St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
It was Monday December 31st and Jim would spend New Years with Lupe and
Rosa in Watsonville. They said Good bye to Jim’s parents and drove and drove south. It
was time for Rosa’s 49 Chevy to be serviced. Lupe had suggested that she and Jim buy
tennis shoes for the kid instead of a large roast like last year. It would be their Christmas
gift for the kids. Each child had drawn an outline of his or her foot on a piece of paper. Jim
and Lupe bought nine pairs of P.F. Flyer, a popular brand made by U.S. Keds. The
children were eager to see the new their new tennis shoes. Wearing Keds meant that
they were cool.
The 49 Chevy faithfully made the trip to Watsonville. Arturo, his wife Anna, and
their five children greeted Rosa, Lupe, and Jim. The children hugged their Tia Rosa
and Nina Lupe. Arturo’s two sons stood close to Jim, and followed him as he entered
the house. Jim had two large plastic bags filled with new tennis shoes. One bag was
for Arturo’s children, and the other was for Rosalie’s sons. Jim put the bags on the
living room floor. Lupe gave each of Arturo’s children a box with each child’s name on
the box. The two boys quickly opened their boxes. The three girls smiled and looked at
their mother, Anna. She told the girls to open the boxes. “Wow! Cool!” said the boys.
The old shoes were replaced with the P.F. Flyers. Now the boys could run faster and jump
higher than any one at school. The girls were happy with the shoes, but did not show the
excitement the boys had shown. Jim thought that the girls would have liked dolls instead.
The girls could use the shoes. Next year they will get dolls.
An hour later Rosalie, her four sons and her parents arrived at Arturo’s home. The
boys quickly opened their boxes and had the same expression of joy as Arturo’s sons.
Now the boys had to find out who could run the fastest? They went outside and raced one
another. Anna’s three daughters sat with Lupe. Rosalie thanked Jim and Lupe for the
shoes. Raul walked much slower than last year, and Maria still had her beautiful smile of
73 years. Lupe had the same beautiful smile that had captured Jim’s heart.
Dinner was served at five, and they ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn.
It wasn't a typical meal at Arturo’s home. They wanted to show their appreciation to Jim.
He thanked Anna for graciously preparing the dinner. Arturo had a small jar filled with red-
hot chili sauce, and splashed liberal amounts of the red napalm on the chicken. He offered
the bottle to Jim who respectfully declined and asked for the catsup. Arturo began to
chuckle when recalling Jim's expression when eating the fajita’s with peppers last year.
Lupe admired Jim’s desecration. She squeezed some catsup on her dish and a light
splash of the chili sauce. Her eyes began to water. She passed the catsup to Jim.
“Wow, Tio, what is this stuff?” she asked.
“That’s the good stuff from Mexico, Chiquita,” replied Arturo.
Arturo and Jim talked about the Forty-niners having another bad football season.
The ladies discussed the latest affair on the soap opera they watch. After dinner Anna
served sliced oranges. The boys ran out side once again to see who could run the
fastest. The girls sat quietly by their mother and Lupe. Arturo offered Jim a beer and he
accepted. Arturo thanked Jim for the tennis shoes. They sat on the porch and Arturo
asked Jim about Alaska. The talked for two hours while the ladies washed and dried
the dishes. Arturo was very curious about being at sea. The sun set, the children came
inside, the ladies finished the dishes and the latest gossip. Arturo and Jim went inside
and joined the others. Raul sat most of the time and observed. Maria was concerned
about her husband’s health and tended to his needs. Arturo mentioned to Jim that there
was a New Years celebration at Old Monterey near Cannery Row. Rosa gave Jim the
keys to the 49 Chevy, and said, “You are only young once. Have fun.” Jim thanked Rosa
and he and Lupe left for Monterey.
They went to the historic part of Monterrey to celebrate New Years Eve near the
fishing pier by the beach. There was a folk music concert. with songs from the past and
new folk songs were played. A local lady player her guitar and sang folk songs for the
crowd. Her voice and the lyrics of her songs were entertaining. She made Jim think about
the words she was singing. She sang “House of the Rising Sun,” Fare Thee Well.” and
ended her performance with a classic folk song: Red River Valley. “Come and sit by my
side if you love me.” It was a simple statement in a simple time. Just let me know that you
love me, that you will be there when I need you. A simple way to express love. Jim
thought about the words. Was it good enough to know that Lupe loved him? She had re-
awakened a feeling that he had briefly experienced with Lucy. The intensity of their love
was growing. The lady sang haunting songs about life and love. Jim enjoyed the music
more than Lupe. The concert ended at 11:30 and everyone walked to the beach where
vendors sold food and drink. Some folks had barbecued dinner at the beach, and now
roasted hot dogs on a stick. Others brought fireworks. At midnight rockets and Roman
candles shot across the Monterey Bay. Radios were tuned to the same station filling the
night with song. Jim and Lupe danced with the others celebrating the New Year. “Five,
four, three, two, one, Happy New Year,” it was 1964, another great New Years Eve with
his special lady. Lupe had a magic that turned an average day into something special and
filled his soul with so much joy. He hoped that he loved her as much in return. Lupe got
comfortable and hugged Jim as he drove home. She asked,
“What was the singer’s name?“
“Her name is Joan Baez,” said Jim.
