I was no longer young enough to behold at every turn the magnificence
that besets our insignificant footsteps in good and in evil. I smiled
to think that, after all, it was yet he, of us two, who had the light.
Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim
fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly
the bull of the dragon
oh sweet and lovely lady be good
plenty of fish in the sea
and the cotton is high
The morning after those fool moon's eyes. Absolutely classic.
"I can't believe it happened. I was all drunk and everything."
Poor fellow sat for a couple of smokes and some coffee, then said he'd
better go. I was treading very, very carefully. Adjusting to a new phase
in the long dance with the Sleeptalker is something neither of us can
escape or ignore after that full moon night, and I know how difficult it
must be for him.
He was apparently waiting outside the door of the State Library on Tuesday
morning, appeared in the game just moments after the nine o'clock opening.
He seemed in high spirits, after awhile asked if I could get some beer
because he felt like drinking for the first time in weeks. I said I could
try. He left the game and not long afterwards arrived on campus.
We played until early afternoon, then went down to the supermarket to get
lunch. Sitting in the secluded grove, and with him at his sweetest, most
coherent, I was able to say all the things I'd wanted to tell him. He
seemed to have little or no memory of what he'd already told me, repeated
much of the information but in extraordinarily direct, straightforward
His caseworker is trying to get SSI financial assistance for him. I had
to smile when he said all he needed to do was go to the interview
and act like Mondo. He may be right, Mondo did manage to qualify for a
time. But what the Sleeptalker said and the way in which he said it led
me to think much of his recent "craziness" has been inspired by the need
to act "crazy". He said if he got it, he'd also get a place to live and
that I could stay with him, then rather touchingly pondered how he'd
explain that to his friends. But he also has the notion of moving to Maui
if he gets SSI, a way to escape the "drug dealers". So much energy put
into planning for something that might not happen.
He went back to the game, I went off to borrow money so I could get that
beer he wanted. Another interlude in the secluded grove, drinking and
talking. He pulled out a book from his backpack to show me what he's
reading. Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. I felt faint. He wants to read all
the "classics", he said. And he showed me that notebook he had been
writing in. All phrases in Spanish, since he's decided he wants to learn
the language. His handwriting is suprisingly neat, almost elegant.
Never a dull moment, never a shortage of surprises.
We went back to the game for awhile and then I set off on a snipe hunt.
He was playing at the computer lab and since my hunt took me across
campus, I stopped in Sinclair Library, logged into the game and asked him
if he wanted more beer. Definitely. Another trip downhill and back, two
bottles of Colt45 in backpack.
In the game, there are specific quests one can do, accumulating "quest
points" for each completed one. The major prize for the effort is a
special sword which the Sleeptalker badly wants. He said jokingly over
the beer that I could have his body in exchange for one of those swords.
It's a deal, I told him, but I get you first, am not giving you the sword
until afterwards. I thought it was just one of his usual flirtatious
gambits but he must have been pondering it further because as we opened
the second bottle, he said, "okay, you can have it."
Tender, sweet, passionate, the birthday gift of my fantasies, a dream come
true under that beautiful moon. Nectar of the gods.
I am a lucky man.
The Morning After interlude was, of course, only the beginning. The
entire Day After was utterly, overwhelmingly dominated by thoughts of the
I have never experienced a more loaded aftermath of a sexual adventure,
but then I have rarely experienced a more loaded sexual adventure. You
can interpret that in any of the possible ways, since all apply.
Although he hadn't mentioned it before, the Sleeptalker had discovered a
secluded place very near campus which is hidden by dense foliage, an ideal
sleeping spot when it isn't raining. Mercifully, it didn't rain on
Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. He led me there when it was possibly
too late for a bus to the hacienda and settled down to sleep beside me,
feet to head.
I woke first, sat up and smoked a snipe. He stirred, smiled at me, and
snuggled up against my leg. I gently rubbed his back as he returned to
sleep for a little while, one extreme of the see-saw reaction during our
morning interlude. On the other side was his disgust and disbelief that
he had allowed it to happen, balanced by, for example, asking with a big
grin, "I was very drunk?"
Yes, I assured him, he was very drunk. I feel almost certain that he had
decided to let me have his body before the beer and the matter of the
special sword ever entered the picture, but he is more than welcome to any
rationalizations which make the decision more comfortable for him.
And it was a wise choice on his part to leave after that brief time
together in the morning. We both had a lot of thinking to do.
There was, for me, the emotional sag. Wanting something so very, very much
and for an incredibly long time, then finally getting it leaves something
of a vacuum. Heaven knows it wasn't disappointing, it far surpassed
anything I had been able to imagine. I played the memory tape over
several times, making sure all the delightful details were fully recorded,
as if there could be any chance of it being otherwise.
And as I am sure he does, I felt guilty. Even when he lay back, unbuckled
his belt and unzipped his jeans, I had the thought that I should stop it
there, assure him again, as I had earlier, that I love him for himself,
not for his body. I didn't, of course. I wanted it too much. He had
asked me earlier why that was the case, he really didn't understand.
"There are plenty of fish in the sea." "You've never really been in love,
then?" I asked. He thought for a bit and said "no". I told him I wanted
something of him inside me, that was why I wanted it so much, and it could
only be from him, none of the other "fish" would do.
Still, even if offered it as I was, there is the idea that it would have
been far more noble to sacrifice my desire, to resist adding yet another
burden to the poor fellow's already overloaded mental state.
He, I am sure, will feel guilty, if he allows himself to remember it, for
having been so actively passionate. It certainly surprised me, I expected
him to lay there like a zombie, never mind he's twenty-four years old with
little outlet for that age's natural sexual desire.
And there is the suspense. How will he handle it? It could be the
extreme of breaking off our friendship altogether, if it's too painful for
him to accept what happened. I've always considered that as the major
gamble. As I've said, I could never give up the notion that it
could happen, even when it seemed highly unlikely, and so I've
contemplated not only what it could be, but what the repercussions might
I don't think he'll go that far. I hope not.
But I would be surprised if he doesn't withdraw altogether for awhile, no
matter how carefully I tried to act during the Morning After interlude.
I would, of course, be delighted to be proven wrong, to get the
opportunity sooner rather than later to let him know that no matter how
much I treasure that night under the Full Moon, it doesn't change at all
how much I care for him or how much we can both enjoy our unusual
What a long, strange trip it's been from Tale 165 and "As I said
before, Rocky must have been the kind of kid who took stray dogs home. His
latest puppy is such a cutie ..."
When you make the inner as the outer ...
Or was that the other way around, Saint Thomas? Whichever, Maundy
Thursday dawned with a perfect match. A more gray, dreary sky one could
not imagine, inside and out. But the cloud cover broke, the sun came out,
and I cheered myself up with the naughty thought of the ideal solution to
the Aftermath Dilemma.
The Sleeptalker had provided it. When he was talking about me sharing his
SSI-provided quarters, he teased, "you could give me head every night."
That's the solution! Do it again. And again and again and again. Do it
until I finally say, "not tonight, sweetheart, I've got a headache." And
it would happen, too. Just might take a LOT of agains.
I considered zapping 490 altogether. I just want to remember the
wonderful night of the Fool Moon, not all the twisted thinking that
followed it. But then I had considered not writing about that night, too.
Not much point in writing these things, though, without making them as
accurate as possible a portrait of the Artist as an Old Man.
By sunset on Wednesday, I was feeling utterly exhausted. Sleeping in a
strange place is always a restless experience, made far more so by having
the Sleeptalker snuggled up beside me. He seemed to sleep very soundly
but I woke up many times, never really fell deeply asleep. And all that
confounded thinking during the day was exhausting. I had tried to read to
distract myself, with little success. I'd spent more time than usual in
Seventh Circle. Got to get that sword for the lad. But as sunset
time approached, I headed off to the mall.
The bankroll was down to a few pennies. Since the morning routine of
coffee at McD's had been broken with the shared flask of coffee on campus
that morning, I didn't much care if I found any quarters or not. But as I
walked over to get the bus for the hacienda, I spotted a cart sitting
there and returned it. In the corral was another with its quarter, that
one firmly stuck in slot. Swiss Army knife to the rescue, coffee
financing in coin bag, off to the bench.
The two Bicycle Boys were there having an argument. They've both
apparently lost their wheels, and it seemed to be yet another broken buddy
act since they hadn't appeared together in some time. Maybe the argument
was a make-up one, because they eventually settled down on adjoining
It was just as well I'd gotten there earlier than usual since it turned
out to be more than a full house, every bench occupied and five bodies on
the floor. The temperature had dropped considerably in the late afternoon
after being a warm enough day to temporarily shed the sweatshirt, and it
got quite damp during the night. Lucky me, lucky us, that hadn't happened
the night before.
And I really should have put that solution into practice already, should
have gotten him again the Morning After.
I'm so bad.
"There are plenty of fish in the sea." True words, my dear Sleeptalker,
true words, especially in this town of brown-skinned young men.
On Good Friday morning, I went for the first time this year to sit by the
seaside. Lest this be interpreted as a major expedition, I should explain
for those unfamiliar with the terrain that Ala Moana Shopping Center,
happy hunting ground for snipes, quarters and other goodies, sprawls
alongside a six-lane "boulevard". Across that ever-busy thoroughfare is a
pleasant park, a long sandy beach and the Pacific Ocean. One end of the
beach is dominated by tourists, the other end by locals.
I walked down to the locals end and sat on a bench watching the early
surfer dudes arrive for their romp in the waves. A fine young specimen of
that breed walked past me, wearing only dark blue surfer shorts. This is
not as commonplace as one might think. Surfing does not appear to be
sufficiently strenuous exercise to burn off the results of those
plate-lunch boxes and many of the surfer dudes are a little too Rubenesque
for my taste. But in this case I had already reached the conclusion that
he had a great body and a cute butt, there was really no need for him to
take up position on the beach in front of me and do his limbering-up
exercises, bending over and grabbing his ankles.
Not long after his entertaining exposition, two even-younger lads arrived
with their boards. One was blonde, had a body which belonged on the cover
of a twink magazine. His name was Michael, I learned from his father who
told them he'd be back to get them at 11:30. Daddy left, two other lads
walked up to join them. I told myself to behave, Michael was far too
young for the thoughts I was having. One of his friends asked something
about "Mark", and Michael said, "he gave me a blowjob". "How long did it
take?" "Oh, just a few minutes," said Michael. I might as well have been
invisible for all the notice they took of my eavesdropping. Just a few
There's a new snipe hunter at the mall. I can't guess his ethnic origin,
he looks more Caribbean than local. Young, very slim, very brown. Wears
tan shorts and a lightweight tan jacket over a tee shirt, all quite
grubby. Bare feet. He walks with a lilting little bounce which is so
endearing I don't mind at all his being a competitor.
And I finally got a good look at that new young fellow who stays at the
hacienda now and then, the one who had walked off with the Sleeptalker not
long ago. He really is a sweet little guy and looks amazingly like a
young (okay, even younger) version of Rocky. Absolutely no complaint
whatever about him as a next-bench sleeping mate.
Yes, plenty of fish in the sea. None of this, of course, halted the
ever-continuing thoughts of the Sleeptalker, but I reconcile myself to
recalling at least once each day for the rest of my life the vision of him
laying there under the full moon.
On Maundy Thursday evening, Helen R and I went to see the University
production of "Summer Festival: A Mirror of Osaka". It was my first
experience of Kabuki theatre so I can't say whether it was a good
performance or not, but it certainly was fascinating and entertaining.
Although in English, the program notes said they had tried to do it in a
style authentic to its first production some 250 years ago. The only
thing in my experience which is anything remotely close is Gilbert &
Sullivan, and the only familiar moments were the classic frozen poses
known from Japanese woodblock prints. As I told Helen later, I was
grateful it had been explained before the performance that audience
participation was welcome in the Kabuki tradition. Otherwise I would have
thought some folks in the audience quite crazy for shouting out Japanese
phrases now and then.
That evening of classic entertainment was followed by a double-feature
movie expedition on Good Friday, starting with "U-571", a WW2 submarine
epic. It was certainly well done although it seemed to miss the intense
claustrophia of other sub movies I've seen and there was the
almost-certainty the good guys would survive which weakened the suspense
element. Unlike most Hollywood films these days, it did have a generous
share of handsome men. With few exceptions (Brad Pitt comes instantly to
mind), the current leading men in Hollywood films are really not
very interesting physically.
After a quick lunch break at McD's, it was on to Friedkin's "Rules of
Engagement". It, too, was well done but certainly not a film I'd want to
see a second time. The Vietnam scenes suggest that Spielberg with his
"Ryan" has set a new standard for graphic, bloody depiction of combat.
Movie-going was followed up with dinner at Bubba Gump's, my first time
there. No doubt about it, they do the best cheeseburger in town and their
"Boiler" is my favorite menu item anywhere. A Boiler is a sixteen-ounce
glass of draft beer plus a shooter of choice. Budweiser and tequila, my
first taste of the latter since pre-hospital days. Yummmmm.
Then I did the "just hanging-out" routine until it was time for the bench
and that little sweetie on the one next to me.
Take me down to Paradise City where the grass is green and the boys are
pretty ... The Sleeptalker's favorite sing-along track at the
moment. Okay, so I changed one word of the lyrics.
Three cheers for the Sleeptalker. He seems to be doing fine with it,
appeared in the game on Saturday morning, playing from the State Library.
I had expected him to stay away for at least a week. He reminded me that
I owed him the sword. I assured him he'd get the sword. "I still need
three thousand more quest points, my friend". I gave him a hug. He
shivered. Heh. The first thing I did when we got up after that splendid
evening interlude was ask for a hug. "You want a hug, too?!" Yep, a hug
seemed the best way to say thank you. We had a few more amusing exchanges
in the game before he left, presumably bound for free lunch. It would
have been very much nicer had he made the trip to campus, but I'm sure it
was easier for him via virtual contact. Certainly not for the first time,
I was grateful for Seventh Circle.
I was very happy with the virtual reunion but after some debate decided
not to tell him the surprise news that the computer lab on campus was
going to be open on Easter Sunday. He would no doubt have been torn
between wanting to play the game and being, I think, not quite ready to
see me face-to-face. Maybe I misjudge his thoughts, but better to play it
extra careful for awhile.
He returned briefly to the game in mid-afternoon. I had been playing
almost continuously. To explain just what a price I've paid for that
beautiful body of his, the sword costs 20,000 quest points. Each quest
yields a random reward, can be anything from less than 50 to more than
150. Making it more difficult, or at least more time-consuming, there is
a twenty-minute delay after completing a quest before another can be asked
for, and the time is only measured while in the game, alas. We're talking
a LOT of time. But it surely was worth it.
The lab was closing at 4:30, so I left and joined Helen R for dinner at
that pseudo-Cajun place at Daiei. Helen played Easter Bunny this
year, and did a most excellent, and much appreciated, job of it, too.
Little Rocky was already asleep when I got to the hacienda and settled on
the bench beside him. He wears a dark jacket with a hood which hides most
of his face, light-blue jeans which have been cut off at the bottom, sweet
bare feet. While I was waiting for a bus in the morning, I saw him get
up, take off the jacket and the white tanktop he'd been wearing under it,
switching to a dark tanktop. What a fine body. I wished I had stayed on
my bench a little longer to have had a closer view. Bring on the warmer
Most unusually, the mall McD's was closed for Easter, as I'd found out the
day before. So I stayed on the bus until we got to Waikiki and I saw an
open McD's there, had my coffee and then walked through the Royal Hawaiian
Shopping Center on a snipes hunt. "Is this the place with shops they're
all talking about?" asked a mainland tourist. Hmmmm, can't say I've ever
heard anyone talking about the place, but I said, "I guess so, it's the
main shopping center here in Waikiki."
It's such a mess along the beach. Rather than doing the "beautification"
a bit at a time, they've extended the construction work from one end of
the beach almost to the other, and they certainly don't seem to be making
very speedy progress on it or the work also going on in Kapiolani Park. It
will no doubt look quite fine when finished, judging by the illustrations
of the plans, but right now walking through Waikiki is a stroll through
After walking the length of the beach, I got a bus to campus. The dreary
False Prophet was hanging around outside the computer lab. I can't
imagine why he does it, he gets comfort from the proximity of forbidden
computers? Checked mail, played the game for awhile, scoured the campus
for snipes, washed my hair. I remembered some past Easters, the first one
in London when it snowed, much to everyone's surprise. That one spent in
an office way up in the Seagram Building, watching the sun rise. One at
the Vanderbilt YMCA when a young fellow who was there with some church
group became aroused in the shower and got an Easter present I doubt he
had expected. "Happy Easter!" I said to him afterwards and he grinned
where the grass is green ... and the boys are pretty ...
Maybe I'm finally turning into a Dirty Old Man.
A charmed life, indeed.
Surprisingly, Thursday had been the first brew-less day of April. Saturday
was the second because I'd nonsensically tucked away the funds for an
Easter sunset beer. I had $2.06 for the beer, needed one more penny.
But I also had a quarter, needed a dime and a penny for the next morning's
coffee. I was prepared to sacrifice the quarter and the coffee for that
sunset bottle. But I walked past a vending machine area on campus which
is not usually a rewarding one. On the floor was one dime and two
That kind of thing makes me feel like I've stepped down the rabbit hole
Of course, with such exactitude, once the coffee was purchased I was in
the amazingly rare state of being utterly penniless. It's odd that after
all this time, it makes any difference. But it does.
The beer was not entirely a success. I was feeling low. I went to the
State Library to get reading material for what I thought would be more
time offline than it turned out to be. Although I've grumbled about every
book of his I've read, I spotted John Grisham's thick volume, The
Chamber. No grumbles this time, it's a fine piece of work. But
thoroughly grim and depressing.
And maybe I'm finally turning into a Dirty Old Man didn't help.
Okay, I wasn't entirely serious (although in some ways I've always been
one, no matter what age). But that's not what I really want, I think. I
want to be the old guy the young lads can trust, confide in, turn to when
in trouble. The one who gives them a cigarette or occasionally buys them
a beer without strings attached, without sitting there hoping they'll
unzip their pants.
One voice I've dubbed the Grand Romantic says quit, retire, give it up on
the crest of the wave. You know there isn't going to be another that will
mean as much as the Sleeptalker, just resign and give up sex, grow old(er)
gracefully with the memory that the last time was one of the best ever.
A large chorus shouts him down. Get real! You know damned well if you
end up in the beach shower with Little Rocky and he offers it, you're
going to oblige and most happily so.
I do get weary of these confounded internal dialogues.
Tell me he's lazy, tell me he's slow
Tell me I'm crazy, maybe I know ...
The Sleeptalker knelt by my bench and asked softly, "where were you?"
"At lunchtime? Went Ala Moana to have a shower."
"Then you went back?"
"Yes, was there until about eight o'clock."
I rubbed my hand through his hair and he got that wonderful goofy dog
expression on his face. Then he bounced off to an outside bench where I
had a fine view of his sprawled body. I've never known anyone who so
hates being on his own. Even with the game to occupy him, he hadn't been
able to stay on campus by himself for a couple of hours.
And sound asleep on the bench beside me was "Little Rocky". BUT ... it
isn't "little" Rocky at all, it's the Man himself! That boy must have
located the Fountain of Youth. He looks at least three or four years
younger. Little wonder I thought he looked "amazingly like Rocky". I
suppose it's because I've gotten so used to seeing him when he's either
totally wasted or recovering from having been so. And little wonder I'd
thought the view from a distance suggested he has a great body. He does,
indeed. I definitely should've stayed on the bench awhile longer that
morning. He wouldn't have minded my admiring close-up gaze.
Old-timers night at the hacienda. Rocky, the Sleeptalker, even the Snorer
stopped by. I guess he was just checking the place out, he didn't spend
the night. No problem with that, there's another snorer there who is more
than a match for him. The two of them together would have been
Spring has sprung ... at last. Easter Monday was a sunny, warm day,
perfect for the first beach shower of the year. Can't say the first
shower companions of the new season were very interesting, but as my old
friend Felix used to say, "even in New York City a naked body has some
worth." In Honolulu, too.
On Tuesday, at midday, the Sleeptalker arrived on campus. Yet again I
borrowed money to finance some beer. We played the game awhile, went
downhill to get some food and a beer, sat in the secluded grove. We
talked about early memories of our first encounters. It's funny how
differently we remember some of those moments.
We went back to the computer lab and played some more, later took a smoke
break together. The Cherub happened by, as those say who don't accept "no
accidents". Off to the Garden to drink some more beer. A conversation
which absolutely no editor would have accepted had it been part of a
novel. I was well out-numbered. Two twenty-four-year olds against an old
man. The Cherub utterly shocked me at one point when I realized I had
lost contact, he simply hadn't understood what I had been saying, or I had
done an even worse job of saying it than I thought.
The Sleeptalker had picked a fight with one of the game players earlier,
one of the guys I most like. I tried through private chat to explain that
the Sleeptalker was a bit drunk, that he really isn't the bastid he
sometimes seems to be in the game, etc., and managed to calm the stormy
waters. But of course the Sleeptalker fretted over the incident
throughout the evening and it eventually turned into a shouting match
outside the Garden. I walked off and left him and the Cherub, returned to
the computer lab and wished I'd never met the Sleeptalker.
Love me or leave me and let me be lonely ...
After awhile I headed off to the bus stop, ran into the Sleeptalker and
the Cherub. Apologies, bear hugs. Sigh.
The Cherub went on his way, the Sleeptalker and I walked downhill for more
beer and took it to where we'd slept on that Fool Moon night. A light
drizzle started, so we had to move closer together to take advantage of
the small roof overhang and that meant sleeping very, very close to each
other. An exercise, I guess, in proving we could get drunk together and
sleep with constant body contact, nothing more than that happening.
If there is some other way to prove that I love you
I swear I don't know how
You'll never know if you don't know now
In the morning he decided to head off for the soup kitchen and an early
appointment with his caseworker. I brewed myself a flask of coffee and
sat there under a beautiful dawn sky.
And wished I'd never met him.
But probably didn't mean it.
My Tijuana backpack. My heavy Tijuana backpack. I stopped down on
Wednesday morning to visit Kory K who was busy packing for a five-day trip
home to Hilo, Merry Monarch Festival and all. He gave me a bottle of
tequila. Damn, I should have birthdays more often.
Amazingly enough, I didn't open the bottle on Wednesday. That was partly
because he also gave me the remains of a vodka bottle. Off to the
supermarket for a ham sandwich, cottage cheese and a can of tomato juice.
A Bloody Mary, even without ice and sauce, is a nice alternative to beer
for lunch. If only I could manage to lug around one of those huge bottles
of cheap vodka they sell at the drugstore.
Then later, in the game, I got the other component of my ammo for
Sleeptalker Round Two. There's another sword he badly wants, this one
special because it no longer exists. In the last major revision of the
game, they removed the "Dragonslicer", so the only available ones are from
old-timers who still have some. They are very reluctant to part with
them, understandably, but I managed to complete a special quest and was
awarded a "Gold Shard", valuable enough to trade for two of those swords.
A Dragonslicer and a bottle of tequila ... what more do I need?
The Sleeptalker and I had discussed all this bribery stuff. I noted that
I am generally very kind to him so there's no reason why he should have to
be bribed to be kind in return. He agreed. Hmmmm. He lamented the fact
that he just isn't a generous person, an accurate piece of self analysis.
I noted the truth of it later when the Cherub gave the Sleeptalker three
dollars for beer. Since I was buying the beer, he bought cigarettes. I
was allowed to smoke three of the twenty, and he didn't even offer one in
the morning before jumping on the bus for the soup kitchen. Nope, not a
generous person. At least he's honest about it.
But he also complained about a friend who comes running everytime he hears
the Sleeptalker has money and then when the money is gone, totally ignores
him. I guess that's one reason the Sleeptalker always avoids me in the
first few days of the month.
I had a quiet day on my own, trying to make more sense out of my jumbled
batch of thoughts. There are some cliches of gay thinking I've always
found repellent. One is the notion that all men are really homosexual and
can be had. The flip side of that is trying to convince oneself the
object of desire is really straight. I've seen some queens pull that one
on themselves when the boyfriend was a blatant faggot.
Determined to avoid either of those pitfalls, I probably fall into another
one by feeling convinced the Sleeptalker is bisexual. Maybe he's just a
thoroughly repressed gay guy. I'm not sure, and it certainly doesn't
matter to me.
Another pitfall I thoroughly dislike is the trophy one. Chase a guy until
you get him, then go on to the next. Some readers may think that
applies in this case, but not so. A reader wrote:
"It's so much easier to deal with desire that's never been
quenched than to get a taste and then not be able to have your
fill. (Somehow the metaphor seems apt.)"
Most apt, indeed.
And equally apt was:
"Given that you're going to have the ups and downs anyway, I
guess being in love with a young drifter is not the worst thing
that could happen."
Ain't it the truth.
As I do now and then, was reading an old Tale and came across this in
I'd gotten to the hacienda early and was relaxing on the
bench, looking around me with the increasing admiration I have for that
space, those noble arches, the esoteric elegance of the use of threes, the
strange but wonderful blend of Moorish, Egyptian, Mughal, Mayan.
Oh yes, there is absolutely no doubt about it. The "hacienda" is THE
greatest blessing of my life. I'd considered on Wednesday evening staying
in the Fool Moon Spot, cuddling up to the phantom memory of the
Sleeptalker's warm body, but decided instead to grab my bench next to the
non-phantom body of Rocky at the hacienda.
The Sleeptalker answered my question, after I asked it three times.
Rocky lost both his job and the place where he has been living. No details
provided. My guess is, he's feeling pretty low and that morning recently
when I saw him could well have been the first day after his losses.
Every night he's already soundly asleep, so unlike him. Here we go again.
I do wish I could help him somehow, he's really a very sweet guy.
Kory K said, "don't get too drunk." I told him what I really wouldn't
mind doing was to get VERY drunk, but all by myself. As I've said before,
alcohol is a lousy drug. I'd much rather be living with 30 milligrams of
Valium and a couple of decent joints every day, but this wonderful society
we live in won't allow that. So I have to make do with what's legally
(and affordably) available. I definitely don't have the patience or
perseverance to escape the utter boredom of a not-in-some-way-drugged
state of mind by resorting to meditation, fasting and such.
And if one has to make do with alcohol, tequila certainly is one of the
best methods of consuming it.
I didn't get too drunk, but I did take sufficient swigs from that
bottle to reach a warm, wuzzy state of contentment. Wasting the ammo, I
thought, but phooey. Talk about cliche attitudes, what about cliche
scenarios. Get 'em drunk to get in their pants. A lousy classic, gay or
otherwise, and a game I know I'd get bored with very quickly. I don't
really want it that much. Of course, it was easier to reach that
conclusion after two days without the Sleeptalker's presence and in that
tequila glow. In vino veritas, nonetheless.
Katherine Kingsley's The Sound of Snow had caught my eye at the
State Library. I figured anyone who could come up with such a fine title
must be worth reading and even though it doesn't really live up to the
elegance of the title, it's amusing enough and, woe is me, the sex scenes
are very well done. Did I really need this, Dame Fortune?
No, but it did go well with the wuzziness and the pleasant afternoon in
the secluded grove. Me, my bottle and book, and those fluffy little zebra
doves. And no sexy young man for company.
Auspicious morning, the last Saturday of April 2000. I woke to see Rocky
asleep on the bench behind me, the Sleeptalker on the one in front. He
was laying on his back, that most desirable part of him standing tall and
clearly outlined in his dark jeans. And he wonders why gay men are always
hitting up on him. I left that enticing vision, walked down to the bus
stop. A handsome young fellow crossed the street, said "the focking cops,
they won't focking leave you alone." I assume he'd been roused from his
sleeping spot. He had a wonderful nose which looked as if it had been
broken at some time, adding significantly to his allure. He walked off
toward the mall but got on the bus a couple of stops down, then oddly
disembarked a short distance later instead of staying on until it reached
the mall. Just as well. I probably would've offered to buy him a coffee
just to spend some more time with him.
After enjoying my coffee without his company, I made my usual circuit to
hunt snipes, then noticed one of the strollers hadn't been properly
returned to the corral. An easy two quarters. Amazing no one else had
Tequila certainly doesn't have the deep soul-cleansing power of LSD or
mescaline, but it does have the power to break chains, sweep away lesser
cobwebs. That bottle was a fine gift. I'd begun the process of finishing
it off at lunchtime. A roast beef sandwich, potato salad, and a generous
swig of tequila in tomato juice, accompanied by an interesting historical
romance set in Victorian England and Spain, Came Forth the Sun by
Elizabeth de Guise. I'd made a quick pre-lunch visit to the State
Library, got it and another book, briefly went snipe hunting at the mall
before returning to campus and the secluded grove.
The Sleeptalker had been in the game earlier, after two days' absence. He
said nothing to me, so I followed my usual habit of saying nothing to him
first, waiting to see what mood he was in. But I enjoyed dangling the
bait, stood in the main square until he happened by, then made it appear
that "Reting polishes his beautiful slicer." "How did you get that!" I
smiled and walked away. A little later he asked again, I didn't reply,
just said publicly "smoke break time" and left. Turnabout's fair play.
A major revision of the game is to be installed this weekend or Monday and
it will enable me to get that other sword I owe him. Not only that, but
I'll be able to get a second one of them. Hmmmm, three swords he wants
and it's Fabled Pension Check time. Am I loaded for the hunt, or what?
But that chain-breaking tequila had definitely shifted the balance.
Thinking about it, I felt certain I would be getting his body again but
there's no hurry. And I was very happy to feel that urgent desire fade
back into a low simmer. Yes, that's much more comfortable. So I'd been
pleased by my reaction to that morning vision of the Sleeptalker, grateful
seeing him in such a totally desirable state hadn't turned the flames back
He didn't return to the game in the afternoon. I played off and on in
between swigs from the bottle and reading. Pure Heart was playing for an
hour in Waikiki but by the time arrived I was feeling far too mellow and
content to leave the secluded grove until benchtime. I reminded myself I
should make more of an effort to do things only if I really
want to, and that includes seducing a cute guy from Waianae.
"You take it much too seriously."
He quickly shifted the conversation back to the safer territory of the
game, but he had been the one, as always, to open the topic. Once again
he mulled over his difficulty in believing he'd let it happen, again used
the exact same phrase, "I was all drunk and everything." Since he has
been "all drunk" on numerous occasions, I guess "everything" is the key
phrase. Maybe it's a euphemism for "horny"? That he was fully erect by
the time he opened his pants was rather ... err ... solid evidence. But
it wouldn't have been kind or politic to suggest he had actually wanted
"I'm not your boyfriend."
"I know, I wish you were."
But thinking about that later, I know it's not really true. I wouldn't
want all the baggage that would come of thinking of the Sleeptalker as my
"boyfriend". I'd thought on Saturday how good it would be to know a young
man I cared about even half as much as I do the Sleeptalker, but one who
would be casual enough about it to let me have his body now and then
without it being such a fuss. Him, I could think of as a "boyfriend".
The Sleeptalker is in another league.
That's the problem. The Sleeptalker and I both enjoy our friendship, but
we both wish it were something else. He wants a buddy, one who doesn't
turn authority figure on him when he misbehaves. Now and then he turns
into a little kid, gets a big thrill out of spitting at the birds,
rejoices when he hits one. I absolutely banned the game in the secluded
grove, said I wouldn't drink with him there again if he was going to do
that. I told him I think he just likes to push it, see how far he can go
before I grumble. He admitted it, laughed, and said, "and you get all mad
over nothing." Sigh.
He was sitting at a computer in the lab when I got to campus on Sunday
morning. We played in the game until the outside connection from UH went
down temporarily and we sat on a bench outside talking, now and then
getting up to see if the connection was back. At one point we almost
decided to go off to the beach together and if I hadn't been due downtown
in mid-afternoon, I probably would have encouraged it. I quite like the
idea of sitting on the sand with him beside me in just shorts, watching
him go into the water and coming out with those pants clinging to his
body. Yes, a nice idea. I must try and arrange that now and then this
If ... he's around. He was due in court at noon on Monday. Since I still
don't know why, I've no idea how serious it is. He didn't seem to think
there was any chance of jail time since he said he'd arrive on campus
Monday afternoon, but he has so little connection with "reality"
sometimes, I won't feel relieved until I actually see him, either in
person or in the game.
As Friday had been, Saturday was a wonderfully quiet day alone. I had
scrounged the nickels and dimes from Kory K's change box so the coin bag
was stocked for a lunchtime beer and another at sunset. That
historical novel is fine reading, appears to have been well researched
with sufficient detail to make it even more fascinating. And those quiet
days alone are such an essential part of my life, time to sort and
arrange, to sweep out, to just sit back and enjoy the sunshine, the trees,
the birds, and to relax without worrying about whether I'm doing or saying
the "right" thing.
His "friend", the Sleeptalker told me without saying which friend (even
though I think I know most of them), is going to get a "house" this
week, and the Sleeptalker might move in with him. "I'm a two-timing guy,"
he said, with a leer that made me feel like slapping him. Okay, I gave it
my best effort not to react to either statement. A minute or so later he
said, "if I get SSI, I'll probably stay at IHS for another month or two."
Did I really have to fall in love with a madman?!
I had a restless night, had difficulty getting to sleep and every time I
woke up during the night, had as much trouble returning to sleep. The
Snorer had arrived somewhat later than I had, with a woman. I've seen her
hanging out around McD's now-and-then in the early morning for several
months. A woman of a certain age. Okay, so I'm utterly sexist, thought
it was quite un-ladylike of her to cuddle against a man on the
floor, never mind I'm more than happy to do it with a young man. But then
I think it is tacky of any man to expect a woman to live that way with
him, too, especially when it's an able-bodied man like the Snorer who is
more than capable of making some money and treating the woman to a real
bed. None of my business, I told myself, none of my business.
I woke again, watered the bushes, lighted a snipe. The Snorer was
vigorously stroking himself, laying there beside the woman. Yikes.
At last, I finally fell asleep soundly enough to stay that way until
morning. Was awakened by the Snorer yakking away to one of the other
residents. I really dislike people waking up in motormouth mode.
After coffee at McD's, I took the bus to campus, logged on, checked email,
popped into the game to see the new revision still wasn't there, and went
off to the secluded grove to enjoy some leftover fried chicken from Sunday
afternoon's lunch. Then I went to Sinclair Library and saw the
Sleeptalker sitting there.
He was wearing a white tanktop. I'm not sure whether I'm most glad he
doesn't wear those things more often or wish he wore one all the time.
Local boys certainly do know how well that particular garment shows off
their shoulders and arms.
He was in big trouble, yet again, in the game, had stumbled into a place
where one loses all one's equipment. I've tried again and again to
explain to him exactly how that particular area works. No success. So of
course I went in and helped him as much as I could before time ran out.
He did have his court date. On a smoke break he finally told me, after I
almost pounded it out of him, that he'd been busted for "drinking in
public". I don't believe it. Maybe drinking in public, drunk and
disorderly? And yes, he might go to jail. His lawyer expects a generous
helping of community service time. The Sleeptalker would rather go to
jail and get it over with, less effort.
Whichever way it goes, I guess I'll get a little respite.
Well, maybe not much of a "respite" after all. And, of course, I'm far
from sure I really want one.
All the charges were dropped except for "the bag of grass".
Like I said, I didn't believe it.
Word came that the Fabled Pension Check had arrived. I went downtown to
get it, to Waikiki to cash it, bought beer and cigarettes and returned to
campus. I was sitting in the secluded grove enjoying them and the book
when the Sleeptalker arrived. He was seemingly in a happy mood and told
me, after some prodding, that it had gone well at court. Three of four
charges had been dropped and he had been given ten hours community service
and probation for the fourth charge, the marijuana bag he hadn't mentioned
He finished off the beer and we went to the computer lab to play the game
for awhile. I was outside later taking a smoke break when the Cherub came
down the walk, so engrossed in a book I thought he was going to pass me
without even noticing. Kierkegaard, as I saw when he did notice and
walked over to say hello. I apologized for his having been a witness to
the squabble the Sleeptalker and I had staged last week. "I just don't
understand it at all," he said. "I don't think I do either."
I offered to buy him a beer at the Garden but he said he'd better not, he
was just on his way to get a twelve-pack and get back to work on some
required papers. I thought he might do better without those twelve cans
of beer, but none of my business. Rather belatedly, with Finals Week just
around the corner, he has realized he might flunk two courses and fall
short of the total credits needed to graduate.
He went on his way, I told the Sleeptalker I was going downhill to get
beer and would be back. When I returned, we sat at the table where we'd
been on that fateful night. He was muttering about that "friend" he'd
mentioned earlier who it turns out is not a friend at all, but someone the
Sleeptalker had just met. The guy claims not to be gay. The Sleeptalker
doesn't believe it. Can't say I do either, why else would he suggest he
was going to ask the Sleeptalker to move in with him? And the Waianae Kid
has had enough practice to spot a ringer.
He got more and more steamed about it as he was talking. As I observed a
very long time ago, the Sleeptalker is a natural flirt, he flirts with
everyone. It's a major part of his charm. But it's hardly surprising
that when he meets a gay man for the first time his flirting manner leads
to misunderstandings, and quite unfair of him to blame the other person.
I had been irked by the "two-timing guy" ploy earlier. Isn't our
friendship cluttered enough without transparent attempts to arouse
jealousy? So all his ranting reminded me of how annoyed I'd been and when
it went on to a general outpouring of bitterness about gay men I thought
again how he does like to push a person.
To make it doubly outrageous, he took off his shirt and kept striking
poses, even lay back on the low wall behind the table at one point.
