Music and books were my refuges when I was a teen. I don't mean just the typical angst of a teen burdened with greater desires and no clue what to do with them. Books allowed my mind to escape the torture of my home, and music allowed my body freedom from judgement and pain. Every word sung, I connected with as personally as I could've done. When the Joshua Tree album from U2 had come out, we were at the then annual Great Bathtub Race, where 97.3 Kiss FM challenged Burquenos to not only design a bathtub to float in the Rio Grande, but one that could motor down river by any means. It was a level of ridiculousness that I hadn't seen anywhere else.
Anyway, they were giving out free CDs, T-shirts, and assorted paraphernalia from a band I hadn't heard of, U2. The moment the CDs were tossed into the air, I jumped up to catch one, not paying any mind to the other guy I knocked out of the air to grab the music. Once in my hand, I ran back to where my step-father and mother were watching the race, excited at attaining a prize. It was my first CD (which I still have to this day). That afternoon, I inserted the music into the living room's stereo system, and that magical sound of the CD's fist song, Where the Streets Have No Name, filled the house.
I fell in love with U2 that day in the Spring of 1987, just a few months before I'd fall in love with Star Trek: The Next Generation. As with friends, there were good days with my family and then bad ones too, but the bad in our home was something none of my friends had known, much less experienced.
The damaged bits of my psyche created an anchor for my long since uselessness teenage mind. It was the mind of a teen who had been exposed to abuse and confusion, and had no real way to deal with that scenario. That teen would've been taken on his, my, first hunting experience. I had taken the gun safety class, and passed easily. I had vibrated with excited anticipation. My shotgun was clean, the rounds examined for any visible faults, and I knew the birds we were going to hunt: Doves, and Quail. The plan was to leave at about four in the morning and head out to just west of the city limits, a few miles west of the volcanoes that bordered the city limits. The roads were rough in that small, Mitsubishi pickup truck. At one point, and owl few too low and crashed into the top of the windshield, and vanished into the night. The bang was as powerful as a gunshot. Once we reached the region to hunt for Doves mainly, we parked and waited for sunrise.
At dawn we exited the truck and went to get our guns from the bed of the truck, but there was a dead owl, it blood soaked into both of our backpacks. A chill ran through me, and perhaps I should have taken that as a sign, but even as a teen, I wasn't superstitious. My step-father grabbed the beautiful creature that had an unfortunate interception with our truck, and tossed it out onto the sparsely filled ground, just off the side of the road. I must have had a curious or stunned look on my face, for he said:
"It's not like we're gonna eat it, or get is stuffed, like your uncle. Check your backpack, and take out anything that doesn't have any blood on it."
Eventually, I did, and then checked my gun, loaded it and kept five shells in each pocket.
"Okay, then lest head up North so we can meet your uncle in a few hours."
I nodded my head, draped my shotgun over my left arm, pointing down, and away from my step-father. I gave the entire layout of the land before me a scrutinous eye, watch for the slightest movement from the sage bushes, creosote bushes, and mesquite bushes.
Nothing happened. Not one bird stirred after three hours of walking, and that's when things changed, horrifically... (what will tomorrow bring?)