He was one of the first people I met when I got here. Rented a room at the Mukai House when it was still a commune. The first place I lived. The hippies had also taken over the old barreling plant and converted it into a thrift shop with a standing open mic on Wednesday nights. There was a young woman living alone in a school bus. There was a one eyed horse, goats, chickens, 5 dogs, a pottery barn. An old man out in the woods living in a tree house with a tribe of cats.
That old man used to be an archeologist, an old professor, he spent a long time with the aboringines. Maybe too much time. First of all his white beard was to his belly button in dreds and when we met I thought he was bat shit. One night I went to the bathroom like at 4am. There was a big white plastic domed roof over the garden. He was under it with a lantern swinging a machete and the lamp threw his shadow onto the ceiling of the that huge garden. It was a long time before we talked about it. He was only after the slugs that were after the basil.
Right after I arrived I became sick, so sick. Sickest I’ve ever been in my life. Fever, cough, stuffed up face, the air here is full of molds and mildews and that wet gloomy fog, especially in the room I rented, in the basement, that house is very old. Tried to fight it, was sleeping on the couch and in my fever I heard the strangest noises. On my feet and peeking out the window and there was that old man pacing under the window with his didge. It was the first time I ever heard or seen anyone play that instrument, it made me pass out. The next thing I knew I was back on couch and looking up, upside down at him and he was standing over me. Just watching over me, but I was frightened. I said to him, you had better stay back, it’s a fever, you don’t want to catch it old man. Blinked and he had vanished.
Felt much better the next morning. Spent the day with ms christal the baker. When I went back to the house, I set up shop in the kitchen and made 7 blackberry pies with poppyseed crusts and gave them all away. That’s when I met Mean Dave. He gave me a basket of island trinkets like a raven or something. An old school button from one of the first Strawberry Festivals that I could wear so I would fit in. It was a decade before I met his ex wife. What a life.
It was only earlier this summer that someone shared with me the story of how he got his name. Sure I’ve known about Thursday night poker down at his place for a long time. It’s an adventure. Yes well that’s where it went down. So this kid double skunked him at cribbage. Ouch. Mean Dave likes to think he’s too smart for that. What he did was invite the kid back for a rematch. He did the same exact thing, double skunked the kid but better by adding one point.
The kid stood up, pointed at him and and yelled: You’re MEAN Dave!
And his wife? She had 5 kids. Two sets of twins. A wonderful musician she took me out to find the best nettles and walked me through her old cabin. It was a rotten shed, two rooms and an out house and that’s how she lived for years. Baby on her back, on her chest and three in a wheel barrel when she collected fire wood. She’s now a nurse and the kids are all grown up.
They still play poker at Mean Dave’s on Thursday. That old man is still here. He’s lost some teeth, trimmed his beard back and sadly, can no longer play the didge.