I clawed at the unforgiving cushions of the back seat of our rental Camry, sweat pouring from my brow and running down the sides of my neck to pool unpleasantly around my shirt collar, my back arched as my muscles clenched and spasmed. I don’t know how long the drive was, only that the minutes screamed endlessly, like a man getting sucked into a wind tunnel in a better class of action movie. Traffic lights shone bright – so bright! – scorching my retinas, flaring like an ammunition dump explosion in a lower class of romantic comedy.

Finally, as my top and bottom teeth met in the middle of my lower lip, the car stopped. I heard a door open and slam, and footsteps, and then Andrew Nonadetti scooped me up in his strong, tender arms, and ran through the open doors of the emergency room entrance.

A surgeon saw me and bit through his stethoscope. He raised a trembling finger to point, and found his voice.

‘G… gun fever!’ he cried. A cardiovascular specialist choked on his coffee. A nearby patient clutched at his heart and collapsed. A janitor kept sweeping.

‘Glock…’ I whispered, feebly. ‘Where did I leave… that… Glock…’

I come from a country with very strict firearm laws, a culture that doesn’t favour gun ownership in the slightest, and where I grew up never having seen a gun except on the belts of cops and on the screen. However, when we got out to that firing range, some Y chromosomal switch flipped and I just wanted to make holes in the target.

But I digress.

After a post-midnight arrival to the Nonadetti household, we woke to coffee, breakfast, and the company of the Nonadetti clan. Our second stop on the road was an actual house, and I cannot stress enough just how far a home environment goes towards shaking off the fatigue that accrues with long days of driving and identical hotel rooms.

The Nonadettis took us in, fed us, sheltered us from the treacherously balmy Coloradan weather, and Andrew gave us our first real taste of picturesque small-town Americana by taking us to eat in the sleepy, sunny, hamlet of Colterra, where cotton buds filled the air and gently breezed around us as we ate.

As we sat at the restaurant and waited for our drinks to arrive, a sudden chill washed over me, as if a black cloud had passed over the sun. Foreboding rose in my gut and without looking, I knew that doom was riding into town. Somewhere in the distance, a black cat yowled at the sky.

A car pulled up, and with footsteps like the ticking of the doomsday clock, Megan diLullo came to lunch.

Megan diLullo is just about as rock and roll as a human being can get without actually being made of Stratocasters. Of all the bad-ass metal women I’ve ever ridden in the back of a truck with, she’s the first. The four of us found common ground in poring over escort cards from Vegas and, unable to work out whether a girl’s pictured tattoo was a butterfly or a phoenix, the table decided on ‘Butterlix’ and had dessert.

And then came the shooting.

Know this: you do not want to cross Zara Potts. Z bullseyed the target first time out with a rifle, whereas I… I went through revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, and rifles of both the semi-automatic and bolt-action variety.

And loved every second of it.

When storm clouds started rolling in and my shoulder started to throb from the recoil of the rifle stocks, we made our way back to Casa Nonadetti for pulled pork, the first cornbread we’d ever eaten, and home-made ice-cream pie. We excused ourselves after dinner for a quick trip up to the local store and on our way back found a couple of guys and a girl standing by the trees at the back of the supermarket, staring up into the night shadows among the branches.

I nodded hello.

‘There’s a kitten up in one of those trees,’ one of the guys said.

Dear Kitten: you are an idiot. I climbed up into that tree in an attempt to get you down. The way out was not, as you surmised, further up. I sincerely hope you made it down later of your own power and you are currently in a safe, warm place.

Dear Andrew Nonadetti: thank you for your patience in answering the late-night phone call from me where I said ‘There’s a kitten up a tree! What do I do?’

The Rockies awaited us the following day, so, my kitten rescue mission failed, we headed back and swapped stories of growing up, traveling, and living in the US of A, before finally hitting the sack in preparation for the coming morning.

And maybe this isn’t the forum for it, but I’ll say this: Andrew Nonadetti has published some emotionally heavy-hitting pieces on TNB recently, and has made reference to trying to be a better person. I don’t know him well, and I’m sure he’s a more-informed judge of himself and his past than I.

But I like him, and for my part, I think he’s a good man, a good father, and a friend. He, his kind and charming wife, and his children, who all made our stay with them such a pleasant and welcoming one, will always be welcome in any house of mine.

Next: to rock out in the Rockies!

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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

78 responses to “TPAC 2010: Day 8 – A Man named Andrew and a Woman named Megan”

  1. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    I’m wondering how you have the time to write this from SF. I’m also wondering why, with the nine million things I’m supposed to be doing right now (with sleep and packing my son’s gear for surf camp on this list), I have time to read it. Oh, it’s because you’re entertaining, and bringing the dirt on TNB folks, and I’m procrastinating in the happy Neverland of clever wordsmiths who choose to piddle-shit here rather than face the somber music.

