He arrived at the airport to meet his cousins in a blur; the day’s events, all happening too rapidly. His cousin Jimmy was to meet him. He looked and found Jimmy, the 6'-8" inch Indian, towering above the crowd. They hug; pain is apparent; covered in shocking numbness.
The freight clerk still held the body of his uncle, nicely boxed, no more than a shoebox."Trivia Jim" was killed by a truck on his way to Lake Havasu. Trivia had planned to spend the day gambling, he never made it. A truck hit his car in the rear; it exploded on impact. The truck driver said he could not reach him. The driver watched him catch fire as the trapped victim cried for help, scratching at the glass.
This tragic act saved the family the expense of cremation.
His three cousins were in tears, they did not know how to manage such a tragedy. He knew. He was accustomed to chaos.
He claimed the ashes, taking charge of the chaotic scene. "Hi dad" Jimmy says to his father's remains; his face in disbelief, bloated from alcohol, trying to kill the pain. He put the box under his arm, trying to hide it, not a big deal; business as usual.
They found Mike and Mo in the rental car. Mo was cationic and laid out in the backseat. The night before in a blind drunken rage, they had driven across the desert and launched the rental car, on Mo's VISA, over an embankment; she forgot to get insurance. The impact sprayed the Bloody Mary’s across the dash, cracked the windows, blew the airbag.
Mike sat with a drink, the car sat at a strange angle, its frame twisted; the airbag stuffed back in the steering wheel. He had lost his father and was drinking hard.
“Trivia Jim” Meyers lived in a trailer behind a bar on a mesa's outside Phoenix. He lived simple. Once an executive at Ford, he became a tumbleweed that blew up against the side of an old bar in Cave Creek and came to rest. There, he made friends and a home.
Everyone knew Trivia Jim in Cave Creek. A kinder, gentler man has never been born. Jim, or "Triv" would sit at the end of the bar and charm everyone, tourists and locals alike. His specialty, trivia of course. Jim knew every movie ever made, who starred, when, the director, everything. If he didn't know he could tell you anything, you would believe him, and buy him a drink. Trivia could enter a bar with $2.00, sit for 16 hours and leave with 5 new friends and $1.50 in his pocket.
Trivia was an old Indian; his mom was an Apache from Arizona. He looked like an old bag lady, with a passion for loud suits. He once came to visit his nephew in the city, they went to a ball game. Jim said he has never sat that close before; his nephew had season tickets over the visiting team’s dugout.
"Jim, how are the women treating you?" he asked. "Well, not bad", with a shrug of his shoulders," 'cept they get to coming around, get to gettin' friendly, next thing you know, they want you to get electricity" Jim did live simple, he understood life, let it carry him wherever it would. He would make friends.
Trivia was the gentlest man he had ever met. Unlike his own father. "I ain't ever been in a fight in my life, well; maybe one", "Really?", "World War II, but I didn't start it." His nephew fought his way through life, chasing a dream that was not his birthright. Yeah, Trivia knew how to live.
He felt awkward when one of his business friends stopped by, and was introduced to Trivia; like a piece of his past he wished to hide. He felt guilt about his embarrassment. They were a pair that day in the sunny ballpark; the young businessman and the old Indian in a straw hat and cheap suit. They both seemed to fit in two worlds. Neither of them completely.
The next he saw his uncle, he was in a shoebox.
The funeral party spent the afternoon drinking in a cowboy bar; horses tied to the post out front. Great and kind words were spoken about 'Trivia', tears were shed, stories were told. Arrangement had to be made. They went to the cemetery, an old cowboy cemetery on a bluff. They looked for a plot, something fitting the old Indian. They found a piece of ground near a cactus growing through the center of a Joshua tree.
The cemetery caretaker, a ghostly old lady, came. And with simple instructions; "ya gotta dig your own hole, and be careful, we don't know if anyone is down there". He paid $50 dollars for the plot.
They went to an old horse stable and borrowed a pick and shovel. The caretaker, a skinny alcoholic cowboy, felt a great honor to loan them his tools. Trivias brother Glenn, Trivias sons, Mike and Jimmy and his own brother Mark started digging as the rain began to fall.
Two sets of brothers and a man who no longer could make that claim. They were wearing boots, blue jeans and flannel, each with one of Trivias cowboy hats. The caliche was hard, the mud fouled their boots.
The rain led to darkness, a coyotes barking cry. They laughed, cried, wept; as they went about their task with great care. The spirit of the old Indian was with them, calming them. It became peaceful, timeless. Glen burst out crying that "you guys are the finest bastards I ever dug a hole with, and when I go you gotta dig a hole for me."
They took their turns, saying their peace. Tears were deep, beer was drunk as they completed their task.
He arrived in San Francisco, 12 hours later. Showered, put on $2,000 worth of Brooks Brothers finest corporate image. Polished his $200 shoes, climbed in his Mercedes. He made the meeting he had been so anxious about with time to spare. The death of a great man, and business goes on as usual.
The meeting went off as planned; he was to be the CEO of a new company. The venture capitalists were at the table, one a billionaire, the other millionaires. He was to lead the new venture, the new idea, the new deal. He had sold them easily, simply, for; he had eyes and he had vision. He was the new, up and coming success, entrepreneur extraordinaire’. He was at the top of his game. Yet, he had no feeling, he was hollow. He recalled the howl of the coyotes.
He put his head down, satisfied, afraid, shamed. A tear welled in his eye. He stared at his shoes; they were covered in desert mud.
He didn't belong.