Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Health”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “Do I Have A Roman Nose?”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “Do I Have A Roman Nose?”

Do I Have A Roman Nose?

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THEY SAY THAT CAESAR’S IMPERIAL ROME had the best system of water delivery in the Ancient World. There was a series of aqueducts, canals, pipes, and fountains that covered hundreds of miles and kept the city of Rome clean and quenched.

I think they could have learned a thing or two if they’d been able to study my sinuses in the morning.

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When I wake up every morning the entire function of my body seems devoted to the movement of fluids. It’s a good thing that I can blow my nose with my left hand clutching a Kleenex while my right hand is assisting me in doing an impression of the Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Is Paris Burning?”) Fire Department.

By the time my initial purge is done I feel five pounds lighter and the Wabash River is three inches closer to Flood Stage. I don’t know where it all comes from. During the night am I transformed into a sponge? Is my body taking moisture from the air like a fern? Am I the “Quicker Picker-Upper?”

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If my first geyser activity was it I could just dismiss it all as, perhaps, Tidal Action – like the Bay of Fundy approaching low tide. The trouble is that this can go on for two or three hours where the only thing missing is a fish ladder. I go through a box of tissues like…like…like a box of tissues.

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When my nose sends the signal to my brain that, “The dam has broken!” I grab the nearest tissue, handkerchief, or (embarrassingly) pancake and brace myself for the flood.

It ain’t Mrs. Butterworth, I’ll tell you that.

Having to deal with this for a couple of hours can be exhausting. I just got up two hours ago and I already feel the need for a nap. My nose is turning red from all of that tissue business, my skull is feeling like a used piñata, and I’m going to have to go buy some more tissues.

First, it’s one nostril. Then, when that one raises the flag of surrender, the valves open on the other. I didn’t know that noses could do that.

I’m impressed as well as depressed. My sinuses can operate as smooth as the locks on the Panama Canal. I guess that makes my upper lip the north coast of Colombia.

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Once I get through this morning ritual the rest of my day can proceed as it will, but until then I can understand how the Egyptian Pharaoh and his Chariots must have felt when he decided to chase Moses and the Israelites into the Red Sea – five minutes too late.

Things could be worse. Despite all of this every morning nonsense when things eventually dry out I still have a nose. I still have sinuses, and my stock in the tissue company continues to go up.

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Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “O, Canada! Say My Name!”

Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “O, Canada! Say My Name!”


WHEN TODAY STARTED I thought it was going to be a quiet, gentle day in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “They’re at the door, Jade.”).

Down at St. Arbucks the “Usual Suspects” seemed subdued and even quasi-rational. I should have recognized that as an omen of Strange Things to come.

After lunch I accompanied my wife, the lovely and telephonically lethal, Dawn, as she went to buy a new phone. I enjoy being Arm Candy for her. Her first words to the Blue-Shirted guy at Best Buy were, “I murdered my phone.”

The afternoon went from there on a pathway I can only describe as, “This looks familiar, but then again…”

After the phone business we headed to Staples to gorge on 17 cent notebooks and Bic pens. That happens only once a year. It is like a Burmese Python dining on a full grown white-tailed deer. It lasts quite a while before you need to do it again.

I thought that might be the climax of the day, but I was wrong.

We weren’t home more than five minutes when the landline phone began to ring. Nobody ever calls us on that line except wrong numbers and telephone solicitors.

“Hello, John, this is Jade calling from your Canadian pharmacy about refilling your prescription today.”

I was beginning to feel like a hungry Burmese Python and “Jade” sounded like a Doe about to accidentally step on me. I humbly refer you to my blog posting from May 11, 2015 – “Remember, You Called Me.”https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/remember-you-called-me/

Dawn just shook her head when she heard me say, “Canadian pharmacy – you’re in Canada?” She could read my mind.

I started with, “Jade, Jade, listen to me. I’ve been binge-watching “Breaking Bad” for the last few days and I’m thinking maybe you, being in Canada, might be able to get me some of that Dude’s stuff – some really good Blue Meth.”

“What are you talking about, Mr. Kraft?” All of a sudden it’s no longer the friendly, “John.”

“I’m talking about you being in Canada you don’t have to mess with the Feds. Say my name, Jade! Right? Say my name! I need some really good stuff and you can do it for me.

“Jade, you gotta help me. What’s that, Jade? You hear that? They’re at my door, Jade.”

The confused voice from north of the border tried to interrupt. “What are you talking about? I don’t understand you.”

I’m not stopping for anything even though Dawn is leaving the room.

“Jade, the Feds, they’re at my door. You gotta help me. Jade, hold on a minute. Wait! Here, you talk to them. Jade? Jade? Jade?”

I wonder where she went.

