Tag Archives: Central Coast

Central Coast assholes

A day in the life of a retired cab driver

CITY LIFE.crazy_old_man

This area, slow and tranquil as it is, can be deceiving. There are pockets of hermits, social outcasts, borderline outlaws, and anarchists living in sheds, motor homes and old dilapidated ranch cabins a few miles inland from the beach.

by Dell Franklin

I was cruising along the frontage road in north Morro Bay, bordering Highway 1, around 10 in the morning, having just hit the tennis ball for over an hour with a friend, and headed toward Spencer’s Supermarket, on my way home to Cayucos, when a very big Army green military-type van was suddenly coming up fast on me, and hugged my tail with an over-sized, rather menacing looking bumper. Driving a 13-year-old Toyota, I glimpsed in my rearview mirror at the driver, who owned a large, bulbous face and wild grey hair sprouting in various directions, like a nest of snakes. He was so close I feared he was going to ram me, and I was driving close to the speed limit—40mph.

He seemed pissed off, and I figured it was my KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD and GREENPEACE bumper stickers that had him riled. I’m pretty sure he saw me eyeing him in my rearview mirror, and he was kind of snarling, his mouth crooked, teeth flashing like some sort of carnivorous feral animal on the prowl. I guessed him to be around 55 or 60.

I kept my eye on him all the way down the road, slowing to 35 the last quarter mile, because I was not about to be intimidated by a bully, and he stayed right on my ass as I turned right into Spencer’s massive parking lot beside Taco Temple Restaurant and tooled slowly toward some parking spots while the van veered past me and then cut in front of me and wove between gaps of parked cars and halted in a spot. I took my time and parked a row over and sat and watched him get out of his car and head in long strides toward the market, eyeing me the whole time as I sat in my car with an extremely malignant, nodding, knowing glower. He wore black Army boots like those we wore in the 1960s, cut-off cargo pants with multi pockets, and a tank-top. He looked work strong, probably three inches taller and 25 pounds heavier and 10 years younger than me, and he was still twisting his big head of shoulder-length snakes in my direction as he ducked into the market.

There were big canisters on his vehicle, meaning he was probably some kind of survivalist living in the hills, growing crops and weed and sitting on a porch with a vicious guard dog and a rifle, and shooting anything that moved when he wasn’t hunting wild pigs to barbecue and share with his beast. This area, slow and tranquil as it is, can be deceiving. There are pockets of hermits, social outcasts, borderline outlaws, and anarchists living in sheds, motor homes and old dilapidated ranch cabins a few miles inland from the beach, who come in every week or so for provisions.

I walked toward the market, holding a biscuit for a dog named Cinnamon who sat mornings with a bunch of ancient military veterans wearing ball caps signifying their outfits when they were in wars and gave the biscuit to the dog before entering. Inside, I headed straight to the bakery to secure a muffin to have with my coffee and LA Times when I got home to my dog, Wilbur. After securing my muffin, I wandered toward the deli section, looking for something special in case I wasn’t in the mood to cook, and ran into Cloyd, an old pal who used to frequent Happy Jack’s Saloon, where I tended bar for eight years back in the 1990s.

Pudgy and grey, Cloyd has clerked in a Morro Bay liquor store for 25 years at least, lives frugally in a mobile home, takes a walk on the beach every other day, and otherwise lives a life of quiet, cautious contentedness. We exchanged greetings and questions as to our health, and he was telling me how it’s cheaper to get his blood pressure medicine through the VA than Medicare when the driver of the Army-mobile was suddenly directly in my face, inches away, as Cloyd, not a swift-reacting person, quickly moved away to a safe position.

The snake-head held a small basket for his purchases, while I held my cloth grocery bag. Up close, as he gazed into my eyes, I recognized crazed hostility. He tilted his head this way and that, as if to further appraise me. Cloyd peered at me in a manner questioning what was going on between us. Shoppers skirted us, aroused, concerned.

The guy’s eyes seemed to glitter and scoured every pore in my face, and then, shaking his head sadly, as if dealing with a hopeless idiot, he said, loud enough for Cloyd and everybody in the vicinity to hear, “You cut me off.” Before I could retort, he said, “You’re an asshole.” He flashed me one last look of disgust and contempt and walked off in those long strides.

Cloyd stepped over. “What was THAT all about?

“Hell if I know.”

I headed for the meat section. He was down there, too, looking over the burger meat. When he finished, I got my burger meat and some American cheese and frozen French fries. I spotted him heading to the check-out line. I was done, but I waited until he was out the door, then checked my stuff and walked toward my car, saw him standing arms-folded against his dusty, dirt-encrusted Army-mobile, waiting, watching me.

