“I haven’t taken a crap in three days”

This is Apache Shores, the neighborhood we call home:

Cord, a neighbor, day trader, and musician who made a name for himself locally in his eponymous band a few years ago, comes off as a regular enough dude. He’s kind to the kids, generous with food and liquor, relaxed, and gregarious. But the more I hang out with him, the more I realize he’s also bat-shit bonkers.

Take Easter morning. It’s well before sun up, and somehow I’ve ended up riding around with Cord in his golf cart. We’re putting campaign flyers in mailboxes for a guy, Wade, who is running for the Apache Shores board.

As I stick a flyer in a mailbox that has been dented, probably by a wasted teenager with a bat, Cord booms, “He has risen!” He yells it so loudly and without warning that that I jump a little.

“He has risen? Wait. What? I heard you were Jewish. Isn’t that true?”

Cord tells me he doesn’t know what he is, but this is Easter goddamn it, and he has lots of goddamn Easter spirit tonight and I need to show some goddamn Easter spirit, too.

“He has risen,” he bellows and again I flinch. A light turns on in a dark house as we putter away in the golf cart on the deserted street.

A couple of months pass before I run into Cord. He’s at a neighbor’s party, and he tells me he’s just returned from South Africa where he went on a safari, marvelled at the popularity of KFC, and made an American ass of himself at the World Cup. He tells me he brought back a vuvuzela.

Hours later, I leave the party, which started sedately but has turned into a thumping machine with fireworks being shot off in the driveway and garage, drunks yelling “Kill him” during a UFC pay per view, and beer bottles being smashed for sport. As I walk home, I hear Cord somewhere in the dark, blasting his vuvuzela. It’s at least 3 AM, and I wonder if anyone will complain.

No way, I decide. Not with all the noise and the broken glass. Not in Apache Shores.


A 3-foot tarantula appears for an hour or two on the roads in Apache Shores during the winter and spring. The tarantula looks real, and where it comes from and where it goes to, nobody seems to know.

The tarantula seems gone for good after Jamie—a friendly neighbor who adores kids and is probably some kind of social worker—spots it one night not far from her house, curses, and drives over the arachnid. Then she backs up over the spider. Then she drives over it again to make sure she’s flattened the beast.

But a few weeks later, I notice something on the road just as black and just as big. The tarantula has been resurrected. And this is Apache Shores as well.


On the road out of Apache Shores, there’s a handwritten sign on a telephone pole that says, “You are happy.” Just that. You are happy.

For a couple of weeks during winter, another sign replaces the happy one. “You are sad,” it proclaims.

Then the happy sign reappears.


This is also Apache Shores:

I’m putting food out for our cat Snurp when I hear another neighbor, Brandy—a sun-battered 40-something mom married to a conspiracy theorist whose name I can’t remember and dating another man who goes by Wolf—talking loudly.

“I haven’t taken a crap in three days,” Brandy exclaims to someone I can’t see.

Is she sharing this with her husband or with her teenage son or with Wolf, I wonder? I decide I don’t want to know. Some stories are better left incomplete.

Like the story about Brandy walking around Apache Shores wearing nothing but high heels. I’d rather not think too much about that one.


I’m swimming in Lake Austin on a late-summer Saturday. I swim half a mile alone in the lake, leaving from and returning to the Apache Shores lakeside park, counting strokes as I inch along, working on sighting above the water, looking for fish and snakes in the green water below.

When I climb out of the lake after my swim, I notice Sally. She’s talking with neighborhood friends who have set up camping chairs on a boat dock. I spot Eli taking turns flying through the air on a rope swing with some kids at the other end of the park. And I see Slade. He’s tolerating being lugged around by a middle school girl who loves babies.

I dry off and sit on a grassy slope in the shade, the water a few feet away, everybody accounted for and content. Opening the cooler, I pull out a Tecate. My heart thumps hard and strong, and my head is still. I can’t imagine a better place or a better time than right now. And this is Apache Shores, too.


5 Responses to ““I haven’t taken a crap in three days””

  1. 1 Barb Black November 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    This whole post has me grinning. I used to live in a Cascade mountains version of Apache Shores, called Granite Falls. Sure miss life up there on the mountain.

  2. 2 lesleyfamily November 5, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Granite Falls, eh? Sounds like my kind of place. Actually, most everywhere I’ve been in that part of the world seems like my kind of place.

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  1. 1 The cat we feed « Bad Chemicals Trackback on December 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

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