Story

White Castle

Driving around the island, we saw a big white castle that cut a majestic outline against the bright blue sky. “Look at that crazy beautiful castle,” we both thought and said.

Later that night we actually ended up at this castle because the interesting last resort alleyway outdoor courtyard bar bazaar we tried to go get drinks at shut down early due to some alleged unsavoury characters skulking about. Too bad because there were a bunch of friendly stray dogs all over that place cautiously begging for food and attention. I was set to love and pet and play with those dogs until I died. Nonetheless, we had to leave, and we had nowhere to go, until Stephen said, “Let’s go to the castle.” The general rhubarb rhubarb crowd response was “Fucking A” and “Yeah. Let’s go to that castle.”

The drive to the castle was a bit crazy and unsafely fun. The night was clear and dark and lovely and there were all these hills. Jack drove very fast. He played some great experimental breakcore jams I tried not to bop my head too much to because I was so crammed into the backseat on top of Dylan and some others and the whole front half of my body jutted forward on a challenging physically strained hypotenuse. “Everyone comfortable?” Jack asked at one point. I said, “Never been more comfortable in my life.” Something in my tone made Jack turn around. He assessed the situation, gave me a satirical onceover, grinned, and drove faster.

The black night sky twinkled gorgeously with its million stars as we all piled out of the car. We parked haphazardly on a section of grass directly in front of the castle. It was tough to see because there were no lights anywhere, all we had was moonlight and a whole lot of faraway beautiful inscrutable stars.

We were with gradual suddenness surrounded by a small multitude of strangers, cars, vans, trucks and more dogs. The strangers were mostly random hippie drifter types, the dogs were sleepy, alert, quiet, noisy, small, medium-sized and big. They were all adorable. Full delight. Give me dogs or give me death.

An ancient man with a booming voice abruptly appeared. He had mirthful eyes and a snow white beard. He was for some jaunty reason carrying a lantern. This elderly white-bearded man said, “Welcome, welcome! My name is John and this is my castle.”

Castle John looked like an exact cross between an old religious guru in festive dress and Santa in the Summertime. We grinned in his direction and mumbled hellos. Stephen earlier told us some apparent ages ago, Castle John promised his wife to take her to Hawaii and build for her a big beautiful white castle there. Castle John made good on his promise but before the castle was ever finished, the wife promptly cut her losses and split. “What a decision!” we thought,“Who on earth would reject such a fantastic gift of a big white beautiful Hawaiian castle?”

We left the question unanswered and gamely accompanied Castle John on a dark and impromptu tour of the castle. Our progress was lit only by that one lantern. It cast a discreet, demure, and dubious light. We made our ragtag nimble way as a group through an ongoing swarm of dogs, vehicles and secret hippies hidden here and there in the surrounding dark. “The power’s been cut,” Castle John announced as we moved in a disorderly forward following motion behind him. “My ex-wife hasn’t paid the bills, so the power people came by and pulled the plug.” “Shitty,” we replied. A tour of the castle by lantern light was anyway actually kind of both appropriate and fun. “We should have late 16th century torches,” I said. Castle John agreed and grinned.

A diminutive dachshund meanwhile accompanied us on this tenebrous trip. Aside from the tiny pitter patter of his laconic paws, the dachshund was utterly silent and heartbreakingly small. His name was Bruiser and he was fabulous and sweet. Bruiser kept a quiet canine vigilant eye on Castle John, to which crazy grizzled old white man human he was clearly attached. I tried a couple times to engage Bruiser a bit but he remained for the most part neutral and focused on keeping up with the group while also studiously avoiding being crushed or knocked carelessly about by any one of us big bungling humans.

The castle was pretty and wonderful, it was even more excellent and interesting viewed from inside. There were five stories, many rooms, closets, stairways, even a dungeon, a secret passageway and a motherfucking moat, if you can believe all that as points of fact. There was a drawbridge door too and pretty much every type and kind of castle appropriate detail. Castle John gave us the lowdown in proud conversational tones as we gazed and followed and moved. The castle was his design and he did a lot of the work himself. Castle John had every right to be proud. We appreciated him for being so interesting and incredible. We said “wow” and “amazing” often.

As we moved through the corridors, up and down staircases, and in and out of many rooms, Castle John expounded upon the unique ideas and original details of each area and space. There was intricate stonework and tiling in the bathrooms, a specially designed bed with elaborate built-in drawers and attending wall compartments in the master bedroom, oddly shaped windows everywhere, and many unexpected slants, partitions, encasements, levels, spaces and nooks. Mad and magnificent to be sure. “You are completely brilliant,” Rada said. “Completely demented more like,” said Castle John. We laughed a bit while Bruiser stood nearby, the greatest small study ever, in tininess, silence, patience and good behaviour. I winked at him and patted his little head. He gazed at me dispassionately and without feeling. Then he looked at Castle John.

There was a little area off one of the kitchens where many children’s paintings, sculptures and drawings were showcased. In huge commanding letters along the top of an opposite wall ran the bold uppercase message YOU ARE AWESOME NOW FUCKING ACT LIKE IT. We found this mission statement to be good.

