“Where Ya Been?”

February 24, 2018 at 12:35 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

Ya Big Silly!

Hey strangers… It’s Stranger Yet!

Yeah, it’s been a while. I’ve been a negligent blogger, watching life’s moments pass by without stopping to note each one. Been spending a lot of time pondering the universe, and sometimes the thoughts that wander through the brain need time to age, ripen, ferment. Not that I’m any kind of genius. I just needed a break.

Sunshine passed away last week. Rain’s new boyfriend and Sunshine were best buddies, and Rain was crying when she called to tell me. Sunshine had a major case of ass-cancer, and was a hard-living old coot, so it wasn’t unexpected. (Anyone who can smoke three packs of American Spirit full-flavors in a day is living on borrowed time.) How he lasted as long as he did is a tribute to the stubbornness of the human spirit. I’d been holding up okay, but then I saw Werner Klemperer on a Law and Order rerun, and noticed that Werner and Sunshine were dead ringers for each other. (Literal.) I’d thought about reaching out, but our chats lately involved lots of his get-rich-quick schemes, usually needing my financial support. (Sorry Sunshine, you can’t get blood out of a turnip.) The doctors, frustrated with his use of street drugs, cut off his prescription meds and told him to go for it with the heroin and meth. I don’t know if he passed from natural causes, or got a fentanyl hit, but Sunshine has faded into the night. RIP, you giant teddy bear.

I have a sneaky feeling my beloved cousin has also moved on to the next level. He’d not been well, and moved to Arizona. All phone numbers are disconnected, no news whatsoever. I’m going to write him a long letter, in longhand, to tell him goodbye. Whoever says adopted relatives aren’t as close as blood relatives has not met our family. WE decide who is family, and if you burn us you might find yourself unadopted, bloodline or no. You can choose friends but not family, the saying goes. Our best family are the ones we’ve chosen, not those thrust upon us.

A lot of other stuff has been going on, which I will eventually write about. I needed time for life to percolate. Also, there have been major changes at work, and I don’t want to pontificate too much about that in a public space. I love my job at Master P’s, and now, other than the bookkeeper, Grinder and Master P himself, I have been there the longest. Art East is behind me by about six months. Everyone else, my bosses? I’ve trained them all. I’m feeling a bit of burnout, it’s been thirteen years. But I’m not so burned out I’m ready to jump. I took a sick day, creating a four-day weekend, and it was just what I needed. I sat around just long enough to be restless, but not long enough to appreciate being bored. I came back to work a half-hour early, urging Southie to bank those minutes for the next time my bus is late.

It’s been a dark time in my world. Ain’t no Sunshine to brighten it up. It will be a long time before I forget Sunshine. He was a sweet, thoughtful career criminal who gave me more smiles than I ever realized at the time. Save me a fistful of happy pills, bud, and I will see you when I get there.

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RIP Mr Burns

January 12, 2018 at 8:00 am (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

So long, little buddy. You will be missed.

We have had a plethora of wacky pets over the years. Mostly it seems like a science experiment; can dogs, cats, mice, fish, guinea pigs and other critters live under one roof? We have tried, and yes, it can happen, often with amusing results.

Mr Burns came to us a couple years ago. Sister bought two male mice at the “feed store” and put them in a cage. Boys will be boys, and since they seemed to do better in their own areas, we put them in separate cages. Creeper, the black one, died after about a year. We thought he’d be the hearty one. But he had half the lasting power of Mr Burns.

Mr Burns was chosen for his craftiness. When Sister got him home he was “hiding” by clinging to the roof of the box. Smart little feller, huh?

He got his name from his stature. He had something up with his front legs, so he tended to scoot around on his butt. He’d hold his paws in front of himself and wiggle his fingers, like Monty Burns from The Simpsons. He’d wobble over to say hi when he heard my voice. Mostly because I bribed him with toffee peanuts and popcorn.

He’s looked ragged his whole life, and each day I would wonder. Last night when I went by, he was sleeping in an unusual place. I blew on him, that usually got a movement, but not this time.

When I came down the hall, I saw the cage had been cleaned, and my little friend was gone. Sister had pronounced him, and he was sleeping with the fishes. Specifically, my niece’s several pet goldfish from over the years.

I salute you, Mr Burns. The hounds have been released for the last time.

