and the painted ponies go up and down
326-330
331-338
339-345
akiramemasu
346-349
350-355
356-359
the lion of the rabbit
360-366
367-377
the wheel spins
378-389
last month of the second year
390-396
397-404
405-413

-----

326

The Sleeptalker posted a public message in Seventh Circle suggesting he had decided to stop playing altogether, and thanking me for having been one of the few people in there who has been kind to him. I was deeply touched by it, and extremely annoyed that the Bosses removed the message from the public bulletin board within hours.

Sigh.

But he didn't stick with his decision and was back in again the next day.

-----

Although I have absolutely no idea what, and neither Cainer nor the I Ching are suggesting such a thing, I have the strongest presentiment that something major is going to happen in my life soon. I'm really not sure I want something major to happen ...

But then, I hadn't asked the I Ching about it. I did, and almost wished I hadn't.

It's a time to either be very very careful or to say to hell with it and get my tail wet.

-----



Egbert's birthday. I spent some time the evening before searching the Web to see if any trace of him might be found, without success (although I was greatly surprised to see my own Tale about him turn up on two search machines). It has been more than twenty years since I've heard any news of him, so have no idea even if he's still alive. But with Harley turning up after a long absence, who knows, anything could happen.

I was greatly relieved to finish Crime and Punishment. Although I read it in my teens, I think it must have gone right over my head because I certainly wasn't touched deeply by it then. Now, though, it easily qualifies as one of the most difficult books I've ever read. I think I'll give the Russians a rest.

It's Finals Week on campus, a time of parties for the end of school and high stress over the upcoming tests. Hamilton Library will be open until midnight every night. And then we'll have a week of drought and famine, a deserted campus, the libraries closing at five every night and perhaps not open at all on the weekends, little tobacco and food. No problem. All I have to do to prepare for it is to make sure I acquire enough creamer packets to keep my treasured morning tea available until the summer session starts on the 24th (sugar I can always get at McD's).

Life goes on, within and without you, within and without the University being in full swing.

327

I must admit, the Sleeptalker does now and then manage to completely astound me, sometimes in a positive sense but, alas, far more often the opposite. As I was leaving campus just after ten-thirty on Thursday night, I saw him and a man I'd never seen before arriving. "Don't even talk to him," the Sleeptalker said with a grin and they kept walking. Weird, I thought, but then he had been weird in the game all day, starting out quite surly and then becoming very friendly later in the day. He had tried to pretend Wacky and I had some quarrel, but I told him I never had any problem with Wacky on his own and was later standing in the game chatting with Wacky when the Sleeptalker came across us, listened for a moment, said nothing and went on his way.

So I had no idea what the story was with the brief encounter Thursday night, but slept in a different-than-usual spot at the cloisters in case he arrived down there later, not wanting to be awakened. On Friday morning I was sitting on the sheltered ledge reading when the Sleeptalker walked up, alone, in his most charming mode, and he stayed that way all day. But as I told Kory K later in the morning, I had the feeling this might be a kind of finale to the Tale of the Reting and Lolo. I know I should just ignore everything else and enjoy the moments when it is fun to be with him, but even though I'm doing that more than I've ever managed to do it with a friendship before, it still can't be entirely rid of superfluous junk I don't want my mind to be bothered with. I'm willing to give it up altogether at this point and would, if he didn't keep seeking me out.

But since he did, I borrowed five dollars so we could have a lunchtime beer, spent more time than I otherwise would have searching for smokes and food, and then went downhill for a second beer in time for the live music at Manoa Garden in the evening. As before, he wasn't really interested in the music, wanted to get back to the game, so when the beer was finished, we went back to Hamilton and the game. Soon Wacky joined us, a grand gesture on his part, I suppose, ending an unusually long break between them. And around nine-thirty, I saw them get up and leave, neither saying a word. Now that, of course, is just the kind of thing which I shouldn't give a second thought, should get on with my life again until the Sleeptalker makes his next appearance. And about an hour later, back they both came, saying not a word again.

No, it's just too ... what's the word I'm looking for? I don't know, but I do know I don't want my mind to be wasting its time looking for it.

Earlier this week I read a few of the Tales from this time last year. I said about the interim week coming up "the off-line weekend, the short library hours during the week, and the even longer off-line weekend ahead, plus the comparatively deserted campus, makes for a time quite unlike anything in these almost-eight months of nomadic life", but I don't see an indication of the strange, slightly depressing melancholy (or is it nostalgia) which marks the end of this academic year. I wonder if the students, especially the Seniors, feel it, too?

This week they're too worried about those final tests to pay much attention to it, if they do.

The cleaning army are running around in a frenzy, constantly emptying cans and ashtrays, giving the place the empty wasteland aspect not expected until that week after the Finals. Not sure what their problem is.

And by mid-afternoon on the first day of tests, some of the students looked like they had just lost everything they owned and others were beaming and smiling. Not hard to tell who thought they'd done well and who was feeling very worried about the results. Another group were being constantly silly and near hysteria, probably with a tough test coming up early the next day.

A strange time in academia ...

The Philosophy Department threw out a box of books last week. I was tempted to take Sartre's Being and Nothingness but didn't want to lug it around or go back to stash it in my hiding place, thought I'd pick it up the next day. It was gone. I did get a small volume called Why India Lives which began as an exposition of Vedic philosophy but evolved into a comparative study of all the major religions. The author has a definite knack for throwing the spotlight on unusual points, as in the case of discussing the Old Testament vs Koran versions of The Creation. Whereas the O.T. has God "resting" at the end of it, the Koran makes the specific point that he was not tired and had no need to rest. Indeed, why should an omnipotent god have to rest?

So that has provided my predawn tea-time reading since the departure of Dostoyevsky and as I told a friend, only partly in jest, is "light reading" by comparison. And a little closer, perhaps, to genuine "light" reading, Dame Fortune left a copy of Tom Wolf's Bonfire of Vanities in my path on Friday, so I'm set for a few days.

She'll have to rev herself up to provide such finds more often. Both of the libraries on campus are going to be closed on Saturday throughout the summer, and Hamilton will only be open during the afternoon on Sunday. I don't mind. Spending less time on-line isn't at all a bad idea.

327a

Fickle. That's the word I was seeking (as though my mind would stop pondering it even if told to).

Many men are fond of the Sleeptalker. As I've said, and told him, he has more "best friends" than anyone I've ever known. Most of them don't want his body, or don't realize they do, but I'm not the only one who does. And they all, or perhaps I should say, we all, eventually get exasperated with him and abandon him for a time. In every instance, he manages to interpret it as him doing the abandoning and is secure in the experienced knowledge that, in time, they will return to his flock.

I think only Rocky and I do not eventually seek him out, but wait until he looks for us or until circumstances cause our paths to cross unintentionally.

I'm not sure why this time I feel more exasperated than before. Perhaps it was the set and setting of our recent encounters, that odd "ships that pass in the night" meeting on Thursday or, sitting in the dawn quiet reading on Friday and hearing his familiar voice ask, "what are you reading?"

"A book about God," I said.

"Jesus?" he asked. "No, God." "Oh. God."

An odd beginning to a day with the Sleeptalker, indeed, even more odd than its peculiar ending. The return of Wacky to the fold, the Sleeptalker knowing he had walked to the University from downtown (a heartwarming sensation I understand completely), freed him from needing me, so he flitted to Wacky as if our day together was already ancient history.

Now the better part of me understands that is exactly as it should be, but there is still a part that raises an eyebrow and says, with scorn, "fickle bitch".

327b

Mister Wolfe writes: "He liked to walk across to Central Park West on Seventy-Seventh Street and then walk up to Eighty-First, because that took him past the Museum of Natural History. It was a beautiful block, the most beautiful block on the West Side ..."

Having been fortunate enough to live on that block for two and a half years, I couldn't agree more.

I left the Sleeptalker and Wacky at Hamilton on Saturday morning and went to the mall. Tobacco is in such short supply on campus, as is food, and I only needed three shopping carts for a bottle of beer. Tobacco was in short supply at the mall, too, thanks to energetic cleaning persons and nomadic competitors, but I did find a salad and some curly fries for lunch, four shopping carts, with no problem. The supermarket there still sells Hurricane, so I got myself a bottle of that and returned to the secluded grove to enjoy it and Wolfe.

Back at Hamilton, the poor Sleeptalker was all on his own (his most dreaded circumstance) because Wacky had gone off "home" to shower. News to me that he has a "home", but I didn't ask and the Sleeptalker may have meant IHS. Wacky was supposed to return afterwards, though.

Yes, I can survive Hamilton being closed on Saturday during the summer, no problem.

328

Incredible. The I Ching once again gave the oracle Possession in Great Measure for the new week, even more favorably configured. I don't recall ever before having gotten that oracle in such quick succession. It made a beautiful Sunday morning even more beautiful.

"Finale"? No. End of Act 2, methinks. A shift, perhaps best symbolized by having obtained five dollars instead of twenty, by having hunted carts for a beer and drinking it on my own. The Sleeptalker, I think, sensed a shift had taken place and no doubt completely unconsciously resumed his once-upon-a-time so sweetly flirtatious mode. It worked even better because I didn't take it seriously.

Wacky did not return to the library from "home" (which was indeed IHS) as expected, but did go to the State Library and tried to persuade the Sleeptalker to join him at "home" for dinner. It didn't work, even though I'd told the Sleeptalker I was planning to leave around nine and go to Waikiki. He had complained bitterly, again, about Wacky and I told him how they reminded me of two gay lovers, constantly squabbling. He thought that very funny and said, "oh yes, Wacky's my bitch". I'm not sure which would be the biggest "bitch" if it really were a love affair, but I do think it would be good for them both if they just got on with it. Not going to happen, I fear.

So we played the game, taking occasional breaks together, and I found some sandwiches someone had discarded so we didn't go hungry, But the cumulative effect of the strange recent dance with him did have me feeling really very tired and I took a few long breaks by myself, just to sit and watch the birds and later the stars, and then decided I just didn't have the energy to tackle an expedition into Waikiki. So we stayed until almost midnight, walked downhill to the cloisters and he went over the fence to his spot, climbing back again in the morning just as I was preparing to leave. Since the library wasn't opening until noon, he had already decided to walk down to IHS for a shower and lunch, so we parted outside the cloisters.

I was happy he went on his way, was looking forward to the morning on the quiet, deserted campus, and to continuing Tom Wolfe's highly amusing novel.

Possession in Great Measure, Act 2. Reting and Lolo, Act 3.

329

I hope His Majesty the King of Nepal is enjoying good health. I dreamed on Monday night that he had died and, in yet another bizarre advisor-to-a-prince dream, I had been appointed as consultant to the Crown Prince and future King. This time it was not the Prince's love life I was asked to advise upon, but the actual running of the Kingdom! In a speech to the citizens gathered at a Kathmandu bazaar, I used a deck of cards as a prop. Some of the cards had been replaced with hand-drawn replicas, makeshift replacements for lost cards, and I was trying to explain how that represented Nepal at this point in time, that it was imperative in this modern world to "play with a full deck".

How very odd.

Bonfire of the Vanities is certainly a good read and often very amusing but it also has a decidedly depressing side for me. I know, or knew, too many of those people, participated in too many of the scenarios. I wonder how Arthur and Catharine, Bob and Abby regard the book. Arthur undoubtedly didn't read it at all, Catharine just as undoubtedly did. I'd bet for sure that she saw "friends" in some of the characters but not herself. Bob, being a writer himself, would probably have regarded it much as I do, a rather too facilely plotted divertissement, not sharp enough to really qualify as satire, but clever enough to make lots of money and ... it must be admitted ... provide some hours of entertainment. Abby? I'm not sure. I remember with a smile the first evening I was invited to dinner at their sumptuous new (old) mansion-like apartment on Sutton Place and gasping when shown the kitchen. "It's as big as the one at Hampton Court Palace," I said, and she took it well.

One of those dinner party scenes in the novel reminded me, not of that evening, but of one at a not quite so high-level mansion in Great Neck, the same kind of party, where commercially successful tycoons and their spoiled wives gathered to lionize artists, musicians (opera and concert, only, please) and poets. It was the only time in my life I have hit a woman. She was such a bitch I hauled off and slapped her without thinking. It made me a hero. I felt like a louse.

Meanwhile, back to Act 2 of Possession in Great Measure. I stayed at the mall and beach for most of Sunday. Not having spent much time at the mall recently, I quite enjoyed wandering around and looking at the people. The fellow I said sometime ago definitely was a match for the Sleeptalker in the lust department was sitting outside McD's eating lunch, reading a very thick book. He works somewhere at the mall in a place which is not on the casual level but also not at the black-suit Nieman-Marcus/Armani level either. Long sleeved white shirt, starched and uncreased, nice trousers, expensive shoes. Handsome devil he is. I'm sure most of my friends would consider him a "suitable lover" (because he is assuredly gay). Speaking purely on a physical level, I would agree completely, but reserve further judgment until I actually speak to him. It seems inevitable, but there's no hurry.

With the library open 24 hours a day until Friday there is the temptation to spend far too much time on-line, assisted by some adjustments to Seventh Circle making it more fun to play again. The Sleeptalker was playing for most of Monday (from the State Library) and muttered that he really should walk to UH. I said nothing. Wacky wasn't playing. Someone asked where he was and the Sleeptalker said he had no idea. Squabble again, I suppose.

The game is most amusing in the late evening, the State Library closed and most mainland American players going off to bed, leaving it to me, some Australians and a few Brits. Then it takes on more of the atmosphere of Bartle's MUD2, even including one player who played the version of that game known in America as "British Legends". Oddly enough, he's from Mililani, but is going to school somewhere in Colorado, has already suggested having a party when he returns home for the summer soon. I warned him that gathering all the State Library Brats together at one time could be quite a hand-full but he assured me his Samoan "cuzzes" could handle it with no problem.

And oh dear, oh dear, when was the last time I had a beer? It seems like weeks.

330

Must give credit where credit is due. Tom Wolfe is a rather affected young man (well, young only from my viewpoint now, I guess) who used to wear white suits and hats, seemed to have picked Truman Capote as his role model. Not such a bad one to pick, all things considered, since Audrey Hepburn was well beyond his reach, but even so, it made him somewhat suspect.

And then he wrote a book about LSD without having a clue.

But ...

The arrest and holding pen scenes from Vanities are delicious, even brilliant. I wonder how he managed to research it.

I am deeply grateful to Karma that I managed never to get arrested in Manhattan. I probably should have been, but was so close to dying they had to take me to Saint Luke's Hospital instead.

It seems to be the norm lately, feeling happy to be finished with a book, and I felt that way about Vanities, too, when reaching the final page on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday was an awful day, just plain awful, with little I can say to explain how that was so. I found myself annoyed with just about everything and everyone, with or without a real reason for it. The Sleeptalker was, in a way, quite silly but sweet, trying to make me jealous of Wacky (as if I'd believe their on-again buddydom would last more than a few hours). But I wasn't in the mood to play that game, either, or Seventh Circle for that matter, and when he said publicly, "hey, Reting, I'll be back in a few minutes, have to go smoke a joint with Wacky", I left and headed to the beach. The last thing I wanted at that point was to listen to the two of them stoned in the game. I gather it was something of the usual disaster and for the rest of the day, all access to the game from all Hawaii ISPs was blocked.

That appears to have been the Boss's demonstration that he did mean what he said about blocking access, but he opened it up again on Wednesday morning, with a whole new set of files dealing with the "laws" of the game with set punishments for violations, including total deletion of characters. As the more sensible (?) of us have told him all along, stop diddling around and just zap the troublemakers. It's no good trying to get the rest of us to put pressure on them, under threat of banishment. They tinkered around some more with the game structure, too, which irked all the "deadly" characters (those who choose to play in the mode where they attack other "deadly" players) and the game was almost empty on Wednesday evening. They'll all be back.

Two nights this week I've had a wooden bench at the cloisters, the first time that has happened in a very long time. Possession in Great Measure.

331

An offline weekend, from late Friday afternoon until early Monday morning, was an ironically amusing setting for seeing "The Matrix". Helen R suggested going into Waikiki on Saturday evening to see it, my first time in Waikiki in two weeks. I'm definitely a Keanu Reeves fan so would have enjoyed the film regardless, but in fact I enjoyed it much more than I had expected. I only wish they had dealt more seriously with the basic concept, the may-be-battle-to-come between AI creations and "real" people. If the battle comes, I don't think it will be won with karate and guns.

"The One". The Mahdi. Keanu is getting some strange opportunities in his career. I'd like to see his Buddha film again, and I wonder if someone will eventually cast him as Jesus ...

The I Ching is doing a better job of weekly forecasting than Jonathan Cainer, which is no surprise. The week of Possession in Great Measure was aptly predicted. As the final days of the school term arrived, many books were abandoned after the campus resellers refused to buy them, and I made several trips to my stash box to add more to the collection. The weekend's reading was an odd mixture of Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles, a collection of short stories by Kate Chopin, Wharton's Ethan Frome, and the as-told-to Narrative of Sojourner Truth, with in-between perusing of a too-generalized survey called A Narrative History of the United States.

And on Friday it was also moving-out-of-dorms day so the bonanza of books was joined by lots of clothes (tee shirts, especially) and assorted dorm-type "munchies" ... Power Bars, Pop Tarts, microwave popcorn and such. The oddest find in that category was a large bag of shelled walnuts. Yummy (and expensive!), a strange thing to abandon. I declined all the available clothing, have no need of any (and was, in fact, rather appalled recently when organizing my box of "bail-out" clothes to see how many things have been added to it since this trip began).

Someone has finally discovered my campus stash box after all this time, didn't take anything from it but left the box open as well as the plastic bag containing books. Stupid of them, but fortunately it's in a sheltered enough place that the rain didn't get to it. There's nothing in the box I'd be much bothered to lose, but it's annoying that someone finally found it.

Had it not been so sheltered, the book collection would have been rather soggy because it was not a dry weekend. It had rained much of the night on Friday, was still drizzling Saturday morning, then cleared and was a beautiful, sunny day. But Sunday morning was a soggy mess and I used my cardboard "mattress" as an umbrella for the walk uphill to campus. Then there was a period of clear skies and sunshine, but by early afternoon the clouds had returned and it rained quite steadily for the rest of the day and evening. This provided a most auspicious time for cart-hunting and was especially amusing in mid-evening when the light rain turned to absolutely torrential downpour and people seemed to panic, abandoned carts all over the place to jump into their cars and escape home. I'd already found enough for a 40oz bottle of brew but in just a few minutes found enough for an unexpected smaller nightcap to follow.

I suppose they thought we wouldn't notice but the Red Dog/MGD "dollar special" has shrunk from 20oz to 16oz. Humbug. After the film on Saturday, Helen went on to a second feature, so I had a nice late supper of a Jumbo Jack and a "dollar special" Red Dog, the first time I'd noticed the shrinkage.

And so the Week of Famine is here, the interim week on campus before the Summer Session begins, the library open only from eight-to-five and closed again next weekend. It certainly didn't begin as "famine" because there was more than ample food available at the mall, including a quite delicious four-course Mexican dinner from Cactus Jack's. It looked like some Japanese visitor had tasted the "Mexican rice", decided it was an outrage and left everything else untouched. Earlier someone had left a box of bread and stuff from Love's Bakery and I grabbed a dozen doughnuts. They weren't especially good doughnuts but went nicely with a senior coffee from McD's and the birds liked them very much. Another untouched plate lunch box was left on a ledge. Although it said "cooked vegetables (baked)", that was only a small portion of the contents, most of the space occupied by three large pieces of fried chicken and rice. So I guess Dame Fortune decided to fatten me up on Sunday in preparation for the campus ghost-town the rest of the week.

I interpret the I Ching's outlook for the week as suggesting it will begin somewhat murky but will clear and become more fortunate later in the week. It isn't a week I expect much from, all things considered, and I'm sure I'll be thoroughly weary of the mall by the time it is over.

As for those loves of my life, not a word or sign has been heard of them since last Wednesday. None of them showed up in the game on Thursday or Friday, nor did they appear at the mall over the weekend. I hope they haven't killed each other or gotten locked up.

332

Variety may be the spice of life but, for me, one of the greatest joys of life is synchronicity, "meaningful" coincidence. It needn't be meaningful in any profound sense, although those are certainly the most impressive. Sometimes they are merely interesting or amusing.

The former slave, Sojourner Truth, was unable to read. She was keen to ponder the words of the Bible on her own, without the interpretations of others, and discovered that young children were the best readers for her. They would happily repeat a sentence or passage as many times as she wanted to hear it, whereas an adult reader would be prone to "help her" understand something she didn't grasp on first hearing. Having so recently read that erudite tome on comparative religion, it was most interesting to learn that Sojourner Truth, without ever having heard of the Koran, came to the same conclusion over the Creation story. Why would God need to rest, she wondered.

Monday morning on campus I found a murder mystery, Lamb to the Slaughter, by Elizabeth Quinn and was happy to add it to my collection since Descartes can only be taken in small doses in the predawn quiet hour. One of the greatest pitfalls, perhaps the greatest, of keeping an online journal is the tendency to think of everything that happens in terms of whether it shall be written about and how. Even my favorite journal-keepers sometimes adopt an air of casual cynicism, affected wit, the Critic. So when I thought, "this is a good read but Agatha Christie she is not", I scolded myself for having turned Critic. Dame Fortune must have chuckled because not more than an hour later I found a massive paperback containing seven of Dame Agatha's splendid plays.

It was a cloudy, often wet day and I stayed in one or the other of the libraries much of the time. Wacky turned up in the game and a brief appearance by one of the other lads provided the evidence for what has been going on. That one, "Stoker" as he calls himself in there, has long been one of my least favorite local players, a patently spoiled brat who still lives at home and appears to have done little else with his life for more than a year except play the game. Anyone who has played one of these multi-player online games for a few months soon recognizes most of the "types" of players and Stoker is an utter cliche, the type who is constantly there and blames everything that has gone wrong with his life on his "addiction" to the game. From the start, the subject of Stoker has been one I have shunned when talking with the Sleeptalker after discovering his unwavering intention to defend Stoker. This was partly the result of Stoker, for a time, putting online his own (pirated) version of the software, making all of his friends instant high-level players and constantly nagging people in "Seventh Circle" to play his site instead. I steadfastly refused.

Stoker is one of the players who was permanently banned after the recent cheating episode, and in classic Sleeptalker style, he has managed to interpret that as having given up playing by choice! That alone, though, is not good enough. He pops into the game from time to time with differently-named, newly created characters and preaches about the evils of playing MUD (and particularly, of course, Seventh Circle). And I gather from what was said yesterday that he has even taken the extraordinary measure of leaving his bedroom and computer, traveling to the State Library to convince the lads in person of their folly. The Sleeptalker would fall hook, line and sinker for that act. Yesterday's sermonette from Stoker included hosannahs for the "life" they've found since "giving up MUD", they've got girlfriends now and MUD is no longer of any interest. All this since Thursday?! And all, of course, said while actually online in the MUD. Laughable, but pathetic. Wacky seems to have escaped but, alas, remains silenced in the game so only the fact that he played most of the afternoon provided evidence.

So I assume the Sleeptalker's "best friend" of the moment is Stoker, Wacky has been abandoned along with Seventh Circle, and I was left to recall what I said months ago, that the game itself would provide the release from my passion for the Sleeptalker.

Meanwhile, man does not live by rice or bean sprouts alone, perhaps, but in sufficient quantity I suppose those two would keep a man from starving. They were the diet on the Monday of Famine Week (more widely known on campus as "Interim Week"). And they were available in abundance. Three of the staff members appeared to have gotten off-campus plate lunches, large boxes, each with at least "two scoops" rice, a green vegetable and bean sprouts instead of the usual macaroni salad. Crumbs suggested that chicken may also have been part of the contents but none was left, just a pound or so of rice, the sprouts and the strange greenery. One had a spinach-like vegetable I thought repulsive, another some tiny green beans, and the third some chewy green stalks I'd not encountered before. Still, there was more than enough to eat and when I went to the mall later I had no desire to look for anything further.

I had a quarter left from Sunday's cart bonanza plus a few pennies, and had found two dimes and more pennies on campus. With fifty-seven cents in hand and an evening with nothing better to do, I thought it quite certain I'd find the two carts necessary to buy a small Red Dog brew for a nightcap. One turned up fairly soon. Sitting outside the supermarket, I spotted two women with small children and a heavy-laden cart head into the parking lot, saw them reach their car. One of my competitors noticed at that point, and began to move. Oh no, you don't, thought I, and moved even more quickly. Just before we both reached the car, one of the women started to wheel the cart back. I was so amused by the disappointed look on my competitor's face that I didn't mind the lost opportunity.

Later I'd just about given up, was heading over to the bus stop when I saw another cart sitting in the parking lot. A young black man was headed in the same direction so I again speeded up, getting there before him. Someone had put a note on the handle of the cart, "broken coin box". An understatement, the entire guts of the thing had been ripped out. Ah well, I give up, I thought, and walked on toward the bus stop. A voice called "hey!". I ignored it, then again it called from nearer, "hey!". I turned around, it was the young black man. He said "take this" and handed me a dollar bill.

The kindness of strangers ...

Walking back to the supermarket for that little Red Dog, I saw an older man heading to the bus stop with a cart. Ha! One more quarter and, thanks to that kind young man, financing for a 40oz Red Dog instead. Oh lucky man. With that in my backpack, I returned to campus and very much enjoyed the rest of the evening with the brew and the murder mystery.

At the cloisters later, I settled down to sleep and was soon immersed in a dream-filled night, the best of which was being on a film set, part of an audience watching a director who looked rather like Peter Weir set up a scene. The cameras started to roll, the rear door of the set opened, and the Sleeptalker walked in, all neat and tidy in an Lauren-like casual outfit. I and the other members of the audience broke into applause. My star, the Sleeptalker.

333

Absolute bedlam on campus Wednesday morning. The grounds people seemed in a frenzy, every possible grass-cutting or weed-whacking device in simultaneous operation, the Hamilton Annex construction (resumed after a lay-off during Finals Week) in full roar. So I postponed further ponderings with Descartes and enjoyed Christie's "The Mouse Trap" instead. Absurdly enough, I saw the play at least three or four times in London but still didn't remember whodunit.

Her plays read so well that it feels like I've spent several evenings at the theatre this week, and most enjoyable ones.

In that "real" life drama, this personal version of "All My Children", the lads all returned to the game on Tuesday. So much for the grandiose "we've found a life, no need for MUD" subplot. The Sleeptalker and Wacky still seem to be on the outs, a supposition further supported when on a bus later and spotting Wacky walking into Aala Park with two strangers. And the Sleeptalker was in full rage in the game, getting into an extended quarrel with the Mililani fellow, awkward for me since I've become quite good friends with him and didn't want to offend him by providing any obvious assistance to the Sleeptalker. I was quite happy to get an invitation from Helen R to meet up at HCC in the late afternoon, and to escape the game.

And then I realized at lunchtime on Wednesday, sitting in the secluded grove, greatly enjoying Dame Agatha's "Witness for the Prosecution", that there really is only one option for me right now, and a damned difficult one.

I should give very, very serious consideration to eliminating "Seventh Circle" from my life.

334

I sympathize with and admire the youthful Descartes when he realizes the only way to a path of self-knowledge is to consider invalid everything he knows and has been taught up to that point, start from scratch, accepting nothing. I admire his basic points for embarking on that path and, of course, his most famous utterance, "I think, therefore I am".

But his lengthy and elegant attempt to persuade himself that "God" exists leaves me cold. I do not believe in "God" and Descartes does nothing to suggest I should reconsider. I believe in Tao, "the Way". I believe in it so naturally I cannot understand how anyone could not, but that in no way implies the existence of some "supreme intelligence". The waffling of Descartes on the subject seems to me as much a futile attempt to convince himself as it is a futile attempt to convince his readers.

I'm too old to start from scratch. I don't know if I could discard "belief" (and it is more "acceptance" than "faith") in the Tao even if I wanted to. I have far lowlier goals to achieve right now.

Compassion for all living beings is a good place to start. I'm a long, long way from that goal.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous, I want to abstain from that game, "Seventh Circle", even though that means abstaining from communication with that sweet young man I have loved all these months. It's not easy. I stopped in briefly twice on Thursday, told him I was looking for another game to play and that's why I wasn't in there much. True, I do much enjoy these multi-player online fantasy worlds and I compiled a list of those based on the same basic premise as "Seventh Circle", spent some time on Thursday beginning to check them out, see if any look worth pursuing.

If I find one, will I tell the Sleeptalker about it?

Now there's a question.

On Wednesday evening, I met Mme de Crécy and Helen R at the Dole Cannery Complex (which I hadn't known until Tuesday no longer does any "canning" at all) and we saw the new film of "Midsummer Night's Dream". It was handsome to look at but a pathetic interpretation of that wonderful play, with some truly awful acting. I can't imagine how anyone could, as a director, obtain financing for the project, put it together, and yet be unable to see how inept his cast was. Dreadful. It should quickly disappear into the trash bin of Bad Movies.

Later a young man I'd never seen before at the cloisters was quite hostile, complained of a huge (judging by his a-fish-this-big exaggerated pose) centipede. I said I was from Texas, wasn't worried about centipedes. "Why don't you go back there," he snarled. "Why don't you go back where you came from?" I asked. He informed me he was from here. I told him I certainly wouldn't have thought so, given his attitude, and he suddenly melted, switched to a very gentle tone and said he was sorry, wished me a good night. I wished him pleasant dreams, and he went around the corner.

Love is strange, sang Mickey and Sylvia. Indeed, it is. Life is even stranger.

335

What a strange day Monday was, the first day of the Summer Session, inside and out, online and off. Cainer's bizarre omens for the week and the first two days of it suggested I was going to set off some avalanche with a "casual" remark, so I babbled my head off trying to get it over with. The I Ching, on the other hand, predicted an advantageous week so long as excessive regulations or restrictions were not applied. Me?! The epitome of no-self-discipline enforce excessive restrictions?

