Saturday, March 31, 2007


The tall angular man with the surprising pot-belly walked into the bar at the corner of Third and Sundown and chose a stool at the end of the bar, away from the regular patrons and close to the muted television set. He eased into the seat with a noticeable wince and looked out the window onto Sundown as he waited for service.

Rick Lodeau broke away from the conversation that he'd been having with Kelly Twist and he ambled over to the newcomer, pausing to grab a napkin on his way. He placed the napkin before the man and said, "What'll ya have, chief?"

The man turned his attention to the bartender and the first thing that came to Lodeau's mind was Serve him one or two and get his ass outta here.

The man looked like shit. And that might have been a generous assessment. He swam in his clothes and his face was unshaven and his mouth was pursed in what looked like a permanent grimace and his blondish-brown hair was disheveled and hanging over his right eye. Ordinarily, Rick would have found the hair to be funny--it looked a bit like the man was wearing it the way the kids did--but...not in this instance. The man's eyes were the worst, though. Faded blue and bloodshot and set back in their sockets, they conveyed, with but a single glance, that he was tenuously attached to reality, if at all. His eyes looked steadily enough at Lodeau, but the man seemed not to even recognize that he was interacting with a fellow human being. In Rick's opinion, the man looked as if he could be watching an old game show rerun, what with the level of emotion that issued forth.

"I work for the gas company," said the man. He propped his elbows up on the bar and folded his hands in front of him. "I work for the gas company and I supply heat to people."

Rick nodded and shifted his weight onto his back leg. He had a bad feeling about the guy. "That's great," he said, stretching a grin across his teeth. "Maybe you can do something about my bill, then? Damn thing gets higher and higher each month."

The man stared at the bartender and Rick opened his mouth to tell the man to order something or please leave, but the man moved his lips into an approximation of a smile and said, "If I had a nickle for every time someone said that to me.... Gimme a Bud, please."

"Okay," said Rick, glad to have some form of communication with the man. "Draft or bottle?"

"Whatever," said the man. "Whatever. Does it really even matter?"

Rick shrugged. "Your coin, buddy," and he walked over to the tap and started drawing the man a drink. It is a relatively short exercise, filling a stein with beer, but it seemed, this time, to take forever. Rick felt the man's eyes boring into his back; though he studied the man in the bar's mirror and the man never looked in the bartender's direction--he had, in fact, resumed his surveillance of the street--Rick could not shake that watched feeling. He filled the stein and set it in front of the man on the napkin. "Tab or pay as you go?"

The man pulled a wrinkled five dollar bill from his wallet and tossed it to Rick. "I'll pay as I go, thank you." He sipped at the head on the beer and then pulled a pack of Reds from his breast pocket and fired up a smoke. "Keep the change."

"You got it," said Rick, moving back down the counter towards Kelly. "Lemme know if you need anything else." The man seemed not to have heard, but he flapped a hand over his shoulder, indicating that all was well, as he watched the slow movement on the street.

"Odd fellow, huh?" said Kelly quietly, stubbing out her Virgina Slim and immediately lighting another. "Never seen him here, before."

Rick nodded. "Me neither. And I don't know if odd is the word I would use to describe the guy."

Kelly arched her eyebrows as she sipped at her vodka-tonic. "Well, what would you say?"

Rick picked up a glass and absently dried it. He shrugged. "I don't know. I'm not really good at words and stuff, as you know--" Kelly nodded "--but, to me, it seems like he's the kinda guy you read about in the newspaper, after he, like, kills and eats 15 people. Just...weird. Just a weird dude."

Kelly snickered softly and spun the straw in her drink. Ice clinked. "Like you're the poster-boy for normalcy?"

"Hey," said Rick, feigning hurt, "at least I don't eat people."

"Yet," said Kelly.

"Yet," agreed Rick.

At the barstool near the window, Harold Sides heard their soft conversation and let it wash over and through him. He didn't care what they thought about him. They were unimportant. Completely, utterly, unimportant. As he looked out the dirty bar window at the cars passing and the people walking, Sides thought that today, indeed, would be a good day to put his Plan into action. Today would be a good day, indeed, to commence the carnage. He was ready. The voices had told him so.

He smiled and smoked and drank.


Friday, March 30, 2007


sweaty gasping sniffling
--stop! it's hammer-thyme--
blow nose wipe
absently at snot

light a smoke, gulp
some joe
--stop! it's hammer-thyme--
meat parents at red lobster
did i say "meat"? i meant
"beat to"
--thanks jimmy morrison--
eat floor-dwelling robots
dip them in butter
smack lips for
being "bad"

watch as Time's hands spin and
catch the last bus to tranquility

meet girl at house
did i say "meet"? i meant
eat her
pie--chicken pot--
spread cold germs back
whence they had come

it's hammer-thyme.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm getting sick...just in time for my birthday. Whee! I don't know that I have a fever--this thermometer seems to be unbattery-ified--but I do know that I have a rasping cough, a cough that is singularly different from my normal and usual smoker's hack. Verily, this is a kind of cough that is intimating to me that, allowed to fester, it could develop into something far worse, like, say, pneumonia, or sumpin. Talk about a birthday gift! I am going to develop pneumonia and then I will die. On my birthday. Well, hell, at least it's symmetrical! I'm kind of a baby when I get sick. I don't know if it's a guy-thing or not, but I tend to get a little woe-is-me when I catch a bug.
(Interestingly enough, through reading 'blogs and comments on said 'blogs, I have read women's reactions to their men getting sick and the general consensus is, though we men may be, for the most part, physically stronger, when it comes to getting sick, we are creampuffs, pussies, wusses, babies...whatever. Is that true? It couldn't be; could it?)

I have some things planned for the day of my birth--Friday--and the following day--Saturday. Said things may include some really really really close-talking and so I'd best not be hacking up a lung whilst kissing the tip of another's nose. That'd be to say? Unsexy.

When I get sick, I tend to take it out on my body, as if to punish it for "letting me down." I smoke more, I don't get enough sleep, I eat sporadically (as always), and, when I was drinking alcoholic beverages, I would pile on the barley and hops. It was kind of my way of saying to my body, "You wanna fuck with me?! Motherfucker?! Bring it! Say aye-low doo mee leetle fren!" Sensical? Not in the least. Satisfying? You betcha.

As I look out the window, I see blue sky and feathery white clouds and I think to myself, "Shee-it! It's nice out!" No. It's Michigan. It's beautiful to look at but it's still a back-stabbing 'ho. I'll go to work and I'll get stuck on a long job outside and the temperatures will drop further and a wicked wind from the West will blow in and batter my weakened chest and I will fall further ill and I will catch pneumonia and I will die. On Friday. My birthday.

But, hell, at least it'll be symmetrical.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I asked Nighthawk Nan to throw some questions my way; she did. And so...awaaaaaay I go!