    I am, for the first time, the first to comment on an article. (At midnight on a Saturday.) Is this what rock bottom feels like?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I am plumbing depths of caffeine addiction that I never before knew existed, is the answer to that question.

      Also: thanks, Lisa! You make for such a wonderful reader.

      The wonderful thing about rock bottom is that it’s all up from here.

  2. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    In the event that my (above) narcissism annoys you as much as it embarrasses me, let me tell you that you’re writing is once again engaging, and Megan sounds like an excellent off-roading companion, and I bet a stack of banana pancakes with Andrew and his clan would be really gratifying right now.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      It doesn’t annoy me at all. You can be as narcissistic as you like, all day long. Megan is an excellent off-roading companion, and that’s not a bet I’d take.

  3. Don Mitchell says:

    I don’t know, Simon. It was the West and all, and you’ve seen Westerns by the bushel. Why didn’t you go back to Andrew’s place, pick up a six-shooter, and solve the kitten problem with it?

    You look up, and in one fluid motion draw, aim for the branch kitty’s on, shoot it two (on the trunk side of kitty, of course), holster the piece, and catch kitty before she hits the ground.

    Nothing to it! Way easier than shooting the gun out of the bad guy’s hand.

  4. Lorna says:

    Is Anon camera shy or part of the witness protection plan?…..This is the question that lingers in my mind. Of course we all know he’s a good guy. Just because the voices of the past try to tell him otherwise, does not make it so.

    Noted: Do not cross Zara. Especially if she’s carrying. Either pen or pistol.

    It pleases me to see you and Zara being so well taken care of by the rest of the TNB writers.

  5. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Dude, you’ve watched romantic comedies where ammunition dumps blow up? And here I was watching action movies for all that. Considering how bad action movies have become lately, maybe I should switch genres.

    Of course no sooner did I type that than Chuck D popped up on my shoulder saying ‘no way you’re telling me you’re going for that “Terms of Endearment” shit!’

    And yes, isn’t a home the ultimate prize after nights of hotels? A Non is a good man for sharing his hearth.

    And Megan? Sweet, hot and bad-ass all in a tasty stew.

    You and Zara are the king and queen of the road for keeping us so regularly entertained with report of your footsteps.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Damn straight! The shoot-out in My Best Friend’s Wedding 2: John Woo’s Electric Boogaloo was one of the greatest scenes ever put to celluloid.

      DiLullo Stew is delicious. Wait. Did I really just say that? I don’t even know what it means.

      Is it strange that after three days off it, I miss the road already?

  6. Dana says:

    Entertaining as always Simon!

    Now for stupid question of the day — TPAC = ? I kept thinking it would eventually click for me, but you’ve criss-crossed the States and I still haven’t figured it out.

  7. You and Zid with the guns was priceless! I’m so happy that I was included in that adventure. And Anon is a stellar human being with impeccable culinary taste.

    Now, stop pulling my pigtails, Smithson.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      It was very wonderful to have you along for that adventure.

      And I’ll pull your pigtails as much as I please, DiLullo!

  8. Quenby Moone says:

    I knew it! You really are a superhero! Rescuing kittens (or, um. well.) and shooting high-powered rifles. Nice to see Meggie and Zara looking so absolutely unflappable with gun muffs on their heads. I expect that you looked similarly debonair. Hard to tell with the squinty, flinty expression you’re wearing in that picture.

    Miss you crazy Pac’ers already.

  9. Angela Tung says:

    you didn’t mention the kitten!

    guns and kittens, together at last. . .

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Um… heh. If you want to see a bit of horribly inappropriate Israeli humor, Google “cornershot kitty”. You’ll see “guns and kittens together” all right. ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Cheryl says:

    It’s so much fun reading your pieces (and Zara’s) on your wild spree across America. It is fun to live vicariously through them; I feel like a stowaway!

    I like how the photographer caught the shell ejecting. I don’t shoot very often, but the time I shot a 12-gauge shotgun was almost as good as sex. Almost. Your “gun fever” scenario at the beginning was hilarious – especially being scooped up in A Non’s “strong tender arms”. Where did you put your glock, indeed?

    Sorry. That couldn’t be helped.

    Have a blast! Can’t wait to read more.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Ha! That was a total fluke with the photo, Cheryl!

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Ah, here’s where I was when my hotel wireless stopped working last night!

        Heh.

        Glock.

        No, wait!

        Z is an awesome travel photographer. She’s been documenting stuff every step of the way, and I can’t think of any single person better to do so. She’s got a gift with the picture box – it’s undeniable!

  11. Erika Rae says:

    Those pictures…make me…so happy. Sigh.