Perhaps my friend, Jade will go to her supervisor in the boiler room and relate her chat with me. Maybe then they will take my name off of their sucker list. If they really are in Canada they don’t give a hoot about any American “no-call lists.” I figure that if, each time they call they get me, and are plugged into the world of some idiot Meth-head who wants to buy illicit drugs from them while the Feds are busting down the door. If this happens often enough they might decide on their own to quietly put an asterisk next to my name with a notation saying. “If you ever call this guy we will set you adrift on an ice floe chained to Howie Mandel.”

And I thought that today was going to be a quiet, rather boring, day.

Thank you, Jade from my friendly Canadian pharmacy. I hope you will recover soon.

O, Canada!

Just Sign These Papers, Please.

“Holy Broom Closet, Batman!”

I wasted a good portion of yesterday with Doctors, Nurses, and Technicians who spent two hours trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube…and I was the toothpaste.

I am not claustrophobic. I’ve been in some pretty tight spots in my life – literally and in a figurative sense so having a CT Scan is no big deal – except that it is a big deal. They don’t shoot people through that gizmo just for fun.

During my last visit to my Doctor’s office, just before taking off for Texas, his minions took about a quart of blood from my “Good” arm for testing and analysis. They never take blood from my “Bad” arm as if it wasn’t connected to the rest of my body. I think it is, but I can’t prove it.

They took my blood and that was it until later in the day when I got a phone call from “Amy Lou” at the Doctor’s Office.

“The results of your blood tests show an abnormality that concerns the Doctor.”

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Throwback Thursday From July 2016 – “We Have A Solution. Let’s Go Find A Problem For It”

Throwback Thursday From July 2016 -We Have A Solution. Let’s Go Find A Problem For It

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I WAS WATCHING TV THE OTHER DAY when I actually saw something new. It was an ad from the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company. They were singing the praises of a brand new product: Anti-Bacterial Paint.

The commercial showed this stereotypical suburban mommy gleefully painting away. She was certainly better dressed for painting than I had ever seen before. There was no drop cloth either, so I must assume that this new paint was also Anti-Gravity and never dripped.

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To Have That Certain Glow

DANGER! DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

Break out the Hazmat suits and I hope you’ve already had kids because…well, you know.

But your complexion is lovely.

Some days the world throws me a curveball and all I want to do is crawl back into bed, assume the fetal position, and turn the electric blanket up to nine.

It takes a lot to make my eyes go “Bugaboo!” but yesterday I was stopped in my tracks by the fine folks from UPS. Who would think such a thing was possible?

My wife, the lovely and perpetually nifty, Dawn, buys her cosmetics online (Ever since our local Macy’s Store went belly up). Her cosmetics line of choice is Clinique. Be advised: When they start spelling things in French you can be sure that they are inflating the prices by about 40%.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “Three Little Words”

Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “Three Little Words”

 

Three Little Words

dnraI KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.

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I’ve known a number of people who have signed “DNR” forms. They all had their reasons, but most of them were terminally ill and a “DNR” is a legal document. I do not have a “DNR” form. I also have my reasons.

There are any number of reasons to not sign such a form. One of them is specific to Indiana. Here in the Hoosier State the Abbreviation “DNR” also stands for the “Department of Natural Resources.” Such a redundancy could cause some really confusing situations.

For example – You might wish to sign a “DNR” so that, when the time comes, you could go quietly into that good night. – And accidentally find yourself being sworn in as an Indiana Park Ranger. Or it could go the other direction which could be even more upsetting, depending on your long range plans.

dnr3My own personal reason for not signing a “DNR” – the hospital one – is that I’m not knowingly ready to shuffle off my mortal coil. There are things I still want to do, places to visit, and books to read and write. It’s not so much a “Bucket List” like in the movie as it is a shopping list of things I want to pick up and carry with me. And I have no desire to become a Park Ranger. So me signing anything with the initials DNR on it is not likely for any time in the foreseeable future.dnr5

I’m not concerned about any sudden reversal of fortune when it comes to my health. Every morning when my eyelids open up like a pair of electric garage doors I say a short prayer. I’m not asking God for anything. It’s just a simple, “Thank You.” That’s all I need to say. He can fill in the unspoken blanks. Just “Thank you.” So I don’t feel the need for anything as final as a “DNR.”

That morning when the young blogger talked about her “DNR” decision we chatted a bit about it all. I told her why I didn’t have one as well. If I had been thinking quicker I would have come up with something witty and ever so clever as a retort. Well, following true to form, I did come up with something. I tried it out on one of The Usual Suspects over coffee.

dnr4I brought up the idea of the “DNR” and he followed my lead. He asked me if I had signed one. I recoiled in mock horror and told him than instead of a “DNR” I had signed a “PFGSRMNYOB” Form.

