THE THIRD YEAR
God will forgive me. It's His job.
Heinrich Heine's dying words, they say.
and the simple secret of the plot...
castle medical center
return to paradise
tales from the year of the dragon
Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory, and the truth of every
passion wants some pretence to make it live.
Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim
the dragon arrives
in like a lamb
last month of fifty-something
doorstep of the seventh
The last day of the Second Year and the first day of the Third Year were
routine, ordinary days, the first spent mainly at the mall since the
weather was dismal and the second an on-campus day. Aside from meeting
Kory K at lunchtime on Friday, I didn't talk to anyone. The amusing
Rudnick book finished, I moved on to Julie Garwood's Prince
Charming, a standard inheritance-kidnapping-smoldering lust yarn
that's entertaining enough.
Cainer warned about the tendency to create a crisis when days are routine
and ordinary. Uh-huh, I know that method of dealing with boredom well.
But warning noted.
Of course, "cheap fiction" is a safer way to deal with it, and there's a
certain deja vu to these quiet hours in the secluded grove
with dashing heroes and beautiful heroines. Hot Delhi afternoons,
torrentially rainy ones in Mussoorie, tucked away in the make-believe
world of novels. One part of me feels guilty, as though I should be
doing something with the time, but when I'm feeling bored and lazy
it's, like I said, safer than creating a crisis.
In this wave of genealogy, another cousin discovered me and supplied this
Your grandparents were William Levi "Bill" Vanderburg and Elizabeth Ruth
"Lizzie" (Gustin) Elder. She was born in 1873 and was the daughter of
Lafayette Gustin of Indiana. [She was widowed, with a son, when she
married Uncle Bill, and she was his 3rd wife.]
Gay also said: "we share the same great-grandparents (Julius Abiel
Vanderburg and Leah Adaline Blalock)."
Cousin Tanya said she didn't want her father to see my childhood tale
since he holds my father in such high regard. I told her perhaps her Dad
might know more of stormy father-son relationships than she suspects and
that I doubt he would think less highly of my father, but perhaps of me.
But I don't blame her for protecting him. I'd feel delighted to discover
an outspoken rogue in the family, but don't expect the others to feel that
A paternal grandfather who had three wives, a maternal grandmother who had
seven husbands. Strange tree.
Alicia slowly slid her hand over his slim, muscular chest, relishing every
moment of those firm, sensuous curves. Across his brown, flat belly her
hand moved, pausing a moment to tease the circle of his bellybutton. Then
behind the waistband of his Calvin's her hand moved, and down, down,
through the soft curly dark hair.
And she remembered what a terribly long time it had been since she'd had a
Vienna Sausage sandwich. On wheat. Mustard on one slice, mayonnaise on
the other, two crispy green lettuce leaves over the sausages. Her mother
would slice the sausages in half, but Alicia liked them round, intact,
[Hey, it would be an amusing difference if one of these heroes wasn't
hung like a stallion.]
He was some distance away when I first spotted him, young, tall, brown,
shirtless. As he moved slowly toward me I could see he had a long-sleeved
shirt tied around his waist by the sleeves, Tomita-san style, and was
carrying a very beat-up skateboard. And he was digging in the trash cans.
A new ragpicker, a cute young new ragpicker. When he reached the one
nearest me, he found a plate lunch box in a tied white plastic bag, was
carefully opening the bag when one of the cleaning army approached and
scowled. I smiled, watching the encounter, and the lad noticed me but
He took the plate lunch box and sat at the far end of the planter box I
was sitting on, his back to me, eating, with his fingers, what looked like
some beef and rice. Then he strolled away but soon came back and sat
beside me, asked, "howzit going?" He asked if I'd seen the 3-D T. Rex
movie and I said, no, I'd like to but it's too expensive. He agreed it
was too much money but said how much he hoped to see it. I told him he
shouldn't have much difficulty finding someone to take him. He grinned,
thought a moment, and said, "maybe not too difficult." "Just find a crazy
old man like me," I said, "but one with money. If I had the money I'd
take you to the movies." A bigger grin.
His right arm was covered in colorful tattoos. I asked if he had any on
his legs, which were concealed by cut-off Levi's, and he pulled up one
pants leg to show me one on his ankle, said it had been painful getting
it. I sympathized, said I could imagine so, and touched my earring, said
that I'd like a small tattoo but the hole in my earlobe was as far as I
could go. "It looks good," he said.
He got up to leave and I gave him the standard farewell usually reserved
for the Sleeptalker, "take care of yourself." And he rolled off across
the parking lot on his battered skateboard.
Oh yes, if I'd had a twenty in my pocket, it would have been off to
Waikiki to the movies. Kory K and I were talking on Friday about the
future days when those Social Security checks roll in. If I make it, I'll
be the biggest pushover in town.
Everything closes on campus at five on Saturdays so I had gone to the mall
for lack of anything better to do when pockets are empty. The sparse
crowd and the Whore on very active duty suggested there was little chance
of finding the seven quarters I needed for another bottle of Colt, but I'd
had two bottles in the afternoon, completing the Anniversary Celebration,
so didn't really care if I found money for another, probably wouldn't have
bought it if I had. As it turned out, I did find five quarters, mainly
because the Whore gave up fairly early and left the field open until Bla's
very late arrival on the scene.
I was, for no reason I could think of, feeling very, very tired and if I'd
had a place to do it, I would have curled up and gone to sleep by eight
o'clock. But then I reminded myself that two years and a few days ago, I
would have been sitting alone in my dinky Waikiki apartment, missing the
chance of sweet encounters with barechested brown lads carrying
"He was married to Martha Ruth PROTZ on 22 Sep 1939 in Lewisville, Arkansas." says
The Vanderburg Page about my father.
So I'm either a bastard, or very premature. 22 Sep 1939 to 12 Apr 1940
surely ain't nine months. Like mother, like daughter.
Always did wonder if that man really was my father. Now it looks as if I
might have less reason to fear falling into a Freudian cliche and instead
can wonder if Albert Sr. was the one who did the dastardly deed or if he
was just being gallant and rescuing a maiden in distress.
I must admit, it's a bit disconcerting to discover such information from
the Web. I had to jump up from the computer and rush outside to smoke a
couple of cigarettes before calming down.
Francis Vanderburg and Maria Christina Lydecker (married 25 November
Francis Vanderburg (2nd) & Elizabeth Perry
Julius A. Vanderburg (b. 25 September 1825) & Adaline Blalock
William Levi Vanderburg (17 Oct 1849 - 15 May 1921) & Elizabeth Gustin
(Lizzie) Elder (married 29 May 1897)
Albert Lester Vanderburg (28 Nov 1914 - 22 Feb 1987) & Martha Ruth
On Sunday afternoon, a good friend brought the subject up, and several
times insisted that it "makes no difference" that my parents shacked up
and I was at their wedding, incognito. This is true. Right now, it makes
no difference at all to me. But it does take my memory banks of childhood
and turn them upside down, wipes out all the interpretations I thought
existed and causes them to be re-examined.
Knowing my mother as well as I do, she was guilty about it all her life
(and I still don't know when, or if, she died). And knowing her penchant
for hideously cheap fiction (True Story and Modern Romance
magazines) I can just imagine her, every time she looked at me, feeling
guilty anew). Yikes. Poor, silly woman. Little wonder she was such a
hysteric about me.
I do not have any problem with two human beings who have sex and create a
baby without the "sanctity" of marriage. I do have something of a problem
with hypocrites, and I am quite convinced now that both of my parents were
pretty extreme examples of that nonsense. C'est la vie, c'est la Karma.
It's my fault. I should have known better than to get born to those two,
and I've known that for a very long time. May the gods grant me
the wisdom to choose better next time.
Monday Mall Game. I saw T. Rex again. He was sitting on his skateboard,
so engrossed in watching the demos of Dreamcast games he didn't even
notice me walk by. He had his shirt on, alas.
A shower. One companion was interesting, but not interested. A second
was interested, but not interesting. I was too wrapped up in thoughts of
I'd hoped I'd get my Colt financing in pocket before the Whore came on the
scene. Alas, thanks to Bla's diligent roaming, I was still short two
quarters, but then scored a stroller minutes after the Whore appeared.
Right under his nose, which made it even sweeter.
Hail, hail, the gang's all here. That dreary Charlie Chan, doing his
Mandrax stroll. A relative newcomer, the Creeper, who walks even more
slowly than Charlie, glazed look in his eyes, searching for I know not
what, glacially pacing the mall. The Sunday Amateur, guarding a bus
stop in case a cart was abandoned there. Mutt and Jeff back again, after a
long absence, with the same schtick. Her berating him for not buying her
something to eat from McD's, him accusing her of just wanting to endlessly
spend his money, him going to get her something, her running off so he has
to go look for her. She called me "the movie star" and "Mister
President", at one point was following me through Sears almost shrieking
"Mister President, Mister President." The woman is seriously schizoid.
In a quieter moment, she said something to me, several sentences, and it
made absolutely no sense whatever, could have been a direct quote from a
A crowded mall, filled with dentists, thanks to the ADA Convention. Not
much use so far as shopping carts and strollers are concerned, but lawdy
did they abandon food. After the fourth plate lunch box, from which I ate
only the bits I most liked, I told myself, "That's it. You will ignore
all plate lunch boxes from this moment on." Chopsticks Express is very
much better than Patti's Chinese Kitchen.
The dentists surely do like ice cream. Never saw so many people walking
around licking ice cream cones. Made me quite eager to have some of the
stuff. And they share my appreciation for Gloria Jean's chilled coffee
concoctions. Bastids drank it to the last drop, alas.
Eric Francis writes: We "believe in" people, we believe in the story of
our love. And, very dependably, we believe in sacrifice -- a very
religious theme. What if your religion of love shifted to one based on
faith and natural processes -- like the seasons, for instance -- rather
than any of this other stuff?
Tuesday Mall Game. Although it began as quite a beautiful day, Tuesday
soon turned gray and drizzly. I fled Manoa and went to the mall.
By noontime I was feeling quite disgusted. I don't mind losing out in the
Quarter Hunt, but there's no need to rub it in by making me witness the
lost quarters, even if it's Bla getting them, and far, far worse when some
utter amateur grabs one just because he happened to walk past at the right
moment. I was about to quit in disgust, took a break, and went downtown.
When I returned to the mall, a cart was waiting. Nice omen. The mob of
dentists was joined by a mob of sweet young things. One of those Japanese
training ships is in port. They contribute nothing to the carts, the
strollers, even the abandoned food. Just plain eye candy. No complaint.
It turned out just fine. Financing for two Colts, FIVE boxes of lengthy
snipes, half a large pizza for dinner (thankfully not from California
Pizza Kitchen) with a large cup of Kona Coffee. Alas, I missed all the
excitement, was upstairs when someone went whacko, threw the ashtray lids
off trash bins and tossed trash onto the sidewalks. I got back down to
the affected area just after the culprit had vamoosed. From the
description being shouted out to the security army, it sounded horribly
like T. Rex. If it was T. Rex, I'm glad I wasn't there, would undoubtedly
have tried to calm him. (I do fall for borderline psychos, no doubt about
it ... like to like, and etc.). I'm also glad he got away.
And it's my half-birthday. Sun opposed to Natal Sun. Happy half-birthday
Wednesday, according to Cainer: Today, you need to find out something.
You have a suspicion that needs to be fully confirmed or refuted. Forget
what you think you know and allow yourself to be shown.
I don't know what he was talking about. Nothing happened on Wednesday
which fits the slot.
Early evening, after a successful afternoon Mall Game, I was sitting at
the bus stop. A young fellow sat on the ledge beside me and asked if I
was going back up to the university. I wondered how he knew, but said
yes, and that led to some chat about the new express bus. He asked if I
knew the name of the orange flower in the lei he was wearing. I didn't.
He complained about the intense fragrance of the lei but was aware of all
the traditions about discarding a lei, so was keeping it to give to a
young woman he knew. The bus came, he sat sideways on the seat in front
of me and launched into the story of the young woman, how she kept calling
him all the time and seemed to want more than just friendship. He wanted
to keep her as a friend, but nothing more, said he liked both men and
women but in this case it would be easier if he were just gay and she were
only his friend. I was surprised and amused by such candor. Eventually
he mentioned he'd noticed me a lot on campus. I didn't ask if he
preferred older men.
I've known about the sub-genre in romance fiction of the murder mystery,
detective story blended with the standard lusty romps but haven't read
any. One turned up earlier in the week, utterly unmemorable, and then I
found Sue Grafton's M is for Malice. The woman is writing a book
for each letter of the alphabet and her O is for Outlaw just
appeared in the mall's bookstore window. She has a knack for really awful
metaphor, often combines several prime examples in one paragraph, and I
wonder if she is doing it deliberately or if that's just the way she
thinks and writes.
Despite intense competition, the mall game did indeed proceed well, a two
Colt day and once again an ample supply of food. Someone abandoned a
multi-cheese pizza from Papa John's with only two slices missing, so it
was pizza for dinner again. And then, oh joy, an almost full cup of mocha
milkshake from Gloria Jean's. Those chilled coffee concoctions are the
only liquids I'm sometimes tempted to spend beer money on, especially the
malt mocha chiller.
I still needed two quarters at sundown, was about to give up and rest
content with one Colt for the evening and was making one last trip to top
up the snipes supply when I spotted a bunch of coins sitting on a
payphone. Almost a dollar. It's wonderful there are so many
absent-minded people in this world.
Thursday was one of those days when I didn't speak to anyone.
I wanted to speak to the Lei Boy again, but didn't see him, on campus or
off. I wanted to shower with the The Horse again, as I had on Wednesday,
but there were too many people around.
Ah. I did speak very briefly with The Snorer. He asked me to tell the
Sleeptalker he wanted to talk with him if I saw him. I wondered why he
wanted to talk to him, but didn't ask. I'd like to talk with him, too.
I'd just like to see him.
I hadn't intended to stay at the mall all day but I went down there in the
early morning and then noticed heavy dark clouds rolling in over the
mountains. Soon those beautiful clunks of earth were almost hidden behind
a gray mist of falling rain. Not a particularly appealing invitation to
return to the UH campus, nestled at the foot of those veiled mountains.
So I stayed at the mall. I found an almost full pack of Lucky Strike
cigarettes, filtered. Nostalgia. The very first pack of cigarettes I
bought were Lucky Strikes. No filter. I was fourteen. A pack lasted me a
week. And not many weeks after I began spending my earnings as a stockboy
at Woolworth's in Lawton, Oklahoma, to buy those packs, my mother spotted
some tobacco crumbs in a shirt pocket. Damn, that woman was obsessive.
She inspected my shirt pockets??!!
She was more than obsessive. She was a sneak. The first diary I kept was
when we were living in Darmstadt, Germany. Naturally, she read it. I
took great care to put it in my desk drawer in such a way that I could
tell if anyone had disturbed the drawer's contents. And of course, she
was busted, but I never said anything. I switched to code. Must have
driven her crazy trying to figure out what I was writing. Yep, was a
silly game. But she had the advantage. She was my MOTHER. I was
supposed to love, honor, and obey, etc. etc. I didn't do any of them, and
I still don't. I feel sorry for her, but she had a much better life than
All that from a pack of Lucky Strikes ...
The Quarter Game was also a bitch. By sunset I was beginning to wonder if
I'd have even one bottle of Colt for the day. Then I walked past a bench
which had an empty supermarket plastic bag on it and a 40 oz. "2000" cup
from McD's sitting next to it. I looked into the cup, saw liquid of just
the right color, picked it up and sniffed. Yep, surely was malt liquor,
probably Colt. No sign of the bottle, or of the person who had emptied it
into a paper cup from McD's. I don't like drinking beer in the mall since
it's a legitimate reason to get exiled from the place, but okay, I might
have emptied the cup. Might have, I say, hiding behind the Bill of
Then, as has been his fortunate habit of late, the Whore left the
premises and I soon had the quarters for my very own bottle of Colt, left
the mall, stopped by 7-Eleven and spent those quarters, finished the Sue
Grafton book while enjoying my second beer of the day. Errr, well what
might have been my second beer of the day.
I misjudged Grafton. She's a writer of detective stories, not the
romance-cum-detective genre at all. She's not Mickey Spillane, although
she'd probably like to be. What the hell, she makes a good living writing
decent detective stories and still has the rest of the alphabet after "O"
to carry on with. So I'm jealous.
Ryan, in his kind
report on our meeting, didn't mention the lollipops.
Alas, the lollipops are [almost] no more.
The rental strollers at the mall have a tall metal pole attached to the
back left corner. Originally, about half had just a plain pole and the
other half also had a circular sign at the top. I called them "poles" and
"lollipops" and they were perfect for noting at a glance whether a
stroller had been returned to the corral since my last check. A corral
with three poles and three lollipops in a row; check for quarters; ignore
corral until another pole or lollipop was added; perfectly efficient
But for some unknown reason, a man arrived with a supply of plain poles
and replaced all the lollipops. Booo, hisss!
Only one poor lollipop survived the massacre, must have been out in
circulation at the time.
Ms. Virginia Slims on campus! She has an unusual habit, tucks the little
slip of paper wrapper inside the top lid of the cigarette box, a tell-tale
clue of the box's origin. And on Sunday morning, outside Manoa Garden,
there was an almost-full box of the things, paper tucked inside the lid.
The Mall Game was drastically altered by one of the periodic "Sidewalk
Sales", running Friday through Sunday. Some of the shops put so many
tables and racks out on the sidewalk there is barely room to walk through,
much less push a shopping cart. This increases the number of abandoned
carts, since many people apparently don't want to bother trying to get
through the crush more than once. It also increases the physical exercise
involved in the Quarter Hunt, since it is often easier to go a long way
around to a satellite corral rather than struggle back to the supermarket
with a cart. The large crowd, especially on Saturday, also meant far more
strollers in circulation and a sharp increase in the number of coins found
dropped on the sidewalks. I don't usually count pennies until the supply
gets so low I have to be concerned about the seven-cent tax money on a
bottle of malt liquor, but I was amused by the unusually large number I
found on Saturday: twenty-two pennies.
It would have been a two-Colt day but I'd used my last teabag on Saturday
morning, so as soon as one-Colt financing was in place and I found the
five additional quarters needed for tea purchase, I went immediately to
buy it. No need to leave myself open to the temptation to spend the money
on a second bottle of beer and then berate myself on Sunday morning when I
had no tea to drink and a slight hangover from the unnecessary second
beer. As it happened, by the end of the evening, I was only one quarter
short of a second bottle anyway. Sunday's nightcap assured.
Friday's main meal had been a delicious chicken and cheese salad from the
restaurant at Neiman-Marcus. Had they added a little avocado to it, I'd
definitely rate it as the finest salad I've ever eaten. Friday would also
have been a two-Colt day but I had to leave early, still short two
quarters which I shamelessly begged for and thus had not only a beer
before going to the theatre but also a nightcap afterwards.
Helen R. and I went to see the student production of "A Midsummer Night's
Dream" at the Kennedy Theatre, the first time I have been in there. Nice
place, decent production visually, but seriously marred by most of the
actors speaking the lines too quickly, rendering them incomprehensible.
Still, I love that play and enjoyed this production more than the recent
film version which was a major disappointment.
I found another inconsequential murder mystery and a (more interesting)
recent copy of The Economist, reading for Friday and Saturday. The
magazine included an obituary of the art-dealer, Leo Castelli, bringing
back, again, memories of his infamous telephone call to me. "You beetch!"
he said. I was so flattered. Tempest in a teacup over an article I had
written about his stars Jasper Johns and Bob Rauschenberg. He never
forgave me, but I admired him and what he did for those artists whose work
I took a break from the Mall Game in mid-afternoon on Saturday and went
down to the State Library in quest of more reading material. Someone had
donated a large batch of Danielle Steel's books to the "honor collection",
so I took her Vanished, next in line for inconsequential reading.
A cloud over an otherwise amusing Saturday. Rumor has it, although no one
knows for sure, that Rocky is in jail on a drug bust. I hope it isn't
true. I'd really miss hearing him ask, "where's the beer?"
When these guys fall off the wagon, they fall HARD. Conrad, who has been
without the sauce for at least three months, was raving drunk at the mall
before noontime. As usual, when in his cups, he didn't recognize me. I'm
The Old Guitarist, who for quite some time has been sober and clean and
like a totally different person, staggered over to me. I really had to
think for a moment. I knew I knew him, but it took me longer than
it should have to recognize him. "I'm a dollar short of a beer," he
slurred. I gave him the dollar. Not a chance in hell I'm going to do the
"is this the best thing for him?" trip. Not a chance. Someone stole his
bicycle and that was his "reason" for going back on the bottle. Okay.
Within minutes of reaching the mall, I had nightcap financing in pocket,
not surprising since I only needed a quarter. I was well on my way to a
second beer when I gave up four of them to the O.G. He's a sweet old man,
I would have given him the quarters even if it had zapped the nightcap.
Sundays at the mall are so absurd I should discipline myself, set aside a
twenty each month. Two Sunday beers each week without going near the
Maybe that's what Cainer was talking about for the weekend. Maybe.
I saw the Big Local Dude for the first time in many weeks, asked him if
he'd heard any news of Rocky. He said he'd heard Rocky was in jail for
"D&D" [drunk and disorderly]. "That would be much better than a drug
bust," I said. He agreed, said it was only what he'd heard, though, and
that Rocky was "not careful enough with the pakalolo". Then, with a big
grin, he asked, "so how's your crazy boyfriend doing?" I certainly
blushed inwardly, if not outwardly, said I hadn't seen him in a long time
and told the BLD what I knew of the Sleeptalker's life at the moment. "A
good thing," he said, "he was headed for inside, too, the crazy way he was
The "Sidewalk Sale" wasn't quite the fever pitch activity it had been on
Saturday, but the mall was still very crowded, I was feeling a little
weary of crowds and decided I would leave the very moment I had financing
for a second beer in hand, even (especially after giving away four
quarters) considered leaving with only the nightcap funds. But I stuck it
out and, shortly after sunset, had the two-beer money in pocket.
The Whore and his former buddy aren't speaking (again), but the Whore
seems to have picked up a new one and I saw them leaving the mall together
in the late afternoon. Earlier the Whore had been dashing around with a
large box of Twinkies in his hand. I thought there was absolutely nothing
he could have done to make his image more absurd than it already is.
Then, as I was sitting on a planter ledge near the supermarket for a smoke
break, he walked up to me, handed me the box and said, "I'm stuffed, can't
eat anymore." Two Twinkies still in the box. I ate them.
It's ridiculous how we form opinions of people because they remind us of
someone else. I understood in that moment why I dislike the Whore so
much. It hasn't anything to do with quarters. There are very, very few
people in this life, past or present, whom I really dislike. And the
Whore reminds me of one of them.
Cainer writes: What you now want and need to do is manifest 'holiday
attitude' in an all too familiar scenario.
Back on target! All day I've been thinking, I really want a vacation from
the Mall Game. But it's still 11-12 days before the Fabled Pension Check
arrives. [deep sigh]
Yes, I did think that throughout Monday.
Man does not live by French fries alone. Maybe not, but I guess he can
survive one day on them. McD's "super size" gambit is so helpful,
encouraging people to buy more than they can eat. And after days when the
food supply was so abundant, it strangely turned to famine on Monday and
leftover fries was about all there was until I found four big bread rolls
on campus when I returned there. Bread and potatoes. Oh well, it's not
But I am weary of the mall game, despite a most excellent one, judged by
results, on Monday. I found a fine new winter shirt, heavy hand-loomed
cotton. It is both heavier weight and bulkier than the cotton flannel one
I have been using (bought from Goodwill store last winter), but when I
read the label I knew there was no question which of the two would remain
in my backpack. "Made in Nepal".
$5.25 ... not bad at all for the Quarter Hunt on a Monday.
And especially since that devilish novel by Ms. Steel had me so engrossed
with its plot that I had stayed up past midnight reading it and spent most
of the morning in the park finishing it. I don't especially admire her as
a writer, am puzzled why she is apparently so very successful, but I shall
have a look at more of her work. Any writer who can grab and demand my
attention like that is worth further investigation.
I just feel so certain I could write a book as well as that, though. Why
in heaven's name (or hell's, for that matter) don't I do it?
[Note: Tales 423-425 have vanished into the infinite.]
"Don't you mind living on the street?" asked the Ferret. "No," I said,
"been doing it for two years now." "Ahhhh," said he, his usual
I've been seeing him for at least a year. I don't know where he sleeps,
but he turns up on campus very early every morning to use the microwave,
heats water and dumps a packet or two of instant ramen into it for
breakfast. Has lately taken to sipping green tea as well, told me in
another "lengthy" exchange like the above that green tea was healthier.
He very rarely uses the libraries, and I've never seen him on a computer.
Once in awhile I see him at the mall, usually eating. I teased him once
about how he was always eating or about to eat whenever I saw him, and he
took it quite seriously, explained that he eats small meals seven or eight
times a day because it's healthier. I wouldn't call two packets of
instant ramen for breakfast a small meal, but if he's satisfied with his
efforts to live a "healthier" life, more power to him. Funny fellow.
Sunday looked like it was going to be a humdinger of a Mall Game. Mr.
Cane, the Japanese-tourist-looking old man, was there at dawn, digging in
the trash already. He's added a cane to his props, thus the nickname.
He's a pest when it comes to the snipe hunt but doesn't go after quarters.
Madame Tojo, who does however, arrived on the scene around 9:30 and
started prowling the parking lot, giving me a nasty look every time I
passed her. At one point, Bla and I crossed paths just as she walked by.
Bla looked at her, looked at me and gave a subtle roll of his eyes.
Quite. I nodded. Silly old woman. I didn't see her score any quarters
at all. And all the other Sunday amateurs were there, Uncle Remus
sitting outside the supermarket by the corrals, Hayseed guarding a bus
stop, Charlie Chan doing his usual mandrax shuffle.
I took a break and went to campus for awhile after having a shower and
sitting in the park to put a new hem in the frayed legs of my Banana
Republic chinos. When I returned to the mall, none of the regular quarter
hunters were on the scene and they didn't appear all day. Maybe they've
reached the point of thinking it's not worth the effort against the Sunday
Amateurs. It isn't, if all of us regulars are there, but with the field
to myself, I did quite well.
T. Rex isn't borderline psycho, he's over the line. But he's a sweetheart
nonetheless. He was definitely on some drug which made him a little
difficult to understand and he thoroughly astounded me by saying he wanted
to have sex and was quite explicit about what he wanted. I'm not sure why
but I thought it would be dishonorable to take advantage of his drugged
condition, even if by invitation. So I hugged him and said I'd love to do
that with him someday but I was still feeling weak from having been ill
and just didn't feel up to it. He gave me one of his wacky little grins
and said, "okay, but I won't stop asking." I hope he doesn't.
My excuse wasn't really a lie. The tiredness, apparently a classic
symptom of bronchitis, was still lingering although all the others, except
for the cough, were gone. How annoying to turn into, even temporarily,
one of those awful old men I scorn ... light a cigarette, puff, hack hack,
cough cough, puff, etc. etc. Twice during the night I left my bench and
went out to the corner of the walk at the hacienda so I could have a good
long cough session without disturbing my sleeping companions.
The final week of October, the dreaded Halloween weekend looming ahead.
Already the nuisance of it has begun. There's a company here which runs a
mobile amusement park, setting up temporary carnivals complete with ferris
wheel, spinning rides, and such. And for the first time they are doing
one at UH for Halloween. Although it doesn't open for business until
Friday, they started setting up on Sunday, near the secluded grove. I
don't think it will be very "secluded" until All Saint's Day arrives, and
even that day will no doubt be polluted by the awful beeping sound of
vehicles backing-up, removing all the junk they were busy installing.
It's always something ...
On the down escalator at the mall, I spotted two shopping carts in the
parking lot. One was, astoundingly, just sitting there in the open,
directly across from the supermarket. The other was lurking behind a van
which probably concealed it from the sidewalk. As I quickly headed toward
the unhidden one, the Gypsy Boy moved in and grabbed it. I said
"congratulations" and smiled as I walked past him, got the hidden one and
returned it. Rare to see the Gypsy Boy and Cat at the mall.