Flirting is one thing, blatant cockteasing is another. Maybe if the act
hadn't been accompanied by that quite tacky verbal outburst I might have
enjoyed the show. The combination was too much.
I thought, if I didn't have this absurd, compelling physical desire for
his body, I probably wouldn't like the guy at all.
And I was relieved when he decided to return to the game. "Will you be
here when I get back?" "I doubt it."
I went over to the Fool Moon Spot and settled down, had been sleeping a
short while when he arrived, woke me up asking, "you have more beer?"
"Finished, finished," I said, and I didn't just mean beer. He walked off.
I was wide awake then, smoked a couple of cigarettes. He returned. He
had found someone's stashed bag with a pair of pants, a tee shirt, a
blanket and whatever else was in the bag he didn't remove. I thought it
was rather mean of him to have taken it, but didn't say so. "You want the
blanket?" he asked. "Doesn't matter," I said. He spread it out near me
and walked off again.
I thought about it for a few minutes, decided I just didn't want to sleep
that near him, packed up my stuff and left, walked downhill to catch a
bus. It was too late for one to the hacienda, but I planned to get as
close as I could and walk the rest of the way. I'd been there about ten
minutes when the Sleeptalker arrived, stood some distance away without
saying anything. I turned and walked off.
Fortunately, it was a dry night, would have been quite miserable
otherwise. I walked down to the beach park, was surprised to see a vacant
bench in the large sheltered bus stop where the four benches are usually
occupied by sleeping bodies. A couple of hours sleep, then a cop arrived
and woke everyone up. Unnecessary, it seems to me, to bother people
who are quietly sleeping at 3:30 in the morning. "Focking cops, won't
focking leave you alone." Uh-huh.
I went over and sat on a bench facing the ocean, like all of them far too
short and with iron armrests making them unsuitable for sleeping. I
didn't mind, sat there for an hour watching the waves and then walked over
to 7-Eleven to get coffee.
I'd written to Mme de Crécy earlier in the evening, "I have to get rid of
him." But no, that's not really what I have to do. I have to regain my
inner life without him being a dominating presence. The way it is now
just isn't healthy for either of us.
Mme de Crécy, understandably, wondered if I wished to elucidate on my
wail about getting rid of "him". I told her it was mostly explained in
Tale 500 although I had failed to capture the mood of the moment. That
instant where the seesaw tilts from one direction to the other.
Another reader wrote: "You were teased thusly before the last episode.
Be patient, your quarry awaits you, who are no longer master of the game.
Sword or no..."
Ah, I may well be way ahead of the Sleeptalker in the game of Seventh
Circle, but in "real life" I have never even come close to being
Master of the Game. He has had the winning hand from the very first
moment I saw him.
And yes, I was teased thusly on that Fool Moon extravaganza, but it was as
different as any two scenarios can be which have one thing in common, his
body bared from the waist up. The first time was delightful, charming, as
if he were presenting me with a little thank-you bouquet for the beer I'd
bought him. On Monday night it was more a drama of telling me what a
scumbag I am, and just look at this, eat your heart out.
I wouldn't put up with a relationship that involved physical abuse, why
should I endure one with a verbal equivalent, especially spiced with a
wannabe-enticing peep show?
No. It was trashy. Maybe he was "all drunk". Maybe he was also even
"all everything". Unlike the first time, I too was "all drunk". And
maybe that helped tilt the balance so that I really didn't give a damn if
I ever got his body again. I don't think so. I think his extraordinary
performance would have done it even if I'd been cold sober.
Perhaps, consciously or unconsciously, that's exactly what he set out to
do, be so obnoxious I'd stop desiring him. Again, I don't think so. I
don't think he'd really want to gamble that far. I've been too useful for
too long as a person he can turn to when everyone else has told him to get
lost. And knowing that, of course, makes it even more difficult for me.
Hey, will you guys stop it! How am I supposed to "get rid of" him when my
readers encourage hopes of getting his pants down again, make excuses for
his boorish behavior!
A reader recalled an incident many moons ago when the Sleeptalker had been
ranting about gay men and one of the others (Mondo, I think) said, "he
doesn't mean you." Yes, I remember that, the "I hate it when he
Monday's tirade, though, included too many arrows aimed directly at me.
Both it and the fierce squabble outside the Garden last week were no doubt
to-be-expected reactions inspired by that Fool Moon night and that, if
there really is one, is the justification.
After the night of wandering and interrupted short moments of sleep, I
was really, really happy to collapse on the bench at the hacienda Tuesday
night. Rocky arrived later but some fat man had taken the bench between
us, alas. The Sleeptalker told me that on the nights Rocky doesn't
appear, he's staying at Mondo's place. Now that's an invitation I'd like
to receive, even if it would be out of the frying pan into the fire.
It had been a quiet day on my own, alternating between time in the
secluded grove with Conrad's Lord Jim and playing in Seventh
Circle. Only about 800 more points to go and I can pay my debt to the
Sleeptalker whether the promised revisions ever appear or not. No sign of
him, in or out of the game.
I can't claim to have made much progress in regaining that control of my
inner life I'm after. The stupid internal jukebox has been stuck on
classic love songs since the Full Moon. I can force a change, but it
sneaks back to them. Every time thoughts started to turn toward the
Sleeptalker's so desirable body, though, I stopped them dead in their
Resist not evil? Uh-huh, I see how the effort to resist tends to
feed the flames, the rebellious mind tries even harder to escape
discipline. Oh well, gotta start somewhere.
Got it! Finally got that sword I owe the lad. Alas, he wasn't there to
effect the transfer, but he will be. He had been in the game earlier on
Wednesday, bragged that he'd been invited to a hotel party. "Lots of free
beer." I resisted the naughty temptation to ask if he'd gotten "all drunk
and everything", just replied, "cool".
Another quiet day, alternating between reading in the secluded grove and
playing in Seventh Circle. I was on my way back to the computer
lab after sunset when the Cherub spotted me, got my attention with an
amusing bird call. A long evening of beer, wide-ranging conversation and
a grilled cheese sandwich that produced all-night indigestion. I don't
think I'll ever eat anything again at the University Players bar.
The Cherub is reconciled to returning in the fall, just isn't going to
have the credits he needs to graduate now. He had told his father who
seems, as always, to have taken it with goodnatured grumbling, and the
Cherub plans to spend the summer at home on Kauai.
We talked about the Sleeptalker and our strange dance together. The
Cherub said that during their time alone together last week, the
Sleeptalker had referred to making me jealous. The Cherub either
genuinely didn't remember the exact details or was sparing me. A pity,
I'd like to have heard that exchange. He thought it beyond understanding.
I suppose I do, too, but I also find it mysteriously intriguing. I said I
had noticed on several occasions what seemed very transparent attempts to
push me into feeling jealous, but that I had been firmly determined from
the beginning not to allow myself that grim indulgence. Jealousy is one
emotion (curse?) I want nothing more to do with.
Although neither of us had told him directly, the Cherub had reached the
conclusion that the Sleeptalker had finally been seduced (or was it had
seduced?). I told him his assumption was correct. He wondered if I had
"swallowed it all"! Bizarre. And even more so since the Sleeptalker
himself was much impressed that I had, indeed, "swallowed it all."
As the inimitable Betka commented:
"Besides, it wouldn't be Love if you didn't swallow it all."
The Cherub and I finally left the bar shortly after eleven. I waited
awhile to see if a bus would come along to take me within walking distance
of the hacienda, then gave up and went to sleep in the Fool Moon Spot.
The blanket was still where the Sleeptalker had left it, a comfy soft
cotton spread much too large to lug around. I wrapped myself up in it and
aside from waking several times wishing I had some Alka-Seltzer enjoyed a
rare night by myself, no snoring, no morning motormouths, no sleeptalking.
At his best, I can say with solid objectivity the Sleeptalker is as
charming, sweet and affectionate as any man it has been my privilege to
Did he wonder if he'd gone too far on that unpleasant Monday? I'm
not sure. On my first trip to India, one of the most difficult
adjustments to make was to the attitude of what seemed the majority of
Indians. If in a bad mood, they were in a bad mood. No matter if you
were a treasured, regular customer, they made no effort at all to be
pleasant. I soon came to see it as far more healthy than our
put-on-a-happy-face American method.
Maybe that, too, is the Sleeptalker's way. Or maybe he was mending the
almost-burned bridge, making an unspoken apology. Or maybe it's my
version of the battered wife syndrome, although not surprisingly, I like
that interpretation least.
The Sleeptalker arrived on campus Thursday morning, wearing a white Corona
teeshirt and tan corduroy pants which were cut in a way that showed off
his cute butt perfectly. I was wearing the Corona teeshirt he'd had on
that Fool Moon night. "The Corona Twins," I said.
He brought me a pint bottle of vodka, refused at lunchtime to share it,
said, "no, that's for you."
I told him in the game to meet me at an out-of-the-way spot. He arrived.
I said, "thank you again", handed him the special sword, and bowed to him.
He returned the bow. Sweet.
Sweet, too, those "caught ya'" smiles when he knew I'd drifted into
adoring reverie, especially at one point when we were taking a smoke break
and he sprawled on his back in the grass beside the bench, his tee shirt
riding up to reveal a strip of brown belly. And his utterly delightful
rendition of the Oedipus Rex story. Sophocles would no doubt be much
pleased that his work survived all those centuries and is still able to
reach a Waianae high-school dropout.
Helen R had invited me on a "cheap date" when she got two free tickets to
the first showing here of Ridley Scott's "Gladiator", so the Sleeptalker
and I left campus a little after six, parted with a touched closed fist
"handshake" and another of his wonderful smiles. It had been on all
counts one of the best days I've spent with him.
I'm not sure these "freebie" films are really all that free, especially
when part of radio station promotional extravaganzas. Packed theatres and
lengthy pre-show routines of patter from dee-jays, trivia contests and
prize give-a-ways are possibly a higher price to pay than purchasing a
ticket. Then, rather incredibly these days, the film broke at one point,
so there was an unplanned intermission, followed by two shorter breaks
when the attempted repair hadn't worked.
The longest one would have been a good chance to step out for a smoke and
that might have made me less impatient as the film meandered on to its
conclusion. There are some brilliant, incredible sequences, one battle
scene which is probably the best ever made of "primitive" warfare, and the
more-aided-by-high-tech grand scenes of ancient Rome are fitting additions
to the Griffith-DeMille tradition. But there were some stretches of the
long, long film which were utterly boring.
Still, I'm grateful to have seen it and didn't mind finding myself on the
streets at Waikiki after eleven at night, especially since a bus quickly
came along which took me directly to the hacienda and a vacant bench.
Rocky's usual spot. I guess he was with Mondo. Lucky Rocky. Lucky me,
too, for that delightful day with the Sleeptalker, a day that made me more
than happy I hadn't, after all, gotten "rid of him."
"Follow your heart," the Sleeptalker said. "I want you to follow your
I'll follow my secret heart ...
I had a colossal hangover on Saturday morning but it wasn't because of the
beer we'd drunk on Friday, it was an emotional and psychic hangover. He
appeared in the game mid-morning on Friday, playing from the State
Library, then disappeared again, then returned. I learned later that the
guardians of the terminals there were giving him a hard time, strictly
enforcing their absurd fifteen-minute limit. So he arrived on campus.
The next ten hours were soul-jerking. During breaks from the game, he
talked and talked, more than I've ever heard from him in one dose. He
loves his mother, he loves his father, he insisted, but a little later
said he'd gone to see his mother and she told him he shouldn't be there,
they had a TRO against him. He hates her.
A mother who would get a legal restraining order to keep her eldest son
away is beyond my ability to understand, no matter how well I know what a
problem child he is. But then she and I no doubt have in common the
tremendous burden of wanting so much to help him but not knowing how, and
she has carried it a lot longer than I have.
His caseworker isn't paying enough attention to him, he said, and it's
complicated because he has something of a crush on her even if she is
"old". I was keeping my comments to an absolute minimum but did remind
him he'd said he wasn't doing what the caseworker advised. "I don't want
to do all that stuff, I just want to play MUD."
He hadn't gone to his interview for financial assistance. He either has
to, or wants to, leave the IHS shelter. I know nothing of how that place
works, but apparently he has about a hundred dollars in an account there.
To withdraw it, he has to "go off their books". And he doesn't care,
except that he'd have no place to keep his stuff. I sympathized, said one
thing I really disliked was having to carry my backpack around all the
As always, he started the sex game. "It's a sin," he said. "God told
Moses that homosexuals and lesbians are sinners." So far as we know, I
corrected, all "God" said to Moses is what's in the ten commandments, and
there is no mention of homosexuality there. God made you what you are, he
said. "I don't mind. You give good head."
Yes, he decided, I could have his body again in exchange for that other
special sword. Then he changed his mind. Jerk, jerk, watch the puppet on
a string. "I'm getting tired of this game," I told him.
"I don't want to think about it," he said. "Go to bed, you'll wake up in
the morning and I'll be gone."
"No, you'll wake up in the morning and I'll be gone."
And I was. My heart just had to follow me, it had no choice.
Don't think twice, it's all right ...
There was almost a full flask of beer left, so after our Dylan-ish final
exchange I smoked a cigarette and finished the beer, got up and folded
my half of the blanket over the Sleeptalker. He was asleep or
pretending to be. I left, walked downhill and got a bus downtown, walked
on to the hacienda. I was so exhausted I slept very soundly, didn't wake
until it was a little after six, already full daylight. For a moment, I
felt confused. No guard saying "it's time to wake up"? That usually only
happens on Sunday mornings.
A bus to the mall, two cups of coffee, an abundant snipes hunt. The
cleaning crew from the night before must have quit early. No quarters, no
matter. Surprisingly, the Fabled Pension Check still wasn't fully spent
(albeit close enough). And I did better this round with the foodstamps,
too, having almost fifteen dollars to carry over. Those lovely free meals
in April get the credit, not any feats of self-restraint.
To campus. Reading and writing email. A reader wrote: In short, the
dictum "hang loose" is probably well advised. I wouldn't waste too much
time with an obviously intractable person and situation.
Oh, I'm not at all concerned about wasting time. It's the one thing I
have in abundance and I'm not going to worry about wasting any of it.
I'm also not convinced the time I've spent with the Sleeptalker has in any
way been a waste. What does deeply bother me is my inability to
really be of any help to him, and my fear that I may actually be doing
more harm than good to the man. I don't think I can possibly help him
break out of his tormented sexual confusion, but I do suspect that is a
major part of his overall inner difficulties. I could adjust to the idea
that sex was just not going to be part of our friendship, I think. I've
been careful to avoid the subject altogether. But he won't let it rest.
I don't know if playing puppetmaster really is his motive. I doubt it's
as deliberate and conscious as that. Whatever his intent, as I told him,
I'm getting tired of the game.
Yes, "hang loose" is no doubt the proper prescription. Live for the day,
for the hour, keep on trying to reduce the Sleeptalker's role in my inner
Joseph Conrad and his magnificent, almost intoxicating prose is not
helping much. Despite the irrelevant dissimilarities, it is impossible
not to associate his Jim with my Sleeptalker. And the relationship of an
older man to a troubled youth, with such dense undertones of undefined
sexuality, so beautifully narrated with so many profound observations -- a
splendid book, indeed. But no, not in the least bit helpful when it comes
to pushing the Sleeptalker into a less significant, less demanding niche
in my world of thoughts.
Nor is Seventh Circle. "Where is he?" they ask, "why isn't he
playing this morning?" I don't know where he is, maybe he's too hungover
to play today. But yes, I enjoy that game and I enjoy some of the
friendships that have formed in there. And yes, it must be admitted that
it's a much better way to be friends with a sixteen-year-old lad who lives
in New Jersey and seems to find me a warm shoulder to cry on now and then.
And the Sleeptalker's role in my outer world? I honestly don't know what
I want. There's a part of me which would, if the means were at hand,
simply go away. Travel to distant climes, as I did to escape the
Dutchman, that other great Love of My Life. This is a small town. I
could avoid the Sleeptalker only with considerable adjustments to my
habitual way of life, including giving up life on campus. And I am not at
all sure I want to avoid him, no matter how welcome the days of respite
It would no doubt be wiser to give up drinking with him, though. Can I
stick with that resolve when he asks, as he did on Friday, if I would buy
us some beer and I have money in pocket? Probably not.
"Hang loose." Yes, that's even wiser. Waste no time fretting over what
decision can or should be made until the time arrives to make it.
And read on. Read the online journals of other people, like Terri, whose
touching essay on infertility took me for a time right out of my own muddy
ponderings, or the author of Stitches in Time delightfully, in her
latest entry (as of today), mulling over love, and panties left in the
back seat of a car.
Dame Fortune, of course, waited in the wings, a book in hand to leave in
Hermann Hesse: Steppenwolf
A reader had written: You can't really be as old as you are, and as
smart as you are, my dear Panther, and not recognize the functional
dynamics of self-loathing, can you?
And then clarified in a follow-up mail: On reviewing my comment, I
notice its ambiguity. I trust you understood I was referring to Mr.
Sleeptalker's self-loathing, not your own. IOW, his arrows (how
appropriate!) were aimed not at you at all, but at his projection of an
aspect of his personality that he clearly dreads, fears, loathes, desires,
needs, wants, and most of the time, manages to suppress.
That's a grimly accurate catalogue, I think. I had interpreted the
original remarks as referring to the Sleeptalker but was certainly not
going to quibble with any splatters that fell on me through the ambiguity
of it. I am not blameless. And while "self-loathing" would be far too
strong a term for it, there is dissatisfaction with self to deal with. As
I wrote, right up to the last moment I was thinking I should stop it. I'm
not fool enough to have expected him to take my attitude, "that was fun,
let's do it again." I knew it would complicate our friendship and his
inner life. Yes, I accept any splatters.
Saturday was the Dutchman's birthday, so the Sleeptalker had to move over,
make room for the customary annual Meditation Upon a Dutchman celebration.
In our last conversation together, I told the Dutchman that someday, when
we were old enough that his beautiful body and cock no longer stood in the
way, we could no doubt be the best of friends. I wonder if we've gotten
that far now? Probably not. I've no idea even if he's still alive, it
has been a very long time since I've had any news of him. But it wouldn't
surprise me at all to meet him and find him as exciting and sexy as I did
twenty-eight years ago.
It was a Sleeptalker-free weekend, as expected. I'm surely on his
shitlist for abandoning him on Friday night. And it was a quietly
pleasant weekend, a little time online, a little time reading, a lot of
time thinking. Then it was that so-luxurious time of clean body, clean
clothes, clean mind. Hmmm, okay, maybe just the first two. And ...
Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar?
Through the miracle of DVD, it was time to re-visit "Going My Way" for the
first time in many years. What a sweet film it is. Life could never
really have been so innocent and sweet, no more than Norman Rockwell's
idyllic scenes could have been real. But our American Dreams are still
touching and heartwarming, no matter how distant from our American
And now it's that most unusual time of the year on campus. Finals Week.
A time of abundance for me. Discarded books, students so stressed they
buy a lot more food than they can eat, light cigarettes and put them out
after a few anxious puffs, leave more change than usual in vending
machines. The feast before the quiet famine of the break before summer
I had expected Monday to be the first penniless day of May. I was saving
the final chapters of Lord Jim and two dollars for a beer to enjoy
while reading them. End of Fabled Pension Check. But when I got to the
mall after a dream-filled night on the bench, I noticed the strollers
hadn't been fully pushed into their corral. Shove.
Clink-clink-clink-clink. Four quarters. Cool.
morning musings with its tale of a shirt brought a smile. I
wrote about this not long ago, but a "crash" zapped it, so far as I can
remember. If I'm wrong, and this is repetition, well, it won't be the
first in these Tales.
In the late Fifties, there were two main gay bars in Atlanta, Wit's End
and Mrs. P's. Wit's End was actually mixed, the bar side mostly gay, the
tables side mostly straight. It was very near the Georgia Tech campus and
was the hangout for a number of hunks from that macho school. Some of
them had no objection to giving up their bodies for a little cash or, when
the urge was upon them, for free.
It was one of the few times in my life when I was utterly smitten with the
beefcake type the Sleeptalker thinks all us queens lust after. Ricky
was just the cat's meow and when he walked into the bar, panting heads
turned to watch. I'd been told, by someone who supposedly knew from
experience, that he wasn't gay but could be had. And he'd only go with
someone once, would never repeat it. I wanted my one turn badly. I
finally got it, a delicious, still-memorable night with him. For a very
long time, I kept that bedsheet without washing it, would now and then
take it out to remember his body laying on it. Yes, I understood Terri
and her treasured shirt very well.
I guess I'm less romantic in my old age. Although I can't wear it without
awareness that it's the shirt the Sleeptalker was wearing at that
moment, I have now washed it twice. It doesn't smell like him anymore,
The things we do for love, the things we treasure because of it ... But
perhaps I'm not less romantic, just romantic in a different way. In my
current case, I admit the most treasured thing is not the shirt but the
fact that he admitted he enjoyed it. Okay, so he had to get "all drunk"
again to say so, but hearing it was a special gift even if he didn't know
he'd given one.
The good luck which began Monday with that dollar from heaven shifted to
the other extreme. I made a quick midday trip to the mall, saw a stroller
which hadn't been put into the corral properly. Put it in. No
clink-clink. The damned device was out of refund quarters. I hate it
when that happens, but at least I hadn't wheeled the thing in from the
boondocks to get robbed. Back on a campus-bound bus, stopping by the
supermarket to buy some lunch. "Denied" said the little machine. My
foodstamp allowance for this month hadn't arrived on my card on Friday
when it should have. Sigh. I was in no mood to deal with it, did my best
Scarlett O'Hara routine and said "tomorrow is another day".
The weather shifted from sunny and pleasant to gray, sultry and drizzly.
The campus was a nightmare of hysterical students, shrieking at each other
between exams. For some reason (maybe the weather), a lot of them picked
the little computer lab for their hyper conversations. They weren't using
the computers, just sitting around loudly overacting. And the whole place
was so crowded. I suppose students who may rarely, or never, have
attended classes can't fail to show up for those final exams.
Dame Fortune, that silent, elegant lady who can be so generous,
with her three Fates spinning away, sometimes goes so far in her
bitchiness it falls over the edge. We suicidals, as Hesse so aptly
defined us, at the first frown from that Lady, wish we were dead. But
then she goes on and on and it gets too silly.
I waited till near sunset. It was still very cloudy, but seemed to be
breaking up a bit, moments of sunshine. So I went downhill, got that last
beer, returned to the secluded grove and the tortuous last pages of
Lord Jim. Nope, Madame wasn't having it. Drizzled a bit on me ...
and the book. I persevered. She relented. With perhaps a half-inch of
the flask still amber with brew, she let loose. I gulped the remainder of
the beer, put the almost-finished book in my backpack and fled to shelter,
You silly cow!
Plenty of fish in the sea, uh-huh. There certainly is no shortage of
attractive young men in this town. All the more unfortunate then,
the Navy should pick such a poor specimen for their high-profile
guardhouse at the gate to Pearl Harbor. With that beer belly, not even
the sexy white uniform could compensate.
What, you may wonder, was I doing inspecting the potbellied sentry from a
bus window passing Pearl Harbor? Well, I was sightseeing, of course.
Hmmmm. To tell the truth, I'd gotten lost. I had called the foodstamps
hotline number when I got to campus. It was one of those "push x for
doo-dah" kind of things, starting with "1" for English, "2" for Spanish.
After I entered my card number and pressed "#" as instructed, the chirpy
computer voice confirmed my lordly balance of just over two dollars. I
explored the options further, jumping to a second set of them, but every
time it got to where one might have hoped for a "press 1 for a real, live
human person" it instead said "contact your local office".
My local office doesn't have a toll-free number, so I decided the best
thing was just to go to the office. I got on a wrong bus. At a place
very near where I would've wanted to get off, it rolled onto the H-1
highway and sped off past Tripler Hospital, the state prison, Aloha
Stadium and finally to Pearlridge Mall. Okay, I knew my way back from
there, so I got off and explored the mall for a brief time. It was my
first visit there in a very long time and it will probably be an even
longer time before I repeat it. Free strollers, free shopping carts! Not
a quarter to be had. And no smoking in most of the (enclosed) mall, so
snipe hunting limited to entrance ashtrays. Humbug.
By the time I returned to civilization, it was lunch time and that didn't
seem to be a very smart moment to visit the office of government
bureaucrats, so I returned to my Scarlett mode and said, "tommorow is
I didn't mind the unplanned excursion. I had decided I'd avoid campus
after an early morning visit, didn't want to repeat Monday's dose of
hysteria. I'd had more than enough of squealing young men, far more than
enough of squealing young ladies. So I had nothing special to do anyway.
I also felt it was better to avoid Seventh Circle during the hours
when the Sleeptalker might be there. I definitely do not want to deprive
him of his pleasure in playing that game, and if my being around makes it
a less comfortable option, then I'll stay away. A bit of a conflict,
because I know he actually feels more comfortable when I am around,
I help him so much in that alternate reality.
My discretion was probably not necessary. I think telling him I was tired
of his game inspired a major sulk. So far as I know, he has
retreated for four days, both from me and from Seventh Circle.
Judging by Ryan's Monday entry, I wasn't the only one Dame Fortune had
been spitting at. She wasn't exactly smiling at me on Tuesday, either,
but I did score two quarters at the more-fruitful mall when I got back to
it. That put me into the beer-buying class, but not the
beer+next-morning-coffee level which is so much nicer. She did place a
little food in my path, too, proving again that even without foodstamps
and without resorting to the soup kitchens, one doesn't have to go hungry.
May have to put up with over-fried chicken katsu that had been discarded
for good reason, but don't have to go hungry.
Well, being the conservative person that I am, I counted my remaining
instant coffee bags. Seven of them. Okay. If I would pay Conrad the
honor of finishing his splendid Lord Jim with a beer, I could
hardly begin Hesse's incomparable Steppenwolf without the same
If pushed into a corner and required to answer: "what is the most
beloved book in your long life?", I'd have to answer,
There haven't been nearly as many books abandoned on campus as there
usually are this time of year, but I certainly can't complain when the two
I did decide to acquire came from Joseph Conrad and Hermann Hesse.
I often dream of him at night, and the mere existence of such a man,
much as I got to like him, has had a thoroughly disturbing and disquieting
effect on me.
"Good morning," said the Duchess, and I was more than ordinarily pleased
to hear it. She has become so withdrawn recently, acquired (probably
found) a sun visor and very dark sunglasses, would sit with her head
nodded as if she was in a shell. I missed our little waves to each other
and her smiling encouragement when I passed by with a bagged cart or
stroller. I figured she wanted to be left alone, so I stopped
greeting her, walked by her as if not noticing. I was glad she came out
of the shell, even if temporarily.
And I spotted the Homebound One for the second day in a row. He's a slim
man, probably in his fifties, with an almost-shaved head. He never wears
anything but white shorts, surprisingly clean, no shirt, no shoes, even in
the most chill days of winter. He is, of course, very deeply tanned. For
several years he has spent every day on a corner about a block from the
mall, asking passers-by for a dollar to "get home". I doubt anyone
believed he had a home to get to, but he probably scored enough change
from kind strangers to buy those cheap bottles of wine I'd see him
drinking near the 7-Eleven in the evening. Then he disappeared. He seems
to have relocated to the McCully area. Maybe the passers-by are even
Another too-long absent one turned up at the hacienda on Tuesday night,
although I didn't know it until the morning when he sat up and I saw who
had been huddled under a sheet when I'd gotten there. Angelo. He looked
wonderful enough to sigh over. Slap Panther, down boy, life's complicated
enough already on that score, leave it be.
As I had the evening before, I lingered on campus longer than was prudent
for a man in quest of a bit of dinner and a quarter for next morning's
coffee. The mall shops were all closed or closing, the place was rapidly
becoming deserted. Eureka, a plate lunch box abandoned on a planter
ledge. Generous helpings of stir-fried vegetables and rice reminded me
again that I actually eat more without foodstamps than I do with them.
Not knowing where, when or if the next food will arrive tends to make a
person eat whatever turns up, hungry or not.
But I gave up on the quarter, reconciled myself to a caffeine-free trip to
campus next morning. Then, walking to the bus stop, there it was, an
abandoned cart with its quarter. Oh lucky man.
Terri and I seem to have something of a tennis match going. Her treasured
shirt evoked memories of a cherished bedsheet, my memories of Wit's End
(what a great name for a bar) prompted her to recall her adventures
working at what sounds like a most amusing bar in Australia. And she
wrote: "If nothing else, I'd like my ashes to be strewn over there at
some sandy blue-water tropical spot. That ought to at least provide some
entertainment for whoever gets the onerous job of dealing with my ashes!
Then I want them to throw the urn as far out in the water as
Not long after I emerged from that long hospital adventure and its false
alarms, a reader asked if I had given thought to what I wanted done with
the remains, when the time finally did arrive. Oh yes, scatter the ashes
off the beach near Duke's in Waikiki, then hang out in that fine bar and
drink a few to my memory. I'm not so sure about the urn, hadn't thought
of that. There's already more than enough trash on the ocean floor off
Waikiki. Hmmm, are there biodegradable funeral urns?
"Mrs I., your caseworker, did put the authorization through," the young
man told me. "But I just put it through again and the credit will be on
your card before seven in the morning." I thanked him and left, thinking
he must be fairly new to the Bureaucrat Game. Never, especially about
supposed positive developments, say anything definite. Far better to have
said "should be", not "will be". Despite his confident promise, I
knew I'd be checking that hotline first to see if the chirpy voice knows I
have, in fact, received my handout.
I took that same hinterlands-bound bus again, but this time knew where to
get off before it zoomed onto the highway, waited for another bus to take
me within walking distance of the DHSS office. Getting there, I was told
my case had been transferred to a different office. How kind of them to
have informed me. Not! Oh well, at least it's now in town rather than
out in the sticks.
The building number meant nothing to me, so I took a bus back into town
and walked along the street until I came to it. The whole adventure
reminded me of that day in New Delhi when Jonathan and I spent hours and
hours arranging for replacements for stolen passports and travelers
checks. I suppose one reason I so dread dealing with bureaucracy is that
solid training I had with the Grandmasters of the Game in India. Well,
even before getting there. As I mentioned in the India Notebooks, in
London, at their embassy, I sat waiting a long time looking at my passport
in a wire basket, wondering when someone was finally going to hand it to
me. Of course, I was an innocent then. Had I left a five pound note
discreetly hanging out of my passport when I'd handed it over for a visa
stamp, I'd no doubt have had it back far sooner. At least in Honolulu,
gratuities are not expected, although maybe even here things would move
more quickly if they were offered. And no doubt at certain levels,
invisible transfers of inducements are routine.
I took the bus back to the mall. No quarters, no free lunch. Onward to
campus. Squealing young men. Sigh. Finals Week just wasn't as bad in
previous years as it is in AD2000. Patience, patience ... it's almost
Helen R. kindly stepped into the role of Dame Fortune, replacing that
other personage who has been so grouchy to me this week. Helen and I went
to the fairly-newish Mexican place in the mall's Food Court for dinner.
The food, even with their "hottest" salsa, was very bland for South of the
Border cuisine, but the portions were generous and I was feeling
thoroughly stuffed after consuming it all.
We talked about some on-liners, one of whom has mysteriously vanished into
the woodwork, so to speak. I thought I might have offended him somehow,
although I hadn't the least clue how I'd done so. Or maybe he's, I
considered, one of those who expected something totally different to
result from the hospital adventure. But he seems to be ignoring everyone
and remaining totally silent even though apparently being on-line now and
then. A mystery. Another one isn't a mystery at all, but did oddly
disappear for a time. No regrets about that one, just relief to be spared
his voluminous, vulgar tirades for awhile. He, alas, returned to the
generally more congenial alt.music.hawaiian newsgroup, demonstrating yet
again he has zero capability of carrying on a discussion without reams of
irrelevant personal attacks.
What a disappointment Usenet is, thus far at least, what a hideous waste
In between my visits to the world of bureaucracy and going to meet Helen
for dinner, I looked in at Seventh Circle. There was a new player
named "Paniolo". Heh. Okay, that gave me the clue. I'll create a new
player myself, then I can pop in to look over the scene, see who's playing
and whether I really want to cramp someone's space by taking in Reting the
Ranger. Thanks, my dear Hawaiian Cowboy.
Dame Fortune went a bit wacky later on Wednesday evening. Of course,
she's a very old lady, as old as Time itself, so must be forgiven her
bouts of grouchiness and looniness. Her first, unusual, gift was an ID
bracelet. It's made of what I assume is stainless steel with black
thongs, has a very handsomely designed clasp even if it apparently wasn't
very reliable. The ID bar says GUESS in big block letters. No trouble
"guess"-ing what shop it came from. It's a bit weird for an old guy like
me to be wearing, but what the heck. If the lad ever stops pouting and
comes around, he'll probably want it.
Then Madame offered half a pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. I
declined, still more than full of Mexican food. So she put a Sanrio-type
bus-pass folder in my path. It did have a bus pass in it, but last
month's, alas. Had it been the current one, I would have given it to
Angelo. It also had the noble sum of forty-four cents in it, two phone
cards, and some postage stamps. Not exactly major treasure, but an
Another dream-filled night, as most have been in recent weeks. I remember
very clearly one scene on board a small ship, sailing along peacefully
when suddenly we came upon a very high waterfall and went right over.
I felt absolutely no panic or distress as I watched the water below
coming up to meet us as we fell, and even though the ship did a perfect
nosedive, there was no trouble in standing. Talk about over the edge ...
I suppose it was the closest thing to a flying dream I've had in years. My
favorite of those is still one I had in New York City. I was going to end
it all by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. I did jump, but about
halfway to the water, I started flying instead, swooped downriver a ways
and landed on the Jersey shore. My most elegant failed suicide attempt.
Much to my surprise, when I got to campus and dialed the foodstamps
hotline the chirpy voice said you have two hundred and one dollars and
some-forgotten-amount-of cents. That young fellow at DHSS must have known
better what he was doing than had Mrs. I., assuming she hadn't simply
forgotten to do it altogether. If only I could buy beer with the thing, I
thought (and certainly not for the first time).
I'm almost always willing to drink a beer, it's true, but the times when I
really, really want one are surprisingly rare. Such was the mood on
Thursday, a day which began with another surprisingly rare event, getting
drizzled on when walking from the bench to the bus stop. A thoroughly
gray, damp dawn it was. And although it eventually cleared, it was one of
those days when light drizzle could be expected at any moment. Naturally
one of those moments had to be while I was enjoying lunch in the secluded
grove. And just as well I hadn't brought a beer along in my backpack. A
security guard was sitting on one of the benches. I wondered if he'd been
detailed to find out where all the empty Colt bottles in the trashcan were
coming from, but it's more likely he was just enjoying his lunch break in
what is, after all, one of the most peaceful places on campus.
If, as I suspect, the Sleeptalker is playing the new character "Paniolo"
in the game, I'm proud of him. I've long tried to get him to understand
the fun of role playing in the game. There's not much point in playing
several different characters if you play them all the same, might as well
just concentrate the effort on one of them. He has, briefly, managed once
before to play a new character in a totally different style, and I'm
pretty sure he's doing it now. The fact that Paniolo logged in shortly
after the State Library opened and left in time for soup kitchen lunch
bolsters my suspicion.
And I'm having good fun playing my new one, as well. It's refreshing to
play without people constantly asking for assistance, and it has been so
long since I've played such a lowlife, it's doubly amusing.
And in the mailbox:
Hmmm, are there biodegradable funeral urns?
"Umm...yeah. I think they call that a paper bag?"
I like it! Going out in the proverbial Plain Brown Wrapper.
For the second day in a row, Bla and I went in at the same time for our
McD's refill, handed Victor our cups together. Who knows if we got our
original cups back? Certainly didn't matter to me, I wouldn't mind in the
least drinking from Bla's cup. Although his chin is lined with a neatly
trimmed beard, he keeps the sides closely shaved, up above his ears. He'd
gone further than usual with his trimming, had a large shaved area on
either side which looked even more strange with the whiteness contrasted
to his darkly tanned face.
"You need to get some sun on that," I said. He admitted he'd gone further
than he'd planned with his razor, said it was okay. "Got to keep the
women away. Too good looking, and they come around," he said, and
laughed. "You poor man," I teased, and thought it would surely take more
than a weird haircut to keep me away. Although not "good looking" in a
conventional sense, he is an incredibly sexy man. Even if I have to spend
all day sitting in the park and waiting for it, I must have a shower with
him sometime. I want to see all of him.
And speaking of sexy men, Dame Fortune may be old, but she still knows how
When Helen R and I had been debating whether to have Mexican food or go to
Arby's, she said we should try Mexican and do Arby's the next day. So I
went down to the mall to join her for dinner again. No matter how much
credit may be on that foodstamps card and how many luxuries like French
pate, Dutch cheese and chilled Starbucks mocha it can provide, it won't
produce one of my favorite things, the lowly baked potato. So Arby's
remains a treat. Leaving Helen, I returned to campus, read Hesse for
awhile and then spent the last hour before Sinclair Library closed playing
Going back to the mall for a final snipes hunt before heading to the
bench, I was walking along so engrossed in thought I didn't even notice
until he grabbed my arm. Mondo!
What a sweetheart of a madman he is. Even without those beautiful eyes
and those long eyelashes, just his soft and gentle voice would make me
melt. He asked if I'd seen the Sleeptalker, and I told him not since last
Friday. He asked who was staying at the hacienda these days. I said
Rocky was there sometimes, and Angelo, but mostly it was people I didn't
know. He'd be talking but now and then he'd look to the side, drift off
into whatever reality it is he lives in, and it was as if just the shell
of his body was standing there, he had flown off somewhere. No
complaints, I'd be more than happy just to have the shell.