“A What?” he asked

“A ‘PFGSRMNYOB’ form.”

“What in the world does that mean?”

“Oh, that’s a special form that I designed myself.

“‘PFGSRMNYOB’ – ‘Please, For God’s Sake, Resuscitate Me Now You Overpaid Bastard’.”

Good morning and Thank You again.

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Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

IT SEEMS THAT EVERY DAY THERE IS A NEW INVENTION OR DISCOVERY that changes the world. I recently saw that scientists have discovered proof of “Gravitational Waves” that were mathematically theorized by Albert Einstein decades ago.

While that may rattle the tea cups of the scientific world, it really doesn’t impact our daily lives. Gravitational Waves are something on a Cosmic scale that may, at some date in the future, affect how or where people live. But, so far, it doesn’t alter what I’m having for lunch today.

With a minimum of research on my part I have uncovered one of those seemingly “little things” that are almost universally present, yet are virtually unseen. The Toothpick.

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I Dare You

WHAT IS GOING ON? LIFE IS CHALLENGING ENOUGH. I don’t need people, most of whom I don’t know or couldn’t pick out of a police lineup, sticking their surgically modified noses into my world with “Challenges.”

The latest thing I’m having pushed upon me are these “Ten-Day Challenges” to convince me to eat better, exercise so that I too can have six-pack abs, or to transform me into a “World Citizen” – whatever that means.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

 

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. People all over the world are busy making New Year’s Resolutions – you know what those are – lies we tell ourselves about things we should have done years ago.

At least half of the world makes the same resolution every year: Lose Weight. The other half of the world makes a different resolution: Don’t Starve to Death.

I’ve not made that Lose Weight resolution for years, decades even. Not that I don’t need to shed a ton or two, but I don’t need to try to embarrass myself into it. I have enough of that elsewhere in my life. If you’ve ever performed onstage you’ll understand.

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Today is Throwback Thursday… From 12/9/2014

 

Throwback Thursday… From 12/9/2014

I Should Buy Some Purple Spandex

Baskin Gym

I LIVE VERY CLOSE TO MY favorite gym. It is only about a five minute walk from my home, but, of course, I don’t walk there – I drive.  It has all the latest equipment and a highly- trained staff that can help design for you a really healthy and vigorous workout program. You can also get top notch diet and nutritional planning advice there as well.

I don’t care about any of that crap.

It’s my favorite gym because it is right next door to a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store. I can just imagine myself doing a really healthy cardio workout in the gym and then zipping next door for some hand-packed peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I’m never going to do that, but I can imagine it. I’m so glad that the two places are so close. Talk about your city planning! I should send a “Thank You” card to the zoning board. They got something right for a change.

I really do love going to that gym – really, I do. I just stand outside, with my ice cream cone and watch the folks inside sweating and grunting. Every once in a while someone comes outside and joins me. I think they realize that I’m having a better time than they are.

One time some yutz came out from the gym and started to berate me for my dissipated lifestyle. That was his phrase – “dissipated lifestyle.” – And how he was a much better person than me. I licked my cone and nodded, but didn’t say anything. That really fried his Twinkies.  He flexed his muscles and got right up in my face and said that when we both get to 50 years of age I’ll probably have already dropped dead and he’ll still be healthy. I told him my guess was that he’d stroke out on his Stairmaster long before reaching 50, and that, anyway, I’m already way past 50 years old and “you can lick my Rocky Road.”

Who Knows Where Or When?

EVERY TIME I HAVE TO FILL OUT A FORM that asks which State I am in I have to fight the temptation to write in “Confusion.” That’s where I seem to be spending most of my time. Yesterday was a perfect example.

According to my calendar I had a Doctor’s appointment at 9:45 AM (Be there 15 minutes early, bring your insurance card and co-pay.) My calendar also said that I was scheduled for a Colonoscopy today at 10:00 AM…and also at 9:15 AM. I seriously doubt that I would or should be getting two Colonoscopies that close together. I think that might cause some terrible butt cheekal distress.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “Hey, Butterball!”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 –

 

 

Hey, Butterball!

Brace yourself, America! It’s that time of year again when,a39f71f4-51bf-4f24-8b9e-4fe70b5801cb all across the country, people will be preparing Thanksgiving Turkey Dinners by the millions.

For most it will be a joyous chore to feed family and friends, but for many it will be a challenge comparable to trying to fly to the moon in a lawn chair powered by some helium balloons from the dollar store.

Despair not, help is available!

This year, as it has for the past 34 years, the fine folks at Butterball will be running their Turkey Hotline to answer questions and help salvage those Thanksgiving dinners for the less than expert chefs. Not everybody can be Julia Child – nor would you want to be – she’s dead.

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Is it Next Year Yet?