    That kitten was just Fate balancing itself out – for allowing you such a perfect day. Don’t take it too personally.

    Come back to Colorado, Simon and Zeed!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, I miss Colorado!

      And we have yet to get to the Rocky Mountain gathering…

      I choose to believe that the kitten was fine. In fact, I’m sure that one day, that kitten’s going to be President.

  12. Jacqui says:

    A Simpsons sky in Colterra! That town looks like a well-iced cake. It needs a parade.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh! Well said, Jacqui!

      I used to love those old Simpsons skies. They were such Americana deluxe.

  13. Judy Prince says:

    “Butterlix”—-hee ha.

    “A car pulled up, and with footsteps like the ticking of the doomsday clock, Megan diLullo came to lunch.” The instant I read this, Simon, I heard cowboy theme music. Wish I could recall the name of the tune. The sound keeps re-re-repeating in my head.

    Simon, how could you possibly have not posted a photo of Anon??!!! Did he force you to hand over your camera before you left?

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      There were… certain concessions made. That is all that shall be said.

      • Judy Prince says:

        The anonymite mystery continues……..

        Oh, Anon, you southern softie! OOPS—–or as Zara would say, “Crikey! That does sound a bit dodgy, doesn’t it?” I mean, you were serving southern dishes to TPAC! Little Georgia in Colorado? What percentage of those homemade goodies were Anonly garden-grown?

        Your novel-writing news?

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Sorry, Judy – I was out of elk, antelope, bison and prairie dog roadkill. Besides, I’m not a native or anything and I did offer an alternate menu of grilled steak, brats and burgers (we probably would’ve gone for apple or blueberry pie, then). Guests’ choice and all.

          I’ve finished my novel and have had a trusted-to-be-honest friend edit it for me. Still waiting for word back but, after I review and almost certainly incorporate the changes, I need to make time to get a proposal together and start pimping. I’m actually rather pleased with it, given that it was just a lark, and am already keeping thoughts of the next one at bay.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Well, in that case, Anon, I need to drop my sugarless brownies and run on over to yore house. Lucky S and Z with that kind of food hospitality.

          I KNEW YOU’D CRANK IT OUT and have another in the oven, Anon! Congratulations on having made tough choices every writing session and bringing the whole thing crescendoing to a close.

          Pimp time! ๐Ÿ˜‰

          And Proper Chirs!

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Judy, the Anonymous Larder is a well-stocked and generous one. And I can’t say enough good things about it.

          Hmmm.

          Is the song For a Few Dollars More?

        • Judy Prince says:

          You fortunate two, Simon—-An Abundant Anonymous Larder!

          I’m just plain curious about your choices of southern American dishes—-are they the ones that you’ve had in your country or those you’ve heard about?

          Xplain the song title, pulleez….

        • Simon Smithson says:

          The AbunAnonaLarder was awesome.

          The Southern dishes were a mix of those I’ve heard of and those that people recommended. And none of them disappointed.

          The song title is from the movie!

        • Judy Prince says:

          I like that, Simon: AbunanonaLarder.

          You need to get a big dish of peach cobbler. Oh yeah! And candied sweets. Both super-southern dishes.

        • Zara Potts says:

          We ate peach cobbler with Miss Ronlyn. It was DELICIOUS.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Oh Z, you had to say that just before breakfast time here! Mebbe I’ll whip up some apple crumble. And while it’s still warm from the oven, dish some with a dollop of homemade honey-vanilla ice cream on top. YES!!!!

  14. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    One last gulp of TNB before I submerge for a bit more. Loved having you here, brother, and you are welcome any time. And while this may not be the forum for it ;), I am a good man… who just has a lot of “bad” to digest before he can let it go. My current status, though, is evidenced by life allowing me to mingle with such upstanding people such as yourself, Miss Zara and Miss Megan.

    As for the kitten being someplace warm, not yet. I prefer to let game meat age a little before making anything of it, even if I plan on slow-cooking it into pull-… uh…. Never mind.

    Oh! The town is Niwot. The restaurant was Colterra. And I am happily making this an unsolicited plug, given that it’s my favorite place aside from home and/or the range.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      As are you, my friend – welcome any time, that is.

      Here’s hoping your digestions are quick and fruitful. And now I don’t know how seemly that sentence sounds.

      Wait.

      We ATE pull-

      Oh.

      Oh, I see what you did there.

  15. dwoz says:

    It’s funny that your shotgun-with-25-round-clip has no sights whatsoever.

    It’s not about precision, it’s about pattern.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      In fairness, there are sights! It’s an AK-pattern gun so it’s a very short radius – you can just about make out the rear on top of the receiver in front of the mag well and the front it that tiny nub just above and in front of Simon’s thumb. Primitive but still good enough that I can usually shoot about a 4-5″ hundred-yard group off a bench using rifled slugs.