He said he had to go, he had to get up very early in the morning to go
downtown about a job. I cannot imagine him getting an ordinary job or, if
he did, keeping it very long. I told him it was good to have seen him and
urged him to take care of himself. You do, too, he said, and went on
Yep, the Old Lady does still know how to rock.
The Three Jewels. How strangely interwoven our lives are. All the young
men whose paths have crossed mine in this odd new life but it's always
Rocky, Mondo and the Sleeptalker who come and go, mix and match, disappear
Those so-rare moments alone with Mondo on Thursday evening, the
Sleeptalker bringing his Main Man into the game on Friday afternoon, the
night sleeping on a bench with Rocky on the one behind me. He was already
asleep when I got there. I was feeling weary and frazzled from (thank
heaven!) the last day of Finals Week, settled down and only woke once in
the night to look over at him. When I got up in the morning he was
sprawled on his back, one knee up, his stuffed crotch all the more
provocative for knowing exactly what was causing that bulge. How not to
start a day in a serene state of mind.
It's Rocky I should have an "all drunk and everything" party with, I
thought. After all, the one time when we were alone and shared two quarts
of brew, he quite voluntarily showed it to me, enjoyed my admiring
inspection. Another round, who knows, he might well give it to me. And
I'm certain he'd do so without all the fuss and angst of the Sleeptalker.
I can't imagine Rocky ever having had the need to say, "I'm not gay."
In any case, it was refreshing to have a sexual fantasy without the
Sleeptalker being the star. He hadn't known I was there, of course, in
the game. And he was playing in such an unusual way, so quiet and
subdued. I wondered if his often outrageous antics are part of his
habitual routine of pushing me to see how far he can take it or, more
likely, feeling free to misbehave because he knows I'm there to help pick
up the pieces if someone kicks his butt. I was happy to see him playing,
anyway. He needs that game a lot more than I do.
And I don't really need all these sex-fantasy games, either, or at least a
large part of me thinks I don't. For all his problems, the Steppenwolf is
largely spared such nonsense. Of course, the book deals with a time of
deep crisis in his life, and when I've been in that dark place I, too, had
little time for such games. If you're thinking of cutting your throat,
stuffed crotches are rather insignificant.
I never thought of cutting my throat, actually. It never seemed a viable
method. Two small bowls will do for the sacrifice, the I
Ching says, matching that wonderful image in Fellini's "Satyricon",
slashed bleeding wrists held over two small bowls. I read that the more
practical method is to slash them while sitting in a tub of warm water,
since that will be more certain to keep the blood flowing for the
necessary time. Of course, that's all rather primitive considering the
arsenal of pills which can do the job with less mess, more efficiently.
No, I'm not feeling in the least suicidal, although the weather continues
to be dismal enough to inspire such thoughts. I'm much too
interested in stuffed crotches to be thinking of giving them up just yet.
It was, after all, that Fool Moon night with the Sleeptalker when I
finally stopped, once and for all, regretting that I hadn't died in the
hospital. That was worth living for. And maybe there are more such
magical moments ahead, why not stick around and see ...
The libraries at the University are closed on the weekends preceding and
following Interim Week but surprisingly, the little computer lab is
sticking to its usual schedule. That does mean, though, early closing on
the weekend. So shortly after four, I left and went to play Mall Rat for
the evening. It was not as crowded as usual despite some elaborate
production at Center Stage, taping segments for the Disney Channel. The
first part of the thing was "kiddie karaoke" which was quite unbearable.
A little girl of perhaps eight or nine years pretending to be Celine Dion
tests my patience well beyond endurance. The second part featured
teenagers doing the same thing and was no better. One rather cute young
man simply couldn't sing although one had the idea his family has for
years considered him a major talent. Dismal stuff.
Eleven quarters, one dime and two pennies. Not a bad haul for a few hours
at the mall. There were no odd finds aside from a rather elegant black
leather coin holder, empty alas. It had probably been quite expensive but
was too bulky to be of any use to me. A plain plastic bag does quite well
enough for my supply of coins. I'd had a late lunch, wasn't at all
hungry, and when I came across two sandwiches, individually and neatly
wrapped in plastic, there was no need to consider the other options which
turned up, much less hauling out the foodstamps card again. Two egg salad
sandwiches. Just fine.
I'd had a beer in the secluded grove earlier, continuing Hesse. Although
I identify in many ways with the Steppenwolf and certainly have great
sympathy for him, there is one thing we just don't share. Every time I
read the book, I again carefully examine my thinking but, no, I simply
don't fear death as he did. I fear the idea of death arriving painfully,
a fear that has more than once made me hesitate about jumping off a tall
building. Just those few seconds of pain are a major deterrent. But
death itself I don't fear at all.
Perhaps that's at least partly because I don't believe there's any "final
judgment" awaiting. Judgment, perhaps. But I am not too worried about
that. There are without question some things on the negative side of the
scale and I may well be blamed for having wasted too many opportunities in
this life, but all in all, there's nothing to be overly worried about, I
think. And I seem to have become more and more convinced another life,
another chance, will follow. So even if the Tibetans are right and the
interim is something of a wild rollercoaster ride, there's nothing really
to fear. Poor Steppenwolf.
I got to the bench a little earlier than usual, settled down and fell
asleep quickly. Later I woke and saw the McD's Bicycle Lad was on the
bench next to me. His shirt was up far enough to reveal a strip of brown
belly, quite a sweet vision. Angelo was several benches away, laying face
down and doing a gentle bump-and-grind in his sleep. I hope it was as
good for the bench as it was for me.
The weather had, at last, shifted and Saturday afternoon had been sunny
and pleasant despite a few light drizzles, even in the sunshine. And it
was a welcome change to wake at dawn and see a clear sky, be able to walk
to the bus stop without getting damp. Summer is upon us. I stashed the
heavy cotton sleeping shirt, retrieved the light nylon windbreaker which
has seen two summers as a pajama top. I hadn't looked in that stash box
in so long I'd forgotten there are four tee shirts in there, one which
once belonged to the Sleeptalker. And there are quite a few books. Maybe
toward the end of the month I'll read the seventh volume of the Robert
Jordan epic again, then buy the eighth, still unread. Now and then
someone gets into that stashbox but rarely takes anything, and I never put
anything in there I'd mind losing.
It felt good to have the backpack reduced in weight, even if only by one
heavy cotton shirt. Now it's time to find a summer "blanket", since I
insisted the tablecloth I'd been using be thrown away when in the
hospital. Summertime, and may the livin' be easy.
I'm a-livin' on the easy, with a bottle of whisky. Ain't got no money,
to see my honey .... Well, I've got ten quarters, but that's not
enough for my honey.
"Truth seekers are forbidden to escape life's experience through
suicide. However, in cases of terminal illness, under strict
community regulation, tradition does allow fasting as a means of
mors voluntaria religiosa."
Mors voluntaria religiosa. Cool phrase.
I resisted the (strong) temptation to spend my mall loot on a Sunday
lunchtime beer, saved it instead until late afternoon, enjoying the brew
and Hesse in the secluded grove. Consequently I didn't get to the mall
until almost sunset time. Given such a late arrival and the early Sunday
closing, I had little hope for anything but a box of decent snipes. With
some effort, I did get that but also, much to my surprise, I bagged five
quarters. Those fifty-cent-refund strollers are such a welcome addition
to my life.
Food offerings were again abundant but I wasn't hungry, didn't even
inspect the abandoned plate lunch boxes. I spotted a severely overweight
nomad wolfing down the contents of one I'd declined, thought I would have
been doing him a favor had I eaten it. It's a mystery to me how so many
of the street people maintain their obesity, even given the frequent
largesse at the mall. My own abstinence was tested, though, when I saw a
white box from Leonard's Bakery on a bench. Looked inside. Half a dozen
fresh malasadas! I would have preferred to tuck them in my backpack for
Monday's breakfast but I long ago learned those delectable pastries just
aren't as delicious held over to the next day, so I sat and pigged out on
four of them, leaving two for another wanderer. Yummy stuff.
On Saturday night I'd taken the bench Rocky had been sleeping on the night
before. Of course, every bench there has at some time had one of the
Three Jewels sleeping on it, but I enjoyed knowing that bench had so
recently had Rocky's body sprawled on it. When I got there Sunday,
though, I had a hunch I should take the middle of the three benches.
Good intuiting. I woke up later and saw Rocky had taken his usual one
behind me. I never see them without being amazed at what delicate feet he
Feet, legs, now shoulders. I go through phases when a particular body
area fascinates me and shoulders right now rule. That is no doubt partly
because the Sleeptalker has such fine ones. I can walk along behind him
quite happily entranced by watching his shoulders move under a tee shirt,
even more happily when they're exposed by a tank top. And on both Sunday
and Monday mornings, I sat equally happily gazing at a pair of shoulders
on the campus-bound bus. A new young man, tall, slim, very brown. I
can't guess his ethnic mix, although I suspect it is partly Filipino,
partly Hawaiian, but his darkness is mostly tan as I saw on Monday when he
removed his glasses temporarily, revealing narrow white strips where the
earpieces blocked the sun. He has too severe a haircut, would be even
more lust-provoking with less shaven sides, but his long, thin neck and
broad, wonderful shoulders more than make up for the less attractive
haircut. I won't complain at all if every morning finds us on the
The Steppenwolf may not have grumbled on his solitary walks about wanting
to cuddle up to a desirable body, but in such a profound tale of the human
condition, sex could hardly be entirely absent. And he did have his
wonderful gift, Maria. Even if he knew it was a fleeting gift, he had it,
and I'm always a bit jealous of that sequence in his life. I paused in my
reading, as I usually do, at the beginning of the Magick Theatre
adventure, and smiled again as I reminded myself I was NOT going to fall
into the trap I'd seen lurking from the moment I picked up the book. The
Sleeptalker is not my Hermine. That Fool Moon evening was not Magick
Theatre, delightful though it was. Nope, ain't gawna do it, not
falling into that trap.
Going with the Steppenwolf into that special place might not have found me
with the glasses of exotic drink and the special smoke he'd had
beforehand, but then I've gone through that door with him having had
equally splendid refreshment. The best I could hope for this time was a
full bottle of brew. But I needed three more quarters for that.
Monday was too beautiful a day to sit inside at a computer, even if the
Sleeptalker was in the game, so I left campus around ten and headed for
the beach. At the mall bus stop, there was a cart-with-quarter waiting.
Two more quarters ...
One soon turned up, but the daytime competition was too intense, several
other possibilities were snatched. I gave up, decided it was time to have
a shower and sit in the sun for awhile. On the floor of the shower room
was a quarter. Ha! I love it when stuff like that happens.
A smiling young Japanese lad joined me in the shower. His equipment was
so tiny, it barely peeked out from the bushy hair. Despite that [cough]
shortcoming, he had a fine body and it was fun to be naked with him. I
had a tee shirt to wash, so was still there when he left and a forty-ish
Korean man, equally ill-equipped, came in. He obviously wanted to play.
Erk. Well, after my endless dance with the Waianae Coquette, I'm more
resolved than ever. If anyone is crazy enough or desperate enough to want
me for a playmate, they've got it, no matter how uninterested I may be.
In this case, the disinterest was so complete, I doubted I'd be able to
even get it up. Rescued. An old nomad who I was not in the least bit
interested to see naked came in. So he had a huge one, big deal. I
finished my laundry and went over to sit in the sun. My face and arms are
very brown but my still-hospital-scrawny chest looks as white as a
Minnesota tourist in January. I should spend more time at the beach, not
just for the tan but for the amusing shower adventures.
The campus had been very crowded on Sunday. The formal graduation
ceremonies were being held in the sports arena on the lower campus, but
the entire place was pressed into parking service, so there were people
everywhere. I'd thought Monday, the first day of the Interim Break, would
be less populated but not so. The small mob of people waiting all day at
the parking permit office didn't surprise me, but the others roaming the
campus did. I suppose they're the incoming summer people, and a fine,
fine crop it is. I saw one young man in black tee shirt and white
trousers walking toward me and said to myself, "ohmygawd."
Summertime, and the livin' is easy ...
The prior-to-penultimate Tuesday of May 2000 certainly got off to a
rousing start. I was sitting on a bench enjoying my refill cup of coffee.
A quite hunky Filipino fellow sat down on the other end of the bench,
slouched down with his knees wide apart. He pulled up his tee shirt and
rubbed his brown belly. The front of his shorts clearly indicated he was
in need of service. What am I doing, I wonder, sitting with a sign that
says "get your head here"? If so, don't take the sign out of the window,
Never mind resolutions about always saying yes, this time there was no
need to consider such things, I was more than happy to oblige. It was
most amusing that he was such a close match to the Sleeptalker in size and
shape, and he was even more passionate. After he exploded, he waited a
bit while I softly rubbed his body, then withdrew, ruffled my hair with
his hand, wedding band and all, and said, "that was good." I certainly
He went on his way, and as I set out on my usual morning snipes hunt, I
laughed aloud when the music system started playing "Livin' on the Easy".
A fine cosmic jest.
Two splendid intimate encounters with handsome young men in the space of
one moon. Is this to be a Summer of Debauchery? No complaints, if so.
"What's up, dog?" asked the Sleeptalker on Monday afternoon in the game.
How romantic, what a follow-up to "you'll wake up in the
morning and I'll be gone." Hmmmmm. I'd used my stash of quarters to buy
a bottle of Colt on my way back to campus, sat in the secluded grove
with it and Hesse. By the time I returned to a computer it was quite late
in the afternoon. I looked in on the game, no sign of the lad, so I took
Reting in. The measure of wealth in the game is the gold coin. For a
high level player like Reting, it's an easy matter to pick up ten or
fifteen million coins in a few minutes of play. Since there is little to
spend them on, he had accumulated quite a vast fortune. However, more
than 150 million had been invested in the new character, so it was time to
replenish the treasury.
The Sleeptalker entered the game. There are Guilds for the peaceful
types, Clans for the killers. He had long been a member of a Clan called
the Suicidal Stalkers. The leader of that clan, about whom we often had
heated arguments, hasn't played for a very long time. After asking that a
warning be sent to him via "real life" friends, the managers of the game
replaced him ... with the Sleeptalker. A dream come true for the lad. He
was very happy about it, and I was happy for him.
Later he proved his sulk is over and that he has adjusted his perception
of our last meeting sufficiently to treat it with humor. The suggested
price the little whore had offered for Round Two was one of the special
swords and twenty million gold coins. I had, of course, not the slightest
difficulty with that, he could easily have said 100 million and I would
have agreed. But then, as I said, he changed his mind. I auctioned off a
special item I had no need for. He lamented publicly that he had only two
million gold, couldn't join in the bidding which went to ten times that.
And he said, "but Reting owes me fifty million." Ha! I just replied,
"[cough]". So the price has gone up? No problem, but shall we wait until
the Fool Moon on Friday?
Meanwhile, Betka tells me Asteroid
Albert was "re-found" on May 10th.
I am proceeding very, very carefully and slowly through the Magick Theatre
with the Steppenwolf. And despite the unusual scarcity of discarded books
on campus at this time of year, another volume did find its way into my
backpack: Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium, in a
revised and expanded edition since I last read it. This classic has, of
course, little connection with the absurdities the arrival of
2000/2001 has subjected us to, but is, as the subtitle says, a study of
"revolutionary millenarians and mystical anarchists of the Middle Ages".
And it is providing most excellent intertwined reading as I walk with the
From that fascinating text comes: "And to anyone familiar with
anthropological findings concerning mana, or indwelling power, and
the ways it can be transmitted ...".
And some of the more obscure Taoist alchemists hinted at that so intimate
method of mana transmittal which led me in the Acid Years to the
conclusion that the "Fountain of Youth" was that fountain which only young
men can provide and that drinking from it was a certain method of
retaining youthfulness. Romantic and fanciful as that may be, I see no
way to discount the certainty of its transmitting mana.
How the luck of the hunter varies at the mall. Since we both have some
discount movie tickets which will expire at the end of June, Helen R
suggested on Monday that we make what is a relatively rare visit to the
Varsity Theatre to see "Deterrence". What a weird movie. Its weirdness
was matched by the taxi driver we found asleep in the back seat of his
vehicle afterwards, Helen having decided to splurge and ride home in a
car. We agreed that should we come across that taxi driver again, we'd
let him sleep on. Then I made a quick trip through the mall hunting
snipes where the harvest was slim indeed.
It's odd that competition for snipes is generally heavier than for
quarters, but I suppose if a man is getting foodstamps, smokes but doesn't
drink, snipes are more important than quarters. And then there are the
youngsters who can't legally buy tobacco anymore so will grab any
extra-long snipes. But I finally managed to get enough for at least the
next morning's senior coffee time and went on to the bench.
On Tuesday night, though, it took only a stroll through one-eighth of the
mall to bag two boxes full of long snipes. As I was heading to the bus
stop, I ran into Helen who was doing some late shopping, asked if I wanted
something to eat. My appetite has been exceptionally low recently, maybe
because of warmer weather's arrival, so I declined but was more than happy
to have a Gloria Jean's chilled mocha instead of food. I enjoy those
little bottles of Starbucks chilled mocha, but Gloria J's are in another
class altogether. If I make it to SocSec time, I'll be a regular customer
at that coffee emporium.
Coffee that late, of course, did nothing to ease me into sleep. As I was
walking up the path to the hacienda, I was surprised to see Rocky on the
first of the three grouped benches rather than his usual spot at the back.
Getting nearer, I saw why. There was a huge mound of blubber on the floor
behind the back bench. We already have one Fat Man staying there, a
regular for some weeks now. He's so big it's a mystery how he can sleep
on those narrow benches without falling off. The new one, I guess, just
can't manage it so has to make do with the floor. And I had to make do
with the view of Rocky through the back-slats of the bench, but at least
had the pleasure of sleeping beside him.
The Sleeptalker had been in the game earlier and was in a very strange
mood, ignored me directly but said things publicly which were clearly
directed at me. And he now and then, out of the blue, said weird things
like, "can any man save his brother?" and "I guess I don't have any
friends anymore". Honey, if you're trying to make me feel guilty, too,
forget it. Aint' gawna do it.
A Summer of Debauchery? Bring on the mega-vitamin pills, please, I'll
need them. Wednesday morning's unexpected playmate didn't want help. He
wanted to do it himself, but with an audience. I was happy to provide
They are tearing up the mall sidewalk near McD's in preparation for the
opening of a huge new Old Navy store and as part of that, have demolished
the planter box which has long been my spot for the first cup of morning
coffee. So I relocated to a bench further away, waiting until I get my
refill to move even further to the Orchid Walk. On Wednesday, before the
amusing autoerotic display, I was sitting with my first cup. The Bicycle
Boy arrived, walked back and forth several times as if looking for
someone. Then he came over to me, asked if I'd buy him a cup of senior
coffee. I declined, with the rather lame excuse that I didn't want to
walk back down there.
It wasn't, of course, that I minded cheating McD's for a cheap cup of
coffee, I've done it for the Sleeptalker and Rocky. But after having
observed the Bicycle Boy for a long time, I know he's very much a creature
of habit and I just didn't want to establish a precedent. I treasure the
quiet solitude in the morning with those cups of coffee. He then asked if
I had a cigarette. I said I only had snipes and didn't offer him one.
After all, we were in the mall, he could go find his own. He said,
"sorry" and walked off.
Okay, I'm a slut, I want his body but I don't want to get involved. And
since he has become such an established regular at the hacienda, that
doesn't seem a very feasible combination. Oh well, I thought, you've
surely messed up any chance of getting those flowery surfer shorts off him
now, haven't you.
But when I got to the hacienda that evening, he was still sitting up on
one of the facing benches, getting ready to settle for the night. He had
his back to me, turned around, smiled and nodded. I returned the gesture.
He walked over and asked again if I had a cigarette. I again said I only
had snipes, but offered him the box to select one. He needed a light as
well, then went out to smoke on an outside bench. His expression, smile,
and the way he stood in front of me very clearly suggested he is
available, he can be had.
I considered moving over to the bench facing his but said, no, take it
easy, go slow with this one. You'd think I would be delighted to make
contact with a cute young man who is so obviously lonely and is no doubt
willing to give his body in exchange for company. Instead, I see it as
something of a dilemma. Shine on, Fool Moon, shine on.
Meanwhile, trouble in paradise. A sweet little tiger tabby cat, just
beyond the kitten stage, evidently thinks I share my lunch with the birds
in the secluded grove just to lure in his own luncheon options. He's
delightful to watch, lurking behind a bench, his tail twitching madly, his
little jaw chattering. He gets especially excited by the fat ringneck
doves and I'm so irked by those greedy pigs I wouldn't mind if he did
ambush one of them. The zebra doves cluster closer to me and keep a wary
eye on him, but don't seem terribly concerned. I don't suppose I can buy
cat food with the foodstamps card but maybe I'll get the little fellow
some tuna fish now and then.
Cute little cats are much easier to think about than cute little Filipino
Seventh Circle was down when I
tried to login. The Boss had explained the day before that the revised
version of the game would be running on a new machine and that was causing
the further delays. Old-timers in the game know it's more likely the fact
that he stays stoned out of his gourd much of the time which is causing
the delays. And his enthusiasm for running the game, which he has done
for many years, runs very high when talking about what will happen and
much lower when it comes to sitting down and making it happen. But with
it totally unavailable, I thought maybe he was finally getting on with it.
He was. But ye gawds, what a mess. I knew it would be, but it surpassed
my worst expectations. He is putting in stuff piecemeal, so when I logged
in late afternoon, only the main town of that alternate world was
available, all roads out of it were missing. The other towns were there,
okay, but you had to have a special teleport spell to reach them. Rangers
don't have that capability. So there wasn't much to do but sit and bitch
about the mess.
Since it hadn't been available, I'd left campus in the early morning and
headed to the beach. I took it a step further this time, actually changed
into shorts and lay on the sand for a couple of hours. I'd drifted into
at least semi-sleep for about half of that time. Just as well, since
laying in the sun on the beach is something I get quickly bored with
despite all the interesting distractions to watch. A young woman with a
little squealing girl brought me out of my semi-consciousness. Why, with
all the vacant options, she had to settle so near me, I don't know. It
was obviously one of those parents who think their offspring is so
adorable it's quite unthinkable that everyone else in the world couldn't
agree. Fortunately, they didn't stay long. And I lingered longer than I
would have, hoping there would be a break in the nonstop parade of old
nomads using the shower. No such luck, so I gave up and showered with one
That end of the beach is populated by locals, all right, but the park
alongside the beach there seems to be the main hangout for the more loony
nomads. The Behemoth was striding around, his loud speeches accented by
aggressive gestures with his arms. He's a shaggy, incredibly dirty man
with a huge, hairy potbelly, usually wears only a pair of grubby tan
trousers. One morning recently he was standing right in front of McD's,
stripped stark naked and turned his undershorts inside-out (or vice versa)
before putting them and his trousers back on. The one blessing is that I
don't have to fear sharing a shower with him. It doesn't look like he has
been in one for a very long time.
The Orator was there, too, at his usual picnic table. I don't think he
has ever forgotten the day when he parked himself too near me and I
grumbled, "shut up! who's listening to you anyway!" If a man could commit
suicide by boring himself to death, the Orator would be a prime candidate.
He absolutely never shuts up and just as absolutely has nothing of
interest to say.
Maybe I should recommend that he become an online journal keeper.
Cohn writes: "The Brethren of the Free Spirit did not hesitate to say:
'God is all that there is.' 'God is in every stone and in each limb of the
human body as surely as in the Eucharist bread.' 'Every created thing is
And what is "heresy" about that, Professor Cohn?
Looks like Dame Fortune has also decided to take it slow and easy in the
case of the Bicycle Boy and let the perfect set-up pass by. When I got to
the hacienda on Thursday evening, all benches were taken except the two
facing ones. So I settled on one of those, Rocky already asleep on the
bench behind me. There was a rather rough looking guy sitting on the
steps. I wasn't very keen on him as a sleeping companion and I guess he
felt the same way because he settled on the floor. The facing bench was
still empty when I fell asleep, surprised the Bicycle Boy hadn't arrived
to occupy it. I opened my eyes later and saw it had been occupied, but by
a stranger, a quite handsome fellow in a Hugh Grant sort of way. Oh well,
I still hadn't reached any conclusion about the Bicycle Boy, anyway.
Nothing new under the sun, a phrase which often comes to mind while
reading the Cohn book. I had to smile over the strange, charismatic
itinerant preachers, especially a few who had such devoted followers it
was considered a great honor and blessing to drink the water they had
bathed in. Now I would deeply enjoy watching the Sleeptalker take a bath
but the idea of drinking the water afterwards? No, that just doesn't turn
me on in the slightest.
That brought to mind the bizarre evening with the Sleeptalker and the
Cherub. At one point the kinky Cherub asked if I'd let the Sleeptalker
piss in my mouth! I said sure, confident they wouldn't call my bluff.
They didn't, but the Sleeptalker was obviously intrigued by the idea.
Heaven knows where the Cherub got it from. I'm afraid neither bathwater
nor urine are quite the means of mana transmittal I'd prefer, but sure, I
would've gone through with it if those two rascals hadn't backed down.
I had somehow completely forgotten the weird Flagellants, crowds of
crazed pilgrims who wandered Europe staging public self-whippings. That,
too, does absolutely nothing to turn me on. After some discussion of the
subject, during an acid trip I let my friend give me a sound whack on the
back with a belt. It just made me angry, very angry. [wave to Daddy].
I'm not sure what role I would have played in the Middle Ages (or did
play), but I don't think I would have been following some "prophet"
around, drinking his bathwater, and I don't think I'd have been standing
outside a church using a cat-of-nine-tails on myself either. But I
suspect burning at the stake, for whatever reason, might well have been
the conclusion of such a life. And yes, I no doubt would have been [or
a member of the Free Spirit.
Cohn really tries hard to be objective, but every time he talks about the
Free Spirit movement, he says "heresy" with it. Odd. He abandons it
after awhile, but not until after having made it strangely obvious.
Thursday was a luckless day for mall hunting. That was partly because,
alas, the Whore was back. After a blessedly long absence, there he was
again, rushing around with his little clutch purse. I doubt he managed to
bag enough quarters to acquire his aimed-for pack of cigarettes. There
just weren't that many people at the mall and the stroller and cart
corrals were all pretty full. I found only one quarter. But at least the
snipe hunting went fairly well and during a midday visit I'd found a plate
lunch box with half an enormous club sandwich in it along with a generous
supply of fries. No need to haul out the foodstamps card for lunch, and I
was sufficiently satisfied that a late afternoon beer sufficed for dinner
On Friday, the Sleeptalker asked in the game in a rather cryptic way,
wording of which I don't exactly recall, if he came to campus, would I "be
good"? I replied, "say what?" Silence. A bit later he asked, "should I
go there?" "No," I said, "not if I have to 'be good'". "Oh, Reting," he
said, "be fair." I assume that comes from some comedian I don't know, it
has long been a stock turn of the Sleeptalker. He says it in an
exaggerated faggy voice, with flipped wrist, which is quite amusing.
Then he said he was going to make the journey and I fled out, went over to
an already pre-arranged meeting with the Banker, and then downhill to get
myself a beer. I sat in the secluded grove and enjoyed it with the Cohn
book. If I have to 'be good', the Sleeptalker can find someone else to
hang out with. He wasn't at the computer lab when I returned, and wasn't
in the game, so if he did make the trip to campus, he must have been, as
usual, unable to stay on his own until my return.
It has been two weeks since I've seen him, and it's the "lunaversary" of
that special evening, but I really did mean it when I told him I was tired
of his game.
Yes, I would've very much liked to see him. Yes, I would have bought him
beer, food, and shared my tobacco. But c'mon, dude, let's stop the crap,
okay? I'll share my all-too-limited resources with you. You give me the
one thing I want the most which won't cost you a penny. Okay, maybe a lot
of spiritual anguish, and I truly do feel sorry that you have to go
through that shit.
But like I said, and meant it, I'm tired of that game.
"Oh Reting, be fair." Standard patter, but I'm sure the Sleeptalker was
quite serious and from his point of view, I'm undoubtedly not being
"fair". On that night when he said, "okay, you can have it", he'd
added, "I hope you don't turn into a monster afterwards." Odd thing to
say, I'd thought. But then, I did. I'm the Cookie Monster and you're the
Cookie, my boy.
I'd treated myself to a second beer, the bottle I would've bought him if
he'd stuck around, enjoyed it and the sunset and continuing the Cohn book.
Then I went off to the bench feeling quite satisfied with how things had
gone (or not gone) with the Sleeptalker, pleased I'd had the fortitude to
send the right message, so to speak.
But in the morning, in that always second-thoughts time with my two cups
of coffee, I wondered. Did I have as good a time as I would have had in
his company? Or did I just spare myself the frustration of another
evening with him dangling the bait and then saying no? And was I being
fair, to him or to myself? Wasn't, for a very long time, just the
pleasure of his company, the delight in looking at him, enough? Had I
really turned into a monster, insisting I wasn't going to be his friend if
I can't get in his pants?
I can't say I'm certain about any of the answers.
That much of this Tale was written early on Saturday morning. I took a
smoke break. The weather was delightful so I strolled around campus for
awhile before returning to the computer. The Sleeptalker was in the game,
playing from the State Library. He seemed in a very good mood, was bouncy
and friendly. After awhile he offered me 20 million for that sword he
wanted so much. I declined. "How much then?" he asked. "Gold can't buy
Eventually he left, without saying anything, and I thought he'd probably
headed off to free lunch. But no, he arrived on campus. He said
something teasing about getting that sword. I thought, "oh, not
again, I'm in no mood for cockteasing." I left, said I was going to get
something to eat, went downhill and got a sandwich and beer, returned to
the secluded grove. I bought an extra sandwich for him, just in case I'd
been wrong about him going to the soup kitchen. I wasn't sure he'd still
be at the computer lab when I got back and I didn't really care.
He was, and when we took a smoke break together, I offered him the
sandwich. "So you did think about me?" he said with a smile. Lord,
child, when aren't I thinking about you, I didn't say.
We played until it was nearly closing time. I said I'd go downhill again
to get some beer and he could meet me in the secluded grove. Again, I
wasn't sure if he'd show up. It certainly wouldn't have been unusual for
him to just disappear at that point. But he did come strolling down the
path and I thought once again as I watched him approach that he really is
one of the most physically desirable men I've ever known.
He told me about his community service, did a delightful pantomime acting
out the task of loading rocks into a crusher. He's such a natural comic
actor. On the last flask of beer he said, "where shall we go?" Okay, he
was serious, he wanted that sword.
There is always something very special about the first time having sex
with someone when it has been rewarding, but in this case the second time
was perhaps even better. His bodily reactions are seemingly unforced and
on the surface. It's possible to read him so well. I've never known
anyone quite like that before. Early in the encounter, too early, I'd
brushed my hand across his butt and could easily sense the slight
resistance. But later, toward the end, there was no problem at all
grasping it gently in my hand. He does indeed have a classic "cute butt",
such soft skin, so perfectly formed.
And his timing is absolutely perfect, enough staying power to make it
thoroughly interesting but not going on so long it gets boring. He almost
lost it earlier but again I could sense he wasn't really ready to let go
yet, so slowed down until he subsided a bit. A totally delightful dance.
He said later he'd held back "to make it more interesting for you."
That was, too, one thing that made the second time special. This time we
shared another beer afterwards and talked about it a little. He obviously
had a more difficult task coming to terms with it than I'd thought,
but was much easier with it the second round. "See, it's no big deal," I
teased. "You're going to let someone suck it or use your hand, so why not
me?" Again he did one of his pantomime turns, a mock jerk off and making
funny orgasmic noises. "It spilled all over my hand," he groaned. "Such
a waste, such a waste," I said. Uh-huh.
He got up to piss against the wall, discreetly turned away from me. Hey,
I said, no need to hide it anymore, let me watch. He teased. I said,
okay, I'll give you 50 million for a look at it. "50 million!" I'd
already planned to give him that as a bonus with the sword, anyway. He
turned around to face me, his pants still open, and said, "but it's all
small." Errr, maybe it was about half the size it had been when I'd last
seen it, but "all small?". No, I couldn't agree. A funny interlude.
He left to get the bus downtown. I told him, "thanks, that was sweet."
And indeed it had been.
He arrived on campus again Sunday morning and we spent the day together.
I'd found enough quarters to finance one beer, only if I'd foregone
morning coffee, and I'd decided to do that. But I woke up a little
earlier than usual so walked to the mall, something I used to do
every day but haven't yet this year. On the way I found seventy-two
cents, exactly the amount for two mornings of coffee. So freaky when
stuff like that happens. So the Sleeptalker and I shared lunch and the
beer in the secluded grove. It was very warm and he took off his shirt,
grinned at me now and then, but didn't complain about me enjoying that
fine body of his. No, the belly isn't as flat as it used to be, gazing at
him laying there shirtless on the bench, but it's certainly not flabby
either, and the extra flesh on his arms and shoulders is most appealing.
The conversation leads me to think we've reached an unspoken understanding
about our friendship. Yes, he'll let me have his body now and then. It
won't be as often as I'd want, but then there are many otherwise happily
married couples with that problem. And at this point, I'm greedy enough
I'd want it every day. As the reader told me, "you're being too
impatient." Yes, quite true. I have to be content with waiting until
he's in the mood and with knowing he will be in that mood eventually. I'm
happy with that.
We played until closing time, then he decided he'd go with me to the mall
to hunt snipes. As it turned out, he was just hunting on my behalf,
wouldn't take any of the bounty with him. It was quite funny at one point
when he was walking a little ahead of me, pointing at an ashtray if there
was treasure in it. A man was sitting on a planter ledge watching us and
the Sleeptalker did his pointing in an exaggerated way, I dutifully
retrieved the snipes. The man had such an odd expression on his face. I
wondered if he was thinking I was the slave or something, following my
master. The Sleeptalker and I laughed about it afterwards and he said
he'd done it just because the man was staring so at us.
We sat for awhile outside the ArtLines shop which has a statue of Ganesh
and one of Siva in the window. An Indian or Pakistani couple walked past,
both slightly bowing their heads as they passed the window, something the
Sleeptalker spotted. "What's up with that?" he asked. So I told him a
little about Ganesh and Siva, admitted that I, too, nod my head when I
pass them. We walked over so he could inspect the figures more closely.
He bent down looking at Siva and when he straightened up, bumped his head
quite hard on the bronze, flaming halo. Another good laugh. Siva the
He went off to the shelter and I lingered at the mall until time for the
bench. A fine weekend, the Weekend of the Sleeptalker, Round Two.
As he had the first time, just at the moment of climax he made a gentle
gasping chuckle. It's the sweetest sound I've ever heard. I'd trade all
of Bach and Mozart for it.
The reader I had expected to challenge it didn't, but another reader did.
Oh yes, I was totally serious. Playing Faust (as I am wont to do now and
then), the Devil appears and offers a deal: "You can play that magic
flute once a month for the rest of your life, hear that wonderful sound.
But in exchange, you will not hear a note of Bach or Mozart."
I'd reply, without hesitation, "where do I sign?"
Monday and Tuesday were those ordinary days the Steppenwolf and I so
despise. Let us be ecstatically happy or suicidally miserable, but don't
just leave us in utterly unexceptional times. The Sleeptalker was briefly
in the game late on Monday morning. I expected him to be in a strange
mood and he was. He'd had a meeting with his Caseworker earlier. She may
be old, but she has "wonderful eyes". Poor boy, probably he sat there
thinking, "if only it had been her instead of Reting." Silly woman should
go for it.
He left without saying anything, didn't reappear in the afternoon. He'd
lost that so-desired sword he had deliciously earned, fighting a nasty
critter who disarms and trashes any swords. (I thought he knew that could
happen there.) I started working on getting two more of those swords.
The old-timer who finally was persuaded to part with them must have
wondered why I was so keen to get them. It's especially funny because he
told me some time ago he is gay and would have enjoyed knowing why I
wanted them (if he hasn't already guessed). It's hardly a secret in
there that the Sleeptalker is a very favored friend of the high-life
So, okay, I have the bait again. What a funny game. I almost feel
guilty. Almost, but not quite. In Seventh Circle, this is costing
me quite a lot. Like I care, considering what it's "buying"?
But it's a time to be patient again. The lad was absent on Tuesday, too.
A reader compared it to fly-fishing. I never was much good at fishing,
always got bored with the wait.
And the strange recent dance with Rocky is also making me impatient.
After weeks of being already asleep after I arrived at the hacienda,
Sunday he was sitting on the outside benches with the Fat Man and a young
fellow I hadn't seen before. I was tired after the weekend with the
Sleeptalker, only wanted to settle down and go to sleep. Their
conversation was just loud enough to keep me awake, but then I noticed
Rocky and the stranger stroll off together, saw them sitting at the bus
stop. Uh-oh, a bad sign, a reminder of the old days. And just as then,
indeed, they returned with beer and continued, inside, yakking for a very
long time, were still at it when I finally fell asleep after rejecting the
idea of simply leaving and taking my chances sleeping in a park with no
Monday night the stranger, who hadn't stayed overnight on Sunday, was
missing, but Rocky was sitting on his bench eating from a plate lunch box,
totally ignored me when I arrived. How very odd. I wondered if perhaps
the Sleeptalker had, in his initial dismay over being "all drunk and
everything", said something to Rocky about it. Doubtful, they seem to
have had a quite serious split and it has been difficult to get any
information at all out of the Sleeptalker about Rocky. Maybe it's just
that, a serious split, Rocky thinking I'd be on the Sleeptalker's side.