I HAVEN’T WRITTEN MUCH ABOUT BASEBALL THIS SUMMER. Why? Because it’s hard to keep from swearing while I have tears soaking the page.

It has not been a good season for my Giants. Things weren’t very good last year either, but with some sterling offseason acquisitions it looked like 2018 was going to have the Giants in the hunt for the Pennant once more. Appearances can be deceiving.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do”

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 

A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do

Saint ArbucksTHIS MORNING WAS DIFFICULT.

I got up at my usual time – 7 AM-ish and got my act together so I could leave the house without either scaring the neighbors or getting my butt arrested. Up to that point the morning was going along uneventfully.

My wife, the lovely and early rising today, Dawn, was already up and more or less “at ‘em.” She had an 8:30 appointment and set the alarm for some ungodly hour to ensure that she would not be late. I applaud her for that.

It was at this point that things began to go downhill like a Chevy with a faulty parking brake in San Francisco. I had my own appointment to see my Doctor at 11:20 AM.

11:20? 11:bleeping 20? What moron scheduled an appointment for that late in the day? Oh. Never mind. My bad.

The main reason I see this Doctor at all is because I have “Blood Pressure Issues.” That means that, untreated, my blood pressure tends to creep up to rival that of a charging Cape Buffalo. After that my head would explode, I would spontaneously combust and I would hit the ground like an overcooked baked potato.

By scheduling an appointment for that late in the morning it meant one very significant and overriding thing: I wouldn’t be able to have my morning coffee until after the appointment.

Dear God! Whatever will I do? Wherever will I go?

If I go ahead and drop by St. Arbucks for my morning coffee my blood pressure will spike like Vlad The Impaler on a bad day. I had doomed myself to a morning without my coffee. Sheesh!

My solution to this self-inflicted wound was to nurse along a cup of Decaf and hope that it wouldn’t rat on me when they wrapped that cuff on my arm.

I know what you are thinking –“Decaf?” That is just like kissing your sister. It is technically a kiss, but it’s not the same. It’s not like the Real Thing.

So, bowing my head in shame, I ordered the coffee that isn’t coffee and I skulked to my chair in the corner. The barista got a bit teary, The Usual Suspects – The Brotherhood of the Cup, stared and whispered to each other. Even the flies moved to the far side of the store, ashamed to be seen near me.

I sat there waiting for it to be time to leave. I sipped at the dark liquid, wondering what do they do to make it taste like that – and why, for Heaven’s sake. Why?

Deep in my heart I knew that I had a good reason for doing what I was doing. It was my health, my very life, which was in the balance. With my meds I had the blood pressure of an adult human male of my age. Without my meds no one within splatter range was safe. I was like a human paint ball. I didn’t want to mislead the Doctor with a BP reading that would be artificially goosed up by my cup of real coffee.

Some days you just have to take one for the team. Some days you have to lean in to the fastball.  If I had to pretend that the stuff in my cup was really coffee I would do it. I would hope that the stress of making this sacrifice would not, in itself, raise my blood pressure, but I would do it.

I had to think of my family, man!

I want them to be proud of me. I want them to see me happy. I want them to see me above ground.

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Eight

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Eight

At least the sun was shining and the winds were warm, out of the East, down from the Sierras. The fog was pushed out to sea hiding the offshore Farralon Islands from view. It made San Francisco seem like it was a part of the popular image of a Sunny California.

Luco wasn’t scheduled for release from the hospital for another three days, but he was raising such Holy Hell and threatening to crawl out of the place on his hands and knees that the medical staff voted to give him an early trip home.

“Mr. Reyes, as your doctor I must advise you to give us a couple more days to make sure that your internal injuries are on a healing track. But… as a member of the human race and someone who has to be around you all day I’d just as soon kick you down the stairs. Of course, I’d have to take a number and wait in line for the privilege.”

“Doc, I don’t mean to be trouble, but I hate it here. I’m feeling OK and I want to go home.”

The young doctor, who looked like he was there earning a merit badge, drummed his fingers on the side rail of Luco’s bed.

“Mr. Reyes, you may feel alright, but you’re not. Frankly, you’re lucky to be alive. If I sent you home alone you might end up dead on your bathroom floor before sundown. Of course, if I don’t let you leave, you might succumb to the night nursing staff.”

“I’ve been that much of a pain?” said Luco. He winced as he shifted his weight trying to get comfortable. Looking in the doctor’s eyes, Luco saw a mixture of professional concern and a weighing of the odds with a jury of his peers.

“Pain?”said the young man in the white lab coat. “Mr. Reyes, there was talk of starting a pool to predict which shift would report your sudden and unfortunate death. I’ve been here six years and I’ve never seen a grown man behave in such an immature and irritating manner.”

Luco blushed. He had never been a “good patient.” Even as a child being home sick from school could drive his mother to tears.

