Death and Taxes….

….that which is for certain.

It’s that time of year again, and as usual I have run down to the deadline for filing, except in these last recent years money is returning to me as opposed to more debt being incurred to the IRS. I seem to be making more sound business decisions with a mind free of narcotics. So that aspect of this time of year is not the issue for me.

Alfredo “Freddy” Nolasco died three years ago today, at the age of 31 from cirrhosis of the liver…it seems like a lifetime ago, and in a way, it was.

Freddie was the second Aquarian to come into my life. And sway me in a way that no others have.

I met Freddy in 1992, he was my protégé Nathan Tuetle’s best friend. Nathan, as with Freddy and few others, were “my kids’. A group of lads that took me in, or that glommed onto me in my late 20’s and early 30’s and seemed to view me as some sort of demigod.  I tried to be the mentor, the teacher…but it was kind of a fucked situation, because really all I was doing was trying to be the father I never had.  Me without boundaries, and lacking any discipline, I spoiled the hell out of these lads.

Freddy tagged along at times when Nathan would come into my photo lab/studio in Cathedral City to get film developed or have his next photo lesson.

Eventually, Nathan went off to New York City and then Atlanta to follow and achieve his photographic dream.

Freddy and I began to hang. He would just show up where I was living and we would just spend hours chatting away. We bonded very quickly and it was an intense bond…a kind of bond I have only felt with just a few. Even with its intensities, it was strictly a platonic relationship.

He constantly ribbed me for being an “old man” and I was quick to point out his adolescent foolishness.

Freddy’s ‘family” encouraged me to marry one of their clan, who needed citizenship, an illegal immigrant with two children. I was told I would just have to put up the marriage front, and not even have to live with or support her for she had a “successful business” running lingerie from Mexico into East LA to sell to Hispanic transvestites. Even in my state of narcotic induced neurosis, this immediately caused me pause, for when I thought of a vato in the barrio of East LA, I couldn’t really imagine there was a large tranny population there to warrant an import panty trade from Mexico.  I just assumed she was an, a-hem, importer of sorts and this ruse was just a hook to try and win me over. Again, in my neurosis, having direct connection to a foreign panty trade seemed enticing, yet I was reluctant.

The “family” offered me $5,000  to marry her. I insisted on $25,000 to “cover expenses.” They declared me a greedy gringo, and stopped with their encouragement. The woman, in her mid twenties began to “court” Freddy, who was still the bumbling virgin, and eventually won him over with sex.

Looking back now, if I would have received $25k at that time in my life I would certainly have ODed and in very deadly way.

One night Freddy and I were on the couch, sitting close. I was teasing him about his newfound avenue for sexual release. He moved right next to me, put his arms around me and hugged me, looked me in the eyes and said “Joey, I promise a woman will never come between us” I laughed and said, “Don’t say that Fred”  “No Joey, I mean it” he continued  “I will never let a woman come between us and put a wedge us” again I laughed, but sternly said “ Freddie DON”T SAY THAT! It’s gonna happen. It’s alright.  Just don’t say that”” Freddie put his head on my shoulder and hugged me tighter and softly said “Oh, Joey. No, it won’t”

The phone rang and I pulled away form Freddy to get up, answer it and when I did a woman’s voice yammered on in Spanish and all I could understand was “Freddy.” I laughed, handed the phone to Freddy and said, “ You gave Gabriella my phone number?” Freddy jumped off the couch and grabbed the phone from me and began to speak in rapid fire Spanish. I wondered if I sound that way to people who don’t speak English, talking a thousand miles a minute?

Freddy hung up the phone and said “ Joey I gotta go!’ and headed for the door…I roared with laughter and said “ Hey, PUNK!  What were you just saying to me on the couch as you cuddled all up next to me?”

“This is different, you don’t understand” Freddy tried to explain as he opened the door “ but I gotta go. I’ll se you later. Bye, Joey” and he scurried out the door in less than five minutes from the time we were embraced on the couch.  Ahhh, the power of the V.

Freddy did marry the woman against his mother’s (and mine) wishes and in the course of time it turned out be a grave mistake costing Freddy much hardship financially and legally.

I know Freddy and I smoked some weed at various times, but we never really drank together, and towards the end of our time together in Palm Springs I know we engaged in narcotics, but it never really seemed like a common occurrence, but then my drug consumption never did appear too severe to me anyway, thus was my denial.

Freddy joined the Navy in the early part of 1997 and it caused a reemergence of emotion from the last Aquarian I was madly in love with who left and went into the military.