1. You must choose between the following scenarios:a)Meet an attractive woman, marry and have mind blowing sex every day but very little conversation.b)Meet an attractive woman, marry and have sex only once a year but have mind blowing conversations on a daily basis.Which do you choose and why?

Shee-it. Why's it only gotta be once a year? This is a tough one. After much heart-wrenching deliberation, I have to go with option "A." I can get mind-blowing conversation elsewhere. I almost chose "B," reasoning that I could use the ole Miss Michigan love-machine to take care of my "needs" but then I gave it more thought.

See? Saw? See-saw. Yes. I am see-sawing. Here is my reasoning for choosing option "A": I would not be able to be with an attractive woman, day after day, and physically be with her but for once a year. I just wouldn't be able to do it. I know that this question is geared to measure one's love of mind versus one's love of physicality but...oh, shit. Why does it have to be only once a friggin' year?! Even once a month I could deal with....

To make a long answer short, I choose option "A" because I am a horny motherscratcher and I need sex more than once a friggin' year. Call me a maroon. I express my affection/love for significant others most accurately, sometimes, through tender fucking. I am good with words on the page; face-to-face conversations aren't really my cup of tea. Plus, if I were to be hitched to an attractive woman, till the parting o 'death, I would need penetration more than once a friggin' year. Call me crazy.

Okay. That? Was a tough one.

2.You are given the choice between:a)Having one question--i.e. What is the origin of life?--of your choice answered with absolute certainty.b)Receiving a briefcase with One Million Dollars.Knowledge or Money?

Money. God! I'm already showing myself to be a rather shallow person! First I choose daily mind-blowing sex and now I choose to forego Absolute Knowledge for the sinister green of money! Sheesh! But, yeah, I'd take the money and walk rather quickly. What is the saying? "Ignorance is bliss?" Yes. I'll be stoopid if it means that I would be able to pay off all my debts and live a relatively carefree life in which I could ponder deep questions to which I would never have the Absolute Answer. But, hell, theorizing is fun, isn't it?

Then again, a million dollars ain't what it used to be, and knowledge is forever.... Money, please.

3.What characteristics(of others) do you absolutely despise?

Shallowness. LOL. Hypocrisy. LOL. Two qualities which I apparently have, judging from the ways I answered the first two questions! ;o) Okay, on with it. I also despise materialism. Who gives a shit how much your watch cost? Does it tell time? Is it accurate? That's pretty much all that matters.

I was dating this girl--she shall remain nameless--who was the epitome of materialistism, though she claimed that she was not. Bullshit. We went to the Detroit Auto Show and she gravitated towards the Land Rover and Mercedes displays...which is okay, I guess--it is a Dream Car show, after all--but the ways in which she drooled over the cars made me somewhat ill. She had me take pictures of her, posed by the price sticker, as if to show that she was in the market for said gratuitously-priced vehicle. "I'll take this one," she'd say, faux-fanning her face as if to dispell tears of joy. I glanced at the sticker price: It was only $109,000. No big deal. "Hey, A___," I said, "that Mercedes is, like, $110,000." She looked at me dead-pan: "So?" All righty, then. She also openly laughed at me when I told her that I was going to buy my brothers-in-law socks for Christmas. I know, I know: socks. Boring. But she wasn't laughing about the lack of excitement of the gift; she was laughing about the fact that I was spending so little on Christmas gifts. Here's a question, bitch: In Michigan, in wintertime, would you rather have a pretty watch or would you rather have comfortable feet? Put another way, would you like to be able to glance admiringly at your expensive timepiece or would you rather be able to feel your toes? I'll take toes for two thousand, Alex.

I also despise people who abuse animals. That needs no explanation. Too, abusers of children. That also needs no explanation.

4.What did you dream of becoming when you were a child?

I dreamt...of being a natural gas serviceworker. Thus, my dreams have been answered.

5.Do you ever plan to pursue a writing career or is writing just for pleasure?

At this point in my life, I write purely for pleasure. I love clever turns of phrase and I love to lose myself in stories. What will the characters do next? I don't know; they haven't told me yet. The way a story unfolds in my mind is a pleasure unto itself. The way it takes twists and turns and the way in which I laugh aloud, sometimes, when the situation on the page is just so damned bizarre...I love to write. I also love to get paid a steady paycheck. So...yeah.

Who knows what the future holds, though? That's the good thing about writing: One can always do it on the side. If I ever pulled a Stephen King--with that kind of ability and creativeness--I'd damned sure be writing as a career. Until then, I'll crank gas flow off and on.

Thanks for the questions, Nanette. By answering them, I discovered that I am slightly hypocritical and that I love sex. ;0)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I need help. I know not of what to write. If you could, my dear one reader, could you pick one of the starting points below? And I'll try to write a story about it? My mind is molasses; my fingers are cement blocks.

Towards the end, the pull from within had become too great to withstand. So Vernon Palley had just...given in.

Miniature. Everything had become miniature. His forks and knives and spoons. His bed. Shit, even his dog had been traded in to the pet store; in return, he had gotten himself a Miniature Pinscher. As he had shrunk, so too the world with which he'd chosen to surround himself had shrunk.

Strippers and guacamole dip. Reggie would think long and hard before he ever again let those two entities meet.

As a sixth-grader, Sally Rothers had hatched a plan to use 10 M-80s to blow up the ice sculptures in Picadoily Park, in downtown Yerkers, Maine. She'd seen nothing wrong with it then, and now, 15 years later, she maintained her assertion that ice sculptures were the work of the Devil.

Some men buy fancy sports cars or date younger women or slap dead animals on their bald spots to combat their mid-life crises. Johnny Vanderwhal chose to go in a different direction. He started blowing people up. It was his line of work: He was a gas man. He could make them look like accidents.

"Charlie-fucking-Brown, again?! Seriously, Mick, every time I talk to you you're going on and on about Charlie Brown. He's a fucking cartoon character, for Crissake! When are you going to join the rest of us on planet Earth?!" Susan slammed the phone into its receiver and took a long trembling drag on her Virginia Slim. Damn. She still loved the fool. "Gimme a Scotch on the rocks, Todd. Make it a double."

Besmirched, belittled and belligerent, Billy Boxom broke the broom in half and stormed out of fifth-grade classroom, leaving the scarring snickers behind.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I have developed a version of my body without a brake, apparently. Over time, with much diligent practice and stick-to-itiveness, I have minimized my internal "No, that's enough" switch to the point at which it is now like a feeble kitten, mewling, blind and hairless, in a lion's den.

This is neon light-apparent, of course, when it comes to alcohol. One is too many and 35 are not enough. I know that and I'm good with that. I'll avoid, Dukakis. I'll avoid.

But my internal kitten "roars," too, when it comes to sweets.

I awoke at 5:30 and stumbled blearily to the bathroom to void my bladder (too much coffee) and then I moseyed to the kitchen to, perhaps, enjoy a cookie before I put this puppy back to bed. I had that cookie. I had that cookie.