Whatever the reason, there's something weird going on, and I revert
to my decision, long ago, to treat them like cats. Be kind to them,
stroke them, when they come around, ignore them if they don't.
But with Rocky, I'm not sure. I think I need to make some gesture at this
point, even if it's just showing up at the hacienda with a bottle of beer
in my backpack and offering to share it. And if he's already asleep, what
the hell, drink warm beer the next day.
The Cohn book certainly stirs my soul. This is indeed a very boring time
in the history of mankind. There is much cause to be thankful for that.
No major disasters, no major war. Undoubtedly there must be dumb folks
somewhere on the planet killing each other for territory, wealth,
prestige, power, etc. But nothing major. I thought about it in the
secluded grove on Tuesday at sunset and came to the conclusion there has
been nothing truly dramatic in "history" since JFK was murdered.
No doubt about it, something to be grateful for, never mind a certain
yearning for those turbulent Middle Ages.
No, never any shortage of surprises from the Waianae Kid, and Dame Fortune
is always ready to stir things up, too.
The long-awaited revisions to Seventh Circle arrived on Wednesday
morning. I was in the game when the Boss said he was going to re-boot,
hoped we didn't all lose our characters. Gulp. We didn't, although there
were lots of glitches and was a great deal of moaning, especially by the
old-timers. I didn't have any reason for complaint.
The Sleeptalker appeared, playing from the State Library, but when
he realized it was the "new code" he left and soon arrived on campus. The
bus pass had been stolen, or he had lost it, but he also got a job working
as an assistant for a veterinarian. It sounds like quite an amusing job
but, of course, he's tired of it already ... after a day and a half! He
gets paid daily, which is a wise move, so maybe the immediate reward from
putting in the hours will keep him at it for awhile. I told him if he
doesn't want the job, I'll take it. He gets weekends and Wednesdays off,
hence the day on campus (and the dollar for bus fare to get there).
He was much surprised to see I'd acquired two more of those
Dragonslicer swords, was most eager to get his hands on one.
"Sucking dick to get a sword is weird," he said, when we took a smoke
break. Errr, you've got that the wrong away around, I pointed out. "I
think you should just give it to me," he teased and I said I felt the same
way about his "sword".
The time together had begun in one of those limbo-like intervals which
have been a familiar part of our friendship, when his mind is just off
somewhere else altogether and there's no point in saying anything to him
at all, much less asking any questions. But when we went downhill to get
lunch and beer, his mood switched to being very lively and quite sweetly
flirtatious. He bought his own beer, but didn't offer to buy mine. No
Writing about the actual process of having sex is something I find quite
difficult and I can well understand how writers of romance novels often
fail miserably at it, and admire those who are able to do it well. In our
Third Encounter, the Sleeptalker especially touched my heart with, again,
the moment of climax. One lover I remember with great fondness had a
habit, when he was particularly enjoying his orgasm, of grabbing my head
and holding it still while that "throbbing erection" did its thing. So
when the Sleeptalker gently placed his hands on either side of my head at
the crucial moment, it was sweet not just in itself, but also because of
the memories it evoked. Ten out of ten, for the third encounter.
I certainly had not expected it so soon. Saturday-to-Wednesday was a much
shorter time than I thought would pass before he was going to be in "that
mood" again. But if that was a surprise, it was nothing compared to later
in the day.
We played until almost seven in the evening. I wanted another beer,
suggested he go on playing while I went downhill and got the brew. Just
before I left, he'd asked in the game if I could give him some gold since
he was flat broke. I gave him a million. It was gone by the time I
returned with the beer. If you're impatient in the game and rich enough
to buy special potions for healing and such, you can run through a lot of
gold very quickly. In the past week of playing, I've gone through 250
million, much of it spent on my new character.
We went off to drink the beer and talk more about the game. He was again
being bouncy and flirtatious, did some delightful pantomimes about his
work with dogs that day and how he had managed to astound some of them
with his antics and counter their aggressive approach. I can well believe
it. Poor dogs must have thought they'd gotten stuck with a total loony.
Then he fretted over the shortage of gold he was suffering. He said, "I
don't know if I can get off again yet, but you can try. What's your
offer?" Okay, I was totally surprised and caught offguard. I told him
100 million gold for the chance to "try" and two good swords if he
actually produced. A deal. It took a little more perseverance than usual
but he really did get into it toward the end and was obviously enjoying
himself. He got the gold. And the swords.
We played on until after eleven, then went to sleep together in the Fool
Moon Spot. Sleeping close beside him, when there's no one else around he
has to worry about, is an interesting experience. Once he's soundly
asleep he will snuggle up very close to me, usually waking me (no
complaint). At one point, I could feel his hard sword pressing up against
me. But then he wakes, at least partly, seems to be horrified he has let
himself get so close and slides over to make sure our bodies aren't
touching at all. Only to snuggle back again when falling deeply enough
asleep. Touching and very sweet, if also a little sad. I wish, for his
sake, he could better come to terms with his body and its desires.
He well lived up to his nickname, several times waking me by saying things
in that unique voice he has when asleep, so unlike any of his waking
voices (despite the wide range of them he puts on).
So I didn't sleep all that well. Who cares? Two very touching interludes
with him in one day, the warmth of his fine body now and then pressed up
against me. Who needs sleep?
In the latest of what seems like neverending construction projects at the
mall, they have boarded off the parking area directly in front of the
supermarket. This holds great promise for the Quarter Hunt since people
will be forced to park further away. Many will no doubt be sufficiently
lazy not to walk the shopping carts back to the corral. A welcome
development, since June is going to be an exceptionally empty-pockets
month. Almost half of the Fabled Pension Check has already been hocked to
finance May's fishing expeditions and twenty of what's left needs to be
tucked away for the lad's birthday. No matter, never have I made better
use of borrowed funds.
Jonathan Cainer, writing
about the week bridging May and June, synchronistically raised the subject
of the Fountain of Youth. He sees it as "happiness" and said: For
we're talking here about happiness. If this week's changes bring
you all that they have the potential to bring you, you'll soon need to
carry ID if you want to be served in a bar. A good laugh. Thank you,
Jonathan. Happiness is a warm sword ...
The Sleeptalker's job must be near enough the State Library to allow him a
quick fix at lunchtime. He popped into the game for about half an hour on
Thursday. I'd gone to lunch myself at that time on Friday, so don't know
if he repeated the exercise. Then the game went down in the afternoon and
remained unavailable all evening. I played for a little while in another,
very similar, MUD where several other Seventh Circle players were
also taking refuge, but then went off to get a beer and finish the Cohn
book. I decided his final chapter, the Conclusion, merited a fresh
beer but didn't really want it just then, so tucked the book away.
For the first time in months, I came across a recent copy of The
Economist. It really is a fine magazine, with some of the wittiest
journalism to be found anywhere. Reading it along with Cohn's book
reinforced the certainty that there is nothing new under the sun. What
fools we mortals be, indeed.
There are not many male-female couples amongst the urban nomads, at least
not in the areas I visit. The Snorer and his scraggly woman appear to be
sticking together, evidently staying in the park. But there is one couple
I've seen for some time now. He's quite cute, a young blonde fellow. She
looks to be at least ten years older than he. Every morning they arrive
at McD's, he sits on a planter ledge outside while she goes in to get
their coffee and brings it out to him. She finally said good morning to
me on Thursday. Given the utterly profane avenues of thought I've been
traveling lately, fantasies turned to having a little adventure with the
two of them. Two males and one female was for a long time my absolute
favorite combination for sex. Dream on, Reting, dream on.
Helen R and I went to see "The Big Kahuna" on Thursday evening. What an
awful film. The Weekly says about "Battlefield Earth" that it's the
"worst film of the year ... thus far", but that writer may not yet have
seen Kahuna. I had a very difficult time just staying awake through it
and certainly would have walked out about halfway through if I'd been
there on my own.
After the relatively sleepless night on Wednesday and those dull moments
in the theatre, I collapsed on the bench and almost instantly fell asleep,
waking only once during the night to see Rocky on his usual bench behind
me and the Bicycle Boy on the bench in front. He walked down the path the
next morning and sat beside me on the bus stop bench, saying nothing. I
handed him the box of snipes and lighter, also without saying anything.
He took one, lit up, and handed them back to me. We boarded the same bus
but he stayed on it when we got to the mall, evidently bound for Waikiki.
Again on Friday night, both he and Rocky arrived after I was already
asleep. Back burners, back burners.
Yes, happiness is a warm sword, and the memories of it.
When we were at the mall, the Sleeptalker said he wanted to smoke but he
hated people "staring" at him smoking snipes. I've tried again and again
to convince him that some people "stare" at him for the simple reason that
he is a cute, sexy young man. So I just pointed out that people might
well look if they saw him taking a cigarette butt from an ashtray, but
could hardly know, once he was sitting and smoking, whether it was a snipe
or a virgin cigarette. And I suggested we go to the Orchid Walk to smoke,
where there would be less people. Once there, I told him that's where I
sit in the mornings with my coffee. "You're here every morning?" Yes.
He had complained because he'd looked for me twice during the week and
hadn't found me, so I was happy to add a possible checkpoint where he
could find me if he needed me. And the more so since he seems to be
avoiding the hacienda, I think because of Rocky.
The Sleeptalker isn't the only one who knows about that morning spot of
mine. The hunky Filipino playmate remembers, too. "I like it, but my
wife won't do it," he explained this time. Her loss is my gain. Amusing
though it was taking care of a repeat customer, I have to admit it's just
in another league altogether when you really care about the playmate.
A reader deeply touched me by writing:
Most humans need love and intimacy. You and [the Sleeptalker] seem to
have found that. It is obvious that he is fond of you - being your puppy
whilst pointing out ashtrays is a tell-tale sign. Perhaps you provide
some guidance, caring, and motivation for self-esteem that was apparently
missing from his early life. In doing so, you may find that the lump of
rock with a few sparkles actually houses in its depths a diamond of great
beauty and rarity. Be careful...
I did not without thinking quote Conrad's line from Lord Jim:
"I smiled to think that, after all, it was yet he, of us two, who
had the light."
The Sleeptalker had talked again of reading Oedipus Rex, said he'd
come across passages where he felt such deja vu, he'd jumped up and
paced around awhile before settling back down to read that passage again.
Extraordinary. And while he's sharing such thoughts from his head, I'm
sitting there admiring his cute toes. Oh yes, it is "yet he, of us two,
who had the light."
A quiet Saturday on campus, the first really hot day of the
season. The campus was peaceful and deserted, the game was still down so
there was less reason to stay inside and on the computer. I spent most
of the day in the secluded grove. It's berry-dropping time, again.
Those trees are so damned prolific it was amazing I only got hit once.
I went down to the mall in the early evening, on my way to join Helen R
for dinner. The mall was packed with people, body heat and vehicle
exhaust making the breezeless sultriness even worse.
The powers-that-be there got the not-so-brainy idea of sugar-coating the
inconvenience of the parking lot construction project by dubbing that
tunnel-like stretch of sidewalk the "Mauka Walk". Almost half of the
sidewalk had already been blocked off by the construction wall so
cluttering another quarter of it with a mini "sidewalk sale" was a pretty
dumb idea, never mind the free balloons. As Helen said, it might not pay
off with increased quarters because some people may just decide to shop
elsewhere for the duration. Despite the crowds, I only scored one
shopping cart all day, but did get lucky with three strollers on my
pre-bench snipe hunt.
Helen and I had dinner at a place called "Gourmet Express" which instantly
got added to the list, along with the University Players Bar, of places
NOT to eat again. The turkey meatloaf and two scoops mashed potatoes
might have been passable drowned in some decent gravy. The lukewarm brown
water which masqueraded as gravy just didn't cut it. And the salad was
inedible. The place would be more accurately called "Indigestion
It was the first uncomfortably hot night of the season, too. No need at
all for a cover and I was slightly envious of Rocky sleeping there in his
white tanktop and shorts. I can't go that far toward comfort, the
mosquitos love me too much. I got nabbed twice on my hands before giving
up and keeping them tucked under the blanket. Why the hell those stupid
little vampires go for an old man's blood when there is all that exposed
young flesh available is a mystery to me.
After Round Three with the Sleeptalker, we'd been back in the game for
awhile when I took a smoke break. He didn't join me. I was just about to
return to the lab when he came out, gave me a playful poke and said,
"you're a funny old man, give me a hug." Yes, he's fond of me, and I'm
deeply grateful for that.
And yes, I'll "be careful".
I was enjoying my refill cup of coffee on Tuesday morning when the Young
Husband came hurriedly down the path. He stopped and said, "hi!" very
cheerfully. I bid him a good morning. He grabbed his crotch and said,
"I wish I had time, but I'm late to work." I laughed. "Another day," I
"Thanks for the last time. It was really good."
"It was good for me, too. You're a sexy man," I said, "now go to work
before you get a hard-on."
He grinned. "It's too late, but I've got to go." He moved his hand so I
could see it was indeed too late, and he scurried off with a little wave.
What a sweet fellow he is and, quite true, very sexy. I'm glad our paths
crossed and that I can provide him with something that's missing from his
marriage (if it's as simple as that).
The holiday weekend was pleasant enough. The game remained unavailable on
Sunday. Of course I mind its being down more because of its link to the
Sleeptalker than for the game itself, and I was happy to see it back in
operation on Tuesday when I got to campus. I had planned, on Memorial
Day, to beat the anticipated beach crowds by having an early shower and
washing the tee shirt I'd been wearing all week. The weather foiled those
plans, the day starting off with gray skies and rain. But it cleared by
ten and I was surprised to have the shower all to myself.
I'd met Helen R again on Sunday evening for dinner, this time at one of
those all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants. There was an interesting
selection of dishes and it was quite tastey, although it is a bit silly
for someone with my sparse appetite to go to such places. I ate
enough that, as I told Helen on Monday, I felt my body was still
processing it, had no desire for food. But I did manage a hotdog during
the Monday matinee of "Mission Impossible 2" and had a baked potato at
Arby's afterwards. The entire recommended daily diet for the holiday.
Just as well, too. Despite the allowance arriving late, the foodstamps
card is going to be running on empty this week. Two simply cannot eat as
cheaply as one, not when dependent on foodstamps-eligible options at the
supermarket and with no kitchen to play in.
The movie? Well, I was expecting it to be silly and it was, but for the
most part it had a certain charm. I've never been much of a Tom Cruise
fan, but okay, it was fun inspecting his oddly heavy but unusually spaced
five-o-clock shadow and his naked torso has a definite visual interest. I
only felt bored during the final fight between Saint Tom and the Evil One
which went on far too long. Amusing enough and no doubt a wiser choice
than the other option we'd considered, "Battlefield Earth".
I'm, as readers know, a devoted disciple of Dame Fortune, never more so
than when it comes to books she puts in my path. So even though the large
print and heavy paper irked me, I tucked away Nicholas Delbanco's
Running in Place when I found it abandoned on a bus. He would
probably not be pleased to hear the book described as "charming" even
though he seems to work too hard at making it just that. Sometimes he
succeeds but, overall, the book is a mess.
Silly holiday movie, silly holiday book, amusing exchange with a sexy
young man to start the post-holiday week. Who could ask for anything
June is bustin' out all over ...
The Fabled Pension Check arrived. Along with it was a letter from the
firm of insurance brokers which swallowed up the firm of insurance brokers
I had worked for. Federal law obligated them to honor the pension
agreements of the firm they took over. But nothing, except the fine work
of Dame Fortune, forced them to write that letter. We've been given a
raise. As if that wasn't amazing enough, it was retroactive to March,
with the catch-up funds attached to the June check. Knock me over with
the proverbial feather.
In my case, it looks to be about an extra ten a month, so the unexpected
bonus covered the part of the FPC I'd already hocked. Incroyable!
I promptly made the first responsible shopping expedition. In May, I'd
neglected to buy new razors and I'd been using a much-worn-out one for
almost two weeks. Razors on the top of the list. Then there was the
problem with mosquitos. Terri wrote to say that taking a B-vitamin
complex would dissuade the critters, but it didn't take effect for two
weeks. Sounds like an idea worth trying, but they are so bad this year I
didn't relish letting the little bastids feed on my hands for two weeks,
so bought some Deep Woods stuff that is like a little deodorant stick.
Seems to work, no bites for the first time in over a week.
Forgot earplugs, as I was promptly reminded when I got to the hacienda and
the New Snorer was sawing away. Those little cotton-and-wax objects are
wonderfully effective for a week or so, then gradually lose their magic.
Another shopping reminder more amusingly came on Thursday morning. I
remember reading once that for most men the peak of sexual energy is in
the early morning, around seven. Never seemed to be the case for me,
maybe my Southern genes are responsible for my love in the
afternoon preference. But rarely a morning goes by without seeing
someone stroking away on the other side of the wall with that peephole.
There's one nomad who carries a small bottle of baby oil for the purpose
and was making use of it. Ah yes, time to get a new bottle myself.
Although, yes, I do use it for the same activity, I also use it to soothe
dry skin after a little too much sun exposure. It's a good indication of
how little stroking I do and how little sun I get that the smallest
available bottle has lasted since leaving the hospital.
There was never much need for such artifical supplements in my younger
days. I was always much irked by my body's tendency to go way overboard
with the "lubricant" production. On the first trip to India, I'd get the
hotel massage boy to do his thing in the afternoons and would be much
embarrassed by the floods of that pre-orgasmic liquid. He took it quite
in stride, would mop up the excess with a towel he kept just for that
purpose. But of course, in those days the orgasm itself would also
arrive, just from the backrub.
I stopped by the State Library on my mail-collecting trip downtown since
my backpack is, unusually, completely without reading material.
Confounded place was closed for "Library Institute Day" or somesuch thing.
No wonder the Sleeptalker hadn't been in the game earlier.
And the game was an absolute mess. It seems everything the Boss fixes
breaks five more things. It's almost unplayable at this point, but at
least it's up and running, makes for an amusing "chat room" and provides
that much-desired link to the Sleeptalker, or will when he eventually
appears. I'm not the only one, though, who is saying they should just put
the old game back up until all the glitches in the revisions have been
eliminated. They usually run a new version on a different port for brave
souls to help debug and test. This revision was moved from the
experimental port far too prematurely.
Angelo and Rocky had the facing benches at the hacienda. Angelo was
wearing a dark shirt with "Old Navy STAFF" in white letters on the back.
Good boy, got a job. He surely has a cute butt, too, as I noted again
when I woke up and saw him laying there face down.
I went down to the State Library again to harvest some reading material.
They have reduced their "honor collection" to one three-foot shelf but I
trust Dame Fortune will nevertheless manage to put some decent books in my
path. Stopping back by the mall, I was surprised (and delighted) to see
the Young Husband. He said, "I don't have to be work till three, wanna go
beach for awhile?"
Of course, "sure." And we walked over to the beach, went into the shower
house. He took off his shoes and socks, stood up and very provocatively
removed his tee shirt, slid down his jeans. Boxer shorts underwear.
Cool. I left my tee shirt on, was just changing into my surfer shorts.
"You have a big dick for an old man," he said.
I laughed and corrected, "It's not that big, but it doesn't shrink as you
get older." Of course, it doesn't as often reach its full potential,
either, unless faced by a young hunk taking his clothes off. The boxers
went down. He was standing tall. But okay, he's almost as easy to read
as the Sleeptalker, he was just working up to it. At least in the case of
the Young Husband, there was no doubt whatever that I would be getting it
He put on a pair of shorts made from that slinky synthetic fabric which is
enough to make any old man's heart beat faster, especially when no
underwear is worn under it. His little bag with trousers, tee shirt,
boxers and shoes hiding the evidence, we walked across to the sand. He
went into the water immediately. Didn't cool him off all that much, I
thought, when he came back and lay down beside me.
He and his wife have been married a little over a year, he told me. It
seems to be a marriage which was more or less arranged by the parents. "I
like her a lot," he said (I noted the absence of the word "love"), but
"she stays like a virgin in her mind". I assume from the rest of what he
said that she only does it "missionary style" and then only once or twice
a month. She doesn't want children yet. (Or perhaps she just doesn't
want to do what's necessary to have a child?). Poor fellow, he's a
sweetheart, really deserves something better.
A friend of his came along, wearing only surfer shorts, carrying a board.
They greeted each other with one of those elaborate handshakes young local
men exchange, and the Young Husband introduced me. The friend grinned
broadly. He stood near us to do the usual limbering up exercises. I
watched admiringly. "You like that?" the Young Husband asked. "I told
him about you, but I don't think he'll let you do it, he thinks it's a
Sigh. Tell me about young men who have been conditioned to think it's a
His friend went off to the breakers way out beyond the shallow coral reef,
the Young Husband again headed into the water. Then we lay quietly in the
sun for awhile. He told me he'd known his friend since "we were St.
Louis together". [St. Louis being a local high school. High school
seems to remain a lifelong link here, and one of the rituals for two young
local men meeting each other for the first time is always asking, "where
you went school?"]. As I know, alas, not all St. Louis grads are as
congenial as the Young Husband. Alas, indeed.
It was time to go. In a private place, he removed his shorts and was
again standing tall.
I don't use the term "fock" out of any reluctance to write "fuck", but
because fock more closely matches the way most young local men say the
word. Conversation is generously sprinkled with "fock" or "focking",
so much so it hardly has any meaning or significance. But now I've heard
it in a totally different tone.
Once when the Sleeptalker and I were talking about the possibility he'd go
to jail, I told him to make friends with a BIG guy who had a little dick.
That way his cute butt would only get used by one and it wouldn't hurt as
much. The Young Husband isn't a big guy and he surely doesn't have a
little dick, but he does know how to use it. I should probably be feeling
sorry for his wife, not him. She doesn't know how lucky she is, or could
We went to have a shower, the showers fortunately deserted. I thought,
had it been the first time I'd seen him, the Young Husband would've rated
mention in the Tales just for the shower. I soaped his back, rubbed my
hand over his butt as a conclusion.
"No one has ever done that to me," he said. "I don't think
I'd like it."
"It hurts at first, but then it feels good."
"You liked it, didn't you?" he asked. I admitted I had, indeed, liked it.
"I got off, didn't I?"
"I couldn't see it," he said, "but I could feel it when you spermed."
I can believe it. The only problem I had, much to my surprise, was making
sure I hadn't "spermed" before he went first. And that invoked a memory
of the Sleeptalker. After our extraordinary double feature, laying in the
Fool Moon Spot, I thought he'd fallen asleep, decided it was time to
relieve myself. He wasn't asleep. "Are you playing with yourself?" he
asked. "Yes, you had it twice," I said, "but the pressure builds
up." Silence. I finished. "You spermed?" he asked.
New term for my local lexicon, and what fine teachers.
And the Sleeptalker was in the game in the early evening. I gave him an
unusual scroll I'd found. I had cast a spell to see what it did. When he
"recited" it, the message said his "body radiates warmth". "So, what's
new?" the rascal asked, and laughed.
Cainer was right, it's a special week.
Dame Fortune is working overtime.
I never look at the receipt slips from the supermarket until the last few
days before the foodstamps allowance is due. After buying Friday's frugal
lunch, I looked at the slip. The June allowance had arrived, wasn't due
until the following Monday. Whatever that young man did to "re-authorize"
me, I'm grateful he did it.
"I hope you're starting to get bored with it," the Sleeptalker said on
Saturday evening. That's his strategy, let me have it so often it will
cease to be interesting? Although he'd teased earlier, said he was
"feeling horny", I don't think he was. His body suggested that
Round Five was just to please me, or perhaps it really is strategy.
I'd arrived on campus about fifteen minutes before the computer lab
opened, saw the Sleeptalker standing outside. He walked down the path to
meet me. New shorts. Nike brand, slinky light gray fabric gridded with
tiny diamond-shaped holes, black strips down the side of each leg
with snap-open buttons. He was very happy about them, happy too that I
admired the choice.
He had to leave for his re-scheduled appointment with the welfare
psychiatrist but returned in the early afternoon. Looks like he passed,
and will be getting foodstamps and a monthly SSI allowance, although he
doesn't yet know how much it will be or exactly when it will start.
The "voices" did the trick, apparently.
We played in the game for awhile, then took a beer and sandwiches break,
Round Five for dessert. When the lab closed he wanted more beer, tried to
persuade me to get a couple of "quarts" and take them to the hacienda. I
refused, telling him it just isn't a party place anymore. Later I wished
I'd gone along with it.
Instead we stayed in the Fool Moon spot and as he got increasingly buzzed
on the beer, he talked at length about his family. He's incredibly bitter
about his mother and was especially vehement about their last meeting. I
don't know if he really said the things to her he claimed or if he had
just thought them and wanted to say them. If he did, I can't help but
feel sorry for the woman.
Despite his angry memories, he was very sweet and affectionate,
delightfully flirtatious. He'd fallen asleep, I smoked one more cigarette
and lay down beside him, drifted in and out of a light sleep. Then there
were several flashlights visible through the bushes. For some reason the
external security lights on the next building had gone out, and the police
were called to investigate.
Well, they were quite nice about it, checked to see if we had bench
warrants and discovering we were "clean" let us go on our way. One of the
policemen recommended the cloisters and was surprised when we told
him they weren't allowing people to sleep there anymore, was equally
surprised to learn the IHS shelter closes at ten in the evening.
We walked down to the beach park and spent the rest of the night sweetly
I'd told him earlier that one of my favorite fantasies was, when those
SocSec checks start to arrive, getting a hotel room in Waikiki and
spending a weekend together with him once a month. "It has to have
internet," he said, and then told me his version of the dream ... getting
an apartment together with two net-connected computers. It surely would
have been fun having him around when I had just that in London. I like
his dream even if I have serious doubts about whether it would work and
wonder how long such an arrangement would last.
We spent Sunday morning on campus and then he wanted to go to IHS to do
laundry so we parted company, I got myself a beer and sat in the beach
park wondering if I really would "get bored" with it. After a delightful
hour listening to a Pure Heart gig, I got fairly drunk and continued to
think about it.
Yes, I suppose I would. Having sex with the Sleeptalker isn't as
important as it seemed before actually getting it. What's even sweeter is
just being close to him, mentally and physically, and that I don't think
I'd ever get bored with. Tired, exhausted, maybe, but not bored.
"I hate bums," the Sleeptalker said.
"Never mind, I'm just being silly. I'm still all drunk."
We were sitting outside McD's with our senior coffees and I suppose his
remark was prompted by the usual morning crowd there, although it's hard
to believe they are worse or even as bad as his shelter companions. I've
shuddered the few times I've gone there to eat. Not only is the place
drab and dreary, it seems filled with the dregs of humanity. I don't know
how the Sleeptalker has endured it for so long.
He went to the bathroom and when he came strolling back, I said, "oh you
"Don't say shit like that," he growled.
"Never mind, I'm just being silly. I'm still all drunk."
He laughed. Poor fellow, I'm sure a part of him really does wish I
wouldn't say "shit like that", but clearly one part of him likes
hearing it. There had been a litany of "I hate ..." the night before, but
I fear the worst thing is that he hates himself at times. I guess we all
do that, certainly dislike ourselves anyway, but his version is so
My mood shifted into some strange, weird place on Sunday, especially after
the music gig, sitting under the stars with one-too-many beers. The
Monday morning hangover was horrendous. One of those death-warmed-over,
"I'll never drink again" kind of hangovers. But of course, by mid
afternoon I had a beer and felt a little better physically, if still in
that weird mood.
I didn't stay on campus very long, returned to the beach park, had a
shower and washed some clothes. Draping them over the bushes to dry in
the sun, I sat and continued Anne Rivers Siddons' Up Island, a
mildly interesting, well-written book.
I wasn't at all happy with Tale 527, which failed miserably in capturing
the specialness of the weekend, and I thought maybe I should take a break
from writing, spend more time reading folks who can do a better job of it
... or who at least make a living from doing it.
After many a summer dies the swan ...
Not sure if Aldous coined that phrase or was quoting someone else.
Beautiful title for a book, either way. And it was the death of a swan,
so touchingly portrayed in the Siddons book, which somehow shifted me out
of that weird mood. It did, true, put me in one almost as strange, first
bringing me to the verge of tears and then making me intensely want to see
the Sleeptalker. Just see him, talk to him for a bit.
Up Island went from being a "mildly interesting" book to completely
capturing my attention and I spent the day in the beach park reading until
I'd finished it. A fine novel, indeed.
Cute Butt's Wife is visiting from California and Helen R asked me to join
them for a movie on Tuesday afternoon, dinner afterwards. I first said
perhaps I'd just join them for dinner, then declined altogether, saying it
was better I kept to myself until the weird mood passed. But I guess it
was a meant-to-be gathering because I was walking through the mall,
debating whether or not to have dinner at IHS, when I ran into Helen,
waiting for CBW to emerge from the Ladies'.
That quite yummy hot roast beef sandwich at Likelike Drive-In is
undoubtedly far more delicious than anything IHS might have offered, but
of course it didn't provide the chance of seeing the Sleeptalker. An
amusing meal, though, catching up on what's happened, here and in
California, since CBW's last visit.
I left them when they stopped to check out Tower Records and went down to
the State Library, open late on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I did want to
pick up some more reading material but that could have waited until the
next morning, the main reason for the trip was the chance of seeing the
lad. He wasn't there, alas, but I was cheered by a note explaining the
"honor collection" was limited to the one shelf until "new racks arrive".
I hope they weren't ordered from the mainland.
I checked email, looked in on the game just in case the Sleeptalker was
playing from another terminal in the building, and gave it up, went to get
a bus back to the mall. It had been such a pleasant, sunny day it was a
major surprise to see it had shifted dramatically while I was in the
library. Heavy, low dark-gray clouds covering much of the sky, a light
rain falling. It was muggy, warm, sultry, and stayed that way all night,
no help at all with the unusual bout of sinus crap I've been having.
Teeth and sinuses have been the major plagues of my life (aside from minor
insanity) but the sinus problems have been much less frequent here in the
islands and not usually as severe. It's especially odd for them to act up
at this time of the year, more often happens in spring or fall. Although
it doesn't bother me at all during the day, they start their dreary
postnasal dripping soon after I go to sleep and the first hour of the day
is spent hacking the junk up. Bleugh.
"Are you getting bored with it?" asked Kory K when I stopped over to see
him on Tuesday morning. Ha! I guess that's THE question of the season.
I'm still thinking about it.
His erect, throbbing penis stood between his legs like a cobra ...
Sheez, either the woman has never seen a naked man with a hard-on or she's
never seen a cobra. I've seen both, close-up, and I never saw a penis
which looked anything like a cobra. Silly book, A Glimpse of
Stocking. The cover fell off and I threw it away, don't remember the
author's admitted pseudonym.
It reminded me of long ago, so long it seems like another life altogether.
One of the most disliked tasks as a lab tech in the Medical Corps was
taking a microscope-slide sample from guys who thought they had the clap.
More often than not, they didn't. The doctor said most of them were
just irritated from too much jerking-off. Some of them, too, were just
using it as an easy way to avoid a few hours' duty. Well, I was one lab
tech who didn't dislike the task in the least and since I never complained
about it, they left me doing it for my last year in the Army.
I'd sit on a chair, the patient would come in and hand me his paperwork,
stand in front of me. The ones who had been through the routine before
knew what to do, would drop their pants and give their cocks a few tugs to
produce (or try to produce) a drop of fluid which I'd capture on the glass
slide. For first-timers, and it was always easy to tell since they were
invariably embarrassed, I'd tell them to drop their pants, grab their
"cobra" myself and try to squeeze out the sample. I'll certainly never
forget one young man. A few tugs produced no results. Two more and he
shot his load all over me. He was mortified. I was pretty embarrassed
myself, mainly because I didn't know what to do next. I told the doctor
who laughed and said tell him to come back after lunch, maybe have a cold
When I say I've never had a job I really enjoyed, I'm forgetting about
that one. Of course, those were the pre-plague days. The job now would
no doubt include protective clothing and all that. Back then I was just
told to wash my hands between patients, didn't even wear gloves. And I
surely did see a lot of penises, many of which indeed got erect and
throbbing from the exercise. But nope, not one of them looked like a
Three days off, no one requiring my services, although it's probably
inaccurate to include Sunday. Just being with the Sleeptalker, looking at
him, is sometimes as sensual an experience as having sex. On Wednesday,
though, I was in the shower, had washed a tee shirt and was about ready to
leave. A local man came in, very solid and muscular, a tattoo on the back
of each shoulder. He looked like he might be part Japanese but his
equipment was considerably larger than would be expected if so. If I'd
seen him on the beach I would have thought, what an interesting body. But
I wouldn't even have considered him as a possible playmate. Can't judge a
book by its cover. He almost immediately got hard, let me hold it for a
few moments and then said, "suck my balls". Now I've known men who liked
that as a preliminary (including the Sleeptalker) but this fellow was the
first I've encountered who wanted only that. He did the rest
himself, and he did it very, very quickly, too.
That, without question, I'd soon get bored with.
I had continued my routine of an early morning trip to campus, an hour or
so on-line, and then returning to the mall and beach park. I tried to get
myself to chill out about wanting to see the Sleeptalker. He told me once
he felt like he could sometimes hear me calling him. I wouldn't be at all
surprised if I had been and he did. So don't bug the guy, I told myself.
I guess part of my desire to see him is knowing the balance of our
friendship is going to shift somewhat because of his increased affluence,
wanting to enjoy more time together before that happens. And I want to
tell him my new routine in case he needs to find me.
Cainer wrote: Just tread lightly but steadily in the direction of what
you find most appealing. And then let Mars and Jupiter pleasantly surprise
I checked the Moon Calendar on Thursday to see when the next full
one was due. Gulp. The 16th. Fool Moon and Quarter Century mark for the
Sleeptalker. I'm going to be totally useless on that day.
Wouldn't it be nice if a rich Japanese tourist lost his wallet in my path
so I could take the lad somewhere special for dinner ...
The Whore was rushing around the mall on Thursday, clutch purse in hand,
looking utterly frazzled. I hope he did better than I, only scored two
quarters during snipe hunts. There was a cart in the parking lot on
Friday morning, so I guess he'd given up too early. But it was a dud.
When I returned it to the corral I discovered it had been jammed by some
idiot thinking they'd get their quarter by sticking something else in the
return slot, couldn't get it unjammed either. I wondered how many people
that cart would disappoint during the day. Then I spotted another in the
far corner of the parking lot, thought I'd retrieve it after I'd had a
shave. Too late, someone else had gotten it, even at that early hour. He
who hesitates may not be lost, but he may well be out a quarter.
I told CBW Thursday evening that I'd been feeling some withdrawal pangs
from the sharply reduced time on-line. I'm enjoying the new routine,
though, staying outside in the park all day with brief snipe-hunting
excursions to the mall. No intimate adventures on Thursday although there
could have been one. I saw the BallsMan headed to the shower. No doubt
he would have welcomed a repeat performance but, like I said, just too
CBW had asked me to join her at the Regent for Aunty Genoa and crew, only
the second time I've been there this year. It's always a warm pleasure to
be in that wonderful atmosphere Genoa creates around her and CBW kindly
nudged me into talking about the Sleeptalker. Some of my favorite songs
in the background, the favorite topic of my mind under discussion ... who
could ask for anything more. We got up to leave during the final break of
the gig. Genoa had greeted us as she walked by to sit with the people at
the next table, then as I was about to precede CBW departing, she told me
I was being called. Genoa beckoned me back, said, "I want to give you a
kiss." And she did, on my right cheek. "God bless you," she said, "take
good care of yourself." A special woman, Genoa Keawe, a very special
Despite the early morning jest of the dud cart, Friday turned out to be a
bountiful day. I needed two quarters for a beer, found them immediately
upon returning to the mall after a brief time on campus. In the early
afternoon, the usual debate began. Have the beer now, or wait until
sunset? As is often the case, I decided I might as well drink the thing
instead of sitting around thinking about it. I crossed back over to the
mall, bought the beer. As I left the store I saw three young men walking
toward me. One of them was the most beautiful man I have seen in my six
decades on this planet. Indeed, Mister Blake, the human form divine.
He took off his tee shirt. I could have fainted or, better, could have
fallen at his feet and begged to be his slave, at least be given the
chance to lick his toes. Apollo, Adonis incarnate. I felt sorry for his
parents, for his brothers and sisters if he has any. Imagine watching a
tiny infant grow into that amazing man. Most of all I wished for a
camera. Just a photo of him would have been instant treasure.
Thanking the gods for having made our paths cross, I went back to the park
and enjoyed the beer with the final sections of A Glimpse of
Stocking. What a wild bit of plotting. Matricide, incest, every form
of sexual perversity imaginable. Weird stuff.
Time for another snipe hunt, then. There's a new competitor in the
Quarter Hunt, a young fellow with a fancy Mongoose bicycle. He whizzes
around grabbing treasure and wheeling it back riding his own wheels.
Maybe he's one reason the Whore is looking so frazzled. The Whore
certainly is losing it. I rounded a corner and saw him coming toward me,
thought the stroller corrals I was headed for would be useless if he'd
just passed them. But even from across the street I could see one
stroller hadn't been properly returned to the corral. Pushing it in and
reaching for my two quarters, I found two more already in there.
Incredible the Whore had let the opportunity escape his notice.
