Would you know my name, if I saw you in Sacramento? Tears in Heaven is one of those songs that is embroidered into my life at the tail end of a harrowing crossroad. The intersection of hazy shade of the future and dark, deathly past. As haunting as the actual song was it synced beautifully with a time and a friend in the 90’s, in a not-so-sleepy, but ever-so-creepy small town of Folsom, California. The circumstances of being expelled from an elite Catholic School and being coldly uprooted happened prior to the entire family, minus one exception (my sister), (que the baritone, da dun da duuun), moving to this “one-horse” cow-town.
Didn’t see any horses or cows, not really much livestock at all except many coyotes and an occasional bobcat skulking around on a dry desolate, some say toxic waste land that was Rancho Secco; now White Rock Road. In fact, White Rock Road is a whole entire extra story in itself, and I found most of Folsom in the 90’s to be exactly that; secretive and mysterious, sometimes alluring. For what appeared to me, no good reason at all.
There were remnants and traces of what was probably green hills and trees at one time. Fun fact, there’s an entire town under Folsom Lake. Country music legend, Johnny Cash has a trail, ode to a song and inspired by Folsom Prison Blues right in eye and ear shot of the penitentiary. The irony not lost upon me.
The walls to Folsom Prison look and feel like purgatory is a real place, especially after the winding and twisted road out of nowhere travels up to the guard’s station. A gothic artist’s dream drive, through of one of the spookiest forests ever driven. Close second has to be Bohemian highway off Highway 1 on the west coast or the edge of the Earth, however you see it.
Also called the Pacific Coast and most definitely, one if not, the prettiest places on the planet. Everywhere in California is like that! One corner will be exquisite with rich history and a bounty of beauty for the senses and sensible and turn that corner on an off day and you will see how dilapidated, overpriced, and haunted. All in the eye of the beholder, landlord, and from above, I say. It’s what you choose to see that you have to pay for.
I’ve explored the tales of sacred land being trespassed and I believe them to be valid plus a few curses that I’m sure still exist. Rainbow Bridge used to sit at the top of what was the wild rapids of the American River. Kids would gather up on the rocks and sunbathe the entire day, while one unruly, fearless teenager, climbs to the top of the bridge only to plunge into the freezing depths below for an epic thrill and obvious bragging rights.
What I, did, discover and kind of uncovered, was a trove of history that even my own blood had poured the sidewalks on Sutter’s Street. Sutter’s Street was the main stop for all your “gold digging” and panhandling needs back in the day and the tunnels that funneled alcohol during prohibition.
However, unaware, I was to “our history”, my grandmother, affectionately known as Gram, “caught me up” real fast and stated poignantly and without reproach, that “we are the “black sheep”. Apparently, there was a dispute between in-laws regarding the matter of a pig. As fate would have it, the legal man carrying the name Davis was shot and killed. The “executioner” stole the man’s name and fled to California. The imposter morphed into “Henry Davis” (not-so great-grandfathers of past) and was actually his brother-in-law, his wife’s (maiden name) brother.
Essentially, I’m related to both men and a “carrier” of the loathsome tale and twisted destiny, along with their DNA. A lone, Texas Ranger (pursuit of justice in mind) followed “Henry Davis” all the way to, none other than, Folsom, California, only to allow his escape (the movie, Fugitive, has a stunning similarity). Henry poured the concrete sidewalks in old historic Folsom, Sutter’s Street; his dated plaque remains as a “reminder” and is there to this very day.
In my late-late teens, I stood on his work, and I kept myself out of trouble, so I thought. At the tail-end shop, on the very corner of Sutter’s Street; no bigger than a misshapen, closet-sized, tiny, “Victorian” looking, cottage, adobe-hut stands; originally a gas station by day and a bootlegging operation of debauchery, wickedness (moonshine), and crimes (prostitution) against everyone, by night. A tunnel underground that is said to line the streets to a myriad of forbidden places and a myriad of stories from those passages; hidden under a trap door with a thin layering of carpet, you would think was at least 100 years old.