Damned if I didn't. That one was good, so I had seven more.

I also, over the course of 20 fun-filled minutes, injested two cigarettes, a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate bumpy cake. But that's not all!

Yes, that's right! For the low low price of another level of Waistband and a 15 point-spike on my "bad" cholesterol chart, I also partook in three or four scrapings of icing and butter cream and three-quarters of a pint of peanut butter and chocolate-slash-pralines 'n' cream Baskin Robbins premium ice cream! Yum.

I'll check back in when I'm 248 pounds. Read: Next week.

Does anyone know of a place where I can go to have an "Enough" switch installed? Thanks.

Now, it's off to bed with me. Sweet

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Very interesting, eh?

Pet's deaths.


He wakes up, feeling like a Mack truck hit him...and then reversed...and hit him again. He stumbles blearily into the kitchen and fumbles at the coffee "Brew" switch. The gurgle begins and so he smiles through cracked lips. Ouch. There is a coffee mug with a bit of backwashed java still left in the cup and so he tangle-leggedly (?) walks to the microwave and nukes the blessed nectar. The microwave beeps; he reaches into its gut and pulls forth the brown stuff.

He drinks.

He burns his tongue, but he don't care. Coincidentally, Jimmy cracked corn; he doesn't care about that, either. One eye pops its lizard hood. A hazel bead peers out onto a cloudy Saturday morning. He takes another gulp of the scalding liquid. His tongue is burned beyond recognition and hanging by a thread, but he don't care. (See: Jimmy and his corn.) His other eye, like a slithering snake, loses its cataract of sleep. Now two beads of hazel pop forth onto Weekend.

Whence had they come? Why, the cavernth of Thleep, thilly.

He scratches where he itches and he opens his back door and lets his hound bound through.

It will be a beautiful day; he can feel it in his bone. He pokes his head through his back door, out into the chill of the Morning Weekend, and he screeches, "Happy Saturday, motherfuckers!"

A rotten tomato flies, slow-motion from his left, and strikes him in his temple. As he folds to a knee, stunned almost to unconsciousness, he mumbles, "Jimmy cracked corn. And I don't care."

And that is not a confabulation. He truly does not.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Give him a hug. Give her a chew-toy. Throw the cat some 'nip. (And, no, I'm not talking about exposing yourself to your pussy. Catnip is what I meant. Sheesh.)

Even when we try to be our best to our pets, sometimes some things go awry. It didn't matter what kind of food you served to your pet, if it was a moist food--canned or in pouches--if it had been produced in a certain plant on a certain day, the new wheat gluten that the plant used had the potential to kill your animal. Wheat gluten. Fucking wheat gluten. Used to make the gravy thicker.

It was all a horrible mistake, obviously, but it made me shudder, a bit. My boy Lou is more than a buddy to me. Call me sentimental but, since I have no children (at least none that I know of, wink wink) Lou, to me, has become a sort of son. A furry mute son. And I love him dearly.

Okay. Shit. I am sentimental. But...have you seen the kid?! How could I not be sentimental?

I just thank my lucky stars that I feed the dude Pedigree dog food. Dry Pedigree dog food.

People want to sue the company, whose name I forget. It's an understandable reaction, nowadays, but they can't. Or, they may be able to sue, but it's going to be a long haul and, in the end, probably not even worth it. The FDA does not regulate pet food processing plants--thus, one strike. Also, though pets feel like a part of the family, they are seen, by law, as possessions.

One woman filed a $50 million class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer, which, to me, seems a tad excessive. Where am I going with this post? Nowhere fast. But I guess my main point can be found in paragraph five.

Fuck it. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I love maps. I am a dork, I guess, when it comes to geography. Why I enjoy looking at maps so much, I have not a clue. But enjoy them I do. Oh--yes--I do. You can find out some interesting things when you look at maps. Take the map to right, for example:

Texas is friggin' huge! And Rhode Island is hardly even visible! And, yes, Michigan looks like a mitten! Whee!

Taken as a whole, the United States, on a map, bears a bit of a resemblance to a giant pig, what with Maine being its snout and Florida being its right front leg. Washington and Oregon check in as being its rump. If that's the case, then I guess the Los Angeles area is its asshole. Ouch!

America, pig personified. Why does that seem to fit so damn well?

Anyway, maps are cool. And I'm about to be late for work...but I guess that I just had to share.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


What was it? What was it about today that made people drive as if they were at a state fair and they were bouncing around in bumper cars for a dollar a pop? In the eight hours during which I was driving my truck at work today, I saw three accidents; two of them seemed severe.

Was it the glaring sun? It was glaring. Was it the fact that it was the first day of Spring, and a nice day at that? Were people daydreaming as they were driving? HEY! PAY ATTENTION! At least one accident looked like it had been a fatal accident. The cops had Telegraph Road, a four-lane north-to-south highway, shut down for three miles. As I drove past the accident scene, I counted one (1) fire truck, two (2) ambulances and four (4) police cruisers. I also saw what appeared to be one (1) tarp in the center of the road. I am hoping that it was not what it looked like.

Another accident took place in a well-to-do area of town called Bloomfield, where the median income is in the six figures and houses are tastefully set back from the two-lane winding roads. The dangerous winding roads. Where the wealthy seem to feel that they have the right to zoom along in their expensive A-to-B's. At the corner of Lone Pine and Franklin, I saw the flashing lights from afar and, as I passed the scene of the accident, I saw that the fire truck, the ambulance and the police car were parked in such a way--kind of a semi-circle--that prevented the snaking Crowd from getting a good look at the (perhaps?) carnage. I also noticed only one vehicle, a yellow SUV--perhaps a Yukon--sitting with one of its wheels up on the curb. As I drove past, I noticed the EMS technicians attending to a stretcher. Had it been, perhaps, a cyclist? Had it been, perhaps, a jogger, out to enjoy the mild temperatures and beneficial sunlight? I hoped not.

[This brings me to a tangential point: Why is it that people feel it is perfectly fine and dandy to walk-slash-run-slash-bicycle on a busy street? It is particularly bad in the wintertime, when snow is on the ground, making walking on sidewalks more difficult. I'll be driving my work van, at dusk, through a lightly-falling snow, and, at the last minute, my eyes will discern a pedestrian walking, against the flow of traffic, at the side of the street. And they'll be wearing dark-colored clothing. I.A. Idiot Alert. It'd be nice to have that much faith in our fellow man, wouldn't it? Come on, people! Uze ur bwane!]

The last accident, as I was turning onto the street that would take me back to headquarters, seemed to have been the most innocuous. If a scenario wherewithin two speeding vehicles, weighing more than a ton apiece, coming together in a splintering of glass and metal, can be called anything resembling innocuous. Just a couple of cars--a red Grand Prix and a white work van--seemed to have met at the center of the intersection. The white work van won.