Every room had several couchsurfing drifter hippie types hanging out, lounging around or sprawled upon some floor beneath some blanket and trying to do things like sleep. Every one of the many walk-in closets had at least one just such drifter hippie. Sometimes these young tired men would hold a lank arm up and with an enervated hand shield their eyes and protect their faces from the sudden intrusion of strangers and unwanted light. The unspoken words that hung in the air at such playful moments were pretty much “Jesus,” “Wtf,” and “Do you mind I’m trying to catch some Z’s.” We gazed at each of these reclining hippies with diminishing surprise each successive time. It was by this point fairly clear why the aforementioned wife filed for divorce and fled. When “I’ll take you away and build you a castle in Hawaii” eventually actually means “And there will be living with us an ongoing everchanging tide of nameless freeloading couchsurfing drifter hippies,” what even faintly sensible woman wouldn’t leave like pretty much fucking tout de suite. We kept this last observation to ourselves. Because the castle was anyway still awesome and Castle John still was charming, charismatic, interesting and a treat.

The long lamplit tour approached finally full circle. The only places Bruiser failed to follow were the dungeon and the roof. Everywhere else we went with Castle John, Bruiser was diligently there. Poor little guy probably suffered in great patient silence during the two I can’t/won’t go there instances.

On the roof beneath the beautiful bright black midnight starry sky, Castle John performed some sort of slam poetry art piece speeches. These were as absurd and humorous as they were kind of profound. Rada and Dylan were especially appreciative, Mochipet, Jack and a few others paid less close attention. On the roof too were many nonfunctioning large solar panels. They shone flatly, mutely, blankly against wind and night and sky. The panels didn’t work. Something to do with high costs, bureaucracy and batteries.

Castle John began then to talk intelligently, assuredly and passionately, about politics, economics, banks, money, society, social systems, corruption, the past, the present, the future, life, love, death and power of many transformative types and crushing kinds. His tangents and teachings peeked interestingly into the abyss, but the kids were drinking beer and socializing and no longer paying any real attention. I smiled apologetically at no one specific. Rada embraced me in a manner that managed to be innocent, drunken and seductive all at once. She asked if that was okay, expressed several smiling compliments followed by a few female empowerment remarks. I grinned absently at her and Dylan both and mentioned that it was getting cold. We descended.

Later on some grand terrace, Jack took care of the music in a very infectious, impressive, spontaneous and technologically madcap way. Everyone gathered around to chill and hang out. I smoked cigarettes while they marveled and investigated the small portable unusual music-making devices and sound machines and smoked weed.

Rada, Castle John and I got comfortable on a low-slung hammock, Tasha and Teaa perfect timing appeared with champagne and beer. Our whole group made quick short work of those good liquid things. Rada flung her head totally back and deeply guzzled the champagne straight from the oversized heavy bottle while clutching two half finished beers in her other hand. “Jesus girl,” I said with my eyes only. Once she was sufficiently satiated, Rada mentioned she had a four year old who thought he was a ninja. I complimented her on the obvious and surprising charm of such a detail, plus I was taken aback that someone as young, drunk, skinny and pretty as she could ever already have a motherfucking kid. She enjoyed my surprise and compliments, dismissed inquiries into the father with the statement, “It’s not a nice story,” then asked if I had children. “Hundreds,” I said and winked at Dylan. I let the conversation’s thread at that point come to a mysterious end.

Bruiser burrowingly nuzzled into Castle John’s cushy lap soundlessly, sweetly, diminutively and deeply. Tasha handed me a final beer. “Bruiser,” I said, addressing the dachshund, “Will you open my beer for me?” Bruiser didn’t bother to look at me or in any discernible way respond. “Come on, Bruiser,” I said, “Pull your weight! You can’t just lie around all day and do nothing.” Castle John twinkled his eyes. Bruiser made no comment. I called Mochipet “Moat-chipet”a couple times as he stood there all cute and quiet right next to that goddamned moat. Mochipet smiled wanly at the lameness of my joke.

A couchsurfing drifter hippie appeared out of nowhere and demanded some drags from my smoke. I had no idea what he wanted at first because he didn’t bother very hard to enunciate his demands in clearly projected words. Once I understood, I gave him a whole cigarette to more quickly get rid of the dude. Another drifter hippie appeared elsewhere and was either drunk, high, spoiling randomly for a fight, each, all, some, or both. It was difficult to isolate a motivation. Dylan and I eyed each other and did our speaking volumes thing without saying anything. Tasha and Teaa danced adorably and with energy. Jack took notice and complimented their efforts. Castle John stared at art on his iPad, gazed happily up into the black and night and stars several times and sighed. Finally it was time to say goodbye.

Castle John and his white castle full of couchsurfing freeloading drifter hippies right. Fun night. I wanted to take Bruiser home with me but separating him from Castle John would likely have been devastating. The sweet little guy would probably’ve just curled up sadly somewhere, closed his eyes, and died.

I wonder if we’ll ever see that incredible castle, crazy Castle John and his darling dachshund again. Would be interesting to see how that story twists, turns, continues or ends.

Teaa said Castle John certainly had some fucked up moments in his past. Apparently he once jokingly chased an eight year old girl around with a knife. I’d like to think he hasn’t done that again. Another time he lost his shit on acid and called the cops on himself. Happily we weren’t around to witness such sultry doings. When we hung with him, Castle John was charming and wonderful. We saw no such instances of insane action and reprehensible display. Course I’m possibly biased and quick to forgive because Castle John didn’t chase me or my invisible child around with a knife, also he laughed at my jokes, and I loved his dachshund.

Hawaii man. Shit is awesome.

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