To No Avail
Slaps the Tail - Chapter One
trust a trustafarian?"
Mike Hacker aimed the words into the girl's ear as she passed near
him. His observation gave her pause and she stopped staring at the
dreadlockers in question long enough to peer at Hacker suspiciously
before continuing her fight towards the bar. The peer was
encouragement enough for Hacker who, just minutes earlier, had
finally been able to claim a seat at the bar himself. It was towards
that seat that he attempted to herd her now, staying just aft of her
ample stern and using the energy of the encroaching crowd to jostle
them both towards his stool. Just when he thought momentum might
carry them through however, a logjam of revelers brought them up
As they waited for a hole to open, he startled her a second time by
tapping her on the shoulder. Leaning in towards her ear again and
ignoring her recoil, he added in a throaty conspiratorial voice, "I
wouldn't trust them any farther than I could throw them myself." She
looked confused but not away and he continued on conversationally.
"Not that I'd consider actually throwing a trustafarian. I probably
couldn't throw much of anything these days as a matter of fact. I
was a heck of a ballplayer at one time, but after my shoulder
Her expression changed and she began looking him over in a manner
that checked his banter. Her expression made it clear that any
self-deprecating assessment he might be about to make regarding his
physique wouldn't be met with any disagreement from her. Hacker
regrouped, and glanced clandestinely about the room as if it was
important that what he might say next not be overheard.
With her hopes of ordering a beverage momentarily delayed by the
wall of more fortunately positioned drinkers, she crossed her arms
to give Mike Hacker her full attention and, he sensed, appeared as
well to be on the verge of some sort of fulmination directed at him.
At this point, Hacker felt he was in the door.
Hacker had noticed her immediately as she swished in off the street
and through the doors of the Tips Up Saloon. He had been observing
her since her arrival, furtively at first and then more obviously,
trying to catch her eye once he determined her to be unaccompanied
and yet, not unattractive. She was no Jordan Dane, he was acutely
aware, but she did have a trashy, big bottomed, big city look to her
that had made Hacker immediately nostalgic for his old big city
life. It was sort of an "in town for a jeep tour and barbecue" look
that Hacker hadn't encountered often enough in this playground for
the beautiful and physically fit. Hacker had a jeep himself and
hoped it would provide him a chance to bandy his new local's
advantage over someone who wouldn't immediately be put off by his
lack of mountain physique or his big city bad habits.
Like Joe Camels. Finally maneuvering back to the spot he had
abandoned at the bar, he wedged his bottom between two encroaching
anoraks and up onto the stool. He grabbed his smokes off the bar top
and, as he had hoped, she stepped into the space he vacated.
Offering her a Joe C from his crumpled pack, he lit it for himself
after she took it, looked around discerningly, and handed it back to
him with a sour, dismissive face. The Tip's Up was one of the few
establishments in town where smoking was still allowed, Hacker knew,
even though, on this night, he seemed to be the only one smoking.
Some local ordinance about food service and ventilation the way it
had been explained to him. Blowing a plume of smoke into the glasses
hanging in a rack above the bar, he swiveled his stool so his knees
were on either side of her pelvis and regarded her with a cool
squinting gaze as she stood before him.
"Trustafarians," he scoffed. "They're nothing but Oxymorons."
She looked past him and tried to flag down a bartender.
His pithy observations about trustafarians had caught her attention,
he assumed. Unfortunately, several of the gapers and drunks crammed
around the copper topped horseshoe bar, including the two he'd had
to bump apart with his ass to reclaim his stool, seemed to now be
eyeing him with annoyance and quite possibly coveting his new girl.
Not sure if they were trustafarian sympathizers who'd caught wind of
his position or just inebriated yokels, he tried to ignore them and
began expanding his wings and swiveling against the pressing crowd
to gain more room. After succeeding in rutting out a modicum of
extra space, he moved into it himself, standing suddenly and made a
small production of gallantly offering her the seat. He then turned
to lean suavely against the brass rail. One of the metal couplings
immediately dug into his spine however and he was forced to stand
away, awkwardly erect and hectored further in the tight space.
When she had finally ordered and received a fruity drink of some
kind he leaned down, nudged her again, and winked, "Not that there
aren't plenty of us locals that wouldn't want to try our hand at
tossing around a few of the furry funded fellows."