Despite his presence and the Mongoose zooming around, I had enough
quarters for another beer even before I'd finished my snipe hunt. Sunset
and beer and a group of Samoan ladies, all in long muu-muus, standing in a
group singing and occasionally doing a slow circle dance. It was so
When I returned to the mall for a final snipe hunt, the Queen Mum passed
me, handed me a white plastic bag. It had a heavy plate lunch box in it,
stir-fried beef and vegetables with rice. Sweet lady.
I'd been asleep awhile on my bench when I felt someone sit down beside me,
put a hand on my shoulder. I opened my eyes and looked into those
beautiful dark brown ones. For the first time ever, I felt a desire to
kiss him. It would have been such a natural thing to do at that moment.
But instead I put my arm around him, rubbed his back a little and told him
it was good to see him.
"They ripped me off," he said.
As expected, he hadn't returned to his job although we had joked about it
on the previous Sunday, that he'd be "back to the dogs" the next day. He
offered some absurd excuse that his boss kept nagging him about his
addiction to computers. "I bought cigarettes," he said, "got no more
money." I didn't know if that meant he had started getting his welfare
allowance and had spent it all already or what, didn't think it wise to
His talking woke Rocky who sat up on his bench, two away from mine. The
Sleeptalker rushed over to talk to him. Fickle fellow, I thought, and lay
back down. But he's so hungry for anyone who cares about him, and if the
moment meant a reconciliation between him and Rocky, I was happy for him.
Their conversation didn't last long and the Sleeptalker took the bench
facing Rocky. I would liked to have switched benches with Rocky, but that
would have meant no sleep at all. As it was, I slept very lightly, waking
often to gaze at the enticing glimpses of the Sleeptalker through the back
slats of his bench.
At one such point, I saw a wallet on the floor under him, a new one. I
picked it up, woke him and told him it had been on the floor. Later his
cigarette box fell out of his pocket, I retrieved it and tucked it away to
return in the morning. Then I noticed a folded piece of paper he had also
dropped, looked at it and saw it was a receipt form from IHS. He had
closed his account there, $210 worth, and by doing so, the notice said, he
understood he was giving up "all or some services" offered by IHS. It was
dated two days ago. Damn.
He went through $210 in two days? Considering he was dressed in new
clothes from top to bottom, not all that improbable.
Around four in the morning, he woke me again asking if I had his wallet.
Evidently it had fallen out of his pocket once more and this time someone
had grabbed it. He sat and grumbled about that for awhile, again waking
Rocky who muttered something, turned over and went back to sleep. The
Sleeptalker noticed one of the fellows sleeping on an outside bench, his
head covered by a sweatshirt. "Who's that?" he asked. It was Angelo.
He'd said on the weekend that he wanted to talk to Angelo and I was
surprised he didn't jump up and wake him. Maybe I'm the only one he feels
confident about waking and finding himself welcome nonetheless, because he
just settled back down again.
Had Rocky and Angelo not been there, I would have waited on Saturday
morning until the Sleeptalker woke up, but I figured with the two of them
he'd have no need of me. Yet.
I can't believe it happened. I was all drunk and everything.
Well, I did try to stop it. I said no. He insisted. I didn't even want
to think about how he'd feel in the morning, slipped away quietly after
gently rubbing my hand through his hair.
The Sleeptalker threw quite a party at the hacienda on King Kamehameha
night. I'd only been on the bench a short time when he noisily arrived
with Rocky, Angelo, a local fellow I hadn't met before, and the Russian.
"You can't have him," the Sleeptalker told me later about the Russian [!].
I said I wasn't trying to. Not that I'd mind, he's tall, lanky and quite
handsome, seems like a really sweet young man, but the idea of having him
honestly hadn't entered my mind. Funny fellow, the Sleeptalker.
They arrived with a bunch of 40oz bottles, sat on the outside benches. I
pretended to be asleep. Then the Sleeptalker walked up to my bench and
patted me, said, "here, drink this, I've had enough." A few minutes
later, Rocky also walked over and handed me his bottle. Sheez.
They wanted something to smoke. The Sleeptalker pulled out three twenty
dollar bills and gave them to Rocky who went off on the bicycle which
belonged to the local stranger. "No more money?" I hadn't believed it,
but it's surely going to be true soon. We sat and talked, laughed at the
Russian when he did some classic dancing for us, and then Rocky came back.
Off into the bushes. The Sleeptalker at first told me no, then changed
his mind and gave me a couple of minute crumbs for the pipe. Junk stuff,
I thought, but they seemed happy enough with it.
We went back to the steps but the Sleeptalker disappeared. The Russian
was worried about him, but we assured him it wasn't at all unusual. The
others settled on their benches and I talked with the Russian for a little
while, then he headed off toward Waikiki. I was smoking a cigarette
and finishing off the last beer when the Sleeptalker came back, beckoned
for me to follow him into the bushes. He had kept a little bit of the
smoke for himself, lit up, lay back and pulled that lovely sword of his
out from his shorts leg, pulled my head down and held it there while he
did a slow bump and grind.
He stopped, took another hit from the pipe and pulled his shorts down. I
went for it again. Then he reached down to open my pants. That's when I
said no. He insisted, switched to the seventy-minus-one position I never,
ever would have expected to be in with him. I was actually relieved when
he interrupted the proceedings again for another hit on the pipe. Then I
told him, "just lay back and let me get you off." He did. I did.
No, there's never an end to the surprises from that young man.
As expected, the Sleeptalker didn't show up at the hacienda on Tuesday
night. I figured it would take a little time before he could get over
being embarrassed about our mysterious sixth round. I hoped he was with
the Russian. Judging by what both of them told me, they like each other
very much, and if the Sleeptalker is coming out of his shell, it would be
good for him to have a hunky playmate his own age. Remembering "you can't
have him", I have to admit that adjusting to the Sleeptalker in the role
of jealous lover is just downright peculiar.
Weekends always throw a wobble into the usual rhythm of life and the
Kamehameha Day holiday weekend does it big time. The parade on Saturday
meant the beach, park and mall would all be extra-crowded. And it also
means the beginning of the annual "Matsuri in Hawaii" festival. Although
billed as a Pan-Pacific event, it's mostly Japanese, albeit sometimes
Japanese playing ukeleles or doing the hula. With performances all day at
the mall's center stage, the place was swarming with an older-than-usual
crowd of Japanese. Did absolutely nothing for the Quarter Hunt, but
turned it into snipe hunter paradise. I quickly graduated to a three-box
Sunday morning was the usual wasteland, though. I was about to score a
cart when a woman rushed past me and grabbed it. Damned Sunday amateurs.
Later she gave me a filthy look when she saw me returning a cart. With
the exception of the Mongoose, the competition for those quarters is
always quite congenial. Not on a Sunday.
I guess Dame Fortune got fed up with the short supply and said, "forget
the damn quarters, here's some beer." Two 20oz bottles of cold, imported
beer in brown bags. I wondered why someone would have bought and
abandoned them, then realized they probably expected twist-off caps and
had no bottle opener. No problem, that has long been essential backpack
equipment. That amusing gift from heaven was matched in the evening when
I was sitting outside the Food Court taking a smoke break. A rather large
lady came out carrying a covered plastic dish. "I overdid it," she said,
"would you like this?" I said sure, and thanked her. It was a huge,
thick slab of real lasagna, delicious stuff.
Rocky was there when I got to the hacienda, on one of the facing benches,
listening to his Walkman, ignored me as he had earlier in the mall. I'd
been asleep for a short time when the Sleeptalker arrived and the sound of
his voice woke me. He wasn't getting much sympathy from Rocky. "I lost
all my clothes," the Sleeptalker said, "they threw it all away." I
suppose he'd thought he could close his account at IHS, get the money, and
continue life as usual there. Evidently the locker was one of the
"services" no longer available to him and when he disappeared for a few
days, they'd cleaned it out. Not likely they discarded anything, they
have a donation bin for used clothing.
"Your problem is," Rocky said, "you keep going away." Well, exactly. For
years the people at IHS have obviously tried to help the Sleeptalker and
he has no doubt broken many dozens of commitments. Worse, he just
disappears without any warning. I'm sure they tried very hard to persuade
him not to close out his account and it was crazy of him to do it. I've
never seen a better example of welfare assistance just not helping at all,
destroying what little incentive he had to work and encouraging him to
break the link with IHS.
Despite the grand party on Monday night, it doesn't look like either Rocky
or Angelo want to resume a buddy relationship with the Sleeptalker, so I
do hope it works out for awhile with the Russian. And I have to admit,
the idea of a threesome is quite intriguing.
I ran into Angelo on Tuesday morning. Looks like that bicycle belongs to
him, a new acquisition. He said, "you look wrecked." I laughed and said
I felt wrecked, too. "It was quite a party," he admitted. And you don't
know the half of it, I thought, but then he probably guesses. It couldn't
much stretch the imagination to figure out what I'd been doing in the
bushes with the Sleeptalker all that time.
And I was indeed feeling wrecked, more from the emotional hangover than
from the beer and pipe. I've been plagued recently by a foreboding feeling
that this whole thing with the Sleeptalker just can't have a happy ending.
It doesn't seem at all likely to be a "they lived happily ever after" love
story. But, as I told myself, thinking such thoughts is absolutely
stupid. Take it a day at a time, an encounter at a time.
Be here now.
Haunted by a memory. Out of the now quite sizeable catalogue of intimate
moments with the Sleeptalker, it's odd that the very beginning of our
encounter on Monday has firmly lodged itself in first place. Him laying
back, pulling it out from beneath his shorts legs and giving it a few tugs
by way of invitation. The image of that returned to mind again and again
on Wednesday. I was ready to shout "knock it off!" to myself.
Why that moment? Perhaps it's partly because it was the first time when
he candidly offered it, with no excuses like swords from the game, etc.
But I think mainly it was just that he looked so wonderful there, a slight
grin on his face, holding that beautiful thing in his hand. Yes, it's a
haunting memory. Please stop bringing it to the foreground so often,
though, dear mind.
And please stop missing him so much. Sheez, it was Monday night when
all that happened, Tuesday morning when you rubbed your hand through his
hair in a quiet farewell, and it's only Thursday now.
But I missed him intensely on Wednesday, wanted so much just to see him.
After a brief time on campus, I returned to the mall, passed Rocky. I
held up my hand in greeting, he smiled slightly and made a little nod.
I'd hoped our exchanges during the party had broken whatever it is that's
going on with him, but I guess not. I can't help but think the
Sleeptalker did tell Rocky about our first time and can imagine the
version would have been "he got me all drunk and took advantage of me".
Even if Rocky seems to be feeling very cool toward the Sleeptalker right
now, his long-time adopted role as big brother would still make him
unhappy about my "seduction". Maybe I've got it all wrong, but it seems
the most likely explanation since certainly nothing took place between
Rocky and me to have brought about such a shift in his reactions.
Later I saw him again, entering the men's room as I was leaving. Angelo
was waiting outside for him and we exchanged greetings. Then I saw them
head off together to get the bus to Waikiki. Sweet guys, both of them,
and I'm happy they're hanging out together. Happy too, for the second
night in a row with Rocky on the back bench of the group of three, me on
the first, Angelo in the middle. Even if I do lose a little sleep now and
then when I wake up to see Angelo has pulled his tee shirt way up and has
his hand stuck down the front of his shorts, he's a good man to have
The Quarter Hunt was amusing on Wednesday. I was starting from zero.
Well, almost. I did have the seven cents tax money. Luck was with me
again and I'd scored enough for a brew by early afternoon. When I'd gone
to the State Library on Saturday, I was delighted to see the new racks had
arrived. From the consequently generous collection once again available,
I'd picked Peter Straub's The Throat, a much better than average
multiple-mystery epic, so I went back to reading it while enjoying the
I returned to the hunt since I didn't have anything else I particularly
wanted to do and my head was so damned stuck on thoughts of the
Sleeptalker that even reading wasn't an easy distraction. By sunset I was
exactly one penny short of a second bottle. Naturally, it turned out to
be easier to find another quarter than that one little brown coin. Back
to the park and the book, reading until it got too dark to continue,
looking up now and then at a group of splendid brown-skinned lads playing
soccer. If the Chelsea Football Club had played barechested, I would no
doubt have spent more time on my London balcony watching them play. But
it's not likely they would have been as charming a sight as those lads in
the park. I certainly did pick the right place to spend the final years
of my life.
And I did pick the right man to love during them, too. So just get it
together and exercise a little patience, okay?
Uncanny. Absolutely uncanny.
I have stepped down that rabbit hole, I am living in the Magick Theatre.
But then I was more struck than ever before, this time reading
Steppenwolf, by his being banned from the Theatre for
twenty-four hours. Doomed to one of those common, ordinary days he
so despised. And the crime? Taking the Theatre too seriously.
Please remember that, my silly mind.
I was sitting on a bench at the mall, taking a smoke break. Thinking
about the Russian (again), I wondered if I'd even recognize him if I saw
him. I had at first forgotten his name but during our final chat alone
I'd asked him again, remembered it. An Apostle, not one I'd ordinarily
associate with Russia. But I wasn't sure if I'd recognize him.
Moments later, he walked past me!
He was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, black trousers, black leather
shoes, carrying a small new-looking backpack in one hand. Ah, he has a
job in one of the fancy stores requiring such gear or, more likely, as a
waiter. I checked California Pizza Kitchen later, where that is the
uniform, but didn't see him. Not yet counting it out, he could have been
on a break.
He hadn't noticed me. I followed him. He went into the department store
where the men's cologne counter is just inside the doors. I sat and
watched as he sampled things. I think, although I'm not sure, that he
bagged a bottle. If I'm right, he's very good at it. There wasn't a
chance the ladies at the counter would have noticed, unlikely anyone
watching a security monitor would have. I only saw it (or think I saw it)
because I was so intently watching him. Then he walked on into the store.
I waited a minute, then went in, too, but didn't see him.
Well, there went my theory that the Sleeptalker and the Russian would be
hanging out together at the beach. It was the most likely explanation for
the Sleeptalker's continued absence from the game, and they had been doing
that earlier on Monday. The Sleeptalker had a blood-stained bandage
around one foot, said he'd been bitten by a "little shark". Rocky and I
laughed. I said had it been a shark, he'd be missing his toes, and Rocky
said the coral had gotten him. Naturally it brought out my Mother Mode
and I cautioned the Sleeptalker about guarding against infection, etc.
Seeing the Russian also confirmed my feeling that he wasn't just a tourist
here. I'd asked him how he happened to end up in Honolulu, but he'd said
only that it was a complicated story. Oddly, I'd also asked him if he'd
let his parents know he was okay. He admitted he hadn't and promised to
send them a postcard the next day. I should have walked up to him in the
store and asked if he'd done it.
Never mind the Sleeptalker's ban, if I got the chance to "have him" I'd
certainly, happily "have" the Russian. He's even more of a hunk than I'd
thought and he's taller than I am. Now that I am an absolute pushover
for. Well, I'd "have" him unless I knew he and the Sleeptalker were "a
couple", then I would abstain. If I interpret the Russian's remarks
correctly and he likes the Sleeptalker as much as I think he meant, then
the Sleeptalker has struck it rich. A young hunk, employed, undoubtedly
with a place to stay, and with a fondness for exotic drugs. If there's
room for two, it may be quite awhile before the Sleeptalker is seen again.
But I somehow doubt it. It seems too likely the Sleeptalker had
disappeared on Monday just waiting for the Russian to leave before seeking
relief from me.
Ponderings, ponderings. Earlier in the day, every time my mind started to
say "Sleepta...." I said "shut up!" When I'm with him, I usually call him
by his game name, that of his main character, and he often calls me
Reting, even Panther sometimes. When I talk to the few friends who know
his real name, I use that. But in my mind, it's always Sleeptalker. And
he's almost always in it, sometimes exasperatingly so.
I tried to divert the attention at one point by thinking about the now
number-two great Love of My Life, the Dutchman. With him, there have
always been two moments which most strongly register in my memory, the
alpha and omega, the first and last times I saw him naked. And
it's the last time, I think, which is strongest. He had candidly told me
some time before that it was nothing personal, he liked me very much and
enjoyed being with me, but sexually he just didn't get off once the
novelty was gone, it always required someone new. He'd been away with
some strange American magician in Wales, returned to London and stopped by
to see me. He spent the night, sleeping on the floor, and we sat together
in the morning drinking coffee, him so casually (and beautifully) naked.
A sweet farewell, as it turned out. I fled to India.
Can't run away this time, probably wouldn't if I could.
A reader kindly consulted the Tarot about me, the Sleeptalker and our
strangely wonderful friendship. The symbolism of the cards seems
absolutely on-target. I told her I'd given up using the Tarot in my
thirties because it freaked me out with its accuracy. It does again, a
little, by such pertinent references to me, him, and our relationship to
each other. And it certainly cheered me with its optimistic outlook about
where we're headed.
Oddly, I've not once consulted the I Ching about the Sleeptalker.
Today is his twenty-fifth birthday. Like me, he tends to hide out so I
probably won't see him. But I send him deepest wishes for happiness in
his year of being twenty-five and a love stronger than I've ever felt for
another human being.
If you can't be with the one you love ...
I saw Angelo at the mall early in the afternoon of the Sleeptalker's
birthday. He beckoned me over, so I sat beside him and we discovered that
by pooling our coins we could buy a bottle of Mickey's, did, and went over
to the park to drink it.
He isn't working. That Old Navy Staff shirt was given to him by a friend.
But he is in a similar routine as the Sleeptalker, sees a psychiatrist
once a month and gets foodstamps and welfare assistance of some kind, an
arrangement which has another three months to go. He throws the
medication away, didn't remember what it's called.
Angelo is twenty-three, was born in San Francisco to a Filipino father and
a Japanese mother who relocated here when he was three years old. His
parents divorced and his father is back in California. His mother
re-married but that husband killed himself with an overdose several years
ago. His mother moved out to Makaha and kicked Angelo out when he was
sixteen because he kept stealing from her. After a year or so, she told
him that maybe he had learned his lesson and let him stay at home again.
Then she moved to Kauai which was too "quiet" for him, so he returned to
Oahu and life on the streets. He has two sisters who live in Waianae and
he goes there for occasional visits, had been there the day before which
explained why he was missing from the hacienda.
He may look sweetly innocent, especially when asleep on that bench, but
he's probably the baddest Bad Boy of the bunch. He picks up money by
bagging stuff from stores and hocking it. After we finished the beer he
said he'd bag some vodka if I'd buy some food and juice. Back to the mall
where we did just that and returned to the park. When that was finished,
he said we should go to Waikiki and he'd get another bottle if I'd get the
mixers. Once there it started to drizzle so we sat at a covered table
outside a Starbucks, their cups filled with vodka and orange juice. The
staff occasionally looked our way but didn't bother us.
We talked a lot about the other guys, Rocky and the Sleeptalker
especially, and I heard far more about the infamous Vegas trip than I'd
yet been told. As I'd suspected, it was a drug run and they'd been paid
$500 when they got to Vegas and another $500 when they returned. Little
wonder the Sleeptalker went so close to going off the rails.
Angelo said the Sleeptalker has returned to the dogs and is staying there
at night. The Sleeptalker had pointed the place out to me last week. It
isn't a vet, but a dog-grooming service, and he'd said he could sleep
there but was nervous about the possibility of ticks or fleas. Angelo
said the Sleeptalker was now getting paid weekly, rather than daily, and
he had tried to persuade Angelo to fill in for a day or two each week but
Angelo didn't want to. It sounds like quite an ideal arrangement for the
Sleeptalker, even more so since it isn't that far from campus so he could
use the computers in the evenings. Not likely, he hates being on campus
by himself, and it must be difficult for him, too, sleeping on his own.
I hope he sticks it out for awhile even if it does mean I'll see much less
of him. And if I do get too desperate to see him, I know where he's at.
Not wise, not wise, I remind myself. Wait till he comes to you.
Angelo and I were pretty smashed after the second bottle. He's such a
sweetie, is very tolerant of my pats and hugs, but I think he definitely
prefers not to let it go any further, probably not because he'd mind it,
but to keep the relationship uncomplicated. Drinking buddies. Okay.
When we got to the hacienda it was full up, and we slept on the floor
beside each other. He woke up shortly after I did and showed me a men's
room nearby which was open that early, much to my surprise. Then we
walked to the 7-Eleven and I bought some coffee and sandwiches for us. He
eats a lot, that lad, goes through his foodstamps in the first week and
went through a quarter of mine in two days. Now mine is going to run out,
too, but I'm not complaining.
He's very fastidious about his clothes, fretted over his shorts having
gotten a bit smudged from the floor. They looked so clean it really
wasn't noticeable but he wanted to wash them, said he knew a hotel in
Waikiki where the driers ran a long time on one quarter and wanted to go
there. I tagged along, added my jeans to the washload. Incredible. That
drier did run long enough on one quarter to dry them. Never mind the
signs boldly stating the facilities were for the use of registered tenants
Then it was time for more vodka and orange juice, more to eat. We first
did a snipe run through the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and then sat at
a table with our loot. I'd only had an egg salad sandwich in the morning
but wasn't at all hungry, so the vodka thoroughly zapped me and I just
don't remember how we came to separate. It's the first time I've had one
of these blank-outs since pre-hospital days. The next thing I remember, I
was sitting back at the mall waiting for a bus to the hacienda. A young
local guy sat down beside me, cute little fellow, and asked if I'd go with
him to Waikiki and buy a bottle of rum for him because he didn't have his
ID. We got on the Waikiki-bound bus and an even younger friend of his got
on, sat with us. The rum-seeker sat snuggled so close to me all the way
it was delightful. But when we got to the store the clerk spotted us
talking outside and refused to sell me the rum because I was buying it for
a minor. Naturally I insisted I was buying it for me, but I think she'd
seen him hand me the money. Oh well, try another store. But no, the lad
wouldn't believe me, thought she'd refused to sell it to me because I was
too drunk. So I told him to find another shopper and went on my way to
the hacienda muttering to myself about what an old man like me is doing
getting mixed up with all these Bad Boys, but not at all displeased by
No one was at the hacienda. I settled on a bench and slept awhile, woke
up and saw Rocky sitting there looking at me. "You got here early," he
said, and I told him it was all Angelo's fault, he had gotten me "all
drunk and everything". Rocky laughed. I was still so smashed I thought
it was morning already, left to get some coffee and only then realized it
was getting darker, not lighter. Sheez, I am being corrupted.
So I returned to the hacienda and settled again on the bench facing Rocky,
always a sweet arrangement. I woke later to see Angelo asleep on the
most distant bench, two surprisingly empty ones between us.
I must ask him what happened in Waikiki next time I see him awake.
Most of the time I'm content to be on my own, often very much prefer to
be. But sometimes I feel like being with someone, and Sunday was that
kind of day. I'd enjoyed the two days with Angelo. He's easy to be with,
physically desireable but not in the overwhelming way the Sleeptalker is,
a fine drinking buddy who just gets a little more quiet as he gets zonked.
I looked for him throughout the afternoon at the mall but didn't see him.
Just as well, as I discovered later. He'd started drinking "very early in
the morning" and had continued all day. I didn't really need an all-day
He told me later we had returned to the mall together after our time in
Waikiki on Saturday, that blanked-from-memory link. He said I'd just
wanted to go on to the bench, he stayed to do a shop-and-sell expedition
which had been successfully completed, was surprised and amused to hear
I'd ended up returning to Waikiki again.
So it had been an on-my-own day, wandering the mall hunting snipes and
quarters, getting enough of them to take an early afternoon break in the
park with a beer and continuing my unusually slow progress through the
Peter Straub book. I stopped to watch some of the Father's Day
entertainment, was especially delighted when a group of young ladies did a
dance to the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want". The dancing
wasn't very impressive but it surely was good to hear that great track on
the big sound gear they have at the mall's CenterStage.
I thought perhaps someone had stolen the Mongoose's bicycle but saw him
with it later, so I guess he had just spotted me too many times returning
carts and decided footwork was the way to go. He reminds me of the
Whore in the early days. He'd see me heading off in a direction, would
rush past me as if he thought I'd somehow known there was treasure ahead.
All I was doing was embarking on a snipes run. Then he got really
desperate and switched to sitting outside the supermarket waiting for
someone to emerge with a cart, then followed them. It's one way to
play the game, but a very boring and frustrating method with far too many
wild goose chases. I've sometimes spotted what I thought was surely a
person who wouldn't return the cart, followed them for some distance, only
to see them unload the stuff into their car and plod back to return the
cart. And he's too new at the game to know the habitual shoppers who
simply take the cart home with them. He didn't do too well, I'd
When I got to the hacienda in the evening, Angelo and the Sleeptalker
were waiting for me at the bus stop. They wanted beer. The Sleeptalker
was stoned, drunk and acting rather crazy. I talked with them for a bit,
thought the Sleeptalker had already had enough of everything,
said I was just going to hit the bench, started to walk to the
corner to cross the street. Angelo came after me, tried again to persuade
me to go with him to get beer. I only had $1.50. He said he had four
dollars, no problem. The Sleeptalker had claimed to be flat broke.
Maybe he was, but these guys are so funny about cash you can never be sure
whether to believe them or not. Even Angelo. When we got to the store he
decided to buy three bottles of Colt, was digging through his backpack
looking for change and then rather blushingly pulled out a ten dollar bill
I guess he hadn't wanted me to know about. He still took my six quarters,
We got back to the hacienda, sat on the outside benches drinking and
talking. I was probably wrong, hoping the Sleeptalker would hang onto
that job for awhile. The man just cannot handle having money. It was
clear he had spent the whole week on his own and was wound up to the point
of explosion. He'd gotten paid, immediately went to buy more clothes
(he was again dressed in all new gear) and the rest had gone on drugs and
booze. He's better off being broke.
He zapped back and forth between being sweet and amusing to the most
intense angry bitterness I've yet seen from him. He's mad at everyone and
everything and I naturally get a place of honor on the list. At the same
time he was making it very clear he wanted me to get him off. Poor guy,
what an utter mess. With both Angelo and I trying, we managed to swing
him back from the most angry tirades. My beer was almost finished, he
finished his and grabbed mine, started ranting again. I gave up, grabbed
my backpack and said I was going for a walk. "Fuck you!" he shouted after
I walked over to a nearby park and sat for about an hour, figuring he
would have passed out by then, as he had. They were both asleep, Rocky
having also arrived and fallen asleep. When I woke in the morning, I
looked down at the Sleeptalker and wished so much I knew what I should do,
or not do, to give him what he needs.
After those sweet moments looking down at the sleeping Sleeptalker, I
walked slowly through the almost deserted streets to the mall. It was
already very warm, even in the pre-dawn hour, and despite my slow pace I
was sweating by the time I reached the mall. My tee shirt stayed damp
with sweat all day, right up to late evening when I again headed
to the bench.
It was the first morning this year I didn't have the thirty-six cents for
McD's coffee. That had been true on Sunday, too, but I'd found the coins
on my walk to the mall. Not so, Monday. Dwindling foodstamps balance to
the rescue, providing a can of chilled capuccino. I thought I'd better
hold the rest of that allowance in reserve for just that purpose.
After a brief visit to campus, I returned to the mall, did a snipes run
and passed by Sears just as a woman abandoned a stroller. Pocketing the
two quarters, I went over to the park for a shower, washed my shorts and
tee shirt, sat in the sun while they dried and continued reading. Back at
the mall I saw Rocky and Angelo but they didn't see me. I was grateful
they hadn't, I wanted a day without the Bad Boys, time to recover from the
emotional hangover left by the stormy time with the Sleeptalker.
Later I saw Rocky at a picnic table in the park. He's easy to spot from
quite a distance. Angelo was still with him and there was someone else
sitting there, back to me. Erk. It was him. He had been so wasted the
night before I wasn't much surprised to see he hadn't made it to work.
But I think he's right about his boss being gay and so he'll no doubt be
able to keep the job despite no-show days. The boss will just be happy to
see him return. Poor man, I'd feel just the same way.
Moth and flame. I returned to my vantage point several times, keeping an
eye on them. Then I saw the Sleeptalker there on his own, sprawled on the
picnic table. A little later, he was still alone, sitting on the grass.
It was very tempting to walk over and talk to him but I decided against
it. Later Angelo returned and on my next walk to the viewing point, I
passed them walking toward me. Angelo didn't notice me, the Sleeptalker
did. I smiled, waved, and kept walking. Perfect. A way to say "no hard
And I didn't have any. The Sleeptalker is trying to re-write his life.
He's being pretty silly about it, working on things that don't really
matter or maybe shouldn't be changed, ignoring the truly difficult ones
that could make a definite positive improvement. Like laying off the
glass pipe, for starters. But no, he's "never going to play the game
again", even said I could have his characters and told me the password. I
was touched and a little shocked by the password. It suggests so strongly
a certain contempt he feels with himself about his long-time involvement
with the game.
He's even trying to re-write his heritage, switched tribes from Cherokee
to Apache. Silly man. Sweet, confused, silly man.
He and Angelo stayed in the park all afternoon, occasionally making
re-supply trips to the mall. That was one long drinking session. Our
paths crossed one more time. The Sleeptalker was staring blankly into
space, I don't think he saw me. Angelo did and gave me one of his
I waited until late afternoon to spend my day's findings on a bottle of
Mickey's, crossed over to the park and sat at a table some distance from
theirs, enjoying the beer and continuing the Straub book. I had thought
at one point, "get off my turf" but didn't really mean it. Fun spending
the day with the lads, even at a distance. Indeed, perhaps more fun
at a distance than it would have been close-up.
Summertime, and the livin' is easy ...
Certainly not for the first time, I told myself on Tuesday morning that
there really was more pleasure in walking around with beer money in my
pocket than there would have been from drinking a second bottle the day
before. Since the lads had been drinking all day, I had waited until
later than usual on Monday night to head to the bench, hoping they'd have
passed out by the time I got there. Consequently, I
did "clean-up duty", making one final sweep through the mall returning
stray carts and strollers. Enough money for another beer, but money
stayed in pocket.
None of the lads were at the hacienda. The Sleeptalker had said in one of
his tirades, "I don't know how you can sleep here, it's so dirty." I
resisted the temptation to say, "no fleas, but." He was too volatile to
risk teasing. Never mind the hundreds of nights he has slept there, it's
now "too dirty". Fine with me if he stays elsewhere. It really is. He
had been rather obviously unhappy with the idea that Angelo and I had
spent two days together without him, and I suspect he took Angelo back
with him to the Doghouse. That's fine with me, too. He needs Angelo more
right now than I do.
Problem is, Angelo is going away soon unless he decides to turn fugitive.
He has a court date upcoming on Kauai, charged with breaking and entering.
He knows he'll be found guilty because the "friend" who was with him
squealed. Maybe he'll get away with his usual defense when busted for
anything, claiming he hadn't been taking his medication and did it in a
moment of craziness, but he thinks it more likely he'll get at least
ninety days in the lock-up. One reason he's drinking so heavily right now
is trying to decide whether to go and face the music or just hang out
until he gets busted again for something.
Difficult to imagine what the conversation had been like between the two
of them, given Angelo's heavy choice to make and the Sleeptalker's
desperate attempts to get a new life.
Tuesday was a day free of Bad Boys, too. Again none of them showed up at
the mall or at the hacienda that night. There had been a new young man on
Monday night, very much in the Sleeptalker mode, so much so I had thought
it was him from a distance. But this one had a light beard and his
clothes were more grubby than the Sleeptalker could tolerate. He didn't
return on Tuesday. I wasn't sure whether to sigh from disappointment or
The Mongoose is a first-class prick. The vast majority of the Quarter
Hunters are younger than I, there's never any question of guilt about
scoring a quarter instead of letting them get it and, as I said, the
competition is generally very congenial. There's one heavy-set local man,
probably in his forties, but so heavy he uses two canes to help him hobble
around. And he goes after carts! He limits his area to a place covering
a taxi stand and one bus stop, an often rewarding "cart mine". He only
hunts one or two afternoons a week and when I see him there, I cross the
area off my list. Not so, the Mongoose. I saw him dash past the poor
hobbler to score a cart the man was headed toward. Nasty fellow. He's
still in his twenties, could without much problem get a job which would
certainly yield a lot more income with a lot less effort, hardly necessary
to grab coins from near-cripples.
Happily, he has only been around in the early afternoon this week, dashing
around frantically. But I had the harvest pretty much to myself on both
Monday and Tuesday evenings except for a couple of fortuitous grabs by
The problem with that money-in-pocket pleasure is the tendency to buy the
beer earlier than I otherwise would and then, of course, by sunset I'm
wanting another. So it was on Monday and I enjoyed the sunset beer while
continuing Morris West's The Lovers. I'd finally finished the
Straub book with my morning coffee, had begun the West with lunchtime
brew. It's pretty weak stuff after that solidly fine writing by Straub
but sufficiently silly in style at times to be rather amusing, in the way
a really bad film can be.
And in some ways, the same can be said about life in general at this
moment of Summer Solstice 2000.
There but for the grace ...
I saw two men on Wednesday who were literally falling down drunk. The
first was in the beach park, an old man sitting at a picnic table. He got
up, staggered one step and fell on the ground. I was about to go over and
see if he needed help when a younger man arrived on a bicycle. He
stopped, helped the man back into a sitting position at the table.
Apparently they knew each other and the young man appeared more interested
in getting a bottle out of the old guy's backpack than in making sure he
was okay. He swigged a couple of times from the bottle, then took off his
tee shirt and strutted around in front of the old man.
Thank you. I know the scenario and was grateful not to be a cast member.
Later I saw what seemed to be an abandoned cart near a bus stop in the
mall, went to collect it. But there were some bags in it and I noticed an
old guy talking on a payphone nearby, thought the cart probably belonged
to him. I sat on a bench for a smoke break, waited to see if he'd leave
the cart. He finished his phone conversation, took a few steps toward the
cart and fell onto the sidewalk, his glasses flying off and landing
unbroken several feet away. Japanese tourists looked horrified. I
walked over to help him up and with considerable effort managed to get him
on his feet, retrieved his glasses and wheeled the cart over to him,
suggested he sit on the bench and rest awhile. I returned a little later
to see if he was all right but he had gone on his way, evidently with the
Yes, there but for the grace ...
A reader noted that I have titled this section of the Tales goodbye
gemini and correctly surmised I was not just referring to the travels
of the Sun through the Zodiac. The reader also complained that I had been
too vague in my accounts of Kamehameha Night and its Aftermath six
evenings later, said they seemed to be more significant than I was
revealing with what I'd written.
The first five sexual encounters with the Sleeptalker were, on the surface
at least, simple business arrangements. I had something he wanted, he had
something I wanted, we made an agreed-upon trade to the apparent
satisfaction of both sides. Yes, there was an (in comparison, minor)
added aftermath price to the first time, having to endure a barrage of
verbal abuse. But overall, I think the sexual aspect of our friendship
was amusing and interesting for both of us and quite possibly helpful to
him as he grew more comfortable and relaxed about it, allowed himself to
participate a little more and gave up the after-the-fact agonizing.
The sixth encounter went too far. There was no agreed-upon "commercial"
justification. He initiated it, and he directed each part of it. He was
doing with me what he wanted to be doing with the Russian. There's no
problem for me with that. I had told him from the beginning to close his
eyes and pretend it was whoever he'd most like to be with. If he were
able to see it, to admit it to himself, that delightful hour with him
would be an amusing memory for both of us. That's impossible at this
point. It went too far and it was too soon, shattering the rhythm which
had been established in the two months since our first time together.
The aftermath explosion was, of course, expected. It was beyond
unpleasant, far too high a price to pay for an hour of sex play. I am
perhaps being too vague, as accused, but I don't want to record that ugly
side of the Sleeptalker in greater detail. It's enough to be stuck with
the unwritten memory of it.
Like Kansas City, it's gone about as far as it can go. The
Sleeptalker needs a man his own age to experiment with further, if he's
able to continue his emergence (which at this point looks highly
doubtful). Any further with me and he would be left with little
alternative but to kill me. That certainly wouldn't bother me. Killed by
the man I love is not an exit I could see as anything but a delightful
ending to the Tales, and to this weird life. But it would not solve his
problem and would burden him for the rest of his life even if he escaped
any legal penalties.
Too melodramatic? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Methamphetamine is a
dangerously volatile drug. I did many things, even violent things, under
its influence I never would have done sober. It makes you outrageously
paranoid and totally skews your grasp of reality. The Sleeptalker is
already on the edge, that stuff could push him over it.
So, yes, goodbye gemini. I have to withdraw, at least for a time,
put the friendship on the back burner. Or it might be better to say "put
it on ice", relevant in more than one sense. The Sleeptalker and I have
forged a link between us in these two years which I am sure will never be
broken and I will be there for him if and when he needs me. But it is
time to withdraw. In our conversation about it that recent evening in
Waikiki, CBW asked me if I thought I was doing the Sleeptalker any "good".
I considered it a moment, said yes, I thought so. Certainly, I said, if I
felt I was doing him any harm, I'd be out of his life in a flash. The
balance has shifted, though, because of Kam Night and its Aftermath and
he may be better off without me in his life for now.
Wednesday could have been a three-Colt day. I declined the third, having
no wish to join the falling-down-ers, but I was grateful for those bottles
in the early afternoon and at sunset, grateful, too, for the continued
absence of the Bad Boys and the peaceful atmosphere at the beach.
When I woke on Thursday morning, I saw Angelo asleep two benches away.
"There are plenty of fish in the sea," said Angelo and laughed when I told
him that's exactly what the Sleeptalker had said to me.