“Doc, I’m really sorry if I’ve been difficult. Do you think I should go and apologize to everyone?”

“No, Mr. Reyes, I couldn’t guarantee your safety. I think it best if I just sign your release and get you out of here. Who can tend to you when you get home?”

“I’ll take care of him, Doctor.”

Both men turned their gaze toward the doorway. There stood Marlee, dressed in tan shorts and a striped tank top. A large straw hat and matching bag completed the look.

***

“Oh, Jesus God, why didn’t you just leave me there to die?”

“I told you those steps would be rough, Luco.”

Marlee helped Luco ease himself down onto the sofa.

“Rough I could handle, but those last few steps…. I thought I was going to split open like a ripe watermelon.”

That’s why the doctors wanted to keep you a few more days.” Marlee spread a light throw over his legs. He had his head back, with his arm crossed over his eyes. “Inside, you’re still hamburger according to one of the Interns.”

“I feel like hamburger.” His eyes were closed.

The short ride home and the climb up the 18 steps from Stanyan Street had exhausted Luco’s body and drained his reserve of mental toughness. He fell asleep within seconds.

Luco had maintained that the vehicle that cracked and crushed his body had been steered with malicious intent. There had been no eyewitnesses. The people in the coffeehouse had nothing helpful to add.

The official police report concluded that it could come to no conclusion. There were no unusual skidmarks on the pavement. The intersection of Cole and Waller was busy during the day with diesel buses and tourist’s rental cars. Collisions and skidmarks were not uncommon. When the investigators looked at the scene they just shook their heads. The intersection looked like every other intersection in the city, except for the broken glass and the blood.

Marlee sat down at Luco’s desk and stared out the window. The grassy slopes of Golden Gate Park were still damp from the morning fog as it retreated offshore. The sunlight sparkled off the grass and made the world look clean and inviting.

She turned away from the window and looked at Luco’s sleeping form on the old hotel sofa. With his short hair and relaxed features he looked like a small boy napping. One part of her wanted to take him in her arms and rock him, nurturing, caring, protecting. Another part was coming to accept that she wanted to be held in his arms.

***

Marlee walked down Haight Street after getting Luco settled in and safe. The bright morning sun was shadowed by conflicting emotions. She and Pete from the cafe had arranged for a home healthcare staff to tend to Luco until he was farther along in his recovery.

She was comforted just knowing that he was alive and going to survive his injuries, but she was still scared for him. Luco was so sure that the driver of the van had hit him intentionally. The blend of relief and fear was exhausting. She hadn’t been able to sleep the night before. It was catching up with her now. A good solid week’s worth of deep, comforting, sleep would be good, but she needed to be back at Luco’s apartment. Five hours would have to do.

She made a short detour into the Haight-Central Market to get a couple of onions, some canned tomatoes and a green pepper. Tonight Luco was going to eat her Swiss Steak, whether he was hungry or not. He needed some red meat.

Standing at the counter, Mike, the young Lebanese owner rang up her purchases. He liked Marlee. She never gave him any grief and she never asked for credit.

“Hi, Marlee. How you doing? Don’t take this wrong, but you look terrible. Can’t sleep? Haight Street can get noisy at night.”

“It’s not the noise, Mike. I just haven’t had the chance to get any rest. Hopefully I can grab some this morning.”

As he listened, Mike let his eyes dart up to the large parabolic mirror in the corner. Shoplifting was an ongoing problem on the street and the mirror let him see clearly down both aisles of his small market.

Anyone who tried shoplifting from Mike had to be incredibly stupid. There was only one way out of the store and that was right past Mike and the 9mm pistol he kept tucked in his waistband. It was usually covered by his shirt, but not always. His eyes quickly scanned the store.

“I heard about Luco. Too bad.”

“It was horrible, Mike. He is a very lucky man, just to be alive.”

“A real shame. My brother got killed crossing Stanyan Street a few years ago. They never caught the guy who hit him. My Mother still cries about that.”

“My sympathies, Mike. At least Luco will survive.” She saw Mike’s eyes move up to the mirror. “He was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. He’s not getting around too well yet. He needs time to recuperate.”

“Good thing he has a friend like you to help him out.” His gaze was fixed on the mirror. “Son of a bitch.”

“What?” Marlee turned and looked up at the mirror.

Crouched down in front of the beer cooler was Dennis Thayer. Marlee and Mike watched him slipping cans of beer into the pockets of his coat.

“Look at that. I finally let him back in here and the first thing he does is try to rip me off again. Marlee, here, take your groceries and get home. Me and this clown are going to have a talk and I don’t want you to be in the middle.”

“Oh, good Lord, Mike, be careful. Do you want me to call the police?”