She seemed to smile if somewhat determinedly. Mike Hacker forged
"Now your straight trusties, you know, the ones not yet affiliated.
I'm talking now about just your plain old trust funders now, which
incidentally, you damn well better be one of if you plan on spending
much time here in Telluride these days. This place is lousy with
money. Seems like everyone you meet around here has some sort of
funding set up. Anyway, you wouldn't think the trusties would care
much for them either?'
"Care for who?" The girl had a foghorn voice, which was fortunate
since she needed it to be heard above the raucous din.
"Like, what the Hell do you keep talking about? A band?" She sounded
"No!' Hacker was frustrated. "The damn ropeheads around here." He
nodded urgently as if trying to release some water from his ear in
the direction of a table in the window nook where a few of the
offending dreadlockers had congregated. "You see.....I'm sorry I
didn't catch your name."
"Well you see Lopez, these shameless rope-a-dopers want to cultivate
an image that suggests to us that they're too poor to poop but then,
if you watch them closely, you catch them whipping out Platinum
Cards to pay for their sushi and sake bombs."
"Oh, that's one thing I love. Sushi and sake bombs."
"Never the less." Hacker said wisely. He retrieved his draught,
gulped at it, and dragged deeply on his smoke before continuing. "If
you ask me…."
"Could you put that out?" asked the bearded sportsman on an adjacent
Hacker, who had grown accustomed to such requests, took another puff
and said, "Oh go down to the Floradora why dontcha?".
"Because I'm here right now man," replied the hippie outfitter. "And
I just can't coordinate a mental place that willingly intakes
In no mood for another smoking discussion, Hacker turned his back on
the O2 fanatic and again focused on Lopez.
"And it's hard to figure how the true Rastafarian population around
here feels about these posers. I've been investigating the
dynamics." He leaned towards her as if his next words might be of
some import." "I make my home here now you see. And I'm most likely
going to be writing a book on the subject."
"Oh that's cool. A book." Lopez had heard of the medium apparently.
"Is it some sort of a music book? Or is it more like one of those
daily affirmation thingys?"
A surprised Hacker rubbed his chin thoughtfully and considered this
question posed by Lopez, a name that, it was slowly occurring to
him, didn't seem to fit her all that well. Up close, looking in past
her makeup, she seemed more likely a farm girl from the Middle West
somewhere. But an interesting name he was thinking. An interesting
name indeed. He'd be sure to inquire after the origin when they got
better acquainted. He could already hear himself. "Jordan may I
present Lopez. Lopez, my friend and neighbor Jordan Dane." And she
had asked about his book, which was a subject he was always eager to
"Not music or affirmations actually." He said quickly. "But it might
just end up addressing this very Rasta/Trusta question we've been
discussing." He used the term loosely. "I expect it may eventually
become something of a seminal treatise on these "farian"
relationships we've been alluding to." He did the double click with
his fingers around the word "farian".
"A seemenal twist on relationships?" Lopez looked nonplused and
blinked large hazelish eyes at him through owlish spectacles while
sucking impressively on her fruity drink. He ventured further
explanation. "Seminal treatise. An important work. But I know what
you're probably asking yourself. Why would there be any kind of
farians, be they rasta or trusta, way up here in a ski town tucked
away in the big rock candy mountains?"
She shrugged. He continued.
"Well they've found their way here as you can see and I would think
each group would be as suspicious of each other as I am of both of
them. But they don't even seem to notice what's going on. Not to
mention that it's hard for a person with an untrained eye to tell
the rastafarians from the trustafarians in the first place." Another
"So who are you to judge everybody anyway? Lopez inquired out of
nowhere, seeming suddenly and colossally bored. "Maybe you just wish
you were one of them. You look more like some sort of stock broker
or accountant to me if you want to know the truth."
"What?" Hacker spread his hands in amazement looking down at his new
hiking shorts and trail boots. Grabbing for another smoke, he began
to lament that he had been chatting up yet another nice smile with
nothing but a dull void behind it.
