen hundred dollars and told him he could buy it for that plus tax, title, and license. He said, “Well how much is that?” I said, “Let’s go inside and I’ll figure it up for you.” Once inside I gave him the total and he asked to borrow my phone while he called his banker and had the money wired into the dealerships account. While he and his son went to lunch I got the car ready for delivery. It was funny because I knew he was just trying me with his poor mouth act just to see how I’d treat him.

He didn’t know that I’d started selling cars in Midland when I was twenty one years old and not being from Midland I didn’t know the moneyed names from any one else. So I never judged a book by its cover. The old rancher with cow manure on his boots was more likely to come in and write a check for a new Cadillac with an old folded check he’d been carrying around in his wallet for months than some fancy dresser.

My favorite story about Midland happened one afternoon in 1978 when I noticed a young couple with two little boys in front of the showroom looking at a new Seville the most expensive car we sold at the time. I looked at my watch and it was 4:30 PM we closed at 6:00 PM and it had been a slow day, so I decided I was going out and practice on this young couple. I was bored and had nothing better to do.
I greeted them and they seemed shy and somewhat stand offish. It took me a few minutes to get them to even agree to let me go back into the showroom and get the key to open it up for them. Once I opened the car I got them to sit inside to show them things like the stereo, the astro roof, the power seats, the climate control, etc. Then I used a trick I’d been taught even though they said they didn’t want to test drive the car I got them to shut the doors and I put the car in reverse and backed it out and onto the street before they could protest. Once we were on our way it wasn’t long until I had the man behind the wheel driving us back to the dealership. They liked the car and I got them into my office to discuss what they wanted. The man asked what the car would cost if it were ordered with just the standard equipment. The lady said, “What? You mean I can’t order anything extra on it? Then why bother?” It seemed they were about to have an argument, so they asked for a brochure. I got their information and they piled the kids in their car and drove off. After they left I looked at my watch and it was a quarter to six. I was pleased that I’d put my practice time to good use and it was almost time to go home. As I walked passed my manager’s office he asked, “Well, what did you have Sam?” I said, “Oh I don’t know, they were a nice young couple, but I don’t think they can really afford a Cadillac.” He asked, “What were their names?” I looked at the three by five cards in my pocket and said, “Mr. and Mrs. Carl Bain.” He just grinned and started to laugh. I asked, “What?” and he said, “Do you know that building downtown that has BSA on the side of it, with the heliport on top?” I said, “Yes.” He said. “Well the B stands for Bain and Carl Bain owns Ferrari’s.”
You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Carl not only ordered a beautiful Basil Green Firemist 1979 Cadillac Seville from me for his wife, but he bought company cars from me for years to come. So I learned at an early age never to judge a book by its cover.

But some things have changed in the past thirty years, people now dress to a new low. I can honestly say I have never sold a car to a guy wearing a baseball cap backwards, nor have I ever taken one seriously. It makes them look like their about to give someone a blowjob. I once had a woman come in with a tight white tank top to apply for a job around 1980. She would bounce up and down and say, “My name is Peeper, my name is Peeper”, while her tits bounced up and down. All I could think of was taking a magic marker and drawing two eyes on her boobs. I’ve had over weight guys come in with their wife’s wearing tank tops, the men, not the women, with their nipples pierced, while the tank top kept getting stuck on their nipple ring right out there for the world to see, who wants to look at that shit? Once in 1988 a guy wearing a huge gold and diamond barbell on a chain around his neck that was some kind of body building award came in to look at a new Cadillac in Plano while wearing very tight sweat pants and sporting an erection the whole time and not a very impressive one at that. Once in 1979 I had a guy call me away from his wife who I was showing features to while she was sitting behind the steering wheel of a new Oldsmobile because he said he couldn’t figure out how to use the manual recliner on the passenger seat. I walked around to his side of the car he was wearing the kind of shorts that were popular at the time like the ones you see John Ritter wearing on reruns of “Threes Company” white, tight, and very short. He pretended to be having a hard time with the lever and had one leg in the car and the other on the ground as I walked around to the passenger side of the car and squatted down I looked up and his hairy nuts were hanging out of his shorts twelve inches from my face. Don’t tell me he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. I said, “If you’ll put both your feet in the car it’ll work easier.” Suddenly it worked like magic. When the new 1977 Oldsmobile’s came out in the fall of 1976 I opened the door of a beautiful elegant 1977 Oldsmobile Brougham Coupe with velour upholstery. This man looked me right in the eye and said, “Wow! How’d you like to get naked and go riding around in that?” I just grinned and said, “Well that might be fun, wouldn’t it?” I didn’t know if it was just a thought, or if he was asking me for a date. He was pretty hot, so I was willing to take him up on his offer if he’d been serious.

