You can always believe Abe Lincoln.
One of my weekly chores around the house is doing the Laundry. The Laundry must be done and somebody has to do it, and…
I AM SOMEBODY!
Doing the Laundry is not all that difficult. If I was Color Blind, Illiterate, and entirely Anti-Social it would be much harder to do. It would be horribly more taxing if I had to lug everything down to the banks of the Wabash River and beat our clothing on a flat rock. Luckily, I don’t have to that, but I’m still looking for a way out of this weekly chore.
I am trying to train the cat to do the Laundry.
I don’t think so.
And since I have only one good hand in operation my time, extra or not, is somewhat limited in its disposal. The time I will take to type up this blog posting will use any temporal overage I may have. When I am at the keyboard my fingers (all five of them) are flying across the keys at a blistering 5 – 6 words per minute. That apocryphal group of typing chimpanzees is faster than me and often more creative.
There are so many times that I hear words come flying from the mouths of relatively sane people that I have to stop and listen just to make sure that it’s not my hearing that is cuckoo. Words will go wherever we point them.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary there are 171,476 English words in current use. Most of us don’t know and use more than a tiny fraction of that total. Personally, I feel comfortable with dozens of those words.
The Toyota is starting to have “Issues.”
I guess you could call it “Mechanical Problems,” but the car is running and moving OK – I just better not try to go anywhere if it is raining or snowing heavily.
The wipers stopped working in Mid-Drizzle yesterday.
Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” – Conclusion
Pushing his aching body as fast as he could Luco arrived at the Arboretum Gardener’s Shed in fifteen minutes. He called out.
“I’m here, Thayer. Marlee, are you in there? Are you OK?”
Dennis was waiting.
“I’m sorry, Reyes. I’m afraid she’s a bit tied up right now.”
“Dennis, let her go. She’s not invol –“
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Dennis screamed. This is my turf and I make the rules here.”
Luco paced back and forth knowing that every second that Dennis still held Marlee anything could happen.
“Dennis, let’s talk. Come on out here, face to face.”
Dennis looked at Luco through the window shutter, standing there. “Did you come alone, Coffee Boy?”
“Yes, Dennis, I’m alone.”
Inside the shed Dennis, grinning, turned to Marlee. “He came alone. He really is such a Boy Scout.
“Reyes, you come in here if you want to see your little ‘Nursey-Wursey.’ Now!
The new lock was child’s play.
Marlee had been home, caught a few winks, fed the cat and gone back to the Stanyan Street apartment above the bicycle shop to be with and care for Luco. She wouldn’t be back for hours, maybe all night. He wouldn’t need that much time. Not even close.
Dennis Thayer picked the lock in less than ten seconds, entered the apartment, and locked the door again behind him. He set his small box on the butcher block dining room table.
“Here, Kitty. Kitty, Kitty. Come to your Uncle Dennis.”
The cat had moved behind the sofa as soon as it realized that it was Dennis and not Marlee opening the door.
Dennis took a piece of netting out of the box on the table and started to silently stalk the little yellow tabby. He knew where the cat liked to hide. He pushed one end of the sofa against the wall cutting off one avenue of escape. He wrapped the netting over the other end, trapping in the cat – or so he thought. Taking out a small flashlight from his pocket he knelt on the couch and shined the light down on the terrified kitten.
“Hello, little Kitty. Time to come out and play.”
The light reflected golden off the kitten’s eyes.
Not waiting for his pursuer to grab him the kitten launched itself up the back of the couch with claws extended. When he reached the top of the couch he kept climbing, clawing his way across Dennis’ face leaving a trail of deep bloody scratches from his chin, across his eyes and into his hairline. Before Dennis could react the cat was under the bed and huddled against the far wall.
“Want to play rough do we, Kitty? Then I’ll show you rough, you mangy little fleabag.”
Moving slowly and warily Dennis walked into Marlee’s bedroom and closed both doors trapping them both in the room.
Shining his flashlight under the bed he could see the frightened cat up against the wall. It hissed when the light beam hit it.