I spent most of the off-line weekend soaking up sun and immersed in American History. It had started, of course, with The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, then continued with the history textbook I'd found which covers the centuries from pre-colonization through the Civil War. This broad survey is being supplemented by an anthology of non-fiction writing which includes many essays directly relevant to the subject, providing more in-depth looks at certain moments of the country's history.

Certainly from as early as my pre-teen days I have been interested in American history and that interest continued through the years, reaching a kind of peak with the Dada News, where my contributions to that attempted Glass Bead Game took the life of George Washington as one main theme, and the preceding experiments with "performance art" at Washington, D.C. landmarks. That was my most eccentric period, I think, walking around dressed all in white with a little bronze bell on a chain around my neck, prepared to perform "exorcisms" at all necessary sites, whether art museums, presidential memorials or, of course, Watergate.

But returning to the present, I began each morning with the ritual of tea and reading on my sheltered ledge at Bilger Hall, and shortly after sunrise I left for the beach. After leaving campus on Friday evening, I had, much to my surprise, encountered Auntie Maria, in town for the Na Hoku Hanohano awards ceremony, and Helen R. at the mall. I was told Maria later said what a pleasure it had been to meet me when I was sober. Indeed, I was stone cold sober, but hey, I think it's the first time I've ever seen Maria outside a bar. Well, it was good to see her, too, drunk or sober, and I was glad Dame Fortune had guided my steps on what was not my usual path through the mall.

"Famine Week" had lived up to its name on Friday. There was absolutely nothing to eat all day but a bit of plain white rice (and much of that went to the birds). So Helen's invitation to dinner was most welcome and we had yummy (but far too expensive) sandwiches at the Food Court. She said she had decided to see something else on Saturday afternoon and asked if I'd like her ticket to the Star Wars film. Most certainly. Although I've found all the hype thoroughly repellent, I did want to see it.

So following a delightful Saturday morning on the beach, I set out for Waikiki after enjoying a bottle of Colt 45 while gazing fondly at the slender, brown lad who had sprawled on the sand a few feet away from me. What a tiny waist he had, and his body was so well proportioned and flawless it was a definite delight that he picked such a nearby spot. My intention to just enjoy the view, pushing lust into the background, suffered somewhat, though, when he went into the water and came walking back to his spot, the wet shorts making it very clear that he was exceptionally well endowed. Just as well it was time to go to the movies ...

I was thoroughly, utterly bored by the film, had to struggle to stay awake, and was several times tempted to just get up and leave. But I stayed to the end. I don't know why, but I had the feeling if I had actually paid for the ticket myself, I would have left. Somehow being given the ticket as a gift made me feel obligated to stick it out. Or since this has not always been the case (as was pointed out to me in later conversation about it), maybe I did have a little hope that something would happen in the film to redeem it, make it a worthy addition to the dazzling original Trilogy. Didn't happen. It was a bore.

I strolled along the beach, stopping to watch the dancers by the Duke's statue, checked to see if there was music at the Hawaiian Regent but there wasn't, so took a bus back to the mall, got another bottle of Colt and returned to the campus and my history lessons.

Sunday was a repeat of the early tea, soaking up sun on the beach, drinking a Colt and then a completely splendid encounter with a young man, probably mostly Filipino, who wanted an audience while he "spanked the monkey". He didn't want anything but an audience, and I was happy to oblige. It confirmed my long-held opinion that such a game is my favorite form of sexual play, just watching while a young man gives himself pleasure. Perhaps I should have, very early in my life, made it a point to absolutely limit my sex life to that pleasure. I would, admittedly, have missed some fine times, but I would also have missed a lot of self-torture, jealousy and heartaches.

The evening was dominated by the telecast of the Na Hoku Hanohano awards ceremony which was mostly tedious but more than justified by the delight of Pure Heart winning and their touchingly emotional acceptance of the awards plus Willie K's brief but delicious moments on stage accepting the award, with Amy H., for "Group of the Year". He seemed to think it as absurd as I did that he and Amy won it instead of Pure Heart, but since that was the only one they'd been nominated for and failed to win, any complaints are minor.

And so to Monday. The campus was full of little kids, or so it seemed, fresh from high school, many of them seemingly dazzled by having reached university. Many of them also seemed to have slept through their orientation sessions during the Interim Week and had little knowledge of map-reading, since I was frequently consulted. One young lady was standing by the Art Building, pondering the map in her hand, said, "excuse me, sir, can you tell me where the Art Building is?" Well, okay, in fairness to her, there is no sign on the building, but a glance up at the second floor windows with all the easels and canvases does provide something of a clue, even if one cannot read a map.

The weather switched rapidly between periods of drizzle to sunshine and I had to shift locations several times to avoid getting drenched. It's that time again in the secluded grove, the dropping of the berries. Every day I've taken a branch and swept one area clean only to find it thoroughly littered again the next morning. Prolific seed-producers, those trees. I was sitting there enjoying a Colt and my reading when Keali`i (whom I'd seen earlier in Kory K's office) came walking through, evidently delivering an envelope to the building at the end of the grove. When he came back through again, I put down my book and teased him by saying, "this is better than any book", and so it was. I wish he had to run errands through there more often.

336

It had already occurred to me, reading A Narrative History of the United States, that the study of "history" appeared to be almost synonymous with "economics" as a scholastic discipline. My peripheral, but related, reading initially led me into more telescopic focus on certain aspects of the nation's history, but then I found the current issue of the magazine, The Economist. I don't recall having seen that publication before, but there's no doubt now, if someone asked if I'd like a magazine subscription as a gift, I'd say yes, and without hesitation ask for that one. Thanks to it, my study of "history" has been brought right up into the last week, and on a global basis.

Into that atmosphere of mind strolled the Sleeptalker.

On Tuesday, I'd spent almost two hours mid-day at Campus Center. I was sitting in the secluded grove reading when Kory K shouted at me from up by the Post Office, and I went to join him and on to Campus Center for a lengthy Pure Heart gig. Kory was being unusually twitchy, constantly worried that I was going to be "too loud", picking a seat in the peanut gallery. I put up with it for about half an hour and then moved down front and center on my own. If, in my enthusiasm for musicians, I get "too loud" at one of their gigs, let them tell me ... otherwise, put on the CD of the Waimea Music Festival and hear what a real audience sounds like.

Anyway, the gig was wonderful, and there was no indication from the lads of Pure Heart that I was being "too loud". They even took my suggestion (when asking what they should sing next) to do "Island Style". Since they'd done several John Cruz numbers already, seemed silly to leave out his best song. And they did a fine job of it, as with everything else they performed.

Afterwards, in the game, Wacky was being quite obnoxious to me, I've no idea why, except that (and this is perhaps a case of takes one to know one), all these lads are incredibly schizoid. (Helping to prove my point, he was entirely pleasant the next day.) Puzzled on Wednesday, though, and in no mood to put up with it, I went off-line and continued my reading. Once I knew the State Library was closed, I went back to the game and had an enjoyable hour there, mostly chatting with Australians and helping out some new players.

I'd already decided the notion of "giving up" Seventh Circle was a red herring I'd painted for myself, a dead fish which was absurd for me to have created, much less spend any time contemplating. If I enjoy it, I'll play it. If I really cease to enjoy it, I won't. It's so simple I don't know why I make these things into matters to contemplate.

As I was leaving campus, headed for the cloisters, around ten, I ran into the Sleeptalker and Eazy. Eazy I only knew as a player in the game, had never met before. If it weren't an obsolete and generally unavailable substance these days, I would have thought he was on Mandrax. He makes "laidback" seem like "frenetic". The next day, the Sleeptalker told me he's just that way, he actually wasn't on drugs at all. They were under the impression Hamilton Library would be open until midnight, but I explained (yet again, at least for the Sleeptalker) that such late opening was only a Finals Week event at Hamilton, that it had closed at nine and would all summer. I did tell him the computer lab was open until midnight, that they could go there, and tried to explain to him how to use the set-up there. He wanted me to join them, I declined. I was tired and wanted to go to sleep.

Next morning I was sitting on my sheltered ledge reading just before dawn and the Sleeptalker walked up, alone. He'd already gotten impatient with Eazy who "walked too slow" and had parted company with him.

The times alone with the Sleeptalker are time out of time. I understood, after this latest episode, that it's most sensible of me to simply enjoy it when it happens, use whatever resources I have available or can muster to make it more luxurious for both of us, and to resist any effort to make it happen, prolong it when it does or, even more importantly, to integrate it into my "real life". Those times are no more "real" than the game, even if they may actually be the most "real" hours of my existence.

And certainly the sweetest.

So we spent Thursday together, he climbed over the fence to sleep in his secret spot, we stayed together again Friday morning on campus, much of the time in the game, but the best of it just talking, bantering, and yes, in my case, even lusting. He's such a sweetheart.

337

"My trouble is," said the Sleeptalker, "I want things but I don't want to work for them." One thing he wants is a high school diploma and I was encouraging him to try the GED again. He didn't pass it on his first attempt but thought he could if he studied for it and I offered my help. But that falls into the "working for it" category.

Friday was such a see-saw day. Despite a rather restless night filled with annoying dreams, I woke up in a good mood largely the result of feeling pleased with the adjustments in thinking about the Sleeptalker, the Game, and life in general. It was an especially good time with the Sleeptalker. Times alone with him are always a pleasure, but the latest episode was particularly valuable and productive for me. Later in the day, though, my mood shifted into gloom because I wish I could be a better influence on him, find some way to help him, even though I know he really can only help himself if he wants his life to be different. And neither he nor I am sure there's any reason to want it to be different. He's young, healthy, has many friends, and is enjoying life ... what's to worry about? An evening beer and several fascinating essays in the anthology of non-fiction raised my mood again. If you can't do something about it, don't even think about it.

There was a very special treat on Saturday. Pure Heart did a wonderful gig at the mall, made even more wonderful when Lopaka Colon's daddy sat in for a couple of numbers. After having heard Augie Colon for more than thirty years on those wonderful Martin Denny recordings, it was a great pleasure indeed to see him and even more of one to watch him and his son playing together. I shook his hand after the gig, told him I've long been a fan of his and told him he was a lucky man to have such a fine son. Later I thought how odd it is Pure Heart never does "Quiet Village".

I returned to campus, played the game for awhile. All the lads had been absent on Friday and weren't in on Saturday either, making me wonder what they were up to. Then I went downhill to Rainbow and bought Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Oh my.

338

When I first read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged I thought its main weakness was the impossibility that things could ever get as bad in the United States as they do in her epic. Now I'm not so sure.

I put aside any attempt to write about this week, dominated as it has been by the book. But the end will be reached today and maybe then I'll add Tale 338a.

338a

Oh, this is gay.

At the laundromat one evening this week, someone had left a stack of New Yorker magazines. I browsed the Table of Contents pages and decided to stick two of them in my backpack, returned to Ayn Rand.

One of those issues brings me the belated news that Dick Bellamy died in New York. He was one of the few art dealers I truly liked as a man and he was always very kind to me even if he wouldn't include me in any of his exhibitions ... until the Dada News.

In that same issue is an article about recent research avenues re: AIDS and the highly amusing notion that frequent oral sex may have provided some of us with the "milkmaids who never got smallpox" antidote.

I always did think of it as the Fountain of Youth.

339

The first week of June was dominated by Ayn Rand, more films than usual, and a strange, somewhat unsettling Friday with the Sleeptalker. He had asked in the game on Thursday afternoon if he should walk to campus and I said nothing. I didn't leave until a little after ten and he hadn't shown up, but as I was sitting with my morning tea on Friday, he walked in. He was wearing more clothes than I've ever seen him in, shoes instead of slippers, Levi's, a long-sleeved dark pullover. He didn't look at all comfortable and complained several times during the day of being too warm. I think that probably contributed to his odd and always on the verge of quarrelsome frame of mind.

As usual, we had extraordinarily wide-ranging conversations during breaks from playing the game. He had acquired a Bible and was planning to read it all, had gotten through Genesis and Exodus (the first question being what did "exodus" mean). He was greatly surprised I had read the Bible. "All the way through?" "Yes, more than once." I warned him that Leviticus was mainly a book of laws and he might find it a little harder going but would learn what to do if his neighbor's goat fell into his well.

He is very proud of his Cherokee blood (and I don't blame him, I would be, too) and was, in another conversation, fuming about someone who had told him the American Indians migrated from Asia. "Asian" is, for him, a thoroughly derogatory term, despite being part Filipino, and I saw that he in fact did not understand that Asia is a continent, that China, Japan, India, etc., and yes, even the Philippines, are "Asian". I think that was more difficult for him to grasp than his dismay when I said many people do, indeed, think the American Indians originated in Asia, but in the very distant past. He has no real sense of historic time. Noah could have been as recent as George Washington, the Cherokees' "migration" contemporary with the plantation workers' arrival in Hawaii.

It is extraordinary that someone could go through ten years of "education" in an American public school and emerge with such a strangle muddle of misinformation. And through it all, the Sleeptalker's perhaps most dominant character trait remains untouched: he is always right.

And that is never more certain than in the game. He has gotten involved in a continuing feud with a high level player who calls himself Morgueant. I don't agree with the way either side is acting and Morgueant's methods often make the game less pleasant and more hazardous, even deadly, for all the players. I've tried to play peacemaker, or at least get them to call a truce, give it a rest. No joy. And I made the mistake of bringing up the subject in my last chat of the day with the Sleeptalker. He flew into a rage about it, was shouting away with "fucking" every three words. I told him I just wasn't going to have that kind of exchange with him on campus, he said "I don't care what you do". "Okay, then," I said, "goodnight." And left. Leaving him on his own is, of course, the cardinal sin but I'm sure he managed to convince himself, in his usual fashion, that he abandoned me, not vice versa.

He was in the game on Saturday, presumably playing from the State Library, but said nothing to me at all. The feud again flared up and he was ranting away, so I quit for the day. What a very strange dance it is, this treasured but often puzzling and disturbing friendship.

There has been a 75th Anniversary festival of films from Columbia Pictures providing the chance to see some films I never thought I'd see again on a large screen. "Easy Rider", "Dr. Strangelove", "Bridge on the River Kwai" (in a beautifully restored print) and, best of all, "Close Encounters". But even better than those re-visits of long-time favorites was seeing the new Zeffirelli film, "Tea With Mussolini". That treat was followed by another first: a sandwich from Subway. Nope, I'd never eaten anything from there before. A most decent sandwich it was, too.

After the usual pension-check binge, the week turned dry and I put myself on a bottle-a-day ration until the Sleeptalker arrived on the scene and I spent the last of the money on two beers for us. The most noticeable affect of drinking less is decreased patience, both online and off. Friday would probably have been much different had the Sleeptalker been wearing shorts and slippers and had there been four beers instead of two.

340

Tale 340, and the oracle from the I Ching for the second week of June was Number 40. Deliverance. To the subject of the fourth line it is said, 'Remove your toes. Friends will then come, between you and whom there will be mutual confidence.' I know other translations say 'your Great Toe', rather than toes, but I have not seen an interpretation which suggests that what is lowest in one's life is the subject of that obscure statement. Most interpretations seem to regard it, though, as something unsuitable which must be removed, or as an obstruction since once it is removed, more suitable influences or attachments will come. A mysterious oracle.

Of course, given the circumstances of the moment it was impossible not to consider the Sleeptalker as a possible subject of the message, but there are many alternatives, including walking. Much of the time I spend walking, indeed most of it, is in pursuit of things which cannot be considered necessary or admirable.

Continuing my reading of American history on a frequently drizzling Monday, I realized how difficult it is, in a way, for any American to have an accurate grasp of historical time. The events I am reading about happened barely more than a hundred years ago but it was such a different world, the country was still so undeveloped, even still not totally explored or mapped. To the Sleeptalker and his cherished Cherokee heritage, the Trail of Tears would no doubt be of greater impact than the Book of Exodus but both so remote from our present existence that any placement in historical time is almost irrelevant.

Wacky was the only one of the State Library Boys who showed up in the game on Monday but silly young Stoker returned. Evidently the wonderful "life without MUD" he found turned out to be a rather brief one. He begged for reinstatement and the Boss gave him another chance. The Sleeptalker will be pleased.

As unreal as the game, perhaps even more so, Usenet storms rumbled on in their neverending fashion.

If the I Ching had advised getting rid of my fingers instead of my toes, I'd have no trouble at all understanding its message.

341

A reader wrote: "Lately I've been grieved by several friends with very long toes. No matter what a person does, can't help stepping on them." Now that suggests an approach to the I Ching's message that hadn't occurred to me.

The Ching has certainly been more on track than Jonathan Cainer recently. I know that an individual birth chart can produce wide variances from the "average" conditions for a particular sun sign, but the variance is wider now than it has been at any time since I began reading Cainer. He speaks of an urgency about deciding my "next major move" but I have no thought of making any kind of a major move and see no reason to consider it, not at least until winter approaches.

The lads remained absent from the game on Tuesday and in a rather ironic mirror of the current situation in the newsgroup alt.music.hawaiian, people couldn't stop talking about the Sleeptalker. Even his nemesis, Morgueant, asked if I had seen him. Can't live with him, can't live without him.

Except for a brief late morning trip to the beach for a shower, I stayed on campus all day and evening, much of the time either reading or in the game. Food was in unusually scarce supply, only a few scraps of leftover scrambled egg. There seems to be no pattern to it. Friday has generally been the most sparse weekday but Tuesdays are ordinarily abundant ones, and welcome especially since there isn't the "bail-out" of the Krishna truck. I'm really very reluctant to resort to IHS and its free meals, not only because it is so unpleasant there but also because it would mean contact with the entire Social Horror Club, so I just reconciled myself to a fast day and drank cups of tea.

No food, no beer, fifty-six cents in found coins. Oh lucky man.

And it was on that day all those years ago I first saw the Ganges at Rishikesh. I only had tea and two hard-boiled eggs to eat that day, too.

342

And on the Fourth Day, Dame Fortune said, "let there be Beer." And there was beer, and it was good. I'd found almost half the price of a 40oz bottle, abandoned coins in campus vending machines, but hadn't the inclination to hunt quarters at the mall to make up the difference so had a teetotalling week (only in my American history reading this week did I learn the origin of "teetotaller"). Friday, though, was Kamehameha Day, a State holiday, and everything was closed at the University, so I spent the day at the beach and mall. Without actively hunting for it, I soon had financing for a bottle of Colt 45 in my pocket.

I had begun with a shower and washing some clothes, then sat at a picnic table in the park while they dried. Two young Japanese ladies sat at a nearby table and when they left, one of them discarded a white bag with a small plate-lunch box inside it. It was full of big chunks of fruit including some yummy watermelon, a splendid late breakfast. When the clothes were dry I returned to the mall and enjoyed the performances at CenterStage, part of the annual Pan-Pacific Festival, including a rousing performance by Japanese drummers and some lovely Japanese ladies "of a certain age" doing the hula.

In the early afternoon I bought the bottle of Colt and returned to campus to enjoy it in the secluded grove, continuing the history lessons. Stripped of all its "romantic" aspects, as it is in this text, the Civil War emerges as a nightmare of the first order.

In between chapters, I stopped to ponder the online events of the week. All the lads had shown up in the game on Thursday and the Sleeptalker had forgiven me, was quite sweet. Both he and Wacky tried to get me to join them downtown for a smoke but I declined with thanks. Even the little brat Dafoe was behaving himself and was actually quite helpful in cooling down the feud between the Sleeptalker and Morgueant. It was an amusing and entertaining day in there and except for a brief trip to the beach for a shower, I stayed on campus and online for much of the day.

I ran into Rocky after the shower, making the day a total reunion of sorts except for Mondo whom no one has seen recently. Rocky was disappointed that I had no money for beer. For his sake, I was, too. It's ironic and quite amusing that the lad I would have thought the most unattainable sexually may in fact be the one who wouldn't object. He's still teasing me about the Sleeptalker but did it in a way that seemed to suggest I'd picked the wrong one for fun and games. He's no doubt right, but the "picking" isn't voluntary.

When I finished the beer on Friday and returned to the mall, I thought I'd be too late for the Krishna truck but they were still there getting ready to leave so I had a heaping plate of food from them, the most I'd had to eat all week. I had a ticket for a film in my pocket but wasn't really in the mood for one so just spent the evening wandering around the mall and sitting to watch the people pass by.

It was an odd week, more remarkable in dream life than waking life, a week without the Boys except on Thursday, a week of moving toward greater self-sufficiency on an inner level perhaps most evidenced by the lack of concern throughout the week about food or drink. All in all, not a bad week.

343

"I can't eat plain rice," said the Sleeptalker one afternoon when that's all there was to eat. It's a sentiment I sympathize with. Plain white boiled rice is such a boring remedy for hunger. But he has been spoiled by all the years of soup kitchen dining. Always in my mind is the memory of those final weeks of my first journey to India when a twenty-cent cup of tea and bowl of plain rice was the means to stay alive. So when a day comes along like Saturday and (extraordinarily, for a weekend) there was nothing to eat but plain rice, I ate it without grumbling.

Of course, the choice was mine. Dame Fortune was again most kind and there was sufficient money to supplement my supply of teabags and to buy a bottle of Hurricane, money which certainly could have been used for cheap burgers. The addition to the tea-chest was most important since on beer-less days I tend to drink more tea than usual and the supply in hand wouldn't have lasted for the rest of the month (and still may not).

After a brief time online in the early morning Saturday, I left for the beach and spent the rest of the day alternating between it and the mall. The Japanese festival was again thoroughly delightful and I saved that beer money until the sunset hour to precede the highlight of the day, a splendid Bon Dance on Magic Island. If there's anything I love more about the Japanese than their delightful young men, it's the Bon Dance.

But there were ample reasons to renew my delight in their young men, too, because the Japanese navy training ship is in port. Sweet!

The weather was wonderful throughout the three-day weekend and I woke very early on Sunday morning, walked up to campus and finished the American history text with my morning tea. I wished the student who abandoned the book had left the second volume as well. Volume one ends with Reconstruction. The book made the Civil War more horrendous than any account I've read of it but in contrast made the Reconstruction period sound considerably less awful than the Southern legends claim.

While pondering that I finally took needle-and-thread in hand and started the much-needed and postponed repairs to my backpack. This poor old backpack was with me when I set out on the walk from New York City and it has been around the world twice. Little surprise it finally started to come apart at the seams. My needlework wouldn't win any prizes but it does appear to have given the backpack a second lease on life.

Then I once again headed down to the beach, had a shower with a handsome Filipino fellow who was most generously endowed, then went over to the mall to listen to Kanilau who had just started singing "Makee Ailana" when I arrived, ensuring that song a place on the internal jukebox's playlist for the rest of the day. They were followed by another three hours of Japanese dancers and drummers, both traditional Japanese dancing and a rather absurd modern, almost-disco group which sent me off on a cart hunt, and more hula. Best of all, those Taiko drummers.

Dame Fortune, or the Goddess Lakshmi, smiled yet again and financing for a Hurricane was soon in hand. I had noticed a statue of Lakshmi earlier and thought she certainly is the Hindu version of Dame Fortune, so had her in mind throughout the day, thus give her equal credit with her Western counterpart for the abundance of food and the money for beer. Unlike Saturday, there was a continual supply of food. And a new addition to the mall, strollers for children, make the Dames' task much easier. They are rented for three dollars and a fifty-cent refund is given when returned to their corrals. People tend to abandon them in the parking lot when returning to their cars, and four strollers are much easier to find than eight shopping carts.

I had planned to go to Waikiki for the evening's parade but I'd had enough of crowds, decided instead to buy a Hurricane and return to campus for a quiet evening on my own. At the end of the last school term, I found a study guide for Hawaiian Studies, a xeroxed collection of chapters from various books, some magazine articles and a few otherwise unpublished items. It seems to give a broad history of the islands, the language and culture, and began with a chapter on the currently accepted ideas of Pacific island settlement followed by an account of the second Hokulea voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii written by the young navigator. Engrossing reading, and after very nearly ten years in these islands, about time. When I first arrived here I bought a book on the gods and mythology of the islands, and that ended any formal attempt to learn more about the history and language. Yes, about time.

344

While Cainer continues to speak of some major change yet to be made, the I Ching grumbled at me in its outlook for this week. The 16th Hexagram, Enthusiasm, is one of my favorites, but emphasis on the third line "shows one looking up (for favours), while he indulges the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction," not viewed as appropriate behavior. Ooops. And there I had been on Sunday strolling around with an impromptu mantra to Lakshmi before taking her bounty and buying tea and beer.

She and/or Dame Fortune didn't seem to be offended since they went overboard on Monday with food, cigarettes and a lighter, and coins for more tea and beer, the most bountiful day in a long time. As on the weekend, I'd walked to campus in the pre-dawn hour, continued reading the Hawaiian Studies workbook with my morning tea, spent a couple of hours on-line and then headed to the beach. It was another beautiful morning, so I washed my trousers (the most ambitious shower-laundry project of them all) and a tee shirt, then sat in a half-shaded area reading while they dried, enjoying a pint-flask full of Budweiser which had been left by a park bench and a plate-lunch box half-full with spaghetti found at the mall.

I had planned to return to campus once the clothes were dry, but noticed the stroller corral was almost empty meaning there were a lot of quarters floating around the mall somewhere. Although relatively few Japanese tourists come here with small children, it appears that all who do rent those strollers and they aren't in the least concerned with getting their fifty cent refund. With shopping carts there are a few general areas where they are most often abandoned. The exceptions are so rare it isn't worth hunting for them. But the strollers can be found just about anywhere. Fortunately, they are designed with a high metal pole at the back (probably to discourage people from walking off with them) and thus can be spotted at some distance. A walk through the parking lots quickly yielded enough money for a beer, but I decided I might as well stay for the Krishna feast in the late afternoon and consequently ended up with enough additional quarters to buy another packet of tea bags as well as the beer.

The Krishna plate was, as usual, loaded with food and about half an hour later I found an untouched large plate lunch box with chicken katsu, rice and macaroni salad, stashed it away for Tuesday's lunch.

I spotted Myra sitting at a table in the Food Court so surprised her by walking up and taking the chair across from her. I hadn't seen her for an unusually long time and she explained that her part-time job has been expanded so she is working much longer hours, less time to hang out at the mall. She looked very tired and I encouraged her to go home and get some sleep. Such a sweetheart, that lady.

The Hawaiian Studies workbook is fascinating stuff and leaps about from topic to topic in a somewhat dazzling way. Much of the otherwise unpublished material is designed to debunk established "authorities" and to present the latest consensus of scholars, particularly those at the Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH. Consequently an overview of the arrival of Cook and the early missionary period was interrupted with a lengthy essay casting serious doubt on the claimed infanticidal practices of pre-contact Hawaiians. It made me think of Usenet: repeat a lie often enough and people start to believe it.

A detailed account of the terraced, irrigated method of agriculture and construction of the fish ponds was especially interesting, sitting as I was on campus where no doubt in ages past a low-walled patch of taro had grown, irrigated by the Manoa Stream. Certainly that essay leaves no doubt that the pre-contact Hawaiians were far wiser in matters of food production than the population today, flying in most of its food from distant places and leaving much of the land barren and unused.

While I realize at least part of this workbook is "reverse propaganda" and perhaps goes too far in glorifying pre-contact life in the islands, it nonetheless certainly raises considerable question as to just whether or not "progress" has been made which equals the loss.

345

Tuesday was cloudy, gray and dreary with frequent light drizzle turning to heavier showers in the evening. When I'd told Myra I only needed one quarter to complete my shopping the day before, she'd said "and start all over again tomorrow". No. I'd had enough of mall-hunting. A beer would have been a pleasure but I wasn't willing to hunt for it so spent the day on campus, much of it reading in quiet, sheltered places since the secluded grove was too damp for most of the day.

The most effective writers in the Hawaiian Studies workbook are female even though they tend toward a more strident tone than the male writers. The essay on the hula would have been much more effective had its author allowed the facts to speak without the unnecessary, almost militant personal embellishment. Surprisingly, Haunani Kay-Trask's contribution was, unlike her speaking style and what I have seen of her contributions (mostly correspondence) to newspapers, very level-headed and objective. She compared the standard of living in England at the time of Cook's arrival in the islands to that of the Hawaiians. It took no editorializing for any sensible, sensitive reader to grasp which society had the better understanding of what life and living is really about.

It seems a perfectly natural progression to move from American history to the history and culture of the Hawaiian Islands to reading about that major "Pacific island", Japan, and from what I have read thus far, it seems Frank Gibney's Japan, the Fragile Super Power is going to be a very interesting encounter.

Wednesday was the Sleeptalker's 24th birthday. I told him on Tuesday he'd have to wait, I'd throw a huge party for him on his 27th. "That's a long way off," he said. "We'll make it," I replied. "Yep," he said.

He's had occasional work recently on a fishing boat which he seems to greatly enjoy and we both wish the work were more steady and frequent. He said he'd probably be going out on his birthday so when he didn't show up in the game, I abandoned plans to have lunch at IHS to wish him happiness in person and instead went to the beach for a shower. As I was walking back through the mall, I ran into Rocky and several young friends of his I hadn't met before. He's still the champion Pied Piper of the Oahu nomads, no doubt about it. They had enough money for a 40oz bottle of beer, but none of them had ID, so Rocky asked me to get it for them. I did, and took a sip from the cup to toast the Sleeptalker. Rocky followed it up and made me promise to invite him to that 27th year party.

Will I make it to June 2002? I've no idea, but it won't surprise me if I do.

346

Thursday was a thoroughly unsatisfactory day. The weather was again on the verge of dismal all day, inside and out, and most annoying of all, I was plagued by dissatisfaction at having no money. This is not something which ordinarily bothers me at all and when the feeling began on Wednesday, I told myself it was just a reaction caused by its being the Sleeptalker's birthday. But it got worse on Thursday, with no reasonable excuse whatsoever. Extremely annoying.

It wasn't so much that I wanted to buy anything in particular, it seemed to be more a situation of wanting to be able to buy. Knowing it was utter nonsense didn't help in the least, indeed even intensified the inner war over it.