I had a married father of five children try to kiss me in the front seat a new Cadillac at an auto show. I could smell the vodka on his breath and as I turned away he licked on my right side of my face. In 1977 I had a well known Midland pediatrician rest his chin on my right shoulder on the showroom floor while I was behind the wheel of a new Desert Rose Firemist 1977 Cadillac Seville as I was telling him about the automatic headlights whose controls were to the left of the steering column. “Mmmm, you smell good. What kind of cologne are you wearing?” He asked. “Did I show you the trunk?” I asked, as I opened the door and got out. At least he brought his wife in and bought her the car the next day. One young guy insisted on holding my hand in the front seat while on a test driving a new Sedan De Ville while his wife was in the back seat holding a four week old baby.

Ladies looking at your cleavage may be nice for straight guys, but it’s not going to get you a better price, not with me anyway. I’ve had women pinch me on the ass as I was bending over to pull a hood release, cry on my shoulder, and I mean cry, scream, bawl, and claw their faces about their mean ex husbands who were screwing them out of their well earned fortunes on a test drive, rub my crotch, women and men, pinch my nipples and one married man who wanted to go on test drive in a car that was exactly like the one he had in the service department, but he didn’t want to drive it. I found out why when he crawled into the floorboard on the passenger side and started giving me a blow job as I drove slowly through a residential area. Imagine my horror when I got back and one of the salesmen pointed to the milky white stains around the zipper of my navy slacks and busted out laughing. “I’ll bet that was a fun test drive!” he said.

I guess my point is this. “What do you think you’re doing? Are sales people pieces of garbage that have to put up with whatever abuse you decide to deal out? I compared stories with a pretty female sales lady in her late twenties one time. She told me she had to put up with the same things, but whatever it took to sell a car including holding a seventy five year old man’s hand while his wife was waiting in the showroom, or playing with his limp marsh mallow dick just to make a sale, she was willing to do it. She just didn’t consider it a big deal. I suppose we could throw a fit and file charges against you, but what would happen? We’d be fired by our greedy dealers who’d believe you before they’d believe us especially if a ten cent profit were involved.

Here’s another thing I can’t understand about people these days that differs from thirty years ago. If you’re fat and it seems sixty five percent of women and men these days are, don’t try and wear it as a badge of pride, cover it up with a moo moo, or wear a girdle, no one wants to see that shit. Stretch pants, or jeans, don’t cut it when you’re a size twenty six. If your ass and thighs look like two pigs in a sack fighting to get out, or like cottage cheese, find a way to camouflage them. I don’t care if you’re “Large and in Charge”, or think you’re a “Sexy Mama”. Don’t try and squeeze your “Circus Maximus” fat, gelatinous, ass, into the seat of an Aston Martin, or a Porsche that you can’t possibly fit in, or afford.

I had a couple come in to the Aston Martin dealership in Dallas once and nice as they were, I could tell by what they were driving and how they acted that they couldn’t have afforded a tire on one of those cars. She had a huge ass, a huge one. I don’t even know how she found form fitting jeans to cover it. She had on a giant afro wig and three inch glittered eyelashes. I was being polite as I opened doors on cars for her to sit in and the manager was mad as hell with me because I’d even buzzed them into the showroom in the first place. I honestly don’t know how she was able to fit in the cars as I closed the doors. I hoped it would make her uncomfortable, or hurt her butt and she would want to get out immediately. Her boyfriend kept saying “Oh, baby you look good in dat, oh yea baby, you look good in dat.” “Nnnnot dat you don’t look good anyway baby, but you really look good in dat!” I thought the tires were going to explode. She wouldn’t have looked good in anything if we’d all been Ray Charles, or Stevie Wonder.
These days you have underage kids coming into the showroom wanting to test drive cars. Many of them are under twenty one, but they want to drive a one hundred and forty thousand dollar Porsche and get mad when you tell them they can’t. It isn’t “Six Flags” or “Disneyland” at least they have an admission charge. If you can’t afford something don’t ask to drive it. The cars aren’t there for your entertainment they are for legitimate customers to buy. For God’s sake and your own self respect treat sales people like human beings, God knows their managers and dealers don’t. Try not to be rude or condescending sales people are human beings just like you keep your hands to yourselves and if you can’t afford something don’t go pretending that you can. I’d much rather have someone look at a car and say, “Wow, that’s way out of my price range.” Than someone looking at a window sticker and saying, “That’s ridiculous! I would never pay that for a car!” What do you think that tells a sales person? You can’t afford it buddy.