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Footprints In The Snow

December 25, 2017 at 7:07 pm (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

My buddy, the Mighty Hunter

There they were, Django’s footprints leading from the front door toward the neighbor’s house. He loves hiding under their boat, or perch majestically atop their recycling bin. He’s a smart cat, he’s lived outside most of his 10-12 years. For some reason I found his footprints unsettling. He’s been spending time indoors; the kitchen is like his Florida, he goes there in the winter. He’s a big eater, but his 17-20 pound frame wasn’t totally subsidized by us. I have a feeling he had two or three homes he fed off of.

Lately he’s been moving slower. He can still clear a six-foot fence, even with his girth. The last time I saw him snoozing in the kitchen, he looked like he’d eaten three or four canna-brownies. He was nodding, and was uninterested in me. I found that odd. He’s a macho cat, lovey-dovey in the house, but you best not pet him in the driveway. “That shit is for sissies,” his upturned nose and high tail would say as he moseyed away. “I have an image to upkeep!” But if I pulled up a chair in the yard to play harp or smoke a doobus, PLOP into my lap landed Django. Always the gentleman, his talons were retracted when he climbed aboard. I swear he knows how to read a clock. Almost every night at 1 AM, he’d be waiting at the front door to come in with me. If I were early, he’d sit outside looking for me. If I was late? I would hear about it. “Mrawrr…”

I understand why you’d go indoors, buddy. It was cold last night. I’ve been listening for your knock. (He rattles the screen door when he wants to come in.) I hope you’re curled up in front of the neighbor’s fireplace, staying warm and well-fed until the snow and ice melts. You know you’ll always have a home.

When I got up Xmas morning, my sister was upbeat, yet blue. “Christmas is starting with a bummer.”

Before I could ask if it was Django, she said, “I found Fuzzball in my horsey room, curled up dead. And we haven’t seen Django since midnight.”

“Oh man…” Fuzzball, while not my favorite cat ever, had become quite a character. My brother-in-law has always good-naturedly grumbled about the critters, especially the cats. (“At least the dog barks at the mailman, what the fuck do cats do? Knock over the Christmas tree and turn on the stove! Fucking cats…”) But he’s a big softy at heart, and when he saw Fuzzball sitting abandoned in a cardboard box marked FREE in front of a Plaid Pantry, he stuffed her under his coat and and brought her home. (“What?” “Oh nothing.”)

Fuzz was tiny, and may not have been a kitten. A year later she was the same size. I called her Scaredy Cat. It was like living on the Nostromo when she was up and about. She’d sleep atop (or inside) the kitchen cabinets, and come bursting out like a deranged alien looking for a place to hide.Something had been wrong with her fur, she was hairless on her back-half for a few months, looking like some sort of psychedelic jackrabbit. She had the prettiest blue eyes, like a Scandinavian princess. Over time, her hair grew back, and she wasn’t quite so skittish. She’d adopted my sister, riding around on her shoulder like a parrot. She, however, wasn’t as kind with her claws. I don’t need no cat-scratch-fever.

So long Fuzzball. I will miss you jump-starting my heart on a twice-daily basis, those big blue eyes suspiciously watching my every move. It took you a long time to accept us, but I’m glad you did.

And Django? You can come home any time now.

UPDATE 3:20 AM: Lord Django rolled in about 3:20 AM, and is currently sleeping off his Xmas dinners.

Django Hunter

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“Fuggetaboutit!”

October 7, 2017 at 11:11 am (On the road again..., That's not funny...)

My Dad used to say, “You’d forget your head if it wasn’t fastened on.”

He didn’t mean me specifically. He mostly said that about himself, but I always enjoyed the visual; grabbing someone by the scalp, holding their severed head up a la Kathy Griffin and saying, “Um, dude…?”

Considering my age and how much weed I’ve smoked over the past 42 years, you’d think my brain would leak like a sieve. This is hardly the case. As my brother-in-law used to say, “You’ve got a mind like a steel trap. Rusted shut.”

I’d like to think I fall somewhere in between a mental lint-trap and Niagra Falls. But this week, I saw some glimpses of the doddering old man I may soon become…

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From Prettybird to Jailbird

August 11, 2017 at 10:29 am (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

Oh morning, why hast thou forsaken me?

Behind the Fence

I haven’t been around much. Well, haven’t been here. Work has kept me busy, and I have been trying to keep it together. Cat-sitting, yard work, I been truckin’. The weather has been hot and sticky, and the air is worse than Beijing’s. I’ve been having trouble breathing, and even walking to the MAX takes it out of me. God please make it rain.

