Sanita's brother and my good friend, Jaime.


By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 20 Apr 2023



Our modest rental in Santa Cruz and Sanita pregnant

In late April of 1986, Jim H. and Sanita and I took the ten-day trip to Texas to meet Sanita’s family. First her mother and sister Charmaine, her nice husband Tom and their two daughters aged one and five in Plano, a little North of Dallas. Then we drove to Galveston to meet her father Jack and her brother Jaime. Jaime and I hit it off well, while her father seemed lukewarm, just civil to me. I later realized he had issues with Sanita, which Jaime, the apple in his father’s eye, couldn’t completely remedy, though Jaime adored her and had me swear to take the best care of her. This could have been taken for granted in our obvious love, in all the caresses and glances we exchanged all day. He was glad to see this development and this formed the basis of our friendship.

On the drive home, on a desolate highway winding through the mountains near Death Valley, at about ten at night with not another vehicle passing us on the road, we spotted a small fire on a steep hillside and as we drew nearer, we saw it was a burning truck tumbled off the road and down the embankment some one hundred feet. We pulled over and knew the accident must have just happened. Standing by our car we debated which of the two of us should climb down the steep hill and check out the gruesome scene, probably involving, as we conjectured, some mutilated or half burned body, perhaps still alive. Just as I stepped down, a scruffy, middle-aged man, the driver, pushes through the bushes near us, his face all bloody and his arm hurt.

He’d just climbed up the hill and found us. We drove him to the nearest hospital an hour away. He told us from the back seat that he’d fallen asleep and drove off the road. His truck tumbled over ten times and it was a miracle he wasn’t badly hurt. But all he could do, besides bleed all over his clothes and our seat was complain about how he was going to lose his job, not the fact that his life was saved, that we’d found him where there wasn’t another car an hour ahead or behind. We assured him that with his luck, he’d score another job soon, then we dropped him off at the emergency door with hardly a ‘thanks’. Some people see the big picture of their lives and the life all around them. Others walk away from a devastating crash, miraculously unscathed, and complain they lost their cigarette lighter.

I bought a camper shortly after moving into Norma’s. A neighbor had it parked in the circle driveway and was selling it for next to nothing, for three thousand dollars. He’d put a little sign in its front window but advertised it nowhere else. It was fairly new with hardly any mileage. He bought it to travel the continent with his wife but she died soon after the purchase, and in a despondent mood, put up the little sign and let it sit there for several years, as Norma told me. It was worth three times that amount so I bought it right away, not really wanting a camper but it served me and Sanita well over the next two years.

First, we took Norma and the kids on a pleasant three-day trip to the Yuba river, camping. I left it in Norma’s driveway when we went to France, giving my Datsun away for free to Martin before we left, a smart move since that car had criminal associations, coming from the other ‘M’, ‘C’s friend and everything with ‘M’ and ‘C’ melted down while we were in Europe for three months, as I knew it would.

Martin let his girlfriend drive it and she totalled it in some intersection a month later, luckily not getting hurt. But this was fortunate for him because now the car was out of the picture, and his very slender association with ‘M’ or ‘C’ now total hearsay. I’d handed him the keys and the ownership the morning he drove Sanita and me to the airport and told him to distance himself from ‘C’ and ‘M’, as their heroin use was now completely out of control.

But he could see that too. When ‘C’ was busted in November, driving mindlessly around the blocks near his house in Emeryville, stoned out of his mind, the policeman who pulled him over found nine handguns in his front seat. They searched his house and found only a few empty jugs. Any incriminating stuff was long gone. Martin was named but without any evidence let go after a questioning. My name was mentioned but I was four thousand miles away and the matter dropped.

Then, strangely enough, the police took to him, probably impressed by his fast-talking New York accent, his brash mannerisms and knowledge of guns. They gave him a job as a police informant, undercover, the first real career he ever had, and he fit right in. Perhaps he even excelled at it.

He never pursued me as we really were deep friends. In the many days I’d spent there we shared half a dozen all-nighters over many lines, where I explained my philosophy of life in detail while he listened closely and shared his deepest thoughts on life, and as the sun rose, we beamed mutual smiles of friendship for such fine, enlightening talks. The year I’d spent on and off at his house our only other social activity was to eat together, (meals from delis), and watch crime shows on the T.V. talking away excitedly and incessantly through most of them, (just as I’d done with Dave). ‘Miami Vice’ was our favorite, but one of many. Once again it was an example of my making a close friend out of a person very different in personality and background, my one peculiar, recurrent, lucky talent.

The day we returned to Norma’s in early January, she told us there was a single phone call to her house from someone wanting to talk to me. We loaded up all our portable possessions into the camper the next morning. The furniture, like my beautiful writing table, I left for Norma as a gift. Then we drove to Santa Cruz, telling no one where we were headed, for a new life, just the two of us, deep in love. We disappeared.

When we were settled we revisited Berkeley and all our old friends. And in Santa Cruz we made a new set of friends, especially Steve and Consuelo, who’d moved there too by pure coincidence shortly before we did, Steve pursuing a degree at U. C. S.C. Hiram, Chuck and Tim also lived there. Sanita was now pregnant and taking it easy, wanting the quiet life. We had few visitors. It was a perfect move.

last post ...
next post ...


How do you rate this article?



B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.