I remember once getting a call in the early nineties at a Cadillac dealership in Dallas where the lady said she had been on the lot that Sunday and noticed that the new Sedan Deville’s were listing for around thirty thousand dollars. She wanted to know if it was unreasonable of her to think that she could buy one for fifteen thousand dollars. Well, this was one of those skanky dealerships where they recorded the phone calls and you never knew when they were going to set you up. More dealers do it now than ever before, for “quality control”. So, I decided to have a little fun with her. I asked her in my sweetest voice, “Oh, did you want to finance fifteen thousand dollars on a new Cadillac? That would really make your payments low.” She said “No.”, and explained herself again. I said,”Oh, you want to put down fifteen thousand dollars on the car, well that would still make your payments very low.” She said “No.”, and explained herself again. I then said, “Oh you must mean one of our pre owned cars, we do have some of those for around fifteen thousand dollars, which year were you looking for?” She said “No.”, and explained herself again. I then asked her to tell me exactly where the cars she’d seen were located? Which side of the street they were on? Which part of the lot, etc? When I explained to her that she was on the new car side, and all the cars had window stickers with the MSRP around thirty thousand dollars, she said, “Yes, yes, yes.” By this time, I’d drug the phone call out to about fifteen minutes and she must have thought she’s gotten a hold of the dumbest salesman on the face of the earth, even I was getting tired of the conversation. I finally said, “Let me see if I understand, what you’re asking me is if it is unreasonable of you to think that you can buy a brand new Cadillac that list for thirty thousand dollars for fifteen thousand dollars?” She sounded so relieved that she’d finally gotten through to me, “Yes, that’s what I’m asking”. I said “Yes mam that is unreasonable!” I wanted to say, “You stupid bitch, have you lost your fucking mind?”

I once went out to wait on two women in Midland looking at a new 1978 Coupe De Ville. The car probably listed for between twelve and thirteen thousand dollars at that time and one heifer tapped her fingernail on the glass at the price while digging at her teeth with a toothpick and said, “These cars are fifteen hundred dollars cheaper in New Orleans.” I said, “Mam, the window stickers come on the cars from the factory and if a car in Hawaii has the same equipment as a car in New York they’ll have the same MSRP.” She shook her head vigorously, tapped that lunch hook of hers on the window again and said, “No, these cars are fifteen hundred dollars cheaper in New Orleans.” I then said, “Maybe the car you saw in New Orleans had less equipment on it.” Again she said, “No, these cars are fifteen hundred dollars cheaper in New Orleans”. I said, “Well, I think I’d go buy it in New Orleans then.” and walked away. I learned years ago you can’t argue with drunks and fools.

Then there’s the “How much more will you come off if I pay cash?” I’ve had to grin and tell many people, “We don’t penalize you for paying cash, but we’d rather you financed it with us because we make a little money that way.” I can remember my grandfather in the 1960’s saying, “Yeah, I went down to the Buick house and paid cash for that Electra out there.” Most people aren’t actually paying cash anyway, they’re borrowing the money from their bank, or credit union.

I once worked for a dealer that was short on operating funds and about to close his doors. If someone paid cash for a car, he used the money to pay the employees and keep the lights on. The customer drove around for ninety days or longer without license plates because the car they’d paid cash for hadn’t been paid off at the bank. If they financed it then he registered it right away because that was the only way he could get his money from the lender. He was doing the same thing on extended warranties which in most cases will allow you up to a year to purchase one. When he finally closed his doors and lost his franchise he and his son were charged with fraud. Before it ever went to trial the dealership mysteriously burned to the ground. When TV reporters interviewed him for the local news he said, “There wasn’t anything in there but a bunch of papers.” Yeah, the paperwork that would have sent he and his son to prison for several years!

One of my favorites was a man who had always traded in his Porsche a few months before his lease was up. He was a doctor and he and his wife both thought way too much of themselves. He came into the dealership one day acting haughty and in a hurry and said, “I’m Dr. Stone, order me a new Targa in seal grey with a spoiler and call me when it comes in, my information is in your computers.” I noticed he was driving a two year old Targa, but he was so rude and hateful and in such a hurry I didn’t have the nerve to ask him if he was thinking of trading it in. When his new car arrived four months later he told me, “I’m leasing that Porsche and I always trade mine in early and get a new one.” I got it appraised and had to tell him “Well, I’ve got some bad news, and some good news. The bad news is that your payoff is twenty thousand dollars more than the car appraised for and you won’t be able to trade right now unless you want to put down a lot of money. The good news is that in eight months you won’t have to worry about it, and it it’ll be Porsche’s problem.” He got mad and threw a hissy fit and then his wife showed her ass and said, “My, this new showroom you built is certainly nice.” I said, “Well, thank you.” She said, “You’d better enjoy it, you won’t be here long!” I had to go into my sales manager’s office and shut the door because I was about to plant my fist in that cunt’s face! She’s the type who goes into jewelry stores and furriers before the holidays, buys items on credit, then takes them back after January all scratched up and cigarette burned after being worn to numerous parties and wants her money back because she decided they “weren’t suitable”. They went out and rolled all that negative equity into a new Mercedes Benz 550 SL. Boy, they sure showed me, fucking morons!

