There were already eight of us crashing at Chuck’s house, not paying rent, before Sundance and the rest of the Rainbow gang showed up claiming squatters’ rights. The house had only two bedrooms I think, and if there was a third room it was packed with drums, guitars, amps, bass, the full rock and roll rig. Tim had already placed our tenancy in jeopardy by bringing home, to Chuck’s home that is, a small puppy rescued from somewhere along Highway 20. The dog was surely dead without Tim’s intervention, so he spent much of his meager savings having a tube inserted into its head to drain pus from a wound inflicted by another dog most likely. The little yellow pup wasn’t even old enough to be weaned, and it yelped non-stop. It scratched itself raw and chewed the couch cushions into foam confetti, gnawed the soles from our shoes, peeing and crapping its displeasure throughout.
We were gathered in the spirit of humanitarian principles, college friends come together to save Bosnia. I see how turning his back on an innocent, suffering and abandoned, would be to insult our very mission. He had no choice but to save that dog.
Chuck got up and went to work every day, where he designed, created, and installed commercial signs for a sign company once called Signs Now. The owner had gone rogue from the noted franchise, so when customers called– Chuck would answer the phone by saying simply, “Signs.” Confused, the potential client would ask, “Is this Signs Now?” With painstaking distinction and honesty, Chuck would reply, “No ma’am, we’re just Signs, now.” This understandably lead to much undeserved hostility towards Chuck. He would come home from this to find us plotting around the coffee table, ever-present bottle of scotch anchoring down a corner of our latest revision of bylaws for the World Peace and Relief Team of America Inc. Chuck would take his shoes off, one of us hopefully deferring to him a seat of honor on a less destroyed corner of the couch, where scabies from the puppy would artfully crawl into his socks and along his underwear seam waiting to blossom into a fiery rash.
By the time the Rainbow Gang pulled into the yard our situation had long passed sustainable.
I remember there being somewhere between 5 and 9 of them, but I can’t be certain. As soon as Chuck pulled out of the driveway to go to work they would slink in from their camp in the yard mumbling about bathroom privileges and community cigarettes. Whenever confronted by our capitalist hostility and notions of possession for things individually purchased Sundance, or Sorrow, or whomever, would invite us to circle up and address our differences non-violently. Our faction resisted the circling with bitterness. The Rainbow gang often criticized Chuck’s wasting of his days working for money, to create products to help people sell more things that nobody needed. They thought he should spend his time like they did, passing the blazing sticky summer days watching Seinfeld in Chuck’s air-conditioned home.
These hippies were going to ruin it for everybody. If they kept it up, that poor damaged puppy, and its multitude of parasites would have no place else to go, and we along with them.
After more than a week of this cold war, fought in the particle board and concrete block battlefield of Chuck’s 6th Avenue rental home, the Rainbow gang gave us a break. Chuck went out of town and the Rainbow gang hosted a blowout party at the house. They didn’t even invite us.
When Chuck returned to find the damage and filth he was quite expectantly enraged. While the Rainbow gang cooed and shushed his angry language, they implored him to join them in the yard for a circle up to resolve these unhappy feelings. Chuck accepted, opened the door to usher them out single file into the yard, then slammed it shut and bolted it tight.
With the scotch long gone and the bylaws drafted, we drifted off soon after as well. I like to think Chuck missed us when it was all over and he had nothing left but his job, his house, and his air-conditioning.