      And here’s the sad thing – that was only the 10-rounder. You should see the drum…. >:)

      • Simon Smithson says:

        I probably could have used a scope… by that stage, I was shooting more than a little off-centre…

  16. Becky says:

    I want to fire guns and then go shoot bo…never mind. That’s another post for you.

    But that’s multiple days worth of deadly projectiles. My favorite! I was most jealous of this part of your trip, for sure.

    Now if only there were a knife-thrower and/or a ninja among us. Or does Anon do that, too?

    Shiruken!

    I am sad that Megan is married, but as a woman with virtually no scruples, I see no reason why that should stand in my way.

    Watch your back, Potts!

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Well, I am stealthy (when not tripping over kids’ toys), deceptive, conceal various weaponry, speak… um… like, eight or ten words in Japanese, farm a little, am not a big fan of governmental entities. And I look really good in black. So, like, kinda a ninja. Sorta.

      Drop me a line if you ever make it down & we’ll see what we can do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Becky says:

        I’m sure we could figure out the shiruken thing. How hard could it be?

        I watched Ninja Assassin this weekend, so I’m all set on instructional DVDs.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          (Psst. It’s… um… shuriken. Sorry – I had to fix it!) And my wife says she’ll be happy to teach you how to throw a knife. She’s a little rusty but we’re going to start practicing so the kids will learn it the right way. Can’t have them picking that stuff up on the streets of Niwot or anything.

        • Becky says:

          Fuck. I was sounding it out. Had the letters right, but in the wrong order. I will take it up with the husband, whose pronunciation I was using.

          I should have Googled! *shake fist*

          Anyway. Yeah. Wouldn’t want your kids involved in some kind of nasty gang war with the Niwot crossbow clan.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          We could have gone knife-throwing?!?! Hot damn!

          OK.

          Zara, we need to start planning the next trip.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m there, Brew.

  17. Debbie says:

    I enjoyed having you and Zara here; you are welcome back any time you wish. I know my daughter was crushed when you left and has asked a few times when you will be returning. We might take you up on a visit to Australia some day.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Say hi to that lovely daughter of yours.
      Thank you so much for your hospitality. You were just wonderful.
      The amazing TNB community has made this trip so special. It’s incredible.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Haven’t they just? (Zara)

        Oh, the kids were so much fun! Be sure to let us know if you plan on crossing the Pacific…

      • Debbie says:

        @Zara: you are an amazing person, my daughter says Hi back and son said something that sounded like hi ๐Ÿ™‚
        @Simon: if you are planning another trip, I promise to dust off the old throwing knives and practice a bit. We’ll see if we can’t plan a trip in the next few years, would like it if our son could actually remember the trip.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I can’t believe I actually know someone who knows how to throw knives.

          That’s so metal.

        • Debbie says:

          The ones I have were never โ€œactualโ€ throwing knives, but they worked just as well. Any knife can be thrown accurately; you just need to find the individual knifes balance. Letโ€™s just say it was more of a survival skill I developed at a very young age.

  18. Richard Cox says:

    “As we sat at the restaurant and waited for our drinks to arrive, a sudden chill washed over me, as if a black cloud had passed over the sun. Foreboding rose in my gut and without looking, I knew that doom was riding into town. Somewhere in the distance, a black cat yowled at the sky.

    A car pulled up, and with footsteps like the ticking of the doomsday clock, Megan diLullo came to lunch.”

    The above quote made me laugh and laugh.

    I wish I’d been on the Colorado leg of the trip to meet these interesting folk. Nice writing, Mr. Smithson.

  19. Joe Daly says:

    Brother, you keep hanging around with stone cold metal babes and squeezing semi automatic gunfire into the stratosphere and they’re going to have to totally rethink all concepts relating to the dimensions of pimping. As it stands, we now need satellite technology to measure the scale of your pimping.

    You’re either going to explode into everythingness or you’re going to kick off the backswing to the Big Bang, and we’re all going back to the head of the pin, but either way, I want a front row seat and some milk chocolate M&Ms.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Dude. Megan is the stonest coldest metalest babe I know.

      And brother, you’ve always got a ticket to the pimping. I like to think it’s currently reaching critical mass, and my pimping is about to explode all over the continental US of A.

      Of course, this means people will stare at the mass of pimping exploding over the horizon and mutter ‘That Joe Daly must be up to something…’

  20. “Megan diLullo is just about as rock and roll as a human being can get without actually being made of Stratocasters.”

    Great line, Simon. Wish I’d written it. Of course, it’d have to be about someone besides Megan, since I’ve never met her. And I might have gone with the Telecaster. But still….

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