I remember back in the early 1980’s when GM started their roller coaster ride of interest rate incentives. I truly believe in my own heart that’s when GM started their downhill slide to bankruptcy. We would go ninety days with terrific interest rates and then ninety days with no incentives at all. When rates were low we were selling cars like crazy and couldn’t keep enough on the lots, but when rates went back up and inventory started to stack up the owner would run around screaming, “Don’t order any more cars, if another truck pulls up, I’m sending them back!”
That was when consumers learned if they waited long enough then GM would lower their interest rates once again. We sales people suffered because during the good times we thought we’d never have another poor day and when the sales stopped we couldn’t afford our dry cleaning. I had a lady who put a lot of time and thought into purchasing a new 1982 Buick Park Avenue from me. She picked out her car and gave me a deposit, but she wouldn’t take delivery because she was sure that GMAC was going to come up with lower interest rates any day. My dealer was having a fit because the car was just sitting there. I even called the GMAC office in Odessa and asked the manager if he’d heard any rumors of lower interest rates any time soon. This was early in the game and GM had gone longer than their ninety days without any special incentives. She drug it out for two weeks, but I finally got the lady to come in and take delivery on a Thursday afternoon. The next Monday while I was listening to the news on TV as I was shaving I heard, “GM announced today that it is lowering its interest rates.” I could have died. I was dreading that call when it came and of course she called me. To this very day I know that lady thinks I lied to her.

I once worked at a dealership where a salesman took a customer on a test drive in a brand new one hundred thirty eight thousand dollar 2004 Porsche Turbo convertible. I’d warned the salesman that I’d traded the car to a dealership in San Antonio and then he asked, “Where are the keys?” “In the manager’s office.” I said. When I saw him walking outside with the key, I asked, “What are you going to do with it?” “I’m going to move it around back” he said. I happened to look up just as the car was leaving the lot and I looked at the salesman standing in my office and asked, “Are they taking that car on a test drive?” He said, “Well that’s what it looks like.” I said, “I hope they total the son of a bitch. I’m so sick of Ray thinking he can do whatever he wants to around here!” We spent the next ten minutes discussing the “what if” scenario of the car being wrecked. About that time the customer and Ray walked in the side door. I figured they must have driven it around back while I was looking the other way. The customer must’ve thought I was the manager because he walked up to my desk and said, “I just totaled that car.” My heard raced as I wondered how they’d heard what we were talking about and I said, “Yeah right”, and laughed. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “No, I really did total it.” I looked at his face then at Ray’s and said something I would never normally say to a customer, “Your shittin me?” He said, “No, I really did.” I asked them where the car was and I told Ray he’d better try and get a hold of our manager who was on vacation in Florida as I grabbed the keys to a Cayenne. The other salesman and I drove over there. When we turned the corner and saw the car the salesman said, “Man, don’t you wish you’d saved that wish for the Lotto?” The customer had lost control of the car going around a traffic circle and drove it up and over a parking lot. It tore out the suspension, busted the engine block, deployed the air bags, roll bars, and bent the unibody. Thank God I wasn’t the salesman who took him on the test drive.

I worked for a “Pretend” luxury Japanese car dealership most recently. These are the cars where the Japanese place a new label on a cheaper car and stick on a little more “Goo Ga, Trash Flash and Disco Glitter” and then tack on thousands of dollars and dumb ass Americans eat it up. At the dealership the lot looked like a garbage dump, the black granite floors were worn down and dull, the cars on the showroom were filthy with dead batteries and the men’s restroom usually smelled like a three week old corpse was in there somewhere, even sales managers down wind from it had to get up and close their doors. A three hundred pound salesman was usually the culprit. His shit stunk so bad the smell would linger down the hall for hours. The tents outside to protect the cars from hail were rotten and collapsed. If you walked someone through the service department they might slip and fall in oil, transmission fluid, or grease and you could never tell what kind of language they might be subjected to by the mechanics. The new cars had door dings in them and warning lights were sometimes on in the instrument cluster. If I took the time to put the cars in the service department to have the problems corrected they usually disappeared into the “Twilight Zone” only to be discovered week’s later, sitting on the back lot uncorrected. As difficult as it was for me I got tired of hearing myself complain to the deaf ears of the sales managers and I finally gave up and developed the same attitude as every other person who worked there, who gives a shit, why bother? This dealer tried to come off as "Family First", which means their family who live in mansions, and on estates, not you, or your family, who they couldn’t care less about. They’d say things like, their customers are the most important people in the world to them. “Gag!” In real life they are out to screw you out of every last dollar you have while playing Christian music over the P.A. system. My recommendation is if you go into a dealership where they brag about their family values and play Christian music, or if your sales person has a bible or a cross on their desk run like hell! You are about to receive the fucking of your life. I worked for two dealerships that played the same Christian XM radio station over their P.A. systems and they were the most evil, heartless people, I’ve ever worked for. These people are exploiting Jesus Christ as a way to promote their own business and the only thing “Almighty” they care about is the dollar.