“No. You go home and get some rest.” He smiled at Marlee, but his eyes stayed glued on the image of Dennis in the mirror. “It’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

He unfastened the bottom two buttons of his shirt. Marlee could see the textured black grip on the pistol and the polished chrome of the barrel as Mike shifted it and flipped the safety to “off.”

“Marlee, please leave. Now.”

She picked up her plastic carrier bag and, taking one last peek at the mirror, left the store.

“Please be careful, Mike.”

Mike could see that Dennis was heading toward the front of the store.

Marlee hurried across the intersection, her keys out. Opening the front gate to the building, she glanced back and saw the front door at the market swinging shut.

There was little doubt that Mike could take care of himself, but it still made her uneasy. She knew, all too well, how quickly things could go sour and become deadly. Heartbeats are fragile.

“Sleep, girl. Get some rest,” she said out loud as she opened her front door.

Within three minutes the groceries were on the kitchen counter, the blinds were closed, alarm set and Marlee was underneath the soft blankets. Her breathing was slowing and sleep was only seconds in coming. Fives hours would come soon.

“Just a loaf of bread today, Mike.”

“Sure, Dennis. That’ll be $8.87.”

“$8.87? For a loaf of bread?”

“For the bread and for the three beers you have in your pockets.”

“What beer?”

Dennis smiled. He knew that Mike had seen him hide the cans. This was the fun part, the sport of it all. He saw that the front door was closed. It was just the two of them, alone in the store.

“Mike, I’m not trying to rip you off.”

“Thayer, I’ve had it with you. I take pity on you and let you back in my store and you thank me by trying to steal from me again.” He let his hand rest on the butt of the pistol so Dennis would get the message. “Either put the beers on the counter or pay for them. Either way, I don’t want you in here anymore.”

Dennis grinned and fondled the butterfly knife in his left pants pocket. He was enjoying this. The sight of Mike’s 9mm was an added treat.

“Are you threatening me, Mike?”

“Yes, I am you stupid junkie. You think this is a game show we’re playing here?”

Dennis’ smile vanished. Name-calling was out of line. This was just a game. There was no need to get personally nasty.

He pulled the cans of beer from his pockets and, one by one, slammed them down on the counter. They would be undrinkable for hours.

“Don’t call me names, Mike…ever. I don’t like being insulted. You understand me, you stinking camel jockey? There’s your beer. Why don’t you pop one open, Osama?”

“Get out of my store. Don’t come back. No more games with you. Go!”

Dennis pushed open the door. A bright orange Municipal Railway bus was stopped at the corner. He looked back at Mike.

“You’re right about one thing, Mike. No more games.”

Dennis quickly crossed Haight Street and headed down Central toward the Panhandle. He looked up at the 1298 Haight building. He saw the blinds snap shut in the windows of apartment number six.

“So, Miss Marlee, your macho stud is still alive. Don’t get too into playing nursemaid for him. It’s going to be a temporary job.”

It was a dry cleaner, working off $750 in traffic fines by picking up trash in the Park, who found the body of the sixteen-year-old runaway, stuffed into the trash bin behind the playground in the Panhandle.

“Mane And Tail” Is Not An Intersection

 

I’LL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT IT – I am a person who is easily amused. I laugh at “Knock, Knock” jokes. “Animal House” is one of my favorite movies. I can be heard laughing out loud as I walk up and down the aisles in one of those huge Mega-Stores like Wal-Mart and Meijer’s. I find them very entertaining.

Last week my wife, the lovely and much more commercially sophisticated, Dawn, and I were pushing our shopping cart through our nearby Meijer store in search of…all sorts of stuff. Dawn is shopping while I am browsing. She is looking for a good price on Pork Chops while I am wondering how many of those “Happy 100th Birthday!” cards they sell.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “My Butt Is Dragging”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “My Butt Is Dragging”

My Butt Is Dragging

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GOING UP AND DOWN STAIRS is difficult today because my butt is dragging and it makes a disturbing sound as it bounces on each step.

SHH-Thump, SHH-Thump, SHH-Thump

I’m in recovery from our vacation that covered 1600+ miles in one week, more walking/hiking than I’ve done in years and that, as of yesterday, I am one year older.

No wonder my butt is dragging. It may take a week of intense sleeping for me to get my sedentary mojo back.

Last night when I plopped down in my favorite chair I could swear I heard it whisper, “You’re home!” I was touched that it remembered me. The Rip Van Winkle Memorial Chair and I go back a few years. It knows that when my cheeks hit the upholstery that, while I may say I’m there to watch some TV, I’m really there to sleep.

Another reason that my butt is dragging today is the fallout from the feeding frenzy at the Red Lobster last evening. I think I might have inadvertently tricked my body into thinking that I was a bear loading up for hibernation. I ate more than enough to keep an 800 pound Kodiak bear alive through a long Arctic winter.