Okay. I'm done. As you can see, I feel strongly about the advantages of seat belts. G'day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I was on the porch today, talking with my girl, when the neighbor to the north opened her door and walked out onto the porch. Without preamble, she asked, "Where's your dog?"

"Hold on a sec, Wendy," I said, and I pulled the phone away from my ear. "Excuse me?"

My neighbor stepped all the way onto her porch and closed the screen door. A large woman with a somewhat gray face and closely-cropped hair, she placed a hand over her large bosom and said, "When I was taking the trash out yesterday, your dog barked at me and scared me half to death."

"Oh," I said. "That's Louie. He acts tough but he's not vicious."

"You could have fooled me. The way he charged that fence! And his barking! Where is he? Is he in the yard?"

I smiled. "No. He's inside, right here," I said, pointing at the screen door.

"Okay," she said. "I was just checking." And she went back inside, ostensibly to walk through the house and out her back door to the trash area. Happy journey, Matilda. (I don't know her name yet, but she looks like she could rock the "Matilda" gloss.)

So was met the Neighbor of the North.

And I met the neighbor to the south last night. His name is Mike.

I played some basketball last night, after work, and I got home at around 9:30 or so, feeling like a Mack truck had hit me. Every joint ached and my right ankle felt like it had been twisted in a vise. Nice.

Anyway, I let Lou out and sauntered into the bathroom to drain my one-eyed python and then I changed out of my sweaty clothes into nice freshly-washed lounging wear. I started a pot o' coffee a-brewin' and I latched yet another cigarette onto my bottom lip. (I'm thinking--thinking!--of quitting the nasty habit for my birfday, March 30th. Thinking!) I grabbed a cup of coffee and I walked outside to see what Lou was up to. It had grown awfully quiet outside.

A black and white and spotted bitch ambled to my side and Lou followed soon thereafter, his tongue hanging goofily out of the corner of his mouth. What. The. Fuck? Who the hell is this?

"Who the hell are you?" I asked the dog. She sniffed at my hand and wagged her hindquarters. From the light of ther side door I could see that she was all Pit Bull. She was a cutey. But who the hell was she and whence had she come? I called her over to me and carefully grabbed her collar. No identifying tags, just a dog license. No address, no phone number. Lou swiped at her head and, again, they were off and running and playing and yipping. I wondered what I was going to do with her. Would she have to stay the night?

I figured I would go next-door and see if maybe they had a dog and maybe she'd been loose and maybe someone had assumed that she lived at my house. Enough "maybes"?

I knocked on my southern neighbors' front door. Enter Mike. Mike is an older guy--maybe in his mid-40s--and his hair is long and scraggly and he wore a concert T-shirt and a baseball cap.

"Hi," I said. "I just moved in next door. I'm Adam."

"Mike," he said. We shook hands.

"I was just wondering if you have a dog?"

"Yeah, we do," he said. "Why? Is she in your yard?"

"Kinda like a black and white Pit?"

"Yeah, that's her," said Mike.

"How'd she get in the yard?" I asked.

I learned that BoBo (?) has a penchant for jumping fences and that Mike's daughter lets the dog out and doesn't watch her closely enough. I think I've seen his daughter. She's a little black-haired number and a cell phone grows from the side of her head and she drives an Aztec with a booming bass and I think that she may be a mother. There are an awful lot of baby things over there, including, but not limited to, a baby stroller. And a baby ball.

We walked back to my yard and Mike collected BoBo and I collected Lou into the house.

Neighbors? Met.


Monday, March 19, 2007


So. I'm sitting here in the back room, playing with my computer, and I look out the window and what do I see? Snow. Snow. Snow falling. SNOW FALLING!!!

Today is March 19th. Two days ago, the temperatures were in the 50s. A week or two ago, we were teased with 70-degree temperatures.

Mother Nature is a back-stabbing bitch. Mother Nature is Lucy and we are all round-headed Charlie Browns, rushing to the local department stores, forking over hard-earned greenbacks to purchase flip-flops and knee-revealing pantaloons. Mother Nature is a magician and we are the table set, still in place after she yanks the cloth out from under our feetsies. I am a knife; sometimes, I am a spoon. I am never a salad fork.

Anyway. Mother Nature can swirl my knob.

I don't usually whine about weather happenings. I am usually one to shrug and bray the old standby*: "It's Michigan. If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." Today, though, I am impatient with these last clutches of Winter. Go away, snow. Please to come back in November? Thanks.

*Regarding that "Michigan...wait five minutes" three-legged horse of a joke: I work for the gas company, thus I meet a lot of different people in the course of a workday. I have made it a point, when there is an anomalous weather pattern to which the customer refers to say, "Yeah, it's Michigan. You don't like the weather, wait five minutes." I usually get some kind of noncommittal answer or a strained smile, but, to me, the funniest thing about saying that tired line is that the people to whom I am saying it have no idea that I say that to everyone and gauge their responses. Yes, I am weird. Yes, I may be a serial killer in the making, in that I reduce people to test subjects. Naw. Naw?

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Happy (belated) Saint Patrick's Day, first of all. Here is hoping that you raised a glass or ten of good green cheer and got punched in your bloated gut and vomited onto the pavement outside the bar after hitting on a married woman (or man). And...may the road always rise up to slap you in the face and may the wind always cut shards of icy glass through your back. Cheers.

Bitter? No.

Contemplative? Yes. I am contemplative. See me contemplate.

Yesterday, the 17th of March, marked my 100th day (on the dot) of continuous sobriety. I feel like a million yen. My eyes are clear and I live at a new residence and Louie runs in the backyard and Louie bays at the moon and Louie gleefully drops loads of poop wherever he wants to drop it in the great wide expanse of the green back yard. It is good. Life, that is.

Contemplative? Yes. I am contemplative. I went to a meeting yesterday night, Saint Patrick's Day, and I talked--and listened to others talk--about drinking and the ways in which we combat the debbil-in-dee-boddle. Afterwards, I took the girl whom I am seeing out to eat at a Lebonese restaurant and we ate hummus and fattouche and then we went back to my digs and we played a few games of checkers. I won once and she won twice. I then drove her home.

Driving back, I saw a multitude of cops on the road and, internally, I flipped them off. I'm a bad boy, I reckon. I still have no lost love for the boys in blue. But, I am getting better. I drove down Orchard Lake Road to Woodward Avenue, right on the outskirts of downtown Pontiac. Mine was the only car on the road but, as I paused for the light, I cast a glance back, across Woodward, at Saginaw Street in Pontiac, the home to a good number of bars, and I felt an almost-palpable sense of disassociation, dislocation. The cars were wee and I saw gnat-people walking the licorice-strip sidewalks, partaking in the good ole Saginaw bar-hop.

Apparently, someone (or many people) had consumed too much green cheer. I distractedly turned on my turn signal. Cop-car lights, like bright electric pebbles, blinked red and blue in the night sky, and I thought back to the period when I thought more alcohol--always more, always another one--was the obvious answer to all of life's questions, trials, tribulations, whatever.