"Well I couldn't be any trustafarian." He clarified once he'd
recovered. This was an admission he'd never before been forced to
make. "Or a Rastafarian either for that matter. You'll notice I
could still run a comb through what's left of my hair for one
"And you're white." Lopez observed.
"Everybody's white in here. Even the Jamaicans."
"They aren't real Jamaicans That's partly my point. I was saying
Lopez interrupted him. "So you're stuck being a trusty then."
"Nooo. By definition I would not be a trusty. Although, I suppose
since my aunt is technically paying my rent...." Hacker let the
sentence hang as he scanned the bar to see if any other tourist
girls with more wattage in their bulbs had appeared in the interim
that might be more impressed with his observations on local culture.
"So you're saying you don't have a trust fund." Lopez made a weak
attempt to disguise her disappointment.
"No I don't. Why? Do you?"
"Of course not. I'm just visiting from Phoenix."
"Well I haven't been to Phoenix," Hacker admitted. "But it seems
feasible that someone from there could, in certain scenarios, have
access to some kind of trust fund."
"Why would someone stay in Phoenix if they had any kind of funds at
Apparently growing exasperated with Hacker's lack of common sense
and failure to understand local culture not to mention matters
financial, Lopez scanned the bar herself as if she hoped that
someone more promising might be available. Hacker noticed with alarm
that her eyes finally settled on the dreadlocked plumage of Itchy
Richie, who was now making his way towards them and happened to be
the very individual that had spurred Hacker's original outburst
Itchy came funking up to the bar where Hacker heard him order four
Mudslides and a Fuzzy Navel. His clothes were frayed Guatemalan, his
face streaked bong water brown, and his eyes bloodshot. Mikey
Rabbit, a bartender who Hacker knew also had no trust fund, mixed
the drinks with the rote of a night auditor. Itchy surveyed the
scene austerely as he waited, his eyes finally coming to rest on
Hacker to whom he bequeathed something resembling a local's nod.
This had an immediate effect on Lopez. "Oh do you know this stud
broker?" She hissed desperately from unmoving lips while continuing
to blink and make sure Itchy saw her checking out his package that,
Hacker noticed reluctantly, was profiled in detail by the frayed
cloth of his drawers.
"Yes I do," Hacker hissed back. "He's a trustafarian."
"Well don't be rude dude. Introduce us."
"I don't know him that well. I barely know his name. I think he
calls himself "The Itcher" or something. I can guarantee you one
thing though. He's not what he appears. He'll probably....."
The Itcher drank off the Fuzzy Navel that Mikey Rabbit slid to him
before reaching into the filthy folds of his pantaloons to produce a
credit card, which he slapped on the bar with the aplomb of a card
player showing a full boat.
"See lookit there." Hacker snarled under his breath. "Lookit there.
That's what I mean?"
Itchy tossed his hair sending a patuli pungency drifting towards
them and leaned to scribble on the voucher before separating the
yellow copy from the white with a practiced slide of the thumb and
flick of the wrist. He flashed a sheepish smile at Lopez revealing
perfect teeth and then left to deliver the Mudslides back to his
nook of pals.
"You think that's cute?" Hacker was incredulous.
"Very cute is what I'm saying. We're talking hot. Excessively hot."
"Well alrighty then, run along. Don't waste any more of your time or
mine with useless banter?" Hacker, who was all asputter added. "And
how does someone end up with a name like Lopez anyway?"
She assumed the self-satisfied look of someone gaining complete
control. "I had it officially changed. Do you like?" She postured
herself. "It's just one small part of the new me."
"What was the old you called?" Hacker asked dejectedly.
"Just Tiffany Jones. Many people are taking single names now. That
girl Kennedy on MTV for example."
Michael Thomas Hacker II, Hack to his softball buddies back in
Chicago, and Mike Hacker on his byline could only nod dumbly.
"And you're alright I suppose," she continued, patting his arm like
a mother. "It's just that I see people like you all the time at the
clubs down by ASU. And I am trying to have a vacation." Turning her
shoulder, she craned towards the window.
Arizona State? Being mistaken for a stockbroker or accountant from
Arizona State was definitely not what he had envisioned when he
drove in from Mangas Mesa earlier that evening. Perhaps he'd have
better luck if he moseyed down the way and looked into some other
spots, maybe the Mineshaft, or The Plunge. Even some of the Granola
girls hanging at the Veggie Happy Hut might….