“There you are. Come here, Kitty, Kitty.”
J.P. hissed again.
“No? You don’t want to come out and play? That’s not very friendly. I’ll tell you what – you stay there for a minute. I’ll be back in two shakes of a cat’s tail.” He got to his feet and went to the dining room, making sure to close the bedroom door behind him. He searched through the box on the table singing softly.
“What’s new, Pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ah, there we are. Playtime is over you little furball.”
J.P. Cat was still in the corner, under the bed, shivering in fear.
“I’m back, Kitty. Still don’t want to come out? You’re shivering. Are you cold? Well, here, let me warm you up.’
Dennis Thayer: Psychotic killer, drug addict who hated drugs and other addicts, Sadist, and Unforgiving, killed a small terrified kitten with the barbs of a 50,000 volt taser. He laughed as the young cat convulsed even after it was already dead.
“Now we can both play and cook up a little surprise for Missy Marlee.”
When Marlee returned home seven hours later she unlocked her door and with two steps inside she knew that something was wrong.
“What is that smell? Did I leave something…?”
She went into the kitchen and felt the heat from the oven.
The people standing at the bus stop in front of 1298 Haight Street looked up at the windows of Apartment 6. They heard a woman screaming in horror. She couldn’t stop.
When the police entered Apartment # 8 it was obvious that the renter had abandoned it. His clothes were gone. Food in the kitchen, what there was of it, was old and stale. The one plant in the apartment, a Hibiscus, was shriveled and dead.
In his bedroom the wall that had been covered was bare except for remnants of tape and the corners of torn photographs that were now…where?
After his butchery of Marlee’s cat Dennis knew that he couldn’t stay in the building. He took what he could carry and he was now living out of his mobile sanctuary – his gray van. In the van he was hidden. The Motor Vehicle registration listed the van as being red, but a cheap paint job down in the Mission District fixed that. The police would waste time and energy looking for a red van that no longer existed.
He needed his invisible hideaway so he could carry out the next part of his courtship. Luco was still alive, injured but alive. That had to be corrected.
Dennis didn’t want to go after Luco again. He had to lure the Coffee House Cry Baby out of his apartment – out to where he was helpless and vulnerable. Out to where he would die.
The van gave Dennis mobility. The entire city could become his trap. He would lure Luco into the trap with the most delicious bait.
He had injured Luco; Marlee was traumatized and unable to focus.
The “What’ and the “How” were already decided. All that remained were the “When” and the “Where.”
“Let the cops look for me. I am invisible and in control because I saw her first and I never share.”
Marlee was staying at Luco’s place almost around the clock; partly to continue helping him in his recovery, and partly because she couldn’t bear the thought of returning to her apartment on Haight Street – not after what Dennis Thayer had done there. Any trips to 1298 Haight were just to pack and move her possessions to Stanyan Street.
As Luco grew stronger he tended to help her closet the horror so she could resume her new life in San Francisco. That was something they both needed to do. While they had both been given a second chance there was no guarantee that they would ever be blessed with a third. They couldn’t let Dennis Thayer decide their Tomorrow. They couldn’t let him win.
As each day passed and the police couldn’t find Dennis Thayer Haight Street became more nervous and afraid. Another young Street Kid was killed and dumped in the middle of the night in the doorway of the Bicycle Shop on Stanyan Street.
At night the gray van hid in the fog. Dennis slept and dreamed of his next moves – to draw Luco Reyes to his death and to have Marlee Owen wrap her arms around him. After all, he saw her first
The TV didn’t offer any diversion. After more than three weeks of taking care of Luco at his apartment with only short trips to her own place to change clothes and see to the cat Marlee just collapsed onto her couch. Too exhausted to think she just stared at the screen, not even sure what she was watching. The cat cuddled up next to her. They both needed the closeness.