My last adventure there was a letter I wrote to the owner after I heard a salesman telling him in the break room how pleased he was with the guy who handled his cell phone service the day before. “If I had some kind of a service business I’d want that guy working for me” he said

“Really?” the owner said. “Yeah, he was a fag.” the salesman said. I asked, “How do you know Paul?” “Oh, I could tell by the way he talked” He said. That was the last straw for me.

Here’s the letter I send anonymously;

I feel it should be brought to your attention that you have an employee at your dealership Paul Smith, who appears to be against everything you stand for. Or perhaps it truly doesn’t matter if you are not indeed what you represent yourself to be. This is beginning to be the consensus of many of us. He seems impervious to any of the rules that pertain to the rest of your employees.
With the recent concerns about the dealerships policy regarding sexual harassment which we all know has been state and national law for several years now. He has been overheard by others to say many inappropriate things even to your office manager Diana.
“Me and my wife are gonna have another baby!”
“Oh really?”
“Well I’ve been practicing! Yuk, Yuk, Yuk!”
That’s just his way of talking dirty to the women who work for you. By tolerating such things she has opened herself up to litigation regarding the current policies of management being aware of sexual harassment, but she ignored it.
Using derogatory words and racial slurs for minorities, and women are things he does on a daily basis as if making over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year makes it acceptable. He was even heard saying “I just love pussy.” in Jeb’s office one day.
Paul also likes to relate all kinds of sexual escapades, whether real, or fictitious, about going down to Juarez and fucking some Mexican whore in the mouth and blowing the back of her head off with his load of cum, or some Juarez “Madam” washing his dick and balls while he’s screaming “Too much soap, too much soap!” because he’s about to ejaculate all the while acting out his stories with lewd hip gyrations and pelvic thrust pulling up his pants to accentuate his genitals. Then he dares to inject something about God, or Jesus, after telling such stories as if he just brought the story around to its real purpose. That’s like telling a story about Jews who were exterminated in the Holocaust and then saying “They lived happily ever after.”
Managers have been known to express their opinions of him by saying that he has no morals and no scruples, but he sells a hell of a lot of cars. Like that makes everything alright?
These are just examples of the stories he tells on a daily basis to anyone within earshot. He talks in a similar manner to his customers as well. He can be heard all through the day relating vulgar and disgusting stories down the hall of the sales floor with his loud mouth. Whether it is of a sexual nature, or how he has put an ignorant customer in their place. To him he is “The King!”
Is this the kind of image you want to represent you and your family? Or do you just not care because of the money? People are thinking it’s all about the money.
The managers are afraid of him and don’t even bother to say anything to him when he shows up at least two days a week without a tie. He does it on Fridays when he’s supposed to be off even if he spends the majority of the day at the dealership and he never wears one on Saturdays. When he knows you are away from the dealership he removes his tie. He’s even been seen going into your office without a tie and speak to you in person as if he’s saying, “Look, I even went to talk to the big boss and even he didn’t say anything.” When he walks around with his tie thrown over his shoulder it’s not for “Good Luck” as he says it is, it’s his way of giving you the finger! No one likes wearing ties, so if he’s so important to you then why don’t you just do away with the rules that the rest of us have to abide by?
He’s even been heard to brag about the fact when the new car salesmen complained about him showing up on yet again another Saturday without a tie and he made degrading remarks about their sales abilities and their laziness.
“I’ve even walked into the owner’s office and he didn’t say anything to me about it, so why should they whine and bitch about it?” “I wish I had the time to piss and moan about something like that, but I’m too busy selling cars.” He said.
Do you really think he’s so talented that if he left he would take all his customers with him? He’s even flaunted such things right in front of you and the fact that no one of authority says anything to him makes him feel empowered to say anything he feels like. He makes fun of other employees who choose to dress per dealership policy even to making fun of a black salesman by pulling his handkerchief out of his coat pocket and pretending to blow his nose on it right in front of you an owner and officer of the company and you never said a word. I even heard him telling you about the great customer service he got on his new cell phone and he said he would hire the guy who helped him in a heartbeat. When you expressed how nice that was he said, “Yeah, he was a fag.” When I asked him how he knew? He said he could tell by the way he talked. All of this was right in front of you and you let him get away with it. How do you think I felt about that as a gay man?
What do you think this says to the rest of the staff?
(1). I don’t have to play by the rules!
(2). I’m better than all of you!
(3). Management is afraid of me!
(4). The owners are afraid of me!
(5). I make so much money I can get away with anything I want and there isn’t anything you can do about it!
(6). I’m invincible and can’t be fired because this dealership would be nothing without me!
With the economy and sales being what they are these days, this is not a good morale booster for the other employees. People are sick and tired of it. If he doesn’t have to abide by the rules than why should we?
This is the opinion of your employees who are afraid to say anything for fear of being fired in retaliation for reporting him.

