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On June 16th I spent Father’s Day with my daughter Marissa. Now you’ve got to realize that when you deal with me you never know what’s going to happen. Or worse, what I might do. I don’t mean to embarrass anyone and I don’t mean to shock anyone, but I swear that there are a few screws loose in my brain. … I’m not big on clothes. I’m also not an exhibitionist. That said, if everyone walked around naked, I’d be good with it. But since we don’t, I really prefer to only be naked with someone I love and am intimate with. Of course I’m not big on dressing when working at home, and at times this can lead to me walking out the door before I realize that I forgot to put on my shoes, or worse my pants. Don’t ask!!
You’re probably wondering, what has this to do with Father’s Day? Good question.
I picked Marissa up early so we could beat the crowd at Acapulco in Northridge, Ca., … a reasonable and decent chain w/pseudo-Mexican food. Best of all, they don’t bother you and you can talk for hours. But on this day they had a buffet. Not what we wanted, as neither of us like buffets and hate over-eating. We were there—what the hell? We filled a plate of food. When we finished eating, I reached in my pocket for my wallet. It wasn’t there. This never happens. The only time I don’t take my wallet is when I go to 24 Hour Fitness, and then I take my license. I asked Marissa if she had enough money. “No” was her answer. Oh hell! In movies the hero (me) and the heroine (Marissa) wash dishes until their debt is paid. Fat chance in the real world.
My house is at least 21 miles away from Acapulco. Marissa’s mother is about 10 miles away. I asked Marissa if she could call her mother, and she did. Her mother arrived and loaned me the money to cover the bill, but outside it wasn’t pretty. (Sorry, no details.)
Marissa and I spent the rest of the day and into the night together …. talking. At my house, at Starbucks where we drank green tea, back at my house. Good times.
During the time at Tujunga House the door knob didn’t work from within the bathroom, and the door had to be opened from the outside. Marissa’s last words to me that night were: “Don’t forget to fix the door.” “Don’t worry,” I replied. “I’ll make a note to do it.” … Famous last words, for by the time I got home it was pushing 10:00 PM and I had forgotten. Add that I’m usually alone, which means that I don’t bother closing the bathroom door
Fast forward to June 18th
Over the years I have been awarded a number of sobriquets and most them are related to piracy and swords or the Old West (see photo). Those of you who are familiar with my acting and frontier-writing past and know where the future is headed understand this logic. I’m certain that the flies that dare to invade my pristine world see me as a cold-blooded killer. ‘Tis true, for I am their deadly enemy. Those that dare to enter the brave new world of Tujunga House face almost certain death. This is my homeland and I will protect it. (Detail of art © Louis Kraft 2013)
I hate flies, and very seldom does one invade my house. But on that day one worked its way through the protective barriers and braved a new world. In late afternoon the western sun streaks through the small window in the bathroom in question. For some reason flies are attracted to this stark streak of golden blaze and hang out in the bathroom. The room has almost become a modern-day La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, Ca., for the flies, lured by the lushness and glow of the room, soon meet their doom.
I discovered this fly late on that fatal Tuesday afternoon and closed the door to trap it while I retrieved the fly swatter. That’s right, in case you didn’t know, Kraft is a part-time executioner. Armed and ready to send the invader to its maker, I re-entered the bathroom and shut the door. Sensing that something was afoot, the fly began to scramble as it flew about. Without a clear target I relaxed as I waited for the invader to calm down and settle.
The phone rang
I turned the door knob. All it did was spin. Suddenly I remembered Sunday and the note I never wrote. Oh xY0!$##$!h!! The fly—suddenly forgotten—had a reprieve. I searched for something that would allow me to remove the door knob. Nothing—absolutely nothing!
There are two entries to the bathroom: a small window some 7 feet above the ground that the only way I could possibly get through would be head first with a nose time to freedom, and 2) the door. The door is frail and original to the house, which was built in 1928. I’ve seen a lot of movies … I love thrillers. Let me tell you I know how easy it is to take out a door. Like I said, my door is this little old fellow that looks so weak that I could probably huff and puff and blow it down.
I backed to the wall, lowered my shoulder, and charged. To my shock, I bounced back at least 3 feet. Hell, I’m as macho as Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and Russell Crow. I shook my head, gathered my wits, and charged again. Same result, but with the addition that my shoulder now hurt.
Sitting on the bathtub I considered my options. There were none. If anyone called, they’d leave a message (or maybe not). If they called again and then again, with the same result, … they’d just figure that Kraft had again entered that “I want to be alone” zone. No big deal, for he’d reply when he got around to it. I wouldn’t die of thirst, but it looked like I’d be on a diet.
This just wasn’t acceptable! The window wasn’t an option. That left the door—that damned skinny door. At least three of Clint’s movies are among my favorites, and the two that are thrillers were filmed when he was older than I currently am.
Kraft, this is a no-brainer! Kick the friggin’ door down!!!
Forget playing hurt. I’m now a veteran NFL linebacker that must take out the opposition. Boom, boom, boom-boom-boom!!! The damned door didn’t budge. BOOM! BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!!!
The door didn’t give, but I took out my beautiful lath and plaster wall. This included the door jam, the wood framework, the metal mesh that held the plaster in place, and the swirling adobe-like finish.
What a mess! But I was free (and so was the fly).
I cleaned up the mess and looked at the disaster I had created. I looked for two days, three days, four days—all with the same vision. Can I fix this? Every time the answer was “no.” After interviewing potential contractors I decided upon a good one, but it turned into a two-day (read expensive) job.
The lesson here is simple. Make damn sure you have tools in the bathroom that will allow you to remove the door knob if necessary. An expensive lesson for Kraft, but I’m ready for the next challenge.
P.S. Back when Marissa and I were tracking Geronimo for Gatewood & Geronimo (University of New Mexico Press, 2000), she had warned me not to attempt driving though a 100-yard mud hole. I didn’t listen and got the pickup truck and us stuck in the mire. She had angrily said: “I told you!” Her words from that desperate time when I was standing in NM mud up to my knees (“I told you!”) are again with me. She had told me to fix the bathroom problem. I had said I would, but didn’t.
Sometimes I’m a little slow.