What a piece of work is man ...

So I went to the mall and hunted until I had the price of a bottle of Colt 45, told myself that was quite enough reward for the stupid exercise. The competition was almost hilariously active. Tugboat Annie, a newcomer on the scene, has staked out one bus stop and anything which can be seen from it and is so greedy I have seen her rolling back as many as three linked carts at one time rather than risk losing out on any while returning one. A waddling chubby young man who seems to have been absent on the day they were passing out brains is perhaps the most irksome. He stays outside the supermarket and follows right behind someone with a cart. I watched him follow one poor lady to her car and then stand within inches of her while she transferred the contents from cart to car, felt like cheering "right on, lady!" when she then returned the cart herself, leaving Dumbo staring after her with open-mouthed bewilderment.

The only competitor I enjoy is my long-time nodding buddy, Bla, who always gives me a subtle shaka or a wink when we first see each other and shows no resentment at all when he spots me returning a cart, an attitude I return when I see him having captured a prize. Our relationship was neatly established one evening when I had the money I needed for a beer, we were both headed toward the same cart and I told him to take it, I had my beer money already and he laughed, thanked me.

Having bought the beer, I was about to leave the mall when a lady left a shopping cart right in my path. Cool. An extra quarter in my pocket. Maybe that will suffice to put an end to the absurd concern about whether or not there is anything in the pocket. (To say I was close to being angry with myself is an understatement.)

As happened once before, my reading has again been brought right up to date by finding a recent copy of The Economist magazine. That's an extraordinarily literate and interesting publication, even if it does leave a person with the feeling that mankind is rapidly going to hell in a basket, or perhaps even without the comfort of a basket. If I ever get myself organized enough to have sufficient funds, I'm going to subscribe.

Sufficient funds .... arrrrghhhhh. Write on the blackboard one thousand times: it does NOT matter, it does NOT matter. I was so irked with myself and this bizarre scenario I didn't even really enjoy the beer.

347

The only thing certain is change. And in the biggest change in my life since the hacienda was made off-limits, the public library system eliminated internet access on Thursday. While this doesn't affect me personally, it does mean that the Boys will have to travel to UH if they want to play Seventh Circle and it removes the almost-daily pleasure of contact with them on-line. Both changes, of course, are most important because of the Sleeptalker and I have to wonder if Dame Fortune is on the side of those who think our friendship "unsuitable". Hmmmph.

That absurd obsession with money continued on Friday and I said, all right, you silly man, go hunt. Hunt until your legs are tired. Hunt until your feet are sore. Hunt until you are so bored with it you won't give a damn whether you have money or not. And with twenty-nine cents in pocket, just how likely is it, during a Friday day-time, you'll find enough to even buy a beer?

As it turned out, very likely. In direct contrast to Thursday, there was absolutely no competition at all until very late afternoon and I had financing for a Colt 45 in hand by late morning. One part of me was, of course, quite willing to stop at that point and drink a beer, but the ruling part said no way, you're not getting off that easily. Just keep on hunting until it's time for the Krishna truck.

The scheme backfired, though. It was fun. I saw the lads I'd met with Rocky and they walked over to shake my hand and thank me again for having bought them beer, lamented the fact they had no money for another bottle. I didn't volunteer. Buying beer for teenagers isn't ordinarily my style and I only did it for Rocky the first time. One of the lads is such a sweetie.

An elderly local lady had left her purse in a shopping cart, it hadn't been turned in at the supermarket, so I helped her search through the corrals to see if we could find it. Some louse had apparently made off with it. I wondered what I would have done had I found it, without knowing it belonged to such a sweet old lady, and I thought, to my shame, that I probably would have kept any money and then would have given the purse to the customer service desk in the store. But I'm not sure. I am glad, though, I wasn't presented with the need to decide.

It was a sunny, warm day so I did take one break to have a shower and then continued strolling around the mall and parking lot. The Japanese more than make up for their annoying habit of hanging around ashtrays like vultures around a dying cow by abandoning those strollers all over the place. One was left only a few feet from a return station. Maybe it's a prestige thing, not bothering to collect the fifty cents?

There was a larger crowd than usual for the Krishna feast, including the Gypsy Boy and Cat. I've been sleeping in a different area at the cloisters so haven't had the chance to chat with him recently or to greet Cat. The Gypsy Boy walks around in a long black raincoat all the time, don't know how he can stand it in such warm weather.

As it drew near time for sunset I finally let myself off the hook, said okay, you can buy that beer now. I was one penny short for the tax money, didn't want to break into a quarter for it, so asked the Old Guitarist if he had a penny. "You'll have to write out an IOU," he teased. "I spend so much time on computers I've forgotten how to write," I said. "What do you plan to invest it in," he asked. "Tax!"

So I got my bottle of Colt, returned to campus and enjoyed it while finishing reading The Economist, puzzling over an article about the latest particle accelerators in the US and Japan and the bewildering details scientists hope to clarify with them. I do enjoy that magazine, but at $53 for a 30-week subscription fear it will be up to Dame Fortune to supply me with copies, at least for the immediate future.

The night was full of unusually extended dream scenarios, the most striking of which had to do with "points of convergence" as they were called. These seemed to be arranged by some extraterrestrials and provided unique opportunities for inner advancement. I was gifted with one such "point" when my childhood stuffed bunny was suddenly returned to me, having evidently been snatched out of past time. Acid dreams, indeed.

348

Body all aching and wracked with pain ...

My health, aside from a few minor chronic nags like the heel problem, the decaying molar and the mercifully absent-for-some-time chest pain, tends to be much better in this life style than it was as a householder. Colds are rare and very short-lived. Consequently when there is a variation it tends to hit rather hard. If I'd eaten anything suspect recently, I'd attribute the current condition to food poisoning but I am always extra cautious during the warm summer months and don't think that's the problem. Intestinal flu, more likely, although it's certainly an odd time of year to acquire such a nuisance. It made Sunday quite unpleasant, especially as evening arrived. Chills and fever, diarrhea, vomiting in the night. Bleugh. It certainly makes one appreciate a generally satisfactory state of health.

Aside from an enjoyable time at the Summer Onliners Picnic on Saturday, the weekend was not a good one and not just for reasons of physical discomfort. The Anti-Game League, not content with shutting out the lads at the State Library, put up signs in the quasi-computer-lab on campus announcing "NO GAME PLAYING". Without the Boys in the game, I am less bothered by it personally, but it annoys me greatly to see such short-sightedness. These text-only multiplayer games are far more valuable, I think, than the pointless bang-bang arcade diversions. They lead to improved reading and keyboard skills and, by being text-only, stimulate the powers of imagination. Certainly my nephew would not have the data-entry job he has now were it not for those years playing Richard Bartle's MUD2. He had never touched a keyboard, but to stay alive in the game, it's necessary to quickly find your way around and often to move those fingers faster than many secretaries would do.

Of course, it is partly the fault of the game players for dominating public facilities. On campus, I would not consider playing games if most terminals were occupied. But damned if I see why it matters late at night when most of the machines are not being used. It depresses me. Libraries are not for "having fun", computers can be used to spend time in the sexually repressive "chat lines" but not to play a "game". Humbug.

All week I had an odd craving for ice cream but I wouldn't spend my quarters to get it, so when some McD's certificates arrived I headed directly to the mall and ate one of their chocolate sundaes. A light in the gloom. Now if these microscopic life forms which are making me sweat and shiver would kindly go on their way ...

349

Despite its very nasty beginnings, this ailment now appears to be just a common cold, complete with constantly dripping nose. The internal plumbing got itself back in order on Monday. Thanks to a little melon falling from heaven, I was able to buy a yogurt cup which relieved a slight hunger without overtaxing the system and later ate a few pieces of chicken katsu and some rice. Appetite was low but even if it hadn't been I would have forced myself to go very lightly on the food intake.

The aches and pains which returned toward the end of each aspirin-every-four-hours cycle gave way to an immense physical weariness and it was an effort just to walk from one place on campus to another, no desire whatsoever to go to the mall or beach, even if spending the day in the sunshine and ocean probably would have been a wise move. By nine o'clock in the evening I was really dragging so headed to the cloisters, hoping there would be no meetings underway. Fortunately there weren't, so I quickly settled down to sleep, waking only once when some wretched bug decided to bite me on the ear. It was probably one of those nasty little black ants. They are so tiny but have a powerfully stinging bite, something which is even more inexplicable than a mosquito which is at least getting something to eat. Those little ants will walk all over you and then for no apparent reason attack. Bastids, never mind compassion for all living beings.

Much of the day was spent continuing the book on Japan, truly a fascinating account of its history and analysis of the cultural differences between, particularly, Japan and the United States. But I did do some exploring on one of the old data terminals and discovered a way, details which I shall certainly not mention, to get a straight telnet prompt, thus restoring the ability to play Seventh Circle without violating "no game playing" injunctions. Much to my surprise, the Sleeptalker was playing, so he too appears to have found a way around the State Library's attempts to block it.

He said he needed a "resume" and wanted it put on a web page. "Applying for some executive job?" I teased. No further details were forthcoming but he added, "I'm getting out of IHS!" I suppose I'll have to wait for him to make the trek to UH to find out what this latest brainstorm is about, but will certainly put up a web resume for him if that's what he wants. A few months at a Taco Bell, a month or so in the kitchen at Gordon Biersch, a sometime job helping on a fishing boat. Hmmmm.

So far as I can remember, this is the first time I ever "celebrated" the Summer Solstice by getting a cold. No complaint whatsoever if it's the last.

350

As I wrote on a mail-list Tuesday, I embarked upon a study of World History after completing the book on Japan:

-----

Seems one accepted text at UH is "Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past" by Messrs. Bentley and Ziegler (both of whom have "University of Hawai'i" after their names on the McGraw-Hill title page).

They did make me laugh out loud on page 21 (already) by saying: "Anthropologists calculate that modern-day hunters and gatherers spend about four hours per day in providing themselves with food and the other necessities of life. They spend the remainder of their time in games, rest, leisure, and various social actitivities."

FOUR hours?!

That definitely qualifies as a BAD day.

-----

I'd estimate that I spend about an hour a day providing myself with "food and the other necessities of life", probably even less. Even if the very non-necessary item, tobacco, is added, hunting time rarely exceeds two hours daily unless I'm in one of those periodic quarter-hunting crazes.

On the rare days when it appears to be taking longer than that to find food, I just don't eat. No one ever died from going a day without food.

Although the cold was less unpleasant on Tuesday than it had been, there was still the nuisance of frequent sneezing and an almost constantly dripping nose and a slight physical weariness which increased as evening arrived. So once again I spent the entire day on campus, with one trip downhill to acquire a bottle of beer which was enjoyed with the sagas of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, and headed off to the cloisters fairly early.

Still celebrating the discovery of the MUD-playing loophole, I spent more time in Seventh Circle than I have for awhile. The player who had been mainly responsible for the Morgueant/Sleeptalker feud was in and continually badmouthing the Sleeptalker (who didn't play all day), so I did a little badmouthing myself, shocking a few people who are used to me playing a more quiet, genteel role. Such funny social interaction in these entertainments ... and so many brats. Only Usenet has more on-line misfits than Muds.

As Wednesday went on, the sneezing and sniffling steadily decreased and by midday I was even feeling a little hungry. It seems to have been a day for strong appetites on campus, though. Never have I found so many abandoned plate lunch boxes which were totally empty. So I decided I'd just forget about it and go to the Krishna feast later although I had planned to forego the mall for one more day.

When I got there and crossed into the park, I heard a voice shout, "Albert!" The Sleeptalker. With Rocky and the Snorer. The Sleeptalker on his own I would have been happy to see, but that core gathering of the Rocky Horror Club was not really what I would have chosen for a day when I was still feeling well below par and had just planned to slip down there, eat a bit of Krishna food, and disappear back to campus.

The Sleeptalker was wearing just shorts and slippers, the most I have seen of his body since that evening sometime ago at the cloisters when he sprawled beside me to speak of India. Maybe it's just the aftermath of this wretched cold, (I don't think so since I was just as interested earlier as I have been in weeks in a handsome young black man who has recently become a regular on campus), but I really didn't feel any particular attraction. Wow. About time, after more than a year of lusting for that lad's body. I love him, and always shall, but it's him, not his body that I love. And I've known that all along and have been greatly irked by how much lust has occasionally interfered. If it's just the result of being physically depleted by the cold, then fine, give me a cold every week.

A lady, of a certain age, standing near us in line for the food, was eavesdropping on our conversation about the campaign to ban game players and said she was studying for a degree via some on-line arrangement. I said I had considered, if someone did challenge me about game playing, I'd say I was working on my doctoral thesis dealing with the effect on Western adolescents of multi-player computer games. She cheered and said she was sure it would fly. I suspect she is right.

351

If, when I woke on Friday morning, I had sat down and made a list of all the things I was not going to do on the Full Moon weekend, the list would have included just about everything I did do and quite a few other things it never would have occurred to me to list. And they were all things my better judgment tells me I'd be better off not doing.

I did do laundry first thing on Friday, the one sensible choice of the day. Then I went downtown to join other online folks for lunch at the Indigo restaurant. I had at first declined the invitation because that place is really too expensive but yielded to persuasion and then compounded my guilt by quaffing two mint juleps and an after-lunch Pernod.

Off and running ...

When I got back to campus, checked email and popped into Seventh Circle, the Sleeptalker was playing and said he really wanted to talk to me but it was too late to walk to campus. So I told him to wait for me at the State Library and I'd meet him there. When I arrived he was poring over a copy of "DOS For Dummies". Someone had convinced him he should learn more about computers, starting with DOS. He had gotten no further than studying the Table of Contents which had apparently been daunting enough for him to want reassurance that the effort was worthwhile. I didn't want to discourage him but could hardly endorse a study of DOS with much conviction.

More important, and probably more relevant to why he really wanted to see me, was his feeling more upset and distressed than I've ever seen him over being "a loser". He wished he could just get a gun and blow away all the people who think he's a loser. I told him not to go down that road even in thoughts, tried to reassure him that I'm not the only person in his life who doesn't think he is a "loser", and then had the ill-fated brainstorm of taking him to Waikiki to hear some music. I had thought it was a BB Shawn gig, but it was actually Guy Cruz's gig, with Shawn on drums. The Sleeptalker and I sat at a table near the front, which was a mistake since it made him feel people were looking at him ... and (sigh) thinking he was a "loser". Nancy Ishimoto joined us and was very kind to the Sleeptalker, said he was "adorable". So he is.

But not the music, nor Nancy's kindness, meeting the musicians or any of the rest of it pulled him out of his funk, even seemed to make it worse. Shawn would no doubt be an inspiration to most young people but I think made the Sleeptalker more acutely aware of his lack of success, as did the whole ambience of the hotel and bar. And there was probably also in his mind, as there was in mine, that such evenings could be a regular part of our lives if I'd give up this lifestyle and return to working life and if he'd provide the incentive, which he could.

He picked up his backpack and dashed out, I followed, and we had such a weird conversation at the bus stop with him getting more and more strange. When he started to rant about gay guys, how he "wouldn't even speak to them", I gave up, said "I'm taking the next bus to Ala Moana". I'd given him bus fare so he could bail out at any point during the evening, but he didn't join me when I got on the bus. What a strange, strange dance.

I went on to the Pier Bar to see Willie K. which helped get my own mood back on base. I'd had enough to drink by then so only had one beer, danced with a woman I know from somewhere but couldn't place, and shortly before midnight went to the hacienda and slept on an outside bench there.

Walking from there to the mall early on the beautiful Saturday morning brought back memories of the days when that walk was a regular part of my life after nights sleeping on benches next to Rocky, the Sleeptalker, Mondo ... and I had occasion to think of those days again many times during the day since I ended up spending most of it alone with Rocky.

But that's another Tale ...

352

Much to my surprise, I found out from separate second-hand sources that the Sleeptalker evidently enjoyed himself very much on Friday and our expedition to Waikiki was the "talk of the 'hood". One of the more difficult things about the friendship with the Sleeptalker is the almost total lack of direct feedback. I never know whether he has had a good time or an awful time. Even this second-hand information is a rarity.

For me, the evening had been a very difficult one and I was still feeling somewhat wrecked from it on Saturday morning. So after coffee at McD's, I crossed over to the beach, planning to just lay on the sand for a couple of hours and doze. I ran into the Snorer on the way through the park and in addition to chatting about the Sleeptalker, he said he was expecting Rocky to stop down later. I'd already decided I'd make it an offline day and not travel to campus so after listening to Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" and some off-and-on dozing I headed to the far other end of the beach, hopefully out of range of the Social Horror Club.

I crossed over to get a beer and as I was walking along the canal on the park side, there came Rocky strutting his strut along the other side. He spotted me, jumped down into the canal and came straight across to me. All through the day I kept remembering those early Tales, Rocky the silent, sullen guy who so intimidated me I was careful not to even look at him unless I was sure he was soundly asleep. The Sleeptalker had been puzzled, Rocky said, by why I'd left on Friday evening. When I told him it was because my patience ran out when the Sleeptalker started ranting about gay people, he laughed and said, "he didn't mean you," but added, "we told you he's crazy."

All through the day he kept returning to the fact that I think the Sleeptalker is cuter than he is. And Mondo? No, Mondo is not cute, I said, he's handsome. To give the poor lad at least a little ego stroke, I told him he had the best body and is definitely the best hung. "You want to see it?" he asked. Sure. So he pulled out the waistband of his shorts and let me have a look. Nope, I never would have expected it a year ago.

Unlike the Sleeptalker, who freely admits he has let men have his body in the past, Rocky is quite proud of never having done so but he promised I could be the first if he changes his mind. He talked a lot about his lady and his four-year-old son who are living in Hilo but otherwise very little about his past despite my subtle efforts to get him to.

BB Shawn was scheduled to play at a "Festival for Fathers" in McCoy Pavilion and I wanted to stop by to thank Nancy for having been so kind to the Sleeptalker on Friday. Poor Nancy! The Sleeptalker one day and Rocky the next. We didn't stay long and after leaving Rocky was fuming away because he thought he'd heard Nancy say "he's not cute at all"! I assured him I'd heard no such thing, that it just wasn't the kind of thing Nancy would do, and that if she had said someone wasn't cute she wouldn't have been referring to him. That started the whole thing going again about what I think, although why it matters to the young man is a mystery to me.

He seems so much more worldly and experienced than the Sleeptalker it's difficult to keep in mind that he's even younger and I have almost nothing in common with him which makes communication very much a hit-and-miss gamble. I'm not physically attracted to him despite his fine body and impressive equipment but teased him a little just to reassure him I do like him. Each time I'd pat him he'd go into a mock karate routine which was really quite funny since it was so clear he liked the attention, and all in all, it was an amusing day and somewhat easier than a similar session would have been with the Sleeptalker. He was heading down to IHS for dinner but I said I was going to campus, planned an early night. As one final demonstration of his physical prowess, he smashed an upright can flat with his fist. "Wow," I said, "I am definitely out of here!". "Just joking, just joking," he said. Sweet guy.

The Snorer and Rocky certainly had me feeling somewhat better about the evening with the Sleeptalker but only from the perspective of thinking about him and his reactions. For me it remained a muddle in my head and pretty much stayed that way despite hiding away on campus all day Sunday to think about it, about the extreme contradictions between my life with the Boys and what's left of the life I led before this trip began. I was so discouraged by it on Friday I felt like burning bridges to all of it, even leaving for somewhere else, starting over. But that's not really the answer I want.

353

"Gawd, I'm sick of seeing these people," I thought at the mall on Monday. The same dreary faces, overweight and often dirty bodies. They stay at the mall all the time, the same people. That's one of the reasons the Sleeptalker has his "loser" attacks, I think. Because he bases himself at IHS where the habitual crowd is even worse than the one at the mall, he's surrounded by many people who genuinely are losers. If you live with crazy people, you eventually start to doubt your own sanity (with or without their help). If you live with losers, you start to feel like a loser.

When strangers ask me what I "do", I say I'm retired. I'm old enough for that to be a legitimate explanation to everyone but my friends. The Sleeptalker doesn't have that advantage, poor fellow.

Monday was a terribly sane, sensible, no-beer day and consequently rather boring. But after the strangely challenging weekend (and especially, Friday) and with the arrival of the Fabled Pension Check on the near horizon, perhaps a routine, "boring" day wasn't such a bad idea.

I've continued my world history reading in the early morning hours, working through the Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires, the rise of the Islamic Empire, and then returning to the progress of China from disarray to re-unification and the Tang Dynasty. Thus far, I've thought the earlier period of Chinese history would be the time I'd most like to explore in greater detail, but I was also struck with an urge to read more about the Emperor Justinian. Overall, though, this kind of massive sweep through mankind's history is a little depressing. Rise, decline, and fall ... rise, decline, and fall.

Some lighter weight diversion fell in my path. A volume in a Harlequin Books series called "Avenging Angels" was amusing. It was so inconsequential I don't remember the exact title or the author's name, but the series is based on the notion that angels take human form temporarily and return to earth to correct injustices. Of course they are hunks and there are the scenes of passion obligatory to the romance genre, although this particular one was pretty tame in that respect. Perhaps one of the participants being an angel requires a little more discretion in this series. I found myself thinking I could write one of them if I really tried to.

But, hmmm, that would be peanuts compared to finding the secret of Harold Robbins and writing a potboiler like his The Piranhas, the next diversion to come my way. Despite the fact that it is blatantly an awful book, it's totally engrossing and quite carries the mind away from "reality", is as effective in that regard as Dostoyevsky but, please, don't anyone say I mentioned Dostoyevsky and Robbins in the same breath.

I spent little time online Monday, only looked in briefly at the two games I've been playing. None of the Boys were in and they weren't in the park when I crossed over later to eat Krishna food. I was happy about that, needed a break. But I reminded myself it's really quite easy to "get away from it all" for awhile anytime I feel like it. Stay out of the games, stay out of the mall, stay away from Ala Moana Beach, if necessary stay off-line altogether and hang out in Waikiki if I want familiar territory or even in another part of the island. When life with the Boys gets too heavy and the crowd at the mall too depressing, take a break. That's closer to the answer I want than burning bridges and starting over, I guess.

354

The Fabled Pension Check came and went, its speedy departure helped by half of it being in hock (and having been in hock for an extra month since I hadn't redeemed the loan at the beginning of June). Unlike the past couple of months, I didn't even do the responsible shopping expedition which was needed and planned. A few days of living like a "normal" person and then back to the life of a hunter/gatherer.

Those interludes of normality inevitably revive the debate, ask again the question, "can I really live like this for another two and a half years?" I don't know.

I did manage a stop at Rainbow Books to get Aldous Huxley's Eyeless in Gaza which has long been on my intended reading list. It's a depressingly wonderful book which almost immediately had me wondering if I could ever read cheap fiction again but knowing that I could and would.

Returning to the scene of the last time I saw the Sleeptalker, I went to BB Shawn's gig at the Regent's Ocean Terrace on Thursday evening, wished he were there again with me but was also happy he wasn't. None of the boys appeared in the game all week and I didn't see any of them at the mall. The sweet young man who is such a MUD addict and sits for hours at the Hamilton terminals filled the void, being unusually open and friendly. He's like a teddy bear and I'd love to hug him but limited it to pats on the shoulder and smiles.

Sometimes I really do wish physical desire would go away and bother me no more.

355

The highlight of the long holiday weekend came on Saturday evening. After joining Helen R for pizza from the newly-opened Papa John's I was feeling just too tired to tackle an expedition to Waikiki despite an invitation from mainland visitors, so I spent a quiet evening on campus reading. Earlier than usual, I walked through the lower campus complex (mostly devoted to sports) on my way to the cloisters. One of the studios has large windows on one side and a hula class was in session, the scene so fascinating I stopped to watch. In the foreground, sprawled on the floor, were four young men, two of them wearing only shorts and sitting very close to each other so their slim brown bodies were constantly brushing together. One of their companions was even more actively patting and stroking, at one point held down the young fellow next to him and put his hand over his victim's mouth. I wondered what the lad had been saying.

Charming as that tableau was, the scene really came to life when another young man walked over and began to dance. He wasn't exceptionally handsome, wouldn't particularly have attracted my attention elsewhere, but what an extraordinary dancer! One of the musicians, and I assume the instructor, then had him and a young lady do a delightful dance, unlike any hula I've seen before, a touching courtship ritual. The combination of the dancing and those young men sprawled in the foreground made it seem almost as though a time machine had transported me to the pre-missionary islands, despite the very modern architectural environment.

Another highlight of the long weekend, although certainly on an entirely different plane took place late on the night of July 4th. I'd gone to the concert which was being held at the mall, heard Pure Heart, and then wandered around awhile before crossing over to the beach for the fireworks. Public fireworks displays here are always very well executed but this was the best I've seen yet. I'd waited to let the huge crowd disperse somewhat, missed the last campus-bound bus from the mall, so had to walk up to catch a different one that runs later. An older man was staggering down the sidewalk, barely managing to make it from one pole to another, drunk as the proverbial skunk. He grinned at me as he only just managed to grab a pole, and I congratulated him on his success. "You're a nice guy," he said, "I want to buy you a beer." I told him it was very unlikely a bar would serve him and asked if I could help him make his way home instead. No, he wasn't ready to go home and he was sure he'd find a bar or club to serve us. So I walked along with him, trying to keep him from wobbling out into the street, and he was very jolly, kept stopping to give me a hug and "accidentally" letting his hand brush against my crotch. I wasn't sure if he was really trying to work up the nerve to make a pass but thought it more likely he was just drunk enough to override repression. The first club we walked into did, indeed, refuse to serve him. A doorman at the second one (Saigon Passion III) wouldn't even let us in, but the third try was successful, a Korean hostess took him in hand and led us to a table, brought two Budweisers. He handed her a twenty dollar bill. No change was volunteered. I told him he should ask for it but he refused. Oh well, no fool like an old fool, especially a drunk one. After the beer I again offered to help him get home but he wanted to stay and I left him, feeling fairly certain he'd be leaving the place with totally empty pockets.

The day set a new record for income from shopping carts and strollers. A large part of the mall parking structure was closed for the concert and the mall itself was as crowded with shoppers as it is during the pre-Christmas week. Many people were buying food to take over to the beach for the evening fireworks and abandoned their carts as they left the mall. Incredibly, there was no competition at all. That's no doubt partly because the first of the month brings welfare or social security checks, making quarters less alluring. Some of the most active competitors also often give up the hunt to watch entertainment at the mall's Center Stage and there was something going on there throughout the day. That factor also turned the following Tuesday into a unexpected two-Colt bonanza, but the Fourth set the record with seven dollars.

Since I had spent the last of my money on a belated purchase of tea bags, that was a most welcome surprise and let me at least partly keep up my tradition of getting plastered on the Fourth. Three Colts spread throughout the day was a fairly weak version of past celebrations, but a lot better than I had expected. Food was in abundant supply, too, on both the Fourth and the following day, also observed as a holiday, but then oddly was almost totally missing on Tuesday.

That flu bug, or whatever it was, went on its way very quickly but left a nasty legacy behind in the form of aggravated bronchitis (I suspect). That's usually not a problem in the summer, but it went into full swing on the morning of the Fourth and each morning starts with an hour or more of clearing the accumulated congestion from the night. It's a thoroughly unpleasant condition and causes a constant drain on overall energy levels.

It's always something ...

355a

As I wrote elsewhere:

Methinks I made a mis-diagnosis. Although highly unusual for such a thing to follow so close on the heels of that seeming flu-bug recently, this is just a common old ordinary cold in da head, complete with a running faucet of a nose.

Weird stuff for High Summer.

But then this is the Seventh Month of 1999, when Nostradamus said fire would rain from the sky, the War to End War would begin, and the Anti-Christ would arise.

Well, I suppose if India and Pakistan start lobbing nukes at each other, old Nostradamus's sales will skyrocket, too.

Meanwhile, I'll sniffle and snuffle ....

356

Wednesday was the worst. I walked around muttering "oh gawd" all day, not entirely sure which deity I was muttering to. In the days when I had jobs with an allowance of "sick days", I almost never used them except when feeling fine and just wanting to goof off. If I wasn't feeling well it seemed more sensible to just go ahead and work since I wasn't going to enjoy the time anyway. That philosophy held for the second half of this week. The overly chilled buildings on campus aggravated the physical discomfort, so aside from very brief on-line moments, I spent the days at the beach and the mall, much of it "working" at the Quarter Hunt game.

The game was quite successful except for Thursday. Wednesday and Friday were 2-Colt Days; on Thursday I was beginning to wonder if there'd even be one, was looking for one last quarter before retiring from the game for the day. I don't usually check coin return boxes on payphones unless the Dowser tingles. It did. I checked. $1.35. Wheee. That bettered Wednesday's major find, four quarters left in a stroller return station. Friday's version of the Dollar Miracle was the most weird, though. I hadn't noticed when retrieving it from a shopping cart, but when I was double-checking the stack of eight quarters I was about to spend on a Colt, I could feel one of the coins was slightly larger, thought it was probably some Asian coin and quite involuntarily said to Kiko, "what the hell is that?!" It was an Anthony dollar! That thing must have been wandering around mistaken as a quarter for quite some time now.

Kiko is the new local lad at the 7-Eleven. Local boys no ka oi.

As for the other boys ... well, Friday marked two weeks without seeing or hearing from the Sleeptalker. I saw the Snorer a couple of times but didn't stop to talk and spotted Rocky from a distance on Thursday when I was still not in the mood at all for company so took a long detour to avoid encountering him.

People talk too much. That's a conclusion I've been coming to for a long time. And urban nomads are probably the worst. Some of them simply never stop talking, even if there is no one for them to talk to (no one visible, in any case). A couple of the buddy teams can be seen endlessly yakking to each other all day and then they get to the cloisters and keep on yakking. One dreary man at the beach park never shuts up despite never having anyone to talk to. On Thursday I had washed a tee shirt and was waiting for it to dry, reading the book on the history of Asia which was the major find from the end of first Summer Session. He settled across the little canal from me. I shifted position slightly so a bush blocked him from view. I could hear him grumbling away to himself as usual but he gradually got louder and louder. Finally I shouted, "shut up! who's listening to you anyway?!" He shouted back something like "what's it to you" but went on his way. Yes, I think I could cope very well with a monastic order which observed strict silence.

