12.14.1991 Part Three

My art studio costs me $150 a month. Rent is due on the first of the month but the guy that runs the show here has a four day grace period. I’ve only paid rent twice so far and both times I got it in when it was due. The buildings here date back to World War II and were used by the U.S. Navy as barracks. One of my regular customers at Petrini’s is an old black man who always comes into the store wearing a U.S. Navy bolo tie conspicuously around the collar of his shirt. He’s a tough old bastard. Nice as hell too. When I mentioned to him I had an art studio at the barracks he said he was based there during the war, and he was in charge of the officer’s club on base. I suspect since he’s black they probably used him as nothing more than a servant. I doubt they treated him well. He doesn’t complain about anything like that but I get the feeling that’s the way it must have been for him when he talks about it. He told me alot of stuff about the base. First, he said the Navy brought back tired planes from the fronts for the trainees to learn in. The frontline fliers in the meantime got brand new planes in return. Because of the inexperience of the fresh pilots and the worn out condition the fighter planes were in, accidents happened on a daily basis. At one point he said they had an average of one plane a day crash in the area.

I’ve heard a rumor that just after the war ended, the Navy had a bunch of excess planes here on the base and they dug big pits and buried them. I have no idea where on the property it might have happened. Besides the two main barracks buildings that are left there are two huge concrete runways and a giant gray hangar, a few small office buildings that are wrecked, and some other buildings that have been left abandoned for decades. There’s also an ancient radio tower that is still working. It’s been taken over by Mexicans and they broadcast mariachi music on the AM band all day. The runways are still in use by a few people with small planes. They store them in temporary shelters made of corrugated metal. There’s no tower and the only security comes from a man living inside that giant hangar. He’s chased me off the property a few times now. I keep sneaking around the hangar to check out all the old aircraft engines and other junk strewn all around. One time the guy was really pissed off at me and he called the cops.

Out in front of the hangar there’s an old phone booth. The glass in it is so dirty that sunlight coming through it looks dingy yellow-brown. It doesn’t look as if anyone has placed a call from it in over twenty years but the last time the hangar guy chased me out that’s where he called the police from. He was yelling threats and hollering about all sorts of trespassing shit. I bailed out of his view for a moment so he didn’t see me heading for my car which was parked nearby. He obviously never saw me driving up so he must have thought I always came onto the propety on foot. While he made the call I hopped in my car and started it up.

As I turned the car around and drove down the main road towards the barracks buildings I passed two motorcycle cops riding side by side up the road towards me and the runways. They must have been nearby already because I have never seen police show up so fast for such a petty complaint. When I passed them I stuck my arm out the window and waved. I had a big old shit eating grin on my face and both the cops smiled and waved back. After all, I was a law abiding citizen going home from the local airport after enjoying a nice afternoon flight in my personal plane. They obviously were looking for some unruly dirtbag wearing an olive drab army coat running around on foot. They weren’t looking for a clean cut guy in a button down shirt driving past them in a nice car. Suckers.

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~ by factorypeasant on August 15, 2004.

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