"You can't just go for the easy ones," I told him, after greeting Cat who
gave me his usual disinterested look, but let me scratch his head with a
finger. The Gypsy Boy laughed, said he didn't want to let the cart
sit there for "some of those other guys". Then he said something about
how there seemed to be an increase in the "crazies" hanging out at the
I agreed. Without saying anything which would identify T. Rex, I told him
about the unusual invitation I'd had on Sunday evening. "He must have
been doing Ectasy," said the Gypsy Boy, "it makes some people lose all
inhibition." Hmmmm. One evening when the Sleeptalker was slightly drunk
and even more affectionate than usual, I teased him, asked what would make
him horny. "Ecstacy," he said. I want to try that stuff, but only when
I'm utterly alone with no one else within miles.
A little later, I was sitting on a planter ledge and T. Rex walked over,
skateboard, as always, under his arm. With a rather sheepish look on his
face, he said, "I'm sorry I was so overboard last night." I assured him
there was no need for an apology, that I regretted later I'd declined his
invitation because I'd really like to see him naked. He laughed and said
I could do that anytime, but he only liked to have sex with "guys" when he
was "stoned". I chickened out. It was drizzling rain. Otherwise I would
have asked him to cross over to the park and have a shower with me since,
yes, I surely would like to see him naked. But then maybe he's the final
clue to the puzzle.
Cainer writes: You are seeing the potential for success in an area of
life where it normally eludes you. Surely, it cannot be this easy can it?
Oh yes it can. Just trust a simple truth.
What if the truth is, I just want the shared moments talking with
fascinating young men?
If so, there was another treat in store. I've already mentioned Ryan
Ozawa's class project, and he talks about it, too, in his
journal. I was
walking past the Sears entrance at the mall when a young man spoke to me
from behind. I thought he was another aspiring evangelist, but he was
such a sweetie, such a teddy bear of a fellow, I was quite willing to
listen to him talk about Jesus. Ha! Turned out, he was one of Ryan's
classmates and I had been nabbed as an official "interviewee".
I told him later I would be writing about him, asked if I should use a
nickname or his real name. He said "real name", but then he doesn't know
me or the Tales, so I shall exercise my right of discretion and call him
The project has been split into subdivisions and his assigned field of
interest is job discrimination against the homeless. Having not actively
sought a job since leaving the Land of the Homeowners, I could give no
direct personal report, but it wasn't difficult to imagine, say, walking
into the Human Resources office at Bank of Hawaii, backpack on back,
slippers on feet, and applying for a job I was well qualified to do and
had the resume to support my believing so ... and wonder if I'd encounter
"discrimination". But the other side of the coin is, as I know from so
many direct examples, employers are not unwise to be cautious.
How long did the Sleeptalker last in the kitchen at Gordon Biersch? How
long did Rocky? Can you take a man who has lived for two years without
worrying about the clock, about being here or there at any given time,
without being forced to sit anywhere if he doesn't feel like sitting
there, and put him at an office desk and expect him to remain there for a
long enough period of time to justify the expense of hiring him?
There are, no doubt, many homeless men who wish they could find a job and
return to "normal" life. "On track," as Teddy put it. I am sure there
are, and I am equally sure they encounter "discrimination" from Human
Resources personnel. (I hate that "H.R." crap ... "Employment Office" is
so much more direct and meaningful.)
But "on track"? As I told Teddy, I am "on track" now. I was "off track"
when I was sitting in a downtown Honolulu office seven hours (or more) a
day from Monday through Friday to get money to pay for a dinky little
apartment in Waikiki.
Pass the hemlock, please.
Teddy is a sweetheart. So is T. Rex. I'm a lucky man.
Teddy had kindly given me his change, putting the bankroll near the
two-brew limit. I have to say "brew" now instead of "Colt" because
something's going on with that. The only store I've come across which
still carries Colt wanted $2.69 for it. Maybe the other stores are
resisting an attempt to eliminate the $1.99 ceiling. Hurricane tried
that, too, and now can't be found anywhere. So it has been back to
Mickey's or even St. Ides. There isn't that much difference between these
cheapo brews anyway.
I told Teddy I would toast his health with the first beer I had and
after leaving him, returned to campus and did just that. I had begun
Come to Grief by Dick Francis the prior evening and read a little
but spent more time just thinking about the exchanges with the Gypsy
Boy, T. Rex and Teddy.
I especially liked T. Rex's laugh when I'd told him the main reason I had
declined his invitation was because I felt I'd be taking advantage of him.
"I want people to take advantage of me when I'm stoned," he'd
said. Why on earth was I so innocent and naive in my youth. And I liked,
too, the way Teddy set up the interview, very formally showing me his
student ID card and his journalism class nametag. With such a happy
atmosphere about him there could not have been any reason for suspicion,
not from me anyway.
There's never been a time in my life so filled with people I'm happy to
see, from the one side of earnest young college students like the Cherub
and Teddy to the other of not-as-tough-as-they'd-like-you-to-believe
street boys like the Sleeptalker, Mondo and Rocky. And the old-timers,
like the Big Local Dude, the Old Guitarist, the Snorer. Quite a cast of
To top it off, Dame Fortune must have grinned when I returned to Sinclair
Library just as Teddy was leaving.
Returning to the mall in the early evening I was much surprised to find
the Whore absent. A few days earlier he had that awful hair cut off. The
odd thing is, his huge potbelly looked even larger as a result of the
short hair, I suppose due to the absence of the hairdo's visual
distraction. He had been spending less time on the scene, but Monday was
the first day in many weeks when he didn't put in an appearance at
The shoppers were not abundant and neither were quarters or food or even,
alas, Gloria Jean's coffee. I was sitting on a bench counting my coin
stash, realized I had enough for a nightcap but only if I gave up the
quarter needed for the next morning's senior coffee. I'd used the last
McD's cert on Sunday, so my daily overhead requirement had to include 36
cents again unless I wanted to wait until getting to campus to have my
first dose of caffeine. I was pondering the situation, thinking the
supermarket would still be open for two hours and I'd surely find another
quarter, when a lady stopped, handed me a dollar bill, saying, "here's a
dollar you didn't know you had." Sweetheart!
Maybe I should sit pondering my coin supply more often.
Hallucinating is a fine antidote for boredom, especially nice when it
comes free-of-charge, no artificial stimulants required. I was sitting on
a planter ledge outside the supermarket watching the people walk by and
fell into an alternate-reality bubble where I could clearly imagine what a
young man looked like naked. There was no way to verify my visions, of
course, without walking up to one and saying, "excuse me, I'd just like to
know if my x-ray vision is working accurately." There was one exhibit I
surely would have liked to verify, but for the most part they were
moderately equipped and not outstanding physical specimens, so I guess it
wasn't just wishful thinking anyway.
Fortunately, it only worked when they were quite near me because the Gypsy
Boy and Cat arrived. Not that I'd mind seeing a vision of him naked, but
Spot soon turned up. Spare me that vision, please! I had waved to the
Gypsy Boy as he arrived but didn't go over to chat with him because I
wasn't in the mood to be a listening post for Spot. With that guy it is
never a question of conversation, just listen-suppress yawn-listen,
My x-ray vision, alas, went away when I got up to stroll. I wished later
I could call it up at will when the inevitable happened and I crossed
paths with the Snorer and his new sidekick. The Snorer, a mainland black
fellow probably in his late 30s or early 40s, almost always has a young
local lad as a buddy. Whether the buddy relationship includes more than
just hanging out together, I don't know, but the Sleeptalker told me sex
was optional, not obligatory. The Sleeptalker is too much of a loner and
too emotionally volatile to be anyone's buddy for an extended time, so it
had never worked out with him and the Snorer, sexually or
But the latest sidekick has been around for a couple of months. He and
the Snorer stay in the beach park all day and sleep there. I've seen the
lad from a distance many times. He's probably still in his teens, classic
slim brown body which looks too wonderful clad in just shorts. Too
wonderful, even from a distance. So I've avoided going near them, only
chat with the Snorer in the shower house or if he walks over to talk to
me. But there they were in the mall together as I was stashing my bottle
of Mickey's in my backpack. I was glad they just greeted me and continued
walking. The lad's smile was enough to melt me into a puddle anyway.
Ahhhh, my beautiful wickedness.
It was a very, very slow day. I hadn't expected Tuesday to come close to
matching the magic of Monday, so I wasn't disappointed, but even so it was
a dull one. The mountains were shrouded in the grey veil of falling rain
so it made no sense to return to campus, and the drizzle occasionally
drifted down to the mall as well. By sunset I had exactly, to the penny,
funds for one brew and the next morning's senior coffee. Since I didn't
even have the seven cents tax for a second brew, the daunting goal of NINE
quarters loomed and I had no hope whatever of finding them, rested content
with the thought that whatever did show up would make Wednesday's game
easier. One stroller, after I'd finished my nightcap and was preparing to
head on down to the hacienda, started the next game off with a fifty cent
advance. What a lousy hunt, and it would have been even worse had the
Whore not fallen asleep on a bench shortly after arriving on the scene.
He didn't miss much.
Now all I have to figure out is how to turn that x-ray hallucination
on-and-off at will. Who cares if it's accurate or not?
In the usual hawaii.test banter, it was announced that Wednesday had been
"cancelled". My mind seems to have taken it quite seriously because I had
difficulty all day remembering it was Wednesday.
Despite all the practice, some months are just more difficult than others
when it comes to waiting for the Fabled Pension Check and this is a tough
one, as always for no real reason. The bronchial congestion (I could hear
the wheezing inside my chest once I put earplugs in to sleep) worsened
when the sinuses started their act, drip dripping all night. I gave up
and borrowed ten dollars to buy some extra-strength sinus tablets and was
grateful when I settled down to sleep Wednesday night able to breathe
freely for the first time in days. "Alcohol should be avoided while
taking this product," said the labeling. I ignored it.
Helen R. had the day off and asked if I'd like to meet in Waikiki and see
"Fight Game". Definitely! I wasn't, to tell the truth, all that keen on
the film itself after what I'd read about it, but let's face it, watching
Brad Pitt for a couple of hours is an activity I place at the top of my
list of excellent things to do. There's one all-too-brief shot of him
naked, only half of his butt showing. I'd love to have a photo of that.
Otherwise, as I've said before, he seems to be very nervous about letting
himself look too beautiful in films, and it must have been difficult for
him, making "Meet Joe Black". Aside from the pleasure of watching him,
even with such a tough guy image, the film was strangely weird. Helen and
I agreed on that. And there are few films in my memory with as bizarre a
twist at the end.
I was happy to have seen it.
Rocky is back! Just before leaving for Waikiki, I ran into him at the
mall with a tall young dude I'd never seen before. They seemed to be
intently on some errand, so we just exchanged a few words and Rocky said,
in response to my noting it had been a long time without seeing him, "I've
been away." Okay. I'll no doubt hear the details whenever he's ready to
I was happy to have seen him, too.
And to have seen Teddy in Hamilton Library on Thursday. Such a
sweetheart. He makes me feel happy just spending a few minutes in his
Colt is back! Both the Vietnamese shop and Puck's Alley had it again. I
had just finished popping the lid on my second one, drank half of it, and
stopped into Sinclair to check email.
Kory K said he was feeling all "touchy-feelie".
Uh-oh. I knew those code words from earlier in the week when I'd been
talking to Kory K about this mysterious drug Ecstasy. I'd even
asked him to get me some, if he could, because I don't like talking to
young people about some drug I've never tried myself. And there aren't
many in that category. Cocaine, I know. Crack cocaine, okay, never tried
it. Or Ecstasy.
Well, Kory K is a sweetheart, a Big Island lad with the proverbial heart
of gold, and if he wanted me to stop down and visit, I really didn't have
So I walked downhill from campus, in light drizzle, to Kory K's apartment
building. Kory K is the only person I know with the balls to have his
name on his bell-ringing-directory, but he, too, like so many, has that
stupid system where the doorbell and the damned telephone are on the same
line. Luckily, Kory K wasn't on the phone, so he answered the doorbell
and I was soon on my way upstairs in his very, very slow elevator.
Kory K was naked, except for some nylon-like black gym shorts I'd seen
before. Smeared across his back was the discolored smudge of the fungus
attack he'd gotten from the ocean off Hilo [remind me never to go in the
water off the Big Island].
"Shall I rub some ointment on that?" I asked Kory K.
He seductively ran his right hand up his thigh and across his crotch and
said, "yes, that would be wonderful", handing me a tube of cream.
He went back to his futon in front of the television set, which was
showing some scenes of two naked women in a shower, soaping each other up.
I squeezed a little of the ointment out of the tube and started to rub it
across Kory K's fungus-infected broad back. I noticed how, as I gently
rubbed his back, Kory K's butt kept up a slow up-and-down rhythm. "Ah,"
I thought to myself, "must be that touchie-feelie feeling."
How, I wondered, would I get Kory K to roll over on his back, check it
out, would there be a hardened rod shape in the front of those black
Tale 430: Fantasia on a Theme of Kory K's Fungus was indirectly
inspired by Ryan who
kindly set up a search machine for the Tales. Kory K complained that the
number of references to him was too low, so I thought I'd be nice and
boost the count a little. I doubt he'll ever catch up with the
Sleeptalker, though, unless he gives up all this nonsense about having
I left campus for the beach in the late morning to have a shower, the
intention being to return to the laundromat near the lower campus and do
laundry. But the thought of sitting in that place while clothes tumbled
was just too dull, so I decided to endure dirty clothes and sit in the
secluded grove with a brew instead. The carnival has a huge trailer-sized
generator with a hum that can be heard over a quarter of the campus but
aside from that wasn't too disturbing on the last day before it opens.
Finishing The Echo by Minette Walters, I went back to Dick Francis
again, this time his Banker. The Walters book was, I suppose, a
"psychological mystery", nicely constructed although with such a complex
weave of threads that it was slow getting off the ground while all the
background was established. The central character was an old homeless
dude found dead in someone's garage. He had called himself Billy Blake
and it took me longer than it should have to make the connection to
William. Tyger, tyger ...
Books, beer, sunshine. Cute guys, sweet guys. October wasn't a bad
month, at all.
Where to begin, where to
begin? It's always best to begin from the beginning.
though, begins before the beginning, so to speak.
The last thing I wrote was:
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1999 17:14:16 -1000 (HST)
Had a vision, one of many many many brought on by hideous
fever and not nearly as beautiful as most of them. Lying in a hospital bed
under oxygen tent, tubes stuck in my arms, probably trying to get some
nutrition into me which I haven't done much of in five days. I managed to
eat one of the power-bar type things and was much irked when the fever
element stayed in deep sweats mode since I'd chosen that particular bar
for its 30% DMR Potassium content.
Charming young security guard asked earlier if I was okay. Probably should
have told him, no I was dying, and he would have called a ambulance to
take me off to an emergency room.
Jesus came to chat. Nice man. Fascinating to hear what
he's been doing these two thousand years. That was special. I didn't
open my eyes, but I wasn't asleep.
I have no idea what happened in the next three days. On Saturday night, I
went to the hacienda. I had earlier in the day received word from Nohoboy
that he had finally persuaded an exceptionally wealthy man to accept me as
part of his global team. Six bank accounts were being opened in my name
with generous letters of credit, one of which included a credit card with
a limit of one million dollars. At the hacienda, I am told, I left a full
bottle of beer, told the Sleeptalker and Mondo I was going to New York
City and took a bus to the airport.
If you have not already noticed, these
Tales will be a mixture of what
actually happened and what was, for me,
too real to be called
hallucination, perhaps better understood as
alternate realities. I do notmyself know in all cases which is which.
Evidently I collapsed at the airport and was taken first to the
Francis hospital and then, because they thought I was a psycho case
well as being seriously ill, was transferred to Castle Medical
The only thing I recall from the early days there was a doctor
"Its beginning to migrate to other areas of the chest." "It"
pneumonia which had already infested the lungs and heart.
kidney temporarily failed but mercifully regained its function before
began dialysis. The list of ailments includes respiratory failure,
prompted a tracheotomy (I assume), and was topped off by a heart
Slices were carved in my chest, as I can see from the scars, and
I am told
I had tubes running into my chest and mouth. Again mercifully,
none of that. They contacted my mother to get permission to
plug, since Hawaii law requires the mother's consent. She gave
her. The sweetest thing she has ever done for me.
lost you twice," said an assisting nurse to me weeks later.
think I know one of those moments. I was juggling three realities.
one, I was a younger man on a train heading north up the
valley. In the second, I was also young, on the same train,
south. In the third, I was me, but in limbo with no points of
at all. I had already discovered I could halt one of these
saying "stop, exit, quit, End-of-File!" and I stopped both
scenarios, but it didn't work on the third.
have to pull the plug.
very early that I have an extraordinarily high resistance
to drugs and
were pumping morphine and some other heavy-duty painkiller
my veins. When I became aware enough to know it was
morphine, I begged
them to stop. They said there was nothing to worry
about and my favorite
nurse (despite paranoia which I'll get to) said
"Lots of people here would
be happy to be getting it. Relax and enjoy."
She was absolutely
I've never had morphine before and my prejudice was based
Marianne Faithful and the Stones doing "Sister Morphine". I
want a copy
"Would you like a valium?" Magic words!
Yes. Still my drug of choice
and once it was written on my chart as
approved by the doctor, I could ask
for it. Didn't die, but went to
heaven. I missed that luxury when I left
the critical ward.
view from my window is surely one of the finest on the island.
mountains are lush green, with no human interference at all and the
between the Center and the mountains is also untouched.
nightly event was the arrival of a sleek white trapezoidal
which almost floated in from behind the mountain, set down
red light streaming from its underside) at various spots.
lowered at either end and cars were loaded or unloaded before
it rose and
departed again behind the mountain. I learned it was a secret
spacecraft, making regular trips between Earth and the
Keep in mind that I was utterly flat on my back, immobile
My first assignment for the wealthy benefactor was to work
Lucas in testing some new vehicles he planned to use in the
Wars. Kory K, in his sole appearance in this saga, was driving
them and I was in the other. They were very small and our mission
drive them at high speed around a circular tunnel in opposite
coming as close as possible to collision but avoiding it at
minute. On the third pass, I narrowly missed Kory but crashed
unexpected vehicles which were being driven by three young
ladies from the
Viet Cong. As an apology for the crash, they completely
The second assignment, for which I was
paid a combined fee with the Lucas
task, was to play Bugs Bunny in a
Playstation commercial for Sony. It was
apparently very successful when
shown in Japan and I was told more than
30,000 viewers had called after
its first showing to ask when it could be
seen again. My reward:
$1,076,000 with a first residual check of
reward was an invitation to join the Emperor of Japan and three
on a trip to the Moon in that beautiful
The dark side of morphine
I thought both President and Mrs. Clinton
had been killed. Although I
have no great liking for either of them, I
was astounded that television
news continued to treat them so
I thought Aunty Genoa Keawe was dead from injuries
suffered when two punks
attacked her to get her purse. It was shocking
that so beloved a person
could suffer such a fate.
I thought my
Mother was dead. Even though I'd been told a friend had
spoken with her,
and I imagined I'd had a card from her, I thought she
died just before
Worst of all, I thought my middle nephew was dead,
Jonathan, the one I
took around the world and who lived with me in
Waikiki. I could not dwell
on it or speak of it without tears, thinking
I'd never have the chance to
see him again.
And there were the
worst attacks of paranoia I have ever experienced,
going on for weeks.
Ironically, my favorite nurse was the main "enemy",
but I never let her
know it. I believed I had written down the passwords
for five of those
bank accounts and that she had found the paper in my
wallet and was
withdrawing money from one of them.
Beside the bed was a device
with a little computer-like screen. It was,
as I heard repeatedly, merely
monitoring my IV input, but I thought I
could make contact using it, even
with my banks. So I changed all the
passwords, secreting a note of them
in a pocket. She found that, too. I
gave up, grateful she wasn't being
too greedy, but still continued to fret
I thought my
net account had been hacked before I went into the hospital
thought the hackers had broken into the hospital system and I saw
on the little screen like, "Wasn't that oxygen great? Enjoy, it
last long." More enjoyably, if equally improbably, I thought
had hacked the system, too, and was sending me amusing
And one evening, after I had begged again for them to stop the
they made me think it would soon run out, I fell asleep, woke
and saw two
huge jars, red and black, and was certain one of them was
that two of the nurses were conspiring to kill me with an
One of my favorite Aunties was working as a volunteer
in the hospital and
I told her about the attempted murder. "I'm not going
to listen to this,"
she said and walked out.
There were two
exotic, African-looking puppets hanging on the walls in the
one of them just outside my room. But they were alive.
The one by me
was male and an artist. His face was skeletal with two jaws
teeth, and his legs were totally flat, covered in gold leaf. He
turn and keep an eye on whatever the nurses were doing to me and
when they left would roll his eyes and clack both jaws at me. The
had a second head growing out of the side of her neck, and would
into elaborate headdresses, one of tinsel and twinkling lights
especially elegant. And most improbably, they had a child who was
as a snowman and would sit immobile on the nurses' counter for
hours at a
time. But it was the male who contributed most to my paranoia
nurses' activities and their evil intentions.
It was ironic that
I was not caring at all if I died, yet at the same time
was worrying about
being murdered in my sleep.
imagined deaths, the moments of paranoia and fear were grim,
than I've managed to convey in this Tale, most of the morphine
was just that, an adventure and an enjoyable, challenging and
one. There was none more so than the fourth and final assignment
He sponsored a number of hospitals, including
Castle, and he wanted me to
visit some of them and report on conditions
there. This took me (finally)
to New York City as the jumping off point.
As with all the travels, there
was no sense of actually making a journey.
I just arrived there. I had
taken the subway into the city and was trying
to find my way to the
surface to get a taxi. That favorite Auntie who had
been a worker at
Castle appeared again, this time as a bag lady, or more
shopping cart lady. Her cart was stacked high with sheets
and I met her outside a Warner Bros. store which was closed
renovation. There were, though, two young female workers in the store
Auntie kept going in to ask them for things. I was expecting them to
really annoyed with us both, but she seemed to charm them into cups
coffee and even borrowed a cellular phone and wanted me to talk
someone. I refused. After awhile I said I had to be on my way and
loaded me down with blankets which I had to carry until safely out
sight so she wouldn't see me discard them.
On the way to
Africa, we touched down at Lindisfarne. It was a tiny
airport with just
one large shed as a terminal/hanger. The place was a
classic cargo cult
site, filled with Hawaiian artifacts from floor to
ceiling. I gave them
all the Hawaiian music I had with me which had them
There were two visits to a hospital somewhere in
Africa. A meeting of
tribal chiefs was going on and I was much surprised
to see the
puppet-man-artist from Castle. He was one of the chiefs and
be quite a controversial figure, although I understood very
little of what
was going on. I also saw no sign whatever of a hospital.
For the first
time, two nurses from Castle showed up, trying to persuade
me to return.
They plagued me throughout the rest of these adventures,
I told them it was time for a little fun,
and that I was taking a few days
off and planned to stay at the Playboy
Hotel (?) in Waikiki, not return to
Castle. They followed, so I took a
large suite for all of us. After some
fierce arguments, I "fired" both of
them and had a little respite. But
only a brief one. A delightful young
man, undoubtedly inspired by the
Sleeptalker, climbed up on my lanai
(balcony) one evening and the stay in
Waikiki consequently became one of
the most delightful episodes of the
Back to work and
off to inspect a hospital in New Mexico. This was such a
adventure it is difficult to remember everything in correct
Much of my time was spent in the basement of a Pizza Hut which
connected to the hospital and was the ward for long-term-care
which included the prototype of CP3O, whom we called The First
was, of course, alive, but had none of the outer shell which the
Star Wars figure had. He was also something of a sex maniac and had
eye on me but I was saved. Someone had given me a dazzling Star
bicycle and The First CP fell in love with it. I gave it to him and
the next morning to find a touching farewell note with profuse thanks
Another part of that adventure involved a nearby
church, an old Spanish
mission, which had many valuable artifacts. The
priest was very concerned
about theft since there were known gangs of
young people in the area, apt
to steal from anyone or any place. I
suggested that the missions in the
area should combine resources and
establish a museum where all the
valuable items could be under better
security. During our discussion,
word came that a young lady had been
killed and her grandmother's jewelry
stolen. A benefit was to be
organized for the family and I promised to
try and get Willie K to come
and play for it.
Willie did appear but not until my next stop,
an underground hospital in
South Carolina, where both he and Makana showed
up to do a gig in the
aircraft hanger. Florida Mark made his sole
appearance there, too,
playing the organ. Because everyone was so
concerned about the possible
disasters which might accompany the arrival
of the year 2000, I went to
the main center of the hospital, opened the
door and asked the group there
what they planned to do if the End was
coming. By way of answer, they
went back to doing what they had been
Of all the adventures, that moment remains at the top of
the list for me.
Yes, the answer is to go on doing what you were doing,
and to hope that's
truly the proper path for your life at that
"Time to get up!" Ooops. I haven't heard that in a very long time. The
internal clock just isn't set to wake up, especially when it's still more
than an hour before the first hint of dawn. I'll have to work on that.
So, after almost three months of mattresses, sheets, blankets, pillows,
how does a bench at the hacienda feel? Narrow and hard. Emphasis
on hard. I need a lot more padding on these bones. I expected to add
"cold" to that list, but it wasn't cold at all. Mother Nature is being
extremely sweet about my return to life-as-we-knew-it. Clear, sunny
skies, almost no wind at all during the day, remaining clear and windless
at night making for an unusually comfy, if too short, sleep time.
There were only four of us there and I've never seen the other three
before. No sign of the boys, either there or at the mall earlier. The
Whore was busy making his rounds and I waved a greeting to the Duchess but
the usual gang was also absent from the mall, maybe because it was Sunday.
I had a couple of beers at the Cove Bar, watching most of the first half
of the Superbowl game, but otherwise just sat around watching people walk
by before going downtown and then to the hacienda as soon as it was dark.
An uneventful first day back, but that was fine with me.
Those bus steps surely are steep, and the backpack, although lighter than
it has ever been, seems very heavy. Lots of adjustments to make, none
more delightful than forcing myself not to stare as the parade of sweet
young men passes by at UH Manoa and especially when one of them sits down
at the terminal across from me. How is a person supposed to write under
There it was. That unmistakable Waianae strut, a few feet ahead of me on
the walk leading up to the hacienda on Monday night. Yep, the
Everyone else has first asked "where have you been?!".
Not him. "Are you still going to UH?" "Are you still playing Seventh
Circle?" And in parting, "Okay, Albert."
I remember every word. So it wasn't quite the reunion I would have
preferred. He was with two young men I hadn't seen before and at the
hacienda three more Social Horrors were waiting, including both of the
Rossini's. I had been at the mall until it got dark enough to
head for the bench because I was very, very tired, just wanted to stretch
out, no matter how hard it was. With that mob, I thought we'd be in for a
most unquiet evening, but they decided to go off somewhere and by the time
the Sleeptalker and one of the young men returned I was sound asleep and
wasn't awakened by their arrival. I did wake up in time to watch the
Sleeptalker get up. He looks so sweet first thing in the morning.
Totally unexplainable. As I said to a friend, must be something from a
previous life. I can't think of any other explanation for why I am so
smitten (and we are talking about a year and a half now) with a 24 year
old local boy with whom I have almost nothing in common. But I do know he
will need me again sometime, so I wait patiently. Those are the moments
that matter, as I pondered while I waited to fall asleep on that hard
And despite my pleasure in watching not just him but all the other sweet
young things in town, I have to admit that my sexual desire is nil, and
has been since entering the hospital. I was told that hope was stirred
one afternoon when a very cute young fellow came into the room and
I watched him with my eyes. Oh, he was a sweetie, that got through the
morphine haze. But sex? No, that drive seems to be on major idle, and I
have absolutely no complaints about it.
About that time in the hospital, there's a far more realistic, if
altogether too flattering, account in Ryan's journal at
"first time I saw him". I only vaguely recall that visit, although I
remember I was worried later that I might have offended him.
There was a complaint from a reader about how short the previous tale was.
Hey, if nothing happened, what I am supposed to do? Make up an exciting
life? That might be a better idea, make the New York Times Best Seller
Truth is, I fell into quite a pit on Monday afternoon. I went to Manoa
Garden, drank a Budweiser, and then sat in the secluded grove and felt
bewildered. I was all alone, nothing to do, no one expected home at
such-and-such a time, a blank. It stayed that way all afternoon until, as
I said, I was just waiting until it was dark enough to head to the bench.
Tuesday morning I had to go to an interview about getting food stamps,
which I seem to have passed with flying colors, as they say. I was given
the "credit card" but have to wait until a letter of formal authorization
arrives before I can use it. I wondered when I arrived if I was the only
person who went to apply for food stamps using a taxi (I had no idea where
the place was), but when I left there were two taxis discharging
passengers who certainly looked like they were there for the same reason.
