Monk Quixote

By Reno J. Romero

Memoir

We were at some hotel somewhere in the Inland Empire. We were in bed, post-coital, and passing a bottle of Pinot back and forth and watching the Top 100 Hard Rock tunes on VH1. The wine had me a little loopy and throughout the show I kept saying things like: “Oh, I saw those dudes in concert. They had dry-ice, stacks of amps, and all that rock bullshit. But they sucked big ones.” Or: “I saw those fuckers at some dive in San Bernardino. Oh yeah, man. You betcha. I was all jacked up on whiskey and dating some chick who had pretty brown eyes and bunions.”

Shauna looked at me like she always did: like I was crazy. Then Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” blasted across the screen.

“Don’t tell me,” she said, pursing up her beautiful lips. “You saw those guys at some back yard party and you whipped out your junk in front of Dee Snider.”

“I did see them in concert. But not in some back yard party. And Dee Snider didn’t see my junk. Long Beach Arena. They opened up for Iron Maiden on Maiden’s World Slavery Tour. And guess what? They rocked! Check this out. I was smoking pot with my cousin and his buddies before the show and one of his friends had an epileptic seizure. None of us knew what the hell was happening. So, while he twisted on the ground we started walking away. Not a cool thing to do. But he scared the living shit out of us. A few minutes later he was fine. It was weird.”

“Jesus Christ,” she said, shaking her head. “You guys walked away?”

“Hey, we were like fifteen! And stoned! How were we supposed to know what an epileptic seizure was? We thought he was dying. And we had weed on us. It was a bust if the coppers showed. We were holding, babe.”

“You guys suck.”

“We were fifteen!”

I proceeded to tell Shauna how Maiden were gods that night. How they consumed me. How I knew every song and sang every word. How the stage changed numerous times. How Eddie came charging out during “Running Free” as a beautiful tattered mummy. How they were filming and recording the shows for their upcoming live album that would be called Live After Death. How I was there to hear Bruce Dickinson give the famous line: “Scream for me Long Beach!” How when I walked into the arena a giant Union Jack was hanging and illuminated in glorious heavy metal light.

“They’re here,” I remember telling my cousin. “Maiden is here.”

That night Shauna and me polished off a couple of bottles of wine and I told her more rock tales. Of me seeing Korn with around fifty other people way before they made it big. Of me working for Metallica. Of me seeing Steve Vai in Hollywood and it was probably the best performance I ever saw. Of me seeing Ice Cube in the early 90s and rocking the fuck out. Of me seeing Sublime playing a back yard party in the California desert.

“Those were the days, Shauna Poo,” I said in a cheesy I’m-above-it-all-now tone. “But not anymore. There was a time it was greasy open-face burgers, naughty sluts, and whiskey. Now, it’s wine, refined company, and stinky cheese.”

“Oh, please,” she said, rolling over and leaving me with the TV, my heavy metal memories, and a bottle of wine with one good pull left.

The next day I met up with some friends from Vegas in Huntington Beach. We were old friends from our wilder single days. Fast forward a few years, a few job changes and divorces, and there we were single again. Men in their forties looking for some trouble in Orange County.

There was a celebratory yet anxious feeling in the air for we were all making drastic changes in our lives. James’ divorce was about wrapped up. Tucker was going into rehab for digging on heroin and benzos too much. Joey just filed for a divorce. Corey was going back home to Vegas, quit his job, dump his girlfriend of nine years, and then move to Oregon to take care of his father who was dying of cancer.

And then me. The last year I was on the road for work or pleasure and I found myself in the company of strange men and women, strange towns, and strange highways. What was at first romantic was in the end completely exhausting and made me a little crazy. I was tired of waking up in dank hotel rooms, in my truck, or sleeping on the floor in dilapidated homes that I was fixing.

I was dizzy.

I was cold.

I was sore.

I was all messed up.

So, I was going on a spiritual retreat of sorts to get my bearings. I was disappearing in some posh part of L.A, chop off all of my hair, eat better, run longer, listen to my heart and not my addictive mind, store away my truck and my “material” junk and go monk. Everyone saw it coming so when I made the announcement to the few that I wanted in the know it came as no surprise.

That night me and the gang had a nice dinner and got blind drunk. We ate piles of fish tacos, lobster enchiladas, rice and beans, ceviche, and craziness. Throughout that night we had weird silences, odd moments of realizing what was happening to us. At one point we were all living in Vegas, had wives, our better careers, homes, and now we were all going opposite directions for different reasons.

We were leaving our past for something else. What that was I don’t think any of us had a clue. Life was throwing punches, kicking us around. But we were game even though there was a hint of uncertainty in our voices. Over the table we joked that we weren’t dead, that we had our college degrees, a snatch of cheap talent, a kick-ass CD collection, a chick on the side of the stage named Jennifer, Christy, Angie, and dicks that still worked.

And we had each other.

We’d all been friends for over twenty years.

It wasn’t all that bad.

The next morning I woke up with my head thumping. Bodies stirred on the floor and it smelled like a drunk tank. I started my retreat that day. My check-in time was 2pm. Shauna was driving in from Riverside to take me in.

“You ready, baby?” she asked over the phone.

“I’m ready.”

Corey was already up and reading the copy of Don Quixote I bought him. One by one we hopped in the shower to wash off the cigarettes, vodka, rum and sand, which was painted over us. We looked and smelled horribly. James, who drank twice as much as all of us, was still passed out, his ass curiously raised in the air.

“We ought to field fuck him,” Tucker said. “What do you say, Reno?”

“Absolutely. I’m horny,” I said, making my way to James.

“He does have a nice ass,” Joey observed.

“I’m first!” Corey yelled. “Hold him down!”

James turned over quickly, his eyes red and shot out.

“You sick bastards! Get away from me!”

“We’ll be gentle, honey!”

“Please, James! I’m lonely!”

“Get the hell away from me!”

Field fucking is a Marine Corps activity whereby a Marine (one who’s been an asshole as of late) is held in the doggie position and his brotherhood takes turns dry fucking him. A very communal ceremony.

James wanted nothing to do with this ceremony.

Sissy.

“Wow, James. That hurts. We thought you loved us?”

“Fuck you.”

We went for breakfast at some quaint little diner—the ones with colorful pies spinning in a glass fixture. The waitress was cute. California blond with nice straight teeth, a button nose, and a good sense of humor. We were feeling a bit giddy from the night’s shenanigans and told her how crazy our lives were.

“Did you know this dude is going crazy? You bet! Loony! Right in front of your pretty eyes!”

“And this guy loves heroin. Well, he’s addicted to everything. Donuts. Cigarettes. Spam. Isn’t that just peachy?”

“Well, this guy is divorcing his wife and she’s taking all his shit! His screwdrivers. His chones. His dignity!”

“So wait a minute,” she said chuckling. “One of you is going crazy. One is addicted to heroin and like three of you are dumping your women? You guys look normal, but you’re all screwed up.”

“Why yes. Yes we are.”

Shauna showed up and we said our goodbyes. No tears. Just hugs and firm handshakes. Tucker would be gone for at least three months. James would have to pick up the pieces, find his dignity somewhere in the pale Vegas desert. So would Joey. And Corey would be in Oregon for as long as it would take. Me, I’d be gone at least two months, come out of the wilderness and say hello, and then would probably disappear again.

That’s what my heart was telling me.

“Time to go monk, eh?” Shauna said as we drove into a beautiful L.A day.

“Time to go monk.”

TAGS: , , , , , , ,

RENO J. ROMERO was born in the badlands of El Sereno, California. A bona fide Las Vegan, he also lived in the dirty South for three miserable years, where he was introduced to depression, grits, humidity, and sweet tea. A graduate of UNLV, the Southern Nevada Writing Project, and seedy bars, he enjoys Chinese food, Tamron Hall, the Trickster, and football. He currently writes poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction from the California desert, living among rattlesnakes, old bones, and biker speed. He's been published in various publications including Falling From the Sky (short story anthology), Celebrity Poets, and Central Speak. He can be reached at [email protected]

53 responses to “Monk Quixote”

  1. Amanda says:

    My friends and I call this “thirty days in the hole”.

    : )

  2. Gloria says:

    Your writing always has a beat that I love reading, Reno. It’s poetic and sharp.

    I love the word chones.

    • Reno J. Romero says:

      gloria-

      thank you so much for the kind comments. i too loves the word chones. it just sounds awesome. bye, gloria. do take care.

  3. Zara Potts says:

    D…
    You are such a terror.
    I love the way that you write is the way you talk. Your whole spirit is wrapped up in your words and as I read I can honestly hear you in my head.
    It’s been a crazy old time huh? I hope you are getting some peace in your time of monk. I hope there is love on the horizon and good company and sweet music coming for you, D.
    Nice piece. Don’t disappear for so long OK?
    Kiss Kiss
    Z.

    • Reno J. Romero says:

      z-

      times are better and my monk time was a keeper. i recommend it to everyone. well, we have yapped a little in person and online so you would know how silly i sound when i get going. that walk we took in L.A when i started kicking out my leg and yelling: “you’re fucking outta here, man!” will never ever leave my mind. or my life for that matter. what a blast. we must do it again. until then, sweetheart, i hope the scary earthquake stuff is subsiding a bit. take care, z. miss you gobs. keep rocking.

  4. jmblaine says:

    seems every Reno
    moment
    seems post-coital.

    (that’s a compliment)

    Also: Watched the Iron Maiden doc –
    the moment when the lights are back up and the Colombian guy
    in the crowd
    is crying and holding Nico’s stick up and the camera
    pans back and all his friends are crying
    and he raises it and makes the sign of the cross.
    What an awesome cinematic moment that was.

    • Reno J. Romero says:

      11-

      pre and POST coital moments are all about me. i can also be a spooner. yeah, no shit. i’ll hold you after we do the hippity dippity. yup. i’m warm and soft like that.

      didn’t see that maiden doc, but the scene u talked about rocks. i may have cried that night i saw those gods in LB. what a night.

      ok, 11, thanks for reading. hope ur dry by now.

  5. Judy Prince says:

    HA! reno j, how you ever get/got the energy to do all this stuff, I dunno.

    Like Zara, I can just hear you (even though I’ve never heard you) as I read this.

    You write about a watershed moment, the monk moment, when all you buddies have reached an awareness of your finite lives, of the rolling stone persona, of the juice gone out of all but memories.

    I want to know the next chapter.

    Buckwheat and almond bread with raisins,

    your second grade teacher,

    Judy

    • Me too. Always want to know more about the Reno-rockster.

      • Judy Prince says:

        You’re a damned fine man, Nick Belardes. And you recognise the same in reno j.

        • Hey, my kids are rock gods. Reno is a rock god. I have a ton of rock acquaintances and have covered a lot of rock bands, popular and not so popular. I get Reno through the brotherhood of rock. Even had some Iron Maiden albums back in the 80s. I remember their Dune song fondly.

        • reno says:

          nick-
          tell the kids to keep rocking. playing music is a blessing. my guitar is in its case 2 feet away. i love that. oh: and playing jams gets you laid. just sayin’.

          wait!

          i hear writing gets you laid.

          i’ve yet to see this firsthand. but we must keep the faith.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Nick, I know nothing about rock, though I can appreciate your and reno j’s love for it. Music’s taste is a personal and, often, practised preference. I’d definitely like to hear reno j play, though.

    • reno says:

      judy-

      hey there. energy? you bet. i believe it was bukowski who said that anyone can hold a job. but it takes REAL stamina to USE. i’ve had my share of using. i’m sure you may have figured this out by now. someday we will chat. tell mr. november that he has nothing to worry about. i’ll just make you laugh and put you in the mood to hit the closest tavern (or ur booze cabinet) and see what the night brings. thanks for reading. next chapter coming up.

      shredded tacos and screwdrivers,
      reno romero

      • Judy Prince says:

        One glass of wine with dinner maybe once a month is all the drinking I do, reno j. I learned about addiction the hard way, as a child, from family members—-all heartbreak and pain and wreckage. And, thank God, I overcame my own inclination to repeat their behaviours.

  6. Ah, Korn. One of my favorite Korn stories is when I heard from Jonathan Davis’ half brother Marky Chavez about the family sitting around the dinner table talking about my novel, Lords: Part One. You’d think I could get an endorsement or something. Burn my novel on stage, or spit all over it and cast it out into the throbbing moshing masses. But no such luck. I’m still honored about the dinner table story though. Thanks to Marky Chavez and Adema.

    And thanks for your story too. Glad to see you’re still alive, somewhere.

    • reno says:

      nick-
      you should get SOME kind of endorsement. i thought mexicans look out for their own? sheeit. whatever it means: i let folk know about you and your writing prowess. you have it going on, sir. give the boys my best. and you too.

      still alive,
      reno romero

  7. There you are, Romero.

    I’ve been looking all over for you. Glad to hear you are still kicking it and getting it all down in your magic style.