Angelo, at 23, has more street smarts than I'll ever have but he is
surprisingly naive about gay men and gay sex. I think I'm probably the
first gay man he has talked seriously with. "I like it that you're honest
about it," he said. "Most of them pretend they aren't until they think
you're drunk enough and then they try to grab your dick." I assured him
he never had to worry about that, I never made a move unless I was invited
to. Sorry, dear Sleeptalker, if that wrecks your "he seduced me" version.
When I realized Angelo was serious about it, I answered his sometimes very
specific questions as candidly and honestly as I could. We were sitting
with two bottles of Colt near the beach at Fort DeRussy and after awhile
he said, "you like sucking dick?" I assured him I did at times,
with the right person. Like so many straight men, he has the idea that a
gay man wants every man he sees and I explained why "plenty of fish in the
sea" may be true (especially in this town), but it doesn't include all of
them. "And you like the cream?" he asked. Yes. Throughout the
afternoon he asked those questions again, as if trying to absorb the fact
that someone could truly like such outlandish activities.
He had been with the Sleeptalker on those nights he was missing from the
hacienda, but not at the dog grooming place. The Sleeptalker finally
started getting his welfare payments and, since he had first applied
almost three months ago, the first payment included back-pay. So he got
nearly a thousand dollars and permanently abandoned the job. Sigh. He
had immediately moved into a Waikiki
hotel and that's where Angelo had been until the Sleeptalker "got too
That's Angelo's monthly routine, too. He gets his welfare money (a bit
over four hundred) on the fifth and gets a hotel room in Waikiki for two
or three nights, kicks back drinking beer, watching tv, and having hot
showers. Can't say I blame either of them for it. I'll probably do the
same when SocSec checks start to arrive. And in the Sleeptalker's case,
far better the money goes to a hotel. That much less for the glass pipe.
I had to promise not to tell Rocky the Sleeptalker has money, not that I
would have anyway. Ironically, the Sleeptalker is hanging out with the
Iceman, one of those "dealers" he was going to Maui or Kauai to avoid.
I've never met the Iceman, but I've certainly heard a lot about him. And
I'll be just as happy never meeting him. Poor Sleeptalker.
After a last look at the sleeping Angelo on Thursday morning, I'd walked
slowly to the mall, bought a can of chilled coffee taking the foodstamps
balance below the $10 level. A brief visit to campus, then down to the
State Library to pick up a couple of books. While on campus, I'd gone
into the game for awhile and they made me Leader of the Guild of Rangers.
If the Sleeptalker were playing, it would have been a big deal. As it
was, I just thought "about time", since I've long been the highest ranking
Ranger in the game.
I saw Angelo from a distance when I returned to the mall, dodged him. I'd
planned on a quiet day by myself, had money for one brew and was well on
the way to financing a second. But fate had other ideas and a little
later I ran into him again before spotting him in time to duck.
He still had a little money, offered me a dollar if I'd buy some poke (raw
fish) for him. One dollar cash in exchange for three dollars foodstamps,
a worse deal than the Chinatown places which reportedly give twenty cash
on a forty dollar "purchase". I had refused that notion when I first
heard it. Too greedy. Give twenty, keep ten, maybe, not fifty-fifty.
But if it's helping to feed a hungry young man, different story.
He bought himself some Budweiser, I got a Colt and we went over to the
park. Then he wanted me to go with him to a discount clothing place
called Savers. At first I said I'd just stay at the mall, hunt snipes and
quarters, and meet up with him when he returned, but he wanted me to go
with him. "I'm not like a woman," he said, "it won't take me an hour to
shop." Ha! It did, too. He had to look at every tee shirt in the store
before finally settling, after lengthy debate, on a nice Ralph Lauren dark
blue one which he got for the princely sum of two dollars. We were in the
store for at least an hour. Still, it was fun watching him agonize over
the purchase and nice to learn about the store. I won't mind spending a
few dollars there myself when the FPC arrives, will enjoy the novelty of
wearing something different.
We bought two more Colts and went to Aloha Tower Marketplace, sat at a
table upstairs with our paper cups and straws. Then I said we should walk
past Gordon Biersch so I could say hello to one bartender if he was
working. He was. We drank some more beer. Only the next morning did I
realize I hadn't even put my plastic teeth in. I hardly ever do anymore.
It's so totally a matter of vanity except for the rare occasions when
there's food that really needs them, and it's so much more comfortable
without them. Must have been something of a surprise to the folks at GB,
To the hacienda and side-by-side benches. I woke up first, waited until
it was almost time for the "time to get up" man and roused Angelo. We
walked toward the mall, stopped on the way so he could buy himself some
breakfast. I declined his offer to buy me food as well, but accepted a
can of cold coffee. He bought cigarettes, too, then moaned about being
almost broke, having to do another shop-and-sell expedition so soon.
A stroll through the mall for me to gather some snipes, and then he went
to campus with me, waited while I checked email. We stopped up to see
Kory K and I had to explain to Angelo later that, no, Kory is definitely
not gay and, no, I don't have "a crush" on him, that gay men do actually
have straight friends. Funny stuff.
Then to the hotel laundromat again. The lad is a fanatic about having
clean clothes. He wears very light tan shorts and if they get the least
little smudge on them, has to head to the laundromat. I contributed a
small box of soap powder and added all my stuff, except the shorts I was
wearing, to the washer. He wanted to wash the tee shirt he was wearing,
too, but was bashful about sitting there barechested with me. Such a
Helen R had asked me to join her in the evening to see "Chicken Run" and
I'd told her Angelo might be along, since he'd tagged after me all day.
But when we got to the mall, he telephoned the Iceman, learned the
Sleeptalker was there and decided to head off to Waikiki instead of the
movie. He said the Sleeptalker was "throwing money around like crazy" and
I can't blame him for wanting to be around to get his share of the fun
while it lasts.
We shook hands and he walked off. I sat there amazed at how utterly
schizoid I am at times about these lads. I love their company, love
listening to their stories and thoughts but on the other hand find myself
thinking I really should just be off somewhere on my own enjoying a beer
and a book. Then we separate and I'm feeling sad we're no longer
I am a simple man, and I sing a simple tune. Wish that I could see you
once again across the room ... like the first time.
Angelo gets a big kick out of me referring to the Sleeptalker as "the man
I love". I'm glad he enjoys it because there certainly isn't much joy in
it for me right now.
Patience, patience ...
I should have called him Silas Marner instead of Angelo. He is just so
weird about cash. If we're buying something together he makes certain he
gets my share to the exact penny but is, of course, more careless when the
pennies should be going the other way. It backfires with me. I catch
the miser fever from him and feel determined to keep it strictly even. I
buy him a beer, he buys me the next one or he doesn't get another from me.
When he'd gotten to the Iceman's apartment on Friday, the Sleeptalker had
gone "all crazy" and wasn't there. Angelo and the Iceman spent some time
bitching about how the Sleeptalker will throw his money around to impress
strangers but didn't want to know when it came to his friends.
"Hell," I said. "For two years I've been buying the guy food, cigarettes,
beer ... he throws an all-week party and I don't even get one drink.
That's the way he is."
"Yeah, he feels guilty about that, too."
"He felt really bad about the night he got all mad at you, went on and on
about how you've always been good to him and then he treats you like
Sigh. Of course I knew that would be exactly the reaction. Just what our
friendship needs, more layers of guilt.
I'd made my usual trip to campus on Saturday morning, then sat with a
lunchtime beer in the park and began reading Robert Ludlum's The
Matarese Circle. When I went back to the mall I saw Angelo sitting at
a table with a very young guy, probably not more than sixteen. Angelo was
jumpy and nervous. He had been trying to sell his Aloha Airlines ticket
coupon, then gave it to Rocky who was trying. Rocky had left his backpack
there but Angelo was still worried. "He's not going to run off with it,"
I told him, but he stayed twitchy until Rocky returned, coupon still in
Rocky sat down beside me and said, "Don't you ever touch my hair again.
Are you buying me a beer?" That night I woke up thinking it was
morning, with Rocky sitting across from me, I'd rubbed my hand across his
head when I left. "Buy you a beer and I can't even touch your hair?!" "I
was just kidding, just kidding," he said with a big grin.
I told Angelo he'd probably have more luck trying to sell the coupon at
the Aloha Airlines ticket counter in Sears, so we all went there. The
ticket agent told him he couldn't get a refund but it was okay if someone
came up who wanted to buy it. Rocky took the coupon and tried to sell it
to a mainland black guy who was sitting by the Delta counter, a weird
choice. I don't know what happened between them but the black guy was
really mad, followed Rocky back part of the way, threatened to beat him
up. Wrong move, with Rocky. Meanwhile a woman did arrive to buy a ticket
and Angelo sold her the coupon. Rocky was going back to the black guy, I
told him to chill out, Angelo had made the deal, but he wouldn't listen
and he and the black guy started shouting at each other. I left, noticing
a security man arriving as I hightailed it out of there.
Angelo and the kid came upstairs after me and we waited around for Rocky.
I teased Angelo about it being his round and got some splutter, splutter
back. "Phooey," I said and walked off, ignoring his call to go back,
bought a beer and returned to the park, didn't see them for the rest of
the day until I got to the hacienda where Rocky was already asleep. Angelo
had spent the night before at the Iceman's and had probably gone back
there, still hoping to get in on some more of the Sleeptalker's grand
He admitted he'd done better than I. On the nights when he stayed in the
Sleeptalker's hotel room, the Sleeptalker had provided the beer. And I
didn't say so, but it seems pretty obvious the Iceman has gotten his share
of the Sleeptalker's loot, too.
Cainer wrote about the last weekend of June: You may well encounter a
wave of chaos and confusion at the weekend - but then what's so unusual
about one of those? You'll survive it, as you always do. You may even
enjoy it if you remember not to take certain people (and situations) too
A reader recently complained about my faith (?) in such things as the
Tarot, the I Ching, and Cainer. Well, in the case of Cainer, he is
a witty and frequently amusing commentator on the human condition, whether
or not there is any genuine truth to astrology. And I do most definitely
have "faith" in the absolute concept of "no accidents". Thus any message
which meets my eye is relevant. And, of course, it's always amusing when
one of them, especially from Cainer, turns out to be so apt.
When I returned to the mall after a Sunday morning visit to campus, there
was half of a very large pepperoni pizza from Sbarro's abandoned at the
bus stop. Food problem solved for the day. After snipe hunting and
returning a few carts, I went over to the crowded park for pizza, beer,
and more of the rather weird Ludlum book. Angelo walked up, said he'd
just gotten out of jail.
All my children, all my sweet crazy children ...
After I'd left him and the kid the day before, they'd met up again with
Rocky. As a result of his squabble with the black tourist, Rocky is banned
from Sears for a year. He and Angelo had gone to JC Penney where Angelo
had put on a pair of display shoes and walked out of the store wearing
them. Busted. Silly fellow, he had been itching for a new pair of shoes
(although the ones he's wearing are in fine condition). But he only had
nine more days to wait until he could buy them.
It used to be that if you got sent to the downtown jail on the weekend,
you had to wait until Monday morning to go before a judge. It's too
crowded now (four men in a two-man cell), so a judge goes to the
cellblocks on Sunday mornings. Angelo had been let out on a hundred
dollars bail, which one of his sisters covered.
He finished off the beer and we walked over to the mall. He asked if I'd
buy him fish, no offer of a dollar this time. Oh well, kill off the
foodstamps balance for the month. On the way to the supermarket we passed
"He's still got money," Angelo said. Yes, we agreed that had the
Sleeptalker been broke, he would have stopped to talk, if for no other
reason than the possibility of free beer. "He didn't even look at me,"
No, he hadn't. The Sleeptalker had looked at me, directly in the eyes.
It was, as they say, one of those looks that spoke volumes and I was very,
very happy to read them. He's over being mad at me, he looks fine (so
damned fine I would have become smitten on the spot if I hadn't been
already). And he was very proud of himself, walking through the crowded
mall on his own. It was extraordinary, something I've never seen him do
before. I was genuinely relieved and so happy for him.
Angelo and I sat at a table while he ate his fish. The kid showed up,
Angelo told him the jail story. I said I was going to hunt snipes, would
meet up with Angelo later maybe. I was returning two carts when I saw him
talking on the phone, waved as I passed and held up two fingers to note
I'd just found fifty cents. He grinned. He said later he'd told me to
wait, but I hadn't heard him.
Back to the park and the book with another beer. Again Angelo walked up.
He wanted to go to a nearby store for a shop-and-sell exercise, asked me
to put his Old Navy Staff shirt in my backpack so he'd have more room in
his. We had talked about all this on that vodka-soaked evening in
Waikiki. He seemed concerned that I would disapprove of him because of
the shoplifting, assured me he only stole from stores, never from people.
I told him I didn't really disapprove, had done it a lot when I was
younger, but that I wouldn't do it now if I had money to pay for the stuff
and I wouldn't do it unless it was something I really needed.
That wasn't altogether true, but seemed the wiser thing to say and is the
way I should feel about it.
We headed off to the store. As with the Sleeptalker, I never raise the
subject of sex with Angelo, but he remains fascinated and frequently
brings it up totally out of context from what we had been talking about.
"Rocky has the biggest dick?" he asked again.
"The Sleeptalker's is smaller?"
"It's big enough," I said, "but Rocky's is bigger.
"You haven't seen mine."
"You'd like to see it?"
"Yes, I'd love to. But I have seen it hard under your shorts when
you were asleep."
"I was dreaming of a girl."
"Nawwww, you were dreaming about me."
"Pervert!" he said, laughed, and gave me the little punch on the arm which
is his acceptable way of showing affection.
And there was Rocky, sitting on a bench in an unusual area of the mall for
him. We sat with him, Angelo told him the jail story, and then said he'd
get us some beer. I thought he meant he was going to buy it, but when we
got to the store he was plannng to bag three large cans of Bud. "No need
for me," I said, "I'll get myself a bottle of Colt." I bought it, left
and waited outside for them. Despite bagging the beer, Angelo had given
Rocky three dollars to get some food (and I refused to use the remaining
$2.50 on my foodstamps as partial payment toward more fish for Angelo).
I'd walked over to put the Colt in my backpack, saw Rocky and Angelo
leaving the store. A big guy walked up behind Angelo and grabbed the
strap of his backpack. Yikes, busted again. He made Rocky open his
backpack for inspection, too, then let him go, took Angelo back into the
store. I sat with Rocky while he ate and we waited, both expecting that
since it was Angelo's first bust at that store and only two cans of beer,
they'd let him off with a one-year trespass ban. No doubt the mall
security keeps a list, though, and his having been caught just the day
before apparently got him arrested ... again.
We waited quite some time, then Rocky said he had to go piss, to tell
Angelo he'd be right back if he did come out. I waited. A young hunk sat
down at the table with me. He pulled out a wad of bills and counted them.
Forty dollars, all in singles. Then he checked a plastic holder full of
quarters and dimes. "The YMCA is about forty dollars?" he asked. I said
the last I'd heard, that was about right, but it was such a warm, clear
night, why bother spending money on a room? I got up, gave him a pat on
the head and told him to take good care of himself. He grinned.
When I got to the hacienda later, Rocky was already asleep. I wonder how
long I'll be carrying around this Old Navy Staff shirt ...
I went to Waianae on the last Tuesday of June. In terms of my past lives,
it's like going New York to Washington, London to Brighton. In this one,
more like a pilgrimage to the home grounds of the Man I Love.
But let us go back to Monday ...
After my usual early morning visit to campus, I returned to the mall, did
a round for snipes and quarters, bought a beer and went over to the park
for the lunchtime brew and continuing that (increasingly weird) Ludlum
book. There was a young, very brown man sprawled in the shade of a nearby
tree, shirtless, wearing jeans. He looked somewhat like Mondo. I was
reminded of Desmond Morris (wasn't it?) who wrote that very useful book on
I finished the beer, decided with such a fine show I might as well have
another, not wait till sunset. When I got back to the park, someone was
sitting at my table. So I went to sit in the shade of that tree, too.
Yes, very much in the mode of Mondo, ruggedly handsome. I filled my cup,
noticed him looking my way now and then. He got up, pulled it out, and
pissed on the tree. He didn't bother at all to turn away from me. I
thought it was a very sweet gift. He said something about how he
shouldn't be so lazy, should walk over to the not-very-distant toilets.
"It's okay," I said, "the tree needs water."
I moved over beside him, offered him some beer. He was thoroughly zonked,
on something stronger than beer, but accepted my offer with a big smile.
He drank the rest of that bottle. He's Filipino, has been here four
years, has two daughters still in the Philippines (no mention of the
wife). Maybe I should just move to Manila.
He had been quietly singing to himself earlier. I asked him what he had
been singing, and he sang the song for me. A very plaintive Filipino
ballad, a most pleasant voice. I was deeply touched, and grateful, even
if I didn't understand a word of it. After awhile, he said he was going
home. I asked him to be careful crossing the road to the mall, to wait
for the light, and got up to leave before he did.
As I was waiting for the light, two young Japanese ladies got my attention
and pointed back to the park. Angelo was waving at me.
Time served, he got, for his second night in a row in jail. I gave him
his Old Navy shirt, told him it was almost time for the Krishna truck to
arrive with free food, but I needed to have a shower first. Then the
Filipino lad got up, started staggering over to the road. "I have to help
him," I said to Angelo, and went off to help the fellow to the bus stop.
When I got back, Angelo was gone.
I walked over to the shower house and there he was, naked, in the shower.
He quickly put his boxer shorts on, still under the water. Sheez. I had
my shower, we dried off standing next to each other, went out. The
Krishna truck had arrived, a short line waiting for the free food. He
walked a bit ahead of me and started talking to someone he knew who was
also waiting. I was really pissed off with Angelo for his
"innocent virgin" act in the shower and left for the bus stop.
Helen R had asked me earlier to join her for "Titan AE". I had said,
thanks, I'll see you there, with the qualification that, if I didn't
arrive by showtime, she should go in without me. With the Bad Boys, who
Brilliant animation, that film, but it did have its boring moments. On
the other hand, the Disney studios should never have let Bluth escape
their team. Disney just cannot create a real hunk. "Titan AE" achieved
it, the sexiest young animated male lead I've ever seen.
When I got to the hacienda, Angelo was already asleep, so I took the bench
next to him. Next day, he asked, "that was you next to me, in the blue
jacket?" Yes, I told him, it was. He had still been asleep when I left,
caught a bus to the mall, drank my two cups of coffee and was going into
the mens' room for my shave when I saw him. I waved, he grinned. I
looked around for him when I'd finished my morning routine, didn't see
him. He was at the Waikiki-bound bus stop.
Laundry, yet again! Oh well, I went with him. He says he'll have to
leave for Kauai on Monday if he's going to face up to the court date, so I
might as well spend whatever time I can with him before he vanishes, maybe
for months. Then he asked if I'd go with him to Waianae, where he wanted
to borrow some money from his sister. I said I'd think about it, did,
and, of course, said yes. Waianae. Sleeptalker territory.
I've only been through there once before, hadn't stopped that time. It
was so long ago the "new town" of Kapolei, which we passed through, wasn't
even there. My head started playing "Nanakuli Girl" when we passed
through Nanakuli. And then we were at the Waianae Mall.
Angelo's sister works at the Burger King there, but it was her day off.
He called her house, she was at the doctor. I looked across the street,
asked if we could get to the beach there, we could share a bottle of beer.
He suggested, instead, we walk up the hill to see if a friend of his was
home. The friend was. The friend was so damned cute. Hmmmm, Manila or
Waianae? The three of us walked back down to the mall, got three bottles
of beer, and went back up to the house to drink them, me happily gazing at
that sweet, skinny, brown body, him knowing exactly what I was doing but
being very sweet about it.
Waianae boys, no ka oi.
"He's got a new boy," Rocky said about the Sleeptalker. "Young guy.
They been living together in a Waikiki hotel five days now. He's gone
all style, got his tongue pierced and paid for his boy to get, too."
Guess I was wrong about the Sleeptalker's continued "emergence". But I
was right, he had told Rocky about us. No bluff, either. Rocky knows
more details than I've written here. I can understand why the Sleeptalker
would have wanted to circulate his version in case I said anything, but I
am a bit puzzled about him going into such detail. And I was wrong about
why Rocky was treating me with such coolness. It wasn't because he minded
me having the Sleeptalker. He was jealous because "you never offered me
money for it". The Sleeptalker's version was that I'd paid for it. I
just said "no comment" to all questions.
Things had gotten complicated in Waianae. Since Angelo's sister wasn't
working at the Burger King, he needed to get someone to drive him
over to Makaha to the hotel where she also works. I decided to leave,
returned to downtown and made a brief visit to campus. Angelo was on the
bench next to me when I woke up Wednesday morning, later told me he hadn't
gotten back from Waianae until eleven-thirty.
I saw him at the mall after having my coffee and doing a snipe hunt.
There have been a few quarters every morning lately, carts left way out in
the parking lot, but none on Wednesday. There were three bottles of
Corona beer, though. Angelo had promised me in Waianae that if I bought
beer, he'd pay me back as soon as he saw his sister. "So what's it
going to be?" I asked him, "you paying me back or you dropping your
pants?" Ah, he had gotten money from his sister, spent it all on "laced
joints", was flat broke again.
He was hungry, had heard a Catholic church nearby would give out a big box
of food once every three months to anyone who asked, so I walked with him
over to the church where he did, indeed, get a large box of food, mostly
canned goods. Soap, toothpaste, shampoo and stuff, too. But no can
opener. He put the cans he wanted into a bag, left the rest, telling an
old lady at the bus stop to help herself.
Over then to the beach park, where we ran into Rocky and got updated on
the current status of the Sleeptalker. Rocky and Angelo then had another
long grumble about how the Sleeptalker is ignoring his friends, I just
sat, listened and thought, "my job is done."
A guy came along with a can opener so we had a picnic of Alaskan salmon,
baked beans and a big can of pork chunks which I didn't taste. I brought
out the three bottles of Corona. Rocky had done some kind of one-day job,
still had three dollars and asked me to go to the mall and get more beer
with it. My first of three trips to buy beer on Wednesday. After that
beer was gone, Angelo decided to go on a shop-and-sell expedition. We
walked with him, let him do his thing on his own, this time more
successfully than on the weekend. To the pawn shop. Again I reminded him
he had sworn to pay me back. Well, I could have half of what he owed me
if I went downtown with them to score a "doob".
Phooey (again). I declined, went back to the mall, used the last of my
quarters for a Mickey's and sat in the park enjoying it while reading a
recent issue of The Economist I'd found the day before. Rocky and
Angelo returned, Angelo handed me two dollars. "It's a miracle," I said,
"he actually handed me some CASH." And he offered to buy a round of beer
for us if I went to get it. The loan two-thirds returned.
We drank the beer, smoked the "doob" which was damned harsh but quite
strong stuff and I heard even more stories about the fabled trip to Vegas,
more about the Iceman, and more about the Sleeptalker. Angelo decided to
buy one more round. We're even.
I'm going to miss that lad if he goes to jail on Kauai.
I get two kinds of major hangovers. One is the "I'll never drink again"
version, the other is "I need a drink". It was the second trashing which
started the last morning of June, but I bought scrambled eggs and hash
browns instead of beer. Eating breakfast is certain proof I was in bad
Too much, too much on Thursday. The Fabled Pension Check arrived.
For awhile, I thought it was going to be a day without the Bad Boys,
didn't see Rocky or Angelo all day. But as I was having my sunset beer,
they arrived. They went over to eat the food provided by a Christian
organization I won't eat from because they insist on preaching before
feeding. I drank my beer and continued the Ludlum madness, Rocky and
Angelo returned. We walked through the park, I got us beer at the
7-Eleven and we went to the hacienda, sat on the outside benches to drink.
I was zonked, went to lay down, had to get up again to upchuck most of
that final beer. Angelo grinned.
That boy really is crazy. He missed his monthly appointment with the
psychiatrist, so they increased his foodstamps but cut off his cash. He
has to re-apply next month. He agreed when I said anyone who would throw
away four hundred a month by failing to spend half an hour with a doctor
is nuts. I wonder how long it will be before the Sleeptalker does the
I figured sooner or later the Sleeptalker would stop by the hacienda to
show off his pierced tongue and latest new batch of clothes, and he did.
Rocky and I raised our heads, saw him sitting outside, put our heads down
again. Angelo went out to talk with him. If the fellow who was
with the Sleeptalker is his "new boy", the Sleeptalker has lousy taste in
men. I was asleep (or passed out) before they left, too smashed to care.
The big surprise of the day was seeing my former co-worker at the mall. It
has been a long, long time since I last saw her. I looked at her and
thought how strange it seems now that we worked together five years, and
certainly she gets much of the credit for me having stayed at that job so
long ... and getting that Fabled Pension Check every month. Such a
sweetheart, she is.
I told her my life has become "The Old Man and the Bad Boys". And so it
Maybe I should hide out until the FPC stash is gone.
I stayed on campus for most of Friday morning. When I returned to
the mall, a cart was at the bus stop and as I was wheeling it to the
corral, heard Angelo call my name. He was with C-Two, another Waianae
lad, same name as C-One whom I'd met when we were out there. This one not
as cute, but a very pleasant young man, hair cut short but with a
thin pigtail, about a foot long, hanging from the upper back of his head.
No, I told Angelo later, not my type, but a nice guy.
We went over to the park for lunchtime brew, ended up spending all
afternoon there. I was surprised Rocky didn't spot us. His friend, The
Doc, did, though, and sat with us for awhile. The Doc is totally smitten
with Rocky, who had said the day before that he'd let The Doc give him
a blowjob for fifty dollars. I doubt he's told The Doc that.
We ate the Krishna food and then walked with Angelo while he did yet
another shop-and-sell expedition. He has to switch to some other
merchandise ... the pawn shop man said he had too much, wouldn't buy any
more for awhile. I'm not surprised.
C-Two headed home to Waianae, Angelo and I sat in the park until it was
dark, then walked to the 7-Eleven where he got some food and I got a
nightcap bottle of Colt. We sat on an outside bench at the hacienda while
I drank it and he told me I'd just missed seeing his little brother
earlier at the mall. "How old is he?" Fifteen, but "you can't meet him".
Odd thing to say. Even odder, I asked why he always puts on two pairs
of shorts when he's ready to sleep (making three pairs, including his
boxer shorts), and he said it was "confidential".
The first morning of July was gray and damp, very damp on campus. It
stayed mostly cloudy all day but was dry at the beach park. I finally
finished the Ludlum book with my lunchtime brew. Last week I'd found a
bag from the mall's bookstore, Steve Martin's The Judge in it. So
was the sales slip. Angelo tried to get me to return it, see if I could
get a refund. I said no, when I found a book like that, I read it. After
about twenty pages, I wondered if Angelo hadn't had the right idea.
I crossed back to the mall for a snipes hunt, saw Angelo. I guessed
right, he had been at the laundromat. I've never known such a laundry
fanatic. The Kid spotted us, walked over to ask Angelo for a cigarette.
Angelo gave him one, didn't offer one to me. Silly fellow, the pack was
so nearly empty, I would have declined and he'd have gotten credit for
being generous without it costing him anything. The Kid wanted to go to
McD's so I went off on my snipe hunt, answered Angelo when he asked where
I was hanging out later, told him our usual table was taken by people at a
very large picnic so I was at the alternative further down the park.
Back to that table with a full box of snipes and a second brew, but two
old nomads were at the table so I sat under the tree where I'd been with
the Filipino fellow. Angelo walked up, C-Two and C-Two's girlfriend with
him. I had just refilled my cup with Mickey's, offered some to Angelo.
"No, I like Bud," he said and I told him he has expensive tastes. After
awhile, he asked, "you gonna buy beer?" "I bought you guys beer all day
yesterday," I said. They waited around for awhile, Angelo forced himself
to drink a little of the Mickey's, then they left.
Like I said, Angelo has plentiful street smarts, but when it comes to
handling old gay guys, he could use some lessons from the Sleeptalker. You
don't show up two days in a row with a friend, especially having learned
he's "not my type", and you certainly don't show up with the friend's
girlfriend! I didn't see them the rest of the day.
Earlier I had returned a cart from some distance. It was so hot and humid
I said to myself that was just too much sweat for a quarter and retired
from the game for the afternoon. The Mongoose had been rushing around,
first on wheels and then on foot, and I figured he'd wilt before long.
Guess he must have, had disappeared by late afternoon.
I was returning a cart when I saw Rocky. He was in a very grouchy mood,
so I didn't offer to buy him a beer. Another one who could use some
lessons from the Sleeptalker.
I'm sure the Sleeptalker has bragged about what an easy mark I am, but
then he's different, isn't he? Or, for two years at least, he was.
Angelo is such a tease. He'll say "I've got to stop this" and a few
minutes later be right back at it, describing all the things I'd like to
do to his body. Or that he'd like me to do? Probably. Eventually it has
the supposedly undesired effect and I end up actually wanting him. He
stood up, took off his shirt, put on a new one to get my opinion of it,
and while he was standing there shirtless I really wanted him.
He's also such a liar. I don't know why these guys all lie, especially
about things that don't really matter. He missed the court date on Kauai.
The debate isn't about whether to get there for it, but whether it's best
to turn himself in. Amazing he could get arrested twice on this island
and they didn't discover the pending business on Kauai.
The entire dance with him is one of the most puzzling I've ever known.
I crossed over from the mall to the park, brew in backpack, saw C-Two, his
girlfriend and Angelo just sitting down at our usual table. They had been
to Savers, had then done a shop-and-sell expedition but hadn't yet gone to
the pawn shop, wanted a beer first to celebrate. C-Two is incredible,
just picks up some big thing and walks out of the store with it. He even
went back, on his own, for seconds but first went for another round of
beer, including a Colt for me. I enjoyed talking with the girlfriend and
we had a good laugh about Angelo taking so long to decide on a two-dollar
Second round of beer finished, Angelo wanted to shower. I promised I
wouldn't go in, talked to the girlfriend again while C-Two did his
shopping. He's not quite so good at the selling part. Angelo told me
later he'd only got a bit more than ten percent of the value.
When they both returned, Angelo went all grumpy and surly, first time I've
ever seen him like that. So I declined joining them for the trip to the
pawn shop, said I was just going to hang out at the mall for awhile. Some
time later, I was back in the park and Angelo came walking over, on his
own. He explained that he'd been so gruff with me "because I didn't want
them to think you were sucking my dick". Sheez.
Well, he made up for it by being absolutely delightful all evening.
In his message for July, Erick Francis said "passion's
fires reach into the heavens of perfection".
"He's always been like that," C-Two told me. He'd asked if I'd seen
Angelo, I said yes, we had been hanging out together, had gotten
separated. Then I ran into him again. He was with a young guy I didn't
know who had told him the Iceman was having a party in Waikiki. Angelo
asked me to go with them but the other fellow clearly wasn't keen on the
idea, so Angelo just said "see you later" and they left for the bus stop.
I was walking around muttering about people who are your buddies until a
better offer comes along when I saw C-Two.
He had persuaded his girlfriend to stay in Waianae and had come in for the
day to do some more shopping. He said his girlfriend liked me a lot and
he was still impressed that I'd bought him beer all day the first time I'd
met him, wanted to buy me another one. So I ended up spending the evening
of America's 224th birthday with a young man from Waianae, and a fine
fellow he is, too.
I'd been with Angelo much of the day before. After a brief visit to
campus, I went to the State Library to pick up a book, returned to the
mall, saw Angelo who said he had been looking for me. We spent several
hours trudging from one pawn shop to another because he wasn't satisfied
with the offers. How he finally sold the merchandise I won't say. I
certainly am getting a crash course on the stranger side of life in
Honolulu, but some stuff is better left unwritten.
We sat in the park for the rest of the day talking and drinking beer.
I'm grateful to Angelo for this taste of what it's like being part of a
buddy team, and I can understand why so many of the guys on the street
form them. Right now the oddest team definitely is the Fatman and the
Cowboy. The Fatman is just that, probably in his forties. The Cowboy is
possibly still in his teens, wears a big black cowboy hat and a belt with
an enormous silver buckle. When I first saw him, on his own, I thought he
was a soldier. They're definitely the most improbable couple in
town, but I suppose Angelo and I run a close second.
By the time I got to the mall on the morning of the Fourth, the park was
already crowded with people staking out their turf for the day and the
lines were so long at McD's I went to the supermarket and got a can of
chilled coffee instead. Sixty-five cents left to carryover on the
foodstamps card for July. But once again, the confounded money didn't
arrive. I was glad I called the number to get my balance instead of
finding out in the store. Very weird, how it arrived on the first of
June, when it wasn't due until the fifth, and then didn't come at all this
month. Back to the bureaucrats ...
Angelo found me just before noon, by which time the mall was packed with
people. I had already scored three dollars in quarters, but all the
stroller corrals were out of money so there was no more to be made on them
for the day. So Angelo and I sat for awhile, then strolled around. He
wanted to go in to sample some cologne at the department store, I told him
I'd walk around outside and meet him at the entrance to the men's
department, but he didn't show up for quite some time. I left, got myself
a beer, drank it and was starting a snipe hunt when I ran into Angelo and
the Iceman's friend.
C-Two and I had been in the park for a couple of hours when Angelo, the
Iceman's friend and another fellow arrived. They didn't say anything
about the supposed party at the Iceman's. It was amazing they found us,
given the size of the crowds in the park. Angelo had a big bottle of
vodka. I declined the offer, was already on my third beer and hadn't
planned on drinking more. But C-Two gave me his beer and switched to
vodka. I had said I wanted to get out of there before the big fireworks
show started because it's such a madhouse afterwards when thousands of
people rush to get home, but I ended up staying. Angelo and C-Two went to
the mall for something to eat, came back with a 12-pack of Bud Lite as
well. Angelo handed me two. I said, thanks, I'll save them for
breakfast, put them in my backpack and ended up giving them to Rocky
later. Once the fireworks were over, Angelo, C-Two and the Iceman's
friend started talking about what to do next. I said I was just going to
the bench and staggered down to the hacienda, gave the beer to Rocky and
collapsed rapidly into sleep, didn't hear Angelo and C-Two arrive later.
Yes, I'm enjoying this taste of the buddy team system, but have to admit
the pace is a bit heavy for this old man.
I saw Mme de Crécy on Wednesday, first time in weeks. She was very
upset about me hanging out with "thieves". It brought to mind that highly
overpaid job I did in London for two years. Most, sometimes all, of my
salary was indirectly paid by a then-eminent CEO of an Arizona Savings &
Loan. Later he got too greedy, too careless, or both, and ended up behind
bars. Now that was "hanging out with thieves".
The Bad Boys are just petty gamblers, taking risks to score fifteen or
She was also worried that I'd get pulled into the game, but those are
groundless fears. I wouldn't be any good at it. And my needs are not as
great as that. I'm content to score two dollars worth of quarters a day,
delighted when it's double, and pleased I can do it legally.
Angelo and C-Two were still asleep when I left the hacienda on Wednesday
morning, told me later they hadn't gotten there until one in the morning.
I had my coffee, went to campus, then downtown. At the welfare office I
finally saw my caseworker for the first time. No chit-chat, no
introduction. I told her my foodstamps money hadn't arrived. She told me
to wait a minute, went to her computer, came back and said "you'll get
them tomorrow." No explanation.
Back to the mall for a snipe hunt, over to the park for a shower. I had
found a very new backpack at the mall earlier. Someone had apparently
rifled through it already and the only things of value were a few coins,
mostly pennies, and a phonecard I later gave to Angelo. But my old
backpack, veteran of more than ten years, was definitely worse for wear
and it was kind of Dame Fortune to replace it like that. So I shifted my
stuff to the new one and bid my old friend farewell.
A beer and continuing the Steve Martin book. I had looked for Angelo and
thought one drawback to the buddy system is getting used to it and then
feeling somewhat lost when the buddy can't be found, even if a part of me
was quite happy with the break. The Krishna truck arrived, so I left a
second beer in my pack and ate their generous feast. Walking back toward
the mall, I saw Angelo, C-Two and RedEye heading to our usual table,
twelve-pack in hand.
RedEye is also a Waianae fellow, gets his nickname from his utterly
bloodshot eyes. He looked a wreck on the Fourth, looked even more of one
the day after. Once he has a few beers he turns into a major bore,
telling one lousy joke after another. Angelo had already sold some of his
foodstamps for cash but asked me to go half on another round of beer. I
declined, but said I'd buy my own and go get more for them, too, if he put
up the money. He did. C-Two and I walked over to the mall together. He
went to call his lady, I did a round for snipes, bought the beer and
returned to the park. C-Two eventually came back, having done a side
expedition to their favorite store.
I suppose one reason I have so little moral concern about their
shop-and-sell gambits is the feeling that the burden is really on that
stupid store. They must be aware of the pilferage from one of their
areas, should have the sense to tighten security there since it's well
known amongst the lads as an easy target.
Most of my beer went to keep C-Two's cup filled since he'd bought mine on
the Fourth and if RedEye, a major mooch who never forked over a penny on
either day of drinking, hadn't been there, I would have bought C-Two's
bottle instead of making Angelo pay for it.
Then they decided to do another shop-and-sell run. I reminded C-Two what
both his lady and I had said the day she was in town with him: don't be
greedy. And I said I'd had enough of waking up in the morning with only a
couple of snipes in my box, was going snipe hunting and then to the bench,
would see them later.
I didn't see them later. I wonder if they spent the night in the
The seventh of the month and still three paper dollars in my pocket, not
bad considering the Fabled Pension Check arrived two days early. And what
a luxury it is having that foodstamps bounty again, being able to get a
sandwich and some chilled coffee whenever the mood strikes. Not that I
can complain. Except for the Fourth, Dame Fortune was more than kind with
food during that time when the foodstamps card was empty. On the Fourth,
it had been just one tuna fish sandwich and chips, a large luxurious
sandwich but not exactly Minimum Daily Requirement of the good stuff.