The alcohol had lied to me. It was as simple as that. The light turned green and I turned south on Woodward, leaving the silent mess in the rearview mirror.

Friday, March 16, 2007


My driver's side front tire was acting up on my car. My steering wheel was shaking and it felt as if I were continuously driving over mini-speed bumps. The alignment seemed screwed up. So, on Wednesday, I took my Focus in to a place called Brakes And More and had them look at it. I figured it had something to do with my alignment or maybe something with exotic-sounding names like "half-shafts" and "CV-boots" or some shit like that. Turns out: no. The friendly folks at Brakes And More determined that 'twas my left tire that was giving me the business, as it were, and they told me that I needed to get another tire. See, the radials were seperating--verily, a dangerous situation. I asked them if they had a tire that they could plop on there. No, it turned out, they did not. But they did have the acumen to exchange both of my front rotors ("They're shot.") and also the front brake pads for the low low price of $253.08, parts and labor included.

A fool and his money are soon parted, said Ben Franklin.

Money grows wings and flies away, say I.

Anyway. To me, the ability to stop a 2000-pound vehicle is important and so, while it was money with which I really did not want to part, I did. And the next day, I went tire-shopping. I went to a new and used tire place called JRE Tires, first. They didn't have the tire in stock (my tires are small, apparently) and if they had to order a new one, it would come to about $75.00, parts and labor included. Having just blown my wad on my brakes, I declined their overtures and decided to swing by a local garge, to see if they had any appropriate tires.

I went today; they didn't have the kind of tire I needed. But the guy who owns the place, Wade, called his buddy down the road at Ray's Tires and talked to a guy named Dennis who just so happened to have the exact tire that I needed. Sweet! So I jumped into my car and whisked down the road to Ray's Tires and talked to a guy named Dennis and said that Wade had sent me and then I...waited. There were people ahead of me and so I ended up having to wait about an hour before all was said and done and I had a new tire for which I had to only pony up a measly $30.00. Damn! I wish I had gone there, first.

Anyway. The sole reason I wrote this post is because I met an interesting fellow, there, at Ray's. His name was Ken, and he fancied himself an artiste. Within a minute of talking to the fellow, I knew that he wasn't quite "all there." His eyes were a guileless light blue and his hair was scraggly and greasy and leonine. He held a clipboard. I was standing right next to him at the counter in the dingy utilitarian tire shop and I made the mistake of asking him how it was going.

"I'm doing well," he said. "I'm doing well." And then he turned his full attention to me and proceeded to talk my ear off for the next 25 minutes.

He was an artist, you see, and he'd been drawing pictures for 47 years, since he had been six years old. His specialty was looking at a photograph and recreating it with his pencil, blowing it up to a larger size. And, for the low low price of $3.00, he could draw a picture for me. "Pick anything," he said.

I have a soft heart. I am soft-hearted. Perhaps I am stupid. I saw that the guy was down on his luck; he was dirty and his clothes were slovenly and he was unshaved and his left foot was in a soft cast. Help him out, an interior voice admonished. Plus? Who knows? He could be like an idiot savant, with that pencil! Wouldn't it be cool to see?!

So I gave him my license and I followed him to the row of grungy orange metal chairs and we sat and I watched him draw my likeness as he rambled his life's story into my right ear. He was bipolar. He took Depakote and some other psychotropic drugs and he'd been taking said drugs for nigh upon ten years. He lived in Detroit and he needed money for bus fare back, albeit the city was not what it had once been, what with drive-by shootings and murder and people getting shot in the head.

"I've been drawing for 47 years, you see," he informed me. "I'm so good now, I don't even make mistakes, no more. I never have to go back and erase, you see. Some people take forever to draw a picture. I can do yours in five minutes, you'll see. And if I do a whole family of four, I can do it in forty-five minutes, you'll see."

"Dennis," called the leather jacket-clad guy a seat over from Ken. "I'm going across the street to get a cold one." As he got up and walked out, he cast a sidelong glance at the artist and grimaced.

I looked at my likeness on the paper. I was unimpressed. My interior voice had been dead wrong. This guy Ken was not a savant. Rather, he was someone who was down on his luck and unbalanced and he did what he had to do to eat...or get drugs or alcohol or whatever. I settled back into my seat and listened to Ken as he rambled.

"Some people need to practice. I practice, too, but I'm so good, I don't even need to erase, no more."

I know, Ken. You already told me. I think Kenny was in his manic phase. I mumbled some encouraging words.

"I've practiced 1.6 million hours, I think," he said. "I don't even need to erase no more. Just every line is right where it's supposed to be."

I muttered some encouraging words and telepathically tried to expediate the process.

Finally, Ken was done with his photographically-exquisite work. He pulled the paper from his clipboard and handed it and my driver's license to me. I lay three wrinkled dollar bills on the orange metal folding chair between us. I held the paper up and looked at the drawing. Ken was doing something funny with his lips--kind of sucking them in and pursing them out and he was breathing rather heavily. "It's good," I said.

He smiled. Pursed his lips. Smiled. "I work for tips, too, sometimes people they give me tips."

I looked at him and I nodded. "Yeah, I bet they do," I said. "This is good work." I folded the paper and put it in my coat and I stood up. "Listen, I gotta go outside and get a smoke."

Ken rose. "Me too." Great. He pulled a pack of Smoker's Choice from his weathered flannel and he followed me outside. Great. I went to my car to get my smokes and I scrounged around for a lighter and when I got back to the front of Ray's Tires, ole Ken was gone. Good.

I pulled my portrait out, again, and I looked at it. Photographic in its quality, I say! Photographic! You know who it looks like, a little bit? Hines Ward, a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hines is half African-American and half South Korean. I had no idea that those ethnicities were in my family tree. You learn something new every day, I reckon.

The people you meet, sometimes....


So, the move is complete. I am now a resident of Harwood Street. Last night was my first night in the house and I slept like a baby. And woke up feeling like an 80-year-old. This physical labor shit wreaks havoc on the body! But. I'm good. Elated, in fact.

I type this from my computer upon which the cable Internet has been installed and is working like a charm. If I so desire, I can go out into my front room and flip on the cable and watch one of the multitude of channels. Comcast came out right on time this morning and, though they had a bit of a tough time completing the task--some problem with the angle of the drilling--they did, in fact, complete the job and all is working well.

Louie is Outside, barking at leaves and contemplating where to drop a load. He loves the backyard, as I hoped he would, and he's got three neighbors who reside at the house behind this one: a Golden Retriever, a Border Collie, and some short-haired hound that I've not gotten a good luck at, yet.

Life is good. Life is great. The neighborhood is very nice--two parks within walking distance--and, basically, I feel like a million-and-a-half dollars. Please to excuse me whilst I vomit Good Cheer? Thanks. I think I could stay here for a while.