Atop, I worked hand crafted arts for the holidays, made bows, watched the bystanders, fell in love with life and apple roses, luminaries, and decorated the window with brightly colored creations to attract the “Christmas tourists” looking for that small town vibe, exchanging of keepsakes, and precious to semi-precious, heartfelt memorabilia.
As above, so below and the tunnels were barricaded, left forgotten; while the street above hosted crowds of “plenty.” Packed shops, customers with ornamental bags stuffed with goodies galore, all while snacking on the most delicious caramel, candy apple you ever did see and taste, from Shnook’s (desert shop extraordinaire). Looked right out of a Thomas Kincaid oil painting and his work could be found in the art galleries, prominently displayed.
It was a great space to do one’s last-minute shopping and for me, complete last-minute homework and telephone my Gram, while eating the most amazing won-ton soup (Hop Sing’s Palace) that Bill and Lamb (kindest, married couple, owners of the most exceptional Chinese food restaurant) ever created.
The history brings forth this “airborne” magic and the result can be found in the details of these artistic creations, the quaint shops, the musicians that play during the “street fairs”. Be careful not to “drown” oneself into those depths or the many “watering holes”, for an extended period of time; not to mention “speak” of the artists who once strolled through on a dusty weekend.
The “roam” of an artists’ inspirations and the actual “spirits” themselves, I’m positive, “decorate” the old town by day and frequent the dimly lit caverns by night. Word to the wise, keep your head up; you might “run-into” someone or a ghost you used to know.
Now, the gold has resurfaced, and my childhood home is close to a cool mil, next to a wild-life reserve in a subdivision that has expanded the once empty fields. How all the unpaved roads have led me back to the Folsom bellbottom blues.
Time can bring you down, bend your knees, and break your heart. On Mother’s Day 1992, my father informed me, with true sadness and a disheartened voice, your friend Teri passed away from a car accident, late last night. Reading the newspaper section, I quickly located her name, and couldn’t grasp the details of the accident. Drifted into opposite lane and into on-coming traffic, critically injured three other people.
My very first friend in Folsom, who I spent every day after school with, listening to ride the lightning Metallica, her choice not mine and not the most uplifting of music. Metallica was my first concert and the first band, my brother and I “rolled” up to Folsom High School heard blasting from their parking lot, Sanitarium.
Teri would take me with her to visit Dawn, her horse, and to do horse activities, like cleaning the horse’ stalls for cheaper rent space, and brushing, exercising, and riding. Dawn was the second horse, I ever tried to ride and my first and only unsuccessful attempt bareback.
Auburn was beautiful with trees and huge houses, about a 15-minute drive outside of Folsom and apparently where the horse’s safe habitat dwelled. There was an unruly gorgeous black stallion, a horse as big as a Clydesdale, and a few other normal looking regular horses. Dawn was so kind and such a sweet patient horse, that it was hysterical seeing her from an upside down, looking up at her angle. Turns out I inherited zero equestrian abilities, but the love of horses runs in my family.
Months before Teri had passed, she had asked me to go with her and have Dawn, “put to rest”, and I tried to explain that I couldn’t go, because it would be too hard. I let my friend down that day and afterwards, we didn’t communicate as much. Most likely the lack of communication was due partly to my sister calling Teri and stating she was going to kill Teri, and her entire family, horse included, if Teri hadn’t returned my sister’s kitten.
Less than a year prior, we rescued this little kitten outside my sister’s apartment, tangled in the bushes, while trying to visit with my baby niece and unbeknownst to my parents’ knowledge and absolutely against their wishes.
In fact, that’s how we met in the first place. A cat had kittens underneath the school’s library and Teri was bound and determined to find homes for all the kittens, mom included. I knew no-one and nothing; I spent many a quiet afternoon doing homework or reading in that small quaint little library. Now, I believe it’s part of the elementary school and have since rebuilt a huge high school that reflects nothing of the small town it’s modeled after.