The similarities were evident between Freddy and the One ( who wasn’t).  With my abandonment issue so close to killing me , I just wrapped it all into one lump of painful emotion and created a justification that fueled my use.

I began to get letters from Freddy in the military professing his love and longing for me. This would just tear me up inside and cause even more confused emotions and pain.

I saw Freddy in the summer of 1997 a couple of months before I left Palm Springs to seek rehab in Minnesota.  Freddy was in town on leave and to visit his wife, but we spent a couple of nights together staying up all hours of the night talking and eventually we fell into bed together, cuddling and wrapped in each others arms.

While I was in rehab, Freddy sent me letters that again just stirred up emotion. He wondered why I couldn’t have sought rehab in Palm Springs and that he always though I would be there for him in PS. I stressed to him that, at that time I had to get OUT of Palm Springs…it was the one time in my life where my running was the best thing for me.

15 months later, I returned to Palm Springs and Freddie was out of the military. I hooked up with some of my old crew and Freddy came over to hang. We were all drinking/ drugging and decided to play a game of strip poker, with the winner of the final hand winning the other three players as his slaves. After some time, Freddy won the final hand as myself and the other two players where in various to stages of nakedness. “Master Freddy” decided that we, as his slaves, should wash his car. Under the influence of the drugs and the booze, and aroused by the game of strip poker, my two gay friends and I were just miffed that all Fred wanted us to do was just wash his car and not be forced into service our new master, who won us fairly in the poker game.

The three of us created such the scene with the hose, buckets, suds and sponges washing Fred’s car, that he finally said enough and got the hell out of there, squealing his tires as he sped away. The three of us found the whole thing just that much more amusing with Freddy’s hurried exit. We went inside and carried on with out him.

As my recovery began to take hold and I began to stand on more solid ground, Fred’s ground began to crumble. He would call me in the middle of the night in various stages of confusion and or panic. I would calm him thru his anxiety. Most times he would just call to chat. Even though this calls would come in the early morning hours when I was sleeping, I didn’t mind, it was good to hear his voice and we would, as always, get into some heated discussion, rib each other, laugh like crazy. Even with 1900+ miles between us it was as if we were right next to each other.

In Sept. of 2008, Freddy’s deterioration of his health was starting to take a heavy toll. I had been trying to get him to look into rehab and was even encouraging him to come to MN and enter rehab. He wasn’t really willing. When he was given the diagnosis of liver failure, he looked into Loma Linda University and they were willing to accept him in a program for chronic alcoholics. Freddy didn’t have the initial enrollment fees. I covered the costs and when I called the hospital to make the payment, the nurse questioned as to why I was doing this. I really didn’t know except I thought it might give him a chance…get him started. He entered the program; they let him call me when he checked in. I felt good, I thought he might be starting a new path and might begin to enjoy the road of living life with out alcohol and drugs as I was experiencing it.

Three days into the program Freddy checked him self out.  When I called the hospital that day and they informed me of this I was more than a little pissed. They offered to refund a part of my money. I told them no, to keep it and apply it to some other person who might need to get enrolled in the program. They seemed surprised by this…I didn’t care.

When I finally made contact with Freddy and we began to tear into one another as to why he left the hospital, I finally realized the magnitude of Freddy’s disease. He was going to die. He was too gripped by his denial to face a reality with out chemicals. He wouldn’t face his denial and it was going to kill him.

This was a very difficult moment for me (and even now, the keyboard is blurred by my tears…and I have take a break) Ok.  It was a difficult moment for me for I realized there was no help for Fred and that a time was coming very soon where he would be dead.

The last time I saw Freddy was in March of 2009, less than two weeks before his death. I was out in PS, CA and was staying at a campground. I bused over to Freddy’s house to see him. He was now living with the mother of his son, but still married to the woman he married to gain her citizenship.

He looked like hell. He wasn’t the thin attractive man I saw last. He was haggard, aged, bloated and walked with a swagger that was almost comical if it wasn’t for the grimace on his face with each step he took.

I took some pictures of his son and his girlfriend with his son. The girlfriend took the boy and went shopping leaving Freddy and I alone.  We sat on the couch and talked and he commented on how good I looked. I tried to convey to him that stopping using and drinking changes a person’s health.  He thanked me again for getting him into Loma Linda and sincerely apologized for leaving. I told him he didn’t have apologize to me, he should be apologizing to himself.  He told me he would repay me the money I spent to get him into Loma Linda and I told him “ No. You won’t. But don’t worry about it. I didn’t spend that money as a loan”

As I left and we hugged goodbye he looked me square in the eyes and said: “You know I love you, right Joey?” I did know it, but shrugged it off and just said, “Ya Freddy, I know.”  We were to get together again that trip but it just didn’t happen.