Life is strange in this best of all possible countries.
Then I returned to campus, sat in the grove for awhile, went again to the
Garden and drank a Budweiser and went downtown where I ended up at Gordon
Biersch drinking their excellent Marzen brew and enjoying the panorama of
Honolulu Harbor and the multitude of memories associated with that
So my life was saved for some reason. Like enjoying a brew and memories.
Still no sign of Rocky, but the Social Horror Club was in full swing on
Tuesday night (or more accurately, early Wednesday morning). I got to the
hacienda about an hour after sunset, had the place to myself for awhile
before the Bicycle Man arrived and quietly settled down. Two older men
who seem to be new regulars then came in, chatted for awhile and were
joined by a woman who said a few things before they all quieted down.
But probably a bit after midnight the Social Horrors arrived. Four of
them. One, a rather cute young fellow, immediately took the bench in
front of me. He was wearing thick white corduroy trousers and a tee
shirt, leading me to suspect he's more of a "tourist" than a new regular
member of the Club. The Sleeptalker gave me a poke and said "Albert, my
man" as he headed for another bench. Two others stayed on an outside
bench and were having a heated discussion which got louder as the "focking
this" and "focking that" became more frequent.
The woman said she had to work in the morning and asked them to be quiet.
The volume dropped for a bit, then increased again. She repeated her
protest. Same result. Finally she yelled, "shut up!" Gasoline on a fire
to the Sleeptalker who jumped up and started shouting at her, even though
she hadn't been talking to him. He was obviously zonked, probably on
something more potent than alcohol. He lay back down again but soon
afterwards must have been set off by something in the continuing
conversation outside, jumped up again, went and found what looked like a
steel rod and began waving it around saying he was going to "keel"
Rossini. "That's the bottom line. I'm going to keel him." What a weird
love-hate relationship those two have.
It's the worst tantrum I've seen him throw and I knew better than to get
involved. Japanese children are real champs when it comes to throwing
tantrums and almost all of the parents just stand and wait for the steam
to run out, the only solution with the Sleeptalker, too. He finally did
shut up and disappeared, probably to the place he often sleeps in
somewhere behind the hacienda. Looked at my watch, it was just after
Happy though I am to see him, I wouldn't mind if he found somewhere else
to sleep when with the Horrors but that's not likely as long as the
weather remains as mild as it has been this week.
Despite the frequently interrupted sleep, the internal alarm clock is
valiantly trying to adjust itself and woke me up at five o'clock. Too
early, I muttered, make it half an hour later. The Bicycle Man is
helping. He's very quiet but makes just enough noise getting up at
five-thirty to wake me, too, especially when I'm just dozing for that
extra half hour. The lad in the corduroy trousers was awakened by one of
the Horrors who had moved in from outside; the other Horror had evidently
left and there was no sign of the Sleeptalker. Ah, the sweet life at the
I saw the Cherub who said he had gone several times to the
cloisters looking for me but there had been no one there at all,
and he wondered if they'd finally started chasing people away. It might
be because of the continuing construction work there, but considering how
crowded it was getting I couldn't much blame them for putting an end to
it. A pity, if so. Every alternative is welcome.
And I had the longest conversation I've ever had with the Ferret who was
very interested in the hospital experience and vowed to get a pneumonia
shot this fall. Not a bad idea.
The poor Sleeptalker. All alone, already asleep on the bench when I got
to the hacienda, still asleep when I woke up. He hates being alone and I
felt sorry for him even though I know he asked for it, as always.
Nothing to be done about it, but it did make for a wonderfully quiet night
since everyone else there is just interested in a place to sleep.
I saw Jon Yamasato, ex Pure Heart, at Sinclair Library in the afternoon,
told him how sad I was to hear of the group's break-up and how I hoped
he wouldn't give up on the music business. He has such a casual, laidback
style of singing, the potential of being the Perry Como of the local scene
(and I mean that as a compliment). He said he would be doing an
occasional solo gig, so I'll keep an eye out.
Ryan admitted in his journal that he hadn't known who Pure Heart was!
Yikes. When I was a teenager watching my parents and other older folks
showing such disdain for the music I most liked, I wondered if I'd be the
same way when I got old. Apparently not. Although some new genres like
rap and hip-hop escape me, I discovered during more watching of VH-1 than
usual that I'm still captured by a lot of the younger musicians. The Back
Street Boys are charming and I especially like their new track about being
lonely; Savage Garden's "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You" sticks in my
mind (as does the image of the singer's beautiful blue eyes); and the Foo
Fighters current video is a delight.
VH-1 also did a lengthy survey of the "top 100 greatest hits" of rock.
What an exercise in nostalgia. Despite a few weird choices (like Patsy
Cline's "Crazy" [rock???]), I couldn't disagree with most of them even
though I didn't and still don't like some of the batch. I can live
happily without ever hearing a Bee Gees record again but, okay, they did
deserve to be included. No disagreement with the number one choice of the
Stones' "Satisfaction" although my favorite track by them remains "Brown
Sugar" which placed in the mid twenties. It was an amusing trip through
my life, all those songs (from Elvis and Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly
onwards) and the memories associated with them.
As soon as I was conscious in the hospital I would demand that they turned
the television off. They seemed to think everyone would want the infernal
box on all the time and were evidently puzzled by my preferring to just
lay there and think (not to mention enjoy my morphine dreams). But while
I was staying with friends on the North Shore I sampled more television
than usual, enjoyed A&E's "Biography" series especially. It was very
annoying, though, when they inserted the tale of a serial killer in the
midst of movie stars and shipping magnates. Do we really need to glorify
such human aberrations?
The worst thing about that wretched invention remains the overwhelming
avalanche of commercials, made even more irksome now by the constant
"dotcom" references. As I said to Ryan, oh for the days when no one had
ever heard of "dotcom" and we snuck onto the legendary Internet via back
doors at UH.
Meanwhile, the adjustments continue. The internal alarm is still stuck
on 5 a.m. but I'll eventually get it to idle for an additional half hour.
Perhaps the biggest hassle, getting used to my upper plastic teeth, is
getting steadily better. The gums shrank so much while in the hospital
that the damned things won't stay in without assistance. I first tried
some adhesive pads but they have an annoying minty taste and, even worse,
turn to mush upon contact with alcohol. Afraid I'm definitely the wrong
"market segment" for those things. Fixodent works much better. In the
commercial for the stuff, the man spreads a thin ribbon all around the
dentures. Not! Sheez, try getting the things out again with that much
gook. Three little dabs in the front work just fine and the feeling of
being constantly on the verge of nausea is finally going away. I still
wait until lunchtime to put the things in, though.
And I still end up spending a lot of time just sitting and wondering what
to do. Volume Eight of the Robert Jordan saga is in the shops, so I guess
I'll part with $7.99 and resume my habit of reading (which I haven't done
since leaving the hospital).
And I guess I'll eventually return to the point where I could sit and do
nothing without wondering what to do.
"You're the most interesting man I've ever talked to." Poor fellow.
Seventy-five years old and I get the top billing?
I was sitting on a planter ledge at the mall waiting until it was sensibly
late enough to embark on my planned afternoon and evening in Waikiki when
the man sat down beside me and asked, "have you seen my wife?" Odd
beginning. I said, "she could be anywhere in this place." He and his
wife were visiting from the mainland and after a bit of chat about the
islands he asked if I'd answer questions for a survey he was doing. Oh
well, I'm a natural when it comes to skewing surveys, so why not.
Did I belong to an organized religion? No, but I added the usual
disclaimer that I had been baptized as a Roman Catholic so as not to
appear a total heathen (or candidate for submersion). Who did I think
Jesus Christ was? A great teacher. Did I think he would come again?
Yes, but not like it says in the New Testament, clouds of glory and all
that. He may even have come again already, I added, deciding not to tell
him Jesus had told me himself that he had returned many times and that the
clouds of glory scenario was hype he had never claimed.
Had I read the Bible? Yes, several times. All the way through?! It's
remarkable how so many of these evangelical types seem amazed that someone
would read the Bible all the way through. How could any thinking
man not read a book which has had such massive influence on civilization?
And if reading it when quite young, not go back in later years for a
second look in case something was missed? Where else to find out what to
do if my goat falls in a neighbor's well? (No, I didn't say any of that).
Did I think there was a revival of interest in God and religion? No, I
don't see any suggestion such a thing is happening. He said Christians
were "closer to God" than other people and I disagreed, said Hindus
probably get that award since religion is so interwoven with their
What if I died and got to the gates of heaven and they wouldn't let me in?
I told him about Heine's dying words. "God will forgive me. It's his
job." I haven't done anything all that bad in this life and if the
Christian model is correct, then not believing in it isn't my fault.
Grace just hasn't found me. I didn't confuse the man further by telling
him I've always thought the Christian notion of "heaven" to be rather
boring anyway, but did say I thought it utterly unreasonable that a man
was given only one chance and then was condemned to eternal punishment if
he failed. I do try to tread lightly with Believers. After all, as I see
it, anyone who believes in any god or gods is in better shape than I am.
After that rather entertaining interlude I set off for Waikiki and Duke's,
continuing my promised-to-myself tour of all my favorite watering holes.
And none is more favorite than Duke's. I have to admit, though, that nice
as it is to be known and loudly greeted, sometimes I wish I could slip
into such places anonymously, a sentiment echoed later at the Regent's
Whoever is in charge of "human resources" at Duke's certainly knows their
job. There's a new bartender trainee who is the cat's meow. He's still
working at the little side bar and I couldn't get up from the main bar and
move over there without insulting one of my favorite bartenders, so I
gazed adoringly from a distance, hoping the new recruit soon moves to the
main bar. That would require a whole re-think of pension check
I stayed too long but resisted the temptation to order an eight-dollar
cheeseburger and more sensibly went to have a Jumbo Jack before continuing
on to the Regent. Genoa is not only still alive, she was in top form and
one of her hugs makes not being anonymous worth it.
But was the Waikiki expedition really worth forty dollars?
The Year of the Dragon, my fifth one despite thinking twelve years ago it
would probably be the last dragon I'd see.
I celebrated on the Eve by lingering on campus to see a band whose name
I've already forgotten playing at Manoa Garden. They have an unusual
line-up for a local band with three horns in addition to the guitars,
drums and keyboard. The gig began with two instrumental numbers while a
young lady, who was instantly under suspicion for wearing a cat-ears
headband, did what I assume she considered "interpretative dancing". I
thought of leaving. But she was better at singing than dancing so when
she joined in on the third number I settled back and enjoyed the rest of
the first set.
"You say what?!" asked the Sleeptalker in his best nocturnal voice,
rousing me from my post-5am doze. He was missing for two nights but
arrived at the hacienda after I'd fallen asleep on New Year's night.
Talking in his sleep is certainly one of the most charming things about
him, and it was a pleasure to hear it again. I had noticed someone
sleeping on the bench at my head earlier but hadn't realized it was him.
That bench has usually been taken by another young man who is very quiet
when awake but seems to suffer heavy nightmares and often groans or moans
in his sleep, so I thought it was probably him despite the different
trousers. But it was The Man, and he sat up when I was packing to leave.
I waved at him, he grinned, and lay back down, rocking himself back to
The day had been a quiet one. I made a trip downtown to pick up mail,
which included the food stamp authorization letter, stopped by the State
Library to get a book and chose a three-novels-in-one-volume epic by James
Hogan, a British sci-fi writer I've never read before. Back then to
campus, stopping by the supermarket to use the food stamp card for the
first time. They don't sell milk in any size smaller than a quart and
after downing one of those, there isn't much desire to add a beer. I
guess that's not a Bad Thing.
So I sat in the grove with a huge turkey+cheese sandwich, a small
container of cottage cheese and the quart of milk and stuffed myself while
reading the first of the three novels. The birds are very happy I got
food stamps, too. And the Dragon arrived with an alcohol-free
The book was well-written and postulated an interesting alternative
history with man originating on a planet which orbited where the asteroid
belt is now. Earth's moon was originally a satellite of that planet and
when the advanced civilization there had a horrendous war and blew the
planet up, the moon was sent hurtling toward the sun and was captured by
Earth's gravity. The few survivors managed to repair a ship and make it
to earth. The missing link. Nice idea.
And the price of the book ($0) was a much more sensible idea than plunking
down eight pictures of George for the Jordan volume. Three of the Fabled
Pension Checks accumulated while I was in hospital and I broke into the
third one on Friday, muttering to myself "this can't go on". Oh well,
when I have it I spend it and when I don't have it I manage to keep
It's a pity you can't use that food stamps card at McD's, though.
Quiet days, quiet nights. The fine weather continues, making afternoons
in the secluded grove a pleasure and likewise nights on the bench without
shivering. Anyone who chose early February for a Hawaii vacation
definitely timed it right this year.
The Horror Club quarrel seems to be a more serious one than usual
and the Sleeptalker has remained on his own, arriving quietly at the
hacienda after I've fallen asleep. Tuesday morning I woke to see him
doing his jiggling, rocking motion. He must have surfaced early and was
busy putting himself back to sleep. It's a little strange to be sleeping
so near him every night but having no contact, and I'd welcome the chance
to sit down with him over a beer and find out what he has been up to and
what he's doing. I have to keep reminding myself: leave him alone unless
he doesn't want to be left alone.
And reminding myself what a pleasure it is to be spending the nights a few
feet away from him.
I finished the second Hogan book on Sunday and the third on Monday so
another trip to the State Library's "honor books" collection is on the
calendar. This book fell apart as I was reading it, so no need to worry
about being "honorable" by returning it. Hogan certainly has a fertile
imagination. One of the ideas he put forth was that religion and
mysticism were deliberately introduced on Earth to keep man in a state of
retarded scientific growth since the species was known to be so
aggressive. The advanced civilization which achieved that even had a plan
in place to surround the solar system with artificially-generated black
holes which would prevent man from spreading his neurotic ways beyond the
immediate neighborhood. Interesting stuff.
Back in the days when I was still working downtown I'd usually notice an
elegant, white-haired lady get on the bus each morning. She must be in
her late sixties or early seventies and doesn't seem to have changed at
all in the years I've been seeing her. Now she is evidently working in
the McCully area and once again shares the same bus in the mornings. She
doesn't have a large wardrobe but everything she wears is absolutely first
class. A lady with most excellent taste. I'm happy to be seeing her
again. Being in the vicinity of the Sleeptalker may satisfy one of my
inner needs, but sharing space with a woman who has aged so gracefully
definitely satisfies another need, a boost of faith in mankind, so to
Sitting in the secluded grove with some roast beef, potato salad and a
bottle of Colt, I was feeling a bit irked by one of the books I'd chosen
earlier at the State Library. Ann Rule appears to have picked Capote
as a role model, writing thinly-fictionalized accounts of actual crimes,
but I fear she has absolutely none of Truman's style and Dead by
Sunset reads like a police blotter or a hastily written summary for a
possible film script. Oh well, it kills the time.
Nice expression, that, as I pondered when in the hospital bed. Killing
time. How many of us are criminals under that classification?
So whenever finding myself in the position of killing time, I usually fall
instead into pondering this and that, which inevitably gets around to the
Sleeptalker. And I considered the fact that the young man has absolutely
no clue about how I see our friendship. Oh he knows I lust for his body
(or have in the past, anyway) and he probably sees that as the basic
foundation. From my own experience, that perception would make the entire
thing very suspect, and he probably sees it that way, too, although I
think he spends very little time in introspection. I could, of course, be
utterly wrong about that. I don't really know him, I just want to. And I,
spending altogether too much time introspectively, understand completely
how bizarre it is that hardly an hour goes by without me thinking about
When I walked into the State Library, I remembered what fun it was
that day long ago when I went down there just to get him and take him back
Now the State Library has gotten very miserly with their allowed internet
access time and one is only supposed to use a terminal for fifteen
minutes. Utter absurdity. They should welcome young people stopping in
and using the terminals. It surely is better than having them out on the
streets smoking crack or whatever. My generation is so stupid, especially
those who managed to live through the Sixties without being touched by
what was happening in that decade, and that seems to include most
That wish slip certainly got a quick reply.
The Sleeptalker showed up much earlier than usual at the hacienda, so we
chatted for awhile. As usual, his narrative was very disjointed and he
would return to a subject later with a one-liner which revealed more of a
Reading between the lines, it would appear that whatever he was doing in
Waianae was too successful and brought in money faster than he could
adjust to it. I can easily sympathize with his position. He went off on
a jaunt to Vegas with Rossini which, I would guess, ended both his job and
exhausted his money supply but not before he had rented a storage locker
and bought a cellular phone which now, of course, he can't afford to keep
So it's back to wanting a job because he needs money. "Why?" I asked. He
needs to do laundry, he needs shoes. "What did you do with the shoes
you've been wearing?" They were quite handsome shoes, I thought, low-cut
Nikes. He threw them away because he wanted to wear slippers and there
wasn't enough room in his bag for the shoes. But any job he'd be likely
to get would need shoes. Sigh.
He was eager to talk about his recent early morning tantrum. It appears I
was indirectly to blame for the first outburst that morning. Until I told
him, he had no idea he talks in his sleep. So when that woman shouted
"shut up!" to the two fellows on the outside benches, he woke up, assumed
he had been talking in his sleep and that the demand was addressed to him.
He was surprised to learn that wasn't the case at all.
He said he had been doing a "bad drug" with Rossini & Company, then went
off on his own. More likely, judging from past experience, they abandoned
him when he started to be too outrageous. Then he thought Rossini was
after him, trying to kill him, and once he settled back down that morning
he dreamed or hallucinated that Rossini had been killed in a auto accident
but had returned as a ghost vampire and was still after the Sleeptalker.
Shades of morphine madness.
"That's why I'm so thin," he said, pulling up his tee shirt and showing me
his delightful belly and chest. Although it's certainly whiter than I've
ever seen it, I can't say he looks any thinner than usual, but I didn't
say so. Rossini had arrived and was sucking blood from his neck, which is
why he went for the rod and was ready to kill.
He had then staggered way off to Walmart and had settled on a bench there
for the rest of the night. Another man was sleeping on a nearby bench.
The Sleeptalker evidently had a wet dream, woke and thought the man had
molested him and jumped up ready to fight, only to see the man still sound
asleep. He had felt even sillier about it when they both woke up in the
morning and the man bought him breakfast.
I told him he really shouldn't do such junk drugs, that he is bound to end
up in serious trouble. He hates being alone so much, but if he hangs out
with Rossini he gets offered the drugs and won't refuse even though he
knows the end result will be back to solitude. And he had gone to the
park to join the Snorer's regular gathering there but some local fellow
had somehow offended him, so he didn't want to go back there again,
although the Snorer is one of the better sources of job news.
In short, a mess.
Maybe one reason I am so attracted to him is that we both lead such
charmed lives. It's miraculous that he has survived on the streets for
eight years without getting locked up or worse, given his volatile
But no doubt about it. When I woke earlier and saw he had taken off his
tee shirt and was laying there on his back asleep, another reason for the
attraction was quite clear.
He is, indeed, adorable.
They did warn me in the hospital that it would be two or three months
before I got back to "normal strength". Almost to the point of one
elapsed month, I can believe it. Although there has certainly been a lot
of progress, there are still plenty of indications "normal strength"
hasn't been reached. The chest is still very tender to the touch and
subject to internal pains as well, especially if I walk too far without
taking a rest break. And too far includes the distance from Hamilton
Library on one side of the campus to the bus stop on the other side.
At least once I get to the bus, I can manage those entry steps with a
little less difficulty than when first returning to town.
But I still find myself getting impatient now and then, especially when,
as on Tuesday, the weather shifted to muggy greyness and the
higher humidity made physical effort even more tiring. Churlish to
complain, I reminded myself, after such an unusually long spell of clear,
sunny skies. But I complained nonetheless, more at my body than at the
weather. Patience has never been one of my strong points and never less
so than when the body is concerned, no matter how valid its excuse.
The high humidity and lack of breeze made the air-conditioning at Hamilton
Library welcome, most unusual in February. But I did make the trip
downhill to the supermarket and sat in the secluded grove enjoying French
pate, crackers and olives with a [gulp] quart of milk. "This can't go
on," I once again told myself, watching the food stamps balance dwindle,
but as I did with the accumulated pension checks, I continue to spoil
myself. Premium cigarettes, beer in bars, European lunches. No, it can't
go on, but it is fun while it lasts, especially buying food I really savor
but haven't been able to afford in the last three years or more.
And I kept on reading that fact-based murder mystery. Unless a book is
very, very awful I do have the habit of finishing the thing even while
thinking how glad I'll be when it's over. A volume of three long tales by
Flannery O'Connor, along with Jane Eyre, and Great
Expectations, taunted me from the fifty-cent cart at Hamilton, but I
already have a Chaim Potok novel in the backpack, and one I've not read,
so I smile at the cart and say I've read you all at least twice.
I stayed on campus until after sunset, chuckling at a new list of
guidelines to the use of UH computer equipment which appeared at Sinclair
Library. One paragraph says email should only be used for exchange of
academic information. Either they don't know, or prefer to ignore, the
fact that email has become an integrated part of social life for many of
the students. It doesn't take overly keen observational powers to see
that on campus, watching the students pounding away on the email
terminals. Guidelines written by human ostriches, lost in the 19th
Then I went to Brew Moon to spend a couple of hours (and yet again, too
much money) listening to Shawn. At least it will be the last time this
month when I spend too much money; the pockets are approaching empty. I
told Shawn during the break that he'd almost lost me in the first set. I
get bored with extended improvisation, no matter how superb technically,
and I was reminded of the Five Spot on Manhattan's Lower East Side where,
in the early sixties, I would sit pretending to be interested in the
respected jazz musicians of the time while I was actually just wishing I
could hear a song without all the "noodling". Shawn ended the first set,
though, with a solid, rocking "gonna get lost in rock 'n roll and slip
away" which thoroughly regained my attention.
And that attention was firmly gripped when an incredibly beautiful young
man walked into the bar, the finest example of "tall, dark and handsome"
I've ever seen. Enrique Iglesias could move over and yield the "sexiest
man in the world" title if the two of them were placed side by side
(preferably with me in the middle). This one was with a rather mousie,
flat-chested young lady with straggly blonde hair and they joined another
couple at a table near enough to my bar seat to afford an excellent view.
Yes, incredibly beautiful.
I left just after ten while Shawn was chugging through Paul Simon's "Me
and Julio" and headed to the hacienda. The Sleeptalker arrived shortly
after I did and asked where I'd been, so I suppose he had been there
earlier looking for me. He also asked for a cigarette for the first time,
so I guess his pockets must be getting empty, too. Being on his own is
clearly wearing him down. I've rarely seen him look so wasted, and when
we got up together in the morning he rather plaintively asked where I was
going. I said to McD's for coffee. "And then?" "To UH," I said. If
that exchange had occurred when I still had pension checks in my pocket, I
would have taken him along with me, but as always, he seems to have an
instinctive knack for avoiding me when I have money in my pocket and
turning to me when I'm broke. This time it is probably just as well since
there's really nothing I can do to help him.
nothing I can do to help him ...
True, but it does weigh heavily and I end up getting depressed on his
behalf. As I said to a friend on Thursday, "feel free to say deja vu".
Definitely been here before. The Sleeptalker didn't show up at the
hacienda on Thursday night, though, so I was spared reinforcement of the
weight. So many young men like him living on the street, too. I guess I
should be grateful he's the only one who has so captured my attention.
I had made my usual trip downhill to buy food for lunch and sat in the
secluded grove with broccoli quiche, potato salad and the quart of milk
which seems to have replaced Colt as the mid-day beverage. And I finished
that Ann Rule book, wasn't surprised to see in the little biographical
sketch at the end that she was once a Seattle policewoman. I did say it
read like a police blotter. I won't be picking up any more of her books.
By the time I waded through this one, I couldn't have cared less
if the main suspect had committed the murder.
Routine repeated on Friday with lunch in the secluded grove. I'd bought a
ham on rye sandwich from the supermarket deli and was surprised to
discover the birds were totally disinterested in rye bread. Tough luck,
then, I wasn't going to open my package of breakfast-intended cookies just
to share them with picky feathered critters.
Chaim Potok's The Gift of Asher Lev became the reading material. I
read the first Asher Lev book years ago and remember nothing about it
except that I'd admired it. I'll no doubt feel the same way about this
one although it's probably not a very good choice for the time and mood.
I'm already saturated with something akin to melancholy and the book is
utterly drenched in it. But maybe an overdose will cure me.
A reader said he thought some people had expected different results from
my months in the hospital. Perhaps I did, too. Even though I was eager
to return to the life I had been leading, I find myself at the same time a
little irked that it has been so easy, on one level, and so difficult on
another. Easy to step back into the routine, back to the friendships
which are as unchanged as the depressing dilemma over the Sleeptalker.
Difficult to regain the ability to do nothing without feeling concerned
about it, to shake the idea that I should be doing something. Sez who?
If that voice is so concerned about it, perhaps it should turn its
attention to "what".
We say there is no good, there is no bad, there is just experience, and
within each experience there is a lesson.
A new kid on the block, or on the bench. I'm flattered that these
youngsters seem to view me as being "safe" and pick a bench next to mine
from all the available options, but it does make me feel a little guilty
when the thoughts they inspire are a long way from "safe". Still, as the
Sleeptalker knows well, thoughts do no harm.
I thought at first the new angelic-looking lad was a "tourist" but then
noticed he had stashed what looked like a fully-packed backpack under the
bench, so maybe not. He's far too young to be on the streets and too
trusting, as well. He left a tee shirt draped over the back of the bench
and the backpack under it and wandered off somewhere. I've never heard of
anyone having something stolen at the hacienda, but it's not a chance I'd
I wondered, not for the first time, how parents could allow such a young,
innocent-looking child to be living on the street but I did get a
different perspective on that question from the Sleeptalker. Considering
what a brat he can sometimes be now, I imagine he must have been quite a
terror at sixteen, no matter how angelic looking. A single mother with
younger children in the house can be forgiven, I guess, for kicking the
oldest one out of the nest. She was so eager to get him out she even
encouraged him to stay with a family friend, a single man who turned out
to be gay and was constantly on the make for the Sleeptalker. Even after
being told about it, his mother still wanted him to stay there. He was
probably better off on the street rather than being afraid to fall asleep.
The new lad was visible through the back slats of the bench without seeing
his face so I could watch him unnoticed. He was dressed very neatly in
tan corduroy trousers and a black tee shirt, new-looking shoes, and was
quite meticulous about how he arranged the trousers as he sat there. When
I later got a look at his face, I guessed he must be sixteen or seventeen.
A delightful new neighbor.
The Sleeptalker, though, has been absent. He complained of being cold
when last there and despite the extremely mild weather, I can well imagine
sleeping with bare feet, light cotton trousers and a tee shirt would
indeed be uncomfortably cold. So he has probably returned to the shelter.
The one missing member of the Mall Gang finally appeared on Sunday morning
at McDonald's ... "Bla". Maybe he has been in the hospital, too, because
he was quite transformed. A short haircut, neatly trimmed beard, and
better clothes than he usually has make him look ten years younger. It
was good to see him.
I had finished the Potok book on Saturday morning. One quoted critic said
it was "little short of a masterpiece" but I didn't find it "little short"
at all. A fine, thought-provoking novel. Unfortunately the freebie
collection at the State Library rarely offers such quality options and
making the trip down there to return the book, I picked up Jonathan
Kellerman's Survival of the Fittest, a multiple murder mystery
hardly in the same class as the Potok but entertaining diversion with
lunch in the secluded grove.
I'm not doing all that badly with the foodstamps card. Middle of February
and I'm still using up the January allotment, but when it evens out and
I'm left with the usual monthly benefit I'll certainly have to go easier
on the deli options and the European imports.
After lunch I went to the mall to hear Jon Yamasato at the Mai Tai Bar.
They offer four beers only, two "local" brews at five dollars a glass and
two "domestics" (Bud Light being one of them) at four dollars. Yikes.
Fortunately there are numerous places within good hearing distance where
one can sit for free and enjoy the music, the option I picked. But
sitting there watching folks guzzle beer made me thirsty for one, so I
yielded later and had a bottle of Mickey's. It just made me sleepy and I
headed off to the hacienda shortly after sunset.
Four one dollar bills in my pocket. Ah, what a choice. The terribly
sensible one of converting them to quarters and doing laundry. The less
sensible options of two bottles of malt liquor or a pack of cigarettes.
Or, of course, just leaving them in the pocket and continuing to enjoy the
debate over what to do with them ...