I got in my car. I took my time. He stared at me—ugly person out of an Appalachian horror movie. I started up. I drove slowly, in a crawl, turned down the lane where he stood against his Army-mobile, watched him straighten up as I approached. I slowed almost to a stop, rolled down my window, and issued him the finger, making sure to thrust it at him with conviction and hold it a few seconds to make my point, and rolled slowly away at a snail’s pace.

He came unglued, shook his fists and cursed me violently, spittle flying from his trap. He challenged me to get out and fight, ran after me in an awkward, unathletic gait as I cruised away staying just ahead of him while he foamed at the mouth and threatened my life. I pulled away very slowly, my finger still out the window, gazing at him in my side mirror as he finally halted, obviously winded.

He was waving his arms at me and delivering the finger like a madman as I turned onto the frontage road, my finger still out the window. Soon as I was out of view, I hit the gas. §

Dell Franklin also puts his fingers to good use as a writer, blogger and commentator from his home in Cayucos, Calif., where he lives with his rescue dog Wilbur. For more of Dell’s original writing, visit his website, dellfranklin.com, where this article first appeared.


After a year in poor man’s Monterey he couldn’t tell if he was any happier or not. Gradually, he spent less time watching sunsets and more time watching the feral cats over by the dumpster. Photo by Stacey Warde

After a year in poor man’s Monterey he couldn’t tell if he was any happier or not. Gradually, he spent less time watching sunsets and more time watching the feral cats over by the dumpster. Photo by Stacey Warde

by Greg West

Sarah had called the town a poor man’s Monterey but Joe moved there anyway, thinking, “I’ll live in poor man’s Monterey and Sarah can live where she lives and we’ll both be happier.” He loaded his belongings into the back of his Ford Ranger and drove to the little town, bought a newspaper and answered an ad for a studio apartment at four-hundred a month, plus a fifty dollar deposit. The apartments weren’t good. They were a poor man’s apartments—a row of sickly blue huts out in front of a splintered two-story in the back.

Joe knocked on the office door. Inside he could hear the audio of a pornographic movie being turned down. Out in front of the sickly huts two police cars pulled up and a red-faced drunk was handcuffed while two red-faced women yelled at him from separate doorways. A skinny bearded man stood in another doorway with a can of beer. He had a tall cactus plant and a lawn chair on his porch. “Sarah’s right,” Joe thought. “It’s not Monterey, but it’s still nice, this town.”

A man came to the door and introduced himself as Yolo, the manager. He was a jittery, lisping man with no front teeth, a head of oily flaking hair, and a long purple nose seeded with enormous blackheads.

“It’s zero-t-tolerance here” he told Joe, leading him up the stairwell of the two-story, words whistling off his gums. “What I mean is, it’s strict. No drugs, no hookers, no dealing, and, and, if you’re a cop, you have to let us know, legally.”

Each stair was about to give, from unevenness or decay, but as Joe and Yolo reached the top, Joe knew he was going to take the place. Through a tangle of cable wires he could already see a bit of ocean and part of the massive volcanic rock the town was known for. He’d have to shut out the courtyard of weeds and jalopies below, and the pride of diseased cats over by the overflowing dumpster—and the noise—it was the middle of the day but people were home. Joe could smell marijuana smoke and hear dramatic debates coming from the units. A woman in a housecoat and slippers was weaving around the courtyard looking lost and distraught. Joe and Yolo stopped at a roll of carpet and some paint cans that were out on the walkway. They looked into the apartment that was for rent.

“This is it,” Yolo said to Joe. “And this here’s Ron. He’s the maintenance.”

Ron the maintenance man was at the top of a folding ladder, painting the ceiling a dark brown. The apartment was tiny—big enough for a bed and a table maybe, but Joe kept thinking about the walkway. He believed it was wide enough for a chair and maybe a TV tray. He saw himself sitting out there with a beer or a cup of coffee and watching sunsets through the cable wires. He could take his phone out there and call Sarah and tell her about his poor man’s view. If he could shut out that squalor below—the jalopies and the arguing and the flea-ridden cats—he’d have himself a little taste of affluence at four-hundred dollars a month.

Ron the maintenance man set his paint brush in a paint tray and climbed off the ladder. He was shirtless and pot-bellied and had a few strands of hair on each side of his head. His teeth worked a billowing Camel.

“Did you tell him about the no tolerance?” he asked Yolo.

Yolo moved his feet and looked away. “I told him. H-he said he’d abide.”

“And you told him no bullshit? No drugs? No sellin’ pussy, no grab-ass? You told him how strict it is here?”

“I told him,” said Yolo.

Ron tugged at jeans that were trying to slide off his assless trunk, and stepped over what looked like a puddle of dried paint but was in fact the dried blood of a man named Eldon Creel, who three days earlier had killed himself in Joe’s new apartment. Ron stopped near the doorway and the three men looked down at the hardened glossy pool.