    Misses,
    M

  8. dwoz says:

    never mind all that crap. Just stop wearing the glasses that make you look like a bad caricature of a metro-sexed Shawn Colvin.

    • reno says:

      dwoz-
      you win: i’ll forget all that crap. but the glasses? sorry, pal. i need them to see. inless you know someone at lenscrafters who’ll cut me a deal. lemme know.

  9. dwoz says:

    great title by the way.

    Thought I might see a little Thelonius in this…

  10. Marni Grossman says:

    ” ‘There was a time it was greasy open-face burgers, naughty sluts, and whiskey. Now, it’s wine, refined company, and stinky cheese.'”

    Love loved this line.

    • reno says:

      hey marni-

      how are you? you know there WAS a time it was open-face burgers and all that stuff. hell, sometimes i sneak one in for old time’s sake. thanks for reading. like maiden: you rock.

  11. I fucking loved this, Reno. Absolutely loved it. It was extremely metal. In fact, it was the epitome of metal.

    You write dialogue very, very well.

    • reno says:

      david-

      hey, man, thanks for the comments. very cool of you. i think there was a bit of metal going on here. god, back in the day i was a metal freak. i had it bad. okay, take care, sir.

      up the irons!

  12. Jim Lyons says:

    Dang, you’d think an addiction to donuts and spam would kill the average person. I’ll take the cigarettes.

    Great story, Reno. Loved it!

    • reno says:

      lyons-
      hey. i think i’d take the the smokes too. me and my friend were talking about spam the other day. she thought it tasted like shit. but i told her that if you burn that stuff to a crisp (to kill the flavor), chuck it between some bread w/ some mustard, lettuce, and tomater, it’s pretty good. okay, handsome, football is almost here. i have the shakes. later, bro.

  13. Joe Daly says:

    Loved this. Having been to so many shows in my day, I sometimes forget what it was like back in the teens when a huge band would roll through and my buds and I would talk about it for weeks up to the show. You really captured that rapturous awe when you enter the arena and it hits you that you’re about to finally see THEM.

    I’ve been listening to “Number of the Beast” on steady rotation for the past few weeks after seeing a great special on it on VH1. I think I may have to go out and pick up a copy of Flight 666 today.

    Good stuff, Reno. Really enjoy how you tell a story.

    Btw- Judas Priest at the Worcester Centrum in 1988 (ish?) was my fave rock show ever. My friend’s girlfriend worked security there and rolled us up to front row, aka Heaven (Hell). Rock on!

    • reno says:

      joe-

      aw rock shows. like you, i can go on for hours yapping about that gig, etc. i was and still am a huge maiden fan. i have some of those eddie figurines and all. they’re a great band. period. number of the best is a fucking KILLER album. that tour was called “beast on the road” and there’s footage of them playing the hammersmith. they sound so fucking great. a young dickinson belting it OUT. they play “murders in the rue morgue” and is nothing short of amazing. see: there i go…

      i saw priest twice. once at the US Festvial (yes, i was in 8th grade) and again in vegas at the T. Mack. the latter was fucking bitchin’.

      all right, hey, thanks for reading. very cool of you.

      diamonds and rust,
      reno

  14. Matt says:

    Just so we’re clear, you would flash Dee Snider your junk if the opportunity presented itself, right? I’d be disappointed in you, otherwise.

    “You guys look normal, but you’re all screwed up.” Probably the most honest – and beautiful – statment about humanity I’ve ever read.

    • reno says:

      matt-

      heh, i would flash my junk in front of that freak. you know just because. you know, matt, i’ve seen numerous times folk that DO look normal, but you know them, know what they like to eat, know how they are around the holidays, know how they get when too many shots of whiskey have taken hold, etc. and you found out that a good portion of us are screwed up. but maybe that IS the beauty. and it probably is.

  15. James D. Irwin says:

    I love your writing man.

    It always makes me feel like I’m dreaming a sweet, sweet dream.

    Have you heard any of Maiden’s new album?

    • reno says:

      james-

      i DIG that you like my junk. sometimes i do and sometimes i don’t know why i do it. well, i guess because i get bored and tend to like talking to myself more than anything else. haven’t heard the new maiden album but i’ll be finding some cuts on the net. but my iPod is loaded with their shit. always divine when you hear “powerslave” fill ur ears.