The new fellow isn't as young as I first thought. He has such an
innocent, boyish face that it was misleading, but after a better look at
him, I'd guess late teens or early twenties. So his parents are off the
When I got to the hacienda on Sunday evening, there was his backpack
stashed under the bench, a black tee shirt and black shorts draped over
the back of the bench. As usual after an alcohol-free day, I had a hard
time getting to sleep and he still hadn't arrived when I did
finally drift off.
I was thinking about what to call him, but couldn't come up with an
appropriate name. Sitting at the bus stop next morning waiting for the
bus to the mall, I decided on "Angelo".
Shortly before one in the morning, Angelo showed up. With the
I guess that's one solution. If all your regular buddies abandon you,
latch onto a newcomer. The Sleeptalker was, alas, obviously zonked again
and was listening to a walkman radio which I assume was Angelo's. And he
was singing along to the music. Among his many charms, a fine singing
voice is absent and I doubt it would have been appreciated at that hour
even if he could sing. Angelo settled down quietly, though, and after ten
minutes or so the Sleeptalker also gave it up and lay down on the bench in
front of me.
I know the syndrome too well, having to make sure the whole world knows
you are stoned and oh so happy. Poor fellow. I've seen plenty of people
who wrecked themselves and their lives with drug abuse but I've been
spared having someone I really care about take that path. My luck may
have run out.
But it certainly was an appropriate beginning to Valentine's Day 2000,
sandwiched in between two such sweet-looking young men.
I spent Valentine's afternoon in the grove with a bottle of Colt (yep,
there went two of those four dollar bills) and The Copper Beech by
Maeve Binchy, a nicely done weaving together of tales from a small Irish
village. Then I headed down to Starbucks near Border's for a Pure Heart
I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is to watch those guys, especially
Lopaka Colon who seems to put forth more energy in an hour than I could in
a month. The new configuration, with Guy Cruz on guitar and vocals,
didn't at all disappoint and I especially liked their stylish cover of
"Starry Starry Night". They easily retain top spot on my list of favorite
When I got to the hacienda, the Two Old Regulars and The Woman had all
settled down, always welcome since she inevitably wakes me up if I've
fallen asleep before her arrival. She doesn't chat for long but does it
very loudly. No sign of Angelo or the Sleeptalker, but a young (I think
Vietnamese) lad with a bicycle arrived and took the bench behind me, so
when Angelo did arrive later he took the one at my head. No Sleeptalker.
It's funny how the place has divided: the older folks, except me, on one
side, with me and the youngsters on the other.
I could have slept a lot longer but dragged myself off the bench when the
internal alarm woke me up at 5:25. Finally getting that thing adjusted!
It's back to snipe hunting and I hadn't spent much time on it the day
before so had to start my day with a walk through the mall before heading
to McD's for coffee. A lucky walk, found enough smokes to get me through
When I went in the hospital, I had a plastic bag laden with the stash from
recent mall hunts, a heavy little packet of coins which is now beginning
to feel very lightweight. No matter, I bought some instant "coffee bags"
so when the McD's financing runs out, I can just head straight to campus
and make my own. Can't say I prefer it that way, but I did ask for it.
And I'm not up to pushing back shopping carts yet, either (although I
haven't spotted any carts or strollers at all when walking through the
Helen R had the day off and suggested we see a film. So after a morning
on campus spent mostly on-line, I went to meet her in Waikiki to see
Leonardo in "The Beach". Something about that lad keeps him just off
kilter from being "my type" but he was fun to watch running around
bare-chested in what was really a rather silly movie.
Afterwards I hung around smoking outside the "Las Vegas Fashions" shop
while Helen shopped for boots, and it was fun, too, watching the tourists
running around the streets of Waikiki, some of them bare-chested as well.
Then we had a late lunch/early dinner at a new Mexican restaurant which
served up quite tastey cheese enchiladas.
Another week. And not off to a bad start.
As I was still unpacking for the night, the maybe-Vietnamese Bicycle Lad
arrived and, as usual, very quietly settled down, again on the bench
behind me. There's a calm, peaceful feeling about him, a welcome new
neighbor. Some time after I'd fallen asleep, voices from outside woke me.
Angelo and the Sleeptalker. Angelo was holding it down but the
Sleeptalker never thinks about other people's comfort so his voice came
through loud and clear. Angelo moved inside and took the bench at my
The Sleeptalker lay down on the bench in front of me. He was wearing the
shoes he had supposedly "thrown away". Thinking about that, and
remembering how he had raised his tee shirt to show me how thin he'd
become because of Rossini sucking his blood, I realized he's existing
somewhere between the boundaries of drug-induced fantasy and reality.
He's always had a tendency in that direction, mixing up the Seventh
Circle game with "real" life and I guess the drugs are taking him even
further. He didn't stay long, soon got up and wandered off, not
returning. Angelo must be too tame a buddy.
Before departing campus I got nabbed for another survey. This time it was
a young Japanese woman, a Business Admin student, who was asking questions
about coffee consumption. The only answer I gave which seemed to greatly
surprise her was when she asked if I ever considered whether I should
support local business by drinking, for example, Lion coffee rather than
Starbucks. I said no. "Never?!" she asked. Nope. "Buying local" is an
idea which doesn't get much support from me. If they can fly stuff in and
sell it cheaper than locally-produced equivalents, then something is wrong
with local pricing. (I pay a premium price for "Maui Cookies", not
because they're local but because they're good cookies and they come in
packaging small enough to easily carry around.) Besides, Lion doesn't
make instant "coffee bags" and if they did, the price would no doubt be
higher than "imported" Maxwell House bags ... and to my taste, Lion coffee
isn't special enough to justify spending more for it.
We say there is no good, there is no bad, there is just experience,
and within each experience there is a lesson.
That came from the "Merging With Siva" series I get as emails from a Hindu
ashram on Kauai. When the cycle finishes, they start again from the
beginning and this must be my fourth time through it, but that hadn't
caught my attention before. And I've been thinking about it
since I did notice. I can't agree with it. It seems to me that there is
indeed "good" and there is "evil", no matter how much definitions of the
two may differ. While the sentiment in this case may be noble, it's not
that far away from Beyond Good and Evil and there lies the path to
... wish that I could see you once again across the room ...
If VH-1 did a top one hundred ballads survey, I'd definitely put
Graham Nash's "Simple Man" at the top of my list. Every now and then the
mind starts to play it and a reel of memories projects back to all the
people the song fits. Not sure I'm such a "simple" man, but I am a lucky
The current love continues to be a dilemma, though. Alas, that walkman
radio is apparently his, so there's nothing to do but hope the batteries
soon run out of juice. He appeared at the hacienda and settled on an
outside bench, "singing" along with the radio. I dug out earplugs.
Imagine this, I said, deliberately blocking out the Sleeptalker. And I
grumbled to myself about what a pest he is being while at the same time
feeling sorry for the lad, all alone with nothing to do but sing along
with the radio. Eventually he moved inside and took the bench at my head,
mercifully putting the radio away in the small backpack he (unusually) had
with him. Angelo arrived later and took the bench behind me, empty since
the Bicycle Boy hadn't shown up. Nor had one of the Old Regulars or The
Woman. I wondered where else they found to sleep since I wouldn't mind
having an alternative, too.
I'm definitely not back to "normal" form. A shopping cart, complete with
its quarter, was waiting at the mall, but all the way on the far side of
the place. I was about to get on a bus to the hacienda, stopped and
debated for a moment and said, "nope, I just can't wheel that thing way
back to the supermarket." Bad news. I must shape up.
Maybe on the coming Monday when it will be an offline day, thanks to
George and Abe, I can summon up enthusiasm to play the mall game again.
I finished the Binchy book with lunch on Wednesday, would very much like
to read more of her work. The Irish village which was the setting of this
one was so small she could tell the story of almost every inhabitant from
their point of view and the weaving together of the tales told the larger
story of the community through four or five decades. A gentle, charming
Ireland is one place I really should have visited.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Hot Shot is in the backpack, but since
the State Library will close for three days, in honor of George and Abe, I
suppose I should plan another trip down there to further stock up.
The winter stuff in the backpack has got to go. It's just too warm.
I'm not complaining.
Enough is enough. Monday afternoon to Thursday evening. Yes, it was time
for some beer. So I bought one with those two remaining dollar bills and
sat in the secluded grove enjoying both the beer and my reading. Hot
Shot is more than I bargained for. I just wanted some cheap fiction.
Cheap music may be potent, as Noel Coward said, but so is cheap fiction,
at least when it comes to escaping the minute-to-minute problem of
existing. Hot Shot isn't as cheap as I'd expected. But then,
it's not Potok either.
I got an email from a complete stranger on Thursday, a reader of the Tales
who doesn't feel like a stranger, knowing me too well from reading the
things. I wonder. Do they really tale who I am?
I prattle on about the details of life as an aging man living on the
streets of Honolulu (a far more exotic locale than I could have hoped to
end my life in), I tell who slept on the bench behind me, who on the bench
in front. I speak of this and that, of meeting
Ryan at lunchtime today
as we waited for different buses, of meeting Teddy at Hamilton Library
earlier in the week (although I haven't yet told of either).
But I'm not sure I am really telling the story of this so-called life at
I was ridiculously delighted on Thursday when I looked in at
Seventh Circle and found the Sleeptalker there. He greeted me.
Our lives in that computer game are so much closer than they are in
"reality", although that hasn't always been the case. There were moments
when we were very close, physically and, I'd like to think, spiritually.
And then I kicked myself and said don't be silly. It didn't mean
anything. But it did, and still does.
My son, the Sleeptalker. I worry about him, I want better things for him,
I treasure every moment of closeness, and I rail at myself for my own
times of impatience and lack of understanding.
What more can an old man hope for than a treasured friendship with a young
man on the threshold of a life?
And I smile as I think of all those millions I had in my time of morphine
madness, how I might have used them to help him. And I know it wouldn't
have helped at all, that it is far better those millions vanished into the
non-existence they always had.
And I go on thinking about nonsense like "good" and "evil" and why those
moments of final exit weren't really it. Why not?
It doesn't make sense.
Holiday weekend. Full Moon weekend.
In his general message,
asked: Does the Moon still
have an influence on us, even in this modern age? Of course. Just ask
anyone who works in the fishing industry - or for the emergency services -
or with the Samaritans. Ask a publican, an obstetrician or a speed
He could have added a street person or an observer of street people.
We exist on such a thin ledge between "sanity" and madness, it doesn't
take much to nudge us over.
And he cautioned: Weekends are times when more people go out 'on the
prowl'. With a Full Moon to encourage them, they become even more prone to
outbursts of passion - of one kind or another.
Tell me about it.
Take it easy tonight and tomorrow. Avoid bats, broomsticks,
graveyards... and most importantly of all, lapses of judgement!
Uh-huh, and any places where street people hang out.
The weather looked threatening on Friday afternoon. As it turned out,
only a few dribbles fell from the sky, but I left campus in the late
afternoon and went to the mall. I only needed a quarter for Saturday
morning's senior coffee so thought I'd look for a cart to return and, if I
got lucky, four more. My cigarette lighter is running on empty and it
would be useful to replace it. I got the coffee quarter but that was it.
There's a fierce new competitor who stands outside the supermarket.
Stands. Ready to pounce. I only got the one quarter because he was busy
retrieving another cart when one was abandoned very near me.
One of the stroller corrals was completely empty so I wandered through the
mall a few times hoping to find an abandoned stroller, but no luck with
that either. Each time I returned to the supermarket area, the Pouncer
was still there. He was holding a large coffee cup, the kind they sell at
the supermarket, but he never drank from it. Just a prop, I guess,
although why he bothers is a mystery.
I had considered going to the Aloha Tower Marketplace because Harold Kama
was supposed to be there as part of a compilation CD release party, but
with the occasional sky dribbles and feeling quite tired from my
unaccustomed mall wanderings, I decided just to head for the bench. This
despite what seemed like an omen, when the sound system at the mall played
Harold's "Stars and Moon Slack Key" just at the time when I should have
gotten a bus to the Tower. Too tired to listen to messages from
An hour or so of sleep and then the Sleeptalker arrived. Talk about full
moon madness ... he was in full swing, constantly laughing, a horrible
sound edged in desperation. He woke everyone up, including me, giving me
a bare-chested hug. Such soft skin. He wanted me to go drinking with
him. I declined, so he asked Angelo who was crazy enough to go with him.
I watched them get on a bus to Waikiki. The Sleeptalker evidently has
money again. Just as well I don't know how.
A smoke and back to sleep, knowing I'd be awakened again in a few hours.
Yep, just after one, they returned. Angelo settled down immediately. I
guess he hadn't been a suitable drinking companion because the Sleeptalker
was ranting away at him. Several people told him to shut up or to chill
out. Finally I said, "go to sleep, don't be a brat."
"Don't you call me a brat. Don't you call my brother and sisters brats!"
"Who said anything about your brother and sisters?" Another key word,
evidently. Someone must have called them brats in the past. Probably a
neighbor. And if brother and sisters are anything like the Sleeptalker,
probably with justification. I don't think I have ever been as unaware as
the Sleeptalker, poor fellow.
He ranted on at me for awhile. I ignored him. Then he disappeared to his
place around the back of the hacienda and the rest of the night was
mercifully peaceful. I slept later than usual and was sitting at the bus
stop waiting for mall-bound transport when a garbage truck arrived at the
hacienda. The Sleeptalker came running around from the back, still
shirtless. He must have had a rather chilly night but was no doubt
sufficiently stoked with drugs and booze that he didn't feel it.
I do wish he'd find somewhere else to hang out, barechested hugs or not.
At the mall in the morning, Bla had a walkman and was dancing to the
music. Fool moon madness, uh-huh.
Dame Fortune in a joking mood. I'd found a dime and some pennies on
campus so once again only needed a quarter for Sunday morning's senior
coffee. Since everything closes on campus at five on Saturday, I headed
to the mall in search of one cart. No joy. Even though the Pouncer was
absent and the Whore was busy talking with someone, not a cart or stroller
turned up. So I was prepared to wait until I got to campus for my morning
jolt of caffeine. But I stopped at the mall to wash and shave, found the
entertainment section of the weekend edition of USA Today and sat to have
a look at it. A man walked over, said he had to catch a bus and asked if
I'd like a coffee. McD's new bigger small coffee, at that. Sure!
Last week McD's, without mention or notice, started giving out bigger cups
of coffee, what used to be their "medium" size for small. Now their
senior coffee is the same size as it has always been at Jack-in-the-Box,
even if a dime more expensive.
So I drank my gift coffee and took it back for a refill. Then I was
wandering through the mall on a tobacco search and the Queen Mum walked up
with a large coffee cup in her hand, asked me if I'd like it. Ha! I
thanked her but patted my stomach and said I'd just had two cups, couldn't
drink anymore. Such a sweet old lady, she is.
I only wish Dame Fortune had matched the coffee joke with an abandoned
cigarette lighter. Everytime I use the running-on-empty one I have, I
wonder if it will be the last flame seen from it. Four carts, please,
I'd prepared in advance, stuffed earplugs in before settling down to
sleep, figuring the Sleeptalker was bound to arrive and make noise. As it
turned out, he was surprisingly subdued but in full motormouth mode. He
left me alone, but woke Angelo who was on the bench at my head. The
Sleeptalker was chatting a mile-a-minute, punctuated now and then with
a rather endearing little giggle which was just the opposite of his
maniacal laugh the night before. I adjusted the earplugs to further block
the sound and went back to sleep while he was still yakking away. No sign
of him in the morning, so he'd probably gone around to his spot in the
back. Someone once accused him of thinking he was too good to sleep with
the rest of us, but I suspect it's more a case of his enjoying bending the
rules. He did the same thing at the cloisters, too, climbing a fence to
get to a spot where he shouldn't have gone. Oddly, later in the night
Angelo moved over to the bench behind me.
That moon was so beautiful in the pre-dawn hour as I sat at the bus stop
and looked back to see it hanging over the hacienda. Beautiful building,
Mme de Crécy said the story of the free coffee bonanza had reminded her
that I lead a "charmed life". Can't disagree with that. The ultimate
proof was that three-day period before entering the hospital, wandering
around in fevered dementia. It's incredible I managed to get to the park
and back to the hacienda each night (even if I didn't make it to campus
and get online), equally incredible I didn't ditch the backpack at some
point. And then that final heroic journey to the airport ... yes, a
Sunday brought the treasures of a hot shower, laundry, fried chicken for
dinner and a chance to see "Don't Look Back" which I'd only seen once,
many years ago. Even though by that time I'd been telling, for at least
three years, anyone who would listen that Bob Dylan was THE genius of my
generation, I was not all that impressed by the Albert Hall concert in
'65. That was probably the result of being with a bunch of people
who were more interested in the luxury of sitting in box seats with
champagne flowing than in listening to Dylan's strange lyrics. Oddly, I
repeated that experience some years later at a solo Joan Baez concert but
we'd had more exotic refreshments earlier. I wasn't that impressed with
The film certainly shows what a brutal young man Dylan could be, and I
suspect, still can be. Poor Donovan. It wasn't his fault the silly
British press was trying to make him into the "British Bob Dylan". He
was just a sweet young Scottish lad, singing sweet little ballads, as was
made clear in the film when he sang "A Song for You". Dylan took the
guitar and followed with one of his heavier ballads, making Donovan appear
even more of a featherweight. But it was, after all, at the time quite
possible to be fans of both young men.
Helen R. kindly provided a cigarette lighter grant. Perfect timing!
About a quarter of an hour before the drugstore opened, the old lighter
gave out its last flame. Dig out my one book of matches, say a little
prayer of thanks for kind friends. When the store opened, I discovered
they had the lighter I wanted on special sale, two for the price of one.
Fire-making problem solved for some time.
Dame Fortune came up with those four carts I ordered, and well before
noon. She even threw in one extra. Then the Pouncer arrived and I gave
up the hunt, wandered off to watch three young men who call themselves "Da
Kine" performing a batch of Hawaiian falsetto classics including a fine
rendition of "I Kona". The radio station sponsoring the gig was also
doing a quiz show routine and if you lined up and went on stage to
participate, you got a dollar. If you won the round against an opponent,
you got five dollars. I chickened out and didn't even go up for my free
dollar bill. I would've lost out on the five, though. I thought Truman
was on the dime.
The mall was very crowded so I left in the early afternoon and headed to
campus, sat in the secluded grove reading Rush by Kim Wozencraft,
the tale of a young Texas woman who went from high school straight into
the dicey world of being an undercover narcotics agent. The writer
certainly knows her drugs and druggies. Some of it cuts too close to the
current scene with the Sleeptalker.
Sunday night I rolled over on the bench, saw him sitting quietly on the
bench behind me. He had arrived without making any noise at all. Later I
peeked again and he was gone, but still later he was back sitting there.
And on Monday night he arrived very late, woke me up by poking me on the
knee and asking if I had any snipes. I just shook my head no. Angelo was
on the bench in front of me. The Sleeptalker tried to get him chatting,
but Angelo pulled a sweatshirt over his face and went back to sleep. Poor
Sleeptalker, he just can't get the idea that people go there to sleep, not
Of course, I was lying. I did have snipes, but my reaction was, stop
being a lazy slut and go hunt your own snipes, don't expect to wake me up
and get some. Not what I'd call a very loving attitude, but so it goes.
I was reminded of that night long ago when I told Mondo he could wake me
up if he needed a smoke and the rascal did it four times during the night.
The times they are a'changing ...
"Time to get up!" Sunday and the Monday holiday mornings spoiled me, able
to sleep until awakened by sunlight. But the wake-up call didn't sound
like the usual security guard. So it wasn't. It was Angelo. I saw later
that he had been trying to rouse the Sleeptalker, without success. But he
did get me up and as I was walking to the bus stop, I saw him go over to
poke the Sleeptalker. They left together and were waiting to cross the
street while I was still at the bus stop, so I gave the Sleeptalker the
"how" wave and he returned it. My little quarter Cherokee. I'm glad that
Angelo is sticking with him although I have to admit to a slight twitch of
jealousy. Still, there was nothing stopping me from joining them for
breakfast at IHS, so who's to blame ...
Angelo certainly stays clean. Almost every night there are clothes draped
over the back of his bench and he'd done more laundry than usual on
Tuesday since there were his black shorts, a gray tee shirt and white
boxer shorts with thin gray and blue stripes hanging there, his backpack
as usual stashed under the bench. I thought I'd like to have the boxers,
just because they were his. He has taken to sleeping on the middle bench
of an inside row, so I shifted to the one behind him. Yes, I like
sleeping near him, but the move was also because the wind has been
stronger, with occasional sprinkles of rain, making the inside benches
a better option.
Because of the holiday it was unlikely there'd be much tobacco on campus
Tuesday morning, so I went down to the mall to replenish my supply, was
walking past the drugstore when Teddy came along. We sat on a planter
ledge and chatted, the longest talk I've had with him since that first
meeting when he interviewed me for his school project. He's such a
sweetie it was a bit of a shock to hear him discuss his plans for the
future ... an FBI agent?! I told him he might end up busting some of my
best friends. He's going for a law degree, was worried if he'd be too old
at 28 when he finally gets it. I scoffed, said no one would take him
seriously until he's at least 30 anyway (unless, of course, he went into
the dot.com racket). He asked why I was at the mall and when I told him,
he was so grossed out by the idea of collecting cigarette butts that he
gave me money for a pack. Sweetheart. I didn't use it for tobacco,
though. Why spend cash for something that's freely available?
I returned to campus, picking up a bottle of Colt on the way, sat in the
grove with the beer and finished reading Kim Wozencraft's Rush. She
was actually an undercover narcotics agent. Little wonder her accounts of
drugs and druggies ring so true. She must not be too popular with her
former colleagues; hard to tell with some of the characters who was worse,
the druggies or the agents (or druggie-agents). Although she never says
anything outright to make it so, the book really is a major indictment of
the "drug war".
No more to read, time for a trip to the State Library. Ngaio Marsh's
Death at the Bar next in line, a classic mellow English detective
tale, stately compared to the Wozencraft.
What a wimp I've become. I stopped by the supermarket on my way back to
campus, bought a sandwich and potato salad and another bottle of beer.
Overdose. It made me sick. Sheez, can't even take two 40oz bottles of
malt liquor these days. Okay, so maybe that's not a Bad Thing.
A routine day: wake up at 5:30, give or take ten minutes either side.
Take off sleeping socks, stuff them and the surfer-shorts "pillowcase" in
the backpack, dig out the box of snipes. Walk down the path to the bus
stop, lighting one of the snipes on the way. Every bus goes by the mall,
so take the first that comes along. Walk over to McD's, buy senior
coffee, sit on a planter ledge nearby to drink the first cup. Most
excellent those first few sips do taste! Go back in for a refill, stroll
over to the "orchid walk" and enjoy the second cup, sometimes reading,
sometimes just sitting and thinking.
That finished, on to have a shave and brush my teeth. Take a stroll
through the mall on a tobacco hunt, with varying degrees of success. If
the hunt falls too short, expand the territory to include the adjoining
hotel and an office building. If those, too, are empty, sigh and hope the
students on campus get off to an early smoking start.
Wait for the bus to campus. Once there, check email, write a bit on a
Tale if there's one to be written. Take a smoke break and read
Ka Leo, the student newspaper. Go
back online and work more on the Tale if there's one underway. Make a
round of the promising ashtrays, sit in the secluded grove and read.
Around 11:15, take the bus downhill. If money in pocket, stop by the
Vietnamese shop for a bottle of beer, then to the supermarket to buy
lunch. (The market charges a dollar more for the beer, explaining the
two-step shopping). Take the bus back up hill, sit in the secluded grove
eating lunch, feeding the birds, and reading.
Check email again, perhaps stop in Seventh Circle, check ashtrays
and return to the grove and reading. Sometimes one more check of
mail before sunset, sometimes not. Take the bus to the mall, do one last
swing through to hunt tobacco, take the bus to the hacienda. Put the
socks back on, drape the shorts over the backpack with one half across the
top of my head to block the light. Sleep until the Sleeptalker arrives to
wake everyone up. Return to sleep when he finally shuts up.
A routine day.
On Wednesday, the Sleeptalker was in Seventh Circle when I looked
in mid-morning. He said he was drunk. At 10:30. Good, I thought, maybe
you'll be sufficiently hungover by evening, you'll be too tired to make a
racket. No such luck. He arrived at the hacienda sometime after I'd been
asleep. Angelo and another young man I hadn't seen before were with him,
as was the remnants of a twelve-pack of Red Dog beer. That radio
apparently does belong to Angelo and he fortunately took it away from the
Sleeptalker after about five minutes of that excruciating sing-along
routine. Equally fortunately, the Sleeptalker soon passed out on an outer
bench and the rest of the night was peaceful.
When I arrived at the hacienda on Thursday night, Angelo was sitting alone
on the steps. We exchanged waves. It turned out to be just him and me on
our usual benches together and one of the Old Regulars on a distant bench.
(I'll have to stop calling the other one "Regular" since he hasn't been
there in a week.) A delightfully quiet night.
Meanwhile the bureaucratic dance continues. I've made three trips
downtown just to collect more forms, sign and return them to Medicaid.
The woman there has somehow gotten in the middle between me and the state
medical-assistance program called MEDQuest which set a deadline of the
29th for the application to be filed. It seems almost every day the woman
at Medicaid comes up with something else that needs to be included. I'm
fed up with it, don't care whether they approve the application or not.
Just leave me and my routine days alone.
Desperately seeking Edna. As I might have mentioned before, the Fabled
Pension Check comes via Aetna which I have long since re-christened Edna.
But no, not really desperately awaiting her this month, even if I do have
an ever-growing shopping list for the day Edna arrives. Of
course, hitting up The Banker for a tenspot helps keep desperation
at bay on the last weekend of February 2000.
Saturday morning there were two quarters abandoned in a stroller return
corral, four pennies on a payphone. McD's bigger small coffees are now
financed from my coin bag for the rest of the month. I really thought for
awhile I'd have to give up that part of my "routine day".
Finishing the cozey English whodunit, I moved back to mainline best-seller
land with Danielle Steel's Star. Marsh really got me with an
old-time trick. Whodunit? The most obvious suspect. So much so, I
discarded him as a possibility. Fooled me big time.
Steel spins a good yarn, too, and I can easily understand why her books
are so successful. But for me, she falls short. I can never really care
very much about her characters. They are incredibly beautiful or
incredibly handsome, most of them have families with tons of money if they
don't have it themselves, and if they do have a year or two of hard times,
as in this one, she just can't write about that with any conviction at
all. Giving her due credit, she does handle the scenes of lust more
skillfully than most.
Having finished her saga off in two days, it was once again time for a
trip to the State Library. Back to murder, with James Patterson's Cat
and Mouse. The blurbs call it a "page-turner". No joke. I got back
to campus, beer and lunch in hand, and turned those pages as fast as I
could read. I do admire, and slightly envy, people who can craft a piece
of inconsequential fiction as well as Patterson can. And Steel, for that
The Sleeptalker wasn't at the State Library. He had been there on Friday
because he stopped in Seventh Circle briefly. He said publicly,
"Reting." I said, "Yes?" He said, "Go." He quit before I could ask
"where?" and that may have been just as well, although I suppose he was
referring to the fact that, just fooling around, I had advanced another
level. Did it again by Saturday morning. Poor lad. He must be torn
between happiness at having such a high level friend in the game and
making so little progress himself, stuck some thirty levels below me. Of
course, if he'd stop messing around so much in there and really play,
which he can do very well, he'd have no trouble matching or surpassing me.
I've told him that, but he won't listen.
He was absent two nights at the hacienda. I'm not complaining, although
in many ways I'd rather have my sleep disturbed by his obnoxious antics
than not know if he's okay. Angelo was missing on Friday night, the
first time in weeks. I missed him, too.
I know too much of the problem with the Sleeptalker is just my being so
cold sober all the time. I wish I could tell him that I'm just not back
to being capable of getting drunk yet. Not really. A little buzzed in
the afternoon after a lunch with a bottle of Mickey's and a sandwich, but
drunk? No, can't do it yet. Certainly would help in dealing with the
Sleeptalker, though. I never was very good at being sober when those
around me were drunk or stoned.
The Snorer wanted to talk about the Sleeptalker. Ugh. I'd just returned
to the mall after a delightful hour at a Pure Heart gig, had been watching
the Punahou Jazz Band pack up while some of their classmates were dancing
to the swing music coming over the sound system. Best jitterbug I've ever
seen outside of movies. Time with fresh, enthusiastic, talented
youngsters ... did I really want to be recalled to problem children?