And then there’s Rain. She’s in jail, and I don’t know when I’ll see her again.

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A Bucketful of Pleasantries

June 13, 2017 at 11:00 am (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly, That's not funny...)

People often ask how I can tolerate dealing with the public. Sometimes I wonder myself.

Portland’s Rose Festival is coming to an end. It’s the store’s busiest time of the year. We get tons of business from the parades, festivals and conventions. We go out of our way to be accommodating, but we never seem to succeed.

Last night, my night off, I get a call from Voorhees. He’s mid-shift at the Mothership. Usually he texts me. A phone call provides a sense of urgency, so I answer. “Whazzup?”

“Dude, I just had a guy pull a knife on me because I told him to turn his radio down. He woulda cut me if I hadn’t locked him out. Fortunately I had my keys out. I’m waiting on Southie or Grinder to come open up. I am so done with this place.”

He had locked the door, and was pacing around inside. He’d achieved his threshold of madness.

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Pillaged!

May 11, 2017 at 11:11 am (Cussed Dumbers, That's not funny...)

I’ve gone on about storing my stuff at work. I have a dressy shirt I wear while on shift, its pockets hold my phone and spare store key. (It’s nice to be able to lock up at a second’s notice, without my key being locked in the office, or having to go to my jacket pocket across the room.) A big enough shirt it takes up most of the room in my travel bag, plus a hoodie, reading material, and various other necessities to get through the night, and I’d be weighed down like a bag lady. So I find a non-obtrusive spot to hide my pile of work-junk.

I’ve told the story of how Grinder wanted to throw my stuff away. I’ve gone on about Eva Braun insisting I move my storage area to another store. I’ve been cooperative, done what asked, and complied with all their various requests. Uncle Cliffy, manager of the Waterfront Store, has no issue with me using a closet-sized spot in the very-back of the office. It’s like it was made for me. It was nicknamed the Wilson Water Closet, because a former employee used to leave Big Gulps of pee back there, instead of locking up and going to the bathroom. The peeing has stopped, (no evidence anyway 🙂 ) No more pee-cups, it’s a storage area for brown bags and cash register tape.

When I came in to drop off my work shirt, and found my area completely empty? As the kids say, I about lost my shit…

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Time To Say Goodbye

March 1, 2017 at 9:04 am (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

hold handsYesterday was not my best day.

Money shenanigans from “friends” started the day. Small loans over the course of the month earn me bus passes from the indigent. When it came time for “the envelope please,” they are nowhere to be found. While scrambling to set up and pay for new bus passes, I get a call from Rain. “Can I borrow $20 until midnight?”

“Sure.” We do this all the time. I loan her my meager available checking account balance, and when her check clears at 10 PM I am standing there with her at the ATM to get it back. “Are you at home?”

“No, I’m in the Pearl, staying with a Frenn… Just call me when you get to 10th & Johnson, and I’ll meet you at the park.”

“Okay.”

Frustrated with the day, I looked forward to seeing her. We haven’t been spending much physical time together, but we talk constantly on the phone, and I usually feel better after seeing her. But she’s been alternating between being super vague and then referencing “her Frenn…” I figured something was up.

When I got to the park, she wasn’t there. I called. “I’ll be right down,” she said. I watched the doors to the buildings, soon I heard her calling my name, “Outie!”

I walked toward her. Got a hug, slipped her some cash. “Can I also get back the $30 you borrowed earlier this month?” After some reminding, she agreed to do so. “Cool, I will call you about 9:30, and we can meet up?”

“Sure,” she said. “I guess you’ve figured out by now I’m in a relationship?”

“Yeah, I kinda figured,” I said.

“He’s an old friend. We laugh and laugh…”

“What’s his name?”

“Herbert, but everyone calls him Bubba. Like my dad. Funny, huh?” She paused, “Don’t be mad, Charlie.”

I wasn’t. “I understand. I hope you are happy.” Fortunately the train came pulling up about the same time the tears did.

She kissed me on the lips. “We will always have each other, Charlie. That won’t change. You will always be my special friend.”

I bid her so long. She still had my $50…

When I returned by 9:20, she was “getting dressed, be right down.” That can take anywhere from two minutes to two days. I sat on the bench, looking for her other special friend who was meeting us. He knows her money habits as well.