When Luco checked himself out of the hospital, over the Doctor’s objections, it was Marlee who took charge, making sure that he was cared for. Pete had hired a Home Healthcare Agency, but Marlee was there almost 24 hours a day feeding Luco, washing him, making sure that he got his meds correctly and on time. Now, after a week, the initial shock had worn off. He would survive and recover.
It was when Luco had recovered enough to become a bad patient, becoming impatient and wanting to do everything for himself, that Marlee knew that she could go home and rest. Home – that 420 Square foot apartment, a 12 minute walk from Stanyan Street, where she lived alone with J.P. Cat her lonely yellow tabby cat.
Marlee sat there knowing that J.P. needed fed. So did she she, but while there were plenty of cans of “Friskies” for the cat there was nothing, or next to it, for herself.
“It’s good to see you home, Missy.”
Startled by the voice from behind her Marlee jerked around. Dennis Thayer was standing by her kitchen door. Her front door was wide open. The cat jumped down and hid behind the couch.
“You still need to be more careful about your door, Miss Marlee.”
Marlee sat up. “It was closed. I locked it. How did you get in?”
He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders. He ignored her questions.
“Have you eaten? I’ve made some lasagna. Want some?”
She looked at him standing in her apartment. Too exhausted to maintain her anger, defeated, she turned back to the TV.
“I’m too tired to eat. Leave me alone.”
“Marlee, you need someone to take care of you – some able-bodied man who makes a mean lasagna.”
Her limit had been reached.
“Screw you, Dennis. Get out of my apartment. Get out! I’m going to have that lock changed tomorrow. Now, get out, and stay out!”
The cat peeked from around the corner of the sofa.
Dennis Thayer’s smile melted away. His expression turned to one of highly controlled rage. Without making a sound he let his eyes linger on her before turning and heading for the front door. When he got to the hallway he turned and spoke loud enough for Marlee to hear him.
“I have been very good to you up to now. I’ll go, but remember this, Missy – I don’t share. Not with anyone. Never.”
And he was gone.
Marlee went and closed the front door, locking it again, then returned to the couch. The cat came out from his hiding place and jumped back up next to her.
“How’s your tummy, JP? Feeling better? “
They were both asleep in seconds.
Inside Apartment #8 Dennis Thayer was tearing down more than a dozen photos from his wall, tearing them to pieces.
Most of the larger pieces of glass had already been swept up from the sidewalk on Haight Street. Inside the “Universe Café the cleanup was slower. Each table and chair had to be washed and dried to remove every sliver of glass.
The brick that had crashed through the window had to have been thrown sometime between 2 AM and about 5 AM when Spider showed up to start the day’s prep work and to open the doors at 6 AM. When she arrived she found the window destroyed and three Street Kids stretched out asleep on the church pew seating along the walls. The security alarm had not been triggered.
Spider called Pete. He was there in minutes.
“Sweet Jesus, who could have done this? Why? We have a good vibe with the neighborhood. Who would do this?”
Spider pointed to the still sleeping figures stretched out by the wall. Pete stormed over to the nearest one.
“Did you do this? Did you break my window?”
Pete had the kid by his filthy shirt front. He was screaming, spitting in his face. “You dirty little pig. Talk to me!”
The Street Addict pushed Pete back from his face.
“Get away from me Old Man. I didn’t bust your window. I just came in here to get out of the cold.”
“Then who did this – one of them,” he said pointing to the other Kids who were stirring.
“No, Old Man, I told you I came in to get warm, them too.”
Pete looked around at the mess holding his head. “Oh, Lord, why did I let the insurance go? I thought we were safe.”
“And the Alarm Company too, Pete?” added Spider. She was holding a broom, already sweeping the floor.
Pete wandered around the café mumbling to himself. He bent over and picked up the brick that someone had, for some reason, thrown through his window. A simple yellow brick just like millions of others that made up half the buildings along Haight Street. The only difference with this brick was the heavy-duty red rubber band around the middle of the brick. Pete turned over the brick and saw a small folded piece of paper under the rubber band. Pete unfolded the paper. Handwritten in block letters was the answer to Pete’s desperate question – almost.