God love seratonin! And dopamine! The body's good-feeling drugs!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


One more day. That's it. Just a solitary day. Tonight, I will be sleeping in my bed, here in the apartment on Crooks Road, for the last time. The load of laundry that I have cycling right now will be the last one for which I will have to turn the digs and the car outside upside down for one more, elusive, quarter. Tomorrow, I will have my own washer and dryer and so quarters will lose their special, savior-like, qualities. Their nimbi shall fade.

This is, ostensibly, the last day in which I will have to get up, bleary-eyed, and search for Louie's leash, so that I can take him Outside and watch as he sniffs around a few select places, lunges at treed squirrels, thinks about eating another dog's excrement, squirts out perfunctory urine and looks up at me, as if to say, "I'm good, Dad. Why're you standing around with your thumb in your ass?" Tomorrow, I'll be able to just open the back door and let Louie tear around the yard until he tires and gloomily drops a load.

This is the last day in which I will hear people walking up and down the stairs in the morning and at night. This is the last day in which I will hear people slamming distant doors. Tomorrow, if I do hear these things? I guess that'll mean that I am host to an interloper--or a ghost--and so I will sic my fearsome Lou-Dog upon the unfortunate trespasser/spectre.

This is the last day that I will have to closely monitor my radio volume. Tomorrow I will be able to blast the summabitch, if I so desire. This is the last day that I will have to monitor my sounds of love. Tomorrow, I'll be able to fuck like a howling hyena, if I so desire. I desire.

This is the last day I'll have to worry about people being able to see, through those stupid ground-floor Venetian blinds, me walking around half-clothed. Tomorrow, I'll be able to practice nude backflips in the front room, if I so desire. I desire, I desire.

This is the last full day and night in the apartment in which I have lived for the last two-and-a-half years. Tomorrow, coinciding brilliantly with the green first parries of Springtime, begins a new era.

Okay. Now? I'm gettin' excited.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Let it never be said that two hearts cannot beat as one.

This is a plea to my dear sister, Melissa, author of the wildly-successful and endlessly-entertaining "Grossly Unimaginative" weblog: Please, Melissa, do not do anything catastrophic to your body, such as breaking a leg, or pulling a butt muscle. Or, God forbid, spraining your nose. And I ask for a purely selfish reason: You see, we seem to be in alliance.

She broke a window with her butt a few weeks back. I followed suit, mere days later, when I broke a table with my butt. See the synchronicity? Wait. It gets more diabolical. Recently, she smashed her finger in her back door. (Yes, that sounded bad. And, yes, I did it for effect. Sue me.) See, she closed the back door of her house on her finger when she went outside to let her hounds o' hell relieve themselves. Her fingernail turned blue and she may lose it. If you want to read about it, go to her writing spot. Here is where it gets scary:

Last night I played basketball, as I am wont to do. I am a guard. I rarely rebound. Perhaps I should bear that in mind in the future. I went up for a rebound, trying to tip it towards the goal and--shlump--I jammed my right index finger back towards my hand. The pain was instantaneous. (Plus I didn't get the rebound.) I looked at my finger, and, had I been a cartoon character, it would have been throbbing and red (that sounded bad) and stars would have been encircling it. I grabbed my finger and pulled at it. Ouch. Fuck it. I shook it off and played--albeit somewhat badly--for another hour-and-a-half. My shot? 'Twas definitely affected. But, no excuses on the battlefield o' basketball.

I went home and iced it for about ten minutes and called it good. Looking sternly at my finger before I retired for bed, I admonished, "Don't fuck with me tomorrow, dickhead. Heal thyself. Overnight. Or I'll be pissed."

My finger doesn't listen too well. I awoke this morning to a finger swollen to twice its size and a bit bruised, as well. It had not heeded my warnings. But what could I do? I went about my life.

I'm moving and I decided to rent a U-Haul, again, on Thursday, to clean out the final bit of garbage from my apartment and, while I was there, the man behind the counter looked at my finger and said, "Ouch. You should probably get that looked at. Take it from me. I'm still hurting from when I was a young guy like you and didn't take care of myself when I was hurt."

Signing the reservation notice with my index finger pointing straight up in the air, I said to him, "You know? Maybe I should. It's probably just jammed, but, maybe I should."

Seeing as how my doctor's office is conveniently located about a mile down the road from the rental place, I stopped in on my way home and had them jack some radioactive light into my knuckle and its surrounding joints. All turned out well. There is no breakage, just a second-degree sprain. The doctor prescribed me some Motrin (I wanted Vicodin) and he said to monitor the finger's progress over the next week. He told me that using it would actually be a good thing--kind of like built-in physical therapy. Which I knew. I had just wanted to make sure that 'twasn't busted. 'Twasn't.

So. That's my "Finger" yarn. It is now time for me to go to work--late--and fulfill my job requirements with 80% of my right hand. Sounds fun, no?

*As far as I know, my other dear sister, Alexis, has not joined in this sibling one-upsmanship. Maybe because she doesn't live in the state of Michigan? For whatever reason, it's a good thing. Pain hurts.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Well, I finally did it. It's a progressive condition, both physically and the way in which I combat it. Bald. Four-letter word? Maybe. Well, yes, of course, technically it is a four-letter word, but...shit, you know what I meant. Four-letter word as in dirty or nasty, like, "fuck" and "shit" and "cunt" and "love." Bald, however, is not a dirty word. I am, after damn-near 15 years of moaning about it and, basically, being a whiny bitch about it, finally starting to accept my chrome-domedness and--dare I say?--even enjoying it.

I mentioned "progressive" earlier. I have been cutting and clipping it shorter and shorter, over the years. I just thought that it looked better, that way. There would be no comb-over for me. Not unless I was dead. More simply put: Comb-over? Over my dead body.

Tonight, the last barrier was busted. I broke out the regular razor. The one that I use on my face. I was shaving my face and I looked in the mirror and I thought, well, why the hell not? So I slashed at the side of my head and I liked the result. Truth be told, it really isn't all that much shorter than it has been. But I felt as if I had taken a step towards besting my neurotic tendencies towards my male-pattern baldness. I had used the weapon that had been lying within reach all of these years. I attacked the rest of my melon with unabated ferocity. No shaving cream, shit, barely any water.

The first gunshot had been fired and so the war was on.

There is no razor-burn and there is no angst, as in, "What did I do?! Oh me! Oh my!" Fuck that. It is hair, Adam. And it looks much better this way.

Motherscratcher, I should have done this five years ago. I feel liberated. Fuck you, neuroses, and take a hike, floorboard esteem. This is my head and I like it. It feels cool as hell.

Now all I need is a little sun on the dome, and I'll be cookin'.

You may be saying, "Dude, the banality is making my head cook. You just wrote about taking a razor to your head and then you posted said drivel on the Internet. Are you that wrapped up in your physical appearance?!"