He called me when I was back in Minneapolis and expressed his sadness that we didn’t see each other again. I shrugged it off again and told him not to worry.

He called one other time and left what would be his last message on my answering machine that said “Hey Joey!  It’s Freddy. Just calling to see how you are. Hope you are doing ok. Take Care. Bye.”

You know…I was to call him back.

A couple of days later…April 14, I was out having pizza with a friend when my cell phone started chirping. I saw it was a 760 area code but didn’t recognize the number. I answered and a woman through a thick Spanish accent, in broken English said: “Joey? Freddy’s sick. In hospital. Freddy’s real sick” when I realized it was Maria, Freddy’s girlfriend, I told her to not to worry. We knew he would get sick again. I told her I would find a translator and call her back tomorrow. I don’t know if she even understood what I was saying.

The next day at work, I couldn’t find anyone willing to translate. I knew of one co-worker of Hispanic decent, explained the situation and asked him but he refused citing him translating to her would make him uncomfortable. Whatever.

I tried again the next day, but it didn’t pan out. When I got home that night my answering machine was blinking and I pushed play and it was Maria again and her message was: “Joey. Freddy already gone. Freddy dead. Freddy here no more” and she hung up and that was it.

(I am a wreck right now as I relive this)

I went crazy.  I was so pissed that I didn’t make contact with him at the end. That I couldn’t find a translator to talk with Maria. That I couldn’t get thru to him to get clean REALLY angered me. I wanted to drink. I wanted a smoke. I wanted to get high. The fact that he died and abandoned his son even PISSED ME OFF MORE!! All the things that were not in my control angered me. And, in a way, I went right back into an active addict mindset.

I called my friend John Carlson and unloaded some of this on him. He suggested we go out for sushi. This was a good idea, for it got my mind somewhat off of the anger. The grabbing of the fish with chopsticks and tossing it into my mouth kind of satisfied my urge to do shots of booze.

I tried to maintain my daily routine…I went to work, to the gym. The gym helped a lot; I beat the shit out of a punching bag a few times that week and had bruised knuckles & swollen hands to show for it.

But my urge to drink was so strong. I didn’t give a fuck that I had five years (clean) it didn’t matter. It usually hit in my idle time, after work. So every time I wanted a drink, I went out and knocked back sushi.

Six days after Freddy’s death, I was sitting at Mt .Fuji Sushi on Lyndale Ave. in Minneapolis sipping tea, looking at my latest sushi bill and I realized I had spent $680 on sushi in five days and I thought: “boy, you better reel this in” I realized  couldn’t continue to mask my pain with sushi. I had to start to deal with his death.

I don’t know really…what else to say. I have pictures of Fred. And a ton of memories…mostly good…I was an ass in the end there and got in his face a few times trying to bust thru his denial.

I know now there was nothing I could do to “save” him.  I had my “mentors” into recovery, but it was me taking the action to get and stay clean.

I know I shared love with him and it could have gone to another level. There are omissions in what I wrote that are the indicators to this…but I didn’t go into that detail. I know Freddy fought/ denied a part of himself that his religion and his heritage told him was a sin or weakness. And I know he used drugs and alcohol to help mask these feelings. But aside from all this…he was a good friend even with 14-year difference in age between us. We shared a certain closeness that I hadn’t shared to that degree with any one.

I wish I could have had more time with him, yet the time we shared is something that will always be with me.

When you read this you may think of Freddy as a dumbass or a loser and that’s ok, you can have your judgment.  I knew him as an intelligent, fun-loving comical guy, in the grips of the illness of addiction, fueled by a mindset of denial.

And although I try not to, I can’t help but have my judgments and it reinforces to me that religion is just soul-corruption; for a group of mankind in the name of a loving god, label another a sinner, damned to hell for who they were born to be and for who they love is the greatest hypocrisies I have ever heard in my life.

I still think the name is the ultimate in phonics: Alfredo Nolasco

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One thought on “Death and Taxes….

  1. Nancy

    Joe, remember the hard lesson I learned in Alanon–you are responsible TO the ones you love, but not FOR them. You did all you could do and then some.

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