Needless to say they suspected me of writing the letter, so I wasn’t there much longer it’s just as well, I hated selling that those ugly cars anyway.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I seem to remember reading the jacket on a VHS copy of the movie “Beaches” that read something like, “Two friends who have nothing in common except a lifelong friendship.” That perfectly describes my relationship with Steve.

I met him at one of the worst times of my life just after coming out to my parents and being dumped by my first love. I’d turned seventeen in January and I met Steve right around the end of February 1972 just as he’d turned nineteen. He was with his boyfriend John Paul and I ran into them in the lobby of the Carolina Theater I worked after school, we hit it off right away. Like most people I’ve become friends with over the years, Steve liked me because he thought I had a great sense of humor and I wasn’t effeminate like a lot of the guys he’d met. Since he was in the Air Force stationed at Pope Air Force Base there in Fayetteville he couldn’t afford to have nellie friends. For some reason I’d been told of a strict rule back then that “sisters” didn’t have sex. I think we may have heard it from my friend Charlie, so at all times during our friendship, even when we shared the same bed, we never touched one another.
I began spending a lot of time with John Paul and Steve and soon met John Paul’s roommate Gordon. Gordon had been married and had a nine year old daughter. He didn’t look or act gay which I’m sure worked in his favor since he was a mechanic at the Buick dealership. It wasn’t long before Gordon and I pared up and began having sex. He wasn’t really my type, but the dirty fingernails and his ruggedly handsome face attracted me to this tough acting guy. He was kinky in bed and insisted that I open my eyes and look straight into his when he came while fucking me. I guess it was a power trip with him. He was the one who gave me my first case of crabs and I refused to have sex with him after that. It was the same time I suspect he gave the crabs to a pretty young girl who worked in Charlie’s father’s jewelry store. Charlie almost laughed in her face when she said, “Gordon’s the kind of guy that would give you crabs.” I guess we both had a thing for “Grease Monkeys”.

Within two months of meeting Steve he had to go out of town to spend a few days with his parent’s in Charlotte. John Paul and Gordon invited me to go out drinking with them one Saturday night. I guess John Paul was jealous of my friendship with Steve because when we got back to his mobile home that night he started some shit with me about my relationship with Steve. “You two are fucking aren’t you?” he wanted to know. I said, “No, we’re just friends. “Oh don’t hand me that shit. I know you two motherfuckers are sleeping together behind my back!” his voice suddenly growing louder. We went back and forth with him accusing me and me telling him nothing was going on between us. Then he said, “You know what? Not only do I not believe you, I don’t like you and I’m going to beat the shit out of you.” As I was trying to get out the sliding glass door at the front of the trailer he reached around me, locked it, and started punching me in the face. Gordon just stood there watching, but at one point John Paul told him to go and get the gun and he disappeared down the hall returning with a pistol in hand. John broke my nose and chipped a front tooth, so blood was pouring everywhere. I decided he might beat the hell out of me, or kill me, but I wasn't going to make it easy for him. I kicked the glass door until it shattered in a hundred pieces, then rushed out the door to my mothers car yelling at the top of my lungs, “Help, help, somebody help me!” At that point I’d opened the door and got behind the wheel, but he blocked me from shutting the door and held a piece of the glass to my throat. It was then that I realized he had the keys to my mother’s car because he'd driven us home. I started yelling louder and honking the horn so much that it broke the metal horn ring of the mother’s green 1969 Mercury Monterey. “Give me the fucking keys you bastard, give me the fucking keys!” I screamed. He slapped me across the face and my head jerked to the right slinging blood all over the inside of the windshield. By that time dogs were barking and lights were going on everywhere so he threw the car keys at me and threatened, “If call the police you little faggot I swear I’ll kill you.” I slammed his hand in the glass of the door and locked it, then as he was trying to pull his hand out, I got the keys in the ignition and stomped the accelerator causing the tires to squeal. I turned the car around and tried to run him over as I was leaving. I’d have done it too, but he stepped behind his ancient red Triumph before I could reach him. I’d always been taught that if someone threatens you with harm don’t go quietly, raise hell, scream, yell, do whatever it takes to get attention and get the hell out of there.

