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In These Parts
Recollections of Kelley B., As Told to James LaFond
© 2023 James LaFond
Copyright 2024 James LaFond
A Crackpot Book
Lynn Lockhart Publisher
From March 2022 thru December 2023, the author, while visiting Portland, was befriended by Kelly. Invited to dinner on Tuesdays and to watch football on Sunday, the author soon discovered that his kind host had quite the past. A life long fisherman, who has worked as a depredation hunter, a wilderness guide, a horse trainer, a truck driver, and as Santa Clause, Kelly impressed. He had an easy, unperplayed manner of conversation, a subdued laugh, and, it turned out a competitive history in boxing and arm wrestling.
Raised as part of a large family in rural Banks, Oregon, by an abandoned mother, Kelley learned responsibility at an early age, but never forget how to play. Boxing as a young man and delivering groceries to retailers for 46 years, placed Kelley and the author, who worked in retail food for 38 years and coached boxing for 29 years, in an overlapping frame of conversation.
On Sunday, December 3, 2023, the author, no longer fit to coach, but well able to sit and write, offered to write Kelley’s remembrances in book form. Kelley chuckled like Old Saint Nick, and said, “Sure, if anybody would wanna read about my messed up life.”
The author responded, “I have a thousand fiction readers and 5,000 nonfiction readers. That story you told me about rescuing Clint from the Chenault Indians, that will get 6,000 reads at least.”
The men laughed, the crippled welterweight and the aged heavyweight, as their women commiserated in the den about things of womanly ken, and younger, better men clashed on the Green Bay [1] gridiron on the TV screen.
Kelley toasted his friend and said, “Brother, good food, good drink, the company of a good friend who is a brother to me, that’s all I need. The curtain is falling, the heart slowin’ down, en’ I’m hopin’ there’s a little bit more of this life to enjoy.”
Author’s Note
Kelley extended the hand of kindness to this down and out hobo near two years ago. His demeanor is mild in that big man way. His spirit is still that of the young stud who used to express his love for fishing out of season by swimming down the Columbia River, diving and gathering broken fishing tackle, some of which he still has, eager to gift to any young fellow who wants to learn fishing.
As is common with men of action, especially in later years when activity is reduced by the grind of their life and times, Kelley possesses a keen sense of humor and a ready trove of stories. Trading similar stories is one of our past times. Relating recollections brought to mind by current events in the lives of our friends and families, as well as by scenes that tumble across the TV, is another way in which we exchange recollections. My stories, have all been told in the various Harm City and Agonistics books. These simply serve to spark a kindred memory from Kelley’s life.
Kelley is quick to help, damned near jolly, and slow to anger. Last Saturday, taking his wife to the hospital, some insane drug addict motorist, a man half his age, raged at him until he pulled over and then threatened his life. In no temper to fight, and having yielded the wrong of way to the maniac, who was demonstrating a violent psychotic episode, Kelly sat and grinned, possessed of an equalizing artifice, ready and handy, “So then, I guess it must be a good day to die?”
The man raged away. Kelley declared, “I fucked up, should’ve never talked back to some young maniac. But I was raised in an honorable time when you put up or shut up. I gave him plenty of leeway to pull off and be on his way.”
I have not asked Kelley his age, have conducted not an interview in any way. I suppose he is closing in on 70, as he has been retired for a few years. I treasure my time with Kelley, like I do Bob, and Shayne, men who might have been a big brother to me in some more sensible life, lived in the country rather than the city.
What really helped Kelley and I click, was that he lives in Portland, Oregon, retains a country boy view of right and wrong and has spent a life time in a city that has plain lost its mind these past few years.
I have no intention of cluttering Kelley’s easy conversation with a formal book outline. We will simply speak about what comes up when it does and I will write it down. Robert E. Howard, once related that he placed his famous Conan the Barbarian stories in no particular order, that a man who related his adventures tends to do so at random as the fancy strikes. In Kelley there is a clear parallel here with the fictional Barbarian, born and raised in the misty hills of Northwestern Oregon and come to Portland to make his way, now one of the more decadent iterations of Civilization. The resulting interesting life of Kelley includes concourse with grunts, savage Indians, punks, villains, drunks, bullies, cops and yes, slave girls.
In These Parts is inspired by Clint’s Abduction and will be written in the order that my new found friend, Kelley cares to relate the more noteworthy episodes of his life.
James LaFond, Tuesday, December 5, 2023
-1. This was the occasion of the underdog Green Bay Packers humbling the Denver Broncos.
in these parts
Clint’s Abduction
z-pill forever
thriving in bad places
your trojan whorse
the fighting edge
solo boxing
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