"Hey Butt face." interrupted another imposing high countryman. This
one, who was much larger than the first, punched him roughly on the
shoulder. "Could you kill the c-stick before it kills us?" He poked
Hacker's chest menacingly. "Because at that point, we'll have no
choice but to kill you?"
Hacker dropped his ciggy to the floor and stepped on it turning his
back on the oxygen-loving pugilist.
"Well there you have it," he complained to a cologne splashed Texan
who had sidled in behind Lopez sensing that there might soon be a
vacant spot. "Phoenix apparently crawls with guys just like me but
if you travel all the way up to lil' ol' Telluride, Colorado you
just might get a glimpse of one of these trustafarian fellas. Just
loan me a big smelly rope wig and wipe me with B.O. and I'll be
right back in the game." Lopez had been looking at the crowd by the
window and turned back to face him.
"Did I say something out loud?"
She eyed him petulantly before saying, "Yes you said something out
loud. And you also said at one point before that that you didn't
have a trust fund. And before that you said you needed one to afford
living here. And throughout it all you seemed to want me to know
that you did, in fact, reside in this area. What, if you don't mind
my asking, is up with all that? What is up with you?"
Hacker knew he stood outside the last window of opportunity, one
that he was no longer sure he even wanted to climb through.
"I don't have a trust fund and I do live here. I moved here about a
month ago from Illinois. The Chicago area. My housing is taken care
of as I said but I do have to work. I work a lot in fact. And I'm a
Hacker sensed the futility of the whole thing when he could see by
the expression on her face that he may just as well have informed
her that he washed dogs for a living. After waving Mikey Rabbit over
and settling his tab, he turned, thinking he might swallow his pride
and bid Lopez a pleasant good evening. If she was visiting for an
entire week, he reasoned, she might eventually tire of the exotic
and seek solace in the familiar. Lopez had wandered away however and
the reeking Texan was now trying to slide some puffed up woman in
beside him as well. His eyes found Lopez who was now positioning
herself where Itchy Ritchie wouldn't have to strain himself much to
see her. Hacker passed directly between them on the way to the door
saying nothing and stifling a fake yawn.
As he left the bar for the crisp quiet of the street he was thinking
he might look into the other watering holes along Colorado Ave. to
see who was where. He rounded the corner at Oak and had his hand on
the side door of O'Shaunnessey's when he happened to glance across
towards the blazing front windows of The Nugget. He spotted the
unmistakable blonde bounce of Jordan Dane's ponytail.
She was holding court he could tell immediately and although he'd
found the Nugget to be more of a construction workers, river runners
scene, he started across the street only to stop short when he got a
better look at some of the jesters in the court Jordan held. They
were three or four mountain men looking chaps drinking huge beers
and throwing their heads back in what could only be hearty,
confident laughter. Doing an about face in the middle of the street,
Hacker quickly pinned his chin to his chest and marched away,
ducking down an adjacent alley hoping Jordan hadn't seen him and
therefore wouldn't come trotting out all good natured and healthy to
insist he join the group.
Damn her anyway.
The lot of them had no doubt just returned from some incredible
spelunking excursion, white knuckle rappelling exercise, or death
defying whitewater trip and he didn't really feel like hearing the
stories of how awesome it had all been and being clapped on the back
and subsequently invited skydiving, cave dwelling or clam digging by
Jordan's new pals.
By the time he had followed the alley up Pacific Street to where his
jeep was parked, he had decided enough with the bar scene already.
He would be much better served returning to the Mesa and getting
back to work on his novel.
Climbing into the jeep he thought again about the book. He had been
laying out a chapter just that day, in fact, before he made the
miscalculation of coming into town, a chapter that plumbed the
psyche of an intellectually intriguing but ruthless and diabolical
killer. As he lit another cigarette and left the lights of town
behind, settling in for the winding dark commute back out to Mangas
Mesa, he was thinking maybe his killer would turn out to be a
trustafarian on some warped mission to thin the mountains of
mountain men. Quite possibly, he was realizing, this trustafarian
would have to leave a few vapid tourist women in his wake as well.