November 23, 2013
185 Nogal Canyon Road
Bent, New Mexico
I am an idiot! (Thank you Karl for the insight, it is one I will never forget!) Even as I now recall driving the dirt two track from Head Springs in Mescalero to the road which leads out of Nogal Canyon in Bent, I reflect on that statement. I had been persuaded by one drunk and soon to be delirious Native American man we should really go get some beer in Tularosa which was ten miles away on the paved road. It was late in the evening and the bar in Mescalero was already closed and he was going to have a bad case of Delirium Tremens if we didn’t go. Of course we didn’t discuss all that, he simply wanted some beer and had sobered enough by then to consider the pending crisis if he was to stop drinking. He had enough money in his pocket to make the choice between the two and the alcohol won. I was foolish enough at the time to go along with him, something I wouldn’t choose to do now. The problem was that the road by the church was closed. There had been a bad wreck there before we headed out and the only way out was to drive the forest road to either Bent or around to Highway 244 and over to Ruidoso. We went west.
It was already 8:30 at night and it must have been a moonless night as the forest was dark and scary, true wilderness once we left the gravel road and embarked on our adventure. I being fearless and in company with a man who for the moment could do no wrong was thrilled with the prospects, drunk on his company I suppose. We were talking about the Bigfoot who lives on the reservation and what we might do if we encountered him. The people here don’t think it might live here but rather know it exists and have all had personal encounters at one time or another. He had me full of laughter as his drunken humor never failed to intoxicate me and when we stopped to pee deep in the mountain silence I was quick to follow him towards the trees as he suggested.
As he stopped on the edge of the road Karl cupped his hands around his mouth and as I stepped up beside him, warmed by his closeness, he yelled, “I am an idiot!” Rather than the much anticipated response he always speaks of from “The Grinch Stole Christmas” of “You’re an idiot!” there came an unearthly voice from deep in the woods. He visibly cringed and I shuddered as I too have come to believe the Bigfoot dwells here in the safety of the Indian Reservation. It seemed we had unknowingly summoned one in our drunken humor. We moved closer to my truck, and each other, and then paused to listen for a rustle of feet coming towards us but heard none. Instead there was silence, and then, moments later, the high whine of the coyotes who also answered the voices which echoed in the darkness. We laughed around a bit and joked with some great seriousness that Bigfoot had answered his call but soon departed as he still needed some beer and we were both still shaken by the experience.
Miles later and well committed to our journey we came to a sudden stop where a tree had fallen across the road. Although Karl’s humor still prevailed he was rapidly becoming sober, his metabolism requires a constant flow of alcohol it seems, especially when he is drinking beer. He is a high proof sort of Native and prefers to drink Vodka; it is the only thing really strong enough to get him where he wants to be. He is a devoted alcoholic and he makes me glad I do not drink as it would kill me as it is rapidly killing him. He mumbled some expletive and we both wondered if we had the strength to move the barrier across the road and pondered the time it would take to get back to his house if we could not. Fortunately we managed to make room for our passage but even the brief time we spent doing so was enough to make me nervous. A fearful person I am not but when you are deep in the forest darkness at such a late hour and certain that Bigfoot is somewhere nearby there is reason for fear. The hair on the back of my neck was stood on end and I asked Karl what he would do if Bigfoot came. He said, “I would give you to him and leave, save my own ass!” He was only half kidding and I suggested it was time for us to get back in the truck and leave, he agreed.
When we got to Tularosa I followed Karl into the bar when he went to get his beer as he had promised me all he wanted was a six pack. Instead he grabbed a thirty pack of Budweiser and a half pint of Vodka. I gave it my best shot and summoned all of the feminine while and drama I could muster to try to dissuade him and leave the excess for another time. Failing at that I left him standing there in the parking lot and drove off in furious tears. He waved goodbye. Gone was the laughter and the wild humor of the night and all that was left was the stark reality of our lives and his addiction, coupled with the knowledge he would have also given me over to Bigfoot if we had actually encountered him. Rather than the dear friend I appeared to be when submitting to his will I was in fact only a convenient presence, an enabler at her worst. I drove off in tears and then went back to get him, I had called his bluff but could not leave him to the elements, even if he deserved it. He taunted me when he was securely in the truck and told me it didn’t matter, he would have walked to his cousins. The next day he thanked me and said he might well have gone to jail instead. He doesn’t like those relatives very well, nor they him.
Driving back I thought about Bigfoot and the laughter we had shared just an hour before. I berated him for his meanness and he sat there quietly and allowed me to do so. I considered his meekness in the face of my ire and was later thankful he is so respectful of me, though he had gotten what he wanted. He didn’t have to be and well could have hurt me worse than he did, as others have in the past. He knew he was wrong but he is a prisoner of his weakness, nothing else matters when he is drinking and he hates to be sick. I thought of the power of his voice and the utter honesty of his words as he spoke to the wilderness and the Bigfoot sheltered in the darkness. “I am an idiot!” he yelled, and in his own way he meant it. Perhaps the voice which echoed his words had in fact been a Bigfoot speaking in some primitive language, affirming his statement, “You are an idiot!”
I still love this guy and as I write these words I recall an idiom I created many years ago for a very similar and equally flawed man who I had given my heart to, one who hurt me far worse than this one ever will. It is a catchy phrase into which one can place any key word of choice and it will still work. I had told him at the time, “There is only one thing worse than a “Failure” and it is someone who admits to that and then uses it as an excuse to continue that same behavior.” The word “Idiot” works just as well. Karl is an idiot, and so am I, even if it is a poor excuse to continue such behavior. I still love him, and he loves me, he just loves Vodka a little more. What an idiot!