An Outlaw Speaks

Go West. . .

"La Pistolera" aka El Tejano's Jacket, acrylic on denim, 2009, Richard Van Ingram
"La Pistolera" aka El Tejano's Jacket, acrylic on denim, 2009, Richard Van Ingram
I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
I was staring in my empty coffee cup
I was thinking that the gypsy wasn't lyin'
All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I'm gonna drink 'em up

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing 
Until I pay my bill
Don't the sun look angry through the trees
Don't the trees look like crucified thieves
Don't you feel like Desperados under the eaves
Heaven help the one who leaves

Warren Zevon

From “Desperados Under the Eaves”

Don’t we all have some bills to pay, brothers and sisters? Aren’t we all on the run from something, always on the run from something that we just can’t shake – on the edge of the shadow of our own crucifixion scene?

Maybe you haven’t had the experience or you put it to bed so well the felling only eats at you from the symbolic confines of your dreams. Some of us are Outlaws and we live on the edge of something terrible. . . we’ve seen too much, too often. We’ve felt the angry sun’s judgment in our eyes as we stared it down and we’ve seen the empty trees meant for our bodies as we skipped town for the final time.

Go West, Old Man, as that’s where all Outlaws tend to run. So you hopped a plane, exhausted from packing a storage building for three days, alone, with all your worldly goods and possessions save the 42 pounds of books stuffed into the suitcase sleeping in the belly of the jet. You looked at every cop with narrowed eyes, just waiting for one of them to stop you, tell you, “No.”

You looked at them with the same hard, blue eyes you stared your relatives down with when you cut the chains they held you fast with, when you gave it all up, when you let them brand you a traitor, a bastard, a loser. You handed them back 43 years-worth of guilt and indifference and misunderstanding and carelessness and selfishness . . . and wounds you could not heal for them because you are not Jesus, but one of the thieves meant for the other crosses. Handed it all back and said you didn’t care anymore. Because you didn’t.

You stomped the gas on your rental car and left town: one final trip around the square; it didn’t notice your passing any more than it recognized your arrival all those times. She’s a fickle lady, your hometown, and you, my dear, were never her darling lover boy. She set the dogs on you more than once as you attempted to woo her and make known the depths of your love, as you gave her your art and your words and all the stolen baubles of your classical learning. You had nothing she wanted, so all you left was a storage building full of shit and some of your emptiness.

You win, you said, heading past the city limits. Have it. I’m gone.

One person cried to see you leave and you left before you cried, too. Because your tears will never glue back together some things once they’re irreparably shattered, transformed into the stuff from which you make a future.

They let you on the plane. You weren’t looking forward to sitting cramped alongside some stranger on a day like that one. Miracle of miracles – you had the seats to yourself. Not a few minutes after takeoff, you sat staring numbly out the window, watching your home state disappear behind thick, grey clouds. You slipped the chain. Sleep was a blessing.

You allowed everyone to take their swings at you, to cut you, to bruise you with their words and eyes – you walked through their gauntlet and headed West.

Go West. Go seek your fortune, find your place to make your stand. Look for shelter, look for love. Let the hurt come out little by little, because you have bills to pay, accounts to settle, and you will go no further till it’s done and right.

Desperado, you have ridden a hard time to come to this place. Now what will you make of it?

More by this Author

Comments 2 comments

Richard VanIngram profile image

Richard VanIngram 7 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Author

Thank you, Degenerate MAC -- your words mean the world to me.


Degenerate RVI

Degenerate MAC 7 years ago

Few people will appreciate the bravery described here. I'm one. Congratulations, old friend, sparring partner, mystery man.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article