The songs and the words continued to play in Jim’s mind as they drove. They
arrived at Arturo’s home and parked in the driveway. Lupe woke up and greeted Jim, “Hi.
Happy New Year. Are we home?”
“Yes, Angel. We ‘re home. Happy New Year.”
“I love you Cookie.”
“I love you very much, Angel.”
Lupe felt very secure with Jim in the arms of love.
The next morning the boys got up early and were running and jumping with their
new P.F. Flyers. Ana got up and began cooking Breakfast. The welcome smell of coffee
brewing and bacon sizzling woke up the others. The smell of coffee reminded Jim of his
days at sea on the Lady Jane. Jim wondered how Papas was doing at San Francisco
State. He thought about the Alaskan nights and the sky filled with big, brilliant stars that
shined like Christmas ornaments when they were at sea. It was a great experience that he
wished he could have again. Maybe Papas and he might go up to Anacortes and work for
Uncle Vic next summer.
“Good morning, Cookie.”
Jim returned from Alaska to Watsonville. “Good morning, Angel.’
“What were you thinking about?”
“I was thinking about the great times I always have with you.”
She smiled, but had doubts about his honesty.
After breakfast Jim helped Arturo tune up the engine and change the oil of
Rosa’s 49 Chevy. Arturo took the time to explain to Jim what he was doing and why.
They finished at lunchtime. Jim thanked Arturo for the lesson, and Arturo thanked Jim
for the help. Both washed up and sat for lunch. After lunch Jim and Lupe went for a
long walk. She had concerns. She asked, “Is there anything that you should tell me
about your trip to Alaska.”
“Why do you ask, Angel?”
“Well, you know. You’re up there for twelve weeks with those guys. Did you go
with them to a whorehouse. I guess it’s a guy thing. Did you?”
“Yeah. I went with them several times.”
Lupe’s head hung in disappointment.
“But each time I saw those mangy old whores I got scared that I might catch the
creeping crud from them. Some of then had no teeth.”
“Really!” Lupe’s faith in Jim was restored for a moment. “You mean to tell me
that the only reason you didn’t go with a whore was because of getting a disease?”
“No. You asked if I went with he guys, and I said yes, several times. And yes there
were old whores with no teeth. The reason I did not have sex with any of them was
because I will only have sex with you. It is special with you. No one can love me the way
you do. Those guys had sex with a whore to fulfill a need like craving a steak dinner.
They don’t know what love is. All they know is they have a need, and it gets satisfied for
“Yeah, Angel. You’re the first and only in this life and the next life. I was teased
because I passed on the whores because I knew that some one special was waiting for
me. How can you make love when there is no love?”
Jim and Lupe continued on their walk. Her faith in him was restored. Though he
had lied, the experience with the old toothless whore wasn’t worth destroying Lupe’s love.
Lupe was a delicate treasure that he cherished and protected. They returned home and
Lupe spent time with her grandparents. Jim sat on the porch and watched the boys play.
An hour after dinner Rosa, Lupe and Jim said good bye to Arturo, Anna, their children,
Maria and Raul, Rosalie, and her sons. Jim drove home while Lupe sat along side on him
on the bench seat. She assumed her comfortable position and had that peaceful feeling
that she was with the one she loved. Rosa sat in the back, and soon she fell asleep from
the hypnotic stream of headlights from the oncoming traffic. After two hours they arrived at
Jim’s home. He thanked both of his special ladies for the great time, and kissed his Angel
good night. Lupe and Rosa said good-bye. Jim wished them a Happy New Year. Rosa
and Lupe drove home. Mary greeted Jim and asked, “How was the trip?”
“Great mom. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.” He said goodnight to his parents, and
went to bed. He thought about the song Red River Valley. For Lupe it was that simple.
She was so sure of her choice. Jim would always defend her simple, but fragile world. He
thought that the lie he told was a small price to pay, compared to a hurt that would have
linger forever. He fell asleep and dreamed about the nights in Alaska.
More next week...