356a

Competition in the Quarter Hunt game remained unusually light all week, much to my surprise. Tubby was on the hunt Friday, though. His method so annoys me that I give him no mercy whatever, was delighted once again to watch him waddle along behind some poor old lady and stand there gaping at her while she unloaded her cart into the trunk of her car. Delighted, because after taking quite some time at it, she then started to wheel the cart back herself, him waddling along behind her with his usual bewildered look. To complete the delight, as she passed by me with the cart, I gave her a big smile even if she couldn't have known why. "Would you like some oranges?" she asked, offering me a plastic bag. "I'd love some," I said, "thanks very much." "I bought too many," she explained. Four big oranges. Delicious, and given the state of my health, a welcome addition to the backpack, not to mention the added pleasure of the look on Tubby's face as he witnessed the exchange.

There was one more wickedly delightful episode with Tubby that day when I saw him go waddling off after yet another old lady. Ha! I knew her from past experience. She very, very slowly wheels her cart way off to the furtherest point of the parking lot, then crosses the street to a large apartment building, and takes the cart inside with her. Poor Tubby.

The Whore is another competitor I actively enjoy defeating. He's a grubby, bearded fellow with a potbelly who always carries a little clutch purse in one hand. He's never around in the mornings, but from late afternoon until mid-evening can be seen constantly prowling back and forth between the supermarket and the two bus stops where carts are often abandoned. It was the perfect topper for Saturday's game when I happened across a cart just as he was turning to explore that bus stop and wheeled it past him toward the return corral.

Saturday was a successful day. I've been retiring when reaching the Two Colt stage and got there by three on Saturday afternoon. No Dollar Miracle that day, but there was one of those special treats when all it takes is an extra shove on the line-up of returned strollers to push the last one past the trigger mechanism that returns two quarters. My guess is, a lot of the Japanese tourists simply don't understand two quarters are refunded when the strollers are returned. The lack of instructions in Japanese is a blessing.

I was especially happy to end the game early on Saturday because Gaelic Storm's concert in the evening at Andrews Amphitheatre promised the usual afternoon soundcheck rehearsal and so it happened. A bottle of Colt and that wonderful Irish music made the late afternoon in the secluded grove very special, as did a second bottle with the actual concert in the evening. There may have been conflict in some people's minds about the choice of entertainment on Saturday evening ... Gaelic Storm on campus or the annual Blue Hawaiian Moonlight concert at the Waikiki Shell ... but for me there was no conflict at all. I love Hawaiian music, but love traditional Irish music even more and the chances to hear it are too rare in these islands. Listening to Gaelic Storm once again reminded me how much I miss hearing Arthur Davey and the Fureys. If they came here, I'd spend the whole pension check on a ticket if necessary.

I found a copy of Irving Wallace's The Three Sirens so put aside the Asian history book to enjoy this yarn about a Polynesian island unknown to the modern world since an Englishman had cast up there in the eighteenth century. Amusing fluff.

I had been feeling somewhat puzzled by the fuss Jonathan Cainer has been making about the Jupiter/Mars opposition, then realized the last such event coincided with the start of this particular stage of my life. Yes, 1.8 years is about right, I think. Maybe not such a long trip, yet, but certainly often a strange one.

357

"You got beer?" I heard from behind me as someone gave me a pat on the back. I had spotted Rocky again on Saturday, once again had avoided meeting him, but on Sunday afternoon he came across me sitting on a planter ledge without my having seen him approach. I told him, no, I didn't have beer. I didn't mention that I had the financing for one already in place. Although in a way I admire his candor and sometimes enjoy his company sufficiently to put up with it, I'm just not willing to invest time in a relationship with someone who is only interested in me as the supplier of beer. I had been thinking about it, after deliberately avoiding him twice during the week, and considered saying, "Sorry, I'm tired of playing saint, not buying beer for some young dude again unless he's willing to put out." Trouble with that approach is, Rocky just might do it ... and I don't want it.

He asked, as always, if I'd seen the Sleeptalker. Not for two weeks, I told him. Rocky hadn't seen him either, wondered what has happened to him. I wonder, too. None of the boys have been in the online games, but then I have spent very little time in them as well, with about half an hour in Seventh Circle early on Monday morning the longest stay in over a week.

The Mall Game has replaced the online games. To call it the Quarter Hunt game is misleading, since the hunt for quarters is only one part of it. Finding enough quarters to finance a $2.07 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor is a fine prize, those rare days when two bottles are possible equal a most successful game, but there are many other aspects to it which make for a good, indifferent, or unsatisfactory game session. Food and tobacco are, of course, welcome prizes. Amusing encounters with strangers, interludes of observing the less transient occupants of the mall, the challenge of competitors ... all combine to make it a frequently amusing game.

Two new players have recently appeared. One I call the Zombie. He's a handsome young man, much in the Mondo style, who has an utterly blank look on his face which reads, though, as contentment. He walks with his arms at his side, motionless. He hunts cigarette butts and cups with Coke or Pepsi, never seems to take an interest in quarters. He speaks to no one.

The other, also a darkly attractive young man, I call the Fool. I mean that in the classic reine Tor sense, the Joker, the happy genius. Always smiling, with such a happy look on his face I wondered what drug he was on when I first saw him. He sits for hours beside an ashtray/trashcan, usually near the Disney Store, and thus supplied with a steady harvest of snipes, appears to happily smoke and watch the people. I've never seen him speak to anyone, either, nor does he take any interest in hunting for whatever isn't deposited in his immediate disposal unit.

I like both of them very much and admire their apparently contented adjustment, their mastery of the Mall Game. Like Mondo, they are better players than I am.

The Whore was frantic on Monday, rushing around in a frenzy trying not to lose any quarters. Fortunately the other major competitors were not playing and since he seemed so desperate I concentrated on other than the main hunting grounds, still managed to have the Colt financing in place by early afternoon. Sunday's most odd find: I noticed a young nomad sitting near a bus stop with one of those huge plastic jugs of milk and a box of cereal, thought the milk especially a sad waste of foodstamp buying power. A little later I again passed by the spot and saw he had abandoned both the milk and the cereal, so enjoyed some myself. Milk is a rarity, one of the things I wish I had more of, so it was a most welcome, and unusual, game prize.

Almost every day there is a plate lunch box from Patti's Chinese Kitchen. By far, most of my off-campus food comes from that place. That so much of it is abandoned doesn't speak very highly of it, I fear. Part of the reason, I think, is that they so lightly cook the vegetables they mix with their fried noodles and the mix is always heavy on broccoli. Cooked so briefly, it is always very tough. So the abandoned boxes usually contain a generous supply of vegetables and noodles, with only a few remnants of whatever the meat dish may have been. There was one most unusual plate lunch box from Zippy's on Monday, though. Someone had eaten all the rice and macaroni salad, left just enough to provide evidence of its one-time existence, but there were three large pieces of fried chicken untouched!

It's important not to play the game seriously or for too long a time, not to get greedy, not to let the number of found quarters determine the overall mood of the play. Que sera, sera. The fun comes from the playing, not the rewards.

358

The biggest pitfall in the Mall Game is eating too much. There are so many people who kindly leave their leftovers and unwanted purchases on benches or ledges and it's difficult not to peek inside a heavy plate lunch box or to taste it when the contents look interesting or to finish them when they're good. There's not much around in the morning (I should've won the recent McDonald's prize of "free breakfast for a year" and then I'd really be set), but from around eleven or eleven-thirty, food starts to appear and usually in over-abundance.

The Mall Game relates more to Bartle's MUD2 than to games like Seventh Circle. MUD2 "resets" periodically. You lose everything you have and must start over. Although you keep your rank and any skills or credits for special quests, objects have to be re-acquired. Echo Myra's "and start all over again in the morning." I should have had a fifty-cent start, though, on Thursday's game. Didn't, because a return mechanism for strollers cheated me and failed to produce the two quarters it was supposed to. I was rather annoyed because I was in a hurry, had to leave to get to a theatre, but couldn't resist returning the stroller which I found on a level above the return point and thus had to take down in an elevator. I was somewhat compensated the next morning when I shoved the line of strollers in a return-corral and the first one unexpectedly popped out. Returning it gave me two quarters. Victory!

One amusing aspect of the game, and of finding things anywhere, is speculating on the reason something has been abandoned. This week included a major mystery in that category. On Monday I noticed a discarded small brown paper bag. It was sufficiently open for me to see a Virginia Slims cigarette box inside. I needed a new stash box, so got it. The thing was almost a full pack, missing perhaps one or two smokes. Okay, I assumed someone bought it and decided they didn't like them, threw it away. Tuesday morning, same trash bin, another small brown paper bag. I got it out, looked inside. TWO packs of Virginia Slims, both opened, both missing only one or two smokes. Now if it had been just one such pack, I'd have thought, well, maybe someone is trying to quit smoking, can't resist, buys a pack, smokes two and throws the rest away. But TWO packs? No, I couldn't come up with any reasonable hypothesis. Wednesday morning, naturally I went to check that trashbin. Yet again, a pack of Virginia Slims with two smokes missing. Definitely a major mystery. Alas, the magic didn't continue on Thursday ...

Dame Fortune seems to have thought I should get more Vitamin C, followed-up the gift of oranges with an odd little plastic dispenser full of tiny yellow triangles containing the vitamin. Although smaller, they instantly reminded me of valium. Now that would be THE find of the year, a little tub of diazepam tablets.

-----

358 insert: Perestroika

Subject: Manoa Valley Theatre's new production
Newsgroup: soc.culture.hawaii

"Angels in America: Perestroika", by Tony Kushner

Okay. My young intellectual student friend who saw the original NYC production was in some ways too kind about the play when we talked about it a week or so ago, in other ways too harsh. He said, as I recall, that it has all the "worst excesses of Beckett and Genet", which as I see it, puts the play into far too exalted a domain, even at the domain's "worst". He said it was one "long, gay cocktease". Long, indeed, terribly terribly gay, but methinks a Venus All-Male Revue would do a far better job of teasing.

The play won the Tony Award in NYC. As I said to Liz Kane (a member of the stage crew) later, it must have been a bad season on Broadway.

It is far too long, has segments which could so easily be cut that no one (except the pretentious faggot who wrote it) would miss. It desperately wants to shock, to be blasphemous, and no doubt succeeds with some folks, especially Mormons who get especially crude handling.

Do Mormon men really wear such absurd underwear? (Today's Star-Bulletin article about them stashing a YEAR's supply of food added to my raised eyebrow about that religious group, never mind growing up in Utah and having once wanted to become a member).

The best part of the play is the wicked, yet very funny, death of the infamous Roy Cohn with the spectre of Ethel Rosenberg in attendance, beautifully played by Martha Walstrum. She also plays two other characters in the spasmodically operatic play and gets full credit for keeping me awake and for keeping me from walking out.

It's pretentious trash, arch and affected as only American pseudo-intellectual faggots can accomplish, but certainly the cast and crew of the Manoa Valley Theatre did the best, the very best, any group could be asked to do with it.

I wasn't shocked, although I'm sure many people would be. I was mostly bored, occasionally amused. But since my record with "local theatre" mainly consists of falling asleep or walking out after the first act, I guess it qualifies as a success in its own way.

-----

Re: Manoa Valley Theatre's new production

: [Moderator's Comment: "Language"...]

I told some friends I sent the post to that I wasn't sure if the SCH moderators would accept it because of "Language", but believe me, my "language" was nothing compared to what is used in the play under discussion.

The review of the production in today's Star-Bulletin was, by contrast, very tame and rather boring. The cast and crew from MVT will, though, no doubt be pleased by the well-deserved praise they got and the suggestion that they'll be seeing awards for their efforts. If the award-deciders have a long enough memory, I'm sure that's right (the production just missed the Oscar/Tony equivalent's latest round and has to wait almost a year).

I had an email about the post which accused me of being a "homophobe". HA! Perhaps I am. But "faggot" is like "nigger". One is only allowed to use the terms if within the community they refer to.

The Star-Bulletin reviewer sidestepped what I think is a major point. Why on earth did the Manoa Valley Theatre group decide to do this awful play? Never mind they do a beautiful job with it, but the thing just isn't worth the massive effort they've put into it.

I know MVT loves doing offbeat, "kinky" works, but there must be better plays from young American writers out there, if they don't want to do classics. There must be.

[exit muttering something about surely hoping so ... ]

-----

359

You simply must stop eating so much, I told myself on Saturday evening. Not more than three minutes later I encountered a big muffin sitting on a table, beckoning at me through its transparent plastic wrapping. Blueberry. Freshly baked and delicious. Oh well, I said as I finished it, you will now ignore any plate lunch boxes for the rest of the day. I had to ignore three of them but this wasn't a great exercise in self-discipline. It was almost eight o'clock and I'd been eating frequently for twelve hours, since some McD's certificates had started the day off with the luxury of hotcakes. On both Saturday and Sunday there was an almost constant supply of food and even though I held it more in check on Monday that day, too, ended with a big blueberry muffin.

On Friday there was yet again one of those Virginia Slim cigarette packs in the usual trash bin. This time I could tell three were missing since there were three lengthy butts under a nearby bench. Okay, so a person buys a pack of cigarettes, takes a couple of puffs off three of them, and then throws the rest away. Exceedingly weird. But maybe I was on the right track. On Sunday, the packaging from a "beginner's kit" of a nicotine gum treatment was in that trash bin. I thought there was actually some gum in the box but it turned out to be a cassette tape explaining the routine. I didn't listen to it, but I would have given the gum a try had there been any. The treatment program lasts twelve weeks. I won't mind if the person keeps on throwing away a pack of cigarettes every day while chewing the gum.

Certainly as strange as someone discarding a pack of cigarettes every day is someone buying a 12-pack of Budweiser, drinking two and leaving the rest. But so it was on Monday morning and my backpack was exceedingly heavy with ten cans of Budweiser in it.

Saturday would have been a 3-Colt day but I bought a 24oz can of Bud for Rocky. He was strutting around shirtless in the park, most unusual since he almost always wears a tanktop. I told him it had been so long since I'd seen his chest I'd forgotten what a beautiful body he has. He was pleased with the compliment and even though faking protest, let me rub my hand down to his flat belly. Such smooth, soft skin over firm muscles ... indeed, a fine body. So later I took him the beer as a thank you gift. "What, no 40?" he asked. You'll have to let me stroke something else to get a 40, I teased, and he told me I am "terrible". True. I'm not sure which of us is the bigger slut.

The Snorer said the Sleeptalker has returned to Waianae. The Sleeptalker said a couple of weeks ago he might be doing that since his father thought they could work together (doing what was never mentioned). Considering what the Sleeptalker has told me about his father, I wouldn't expect it to be a long-term solution but for as long as it lasts, the Sleeptalker is out of my life. And I miss him.

359a

Funny, the Games People Play. Perhaps none more amusing than the games we create and play by ourselves, between our schizoid selves. A little melon fell from heaven. I pledged that none of it would go for "consumables". No cigarettes, no beer, no (alas) teabags. Instead it provided the sensible shopping expedition I had failed to do with the Fabled Pension Check. New slippers, toothbrush, razors, etc. The disposable razor I had been using had gotten so dull I was beginning to wonder if I'd have to grow a beard until the first of August. But the most wicked part of the game was the ban on teabags, a self-inflicted punishment. I know those early morning moments with a cup of tea on the quiet campus are a favorite part of my day, but I hadn't bought the month's stash. Okay, so suffer, see if you get the message this time. Yep, weird games.

Dame Fortune seemed to approve of my "discipline", though, because the harvest was bountiful from the Mall Game's Quarter Hunt. Not only was Saturday a 3-Colt day (or could have been), but so was Sunday. Monday fell short by two quarters, but it hardly mattered with 120oz of Budweiser in my backpack and there were even a couple of cans left from that bonanza on Tuesday.

Yes, I realize some of those quarters could have gone for teabags ...

The Whore was the only active competitor all weekend. He never arrives before about one-thirty and since I don't see him elsewhere, I suspect he hangs out at IHS until after the free lunch. Every day he was in his frantically greedy mode, rushing around clutching that silly little purse. I was astounded when I saw on Monday one way he spends his treasure, buying a Coke for 85 cents from the crackseed store! With gallons of the stuff discarded and available for free all over the mall, it's just too silly to spend money on it. But then he never seems to hunt for food or cigarette butts, either, so I guess he's the finicky type. Silly man.

A new player arrived on the scene, the Roadrunner, so called for his habit of dashing around like a whirlwind. He only appears in the very early morning, almost sprints up to the top level to get coins from the new fountain up there, runs quickly back down to the toilets where he brushes his teeth so animatedly it looks like one of those speeded-up films, and then seems to make an equally hurried round of the entire mall before disappearing. He's probably in his late twenties, only slightly grubby, and certainly seems to have energy to spare. I'm glad he doesn't stick around to play the cart game.

Monday's odd finds included a pair of earrings which look like little gold bars. Since they were still on a card with the price tag, $16.95 suggests fool's gold, and anyone who would spend that much on costume jewelry and just throw it away qualifies as a fool. A little bracelet which may really be gold was lost, not thrown away, I think. And I began to wonder at one point if I was subconsciously casting a spell on people because there have never been so many cases of people dropping coins in my presence. They all picked them up, and I even helped one woman collect her spill, but it happened so often it got to be quite funny.

Silly Rocky, though, just doesn't get the message. Once again he strutted up, in company with two dull, older guys. "You got beer?" Yes, I surely did but I just said with a smile, "get outta here." You want beer, boy? Then take off your shirt and leave your boring buddies behind. No, I won't say that, but he should by now have figured it out.

His reputation as Pied Piper is slipping. The young lads who were following him around a couple of weeks ago haven't reappeared and he's hanging out with some very uninteresting people. Still, he was responsible for Mondo and the Sleeptalker entering my life, so I won't give up hope. Mondo has "a place of his own" now, Rocky told me, so I assume he has reconciled with his family and moved into one of the apartments he inherited. I'm happy for him, but do miss seeing him, almost as much as I miss the Sleeptalker.

The weekend was dominated, though, by that name which has played so great a role in my adult life. Kennedy. I loved his father, I adored his mother. I didn't pay much attention to him as an adult, saw photos from time to time and wasn't surprised at all to see that sweet little boy who had been such a delight in his all-too-brief White House life grow into an elegantly handsome man. With such parents, how could it have been otherwise. But he stayed "John John" for me and the first image which came to mind when hearing of his disappearance was, of course, that poignant one of him saluting, quickly followed by remembering my favorite of them all, him peering out from under that massive desk where his father sat working. That one was printed in the Sunday paper.

In one of the first interviews I heard, a friend of the family said her first reaction was "this can't be, it's asking too much." Yes, I agree.

360

I was going to call this section of the Tales last month of the ninth year but when I checked my passport I saw I was mistaken and the "last month" is almost over. It was not on August 20th but August 2nd that I flew from Bangkok to Tokyo to Honolulu. 1989.

Odd, since I've often contributed to it, but I'd forgotten a potential source of free books. The trash bin outside Rainbow Books. Several times I've taken books there to sell and when they weren't wanted, thrown them into that trash bin. I went to Rainbow to get a copy of Candide but they didn't have one for less than three dollars, so that project was postponed. When leaving, I glanced in that trash bin and retrieved four books. The first I read was Susie Moloney's A Dry Spell, an engrossing, spooky tale of a Rainman in the Stephen King mode.

The acquisition of a new supply of light reading added emphasis to the missing stash of teabags, but the nice thing about creating games to play by yourself is that you can change the rules at any time. So I changed them, negotiated a ten dollar loan and bought teabags. 48 teabags. That stash will last well into the August pension check period, so it's just starting on it a little early, ran the justification. Inconsequential fiction, a cup of tea, dawn over the campus ... the stuff that makes life worth living.

Once again on Wednesday morning, there it was. A pack of Virginia Slims. I almost begin to feel sorry for that person.

The three lads Rocky had introduced me to were at the mall on Tuesday and Wednesday after a long absence. The cutest of the three echoed The Master: "you got beer?" These silly boys. Are they naive or just plain dumb? If the lad had approached me on his own, I'd have been happy to share a beer with him, just to enjoy some time in his company and to hear a little of his story. But to split a beer four ways, I think not. I patted the coinbox on the cart I was returning and said, "working on the third bottle." He should have tagged along, but didn't. Silly boys.

Aside from cigarette butts, quarters and food, the most commonly found objects are tee shirts. If I'd saved all the tee shirts I've found, I'd have a huge collection. This week's finds include a 1993 Merrie Monarch Festival shirt which I stowed in my campus stash box and a Greatland Trading Co. one in a nice shade of dusty violet which I'm wearing as I write. I prefer carrying only two tee shirts in my bag but am reluctant to put either of the current two (Kamehameha Schools and Kingdom of Tonga) in the stash box because I don't want to lose them. They're too much fun to wear, always get reactions from people who'd probably never speak to me otherwise. Kam grads and Tongans.

So the current in-pack wardrobe consists of three tee shirts, one pair surfer shorts, one pair long pants, one long-sleeved denim shirt, one pair black Nike socks, Ralph Lauren briefs, and a floppy little hat that only gets worn when it's raining. The long-sleeved shirt and socks are for sleeping, the pants likewise and for very early morning. Too much stuff.

361

A decade on this mountaintop in the middle of the Pacific. As the anniversary approaches, my thoughts frequently stray to an examination of those ten years, never ceasing to feel continued surprise that it happened, that the longest continuous time I've stayed anywhere in my life should be on this island where I had planned a two-week break in my journey to San Diego.

It was obvious, very early on Thursday morning, that it was going to be a prime day for the Mall Game. The place was unusually crowded for a weekday and there were frequent periods of gray skies and drizzle, conditions which always suggest good hunting. The impression was reinforced by having financing for two Colts in hand before noon. By mid-afternoon two of the three stroller corrals were totally empty; lots of quarters circulating out there.

Clink-clink, clink-clink. I had noticed the Japanese couple and their two small children and the two strollers they had rented. I was sitting near a return corral looking at a newspaper when the couple walked up, returned the strollers and went on their way leaving me the task of retrieving the four quarters.

That kind of incident has no doubt happened to the Whore as well, and he seems to have become obsessed with the strollers. Considering how many were in circulation and that easy dollar I made, I didn't much blame the Whore when I noticed him settle on a bench near a corral. But he made several mistakes. It was too early in the day to expect many returns, he couldn't see the bus stop where many Japanese abandon the strollers rather than returning them and, poor fellow, he fell asleep. I retrieved two quarters almost literally from under his nose while he dozed on. And, of course, he left the shopping cart field open for me. It turned out to be a four-Colt day, setting a new record.

One thing the Mall Game has in common with the online games, and no doubt with all games, is how difficult it is to quit playing when you know you are approaching a new record. When the last stroller finally put me over the eight dollar mark, I was sufficiently tired to just sit and watch the people until it was late enough to head for the cloisters, buy the Colt reward for my efforts and enjoy it with Wilbur Smith's The Seventh Scroll, the next in the line of escapist fiction. I'd had the first Colt at lunchtime, got sufficiently engrossed in the book that the one-bottle nightcap turned into two-bottles, leaving enough in my pocket for Friday's lunch. Yes, a successful day of game playing.

Rocky caught me in the early evening, tried to get me to buy a beer then and share it but I told him I was waiting till later. Poor boy. If only I was as smitten with him as I am with the Sleeptalker, he'd get a lot more beer. I knew if it had been the Sleeptalker, I would have been off to the shop for two bottles immediately. Rocky remembers how I so often arrived at the hacienda with my bottle-of-beer nightcap, knew that was what I meant by later, and asked again if I was still sleeping at the cloisters. I said yes, but answered his follow-up questions carefully, not wanting to encourage him to show up there. I remember those Rocky Horror Social Club gatherings with great fondness but have no desire to see them revived at the cloisters, and especially without Mondo and the Sleeptalker as part of them. Poor Rocky.

In complete contrast to Thursday, Friday provided a really lousy game. The first coins, two quarters from a returned stroller, didn't appear until almost eleven in the morning. No Virginia Slims. They may have been taken by the Bicycle Man, a mousie fellow in his early thirties who rides a bicycle around and around the mall all day, checking curbside trashbins. He was making his first rounds unusually early and had passed by the tobacco mine just before my arrival. But there was an unusual breakfast of French toast strips from Burger King, a huge lunch of beef and rice from Yummy Korean Barbecue and a strange but tastey dinner from Mama Mia's Spaghetti House, cold spaghetti and large meatballs in a chilled cream sauce. There were vouchers for free sandwiches from McD's, both the morning and the afternoon newspapers, and a National Geographic with an article on the Mustang region of Nepal.

Any game, though, becomes dull when too long a time passes without something interesting happening and by noon I'd had enough, took the surplus from Thursday, bought a Colt and went to the park for a shower, then sat and enjoyed the brew and the article and pictures about Nepal. The brief summary the author gave of the Powers he had to persuade to let him enter that forbidden region made me smile over my far less impressive arsenal in the 1973 attempt. Little wonder I didn't succeed.

I would have stayed in the park or on the beach for the rest of the afternoon but the drizzle which had obscured the mountains for most of the day finally spread south. The beach was out, the campus was out (as it had been all week because of continuing drizzle), so it was back to the mall. By early evening I still had only $1.56, groaned when I returned a stroller to find the corral had once again run out of quarters, my annoyance only leavened by the wicked satisfaction of knowing the Whore, still obsessed with strollers, would get ripped-off by that corral, too. I was reconciled to a much smaller nightcap, probably a 16oz Budweiser. Then I noticed a child's small plastic notebook cover left in an ashtray. When I picked it up and examined it, I found a dollar bill tucked inside the slot which had probably once held a pad of paper. Now that was a fine ending to an otherwise rather dull day and I went off to the cloisters with my bottle of Colt.

As I was getting my cardboard from the usual dumpster, a young man strolled over and asked me for a smoke. "Don't have any," I said, "just got butts." "I'll take one," he said, unzipping his pants and pulling it out to have a piss on the side of the dumpster. I held out my box of snipes and told him to take the longest one, so one hand still busy with aiming, he used the other to grab the snipe and thanked me. Local boys no ka oi.

The dawn hour with tea, the final hour of the waking day with a beer. Something at least reasonably interesting to read with them (and The Seventh Scroll qualifies). Anchors in a strange life which young men often make even more strange. And amusing.

362

The best find in the weekend's treasure hunt was a bar of soap. Ivory, just out of its wrapper which was left on the shower bench, too. I've very rarely had to buy soap so it's not an automatic part of my "sensible shopping" expeditions. But this time I was beginning to think the little sliver I had left wasn't going to last until the arrival of the Fabled Pension Check and no one had left any in the shower. No problem, a soap bar fell from heaven.

Dame Fortune played a wicked hand on Saturday, kept me in suspense until early evening. Will there or will there not be a nightcap? Finally she relented just after seven when the needed one-more-quarter showed up. Then she added three more in the half hour before the last bus was due and as if to chide me for my lack of faith, put three bottles of Budweiser in my path to the cloisters. A Colt, three Buds and The Seventh Scroll ... nice finale to a bountiful week.

All the Sunday Amateurs came out to play the next day, alas. Even Tugboat Annie was in action. The Whore strangely made a brief appearance in mid-afternoon but was otherwise missing. The Amateurs concentrate on the bus-stops near the supermarket and consequently miss out on the big game, those strollers. Thanks to them it was a 2-Colt day with yet again three quarters to hold over for the next day. The advantage of the Dame's Saturday technique was being spared the need to decide, do I drink it now or wait until nightcap financing is also in hand? With the active Amateurs and not knowing the Whore was going to remain absent, I decided to play it safe, so it was the sunset hour before I went over to the beach to enjoy some brew, knowing the nightcap money was in reserve.

I spotted Rocky a couple of times but managed to dodge him. On Saturday, waiting for the bus, I got caught by an old guy who spends most of his time messing around with whatever it is he keeps in the two plastic shopping bags he always carries. He launched into his life story, told me he and some other guys have a safe sleeping place in Waikiki and invited me to join them. Poor old man was talking a mile a minute, so happy with a new audience, I suppose. I was relieved when my bus finally arrived, shook his hand and wished him a good night. He was lurking at the bus-stop again on Sunday and I noticed a couple of the other regulars making an effort to avoid getting into conversation with him. I did, too.

The new McDonald's game features little bits of paper with letters on them. The grand prize is a million dollars, handed out fifty grand a year. Three letters are necessary to win and I have two of them. So do, I am sure, millions of other people, but it nevertheless invokes some fantasy on what winning would mean. Unlike the reader-inspired thoughts on suddenly receiving five thousand dollars, fifty grand a year for the rest of my life is the proverbial different horse. So I was sitting there watching the ocean and the big round moon, watching as the stars began to appear, and wondered what I'd do if I won that game. I couldn't make up my mind so settled it by saying I'd just sit in Duke's for a couple of weeks thinking about it.

Maybe the couple of weeks would turn out to be like the couple of weeks I intended to spend in Honolulu and I'd still be sitting in Duke's spending my annual fifty grand when August 2, 2009 arrived.

363

Rocky came up from behind me on Monday. Caught. "You got beer?" he asked, as usual. I told him I was working on my second bottle, reminded him that he knows from the Hacienda Days how I love that bedtime brew. He nailed me. "If [the Sleeptalker] were here, you'd buy one now," he said. I didn't deny it, sidestepped it by promising to buy him a 40 from the Fabled Pension Check.