I waited until ten, and then called. Got lots of screaming and yelling about stupidity. “I’LL BE RIGHT OUT!”

About fifteen minutes later she came out, with her overnight bag. She put down her stuff, wheezing, her COPD in full force. (I guess she’ll be dropping dead on someone else’s dime now.) She was cussing people, cussing me, then saying, “I’m up there in this man’s house, yelling and screaming at IDIOTS! I’m not mad at you, Charlie.” Soon a cab was pulling up, and we were on our way to the ATM. She will pull money out, hand it to me, and I will be down the road. Last trolley in a couple minutes.

“Hey, I can use the ATM at Safeway!” She left us in the cab and ran into the store. Shit. This might take a while.

After sitting with the cabbie for ten minutes, I went in, finding her testing scented sprays in the home department. “Babe, the cab is waiting.”

“I’ll be right there. Everyone always trying to hurry me.”

“Is there a bathroom here?” I got the code and left her at the register.

When I returned, she’d rung up $127 in purchases, “after Club Card $88! I saved $39!” Yes dear, but did you really need four pine-scented bathroom cones?

I wheeled her cart out to the cab and loaded its trunk while she talked on the phone. She palmed me $50. “Is that all I owe you?”

“Yes, babe, we are all even. Thank you. Now I have to get walking, because I have missed the last trolley.”

“Well I was gonna offer you a ride–”

But I’d turned and left, and when I stopped to look back, the cab was pulling off in the direction of downtown. “Well shit, if you were gonna offer!” I shouted silently in my brain.

I pulled out my phone and called Transit Tracker. Sixteen minutes to catch the Green Line in Old Town. The walk would do me good, and I will make it if I don’t get mugged.

I texted Rain one more time. “I made the train with four minutes and 3% phone power. I’m going to miss saying this, but Goodnight, Rain.” I used her given name so she would know I’m serious. It was a code of ours. Innie and Outie have become a retired memory.

I cut down alleys, cruised through the North Park blocks. I texted Angel first, giving her the news. She’s single too? Slow down, big fella, it’s only been a couple hours. I texted Dizzy, who offered feline hugs as well as human, but I was in no mood to be around people. I went home, ate a simple green salad and went to bed.

Yes, I will miss the shared intimacy of my friend Rain’s presence. I will miss telling her I love her, and will really miss calling or texting, telling her good night and good morning, like I do most days. It’s no longer my department, and an insult to her new man.

Six years ago, I was the new guy. When I finally met the old boyfriend, we recognized each other and got along well. The women in my life have had pretty good taste in men, which is both reassuring and flattering. I’m not running with a bad crowd.

I will miss being a boyfriend. I loved spending four hours riding trains across town to bring her candy, or a pack of cigarettes. I will miss her angular beauty in the night, and the smoothness of her cocoa thighs, but that part of our relationship died last year. I figured I would be the one to eventually get horny.

So it’s not the end of the world this time, but I do feel a bit gut-shot. I will stop feeling guilty when her friends flirt with me; in fact, I may just flirt back. But I’m not jumping into her end of the pool for awhile. The dust needs to settle.

Meanwhile, I need to work on finding some new female readers…

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Cryogenic Gluteus Maximus Removal

January 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm (Cussed Dumbers, On the road again..., That's not funny...)

No. Just no.

No. Just no.

I’m surprised I’m not seeing little piles of gluteus maximus all over downtown. I almost froze my ass off last night.

I texted Dr T; “If Giggles is still there, tell him I’m gonna punch him in the head if he’s late tonight. We had to sit almost two hours to catch the last and only bus. That ain’t happenin’ again.”

I was pissed.

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Burned Out

January 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm (Cussed Dumbers, That's not funny...)

alder-fire-1

I had a feeling the day would be atypical when I saw the Heavy Duty fire truck driving the wrong way up the Avenue. I was coming out of the office with my cash drawer, ready to start a swing-shift at the Nightclub Store.

I followed my early routine, getting my shift’s accoutrements together. People kept asking me what was going on next door. “I dunno! I just got here. Probably a fire drill. They have them all the time. Or somebody is cooking bacon in their room. That’s the biggest “emergency” most of the time.”

Except… The street doesn’t usually fill with fire trucks, and fire marshals in red Jeeps don’t usually come in such numbers. Time to stick my head out and see what was happening.

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