  16. Richard Cox says:

    You have such a great voice, man. Tough and lyrical and emotive all at once. And you use that voice to build an engaging narrative, like a powerful V8 that’s missing on a cylinder or two but will still blow by most any car on the road.

    I’ll be looking for the sequel.

    • reno says:

      mr. cox!

      ahh, you da man. thank you so much for your swell comments. very, very cool. missing a cylinder or two? heh. too funny. shit, i’m missing more than that but i’m still punching. hope all is well, man. wait! two things: what’s the REAL word on your cowboys and two: how’s the golf game coming along? seems tiget is back and playing the way we’re used to see, eh? okay, take care…

      • Richard Cox says:

        The real word on Dallas is if the line can protect Romo, they’re going to the Super Bowl. I think Dez Bryant is going to come out of the gates flying. Like Rookie of the Year flying. What a steal for Dallas.

        Golf game is progressing into new territory. I almost wrote a post about that this week but our readers don’t seem very interested in golf. So I might as well talk about sex instead. I’m hoping Tiger gets his head straight and wins the Fedex Cup. Enough of this mediocre golf, O Hallowed One.

        So who is your NFL team, Reno? And who do you think will be in the big game this year? Seems like your earlier post discussed the divisions but not the SB. Unless I missed something?

        • reno says:

          mr. cox:
          glad to hear the golf game is going well. i used to have a roommate that was a golfer and tried to get me into it. i couldn’t find the groove, but like many sports folk i hear shit. so i heard about tiger, etc. heard he got on the team to play europe. or something like that. i know i suck…

          you know, richard, i used to have a cousin that used to beat me up as a kid and told me that i was a viking fan. so: i became one. for no other reason. but as the years past (like two) i became a huge steelers fan. i was there for lambert, stallworth, etc. i was in a room full of rams fans when the steelers broke their heart in pasadena which was/is right over the mountains from my childhood home: highland park.

          so…

          sure, too much info. but there you go: steelers by my own find and the vikings because i don’t want my cousin to find me after all these years and kick my ass…

  17. I always feel incredibly reassured when I read a piece with a bunch of dialog that might as well have been me and my asshole friends saying it. From the concert stories to the disintegrating/reconstructing lives, to the field-fuck humor. It’s all right there. Great stuff.

    And for the record, on my all time list of 10 People I Never, Ever Want To Show My Junk To, your man Dee Snider logs in at #3.

  18. reno says:

    sean-

    hey, man. yeah, me and my boys are just that: boys. my father used to poke fun at me saying shit like: “how can you have an english degree and then go a bar, watch football, and get shit-faced?”

    of course the answer was: very easily asshole!

    sure, i don’t mind high-brow chatter. everything has its place. but a few beers flying, talking about women, farts, football, and whatnot will always be for me. bring on the noise. why not? it covers up the shit my head is already buzzing on. and we don’t want that.

    no junk showing to dee? heh. i don’t think i’d show that fucker my goods either. but you never know. thanks for reading.

  19. This piece was so Reno that only you could’ve written this, brother. So much heart, so much honesty. So much sex, drugs and rock and roll. Onward and upward, my friend.

    • reno says:

      thank you, rich. was cranking ur CD the other day. wow. how many times have i said that. btw: i’m gonna see band of horses this weekend. love that band. all thanks is to you.

      big love (right?),
      reno romero

  20. […] Eighties-themed casino space station. There, I imagine heavy metal Earth hits rule, and guys Like Reno Romero shred to Alpha Centauri interstellar activists whose pointy ears bleed from amp feedback as they […]

  21. Vinny says:

    Bad ass, bitchin’ story, brother. Proud to say you were once my student. I’m gonna change your old grade from a B+ to an A.

    • reno says:

      vinny:

      hey, bro. miss you tons. thanks for reading and what a pleasure it is to see you on the TNB boards. you belong here, professor. we can use that lit brain of yours hanging around. i finally get that fucking A? you bastard. it’s only been 20 years. but hey: i’ll take it. take care, prof. see you soon.

      reno

  22. Dana says:

    As always Reno, your masculinity oozes throughout this. Hope the monk time was worthwhile.

    • reno says:

      hey dana:

      how are you? i hope well. well, thanks again for reading. very cool of you. the monk thing? it worked out just fine. cut off my hair, closed my eyes, read nice POSITIVE lit, and simply took it easy. now, i’m back in the grind but w/ a different perspective. i guess sometimes it’s good to check out. take care, sis, and thanks again.

      always,
      reno romero

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