A lunchtime or sunset brew is certainly a pleasant thing to have, but it's that nightcap which is most treasured. So an ideal game begins with eight quarters in pocket before the Whore arrives on the scene. I was one short when he turned up on Monday. He has a very bad memory, I think, because he doesn't seem to remember the habitual Leavers. A Leaver who just takes the cart over one block to a different bus line is worth following, one who toddles off down the road to some apartment building is not. But he once again set off following the woman who takes the cart inside the building with her and just as he was trudging back a woman came out of the supermarket, got in a taxi and said to the driver, "forget it", waving at the cart. I grabbed it before the Whore could get there. Nightcap assured.

A reader asked why I call him the Whore. It's the main insult the Boys use with each other, although with them there's an affection in the usage which certainly doesn't apply in this case. The Whore has thick wavy hair that looks like a bad Thirties perm and frequently takes out a large comb to run through it. His potbelly makes him look considerably pregnant. But it's that purse he constantly clutches which really earned him the title of The Whore.

He was his usual frantically greedy self on Monday. I had followed an old man who shops two or three times a week and always leaves his cart at the bus stop just a few yards from a return corral. He was messing around even longer than usual rearranging the contents of his two bags, so I was standing nearby waiting for him to finish. The Whore spotted the cart (and me) but started walking toward us anyway. I moved a few steps closer. He gave up and waddled on his way. Silly man.

He seems to have had a falling out with his usual yakking buddy because they totally ignored each other all day. But luckily he acquired another one and was busy gabbing away with him when I hit an amazing bonanza. I've gotten pretty good at detecting when a Japanese couple is getting ready to leave the mall, leaving their stroller, spotted a likely target and grabbed the stroller when they left it. At the return corral I not only got my two quarters, but there were already two abandoned quarters in the machine. At the moment I collected those, someone left a cart at the taxi stand across the street. I grabbed it, wheeled it to the return corral and found someone had pushed a cart in there without retrieving the quarter, then spotted another cart lurking behind a van nearby. $1.75 in about fifteen minutes. Never would have happened if the Whore hadn't been busy yakking.

As the sunset hour approached, I was short three cents. I headed to the Food Court to see if Myra was there, knowing I could get three pennies from her, and found one penny on the way. Two cents needed for a sunset brew. Myra wasn't there. I thought it quite certain I'd find those two cents before the end of the evening, could go ahead and put the nightcap at risk, but decided that might be inviting a jinx. So I patiently waited until another cart was abandoned, then bought a Colt and went to the very, very windy beach to enjoy the full-ish moon and the wispy white clouds speeding across it.

The Food Supply Angel went very upscale. Both Sunday's dinner and Monday's lunch came from the Mariposa, a very posh restaurant at Neiman-Marcus. Dinner was a delicious salad of Romaine lettuce, chunks of white turkey meat and lightly garlic-flavored croutons in a subtle dressing, a delightful contrast to the usual heavy Chinese meals. Monday's lunch was half of a club sandwich ... turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado. Yummy. The Mariposa's "doggie bags" are clear plastic boxes which seal tightly. I won't complain at all if they appear more frequently.


364

There are some things more important than games, online or off. More important than quarters or beer or food, even. One of them is the perfect Hawaiian beach day, especially in a summer when they are so rare, with more cloud cover and more frequent periods of drizzle than usual. Tuesday was such a day although it would have been hard to predict it from the hideous dawn hour on campus. The wind was so strong the drizzle came down horizontally and I had to move from cloisters to sheltered tea-drinking spot to computer center in dashes between the heavier wetness. Once at the mall, though, the wind had reduced to a pleasant breeze and the skies were clear. Far too beautiful to waste by hanging out in a shopping mall, even one as open-air as Ala Moana, so most of the morning and early afternoon was spent at the beach and in the park.

The price for this indulgence was, of course, substantially reduced income and it was a nightcap-only day with just a few pennies leftover. Shrug. Like I said, some things are more important.

In the mall, there is continual Hawaiian recorded music playing from ceiling speakers over the walkways. When out of hearing range, I've been emulating the routine of Buddhist monks walking the paths of Himalayan foothills, murmuring a mantra and spinning a prayer wheel. An actual wheel would be a bit too eccentric an image, I think, but I have one spinning in my head and repeat a mantra made of variations using om in its short form with a long oh, the multi-toned aum, and Ganesh with its almost silent final A. om Ganesha aum is a frequently used variation, as is om Ganesha aum aum aum. Even when I am not consciously and deliberately repeating it, the variant seems to be repeating itself just below the level of consciousness. The most notable effect of the exercise has been the absence of the internal jukebox.

"Where's the money?" I asked Myra when I ran into her early in the day. "What money?" she asked. I said the horoscope in the morning newspaper had said someone would give me money, surely it meant her. She laughed and said she didn't need to do any food shopping, else she'd abandon the cart for me afterwards. Fair enough, and that brash astrologer was justified, I guess, by the seven people who indirectly gave me quarters. Weird for a mass astrologer to make such a blunt unqualified prediction. Did someone give money on Tuesday to everyone born in Aries? I doubt it.

I went back to the beach to watch the sunset. After it sank into the sea the huge, full moon came into view and a most magical flight of cloud dragons paraded across the mountains. The sky was clear except for that band of fast-moving clouds with their wispy edges taking on mythic shape so clearly that one battle when two dragons collided could have been a deliberately animated film sequence. Maybe I lost out on a few quarters while watching that show, too, but it was more than worth it.

Beautiful moon, beautiful evening. Just before leaving the mall, I found a recent copy of Forbes magazine. It's twice as thick as any issue of the Economist I've seen but doesn't come close to that standard of writing and in-depth analysis. Still, it made for amusing reading with my nightcap bottle of Colt, even more amusing to be reading these journals about high finance, given my basic daily goal of $2.07 profit.

365

Tomita-san. Such a long time since I last saw him. He didn't notice me as he walked past, talking with an older woman who may have been his mother. He has shaved off that little goatee which grew with such glacial slowness, has gained weight. If not for the Kublai connection and his saying something in his typical lilt as he passed, I might not have recognized him. Kublai? The inimitable Felix believes paintings or photographs can provide intuitive clues to who someone was in previous lives, not as I understand it that someone necessarily shares the exact facial features but that a sympathetic chord is struck, so to speak. In the book on Asian history there was a drawing of Kublai Khan and when I turned the page and saw that picture, I laughed aloud. Tomita-san!

I didn't interrupt his conversation to say hello, was happy just to have seen him and amused that he passed while I was in the midst of a McD's-inspired spin-off fantasy. A silent slave auction. How much would I bid to spend a night with a man? The benchmark was set by the Sleeptalker at a thousand dollars. It was a bad hunk day at the mall, no one came close. There were some I'd bid one hundred for but just for an hour, wouldn't want to spend an entire night with them. Then a local hairy sea dwarf tipped the scale at five hundred.

[That book on Asian history also informed me that the early Chinese in their first encounter with the Japanese dubbed them "hairy sea dwarves", a fact I'll never manage to get out of my mind.]

There was one other five hundred bid, Dark Eyes. Such a sweet-looking young man, such beautiful eyes. I see him almost every day at the mall although he doesn't seem to work there. Yes, definitely a $500 bid. Travis at the supermarket evidently had the day off; he might have pushed the bidding even higher.

Dame Fortune seems to think I need more calcium, and I can't disagree. A couple of days earlier I'd come across a large plastic cup almost full of white liquid, thought it was probably some kind of shake. It wasn't. Just plain, cold, delicious milk. That was topped on Wednesday by a whole quart of the stuff. I could happily drink one of those every morning.

But the Food Supply Angel jumped the gun. Wednesday's lunch should have been saved for Monday and the Tenth Anniversary. Lau lau, poke, Kalua pig, chicken long rice, a mini-luau in a white box. All of the long rice and most of the poke was left for someone else, though.

The day began with, yet again, a pack of Virginia Slims. It had been so long since finding one I was wondering if the person had finally managed to beat that early morning temptation to take a few puffs or had just given up and gone on smoking the whole pack. But no, there it was, and in the evening I came across yet another pack of the things with only one missing, and that one in a nearby ashtray, barely smoked. Undoubtedly the same donor. I'm tempted to go down earlier one morning and wait to have a look at this strange phenomenon.

It was a two Colt day, but I had only the one as a nightcap. As the sunset hour approached, I was still three quarters short. The usual debate took place, one voice saying go ahead, you're sure to get those three quarters for the nightcap. But another voice said, no, don't chance it. I would have been nervous had I taken the risk because the last two quarters didn't turn up until only minutes before time for the last bus to the cloisters.

The end of the month, Social Security and welfare checks gone, foodstamps running low, quarters evidently become important to people who usually ignore them. Charlie Chan, who ordinarily spends his days sitting outside McD's drinking coffee, reading newspapers and yakking with the other SocSec crowd, was on the hunt. The SocSec crowd should be banned from the game but then I suppose if I reach the point of getting those checks, I'll still be hunting quarters in the last week of the month, too. Knowing me, I'll probably be starting the hunt by the middle of the month.

366

"What kind of stupid game is this," I grumbled on Thursday morning. No Virginia Slims. Almost eleven o'clock and only twenty-six cents profit. Humbug. I could see the hills around the campus were free of the drizzle which had plagued the area all week, so took my bounty from the day before, bought a Colt and sat happily in the secluded grove with the brew and Patricia McKillip's The Riddlemaster of Hed. A pseudo-medieval fantasy, the first volume in a trilogy. Tolkien certainly established the trilogy as a fixture of fantasy fiction and in this particular case a rather annoying one since the book was so short all three could surely have been published in a single volume. The plot was sufficiently amusing that I'll keep an eye out for the other two, though.

I stopped up to see Kory K but he wasn't in his office. Someone had written "where are you?" on the blackboard by his desk. Keali'i came in. "Where is he?" he asked. No idea, I said and asked if he'd written the message on the board. He had, but several days ago, picked up the eraser and scrubbed the message. He went on his way, I waited for a few minutes. Still no Kory, so I wrote the equation T equals the square root of [symbol for] infinity times pi squared on the board and left. As good a definition of time as any I've seen. So it doesn't make sense, neither does time.

The Whore spoke to me! When I went back to the mall in the late afternoon there was a cart sitting at the bus stop. How odd it hadn't been spotted. The Whore was standing by the main corral when I returned it, warned me to be careful. He said a security guard had told him to leave the carts alone or he'd be banned from the mall. How stupid, I said, why should they care if someone returns the carts. He agreed, said he had talked with one of the supermarket managers and they were quite happy to have the carts returned since they didn't have to send one of their employees out to do the job. I went over to the park to shower, wondering if the Whore was just trying to discourage competition. Why was he still hanging around outside the supermarket entrance if he couldn't return carts?

Since no one had officially cautioned me, I rounded up a few more carts, then spotted one in the corral with its quarter still there. It was one of the occasional tough ones, didn't want to give up the coin. The fingernail file on my little Swiss Army knife is perfect for nudging the coin out, and I had just gotten it loose when the Whore walked up, said it's okay, he had talked to one of the sergeants in the security army who told him to ignore what the other one had said, there was no policy against people returning the carts. "And I was standing around all day without returning carts," he lamented. "Ha!" I replied, "wish I'd known, because I wasn't here all day." He said he'd noticed my absence. I guess Charlie Chan and Bla must have had a very good day with the cart hunt.

The Virginia Slims benefactor was well upstaged on Saturday morning. Walking through the secluded grove, I noticed a plastic shopping bag, could see a Marboro carton box inside and thought it must be trash. No trash, eight packs of Marboros! There was also a dollar bill and thirty-one cents in coins and a new, still-sealed Degree deodorant stick. How very odd. Someone must have gotten so drunk they wandered off without realizing they'd left the bag behind. The Snipe Hunt is suspended for awhile.

I'd spent Friday in something of an aimless daze, stayed on campus until late morning and then headed to the beach. I was feeling bored with the Mall Game, only returned carts and strollers if they happened to be in my path while collecting snipes. Finding two strollers abandoned together was most fortunate although I had a few moments of nervousness taking them down in an elevator. Someone had gotten stuck in there for at least an hour earlier in the week. The car had reached the ground level but the doors wouldn't open and the fire department was called, managed after what seemed an extraordinarily long time to wedge one door open. I wondered what they would have done had there actually been a fire.

I found a copy of Allen Drury's The Hill of Summer, spent some time in the park with a bottle of Colt and the book. It's such a Cold War relic.

Time doesn't make sense and our awareness of its passing utterly subjective. July slipped by so quickly, in my perception, that it was more like a week than a month.

367

It was one of those odd synchronicities which are my favorite things in life. When I retrieved the second McKillip book I had stashed, I discovered it was the final volume of the trilogy. I was sorry not to find the second volume at Rainbow Books, but went ahead and read the third one, able to fill in the gaps in knowledge without too much difficulty. She is an excellent weaver of tales and the third book altered my plans by dominating my attention. In the book, some of the characters are able to assume the form of animals, or birds ... or trees.

Then an email arrived from a reader who had discovered the Tales while searching for references to Hesse's Piktor's Metamorphosis and included in his mail an illustration, a painting he had done thirty years ago as a copy of Hesse's original. Piktor, of course, transformed himself into a tree.

The "coincidence" added to my usual pleasure in sitting under that beautiful old tree in the secluded grove on a weekend which Cainer had said would contain "slow progress or no progress". Yes, he had that right, and I could sense it was that kind of time even without his warning, did nothing to combat or resist it.

The Fabled Pension Check was very tardy, as it had been last August, too, but friends kindly sent a generous contribution toward the Tenth Anniversary celebration so the party didn't have to be postponed. I grow old, I grow old. I think the time has come to abandon any thought of such ambitious partying. I was totally wasted the following day and even with a longer than usual sleep, still dragging somewhat on the second day after the party.

I had considered various possibilities, settled upon the notion of having one drink in each of my favorite bars. I started at Manoa Garden where Bryant, hearing my plan, said he was grateful I'd decided to start rather than end the party there. After a large Budweiser, I went downtown to the Pier Bar. Jimbo is such a fine bartender, such a nice man, and the atmosphere there on the harbor so delightful that the "one drink" plan fell by the wayside and there were not only two Budweisers and a shot of Cuervo 1800, but an extra shot of that fine liquid he gave me as "one for the road". A fine time, possibly the best part of the whole party. The biggest mistake was including Gordon Biersch on my schedule. It was once my very favorite bar. It is no longer. Still, their brew is good stuff so despite the lousy service and the dreadful plate of calamari I ordered, (thinking it wise to add at least a little something solid to the intake), it was still pleasant to remember better times (and better cooking) there. I should have skipped it, though.

House Without a Key at the Halekulani. As I told friends, the word for that hotel is impeccable. A Bloody Mary at sunset there is quite possibly the most gracious and civilized experience one can have in Waikiki.

Duke's was next on the list and, as I had suspected, once there I went no further. I love that bar, most of the bartenders are superb, and there are always interesting people to talk with or just to watch. Two young men from the mainland revived memories of the "slave auction" ... one tipped the scale at a thousand, matching the Sleeptalker benchmark. A salesman on his way to Japan and Korea bought me a beer for telling him about "hairy sea dwarf" which he thought extremely funny. A man from the Sudan who lives in Qatar was very impressed that I'd not only heard of his country of residence but knew how to spell it, and bought me another beer. I have no idea how many I had but knew I'd never make it to the Regent's Ocean Terrace to hear Jerry Santos. That's okay. Duke's is number one on my list of reasons to be grateful for the ten years here, at least so far as watering holes are concerned.

I bought a bottle of Colt on my way to the cloisters which was a bit silly since I certainly couldn't drink any of it and consequently had it warm for the next day's lunch, even though I could barely drink it then, too.

Yes, getting too old for such ambitious partying.

I wish I could sometimes transform myself into a tree.

368

When I first encountered Tolkien's masterwork, time stopped. My life stopped. I cancelled all plans, sent my regrets to all invitations. I did almost nothing while I followed Frodo & Company on their adventurous path to Mordor. Edward was, as he usually was, most understanding, would bring me cups of tea, an occasional tray of food, but otherwise left me alone with my reading.

Robert Jordan's massive, multi-volume epic, The Wheel of Time, is having the same effect on me.

All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air ...

It isn't cold, though a little damp. But yes, a room somewhere, with one enormous chair, oh, wouldn't it be luverly.

I'll make do with what's available. Work with available materials. And I'm fortunate enough to have the green paper to buy the entire epic, fortunate enough to have the campus at UH-Manoa with its wonderful little nooks, its secluded grove, to sit and read.

And that's what I'll do.

During intermissions, I began a little tribute to The Sleeptalker, on the occasion of the First Anniversary of our meeting. My cut-and-paste ability is severely limited, so it will be awhile before that tribute includes all the most memorable moments of knowing that young man, but it will be found in the Possessions in Great Measure section of the Tales.

For him, Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and the artist who sent me the tree, I am most grateful.

369

"Albert!" I heard, walking from the secluded grove.

Gregory, my Tadzio.

Encounters with Gregory seem to be a special omen, as one would expect of a Tadzio. Like all of them, this one was a complete surprise. I was so lost in Jordan's universe, meeting Gregory was like waking from a dream. Indeed, he asked, "did you just wake up?"

No, dear man, I have not yet awakened. I shall probably sleep right through this life.

370

Almost became a tree the first week of August. Certainly became rooted, gripped by Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga, most of the time in the secluded grove when it was not too wet to stay there.

The Whore must have been a very happy man. I never went near the mall.

370a

Sometimes, when you come across one of these multi-volume epics, in whatever genre, the first volume is almost brilliant and then it steadily gets to be more and more routine.

Not so with Robert Jordan. Volume Three was a total spellweaver.

371

"... a solar eclipse will anchor an unprecedented astrological array that some are calling a Cosmic Crucifixion. Mars in Scorpio will oppose Saturn in Taurus, creating one arm of the cross, while Sun and Moon in Leo will counter Uranus in Aquarius to form the other arm."

On Monday morning, approaching noon, I finally left campus for the first time in a week and went to the beach to have a shower. I didn't see Rocky, looked for him enough to be able to honestly say, next time I see him, that I tried to find him to buy that beer I'd promised. He'll have to wait for September. The Snorer was just coming out of the shower house and, as reliably as Rocky's usual first greeting, asked, "you have a cigarette?" "No," I lied. I had three, actually, but it irks me that someone who has two jobs tries to bum smokes off of me. "Any butts?" "No," I said, "just came down from campus and haven't swung through the mall yet." Let the lazy bugger walk across the street and hunt his own snipes. Sheez.

My kind of mood on Monday, not one of my favorites, either.

I had the shower, made a partial walk through the mall to collect a few snipes and returned to campus with a Colt, back to my reading.

A few months ago, a newcomer arrived on campus, bearded man probably in his late forties. He's a relatively affluent nomad, carries a laptop computer around in his backpack. The Frenchman. His affluence extends to having his favorite shag tobacco sent to him for rolling, but sometimes he seems to smoke too much and his next supply doesn't arrive in time. The first time he asked me for a smoke, he explained that, offered to return my favor with some of his leaf when arrived and show me how to roll it. I assured him I knew how to roll a smoke [understatement], told him not to worry about it. I try to avoid him. He almost constantly whistles. Aimlessly, tunelessly, even in the pre-dawn hour. I have no idea where he sleeps but am deeply grateful it isn't the cloisters.

Now he has started competing for the campus ashtray bounty. Arrrghhh. And he competed successfully enough I had to make a Tuesday morning trip to the mall, too, just to hunt snipes. On neither trip to the mall did I return a single cart, but I noticed on Tuesday that one of the usual Sunday Amateurs was busy at the game. I guess with my absence the reward has encouraged him to go professional. The Whore will not be pleased. Me, neither, when and if I return to the game. And that, I suppose, will be fairly soon since my pockets are almost empty. I didn't feel the least bit of urge to do it on those two mall visits, though. Just wanted to get done what I went there to do and get back to campus and Jordan's universe.

The campus was so busy and crowded on Tuesday it made me doubly aware the "summer idyll" is almost over. Much of the crowd came from incoming students, on campus for this and that, and after the ghost-town week of the interim between Summer Session 2 and the start of the new academic year in little more than ten days, it will be back to a swarming anthill and I'll have to re-train myself not to move from one place to another at certain crucial times of the day, to overcome annoyance because students cluster around ashtrays (even more so than the hairy sea dwarfs at the mall), reconcile myself to the secluded grove not always being so secluded.

But, of course, first I have to survive that week when bodies, food and tobacco will be in very short supply. Not a smart time to lose interest in the Mall Game.

372

Cainer said the Eclipse, accentuated by its role in the Cosmic Diamond, had a great cleansing effect. Make the outer as the inner, in that case, I told myself, and went on the morning after the Eclipse to have a shower.

At the start, I had the place to myself. Much as I sometimes enjoy a shower companion, I was more in the get-it-done-and-get-out mood I'd been in all week. A young man, seemingly Polynesian came in. He wasn't especially attractive. But he was obviously interested in me, stood there looking intently. Strange. I was about to give him a show when an older man, silvery white hair and hung like a horse, walked in, said something to the young man in a language I couldn't identify. Uh-oh. Playing a game with someone's toyboy. The older man took over his friend's shower, almost pushing him out, and they left together. Then I was sitting at a picnic table enjoying a smoke after the shower and the young man walked over to the table and around me, looking all the time. I ignored him, felt like saying, "baby, stick with the sugar daddy you've got, he's better able to take care of you."

Very early in the Tales of life at the cloisters, I mentioned a Filipino man who was shivering, rubbing his arms and bare chest with his hands to warm them, spoke of my guilt at not having given him at least a tee shirt. He has returned and seems to have gone slightly mad during his absence. He walks quickly round and round the cloisters, muttering to himself, sometimes for an hour or more before finally settling onto bare concrete and sleeping. Twice he asked me for a cigarette. Both times I refused, both times he just stood there and stared at me for some minutes before resuming his striding and muttering. On the night of the Full Moon his mutterings were almost rants and he seemed to spend the entire night with his endless walk around and around the courtyard. The night of the Eclipse was almost as bad, but at least he had found cigarettes somewhere so didn't bother me except to ask once for a light. I think he's well on the road to total madness but too far gone for me to be of any assistance.

I stayed at the mall for an hour or so after the shower and halfheartedly played the game, encouraged by encountering some tourists abandoning a stroller just as I crossed over from the park. An hour yielded $1.75 and half a pepperoni pizza from the newly opened California Pizza Kitchen which was filling but quite dull. That Sunday Amateur is indeed an amateur, was sitting within noticing range of an abandoned stroller but was too busy gabbing with another old guy to see it.

I wondered if my lack of enthusiasm was simply not needing the money, not urgently anyway, since I had enough money left for two Colts, but I think it's more complex than that.

Part of it is the season. The increased air temperature within the mall is most welcome in the winter months, far less so in August. Then, too, I've been spoiled by a week of sitting around reading, not walking around with that wretched backpack as a burden. And, too, there are a few people at the mall I'm genuinely weary of seeing, welcomed their absence from my life.

But I have a suspicion there are other reasons I don't particularly want to identify and think about right now.

373

Betka sent a provocatively perceptive commentary on the month of August from the astrologer Erick Francis. "You are finally seeking your freedom, but remember that this takes a highly advanced sense that life is about play more than it's about work," he writes. Indeed. Some of what he wrote is tougher to digest, though, requires some mulling over.

An incident on Wednesday night made me keenly aware of how differently I regard men and women. The idea of a gay man out cruising young homeless guys doesn't strike me as anything at all strange or, especially after hearing some of the Lads talk, unusual. A woman out doing it ... well, that does raise my eyebrow, so to speak. One came to the cloisters, walked around looking at people sleeping. I thought she was searching for one particular person. As she passed me she said, "good evening." I looked up from my book and returned the greeting. She was probably in her forties, not in the least attractive although she acted as if she used Dietrich or Swanson as her role models. I wasn't impressed, certainly not interested, and when she made to settle down for a chat, told her I was busy reading. "Don't you want to have a little fun?" she asked. I assured her I wanted only to be left alone with my book. She flew into a rage, called me a "sewer rat" and worse. "Disappear!" I said as strongly as I could, well matching her fury if not surpassing it. That stopped her but she didn't move, so I repeated it. She scurried off, left the cloisters altogether, muttering about "sewer rats".

Life is, indeed, strange.

Play. Well, now, do we play the Mall Game or not? Does having empty pockets make a difference? A question to be answered on the twelfth day of August ...

374

When I woke on Thursday morning, it seemed the right time to wake up but it was as dark as the middle of the night. I looked at my watch, checked again to be sure it had said six o'clock. There were such dense, dark clouds over Manoa that all signs of the coming dawn were blocked. Then a cloud parked in Manoa. Not over it, in it. It was rather gothic and romantic but very damp.

That played the decisive role in the debate over whether or not to play the Mall Game. There were two voices of intuition in active conversation. One said it just didn't feel like a lucky day, the other kept urging me not to return to campus every time I considered it. A look in the direction of Manoa Valley revealed nothing but a gray blur with the silhouettes of the mountains barely visible, making it none too difficult to listen to the second voice. And, of course, once it was a matter of only three more quarters for a nightcap, the second voice won. But the first voice hadn't been wrong, either. It was not a very lucky day.

My main purpose in playing, though, was not to win but more to carefully observe my own game play and that of others. Bla was hunting with a hectic intensity quite unlike him; I wondered if perhaps he was among the latest group of people to be denied further welfare checks. Then, when he vanished in the afternoon, I thought perhaps his new strategy was to get as much as he could in the morning and then abandon the field to the Whore. Without Bla's determined hunting and Charlie Chan happening to walk past just as a Japanese couple abandoned their stroller, acquiring that nightcap financing would have taken much less time.

I realized that most of my own finds in the hunt came from following a "hunch" about which way to walk and that those hunches were most accurate when I was letting a mantra dominate my thinking, probably because active cogitating about other stuff wasn't distracting the inner atmosphere or questioning which direction to take. Two strollers turned up in places I'd never found them before, both well off my normal hunting circuit.

The Whore didn't arrive until early afternoon and he was still concentrating on strollers. Considering how many of the corrals were almost empty, I couldn't blame him, but I couldn't do as he did and just sit waiting near the bus stop where they are sometimes abandoned. That's far too boring a hunt.

The Whore finally got rid of that purse! Now he wears a belt pouch, twisted so it hangs by his side. Even when he left his stalking grounds, he spent more time yakking with people than actively hunting, but there wasn't much to hunt anyway. Like I said, not a lucky day.

I decided I might as well stay around for the scheduled concert by the UH Band, see what the musical talent looked like for the new year. Considering how large a band it is, I was surprised to see only one young man I recognized from campus. Large and most excellent; they did a splendid medley of Gershwin tunes which sent a chill up my spine and brought a tear to the eye. There's a someone that I'm longing to see, I hope that he turns out to be ...

I was tired by then, my feet were tired, my left ankle hurt and my right knee kept doing a strange routine which felt like it wasn't quite going to complete a bend without locking in place. Out of practice or time to become a gardener instead of a hunter? Thoughts of Candide, again.

Time, certainly, to face the fact that if I am not actively enjoying the Game, I should definitely not play it for the reward sake alone.

375

The day after I wrote about the mantra-stilled mind allowing intuition to better function, the daily "Merging with Siva" lessons moved into a series on just that subject. Hmmm ...

Friday and Saturday mornings and much of Sunday were spent on campus, working on the Cave, checking links, changing addresses and trimming the deadwood. Albert Hoffman's "LSD: My Problem Child" appears and disappears with almost cyclic regularity; I shall have to search to see if it has a new life somewhere else. The owners of "paranoia.com" lived up to the domain name, took down the site and left a message saying one would have to use search machines to find out where it went. In that case, I won't bother. With the hundreds of thousands of web sites out there, it's colossal egotism to think anyone will care enough about yours to spend time hunting it down. I have the same sentiment regarding some local politicans whose sites are no longer at their original addresses, with no pointers to new ones.

Bla continues his routine of fervent morning hunting, disappearing in the afternoon and not returning until mid-evening. I'm sure he was grateful for my absence in the mornings. The Whore's obsession with strollers went so far that on Saturday he spent quite some time sitting right on a return-corral box. It gave me even more pleasure than usual to find a stroller and return it to that box. It was the nearest return point, but okay, I admit, I might have wheeled it there anyway. Rivals always add a little spice to a game.

As usual, he got involved in watching Saturday's entertainment. Most fortunate. As I walked past that box, I could see a quarter in the slot, bent down to get it and discovered it was a dollar's worth of quarters, not just one. A man I hadn't noticed before asked, "did you find a quarter?" "No," I said, "four of them." He said he'd been away (and from his tone and the rest of what he said, I'd guess "away" was prison), was surprised to find the hunt for quarters going on at the mall. He added that he had always used the airport for the hunt, so I told him they were not giving back the quarters anymore there. It turns out that he knows the Whore, so I found out his real name. Didn't surprise me, I've never known anyone with that name I much liked. The Whore primarily uses his quarters for cigarettes. So his basic minimum daily target is almost twice mine, poor fellow. Silly fellow, rather ... too finicky to smoke those lengthy Japanese-left butts.

When I started the Robert Jordan epic I thought I'd be able to sell the first four volumes back to Rainbow and buy the next, but they didn't hold up that well in the backpack and all the covers came loose at the spine. So much for that plan. Saturday could have been a two-Colt day, but I only bought the nightcap and finished the fourth volume. Jordan really made it difficult on himself with that one, splitting the group up and dealing with each separate adventure one after another in segments. There were times when I found it rather annoying, wanting to get on with the story (often quite gripping) of one but being switched back to another. And then wanting to stay with that one, but being switched again. It worked, but was perhaps a little overly ambitious. I'm itching to get my hands on the fifth volume.

I didn't get to the mall until early evening on Sunday, wasn't especially concerned about the hunt for quarters since I still had nightcap financing in hand. Competition, as always on Sundays, was ferocious and I was glad I hadn't bothered to go down there earlier, soon told myself to forget about quarters, just battle for tobacco. But as it happened, I ended up with $2.50, all from strollers left abandoned in out-of-the-way spots.