“Reyes – Get well soon so I can give you another ride. Your time is coming. Remember – I DON’T SHARE!”
Spider stood next to Pete, reading over his shoulder.
“I don’t share? What the hell is that supposed to mean, Pete?”
“”I don’t know. I don’t know what any of this means, except that Luco has one sick SOB enemy.” He refolded the note and put it into his shirt pocket. “I’m going to call some friends to come in and help us get this mess cleaned up. Will you be OK until they get here, Spider?”
“Sure, I’ll get going here and we’ll be open again in no time, Pete.”
“OK, good. I’ll call the police, but you’ll have to talk with them. I need to go see Luco.”
Spider nodded. “Yeah, go make sure he’s OK. He is still pretty gimpy. I know that Marlee’s been spending a lot of time there, but still…”
He looked at the brick, turned his back, and headed toward the door, “Thanks, Spider. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“No problem, Pete. We’re Family. Strange and mildly freaky maybe, but Family. Go check on Luco.”
The sun was beginning to peek above the East Bay Hills illuminating the ships in the bay and the already congested lanes on the bridge coming into The City.
Pete pressed the button next to Luco’s name by the door on Stanyan Street. He waited, but got no answer, either on the intercom or the buzzer that unlocked the front door. There was only silence. It had only been ten seconds, but to Pete it felt like an hour.
He pushed on the button again, holding it down, determined to get an answer. Silence. He stepped back onto the sidewalk and looked up at Luco’s front window. The curtain in the window stirred and moved aside. A shadowy face looked down. The curtain fell back in place.
Pete stepped back to the door, ready to lay on that buzzer until he woke up everybody in the building. Just as his finger depressed the button the buzzer unlocked the front door.
Pete rushed into the vestibule and headed for the stairs ready for anything and whoever he’d seen in the window. He struggled to take the stairs as fast as his aging legs would take him. Looking up at the landing he caught his breath when he saw Luco, leaning on his cane, look around the corner.
“Pete, what the hell are you doing?” Luco stage-whispered down the stairs at Pete who had stopped to catch his breath on seeing Luco’s face.
“Luco, are you alright? You OK?”
“What’s the matter, Pete? Get up here before somebody calls the police.”
As he slowly climbed the rest of the stairs up to Luco’s apartment over the bicycle shop Pete gave Luco the basics of what had gone down at the café on Haight Street.
“Oh, Jesus, Pete, is anybody hurt?”
“No, it’s just property damage, but it was all just a way to deliver a message.”
“A message?” asked Luco. What kind of a message? For who?”
Pete reached in his pocket for the note that had been attached to the brick. He handed Luco the folded up note.
“Read this, Luco. It was help to the brick with a rubber band.”
Luco silently read the note. “I don’t share. What does that mean? Share what?”
“You tell me, Luco, but this isn’t any love letter. Somebody doesn’t like you. Any ideas who?”
“Over the years, Pete? I could name half a dozen, but this is insane. ‘Give me another ride.’ What does that mean?”
“I read that,” said Pete, “And I had to come and make sure you were OK.”
“I’m fine, Pete. I’m just half awake, but other than that…”
“I called the police on my way here so I’d better get back to the café,” said Pete. “I left Spider in charge, to talk with them and to start the cleanup.”
“She can handle the police, Pete. Let me shower and I’ll come in. Give me twenty minutes.”
“OK, Luco, but be careful.”
“I’ll be fine.
Standing under the hot water trying to wake up Luco had one phrase from the note going around in his mind.
“I DON’T SHARE.”
Most mornings when I come out to get to the car it is still dark and as I glance around the yard I can see pairs of glowing eyes looking back at me. Yesterday morning, however, it was like Siegfried and Roy were holding auditions out there. I got into the car and when I turned on the headlights – Ta-Da!
First on the bill was a large raccoon clinging to the side of the tree right in front of me. It had that usual raccoon look on its face – “What? What? You got a problem with me?” I think raccoons are the Joe Pesci of the animal world. We made eye contact and had an interspecies moment there.