I mentioned our trip to the Red Lobster in yesterday’s blog and I have already gotten a number of comments suggesting various diets to help me get rid of this excess weight. I think the best way is for me to be selective about what I eat and to stay away from that evil Red Lobster. No offense to Red Lobster, but…

I guess that, now that I am no longer a “mere yute,” to borrow a phrase from the movie “My Cousin Vinnie,” I think that my recovery time is slower – considerably slower- than when I was in my twenties. Back then, in the Dark Ages, I could be out until the Clubs closed at 2:30 AM then go out with a few of the other comedians to some all-night cafes to let the adrenaline come down before heading home to sleep. The sleep was never more than two or three hours until I had to get up and shuffle off to “the day job.”

Nowadays, I find myself cuddling into the Arms of Morpheus before the 11 o’clock news begins. I have gone from being the hip dude about town into the old dude in the easy chair.

My plans for the 4th of July Weekend do not involve fireworks – unless the yutz who lives down the block decides to spend all night re-enacting the Battle of Tarawa in his driveway. I did see him parked outside of the big temporary fireworks store next to the Kroger’s.

“Buy One – Get 7000 FREE!”

Indiana and Terre Haute (That’s French for “Let’s watch the kid blow off his thumbs.”) have very lax laws and regulations about fireworks. Any idiot can buy “fireworks” that the detonation of would be an act of war in most countries. Every July 4th and for a few days afterward this town sounds like the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key would have felt right at home inner-tubing on the Wabash River and seeing the “bombs bursting in air.”

So, on the days that I need the most rest I will have to contend with neighborhood noise levels comparable to the jet wash of a B-52.

I’ll be fine. I know that. I just might be a little grumpier than usual and more likely to nod off in mid sentence than I normally do, but I’ll be OK.

So, if you will now excuse me I am going to walk around in a circle a few times and curl up on the carpet for a little nap.

Throwback Thursday – From June 2015 – “Four Corners”

Four Corners

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THERE IS AN ODDITY of cartography that draws thousands of people to a dusty, flaming hot and remote spot on the desert land of the Navaho Nation.

I really can’t tell you what state it is in because it is, and it isn’t, in four different states simultaneously.

This spot of dusty Navaho land is called “The Four Corners Monument” and it is where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico meet in a pinpoint of bureaucratic, “I’ll be darned.”

For some reason, thousands of people every year drive out into the desert, fork over the price of admission to the Navaho land, and the pose for pictures while trying to stand exactly on the spot of congruence.

I was there myself not long ago. It was a hellishly hot day and there was no shade. There was a line of people (couples, families, bikers – I don’t understand that one either) all waiting to have their pictures taken.

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Three

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Twenty – Three

“You OK, Sport?”

The voice came from beyond the light. Luco opened his eyes and put his hands up to block the painful beam.

“I said, are you OK? Oh, Hi, Luco.”

“What? Who is it?” As the light was lowered Luco dropped his hands.

“Luco, it’s Dave Mulroy, from over at the Park Station. They got a call about a crazy man on the Buena Vista steps. I was nearby, so…are you OK? The reports said you were yelling.”

“I’m sorry. I’m fine, Dave. Just not ready to sleep yet, I guess.”

“Do you want me to give you a lift?”

“No, thanks. The walk will do me good.”

“OK, Luco, but be careful.”

The police officer pressed the key on his radio and spoke into the microphone on his lapel.

“4210 here. Everything is fine on the 5150 at BV Park. Just a husband afraid to go home.” He shook Luco’s hand, walked down the steps and drove off into the night. Luco stood up and headed in the opposite direction, up Haight Street, toward home.

While he was quiet the rest of Haight Street was active and alive with the sounds of a weekend in the city. The traffic on both the sidewalks and the roadway was bumper to bumper. It was too much for Luco. He turned left at the corner of Ashbury and walked past the Gap store, up the hill to Waller Street. On Waller he left the crowds behind. His way home on Waller, a residential street, would be quiet, with flowering trees hanging low over the sidewalk. His change of route made Dennis Thayer smile, if you could call the tilted stretch of his mouth a smile.

Dennis had watched Luco sitting on the Park steps in the rear view mirror of his van. He had shadowed Marlee and Luco from the moment they left Martin Macks, watching them, and getting angrier with each touch and shared word. He couldn’t hear them, so he supplied his own obscene dubbed in dialogue. In his mind he was sure that they were exchanging the details of what they were planning to do with each other’s body.

When Marlee went inside alone and Luco moved over to the stone steps by the Park, he was certain that it was to make a drug buy to spark their greasy rutting.

“God bless the Police for ruining their plans for tonight,” he said to no one. “And now I’m going to ruin their plans for good.”