Sadly, dear reader, I kind of am. Especially when it comes to my head. I'm a maroon, in that regard. Now, excuse me as I try to go to sleep after drinking way too much coffee and garnering way too much pleasure from rubbing my baby-smooth head. This shaving thing can get addicting! *smile*

Sunday, March 11, 2007


And so he began to avoid pipes of any sort. And also drains. And the electrical outlets began to look funny to him, too. It was a hard life, but he made do. Duct tape, in his estimation, was a godsend. With the silver wonder, he could cover the electrical fixtures, thereby minimizing the demons' calls. They still came through, sure, but they were muted. He could hear them, as if they were a foghorn in the distance, but the caterwauls were tolerable, then. And so he was happy.


Life went on; it drifted by him slowly, like high clouds on a sunny Fall day. His whiskers began to turn gray, but he didn't give a hoot. The outlets were covered and the pipes had ceased their guttural calls. He ordered pizza and salads from the local pizzeria and he tipped the drivers handsomely. At night, he read classics by candlelight and during the day, he worked on the wall in the den, cutting out letters from the newspapers and Scotch-taping them in place. He was already up to the letter "Q" and he'd only been at it for two, three months. He figured that if continued at his diligent pace, he'd be plastering the last "Z" before the first snowflakes hit the ground in November. His mother had always said that if Frank put his full effort into something, he'd not relent until it was done.


A week-and-a-half into his self-imposed isolation the telephone had shrilled him out of a trancelike state and he'd ripped it from the jack and hurled it against the wall with such force, the phone had virtually exploded, leaving a deep gash in the plaster. He'd looked at the phone's carcass, his thick black eyebrows hiding his eyes. "Quiet," he'd whispered. "Just, quiet."

When the paperboy had come to collect money the next week, Frank had given the kid a hundred dollars to go pick him up a pay-as-you-go cell phone and to leave it on the front porch. Hell, Frank had to eat. You know?


Frank would not go into the basement any longer. There were too many pipes. Let alone the invisible wiring!


His bedsheets stank. His clothes stank. Verily, Frank stank. But he couldn't shower oh hell no. Where do you think the water came from? Pipes, of course. Pipes. The same went for the toilet. Too many pipes. Too many damned pipes. Frank took to relieving himself in the spare bedroom. There were no pipes in there--at least none that he could see. "There," he'd whisper to himself, "There." He was pleased with himself. He knew that his thought processes were not--and had not been for a while--what others might consider "normal." But he didn't give a hoot. It wasn't like he was smearing excrement over his body and yelping at the moon, was he? No. He reasoned that he wasn't even really letting his neuroses control him, if you really thought about it. He knew that certain bodily functions needed to be addressed and so he did, and he said hello, and he snicked the door shut behind him when he was done. "There you go," he whispered.

Perfectly civilized.


The grandfather clock was ticking too loudly one night. Each tick of the clock reverberated throughout his head, skewering his brain with a million and one tiny shards of glass. Frank pulled his head from underneath his makeshift pillow and he tried to stare down Grandfather Time.


Frank's eyes became slits.


From under the blanket, Frank faked a quick left jab at the clock and the clock didn't notice.


"Try it again, you stupid clock," he murmured. And waited. Time had slowed. Literally. He waited, his brain stretched like taffy. Well, hell, he thought, that clock had better think twic--


His eyes widened.


He threw his brick through the Grandpappy's face. Glass shattered and the clock tottered and the clock fell and Frank smiled. His sleep was thus undisturbed.


Thursday, March 08, 2007


The Pope has one. Horses have tongues, as do cows. George "Dubya" Bush has one, too, but his is forked. I have a tongue and I use it to taste food and jam coffee and water down my esophagus. I also use it, sometimes, to kiss.

Gene Simmons has a tongue and his unfurls like a reddish-pink and garish love-banner. "Look at me!" it exclaims. "See my virtuosity!" My dog Lou has a tongue and his goes *snap* when he licks at my face.

It's really quite charming. Big brown eyes, cataclysmic eyebrows, a wet black nose...and a truly giant tongue. *Snap* *Snap*


When he runs in the summertime, it dangles out and behind his mouth like a ragdoll in a little-girl-running's hand. When he lays down in the shade, it sometimes touches the ground.

At a Lebonese restaurant, I noticed, right next to the Lamb Brains, that they also served Lamb Tongues. Wow. That lamb certainly gave his all.

Tongues are wonderful creations. For one thing, did you know that the human tongue is the strongest muscle in the body? It is. Some people are under the false impression that the gluteus maximus is the strongest muscle in the body, but they are dead wrong. The gluteus maximus is simply--just as its name suggests--the biggest. Besides being the strongest muscle in the body and having the unenviable responsibility of being the catalyst to the body's nutritional needs, the human tongue is also covered in tiny bumps called "tastebuds." Miraculous little buggers, those tastebuds. They enable us humans to taste the spectrum, from sweet and sour, to salty and bitter. ("Yuck.") Wonderful though they may be, I do not suggest viewing a close-up of the little guys. You may not want to kiss ever again.

Why tongues? Why do I rob you of valuable time by writing of tongues? Well. Why the hell not? If you've gotten this far, you will have perhaps learned something today. Number One on that list of things learned in a day may be that I am, indeed, quite mad. Perhaps. Either mad as a leaden hatter or bored as a gourd.

I'll take "Over-Caffeinated And Under-Fed" for a thousand, Alex.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Moving. To move. Mover. I must move. Move! Now!

To paraphrase Metallica, I'm frozen under ice. I am immobile. I know that I am moving to a new home in--[checks watch]--10 days, but I have not even really started on packing stuff up. I have two extra-large boxes of clothes packed, but that is it. My packing method is Legion: I open the box, fold the bottom tight, slap some packing tape on it, and throw clothes in, willy-nilly. Then I close the top of the box and I call it good.

Next up: Kitchenware. I figure that I'll leave a couple plates and a couple of each of the utensils and maybe a frying pan and throw the rest in a box...and I'll call it good.

Time keeps ticking and my feet are in molasses. I need to get motivated, dammit! I need to break the ice, as it were, and get my ass into high gear. I need to go to the post office and fill out a change-of-address form and I need to call the electric company (not the TV show) and I need to inform them of the new address at which I will be living. This is not rocket science, right?

Then why the fuck am I so icy? You'd think that the opportunity to move into a nice house with a backyard for my boy Lou would cause me to leap from bed every morning with a face-splitting grin and a sense of purpose. Right? Anyone have any advice? Would crack cocaine help, in any way? How about speed? I am already addicted to caffiene up to my eyebrows, so that will not work as a motivator (unless one counts so-very frequent visits to the lavatory as motivational tools). Is there a pill that I can swallow that will combat Procrastination?