Perhaps the Whore has sensed that I have "a nose" for strollers, because he gave up his watch outside the supermarket at one point and followed me upstairs. Silly man dashed ahead of me, as though I were headed to some target and he had to get there first. I slowed down even more. And yep, after he had dashed by and I meandered on, someone abandoned a stroller just as I reached that corner. What a shame he didn't see me returning it.

"Intuition day by day occurs spasmodically, but it does occur. And systematically one can gear his observation of his own intuitional faculties and find out exactly when these intuitive functions occur within him."

Uh-huh.

376

Interim Week. Although few students are on campus, the grounds keepers and cleaning army are in hyperactive motion, leaving few places quiet and undisturbed. Even the secluded grove was invaded by machinery doing something at one end ("something" because it isn't yet clear just what they are doing). But the weather continued to be unpleasant as well, so there was little reason to remain on campus. After working for awhile on the Cave, I left for the mall.

Nightcap financing already in hand, a cart waiting at the bus stop when I arrived, a stroller someone hadn't fully pushed into the corral, a fine start. So fine I broke the precedent of recent days and had a lunchtime brew at the beach park while resuming my reading of Asian history. (I had left off at the point of first major direct contact with the West, as the Portuguese rounded Africa and reached India.)

Brew finished, I returned to the mall and ran into Rocky for the first time this month. "Where's the brewski?" he asked. I didn't tell him I'd just drunk it, but did tell him I'd tried to find him during the first week of the month, reminded him that's the only time I'm not broke. I told him about the Sleeptalker's message from Waianae. "You miss him?" he asked, with a grin. "Yes," I said, and he laughed. "He'll be back soon." "Not too soon, I hope. It would be good to see him for a day but otherwise I hope it works out for him out there." "He'll be back soon," Rocky repeated, giving me the feeling he's been through this before, and that wouldn't at all surprise me.

I went over to get a plate from the Krishna truck. They don't have much of a crowd on Mondays now, because an hour later the River of Life Mission also serves a free meal in the park and most people seem to be waiting for that. Despite having to sit through a sermon beforehand, the presence of meat on the menu gives them the edge. The Old Guitarist told me later it had been a fine meal, with especially good chicken. The Krishna offering was the worst I've yet seen from them, looked as if they had dumped four or five different leftovers into one pot, stirred and dished it out. Spaghetti and rice don't make a very good combo, methinks. Not complaining, mind you, just commenting.

There were very few shopping carts in use and not many strollers, but I did manage to get the nightcap money plus an extra fifty cents, mainly because the Whore sat yakking for hours. The weather looked dire, dense threatening dark clouds rolling in from the mountains, so I left soon after sunset, got the brew, and arrived at the cloisters much earlier than usual. Excellent timing, since it started to rain shortly after I'd settled down.

Dreams have been chaotic recently. Although I'm sure that's not really the case, it feels as if every sleeping moment has been filled with a kaleidoscope of dream events, all so jumbled and helter skelter few details are remembered when I wake. Maybe spending so much time during the day with the mind mantra-leashed encourages it to break loose and go wild in the dreamworld.

377

If not enjoying the play, it isn't worth doing it for the reward, I said. But I also noted that Interim Week isn't a very smart time to lose interest in the Mall Game, not unless I'm willing to give up smoking and eating. Nonetheless, I had no inclination to play on Tuesday of Interim Week, the weather was ... at last ... very pleasant and the choice between sitting in the secluded grove and reading versus slogging around the hot and steamy mall was an easy one, never mind the beer. Or lack of it.

That "something" at one end of the grove turned out to be clearing the ground under the largest tree and spreading a thick mulch of chopped wood and stuff under it, a project which had been completed on Monday so grove life had returned to its usual quiet state. There had apparently been some kind of reception for incoming students and a box with about a quarter of an apple pie had been left on a bench along with a dozen or so empty cups. The pie made a decent lunch, with a cup of tea, and the birds enjoyed the crumbs of the crust so much it occasioned a few squabbles and sent some feathers flying.

Finally, in the late afternoon, I yielded to the disgruntlement over the severe rationing of tobacco which had gone on all day and set out for the mall and a snipe hunt. Too many hunters, too little game, whether snipes or quarters or food. There's a fellow who has stayed at the cloisters for months but I've never seen him elsewhere. Now he has suddenly discovered shopping carts, shows up in the early evening and rushes around the mall like a whirlwind looking for quarters. I've only seen him score one cart, for all his hyperactivity. The Whore, of course, was stationed right outside the supermarket for much of the evening, and Bla returned to the scene around seven o'clock and started his extensive wandering search. And, of course, there were the usual scattered amateurs, most of whom are more of a nuisance in the snipe hunt than the one for quarters.

I was walking past the stroller corral which is usually a fine source of quarters when some people returned a stroller and got no refund. Uh-oh, it had run out of quarters again. I warned Bla when I saw him, but let the Whore find out for himself, as I'm sure he did eventually. I did find a dollar in quarters from the other two corrals, but didn't return any carts or strollers myself, spent much of the evening just watching the crowds at the bus stop where there was a cool breeze and a view of the beautiful half-moon.

So for the first time in August, the nightcap was only a 16oz Budweiser, a meagre treat to accompany the chapter on the beginnings of British rule in India. Memories of that beautiful Golden Eagle brew which was such a treat on the first trip to India, such a regular nightcap during the second ...

And in Wednesday's mailbox:

Subject: Nandinatha Sutra Verse 126

All strong and intoxicating distilled alcohols are forbidden to ardent souls. They may moderately partake of the family of wines and beers, including honey mead. These are wholesome when properly enjoyed.


Ain't it the truth ...

378

The Sleeptalker.

Friday was a State holiday, Admission Day, and everything was closed at the University. I went to the beach, had a shower and washed some clothes, then sat reading while they dried. Yes, a melon fell from heaven, and I had gone immediately to Rainbow Books to get The Fires of Heaven, the fifth volume in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time epic.

In the late morning, I joined Helen R to see the movie, "Trick", at the Dole multiplex. A sweet little film and John Paul Pitoc is so adorable I could have sat through the film twice just to keep on watching him.

We got on a bus to Waikiki, having first waited at Dole and then, the first bus arriving being packed to the doors, walked over to Dillingham to get one there. Again, the first bus that arrived was crowded so we waited for the second one. At the next stop, the Sleeptalker entered the bus. "The Sleeptalker," I said to Helen, and went up the aisle to meet him. He had been waiting for a bus to Waianae but one had passed by without stopping, so he was going in the opposite direction to get one at Ala Moana. Given all those could-have-beens, the odds on us meeting on that particular bus must have been astronomic.

He looked fresh, rested and even though his hair was shorter than its best, as adorable in his way as John Paul. No matter what I may tell myself in the interim, all it takes is one of his smiles and I have to say, yep, still in love with the guy and, after a year of knowing him, I guess I might just as well reconcile myself to his permanent residence in the number one slot.

Things are going well in Waianae, he said, and he is living in his mother's house. She has been traveling a lot, so he has to take care of the animals and plants. We talked about Seventh Circle and he sighed deeply when I said the University would be getting back to normal on Monday, with the libraries open until eleven at night. He said he was going to try and get a week off soon, spend it in town. I told him what Rocky had said about him being back soon, and he laughed. "Maybe," he said, "maybe."

Helen and I were changing buses at the State Library, so I rubbed my hand through The Sleeptalker's hair and told him to take care of himself. He grinned. Sweetheart.

So we went on to Waikiki and saw "Mickey Blue Eyes" which was disappointing. I'd been wanting to see Hugh Grant, since I missed "Notting Hill". His accent and mannerisms are so like my last English lover it stirs a lot of memories, but I don't find him all that desireable and the film was a mess. It would have been better to see "Trick" twice, but then I would've missed the Sleeptalker.

378a

I clipped out a photo of

John Paul Pitoc from the newspaper and keep it in my pocket.

Fact is, he and The Sleeptalker look very much alike, even if The Sleeptalker has a much thinner muscular body.

I must get a photo of that young man, the Sleeptalker, preferably barechested.

At least.


379

Maybe Monday will be my good news day ...

I had begun to wonder if my luck had run out. Was I doomed to go on meeting slim, brown local lads who are delicious flirts but adhere strictly to a "you can look but you cannot touch" code of honor?

No, I just had to wait until Dame Fortune decided it was time for a different such lad to cross my path, or me to cross his.

Monday was the first day back at school at the University of Hawai'i, a day I know from experience is rather hectic, lots of lost newbies wandering around, the whole place a bit like a disturbed anthill. So I had decided I would spend the day away after my early morning hot beverage and reading, a quick check of email.

The teabag supply ran out, a week early, alas. I should have bought some, but got so engrossed with my reading on the weekend, I spent the money on a pack of cigarettes instead of going to the mall long enough to collect some snipes. Buying cigarettes is a really rare event for me, further evidence how engrossed I am in Robert Jordan's wonderful universe, further evidence what a devoted disciple I am of Shinran Shonin and his edict to live every day as if it were your last.

Fortunately, the Angel of the Leftovers supplied four packets of instant coffee, so I wasn't completely without a morning beverage.

When I got to the mall on Monday morning, though, I went first to use a McD's certificate for senior coffee since that Angel packet had been decaff. As the morning went on, I thought several times I should go over to the park and have a shower, wash a tee shirt, but kept putting it off.

Procrastination is sometimes a virtue.

When I finally did go over to the shower house and walked in, I heard a shower running and saw a small bag on the bench outside the shower room. Oh well, at least it was small enough to suggest it was not a nomad, and for that I was grateful. When I got to the room, I suppose my jaw must have dropped, metaphorically if not physically. His back turned to me, the young man could certainly have been the Sleeptalker. If I can't have him, what better than someone with the same body, and the young man in the shower could have been his identical twin, even with a similar haircut, "frosted" with bleached blonde at the ends. When he turned around, I saw that he was probably a few years younger than the Sleeptalker and no less cute.

Oh well, another one. At least it's likely to make for an interesting view while showering, I thought.

A flirt, too. While I was busy washing the tee shirt, he showered, occasionally brushing the interesting bits (and quite ample "bits" they were) with his elbow, never looking directly at me but frequently turning so he faced me. I finished with the tee shirt, and he got a little more bold, washing it sufficiently to bring it to a half-aroused condition. I looked at it, looked in his eyes which by then returned my look, and smiled, walked over to help him with the washing.

No objection. He returned the favor.

I nudged him under the shower to rinse it off, and knelt to give him my best. The lad was ready and primed, I guess, because not much more than two minutes later, he gave a tender gasp and exploded. Sweet!

I continued my shower while he went to dry off, pulled on his long brown shorts, picked up his bag and smiled, said "thank you", as he left.

It was one of those very, very rare times in this almost-two years when I wished I had an apartment, a nice large bed, and a telephone. I certainly would have given him the number and urged him to call me.

Local boys, indeed, no ka oi.

380

In a dream, leaving a house on an errand, getting the wrong bus, feeling annoyed because I was going so far out of my way and wasn't sure how to get back. Then suddenly I realized, "This is a dream. Just imagine the room in the house you left and be there." It worked. Thank you, Robert Jordan.

I haven't adjusted to the return of campus life to "normal". In fact, I haven't even tried to adjust to it, have fled the place after the quiet time just before and after the dawn, not returning until after sunset. I'll let all these youngsters adjust and settle down a bit first before I try to do it myself. It will soon be time for the "vacation" from the Mall Game, the holiday provided by the Fabled Pension Check, and I'll think about adjusting then.

Actually, I had planned to return to campus on Tuesday for a lunchtime gig with Del Beazley but I was still short two quarters for a beer so decided to continue the hunt and forget about the music. I had them by one o'clock, bought a Colt and sat in the park, just watching and thinking, not even getting the book out of my backpack.

After suggesting and hinting, Jordan finally said outright that the Aes Sedai, the women who can touch and use the "One Power" (akin concept to The Force), consider there are infinite realities simultaneously existing and that the whole thing makes up a Pattern.

One of his three heroes steps through a magic portal, expecting it to have the power to grant three wishes, as another had been able to answer three questions.

Storybook heroes so often screw up these things and Matrim was no exception. I often wondered why someone releasing a Genie and being granted three wishes didn't make the third wish one for three more wishes, but never read of anyone trying it. Usually they waste at least two of the wishes with nonsense they hadn't meant to express as a wish.

Matrim had suffered lapses in memory after contact with an artifact tainted by the Dark Power, so he wished to have his memory restored. It was. His memory from every life he had lived. Ugh, what a curse. Of course, as with our limited set of memories, for the most part only the very recent ones are strong and vivid. With the exception of rare or special events, the further back in our past we look, the fainter the memories. So it was in his case, but still, that's a lot of memory to regain at one time and if one looks at the infinite realities concept in combination with the total memory, the man would remember everything that happened to him in every weave of the pattern and all its variations. Good thing he was a relatively simple country blacksmith's apprentice before setting out on this grand epic. Instead of being just one element in this massive work, the story of Matrim and his memory could certainly have been a book all on its own.

I think Jordan realized the deep water he was getting into with infinite realities, though, and didn't pursue it, or hasn't yet.

Time has broken into a gallop, Goethe wrote. If it seemed to be galloping then, I suppose it must be warp speed now. The eve of a Full Moon again, already. Time to watch for the Fabled Pension Check again, already. The last four months of the 1900's almost beginning, already.

381

Time has broken into a gallop.

But as if to remind me how subjective our sense of time is, it slowed to a stately walk on Wednesday, a long, slow day. Cainer had said: "Your finances need to be improved and, if you put in a little effort over the next few days, you'll accomplish most of what's needed." But if he's going to hand out such advice, he should do it on a day when "the stars say" it's a lucky day. Well, he does say "next few days", so maybe the luck will improve.

On the other hand, I suppose $2.85 did accomplish most of what was needed, a bottle of Colt for a nightcap. Another couple of dollars would have added some teabags, but let's not be greedy.

I had been thinking the Fabled Pension Check might arrive for the weekend. Not very likely, though. Maybe that's another reason time seemed to slow down.

I was sitting on a planter ledge watching the boys pass by. An older lady, probably local-born, wearing an eccentric straw hat, strolled over to me, Coke can in hand. "Would you like this Coke?" she asked. I said "sure", even though I didn't particularly want it, just liked her and didn't want to decline. She said she didn't know why she'd bought it because she didn't really want it, giving me a big grin which showed two remaining teeth, one upper and the other lower. She sat for awhile and talked steadily. I couldn't understand much of what she said and was grateful she asked no questions until the end, when just before departing, she asked my name. "Albert," she said, "that's a good name."

Tale 380 seems a little muddled, but that's a reflection of my thinking in the afternoon at the park. I thought at the time I should have a little tape recorder so I could make a verbal note of the thoughts to be written about later, but quickly said no, yikes, I don't want to sit and transcribe tapes and the Tales are already lengthy enough as it is.

382

I think I got it. Steppenwolf didn't get kicked out of the Magick Theatre. He never left it. Price of admission: your mind. And no exit, as Sarte said.

In a dream. I had finished drinks from a tall, slim bottle of yellow liquid. Don't know what it was, not beer, not Pernod. Very, very pleasant, though. I asked the bartender, "do any of you know how to make a Mind Eraser?"

Alas, I woke up before getting an answer, or the drink. Interesting choice, though.

I fell into unconsciousness so often on Full Moon Thursday. Not that I passed out cold, although I might as well have. The Artlines shop at the mall put a very large, beautiful bronze statue of Ganesh in the window. It's one of the finest I've ever seen. In the London days, I would have owned it even if I'd had to get the Boss to finance the purchase by persuading him the business would prosper if we had that in the office. I could have done it, too, and if we'd both believed it, probably would have been true.

Twice I walked past that beautiful image without being aware of it. Even worse, the second time I had told myself as I headed in that direction that I would not repeat the earlier impoliteness, but I did. The minute I realized I had done it, I marched myself back there and stood in front of the window carefully examining the image and its many occult details, gave a more obvious bow than my usual subtle nod while passing it, and at least didn't pass it again without that nod.

Part of the problem was reeling through the thoughts of implications of infinite realities. Infinite, eh? Well, then, if I can imagine a reality, it must exist. Let us say there is a reality exactly like this one ... except, in that one an elegant black wallet is on the pavement between two cars in a parking lot. It contains a sheaf of high denomination Yen notes. I find it. Having imagined it, it exists, so the only task is discovering how to step from this reality to that one.

Of course, if I now find such a wallet (not at all impossible in this place), I'll probably freak out and try to extend the idea to bigger and bolder goals. Burn myself out or go insane, like the folk in Jordan's universe who have an innate ability to channel the One Power but no guidance or training.

Perhaps it's as well I don't find that wallet ...

I did find $3.39, a slight improvement over Wednesday. I probably could have carried on until I had four dollars but I was weary of the mall, wanted to return to campus to watch the Fool Moon rise, then get my nightcap and go to the cloisters to spend some time in Jordan's universe before entering the one of my own dreams.

As if there's really any difference between them ... or "waking" life.

All Magick Theatre. A mirage in the desert.

383

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
I've been to London to see the Queen.


In my dreams. Her Majesty had consented to an interview about a mysterious distant relative named Crawford (whose name, I learned to my embarrassment was pronounced "cray-ford"). Everyone thought he was dead, but she told me he was still alive and wished to remain hidden. He was the richest man in the world, she said. I didn't mention Bill Gates.

As we walked through the halls of the private area of Buckingham Palace, I noticed she had many artifacts in glass cases which were clearly from Jordan's universe. Queen Elizabeth an Aes Sedai ...

No sooner did I tell a reader that Jordan's reality was not having much direct influence on my dreams, than it began to do just that, each and every night.

Earlier, at the mall, I'd muttered, "For crying out loud, give me two quarters and I'm quitting this silly game." Perhaps I should get cross more often, because four quarters showed up in rapid succession. Quitting was an empty threat, though. There are meetings at the cloisters on Friday evenings until almost ten o'clock and the first "All-Nighter" of the year was being held on campus, music and dancing at various places until three in the morning. No place to run, no place to hide.

It had been an unusually sparse Friday at the mall, despite Bla's absence in the afternoon and the Whore starting much later than usual. Fortunately, that silly television show, "Hawaii Stars", was being taped in the evening and that captured the Whore's attention, allowing me to get those four quarters and end up with nightcap financing plus $1.35 to start the next day's hunt. Bring on the Fabled Pension Check, please, I'm ready for a vacation.

I did manage to score two packs of Virginia Slims. Yes, that mystery continues, although it has become a more difficult puzzle since they aren't always in the same spot. I had begun to think the mystery had finally ended, but on Monday spotted three barely smoked VS butts under a bench and, sure enough, the pack was in the nearest trash bin. On Tuesday, it was oddly in a trash bin in the lower parking lot, spotted again only because of a long VS butt in the ashtray. Whoever that person is, she (probably) is both crazy and has no shortage of cash. I already had two packs tucked away when I found the two on Friday.

I saw Myra and Rocky, told Rocky about seeing the Sleeptalker. And I heard someone say, "hey!" as they passed me, turned around and it was Lopaka Colon. I was amazed I had walked right by him without noticing. Such a sweet young man, he is, so soft-spoken and polite. He's sitting this semester out, he said. If I were in a band as successful as Pure Heart, I'm not sure I'd bother going back to school at all.

As I was going down the escalator at one point, a deliciously cute young fellow was upward bound. Without meaning to say it aloud, I said "cute!" after he'd passed. A young lady several steps behind him said, "he is, isn't he, but he's a brat". I turned to look at her as she passed and she smiled, said, "he's my brother". Later I saw him again, alone, and he gave me a big grin, so I guess he must have overheard the exchange.

The lack of game in the field and the always annoying presence of a few regulars at the mall, Charlie Chan and the filthy fat young man who constantly twists his grubby hair between his fingers especially, got me so irked at one point I even growled at the mantra machine. "Oh, shut up, let's have the sound of silence."

Fat chance. Stop the mantra and get well mocked when the internal jukebox starts up with "Silent Night". Joker.

384

The kindness of Dame Fortune combined with being immersed in the ways of Jordan's universe leads to amusing and sometimes almost scarey incidents. On Saturday morning the computer lab doesn't open until eight and I was lamenting the fact I'd have to wait that long before heading to the mall and the much-desired cup of coffee. I went into the kiosk of vending machines and there was a cup of hot, black coffee sitting on the counter. I suppose someone had pushed the wrong button, getting black coffee when they wanted cream and sugar. No, I thought, I did NOT channel the One Power to get myself a cup of coffee (although I'm sure I would if I knew how). Or did I?

In the late afternoon at the mall, I thought it would be really good to have an ice cream cone from McD's, squashed the notion, reminding myself the McD's certificates are for early morning only when food is often impossible to find. Just a few minutes later I saw one of the little game prize stamps on the sidewalk. A free ice cream cone. The Wheel weaves ...

Ryan wrote in his journal: "Fellow escribitionist and urban nomad extraordinaire Panther was a centerpiece of the discussion. Like myself when I first visited his site a couple of years ago, Burt was amazed at the insight it gave into a stranger's life; how it opened his eyes to a completely foreign perspective, another lifestyle."

I told Ryan "escribitionist" sounds terribly dirty, but I like it. And that's what I like about online journal-keepers, too, that view into another life, watching it unfold from day to day. No novel or even a formal autobiography can provide quite the same intimate sharing. Where else could I experience vicariously a young man's thoughts and feelings as he balances a continuing effort to get a "college education", the struggle to make some money, and the joy of becoming a father?

Ryan came to mind immediately at one point on Saturday. I walk through the mall very slowly, always yielding if someone wants to occupy space I had intended to with my next step. I'm especially cautious near the Disney and Warner Bros. stores, Thinker Toys and Jungle Fun. The sight of those stores often sends little children careening in their direction with no thought of anything that might be in their way, including an old man slowly strolling by. I was caught unaware, though, still somewhat stunned by the change in the Artlines shop window, and a little fellow, perhaps five or six, made a dash for Jungle Fun and crashed right into me. I automatically reached down to steady him and keep him from falling, one hand on his shoulder and the other on his chest. His mother was weaving a ball of confusion, trying to scold him and apologize to me at the same time. I assured her it didn't matter at all, not to worry. I was so touched by the sensation of that tender young body, that little skeleton I could feel under its skin, the feeling that this must be part of the joy of fatherhood, sensing how easy it would be for a man to yield his own life to protect such a treasure. Yes, Ryan is a fortunate young man.

Another fortunate person bought that beautiful image of Ganesh. They have put a smaller one in the window, to one side, but the centerpiece now is a large bronze of the dancing Siva in a ring of fire. I was reminded of Kathmandu. If one were to nod in respect to every image of a deity in that town, it would be like turning into one of those bobbling-headed dolls. At the mall, a nod to Siva and Ganesh, a nod to the happy stone Buddha, a nod to the three bronze Buddhas. I love it, keeps me on my toes, so to speak, keeps me awake. Or sharply awakens me when I forget.

385

There is something addictive in tea aside from caffeine. I get plenty of caffeine, probably more than I should. Gloria Jean's coffee shop at the mall sells really large iced coffee drinks in many variations. I like them all except the mocha mint version which is too heavily minty for my taste. Many people seem to buy the largest size, abandon half or more of them. Sometimes I fill my (20 oz) flask four or five times a day with the stuff.

But that doesn't stop the yearning for tea, and when a little melon fell from heaven, I went immediately to buy teabags. Ah, the joy of returning to my pre-dawn routine of sipping tea and reading. Once again I vow not to let my teabag supply run out.

I didn't go to the mall on Sunday at all, after having spent little time there on Saturday. With four packs of Virginia Slims and teabags tucked in my backpack, there was no need to play the Mall Game and I could just relax and enjoy wandering in Jordan's universe.

No Virginia Slims on Monday, no sign she had been around. Perhaps she had the day off. But I did have $4.50 in hand before noon, quite extraordinary. Bla seemed somewhat distracted, hadn't even noticed one stroller wasn't properly pushed into the corral. When I corrected the mistake, a dollar in quarters was refunded instead of the usual fifty cents. There was an odd shortage of tobacco, though. The current crop of Japanese tourists must be stressed out for some reason, all smoking their cigarettes almost down to the filters. I had to postpone having a celebratory lunchtime brew until I had enough tobacco in hand, since my VS stash had been used up on the weekend.

Then I went to check mail and the Fabled Pension Check was there. Off to Waikiki to cash it, back briefly to the mall where the continuing tobacco shortage had the hunters swarming. Phooey on this, I grumbled, I'm gonna buy a pack of cigarettes.

I don't mind the tea addiction at all, but it would be nice to get rid of that damned tobacco ball-and-chain.

386

A reader wrote:

Infinite realities - you cannot comprehend them, only fragments. Turing proved that, in order to enumerate the states of an n-state machine, you must have an (n+1)-state machine. Hence, with a finite mind capable of n states, you can only enumerate (comprehend) n-1 states. By definition of finiteness, n is less than infinity.

n = "nonsense"?

Surely not, nonsense is definitely eternal and infinite.

When I was growing up, no blockheaded fool had yet put forth the idea that the Universe was finite. It was infinite. As a child, I would lay in bed at night and try to imagine how I could follow the universe out into its limitless infinity. When I got a bit older, I still tried to do it, and gave myself a headache.

Well, of course you can't "comprehend". We can't even comprehend the tiny, tiny view we have, day-to-day, of the one we try to live in.

387

I overdid it on Thursday. 160 ounces of malt liquor, even spread through the day and a long evening of reading, makes for a vile hangover.

A week on campus, rarely going to the mall, the "vacation" I'd been looking forward to. Walking uphill just before dawn, brewing a cup of tea, reading the increasingly annoying campus newspaper, checking mail, looking in on the squabbles of Usenet, then settling down in the secluded grove to continue with Jordan's seventh volume. Every day the same and every day different in a hundred little ways.

None more so than Wednesday evening. I was sitting at the cloisters, finishing off a bottle of Colt and reading, saw someone approach my little corner, looked up. The Cherub. It's been a long time. I don't understand that young man at all, hardly know what to say about him. But I was happy his long withdrawal had come to an end, or that he had taken a break from it, whichever it turns out to be. I don't seek the Young Fool, the Young Fool seeks me. But the Cherub's no fool, not really, except perhaps in seeking my company again when he had broken free for so long.

The Korean shop next to Rainbow now has Ecstacy cigarettes. "Ingredients: Damiana, Wild Lettuce, Catnip, Passion Flower, Love and Light". Several months ago I found a pack of them, thought them interesting enough to buy one this time. Strange smokes. I couldn't possibly smoke as many of them as I can tobacco, lighting one up too often makes me dizzy. Smoking them also flavors my thinking, my awareness of being, and remains for a long time, almost like the lingering smell of incense in a church. I'm not really sure I like it but, yes, certainly find it interesting.

My biggest mistake on Thursday was eating a bowl of chili. Marriott chili. Bleugh.

388

I'm often amused by the roommate-wanted announcements seen on campus bulletin boards, by the conditions and restrictions. No pets, no smoking, no drugs, no alcohol are routine, but one spotted on Saturday morning was a new one on me. "No candles or incense."

Friday morning was one of those times, familiar to anyone who indulges in that inferior drug, alcohol, when a voice in my head kept moaning, "I'll never drink again." I'm not sure why four bottles of Colt (and one regular-sized bottle of Bud) had packed such a whallop. The small amount of food consumed along with them probably had something to do with it (and that horrendous bowl of chili from Manoa Garden hardly counts as "food"). For whatever reason, I felt awful until early afternoon when I said, look there's only one remedy for this condition. A bottle of beer.

I had been cheered-up a little in the morning by the Tales being mentioned in Burt Lum's Bytemarks column in the Advertiser, especially by his "the infamous Albert the Panther" tag. Look, ma, I'm infamous! (Ma, were she around to read the Tales would no doubt easily find a string of other terms.)

It's good to see public diary-keepers getting some attention, though. We're a brave (or stupid) (or both) bunch.

I finished the seventh volume of Robert Jordan's epic with that early afternoon beer and, later, having nothing to read, had a look at the NY Times crossword puzzle on the back of the page with Lum's column. During my last stay in Manhattan it was a weekly ritual, picking up the Sunday Times late on Saturday night and setting to work on the huge Sunday crossword puzzle. Once I discovered Hesse's Magister Ludi, it was no longer possible to look at a crossword puzzle or at someone working on one without thinking of his sneer, but it was a highlight of the week during those Manhattan years. I am sadly out of practice, I fear, had an awful time with this relatively puny daily version and didn't manage to fill in more than a quarter of the squares.

So far I haven't been able to find volume eight. I went to the mall in the evening to see if the bookstore there had it. They didn't, and a planned walk down to Border's was cancelled when it started pouring rain. Bla was on the hunt but the Whore wasn't there, most unusual. I didn't bother, but picked up three quarters returning carts which were in my snipe-hunting path. No Virginia Slims, alas. No Path of Daggers, deep alas. And someone bought the largest bronze Buddha.

389

The best thing about the beginning of the football season at UH was the huge bonfire on campus the night before the first game. I haven't seen a fire that large since leaving the land of Guy Fawkes and wish they had allowed it to burn longer.

The worst thing about the beginning of the football season at UH was the first game. Ouch.

After debating for awhile about where to watch the game, I settled on the Cove Bar at Ala Moana where there were some students gathered to watch, along with a few Japanese tourists who seemed puzzled over not only the game, but the rather rowdy attention it was getting. Enjoyable company, crazy to have spent so much money on three-dollar beers.

Despite my Unauthorized Biographer on Usenet's frequently repeated nonsense about eating from trashcans, it is in fact not necessary. Some nomads do it, of course. The dirty fat young man who twists his hair is a walking garbage disposal unit, will stand and rummage through a trashcan, eating everything he can find while standing over the can. Gross, but to each his own method. But there are so many people who kindly leave leftover food on planter ledges or benches that actually digging in the trash isn't necessary if you're willing to walk around. One such bag, from Zippy's, was left on a planter ledge shortly before the football game was to begin. I lifted it to test the weight, was promisingly heavy, so I took it. A man I hadn't noticed came up from behind me and asked, "what did you find?" "Looks like some food," I said, and he handed me a five dollar bill. The kindness of strangers ...