I saw the Waianae threesome at the usual table on Thursday morning. It
was only a bit past eleven o'clock, too early for them had they slept the
night in jail. On the contrary, their expeditions had been so successful
the day before, they had spent much of the night in some club. They were
vague about where they'd slept, quite possibly didn't remember.
As it approached noontime, C-Two said he had to go to the mall, call his
lady. Angelo gave him two dollars to buy a Mickey's. I left shortly
after C-Two saying I had to hunt some snipes. I did my snipe run, bought
myself a Mickey's and returned to the park. C-Two came back, having once
again done a shopping expedition. I don't think that boy can enter the
mall without hitting that same store. Rocky arrived with a smoke, such a
tiny one that when he offered me a hit, I declined. It would have taken
more than that bit of weed to even give me a buzz. Sometimes I wonder if
these guys know what a real marijuana high is.
There's no doubt that I enjoy the Buddy Team act but the Pack thing is
just not for me. Even with the Sleeptalker and Mondo, I much preferred
being with one or the other on our own rather than together. The same is
true with Angelo and C-Two. RedEye, I could happily do without
altogether. So when the beer was finished and Angelo had smoked half the
snipes I'd collected, I again excused myself for a snipe hunt, didn't go
In the late afternoon, I saw they'd gone so I bought myself another beer
and went over to the alternate bench to enjoy it and finished Martin's
The Judge with its cleverly contrived, unanticipated surprise
ending. Then I began Anne Rice's The Witching Hour, a very thick
volume. She caught my attention right away. One of the main characters
was so like me in childhood and it is described beautifully. I read until
it got too dark to continue.
The sunset was one of those postcard-perfect Hawaiian varieties. Not for
the first time during the day, I was more than happy to enjoy being
on my own.
I was sitting in the park on Friday morning, reading and waiting for a
break in the steady stream of people in and out of the shower house, when
Angelo came along. I told him it was good to see him, that I'd missed
being with him on his own. "I missed you, too," he said. C-Two had gone
home to Waianae earlier and RedEye had "just disappeared". He seemed
somewhat puzzled by that. Didn't appear much of a mystery to me, with
C-Two gone and Angelo broke, not much reason for RedEye to hang around.
Angelo said he wanted to shower. I told him I'd been waiting to have one,
too, but he could go ahead and I'd have mine afterwards. "We can shower
together," he said, "it's okay, I'll keep my shorts on." So into the
shower we went. I washed my Sleeptalker-owned tee shirt, finished my
shower, had dried off and was putting my clothes on when Angelo took off
the boxer shorts to wring them out, turned around and grinned, giving me
my first full look at his body. Such a silly sweetie.
While we were waiting for stuff to dry a bit, he gave me a tee shirt.
Nice one, dark blue with the Surf Designs Hawaii logo on the front. I
didn't ask how he came to have it.
He wanted to go shopping, asked, "are you spinning for me?" Was I doing
what??? Ah, "spinning" is walking along behind him blocking the view from
that direction. I said okay, but I was keeping some distance, that I
thought two guys with backpacks would get more attention than one. I saw
him select an item from a stack conveniently (if stupidly) located right
near the exit, then noticed two salesclerks coming down an adjoining
aisle, walked over to the counter to distract their attention. Later
Angelo told C-Two I had saved his ass. Hmmmm.
We went back to the park, had a smoke while he calmed down from what he
thought had been a narrow escape. Then we went on to a pawn shop, one
we'd never been to before because both of us thought that shop only dealt
with gold and jewelry. Wrong, a quick sell.
We walked back to the mall and I sensed that Angelo's mood had shifted
sharply, no idea why, except of course that he had gone from empty pockets
to having money. He bought a card so he could mail a letter to his
mother. On his last visit to Kauai, he'd had a minor accident while
driving her car and she needed proof for her insurance company that he'd
only been visiting, that he lived in Honolulu, and did not ordinarily use
the car. He'd gotten a letter from his caseworker and had been carrying
it around for a week, me nagging him every day about getting it sent. I
gave him a stamp and had to tell him how to address the envelope properly.
A high school graduate who doesn't know where to write the address on a
envelope? Touching. A little sad, but touching.
That chore accomplished, he said he'd buy me a beer if I'd buy him some of
his beloved raw fish. He'd sold almost all of his foodstamps. I had
treated him to a tub of that fish the day before, but said okay, and he
insisted it had to be four dollars worth. Double the money. Shrug.
It was almost time for the Krishna truck to arrive in the park. We
started to walk through the mall and again I muttered to myself about how
he strolls grandly through, never glancing at the ashtrays but will then
sit and smoke my snipes with no problem. Then he said he was going to buy
something to eat, came back with a big slice of (expensive) Sbarro's
pizza. Crazy. I said I was going to eat Krishna food. "Well, go ahead,"
he growled and walked off.
So I stuffed myself with the usual heaping plate from the neo-Hindus, went
back to get a second beer and settled down to enjoy it, returned to the
equally enjoyable Witching Hour. Soon I heard someone say "boo!"
behind me. It was C-Two, back in from Waianae. He grumbled at length
about RedEye and how he had leeched on them three days in a row without
ever once contributing. He was especially pissed off because RedEye had
bought himself breakfast that morning but hadn't offered to buy Angelo
anything. I said I was surprised by Angelo, who is always so tight,
wondered if he and RedEye had been especially good buddies in school. No,
Angelo had only met RedEye awhile ago, at IHS. Well, then, that is a
C-Two had the interesting theory that RedEye is gay but "in deep denial".
RedEye had wanted to go in the showers with him the day before. C-Two had
said, go ahead, I'm waiting till later.
C-Two had already been shopping, so I walked with him to the pawn shop,
telling him about the one Angelo had been to earlier. We were standing
outside the shop while he finished a cigarette and the man came out of the
shop, asked C-Two "you want to sell that?" I guess the guy is eager to
become their Main Man. C-Two was happy about the sale and we went back to
the mall where he insisted I had earned a beer. He'd told me earlier that
his lady had chewed him out about buying stuff for RedEye, that he should
only spend his money on me or Angelo. [!]
Back to the park to drink the beer and talk some more. C-Two really is
the sweetest one of these guys, a truly good-hearted young man. He told
me his lady was coming in the next day, was looking forward to hanging out
with me some more. It was starting to get dark when Angelo strolled up.
C-Two had been annoyed because he'd told Angelo he was coming in at
four-thirty, was surprised Angelo had been missing. Angelo wanted to go
on to a bar. I declined the invitation to join them, said I was doing a
snipes run and heading to the bench. They walked off, C-Two stopped and
turned around, asked "are you sure you won't come with us?" I waved and
said no, I'll see you tomorrow. "I'll see you at [the hacienda]," he
said, and so he did, taking the bench next to me as I saw when I woke
later in the night.
A full frontal nude look at Angelo, amusing hours with him and then with
C-Two. Lucky Friday.
The Boys went way overboard on Saturday. We had our usual table in the
park all afternoon. I'd go over to the mall occasionally for more snipes
or to lug beer back and each time I returned, one of them had gone off to
the favorite store again. By sunset time there was so much stuff we took
a taxi to the pawn shop. Then, as always with money in his pocket, Angelo
went weird, started walking off without saying anything, C-Two and me
tagging along behind. Angelo went into a Korean bar, I waved goodbye to
C-Two and returned to the mall and park for a final beer before heading to
When I got off the bus on Sunday morning, I saw C-Two sitting at the
table, Angelo sprawled on the grass nearby. Later Angelo told me they had
only just gotten there. He had spent all his earnings in the bar, then
taking a taxi to fill the glass pipe and they'd smoked all night. Burning
the proverbial candle not just at both ends, but in the middle, too. He
was moaning about how stupid it had been. I couldn't disagree.
I didn't go over to say hello, just wanted my coffee. After shaving, I
looked and saw they had gone. Then I was doing a snipes run and came
across Angelo on his own, sitting on a bench in not one of the usual
areas. He was in a very strange mood and I thought perhaps he just wanted
to be on his own but he asked me to walk with him to the 7-Eleven. I
bought him some juice and we sat outside the Border's bookstore drinking
and smoking. I was running out of snipes since there had been so few of
them at the mall, said I had to go look for more but he stayed there.
Back at the mall, I saw C-Two who said Angelo had just wandered off
earlier without saying anything. "Yes, he's in a weird mood," I said.
Life after the Ice Age, or at least Ice Night.
C-Two's lady hadn't come into town on Saturday because of a "family
conflict" and he was on his way to call her, so I went on my snipe hunt,
didn't see either of them for the rest of the morning. I was sitting in
the park in the late afternoon reading when Angelo found me. He hadn't
seen C-Two again either, thought maybe he'd gone home to Waianae.
So we spent the rest of the day together, drinking and talking. He asks
so many questions and wants detailed answers. I think by now that young
man knows more about me than anyone ever has before.
When I woke on Monday morning, Angelo was asleep on the bench behind me,
C-Two on the bench in front. Both of them look so young and innocent when
sleeping. It was a very warm morning so I went for chilled coffee instead
of the usual two cups from McD's, then made a brief visit to campus. Back
at the mall, I was taking a smoke break near the bus stop, saw the Fatman
and the Cowboy walking over to get a Waikiki-bound bus. Every time I see
those two, I soon see Angelo. Never fails. And yes, there he went,
headed off to the pawn shop, as he told me later. He didn't see me.
I had enough cash for two bottles of brew after having found four
quarters in the mall that morning, so a little after noon I bought a
bottle and went over to the park. I sat in a different area than usual,
but C-Two spotted me. He'd been in the shower washing tee shirts, spread
them in the sun to dry, asked if he could have "a sip" of my beer, so I
shared the rest of it with him.
He said he and Angelo had an argument about buying the ice. C-Two has
been trying to stay away from the stuff and he hadn't wanted to waste his
money on it. But Angelo had persuaded him and he was still annoyed that
he'd weakened, even more annoyed that he'd spent all that money. I told
him Angelo had also been grumbling about how stupid it had been. C-Two
also thought Angelo had taken eighteen dollars from him. I thought it
unlikely, but certainly not impossible.
When Angelo found us, though, all was well again. I provided the fish and
the orange juice, Angelo the vodka, and we spent the rest of the afternoon
drinking and talking, got so engrossed in it that I didn't even notice
when the Krishna truck arrived, missed out on the free food.
An absolutely dreadful woman came along, latched onto C-Two with her Jesus
Saves routine. I loathed her, was later truly surprised at the depth of
my reaction. I got up from the table and stood far enough away that I
could no longer hear her. Angelo joined me. The woman gave C-Two a big
Bible and twenty dollars, told him she could help find him a place to stay
and a job. Somehow it felt like watching history re-enacted, those
wretched missionaries who came here to "civilize" the natives. But I'm
not sure just why this particular evangelistic dame so thoroughly irked
me. I just knew she was a phoney.
C-Two went shopping, came back with three big boxes! He and Angelo went
off to the pawn shop, I said I was staying at the mall to collect some
snipes and was then making an early night of it, heading to the bench. But
when I got back to the mall, I realized I was actually drunker than I'd
thought, didn't do much snipe hunting. Off to the bench, waking later to
see Angelo again on the bench behind me, C-Two on the inner row at my
This time reminds me so much of that first summer in Delhi, hanging out
with the hippies and dealers in the juice bar and the club. Better
refreshments than vodka in those days, but otherwise it's remarkably
The eleventh day of the seventh month, the Downfall of C-Two.
He had said the day before that he planned to join me on campus next
play on the computers for awhile. I stayed around longer than usual,
waiting to see if he'd show up. I'd told them I wouldn't be around in the
afternoon since I was joining my friend Helen for a movie. So finally I
left campus, went back to the park for a shower and on to Dole Cannery to
It was the longest, slowest bus ride I've ever had from the mall to Dole.
A rather large local lady was a "Driver in Training", her trainer sitting
in the front seat nearest her. She was a nervous wreck, slowed down for a
stop long before she should have, took eons to pull back into traffic
again. One time she opened the doors before the bus had fully stopped.
Several times she announced the wrong information for the next stop. When
I got off the bus, I wished her good luck. She's gonna need it.
I was expecting to see a beautiful film, and that's indeed what I saw.
Mel Gibson in "The Patriot". Long, elegant, beautiful. Last time around
I didn't take much interest in the annual Oscars extravaganza because I
hadn't seen any of the major nominations. Next time, I suspect "The
Patriot" will garner quite a few of them.
Helen and I went back to the mall, ate at Sbarro's. That lasagna is
really classic stuff. I picked up a beer, walked over to the park and saw
Angelo sitting at the usual table. He was wearing new shorts (I didn't
ask) and had a new Walkman, said the man at the pawnshop had just given it
to him. Such a good customer. He had given C-Two money to buy beer, was
waiting for him to return.
As usual, C-Two hadn't been able to go to the mall without hitting the
favorite store. We saw him walking across the street from the mall to the
park. Alas, he soon wasn't alone, had three security men on his tail.
One of them pushed him face-down to the grass while they handcuffed him.
Another one picked up the three boxes C-Two had been carrying, and they
escorted him back across the street to the mall.
Well, I had done all I could the day before to persuade C-Two that he was
pushing his luck. Not only was he being too greedy (he had scored ninety
dollars from that day's haul), but they were being dumb, always taking the
same stuff from the same store. If the displays were being depleted like
that every day, someone in the store was bound to wonder why they
had to re-stock so often when there was no memory of having made any
sales. I tried.
Angelo spotted RedEye across the street, got his attention. Sigh. As
RedEye was crossing over, I told Angelo I was not going to hang out with
the guy, would soon be on my way and see him later. He urged me not to
go, said RedEye wouldn't stay long. "He'll stay as long as he thinks
there's a chance of free beer, smoke or food," I said. After telling
RedEye about C-Two being busted, he decided he'd take C-Two's bag over to
the security office and give it to him, since he didn't want to lug it
around until the next day. I said I was going snipe hunting.
I saw them sitting outside the drugstore awhile later. C-Two had asked
Angelo to keep the bag and to call his lady. Angelo hadn't written the
number down, couldn't remember it. I was sorry I hadn't followed my
feeling the day before that I should have asked for the number, just in
Leaving them, I got a sunset beer, went back to the park to a different
table. But they found me. Angelo said he could really use some fish. I
ignored it. He asked if I'd buy juice if he got vodka. I said no, seeing
one friend get busted was enough for one day. "I won't get caught," he
said. I didn't remind him of his recent weekend in jail. He accused me
of being in a grouchy mood. I was about to get in one. I'd made it VERY
clear I was not going to hang out with RedEye and Angelo clearly thought
he could get away with forcing me to. He was wrong.
Eventually he said to RedEye, "let's go to 7-Eleven."
"See you later," I said and finished my beer while enjoying the sunset and
the young soccer players. But I certainly didn't enjoy the memory of
seeing C-Two face down on the grass, surrounded by those security men,
being led off in handcuffs. Not at all.
Angelo tried again on Wednesday. I had been keeping an eye out,
hoping I'd see C-Two with him, but hadn't seen him. I waited until
mid-afternoon for my beer-and-book session, had been there awhile when he
walked up with RedEye.
He had remembered the number, had talked to C-Two's lady but there was no
news. At that hour, it seemed certain C-Two had been taken off to
"Oh-Triple-C", the county prison. Angelo thinks it is the first time
C-Two has been arrested and we both thought he'd get off with community
service. Maybe had it been only one box, that would have been the case.
Three boxes must have pushed the value over the limit, requiring time
behind bars. It may be awhile before we see C-Two again.
Angelo said he'd go to the mall to use the phone, see if there was any
news, asked me to look after the bags. RedEye went with him. They
returned, hadn't talked to C-Two's lady. Angelo had bought a bottle of
beer, sat up on the table with his back to me, sharing the beer and a
cigarette with RedEye. Then he put his Walkman headphones on, effectively
leaving me isolated with RedEye. I walked off, sat nearer the beach and
watched the ocean for awhile. I didn't see them again for the rest of the
After the Krishna feast, I went for a sunset beer, returned to the park
and the excellent, thoroughly engrossing book, read until it grew too
dark to continue.
I went to the hacienda early, had been asleep for some time when Angelo
woke me up, asked if I wanted some vodka. I said thanks, but I've had
enough for the day, went back to sleep. He and RedEye were sitting on an
outside bench. When they had evidently finished off the drink, Angelo
woke me again. He wanted to know why I was being "such a grouch".
"I told you," I said quietly, "I am not hanging out with that guy."
He was mad. I know he wasn't really angry with me but with the failure of
his power to persuade. He's very pleased with that power and, indeed, it
works almost all the time, not just with me. But I've warned him several
times that he's at a disadvantage. I studied for two years with a Master.
The Sleeptalker taught me well, and I'm deeply grateful for it.
And, of course, the Sleeptalker was not only much better at it than
Angelo, he had the enormous boost of my passion for his body. Except in
very rare moments when Angelo manages to fan the flames, I just don't want
him physically. And again, the Sleeptalker's lessons suggest that even if
Angelo did offer himself, it would be another round of
guilt-after-the-fact nonsense. Just not worth it.
There are plenty of fish in the sea.
Two pennies at the mall in the early morning on Friday, not a single
quarter. Oh well, the day before there had been four quarters just
waiting to be retrieved from a stroller corral, two more from a stroller
which hadn't been properly returned. Can't expect such largesse every
day, not being a Mayfair Witch.
A glance at the sleeping Angelo when I left the hacienda Thursday morning
was the only contact with the Bad Boys all day and none of them showed up
that night either. I had walked out on Angelo's tantrum, stayed away
until I thought he'd be asleep before returning. Deja vu, deja vu. I
suspected he'd just disappear for awhile.
So I spent the day feeling a little lost. As with the Sleeptalker's far
nastier version, I had the sense that Angelo's tantrum had in a way
broken his power over me. Maybe Anne Rice is affecting the way I'm
thinking about things, but that's how it seemed with the Sleeptalker, too,
and that was before her influence.
I was grateful for her fine book because it allowed me to totally escape
my own thoughts for a time, but it also seemed important to examine the
two friendships, the Sleeptalker and Angelo, with particular attention to
what they have in common. It's likely most, if not all, of the
friendships I form with these young street guys will share those themes
and the better I understand them, expect them, the more help I am likely
to be to the boys, the more likely I am to enjoy it, too.
Certainly sex plays a major role. They are fascinated by and curious
about my, to them unorthodox, preferences. At the same time they are
disgusted by it, probably more by the hidden desires it arouses in them,
consciously or unconsciously. Both the Sleeptalker and Angelo admit to
having dreams about me, the Sleeptalker even admitting to one in which we
were having sex together (before we actually had). And the drunker they
get, the more their repressed desires surface, with all the backlash that
involves the morning after. It's a difficult dance, particularly when I'm
feeling how much more sensible it would be to either totally avoid the
subject or to just relax and enjoy whatever you want to happen. I'll be
surprised if I meet one of these young men who is that well-adjusted and
Along with examining the friendships there is also, of course, the need to
examine my own adjustment or lack of it. As I've said before, there is
always some conflict in my mind between enjoying their company versus the
pleasures of the lone wolf life, and there is definitely some difficulty
in maintaining inner balance when it shifts from days of a buddy team to
being on my own again. There shouldn't be.
Be here now, be here now.
"Do you really like me?"
"Yes, I like you very much."
"You're not just trying to get in my pants?"
"You're a sweet man. I enjoy your company, enjoy listening to you talk.
If you wanted me to suck your dick, I'd be glad to, but I'm not
trying to get it."
Although I was deliberately sitting in a not-usual place, Angelo found me
in the park early Friday afternoon. He'd just come from jail. On
Thursday, he'd gone to Waianae. He, C-One and two other guys had gone
shopping. At the second store, Angelo had been busted. Three times in
one month, but still, the judge gave him time served next morning.
He told me about the expedition and the bust, about the guys he'd been in
jail with. Also, that the Sleeptalker's youngest sister had only just
discovered she is pregnant. The father is in jail for "domestic abuse"
(whether she was the target or not, he didn't say and I didn't ask).
His strategy for dealing with his Wednesday night tantrum was apparently
to pretend it had never happened, but eventually I said I was puzzled,
wondered why he'd gotten "all mad" with me because I didn't like RedEye.
"But you were mad with me," was the excuse. Okay, I knew the real reason
already, no need to push it. But like I said, it broke his power over me
and I wasn't unhappy about that, was instead pleased that being with him
again confirmed it.
Had I drunk a beer yet? No, I was short three quarters but the mall,
thanks to one of their infernal "Sidewalk Sales", was so jammed I'd taken
a break. He offered the three quarters for a three-dollar tub of fish. I
said that was a far worse deal than I'd get in Chinatown. "But I only
have a dollar," he protested. All right then, I'll get you the fish.
We walked over to the supermarket. Since he's banned from there for a
year, he waited outside while I bought the fish and the beer. The woman
at the fish counter is beginning to think of me as a regular customer,
would no doubt be surprised to learn that I never eat the stuff. When I
left the store, Angelo was talking to some young local woman, totally
ignored me. I smoked a snipe, waited to see if he was coming back to the
park with me. Continued to ignore me, talked on. So I put the beer in my
backpack, walked over and handed him the bag with the fish, and went on to
the park, again muttering about "buddies until something better comes
On the other hand, I had told him I was leaving before long to join Helen
at the movies, so there was no reason for him to leave his apparent
friend. He could, of course, have said something. But as C-Two said,
"he's always been that way." No point in expecting him to change now.
"No more stealing for me," Angelo had said. Uh-huh, and the sun is gonna
rise in the West tomorrow, I thought, but said, "it does look like your
luck has run out."
I took the bus out to Dole Cannery, fortunately driven this time by a
veteran driver, and met Helen to see "X-Men". Weird movie. If I were a
fancy critic I'd write, "a masterpiece of the Cinema Bizarre". Of course,
having had no contact at all with the comic books the thing was based on,
I knew only what Helen had told me beforehand about the X-Men and what
each of their special "powers" were. Still, I wasn't bored and my only
grumble about it was the extremely bombastic, ugly music. I cannot
imagine why anyone would want to own the soundtrack recording which was,
as usual, plugged in the (very lengthy) end credits.
Back at the mall, we had a snack at Arby's and Helen went on her way. I
hunted snipes, picked up four quarters and then had an unusually long wait
for a bus to the hacienda. RedEye spotted me, asked if I'd seen Angelo,
was he staying at the hacienda? No idea, I said, haven't seen him since
early afternoon. RedEye wandered off. I got the bus at last and Angelo
was on his usual bench, already asleep. I left one vacant between us and
was quickly asleep myself.
I'd told Helen I hoped I didn't dream about the movie, but if I did, hoped
it would about "Cyclops". He was cute. Instead, I dreamed about Angelo.
The romance with Angelo is really heating up (he says sarcastically). We
showered together and ... he did it without shorts!
The mall was absolutely packed all weekend, more so on Saturday than I've
ever seen it, even in the pre-Christmas madness. I don't understand why
hordes of people go to these "sidewalk sales", why they stand around dazed
by junk on tables outside the stores, stuff they could have gazed at
inside with far less hassle. It isn't because the price reductions are
all that marvelous, they aren't. A mystery.
It certainly made the Quarter Hunt a matter for great patience, weaving
those carts back through the mobs. I guess it was just too much for the
Mongoose whose dashing-around act would have been utterly impossible. He
was missing both days, only showed up (too) late on Sunday evening. I'd
already done the "clean-up" rounds.
As soon as I had the quarters for a Mickey's on Saturday, I headed over to
the park which was also crowded. I had made my usual visit to campus in
the morning, thought I'd probably finish The Witching Hour before
the weekend was out, so went down to the State Library. I'd hoped to find
another Anne Rice novel, but no luck, instead got Sidney Sheldon's The
Stars Shine Down after rejecting the rather novel possibility of the
Penguin edition of Canterbury Tales.
I was just finishing off the beer when Angelo found me. No more stealing
for him? I guess the bottles of vodka had just miraculously appeared in
his backpack. Would I buy juice and fish in exchange for sharing the
vodka? Oh well, since he already had the stuff, I said yes. He wanted to
go to Waikiki. I didn't see why that was necessary, but I'd certainly had
enough of the mall for the day, so off we went. A snipe hunt through the
shopping center (and he actually picked some up himself!), and then he got
two cups with ice from Jack-in-the-Crack and we sat drinking orange juice
and vodka, watching the people walk by.
When we'd killed the first bottle, he said we should go to the hacienda
for the second one. Good idea, so much easier to get up from the steps
and collapse on the bench than to make the trip after two bottles of
vodka. He didn't make it through his final cup before hitting that bench.
I finished it off for breakfast on Sunday morning, waiting for him to wake
up after I'd slept past seven myself.
Fun walking with him, feeling slightly buzzed from that spiked orange
juice, down to the 7-Eleven where I got us sandwiches and coffee
(chocolate milk for him). Then to the shower. I thought, looking at his
naked body, that if he'd been a stranger and that had been our first
encounter, I wouldn't have been much interested. But as it was, yes, a
great pleasure to be naked with him. I think he was worried he'd get a
hard-on, and he did partially, kept turned away until it subsided. Funny
He asked to borrow my bus pass to visit his little brother. Brother
sounds like a real terror, is confined to a "house for juvenile
delinquents" and isn't allowed to leave it without one of the guardians in
attendance. What a job that would be, living in a house with five really
bad boys. Their mother and grandmother live together on Kauai and little
brother is allowed to make a day trip there occasionally, again with a
guardian along. Angelo said his grandmother is very scared of little
brother, won't have him in the house without protection. He had made the
day trip to Kauai earlier in the week and was bringing back a pair of
shoes for Angelo. So I gave him the bus pass to go collect them.
Later I saw him at the mall, alas with RedEye. He gave me the pass,
thanked me for the use of it. I admired his shoes, and then said I was
continuing the quarter hunt. He and RedEye sat on the bench for a very
long time and I detoured around it until they left, didn't see either of
them for the rest of the day.
I soon had the quarters for a Mickey's, bought it and went to the park,
finished The Witching Hour. Turning over the final page, I saw the
advertisement for the sequel. Hmmmmm. Back to the mall, continuing the
hunt until I had enough for two more Mickey's, but tucked away the coins
for one on Monday. The second of the day at sunset time, though,
beginning the Sheldon book which is irksome because of the continued
flashbacks, each time jumping back further. It would have been more
enjoyable reading had he just written the story with straightforward
continuity. And it all seems twice as weak because of picking it up just
after the Anne Rice book. She's a writer I much admire. Sheldon I only
admire because he's managed to make such a success out of so little
Picking up a few more quarters during the after-closing clean-up, I went
on to the hacienda. Angelo was already asleep, RedEye was mercifully
absent. I took the bench next to Angelo and enjoyed the memory of that
He's leaning again toward the idea of returning to Kauai to face the
music. "Will you miss me?" he asked.
"Yes, I'll miss you," I said, adding silently to myself, "even if life
will be easier without you."
"Yes, I'll miss you," I said, adding silently to myself, "even if life
will be easier without you."
Is that true? Well, the first part certainly is. As for the rest, it
looks like I'll soon know. She sent him money for a ticket. He spent it.
She sent a coupon for a ticket. He sold it. Now Mama is flying here
herself to take Angelo home to Kauai. She must be a very patient and
generous woman. And in twenty-four hours or so, he'll be gone.
Cainer writes about today: "You were confused before we started anyhow.
You'll remain confused till you decide what you really want. The truth? Or
a story that will pass for the truth?"
What I really want? Sigh. If only I knew.
A couple of hours on campus to begin Monday morning, then a trip to the
State Library since I'd almost finished that inconsequential Sheldon book.
I do think The Stars Shine Down is the weakest one of his things
I've yet encountered. I'd looked at the display in the bookstore, yearned
for the new Maeve Binchey paperback, too new to expect in the library's
donated collection. I settled instead for Danielle Steel's Thurston
House, not expecting much but at least knowing it would be more
entertaining than Sheldon.
Back at the mall, I saw Angelo sitting alone on a bench, sat down beside
him. He barely smiled in greeting, said nothing. So I sat there quietly,
too, waiting for him to give some sign of his mood. Eventually he told me
about his mother's pending arrival. Little wonder he was quiet. Well,
it's certainly better for him that she is coming, better for him to return
to Kauai and find out what is going to happen rather than be living in
dread of it all the time.
We talked for awhile, he brought up the subject of our Sunday morning
shower. He was transparently pleased to be the only one of the Bad Boys
I'd showered with. They all seem to use the Sleeptalker as some kind of a
yardstick and love to go one up on him.
The Doc came along, asked as always if we'd seen Rocky. No, neither of us
had seen him in over a week, had wondered in fact if he was staying with
The Doc. The Doc protested, said he didn't even want Rocky to know his
address, but clearly didn't mean it. I said I'd thought all Rocky
would have to do was let The Doc see it once a day to pay the rent, and he
laughed. We all wondered then if Rocky was in jail. He wasn't, I saw him
from a distance in the park later, walking along and apparently arguing
with a young, heavy-set fellow I've seen Rocky with before but haven't
Angelo and I wandered around the mall for awhile collecting snipes,
sitting now and then for a smoke break. He was itchy, kept asking,
"what's the plan?"
"I don't know. What is the plan?"
He didn't know, either, just wanted to party until his mother arrived.
But he was broke and I had less than three dollars, not much chance of a
party. Finally he pulled out his Walkman and sat there listening to the
radio. I waited awhile, then said I was going to hunt quarters, it made
more sense than just sitting there.
I didn't see him again all day and he didn't arrive at the hacienda. I
wonder if he spent the night in jail yet again?
One of the sweet things about the Young Husband is the way he lingers for
awhile after finishing. So many men quickly withdraw, put it away as if
nothing had happened. I'm sure the Young Husband lingers for his own
pleasure, but it seems an affectionate gesture, a way of saying he enjoyed
it and, more importantly, wasn't ashamed of it. On Wednesday morning,
though, he lingered even longer than usual, his hands on my shoulders, and
then began slowly to move again. Twice in a row! He's a sweetheart.
He and his wife had been on vacation in California. He said he had looked
for me the day before. I explained that with these warm summer mornings,
I was getting chilled coffee and sitting near the supermarket to drink it,
told him I was glad I'd walked through the mall at just the right time to
But Tuesday, too, was a day of frequently walking just where it was most
profitable to walk. A Japanese lady was sitting on a bench at the bus
stop, a little boy sprawled asleep beside her, a stroller sitting behind
her. Of course she attracted all the Quarter Hunters, waiting for her to
get on a bus. I sat on the bench next to her for awhile, then had a
strong feeling that I should check the other side of the mall. I walked
over there, found a cart, found a second one as I was taking the first one
back to a corral. I returned to find the lady and stroller still there,
sat again. And once again there was that urge to check the other side.
But I was just there, say what?! Oh well, I'd be a fool to ignore these
nudges from fate, walked back over there. A stroller hadn't been properly
returned to the corral. I pushed it in, reached to collect my two
quarters and found two more already there. Sunset beer financing in hand,
after having already enjoyed a mid-afternoon one.
But I wasn't sure. I'd felt all soppy and sentimental after the second
beer the day before, wondered if I should cut back to one-a-day until
adjusting to Life After Angelo. And I reminded myself how much happier
I'd be the next day with beer money in pocket rather than the worst state
of all, starting from scratch. I decided I'd only get the sunset beer if
I found at least a dollar towards the next day's. Setting off on a snipe
hunt, I saw a dollar bill laying in the middle of the sidewalk. Talk
about a Mandate from Heaven ...
I don't know what finally happened to that stroller. The woman sat there
for at least an hour and everyone gave up waiting for her to leave,
I didn't see any of the Bad Boys all day and none of them were at the
hacienda again. It's possible that Angelo had gone to the Iceman. Since
he was leaving, that should have been enough to justify hospitality and
some free tokes on the glass pipe. But it was unlikely he'd spend two
nights there and I fear that his Mama got a collect call from the county
jail telling her not to bother flying over, he wasn't going anywhere. I
hope I'm wrong.
The end of an era, in a way. No one knows just what Rocky is doing and it
doesn't matter, I could never really form a buddy team with Rocky. It
would take too much emotional energy and too much capital investment.
Mondo, I'm told, has become a total hermit and rarely leaves his
apartment. The Sleeptalker is lost to welfare largesse. C-Two in jail,
probably until October. Angelo vanished. No more bad boys, for now.
I was walking through the mall, had just lit a snipe. A young man rushed
up to me. I thought he was going to ask for a smoke, was preparing to
apologetically refuse. He just wanted a light. I spotted a lengthy snipe
in a nearby ashtray so stopped there to smoke, waiting till he left before
picking up the snipe. But he didn't leave, stood beside me smoking. He
explained that his girlfriend didn't like him smoking, so he'd dashed
out for a quick one while she was in a shop. Then he reached in his
pocket and was dismayed to discover he had no chewing gum left to disguise
the smell on his breath. He said, "oh, and my shirt will smell of it,
too," lifting up his shirt and giving me a look at his sweet flat, brown
belly. You weren't very well prepared, I told him, should have made sure
to have chewing gum and should have taken your shirt off first.
Especially the latter, I thought. He grinned. I finished my snipe, went
ahead and grabbed the one from the ashtray and started to leave. Wait, he
said, and handed me the rest of the one he was smoking. I told him just
to tell his girlfriend the truth, he'd been standing next to an old man
who was smoking, and he laughed, waved goodbye.
What do I want? I want contentment. I don't wish for happiness,
that's too volatile. Just contentment, the pleasure of a beer
under the open sky with a good book to entertain me in between my own
thoughts and memories, encounters with cute young men whose girlfriends
don't want them to smoke, and yes, now and then with sweethearts like the
Young Husband. Who could ask for anything more?
I was sitting at a table in the park, had just finished my early afternoon
beer, had run out of snipes. I was so near the end of the Steel epic, I
thought I'd complete it before nicotine craving set in. An old drunk
staggered over, asked if he could sit. I said, "sure," and returned to
Another one came along, saying loudly, "I need it! I need it now!" I've
no idea what "it" was, but doubted I could be of any help. He sat down,
"Don't you just love Jesus?" he asked me with a slur.
"You hate him?"
"I don't care one way or the other. He doesn't bother me, I don't bother
him," I said, and got up to leave.
Half-true, anyway. He does bother me now and then, or the thought of him
does. And his followers certainly do, even more often. But I don't
bother him, never think of calling on him. I thank Ganesh for every coin
I find, even a penny, and if I come even close to "praying" for something,
it's to Ganesh the thought is directed. But then he is, for me, the
symbol of fortune, and I do believe in the power of fate.
And that other symbol of fortune, the eternal Dame with her three spinning
handmaidens, smiled on me Wednesday by putting a senior bus pass in my
path. It was blank, hadn't been filled out with a name and other info on
the back, and it's valid through April of next year.
She wasn't quite so kind with quarters, although there were enough for
that afternoon beer and I wasn't at all sure I'd have a second anyway.
Yes, there's definitely some adjusting to do. It felt very, very odd to
be sitting in the park without feeling one of the Bad Boys would
eventually arrive, and by the end of the day my mood was sufficiently
unstable that a sunset beer seemed both irrelevant and ill-advised.
I was only one quarter short of that sunset bottle, though, and no doubt
could have found it had I put in a little more effort. The Mongoose had
been around briefly but I guess the pickings were so slim he'd given up,
so there wasn't any formal competition, just a few scores by amateurs who
happened to be in the right place at the right time. I didn't care.
One final run for snipes before heading to the hacienda.
There was Mondo, sitting alone on a bench, a skateboard beside him. If he
hadn't spotted me, I would have turned around and headed in the opposite
direction. Since he did, I sat down beside him, told him it was good to
see him. It was, too. Young, dark, sexy, handsome Mondo. How I do love
that man. He asked for news of all our mutual friends, didn't even know
the Sleeptalker had gotten his welfare largesse. "It'll wreck him," Mondo
"I hope not, but you're probably right."
After awhile, much of it (as usual, with Mondo) spent in silence, I said I
was heading off to the bench. He said he'd stopped by there recently but
I was asleep and he hadn't known any of the other people. And he said
he'd probably stop down this weekend, if he got "some buds". By the time
the weekend arrives, I know he won't even remember saying it. And I don't
mind. After that long, long "affair" with the Sleeptalker, especially
its culminating months, and the funny, odd dance with Angelo, I'm tired.
I want a rest.
And there wouldn't be any rest with Mondo for company. Not at all.
Wtf? I woke up during the night, had to water the bushes. Asleep on the
bench next to me was Angelo. Not in jail, not on Kauai, on the bench next
to me. Sigh. And I had done such a good job during the day convincing
myself that his absence was for the best.
That wheel of fortune, keeps spinning around ...
Thursday was gray, dreary and wet for much of the day. I had to cower
under shelter with my afternoon beer, reading Barbara Delinksy's Three
Wishes. Good thing I'd taken two books at the State Library on my
last visit, because that one certainly didn't take long to get through.
She has written sixty-five books (or had at the time this one was
published). Quantity ain't necessarily quality.
Fortunately the weather cleared in time for a sunset brew.
I was fed up with the quarter hunt, negotiated a loan so I could take a
break from it. Once again I told myself I really should have the
discipline to tuck away a twenty dollar bill, not spend it until the last
third of a month arrives. I always get weary of the quarter hunt, always
want a break from it. I'm lucky the Banker is so understanding. I'm
stupid not to get it together on my own.