Or should I just buck up, cheerio, and get 'er done? I'll start...tomorrow. Seriously.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


I'm moving. I'm going to gather up all my shit from the apartment (see snapshot) in which I have lived for the last three or so years and I'm going to take my balls and I'm going to go home. My new home will be my grandmother's old home. She doesn't live there anymore. She now resides in an assisted living center, at which they take good care of her and she has--I assume--some acquaintances.

I will feel, I think, like a hermit crab, in a way, shucking my old shell and moving to live in a another's. The rent that I will pay to my parents is basically the rent that I pay now (with the addition of the gas bill) and the payments shall go towards balancing Grandma's exorbitant fee for living in a place that provides 24-hour care.

I met my mom at my soon-to-be-new-digs, today, and we had a meeting with a couple of women who are going to paint the formerly off-pink bedroom into a more manly color. Like apricot. Joking. It's going to be biege. And I'm having them paint the bathroom, as well. That, too, is an off-pink color and, as Pink Floyd once sang, "That. Will. Not. Do!"

I have mixed emotions about the move. I am quite glad, obviously, to move out of my apartment, although it is a nice one, and move into a three-level home with a fenced-in backyard. Lou is doing cartwheels, too. I look forward to having more room to move around and more privacy. [As an ancillary note, if I hear, like my old neighbors, my newer neighbors making hyena-like love, replete with "Fuck me! Fuck me!" outbursts, that would mean that they were way too loud. I mean, way too loud. Also, considering that one of my neighbors is my grandmother's age...forget it, it's too early in the day for that thought process. Actually, any time of the day is too early for that thought process.]

So, hell yeah, I'm glad to have this opportunity.

Here is the flip-side of the dollar bill: It comes at a cost. The only reason I am able to move into the house is because Grandma ain't doing so well; she can't make it on her own, anymore. And, obviously, that makes me sorta wistful. Wistful for the old days. Wistful for times when my loved ones were still strong and fit and not feeling as acutely the ravages of time. I know, I know. Time moves along. The clock is always ticking. We're not here for a long time so we better damned well make it a good time. I know all of that, intellectually. It's the emotional side of life that has a penchant for biting me in the ass.

So we were there, and I was choosing paint colors for the two rooms, and the essence of Grandma and Grandad really swam over me. I could see, in my mind, the ghost-image of Grandad, at the kitchen counter, sitting on the high bar-stool-like chairs and expounding upon some point that he is making, sometimes stuttering, spittle sometimes flying, the ashes on his omnipresent cigarettes growing longer and longer until, with an expressive hand gesture, they fall to the floor. I could see, in my mind, Grandma, down in the basement, playing Ping-Pong, at age 80, serving the ball with that wicked spin that she so aptly employed.

I walked up into the attic and I breathed in the smell of Grandparent. Not musty, not offensive in any way--just Grandparent. The wall was lined with books and the old broken Zenith was against the far wall and Grandad's fossil and rock collections lay, as they have for 20 years, under dusty glass in the corner of the room. I walked across the room in which my uncle had slept as a boy, and I looked on the dusty desk and I saw the medals that Grandad had won as a roller skater back in the 1940s and '50s. Still in place under the glass, they forcibly brought to me the passage of time and the memories that get lost, sometimes.

I went back downstairs and into the basement and saw the Ping-Pong table, at which many games were played and many great shots were made. I looked at the south wall of the basement and took in the pock marks made from Grandad practicing with his blow-dart gun. I remembered the targets he used to put up and I remember how once, when going for accuracy, he shot one dart and then followed it up with another dart right in the center of the first. He had saved it, for a bit, displayed it with pride. He was also proud of the time when he had someone bounce a Ping-Pong ball and he shot it dead through the center, catching it in mid-bounce.

I went back upstairs.

"Yeah," I said to Tara the painter, "I'd like the bathroom painted in 'Alpaca Gray.'"

"Alpaca Gray," you see, goes well with the sepia-toned ghostly memories that will surround me the first week or so that I live, feeling like an interloper, there on Harwood Street.

Friday, March 02, 2007


So. I'm driving down the road at work today, minding my own business, thinking about the weekend and what may come with it, when, all of a sudden, I hear these three or four quick bursts of a car horn from beside me to my right. I glance over and I see an old man in a silver Grand Prix, gesturing at me with his left index finger and pointing towards the back of my work van. Immediately, it hits me: The left brake light is out. I know that. I've already talked to the garage at work about it. They'll get to it eventually.

"I know," I say, nodding to my closed passenger window, keeping one eye on the road. "My brake light is out; I know." I paste a grin to my mug and consider the matter closed and focus on the road. I look back over. The old man is still gesturing--almost wildly--and mouthing something at his closed driver's side window. I shake my head and point to my ear. I can't hear you. Still, the old man gestures at me and at the ass-end of the van, his eyes wide.

I think to myself, Well, hell, maybe it's not just my brake light. Maybe I somehow left my back doors open and gas meters and pipes are threatening to spill out onto Evergreen Road. I glance into my rearview mirror and note with relief that both doors are securely closed--nothing is spilling, all is right with the world.

I look back at the old man. He's still got one eye on me and one eye on the road. He points to my lane. I shrug and hold out my right hand, palm up. What? He points again, more animatedly. I get it. He wants to get into my lane and, I gather, he wants me to get into his lane. A little 43-MPH lane swap.

I sigh heavily. Whatever. He zigs in front of me and I zag behind him and almost break a minivan that is turning in to the road from the shopping center parking lot. It apparently has not gotten the memo that something catastrophic is happening at the ass-end of my van. I glimpse a minivan "O" of surprise and I swerve back into my lane briefly and then back into the old man's vacated lane. What. The. Fuck?!

[Had we erroneously shut his gas off? Was his house about to blow up? Was he wondering about an application that he had--30 years previously--filled out?]

There is a stop light ahead of me and so we coast to a stop, side-by-side.

I jerk down my window and he drops his passenger window.

I am, actually, extremely curious. I raise my eyebrows at him.

"It might not be worth all this commotion," the old man begins, "but I just wanted to let you know that your left brake light is out." He's little and bearded, Jewish and wide-eyed. His teeth are yellowed and misspaced and he wears a red newsboy cap atop his head. His eyes seem unfocused, in a way.

"I know," I say, forcing a polite smile. "I already talked to the garage about it. They just haven't gotten to it yet."

There is a brief silence. "They're lazy, huh?" he says, looking at the car ahead of him. "Maybe they could teach me something about gonna fix it?"

I stare at him. I really don't know what to say. The light ahead turns green. "They know about the light. They'll get to it."

"Lazy," he mutters, and I accelerate ahead of the little bearded man, leaving him in my rearview mirror and sorta kinda maybe wishing that a five-foot section of one-inch galvanized steel pipe would be loose and maybe kinda sorta fall off my truck and maybe kinda sorta punch through his windshield and maybe sorta kinda knock some sense into his grizzled old cottony head.

And I think the "O" minivan would agree.