A FEW DAYS AGO I WROTE ABOUT A YOUNG CAT that showed up outside of the nearby St. Arbucks (Starbucks to most people.). That little cutie pie is no more than 4 to 6 months old and a ball of yellow/orange fur.
Well…it’s still there.and has been unofficially adopted by the customers and staff. This cat has stumbled into a good thing.
ANIMALS AND I GET ALONG WELL. Dogs, Cats, Squirrels, Birds, etc. will come right up to me as if we were old friends. I’m not knowingly doing anything make them approach me. I don’t think that I look or smell like a meal. I don’t get it. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it’s just unusual I’ve been told. It’s been like this all my life.
When I was a kid I used to walk to school and it was not rare for me to show up with a dozen dogs walking along with me. The nuns didn’t like that.
THE OTHER DAY A FRIEND MENTIONED TO ME that she had a decision to make. It seems that she has a jar that she has used to hold crackers and, for reasons unknown to me, she has evicted the crackers and now fills the jar with cat treats. The decision part of this is whether or not she should tell anyone. It seems that one member of the family is a regular customer of the Cracker Jar.
I don’t make up these things. I don’t have to.
THERE MUST BE SOME BAD JUJU FLOATING IN THE AIR TODAY. Everybody seems to be complaining about something wherever I go. I’m getting my coffee and the person in front of me in line is moaning about the weather.
“It’s going to be hot all week. I don’t like hot weather. I just don’t like it.”
Well, Lady, it is summertime in the Midwest and it is supposed to be only 88° today and 93° tomorrow. I would call that warm, maybe bordering on hot, but it ain’t Death Valley.
See? Now she’s got me doing it. I’m complaining about her complaining.
LIKE MOST PEOPLE I AM A CREATURE OF HABIT. I tend to want to do today what I did yesterday and I don’t like anybody to mess with that – and by extension – me. His morning I was faced with such a situation
Just about every day I start my conscious activities down the street at St. Arbucks. I get my coffee, as usual, and then I stumble to my table in the corner, as usual. Sip coffee. Take meds. Plug in phone. Write. That’s it – nothing fancy, but critical nonetheless.
Today everything was moving along swimmingly until I turned the corner and prepared myself to hunker down in the corner.
THERE WERE PEOPLE SITTING AT MY TABLE!
Flash from the PBS NewsHour of January 3, 1914:
“Dogs poop in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field, study finds.”
How’s that for a headline?
This thunderbolt of journalism comes about as result of a study published in a journal called “Frontiers in Zoology” – not an item currently found on our coffee table.
MY CELL PHONE WAS ACTING UP THIS MORNING. Nothing serious. It just appeared to be possessed by demons and wasn’t cooperating at all. Who knows why? So, I did what any sane person would do – I rebooted the darned thing.
Voila! It was all better – obedient, colorful, and utilitarian with no backtalk.
Don’t you wish life was like that? Your day is just not working right – the car wouldn’t start, your Boss is having another psychotic rampage, and when you get home the power is out and the cat has trashed the bathroom.
Time for a Reboot!
The body – my body, your body, anyone’s body, operates on a cycle of sunlight and darkness – activity and sleep. It is called a Diurnal Rhythm. It’s a Human thing.
There are some creatures that function in an opposite manner where they are active at night and rest during the daylight hours. They are called “Nocturnal.” Think of Bats, Fireflies, and Comedians.
WHILE THIS IS THE HOLIDAY SEASON, a time of Joy and Happiness, there is one thing that always mars that sense of glee. Seeing our USPS Letter Carrier (aka The Mailman) lumbering up the street. This time of the year he is toting a bag filled with tons of Christmas Catalogs.
Yesterday we found six different catalogs and a couple of bills stuffed into our mailbox like a blivet. Look it up. Some of the catalogs were from companies we had never heard of before.
Only one item missed being put immediately into the recycling bin and that was because it was one of those catalogs that offered items that have no good reason for even existing.
Answer me this…