My parent's called the police and filed charges against him, but he always hid from them and didn't show up in court. He and Gordon went AWOL from his rented trailer and their jobs. He had prior charges and outstanding warrants, but as far as I know nothing ever happened to him at least while I still lived there. A few months later I saw Gordon and him at a light. I was in my dark blue 1965 Chevrolet Impala convertible and he was in some car I’d never seen before. They started cruising me, but as soon as they recognized me they hauled ass so fast I couldn't get their license number.

After that Steve and I became even closer and began spending every free moment together. By that summer I’d been promoted to projectionist and had Saturdays off while I worked the evening shift for three hundred dollars a month. We must’ve put five thousand miles on my old convertible “Samantha” that summer hitting the gay bars in every city in the state of North Carolina. Even though I was only seventeen I was only carded once in Charlotte and when I said, “I left my driver’s license in the car I’ll have to go back and get it,” The guy said, “Don’t worry about it, you look old enough.” I was actually standing in the “Pegasus” bar in Chapel Hill, when a troll of an ABC liquor control board agent pulled a college student out of the bar and arrested him. The guy had been standing right next to me. Back then people still harassed gays in any way, shape, or form, they could. On one of our trips the Loretta Lynn tour bus passed my car and honked as they pulled ahead. There were four of us in the car with the top down drinking beer and we waved and honked back. I’ll never know if the “Queen of Country Music” herself saw us or not.

I’m not sure when he did it, but Steve had put in a transfer to Taiwan, or Thailand, I can’t remember now which one it was, but I was heartbroken at the thought of loosing my best friend and we did everything we could that summer before he had to leave in November. When we were both broke, which was often, we would go around to car dealerships looking at the new cars when they were closed. Steve was certain he wanted a new Oldsmobile Toronado, while I was torn between a boat tailed Buick Riviera, or a Thunderbird. We had all kinds of dreams and plans and we decided that after high school I should enlist in the Air Force and get stationed at the same base. We even found our dream home by going around to all the mobile home dealerships in town that had their trailers open on Sundays, so people could walk through them. We found one called “The Bachelor II” it had a master suite at each end of the trailer and you shared the living room, dining room, and kitchen. We decided that would be the perfect home for us. Steve and I spoke often about our hopes and dreams for the future and we always saw ourselves as being best friends forever. We even decided that we’d go to the old queen’s home for the aged when we got too old to take care of each other and we’d laugh about sitting out on the front porch looking at all the young cute guys as they walked by. Steve always insisted he wanted to die before he turned thirty because by then he’d be too old to attract anyone. We often talked about what it would be like knowing someone for twenty years, it seemed like such a long time to us back then.

I cried when we hugged for the last time before he left to go overseas. He sold his car and only took some of his clothes. Whatever else he had went to his parent’s house in Charlotte. I always admired the relationship Steve had with his father, they were close and his father truly loved him, something I’d never had. The year he was over there we exchanged letters constantly. One of my biggest regrets was when in one of my many moves I decided to throw those old letters away. By that time they seemed silly with all that talk of him saving up to buy a big stereo and a TV to bring back with him and all the trials and tribulations of boyfriends I couldn’t even remember after all those years. We discussed the latest records of The Supremes, Diana Ross and Barbara Streisand, they sure seemed important to us at the time. I’d give anything if I still had them, it was a great timeline of my life back in 1973 and 1974.

When he came back he re enlisted and he got enough money to pay cash for a new butterscotch colored 1973 Cutlass Supreme with a black vinyl top and interior. He then transferred to Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo to be close to me in Texas. We got to visit on a few weekends, but by 1975 there was some over zealous officers at Goodfellow that were having men suspected of homosexual activity followed around town. That made Steve nervous because he’d been questioned on one occasion, so he transferred to Los Angeles. I didn’t see him again for four years.

In 1979 I flew out to L.A. twice to visit him, and we had a good time seeing the Queen Mary, Universal Studios, homes of the stars. On my last visit he had a lover and I had to pay for the three of us to go everywhere. I didn’t mind, but for some reason Steve and I had an argument and I ended up in the bathroom crying. He was angry with me because my attempt at joining the Air Force had failed and I think he resented it deep down. There was also the fact that I was selling cars and making enough money to afford Cadillac’s and Lincoln’s while he couldn’t. I lived in a beautifully furnished apartment and I was making the dreams we talked about as teenagers come true and renting Rolls Royce’s for us to drive while I visited him. He was living in cheap apartments and using public transportation when his car broke down. We were cordial when he took me to the airport, but I left with a heavy heart. I had no idea that it would be eleven years before I would see him again.