I suppose I could have just said, "I don't want to talk about him." But
that would've been a lie.
The Snorer says it's "ice" the Sleeptalker is doing. Yeukh. I know all
too well how dangerous methamphetamine is, even in the far tamer way I
came to know (and be enslaved to) it. "He's going at it too heavy."
Yes, I knew that, too. But what to do? Who has anything better to offer
Even at the Pure Heart gig I was thinking of it, of how tough it must be
knowing local guys your age are doing so well, are so talented and
successful. And, of course, television doesn't help, constantly showing
you what "real" young people have, constantly urging you to buy, buy, buy.
I know the Sleeptalker wants things ... a diamond earring, a decent watch,
the cellular phone turned back on. He even, for brief times, is willing
to work to get them. But traveling down an icy slope isn't going to lead
anywhere but to more trouble, to even greater distance from successful
peers and even greater self-loathing.
No way to tell him all that, though. The only thing to do, I guess, is
say a little prayer for him now and then. That was the Snorer's only
solution, too. I hope he believes in it more than I do.
Expect the unexpected. When I arrived at the hacienda on Sunday evening,
the Sleeptalker and Angelo were already there, sitting on adjoining
benches. The Sleeptalker had the headphones on and was staring blankly
into space. Angelo returned my wave, asked if it had been crowded the
night before. "No, only three people." He asked if a short Japanese guy
had been there and I said no. My first conversation with Angelo.
I like him. There's a calm stability about him. I wish some of it would
rub off on the Sleeptalker, but I'm glad in any case that their "buddy"
relationship apparently continues. They remained totally quiet. Miracles
On Monday night they were sitting together on the outside steps when I
arrived. "A cute couple," I thought. Angelo returned my wave, the
Sleeptalker was again lost in the headphoned music. Just after I'd
settled down, he said something to Angelo. Zonked again, with a weird
comic-like voice being a dead giveaway. But at least he wasn't doing his
singalong routine. He did start it a little later when they had moved
onto the benches, but Angelo made a disapproving noise so it stopped.
Three cheers for Angelo!
Teddy was sitting outside Hamilton Library and called out my name, so we
chatted again, mostly about the recent Supreme Court decision on the
Office of Hawaiian Affairs. I said I thought they had no choice and that
it's time those with Hawaiian blood faced the fact that they are American
citizens. If they really want to follow the Trask woman into "civil
disobedience", fine, reject all Federal assistance. Give up the welfare
payments, the foodstamps, the medical benefits. Refuse anything from the
Federal government. Then I might take the protests more seriously. At
this point it seems more like a small group of "professional Hawaiians"
are the only ones really concerned, no matter how much the press tries to
keep it all stirred up with daily headlines. Tempest in a teapot.
Reading ... from that excellently crafted detective novel to some real
silliness, Dancer of Gor, the twenty-second volume in the
neverending series. Whoever is writing as "John Norman" in this one really
lays the florid prose on thick, but there is far too much repetition which
tends to spoil the fun. Someone left a bunch of Gor books in the
"honor" collection at the State Library, but I promised myself I'd only
read one of them, for old time's sake. I think I gave up on the series at
about number fourteen. Gor and Conan ... what money-making machines.
Jon Yamasato stopped by the secluded grove to chat. I showed him the book
and said, "sheer trash." "Trash is good sometimes," he said. Uh-huh.
On both Saturday and Sunday evenings I was tempted to follow-up my early
afternoon brew with another bottle, but resisted the thought for the
primary reason that I didn't really want it. Strange. But on Monday I
finally took the challenge and had one bottle with an early lunch, and a
second late in the afternoon. Wow, I can still do it.
fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly ...
I was sitting on the bench enjoying the last flask of a Mickey's nightcap
when Angelo and the Sleeptalker came walking up the path. The Sleeptalker
came over, two very short snipes in his hand, and asked for a light. I
handed him a pack of cigarettes and the lighter. He sat down on the bench
beside me, Angelo sitting on the steps at the bottom of the bench, his
back to us. I asked the Sleeptalker by gesture if Angelo would like a
cigarette and consequently found out Angelo's real name. It suits him
better than the nickname.
The Sleeptalker was sober, and I let him finish off the flask. I told him
I'd made Level 86 in Seventh Circle earlier which got him talking
about the game. It's still very important to him. But in the middle of
the chat he strangely switched topic and said he had four more hours of
community service to do and was looking forward to finishing it. I asked
how he came to have community service. He was "drunk and whatever", tried
to steal a pair of surfer shorts from a shop and got caught. Silly
It was such an amiable conversation I told him later that if anyone had
said he could sing, they were lying. He claimed to be unaware of singing
along with the radio. "Did you tell me to shut up?" he asked with a big
grin. "Are you crazy? I know how you hate to hear those words."
His hair has grown enough to make him look his best. And that's very
I'd had my first Mickey's of the day with lunch, continuing that awful Gor
book. After five or six times, I vowed that if the heroine pondered once
more how she might have been a slave in a prior life in "the Middle Ages,
on the Crusades, in a Pasha's court", I'd dump the book. She did. I did.
give me the people who soothe my soul
gonna get lost in rock 'n roll
and slip away ...
At last month's Brew Moon gig, Shawn and his band gave that song the
hard-rocking treatment, made me want to dance. But bringing in the month
of March, again at Brew Moon, they did a far more mellow rendition, almost
melancholy, bringing tears to the eyes. I sat at the bar and sorted
through memories. How many people soothed my soul? Very few. But then I
probably haven't done as much "soothing" as I could have, either.
Trapped in the FPC Blues. As I said once, in some ways it would probably
be better if I didn't get that Fabled Pension Check. It arrives, I cash
it, and pretend to live a "normal" life for a few days, buying cigarettes,
drinking as much beer as I want, going to music gigs, giving the street
boys smokes, glimpsing what it will be like if I make it to SocSec
Days. Then, so soon, it's gone.
And with the blues comes the bad-acid-trip of seeing everything in the
most negative light. Surrounded by social misfits and sub-humans. Not
the street boys ... compared to the housed "misfits" they are in fine
shape. Maybe knowing you have a bed and roof each night, even if only in
your parents' house, makes you arrogant, lets you sit and loudly say
"focking" every third word and "brah" every fourth. Maybe living on the
street knocks some of that out of a person.
The FPC gives me the freedom of avoiding the mall except during the
peaceful pre-dawn hour with my cups of McD's coffee, so I only get a brief
glimpse of those awful old men who hang out there every day, all day,
walking around waiting to die. A glimpse is more than enough in my
present state of mind.
One bright light there. The release of a "new" CD by Willie K is the
occasion for Sam Goody's to put a poster of the cover in their window.
What a great photo of Willie, makes me smile just to see it each morning.
("New" in parentheses since the CD is a compilation of past tracks,
classic Willie but including some songs I'd just as soon never hear
gonna get lost in rock 'n roll ... trouble is, there's no rock band
here. Willie and Shawn sometimes fill the role but both of them also
wander all over the musical map so the steam rarely really gets going for
long. But I wish Willie would play more gigs with the band and I wish the
FPC would stretch to let me be there and elsewhere. I'd have no
difficulty at all enjoying days on campus and being at music gigs every
evening. Roll on, Social Security ...
The fifty-cent book cart at Hamilton Library had nothing of interest so I
made a trip downtown to the State Library on Saturday morning. Angelo
and the Sleeptalker were sitting on the front steps. I waved and the
Sleeptalker motioned for me to go over. It was good to see both of them
in the daylight and especially to see the Sleeptalker when he wasn't
zonked out of his head. He had a terrible looking bruise on the side of
his neck and I asked how it had happened. He fell out of "bed". Must
have been a very nasty awakening. I rubbed my hand through his hair
before going into the library, have been wanting to do that for weeks but
didn't want to embarrass him in front of Angelo. Still, the Sleeptalker
by now must have told Angelo enough of our history to eliminate any shock.
As usual, the Sleeptalker got his goofy dog look. He likes being petted,
and I like doing it.
After I'd picked out a couple of books (continuing my foray into
inconsequential murder/detective sagas), I saw the Sleeptalker was back at
a terminal, deeply engrossed in the game, his legs jiggling away at top
speed. I wished I'd had a camera.
Angelo was still sitting on the front steps. "He hasn't talked you into
playing the game?" I asked. He smiled and said no. "He must have tried,
though?" "Oh yes," he said, and laughed. I said I'd see him later and
crossed the street to get a bus, saw him eventually get up and go inside.
Then the two of them emerged, headed off, most likely bound for free lunch
Fond as I am of the Sleeptalker, I'm not sure I would sit outside the
library waiting while he played a computer game. Angelo's a patient
fellow. But then I knew that just by the fact that their buddy bonding
has continued this long.
I'd stayed on campus Friday evening for the Surf Psycho Sexy gig at Manoa
Garden. Okay, so there are rock bands here, and SPS isn't a bad one. If
they had better taste in material, I'd rate them much higher. It's
strange that with such a huge reservoir of great rock songs to choose
from, they pick so many obscure and sometimes almost dreary ones. Still,
I did enjoy the gig, stayed for the whole thing, also enjoying a bottle of
Mickey's and some crackers and cream cheese. Gigs at Manoa Garden make
more sense for me than anything else in town since I can provide my own,
A reader asked why I was "depressed". I shrugged it off as the usual
post-pension-check blues, perhaps made worse this time because I'm out of
practice. There was that accumulation last month, keeping empty pockets
at bay for much longer than usual as well as allowing a more luxurious
scale of living. And it was a short month. What a difference a day makes
... or a couple of them ... to the perception of a month. And how silly
that it does.
How could I be depressed, wasn't I taking Paxil? No. The hospital gave
me a ten day supply of Paxil, Thorazine, a high blood pressure pill and a
mega-vitamin. But once the supply was gone, I didn't follow-up to get
more. Paxil really isn't that effective anyway.
I seem to be spending at least ninety percent of my time escaping reality
... playing Seventh Circle, reading unimportant fiction, sleeping
and dreaming. The Sleeptalker has been in the game every day recently,
making it more fun. The books, however unimportant, have been the kind
which thoroughly grab attention and block out thoughts of "reality". The
sleep, on a bench by Angelo every night, and the dreams, many including
the Sleeptalker, don't go on long enough but are a pleasure while they do.
No, the dreams aren't erotic in any way. The best one of the week was of
a visit to the zoo. The Sleeptalker had never seen meerkats before. I
must ask him if that's true, but if it is, I'd want to take him to the
Of course there's a nagging voice which disapproves highly of "wasting
time" but still hasn't come up with even a tiny hint of any alternative.
In some ways, it reminds me of when I was fourteen. I was so eager to get
the hell away from my parents I'd often sit and think how wonderful it
would be if two years just suddenly melted away, if I could go to sleep
and wake up to discover I'd finished school and was able to leave the
nest. I wouldn't mind sleeping away two years now, either.
As that great twentieth century philosopher, Roseanne Rosannadanna, said,
"It's always something." Shortly after leaving the hospital I noticed I
seemed to be getting all new fingernails. The new ones are growing in a
layer below, pushing up the old ones with irksome, ragged bottom edges
which tend to catch on things and collect dirt. I've tried not to go
overboard on attempts to file the edges smoother, not wanting to damage
the new nail underneath. So far, so good. But the left thumbnail decided
not to cooperate while the new one continues to grow and has become very
loose, hanging on by one little patch. It's a nuisance to be forced to
put my hand in my pocket with great care. Especially since it's the
pocket I keep my cigarette pack in.
Yes, I could transfer the pack to the other pocket. But that would mean
re-thinking my procedure for "discreetly" grabbing snipes [aka "cigarette
butts" for any recently acquired reader]. Yes, yes, I could do that, too.
It's always something ...
I think I've mentioned before how fortunate I feel about there being so
few street people I really dislike. There certainly are some I'm
fed-up with seeing all the time (and they may well feel the same way about
me), but very few I actively dislike. One of those is the "False
Prophet". In the early days at the cloisters he irked me by
continually walking over to whine about how awful the people were who
stayed there. I would always have to end the sessions by pointedly saying
I was going to sleep, since he can't take hints. He finally found someone
else who had more patience, so I was spared. Then one night I woke up,
couldn't get back to sleep, and smoked a cigarette. From about twenty
feet away, the False Prophet sat up and said my smoke was keeping him from
sleeping. "There's an easy solution to that," I said, "move somewhere
else." The last time he spoke to me.
Until Sunday. He hangs out all day in the small computer lab where we
non-students are allowed access, sits at the one slightly-faster IBM for
hours at a time, rarely taking breaks. On Sunday he even went so far as
to leave a tee shirt over the back of the chair and a notebook and pen
beside the computer. Hmmmph. I moved his junk to the next terminal,
discovered he'd had the nerve to put up a password-protected screensaver.
It had a cutesy message like "If you REALLY need to use this terminal,
turn the computer off and on. Smile". I did. Without smiling. Some
fifteen minutes later he returned, was well pissed-off to see me there,
said something I didn't understand, grabbed his stuff and departed. He
didn't return all day. I wasn't heartbroken.
The False Prophet gets his nickname because he apparently never cuts his
hair or beard, walks around with a glowering expression on his face which
reminds me of illustrations in my grandmother's Bible. I don't think
those O.T. prophets had such scraggly, dirty beards, but maybe.
Occasionally I just browse through various online journals randomly and I
did that for awhile on Sunday. Most of them seemed obsessed with sex.
Either they weren't getting enough, or they were getting it with the wrong
person, or they were having too much demand for it put on them. No one
seems to write about having sex and enjoying it. Even
one of the journal keepers I regularly read, has been weird about sex
recently. He lives with one young woman but has a deep crush on another,
so when the one he lives with gives him a blow job, he reports it but
didn't enjoy it (or so he says) because he felt guilty. Maybe I should be
happy not to be getting it at all.
Never mind sex, I didn't even get to sleep next to Angelo on Sunday, for
the first time in a week. Neither he nor the Sleeptalker were at the
hacienda. I missed Angelo more than the Sleeptalker, but that's because I
feel more comfortable sleeping next to Angelo. The one night this week
when the Sleeptalker was on the other side of me I'd had a difficult time.
Why waste the opportunity sleeping, when I could watch him? Yes, Angelo
is a more comfortable neighbor to be with. Well, except for one night
when he was wearing shorts for the first time and kept sticking his hand
down the front of them. Maybe my bench companion fascination is my
version of the other journal keepers' sex problems.
Despite having picked two quite thick volumes from the State Library's
freebie collection on Saturday, I went through both by Monday morning and
once again had nothing to read. I played in Seventh Circle long
enough to attain Level 89, the third highest ranking player in the game,
and then went downtown for more junk to read. The Sleeptalker hadn't been
in the game and neither he nor Angelo were anywhere to be seen.
I picked up two more thick volumes. "I'll never forget the looks people
gave me when I paid for our groceries with food stamps." A line from
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg's Abuse of Power. I don't have to worry too
much about that at Star Market. Usually the person in front of me is
paying with food stamps, and the person behind.
"Kiss, kiss," I said to the Sleeptalker in Seventh Circle.
"Spit, spit," he said, "a handshake will be enough."
"Boring. Unless my hand is shaking the right thing."
Poor boy. Dame Fortune is being mischievous, put an abandoned bus pass in
his path. There was a time when that would have been cause for much
happiness, for him and for me, but at this point it must create quite a
dilemma for him. Does he leave Angelo and travel to campus, spend time
with me and more time in the game? I thought I'd help him out by
outrageously flirting with him in the game, just remind him I still care.
He didn't travel to campus, at least not on his first day with a bus pass.
My strategy must have worked. Whew.
He should stay with Angelo.
I got my bench next to Angelo on Monday night, but someone had already
grabbed it by the time I got there on Tuesday so I had to be content
sleeping on the bench at his feet. No sign of the Sleeptalker. I guess
he was in his secret hideaway in the back. Angelo was wearing shorts
again on Tuesday and I felt a little sorry for him because it was the
coolest night in a long time. I kept my arms up against my body to stay
Fat Tuesday. Danielle Steel's Jewels, which I enjoyed more than
anything I've read of hers even if it was silly fluff. And it seemed
somehow appropriate to finish it with a Mickey's, amidst the noise of the
Mardi Gras Party at Manoa Garden.
The third Lenten season on the streets. I remember getting quite twisted
by the first one, for no sensible reason, and doing my best to ignore the
second one. I said on a local mail-list that I'd give up reading Ms.
Steel for the duration. That should be enough of a nod for this round.
Those folks who dreamed up visions of fire and brimstone for Hell were so
unimaginative, or maybe we had to get to the "modern age" before more
terrifying scenarios became available. Even then, no sledgehammer
options are necessary, no need for Hitler or Pol Pot. Just plop a
grotesquely overweight young man on the bus seat in front of me, let him
continually fall into near sleep, jerk himself upright, drift again,
repeat. Gross. Make us ride around for hours like that. Definitely Hell.
Maybe it's time I repent and get myself Saved, before my ride from the
mall to the campus behind such a nightmare is extended.
I guess the cooler nights don't really bother Angelo. He was sleeping in
his shorts again but had his backpack with him so no doubt could have
changed into something warmer. "Hi, Albert," he said as he arrived while
I was getting ready to settle down. Another fellow in his twenties and
rather chubby walked over to talk to Angelo and their quiet conversation
was still going on when I fell asleep. Later I woke up, looked over at
Angelo. He was laying on his back, his knees up and, for the first time,
the shorts clearly revealed the underlying equipment. Much smaller than
the Sleeptalker. Just as well. I need the sleep.
Tired, so tired. I didn't do anything at all strenuous on Ash Wednesday
but by the time I was waiting for a bus to the bench, I felt exhausted.
The fifty-cent cart at Hamilton had a batch of new selections, so I
cancelled plans for a trip to the State Library. Another Heather Graham
Pozzessere saga, Never Sleep With Strangers, takes me back to
classic murder mystery territory after that time in Steel's glamorous
fantasies. Very classic (or cliche) this time, with a group of mystery
writers stranded in a storm-bound Scottish castle waiting to murder each
other while playing a game solving a fictional murder. Whodunit? No
idea. They almost all seem likely suspects, for both the game "murder"
and the probable real one.
I'd bought cheese and crackers the day before but hadn't eaten them, so I
didn't even have my two-step shopping expedition on the calendar, went
down for a bottle of Colt (since they'd sold out of Mickey's) and enjoyed
lunch in the secluded grove. A lady had been watching me feed cracker
crumbs to the birds, walked over, handed me half a tuna fish sandwich and
said I could share it with "the birdies". Okay, I shared it. The zebra
doves weren't too keen on the bits of tuna clinging to the bread, but the
mynahs loved it. I was more on the side of the zebra doves, but a
little tuna fish wasn't a bad supplement to the cheese and crackers.
The one major drawback to foodstamps is the prohibition on hot food.
Can't buy hot fried chicken, but can buy it when wrapped in plastic and
chilled. Can't buy fried potatoes, but can buy potato salad. Of course,
I can get frozen stuff and heat it in the microwave on campus but so far
the few items I've tried were worse than airline (or hospital) cuisine. A
Swanson's "Salisbury Steak" dinner was gawdawful. Marie Callender's
version was a little better, but not much. And the other avenue for hot
food has been twice as bad: those cups of things you pour boiling water
into, let sit for five minutes, and eat. Most of them have been so bad I
took a few bites and threw the rest away. I wish you could use that
foodstamps card at McD's or Jack-in-the-Box.
Meanwhile, back in fantasy land, I spent enough time in Seventh
Circle to reach Level 90 which set off a virtual celebration. The
leader of my Guild joined in, congratulated me on reaching the highest
level any Ranger had. "You're our highest Ranger," he said. "And the
craziest," I replied. "We've known that for some time." Uh-huh.
And the Sleeptalker has been missing in action since flirtatious Monday.
All my children ... deep sigh.
Even though I arrived earlier than usual at the hacienda, Angelo was
already asleep. The fellow who had been talking with him the night before
was under a blanket on the floor at the head of Angelo's bench. I'm
evidently not the only one who enjoys sleeping near Angelo. I settled on
the bench at his feet and had been asleep for awhile when the Sleeptalker
arrived, flying high. Too high. "Gonna get your wings burned, my little
angel," I thought, but took care not to appear disapproving.
When the crash comes, and it will inevitably come, I'd rather be someone
he can turn to without expecting to hear "I told you so."
I declined his invitation to go to Waikiki, said I was too tired and just
wanted to sleep. He struck one of his funny poses and made a face. "I
know," I said with a smile, "I'm just getting too old to keep up with
you." So he went to work persuading Angelo to join him.
All of the Sleeptalker's most amusing and charming routines, the posing,
the little dances, his delightful ability to mimic different voices,
become stretched and tinged with desperation under the influence of speed
and alcohol. He kept interjecting little high-pitched "yips" into his
talk and it was all geared to making it obvious that he was high and
happy even if he couldn't have convinced anyone but himself, if that.
I had the feeling that if Angelo had also declined, the Sleeptalker would
have settled down and passed out within a few minutes, but Angelo didn't,
and they went off together. I wondered, not for the first time, if Angelo
is gay and sufficiently smitten with the Sleeptalker to put up with him
regardless, or if it's just part of the Buddy Code.
So I went back to sleep, expecting to be awakened after a couple of hours
when they returned. But I woke around four, looked over and saw
Angelo's bench was still empty. It remained so when it came time to get
up, his backpack there and his slippers under the bench. I'd gone back to
sleep in the meantime and dreamed they had both been taken off to jail.
The dream was like watching a film. I wasn't in it, but could only stand
by and watch the action. An all-too-true-to-life dream.
I was very grateful the other fellow was still there asleep when I got up.
Let him worry about Angelo's gear. I don't know what I would have done
had he not been there. Take the stuff and sit on an outside bench,
waiting to see if Angelo arrived? And if he hadn't, walk around all day
with two backpacks until I could, maybe, return it in the evening?
All my children ...
I suppose it's too late to ban cellular phones and even if I turned outlaw
and bombed all the relay stations on the island, they'd reconstruct them.
What if the manufacture of the things was limited to space-helmet-like
bubbles? People would have to wear them to use their infernal phones.
The bubbles would, of course, be soundproof, so people would only look
stupid instead of sounding stupid. So maybe that's far-fetched, too,
alas. Well, at least ban the things on public transportation. They did
it with transistor radios, and cell phones are far more obnoxious.
Of course, as with all technological "advances", it is not the device
itself which destroys the quality of life, but the human user. Two people
sit in a quiet place, quietly reading. What kind of person would sit as
near as possible to both, and begin an excruciatingly banal conversation
on a cellular phone?
The same kind who will use a "computer lab" to sit and have an equally
excruciatingly banal conversation about their non-love-lifes.
But on the Friday morning bus, I wised up. The dozey hippo again claimed
the seat in front of me. I changed seats so I didn't have to watch him.
Even escapes from little Hells are a blessing.
Found one dime and seven pennies on Saturday morning. Lucky day? If Dame
Fortune is telling me not to worry, I'll get what I need, she could have
gone a bit further and thrown in at least a couple of quarters.
As is my habit when having paper money, I don't use coins, put all the
change in the coin bag. Only a third of the month gone, and down to the
bag already. I had tucked away two one-dollar bills for Friday evening's
gig at Manoa Garden, went downhill and untucked them, carried a bottle of
Mickey's back uphill and settled down to hear Go Jimmy Go. I've wanted to
hear, and more importantly see, them for a long time but they usually play
venues where old folks get the cold shoulder or the cover charge is too
high. So it was a pleasure to finally see them. Sweethearts! If I were
deaf, they'd be my favorite local band.
It was a lazy Friday. Finished that not-very-good mystery novel and went
on to a not-very-good sci-fi effort called Slant by Greg Bear. Too
many characters, too many sub-plots which took a long time to wend their
way into the main one (and that wasn't very interesting to begin with).
The birds in the secluded grove have gotten so used to me now they come
flocking when I arrive and are very impatient if I take too long getting
my own lunch unpacked and ready to eat before I share something with them.
One little zebra dove flew up and landed on the backpack to get a closer
look at what I was doing, three sat on the bench beside me, and then one
bold critter actually sat on my head. The way some of them twist
their heads to look at me seems to say, "we know you've got Maui Cookies
in that bag, give one up."
I tried all day to keep pushing worries about Angelo and the Sleeptalker
out of my head, with little success, and there was no relief when I got to
the hacienda since neither were there. Angelo's chubby friend was already
asleep but he probably doesn't know anything more about what's happening
than I do. For Angelo's sake, I hope my dream wasn't a reflection of
reality. In the case of the Sleeptalker, I'm not so sure. A little time
inside might be good for him at this point.
Me, too, maybe. Something different, anyway ...
I'm ready for summer.
Sunday morning. I was sitting on a planter ledge at the mall bus stop
when a ruggedly handsome young man arrived and sat on a bench about six
feet away from me. I was looking at him, thinking of heroines in romance
novels who frequently say "he undressed me with his eyes" and was
definitely thinking, "I bet you'd be great in bed." He turned and looked
me right in the eyes. Ooops, behave yourself, I told me. A bus came
along, he got up to ask the driver something which I couldn't hear, and
then sat down on the planter ledge beside me. Gulp. He put his hands
behind his head and stretched a couple of times, rippling muscles and all
that. Now who should behave themselves?
We both got on the number six bus, but he was only going to the Pagoda
Hotel. Lucky hotel bed, if he was planning to stay there.
That and six cents launched the last month of fifty-something.
Chubby was asleep on the floor at the hacienda when I got there Saturday
night, but alas no Angelo on the bench beside him. A newcomer who had
been there the night before had returned and was again, oddly, sleeping on
the sidewalk by an outside bench. The Old Regular had switched from his
usual spot to one of the two facing benches and I was much surprised when
I woke later to see the young Asian Bicycle Lad had taken the bench beside
him, especially with so many benches available to choose from.
I had been reading the Tales from this time two years ago and smiled at
the memory of the night when Rocky and I had arrived to find all benches
taken except those two, so spent our first night in that intimate setting.
At that point we still hadn't spoken to each other. A sweet memory. I
miss Rocky and, even more, Mondo, but I'm glad they've moved on to better
things. I also checked the Tales from a year ago. Yes, there's something
cyclic about the inner mood this time of year, no matter what is going on
Dame Fortune evidently thought it was time for some heavier reading and
put a copy of the Book of Mormon in my path. Okay, I thought I'd
have a look again, after I finished William Caunitz's Exceptional
Clearance, a NYC police yarn with a serial killer. That completed, I
did try the Mormon volume but soon gave it up, wondering how I'd ever
managed to read it the first time. They really should produce a new
edition, getting rid of the archaic language and the endlessly repeated
"and it came to pass". It's as difficult to read as the Koran.
Then I found two Harlequin romances, one of them in the mystery-romance
category. Much easier reading.
Since I was due downtown in mid-afternoon, I left campus early and went to
the mall. The "Honolulu Festival" weekend meant continuous Japanese
entertainment on the center stage so I stopped to listen in between
snipe-hunting strolls. There couldn't have been a shopping mall in Japan
with more Japanese folks than were at Ala Moana. This made for great
snipe hunting, despite avoiding ones where the Japanese were gathered
around an ashtray like vultures, and the hunt soon changed to looking for
an empty cigarette box. No luck. I had to transfer the bounty to a
plastic bag and refill my one box.
Laundry and a shower. What luxury. I just can't work up the fortitude to
drag this bag of bones into a cold beach shower yet, even on the warmest,
sunniest days. But washing from a basin does get tiresome. Like I said,
ready for summer.
And after being stuck at 133 pounds for weeks, the bathroom scale informed
me I finally added an extra three. If it was those two-beer days that did
it, I might slide back. This is going to be a dry month.
"This will be our second Christmas, yeh?" asked the Sleeptalker.
"No, our third," I corrected.
He's too smart not to be calculating on some level but I'm sure things
like that pop into his mind and out of his mouth without forethought,
making them even more touching. So it was later when we were sitting in
the secluded grove eating lunch and he asked me more about the time in
hospital, then said he was very glad I hadn't died because he would've
"Our" Christmases? I would certainly have imagined them differently
had they been "our" to me.
Tuesday morning definitely began with a shock. I was sitting in the
little computer lab on campus, browsing the nonsensical rubbish on
alt.culture.hawaii when I saw someone approach. I looked up. The
Sleeptalker, grinning broadly.
Questions of a thousand dreams ...
