Tuesday, August 25, 2009


(A story for Jessica who reminds me that not all stories have to be about death or insanity; inspired by a true story)
Shae Sveniker, August 2009

"The dust got in your bearings, kid, you might as well just get new ones..." The Punk behind the counter leaned over and gave the board back to the kid. "I've got a repair kit here, forty-five bones."

Boo-Boo looked through the glass to the arrangement. "Man, is that the cheapest? What the hell?"

The Punk pinched his septum ring and wiggled it around with his brown, greasy fingers. Boo-Boo was noticing this tic. "Yeah that's the cheapest, you little turd, where else are you going to get 'em?"

The Punk had a point, out here there was nothing but trailer homes, liquor stores, 'Indian trading posts,' and Navaho Taco stands. This was probably the closest skate shop in two-hundred miles.

Boo-Boo counted his bills, a few weeks working at his mom's taco shack and taking the beer cans and whiskey bottles to get recycled. Fifty dollars, and it seemed like most of that came from the recycling plant though.

"Alright, I'll take it," Boo-Boo put his money on the counter.

"I see you've got all ones there little buddy, how you come across this money?"

"Ha Ha, very funny..." Boo-Boo was fourteen, but life on the res is tough. He knew what a pocket-full of ones could mean. His sister would come home late in the morning from the truck stop on I-40 with her cut-off shorts full of dollar bills, reeking of cigarettes and cheap booze. Sometimes, when she came home and Boo-Boo's dad was around, they would get into arguments and more than once she left home with a shiner swearing never to come back.

The Punk started working on the board then. "Hey show me how to do that!" Boo-Boo said.

By the time Boo-Boo left the shop, he knew how to replace the bearings, wheels, how to adjust the trucks, and what tools did what. "Hey gimme a job!"

The Punk laughed, "Yeah right kid, I ain't hiring no snot-nosed Indian brat!"

"Screw you, Navaho!" Boo-Boo said.

"Hey, don't call me that!" The Punk said. "You come back when you know something, maybe we'll work something out."

Boo-Boo hit the desert concrete and started pushing his way down the cracked sidewalk in the afternoon sun. He spotted some kids he knew hanging out behind the Dollar General, so he rolled up to 'em. It was Tommy Anaba, Jennifer Kai, and Christopher Mojni.

"Hey look, Boo-Boo's fixed his girlfriend!" Tommy said. Cue cat-calls.

"Hey, what are you losers doing out here? Aren't you hooligans s'posed to be in school?" Boo-Boo said.

"Naw, man," Christopher said, "Indians don't have to go to school, 'cus there ain't none around here to go to!"

"Let me ride your skate, Boo-Boo!" Jennifer said.

"Like hell I will!"

"Yeah, Christopher's mom got drunk and kicked us out of the house, but it's all good," Tommy said, "We were looking for the beers my brother stashed back here." Tommy snooped around the dumpsters until he found what he was looking for; a twelve-pack of PBR's in a greasy cardboard box.

"Sweet!" Christopher caught a beer as Tommy threw another one to Boo-Boo.

"Can I have one?" Jenny asked.

"I'm not sure, I mean, what can you give me?" Tommy asked.

It was about four in the afternoon and they all had a good buzz going, Jenny and Tommy were entangled with each other against the rear brick wall of the Dollar General and Christopher was watching Boo-Boo skate around clumsily in the parking lot.

"What the hell?!" The sound was sudden, no one noticed when Tommy's big brother, Jason Anaba, came around the corner in his '64 Chevy El Camino.

"Oh no!" Jennifer slurred. "My brother!" Robert Kai got out of the passenger side of the little truck and ran towards the two love-birds. Tommy tried to get up and run but he was too drunk and fell over.

"You little dumb-ass! Don't you dare you touch my sister!" Robert said, as he kicked Tommy while he was on the ground. Jennifer thought she was going to scream, but instead just kind of moaned.

"Get in the car, Jenny!" Robert said.

"Hey--" Boo-Boo uttered, as he started toward the high-school kid kicking the shit out of his friend, but that was all that came out of his mouth before a big fist smashed into his face. "Ow!"

"That's for drinking my beers!" The fist that smashed into Boo-Boo's face apparently belonged to Jason, and was now wrapped around Boo-Boo's ear in a merciless grip, pulling him towards the El Camino. In Jason's other hand was Jenny, by the fore-arm, stumbling on her skinny little legs. KBZU, the rock station from Albuquerque was playing on the radio. It was no wonder the El Camino could pick up the signal with it's great big antennae sticking up from the roof. Jason threw Jenny into the car and she sat there, tears streaming down her face.