I suppose he wouldn't have given it to me if he'd known I was about to head to the bar and drink Budweiser while watching a football game.

390

Via those miraculous little DVD discs, I got to see Kubrick's Clockwork Orange on Sunday night. Fifteen years or so since I last saw it, and it's still as grimly shocking as ever.

I was thinking about it on Monday evening while enjoying my nightcap, taking a break from my resumed reading of The History of Asia, grimly shocking enough, too, since it has reached this century. And I was making a list in my head of the ten films I'd most like to see again. When I made written note of them it expanded into twenty. Ten is just not enough.

This isn't the same as a list of my twenty all-time favorites. "Wizard of Oz" would still have the number one slot on such a list, but I've seen it recently enough that it doesn't appear on this one.

Lisztomania
Juliet of the Spirits
Death in Venice
Kundun
Gallipoli
Gandhi
Rebel Without a Cause
Breathless
Satyricon
Meet Joe Black
Last Year at Marienbad
Giant
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Desire Under the Elms
The Boy Friend
La Dolce Vita
Jules et Jim
Tim
A Night at the Opera
Gods and Monsters


An eccentric list. Hmmm, there's a new tag to aspire to: infamous eccentric.

The Labor Day weekend came and went. Beer and football on Saturday night (how extraordinarily American of me), hanging out on campus Sunday reading until "Clockwork Orange" in the evening, hanging out at the mall on Monday because everything on campus was closed and the beach was too crowded.

I watched the Jerry Lewis Telethon festivities at the mall's stage now and then. When Na Leo launched their set with the song asking what they will do with the rest of their life, I grumbled as usual, "keep on singing and recording saccharine songs like that, no doubt", and fled. I made a brief visit to the beach to shower, had a lunchtime beer, did the crossword from a Friday issue of Wall Street Journal (reassuring me that my knack hasn't totally been lost ... it was difficult, but not anything like the horrendous NY Times version these days). A routine day, nothing special, four dollars profit.

Labor Day morning was unique, though. For the first time in these almost two years of living on Dame Fortune's bounty, I woke up without a crumb of tobacco to smoke, not even a two-or-three-puff snipe. I'd had two of the herbal smokes with my nightcap on Sunday, but I can't take those first thing in the morning. Odd, even through my Army years, I couldn't take an ordinary cigarette first thing in the morning, either, always waited until after having breakfast.

When I got to the mall, a pack of Misty cigarettes was waiting, minus one. Probably a Japanese tourist had bought them, decided she didn't like them and threw them away. Awhile later an almost full pack of Salems was in the parking lot, those most likely inadvertently discarded. Dame Fortune certainly isn't prejudiced against tobacco.

390a

Assinine and absurd as it usually is, Usenet does provide some inspiration for pondering things. One that I suppose justifies the "infamous" tag is the question of sex in public places. I thought about that on the weekend, along with more innocent subjects like movies I'd like to see.

It surprises me that such activity is more prevalent in Honolulu than in any other city I've lived in. For homosexuals, this may be partly because of the scarcity of saunas, steam baths, and other such usual places for clandestine amusement.

I regret to say I do not participate very often and then only when very pointedly invited to do so.

Despite allegations to the contrary, sex fun under a toilet stall wall is not, and never has been, one of my hobbies. Communal showers are another matter. I'm sure the shower houses at Honolulu's beaches have witnessed sexual encounters for as long as they have existed. As one local boy told me, "I don't go body-boarding anymore, it makes me too horny." I can believe it (even while wishing he'd make an exception one day when I'm at the beach).

I'm really surprised, though, by how the largest male "restroom" at the mall has become such a cruising spot. There definitely are enthusiasts of the "under the stall wall" variety. One only has to look down and see the back of the feet of someone kneeling toward the other direction to realize that. Then there are the ones who simply stand at the urinals for lengthy times, displaying what they have to offer. There is one man who certainly has a great deal, one of the largest I've ever seen on a white man, and who manages to keep it erect for amazingly extended (no pun intended) times. One day on the weekend, I went in, saw him standing there, and IT standing there, smiled in admiration, did what I went to do and left. I had eaten some French fries with ketchup, went back in to wash my hands, perhaps twenty minutes later, and he was still standing there, same condition. Admirable, indeed. That's all he apparently wants to do, be admired.

And why not? Not harming anyone. If you don't want to see it, don't look.

And it's the same all over town. For years, one men's room on the University campus was so notorious, it even got mentioned in the campus newspaper. Alas, the missionary types slammed big metal plates over all the holes in the stall walls. Foolish, I think. Better to have all that activity concentrated in one location, so young male students who don't wish to witness or participate in such activity know to use another toilet.

For a time, there was even a toilet at the Sheraton Waikiki with a sizeable hole in the stall wall. I only regret I didn't discover it sooner and had so little time to enjoy the view before they replaced the wall.

And it's not just gay trash, either. I've no idea what goes on in the women's toilets (and would just as soon remain ignorant), but even the hookers have taken to using the new "family" toilets as places to make a quick buck.

Like I said, never saw the like anywhere else.

391

The almost elderly Japanese tourist lady asked me a question, entirely in Japanese, pointing to a brochure also entirely in Japanese. She tried a technique I have seen Americans use in countries where English isn't understood, repeating a word over and over as if that will somehow make it comprehensible. It didn't work, I hadn't the faintest idea what she was talking about. Finally she said, "Waikiki". Ah! "The bus?" I asked, and she nodded, repeating one more time the word which I assume means "bus" in Japanese. I gave her directions with gestures.

Tuesday was one of those odd days when there was absolutely no food to be found on campus. The Marriott-operated food concessions have started giving smaller portions? The students this year are all voraciously hungry? The food has gotten so delicious everyone eats it to the last crumb? (The latter is about as likely as a snowstorm on July 4th.)

Whatever the reason, there just wasn't anything to eat. S'okay, a fast day now and then is good for the body, and probably the soul. I had my nightcap money in pocket, but wasn't about to spend that on food, and I didn't feel like wandering the mall. I did want some tras ... errrr, something undemanding and lightweight, to read, so I made a quick trip downtown to the State Library and selected a couple of paperbacks from their "honor" section, books you can just take and, if honorable, return.

The one I began first is Kathleen Sinclair's Far Horizons which turned out to have such a gripping plot that I was awake past midnight reading it, after joining Helen R. for a delightful musical comedy revue called "The 1940s Radio Hour" at Manoa Valley Theatre.

While at the State Library, I checked their Robert Jordan selection, was pleased to see that three of his early Conan novels have been published in one volume and shall no doubt acquire it when available in paperback. I read all of those slightly silly Conan books at one time, so probably have read those three, too, without knowing who Robert Jordan was. And another of his novels, originally published under another nom-de-plume has been reissued with the Jordan nom-de-plume instead, thanks to the success of the Wheel saga. If they have volume eight of that, it was checked out, which wouldn't surprise me.

The "Church of Christ", which meets on the lower campus on Sundays, has the right idea when it comes to recruiting strategy. Two of the cutest young men I've seen on campus this semester stopped me to encourage my presence at their Bible study group. I don't care much for their technique, though, which is to greet you as if you should know them. Of course, it worked. I returned the greeting, trying to remember where on earth I had met them and why I didn't remember them. And I'm afraid they totally, or almost totally (they were VERY cute), sank their ship when they told me they try to live by the book of Acts. If they had said the Gospels, would have been much better. I am not a fan of Pauline Christianity. But I never mind the opportunity to chat with cute young men, especially one with such dazzling blue eyes.

Cainer wrote: "You are on one train and someone else is on another. Soon though, they will both pull into the same station. You can and will meet up after all."

I told Kory K about it and he said, "head-on collision?"

-----

The 1940s Radio Hour

The time is December, 1942, a year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The war is new enough to the Americans that a young man in uniform, on the eve of his departure to join the forces overseas ("I can't say where") is confident it will all be over in time for everyone to be home by the next Christmas.

The place is the live broadcast studio of a New York radio station, one half hour before the "On Air" sign lights up. Posters ("loose lips sink ships") adorn the walls, there's a Coca-Cola icebox of suitable vintage, and a dozen other little touches to set the mood.

Your mission, should you accept it, is to play the role of audience for the live broadcast of a musical comedy revue. It's a mission highly recommended.

I once collected transcriptions of very similar radio shows of the time and this superb production at the Manoa Valley Theatre authentically captures the sound of those shows. It has the advantage of my love for American popular music of that decade and likewise, perhaps, the handicap of my love for the original versions of most songs used in the show.

The ultimate test of that comes with the toe-tapping, spirited rendition of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" which does more than ample justice to the Andrews Sisters.

Kevin Yamada's "You Go to My Head", too, justified the immediate switch of one young lady from playing her side of their lovers' spat to melting in her chair, and Jolene Becker's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is as fine as any, Judy Garland's included.

There are as many subplots in the show as there are characters and combinations of characters, but those stories are only hinted at, in dialogue and in physical gesture and interaction.

The show is the show, and it's a delightful one.

-----

392

Aside from being the first day of the last month of the second year of this strange trip, and the first day of the month when I had zero dollars in my pocket, 9/9/99 was not particularly memorable, certainly didn't come remotely close to 8/8/88 in being special.

Flashback, from Tales of the past: Even though they do not officially use the Gregorian calendar, the Nepalese considered 8/8/88 an auspicious day. I had postponed a visit to Swayambunath, the huge Buddhist stupa on a hill overlooking the valley, until that day. We set out early, agreeing to make the journey on foot. After walking through central Kathmandu and crossing the river, we stopped for an early lunch at a beautiful small hotel near the base of the hill and then dodged monkeys playing on the long, steep staircase to the beautiful complex of shrines and temples surrounding the large stupa. We agreed to walk around it eight times, with each circling dedicated to a person who had been important in our lives. There were many people making that circuit under the huge eyes that look out in the four directions, amid the sounds of temple bells, the smell of incense. It certainly made 8/8/88 a forever memorable day.

Nope, 9/9/99 didn't come remotely close, as I said.

I did better than usual this month with stretching the Fabled Pension Check, helped by only ten dollars of it being in hock, and would have done even better if not for that extravagant Saturday night of bar, beer and football. Friday's Ka Leo says "Pound the Panthers" on its front page. Hmmmmph. I don't think I'll bother to watch this week's game.

The weather was mostly dismal on 9/9/99 so I decided I might as well devote the day all-out to the Mall Game, further incentive added by needing nightcap money and having only one teabag left. It wasn't a terribly successful day but the basic objectives were met and there were a few amusing encounters and some wonderful Japanese drummers on-stage during the afternoon. I didn't pursue the Quarter Hunt, really, just grabbed whatever happened to be in my path, so I can't complain about not having done better.

I saw the Roadrunner for the first time in a couple of weeks. I guess he thought it was finally safe to return to the mall. He had gotten busted very early one morning, probably for his habit of climbing into a fountain to retrieve the coins. He must have given the security staff some backtalk because they (unusually) had called in the police, but I later saw the police returning to their cars and the Roadrunner leaving the mall, heading for the park. Exile.

And I overheard a security guard scold the Hair Twister. "You can't go digging in our trash," he said. The City tried and failed to pass a law which would have made looking in trash cans illegal. Is the mall adopting a strategy which makes the trash their property, so taking anything from it would be stealing? Interesting slant, but I don't think it would work. If they really wanted to cut down on the "ragpickers", I could give them some ideas, but I won't, anymore than I'd point out the too-effective methods used by one downtown office building to reduce snipe hunting. I know whose side I'm on.

My Unauthorized Biographer said on Usenet that I wouldn't give beer to young men who wouldn't let me have their bodies. That would certainly come as a surprise to the Sleeptalker.

393

Oh. Ow. Ouch. As is often the case, I don't know how or when it happened but I threw my back out for the first time in months. I began to notice a slight discomfort mid-morning on Saturday and by early afternoon it was beyond discomfort, by evening downright painful. This lower back nuisance has plagued me since my early twenties but has mercifully happened far less frequently in these two years of street living. Maybe a cardboard-on-concrete mattress is good preventive therapy.

If so, it's not perfect. And I know from long experience there's nothing to be done but wait until it sorts itself out and it's no longer painful to walk and downright agony to go from a sitting to a standing position.

It's certainly not a condition conducive to playing the Mall Game, but on Saturday it hardly mattered. The mall was quite crowded earlier in the day but almost deserted, for a weekend, in the evening. A new record was set: a total of three quarters. Wow.

Friday must have been a really hard day for the Virginia Slims Mystery Woman. I hadn't seen any evidence of her all week but there they were on Friday, two barely-smoked VS butts in an ashtray. And yep, there was the discarded pack. With THREE cigarettes in it! Major backsliding.

The Snorer told me the Sleeptalker had been in town on Friday, had stopped by the beach park. I wish I'd seen him but on the other hand really do prefer to have some money in my pocket when that happens so I can buy him a few beers, run my hand through his hair, across his flat brown belly ... oops, I've gotta go easy on the Romance novels. No matter how the author describes the hero, he's the Sleeptalker for me.

I went again to the State Library on Saturday to get some more reading material, went slightly upscale this time with Colleen McCullough's A Creed for the Third Millennium. Although I saw the television version twice, I didn't read her Thorn Birds. This one is off to an intriguing start.

Kathleen Sinclair is actually a fine writer, I think, and she should probably settle down, take a little longer, and write a major novel. Far Horizons could easily have been twice as long, with much more detail. Just the section set in Hawai'i at the time of the forcible relocation of leprosy patients to Molokai could have been expanded to increase the book's size by at least a quarter. After finishing, and greatly enjoying, her book, I went on to Jude Deveraux's Knight in Shining Armor, a bizarre fantasy where a tall, handsome Earl from Elizabethan England jumps forward in time to the 20th century and the woman of today he falls in love with jumps back to his time when he returns ... uh-huh, bizarre. But nicely researched and quite entertaining.

I went over to have a shower late on Saturday afternoon, wishing it had been steaming hot water pounding against my back. Just as I was about to leave, Louis from Rio came in. Like every man from South America I've seen naked, he is very well equipped. He said, "at last, we share a house together." ???!!! I didn't know quite what to make of that. We're both too strangely eccentric to share a house, I fear, but an overnight visit now and then might be fun. He had lost the address for the Tales again. I told him that was fine, I could make up exciting stories about him and he'd never know. After seeing him standing there under the shower grinning at me, it wouldn't be difficult to make up some of those stories. Not difficult at all.

394

All's the same ... pleasure, pain. Hmmmm. One thing to ponder those lofty Himalayan thoughts when all is well, the body behaving itself. Quite another when each step renews the awareness of a pocket of intense pain in the lower back, zapping down the legs in rivulets of sensation. One voice in my head says, "what utter nonsense". Another says, "sure, you old gits, you can self-hypnotize yourself into anything, including ignoring pain" to which another replies, "well, get on with it, do it."

But there's also a part of me which actually enjoys the pain. It's a novel sensation, after all, in my fortunate life. And unlike that mysterious chest pain which has happily been rare in recent months, this is a pain I know well, nothing to be overly nervous or frightened about, a nuisance but also an aid to maintaining constant self awareness.

It was the absence of that self-awareness at the birth of the pain which irks the hell out of me. How could I not have noticed? It's like the scratch on the back of my hand. I don't know how I got it, didn't notice it happening. The scratch doesn't bother me, not noticing myself get it definitely does.

I am a simple man and I sing a simple tune ... wish that I could see you once again across the room ...

395

I joked about drinking a beer "for medicinal purposes" but in fact, alcohol is about the only thing that does work in alleviating this irksome back pain. (The novelty wears off soon, I just want it to go away). Fortunately, a helping hand made Monday a three-Colt day and I would even have had a fourth as a nightcap if I could've gotten up the stamina to stand from my cardboard and stagger to the shop. Didn't make it. Went to sleep.

Oddly enough, and I don't understand at all why that should be, aspirin does nothing. I tried it, as I have many, many times before. Zilch. Another odd thing. With the heel pain (a minor discomfort compared to this back crap), I can apply pressure and ... ouch ... locate the exact source of the problem. Not so with the back pain. No matter how much I feel and poke in the general area of the source, I cannot locate it.

Also oddly, the herbal cigarettes help. I'm glad I bought another pack of them and that I've smoked so few.

Creed for the Third Millenium I finished on Monday afternoon. When I began reading it, I was reminded of Atlas Shrugged but Creed is a far more grim book, thoroughly depressing in its way. I think it was exceptionally bold of McCollough to postulate a "mini ice age" at a time when the global gossip is so centered on warming. I can well believe a time will come when ALL the nations of the world will stop, get together, stare at the United States of America and say, hey, isn't it time you woke up, stopped trashing the planet and put an end to your conspicuous consumption, your throwaway society? Yep, easy to see how that might come to pass. Even fairly easy to accept an American government trying to locate a visionary who would help restore confidence in a nation cringing under disdain. But it's still not a very pleasant future to contemplate, or read about.

I had a Crichton book stashed in my campus lode, but then spotted a Piers Anthony book in Hamilton Library's fifty-cent offerings. I've read most of Anthony's work, enjoyed it despite getting annoyed at his sometimes tiresome fetish for puns. This one is different. Tatham Mound, a very imaginative and engrossing tale of life in central Florida before the Europeans arrived. Extraordinary book for Piers Anthony, but probably more worth his talented efforts than anything else he has written.

I only made a brief visit to the mall on Monday evening to hunt snipes, found not a single quarter. The Quarter Hunt, to be successful, requires at least four or five hours and the ability to wander the mall as Dame Fortune directs the steps. With each step a painful one, wandering is not an enterprise to be welcomed at this time. I went again on Tuesday morning, mainly to avoid the hullabaloo on campus created by the visit of the Japanese Princess, watched the red carpet being (literally) rolled out, and left to enjoy a senior coffee and find one quarter.

And lo! I saw her! The Virginia Slims Mystery Woman. She's younger than I would have expected, maybe in her late twenties or early thirties. She was sitting on a bench, reading a book printed in the Japanese language. Under the bench were three tell-tale long VS butts. Before she left, a fourth had joined them. But alas, she seems to have wised-up and there was no discarded pack.

396

Extraordinary. For me, at least, it is definitely extraordinary. For years and years, I have dreaded the whole idea of the Christmas season. I hate the idea of feeling obligated to buy presents for people I don't want to buy presents for (sorry about that, Mama), I hate the holly jolly fake togetherness, I hate the hideous commercial orgy it all brings on.

But there is something at work. It began with "The 1940s Radio Hour" and a splendid woman singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as well as Judy Garland ever did, transporting me back in time to Decembers when I heard her singing it. I resisted. I would not let a tear roll down my cheek.

Then a "chance" meeting on Wednesday. Jon of Pure Heart came over to say hello. He had a fancy set of headphones around his neck. I asked if it was a radio. He pulled the tape player out of his pocket to show me it was more than that. "What were you listening to?" I asked.

"Pure Heart's Christmas album," he said, with that sly grin of his.

"You must be joking!" Nope, he wasn't. "And what," I asked, "are some of the tracks on it?"

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas," he said, first.

Okay. I surrender. I shall allow myself to positively wallow in the spirit of the last Christmas of the 1900's.

397

Piers Anthony writes, in the Author's Note at the end of his splendid Tatham Mound:

"Indeed, I believe that a significant aspect of man's nature derives from tale-telling, because this is where the human mind appreciates not only what is but what might be. It is man's art that sets him apart from the animals: his imaginative vision. Tale-telling is perhaps the first art."

I forgive him all his dreadful puns. Even the one he couldn't resist slipping into the Author's Note.

Dame Fortune has been in such a jovial mood this week. Maybe she felt sorry for me because of the back pain, even if she gave it to me, so to speak? It was finally better by Thursday, although I still had to be careful about sitting still for too long a time and, when forgetting, be very careful about getting up again.

I went to the beach to have a shower. A shopping cart was waiting at the bus stop when I arrived. I returned it, saw the Whore standing vigil outside the supermarket, wondered how he had missed seeing that one rolled away. He looked a total wreck, never saw him looking so shattered. I walked over to pay my respects to Ganesh and just as I reached the stroller corral, a young woman pushed one in and walked off, leaving the two quarters for me. Nodding to Ganesh, I continued on my way toward the beach and spotted PAPER money, just sitting there in the middle of the sidewalk. Well, was only two one-dollar bills, neatly folded, but even so ... I thought I should share such a gift and looked for Rocky in the park to offer him a beer. Not there, and the Snorer said he hadn't seen him all day. I had my shower, returned to the mall to do a quick round for snipes and immediately spotted an abandoned stroller. Best Mall Game all week, and I wasn't even playing.

Rocky stayed at the cloisters one night but I didn't know it until the next morning when he called out a greeting as I was leaving. The Snorer, though, knows my two nearest neighbors, two deaf fellows who chat away animatedly in sign language. I told Helen R about them, that they had gotten very drunk on Saturday, and she wondered if the sign language became slurred. Ha! Wouldn't surprise me, because they surely were drunk. But ordinarily they're very nice neighbors and their sign language doesn't interfere at all with my reading.

I finished Anthony's most excellent book on Thursday morning, after having stayed up past midnight with it the night before. Still not in the mood for the stashed Crichton book, I picked up another one from the fifty-cent cart at Hamilton Library. The Dancing Floor by Barbara Michaels. Judging by the info in the front of the book, she has written over twenty novels, but I've never heard of her. This one's not a bad yarn, so far.

I've wasted too much time on Usenet this week but have been in generally good spirits so felt more like playing than usual. Most folks there take everything SO SERIOUSLY, though, and eventually it becomes depressing. I won't continue until it reaches that point this time, methinks.

397a

Barbara Michaels is a very witty writer. She made me laugh aloud once, and that's a very rare thing for me, sitting quietly on my own, reading, something I particularly treasure in a writer, and she has made me chuckle softly quite a few times. I'm glad I discovered her.

That fifty-cent collection at Hamilton is proving to be something of a goldmine.

398

Both Cainer and Francis are talking about some significant progress recently made. Cainer suggests the coming week will have magical opportunities, Francis says the nature of the progress will be more clear after the Equinox.

The Equinox almost here already. Tempus fugit, gallops.

I don't notice any sense of having made progress except perhaps a greater relaxation than has often been the case. A little nag asked why I was "wasting" my time reading such inconsequential books. I said to it, you're enjoying yourself aren't you, so shut up, stop disturbing my reading. I finished The Dancing Floor before the nightcap flask was empty on Friday night, so I started writing my own "occult romance" novel in my head. Alicia, the aging heroine who looks in the mirror and is grateful she doesn't feel that old inside. Arcadia, the dashing young hero from Waianae. Heh.

Then I had bizarre dreams about a Chinese community somewhere in this country and I kept switching back and forth between being one of the Chinese and being an American.

After spending the day on campus, I made a brief early evening trip to the mall to hunt snipes, used some McD's certs to get a McChicken sandwich, small fries, and coffee. Didn't look for or find any quarters, but did find a box from the Virginia Slims mystery woman. Totally empty. Looks like she will be good only for very long snipes unless she starts feeling guilty enough to resume her strange routine.

They were taping "Hawaii Stars" which is basically a karaoke bar on stage, but one woman did a good enough job with the love song from "Titanic" that I stopped to listen. Carole Kai, who co-hosts the show, manages to keep a smiling mask on her face so constantly it made mine hurt just watching her. And it was fun at one point when the teleprompter went whacko and you could see several minutes ahead into what was going to be said. The Whore was, as usual, captivated by the show so it would have been a good time to hunt carts but I wasn't in the mood for it and left as soon as my snipes supply was sufficient. I needn't have bothered, since there was a pack of Marlboro's, missing only a couple, on the sidewalk outside a club in the morning.

"They [the Japanese] say Americans are too eager to make theories. They say we don't spend enough time observing the world, and so we don't know how things really are." Crichton: Rising Sun.

Uh-huh.

399

I didn't really like Crichton's Rising Sun but finished it. I've not read anything else of his except Andromeda Strain and won't go out of my way to seek more. Too preachy by far.

Someone seems to be going through a phase of reading novels about American Indians and leaving them for Hamilton's fifty-cent cart. Frank Waters' The Man Who Killed the Deer is the latest to enter my backpack, mainly because Stephen Vincent Benet is quoted as saying it's "perhaps the best book that has yet been written about the American Indian." Maybe in 1942, it was. The writing style is somewhat awkward, doesn't engross you in the way Piers Anthony's book does, but the details of life on a mid-century reservation are certainly nicely painted.

I had just finished the Crichton book and was sitting at the cloisters thinking about it when Spot came over to chat. I haven't encouraged him lately because I do enjoy that time on my own, with a book and the nightcap, but I guess putting down the book was invitation enough.

There's a very nice young black man who came looking for Spot several nights, finally asked me if I'd seen him. I said, no, he hadn't been there yet, seemed to be arriving later than usual. The third night he came over to ask, I asked him what his name was, told him I sometimes see Spot at the mall and would let him know he was being looked for. He said, "just tell him his African friend," started to walk away, and then turned back, asked if I had a pen and paper so he could leave his phone number for Spot. I got some out for him, he wrote his message, folded it, handed it to me and left. Extraordinary, that parents in Zimbabwe (as Spot told me) would name a son after a French emperor.

Spot and I talked a bit about him, but since much of what Spot said is destined for a courtroom in November, I think I'll refrain from repeating it. An odd young man, Spot, one I feel absolutely no physical attraction to and very little sympathy toward.

I had spent most of Saturday on campus, made a quick trip downtown and then a stroll through the mall for snipe hunting before returning again to campus. I was sorry to see the window had been changed, Siva and Ganesh gone.

400

Tale Four Hundred. Only 601 to go before I catch up with Scheherazade.

Thought I should do something special for the occasion, but couldn't think of anything I particularly wanted to do that would make 400 stand out from the rest.

Waited until I got to the mall to have my first jolt of caffeine on Monday, so it was almost 9:30 before I slugged down a cup of McD's senior coffee, went back for a refill. I was feeling quite dozey and light-headed by then. Maybe I should try a whole day without the stuff, might be interesting (if I managed to stay awake to experience it). Between the cleaning army, the competition, and a brief shower of rain, the snipes hunting was really slow going, took over an hour to almost fill one box.

I went over to the beach to have a shower. Rabid fans of the Tale's dirty bits will be disappointed, I fear, but I thought it quite entertaining. When I went in, a Filipino fellow was busy pumping away. He stopped, but after a bit, resumed, with his back turned to me. He gave a little grunt when finished, turned to me, smiled and said, "that's better". I do admire men who are so self-confident they can pick their nose or masturbate or whatever without worrying about it.

This isn't intended as a clever seque from one staying hard to another:

Spunker wrote: "The really cool part is how they stay hard for approximately one minute on dry surfaces so I was catching my thrills throwing Boo Bubble Gum at all those homeless dregs sitting on the benches outside Foodland."

Wonder if I was there at the time? Don't remember anyone holding a cup of Dippin' Dots throwing them in my direction, so maybe not. And anyway, I rarely sit on benches at the mall, except for the ones in the walkway to the bus stop with all the potted orchids on the wall.

That Dippin' Dots stuff truly sucks. The "ice cream of the future", they claim. I'll stick to the past, if so, will never bother to pick up another discarded cup of the stuff again. Goes right there on the list with Surge and Diet Pepsi.

I talked briefly with the Snorer and his gang. One of Rocky's lads I've never given a name said he had seen Mondo on the weekend at the Pearlridge Mall, and Mondo had told him to say hello to me. Evidently the Sleeptalker hangs out there once in awhile, too. Maybe I should take that wonderful express bus out to Pearlridge one Saturday.

Then Rocky came strutting over. He had stayed at the cloisters again on Sunday night, but hadn't noticed me when I left on Monday morning. I waited for a chance to ask him out of hearing of the others, who were playing at tossing horseshoes, if he wanted a beer. Silly question. I said we'd have to go down to the other end of the park to get it, so we left the Snorer's now-regular gathering, I got two bottles of Colt and we sat at a picnic bench to drink them. I told Rocky some guy had said on the Internet that I wouldn't buy beer for young dudes unless they gave me their bodies. He looked at the beer, looked at me, said "do you really want it?" Heh. Smart young man, Rocky is.

Finished the quite fine novel about the Pueblo Indians, moved on to Wilbur Smith's Men of Men. I hadn't intended to. I picked up what I thought was the book evidently next to it on the fifty-cent cart at Hamilton, only noticed when I got to the desk to pay that I had the "wrong" book. Such are the moments which test our faith in "no accidents". I handed the lady my two quarters and put the book in my backpack. Africa in the time of Cecil Rhodes, the "diamond rushes". I haven't read much about Africa, fiction or otherwise, and except for Egypt have little interest in the continent. Maybe my "accidentally" "wrong" purchase was reminding me that just because Jung freaked out there doesn't mean I should totally ignore the place. Or maybe it was just putting a good read in my paws, which it certainly seems to be thus far.

It was amusing to look up from reading it later at the cloisters, and see that tall, rather handsome fellow from Zimbabwe walking over to say hello.

The Usenet nonsense continued to occupy too much of my time. Someone wrote to ask me to "step aside". I replied that if I had been living in Salem at the time, I probably would have been on the side of the witches. If they hadn't burned me for one, of course.

401

A reader said she thought Tale 400's style had been influenced by Aaron. Could be, although I wasn't aware of it either when writing or reading that "landmark" Tale. But I've always been a sponge when it comes to parroting other writers' style. My well-read friend Frances once told me she could often tell who I was reading from my letters, even if I didn't mention it. And I've avoided "Regencies" in my light reading because I am (or was, anyway) very susceptible to that lush style.

"Style" in writing isn't something I've really thought about in writing the Tales, although I'm sure I'd fret over it if I sat myself down to write a novel. The Tales get told as if I were chatting to myself (and much of what does get written was originally just that, an internal chat).

