C’mon, Clock…

June 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

You want the good news first, or the bad?

Let’s start with the bad news.

I awoke to a blinking red light on my cell phone. I checked, text and voicemail. Start with voicemail. It was Rain: “Hey baby, where ya been? I came by your work, they said you been sick. Am I gonna have to come check up on you? Call me…” (beep)

Yeah, well, I’ve been busy.

Text message from Dr T. These are typically hilarious updates involving the less-intelligent antics of co-workers. Not this time. “Bookkeeper had a stroke. Master P was right there, called 911. Cross your fingers.”

Shit. And damn. Our bookkeeper is a lovely woman, who trained me in the early days at Master P’s. The thought of her being incapacitated sickened me.

Forge on.

Checking the news on the internet, I saw they had identified a stabbing victim from Old Town. I checked his name on PDXMugshots, found his mug shot. Crap. One of the Avenue weed dealers. Not a problem child, but no angel either. From the looks of the dude who stabbed him, it was a beef over dope.

I arrived at work, and one of my regulars was hanging around outside, smoking. “Did you hear about Johnny Ray?”

Johnny Ray is an older gentleman who stands unassumingly in front of the coffee shop across the street with a small cardboard sign. “Anything helps. God bless.” He’s been a fixture for years.

“No, what did he do?”

“He ODed this morning. He’s dead.”

God damn.

She briefed me, then left for a minute. About that time Saucy Alfredo arrived for the lunch break I never take. He smelled so strongly of Axe and “axe” that I chose to take a walk. Voodoo Doughnuts had reopened after the remodel; maybe I could get a peek inside?

I did! Two Memphis Mafias in the bag, with a candle in one of them. The gal at the counter even did a little dance for me. (Voodoo Doughnuts and I share a birthday.) Dessert obtained, it was back to work. Alfredo was ready to go by the time I returned. After twenty minutes working up a sweat in the bathroom, that is.

Clarence came into the store. Clarence is from the streets, but you’d not think him homeless to look at him. He walks like I imagine Scatman Crothers would in his 30s, and is built/looks like a boxer. I carded him for beer a while back, and discovered that he’s 68 years old. Holy crap, I hope I look that good when I’m that old.

“Big Man, help me out with a solid quarter?” He had twenty-three cents. I popped the till, fished two pennies from my stash and hooked him up.

“Hey Clarence, got a second?” He stopped to listen.

“I don’t want to be talking out of turn, but you know the old dude on the corner with the sign and the walker?”

“Johnny Ray? What about him?”

“He ODed this morning. He got a bad batch of dope. Apparently they’re cutting it with a sedative, and it’s taking people out. Be careful.”

“I don’t mess with that shit. One of my friends at the Estate ODed last week. Johnny Ray’s dead? Motherfucker…”

“Let Rain know if you see her? I know she dabbles, and I’d hate for something to happen to her.”

“Will do, Red. Johnny Ray. That fucks me up…” He wandered off into the night.

Alfredo left. I turned the radio back on, and the opening riffs of ZZ Top’s Tush echoed through the store. I turned it up until a family of four came in. Ease back down…

My phone buzzed. A Certain Someone who had lost her phone was back in communicado. “Hey lover, just got your messages. Sorry so long, got new phone now. Thursday is perfect!”

I have a date! And you’ll probably hear all about it.

As I stared at my bag of doughnuts, Dr T walked in. “Just got word the bookkeeper is going to be okay. They got her into treatment within thirty minutes, and you’d never know she was sick to talk to her. She was mostly worried about Otis, her dog.”

Praise the deities for that.

Let the waiting begin. I must wait until after work for the doughnuts. I must wait until Thursday for, well, other things. But, for a couple of hours last night, all was right with the world. Counting the minutes until I can hang with my special one. Feeling grateful that the bullets I’ve dodged of late have been of the Nerf (and not lead) varieties.

Somewhere in the ether, I could hear my Dad’s voice. “Take a deep breath, son. At your age, rushing the clock is not in your best interests.”

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