"Let me go!" Boo-Boo yelled.

By Boo-Boo's ear, Jason held him against the speaker in the El Camino's door. "I love this song!" He said "I'll let you go when you sing it!"

"Piss off! OUCH!"

Jason turned up the radio, "Sing it, bitch!"

The noise was excruciating, out of the corner of his eye, Boo-Boo noticed that at the other door, a bloodied Tommy Anaba had his head held to the other door speaker. Boo-Boo cringed, but those two boys sang along until the song was over, and the entire block was filled with the sounds of KBZU and two off-key, miserable accompaniments to the chart-topping rock piece.

"Breakdown.... go ahead and give it to me.... breakdoooown, honey take me through the night, breakdoooooowwwwn, I'm standin here, can't you see, Breakdown it's all right, all right, all right..."

After the older boys left, they lay on the asphalt in the shadow of the store. After a minute Tommy said "ha ha..."

"What's your problem, dickhead?" Boo-Boo said.

"Jenny," Tommy said. "She totally had her hand down my pants when those guys pulled up."

Boo-Boo thought about this for a minute. "I oughtta kick your ass."

"Get in line, buddy." Tommy said.

Boo-Boo was quite for a minute more. "Was it worth it?" He asked.

Tommy answered immediately. "Hell yes," he said.

It was The Punk, walking home from the skate shop, who saw the kids in the back of the Dollar General, beat up and layin on the asphault with shards of Boo-Boo's broken skateboard all over, both kids with bloodied faces and hellish tinitus.


Boo-Boo's friends all started calling him Yogi Bear after high school because he'd turned into a big, barrel chested Dineh with a leather jacket, motorcycle, classic chucks, slicked back hair; a sight to behold, six-foot-five, two-sixty, and mean as a bear. Since that afternoon, he'd always been hard-of-hearing in his right ear, just as Tommy was in his left. Jason Anaba and Robert Kai had left that afternoon to seek their fortunes in the great big city, and had never returned.

Yogi Bear's job at the skateshop came to a close when the shop went out of business. Why skateboard for real when you can play Tony Hawk on the playstation and never suffer the indignity of a skinned knee? So Yogi said his goodbyes, stopped at Tommy and Jenny's place and let them know he was leaving. They really weren't paying attention, so focused on the whiskey and the current argument they were having.

So Yogi-Bear hit the road untill he ran out of gas just south of San Fransisco.

The years rolled by. He grew and sold some weed, distributed underground pharmesuticals, worked odd-jobs at biker bars, until eventually he had some jail-time under his belt and some skills with a switch-blade. It was only a matter of time, so eventually he began trafficking with some of the gangsters in Los Angeles, throughout the rest of the state.

Thusly, runnin the streets in the Bay Area, he made his living on street corners and in dive bars. After Tommy and Jenny got divorced, Jenny took custody of the kids, and Tommy left New Mexico to help run things with Yogi-Bear. It quickly turned into a charmed life. Tommy saved up and bought a black '66 El Camino with a bumpin sound system. This sort of lifestyle was not uncommon for the other urban native americans Tommy and Yogi-Bear met, but sooner or later, everyone gets caught, which is what happened to Yogi-Bear. He was lucky though, and the DA couldn't pin him with distributing, so he got out with a hefty fine and a slap on the wrist.

Tommy picked him up from the San Fransisco jail #8 and they started driving through San Fransisco, south, the the tracks in Brisbane, for another deal. A rival organization was taking street from them and this deal was, well, it was more like a robbery. Yogi-Bear and Tommy had it all worked out. The rival dealers would get their shipment, and there was a time period of about twenty minutes thereafter where the transporter would be vulnerable and unprotected.
Yogi-bear and Tommy parked across the street from the drop and sat in the El Camino and ate burgers from Inn 'n Out. The drop was made and two native men held the stash.

They began to walk, with the shit in one backpack.

"No way," Tommy said, mouth agape.

"Is that... no it can't be..." Yogi-Bear said "It is!"

The Heartbreakers came on the radio just as Yogi-Bear and Tommy pulled up in front of the two older men. Within a minute, the beatdown was lain, and Yogi-Bear held Jason Anaba's ear to the passenger-side speaker, Tommy held Robert Kai's ear in place as well, while Tom Petty's vocals filled the block from the maxed-out radio speakers.

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