Angelo is in jail. According to the Sleeptalker, it's because he had
outstanding traffic violation bench warrants ("LOTS of them"). Since he
must have gotten busted that night when the two of them disappeared from
the hacienda, I assume they got into some kind of trouble in Waikiki.
But no details from the Sleeptalker, if he even remembers what happened.
He was surprised to hear that Angelo's backpack was still on the bench the
The Sleeptalker's brother is also in jail for unspecified reasons. Mondo
is in trouble with the law after a stoned truck-driving misadventure.
And the Sleeptalker himself is still in legal hot water but all I could
get out of him were vague remarks about upcoming court dates and his
"Portagee" public defender. What he did to merit such attention remains a
A brain frozen by ice, synapses crystallized and shattered. All the
king's horses and all the king's men can't put it back together again.
It has always been something of a multi-schizoid dance communicating with
the Sleeptalker and it's even more so now. He loves smoking the
pakololo he said, for which I can't in the least blame him, but the
people he knows with the weed eventually bring out heavier duty smoking
materials and he won't say no. He knows it is getting him into trouble,
but he won't say no. And talking to him becomes a matter of filing away
isolated remarks and waiting for ones to surface that form a match.
He looks his best. And I love him. But I have to admit that after a day
together, by nine in the evening I was feeling pretty exhausted and my
life as a loner was looking its best, too. Out of practice.
One of the funniest moments of the day was going to the supermarket with
him. He is so used to taking the trays at the IHS "soup kitchen" and
eating whatever is given him that he was totally baffled when I said, "you
can have anything you want." He finally settled on a roast beef sandwich
and some cheese that he soon discovered he didn't like nearly as much as
the Laughing Cow wedges I bought, ate most of the potato salad I'd added
to the basket, and at my urging, selected some Reese's "sticks" candy
after a long look at the available options.
Speaking of foodstamps largesse, I had decided I would allow myself one
Luxury Lunch each week and with my usual inability to save for tomorrow
what can be had today, the new week's Luxury Lunch was on Monday. French
Burgundy Pate on Breton sesame seed crackers, cottage cheese, Spanish
olives, and a quart of milk. Yep, that's luxury. And with the addition
of Maui Cookies for future breakfasts and a box of Ensure
chocolate-flavored bars, the tab was over fourteen dollars. Luxury,
Those Ensure bars are a bit silly. Four bars for five dollars, and each
bar only provides fifteen percent of the supposed minimum daily
requirement. A mega-vitamin pill would no doubt be more effective and
more economical. But at least a pseudo-chocolate bar doesn't make me
think of Karoli Baba saying, "Americans should take vitamins because they
believe in them."
Monday evening I had joined Helen R. to see "Mission to Mars". Having
heard so many grumbles about the film beforehand, I was pleasantly
surprised and quite enjoyed it despite a few minor grumbles of my own,
especially about the rather dreary casting. I wouldn't really have
expected anything better from di Palma, anyway. John Huston, he is not.
(The odd comparison inspired by having enjoyed a Huston double feature the
night before: "Key Largo" and "The Maltese Falcon".) It has been many
years since I last saw "Key Largo" and I don't think it holds up all that
well. Certainly can't complain about the casting in either film, but in
Largo, Bacall seemed to spend most of her time leaning up against
something and looking moony-eyed and I never have been able to understand
why Mary Astor in the Falcon was considered a "knock-out". Looked like
Plain Jane material to me. But the Falcon nonsense will forever be fun to
watch. I rather doubt I'll be interested in seeing "Mission to Mars"
And does his buddy, Angelo, being in jail and a bus pass in his pocket
mean I'll be seeing a lot of the Sleeptalker for the rest of the month?
Questions of a thousand dreams ...
Off the hook. When I woke during the night and looked around, I was so
happy to see Angelo back on his usual bench at my head. Happy because
he's a good man to be around, but even more because he's the perfect
"Buddy" for the Sleeptalker.
Settling on the bench after that day with the Sleeptalker, I was
definitely feeling dread that the day would be repeated. I needed more
time to digest those thirteen hours with him before tackling another
round, and the dread was increased by thinking Angelo would be unavailable
and I might have the rest of the month with the Sleeptalker's company.
Can't live with him, can't live without him. And when he didn't show up
on campus the next day as expected, I really fell into a twisted state of
mind. Have no twisted thoughts. Easier said than done, Confucius,
old man. Never mind I'd spent those moments in dread, I was perversely
very disappointed not to see the Sleeptalker even if I was given just what
I thought I wanted, and needed: a day alone to ponder the previous one.
The day with the Sleeptalker had ended on a wrong note. He was slightly
buzzed from sharing a bottle of Colt and told me he could get quarters out
of a pay phone by banging on it in just the right way. Then he proceeded
to demonstrate without success, said he could do it with a hammer. I
believe you, I told him, but not on campus, please. And I reminded him
that campus security have the authority to ban a person for a year. He
wasn't pleased, walked off downhill and got on the bus several stops
after I did, sat by himself in the front. No, I'm just not the right
"Buddy" material. Any form of an Authority Figure is taboo, and sometimes
I just can't resist. Much as I love the guy, or maybe because of it, I'm
not willing to get into trouble with him. And I'm certainly not
willing to risk being banished from campus for some quarters.
Meanwhile ... I tend to ignore events on the world stage and even when I
do take notice, rarely go beyond scanning the headlines and the first
paragraph or so of front page stories. But this nonsense between China
and Taiwan is really irking me. What the hell is wrong with the Chinese
leaders? All that territory and the myriad of bodies under their
authority ... why rock the boat for one little island? And our leaders
reaction? Ship Taiwan more missiles. Just great. Just what this crazy
little ball of dirt needs, China and Taiwan lobbing missiles at each
Where, oh where, is one of those more intelligent extraterrestrial
species? I do wish they would come in for a visit, restore my faith in
the presence of wisdom somewhere in the universe. There certainly isn't
much of it in evidence on the third rock from the Sun.
But then who am I to talk? I can't even do a dance with a 24-year-old guy
from Waianae without stepping all over his feet and my own.
I know the more we care for someone, on either end of the love/hate scale,
the greater the power they have over us. But I really did underestimate
it with the Sleeptalker. That day with him knocked my internal gyroscope
totally off balance, and it wasn't exactly an unwobbling pivot to begin
"Friendship is more important," he said to me most earnestly. True words,
indeed, but the exasperating thing is, I can't stop wanting both the
loving friendship and his body. And I can't shake the feeling that
given just the right moment and the right approach, I could have it.
He has strange notions about many things but probably none more so than
about sexuality. Gay men like guys with muscles, he told me. I don't
think the majority do, I said. I've known many gay men but have never
personally known one who was fascinated by musclemen. Well, women do, he
countered. I told him to look around campus. The jocks hang out
together. How many couples do you see where the guy is a beefcake type?
But I understand how he feels. Throughout my late teens and early
twenties I thought my skinny body was nothing compared to guys with
The poor fellow has encountered yet another man after his skinny body,
too. A Hawaiian, he says. The guy offered to pay the cellphone bill for
a month if he could give the Sleeptalker a blow job. Go for it, I said.
Just make sure the bill is paid and the phone working, then let him have
it. Close your eyes and pretend it's whoever you'd most like to be doing
it. A few minutes, it's over, and you can enjoy your phone for a month.
Pass the hemlock, please.
When I returned to the scene after my hospital adventure, there was only
one interesting newcomer among the usual predawn McD's crowd. He's a
young Filipino lad who is cute without really being cute. I realize
that's not much of a description, but it's true. Until it began to get
warmer, he was always wearing flowery surf shorts and a camouflage fatigue
jacket, an oddly charming combination. He would sit alone on a stool
inside with his coffee and I looked forward to seeing him each morning.
Later I noticed he has a bicycle but I never saw him anywhere later in the
day. But on Friday night I saw the original Bicycle Lad was, as usual, on
one of the facing benches and someone else with a bicycle was on the
other. It wasn't until morning when they were getting up that I realized
it was the lad from McD's. Looks like they have formed a buddy team, too,
since they showed up later at McD's together. Another cute couple.
Angelo arrived after I was already asleep, even though I had gotten there
much later than usual, and he was on the bench at my head. There was a
young man on the bench in front of him I hadn't seen before. Unusually,
Angelo was gone when I woke up and so was his neighbor. A new buddy team?
Or with the Sleeptalker, a re-formed Social Horror Club?
All my children ...
Loose around the ankles, tight around the ... I'm noticing an
increasing number of young men wearing fantasically exaggerated bell
bottom trousers. The leg bottoms are each large enough to make a
decent-sized skirt. The pants are not, alas, very tight anywhere. I'd
teased the Sleeptalker about the baggy jeans he was wearing (albeit not
with huge flared legs), said they hid his cute butt. "It's still there,"
he said, so I gave him a pat on it, said, yep still there, and he did one
of his little dances.
He's disappeared again, making me wonder if his day on campus was
something of a farewell visit before his Court appearance and possible
"vacation" in the lock-up. I wish I'd managed to get details out of him,
although there's certainly not much I could do about it except maybe send
him a few bucks out of the Fabled Pension Check. Every dollar counts in
Or anywhere else, for that matter. I spotted a coin on the ground near
the campus bus stop, picked it up thinking it was a quarter. Nope, weird
color. Examining it later, I discovered I was in possession of the new
dollar coin, and what an ugly piece of work it is, too. Still, can't
complain about a dollar falling from heaven, or about the three quarters I
found without looking for them at the mall on Saturday.
I spent Saint Patrick's Day guzzling free beer and reading John Grisham's
The Street Lawyer. The beer was good, the book was not.
I'd debated going to a Willie K gig at the Pier Bar but it didn't start
until 9:30 and by sunset I was certain I'd never last that long. The
Beatles clone band, Rubber Soul, was at Manoa Garden. They must have been
hitting the brew, too, because they were really sloppy. I've heard them a
couple of times at the mall and thought they had the sound down decently,
even if it is painful to look at them, but not even the sound was decent
at the Garden gig.
So I left before the gig was over and went off to the bench. I had
expected some "tourists" who'd missed the last bus after a drunken
evening, but it turned out to be just me and the two Bicycle Boys. Not so
on Saturday night when it was almost a full house, Angelo on the bench at
my head and the McD's Bicycle Boy on the bench beside me for the first
time, his buddy missing. Earlier, Angelo had arrived with someone I
hadn't seen before. The fellow looked somewhat like Angelo himself
although heavier, and I wondered if they might be brothers. They were
having a long, quiet conversation when I fell asleep and the other fellow
didn't stay all night. If Angelo had been alone, I would've asked if he'd
seen the Sleeptalker.
Thanks to Helen R. I see a lot more movies than I would otherwise but it's
fairly rare for a new one to arrive which I'm really, really keen to see.
"The Ninth Gate" made that list, though. Roman Polanski has long been one
of my favorite directors and a new one from him with a Satanic theme?
Definitely on the list. So Helen and I went to see it on Saturday
afternoon and I wasn't disappointed. Few directors could match Polanski
at taking a bit of fluff like that and turning it into a stylishly elegant
film. The only problem I had at all with it was Johnny Depp constantly
lighting up a Lucky Strike. I was dying for a cigarette by the time we
left the theatre.
We went to Arby's at the mall for a post-theatre meal and I was much irked
when a grubby trashpicker wandered into the place, grabbed a cup of
water and sat in a booth behind us, getting up to refill his cup. As if
parking his dirty carcass in there wasn't bad enough, he asked if we had
any spare change. Sheez. I hate people who abuse the overall tolerant
attitude of the management and security army at the mall. Helen had
ordered the five-sandwich special and neither of us wanted the final one,
so she kindly gave it to the change-seeking creep. He didn't deserve it.
The kindness of strangers. As I was walking through the mall on a final
snipes hunt the night before, a woman was sitting on a planter ledge with
a plate lunch box, asked me if I was hungry. I said "no thanks" and then
later thought I really should have said more, thanked her for her kind
I'm always second-guessing myself.
Everything's always running out. The last drop trickles from the big
green bottle, the last snipe extracted from what seemed so recently a full
box, the last coins exchanged for cups of coffee which are soon empty, the
foodstamps balance dwindles toward zero, the last day of winter fades into
spring. Running on empty.
No complaint about the seasonal change although it certainly hasn't been
in evidence during the last nights of winter. The wind was so brisk on
Sunday evening that it blew up through the bottom slats of the bench,
giving a feeling of having cold stripes down the body. I'd roll over and
it seemed so much colder than it had turned the other direction since
the body warmed by wooden contact was exposed to the chilly wind.
A full house at the hacienda, refugees from the wind, mostly strangers.
Angelo had sensibly abandoned shorts and returned to his corduroy
trousers, was asleep snuggled under a sweatshirt as a half-blanket on his
usual bench at my head. The little pole standing up in the front of his
trousers warmed my thoughts, anyway.
Cainer noted: Last night, at 11.44pm New York time, the Moon in Virgo
was exactly opposite the Sun in Pisces. Just thirteen minutes later, the
Moon went into Libra. And then, at 2.35am, the Sun went into Aries.
So the Full Moon is in my opposite sign, but it didn't actually reach the
fullness point in it. Strange doings. Cainer thought so, too.
I felt oddly restless on Monday morning, whether due to the heavenly
bodies or not, and returned to the mall after a brief visit to campus.
Silly timing, since the University will be closed down next Monday for
Kuhio Day and that also begins the Spring Break schedule making next week
a more appropriate time to play mall rat. Never mind, did it anyway. A
full box of snipes and two quarters before I got hungry enough to head
back to the supermarket and on to the secluded grove where the birds were
even more impatient than usual for their handout. It wasn't much of a
cure for the restlessness.
Making me feel like an intellectual sloth, a fellow nomad on the bus was
reading Camus. The Stranger. I was reading Opening Nights
by Janet Burroway, an attempt at least at a serious novel, and not some
Harlequin fluff, but hardly in the Camus class. I should get something by
Sartre and keep the cover to disguise my Danielle's and Harlequin's.
"Second guessing" wasn't really the right term. It's more a question of
playing theatre critic. On my own, my life is mine and I live it, but in
the company of another it becomes a work on stage, lines and movement
improvised, and when the scenes are done and I'm back alone, I sit and
write a review of the play and my performance in it. I'm rarely pleased
On a final stroll through the mall Monday evening, a repetition of the
earlier success: a full box of snipes and, thanks to a stroller abandoned
at the bus stop, two quarters. Since I still had the ugly dollar coin
stashed away, that put the bankroll into the able-to-buy-beer category.
But five mornings of McD's coffee had to be balanced against one bottle of
beer. The coffee won. Shameful behavior for an alcoholic, not to mention
the absurdity of considering tomorrows. What if I'd gotten run over by a
bus (Mme de Crécy's favorite horror fantasy for me)? Laying there in the
road dying, thinking "damn, I could have had one last beer."
I didn't get hit by a bus, and I was happy the next morning when I sat
down outside McD's for my two cups of coffee, especially after getting up
from the bench into the chilly morning and riding to the mall on a bus
which was like a giant refrigerator on wheels. The driver was all bundled
up in a thick shirt. Most of the passengers weren't and would probably
have paid good money for blankets.
Since the foodstamps balance is dwindling, I switched to buying cheaper
Nabisco oatmeal cookies instead of the far better Maui Cookies for
intended breakfasts. The birds don't mind. But my good intentions were
somewhat defeated when I downed half a dozen of the cookies with two cups
of tea for dinner. I was pushing my luck with the last cup. It was
almost seven in the evening and caffeine that late, combined with the
insomniac problem which usually accompanies an alcohol-free day, was
asking for trouble.
Didn't happen. Maybe the relatively restless sleep of these chilly nights
leaves the body ready for sleep regardless. I didn't get to the hacienda
until a bit after ten, just as well since Angelo was quietly drunk. He
was talking to Chubby who was, as usual, on the floor at the head of
Angelo's bench. His speech was so slurred that Chubby kept asking him to
repeat things. The awkward conversation stopped soon after my arrival. I
was glad I hadn't gotten there earlier to hear more of it and was also
glad Angelo's calm solidity doesn't waver even when he's intoxicated.
He's a good man. Said it before, will no doubt say it again.
Earlier in the evening, I read the Tales from the first week of Spring
last year and, as with the year before, it was a time of chilly nights and
warm days. At least it is drier this year (so far, despite several
efforts from above on Tuesday to change that), but the same problem
is present. I can't switch to wearing shorts in the daytime because there
isn't enough room in the backpack for the jeans, not with that bulky
sweatshirt in there. I haven't walked around in shorts since October,
unprecedented in my years in Hawaii.
Tuesday was one of those days when I was constantly plagued by people
having inane conversations. Everywhere ... in the computer lab, the
library, on the sidewalks, on the bus. Mostly young women, perhaps on the
verge of hysteria because of the impending Spring Break or maybe it's just
the majority style for young women these days. Last week, the Sleeptalker
and I had passed a couple of them shrieking away to each other. I looked
at him and we laughed. I said, "please, never get a girlfriend like that,
I couldn't stand it." "Neither could I," he said.
On Monday the Arby's Bum was sitting on a bench, asked if I had a
cigarette as I was walking slowly past. I ignored him. He yelled, "hey!
you got a cigarette?" I gave him my best glare and shook my head no.
He did it again on Tuesday. I stopped, said "not yesterday, not today,
not tomorrow." Wasted effort, he's so spaced he'll never remember. Later
I saw him sprawled out on another bench, that time in high-rent tourist
territory. I don't think he's going to last long at the mall, will no
doubt soon join Twisted Hair and Roadrunner in wherever it is folks go who
get banished from the mall.
The mid-day visit there yielded no quarters, alas. It was probably my
punishment for thinking about saving them for the future.
This raises an interesting question - if you're not
satisfied, do you *have* a template or a plan lurking
in the background?
Despite what the astrologers say to the contrary, I don't.
Or at least not any I'm aware of.
If so, how does that affect your goal of drifting?
Not sure it can be called a goal, just the most sensible
way to keep on existing when there's no idea at all why.
And that is the answer to your subject ["Why?"].
No idea at all.
Which makes being a picky after-the-fact self-critic
even more absurd.
It's a lifelong habit, no way to shake it now. But it has only been in
recent years when the stage-like aspect of the thing has become clear.
There was a time when the act could be quite complex, not just a matter of
trying to make someone like you but perhaps also a question of making
money, or more money, or keeping a job and all those things that once
seemed so necessary. There was a time, for instance, when I knew someone
was going to buy a particular painting and if I got the act just right,
they'd not only buy it, they'd pay more for it.
Now it's more often a matter of wanting to create or deepen a friendship.
If deepen, then an act is clearly not necessary. The person must like me
enough to seek out my company, so all that's necessary is to be myself
since that's what they were seeking. That's never more true than with the
Sleeptalker. But knowing that doesn't stop me, either from seeing the
time with him as a play or from being a severe self-critic afterwards.
And Himself showed up in Seventh Circle on Wednesday morning. I
told him I'd thought he was in jail, was glad it wasn't true. At one
point he apologized for bothering me. I'm not sure whether he meant in
the game or in "real" life, but I told him I didn't mind being bothered by
him and meant it both ways. We exchanged virtual smiles. I didn't say
"bewitched, bothered and bewildered" because he wouldn't have gotten the
It's much easier playing with him in the game than it is in "real" life.
How unfortunate. The Iceman Cometh or, more accurately, Returneth. On
the bus to the hacienda Wednesday night, I spotted Angelo walking toward
the mall. Alas, Rossini was with him. Eventually they made their way
back to the hacienda, along with two large bottles of brew and some food,
and woke me up even though they were sitting on an outside bench. Then it
started to rain, so they moved onto the inside steps, waking me again. I
shifted to the most distant bench.
I can imagine Rossini's routine day as finding somewhere to sleep in the
morning and early afternoon, peddling dope in the late afternoon and
evening until he gets too wired himself and closes shop, looks for someone
to hang out with and gets more wired, then is ready to talk all night.
This is definitely not someone I'm happy to see form a buddy team with
Angelo. The Sleeptalker seems to have had a falling out with both of them
and I suppose that's one thing to be grateful for. The party would have
been twice as loud had he been along.
Angelo actually kept his usual quiet, low-key profile but Rossini, as
always, continually got excited and raised the volume level, punctuating
his yakking with little high-pitched "yip" sounds. So that's where the
Sleeptalker picked that up.
I can only hope Rossini soon gets the urge to return to his beloved Vegas.
I can even hope that this time he stays there.
Did I say I wanted another chance? Well, not exactly, but maybe that's
what I was inferring. So I got it, arrived on campus Thursday morning to
find the Sleeptalker already busy at a keyboard in the computer lab.
Remember, I told myself, this is "Private Lives", not "Macbeth".
And, as it turned out, a short version since the Sleeptalker has a job
("bussing tables") and thus couldn't stay all day.
Despite the interruptions of the Angelo/Rossini party during the night, I
woke up on Thursday feeling in a brighter than usual mood. You've been
taking everything too seriously, I told myself. Remember that golden Acid
Rule: it doesn't matter. Arriving on campus and rubbing my hand
through the Sleeptalker's hair was icing on the cake.
I realized later that he'd no doubt made the early morning trip to campus
to share the good news about his job. Although he was obviously very
happy about it, he was reluctant to tell me what the job was, and I had to
push to get it out of him. So what's the matter with being a bus boy? I
was expecting him to land an executive admin assistant position? No, I
didn't say that to him, just let him know I was happy for him and didn't
have to do any "acting" to make it true. I wouldn't mind at all starting
every morning with a couple of hours in the Sleeptalker's company.
It's just as well I so rarely read the mainstream newspapers. The campus
paper is enough to stir the waters. Ikaika Hussey is one of the editors
of the paper and a frequent contributor, always with a militant Hawaiian
slant no matter what the subject. It isn't the blatantly political,
self-serving militancy of the batty Trask sisters but in some ways even
worse, a kind of spiritual jingoism which verges on nausea-inducing.
Thursday's column put forth the notion that these islands are "sacred",
all of them, every square inch. Humbug. If one takes the worldview that
the entire planet is "sacred", okay, that's a sweetly noble, romantic
concept. But to say these volcanic mountaintops are more "sacred" than
Bali, Tahiti, Catalina or the Isle of Man, etc., is absurd.
I suppose Ikaika's rant was at least partly inspired by yet another burial
spot being discovered, yet another road project altered to leave
the bones undisturbed. I don't have any high regard for cemeteries,
either. If all the buried bones on the planet are to be left undisturbed,
what's left for the living?
Okay, okay. I know better than to read Ikaika Hussey, so it's my fault.
Conservation of dwindling foodstamps largesse led to buying a loaf of
bread and sandwich meat on Wednesday. Sandwiches for lunch, sandwiches
for dinner, remaining bread stashed in backpack for the next day. When I
shifted benches during the night, the bread shifted, too, and so that's
why my "pillow" was softer. Vienna sausages on squashed bread sandwiches
for Thursday lunch. All very economical. I fear there will be no "luxury
lunch" next week, even so. And Friday is designated a "Cup O' Noodles"
Dame Fortune is apparently much amused with the coffee-or-beer game.
Every day just enough money is found to bring the bank account into the
buy-beer range. But only just enough, not even financing for the next
morning's coffee, never mind five days' worth. If that next morning
coffee was assured, I'd go for the beer. Bad enough considering the
morrow without adding more days down the road. Since Madame is keeping it
right on the edge, though, I've stayed with the coffee plan, despite some
moments when I almost yielded and went for one of those 40oz bottles
Like I said, a dry month. But I spoke too soon about drier weather.
The five day brew-less drought ended in a deluge. Rounding a corner in
the Art Building, there was the Cherub. Long time no see. He was fuming
over some papers he'd just been given. Seems his English Lit
professor had kindly given him an "incomplete" rather than flunking him,
so he has to read three books and write reports on them during the Spring
Break. An odd list. Anything by Orwell or Kipling, but only "The
Importance of Being Earnest" and "Passage to India" for Wilde and Forster,
"Mrs. Dalloway" for Virginia W. I recommended going for Orwell first,
since the Cherub will probably hate him and it's easier to write about
something you dislike.
He suggested going to Manoa Garden for a beer, which turned into two, and
then we went downhill so he could get a bottle of whisky and a Colt for me
before returning to the Garden. Downing whiskey-and-coke on top of the
beer soon had him drunker than I've ever seen him. He gets a bit loud and
sloppy but isn't really an unpleasant drunk and the band which started to
play was so raunchy and tacky it masked the Cherub's loudness anyway.
Hamilton Library recently got a copy of the new book on Rauschenberg by
Sam Hunter. The text is a bit too adoring for my taste but I enjoyed
seeing the photos of old favorites and getting a glimpse of what
Rauschenberg has been doing in recent years. So the Cherub turning the
pre-band conversation to the NY art world slotted into the memory banks
with ease and our thoughts about most of the major figures are
surprisingly similar, except for Basquiat whose work he likes and I
thought boring. It was odd to be talking with someone about
all that, echoes of another life.
The Cherub gets his degree this summer. Twenty-four years old, school
about to end, and he has absolutely no idea what he wants to do. Evidently
his parents differ strongly on what position to take, his mother wanting
to cut him off entirely but his father talking about getting him a place
to live either here on Oahu or on Kauai where they live and own a lot of
property. I admitted that if I were the Cherub's father I'd be somewhat
concerned over the total blank in plans about what happens next,
but then twenty-four does seem very young to me ... now.
I told him that other twenty-four year old had been on campus the week
before and had asked about the Cherub and how he was doing. "Are you
still smitten with him?" he asked. "Oh yes," I said, "the Love of my
Life". The LomL walked into the computer lab the next morning and I told
him, when we took a smoke break, about the conversation with the Cherub.
The rascal was clearly pleased to be the love of someone's life and
sweetly teased me about it several times during the day.
His grandfather died and, with perfect synchronicity, just after he'd told
me, we found an abandoned copy of the morning newspaper and the
Sleeptalker was able to read the obituary notice. He reeled off the names
of the four "surviving great grandchildren" and later lamented the fact
that he has no tie and jacket to wear at the funeral. In an
extraordinarily rare instance of telling me his plans for the next week,
he said he'd be on campus Tuesday, but Wednesday and Thursday he'd be at
his grandmother's house for the funeral.
He was hungry, having skipped breakfast at IHS because he was tired of
French Toast which apparently is the morning offering there most of the
time. So I gave him the Cup o' Noodles lurking in my backpack, intended
for my lunch, and he supplemented that with some of the oatmeal cookies
from the same source. As he was eating, he rather wistfully said how much
he'd like to spend a month with a rental car just driving around the West
Coast. I told him I'd love to be a passenger on such an adventure but
didn't spoil the picture by adding I'd be looking forward more to the
nights in motels than the hours on the road.
My turn came later. He was caught cheating in the game, taking in two of
his characters at the same time, one of the few taboos. An "immortal"
player spotted it and froze one of the cheating characters for 24 hours.
The Sleeptalker described walking up to the frozen character, how funny it
looked to see "himself" standing there like that. I said I wished I had
that spell, would freeze him for 24 hours and have a very good time. "If
I was frozen, nothing would happen." "I'd have fun trying to make it
happen anyway." "You'd better be ready to run when I melted," he said,
but laughed about the idea and elaborated on the fantasy. Then he told me
he'd had a dream about me recently, putting my hand down the front of his
I couldn't possibly have been gifted with two 24-year-olds who are more
different than the Cherub and the Sleeptalker, but having them as friends
certainly does make life more interesting.
Tuesday morning I was awakened by someone tapping me. "Are you gonna play
today?" asked an eager voice. I took out my watch, looked at it and
moaned, "It's five o'clock in the morning." I wondered if that's what it
is like to be a parent, awakened pre-dawn on Christmas morning, "has Santa
The Sleeptalker was at the hacienda when I arrived on Monday night,
already asleep. I resisted the temptation to take the vacant bench next
to him, settled instead a few benches away for what promised to be a less
distracted sleep. When I lay back down for another half hour's sleep
after his waking me, I thought the poor lad had probably spent much of
Sunday and Monday just waiting to regain computer access. But Angelo and
Rossini had arrived after I'd gone to sleep the night before, their first
appearance since their bothersome beer party, and when I finally woke up,
Rossini and the Sleeptalker were gone, Angelo still asleep. I gave up
expecting to see the Sleeptalker later on campus. Reconciliation with
Rossini (and his inventory) would no doubt take precedence over the
beloved game. I didn't mind.