He watched Luco move wearily up Haight Street and pulled out into traffic to follow him home. When Luco turned off and went up the hill, Dennis had to make a quick change of plans. He stayed on Haight, sped up and made his left turn at Cole Street, several block further on. He backed his dark gray Dodge van into the driveway of a brightly painted Victorian house. Its vibrant colors were muted by the darkness. The van was all but invisible in the shadows, and it offered an unobstructed view down Waller Street.

The comparative silence of Waller Street was welcome as Luco walked slowly, pausing to take in the aromas of the blooming lilac bushes. This had been an amazing night and he knew that his life was never going to be the same. Dennis Thayer was forming a similar thought as he saw Luco step into the pool of light under the streetlamp at the corner of Waller and Cole.

Luco stopped and looked at the small cafe on the opposite corner. They were still open. He thought that maybe a cup of chamomile tea might help him get a restful sleep rather than spend a fitful night, exhausted but restless. It was only two minutes from home and here he wouldn’t have to wait for the water to boil. In the van, Dennis was drumming his fingers on the steering wheel and talking out loud to Luco.

“Come on, come on, come on, come on, you son of a bitch. I saw her first.”

Luco stepped off the curb, set to jaywalk across the intersection. His tired eyes focused on the warmly lit interior of the small cafe. Dennis turned the key in the ignition and slipped the van into gear, headlights off.

Luco looked around and saw that there was no traffic for at least a block in any direction. His path was safe.

When Luco was halfway across the intersection, Dennis pulled out of his driveway hiding spot and pushed the accelerator toward the gray carpeted floor. He was giggling.

The next two seconds seemed to move through glue. Luco heard the roar of the van’s engine as it revved up. He turned to look and saw the van coming straight at him. He was trapped; not knowing which way would be his salvation. Dennis flipped on the headlights. He wanted to watch this.

Luco desperately moved to his right, hoping to get out of the way. Dennis matched his move. The headlights were blinding Luco. The survival instinct took over and Luco made a wild dive for the space between two parked cars. Dennis anticipated him and got there first.

The right front bumper of the speeding van hit Luco while he was in midair. His right hip took the force of the blow and lifted his body higher above the pavement. The off-center impact made his body propeller through the air. Head first; Luco hit the hood of a Ford Tempo. His shoulders peeled off the wiper blades as he bounced across the windshield.

Still airborne and spinning, he flew over the sidewalk and slammed, spine first, into the large window of the cafe. The plate glass shattered, sending jagged shards knifing into the crowded room. It was a glittering rain of shrapnel.

The van veered back into the center of the street as Dennis felt the satisfying dull thud of Luco’s body against sheet metal and chrome.

It was chaos on the corner of Waller and Cole. Inside the cafe, the flying glass had instantly killed a young man seated by the window. Several other customers were injured, cut and bleeding on the black and white checkerboard floor.

It was five minutes before the first ambulance arrived. It was ten before anyone noticed the man in black lying outside in the planter box, hidden in the flowers.

Dennis didn’t stop until he reached the parking lot at Ocean Beach at the western edge of the city. He needed to check if the impact had done any damage to his van. He carefully inspected the chrome work and painted areas for any scratches.

“Perfect. That was positively surgical.”

Driving along the ocean, up the hill past the Cliff House, perched high above the crashing waves, and then down crowded Geary Boulevard, Dennis turned on his radio and heard a deep voiced announcer reading a news story about a hit and run accident in the Haight/Ashbury District. Dennis whooped loudly and hit the horn when the radio said that one man had been killed.

Speeding through the heavy traffic, he headed back toward The Haight.

At home, as he drifted off to sleep, he smiled.

“Today has been a good day.”

Dennis Thayer slept well and dreamed of flowers and gardens.

In the apartment below, Marlee was dreaming and working out her conflict between loyalty and desire. She dreamed of Luco and Phillip. She was making peace with one and love with the other. Her brain was showing her the way to clear the path to tomorrow.

In her dreams, for the first time since Phillip’s death, she felt enthusiastic about the future, not just accepting. She had hopes that there could be, would be, should be, days, weeks and years of happiness ahead for her. She also decided that upon waking she would pull her cello out from under the bed and see what music came out. It was time.

“Little Krafty Sunshine”

 

EVERY SUMMER I ENJOY SITTING OUTSIDE in the sunshine even if it is hot and humid. Call me crazy. OK! OK! No need to do so with such enthusiasm. It was a rhetorical thingy anyway. A simple nod of agreement would have been sufficient.

No matter your opinion, it is a fact – I like the hot and humid days of summer. Do I sweat? Sure I do, like a nun in a whorehouse, but all I can tell you is that it all feels good on my skin. It physically feels good.

I have mentioned this to my Doctors and they just look at me and shrug,

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