Her breath was on my skin. A promise. Tiny white teeth. A serpents mouth. She bit my neck. I felt her body upon me as I had so many times before. I was getting accustomed to her weight on me. She was like a plague in my life. All consuming. The banality of her conversation was almost as unbearable as her demands… Blood ran down my neck and I felt it warm and sticky. My shirt grew wet. I couldn’t push her off of me and I was impotent to do anything… Thoughts of my childhood rushed through my blood and trampled across my brain. Old memories in big black boots. Flashes. My mothers hand striking across my face. A well-aimed shoe crushing my ribs. Groveling. A linoleum kitchen floor I’d seen this close, far too many times. Her weight pressed on me and I sank into the bed… the mattress closed around me like quicksand. I was mute. My mouth was zippered shut and my only sensation was sight. I saw the fall. I saw it all. Her eyes smiled. Demise. She had the emotions of a marble statue. Another soul fed to her selfishness… I woke up. Sweating. My face was wet. I had been crying in my sleep. “Jesus!” I sit on the side of my bed and rub my eyes. Wasn’t it Nietzsche that wrote, “Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.” ? I fumbled with my sweatshirt and made my way to the kitchen to make coffee. Hours later, I started resembling a human being again. My mind cleared and the nights dreams were quickly slipping from my memory. I wanted to write a story. I thought of Craig Stecyk. He wrote some amazing tales of pool riding, anarchy and lawlessness. Those stories pulled me through the rough times of my youth. They pulled me up when everyone was pushing me down. Back then, I was a pariah. I shook my head to clear the thought.
Paging through a folder of pool images, I came across photographs of Michael Serna Jr. skating the Bent square pool. San Bernardino. He was going over a set of side ladder stairs. The images were dated November, 2009. I recall that Steve had found the pool. I think Billy, Steve and Danny drained it originally, but I was no longer sure. There had been so many pools between now and then. I sipped hot coffee. Mogwai dismally kept me company. Another hour found me driving in my truck. I refer to it as, “The Shitbox”. Recently, a girl informed me that I should get a better car… advice from the ladies. I decided to take the cotton out of my mouth and put it in my ears. I don’t need to hear such things. I said nothing and nodded in agreement. “Yes. Yes. A real piece of junk.” I thought.
The freeway traffic burned and blurred. I drove the grid. I started far away from home and wove a long and practiced route back towards Ridiculous. I spotted several foreclosures. Boarded up. Trash and abandonment. Cars on blocks. Overflowing dumpsters. One yard was filled with dog crap and fleas. I saw them on my socks and beat a hasty retreat. I stopped on a side street in San Bernardino. It was mid morning. Yawning. Quiet. A lawnmower growled close by. I smelled oranges from a nearby tree. I looked about and quickly pulled myself up on a block wall. Peering over, I saw the pool. Bent square. Minimal water and debris. The pools white plaster glittered.
I let myself back down and walked to the truck. The hard part was approaching the owners. Sometimes, I will have a really good pool that I know of, but I put off contacting the owners because I’m scared they’ll say. “No.” If I don’t ask, it is still a possibility in my mind… I drove back to Ridiculous. I had planned to drive the grid with Ray Zimmerman. Gathering up a Nike sweatshirt and some t-shirts that Lance gave me, I grabbed a magazine as well. It had an article that I completed on pool riding. I waited for MRZ to get to Ridiculous and minutes after his arrival, I was in front of the house where the bent square pool rested. I knocked. The door opened. I smelled garlic and onions. Children cried. A quick glance saw diapers and beer bottles. Toys. A sandy-haired woman greeted me warily. She looked tired. I explained my presence. “Luis…” She called over her shoulder. Luis came to the door and stepped out onto the porch. He looked stoned. He listened and looked as I paged through the Skateboarders Journal Magazine. He smiled. “Yeah, yeah… I keep it drained. I have a small pump.” He explained, pointing in the direction of the backyard.
We walked along the side of the house and to the backyard. Once through the gate, I saw the pool. It had only a bit of water and leaves inside. Luis sat on the steps as MRZ and I examined the pool. He took the Nike stuff and wanted me to buy paint and rollers in exchange for skating. “That way, once it gets hot out here, I will have everything ready to fill it for the summer.” He smiled and I agreed. It was worth it. Blue Tile Permission. I phoned Lance Mountain and he drove over. He took a look at the pool and quickly ponied up for the paint and supplies. We drove and he bought everything. Delivered. The next day, we gave the pool a thorough workout. It was small and strange. The pool made you work for it. Tricks could be done, but the pool was not an easy one. Lance said something about possibly filming in the pool at a later time. We kept it tight. Luis — the owner– was pretty cool about us coming by, but he definitely wanted short sessions… one to two hours, once in awhile. We complied and didn’t wear out the welcome. The following Sunday, Scott Cooper, Tony, John Torchia, Ripperside Shawn and I went by for an hour or so. Everyone made it over the side ladder stairs, the sky was blue and we were thankful to be skating together and having fun. Gratitude.
It rained hard the next week and Luis phoned and told me that he’d pumped it dry for us shortly after the storm subsided. One has to love such thoughtfulness. I took his children some stickers and fingerboards. Lance called me one day soon after. He wanted to stop by and film a bit. I set things in motion and MRZ came by to shoot some background stuff. Dan Rogers would be along as well. We met up and Lance slipped directly into Awesome Mode. He pulled lines in the pool. I looked at him like he was crazy. Lance did fastplants and corner tail taps. He pushed into a frontside air over the side ladder, to pivot in the cup, to rock-n-roll beside the ladder again, and pulled frontside deathbox. This pool is little more than a shoebox! It was inspiring. Dan Rogers then put some lines down and I aired the side ladder that day.
We only rode the pool twice after this day. Luis was quickly over it all and I understood. He had children and having several skaters in the backyard on the weekend probably was a bit much. Riverside Ed and Kevin came by Ridiculous the following Sunday. Ed shares his pools with me fairly often and he’d never been to the bent square. He’s heard of it though. I took those guys over and everyone lit it up one more time. It seemed that Luis was now cultivating some herbs. He peered at us from his windows. Seeing this, I knew the pool was doomed. It wouldn’t last. They never do.
On the drive home that day, I thought about pool skating and the people that really do it. There are plenty of guys that skate pools, but there are a limited number of them that do it to the virtual exclusion of all else. It is a strange affliction. I talked with Ripperside Shawn. He said that he needs to find and drain pools. It is the hunt and the subsequent work that rewards. I think that sometimes the skating is almost secondary. It is important, but the satisfaction gained in the stealth and recon for new pools cannot be easily quantified. Sharing them is another huge part of it for me. There are those that ridicule such behaviors. I care little for their opinions. They can go get their own pools going… there are plenty out there. Pool riding is an underground, sometimes lawless endeavor. I understand. I’ve been arrested and jailed for it. It is a costly adventure. Seeing friends riding beside me in a backyard pool is the ultimate reward. It is the thing I dreamed about all those years ago in Pennsylvania. It is the very dream that helped me forget my childhood plight. Oblitus. Forgetting. I will continue on… Thank you to Tony Gates and MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie