the august dragon
oh, it's a long, long time
doorstep of the third anniversary
I can't believe it happened. I was all drunk and everything.
I was, too, but I'm just stating the fact, not offering it as an excuse.
These things aren't always easy to write and the most difficult ones are
those where I have to admit I was stupid. Some of this one I could just
pass over in silence but since it involves, directly or indirectly, three
of the major players in this saga, I guess I'll tale it.
Knowing the Fabled Pension Check was waiting, I didn't linger long on
campus, went downtown to collect it, then to Waikiki to cash it. Then
back again downtown to a little hole-in-the-wall place Angelo had shown me
in Chinatown. Cigarettes for $1.95 a pack.
To the mall, picking up a Mickey's and going to the park to enjoy it and
continue reading Straub's Mystery. I was much surprised Angelo
didn't find me. I suppose Rossini is "something better" even if old
Albert has money in pocket. I wasn't complaining.
Since I was nearing the end of the book, I got another Mickey's and
returned to the park and the book. A shame he had to kill off one of his
best characters but it certainly was a fine read.
Two Mickey's and not yet four o'clock. I went to the mall again, looked
for something to eat and found a pizza box on a planter ledge, two slices
abandoned. I smiled as I passed a cart in a very awkward spot. The day
before I certainly would have wheeled it back. Then I saw another one and
since I was walking toward a corral anyway, went to collect it. A woman
I've never seen before grabbed it. I thought she just wanted to use the
cart but, nope, she took it back for the quarter and set off to hunt
another. She's going to get a very inaccurate picture of the Quarter Hunt
with me out of the game and the Mongoose not there, too.
I saw Rocky sitting on a bench, he waved me over and again asked if I'd
seen Angelo. I said I thought he was probably with Rossini, as he
had been the day before, and offered to buy Rocky a beer. He wanted me to
fill his pipe instead. I declined. He begged, wheedled, flirted, said
"we can share it together, just you and me". I yielded, dumb person that
We took a bus to Chinatown. On the way I gave him the twenty dollars he
needed. And two more for the pipe. I guess no one wants to walk around
carrying the things, safer just to buy one each time. The guy he planned
to score from wasn't there, so the alternative was going to cost five
dollars more. Sigh. And another fifty cents on the price of a pipe.
He said we could go to a friend's place to smoke. When we got to the
apartment building, the friend came downstairs, told us the Sleeptalker
was in his place with two friends, two twelve-packs of beer and some ice.
That was the funniest moment of the day. Rocky and I both said "no!" at
the same time. So that's the Sleeptalker's "friend", too. A rather
portly man, probably in his forties, not much hair left. He said the
Sleeptalker was staying with him "for a few days". The poor man.
We'd get a bus, Rocky said. As we were walking to the stop, he saw Mondo
across the street. "Pretend you don't see him," he said, "ignore him."
"No way I'm ignoring Mondo," I said, and waved to him. Mondo asked what
we were up to and Rocky made some lame excuse about us being late to meet
some guys. I doubt Mondo believed it, but he seemed happily stoned as
usual and it probably didn't much matter to him.
I thought we were going back to the park, but about halfway there, Rocky
said we should get off the bus. He went over to a group of portable
toilets, said, "I'll go in first and then you can." That wasn't exactly
what I had in mind as a way to share, "just you and me". He went in. I
sat there and waited, smoked two cigarettes. Finally he came out, was all
paranoid, wanting to know if someone had been checking out the toilet.
No, just some people using them for more ordinary purposes. I waited for
him to hand me the pipe but the little bugger got up, went back into the
toilet, leaving his backpack with me. Earlier he had said, "I just want
one good hit and you can have the rest." Uh-huh.
It didn't really matter to me. I wouldn't have minded a little sample of
the stuff but hadn't intended to smoke much of it. Since he'd left his
backpack, I didn't have much choice, had to wait until he came out again.
"My turn now?" I asked. "Soon," he said. Hmmph. "I may be stupid, dude,
but I ain't that stupid. Enjoy yourself." And I walked off.
I can't believe such greed. Just incredible. Oh well, $27.50 is a small
price to pay, I guess, to watch Rocky burn his bridge with me after all
this time. The funny thing was, he'd kept reassuring me throughout the
adventure that he wasn't taking advantage of me. If I hadn't known him so
long, I would have been suspicious from the start. As it was, I was just
Back at the mall, I was headed to the drugstore when I saw an abandoned
stroller. Couldn't let that opportunity pass. As I was wheeling it back,
a lady came up behind me and said, "here, take this" and handed me a five
dollar bill! What goes around comes around. Or at least part of it.
I bought another Mickey's and went to the park to think. A third brew was
ill-advised, since I'd planned to be at the Pier Bar in the evening for
the Island Riddim Band, wondered if I'd be able to make it after finishing
that bottle. I did. Something of a disaster, that gig. Even though the
place was half-empty they were asking for a cover charge. I didn't even
ask how much, had no intention of paying it since you can see and hear
fine from outside the bar and I didn't need a drink. Mike Ka'awa was
alone on stage and it's always a pleasure to hear him, but where was the
Island Riddim Band? They finally showed up, almost forty-five minutes
late, played six or seven numbers and then said they were taking a break
and Henry Kapono would be up next. Say what? If I wanted to hear Kapono,
I'd go to one of his gigs. Bizarre.
I left and went over to Gordon Biersch where my favorite bartender was at
the inside bar. He told me to sit on the stool by the taps, poured me a
beer, later poured another one and shared his dinner with me. I stayed
until closing, thoroughly enjoying his company and being in that place
even if they've messed up the atmosphere by putting three big television
sets over the bar. Three. Sheez. An old "Saturday Night Live" was on
and Madonna did a dreadful job of singing "Fever". She should listen to
Peggy Lee for hours as penance.
Somehow I managed to stagger to the hacienda. Angelo was there, asleep.
And the second day of August began with a horrendous hangover, not just
from the beer, but even more from having been so damned stupid with Rocky.
I recovered from the alcohol hangover by late morning. The Rocky hangover
will take a bit longer. I still couldn't believe it. In the old days,
there were always the kind of people you'd pass a joint to, knowing you
were unlikely ever to get another hit from it. Most of them never got
invited back. But never have I known someone who would beg you to buy
stuff and then not want to share it at all. I'm still amazed by it.
A reader helps, by writing:
Rocky did you a favor not handing over that pipe...I'm sure that's not
why he did it - crack cocaine is the greediest drug ever - but
nevertheless, you're lucky. I've tried a lot of drugs, and that's the
only one that ever grabbed me and didn't let go, for years, made me sweat
in panic and fear, gut-wrenching paranoia, cravings that would make me
risk everything I had just to get another hit, spend all my money, not
share, not even with my best friends, always wanting more more more.
Always trying to duplicate the ecstasy of that first hit, even though you
know it'll never be like that again....
Yes, I guess I am lucky. I certainly have spent more than enough time
hooked on one drug or another, still am, of course, with tobacco, alcohol
and caffeine, but I've never fallen into that deep a trap. Friends have
always been more important and nothing has ever meant so much to me that I
wouldn't share it with a friend. I'd hate myself if I ever got that
Angelo will turn twenty-four on October 27th, Rocky in November. I was
thinking on Wednesday of what my life was like on the verge of 24. Living
in an elegant apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side, a studio on the
Lower East Side. Partner in a successful small business, a decent
income from making paintings which many people took more seriously than I
did. In the fourth year of a mostly very happy equivalent to marriage.
It could hardly be more different than Angelo and Rocky, not at all
surprising that I often have great trouble in understanding them and their
I'd told Angelo that one thing I admired about the Sleeptalker was the way
he'd avoid me at the first of the month, not wanting to take advantage of
the Fabled Pension Check. I wondered if that's why Angelo has been
absent, but knowing him, it's more likely just a case of "something
better". Rossini's last name is in the first half of the alphabet, so he
would've gotten his welfare money and foodstamps on Tuesday. [Later note: that was an error. His last name is in the second half of
the alphabet, but SSI benefits are paid on the first of the month.] Since it
isn't the major part of his income, he seems to look on it as play money.
Definitely "something better" for Angelo. And the Sleeptalker, if he did
get it straightened out, will get his money today, will no doubt return to
a room in Waikiki, beer and pipes. Likewise, "something better".
So Wednesday was a lovely, lonely day, and there may be a few of them for
awhile now. I finished Mary Stewart's The Stormy Petrel, which I'd
begun the day before, with my early afternoon beer. It's not a very
substantial story but she writes with such style that it was most
pleasurable reading. I walked through the mall collecting snipes, found a
large plate-lunch box stuffed with stir-fried vegetables and fried rice.
No need to keep an eye on the time and the arrival of the Krishna truck.
I bought a second beer, returned to the park. A police car pulled onto
the grass, stopped near my table. I was glad I hadn't opened the bottle
yet. Another one arrived. No idea what it was about, but I assume they
were looking for someone, and seriously. I strolled down to the other
end, kept an eye on them, but since they seemed to be concentrating on
that particular area, I filled my cup and began reading Danielle Steel's
The library had another batch of her books in the honor collection. I can
never remember, just from the title, whether it's one I've read or not, so
have to scan the first few pages. It's odd that she uses the same
photograph on all her books. I wonder when it was taken? Reading her
always reminds me of those years when I'd watch "Dallas" and "Dynasty"
every week without fail.
When I returned to the mall there was such an abundance of quarters I
couldn't resist playing the game for awhile. I guess the Mongoose's last
name must be first half of the alphabet, too, since he wasn't there all
day. There was a new hunter, someone I've seen around for some time but
never saw hunting quarters before. Must be second half of the alphabet.
I picked up about three dollars in quarters, bought another Mickey's and
went back to continue the book and then just sat in the twilight and
thought about the Bad Boys and the ever surprising, strange dances with
Yes, I am a lucky man.
"That was crazy," Angelo said about Rocky. "Friends come first. Why
throw away a friendship for a piece of rock?" Ain't it the truth.
I ought by now to know what my first guess should be when wondering why
Angelo has disappeared. Yep, when he found me in the park on Thursday
afternoon, he'd just come from a day and night in jail. Several months
ago Angelo, the Sleeptalker and two other guys had bought 40's and were
sitting in Restaurant Row drinking. They almost never bother with paper
cups and one of those big bottles in a brown paper bag is about as obvious
as one can get. They were busted. The security guard had been fairly
nice about it but Angelo said the Sleeptalker was drunk and started making
wise remarks (unwise, more like). So they'd all been hauled to the office
and made to sign a one-year no trespass agreement.
A couple of weeks ago, Angelo had walked through the Row and was stopped
by the same security guard who warned him to stay off the property. But
on Wednesday morning, Angelo went there to shave and brush his teeth,
figuring that early in the day it would be safe. Busted again, and this
time they called the cops. So from about seven in the morning until noon
the next day, he was once again in jail.
He said I would have liked it a lot. There was a young guy in the cell
with him who was "exactly like" the Sleeptalker. Locked in a small room
for a day and a night with the Sleeptalker, now there's a mind-boggling
Who needs Danielle Steel or soap operas? Just get Angelo talking about
his life and family. He'd gotten what looked like a three page letter
from a cousin, the son of his mother's younger sister. The fellow is in
some institution in California, a mental hospital/prison kind of place.
He had killed his father ... with a sword.
Angelo had also gotten a note from his mother and read it to me. She
reminded him that he's getting older and should start to think of settling
down. It was a sweet note, not really nagging at all, and yes, I said,
she did have a valid point. He agreed but thought he still has plenty of
time and has apparently decided not to go to Kauai. He has to see his
caseworker next Wednesday and feels sure his cash stipend will be
reinstated, is hoping to get it by mid-month. I told him I'd be surprised
if things move that quickly, but at least he'd get the back-pay from the
time he re-applies.
I offered him a beer and he did his usual routine of begging for three
dollars worth of fish for a dollar cash. Oh well, the fare couldn't have
been that great in jail, so I said yes. $1.29 to carry over on the
foodstamps balance. It's nice to have that "second payday" on the fifth.
We returned to the park and sat talking until twilight, then walked to the
7-Eleven for more beer. He's two behind now. I couldn't find a cup and
he didn't want one, so we brown-bagged it. A rather crazy old drunk came
and sat down, told a bunch of fantastic yarns about how the Beatles had
once stayed at his house, how he'd managed to escape being sent to Vietnam
and other stuff, none of it even slightly believable. I had almost
finished my beer when the police rolled up. They were pleasant to me
and Angelo, just made us pour out what was left of our beers, but they
made the old drunk go through the trash can, emptying every bottle that
was in there. Strange. You'd think the cops would have better things to
do than bother some guys quietly drinking beer in the park, but oh well,
the law's the law, I guess.
I told Angelo I was going back to the mall to hunt some snipes, he set off
for the hacienda. I was sure he'd be stopping to use the phone again, as
he had several times already. He'd found a fancy cellular phone, had sold
it to the Iceman who still owed him fifteen dollars, and Angelo was
itching to get it but hadn't managed to connect with the Iceman. I
made a round for snipes, got the bus to the hacienda and arrived just as
Angelo was coming across the street.
Exasperating as he can be sometimes, I have to admit it is indeed sweet to
wake in the night and see him sleeping on the next bench.
Always searching for "something better" ... but then I guess we all do
that in one way or another.
I was sitting in the park, at a different spot than usual, when Angelo and
Rossini found me. We talked for a little while, then they went to the
mall to get beer. Angelo left his backpack, asking me to keep an eye on
it. They returned after awhile with a six-pack. We talked some more,
then I said I had to go on a snipe hunt and get another beer (since they
hadn't offered me one of theirs). When I got back they were on their last
cans of beer and Angelo was itching to go to Chinatown and look for the
Sleeptalker. He knew the Sleeptalker had gotten his money the day before
and that there would be the chance of some free puffs on the glass pipe.
Rossini didn't seem too keen on the idea but agreed to go along. I
declined and refused to yield. "I want to stay as far away from the
Sleeptalker on ice as I can get." "Wise thinking," said Rossini. They
left on their quest for something better and I returned to my book.
Danielle Steel always seems to have trouble with the last quarter of her
books. Sometimes it feels like she has gotten bored with the characters
(often understandably, and she's not the only one). She wraps it all up
quickly and it's more like reading a plot summary than a real novel. In
Changes, after endless squabble-squabble, fuck-and-make-up, it all
turns into happily-ever-after land with the corniest ending I've seen in
one of her books yet.
I moved on to John Katzenbach's The Traveler. He has such fondness
for flambouyant metaphor that some of what should be very serious moments
in his book instead inspire inner giggles.
I'd seen Wisconsin earlier at the mall, had found a plate lunch box with a
few pieces of chicken and rice, was sitting on a bench eating when he
came along, sat beside me. "Where are your young proteges?" he asked. So
that's what they are, eh? I told him I hadn't seen Rocky since Tuesday,
the Sleeptalker was in Chinatown, and Angelo was probably with Rossini in
Waikiki. Wisconsin seems to be a fairly nice man but I find it a little
difficult to maintain a conversation with him when we're on our own, and
he can so abruptly turn into an almost embarrassing camp queen. I haven't
had to deal with someone like that in a long time.
When I went again to the mall for a sunset brew, I saw him again and had a
devil of a time getting rid of him. I first told him to check out the new
poster at the Guess shop and he wanted me to walk with him to look at it.
It's such an outrageous photograph, a young hunk silhouetted against a
blank sky. He is turned to one side and his tit sticks out like a
teepee. As I told Wisconsin, I wondered if the photographer had sucked it
or had just told the hunk to tease it into that provocative alertness.
Wisconsin and I looked at it for a bit, then enjoyed watching the reaction
of passers-by. The women seem to just ignore it but almost every young
man who passed reacted. Funny.
I told Wisconsin I was going to get a beer, planned to make it an early
night. On the way to the store he stopped to fill his water bottle and I
kept going. He rushed up again, following me, saying he'd only filled the
bottle halfway so as not to lose me. Sigh. Fortunately, he saw someone
he knows sitting near the store and stopped to talk so I was able to get
my beer and slip away, was relieved when he didn't come looking for me in
The beer, the book, the sunset, and then off to the hacienda. None of the
Bad Boys were there, probably sitting up all night with the Sleeptalker
and the pipe. Rossini seems determined to stay off the ice but it surely
must make it more difficult, hanging out with people who are smoking the
stuff. I'd asked him what medication he was on but it's nothing I've ever
heard of and I don't remember the name. He had been on Paxil
before and we agreed it was useful but seems to lose its effectiveness
after a few months, but we also agreed it might be helpful to Angelo.
At about two-thirty in the morning, the police arrived at the hacienda and
made us all leave. The only other time that has happened it appeared to
be because they were looking for someone specific. This time, no clue as
to why they'd arrived and I certainly hope it was just a one-time freak
event, would really hate to lose that place as a night-time sanctuary.
I walked to the beach park, luckily found a cardboard box to flatten into
a mattress and settled into a sheltered place along with two other men and
a bunch of cats. One of the guys was "Sidney", the Caribbean-looking
fellow who walks with a lilting bounce that I've mentioned before. All
you have to do is refer to the guy who walks with a bounce and everyone
knows who you're talking about. Angelo and I had chatted with him briefly
a couple of weeks ago and I found out his name. Sidney is a little weird
for a nickname but it links to his real name. Oddly, he disappeared very
early in the morning, long before I awoke just before dawn.
It surprised me to see how few people were sleeping in the park,
especially at this time of the year when it's quite comfortable. The
spaces with overhead shelter are, true, very limited, so it wouldn't be
quite so nice if it turned into a wet night. But both Sidney and the
other fellow were totally quiet and in many ways it was a more comfortable
place than the hacienda with all its socializing and distracting Bad Boys.
The fifth of the month and the FPC almost gone but I still haven't done my
"responsible shopping". Sigh.
It was a weekend free of Bad Boys, except for a few moments. Arising from
my unaccustomed cardboard mattress well before dawn on Saturday, I first
went to a pay phone at 7-Eleven, dialed the toll-free number and heard the
chirpy computer voice tell me I had two hundred dollars and twenty-nine
cents in foodstamp money. I splurged, had a costly Starbucks chilled
coffee and an egg salad sandwich. A bit later I regretted it. My body
just isn't used to solid food that early in the day and wasn't pleased.
Angelo had asked me to join him and Rossini for another Waikiki barbecue.
I told him I couldn't, I already had plans to meet Helen R. for a movie.
He pouted. I resisted the temptation to say, "hey, I have the right to
something better, too." So after spending much of the morning on campus,
I returned to the mall for a quick snipe hunt and then went on to Dole
Cannery to meet Helen and see "Space Cowboys".
A decent movie. It's always a bit restless, spending the first night in a
strange place. Every little noise wakes me up. So I was somewhat
concerned I'd fall asleep in the luxury of air-conditioned comfort. No
problem, the movie did keep me awake.
Helen needed to go to a hobby shop after the film to buy some rocket
engines. I returned to the mall and met the Young Husband's wife. [!] I
saw him and a rather pretty young woman, thought "uh-oh" and intended just
to smile, not acknowledge knowing him. But he stopped, introduced us. I
tried not to look guilty. He told me the last time I saw him that
he'd been offered a much better job in Makaha and, if he took it, wouldn't
get to town anymore except, probably, on his days off. He said he'd miss
seeing me. He has taken the job. I'll miss seeing him, too.
I met up with Helen again and we shared a large pizza. I was absolutely
stuffed afterwards, had no inclination to do much walking. But the new
Quarter Hunters aren't very persistent or conscientious and I scored eight
quarters on my final snipe hunt through the mall. One stroller may have
only just been abandoned when I found it at a taxi stand but two, in the
parking lot, may have been there for awhile, and returning one of them
yielded another two quarters which had been left in the corral. Lazy
I'd considered just staying in the park again but thought I might as well
find out what the story was with the hacienda. Was it a one-time thing?
No, as it turned out, it was not. Once again the police arrived, this
time a little after one o'clock, and made us all leave. How very odd.
New management in the building? Election Year clean-up? The latter is
the explanation which seems to be the majority opinion on the street. The
cops are being meticulous suddenly, were even prowling the park in their
three-wheelers on Monday afternoon for the first time this summer. Utter
Angelo was asleep on the bench in front of me and was the last to get it
together and leave, cops standing there waiting. When he came down the
walk, I told him it had happened the night before, too. He was in one of
his all-too-familiar post-ice funks, moody and withdrawn. Since he showed
no inclination to join me, I left without saying anything further.
So I walked to the park, luckily finding cardboard on the way, and again
joined Sidney and LongJohn (for the pirate, not the underwear) in the
sheltered place. I selected a different spot. It has an overhead light
which no doubt makes it less desireable. The light has always been on
at the hacienda, so doesn't bother me at all, I'm used to it. And I
prefer picking the least desireable option.
On Sunday morning I had the sense to abstain from the sandwich, just got
two cans of (cheaper-than-Starbucks) chilled coffee from 7-Eleven, hunted
snipes at the mall and went to shave. Angelo walked in. I said
something in greeting, he didn't reply at all, obviously still in his
funk. I'd resolved to get a clean start to the new week, so went over to
have an early shower. I looked for Angelo when I returned to the mall,
intending to ask him if he wanted to share the laundromat facilities but
didn't see him. The soap machine at the laundromat near Helen R's place
had lost its handle, was inoperative, so I went back and got the bus to
Waikiki. Sunday morning laundry in Waikiki, how romantic.
To campus, a Mickey's, sandwich and bag of potato chips in my backpack.
After checking mail and playing Seventh Circle for awhile, I went back to
the mall, hunted snipes, bought another Mickey's and went over to the
park, continued reading the Katzenbach book. He's the opposite of Steel,
at least with this one. It's the first quarter of the book which is the
weakest. Then he seems to have gotten more and more interested in the
(excellent) plot and his characters so the book became increasingly
I took a break, walked out to Magic Island for the first time in ages, was
dismayed to see how the new tower in the Hilton complex is making yet
another enormous brick in the wall of ugly, uninteresting buildings which
line the Waikiki waterfront. If somehow a mad bomber could eliminate the
Ilikai, the Hilton complex, and the Sheraton, Waikiki would be a much
nicer place. And the ironic thing is, the Hilton proclaims on their
construction-wall posters that the new tower is their "contribution to the
revitalization of Waikiki". Spit.
Despite my resolve to limit myself to two 40's, I bought another Mickey's
and finished the book while enjoying it.
Two problems with the park as a new night-time sanctuary: it doesn't
settle down as early, and I have to find cardboard. So I need to adjust
my lifestyle to a later bedtime and I need to scout the neighborhood to
find a reliable source of cardboard. That part wasn't going to be a
problem on the weekend, after all the huge summer picnics with lots of
cardboard boxes left behind, and as it happened, I found three grass beach
mats which serve the purpose even better.
Although it was only about nine o'clock, LongJohn and Sidney were already
there. Sidney was asleep. LongJohn was talking, or more listening, to
some very drunk fellow who I saw was the owner of the bicycle which had
been chained to a railing there each night. He didn't stay long but after
he left could be heard ranting in the distance. LongJohn chuckled softly
and settled down to sleep. He snores, but only when laying on his left
side and not loud enough to defeat the earplugs. I slept so well I didn't
wake until six, after everyone else was gone.
I went to the mall supermarket where the cans of chilled coffee are
cheaper than 7-Eleven and then on to campus. The telnet was out at UH so
I spent a little while browsing stuff via Netscape at the library and then
returned to the mall. I saw Rocky. I gave him a "no hard feelings" wave
but continued on my way, hunted snipes and went to the State Library to
pick up a couple of books. When I got back to the mall, I saw Rocky
again. He waved me over, said, "I'm sorry I watered you down the other
day." Strange expression, derived I assume from watered-down drinks.
"I was all crazy paranoid," he added. Hmmmm, crazy paranoid and crazy
greedy, I thought, but just said, "don't worry about it." He vowed to
give me twenty dollars when his welfare money arrives on the eleventh. I
won't hold my breath until I get it, but no problem, like I said, a
cheap-at-the-price lesson, and it was decent of him to apologize, the
first time that has happened with any of the Bad Boys.
I bought a Mickey's and went to the park, began reading Elizabeth Palmer's
Plucking the Apple, a quite stylish and amusing novel set in
London's art world and its peripherals.
No Bad Boys. But I couldn't help interrupt my reading a few times to
think of the news Rocky had given me. The Sleeptalker and his portly
friend, Chinatown-B, are moving to the North Shore, getting a house
together. There was a time when that would have inspired a major attack
of jealousy. As it is, I certainly would have been happier for the
Sleeptalker if he'd hooked up with someone his own age instead of latching
onto another old gay victim. But Chinatown-B is also an enthusiast of the
glass pipe and apparently together they'll have about $1500 monthly
income, so I can't deny it's a decent catch for the Sleeptalker. I also
can't deny the fact that I'll be relieved when I hear he's actually living
on the other side of the mountains.
Wisconsin wheeled over on his bicycle to my table in the park. He was
wearing a tee shirt and shorts, both dripping wet as is his frequent
habit. Angelo once said about it, "he just likes for his dick to show."
Could be. Wisconsin said he had been under "psychic attack" on Sunday. I
thought, oh don't be silly, but made sympathetic noises.
"I didn't want to send it back," he said. "No," I replied, "that might
turn it into a boomerang, going back and forth." He looked astonished,
said that's just what his guru had told him. Shrug. Guruspeak is an easy
language to learn.
He had gone to the Krishna temple, homebase of his guru. He thinks they
all expect him to flip out one day and blow them away, but it had helped
and he was on his way there again. He said he'd run into Rocky and Angelo
in the mall before Sunday's temple visit and he'd had a difficult time
getting rid of them. I found that a little hard to believe, unless they
were hoping he'd bring out some of his magic weed. He said he'd
eventually had to yell at them that he had to be alone, he was under
psychic attack. He had apologized to Rocky on Monday morning.
"Where's the really sexy one?" he asked. No problem knowing who he was
talking about. "Still in Chinatown," I said, adding no further
information. If the really sexy one does move to the North Shore, the
mountains may help block him from my waking physical life and maybe he'll
keep on fading from my life of thoughts, but he's still very much in the
dream life and probably not even the mountains can block that. I dreamed
on Monday night that I was again having sex with the Sleeptalker. He was
so hot, so eager to get off that I thought it was funny and lost interest
in actually doing it because I was so amused. I woke up and it took much
longer to fall asleep again than I liked. Nice dream, though.
After a visit to campus, I had returned to the mall, was surprised to see
Rocky still hanging out in the same place he'd been several hours earlier.
The hunt for snipes was a damned nuisance all day. Not enough
contributors, too many cleaning army fanatics and too much competition.
Once I got enough, I bought a sandwich and a Mickey's, went over to the
park to continue reading that witty British novel. The cops were
patrolling the park all afternoon. The Old Vodka Drinker got busted and
had to pour out what looked like about a half a bottle of the stuff. He
had better start using a paper cup or at least buy smaller bottles. Since
it's still SocSec time, he probably didn't mind as much losing the vodka
as he did having to leave his favorite table. I was sure he'd be back the
next day, fresh bottle in bag.
Wisconsin had heard about the hacienda, said they seemed to be putting on
the pressure all over town. He speculated that IHS was behind it, trying
to pump up their client list to get more funding. I doubt that the
Institute for Human Services really has that much influence with the
police department. Election Year Clean-Up sounds like a much more
plausible reason to me.
Back to the mall for another snipe hunt. There was a stroller abandoned
way out in the boondocks so I wheeled it back, hoping the corral wouldn't
be out of quarters. It wasn't, but those two and one other from a cart
conveniently in my path later made up the day's income.
A sunset brew and back to the book, finishing both by twilight. No sign of
Angelo all day, and Rocky hadn't asked about him for a change or said
anything about him.
Luckily my three grass mats were still where I'd stashed them, so I didn't
have to hunt for cardboard. I keep telling myself not to fret about it,
with little success. After all, Sidney just has a tee shirt, shorts and
slippers, never carries even a small bag. And he sleeps right on the bare
concrete. It got unusually cool during the night, mainly because of the
wind, and I felt sorry for him, grateful for my mats.
But stop fretting about it. Sheez, if worse comes to worse, you'll
survive a night on bare concrete.
Eighteen quarters, not a bad haul for a Tuesday afternoon. I was playing
the Quarter Hunt game mainly to distract myself from wanting a second beer
too early. No Mongoose, no Mariner, only a few lucky amateurs as
competition. I still had the second brew too early, though.
I'd found Peter Hoeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow at the State
Library, a 1992 novel translated from the Danish. Even with the dilution
of translation, it's a splendid book and I had much enjoyed my lunchtime
brew, sandwich and chips along with reading.
The enjoyment continued in the second session, slightly distracted by
having Sidney laying on the grass nearby, asleep. He was on his back, one
knee up and the leg moving back and forth in a slow rhythmic pattern,
unusual for him. He usually sleeps without moving for long, long periods
of time. There was one afternoon when I was sitting with Angelo and
Rocky with Sidney again on the grass nearby. Rocky said Sidney looked
like a corpse laying there and we laughed every time Sidney finally moved
I teased Angelo a few weeks ago, telling him Sidney was going to be my
next Main Man. I hope I was just teasing.
8/8. That always evokes memories of that magical 8/8/88 in Kathmandu. The
evening before, Jonathan and I were enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches,
sharing one of those delicious, large bottles of Nepalese beer after
having already indulged in some even more delicious Afghani hashish. He
protested when I explained that the next day's expedition had to be
entirely on foot, no wheels allowed. I promised we would take it slow and
easy, said I didn't think it was much over three miles each way even
though I actually had no idea just how far the walk would be. We left
after our morning tea and walked from the hotel into Thamel, the tourist
district with its tee shirt shops, bookstores, cafes and hash vendors, and
then crossed the river. It was from then on totally new territory to both
of us since I had for some reason postponed again and again that same
expedition during my first trip to Nepal.
There was a small, modern, quite elegant little hotel at the foot of the
hill, just across the river, and we stopped for an early lunch. Then we
climbed the long staircase to the top, gray monkeys playing and chattering
all around us. Swayambhunath is
an enormous stupa, can be seen from all over Kathmandu Valley, a smooth
white dome with an ornate square spire, the eyes of Buddha looking out in
each direction. There were already many people making the walk around it.
Jonathan and I joined them. I had explained to him that we would make the
walk eight times, each time asking for blessings on someone particularly
important to us, people we were grateful for having known, whether dead or
alive. Strange couple that we were, especially since Jonathan somehow
retained his white English pallor throughout the journey, we attracted
quite a few glances, a few stares, but all very warm and congenial. It
was no surprise that we both chose each other as the thought on one of the
A magical 8/8 indeed, one of the most memorable days of my life. I enjoy
remembering it in detail each year when 8/8 rolls around.
My grass mats were again where I had stashed them, much to my surprise. I
realized earlier that my mind was fretting over the problem of a
"mattress", picking the least important aspect of the changed
circumstances as perhaps a way to avoid thinking about the more important
ones. The loss of the hacienda as a refuge is probably the greatest
single change in these almost-three years of street living, and one reason
is certainly the loss of that touch-base spot with the Bad Boys. Still, I
told myself, they all know where to find me if any of them need me. The
Sleeptalker, Mondo, and Rossini have the game as a contact point, even if
they miss me in the mall or the beach park. Angelo knows all the places
and times I can usually be found. I miss that hacienda spot, though,
because I could see them even if they didn't particularly need me. Que
As it used to be with the cloisters, I have to learn a new calendar
schedule. There was some kind of meeting going on, so I sat on a bench by
the ocean, looking at the white line of the surf on the horizon, the
slightly more than half moon, the stars and the few white wispy clouds.
One of the largest "falling stars" I've ever seen flashed down toward the
water. It was one of those moments when the first reaction was, "did I
really see that?" I did, and it was followed by a less brilliant one just
a few moments later. No complaints about having to wait for my sleeping
LongJohn was still settling down, the Bicycle Man had just left after
chaining his bike to the grill. LongJohn offered me some bread. I
thanked him, but said I was fine. I was grateful for the brief exchange,
grateful too that he's so quiet, apparently a loner except for the short
chat with the Bicycle Man each night when he stops to leave his bike. I
woke later to see Sidney curled up on the concrete floor but again he left
sometime during the night. I think he lives like a cat, taking several
short naps through the day and night.
8/8. Not magical, but absolutely nothing to complain about, either.
It's delightful to open your eyes during the night and look right into
those of a cat sitting quite sedately a few feet away quietly watching
you. The resident cats appear to have already adjusted to the presence of
a body in my new sleeping spot and when it started raining during the
night, all the cats who normally sleep (or doze) out on the lawn came
under shelter. I haven't slept with that many cats around since the days
of staying with my old friend Felix on East 91st Street.
The worst happened on Wednesday. I got bored. Utterly, totally bored.
Although it's often the gateway to depression, in some ways it's worse.
Depressed, I don't give a damn whether I'm bored or not. Bored, I fret
about how to end it, and the few hours it lasts seem an eternity.
The morning had been delightful. Far sooner than I'd expected, I went up
another level in Seventh Circle. Level 98, regaining my position as
highest-ranking Hawaii player, the fourth highest in the game. Only three
people have persevered to Level 100, the top.
And back at the mall, I'd enjoyed my lunchtime brew, a sandwich and
continuing the excellent Danish novel. Although it takes the form of a
mystery novel, it's far more than just that, with frequent philosophical
asides which are a pleasure to read and ponder. And there are also
fascinating glimpses of the relationship between Greenlanders and their
"colonial masters", the Danes, likewise of the Eskimo/Inuit culture and
Continuing the somewhat difficult task of trying to shift my clock
forward, I'd decided it was best to have my second beer at a time when I'd
finish it just as it became too dark to continue reading. And if finances
were too shakey, to make that one the brew of the day. No problem about
that on Wednesday since the bonanza from the day before meant one brew
money in pocket, only two quarters needed for the second. I found those,
but then things went dry, recalling a line from the I Ching, "no
game in the field".
That set off the boredom attack. The Quarter Hunt becomes completely
tiresome when long periods of time pass with no score. Actually getting
the money isn't as important as the fun of bagging some. But I also know
I'm not going to enjoy that second brew as much if I don't have at least
half the financing for the next one in pocket.
I wasn't in the mood to eat and certainly not to tackle one of those
heaping plates from the Krishna truck, but told myself it would be dumb to
waste foodstamps when free food was readily available. As I was
walking through the mall on the way to the soup-kitchen-wagon, I saw an
abandoned plate-lunch box. A big chunk of roast chicken, rice, and
macaroni salad. I ate the chicken.
A little later I got the urge to eat something sweet, always a defense
against boredom, although in my case not nearly as effective as consuming
more alcohol. I bought a chilled coffee and a slice of Black Forest cake.
Earlier, Wisconsin had rolled up to my table but stayed standing,
straddling his bike instead of sitting down. He lamented the absence of
the "pretty boys" at the mall. He calls them the Pretty Boys, I call them
the Bad Boys. It says a lot about the difference between us. I think
Wisconsin is trying to seduce me, or enlist me. Not sexually, although
maybe that too, but as a buddy-team partner. He didn't help his chances,
not that they were strong to begin with, by saying he wasn't going to buy
any dope this month because he ends up hanging-out with the wrong people
when he has some. I felt like saying "thanks for the compliment", thought
"you'd better not tell the Bad Boys that or you won't see them for the
rest of the month". He said he wants to hang out with people, or even
just one, "who think life is worth living". I said that as long as you
felt that way yourself, it didn't matter if you found other people who
did. Guruspeak, again.
When it finally came time for the pre-twilight second beer, I still hadn't
found any more quarters but by then was sufficiently fed-up not to care,
bought the brew and went back to the park and the book. I finished the
beer and was walking toward the mall when I saw Angelo, Rossini ...
and Mondo ... arriving, twelve-pack in hand. I stopped to say hello,
planning to continue on my way to the mall. "Aren't you going to drink
with us?" asked Mondo. Sigh.
First, most, and still, I love that man.
Angelo had been staying with the Sleeptalker and Chinatown-B. From what
I've heard, you're welcome there if you have money, bring beer and a pipe,
and when you're broke the door is closed. I assumed Angelo had sold his
foodstamps and the money had run out. He was in his post-ice mode,
withdrawn and sullen. Shrug. With Mondo on the bench beside me, who
cared? And Mondo was in a lively mood, probably partly because he doesn't
often drink and the beer was making him more talkative than usual.
Thoroughly delightful. I was certainly no longer bored.
Although he didn't say so directly, I got the impression Mondo has left
his apartment and is on the streets again. The legacy from his
grandparents actually remains under control of his parents until they
die or he "straightens out" his life. I suspect two funerals will come
first before he gets full control. So they may have lost patience again
and took the apartment back for income-making. Or he may just have gotten
tired of indoor living. Not the kind of thing one can ask and something
he'd only be likely to talk about when alone together.
There was some discussion about where everyone was going to sleep.
Angelo was firmly against staying in the park, Mondo knew of a church
somewhere you could spend the night but warned that the police sometimes
come and check to see if there's anyone there with warrants outstanding.
I said I was going back to the mall to hunt snipes and quarters. As we
were parting, Rossini told me to take the two remaining cans of Bud
because they'd had enough. I thanked him, shook hands with him and Mondo,
waved goodbye to Angelo and went on my way.
One solution to shifting my timing to a later scale is certainly the
Clean-Up routine, and it makes good economic sense, too. Making the
rounds of the mall at closing time yielded the quarters for the next day's
beer, with one extra. I was sitting on a bench in the Orchid Walk,
sneaking one of the Buds in a paper cup, when the entire Food Court area
suddenly went dark. So did the shops on its edge. Pandemonium. People
groped their way out of the place in the darkness, a small army of
security people arrived, and eventually an even greater number of
maintenance folks. When I left the mall at about 9:30, the power still
hadn't been restored and several shops evidently couldn't lower the
closing shutters or grills without electricity, so had staff with
flashlights standing guard.
I sat on the bench at the seaside and drank the second Bud, thinking
that's another good option for the second (or only) brew of a day. It's
very dark, few people around, probably safer than at any other time. And
there is that wonderful panorama of ocean, surf, sky, stars and moon. A
fine way to end a day, even one plagued by a boredom attack. A fine way.
With or without beer for that matter.
I stayed on campus for most of Thursday morning, returned to the mall for
lunch. Although I had quarters for a lunchtime brew, I decided to have
coffee instead, save the first beer of the day for later. Then I went to
the State Library for a couple of books, returned to the mall. I was
amazed to spot two quarters in the change slot of a stroller corral. The
flap on that one tends to stick in the open position, and the quarters
were just sitting there, plainly visible. What made it such a surprise
was that I saw Charlie Chan doing his slow shuffle just a few feet ahead.
I think he concentrates so heavily on his rounds from one cluster of
payphones to another, he doesn't notice anything else.
A few minutes later, I saw he'd found a plate-lunch box, was sitting on a
planter ledge eating. There was a nice long snipe in the ashtray next to
him. I took it. As I was walking on, he said, "hey! hey!" I thought he
was annoyed because I'd taken the snipe but, no, he just wanted to tell me
there was a cart hidden behind a column nearby in the parking lot! More
than two years of seeing that man shuffle through the mall, every single
day, and that was my first direct contact with him.
A box and a half of snipes in pocket, I went to the park again for a
shower. Back at the mall, I saw Angelo and Rossini.
Fellowship with Men in the Open brings supreme success. I'm not so
sure about "supreme" but it did turn into an amusing later afternoon and
early evening. Rossini didn't have his ID, asked if I'd buy beer for him,
gave me enough for him and Angelo, and we went over to our usual table to
drink. Angelo took a shower break, leaving me alone with Rossini for the
first time. Rossini was more lively and chatty than usual, which
continued while Angelo was in the shower house.
Rossini was born in Wahiawa. Both of his parents are local Japanese, the
third generation of a family which began life in the islands in the
Plantation Era. He has only one brother, older, who he said lives a very
straight life, has always had a job, and doesn't much approve of Rossini.
His father is dead and his mother lives alone in a house where he is
always welcome to stay. He said he isn't dealing anymore and most of his
life he has supported himself by getting enough money to rent a cheap
house, then maintaining the rent and making a small profit by in turn
renting out rooms. But once he got involved with the glass pipe, that
stopped working because he'd end up with a house full of crazies who
didn't pay their rent.
Shortly after Angelo returned, Rocky came strutting along the path.
Rossini said he'd buy a twelve-pack of Bud if I'd go over to get it. The
stupid supermarket had bottles on special sale, but not cans. Twelve
bottles of Budweiser makes for a heavy bag, and I added a pound of
Angelo's beloved raw fish as a way of saying thanks to Rossini for the
"He just never shut up all day," Rocky said about Mondo. They complain
most of the time because Mondo is so silent. I said I had enjoyed it and
they teased me about having always been in love with Mondo. I didn't deny
it and when, as usual, they all agreed Mondo is crazy, I again said I
thought he was the wisest one of us all. Lots of laughter and disbelief.
"You're as crazy as he is," Rocky said. "Even crazier," corrected Angelo.
They're happy with the new sleeping place Mondo had told us about. Angelo
said there were long benches with overhead shelter, that it's dark and,
for him best of all, no one to wake you up in the morning. He'd slept
until eight o'clock. He urged me several times to go there later. I was
very happy to hear about an alternative possibility, thought how useful
this friendship with the Bad Boys can be sometimes. The street life
version of "networking".
The Christian group that hands out food in the park two days a week set up
not far from us and when the no-longer-obligatory sermon had been
preached, the three lads rushed over to get some food. The group used to
serve plates of hot food but lately have just been handing out brown paper
bags and when the lads returned they all grumbled because the bags had
only a sandwich and a packet of three cookies in them. I had been eating
all day, it seemed, wasn't in the least hungry.
Angelo decided, as he often does when a little buzzed on booze, that he
was going "shopping". Rossini agreed to "spin" for him, Rocky was going
to tag along but is banned from the store so couldn't join them inside. I
said I had to hunt snipes, since Angelo and Rossini had been sharing my
stash during the session. I was grateful to have a legitimate excuse
to avoid the shopping expedition and, assuming Angelo didn't land in jail,
the trip to the pawn shop afterwards.
The clean-up routine at the mall does have its disadvantages. As it gets
closer to shutdown time, the crowd gets so frantic. Some of them are in a
hurry to get home, some, especially the Japanese tourists, seem desperate
to spend as much more money as they can in the time left to them. Dodging
the scurrying folks, I managed to score beer-financing for the next day,
despite being slightly drunk and not inclined to work very hard at it.
I considered following Angelo's advice and going to check out the new
sanctuary, decided against it and almost reconsidered when I discovered
someone had grabbed my grass mats, the low-life. But walking back toward
the bus stop, I found a nice large piece of cardboard so returned to
settle down in the usual spot near LongJohn. Sidney wasn't there, but
after I'd fallen asleep another fellow arrived with a bicycle and slept
oddly close to LongJohn. Some screeching hysterical people woke me
shortly after three o'clock, evidently having a drunken cavort over on the
beach. The earplugs shut that out, and I went back to sleep promptly.
Sitting across the street the next morning drinking my chilled coffee from
7-Eleven, I saw it wouldn't have done any good if I hadn't lost my grass
mats. Friday morning's schedule includes manually turning on the
sprinklers in the area where I'd hidden the mats. They would have gotten
wet anyway. Like I said, a whole new schedule to learn.
Cheer! The Chinatown doctor who has been wrecking these guys by so
casually qualifying them for mental disability money has been dropped from
the system. That's wonderful news. A sentiment, of course, not shared by
the Bad Boys, and Angelo is quite distressed at the prospect of seeing a
new, Kahala-based, psychiatrist. His appointment isn't until the 24th so
this should be a relatively ice-free month.
I had finished that elegant, profoundly interesting Peter Hoeg book with
my sandwich-and-coffee lunch after a morning on campus. Stepping down the
literary ladder a few rungs, I was sitting in the Orchid Walk, beginning
Stephen King's Needful Things. Perhaps that's an unfair comment.
I've read very little of King's work, know it mostly from film or
television adaptations, but then I don't know many contemporary authors
who come even close to Hoeg. And one thing's for sure, King is a splendid
storyteller. His book grabbed my attention almost from the very
Angelo walked up, asked if I'd seen Rocky. I had, but not since very
early morning when I'd been surprised to see Rocky in the men's room,
leaving as I arrived to shave. Angelo wanted to go to a large hardware
store out near Waianae on a shopping expedition, needed Rocky to spin for
him. He seems to have finally gotten the message: I may not strongly
disapprove of his shopping methods, but I don't want to play accomplice.
He did try, though, and added the extra incentive of going to C-One's
afterwards. He knows I think C-One is a real cutie and told me after our
first visit that C-One gets well buzzed on one 40oz bottle and then always
turns into something of an exhibitionist, finds some excuse to get naked.
One time he'd just pulled out his "long, skinny dick" and waved it at
Angelo. Yes, that sounds like my kind of entertainment. But I told
Angelo, no, I didn't want to visit C-One unless I had money to take beer
and cigarettes with me, my money not his shopping proceeds.
I asked him quite seriously, since he'd been staying there, how the
Sleeptalker was doing. "He seems okay," he said, qualifying it with, "for
him." He said Chinatown-B had taken him aside at one point and asked him
why the Sleeptalker "behaves like that". The Sleeptalker will smoke the
pipe when the other guys are around, but refuses to share one when he and
Chinatown-B are alone together. Well, as Angelo said, we both know why
that is, but he didn't want to say so to Chinatown-B.
I told him I'd heard, without saying where (nor will I here), that
Chinatown-B also uses needles. Angelo said, yes, he does both. That sets
off all the alarm bells. An aging gay man who also uses needles ... ouch.
I can't think of anything more grim than hearing the Sleeptalker had
gotten AIDS. We talked about that for awhile, Angelo being surprisingly
uninformed about the facts.
That led into a more general discussion of sex and the body. "Isn't it
funny," Angelo asked, "how you wake up with a hard-on?"
Readers may not appreciate just how much I am touched by and treasure such
moments. On one level, of course, it's part of the flirtatious banter all
of the Bad Boys, with the exception of Mondo, employ. But I could also,
in this instance, tell from the tone, the way Angelo said it, that he was
not only sharing a very intimate thought but was also asking, "am I weird,
abnormal?" These lads either had no father at all during their
adolescence or had ones who were as inept as mine at intimacy. And with
their contemporaries they have to maintain the tough facade, the bravado.
Such moments were the true joy of the long friendship with the
Sleeptalker, many of them so personal and touching I couldn't write about
Still no sign of Rocky, so we walked through the mall looking for him.
Then Angelo did his usual plea for fish, a dollar cash for three
foodstamps dollars. I reminded him of the fifty-fifty deal I'd get in
Chinatown. He laughed and gave me what change he had, said he had to keep
the only other dollar for bus fare. I got myself a Colt, his fish and a
Pepsi, and we went to the park, continued our conversation while he ate
and I drank. I didn't offer him any beer. The day before I had told
Rocky his credit at the Bank of Albert was zero. Angelo asked, what about
his? You're just below Rocky on the no-cash-money list I said, two 40s
behind. Rossini is at the top of the buy-beer-for-this-guy list.
By late afternoon, still no Rocky, so Angelo was going on to Waianae on
his own. I again declined the invitation to join him, said I was just
going to hunt for the three more quarters I needed for a sunset brew. He
went on his way, I soon found the beer financing and returned to the park
with my bottle and Stephen King.
The clean-up routine wasn't much of a success, only found four quarters,
halfway to Saturday's beer. I figured Angelo would spend the night in
Waianae so perhaps it was a good chance to check out the new sanctuary.
So I took a bus down there. Yes, dark, sheltered, very long benches.
That's the strangest part of it. The benches are about fifteen-feet long,
so each plays bed for two people. It was like sleeping in the same bed
with a stranger and the fellow with me woke me up several times when he
shifted position. It was so dark I couldn't really tell what he looked
like, or if it was someone I'd seen before, but I did recognize one
former hacienda regular. The New Cloisters, even if the church is
considerably older than the first one. Like I said, it's very good to
find an alternative sanctuary and no doubt that two-to-a-bench arrangement
will be quite amusing, given the right company.
There is one bench at the new-cloisters even longer than the
others. It must be at least twenty feet long. When I arrived there
Saturday night, I could see someone curled up at one end but it was too
dark to tell who it was. I sat carefully at the other end, started
digging my night gear out of the backpack. A head raised up. "Damn!" he
said and waved. "Sweet dreams," I wished him, and settled down to
sleep ... with Rocky. Like I said, two-to-a-bench can be amusing. It was
also reassuring. I know I don't have to worry about trouble when Rocky is
around. He'd stand up to any nut in town.
After most of the morning on campus, I returned to the mall for a
sandwich-coffee-and-book lunch. Needful Things has me thoroughly
under its spell and later I didn't even take part in the final clean-up,
sat in the Orchid Walk reading instead.
Didn't see any Bad Boys, but I did spot Wisconsin who fortunately was busy
talking with someone and didn't see me. Then I had another of those very
slow bus drivers on the ride to Dole Cannery to meet Helen R. Odd that
they so often put the slowpokes on the Airport run.
We went to see "Bless the Child". Kim Basinger and the Devil. I have to
admit I didn't get bored at all and the Devil was thoroughly impressive
when he made his appearance, with magnificent wings. As I wrote
elsewhere, I still think Satan would be sensible enough to appear as a
very handsome man in an Armani suit these days, not in some sixteenth
century grotesque mode, but I guess that wouldn't play as well in movies
like this one.
Back at the mall, Helen kindly bought me one of those baked potatoes at
Arby's. Irksome they didn't have the sense to leave it in the microwave
long enough for the cheese to melt, but then I could have taken it back
and asked for further zapping.
I got my sunset brew and went to the park, read until it was too dark to
continue and then, as I said, sat in the Orchid Walk reading
until I began to worry about being too late and finding no vacant spot on
a bench. The biggest problem with the new-cloisters is the smaller
number of available spots than at the hacienda or the old cloisters,
although I suppose if it was a totally full house, three people could fit
on the bench Rocky and I shared. Hmmmm, Mondo at one end, Angelo at the
other, me in the middle. I guess that wouldn't make for a very restful
night but it would be fun.
Sunday was a gray, gloomy cloudy day and quite damp in the morning,
especially on campus. It would have been a fine time to just play the
game for hours, but the confounded thing was down. I checked out a couple
of others but despite using the same basic code base, they were very
unsophisticated compared to Seventh
Circle and in one of them the fights went on for so long I got fed up
and dropped the connection. A good MUD these days is hard to find.
I was only short two quarters with beer financing, found those soon after
returning to the mall but waited until mid-afternoon to get the brew and
go to the park, back to Needful Things. I saw what I thought
might be Angelo and someone else at a distant table, later saw it was
indeed Angelo when he headed to the shower. When he returned to the
table, they started walking toward me. Rossini. Angelo had two bottles
of vodka and they had pretty well killed one off already. When I finished
my beer, he dumped the rest of that bottle in my cup and added a squirt of
orange juice. Rossini lay down on the bench and was soon asleep, so
Angelo and I talked and drank, moving on to the second bottle. Then he
decided he was going shopping again, woke Rossini up to spin for him, and
they went off to the store. I told him I'd try not to think of C-Two
laying face down on the grass.
They returned after a successful raid, we drank some more and then Rossini
said he was going to his mother's house. Angelo said they had gone
to the new-cloisters the night before, but there had been no vacant
spots on the benches so they went to the hacienda and weren't bothered
by the cops. Rossini left, Angelo said he was going to the pawn shop and
might see me later. I figured he was planning on getting his loot and
heading to a Korean bar. Fine with me, I was already pretty buzzed on the
vodka, in no mood to go walking, much less to a bar. He left the rest of
the vodka for me and I got smashed enough not to even care about looking
for the three quarters I needed for the next day's beer. Sufficient unto
the day is the alcohol thereof.
After dozing for awhile at the table, I thought I'd better get myself on a
bus if I was going to find bench space, staggered across the street and
rode to the new-cloisters. Only two people were there. The lights
were on for the first time, very bright lights, but I was drunk enough not
to care, settled on the very long bench and fell asleep. Just after one,
I woke up to some banging noise, saw a young shirtless stranger on a
nearby bench hammering away at something with his shoe. Drunk, stoned,
crazy or all the above. He kept making noises, showed no sign of settling
down, so I got up and walked to the hacienda. Only one young man there,
another stranger, asleep. I curled up on my usual bench,
feeling happy to be "home", and slept soundly until almost six.
What a strange life this is.
The august Fool Moon was a lucky one. It began with finding an apparently
very new cigarette lighter, welcome since mine had reached the stage where
you wear out the thumb flicking the thing, hoping for one last flame.
Then when I got to campus, I found a navy blue tee shirt, size large, with
NIKE on the front. Wearing it makes me feel like a sandwich-board man,
thinking the company should send me a fee for each day I walk around
advertising them. It would have been far more stylish to have left the
front of the shirt plain, with just their familiar flying checkmark on the
sleeve to do the touting. Oh well, my gray KAC Baseball tee shirt was
getting a little grubby around the collar anyway, and whoever had been
wearing the Nike shirt surely did smell good. After having a shower
later, I put it on without washing it. What a slut.
I stayed on campus all morning and consequently it was almost 2:30 before
I found the three quarters I needed for a brew. I thought I'd better
continue the hunt, save that beer for sunset in case it turned out to be
the only one of the day. But just after finding the third quarter, I was
walking past the supermarket when the lady who had not long ago given me a
five-dollar bill once again came up from behind me, said "here, take this"
and handed me four ones. How extraordinarily kind ... and how
extraordinarily odd. Why is this stranger giving me cash money?
When I told Angelo how puzzled I'd been by the first time she'd done it,
he said, "well, you look like a nice old man ..." "Excuse me? Look like?
I am a nice old man." He laughed and continued, "and people
probably see you working at returning carts instead of just begging. I
respect that, too," he said, "it's better than the way I make money." Who
would've thought it, getting respect in my old age by pushing back
Whatever her reason, I certainly was grateful for her kindness and enjoyed
being instantly catapulted into the three-brew budget range. No way,
though, not after the previous day's vodka fling. Incredibly enough, I'd
had not the slightest hangover in the morning, much to my surprise, but
was determined to limit myself to two 40's, at the most, Fool Moon or no
I bought one and went to the park. Just as I arrived, I saw the Krishna
truck leaving. Looks like they've changed their schedule again. If they
really want to serve the poor and homeless, they shouldn't do stuff like
that so often. Shrug. Midway through the month, still not at the mid
point of foodstamps. Of course, that's mainly because I've spent less
time with Angelo, not the result of any feat of discipline.
The final quarter of Needful Things was turning out to be, as long
anticipated, very bloody indeed. King seems to have had a great time
blowing away almost everyone in town, one way or another, and literally
blowing up much of the town as well. Amusing, silly stuff.
I had that shower after finishing the beer, was rewarded with the company
of a rather cute young man. Alas, he showered with his surfer shorts on
but then turned slightly toward me, opened them up, dropped them down to
wash what was in them, giving me a fine view. Sweetheart.
Welfare money must be gone, because the Mongoose was dashing around on his
fancy bicycle for the first time this month when I returned to the mall.
As usual, he was missing a lot of treasure with his frantic method. How
he overlooked a stroller in the parking lot, I don't know, those poles can
be so easily spotted. Taking it back, I hoped, as always, the corral
wouldn't be out of quarters, as is often the case on a Monday. I saw a
playing card on the pavement, the seven of hearts. Cards laying like that
always seem an omen to me, even if I don't understand exactly what
the significance of a particular card is. But the seven of hearts seemed
lucky, and indeed, the corral not only had my two quarters, there were
once again two more already in there. A quick dollar. I'm grateful the
Mongoose is such an inept hunter.
Before the end of the day, I had enough for yet another brew, so returned
to the park with my sunset bottle and continued the tale of blood and
Where to sleep? I figured that if the young loonie who had been at the
new-cloisters the night before returned, he'd be even more loonie under
the influence of that big shining ball in the sky. And I don't want to
rely on the hacienda again until I hear more all-clear reports. After
all, I had gotten there in the wee hours of the morning, it was possible
the cops had already cleared the place earlier. So I went in quest of
grass mats or cardboard, deciding to return to Park Place and LongJohn. I
only found a small piece of cardboard. My fault, because I'd seen a
discarded grass mat in the mall earlier. When I went back to get it
later, it was gone and I thought the cleaning army had disposed of it.
Wrong. As I saw the next morning, it was still there. I had just gotten
confused about which level of the mall I'd seen it.
Never mind, it was a very warm night anyway, and the small cardboard was
better than nothing. LongJohn had settled in a slightly different spot,
but sometime during the night relocated to his usual one. The Bicycle Man
had already departed, leaving his bike chained to the grill as usual. No
sign of Sidney, and I was reminded I hadn't seen him for a couple of days.
He's a nice man, I hope he's okay.
The moon was beaming down at me as I fell asleep, feeling like a very
lucky man indeed.
Such a restless feeling all day Tuesday. No Bad Boys again, but I did
spot Sidney, grinning happily and doing his bounce. I reminded myself
that it used to be fairly commonplace to go weeks at a time between
contacts with the Bad Boys.
Seventh Circle was finally available again, but yikes, what a mess.
The man seems to have no concept of making backups. After spending more
than two weeks getting it almost back in shape, you'd think he would've
had the sense to make a backup before letting his dumb buddies try again
to add new areas, not to mention using the beta version of the game for
experimentation instead of the main port. At this point, it's unplayable,
so I explored more for a replacement. The grandpa of SMAUG MUDs,
Realms of Despair had over three hundred players logged on!
That's way too many at one time. But I started a character named
Caduceus, after my Seventh Circle cleric, and the powers-that-be refused
to let me use that name. Not medieval enough, I guess. I said hmmmph,
I already had two-brew financing in pocket, found two quarters in the
early morning even before shaving and by the end of the day had bagged
seventeen more. I'd moved on from Stephen King to Elizabeth George's
Deception on His Mind, a stylish English seaside resort mystery
made more complex by conflicts between the natives and Pakistani
newcomers. Interesting reading, keeping me well entertained through a
lunchtime brew, one at sunset and, yielding, a third as nightcap.
But like I said, a restless day, partly accounting for the generous income
since I'd spent more time than usual just wandering the mall because I
didn't feel like doing anything else. I really don't enjoy that mood at
I'd stashed that grass mat under a planter box. Some cleaning army
fanatic found it and put it in a trash can. I retrieved it and tucked it
away again, further outside the usual path of the cleaners. Happily, it
was still there when it came time to head over to Park Place, and after
the previous night on the small piece of cardboard, the beachmat felt like
a luxurious double bed. Again, it was just me and LongJohn and the cats.
And the restlessness continued in dreams.
Something odd is going on with the Krishna folks. A little sign on the
truck confirmed that they have, indeed, changed their arrival time to
three o'clock on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. This isn't so
unusual, they have often changed the time or even the location for their
soup-kitchen truck's hand-out. But there are usually two or three people
helping out in the truck. On Wednesday there was only one fellow and he
made no effort to disguise the fact that he wasn't pleased with the duty.
Unfortunate. If they aren't going to perform the service in the right
spirit, it's bad for them. And after all, Prabhupada said only that no
one should go hungry within ten miles of one of their temples. He didn't
say they had to deliver the food.
Of course, they may prefer to deliver than to have a bunch of riff-raff
show up at their centre three times a week, although given their
out-of-the-way location here, that would be unlikely. And if the
offerings were as pathetic as Wednesday's, even more unlikely. Half the
plate was filled with plain, boiled rice. There was a minute portion of
vegetable curry, the rest of the plate filled with yet more rice, at least
with a bit of bland sauce on it. I'm not complaining, just noting it as
yet another sign something strange is happening with them. And the birds
enjoyed the plain rice.
I was thinking mid-afternoon how strange, too, it is that I've gone three
days without talking to anyone aside from the usual exchanges with
salesclerks. The entire cast of characters has gone missing, not just the
Bad Boys but the peripheral folks like The Doc and Wisconsin. Angelo
disappearing for this long certainly suggests he may be behind bars and
this time not just in the downtown lock-up. Rocky's absence is no doubt
explained by his having gotten his welfare money.
I'm puzzled, but not particularly unhappy about it. It's the adjustment
to the change between buddy team and solitude which is sometimes a little
difficult, but once that adjustment is made, I seem to be fairly happy
with either. And I was certainly pleased that the restlessness of the
previous day was missing. Full Moon Hangover? May be.
This is interim week on campus, the fall term beginning on Monday, so the
place has been relatively deserted. I've often had the entire computer
lab to myself. Friday, though, everything shuts down for "Admission Day",
so it will be an off-line day. It's so odd that they celebrate the day
Hawaii became a state, when it's certainly not an event all the local
folks think of as cause for celebration. Still, no one complains about
the extra day off work, and the banks, all state offices and the schools
close for the day. An early rehearsal for the Labor Day hoopla.
I found another decent MUD at last. It has all the basic SMAUG modules
and is thus in many ways identical to Seventh Circle so there isn't
a long learning process involved. It is, though, certainly somewhat weird
to be playing such a lowlife, but I did get my new ranger up to level
seven with little difficulty. It's always the case with these games that
much of the pleasure of playing is dependent on the quality of the other
players, and this one seems thus far to have an interesting group of fans.
It was good to find another outlet for my MUD addiction.
I had money for one brew, but postponed drinking it until mid-afternoon,
by which time I was only short two quarters for a second one. So I stayed
longer in the park reading than usual and didn't find those two quarters
until just before sunset. After that one, I was starting out with only
one quarter toward the next day's brew. Days measured in beer quarters.
Okay, I don't dispute the fact that it's a weird way to live.
Although it was some time before I actually spotted him, I knew the
Mongoose was around somewhere when I returned to the mall. The sharp
increase in the number of carts joined together to get both quarters was
solid evidence. When I did finally spot him, he was taking a cart over to
one of his previous cheats. He'd separate one of those carts and then
join it to the new one for the quarter instead of wheeling it back to a
corral. I hope the security army sees him doing it eventually and bans
his sorry butt from the mall. That would be a happy day.
He didn't linger for clean-up, though, nor did the Brolly Queen. That one
always ponces around with a little shoulder bag, a folding umbrella
sticking out of it, only shows up at the mall at the end of the day and
dashes around, Mongoose style, hoping to get lucky. I don't think he
I did, though. I was much irked when returning a stroller to discover the
corral was out of quarters, but then I'd only wheeled the thing across the
street to return it so it wasn't as annoying as it would have been had I
lugged it back from a greater distance. And as it turned out, it was good
to know that corral was empty, because strollers were the main source of
clean-up income, even if I did have to wheel them all the way to the other
side of the mall. $2.75 by the time I quit for the night. Not bad, not
bad at all.
The solution to the "mattress" problem is easy. Every time I spot a grass
beachmat, grab it, hide it away somewhere in a line from the mall to Park
Place. With enough of them in reserve, one is bound to escape anal
retentive cleaning people, other bums who want them, and the irrigation
systems. We'll see how well the plan works. Certainly worked fine on
Wednesday and I arrived at Park Place around ten, spread out my mat and
was quickly asleep. LongJohn had already settled down. He seems to
follow a fairly steady routine, going to sleep about nine-thirty and
getting up even earlier than I, around 4:45 or five o'clock.
Some of those cats never seem to sleep.
When I woke in the morning, LongJohn was just walking down the path. I
looked up at the ceiling and on a crossbeam, a cat was sitting looking
down at me. I wouldn't have been at all surprised if it had grinned and
then slowly disappeared, leaving nothing but the grin behind.
Raindrops keep falling on my head ... And so they did on Friday
night. I had to shift my position at Park Place a few feet further under
shelter. A strange feeling, to wake up with drops of cool water hitting
The weather had been unsettled on Thursday evening, too, looked like we
might be in for a wet night, but despite pouring rain visible in the
mountains, it didn't reach the park aside from a few dribbles while I was
enjoying my sunset brew with Grisham's The Client. This one seemed
further out in legal la-la land than usual, even for Grisham, but like
most of his books, it was very well plotted and engrossing. I ended up
skipping the clean-up routine on Friday in order to finish the book.
Clean-up had been so successful on Thursday I thought I should just give
up the Quarter Hunt during the day, concentrate on the clean-up hour
instead. And the success meant I could take a day off from it, most
welcome at this time of the month when I begin to count the days until the
Fabled Pension Check is due, eager for a break from carts and strollers.
Since the University was closed, I started the day with an
earlier-than-usual shower, washed the Nike tee shirt (which no longer had
the yummy aroma of its previous owner anyway) and sat in the park reading
while the shirt dried. It was quite cloudy, only a few breaks of
sunshine, so the drying time was extended to almost two hours.
Then I went to Dole Cannery to meet Helen R. "The Cell" was the holiday
film choice and it was a good one. Fascinating film, even more
fascinating LSD-type imagery including one sequence where the screen was
bordered in golden vines which kept subtly shifting and growing, a direct
reminder of some moments in the Early Acid Days.
I went back to the park and the book with a bottle of Colt, later met
Helen again for dinner at the Likelike Drive-In. I was sitting outside
waiting for Helen, watching the people come and go from that (very popular
with locals) diner, thinking many of them would do better to give up
eating for a week or two. There are so many grossly overweight people in
this town. The parade didn't put me off my food, though, and the hot
roast beef sandwich there is excellent, even if I did later in the night
wish for some Alka-Seltzer.
Wisconsin was at the mall earlier. I'd just said hello to him as we
passed the first time, me leaving and him entering the men's room. Then I
saw him again talking with someone, slipped by unnoticed and avoided the
spot until I saw he had gone. I didn't want to be asked where the "Pretty
Boys" were. Thinking about it, I remembered how drunk Angelo had been the
last time I saw him and when he gets drunk, he always wants to go
shopping, even if he had been on an expedition already. I suspect that's
just what he did do, back to the favorite store. And since he hadn't
shown up at either the new-cloisters or the hacienda that night, he'd
probably been carted off to jail. A week's absence no doubt means they
finally got fed-up slapping his paw with an overnight time-served and
tossed him into the county lock-up. I hope my guess is wrong but on the
other hand, a month in that place might actually be good for him.
A week without the Bad Boys. Yes, it does in a way make life easier.
I've ended up each day with at least two boxes full of snipes and the
foodstamps card is in much better shape for this time of month than usual.
But yes, I do miss them.
I seemed to say "damn!" to myself unusually often on Saturday, only once
in astonished delight. It started first thing in the morning, waking up
to sneeze, sniffle. Damn. A summer cold. Oh well, they are always
fairly mild and don't last long, but I knew I had a couple of somewhat
miserable days ahead of me, stopped into McD's and loaded up on napkins.
Sniffle, snuffle. And forget about laundromat, gotta use those quarters
for some aspirin. Damn.
The Sleeptalker came into Seventh Circle. Damn. I'd started
Door to December by Dean Koontz, knew I'd finish it before the
weekend was out and had planned a trip to the State Library. No way, if
the Sleeptalker was there. He was probably more surprised than I when no
one greeted him in the game, but then he didn't know how much trouble
there had been and how pre-occupied most folks were with their own
problems. When the game crashed big time, most of the areas vanished
altogether and with them went any armor and equipment which had come from
them. Most of us lost everything. After awhile, he said to me, "tsk,
tsk". What that was supposed to mean, I didn't know and didn't ask. I
didn't say anything at all and quit after a few minutes, went over to the
new MUD I've been playing instead.
I firmly believe that "be here now" is the best way to live. Not much
point in mulling over things from the past once they've been examined for
any lessons learned. It can't be changed. And pondering the future is
often totally absurd because it rarely turns out the way we anticipate.
But I had given considerable thought to how I'd react to the Sleeptalker
when he, inevitably, came around again. I knew he'd use his usual
strategy. Wait long enough for the dust to settle and pretend nothing
ever happened. Well, not good enough. If Rocky had the style to
apologize, the Sleeptalker should, too. At the least. And although I
intensely dislike "for your own good" thinking, I do believe it's best for
both of us if our friendship stays on a backburner for awhile, and a
longer while than it has yet been. Much longer.
So I cancelled plans for a trip to the library and as it turned out,
didn't need to travel for a book anyway. I saw one left on a planter
ledge at the mall and grinned. It was a another Dean Koontz book,
Ticktock. I finished the first one, as expected, by evening and
went on to the newly found one. Not nearly as good as Door to
December, alas, but it would keep me entertained until Monday.
Koontz is certainly a writer of weird tales.
I wasn't at all in the mood to hunt quarters, only returned one cart
because it was just sitting there on my path to the supermarket. I'd had
a sandwich, chips and beer for lunch, had enough for a sunset brew, so
went back to the park to read for awhile. The Garcia Family Reunion was
taking up the area around our usual tables. One thing's for sure, those
Garcia folks surely do raise some fine specimens of slim brown young men.
Food was unusually scarce, nonexistent in fact. So I reluctantly brought
out the plastic and got myself a chef salad and a chilled capuccino, sat
on a planter ledge near the supermarket and ate while pondering over
whether I was doing the right thing with the Sleeptalker. I heard a
familiar voice say, "here you go". The Cash Lady. And she handed me a
TWENTY DOLLAR BILL. Damn. "You're so kind," I said, "thank you very
much." As always, she smiled, said nothing, and went on her way.
Incredible. Who is this angel???
Sunset brew with book. Nightcap brew, finishing book. Sniffle, snuffle.
"You left?!" asked Angelo in disbelief.
"He must have been really surprised. He always expects people to forgive
"Oh, I forgive him," I said, "but I just don't feel like playing his games
The Return of the Bad Boys, or perhaps more accurately, the Attempted
Return. Bad timing. The cold had me in a rotten mood. I just wanted to
spend the morning on campus, then get slightly drunk and lay in the sun
all afternoon, give these wretched viruses a good toasting. The weather
gods didn't cooperate. It was gray and gloomy all day, frequently wet.
So wet on campus it had taken me quite some time to get from the bus stop
to the computer lab, having to take shelter and wait for downpours to
abate before continuing.
Just before eleven, the Sleeptalker walked into the lab. He's got an even
worse haircut than the previous one but, of course, looked as cute as
ever. He said nothing, walked past me looking for a computer that was on,
walked back again, finally sat down. I thought, if you don't know by now
how to turn on an IBM PC and its monitor, figure it out for yourself. He
did. After a few minutes, I got up and left.
Oh yes, there certainly was a time when I would have been delighted with
such an unexpected visit, especially with beer money in pocket and plenty
of plastic money to feed the lad as well. There certainly was a time.
The Mongoose was already whizzing around the mall on his fancy wheels,
glared at me. Phooey, I thought. It's all yours, sweetheart. I was so
happy to be able to take Sunday off, always my least favorite day for the
Quarter Hunt. The dumbo surely is blind, though. He had just passed a
corral later when I was heading to the supermarket for beer and a
sandwich. There was a cart there still with its quarter. Silly Mongoose.
Walking over toward the park, I ran into Angelo. I'd been partly right.
He had been in jail, but once again got slapped with an overnight
time-served. When he got out, he had gone to Chinatown-B's. Rocky was
there. Chinatown-B was baffled. The Sleeptalker had, without warning or
saying anything, packed up his things and left. So much for a North Shore
house. Angelo said Chinatown-B was "very boring", just sits there all the
time sucking on the glass pipe. But he and Rocky had stayed there for two
nights. Then Chinatown-B had taken Angelo aside and said, "get your
friend out of here or I'm calling the police."
Rocky went to The Doc's. "You guys just go from one old gay guy to
another," I said, thinking "and now it's my turn again". Angelo had
stayed at the hacienda for the last two nights, wasn't disturbed by the
cops there. He'd also managed to get some money, quite a bit of it
evidently, since he had a fancy new watch he'd actually bought, still had
the box in the store's bag. The department store bag. What a nutcase.
With all his good buddies running pawn shops he could certainly have
gotten a better deal.
He hinted about being hungry. I ignored it, didn't even bother to remind
him he's two 40's behind. He had loaned Rocky ten dollars, decided to go
back to the mall and call The Doc, see if Rocky was still there so he
could get his money. I declined going along, said I was just going to
finish my beer and get another. I guess Rocky must have been there,
because I didn't see Angelo again for the rest of the day, just indeed got
slightly drunk, finished TickTock, grabbed my hidden beachmat and
settled down to sleep with LongJohn, Sidney and the cats.
As always on the first day back at school, the campus is a swarming
anthill. A young lady maintained a tradition, asking, "excuse me, sir,
can you tell me how to get to the Art Building?" Every year there has
been a similar young lady. This one was especially easy to assist since
we were standing in the Art Building.
A sweet Japanese lad was one of three folks desperately seeking Krauss
Hall. He's a strong contender for the Freshman of the Year award although
I'll wait until further surveying the new talent before deciding. No
hesitation with the former Freshman of the Year, though. He was instantly
named Junior of the Year, as he had been with the Sophomore title. As I
said two years ago, it was going to be a pleasure watching him mature. It
certainly has been, and continues to be. His smile and cheerful "good
morning" made my day.
Krauss Hall was the champ but there were also enquiries for Campus Center,
the Student Services Building and, for a moment stumping me, St. John.
"Ah, the plant place?" I asked. Yep. That was a little more difficult to
explain since the enquirer didn't even know where Hamilton Library is. If
I were an incoming student at UH, I certainly would have spent a day
during the previous week, or on the weekend, learning my way between my
various classes, not waiting until the actual first day of school.
Like most of the regular urban nomads, I departed campus earlier than
usual. Until things settle down a bit, it's better to avoid the place
except in the very early morning or evening. At the State Library, I was
faced with a choice between yet another Dean Koontz book or Stephen King's
The Dark Half. I decided on King. Damn, that guy is good, and
this one kept me riveted from the start even if it is rather peculiar to
know how so many of the characters would eventually meet their end, how
many of the town's buildings would one day be blown to smithereens.
The cycle of returning Bad Boys continued when I returned to the mall and
saw Rocky sitting at a table near the supermarket. It must be the season
of silly haircuts. His new one is almost as bad as the Sleeptalker's, cut
very very short, almost shaved around the sides and a little circle of
hair perched on top like a skullcap. It does make him look much younger
and, yes, is in its silly way rather cute. The chicks are crazy for it,
he told me. "Uh-huh, I bet they're falling all over themselves," I said,
and we both laughed when just after that a young lady passed the table and
gave Rocky a definitely approving once-over.
What a grapevine these guys have. Even though he hadn't seen Angelo or
the Sleeptalker, he'd already heard about me walking out of the computer
lab when the Sleeptalker arrived the day before, thought it was very
funny. Like Angelo, Rocky seems to think it's wonderful the Sleeptalker
has finally encountered someone who isn't a total pushover for his charms.
I don't quite think of it like that.
Although 99 percent of what I write is based on fact, at least my
perception of what is fact or what I'm told is fact, sometimes I feel like
I'm writing a novel, go to sleep, wake up and discover my characters have
somehow written in new plots, created different lives for themselves.
Rocky's version of what had happened when he was with Angelo at
Chinatown-B's was quite unlike Angelo's. In fact, Rocky said it wasn't at
Chinatown-B's at all, but at "Japanee-B's" (i.e., Rossini). Okay, it is
confusing having two players with the same name and they usually qualify
it with "Chinatown" or "Japanee". And it was Rossini's roommate who had
gotten irked and demanded they leave or the cops would be called. I knew
Rossini often stays at home with his mother but didn't know he had his own
place with a roommate. About the only thing the two accounts of the week
agreed on was that the Sleeptalker had suddenly packed up and left
Rocky again insisted he was going to give me twenty dollars when his
welfare money comes through. I told him to remember Angelo, too. "He's
worried about his ten already!?" "You know Angelo and cash money," I
said, "he'll fret about it every minute until he's repaid."
Rocky was hinting for a beer. I ignored it, said I had to hunt snipes,
would see him later. I didn't, nor did Angelo appear. No problem, I was
quite happy to sit in the park with a beer and the book, only returning to
the mall for a second beer before losing myself in the book again. The
cold was much better and by Tuesday morning was mostly gone, leaving just
that nasty business of waking to a half hour of coughing up gook.
When you lay off the Quarter Hunt for a few days, all sorts of people
start to get in on the act. Even Droopy was hunting. Droopy is a very
sad specimen of mankind. Every morning for almost three years now (and
who knows how many before), he sits on the sidewalk by the main entrance
to Hamilton Library waiting for it to open. He has a huge pot belly, long
scraggly gray hair and similar beard, neither of which appear to have
experienced soap and water within living memory. He wears the same
clothes day in and day out until they finally turn to shreds, when I guess
he goes to the IHS donation bin and picks something else. The clothes,
too, haven't seen soap and water from the time they left that bin. He
keeps one arm at a ninety-degree angle from the elbow, always has a ladies
purse slung over it. Like I said, a sad specimen. And he spends all day
at the library reading magazines and newspapers. I've never seen him on a
computer or in any other section of the library, just the periodicals
Well, he shuffles along so slowly, he's certainly no major competition in
the Quarter Hunt, but with him and a couple of the amateurs at it on
Monday, I decided I'd better let them know it's not that easy when pros
like me and the Mongoose are at it. And since that creep was missing
until very late evening, I picked up three dollars with ease.
Then I ran into Helen R. who had been working late, was headed for
something to eat. I joined her at L&L Drive-In, ate a yummy hotdog
smothered in chili. Later I scolded myself, reminded me once again that
the digestive system of a sixty-year-old man simply isn't what it was
thirty years ago, or even ten, and expected to have an indigestion-ridden
night. Oddly enough, it didn't happen, although I certainly did have some
weird dreams. Chili dreams, I guess.
I told Helen the one thing I miss the most about having my own room, and
even a tiny one about 7x4 feet would do fine, is being able to just lay
down and go to sleep whenever I felt like it. I would have done that at
about seven in the evening on Monday. That was too early, of course, but
I did head to Park Place just after eight, leaving the clean-up to the
Mongoose, and fell asleep even with the thonk-thonk of tennis balls
nearby. The tennis courts don't close until ten. I didn't even notice
when they did, was too busy being lost in an airport trying to find my
flight on Continental Airlines to Minneapolis. Why on earth I would want
to go to Minneapolis, I don't know.
"Ohmygawd! Are you see-ree-usss!" Sigh. There is a Catholic girls
school which adjoins the University and now that the regular school year
has begun, the early morning bus from the mall to campus is infested with
shrieking young women who all seem to be on the edge of hysteria. And
their automatic response to anything is to ask if the speaker is
"see-ree-usss". Forget about quietly reading a book on the trip to
Three gloomy gray days in a row. Sigh again. Thanks, weather gods, for
the help in burning out this dumb cold. Not. Oh well, it's almost gone
now and just when I was beginning to really want a shower (the inside
kind, with soap), I woke on Wednesday to the pleasure of an almost
cloudless, blue sky. Time to wash me and a tee shirt and soak up some
Alas, the new Kahala-based psychiatrist is possibly even worse than the
former one in Chinatown. He authorized Rossini for six months, instead of
the usual three. Well, Rossini may use the money for beer and cigarettes
but at least he doesn't rush to fill the glass pipe with it. And he
really is trying to stay off the bad stuff, does take his medication. Not
so, of course, with Angelo, who is now feeling far more confident about
his pending visit to the new doctor on Thursday.
I was sitting in the park continuing the King book when Rossini and Angelo
found me. They were sharing a 40oz bottle, I was just finishing off one.
It was an amusing visit. Both of them were in a good mood. I wasn't,
especially, but improved under the influence of theirs. Buzzed by the
beer, Angelo naturally wanted to go shopping. I got him good, said if he
made out well enough on the trip I'd let him buy my body. That cracked
them up and Angelo turned back to grin at me again just before they
crossed the street.
I didn't expect to see them again, figured they'd be off to the pawn shop
and a Korean bar if the expedition was successful. I finished my beer and
went back to the mall on a snipe run, bought another bottle and returned
to the park and the book, nearing its more-than-fantastic finale. I was
thoroughly puzzled by how sharply my mood changed again. Roller-coaster
day. Despite being thoroughly engrossed in the book, I wanted Angelo and
Rossini to return and felt quite depressed when they didn't. "I'm not
having this," I said, and wrestled with the controls. "Even this flight
out. There's not the least point in letting the Bad Boys, their presence
or absence, make that much difference. In fact, it's downright stupid."
Maybe a sandwich and some coffee would help, I thought, and gave it a try.
I even threw in a candy bar for good measure. It did help, the flight
went back to at least a normal level, not especially happy but not
depressed either. A weird little dip that had been, the worst in a very
long time, and completely nonsensical.
Yes, I'm the one who should be going to that Kahala psychiatrist, not
Angelo. Not that I'd be likely to do much better with four hundred a
month than he does.
I think it was the candy bar, not the sandwich and coffee, which had the
day before lifted my mood. And not just the sugar but specifically the
chocolate. Theobromine deprivation. I guess I haven't been giving myself
enough of that drug lately, and I fed the habit again on Wednesday. I
also ate the Krishna offering for the first time in a week, but the
chocolate was considerably more welcome. At least this time three of the
neo-Hindus came along to tend the truck, although one of them just sat on
the grass and thumped a drum, but the food was pretty awful again. Not
even the birds were too keen on the stuff. Still, it kept my plastic in
pocket except for early morning coffee, and at this time of the month,
that's more than welcome. Even without tubs of raw fish for Angelo, it's
starting to look a bit empty, that card.
Ala Moana Shopping Center is, indeed, the Grand Central Station of
Honolulu. Eventually you see everyone you know in the islands there.
Nothing has more surprised me, though, than seeing Willie K walk by. He
was busily chatting with an attractive young woman so I wouldn't have
interrupted even if I hadn't been too dumbfounded to say anything anyway.
I just stood and watched them walking to an escalater, must have at least
figuratively had my mouth hanging open. I turned and a local woman
sitting on a planter ledge grinned and nodded yes. Yes, that really was
Non-local readers, Willie K is The Man, The Musician of
these islands, so far as I'm concerned. Has been for years now. He was
looking good, looking happy, and I was happy to have seen him. I told
Angelo about it on Thursday. "Willie K walked by here!?" Willie would no
doubt be amused to know what a sensation he creates just by walking
through the mall.
Greg Iles' Mortal Fear is even more engrossing than the King book.
The basic framework is a serial killer going after women he meets on a
national on-line erotic chat service, a plot foundation I'm surprised not
to have encountered before. Iles knows on-line life well enough to make
it all credible and does a more than excellent job of sustaining the
suspense. With no Bad Boys on the scene all day, I spent much of it in
the park reading.
And I was there again on Thursday when Angelo walked up to the table.
This is Angelo's version of what happened with the psychiatrist:
Not knowing how long it would take to get to Kahala and find the doctor's
office, Angelo had arrived almost an hour early. But after a brief wait,
the doctor had come out, took him into the office and thanked him for
arriving early for his appointment. "So, are you crazy?" the doctor
asked. Angelo said he wasn't sure. "Well, if you aren't crazy, you don't
get the money." [!]
Not surprisingly, Angelo quickly decided that yes, he is crazy. He hears
two voices, one good and one evil. [So which of us doesn't?].
The doctor authorized him for six months. In return for seeing a
"clinical psychologist" (Angelo showed me his card) twice a month, Angelo
gets about four hundred and thirty dollars each month. This in contrast
to a story in the current Honolulu Weekly about the expected chaos next
year when many local long-time welfare recipients will lose their payments
due to the new five-year limit, even single mothers with several children.
One has to wonder just who is really "crazy".
Although he was sober and on his own, Angelo was determined to go shopping
at the favorite store. I went back to my book, although my thoughts were
in something of a turmoil over the welfare nonsense. Of course it's
tempting to go for it myself, if it's that easy. But I don't know.
Foodstamps are one thing. For a man my age it's a simple entitlement,
based entirely on income. I don't have to lie, don't have to pretend to
be looking for work. But for mental disability welfare I would have to
lie. I know I'm "crazy" but I also know that if I really wanted to, I
could find a job. And I also know I don't genuinely need that four
hundred a month, however much fun it would be to get it. Questions of a
Later I returned to the mall, hunted snipes and was walking near the
supermarket when I saw Angelo sitting at a table. He was hoping I'd pass
by, did his dollar-for-fish routine. I needed four more quarters for a
sunset brew so was happy to oblige despite the dwindling foodstamps
balance. We sat and talked while he ate. He mentioned the business with
Rocky again, amended the story slightly so it was more in agreement with
what Rocky had told me, but still left it that they had been with
Chinatown-B. I didn't say anything about the discrepancy, didn't mention
that I'd heard a different version from Rocky. The Sleeptalker is back
with Chinatown-B again, Angelo said, even though the Sleeptalker had told
him he "hates" Chinatown-B. Better a bed under the roof of someone you
hate than a bench, I guess.
We walked through the mall for awhile, then Angelo said he wanted to go to
Border's. I said I'd stay and hunt quarters for awhile, then get a beer
and enjoy sunset in the park with it. He said he'd rejoin me there, but I
didn't expect him to, and he didn't. The Homeless Man's Summer Cold hit
Sidney the day before. I was awakened a couple of times by his loud
sneezing fits. And it hit Angelo on Thursday, so I figured he'd just go
on to the hacienda after the bookstore.
He had tried again to persuade me to return to the hacienda at nights,
said he felt more comfortable if someone he likes was staying there. The
police had come again but hadn't made people leave. They wanted to know
if anyone had seen someone throwing matches into the building. Evidently
a worker had spotted several matchbooks in there, thought someone had been
trying to start a fire. Angelo and the other regulars who were there
said, no, they hadn't seen such a thing and would have stopped it if they
had. They, and the police, thought it more likely a disgruntled person
who had been there on business was responsible. Me, too.
I stayed for the late clean-up, scored enough quarters for the first beer
on Friday. I'd thought the Mariner might be formidable competition
since he hangs out at the mall all day, every day, but I saw him pass a
remote corral. I almost turned around and went the other way, but thought
I'd just check the parking lot beyond that corral one more time. There
were two carts in the corral still with their quarters. So I guess the
Mariner isn't going to be a major problem. I'm not sure which is the
greater puzzlement, people who return carts to a corral and leave the
quarters or hunters who walk past them without noticing. I'm grateful for
So I went "home" to the hacienda. Angelo looked up from his bench and
smiled, closed his eyes again. Sleeping on a bench next to Angelo. Jes'
like old times ....
Old times, indeed. For awhile, it was just me and Rocky at the hacienda.
He was asleep when I got there, asleep when I woke up Saturday morning. I
left a vacant bench in between us in case Angelo arrived, but he didn't.
He had seen a friend from his IHS days at the mall and the
friend had asked Angelo to help him move the next day. I figured he'd
probably spend the day at it and maybe even get invited to spend the
Two other men showed up sometime during the night but it was fun to have
that pre-sleep time alone with Rocky, brought back many happy memories and
a few not so happy ones. And I am, of course, very happy to have the
hacienda back again as a refuge, especially good timing since the annual
Greek Festival was going to make Park Place a bit awkward this weekend,
people no doubt showing up very early to prepare and staying very late to
Into that time of the month ... the last days before the Fabled Pension
Check arrives. I certainly can't complain about August, though, despite
starting it off with that stupid pipe nonsense with Rocky. Every day with
at least two 40oz brews and almost every night falling asleep with the
happy knowledge I had the financing for the next day's first bottle.
Happiness is beer money in pocket.
I finished Mortal Fear just before it got too dark to read, then
spent the rest of the evening strolling the mall, pocketing quarters.
The Mongoose was fortunately absent all day, the Mariner was sitting
engrossed in a book much of the time. Droopy scored one quarter while I
was returning a stroller, but I guess the effort of taking the cart back
exhausted him because he gave up after his one triumph. The big shock of
the evening came when I spotted a cart, was walking toward it, and one of
the cleaning women threw her dustpan and broom into the cart and started
rolling it to the supermarket! Sheez, not enough the old bags constantly
interfere with the snipe hunt, now they want to play the Quarter Hunt game
as well? I hoped her supervisor would spot her, noticed another cleaning
lady giving her a shocked and disapproving look. Sure, a stroller maybe,
but slack on the job to return a cart, absurd.
I stayed on campus all morning Saturday, mostly playing
Abandoned Codex since
Seventh Circle was yet again down. I finally made it to level 8
with Caduceus. Although the same basic SMAUG code, Codex is more
difficult. Most SMAUGs have "deities". By devoting to one of them and
acquiring favor points by killing either good or bad critters, depending
on the deity's preferences, one can escape a losing fight by supplicating
the deity, incurring no penalty except drained "favor". No deities in
Codex. And it is the only SMAUG I've encountered without a post-death
grace period. When killed, it is necessary to return to your corpse in
order to retrieve your equipment. Oddly enough, you don't lose your gold
when dying. In SMAUG you can take it with you. Usually there is a
short grace period, five minutes or so, when the critter that killed you
won't attack again. Not so in Codex. The bastid is often standing right
there by your corpse to kill you again. Yes, a more difficult game.
A visit to the State Library happily yielded another Maeve Binchy novel,
Firefly Summer, so I could stop longing for her latest every time I
pass the bookstore window. I was sitting with my late-lunchtime brew,
beginning the book, when I saw Angelo walking through the park. He was
with an older guy carrying a backpack, someone I've not seen before. I
think if I hadn't acknowledged him with a little wave, Angelo would have
just walked right past me. As it was, he returned the wave, said "hi" and
kept walking with his friend. Sheez.
He was embarrassed to introduce me to his friend or his friend to me?
Whatever, it was clearly a case of "something better" and I asked myself
how many times Angelo has to hit me over the head with his
something-better philosophy before I stop being astounded by it. Perhaps
more importantly, before I finally decide life alone with a brew and a
book is "something better" than hanging out with Angelo. Not sure, I've
long lost count, but I think he may be getting close.
My mulling over that was happily interrupted when the beautiful Yvette and
her handsome brother, Keali'i, came walking down the path. Seeing two of
my favorite people definitely cheered me up, as did her hugs and his warm
The Quarter Hunt was strangely dismal for a Saturday. Too late in the
month for people to afford big shopping expeditions at the supermarket?
The Mongoose whizzed around briefly but I guess he decided it wasn't worth
playing because I soon saw him loading his bicycle onto a bus, departing
for the day. Droopy was drooping around, scored one cart, but I doubt he
found anymore. Then bingo!, I found two strollers abandoned together.
Despite that easy dollar, I came up short for Sunday's first brew. Damn.
"Albert will speak to me again," the Sleeptalker had said, according to
Rocky who was at the hacienda alone when I got there. What a rascal, that
Sleeptalker. Well, I'm glad I didn't dampen his confidence since that
definitely wasn't my intention.
But I do wish a little I'd witnessed Rocky punching the Sleeptalker in the
With the Bad Boys, everything is a jigsaw puzzle where you have to put
together pieces obtained from various sources to get what might be the
actual situation. And Chinatown-B is a major puzzle. Apparently there is
a very old man living in that apartment. I suspect it is actually his
place and Chinatown-B is there partly as a helper to the old man. His way
of fulfilling his duty is to find some cute trick he has the hots for and
letting the trick take care of the old man. The Sleeptalker is the
current trick. But of course, Chinatown-B buys beer and cigarettes for
the Sleeptalker, shares the glass pipe (whenever, supposedly, there's the
buffer of other people around), and in that state of mind the Sleeptalker
no doubt gets lazy and doesn't give a damn about the old man, anymore than
Chinatown-B. This irks Rocky, who says he often takes plates of food from
one of the nearby soup kitchens back for the old man. And other times,
Rocky is asked to cook dinner, always fixes a plate for the old man first.
He had done that on Saturday, annoying the Sleeptalker. Guilt clicking
in, no doubt. Then Rocky had done the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen. All
the time the Sleeptalker was slugging back 40oz bottles, was on his fourth
when he started bitching at Rocky about how he "showed no respect for the
I can well understand how Rocky was flabbergasted, all the more so since
said (as did Angelo) that the Sleeptalker had complained bitterly about
"that faggot" Chinatown-B, how he "hated" Chinatown-B, how he had to put
up with him trying to touch him while he was asleep, etc. etc.
Evidently the Sleeptalker pushed it too far, because Rocky slugged him
one. I doubt the Sleeptalker is talking comfortably today.
Rocky was feeling very badly about it. I said it definitely appeared to
me that the Sleeptalker had asked for it, and he agreed that was the case.
We talked for awhile about it all, about how sad it is that the
Sleeptalker can't just relax and be who he is. "Who gives a shit if he's
gay?" asked Rocky. Indeed. I think Rocky felt a little better about it
after our talk and we settled down to sleep, again with one empty bench
between us. Sometime during the night, Angelo arrived and took a bench at
the head of that empty one. We had the place to ourselves, and they were
both still asleep when I left in the morning.
I'm not sure about waking hours, but yes, sharing sleeping space with
Rocky and Angelo is indeed "something better".
Cainer has been muttering for days about how crazy things would get
in the final week of August. He would have been more accurate had he said
"how crazy you will get", never mind things.
Know thyself. Such profound advice, so succinct. And sometimes I
feel that despite sixty years practice, I'm still nowhere near taking it.
Angelo is part of the problem, although he's certainly not to blame. He
doesn't pretend to be anything other than what he is, take it or leave it.
His only real buddy is money. When he doesn't have any, he's obsessed
with getting some. When he does have it, he's so weird it's impossible to
know him. And when I'm feeling itchy about the pending Fabled Pension
Check's arrival, his obsession is even more aggravating.
I either managed to avoid him on Sunday or else he wasn't looking for me.
Sometimes I think he has a special panther-seeking radar, would find me
wherever I hid on the island. But I kept an eye out for him at the mall,
sat in a totally different place in the park after finding quarters for
two bottles of brew. That happened with surprising ease, for a Sunday,
and then the Quarter Hunt game went right downhill. I didn't find
financing for Monday's first one until almost three o'clock. Things
got lucky for an hour or so, then fizzled again.
But it was too late for the usual sunset hour reading in the park, so I
was sitting in the Orchid Walk, having just started my second Mickey's,
when Angelo and Rossini came along, carrying a twelve-pack. They asked me
to join them in the park and there was an amusing conversation, partly
about the clash between the Sleeptalker and Rocky but more about the
infamous Vegas trip. I think that trip was the most exciting and
memorable thing that has ever happened to these guys.
When the beer was finished, Rossini said he'd buy more, Angelo wanted the
usual dollar-for-a-tub-of-fish deal. I agreed. We walked over to the
mall. Outside the supermarket, I spotted a small black purse on a
planter ledge. Before I could pick it up, Angelo dashed in front of me
and grabbed it. Silly fellow. He was doubly silly because he examined it
right there, instead of walking off somewhere the owner would be less
likely to return. "Canadian money," he said, demanded his dollar and the
beer money back. I handed it to him, he rushed off, Rossini scurrying
after him. Phooey, I wasn't going to chase along to see how much money
had been in the purse. When I saw the exchange rate the next day, I
smiled to think how disappointed Angelo would have been, no matter how
much, when those Canadian dollars were turned into American ones.
The Quarter Hunt was just awful on Tuesday. I couldn't stop thinking
about that damned purse. Angelo would have been disappointed with a
hundred dollars, but I would have been happy with five from the find.
And I would have split whatever was there three ways, between us, but
certainly know better than to have expected Angelo to do it. Grumble,
grumble. I spotted Angelo, apparently headed toward the favorite store,
ducked before he could see me. Finally, almost five o'clock, I found the
final cart I needed for a beer, was wheeling it back when I again saw
Angelo from a little distance, headed toward the pawn shop. There must
not have been all that much in the Canadian purse. I waved. He returned
it. I patted the cart, and he grinned. Weird thing is, that exchange
completely changed my mood.
Well, I had been constantly lecturing myself about my silly attitude
toward Angelo, how dumb it was to even expect anything halfway decent from
him when it comes to money, and it wasn't his fault the Quarter Hunt had
been so dismal. But somehow it was that grin from him that changed the
mood, not having at last found beer money.
I went over to the park with my bottle. "I hate bums." Every now and
then I can hear the Sleeptalker saying that. And I know just what he
meant. Sometimes it seems every shaded table in the park is occupied by
some bum. Of course, meaning some other bum got there before this one did
to take that table. How it must annoy working people who go to the park.
So I sat at a more distant table and returned to Firefly Summer.
The blurb says the New York Times Book Review called it the "best Binchy
yet", and I agree. A splendid book. I'll be longing for the new one even
more after finishing this one.
I didn't really expect to get money for a second brew, was grateful to
have had the one. But I did, in fact, score enough quarters for another.
By then it was so late I decided I'd just head to the bench, enjoy the
feeling of waking up knowing I could have a beer as soon as I felt like it
the next day.
Like for breakfast.
Naw, just teasing. I think.
The Fabled Pension Check arrived on the last day of August. So it was a
day of running around, even more so than usual. Downtown to get the
check, to Waikiki to cash it, back to Chinatown for cheap cigarettes and
then to the park for a beer. When I returned to the mall, there was a
cart sitting by the bus stop. I was grinning as I wheeled it back,
thinking how funny it was to be making that effort for a quarter when I
had over eighty dollars in my pocket. I saw Rocky. He wanted a beer. I
patted the cart and said, "Hey, you lazy fucker, work for it." He laughed
and gave me one of his playful punches.
The best thing Angelo has done for me was showing me that Savers discount
clothing store. Stuff is cheaper there than at Goodwill or the Salvation
Army shops, with a much larger selection. This time I got on the right
bus and found the place, unlike the previous month. Charcoal gray Lee
jeans and two nice polo-style shirts for eight dollars. One of the shirts
was a mistake. Although quite handsome, in a very pale gray, it's a 50-50
cotton-polyester fabric. I'd forgotten how much I hate the feel of
polyester. But it's such lightweight fabric and felt very soft to the
hand, so I bought it. Oh well, can't cry over a $1.55 mistake and if I
don't get used to the strange feel of it, I'll throw it away when it gets
Clothes have never been especially important to me, but it is amusing to
be wearing new stuff. I can understand why all the Bad Boys are so keen
on having new clothes.
Angelo had walked up to the bus stop the night before when I was waiting
to go to the hacienda. He said he'd been shopping in the favorite store
with an unspecified "friend". Then the friend had gone back for seconds,
hadn't come out even when the store closed, so Angelo figured he'd been
busted. I told him I'd seen a young couple taken away earlier. A cop
brought out the young man first, handcuffed, another brought out his lady
friend, also cuffed, and they were taken away in separate police cars.
And I saw two floorwalkers from JC Penney chasing a young man, but that
one got away. I wonder how many arrests for shoplifting are made in this
town each month? If Angelo's any example, there must be at least three
times as many successful attempts as failed ones.
That was the last I saw of Angelo. He was missing on Thursday and Friday.
Both nights it was just me and Rocky at the hacienda ... amazing. And
both nights Rocky had been waiting for me, needing a light for the stub of
a joint he had. He offered me a hit the first night. I declined, said
I'd had so much beer the smoke would be wasted, and he was clearly pleased
not to have to share. He told Angelo and me that he hadn't gotten his
money yet, wouldn't until the fifth. I asked Angelo if he believed it.
He did. I didn't. No money, yet Rocky has a handsome new Nike outfit,
sweatpants and a jacket, and joints each night? No matter, like I said,
I'll believe that twenty he promised me when it falls into my hand, not
I stayed on campus for most of Friday morning. I'd had too much to drink
and not enough to eat on Thursday, the usual situation in the days between
the arrival of the pension check and the foodstamps largesse. So I pulled
out the plastic when I got back to the mall and had coffee and a sandwich
before getting beer and heading to the park. If you should find a copy of
Dean Koontz's Hideaway, I firmly recommend ignoring it. Although
very well written, it's an exceedingly unpleasant tale and I was tempted
several times to throw the thing away. I'd stopped by the State Library
on my way back from Savers on Thursday and immediately went on to Rona
Jaffe's The Cousins after finishing the Koontz, trying to get that
creepy thing out of my head. Too damned many cousins, hard to remember
which is which, but at least it distracted me.
"Here you go," said that familiar voice again. The Cash Lady was walking
through the park with a friend, came over to the table and handed me five
dollars. The kindness of strangers ...
I was thoroughly buzzed by the time I got to the hacienda. Rocky was
wearing a tee shirt with a fierce looking wolf on it. He got up, took off
his shorts, and put on the sweat pants, grinning while I watched the
striptease. "Don't you bend over my bench during the night wearing that
shirt," I said.
Funny feeling, to be sleeping there all alone with him. A nice, funny
Incredibly enough, there was a third night alone with Rocky at the
hacienda. The place was empty when I got there on Saturday night, earlier
than usual. It was Helen R's fault (or to her credit), since she'd bought
me dinner. Forty-ounce bottles of malt liquor are intended for an empty
stomach, not one full of roast pork, mashed potatoes, corn and cole slaw.
It's an unusual First Saturday After Pension when I don't have a third
Just after I settled down, Rossini arrived and asked if I'd seen Angelo.
"Not since Wednesday," I said. "For all I know, he may be in jail."
Rossini said to tell Angelo or the Iceman if they arrived that he'd be at
Chinatown-B's. I fell asleep, woke much later to see Rocky sprawled on
his back on the bench behind me, one leg propped up on the bench's back, a
I was reminded of a conversation a few days ago with Wisconsin. "Can I
ask you a question?" he'd said. "Yes, of course." "I've heard you had
the Sleeptalker, but have you had Rocky?"
Like The Doc, Wisconsin has the extreme hots for Rocky. I said no, I
didn't want to have sex with Rocky. "But don't you think he's cute?"
"Yes, he's very cute and has a big dick," I said, "but I've known him
almost three years now and I wouldn't want to risk screwing up our
friendship for sex. Not worth it."
"You're a wise man," he said. Hmmmm ...
I'd stayed on campus for the morning, mostly playing Abandoned
Codex since Seventh Circle was yet again down, fast becoming a
weekend habit with those stoned MUD-masters. When I returned to the mall
I bought beer and went to the park, continuing the Jaffe book. It's such
utter fluff I can't imagine a publisher having accepted it from an unknown
writer. Back at the mall, I saw Rocky who begged for a beer. "No can," I
said, "going to the movies." So he asked me to loan him a couple of
dollars. "Didn't I tell you your credit at this bank is zero?" I asked.
Yes, but he was getting his money on Tuesday, so please, just a couple of
dollars. I gave them to him. Such a softy I am, but then people are kind
to me and what goes around comes around.
I joined Helen R at Dole Cannery to see "Saving Grace", a sweet little
British comedy with some very funny scenes, probably the most charming
film yet made about the infamous marijuana (and one of the few which
didn't make me long for a joint, despite the delicious-looking buds). I
should have taken Rocky along.
And I definitely have to remember what I said to Wisconsin, if I'm going
to be spending nights alone with that young man.
Walking across campus on Sunday morning, I saw a pair of flowery surfer
shorts which looked to have been thrown on the grass. I went to
investigate, saw a pair of Calvin Klein briefs nearby. The season's first
streaker? Both were my size and the shorts are very pretty and very new,
just what I would have bought myself had Savers had them. A nice start to
the day, and the week.
Erick Francis wrote about September: Just keep it all (you) flowing.
If you're getting overheated, frustrated or angry, easy does it -- you're
just not writing enough.