It was also Teri’s first year in Folsom and a bond was formed by me asking her, “How much does it look like I weigh”? It was for my drivers permit and let’s face it, I was never going to divulge such sensitive matters for public view or scrutiny. She graciously flattered me with 118 and I’m still lying about my actual weight, today.
My sister will name Coco for short and anonymity purposes, plus it is my favorite fragrance by Chanel and in typical fashion trying to make a positive spin on a negative topic, which I frequently have to do. The fragrance Coco by Chanel is such a beautiful and intoxicating smell, and even if there’s not as many pennies in the bank, you can smell like there is! Better worn in the evenings or winter, but always a strong, crowd pleaser and always leaves an impression. That’s probably the only similarity between the two Coco’s.
I guess, the most delicate way to say this, is that Coco wasn’t like the other sisters or any sister I have ever encountered. Coco was murderous towards me since I was brought home from Kaiser Permanente hospital. She’s a few years older, so for the almost twelve tortuous and terrifying years I had to endure with her, let’s just say, I’m lucky and grateful to be alive is a huge understatement.
To this day I still bear the scars (physical and emotional). The tumultuous and harrowing years for my sister and anyone who ever had the unfortunate circumstances of having a “run in”, with her were right around the bend. Like a runaway train, her unfiltered rage against everyone increased in speed for every victim that had been engulfed by her wrath.
A reoccurring theme in my life and a constant disclaimer when or if anyone has communication or a prolonged interaction with me. I wish I could say that Teri was the first friend, or even the last friend to meet the unnatural tornado of vile and hatred which is Coco’s destruction, all the while entertaining and euphoric for its host of evil. “Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d”, and this quote be evermore true when Coco is afoot.
Turns out, that all people feel this way; that it’s all “fun and games” until their actual lives are threatened or an eye is poked out. I’m sad and embarrassed to say how many employers, good friends, and amazing opportunities have swept off into another dimension due to the actions of another or Coco lurking in the shadows.
The veil between good and evil was ever-present in that time period and as the years have added up, so has the distance and dissension. What feels like a lifetime ago has taught me so many valuable lessons. If I take this one moment in time as a memory to review, it’s clear to see the value of true, honest friendship and sisterhood; no blood required. Destiny would still march on, but real friendship and love is what is memorable and lasting.
Teri had gone on to Sacramento State University, huge animal rights advocate, worked at a health foods store preaching to me to stop eating meat and even had a fiancée, I never got to know. All before the age of twenty. Oddly, Teri spoke about death and looking back now, I can see a girl who masked depression and grief while trying to function as completely together. She asked me not to wear black to her funeral, actually made me promise. Like most teenagers and humans in general, I tried to dismiss her, at the time thinking a morbid fascination. I unknowingly wore blue tie-dye to her funeral.
I will find my way through night and day. On Teri’s grave plaque it states she held a love for all of God’s creatures. The only consolation I felt at that time was looking up at Jesus on the cross. God smacked as I sit here, that I was so lost and finding my way back to faith was longer and harder than I ever realized.
It was a tragic and beautiful ceremony; her senior portrait picture placed in front the closed casket. I remember, sitting on her stairs, she gave me the little square senior portrait picture signed, friends forever and on the back, her drawing of a horse, also engraved on her tombstone.
As I made my way into the precession, both of Teri’s parents hugged me, securely. True and Godly parents, the love lost was undeniable, immense, and eternal. I visited Teri’s forever place for a few years ritualistically and on my last commemorative journey over, I paused to walk the little pathway.
Her, I assume fiancée, was knelt and looked deep in thought. I couldn’t and didn’t disturb their time. Every year, to this day, on that day, I hear Eric Clapton’s song and I know I’ve seen a glimpse into Heaven; and so, I must be strong and carry on….
***This story is a work of fiction and this is a disclaimer for anyone who needs one*** Hope you enjoy this story and that it relates to you; one way or another *** I will be adding snippets, photos, and blurbs along as I go *** Thank you and hope you keep a musical note with you *** God Bless !!!