The weather was very unsettled on Tuesday morning. For the second day in a row, I got showered on as I was walking uphill from the cloisters to campus. Considering how frequently it rains in Manoa, it's surprising that doesn't happen more often. Later in the morning I got caught again at some distance from shelter when an unexpected sprinkle began, but luckily was within feet of an overhang when a real downpour erupted. I decided it was perhaps time to spend the morning at the mall, but then I needed some snipes anyway.

And once again they were scarce. Where is Ms. Virginia Slims when I need her? Food was in short supply, too, and that always seems to happen on a day when the Krishna folks don't supply any. I did find a yummy round loaf of newly-baked bread and wondered why someone walked off and left it on a bench. It brought back memories of those wheat loaves from the "breadbasket" in the hacienda days. It seems a long, long time ago, those nights at the hacienda and the walk through Kakaako in the predawn hour.

I was about to leave for campus when I spotted a stroller abandoned just across the road from a return corral. That corral has robbed me twice by being out of quarters for the refund so I tend not to use it (even if that doesn't really make sense ... any of the three could be out of quarters). But since it was right there, I pushed the stroller in and the thing spit out EIGHT quarters. It was like winning on a slot machine.

So I decided I could have a lunchtime brew after all, bought it and returned to campus with my bread and beer and two Marvel comic books I'd found at the mall. Comic books aren't much like they were when I was a kid. The birds and I enjoyed the bread, I enjoyed the beer, and I left the comic books at Campus Center since maybe someone else would enjoy them. Can't say I did.

Then back to the computer ...

The reader also said: "Yep, usenet is nonsense. I keep telling you that, and you keep playing. A glutton for punishment, aren't you?"

It's a sad thing. Usenet, with all its misnamed "newsgroups" ("discussion groups" would be far better), should be a miracle of the McLuhan Global Village. People from all cultures, from all points on the globe, free to gather together and share ideas. Instead, it's a battleground. Our local group, alt.culture.hawaii, is dominated by half a dozen egomaniacs who spend sizeable chunks of time every day pouring out venom, repeating the same lies over and over again, picking the currently fashionable victim(s) and heaping scorn upon him (or her). Of course, it's small time nonsense compared to champs like soc.culture.indian. Scanning through posts in that place leaves one wondering how India ever managed to reach such heights of civilization and culture.

402

I was in a foul mood the morning of the last day of summer, made even worse because there was no reason for it and I had no idea why. Being in a "bad mood" for no reason has become a rare thing for me and I'm very happy that is so.

Perhaps part of it was the start of the day. There is a somewhat crazy black man who stays at the cloisters now and then. He has spoken to me a few times, once went on about how "distinguished" I look (like I said, somewhat crazy). During the night he had shifted sleeping spots and was closer to me than I prefer, one of the reasons I pick a spot with the nearest reasonable site about eight feet away. And he was making some noise which I assume he thought was singing. Not a wonderful way to wake up and greet a new day.

At least it wasn't raining, else my foul mood would have blackened even further.

I thought I'd definitely best stay out of Usenet, probably best to stay clear of a computer altogether, so went early to the mall. If you can't pull yourself out of it, I said, just walk around the mall and mutter your mantra. So I did. Quarters turned up now and then, I had two boxes almost full of lengthy snipes, was taking a break smoking one of them and a taxi driver walked over, said "would you like these?" and handed me a pack of Marlboros. I guess some passenger must've left them in the taxi.

Oddly enough, that broke the mood.

Wilbur Smith is the best "macho" writer I've encountered (sorry about that, Papa H) and I'm thoroughly enjoying his quasi-historical novel about Africa, was amused when the action moved to what is now Zimbabwe. I wouldn't mind at all reading a History of Africa that matches the one on Asia I still haven't completed. So when the mood lightened, I bought a bottle of Colt and went back to Smith's epic, repeated the prescription until time to head to the cloisters and sleep. My dawn-singing neighbor wasn't there, to my relief.

One of the deaf fellows is a lunatic. Like the Shirtless One, the Filipino, he always gets wacky when a full moon approaches and he was off and running early for this one. He arrived after his friend, there was the usual animated exchange with sign talk between them, then his friend resumed reading, rolling over to turn his back toward the still "chatting" one. That one then walked down near me and proceeded to undress down to his boxer shorts and stood there vigorously scratching his crotch, hand inside his shorts. I kept my eyes, more or less, on my book, wondering what on earth the man was up to. Finally he walked back over to his friend's spot and stood there scratching his crotch. Full moon horny? Dunno, but he repeated the routine the next night. Neither his friend nor I showed any interest in his exhibition, and I wondered how he'd top it on the evening when the moon really is full.

I ain't had no lovin' since January, February, June or July ...

Weird lyric. I have a vague memory of some MGM musical with "Harvest Moon" being sung, but it gets mixed up with Debbie Reynolds and maybe Donald O'Connor singing "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" which was a different movie. There's a whole section of my brain which is a Hollywood jumble. Or jungle.

And so the last Equinox of the nineteen hundreds arrived, summertime gone, no more living it easy. There's so little difference here between summer and fall it means not much aside from a day on the calendar, a knot in the string of a passing life. I stayed on campus most of the morning, spent a little time snipe hunting at the mall and found four quarters without actively hunting for them, made a quick trip downtown when intuition told me (rightly) there was some mail waiting, and then returned to campus with a bottle of Colt and went back to Africa. (I'd forgotten Dinesen when I said I hadn't read much about the continent, and wouldn't mind re-reading her, either).

Bruce H is in town and I was going to meet up with him and Kory K but got tired of waiting around for Kory to show up and left five minutes before he arrived, so I didn't, after all, go to Waikiki but spent the evening with the book.

And the moon moved into Aries ...

403

I didn't get the chance to see the wacky deaf guy's Fool Moon act. He didn't come "home". It's the first time I've seen his friend spend the night at the cloisters without the other one. The Shirtless One took this Moon fairly calmly, although he did pace a bit, stopped and stood in front of me at one point. I waited a few moments, then looked up from my book. "Are you homeless?" he asked, "you have no house?"

"Why do you think I'm sleeping here?" I asked, and muttered, "weird question," as he walked off without saying anything else. Weird is an understatement, considering both of us have been staying there, off and on, for almost two years.

They moved one of the long wooden, backed benches into the spot where it originally was before an end of it started to crack and it was taken away for apparent repair. It used to be my favorite bed, so I reclaimed it on the night of the Full Moon, the first time in weeks I've slept on wood instead of cardboard-upon-concrete. Trouble is, I always have to carry cardboard over just in case someone has already taken that bench, and it really isn't all that much better a bed. It did feel strange to sleep so far off the ground, though.

It's good to have the Full Moon in Aries out of the way so early in Libra. There's more than enough action in my personal chart during Libra anyway, the Sun opposing my natal Sun, Mars and Venus in rapid succession. Such fireworks always make the mass astrologers' reports a little less pertinent for me. Or so I speculate.

This has been a week of moods, and the Full Moon day brought on one of those lost, dunno-what-to-do-and-don't-much-care days. As I have in recent months, I react to those with a shrug and say, "might as well stroll the mall." I also woke up feeling very tired, so used some newly arrived McD's certs for not only senior coffee but a McChicken sandwich and fries. Buying food is almost as rare as buying cigarettes. It did perk me up a little, but not much.

Bla was absent until mid-evening and the Whore wasn't on the scene at all. It's a shame the mall was so deserted. But I did add financing for another brew to the nightcap change already in pocket. For awhile, though, the pickings were so slim I was slightly regretting having been so "responsible" on my recent Responsible Shopping Expedition. On the other hand, I wasn't responsible enough, because I yet again ran out of teabags and I guess I have to break down and buy a bar of soap because none have been abandoned in the showers. It's always something ...

Eric Francis wrote: Humans so rarely see things as they are; we see things as we are. For you, this time of year can have a sense of placing a big mirror in front of your life, or noticing that the world is an emotional reflecting pool, which is, at the moment, more akin to a very hot bath."

A very hot bath. Ummmmmm, that would be a fine thing, indeed.

404

A fellow writing in "Odyssey", the local gay guide, mentioned some of the places he has lived and said he thought the concentration of "beautiful men" was greater on this island than anywhere else in the world. I agree.

I was sitting on a bench in the orchid-wall walk early on Monday morning, enjoying an Ecstacy smoke and my coffee refill, looking in the other direction, when I turned and saw a First Class, stunning example of that. Slim, beautifully brown and muscular body, shirtless with tee shirt slung rolled around his neck. No hair on the chest but, like the Sleeptalker, a sweet furry line from his navel down to disappearing behind his briefs, two inches of which were showing above his low-slung trousers. Very thick, short dark hair in his armpits. Standing right in front of me.

"You got buds? Can I have a hit?"

"I wish," I said, "just a herbal cigarette." He offered to trade me a regular cigarette for one of them. I only had three left in the box I have been trying to stretch until the Fabled Pension Check arrives, but I could have denied him nothing, made the trade.

He said it really smelled like "buds" and I told him I kept the box with me to display in case anyone questioned. A security guard walked by and said, "you guys smoking something you shouldn't?" We both laughed. I showed the guard the box. He said they had been getting a lot of calls lately, people complaining that marijuana was being smoked. Then he told us some tales of his youth, including one I'd never heard before, about putting the stalks between the wringers of an old-fashioned washing machine, gathering the liquid, spreading it on a cookie sheet and baking it, to get THC.

All the time I was listening to the exchange, my eyes were glued on that beautiful chest, that fuzzy line of fur, occasionally looking up into gleaming, smiling dark eyes. I wished for a camera. I knew I wouldn't be able to properly glue the image into my memory.

He's nineteen. After the guard left, he asked me how long I have been "stuck" here. I told him I didn't think of it as being "stuck". He does, after seven years here. Ah, so he came here at the age of twelve, from Texas. He doesn't know better.

I asked him why he was at the mall so early and he said he was just waiting until it was time to go to his P.O. ("parole officer", for the uninitiated). He complained that they were treating him like a hardened criminal, community service and five years of parole. I didn't ask what he had done to merit this reward but from the rest of his conversation, I'd guess a drug bust. Anyone who supposedly knows people who smuggled in twenty pounds of the weed from the Big Island in one go ...

An absolute sweetheart, as delightful a personality as a body. The I Ching said about this week, "Fellowship with Men". It could not possibly have gotten off to a better start.

405

Looks like I'll make it. I vowed not to borrow against the Fabled Pension Check this month unless the Sleeptalker showed up on campus. I would rather have borrowed and spent a day with him, but no joy. Of course, there was assistance from the Heavenly Melon Vine, so I can't really claim some great disciplinary victory.

The final week of September is turning out to be as moody as its predecessor. Cainer wrote on Tuesday: WHAT are you trying to conjure up out of thin air? Reason, meaning, purpose? Something like that.

I found a copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan so am following up the quasi-historical tale of Africa with one (perhaps a little more quasi) of Medieval Spain. It's the first I've read by Kay, although had heard of him since he was one of the editors of Tolkien's posthumously published Silmarillion. Lions is nicely written although a little confusing because it has such a huge cast of characters and also because he mixes fantasy with history in a strange way. Two moons?

I've spent little time at the mall. A couple of hours on Tuesday evening showed me how fine it would be to have the Quarter Hunt to myself. The Whore was absent and Bla didn't arrive until quite late, so picking up $2.75 was as easy as walking around and returning one cart after another, assisted by one stroller corral having four quarters in it. If only the Whore would move to another mall.

Moody and lazy. I can't even get up the ambition to do laundry. Moody and lazy and slightly bored. Libra.

406

As I was settling down to sleep on Tuesday night, I thought what a waste it is that we have to sleep. Bad design. But then let's not even talk about teeth if we want to talk bad design.

On Sunday evening yet another deaf fellow had joined the two regulars. He brought a cooler full of beer. I should have just gotten up and moved somewhere else immediately, having already experienced those two when drunk. The younger, wacky one and his chihuahua-like yips is bad enough, but the older one, when he gets drunk and excited, chatters away in some unrecognizeable language, punctuated with loud laughs and his usual raucous coughing (between drags on a cigarette). So I went back to the other building and slept where I'd been on that most memorable night with the Sleeptalker, the two of us huddled under one cover against the cold of the night.

It's an okay spot, sweet memories, so I stayed there for three nights. The light isn't as good, though, so it's more difficult to read awhile with my nightcap before sleeping. And like I said, I grumble about the need to sleep, anyway. Or to eat. Tuesday was grim on that score, so little food around. A bit of rice, three malasadas (and the birds got part of one of those). It wasn't a great day, despite that $2.75 I so easily picked up at the mall.

And then even worse, I woke up on Wednesday and realized I wasn't, as I said in the last Tale, "slightly bored", I was thoroughly and utterly bored.

For me, getting bored always goes hand in hand with getting depressed. I think boredom comes first and then I get depressed because I'm bored and none of it makes any sense. It falls on me, or I fall into it, without reason or warning and nothing matters, not music, books, birds, even beautiful young men. Not even beer.

But beer I had and a book and I sat in the secluded grove, feeding the birds another stale malasada I found, and reading just because there was nothing else I wanted to do and even though I didn't really want to do that, I knew it would pass the time. The passage of time is the only thing I can count on to bring a change of mood. All things must pass, even intense boredom.

The book really wasn't that good, I thought when finishing it. Far too often he gave way to the device of having something happen and then making the reader go on for pages before finding out just what had. Two men fight, one survives. Ten pages before finding out which one. A woman is married and has two children. Ten pages more before finding out who she married. Clever, once or twice, but tedious when constantly repeated.

Already in the backpack was a romance epic called Shanna which got off to such an improbable beginning it actually made the nightcap hour at the cloisters more amusing than the rest of the day had been. I moved back to the place I've occupied all summer and slept more soundly there, didn't awaken until the (for me) very late hour of 6:45.

The end of the last September of the nineteen hundreds. It has not been what I could in any way call a memorable month. Except for that meeting with The Texan.

407

What a dancer! I had, of course, not been in the Islands long before discovering the hula was much, much more than I'd ever realized. And I've been fortunate to see many excellent practitioners of that art. But on Thursday evening it was almost as if I were seeing it for the first time. Really seeing it.

She was tall, long straight hair in a generous swath reaching below her waist. When she turned toward me, I could see her face clearly for the first time and realized she was not a beautiful woman in the conventional sense, but there was something monumental, epic about her. The first song she danced to was a fast tempo one and she moved and swirled with intoxicating grace. I joined in the loud "hana hou" encore calls. There was a brief conference with the musicians. Genoa said, "this is a very old song" and the old Chocolate Man sitting next me muttered, "a very old song."

I didn't recognize it. Slow and beautiful and sensuous. And the dance! Never have I seen such a hula. It seemed to sum up the history of the islands, in a way. I could feel what it must have been for the early European visitors, seeing these beautiful people and watching a dance which, with less grace, could have been called lewd. It was so beautiful I had to wipe the tears from my eyes before they spilled down my cheeks.

Since I'd been so faithful to my vow, when the Fabled Pension Check arrived, I gave myself a reward. An afternoon and evening in Waikiki, the way it used to be. The afternoon at Duke's, Michael and Aimee behind the bar. Michael's pride and joy, his two and a half year old daughter, has been joined by a nine week old brother, and I dutifully looked through his ever-present photo album. He boasted of the little boy's equipment. Heh. Never heard a daddy brag like that, and nine weeks old! "Like father, like son," I said, and he beamed. Aimee was, as always, a joy to be with. I told her, quite truthfully, she didn't seem to have aged at all in the years I have been following her from one bar to another. "You must want another free drink," she said. Sweetheart.

I felt a little sadness, sitting there. Such a beautiful location, with its view of the ocean, the little flock of surfers waiting out in the water for the next wave, the catamarans and outriggers coming and going from the beach. It was a very good time, those many months I spent almost every afternoon there. I hope it, and I, last long enough for those Social Security checks to start rolling in. It will be every afternoon there again for a time, if we survive.

I had begun my treat by buying a pack of Pall Malls. Ahhh, virgin cigarettes and my favorites. Beer, Pall Malls, Duke's ... a fine afternoon.

When it came time for the shift to the evening bartenders, I used my upside-down shot glass for one more brew, then walked slowly along the beach to the Hawaiian Regent Hotel. Genoa and crew had just begun playing. She saw me, gave me a smile and a nod, and then Gary Aiko spotted me, did likewise. At last! He broke free and was barechested, with a fake leopard-skin vest, instead of the long-sleeved white shirt he usually (and with obvious discomfort) wears for the gigs with his mama. Paul Kim was standing in for Alan Akaka and, alas, sang only one song. His steel guitar playing is wonderful, but so is his singing which he undervalues, I think.

I spotted Myra in the audience, got a beer and a chilled glass and took it over to her. The special for the night was Hinano from Tahiti, a decent brew, and I suppose increasing the "special" of the night to three dollars isn't bad for Waikiki. Later I took Myra another one, teased her by saying next time I saw her and needed just one more quarter, she'd better remember it. Such a sweet lady, she is.

A fine afternoon and evening, not nearly as costly as it would have been had every beer gone on the bill. And worth every penny for that dance alone.

408

I only know when he ... began to dance with me ... I could have danced, danced, danced all night ...

He was so cute and a completely amazing dancer. My companion who I have, after a conference on the subject, agreed to call "Scarlett" and I watched the young man dancing earlier, on his own, and when he got up again as we were dancing, I moved so he was between us and the three of us danced together until his antics got me so amused I just sat on a ledge by the dance floor and watched the two of them, congratulated Scarlett afterwards for managing to keep up with him.

It was a Suddenly Last Summer evening at Pier Bar. Willie K was in top form, rocked the house as only he can do when at his best. Aimee behind the bar, lots of folks I hadn't seen since the last time I was at a Willie gig. Scarlett I've never seen anywhere but at Willie's gigs and she came over to me early in the evening and stayed with me until the bar closed after midnight. We discussed all the beautiful young men who surrounded us, agreed on most of them. One of the best came and stood right in front of us and on a signal, we both reached down to pat his butt. He thought it was just her, or at least pretended to think so.

There's a handsome local Asian fellow I've always admired, also never seen except at Willie gigs, and Scarlett agreed he is a fine specimen. Some really silly little blonde lady was trying to get him interested. Scarlett and I thought he definitely deserved better than that and she went over to break it up, completely captured his attention, winking to me. The young lady gave up, but did catch on to our game and gave me a knowing smile as she left our area.

Scarlett had never met Willie, so during the break I introduced her to him, told him she has been a long-time admirer, got a laugh out of him when I said, "I know the last thing you need in your life right now is another woman." Later he gave us a little bow as he started "Bottle of Wine", my favorite Willie song and one he doesn't always include in his gigs. As I said on alt.music.hawaiian, Willie is The Man.

We kept up our banter all evening as young men passed by and when the lights went on and the bar was closing, we walked together toward the Aloha Tower and encountered the best one yet. A quick unspoken conference, we agreed. So I told him we both thought he was the champ of the evening. Amazing how beautiful young men are so relaxed about being admired when there's a woman as part of it. Yep, Suddenly Last Summer.

But, as I told a friend, I escaped without getting eaten.

And much to my delight, the hacienda was no longer chained off so instead of sleeping, as planned, on an outside bench there, I returned to that magical, occult space and slept where I'd so often been with the Sleeptalker on one side of me and Mondo on the other. They, alas, were not there, but the memory certainly was.

A most excellent evening.

409

My Unauthorized Biographer on Usenet reminded me of that sweet night, so long ago, at the hacienda when the Sleeptalker, blonde bear fur hair as he had then, turned over on his bench and, lying on his flat brown belly, raised his head and said, "hi Barney".

Ah yes, I was a "Barney" in those days. Two years ago, come Thursday night, I shall remember that it was exactly that night two years ago I last spent a night under my own roof in my own bed (actually, my rented roof and my rented bed).

Learned a bit in these two years. Not nearly enough, but a bit. But then that was the whole idea. Just as when I walked out of Manhattan and set out on foot across New Jersey, the idea was to end stagnation, to give up "peace" and "comfort" and "security" in exchange for making life more interesting. It worked then, it has worked now.

Je regrette rien ...

Except ... maybe ... falling love with the Sleeptalker.

Maybe.

409a

No way, no how.

That young man from Waianae has given me some of the most treasured, sweet moments of my long life.

Je regrette rien ...

409b

Five days of "normal" living. Buying food, cigarettes, beer, not going near the mall or carts or strollers. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better not to have that monthly check, but I have to admit I do indeed enjoy the interlude of green-paper-in-pocket.

Most of the weekend was spent with John Grisham's A Time to Kill, the first of his books I've encountered and certainly a fine one. The weather was beautiful, the campus quiet and fairly deserted, so I sat with an occasional bottle of beer and the book and the birds and memories.

There is not a day that passes without thinking of the Sleeptalker, but he absolutely dominated my thoughts on Sunday, to such a degree that it began to worry me. I hope he's okay.

I hope I am, too, although I do sometimes wonder ...

410

There must have been something in the air, or in the "stars". Never saw so many young couples having spats on campus as I did on the first Monday of October. I suspected none of their arguments were really serious, and hoped I was right about my guess, felt like saying, oh stop it, enjoy "love" while it lasts, but behaved myself.

Hello young lovers, wherever you are ...

Read this in an on-line journal:

"Keeping an on-line journal is a balancing act. Each step you take has to be weighed. What are the consequences? Are they worth the risk? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. And sometimes you just throw caution to the wind and things are a little off kilter for a while. And sometimes it's worth it and sometimes not."

True words, true words.

I have the advantage (?) over many of the school in being single, no spouse or "significant other" to read what I say, although the Sleeptalker could and knows how to, if he wanted. I doubt I would have written anything about him differently. I also have the advantage of being old enough to not really give a damn what other people think about me and that's important in writing these things. Without that, I probably would have written some things differently or not mentioned them at all, especially given the twits who gleefully take and twist stuff from here to use in their beloved Usenet flamefests.

I don't read many of the on-line journals regularly. Right now Ryan, Aaron, and Spunker (the local emag with journal-like content) are the only ones I follow consistently. There are others I check now and then, some which were more regular reading until they began to lag and write less frequently. Without regular entries, it turns into a different kind of writing, is no longer really a journal and, unless they are very good writers, not as interesting. I get more than enough "essays" in the daily campus newspaper. Occasionally, I look at diarist.net and browse around, which is how I came across the above quote.

It would be interesting to come across one from a fellow roofless man, but I haven't yet found any.

The money runs out. Nightcap funds in hand for Monday and then it's either back to the mall game or give up beer. And with the money gone, there's no more masking boredom by spending. How very tiresome.

411

My maybe-cousin (x-times removed?) has established vanderburg.org. My branch of the family has never been very "org"anized, so he must spring from some other batch than my Grandmother and Grandfather's thirteen offspring. Since he's in Dallas, though, and my lot stem from Chicota, near Paris, not far from that metropolis, chances are, we are related. As I told him, I quite like the idea of "vanderburg.org" but do think the Tales should be linked from it. A Black Sheep of the Family section? (I'm sure I'm not the only one.)

Dame Fortune smiled and decided I didn't have to endure a beer-less day on Tuesday, whether I played the Mall Game or not. So many coins left in the vending machines on campus. Maybe whatever it was which caused all those lovers' squabbles also made the students extra absent-minded, because they left quite a horde behind and I gathered it all up in the pre-dawn hour.

I did go to the mall, though, because I wanted to cross over to the beach and have a shower. Since I was also washing a tee shirt, I was in there long enough to have three different companions, none of them particularly interesting. Just as well, I don't like being distracted while doing laundry.

One of the regulars told me to be careful in the mall. They have hired a lot of new security-army folks since the expansion, and seem to be trying to crack down on the more grotesque of the nomads. I thanked him for the warning but said that unless I spotted a magazine or something I wanted, I never went trash-digging. Ah, some of the newbies regard the ashtrays as part of the trash, he told me. Yikes, a Game Sanctuary for Snipes?! That would be bad news. He described the worst of the new over-enthusiasts and when I went back to the mall, I spotted him at once (younger than most, wears glasses), so I left his area. It would seem the emphasis is on keeping us lowlifes on the ground level and away from the super-affluent shops upstairs. No problem. I can't really blame them. But I thought, if that fellow who reportedly gets upset over a cigarette butt being taken from an ashtray ever sees Twisted Hair with his gross routine, he'll go ballistic. Maybe he did. Twisted Hair was nowhere to be seen.

Ever-changing rules. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, after moving to an unaccustomed spot at the cloisters, someone said, "you guys aren't supposed to be sleeping on this side." ???? There's never been any rule about that area not being used and the security man had said nothing to me the night before. I dunno. But the mosquitoes seem worse there than anywhere else, so I don't mind if it's off-limits.

The Powers That Be versus the No Powers That Be. The History of Earth.

412

I ran into the Cherub as he was scurrying to his meteorology lab. No, he's not particularly interested in the subject but seems to enjoy his lab partner's company. I told him he was looking pale and he said it was because he'd been sweating a presentation he'd just finished making for his economics class. (No, he's not particularly interested in that subject either, but needs it for his stash of required credits.)

We agreed that despite all the reports of decreased enrollment this semester, the campus certainly shows no evidence of it, was like a disturbed anthill all morning. Even the secluded grove was full of bodies.

The Cherub gave me a few cigarettes, the sweetie. He's wisely staying on the periphery of my weird life, but it's always a welcome occasion when he strays into orbit.

The long, long two-month record of nightcaps came to an end on Tuesday. I suspected it was going to be a case of either/or, but went ahead and had a brew in the mid-afternoon and wasn't particularly bothered when I went to the mall in the evening and it was a dead loss, not so much as one quarter flew into my paw. Despite the increased difficulty in getting to sleep, once I eventually got there, it was a pleasant enough night despite the lack of brew circulating in my veins.

They've started leaving the toilet open all night again, alas. I can understand their "kindness" is probably not really kindness at all, just a desire to stop people from pissing in the bushes. Doesn't work. I noticed several who were too lazy to make the walk instead of using the nearest bush. About all it does accomplish is make that area uninhabitable because people are in there off-and-on all night and then there is a horrendous racket from the place in the early morning. I hope some of those men never had a wife. It's awful to contemplate the torture of spending every morning listening to all that hacking, grunting, spluttering noise. No zoo could sound more unpleasant. After making the mistake of sleeping too near it on Monday, I went back to my usual spot once the deaf guys finally settled down. They're as bad as the toilet until they do.

Every once in awhile, in a moment of boredom, I use one of the Web search machines to see what it reveals for "Vanderburg". Years ago, there was nothing. Then Glenn showed up, author of a couple of books on Java, and now owner of vanderburg.org. When I tried it again on Tuesday, I was amazed at how the list had grown ... over 700 references. As with all the search machines, a lot of them were duplicates and Glenn does occur in many references because of his Java work. But The Vanderburg Page at http://www.thescenicroute.com/cmterrell/vanderburg/index.htm did come as a surprise.

And in the Guestbook there, I noted a Tanya who said she was from Paris, Texas, so I sent her an email and had a reply. Turns out her grandfather was my uncle. It's the first contact I've had with my father's family since childhood except for one in my first year in New York City. A cousin wanted to run away from home and asked if he could stay with me for awhile. Weirdly, I can't remember if he ever actually showed up or not. I don't think so.

I also had a reply from Glenn and he said if he started to organize links on his page with a Black Sheep section, it would probably be the largest one there. But he promised me a link and eventually a virtual address at the site.

The most touching site, though, was a listing of all the tombstones in the little Mt. Joy Cemetery, Delta County, Texas, many of which are Vanderburg's, and a very handsome site about a branch of the family which appears to have gone off to Oregon. Added to that, the Social Security Death Register with its 378 Vanderburg's (including father, aunts and uncles) and there is already enough material to spend hours entering it into a database. Good thing I have no db program available, but an interesting diversion on an otherwise dull afternoon.

I did make a quick trip down to the State Library, since there was nothing of interest on the fifty-cent cart at Hamilton, and found Paul Rudnick's I'll Take It, a funny book about a mother and son who are both shopping addicts (and shoplifting, if the desired object is too costly). Gave me several chuckles, but without beer's assistance I really needed something more boring to put me to sleep.

413

I stayed on campus until mid-afternoon Wednesday, then went to the mall since I was meeting Ryan at four-thirty in the park. He has a project for his ethics-in-journalism studies. How to report on a community without exploiting it or taking advantage of it, more or less. And the community? The homeless. HA!

Unfortunately, his assigned sub-group is going to be families and children, so I (Gott sei dank, wouldn't want to live this life with even one child as a responsibility) cannot be of direct help to him, but can probably better assist some of his classmates, especially the poor young lady who has the "African Americans" sub-group. She hasn't got many guinea pigs to pick from in this town, but at least I could introduce her to the Snorer and he just loves to talk. That black woman who dresses all in white and has wandered the streets, mostly of Waikiki, for over seven years now might be a more difficult interview subject.

But it was fun seeing Ryan, as always, and if his interviews with his homeless subjects don't stick closer to the point than our chat did, he's gonna be in trouble in that class.

Before meeting him, Dame Fortune had smiled, leaving a dollar bill on the sidewalk under a phone kiosk and quickly providing the other four quarters for nightcap financing. But sitting in McD's with Ryan, Myra came in and asked if I had a quarter. For Myra, sure. Another woman I'd never seen before asked us for a dollar. No way. I knew Dame Fortune would replace the quarter to Myra, but replacing a dollar given to a stranger might have been pushing my luck. Sure enough, later after saying goodbye to Ryan, a cart was waiting at the bus stop and my Colt money was in hand again.

I decided on a new routine, since the Deaf Guys Club has made the cloisters a less than perfect late evening reading venue: get the brew and have it elsewhere, go to the cloisters only when ready to jam in the earplugs and sleep. It worked out fine. I continued that very funny Rudnick book, drank my beer, got to the cloisters and sure enough, the D.G.C. was still in swing at eleven o'clock. But the glow from the beer and the earplugs and the late hour made for a rapid descent into sleep anyway.

And then I woke up and it was the Last Day of the Second Year.