A year or two afterwards Steve decided not to re enlist. He sold his car for five hundred dollars and moved to San Francisco. He was sharing an apartment with several guys in the Castro District and got heavily involved in drugs. Any phone number I ever had for him was only good for a few weeks before being disconnected and the only way I had of reaching him was by calling his parent’s and getting his new number from them. Even after I went to considerable trouble to reach him he was usually so high he would cut the call short and promise to call back which never happened. He once admitted to me that he was shooting up with all kinds of stuff and would wake up at times and not know where he was, or who he was with.

I finally gave up trying and didn’t hear from him until he called me from Oklahoma in 1986 where he was staying with friends while making his way back to his parent’s in North Carolina. His lover in San Francisco had died and Steve drove his car to his parent’s somewhere in the Midwest and was now trying to get home. He sounded more like himself than he had in years and he would laugh in that deep baritone voice of his as we caught up on the past couple of years. I was hoping he’d come to visit me and stay for a while. He spoke more softly as he told me, “Sammy, I’m going home because I found out I’m HIV positive and I haven’t been well.” My heart stopped, I couldn’t believe my ears he was actually the first person I knew personally who had HIV. Back then there was nothing anyone could do it was a death sentence. In my heart I’d always known it would happen. Being a gay man and an IV drug user in San Francisco in the early eighties he was bound to get it. I held back tears as I asked, “Do your parent’s know?” “Yes, I told my mother a few months ago and I just told my father last week, he cried when I told him and he told me to come home.” he said.

Over the next few years we talked on the phone frequently, and he even found a new lover at his AA meetings who was also HIV positive. They moved in together and by 1990 they both had full blown AIDS. He once told me that when he saw the movie “Beaches” it reminded him of us. “Really, which one was I?” I asked. “Who do you think bitch!” he said, as I laughed. I couldn’t afford to go see him because it cost so much more to fly on Southwest Airlines to the east coast than it does to the west coast, I don’t know why. Then in June of 1990 we had a contest at the Cadillac dealership I was working for in Dallas selling Vogue Tyres. I didn’t win the contest which was a trip to tour the Kelly Springfield tire plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but when the girl who won it didn’t want to go. I went to her and told her I had a friend in N.C. who was dying of cancer and it might be my last chance to see him. She went to the managers and told them to give the trip to me. I have been eternally grateful to her for doing that and we still run into her from time to time. Steve agreed to drive from Charlotte to Fayetteville to spend the night with me. He had a choice of driving his car with air conditioning and no radio, or driving his lover’s car whose air was not working, but had a cassette player. Steve, being Steve, drove the one with no air so he could listen to his music. It was so hot and humid that he got sick after driving home and was in the hospital for three weeks.

Steve’s skin had taken on that sickly gray color that you saw so often then on people with AIDS back then and his once coal black, shiny hair was getting gray and dull. We tried to visit some of our old haunts in my rented white Pontiac, but we discovered that the downtown Hay Street area that we practically lived on had been raised to the ground. Virtually nothing was left but flat deserted blocks where formerly there were hotels, movie theaters, and department stores. It was depressing and sad. I bought rum and Coke, but Steve couldn’t drink any. That night in our hotel room we lay in bed together and Steve told me he had many regrets about how he’d lived his life. He said he never should have left the Air Force and stayed in L.A. He also said he regretted the fact that we’d never had sex. I held him and cuddled with him that night for the first time in our lives as we fell asleep. The next day he followed me to the airport and stayed with me until my flight was ready to leave. One of my co workers took a photo of us sitting together. As I walked to the plane, I kept looking back. He stood there watching me, we both knew it would be the last time we’d ever see each other. One Friday I woke up with Steve on my mind. I just felt I had to call and check on him, we hadn’t spoken since the fourth of July. I was ironing shirts that night as I watched the clock for the rates to go down to call him. Something told me when the phone was answered not to ask for him. When his mother answered I said, “Hi, this is Sammy, I was just calling to check on Steve.” There was a pause, and she said, “Oh honey, Steve passed away this morning. I’ve been meaning to call, but things have been so busy around here.” I choked back the tears and told her how much I loved him and admired her for taking care of him in his final months. She said, “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” I don’t remember what else I said, but she promised to call me regarding his funeral arrangements. When we hung up I just stood there in the kitchen ironing those God damned shirts and sobbing. He died on July 23rd, 1991 at the age of thirty eight. We’d known each other for nineteen and a half years, we never made it to that twenty year milestone we’d always talked about.
I guess he was really right; we really were “Two friends who had nothing in common except a lifelong friendship.”