Thursday, December 30, 2010


"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."

Good old Crumley. The line, of course, is from The Last Good Kiss.

I'm not sure why I was thinking of Jim today, but I couldn't get him out of my head. I'm reaching the end of my 17th novel. A tough one, a different one, one that's stretched me way beyond my comfort zone. And then Jim popped into my mind. The easy way he had with writing. Not that it was easy for him. It wasn't any easier for him than anybody else. He set himself a high bar and kept jumping over it and over it and over it. But he never complained about it, about how hard it was, what a pain it could be. He didn't complain about much of anything, except ex-wives.

I spent a year hanging around him when we worked together in El Paso. We had some uproarious times. Some evening in Juarez that are etched in my brain forever. Even the evenings I can't remember a damn thing about except me and Jim pissing in a trough that ran under the bar at the Kentucky Club. The trough ran out to the street, and into the gutter. It was a very useful trough. Kept the drinkers drinking, and saved the owners from having to furnish a real bathroom.

Jim and I carried a mattress on top of my car one night. It was to be Jim's mattress for the year he was teaching at the U. We'd roped it down to the roof and we drove from one side of El Paso to the other and when we arrived (not completely sober or straight) we realized the mattress had blown off somewhere along our route. No sweat. We retraced our steps and found it halfway along the way. Tire tracks, lots of them, marked that mattress and dented it permanently. No sweat. Jim used that mattress all year.

He had some trouble with his back that year. But every time he complained about it, we started laughing again. That damn mattress. It must've been run over a hundred times before we found it. Pain that turns to pleasure. Pleasure that turns to pain. Good old Jim. Man, I forgot for a while how much I loved that guy.

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