“He was just another one of those guys,” Ron said. “That came and went. Grocery store, video store, he had his groceries and his videos and that was all he wanted. Never said nothing to no one. We figure he sat about right here…”

Ron dropped to the floor and sat against the wall. “…We figured he sat about here and said, ‘to hell with it,’ and went, ‘one…two…three…’”

Ron fitted two fingers under his chin, pulled a thumb-hammer.


Yolo jumped and shuddered. A flurry of flakes fell to his shoulders. “We gotta tell you,” he said to Joe. “By law, we have to tell you.”

Ron got to his feet, pulled up on his jeans, and began running the flat of his hand along a roughened section of door frame. He pulled out a pocketknife and stuck the point of it into the door frame then showed Joe and Yolo what he’d dug out. Against the silver of the blade it looked like chipped tooth on a dentist’s utensil.

“We’re still finding ‘em,” he said.

“Brain fragments,” said Yolo.

“Skull fragments,” Ron said. “We already got all the brains.”

“That-that’s what I mean,” said Yolo. “Sk-sk-skull fragments. W-we’re still finding ‘em. Everywhere.”

Joe unloaded his Ford Ranger and settled into the apartment and began a daily routine. In the mornings he’d walk down to the ocean and in the evenings he’d sit on his poor man’s balcony and eat TV dinners and watch sunsets. Or, if it was too foggy and there was a fight or arrest below, he’d watch that. The one time he’d called Sarah she’d hung up on him.

Once or twice a month he’d find one of Eldon Creel’s skull fragments in his wall or ceiling and pluck it out with scissors or nail clippers or whatever was around, and after a year in poor man’s Monterey he couldn’t tell if he was any happier or not. Gradually, he spent less time watching sunsets and more time watching the feral cats over by the dumpster. He’d sit out there until dark sometimes, watching them fight and fuck and hunt, and lick their matted coats in the prickling fog. §

Greg West lives in a hole-in-the-wall motel in Nevada where he writes in his spare time between jobs.


by Dell Franklin

“Cayucos Brad” Heizenrader, or the unofficial mayor and four decades resident of Cayucos, former Rogue of the Month in the former monthly Rogue Voice, observed over the years driving a variety of dilapidated pick-ups with orange cone in the bed used primarily to stake out territory when opportunity arises, and also stakes out territory in Schooner’s Wharf come Friday Happy Hours (a veritable Who’s Who in Cayucos of those who count), will stake out fresh territory as Maitre ‘D under the new management in Hoppe’s Bistro, a gourmand’s destination for decades.


Now appearing at Hoppe’s Bistro: Cayucos Brad Heizenrader. Photo courtesy of Brad Heizenrader

Cayucos Brad, whose occupations over the years have been bartender at the Tavern and Schooner’s, caterer with Bill Shea’s Sea Shanty, in-demand maestro of ceremonies for various club functions and drawings at the vet’s hall on the pier, promoter of entertainment in said hall, and general handyman whose motto is “I make bad things disappear,” will now try and make bad things disappear at Hoppe’s while creating good things to come with his inner SAVOIR FAIRE so evident to locals.

“I’m ready for this new gig,” says Mr. Cayucos, exuding calm on a raucus Friday evening in Schooner’s preceding the Sea Glass Festival. “I’m into wines and cuisine, big time. I’m ready for a change. I’m excited!”

A dandy, Mr. Cayucos appropriates most of his wardrobe from a few select thrift shops, but will not lower himself below Calvin Klein, Armani, Ralph Lauren Polo, Generra, Van Heusen, etc..”I’m gonna mix it up, nothing too extravagant, don’t wanna detract from the venue,” says Mr. Cayucos, a natural blond who once wore his hair shoulder-length but is now more debonair and dons a simple bracelet and chain and prefers gold or silver cuff links with pink or canary yellow Van Heusen or Armani shirts, designer jeans and red Converse All Star high-tops.

“No tuxedos or formal wear?”

“Oh no. Not yet, anyway. I’ll keep it simple, but elegant.”

“Do you intend to glide about in sartorial splendor, there when needed, but unobtrusive, spreading a relaxing good cheer with the potential of great times for all?”

Mr. Cayucos spreads his arms expansively, a trademark gesture. “Hoppe’s has been a great restaurant, with a great tradition for special occasions and signature cuisine. But it is subdued.” He gestures emphatically with expanded hands. “We want it more festive, like, well, a French bistro in Paris.”

So, citizens of Cayucos by the sea, and those throughout the county who have frequented Hoppe’s over the years, be prepared to be greeted by the charmingly engaging and when needed flamboyantly entertaining Mr. Cayucos, branding his unique charisma on a county institution. §

Dell Franklin is founding publisher and a regular contributor to The Rogue Voice. He writes from his home in Cayucos, where he lives with his rescue dog Wilbur.