And I didn't really mind the off-line day on Monday, either. A trip to
the State Library had unexpectedly yielded two more Maeve Binchy books,
promisingly thick ones, including her first, Light a Penny Candle,
so I was looking forward to spending the three-day Hawaiian holiday
weekend immersed in tales of Eire and the Irish. Binchy is a wonderful
writer, captures the Irish better than anyone I've read (including Joyce),
and her first book was a splendid debut.
So I spent the day at the mall, alternating between sitting in a quiet
spot reading and strolling through the place, looking at the people,
hunting snipes and giving Dame Fortune more opportunity than has lately
been the case to come up with goodies. Competition for snipes was heavy
but it was utterly fierce for quarters. Much to my surprise, I ended up
with seven of them, four mysteriously from carts which had been returned
to the supermarket return-corral without their quarters being removed.
How very strange it is that people do that.
At last the coffee-or-beer divertissement was ended. I had enough for
beer and three more days of morning coffee. But I didn't really want a
beer, thought I'd enjoy it more with lunch the next day (with or without
the Sleeptalker), so left the quarters in my coin bag. Peculiar behavior,
again, for an alcoholic.
It was a novelty, after these weeks of foodstamp-type food, to indulge in
the largesse of abandoned plate-lunch boxes. An odd menu, too, from
scrambled eggs and rice in the morning, to a most-odd-of-all find, a box
with mashed potatoes and macaroni salad in it. Mashed potatoes in a
plate-lunch box? I wondered where it came from, but its anonymous white
plastic bag gave no clue. There was sweet-and-sour pork with stir fried
vegetables from Patti's Chinese Kitchen and some over-spiced spaghetti
from Mamma Mia's. It was while I was scarfing that down that a handsome
young man walked over, said "how are you, sir?" I wiped my hand on my
pants leg before accepting his offered handshake. It took me a moment to
realize he was the security guard from Hamilton Library. What a small
town this is.
So many months since I'd spent more than an hour or two at the mall, but
life there hasn't changed much. The Duchess and the Queen Mum still in
residence (despite my fears when hearing a woman has been killed crossing
the road from the park to the mall, two so far this year), Blondie and her
overmade face getting a little more batty and talking to herself, Myra
grabbing me for a hug in McD's. There's one new snipes competitor, a
funny little old man with Levi's much too long and turned up in at least
six-inch cuffs. He totters around very, very slowly and starts while I'm
still having my morning coffee, never seems to sit down at all. He moves
so slowly that if I see him ahead of me, it's no problem to put on a
little speed and get ahead of him, but when I see him approach from the
opposite direction, I know it's time to ignore that stretch for awhile.
He seems to give up the hunt in the late afternoon.
There are a few men who sit there every day, always in the same spot,
never moving. They don't read, not even a newspaper. I'd go totally
insane doing that or die of boredom. I don't know whether to admire their
ability to live a "contemplative" life or to feel sorry for them being
Cainer wrote: Intense desires, some reasonable and some rather
ludicrously far fetched, are preoccupying you. Okay, Jonathan, you do
like hitting the nail on the head now and then. But as he also wrote the
day before, echoing a recent Tale: It doesn't matter.
There's a character in Binchy's Light a Penny Candle, one of the
two heroines, who is a perfect role model for me. She was in love with a
handsome young man whose credo was "do nothing I don't want to do", and
that included commitments of any kind, most especially marriage. So she
had a years-long affair with him, enduring the times when he developed a
crush on someone else and left her until that ended. She reconciled
herself to making no demands, accepting (and enjoying) what she got.
Of course, she was a bit luckier than I am. At least she got to have sex
with the dude. And had I been her and the fellow had been the
Sleeptalker, I surely wouldn't have had an abortion when I got pregnant.
I'd have wanted his baby.
Things must not have gone well, the Sleeptalker arrived on campus in
mid-afternoon. He didn't say anything about Rossini and I know better
than to ask. The Sleeptalker was in his best (worst) Punk Slob mode,
never removing the radio earphones and constantly spitting. I think he
sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, likes to test me, see how far he
can push it before I put on my Miss Manners cap and grumble. I didn't.
I didn't say, "hey, you can sit at the computer for an hour without
spitting, must you do it every few seconds during a smoke break?" But I
could, and did, cancel plans to get a 40oz bottle of malt liquor to share
at sunset time.
Okay, so it evidently hadn't gone well with Rossini and he had on his mind
the pressure of the next two days, the funeral, and being amidst his
extended family. Extenuating circumstances. It would have been easier if
he'd talked about it all, but that's not his way and I don't think it
would have been mine at twenty-four, either. Perhaps not even now.
I wanted to get him a sandwich, though. He asked how much I had left on
the foodstamps card. I said about twenty dollars and he refused the
sandwich, telling me I'd need that money. I'd much rather have gotten him
the sandwich and scrounged for food, but he wouldn't yield.
Tobacco is in very short supply on campus during Spring Break, not enough
for one snipe-hunter, much less two. So when the box was empty as it
neared eight o'clock, I said I was heading off to the mall, told him he
should stay and play for another hour. He wouldn't, left to get the bus
with me, spitting all the way. For a lad who hates so much being on his
own, he surely doesn't make any effort to encourage a companion to stay
He said he was going downtown to spend the night in the shelter, it was
still too cold at the hacienda. Couldn't blame him for that, it had been
cold the night before, even with the heavy sweatshirt, and he must have
been quite uncomfortable with just a tee shirt. I gave him some cookies
and as I was about to leave the bus, he initiated the local-boy exchange
of touched closed fist "handshakes". I told him to behave himself with
his family and he said, "I'll behave myself" with a big grin.
Such a sweetheart, Punk Slob mode or not.
It was a scenario I wouldn't have imagined in fantasy and the dream
machine hadn't produced. Walking through the mall on Thursday evening,
hoping to find the quarter I needed for the next morning's coffee, I heard
voices calling "Albert!".
Sitting around a table were Rocky, Mondo and Angelo. (That Angelo has a
real knack for hooking up with my boys.)
Mondo. Dark, sexy, handsome Mondo with that wonderful soft and gentle
voice. Sitting next to him provided a living definition of animal
magnetism. After some chat about how long it had been since we'd seen
each other, I told him I'd heard he had a driving adventure. "I ripped
that alarm right out of there," he said. Yikes, the Sleeptalker had
neglected to mention the vehicle was stolen. And since Mondo has already
done time once for auto theft, they'll probably throw the book at him. He
seems to anticipate it, said "I'll break out". Great. Attempted
jailbreak added to auto theft time. That claim morphed into enthusiastic
boasts about prowess in some arcade game, as if there was no difference at
all between breaking out of jail and achieving great things in a
I love that young man, no doubt about it. Not that I'm ever likely to
face such a choice, but given one of spending the night with either Mondo
or the Sleeptalker, I'd surely have a difficult time making up my mind.
And Rocky. Such a peacock he is. He said he had a job working with old
folks (lucky old folks), had a neatly trimmed haircut and wanted to know
how I thought he looked. "Thoroughly respectable," I said, to his obvious
pleasure. He is so spontaneous and transparent. And for such a bona fide
tough guy, a real pussycat. They had somehow acquired a large bottle of
Seagram's whiskey (don't ask how, I told myself) and wanted me to go
drinking with them. I declined, said I was tired and was just trying to
find a quarter before heading to the bench. "Whazza matter," Rocky
poutingly asked, "you don't like me anymore?" "You're cuter than ever," I
said, patting him on his flat, firm belly. He beamed. A pussycat.
They were surprised I knew the Sleeptalker was away for his grandfather's
funeral. Even though Mondo is two years younger, he and Rocky still seem
to regard the Sleeptalker as the little kid brother. I told them I'd seen
a lot of him this month since he'd found a bus pass. "I found the bus
pass!" Rocky said, "and gave it to him." They had heard about the "you
can have anything you want" supermarket expedition and were obviously
pleased I was taking such good care of little brother. I wish I were,
I wish I could.
They set off to wherever they were going to drown in whiskey and not long
after they left, a lady abandoned her shopping cart right in front of me,
providing McD's coffee for Friday morning, bless her.
It had been a beastly day. I woke up before five, lay back down
for a little more sleep, fell into an elaborate dream and didn't surface
again until hearing "time to get up!" I hate that. Walking out of the
hacienda, I immediately noticed the clouds were moving in the "wrong"
direction. Yeukh. Kona winds. As if that weren't bad enough, when I sat
down with my coffee I saw I had failed to fully close the side pocket
on my backpack and my reading glasses had fallen out somewhere, probably
on the bus. Since they were just cheap "magnifiers" from the drugstore, I
regretted more losing the sturdy case I had found for them. The case had
an optometrist's address in Salt Lake on it and I thought that doctor
would be quite bemused if someone returned it to him. Cheap magnifiers
and a grape-flavored condom stuck in the back pocket.
I can, just barely, cope with the computer screen without the glasses but
can't begin to decipher the print in a paperback book. I think I'd have a
much harder time living without the ability to read than with losing
on-line access. It's a good thing the Fabled Pension Check should arrive
any time now, and the sooner the better. New glasses at the top of the
Rocky told me the reason the cloisters stopped letting people sleep
there is because someone was shooting up and died of an overdose. I am
trying not to have uncharitable thoughts about the bastid.
Funny lady, that Dame Fortune, filling my dance card with "chance"
glimpses and encounters.
Back from the funeral gathering, the Sleeptalker showed up in Seventh
Circle on Friday morning, playing from the State Library. He said he
felt awful, sore throat and runny nose, must have caught a cold from his
relatives. I hoped he hadn't already had the bug when we spent the
afternoon together on Tuesday, but then remembered we hadn't done our
usual sharing of cup, spoon, etc., so I might have escaped anyway. Not
that it mattered much, considering the horrendous weather which dominated
the weekend. With all that wind, rain and those shivering temperatures,
the island was inevitably going to be crawling with little virus critters
waiting to make life miserable, no need for them to be passed on by the
After awhile, he suddenly said, "I have to go." At first I thought maybe
a librarian had kicked him off the terminal, but looked at my watch and
saw it was soup kitchen time.
An email arrived telling me the Fabled Pension Check flew in, so I took
the bus downtown to collect it. Just as we passed the State Library I saw
the Sleeptalker heading across the lawn toward it. Someone I didn't
recognize intercepted him, though, and they went off in the opposite
direction together. Yep, funny stuff, Dame, making the bus roll by just
at that moment.
Check in hand, I took a bus to the mall to get another one to Waikiki and
as I was walking through, encountered Rocky and Angelo. I told them I was
surprised to see them standing after that bottle of whiskey, but as it
turned out, they'd sold the bottle for five dollars and bought beer
instead. Odd, after such a long time without seeing him, to meet Rocky two
days in a row like that. I wished Mondo had been along, too.
Cash from check in pocket, I had to go back downtown to pick up the April
bus pass. Such luxury that little card is. Life would be totally
different without it. I'd probably end up sitting in one place all day
like those troglodytes at the mall.
No encounters with handsome young men on that trip.
The weather was vile, wind constantly shifting direction with almost
constant light drizzle. Appropriately, I picked up a bottle of Hurricane
and returned to campus. Looks like the Budweiser folks have finally wised
up and stopped trying to sell that fine malt liquor for more than the
usual price of $1.99. Now if only the shops nearer campus would stock it
New reading glasses, new earplugs. The glasses don't work as well as the
pair I had, must have gotten a different strength or maybe it's just
because the new ones are a cheaper model. Print in books is only in clear
focus when the book is held at just the right distance, missing the more
generous leeway the other glasses provided. It's always something ...
but at least I could return to Binchy's excellent Echoes.
Since the little computer lab on campus was going to close at 4:30 each
day on the weekend, and the libraries were shut down entirely, I thought
I'd probably need more to read before Monday arrived, so took the bus down
to the State Library. The Sleeptalker and Mondo were sitting outside.
"My two favorite men," I said, "sitting here together."
I couldn't make that choice I spoke of. I should be grateful I'll never
Mondo was worried because he hadn't been able to get into his Hotmail
account. "Where you sent me email before," he said. I didn't remember
his address, never knew his password. I suggested he just set up a new
account, but by the time I finished saying it, I knew he was off somewhere
else in his mind already. And I was busy looking at his beautiful arms,
set off so nicely by a white tank-top and dark vest. Funny thing about
Mondo is that he knows how much I lust after his body but he isn't at all
flirtatious like the Sleeptalker and Rocky. It's more like he gently
ignores it, but without ever showing the least bit of annoyance. One of
the most gentlemanly gentle men I've ever had the honor of meeting.
The Sleeptalker tried to talk about things in the game and kept saying
"huh?", so I finally scolded him about those damned headphones. "Can't
you take them off for a few minutes and have a conversation? Didn't you
say Hawaii radio sucks?" He took them off.
We all went back inside. I was thoroughly delighted to find yet another
Binchy novel among the available choices. The Sleeptalker was back on a
terminal, pounding away on the keyboard. Mondo was engrossed in a thick
volume which appeared to be black-and-white comic strips. I left and
returned to campus, went into the game and helped the Sleeptalker with
some stuff he needed, getting a hug each time.
Okay, so virtual hugs are easier.
I knew that.
This is the winter of our discontent, never mind it's almost into the
third week of spring. I'm sure I've felt this way several times before,
but maybe it truly is the worst time I've experienced since embarking on
this weird path of life. The nights are so cold, I keep waking up trying
to snuggle against myself more, stop that patch of coldness on the left
arm by tucking it under myself. Then the right arm starts to feel pain
and it's time to roll over on the bench. Adjust the "pillowcase" surfer
shorts so I don't have the rough fabric of the backpack under my cheek,
make sure my whole head is covered up in case the wind yet again gusts
into the hacienda and makes me shiver.
The silly little "bush hat" makes walking in rain much better. Strange,
that if the rain doesn't hit you on the head, it doesn't seem to bother
as much, never mind the rest of you gets very damp indeed.
Binchy's The Glass Lake isn't helping, either. It's by far the
most somber book of hers I've yet read, and she has a real talent for
making you care about the people in her books. None of them ever say
"life's a bitch and then you die", but with the cast and plot in this one,
I wonder why they didn't.
Mme de Crécy nagged me (kindly so, as always) about living within my
means. I was irked, asked how anyone could "live within their means" on
$85 a month. But she was referring to the foodstamps allowance. Okay,
not quite as bad, although expecting someone to eat on a little more than
six dollars a day is perhaps over ambitious, too. But I said I didn't
think that would be a problem, they'd probably stretch enough. Wrong. In
what is no doubt a holdover from the days when it was done with paper
instead of electronic transfer to a "credit card", the monthly allowance
is staggered alphabetically. And as throughout my long life, coming at
the end of the alphabet puts me last in line and the new allowance doesn't
click in until the fifth of each month. Didn't stretch.
Of course, the arrival of the Fabled Pension Check covers the stampless
interval but if there's anything I hate it is paying out that rare green
paper for food. No choice on Sunday, nothing turned up at all. The
healthy daily diet consisted of one 99-cent "McTeri Burger", never mind I
spent four dollars on beer. At least that more pleasantly filled my empty
stomach. But then on Monday morning I was feeling quite hungry so yielded
and went to Burger King for French toast "sticks". I should've been more
sensible, could've gotten the same thing free at the IHS soup kitchen and
had the pleasure of the company as well.
The last of the foodstamps did provide oatmeal cookies for Monday's lunch,
for me and for the zebra doves. Sitting there watching them busily
pecking up every crumb, I thought they really are the "love of my life".
Such sweet little birds, and so trusting now that they've gotten used to
me. They move around so much it's hard to count them, but I think there
were twenty-three of them milling around my feet. I put the food very
close to me so I can discourage those fat, greedy ringneck doves from
gobbling it up. After all, even the Ocean of Compassion, the Dalai Lama,
nudged the big fish away and said "let the little ones eat".
Twisted Hair showed up at the mall on Sunday. He's apparently staying
over in the park, makes quick lightning raids on the ashtrays near the
perimeter of the mall so as not to get caught by the security army. I
wondered if they'd really notice a banned person anyway, unless he got
unlucky enough to encounter the one who had actually done the banning.
The False Prophet has apparently been banned from the little computer lab
on campus, too. He lurks around outside it much of the time but never
goes inside. I wish I knew just what he did to get banned, so I could
avoid doing it, but I suspect it's because he sat there for hours and
hours even during the times of heaviest traffic when students are standing
around waiting for a vacant terminal. I'm careful to leave the premises
whenever I see most of the terminals occupied, but careless enough to
sometimes play in Seventh Circle, especially since www.hawaii.edu
has become unavailable via Lynx and I can't access my usual "back door" on
the old VT100 data terminals.
It's always something.
The New Moon in Aries suggests a bright new beginning. Much can and will
improve in the next few days. So please don't worry.
What, me worry?
A reader wondered if I hadn't skated on thin ice by mentioning a "criminal
Okay, I suppose "I ripped that alarm right out of there" is a criminal
confession. But a pseudonym is being used for the "criminal". And let me
make it very clear [as old Milhouse used to say], I do not regard
the young man as a criminal. He's a child, never mind his damned
calendric age. He's playing. He hasn't got a clue, and honestly I don't
blame him for it, about "right and wrong". He's not taking someone's
pickup to make a profit on it, he's getting well stoned and doing it for
the proverbial lark.
If there's anything "criminal", it's locking him up in prison for years.
Yes, a young man told me, obliquely, that he stole a vehicle. They'd have
to lock me up, as well, and I still wouldn't say who told me, using a real
name. No way, no how.
I've self-censored and suppressed some information in these Tales.
Sometimes it's to protect the truly innocent, sometimes it's to protect
the guilty, especially at times when I was an actual witness to events I'd
rather not put on record.
One of the most awful developments in Binchy's The Glass Lake is
when a wonderful old woman, a hermit who lived alone in a tiny hut by the
lake and was revered by everyone in town, made what she later thought
might have been a mistake and harbored an injured "criminal". I didn't
blame her for a moment, given the circumstances of the plot. I would have
done the same. I wouldn't, I hope, have had such serious second thoughts
Someone else obviously loves Binchy's work as much as I do. There was
another of her books on the shelves of the State Library's honor
collection when I stopped in on Wednesday. I'm most grateful to whoever
is doing it. We've almost gone through her collected works, now. I also
bagged a copy of Truman Capote's Music for Chameleons, an
extraordinarily odd find in that collection which is about ninety percent
romance potboilers. Truman will have to wait for his re-read,
though. I'm staying in Eire for the duration.
Wish I could do it with more than reading ...
I should write more often about controversial things, makes for an
What if it had been my truck that was stolen? Oh come on, if I had a
truck and Mondo wanted it, I'd give it to him. That would, of course, be
quite unsatisfactory. He didn't want the truck. He wanted the fun and
excitement, the game of stealing a vehicle and getting away with it. It
wouldn't surprise me if he has successfully played the game many times.
But okay, let's say I had a truck and some young man I didn't know stole
it for a joyride. Youngsters must have been doing that from the time the
automobile was invented, maybe did it with horse and buggies before then.
No, I wouldn't want the "borrower" to be locked up for years in prison.
It serves no purpose at all, except perhaps sparing some people the
inconvenience of missing vehicles for awhile.
You think we should just slap him on the paw and say "naughty boy, don't
you ever do that again"? Might as well, would do as much good as time in
jail. No, I think community service is the better option. The judge who
made the Sleeptalker work for trying to steal a pair of shorts was a wise
one, made far more sense than locking him up for a month or two.
But the real problem with these young people is finding a way to give them
hope of better things, to convince them there is more to do with a life
than play daring games. How to do that? I have no idea. Do you?
Rocky said aloud on Thursday what I've often thought in recent days.
"Looks like we're the only ones not going to jail." "Let's keep it that
way," I said.
He was sitting at the mall with Rossini2 and another young man I'd not
seen before, called me over and said to Rossini2, "tell him about it, he
can ask his lawyer friend." Putting "friend" and "lawyer" together is
obviously quite amazing to them. Lawyer is almost as synonymous with
Enemy as Cop. I suppose if I told them I once had a lawyer lover they'd
think I was making it up.
I said, not for the first time, that my lawyer friend had nothing to do
with criminal law, but they have no concept of a lawyer operating within a
specialized field. These guys have much more direct experience with
"street law" than I do (or for that matter, than does my lawyer friend),
but it all seems to remain a great mystery to them. I suspect the
overworked, underpaid "Public Defenders" take little time to explain the
"I know I'm guilty, he [the lawyer] knows I'm guilty, the Judge is gonna
know I'm guilty. Why does the dumb Portagee tell me to plead not guilty?"
Yes, okay, it's a weird system, I say, but if you plead not guilty, they
have to prove you did it. Maybe they won't be able to. He hates
the "dumb Portagee", can he get rid of him? I wondered if it was the same
"Portagee" the Sleeptalker appears quite happy with. I said I had no idea
but promised I'd ask.
And I thought of asking Rocky just what it was the Sleeptalker did, since
he probably knows, but stopped myself. Better to let the Sleeptalker tell
me if he wants me to know. He must be embarrassed by it, whatever it was,
because he had no problem at all making the shoplifting adventure into an
Maybe I should stop entertaining myself with delightful fiction and pore
through the statute books in the Law Library instead.
Binchy uses the same device in Silver Wedding that she used in
The Copper Beech, telling the same story from the viewpoint of the
different characters. She makes it more precise in Silver Wedding,
each chapter being almost a standalone short story about one character.
It's amusing to see how very differently each player sees what is
happening, even when members of a supposedly close family. And one
character ponders at length how she always seems to be acting, never
really being herself. Deja vu.
Every day this week my treasured mid-day time in the secluded grove has
been interrupted by rain showers. I was so fed up with it by Thursday
that I just continued to sit there. Three showers came and went, and I
sat through them.
If April showers should come your way ... just get wet.
The Quarter Hunters are getting lazy. I was walking through the mall
Saturday evening on a snipe hunt, spotted a cart with its quarter sitting
there on an upstairs level. True, it was in a very awkward location. At
a less crowded time, the easiest thing would have been to take it down the
nearest escalator, but the security army frowns on such behavior even when
it's the legitimate "owner" of the cart. The elevators are tiny and very,
very slow. And the other option is to wheel it down a parking lot ramp, a
long way around and risking death from motorized-wheel people who seem to
feel any second they waste is a cardinal sin. So I thought, oh well, I'll
just leave that quarter for someone else.
Not long later, yet another cart was abandoned, in an equally awkward
location. I could, of course, have gone back and gotten the first one,
then joined the two of them to get both quarters. But that's so tacky.
I left it. Continuing my snipe hunt, though, I was nagged by the thought
of those quarters, knew the next time I needed a quarter I would
immediately remember my moment of laziness. I went back and got the first
cart, wheeled it down the ramp. Cars whizzed by me, some of them pulling
way over to the center of the ramp to avoid the madman with a shopping
cart, others almost brushing me as they passed. About halfway down I was
tempted to just give the cart a push and let it create pandemonium when it
rolled into the busy intersection at the ramp's bottom. But I behaved
myself, held onto the thing and eventually returned it to a corral,
pocketing the quarter.
That's enough, I said. Leave that other one. It was still there on
Sunday morning. No problem at that early hour, down the elevator with it
and back to the corral. Another quarter in pocket.
It seemed especially bizarre to be worrying about things like shopping
carts and quarters while in the middle of Capote's lushly effete Songs
for Chameleons. I was reminded of the recent time with the Cherub.
He's never been quite sure whether the stories of my former life are true
and if they are, how can I live the way I do now without in some way
resenting it? But resentment has never been a factor. Maybe in my quiet,
rather conservative fashion, I've always leaned toward a nonconformist way
of living and whenever things got too comfortable and settled, too
"secure", I'd pack up a very few things and abandon ship, set out for
something else. So really, this isn't any different than the overall
pattern of my life.
Although I was at many gatherings and functions where he was also present,
I only met Truman Capote once, at Virgil Thomson's. Capote was one of my
idols, along with Tennessee Williams, Flannery O'Connor and Carson
McCullers, in that time when the Southern School seemed the most
interesting literary thing happening in America, never mind the Beats.
That made me extremely nervous about spending time in the same room with
him, much less actually talking to him. And I was at a stage where I was
very actively suppressing any mannerism or gesture or phrase I thought
"effeminate" and was thus even more taken aback by such a flaming faggot.
But he was witty and kind, knew my painter friend Jarvin Parks and
pronounced him a perfect Southern Eccentric. I'm sure Truman thought I
was one of Virgil's toyboys but that never bothered me, I was always
comfortable with the thought that I was at Virgil's gatherings as a
piece of decor.
Truman was with a strikingly handsome Dutch painter whose name I don't
remember. He had a studio there in the Chelsea Hotel and asked me at one
point if I'd like to see some of his work. Truman and Virgil no doubt
thought we went off for a quickie together, but in fact all I did was look
at his paintings and drawings. I didn't much like them but I knew the
dealer Jill Kornblee might and that she would certainly like him, so
offered to introduce them. He was grateful, said Truman kept introducing
him to people who were all too high-level and powerful to be of any real
value to him. I wondered if he was letting Truman have his body but could
hardly ask, and it wasn't any of my business anyway. The Dutch fellow
might well have wondered the same thing about me and Virgil.
So coming back, after many years, to Capote's Music for Chameleons
raised a lot of memories. If not for Capote, I would never have moved to
New York City, at least not as early as I did, and my entire life would
have been different. The title story is such a gem, a real treasure of
American writing. The New Orleans tales are as good as the Southern
School gets. But when Truman laments that Graham Greene was a good writer
"until the Vatican got him", I thought and yes, you were a good writer
until you became so morbidly fascinated with murderers.
It was quite a literary culture shock to jump from the warm, earthy world
of Maeve Binchy to the stratosphere of Capote and I wasn't at all
displeased to find another Binchy volume at the State Library, happy to
put my feet back on terra firma. It's an interesting book, This Year
It Will Be Different, a collection of short stories all set at
Christmas time, with that season's always ample opportunities for both
extremes of the happy/miserable scale. I hope whoever is contributing the
Binchy collection goes on to provide the few remaining novels left unread.
Jonathan Cainer was raving about what a great weekend this would be, Venus
moving into Aries and all that. Not really. But life goes on, within
and without you.
Truth is stranger than fiction. Sometimes much stranger. I was surprised
to discover someone had punched a peep hole between stall walls in the
(relatively new) men's room at the mall. People walk around carrying
drills? It must have been an experienced Peeping Tom because the hole was
perfectly positioned, provided an excellent view of a young man busily
stroking his ample equipment. A little boy arrived outside the stall,
asked, "Daddy, what are you doing in there?" Ha! You don't want to know,
kid. Daddy told him to wait outside. "Mommy says hurry up." Daddy did.
Shortly after that amusing entertainment, I saw Rocky and Rossini2,
thought I should recommend the stalls to Rocky (as long as I had the
neighboring one), and probably would have told him the story had he
been on his own. Instead, I told Rossini2 that my lawyer friend hadn't
known anything about Public Defender procedure and he said, "all lawyers
stick together." Hmmm.
I don't know why I hesitated with the lua story, Rocky certainly didn't
let the presence of Rossini2 inhibit him. "You still think [the
Sleeptalker] is cuter than me?" he asked. I didn't question how much
they'd had to drink already, just answered, honestly as always, "Yes," and
added as consolation, "but you've got a much bigger cock." He laughed,
told Rossini2, "I showed it to him." Yikes, these local boys. I said it
wasn't the first time, again told the story of the night at the
hacienda when Rocky had rolled over, pulled it out, and pissed on
the floor. That got them so howling, people were looking warily at us.
Rocky is extraordinarily flirtatious these days. Spring fever? He seems
to be offering himself, and I think that's not just wishful thinking on my
part because I don't really want to have sex with him. The only star of
my sexual fantasies for two years now has been the Sleeptalker. Not even
Mondo features in those. If Rocky was serious, I'd be more than happy to
try to satisfy him in any way he wanted it, but it would be because I just
like the young man very much and would be happy to give him pleasure, not
because I particularly wanted it myself.
Life might be a lot different two years from now, if I make it. I could
just say, okay, let's buy some beer and get a hotel room, spend the night
together. Cue up the Stones, let's spend the night together ....
I wonder what Rocky would say then? Who knows ... I might find out.
Speaking of Mondo, he skipped out on his court date. Seems odd to me that
someone arrested on suspicion of auto theft who had already served time
for the same offense would be allowed to stay free without bail, but
perhaps being a "property owner" has something to do with it. So now he's
a bona fide fugitive from justice. I can't really blame him. Since it
seems almost certain he'll be given time in prison, might as well enjoy as
much freedom as he can until he gets nabbed the next time.