But even as on the day the Fabled Pension Check arrives, I don't pass up a
quarter if it's in my path and without making the least effort, I still
scored eight quarters on that dreary gray day. Om Ganesh.
For the first time this month, I returned to campus in the late afternoon.
Ah, if only the Sleeptalker were playing the game. I'd have his pants
down in a flash. The Boss gave me an Elvenbane, that very special sword
which got me the Sleeptalker's body the first time. Walking around
wielding two of the things has long been one of his dreams. Well, honey,
c'mon back, old Albert can make your dreams come true.
Tami Hoag's Cry Wolf was a fortunate choice from my most recent
trip to the State Library. A bitch of a Southern mama, worthy of
Tennessee Williams or my own. Of course, this one has the life mine
always thought she deserved, a house grander than Tara, cossetted by a
small army of "colored" servants, as if the Civil War never happened,
Martin Luther King never lived. And, like mine, the least little
disturbance would bring on one of her "spells", especially if the ripple
was caused by her child misbehaving.
I caught the fever for awhile in my early teens, especially after my first
time through Gone With the Wind. Two of my best friends in school
were black, although our friendship was strictly limited to the long bus
ride from Darmstadt to Frankfurt-am-Main. My parents certainly wouldn't
have approved and theirs probably wouldn't have either. I would put on a
Southern drawl and tease them about how not so long ago they would have
been my property. They'd play along, saying "yes massah, yes massah". I
can't even remember their names but I'm grateful to those two kids. They
completely changed my thinking about black people, thinking which until
then had been dominated by that of my Grandmother and Mother.
It was surprising not to see Angelo on Friday, after a last look at him
sleeping on the next bench in the morning when I left. I regretted a
little that he hadn't, after all, gone to Kauai, would have been happier
without that constant expectation of him showing up. He did, finally, as
I was enjoying my sunset beer. And Rossini was with him! Oh yes, that
wheel keeps on spinning.
I hadn't seen Rossini in a long time and when he's not on the glass pipe,
he's a mellow, funny man. As I had thought might be the case, Angelo told
me he'd stayed at The Doc's those two nights he was missing. "So, does he
give good head?" I asked, Rossini looking somewhat surprised. The
Sleeptalker had always been very nervous when Rossini was around, almost
always putting a lid on his flirtatious dance.
Angelo denied anything had happened. I didn't believe him, but then I
wouldn't have expected him to admit it if it had, especially not to me.
As it always does eventually, the subject of the Sleeptalker came up.
Rossini told us that their greatest adventure used to be making the trip
in from Waianae and "raising hell" in Waikiki ... when they were in the
eighth grade. The thought of the fourteen-year-old Sleeptalker raising
hell in Waikiki was a sweet one, although I'm sure I would have thought
him a total brat.
"I always wondered if you had the hots for him," Rossini said.
"It was love at first sight," quipped Angelo.
"Yes, it was," I admitted, "but I loved Mondo first."
Rossini laughed. "He probably never even thinks about sex."
"Lucky man, if so," I said.
He asked me if I remembered that night in Chinatown when we were all
walking together and the Sleeptalker snapped at me for "staring" at him,
Mondo later warning me that the Sleeptalker is crazy. Oh yes, I
remembered, and I told Rossini the next time I'd seen the Sleeptalker,
he'd told me Mondo was crazy. "It's true," said Angelo, "but then you're
the craziest of us all." I couldn't deny it.
Angelo's mama had been here. He didn't give any details, but obviously
had decided not to return to Kauai with her. She must have given him some
money (as expected), because he had cigarettes and they arrived with a
twelve-pack of beer. Rossini may have bought that, since he offered me
one. I declined, still had half a Mickey's and didn't plan to drink
anymore. Then Angelo persuaded Rossini to buy fish for him, so I watched
their stuff while they made the trip to the supermarket. Angelo is so
incredibly mercenary and so successful at persuading people to buy things
When I finished my beer, I said I was heading off to pick up some snipes
and then to the bench, told Rossini it had been good to see him. Angelo
was already at the hacienda by the time I got there, said Rossini (who
usually stays at his mother's) had gone around back somewhere to sleep,
leaving Angelo and me on our side-by-side benches.
If it's true that "nothing happened", I feel a little sorry for The Doc.
It wouldn't be easy sleeping in a one-room apartment with Angelo there,
unable to touch him. Not easy at all.
Be careful what you wish for ...
He did come back.
I stayed on campus longer than usual on Saturday morning. Two old-timers
were in the game for the first time in months. They are both local lads,
only one of whom I've met and referred to long ago in the Tales as
"Plato". They were playing at the State Library, asked where the
Sleeptalker was. "He's got money now," I said, "no time for mud."
Not quite true, as I soon discovered. I left campus and went to the State
Library to pick up a book. As I was leaving, the Sleeptalker walked in.
Despite a rather silly thatch-roof haircut, he looked adorable. We sat
outside and smoked, I brought him up to date on what has been happening in
the game. He wanted us to go back to campus to play but the computer lab
was unfortunately closing at noon. So he asked if I'd stick around while
he played for a little while there at the library. I sat outside and read
until he re-appeared. It had been an unfortunate time to play, someone
had managed to steal his Elevenbane sword in a fight. Poor fellow.
What a set-up, me having just acquired another one and him losing the
first one I'd given him. But I didn't want to pursue that line of thought
in my head, much less mention it.
I offered to buy him a beer, so we went to the mall, bought it and went
over to the park. We had seen Angelo and Rocky sitting at a table at the
other end as we'd passed on the bus. I asked if he wanted to walk down
and join them but he said no, we'd have to share the beer. So we sat at
the usual table drinking and talking.
He is living with a partially disabled Vietnam vet who rents him a room
for fifty dollars a month in exchange for help in the kitchen and with
household chores. Of course, the guy is gay. And naturally, he wants the
Sleeptalker. He's a recovering alcoholic, so won't allow the stuff in the
house, giving him a serious disadvantage when it comes to seducing the
Sleeptalker. And the Sleeptalker "hates" him, "hates" living there, wants
to get out. Something is amiss with his welfare status, though. He gave
no details but said he had to go to IHS and sort out the problems, then
quickly moved on to another topic.
He was being his most delightful and charming, put on one of his little
shows telling me about a film he'd seen the night before, jumping up to
emphasize the story and his reactions to it. He was much amused at the
idea of me having spent an afternoon in Waianae and asked a lot of
questions about what Angelo and I had been doing together. "No, he just
lets me look at it," I assured him. He grinned.
The beer finished, he said we should walk down and see if Angelo and Rocky
were still there. "You're my family," he said. Considering what I know
about how he treats his real family, I suppose I should have considered
that a storm warning. Angelo and Rocky were coming down the path. We
returned to the table. Rocky offered the Sleeptalker ten dollars for his
Walkman and he accepted (!), asked me to go over to the mall with him for
more beer and cigarettes.
When we got back, a white-whiskered fellow had sat down at the table.
I've seen him around but have never spoken to him before. He's from
Wisconsin and has incredible pale blue eyes. He also had a little pipe
fashioned from a ball-point pen and it was loaded with the best weed I've
smoked in years. A couple of hits and I was thoroughly zonked, as was the
Sleeptalker. Two bottles of Mickey's and strong smoke ... another storm
Wisconsin somehow managed to get the Sleeptalker to take his shirt off so
he could rub his back, using the old "you're so tense" gambit. Rocky
snorted in disgust, said he was going off to get some buds and would be
back. Angelo and the barechested Sleeptalker protested, made Rocky
promise to return. I didn't say anything, sat happily stoned looking at
the Sleeptalker's pale body. He doesn't seem to be spending any time at
all out of the house, said he only gets Saturday off each week. It sounds
like a pretty rotten deal for someone who is paying rent, even such a
The Sleeptalker seemed to be enjoying taunting me but I could tell he was
also getting mad at himself for letting the other old man touch him, and
he rather huffily put his shirt back on and went back to the beer.
Wisconsin passed the pipe again. Lordy, that was good stuff.
Then he went on his way, leaving me, Angelo and the Sleeptalker to
ourselves. They began to fret about whether or not Rocky would return,
the Sleeptalker getting quite angry about it. Finally, Angelo said we
should go to Waikiki and drink some vodka (he hadn't been hitting the
pipe, oddly enough). I said they should go ahead but I'd had
enough, was just going to wait till it got a little darker and head to the
The Sleeptalker flew into a tantrum, picked up my backpack and threw it
across the walk, then went over and kicked it until it landed in the
drainage canal at the edge of the park. Sheez, what a brat. I stood
there looking at it, happy it seemed watertight enough to float, hoping it
would drift over closer to the edge. One of the citizen patrol people
came over, asked if I wanted him to call the police. "No, definitely
not," I said, "I don't want him getting into trouble, just want to get the
"They're bringing him back," he said. And indeed, a large local man had
the Sleeptalker by the arm, pushing him in our direction. I told the man
I didn't want the Sleeptalker to get into any trouble for it and he said,
"keep out of it." He made the Sleeptalker get down into the canal and
fish out the bag. The Sleeptalker handed it to him and stomped off
without a word, Angelo tagging along behind him. And I went off to the
laundromat to wash and dry my very dirty, somewhat soggy backpack.
When I woke later in the night, I saw Rocky had taken the bench next to
me, no sign of Angelo.
I was puzzled by Cainer's message for the weekend about some "plan" I
supposedly have and would be more determined to carry out because of the
weekend's events. If I intend to get anywhere near the goal of
contentment, the "plan" may have to be restructuring my life ...
... without the Bad Boys.
I thought of C-Two at sunset, remembering the day he'd told me Angelo had
stolen eighteen dollars from him. Although he'd mentioned it to me, he
hadn't said anything about it to Angelo. After the dreadful Jesus lady
left, C-Two held up the twenty she'd given him, grinned at me and said,
"what goes around comes around."
I wasn't angry with the Sleeptalker but I was rather irked by having to
spend beer money on a laundry session I had planned to postpone until next
month. Standing in the drugstore waiting to buy my sunset beer, I saw
some neatly folded green paper on the floor, quickly slipped it into my
pocket. Examining it after leaving the store, I saw it was a five and two
singles. Dame Fortune covering for the Sleeptalker. What goes around
No, I wasn't mad at the Sleeptalker. I understand him too well and love
him too much. And I've thrown worse tantrums myself, even when older and
more self-aware than he is. But I'm not willing to play punching bag for
him, or to let my backpack play it, even if Dame Fortune covers the
laundry bill. Like the rest of his "family", I'll just have to wait until
he grows up a little more. If he ever does.
No Bad Boys all day. No complaint.
Sunday got off to an odd start. I walked through the quiet, predawn
streets to the mall. I had a feeling something was wrong with my earring,
reached up to touch it and discovered the little ball which held the two
ends of the ring together was missing. Then the ring itself slipped out
and fell to the sidewalk. I couldn't find it. Oh well, the piercing and
the ring were a symbol of celebration, leaving the life of a worker
behind. The symbol lasted for some three years, did its job well.
The park was so crowded all day it was difficult to find a vacant
spot in the shade anywhere and I'd had my early afternoon beer-and-book
session in a less than ideal spot. The book had gotten wet, no point in
returning it to the "honor collection", so I ripped off each soggy chapter
as finished and threw it away. Tami Hoag is good, but I was really bored
by the too-lengthy descriptions of sex play, skimmed those quickly
after yawning through a couple of them.
I finished the book with my sunset beer and sat there in the deepening
twilight, watching the reflection of lights on the water and those
wonderful, elegant palm trees swaying in the gentle tradewinds. There are
no doubt many which equal it, but there cannot be a more beautiful
place on earth than here.
When I woke later on the bench, I saw "Mickey" was on the one next to me.
He's such a sweetie. I see him now and then at the mall or in the park,
but it was the first time he'd been at the hacienda. I was grateful he'd
taken the bench next to me and wouldn't mind in the least if he became
And the Monkey was on the floor near the head of my bench. One day when
Angelo and I were talking about the people who have stayed at the
hacienda, the subject of the two Bicycle Boys came up. He said the one I
knew first was gay. He didn't think the Hawaiian lad, the McD's Bicycle
Boy, was, but he could be had, and was being during their Buddy Team time
together. I said I thought the Hawaiian lad was cute, without really
being cute. "He looks like a monkey!" said Angelo. Well, monkeys are
cute, I said, and renamed the McD's Bicycle Boy the Monkey.
Mickey and the Monkey. Good company. Sweet dreams.
"He's like a fourteen-year-old kid," Angelo said.
"A fourteen-year-old brat," I corrected.
The Sleeptalker had been afraid to go home on Saturday night, thought he
was too drunk and his landlord/boss would be angry. So he took Angelo to
a friend's place in Waikiki where they spent the night. Angelo said he
was awakened by the Sleeptalker yelling "stop trying to touch my dick".
"Typical Sleeptalker," I said. "Give me a place to stay but don't touch
my precious penis."
Angelo laughed, said he just didn't understand the Sleeptalker, "all he
talks about these days are men who want his dick." I said I thought it
was basically a power game. The Sleeptalker gets off on having power over
people and old gay men are easy targets. And the power is greater when he
doesn't let them have it, one reason he's so angry with me even though he
certainly still has more than enough hold on me.
I'd gone to campus, then to the State Library. When I got off the bus at
the mall, Angelo was walking toward the bus stop, waved. As with Mondo
last week, had I spotted him first I would have ducked, was quite happy
with the thought of a second day on my own. Too late. Angelo said he was
feeling very down and stressed-out. I asked what was wrong. "I'll tell
you about it when we're drinking," he said. He had bottles of vodka, as
usual, asked if I'd buy orange juice. We caught the bus to Waikiki, I got
the orange juice and he got cups of ice.
The main problem he has is that he lied to his mother, didn't confess that
he'd sold the ticket coupon. He had put her off, saying he'd make the
trip in "about two weeks", probably intending to sell his foodstamps to
get the ticket. I'll be surprised if he does.
And he was down "about life in general", being homeless, being jobless. I
said I didn't think he really wanted a job, that he could certainly get
one if he tried, and reminded him that especially at this time of year
being homeless in this place is not so bad.
The first bottle finished off, we walked over to Fort DeRussy Beach. He
got two more cups of ice and we tackled the second bottle, continuing the
conversation. The subject of C-Two came up and I said I missed him most
of all. He couldn't understand how I liked C-Two so much but didn't want
his body. "It's chemistry," I said, "he's just not my type, but he's a
very sweet guy."
"What about me?"
Heh. It's so touching how these lads want to be wanted and don't want to
be at the same time.
After finishing the second bottle, we went back to the mall and as we were
walking toward the park, we saw C-One and two other guys just about to
park their car. Angelo made a bee-line for them. Buddies till something
better comes along. I should get a tee shirt printed with that for him.
Shrug. I went on to the park, ate Krishna food and started Philip
Friedman's Grand Jury which I'd gotten at the library earlier. As
sunset approached, I went over for a Mickey's even though I wasn't at all
sure it was a good idea. Back in the park, The Doc walked by, asked where
my young friends were. "Haven't seen Rocky since Saturday," I said, "but
Angelo is over in the mall." I told him I'd heard he had Angelo staying
with him for two nights but "nothing happened". He laughed and said,
nope, nothing happened, went on his way toward the shower house which I
think must be his main cruising ground.
When I got to the hacienda, Rocky was on the bench behind Angelo and I
took the one in front of him, woke later to see Mickey settled in front of
me again. Damn, he's a cute lad.
And Tuesday morning's Merging with Siva lesson says it all
about the dear Sleeptalker:
It really hardens a person to live in the conscious mind all the time,
because he has to build an ego shell around himself for protection,
and that makes him insensitive and rough. One of the biggest protective
influences of the conscious mind is anger. Anger makes a person cunning in
his thinking, and of course the predominant underlying quality of anger
is fear. He is always afraid of something. It is generally something
that may happen or is going to happen. He is always in conflict with
someone. These are the motivating forces of the conscious mind: anger
"Will you buy me three dollars worth of fish for a dollar cash?" begged
He had gone shopping with the Waianae boys after I'd left him on Monday
but claimed he had only gotten twelve dollars, had spent almost all of it.
Dinner on Monday (too grand for free Krishna food), cigarettes (too grand
to hunt snipes and not having my box available), breakfast and lunch on
Tuesday. He should just hang out at IHS and get his three meals a day.
I'd had a peaceful day on my own, had stayed on campus until almost noon
playing Seventh Circle. The Boss kindly bumped me up a level, only the
second time in the two years I've played that he's done that. Level 97.
Plato had overtaken me, now we're tied for top-ranking Hawaii player and
for fifth-highest in the game. I even played my lowly cleric, Caduceus,
for awhile, got him up two levels to 51.
Back to the mall and park for an early afternoon beer while reading the
quite fascinating Friedman book, a shower (all by myself for a change),
more reading. It was when I was going for a sunset beer that I saw Angelo
sitting on a planter ledge near the supermarket.
Okay, I took the dollar, bought my beer and his fish. When I left the
supermarket he was, as usual, busy talking to someone I didn't know. I
think he knows every street person in town. I put the beer in my
backpack, handed him the bag with the fish and walked off. Rocky was
sitting on a bench not far away. I told him Angelo was nearby, he jumped
up and went to find him. Good. Two Bad Boys to look after each other so
I could return to the park and enjoy the beer, the book and the sunset.
At the hacienda, I took the middle bench in a group of three, woke later
to see Angelo on the one behind me, the Monkey on the floor in a corner.
No Mickey. Just as well, just as well.
I had to smile earlier, reading some Tales from this time two years ago,
coming across: "Only Thomas Mann, with his outrageously beautiful
descriptions of Tadzio, could do the Sleeptalker justice. But I only have
eyes for Mondo."
Maybe I should have kept it that way.
"Sausage and cream," Angelo said, "sausage and cream."
I laughed. "You sure have that on your mind a lot."
"Can't help it. When I see you I think there's a guy who likes sausage
and cream. And beer," he added.
"Cigarettes and beer first," I said.
"Then sausage and cream?"
"Yeh, I guess so."
I hadn't seen him or any of the others all day until I was sitting at the
bus stop waiting for transport to the hacienda. Angelo came walking up,
wearing a new tee shirt. He'd spent the day with Rossini who, I'd guess,
had given him some money. Rossini is reportedly very generous, especially
when business has been going well.
When it comes to disapproving of how people get money, Rossini scores
high on my list. It's not that I disapprove of drug dealers. Like they
say, some of my best friends ... But I can't help feeling an aversion to
people who know what they are selling is bad stuff, fight hard to stay off
it themselves because they've gotten too fucked up by it. And yet they
sell it, even to people they supposedly care about, knowing it is going to
screw them up, too. None of your business, I tell myself, and say nothing
to any of the lads about it.
Angelo had cigarettes and a 40oz bottle of Bud in his backpack, offered to
buy me a 40, too. I thanked him but said I'd had two, didn't really need
any more. We got the bus, sat on an outside bench and smoked. He even
offered me cigarettes. I couldn't help but think, uh-huh, you little
rascal, you know the Fabled Pension Check is just around the corner. I
accepted a few swigs from the beer as well.
He had seen his caseworker who'd told him he could re-apply for financial
assistance on the first, and he was already busy dreaming of how he'd
spend the loot. "Three or four days" in a Waikiki hotel room, a
cellphone, a watch, etc. No mention of a trip to Kauai. He again brought
up the idea that we should get a place together. He knows about my
English shares, thinks I should sell them and with that money and his
welfare largesse, get an apartment together. I told him I'd been there,
done that, and that I was much happier living the way I am now than I had
been during that seven years with the Waikiki apartment, the computer, the
teevee, etc. And I said the only time I'd been seriously tempted to sell
those shares was when I wanted to take the Sleeptalker to India. "You're
crazy," he said. Uh-huh, but not crazy enough to have actually done it.
It had been one of those ordinary days the Steppenwolf so hated but that
I'm beginning to welcome more and more. I felt like I'd finally gotten
over the emotional hangover from the last encounter with the Sleeptalker
and that the dance with Angelo was more or less under control. I stayed
on campus until late morning, then went to the mall, did a snipe hunt,
bagged a few quarters and bought a beer.
Grisham must hate Philip Friedman. (I may be wrong, but I can't imagine
Grisham being the kind of person who would wallow in admiration for a
colleague.) Friedman's not only just as good at plotting, he's much
better at actually writing the story, especially in making his characters
real people one can care about. Grand Jury is fascinating stuff.
I made another round through the mall, picking up more quarters on my
stroll. I was surprised. Usually this late in the month the competition
heats up, but no one was active and the Mongoose didn't arrive until late
evening, didn't stay long. I went back to eat Krishna food, then
bought my sunset beer and returned to the book.
As I was making a final snipe round through the mall, I ran into Ryan and
Jen. I must have terrified their poor daughter by squatting down to have
a closer look at her, tucked in the sanctuary of her fancy stroller. I
was just amazed at how much she has grown, how big she is. It must be one
of the most incredible things about being a parent, watching a tiny baby
so quickly become a small adult. Ryan said Jen is writing her journal
again which I was happy to hear. There's something very special about a
husband and wife both keeping public diaries.
Of course, we're probably all crazy to be doing it.
I was so lost in thought I got on the wrong bus, ended up in Waikiki at
seven o'clock on Friday morning. As I got back on a bus to the mall, I
hoped it wasn't an omen for the day although it didn't really matter. Got
plenty of time, no hurry to get anywhere.
I was, of course, completely serious when I told Angelo the Sleeptalker
has been a great teacher and that I am grateful for it. But Angelo is
doing some fine work in that line, too. He isn't as subtle as the
Sleeptalker, indeed is often so blatant I spend more time muttering
(and/or fuming) about him than I have over the Sleeptalker.
Either I'm learning all this for my next life, or else I really am going
to survive seventeen more months to make the transition to the more
affluent membership of this strange street community. And if I do, the
lessons will have even greater value than they do now.
Angelo's classes all revolve around his unspoken motto, "buddies till
something better comes along". And $130 definitely qualifies as
"something better". We'd heard that people getting financial aid had been
given a raise and it was retroactive, suddenly turned up on people's
plastic credit last week. Rocky had already gotten his. But Angelo had
left his wallet in Makaha, didn't have his EBT card and wasn't sure he'd
qualify for the bonus. He told me he had to get the wallet on Thursday
because he'd need it for his re-application for aid on the first, thanked
me again for having given him the bus pass which was making it so
convenient to get around.
After I'd had my early afternoon beer-and-book session in the park, I
walked back to the mall, saw Angelo and Wisconsin sitting on a bench. I
walked up behind them, rubbed my hand across Angelo's hair. He bagged
some hair gel a few days ago, invited me to touch his hair. "Porcupine,"
I said, and said it again after the second touch. He had gone to Makaha,
still hadn't checked to see if he had any credit on his card. I told him
to call the toll-free number which would give him his balance. He went
over to make the call, came back and said no, nothing. I knew he was
lying and was pleased to see I've finally mastered the ability to know
when he's telling the truth. I didn't say anything.
A few minutes later, he said he had to go piss, would be right back.
Again, I knew he was lying. Such a rascal. He left, I told Wisconsin I
had to find three more quarters for my sunset beer. I walked through the
mall at just the right moment to see Angelo taking money from an ATM
"You're such a liar," I said, with a laugh.
"I didn't want that old man to know I got money," he said.
Uh-huh, and you didn't want this old man to know it, either, I thought,
but just grinned and went on my way. He vanished, as expected. I knew
his agenda: a forty-dollar room in Waikiki, a twelve-pack of beer and, of
course, the glass pipe. He'd sit back and wallow in luxury, all by his
lonesome, not having to share a drop or a crumb. Poor baby, all that
sweet, if utterly and transparently contrived, attempt at "generosity" the
night before blown out of the water.
His business, of course. And there's no way at all to convince him I
don't want anything from him but his friendship. He thinks everyone is
Well, he'll be flat broke again by Monday and I'll have the Fabled Pension
Check. Now have I learned my lessons properly? Could I get through a
whole month without spending one penny on that little bugger?
Stay tuned to this station ...
Well, I made a start, of sorts.
Much to my surprise, Angelo found me in the park at sunset time on Friday.
I told him I hadn't expected to see him before Sunday, thought he'd be in
a Waikiki room. "I only got forty dollars," he said. Hmmmm. Okay, he
had only withdrawn forty from that ATM, but that's the limit one can take
on the EBT card from one machine. I'm pretty sure he had gotten more
credit on the card than that, though, and one confirmation was the
certainty he had been at the glass pipe. He never talks about getting off
the stuff except on the day after he has been on it.
He assured me that if he got a room, he would look for me to share it with
him. I think he meant it, but with Angelo it's never possible to be sure.
I don't think he is, himself.
He'd been with Rossini in the afternoon, drinking beer at the Kakaako
Waterfront Park, and his little brother had been there, on a "supervised
outing". Whatever happened between them wasn't defined but it seems to
have impressed Angelo with the fact that his little brother looks at him
as a role model. I said that wouldn't be surprising. Without a father
figure, it would be natural for his little brother to look to Angelo as a
guide. He agreed and was distressed that he provides such a bad example.
"I'm a sad person," he said. Gently seeking clarification, I understood
he meant depressed. I urged him to tell the psychiatrist about it on his
next visit, said there really were drugs that could help but that he'd
have to take them every day, not expect to swallow a pill and instantly
feel better. He said Rossini was on medication and it seemed to be
helping him a lot. I agreed that Rossini appeared to be in better shape
than I've ever seen him, suggested it was also because he's staying off
the pipe. It's difficult talking with these lads in this way, trying to
gently nudge without nagging, trying to be sure not to leave them feeling
guilty if they fail in their own dreams of a better life.
When the subject of money arose, as it always does with Angelo, I told him
I didn't want him spending his money on me, reminded him I had declined
the offer of a beer for that reason, and that all I wanted from him was
his friendship. "You've got it," he said.
Eventually he asked his usual question, would I get him three dollars
worth of fish for a dollar cash. I laughed and said, no, the rules have
to change. I should get at least as good a deal as I'd get in Chinatown,
so it's got to be fifty-fifty. He reluctantly agreed that was only fair,
gave me the $1.50 and we went over to the mall. I bought his fish and a
beer for myself. While I was in the store, he'd decided he wanted a beer,
too. He dug a dollar out of his pocket, then poked around in his backpack
for change. A quarter short. Would I put in the quarter? "No," I said,
"dig out another dollar". He pulled out a five. I bought the beer.
We returned to the park, continued the conversation. He's trying to get
his mother to find out if there really is a warrant out for him on Kauai,
since everyone tells him they would have found out about it during his
arrests here. I'm inclined to agree, but really don't know how such
things work here. But I definitely agree that he should find out, one way
or the other, since it hangs over him like a cloud.
We finished our beer and took a bus to the hacienda, settled on
side-by-side benches. When I woke a little later, he was gone.
What a strange young man he is.
"Did you make it to the meal?" asked the Old Guitarist, as he often does.
I should get him and Angelo together. The Old Guitarist is a walking
Homeless Man's Guide to Free Meals, seems somehow always to find
out about every possible offering.
"No, what meal?"
"Christmas in July", at some church.
said, "who wants to think of Christmas on a hot steamy day like
"They sang carols afterwards."
"Ugh," I said again, but
had to laugh at his description of an "old, toothless woman" who did such
a mean, scarey version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town he was
certain the children listening would think they surely had "better watch
I only saw Angelo briefly. I was sitting on a bench near the bus stop,
taking a smoke break, heard him say "hello". Angelo, Rossini and a
fellow I've never seen before. I waved. I thought they were headed to
get a Waikiki bus but they kept on walking. Second best guess, they'd
been shopping and were on the way to the pawn shop. "Mister Role Model in
person," I said to myself, then scolded, "you shouldn't even think that
The lads always seek my opinion and, more importantly, my approval,
about haircuts or clothes or the things they do and the way they
think about things. I have to keep a lid on any negative thinking. The
only way to exert any influence is to be very, very subtle about it,
without openly disapproving. So just knock off the smartass thoughts, I
I spent a lot of time, as usual, thinking about the Bad Boys, especially
Angelo. I do value his lessons but I certainly don't want to become such
a good pupil that I end up being like him. Definitely not. I don't even
enjoy having the miserly thoughts his own inspire. Being generous,
sharing whatever I have to share, makes me happy. I don't want to give
that up or to lessen it by thinking in terms of what I'll get back in
It was, indeed, a hot, steamy day. I was sweating from the time I got to
the mall at dawn until I reached the bench late in the evening. The tides
of fortune went from very high to unusually low. Starting the day with
only one quarter and tax pennies toward a brew, I wondered just how much
progress I'd make and how long it would take. Late morning turned out to
be fine quarter hunting, though, and I was a little late getting to the
lunchtime gig at CenterStage because I kept finding carts to return on my
Mickey's money in pocket, I took a break and listened to the Island Riddim
Band. This is the first time in my life I've been a fan of musicians for
several years without hearing a note. That's partly because of reports
from friends in California, IRB's homebase even if they are local folks,
and even more because of their on-line presence. But I think most of all
it's just one of those "I've got a feeling" kind of things. They seemed
like such good people, I couldn't imagine them not making good music. I
certainly wasn't disappointed, haven't enjoyed a gig that much in a long
I bought the beer afterwards, went over to the park. I'm reading Peter
Straub's Mystery, in many ways the best of his things I've yet
read. I like the way he uses the same characters in his books, not in a
direct sequel fashion, but as participants in other time frames, other
situations. And this one is especially good reading.
Back at the mall, there was a long, long time without so much as one
quarter. I was much surprised. Saturday afternoons are usually pretty
good and I had expected extra shoppers because of the hurricane possibly
on its way here. The Mongoose was dashing around, sometimes on foot,
sometimes on wheels, but I only saw him score one cart. Like I said, I
don't care how many he gets, but I'd just as soon not witness it. I guess
he got fed up, though, because he disappeared until much later.
Well, I thought, every day this month you've had two of those 40oz
bottles, sometimes three, certainly not going to complain if this turns
out to be a one-brew day. Then, wham, two strollers abandoned together.
Now that is a rarity. Difficult to wheel back two of them at once since
they don't interlock and you have to keep hold of the front one to stop it
from rolling off on its own. But for a dollar, worth the effort,
especially since the path back to the corral was through the parking lot
and the distance wasn't great. Returning those, pocketing my dollar, I
walked toward the best snipe-hunting area and there was another stroller.
No trouble finding two more quarters for that sunset beer and continuing
I stayed around for the clean-up at the end of the day, scored enough for
Sunday's first beer, especially welcome since I knew I'd be in Waikiki
until mid-afternoon for the annual Ukelele Festival.
None of the boys at the hacienda. Angelo told me that the first night
he'd been missing, he'd stayed at another nearby building. I used to
sleep there sometimes when the Rocky Social Horror Club made the hacienda
impossible, but you have to be up very early if you don't want to get
chewed out by a security guard arriving in the morning. That's probably
where Angelo disappeared to the night before. My guess is, he has the
glass pipe and is staying on his own to smoke it. And I also guess I'll
be listening to another "got to get off it" wail before long.
I hope the Fabled Pension Check arrives before Daniel. If I have
to hunker down and be a mall rat until the storm has passed, it would be
nice to have that money in my pocket.
Yes, I do lead a charmed life. I was sitting alone at a table in the park
behind the Hale Koa. Angelo and I had been there most of the afternoon
and early evening. He not only had vodka but also a huge sirloin steak and
a bag of charcoal. All I had to do was get orange juice. He cooked the
steak for us, even cut it up into little pieces and made me eat some of
I got him to talk more about his life and his family. His parents
divorced when he was six and yes, he said, it had been very difficult for
him and his sister. His mother divorced his father because the man was
addicted to gambling and went through any money the minute it hit his
hand. "Well, we know where you got that from, then, don't we?" I said.
His mother's second husband didn't die of an overdose, as he'd told me
before. He lay in the bed, put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Angelo's brother found the body. He was eight years old at the
time. Little wonder he's in that house for "juvenile delinquents".
Angelo said the next morning I had eventually asked him to leave. I don't
remember it, or him leaving, just remember sitting there alone and
wondering why he'd abandoned me. A strikingly handsome young man came and
sat beside me. His nose had been broken at some time, adding to his
attractiveness. He was such a kind, gentle man and I greatly enjoyed
talking with him although I can't remember much of what we said. He knew
about the hacienda, asked if that was where I slept. I was just going to
collapse on the table bench for the night but he said the military police
would eventually make me leave, offered to help me to the bus stop. Once
there, he tried to chat up a young Japanese woman who talked to him but
wasn't interested in anything else, silly woman. When the bus came, she
got on it, I hugged him and said "thank you", followed her onto the bus.
I could fall in love with that young man very, very easily.
Angelo was already on the bench asleep, the first night he'd been there
for three days. He told me that night he had disappeared wasn't, as I'd
thought, because he had a pipe. The Sleeptalker did, and he'd come to
wake up Angelo. I said I was very glad I had slept through it. The
Sleeptalker has left the disabled vet's house and is living with "a
friend" in Chinatown. I didn't ask for details, figured he's latched onto
yet another poor gay man.
I had just finished shaving in the morning, was thinking all the time
about Angelo, turned around and there he was. As usual, he was hungry,
said he had nothing but a quarter. I bought him a sandwich. We walked
through the mall on a snipe hunt. I said I wanted to have a shower, he
was going to use the phone and meet me afterwards in the park. He didn't.
Disappeared again. Maybe something better?
I'm really in something of a muddle about Angelo. Unlike that young man
the night before, I do not want to fall in love with Angelo. But maybe
it's already too late.
Hurricane Daniel, after looking so big and so scarey for days, fortunately
veered north and weakened instead of slamming directly into us. But it
did bring along with it a most unpleasant day. It was so steamy and muggy
I was reminded of the day in Bangkok when I set out to see the enormous
Sleeping Buddha and the humid heat was so bad, I thought I might faint
before I could get back to air-conditioning. If I had gotten that damned
check on Monday, I think I would have gone to the longest movie in town,
just to enjoy the cool comfort.
After spending most of the morning on campus, just waiting until mailman
time, I stopped back at the mall to pick up some snipes, saw Rocky sitting
alone on a bench. I waved to him, intending to keep on going, but he
beckoned me over. "Have you seen Angelo?" I told him I hadn't seen him
since around eight o'clock when he'd said he was going to make a phone
call and meet me in the park but had just disappeared.
"He's always doing that kind of shit," Rocky growled. "It's the focking
pipe, focks up his head."
I thought that rather funny since Rocky's quite fond of that glass pipe,
too, albeit with a preference for crack rather than ice. But then I
suspect much of the time these guys don't know what they're smoking, it's
just some chemical concoction or another. Still, who am I to talk? In
the Acid Days we never really knew just what was in the pill or wafer we
were swallowing, either.
I told Rocky I was sure that was true but that a schoolfriend of Angelo's
had told me he's always been like that. "I just can't figure that guy
out," he said. That makes two of us. I guess it's at least a comfort to
know I'm not the only one.
Going on my way, I went to check mail. No Fabled Pension Check, much to
my disappointment. I didn't learn until next morning that it did actually
arrive, just minutes after I'd checked. Just as well, I needed more time
to think about it.
I had a very serious talk with myself for much of the soggy afternoon. I
don't care if it happens, or has already happened, but I will NOT allow
myself to fall in love with Angelo, not actively. Deny it, squelch it,
suppress it, whatever. Do nothing to encourage its deepening. It helps a
lot that there really is not any strong physical desire involved. It's
difficult enough being sometimes buddies with him without starting to
yearn for him. The Sleeptalker Experience was enough of that stuff for
awhile. A long while.
It got completely gray in the early afternoon, rained off and on for a
couple of hours. I had the daunting task of locating six quarters, made
harder by the probability that most people had done pre-storm shopping on
the weekend and complicated, too, by the Mongoose spending much of the
time doing his rush-around routine. He's such a greedy bastid. The
parking lot is littered with two, or even three, carts joined together and
I'm sure much of it is his doing. I don't think it's mainly because he's
too lazy to wheel them back to a corral, more that he's afraid he'll miss
out on one while doing it. "Well, honey," I thought, "you're about to get
a real bonanza because I am out of this game for a week or so."
It cleared in late afternoon, I finally found the brew financing, bought
it and went to the park, continued reading Mystery. But it started
to rain again, so I filled my cup and went back to the mall, sat in the
orchid walk reading. Angelo walked up, his eyes bright red, obviously
zonked out of his gourd. I thought he'd been at the pipe but he told me
later it had just been weed. I said I'd seen Rocky earlier, told him what
Rocky had said. He echoed my thoughts, saying "but he loves the pipe,
too!" And he complained that Rocky would just disappear for days without
He went on his way rather quickly, surprising me since I hadn't told him
my check didn't arrive. Later I saw him sitting at a table near the
supermarket, turned and walked in the opposite direction. Then later
still I saw him at the bus stop, waved, and kept on walking, thinking I'd
read a little more before heading to the bench. After awhile he came by,
sat down. He'd been with Rossini all day, repeating our grilled steak
adventure from the day before. Rossini had evidently given him some
money, as well. Can't blame Angelo for preferring Rossini's company to
mine or to Rocky's, not with cash handouts, free beer and smoke. But it
would have been a little nicer of him to have met me in the park as he'd
said he would before going on his way to Rossini. Oh, well.
He didn't believe me when I said I hadn't gotten the check. "Hey, if I'd
gotten it, there would be another cup of beer sitting here beside me," I
said. I wondered if I really should, this month, just go into hiding for
awhile with that cash, give him a taste of his own medicine. Or would it
just serve to confirm his belief that everyone is like him?