The Sleeptalker has again disappeared, wasn't in the game all week and
Rocky hadn't seen him.
I'd finished the Binchy holiday stories, sitting in a sheltered spot with
a flask of tea while cold drizzle fell on campus, and then returned to
mainline bestseller territory with Stephen Birmingham's The Rothman
Scandal. It feels almost like cheating, giving up Danielle Steele for
Lent and then reading this epic of the rich and famous. Kills the time,
kills the time.
I was enjoying that silly book, so stayed on campus much later than usual,
reading. There are two tables which are (usually) sheltered from the wind
and drizzle, with enough light to read by. In recent weeks, an African
man has almost taken up permanent residence at one of them, annoying
mainly because he has a constant cough despite guzzling from bottles of
cough syrup. He was fortunately absent on Monday, so I could enjoy the
book without feeling I was sitting next to a black, male Camille.
When I did finally decide to leave, I just missed a #6 bus to the mall, so
took the #4 that came along next and went to Waikiki. I hadn't been there
at night in a very long time. Great snipe hunting territory, even if one
does have to put up with more haughty stares from Japanese persons while
pocketing the loot. One particularly snooty pair inspired me to greater
boldness, so I quickly had a full box of nice long treasures and headed
back to the bus stop. There are so few places to take a leak in Waikiki
but I had to do something or end up with wet pants, so I used the Ala Wai
Canal. I doubt my contribution did anything to disturb whatever fish can
survive in that grubby water.
Walking up the path to the hacienda, I saw that someone had my usual
bench. A little fellow, very young, definitely still in his teens and
rather cute. On the bench in front of him was the Sleeptalker. I settled
on the one next to him and enjoyed just watching him sleep for a little
while. He had his arms tucked inside his tee shirt, snuggled around
himself, wearing those baggy jeans, bare feet. Poor fellow must have felt
quite cold. I told myself to knock it off, get some sleep, and managed to
(almost) ignore him for the rest of the night.
He was already awake when I surfaced, asked me what I'd done all day.
The idea that I might be on campus with all the access to computers and
not continuously play Seventh Circle is totally incomprehensible to
him. I told him I had looked in a couple of times but hadn't seen him
there so didn't linger. He offered me a cigarette. I accepted and sat
beside him on his bench while we smoked. He confirmed what I had already
suspected, that the restaurant job was over. He didn't like the people
there and, more importantly, he thought they didn't like him.
He's overly sensitive about a burn scar on one arm, frequently gets irked
if he thinks people are paying too much attention to it, so one of his
female co-workers staring at it (as he thought) was the last straw. I
told him it really wasn't necessary to like people in order to just go in
and do a job but didn't comment on the scar paranoia. I've told him many
times before it isn't important.
He pulled a rolled-up magazine out of his backpack and walked over to put
it in the trash, came back and said with a grin, "masturbation material."
I said, "you're definitely that, all right" and tickled him. Tickling,
patting, pretend punching, an occasional hug ... acceptable forms of body
And rubbing my hand through his hair, which I did as I got up to leave.
Waiting at the bus stop, I saw him and the little fellow head off
together, no doubt for the soup kitchen's French Toast breakfast. I
suppose I should have gone along with them, but it had been such a sweet
half hour with the Sleeptalker in his irresistable sleepy-eyed mode that I
felt like I'd had enough of his company, didn't really want to continue it
on a shared basis, even with a little cutie like his new friend.
After my usual morning routine, two cups of McD's senior coffee, a shave
and a what's-left-of-them brushing of teeth, I took the bus to campus.
Both the IBM and the Mac servers appeared to be having morning sickness,
continually fell over after performing for a few minutes, so I gave up and
went off to read Ka Leo with an unusually boring "police blotter",
mysteriously postponed from its expected Monday morning appearance.
Then again onto the bus and downhill to meet
Ryan who had kindly invited
me to lunch. The idea of the lunch dates back quite some time, when I
happened to be in the same spot as Ryan and mentioned I'd never eaten in
the Curry House at Puck's Alley. Thanks to their "student special" and
maybe as much because he has become a regular there, he is indeed a
regular, so offered to buy me lunch. Good food, ample portions, excellent
I don't know why I bothered to cut-and-paste the link to Ryan's on-line
journal because he hasn't written anything in well over a month. Maybe
adding my in-person nagging complaints to the email doing
the same thing will prod him into action. I hope so. He's not only one
of the pioneers in the field, he's one of the more rewarding reads. When
he writes. Imagine letting the Weaning of the First Daughter pass without
documentation. It's a scandal.
He insists these Tales of mine are also worth reading. Sometimes I read
them and think, oh brother, falling in love certainly is no blessing
whatsoever to anyone who writes a journal (online or off).
Famous last words of a Sixth Decade?
Sometimes I read them and think, oh brother, falling in love certainly
is no blessing whatsoever to anyone who writes a journal (online or
My most cynical side says stop that statement after "whatsoever", but
fortunately (I think) that's only a small part of me, rarely gets a chance
to rule the roost.
I was thinking of a scheme, perhaps write a decade-by-decade review. The
First Decade was easy. I only loved a yellow-and-white stuffed rabbit.
Falling in love with him was easy, as was my long affair with him. It
was more my fault than his that he got so grubby from my hours of holding
him and crying on his chest for sympathy. So, okay, my fault he had to be
banished to the Temple, Texas city dump.
Then it gets altogether too complicated in the Second Decade, especially
the last quarter of it.
No, that's too ambitious a scheme.
I never expected to "fall in love" by the time the Sixth Decade rolled
Falling in love again, never wanted to ... what am I to do, can't help
The theme song of the Sixth Decade. But I'm wrong to say it's not a
blessing, journal writing or not. There are a few folks who have made
this decade special, have made it more comfortable, more amusing, more
challenging. Have indeed, helped me continue to live through it.
And that young man who didn't ask to be fallen in love with is certainly
one of them. And a blessing.
A reader (pessimist-reader?) asked what was the worst thing about
the Sixth Decade? The hospital?
No, no, the hospital adventure wasn't really all that bad, to tell the
truth. The dark side of morphine was certainly grim, but it passed like a
bad nightmare, with no lingering effects except some bizarre memories.
No, the worst thing about the Sixth Decade, as with all of the preceding
ones, was the pain of disappointing people, especially well-intentioned
people. I watch this in myself most carefully and I "work" in a
"laboratory" which gives me more than ample opportunity to do research.
I know, my readers don't think I work at all. If I got myself all the
credentials to be called a social worker, they'd no doubt be much
more comfortable. Well, some of them.
But I work very, very hard to ensure I don't allow myself to form notions
of what the Sleeptalker or Mondo or Rocky, or any other of the cast of
hundreds [well, okay, dozens] on the streets I come in contact with,
should be, should become. (Such an attitude would undoubtedly disqualify
me from being a social worker.)
It isn't always easy and I know I slip up now and then, but I try not to
let it become too important in my mind. You got stoned and got in trouble
again? You quit yet another job you were so happy to get? You aren't
going to put on an aloha shirt and go sit in an office five days a week?
(Not that I'd wish the last curse on any friend of mine ...).
Yes, that was the worst thing, disappointing friends, even losing friends,
because I couldn't (or wouldn't) be who they wanted me to be.
Some of them wanted me to become a little buddha and get enlightened on
this strange voyage. Even more wanted me to come to my "senses", give it
up, put on the aloha shirt and go back to a downtown tower box. I don't
suppose a single one of them wanted me to fall in love with a 24-year-old
Waianae lad and stay in love with him for two years (and counting). Even
some of the kindest friends couldn't help warning me that he was just
"using me". Ha! Use me, use me! Gawd, give me some reason to think it's
worth sticking around all these years.
One of the most striking differences between my few remaining friends on
the householder side and those on the roofless side is that the roofless
ones never pontificate on what I should be doing. Not one of them
has ever suggested I should get a job, get an apartment, lead a "normal"
life. They've never told me I drink too much, although it's true, Rocky
did suggest, after the fact, that I was doing so before the hospital
adventure, but only in a sort-of documentary fashion, as if that had
something to do with what happened. He may be right. But he was
commenting without condemning. And more importantly, without
They don't ask me to try and mold myself into something other
than what I am.
That's refreshing. I've encountered little of that in my long life.
And I had to go back and amend Tale 481 because I referred several times
to the "Fifth Decade". No, no, the years of fifty-something are the Sixth
Decade. Realizing that, sitting on a bench in the predawn hour waiting
for a bus, made me feel even older.
The doorstep of the Seventh Decade.
... never wanted to, can't help it ...
Once again I had to go back and make a slight amendment in the previous
Tale. "Cast of hundreds" was exaggeration, "dozens" is more accurate. I
don't write about most of them. Usually the older nomads just want
someone to talk to (the ones who aren't content to talk to themselves or
to imagined listeners). And almost always their talk is only
about their past life and how everything is "unfair". The Sleeptalker
told me his first impression of me was surprise, an old man who wasn't
unhappy. That goes too far, but I know what he meant.
A reader enjoyed the ambiguity of "the pain of disappointing people". No,
that wasn't premeditated phrasing, but I did notice how it could play both
And it's not a simple case of just accepting people as they are, either.
Although it's a very, very delicate balance, I do try to talk to the young
folks in a way that will bolster their confidence without putting any
pressure on them, without setting goals for them to "live up to". I pass
on any information I acquire which might be an opportunity, but again
without putting pressure on them to follow up. I try to discourage them
from walking negative paths but without "morality" as a reason and without
any tone of disapproval.
That aspect of my life on the street and my relationships with fellow
travelers probably isn't reflected in the Tales with anything near the
proportionate weight of reality. That's partly, I think, because writing
about it makes it sound like "work" and it is, as I said in the previous
Tale, sometimes just that. But it's also an easily natural style of life,
liking people and enjoying getting to know them, enjoying even more when
able to be a little help to them, if only as a willing listener. But
a Mother Theresa I ain't, no intention of making it sound like anything
special ... there are plenty of days when I just want to escape it all and
talk to none of them, especially the "problem children".
The birthday got off to a fine start with a cup of coffee handed to me by
Bobby at McD's. Victor is on vacation this week, so they changed Bobby
from the evening shift. He is such a sweetie, so shy. And there was
Victor sitting at a table eating breakfast. Sheez, if I worked in a McD's
and had a week off, I wouldn't go near the place. But Victor has quite a
fan club there and they were all stopping over to say hello, to tease him
about getting behind the counter. There's a large, probably Samoan, lady
who fills in one day a week as morning manager and she got quite irked
recently when some of the old regulars wouldn't switch to her line,
preferred to wait for Victor. Little wonder, the fellow seems always to
be happy and smiling, always has the right cheerful banter.
I finished the Stephen Birmingham book with my second cup of coffee so
after a brief visit to campus, returned to the mall for a quick snipe hunt
and went on to the State Library to pick up some more killing-time books.
Although his young friend had been at the hacienda, the Sleeptalker hadn't
been with him. For the Sleeptalker, I think these occasional night visits
are like putting a toe in the water, finding it still too cold, and
waiting awhile before trying again. He told me he hates staying at the
shelter but he apparently hates even more carrying around clothes to make
the hacienda a more comfortable place to spend the night. He wasn't at
the State Library, either. Maybe the new buddy isn't as patient as
A stop at the supermarket on the way back to campus. Luxury lunch of
French Burgundy pate with Breton wheat crackers, Spanish olives, cottage
cheese and a chilled Starbucks Mocha. The first such splurge of the
month, but then it was April 12th, after all. I had tucked away two
dollar bills to make certain I wouldn't end up feeling sorry for myself in
case no one offered to buy me a birthday beer. Then my cigarette
lighter's flint packed it in, even though there was plenty of fuel left.
So I had to spend one of those dollars to replace it, then smiled at the
irony when I shortly afterwards found a very new-looking lighter as well.
Since no one did make the beverage offer, I dug into my coin bag and got
myself a bottle of Colt in the late afternoon.
A pleasant enough day. As I told a friend, one of those ordinary days the
Steppenwolf so hated, but then the wolf in me is still hibernating, hasn't
realized somehow that it's Aries with Venus and Mercury passing through.
And oh Lordy, here it is not even the middle of the month yet and it's
already time to worry about quarters for morning coffee. Nawww ... like I
said, what me, worry?
Growing old just isn't at all what I expected it to be.
Went to Connaught Circle at sunset. The park in the center is
incredible -- music playing over loudspeakers (even one Airplane track!)
--- vendors with torches --- the open sky. Endless parade of people
wanting to talk, of course, plus knowledge that it is one place to buy
hash (could have but was put off by a pushy queen from Tanzania with the
unlikely name of Paddy). A beautiful park and experience even if one
sometimes wishes people would be just a little less chatty.
This day, in 1973. I don't feel any different inside now than I
did then and in many ways, since I've always led a fairly inactive life
physically, not much different outside either. Those weeks of
recuperation after the hospital certainly gave me a solid taste of
what decreased physical ability can be and will no doubt become, but now
that everything is (almost) back to "normal", it doesn't seem all that
different from the body I was in that evening in a Delhi park, either.
And I certainly expected a much decreased sex drive, probably even thought
there wouldn't be one at all. Fat chance. I expected more emotional
"maturity", too. But when the Sleeptalker told me in the game on Thursday
that he'd found a long-term bus pass, my reaction was as giddy as any
schoolgirl's although maybe she wouldn't have thought, "I need a beer."
(On the other hand, these days she might have.)
The thought of beer was in lieu of Valium.
There are some differences, I think, between my reactions and actions now
and what they would have been thirty years ago. I'd no doubt then have
tagged along after the Sleeptalker whenever possible, would have stayed at
the shelter when he did (especially after the day he said, "if you
stayed at IHS, we could shower together all the time"). I probably
wouldn't have been so schizoid with my reaction to something like news of
the found bus pass, would have been less concerned about protecting my
"time on my own".
But all in all, being old enough to be the Sleeptalker's grandfather
doesn't make nearly as much difference as I thought it would. I couldn't
have imagined my grandfather having the hots for some 24-year-old. But
then I never knew the grandfather with twenty-plus children.
Reading The Crowd Pleasers by Rosemary Rogers. I should probably
make it set policy to dump any book which brings in the CIA, but since she
didn't introduce them until well into her saga, I guess I'll carry on this
time. It isn't nearly as entertaining as the Stephen Birmingham yarn,
even though set in essentially the same milieu.
I think one of Birmingham's special pleasures in writing is creating his
lovingly detailed fantasy houses. Can't blame him for that, it has always
been one of my amusements, too, even if not writing about them. My
Honolulu version is a modified Academy of Arts building with a rectangular
entrance room panelled in koa (or maybe sandalwood), a large stone statue
of Buddha at the far end, a Nepalese carpet on the wooden floor, two large
double doors leading on one side to the main living room and on the other
to the book-lined dining room. Not as jazzy as the Birmingham dream
Now why on earth would I sometimes want to sit in the secluded grove with
a beer and ponder the details of an unattainable dream house when I could
instead be sitting with an equally unattainable 24-year-old lad from
Waianae? Maybe growing old does make more difference than I realize.
The third day of the Seventh Decade was a Sleeptalker day. He arrived on
campus early in the morning and we remained together until about eight in
the evening when he suddenly decided to make a run for the last express
bus, only to turn up later at the hacienda and take the bench next to
"We're family," he said to me at one point. He really has the most
uncanny knack for saying things that deeply touch me, wipes the slate
clear of all my impatient feelings of annoyance. And when I calmly think
about it, I have to admit that I must give him just as many reasons to get
He doesn't mind, sometimes obviously relishes it, but still, it must get
somewhat tiresome to be with someone who is so admiring, so apt to get
lost in desire.
I find it genuinely a puzzle, this neverending fascination with him, with
his feet, the soft hair on his arms, that wonderful scrubbrush hair, with
those deeply brown eyes. Come on, I tell myself, after all this time
shouldn't the fires be burning a little less ardently? Maybe they should
be, but they aren't. Even when I try very deliberately to ignore the many
little things about his body that so enchant me, I waver and get lost
again, rewarded with one of his grins and that look that says "caught
ya'!" And when he's in a flirtatious mood, even my most conscientious
efforts to ignore his body fall easily by the wayside.
It is so difficult to get coherent information out of him, always a
process of putting together bits and pieces which surface without any
apparent connection. But he didn't "find" the bus pass, as he'd said.
His "caseworker" referred him to a psychiatrist who decided the
Sleeptalker is "schizophrenic" and, I think, arranged the bus pass so he
can attend some kind of rehab center sessions.
The doctor's catchall diagnosis was based on the Sleeptalker's tales of
hearing voices, having vampires after him, etc. etc., all inspired by
methamphetamine and having little to do with any true clinical
"schizophrenia". I think the Sleeptalker probably neglected to add
details of what refreshments accompanied these delusions.
He told me more about the trip to Vegas. There were six of them, two in
each of three hotel rooms. One evening a fellow who had joined them from
Los Angeles kept coming and going from the Sleeptalker's room to his own,
each time letting the door lock behind him so the Sleeptalker had to get
up to let him back in. The others were apparently away at the time.
After a final visit to the Sleeptalker's room, the fellow vanished and was
not seen again. The others, according to his version, thought the
Sleeptalker had murdered the guy and they are still giving him a hard time
about it. The story, especially with his dramatic way of telling it all,
did indeed have an aura of madness.
Paranoia, persecution delusions, an utterly jumbled memory bank, sometimes
maybe even borderline psychosis, but "schizophrenia" is far too easy an
out. Still, it got him a two-year bus pass and some pills. He couldn't
remember the name of them, said they made him feel all groggy in the
morning. He may have felt groggy in his mind, but he was certainly more
tense and jumpy than I've ever seen him, didn't halfway settle down until
after we'd had lunch and even then kept in almost constant motion, leaping
around in conversation even more than he did physically. I suspect the
doc's prescription is as sloppy as his diagnosis, but kept my thoughts to
I do wish he'd been more honest with the doctor than I think he was.
Maybe there is something in the current chemical arsenal which would help
with the main problem the Sleeptalker has, and that's with sorting out the
difference between amphetamine-fueled "reality" and real "reality" and
with keeping the two separate in his mind. And certainly the doctor could
have told him that what he experiences on drugs is a normal, known
effect of those substances, not something wrong with his head. I can tell
him that, too, but it doesn't have the same weight.
I fell asleep on the bench beside him while he was still busily writing in
a notebook. I wonder what he was writing? I'd certainly like to read it.
When I woke on Saturday morning, I saw the Sleeptalker's treasured bus
pass had fallen out of his pocket and was laying on the floor beneath his
bench. I tucked it under his backpack and stood there for awhile looking
down at him sleeping before heading off for those cups of coffee at McD's.
It was more tempting than usual to stay, wait for him to awaken and go
to the soup kitchen with him, but I resisted.
I'd told him I wouldn't be on campus for long since I'd be leaving to meet
Helen R. for an afternoon film. So he stayed downtown, was in the game
playing from the State Library. He was very quiet at first but eventually
perked up. He'd asked on Friday, "isn't that MUD boring?" I said I
didn't think so, that it is one of the best free ones I've ever played,
and I certainly wasn't bored especially when he was in there. But I also
pointed out that I play for an hour or even less each day, don't spend
nearly as much time in there as he does. If I played five or six hours a
day, I'd get bored, too. "I don't know what else to do," he said.
I did leave in the late morning and made my way very very slowly to the
Signature Theatres at Dole Cannery, the trip made even more snail-like by
sewer work closing one lane of Ala Moana Boulevard. A young Japanese
fellow gave up his seat in the elderly/handicapped area for me. I grow
old, I grow old. The Sleeptalker looked intently at me on Friday and
said, quite affectionately, "you're getting old." "Tell me about it!"
Helen and I went to see "The Road to Eldorado", a far better animated
feature from Dreamworks than their "Prince of Egypt". I don't think I've
ever seen such an almost-gay couple in an animated film before,
quite touching at times, especially the sequence with Elton John's sweet
song, "Friends Never Say Goodbye". No difficulty in guessing who was on
my mind at the time. A very pleasant film, most enjoyable, the best
animated feature I've seen since "The Little Mermaid".
We ate at a Chinese plate-lunch place afterwards. The lady there was just
getting ready to close, so piled our plates with far more than I suspect
would be the usual case. I felt stuffed, more rice than I've eaten in a
long time. We rode back to the mall together, Helen went off to do some
maybe-shopping at Sears and I went snipe hunting. Despite the mobs in the
place, made more awkward by one of the too-frequent "sidewalk sales", it
took quite awhile to gather a box of decent snipes. Sometimes it seems
there are more snipe hunters and trashpickers at the mall than shoppers.
If the cleaning and security armies were added to the bums, I'm sure the
shoppers would be outnumbered.
Back then to campus, picking up a bottle of Colt on the way, greatly
enjoying it in the secluded grove with a colorful sunset. I had finished
that rather tedious rich-and-famous-people yarn in the morning, moved on
to Robert Tanenbaum's Irresistible Impulse. I thought it was
spelled "irresistable". The book isn't, but it does have some moments of
quite delightful humor scattered through the usual crime in New York City
The Sleeptalker and I had stopped by Manoa Garden on Friday evening but
after sitting through two numbers by Coconut Joe he said, "let's get out
of here", later called them a "changalang" band. I think they're the
closest thing to the Dead on the local music scene, but didn't mind giving
up the gig in exchange for sharing a final beer in the secluded grove. I
wondered what he would have thought of the raucous band playing at the
Garden on Saturday evening. Such lasting influence the Sex Pistols have
I was sitting at a table by Hemenway Hall. A young lady came out and
asked if I was waiting for the film. "No," I said, "just listening to the
music." She looked at me as if I was totally insane, an old git like me
listening to that?
The Sleeptalker really is in bad shape and I wish there were some way to
help him. He arrived on campus around nine on Sunday morning, wearing a
tee shirt and light gray knit-cotton shorts which did absolutely nothing
to soothe my soul. He played nonstop in the game for over two hours, not
joining me when I took a couple of smoke breaks. On the third break, he
did come out, was ranting about Polynesians. He hates the focking
Hawaiians because they're focking racists. He hates the Japanese because
they're focking racists. Nothing to be gained by pointing out what
racist sentiments were being expressed. And I had no idea what had set
He said he felt like he was in chains, held his arms out with his wrists
together as if they were bound. "Don't laugh at me," he said, "I'm
focking serious." I hadn't any intention of laughing. I asked if maybe
it was the pills but he said he had stopped taking them. Then he said
something quite incoherent about things his family were saying to him,
asked how he was supposed to understand what they wanted. These, I
assume, are among the "voices".
He was pacing back and forth from one side of the building to the other
and I followed him for awhile. Then he just took off without saying
anything else and I thought it was probably better to let him go. I think
he was torn between wanting company and yet being unable to really
communicate what is so obviously tormenting him. The torment is obvious,
the reason is far from it. And I have absolutely no idea how to help him.
If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with ...
That Stephen Stills song is a favorite of mine and surfaced on Sunday
evening. I'd found a Dunhill box with four of those fine English
cigarettes in it, was sitting on a bench in the orchid walk at the mall
enjoying the last of them before heading off to the hacienda. One of the
mall regulars who rarely talks to anyone sat down beside me and launched
into a major lament in the key of Unfair. I would have preferred to be
left alone with my thoughts of the Sleeptalker. Oh well, if you can't
They had cut off his foodstamps, the lamenter said. He admitted he had
been given several warnings about missed job interviews. That surprised
me. I would certainly have guessed he was older than I am, definitely
looks it. Evidently not. Until you reach sixty, there's a fairly complex
set of rules to follow and conditions to meet in order to continue getting
foodstamps. Since I was so near to the mark, the woman at DHSS said,
"with any luck, they won't get to you." My luck held. I suspect they
must be fairly lenient with applying the rules here. In this town, how
could a man in his fifties possibly come up with twenty job interviews in
a month? But lenient or not, this fellow had obviously pushed them too
How was he going to survive? I mentioned the two main soup kitchens. No,
River of Life is too full of "goddamn preachers", IHS is full of thieves.
And even if he did find a job, as soon as he got the first paycheck he'd
drink it all and lose the job. Sleeptalker, older model.
I let the guy ramble on for awhile before making my excuses and escaping.
Can't say I gave him any "love" or even as much sympathy as I would have
given the "one I love", but I did what I could.
Thoughts of the Sleeptalker had dominated the day from the time he walked
off down the sidewalk. I remembered how in the very beginning both Rocky
and Mondo warned me that the Sleeptalker is "crazy". Of course, even
now when the subject of Mondo arises, the Sleeptalker repeats his
assertion that Mondo is "crazy". Cue up Patsy Cline for my side.
On-line journals can sometimes be far more compelling than fiction. Real
things happening to real people. And the latest entry in
Time hit a chord. Maybe, as Elton sang, "friends never say
goodbye", but every parting could be the last one, at least for this
lifetime. The Sleeptalker has never spoken of suicide and maybe his
bizarre notions of religion might actually help for a change, maybe he
wouldn't even consider it. But he is so incredibly strung out, so trapped
in his mental prison I don't know how he could ignore that always-possible
escape. And even if he didn't allow himself to think of it consciously,
he could get desperate enough to do something truly "crazy".
Time to make sure those goodbyes are ones which wouldn't weigh heavily if
the last one. And I was deeply concerned that I hadn't made sufficient
effort to get through to him, to make it clear yet again that I love the
guy for who he is, never mind having the hots for his body. I need, for
my sake as much as his, to sit down with him and talk. But it's not
likely I could have accomplished much on Sunday morning, given the extreme
state he was in.
I had enough coins for one beer, held onto them in case he returned to
campus. It was for me more than for him because he had refused to drink
much on Friday, said drink just made him feel more "annoyed". But it
would have helped make me a little more mellow, as it did on Friday. When
he didn't return by sunset time, I went ahead and bought the beer. I gave
Dame Fortune notice I had no intention of playing that beer-or-coffee game
again this month. Give me enough coins and I'm buying beer, to hell with
the coffee. I guess she got the message, because there was a quarter in a
stroller corral when I got to the mall, and another one in an abandoned
Fortunately, the beer didn't make me feel more "annoyed".
There's a Fool Moon on the rise, and it's going to be a strong one.
"I seen him worse," said Rocky about the Sleeptalker. "He used to cry all
the time." I remembered Mondo saying, "I hate it when he cries," and
thinking I was certain I would, too. But now I'm not so sure. I think it
would be easier to cope with the Sleeptalker crying than with his tense
It was a great surprise to see Rocky stagger up outside McD's early on
Tuesday morning. He said he'd gotten totally wasted the night before and
had fallen asleep in the park. I gave him my coffee and went inside to
get another. When I rejoined him, he was brushing leaves and grass off
his pants so I helped out by cleaning the back of his tee shirt. Such a
firm body. I gave him a little massage around the base of his neck.
"That feels good," he said. "Feels good to me, too, you have a beautiful
body." "It was better when I was young," he replied. Sigh. Echoes of
Mondo again and the morning he told me he used to do Tai Chi "when I was
young." Hitting twenty must be over-the-hill time for these guys, as they
Rocky said he would have liked to sleep all day but had promised to help
his cousin move some stuff in Waimanalo, finished his coffee and went off
to get the bus, telling me "don't worry about [the Sleeptalker], he'll be
okay." Everyone telling me not to worry lately ...
Monday was a gray, dreary day with frequent periods of drizzle including
an annoying series during lunchtime, brief but heavy enough to drive me
from the secluded grove. I went to the State Library mid-afternoon,
knowing I'd finish the Tanenbaum book before the day was out, and then to
the mall. For a time it looked like the Dame was playing a new version of
the coffee-or-beer game. Just enough for a beer ... minus one quarter. I
checked all the usual spots for abandoned carts. Nothing. Then, bang,
three carts right in a row. I was about to get on a bus headed for campus
when Helen R. got off it, suggested getting something to eat at Arby's.
As an economy measure, I'd planned on oatmeal cookies and beer for dinner.
An Arby's baked potato with broccoli and cheddar was a much more pleasant
Then I went back to campus, picking up a bottle of Colt on the way, and
sat at one of the sheltered tables under that huge shining moon which
peeked through the clouds now and then, finished the book as expected and
wondered why on earth the internal jukebox revved up "Blue Moon of
Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining .... That was one of my
favorite early Elvis recordings and the Sun label 78 was a teenage
treasure. I never thought Elvis in the least bit physically desirable but
I did love those early Sun recordings.
Back in the days when I, too, was young.