"Cool shorts!" Rocky said. Okay, that settled it. Actually, I'd already
made up my mind when I'd been wearing them for about five minutes. The
old ones could be abandoned for someone else to find. These are such soft
cotton it's amazing, and since I lay the shorts over my backpack at night
as a pillowcase, I not only get to wear the yummy-feeling things during
the day, I get to rest my head on them at night.
Rocky thought I'd shopped them. I just said, "hey, you guys aren't the
only ones who can go shopping". It reminded me of high school, the
pleasure at doing something (or being thought to have done something)
which made you "one of the guys". What silly folks we mortals be.
Rocky must have gotten a bit nervous about our intimate nights alone
together because on the fourth night he switched to a different bench, at
my head but one over. No matter, much less distracting that way. We did
have two companions that night as well, the gay Bicycle Boy and a young
man I haven't seen in months. He used to moan loudly in his sleep, but
was quiet that night. The next night I had the entire place to myself,
and on Tuesday night just the former moaner was there, arriving long after
I'd been asleep and departing before I woke.
There was only one word for Labor Day: dreary. It was gloomy and cloudy
all day, with frequent drizzle, and a very thick, heavy feel to the air.
And the day after was, if anything, even worse. When I woke on Tuesday
morning, it looked like the world was shrouded in very thick fog. A big,
soggy cloud seemed to have parked right in Honolulu. Although it didn't
actually rain as much during the day as it had on Labor Day, it stayed
horribly steamy and sticky, far too nasty to spend much time rolling back
The one bright moment on Labor Day was acquiring a replacement for the
lost earring. When the mall started to put in fancy vendor carts at
various spots throughout the place, I grumbled at the clutter, especially
since some of the most treasured ashtrays were removed to accommodate the
silly carts. I stopped grumbling when I saw some of the folks who were
being hired to work at them, especially the young lad who works for Silver
Rhino, a cart which specializes in sterling silver jewelry. From his
first day there, he always smiles and says hello when I pass. I decided
that if the plain silver rings weren't more than ten dollars, I'd buy
them. To my surprise, they were only four dollars. I asked if he'd put
one in for me, but he alas had to let his supervisor do it. She's an
amusing lady, though, and was clearly aware of my interest in her
co-worker who stood watching the whole thing with a big grin on his face.
Aside from the utterly adorable Travis at the supermarket, that fellow is
my favorite man at the mall.
The State Library was closed for the entire weekend, so I'd selected a
thick Jeffrey Archer novel, The Fourth Estate, to get me through
the drought. Interesting yarn, tracking two newspaper moguls over the
course of their lives. I finished it on Labor Day and was delighted to
find a copy of last week's The Economist to fill in until the
library opened again. I do enjoy reading that magazine.
And I do enjoy knowing there aren't any more holidays coming up soon to
interrupt the usual rhythm of life ...
Dong! Dong! Dong! Dong! Dong!
Okay. Although I was glad it didn't do a whole Big Ben routine, I didn't
mind the clock announcing the arrival of each new hour. Only one problem.
It was four o'clock in the morning. When I'd partly surfaced and counted
four dongs earlier, I'd thought, sheez, the night surely went fast,
but was grateful I had another hour to sleep and returned to my crazy
dream. Five bells, though, I woke more thoroughly and looked up at the
clock tower. Big hand on 12, little hand on four. Hmmmm.
Doubled-checked with my watch. Yep, the chimes were wrong. Back to
The return of the Sleeptalker, the return of the Rocky Social Horror Club.
The weather continued to be thoroughly unpleasant, hot and steamy all day
turning to drizzle near sunset time. I'd sweated through a couple of
beers in the park earlier, reading Dean Koontz's Shadowfires. What
a nasty imagination Koontz has, with what seems a special fondness for
reanimated dead themes. Frankenstein updated with chatter about DNA and
gene research. Dame Fortune seems to think he belongs on my reading list.
There has been a new one at the State Library on every visit (although I
had declined this one on a prior trip) and the bookstore at the mall has
a display of six Koontz books in the window. Oh well, at least this
one isn't as creepy and nasty as the last one, no little handicapped
children being threatened by modern Frankenstein monsters.
On one trip to the mall, making a snipe run, a young lady stopped me.
"Excuse me, sir, can you do me favor?" I stopped, waited to see what the
favor would be. She didn't have her ID, would I buy a beer for her?
"What kind?" I asked, and was somewhat surprised when she said a Mickey's.
We were outside the ABC Store, the only one of its many branches which has
been refusing to stock 40oz bottles of malt liquor, as I told her. She
assured me they do now sell it, so I took her money and went to have a
look, was much pleased to see they do indeed again sell the stuff, and for
the usual price of $1.99, Mickey's and Colt. Knowledge by networking, I
When it became clear a sunset brew would be out of the question in the
park, unless I wanted to have a shower while drinking it, I decided to
return to campus and Seventh Circle which I'd enjoyed playing in
the morning. Not long after entering the game, I was greatly surprised to
see the Sleeptalker login, his first visit since the Sunday I'd fled the
computer lab when he'd arrived.
He greeted me, I returned the greeting. After all, I still think the game
is the most positive thing in his life. I wouldn't want to discourage him
from playing. After awhile I warned him about the dangers of the new
area recently added to the game. He said he was afraid to go to that
You tell [the Sleeptalker] 'just scan every move, do NOT go into the
[The Sleeptalker] tells you 'thanks'
But friends on-line, in-game only, my dear Sleeptalker.
When I got to the hacienda, Rocky was there, laying on the bench but
awake. We exchanged waves. A man I hadn't seen before was asleep on
another bench. I settled down, leaving a vacant bench between me and
Rocky and fell asleep. I woke to loud chatter and the unmistakable sound
of the Sleeptalker's glass-pipe laugh. That is such a horrible sound,
like something out of a Koontz book. There's not a hint of humor about
it, more like pure desperation. It makes me shudder. After hearing it a
second time, I got up and without looking over at them, walked away,
unsure who had been there aside from Rocky and the Sleeptalker.
Luck was with me. The drizzle stopped long enough for me to get to the
new-cloisters and there was one vacant spot on the double-benches.
A somewhat restless bench mate rocking the bed every now and then, a
chiming clock eager to advance the night one hour ahead of real time ...
definitely preferable to hearing that ghastly laugh.
Tale Six Hundred.
Knowing she'd have a calculator at her fingertips, I asked Mme de Crécy
for the figure. "59.9400599400599400599400599400599...% " Okay, 59.9% of
the way to Scheherazade. I still think anyone would definitely be better
off reading her first six hundred tales than this lot.
Maybe I should rename my characters. Angelo's a natch for Ali Baba, the
Sleeptalker could be Aladdin. Not too sure about Rocky, but Mondo could
be any of the handsome princes from those Arabian Nights.
And my Aladdin again surprised me by showing up in Seventh Circle
on Thursday morning. I wouldn't have expected him to be sufficiently
alert after that post-midnight pipe party. He seemed in a rather
plaintive mood and I gave him two special items from the dangerous new
area which cheered him up. I didn't have much trouble getting those two
things but when I tried again for the biggest prize, got killed.
Sigh. I don't think I'll ever progress beyond Level 98 in that place.
Well, at least I didn't die for the Sleeptalker. I wanted that weapon for
myself, it's still too high level for him. It's called the Shangri-La, a
kind of sword that not only slices but spits fireballs. I have one, but
it would be good fun to carry two of the things. Wasn't meant to be, not
on Thursday anyway.
The Sleeptalker was still playing when I left for the mall, bought a
sandwich, chips and a brew and took them to the park. It had been raining
either fairly heavily or as drizzle on campus, despite sunshine, but was
dry at the beach except for a few moments of dribbles. I finished the
Koontz book and went on to another Jeffrey Archer epic, As the Crow
Flies. He certainly likes to produce mammoth volumes, the story
spanning many decades, but does a highly enjoyable job of it.
After a second brew I returned to campus and the game which wasn't as much
fun as usual thanks to some unimaginative brats feuding with each other,
paying no attention to those of us telling them to either chill out or
take their banal insults to direct conversation, spare the rest of us. As
an "Immortal" on Bartle's MUD2, those are the kind of goons I would
promptly have silenced, or worse.
I suppose it was partly that which caused my mood to falter sharply and I
changed plans, decided after all to have a nightcap with another sandwich.
Much as I treasure that foodstamps largesse, I do get weary of turkey, ham
or roast beef sandwiches, the easiest option amongst the eligible food
items. A pity I don't like Angelo's beloved raw tuna, would make a nice
change now and then. Of course, I don't mind things like eating baked
beans right from the can, but it does project a certain tacky image in the
mall especially. Heh.
The brew and continuing the book cheered me up but I was sufficiently
tired to head to the hacienda earlier than usual, hoping there wouldn't be
a repeat of the Rocky Social Horror Club's gathering. Rocky was already
asleep. Just in case the others showed up, I took the most distant
vacant bench, in between two strangers. Odd how the population constantly
changes there and shifts in size. Given the changeable, uncertain
weather, it wasn't surprising to have the place eventually half full, but
fortunately the Bad Boys stayed away.
From about 3:30 onwards Friday morning I kept waking, thinking it was time
to head for coffee. That's what I get for going to sleep so early, I
guess. I finally gave up, caught the bus to the mall and had to wait a
few minutes for McD's to open before getting my coffee. I was heading to
a bench with my first cup when I noticed the strollers hadn't been fully
pushed into the corral. Shove. Four clinks. Looking good, Friday, with a
dollar profit even before the first coffee.
And ... at last ... no rain, no heavy steamy air to plod through.
If only the Bad Boys knew how easily pleased I am ...
The biggest men's room at the mall has become quite outrageous at times.
In England, they call them "cottages". In the South, in my younger days,
we called them "tearooms". Toilets where gay men hang out to make
contact. I had actually gone into the place on Friday afternoon for a
quite other purpose but having finished that, noticed the rather
attractive, young brown foot, bare in slippers, which kept sliding
discreetly (or fairly so) over toward me from the next stall.
Okay, I slid mine over a tiny bit. This interesting procedure continued
until our slippers were touching each other, and I reached down to fondle
the big toe. I went from it to each of the toes, returning to the big one
for special attention, sliding my hand up to the ankle. Up the leg a bit,
and then he shifted and crouched down to give me a feel of the Promised
Then he stopped, a moment later passed me a note. I transcribe it
"Let's go else where and you can work every part of me
see you outside?
Well, considering he hadn't even been hard after my loving attention to
his (admittedly rather cute) foot, I assumed "work" was the key word. I
didn't feel like working, so fled out.
But it certainly was good fun. I like feet. Especially cute young brown
feet. I used to shock the Sleeptalker in the game by making it appear, as
I think I've mentioned before, "Reting kisses S***'s feet and runs away."
Finally, over a second brew, he challenged me to really kiss his foot, and
I happily obliged. Yeh, I like sweet young brown feet.
I'm not too keen on people who want to pass notes under stalls in public
toilets, though. Boring.
But when we're talking boring, the weather definitely gets the Grand
Prize. Although Friday began in a fairly promising way, yet again it was
a day of frequent drizzles, even in full sunshine. It would be sooooo
nice to have an entire day of sunshine, gentle breezes, no rain, not even
one little drizzle from the sky. Boring, indeed, this dreary stuff we've
had all week here.
And equally boring is the continuing screw-up with Seventh Circle.
The Boss allows himself to be snowed by people with grand ideas for
additions or "improvements". Trouble is, they simply don't have the
technical expertise to pull off their ideas and the game is so patched up
now it's very unstable, tends to crash frequently and stays down for long
periods of time. It has gotten so bad, he'd probably be better off just
getting the basic, brownbag SMAUG code and dump the current mishmash. I
played for awhile, the Sleeptalker even more briefly, and then the game
crashed. I went back to Abandoned Codex.
In Archer's As the Crow Flies he uses a technique Binchy does so
well with, telling the story several times but from a different
character's point of view. Although it makes for some repetition, it is
fascinating to see how very differently people see the same basic set of
facts. I wondered, could I take the story of the Old Man and the Bad
Boys, tell it as straight narrative and interpose chapters written
entirely from the Bad Boys' point of view? I don't think so. I can't
imagine even pretending to review the story of our friendship, speaking as
After the afternoon in the park reading, I returned to campus for awhile,
then back to the mall for a nightcap and more of the book. On my final
run for snipes, I scored two strollers. Another easy dollar. No Bad Boys
at the hacienda, only the King Fan I'd slept by the previous night (king
as in Stephen). He's very quiet, doesn't snore at all, and seems to
suffer from disturbed sleep (or too intense fascination with King's
tales), because I've several times surfaced in the night to see him laying
there reading again. He has been through three King epics in the short
time I've known him. Maybe I should save the next Koontz book I find for
him. Anyone who likes King is bound to be impressed by Koontz.
And I guess that rather touching little interlude with the foot
sufficiently stirred my mind because for the first time ever I dreamed of
Travis. Now that's what I call sweet dreams.
All the lonely people, where do they all come from ...
where do they all belong.
Angelo agreed with me when we talked about it one day. It's sad that
these clever Bad Boys can get free medication and visits to the
head-doctors, a generous cash allowance, foodstamps, and a long-term bus
pass when the people who really need it are stumbling around the mall and
the park, too far gone to seek help or, probably, even to realize they
need it. And indeed, where do they all come from? Even though some
disappear (haven't seen Bla in a very long time), there are always new
One of them I think of as the Mouse. He is a mousie little fellow, late
20s, probably not of local origin. He walks around with his head bowed
and he's bundled into more dirty clothes than any sane person would want
to be wearing at this time of the year. Bare feet in slippers, the feet
almost black with encrusted dirt. Angelo told me there are always some
men at the shelter who refuse to shower because they can't stand the idea
of being naked with another man. If that's the problem the Mouse has, he
could at least wash his feet. Most of the water fountains in the park
have a faucet on the side. Angelo, as fastidious about his feet as he is
with his clothes, often washes his feet several times during the day at
one of the fountains. I suspect the Mouse just doesn't notice how dirty
he is, or doesn't care.
He usually carries a little book in one hand. One day he was sitting on
the sidewalk in the mall and I got a glance at the book. It had musical
notes, a little songbook or hymnal, perhaps. But when he walked past my
table in the park on Saturday, he was softly murmuring. It definitely
sounded like a Gregorian chant. How very odd. He was walking around in a
large circle, hesitating now and then, sometimes turning and
walking in the opposite direction, as if he had no idea where to go next.
The last time Angelo and Rossini were sitting with me in the park, we
heard someone shouting. "Uh-oh, he's flipped out," Rossini said. Across
the street, the Mouse was standing by the traffic light, shaking his fist
at the passing cars and shouting at them. It's the only time I've seen
him so animated.
There's another new woman, even more recently come on the scene, and she
spends a great deal of her time sitting on a bench having a lengthy,
earnest conversation with her four plastic shopping bags.
Another woman, probably in her fifties, walks around with four of those
two-wheeler wireframe shopping carts. She pushes one, pulls the second,
moving them forward about ten feet before going back to get the other two.
She slowly progresses through the mall that way and there are a few shop
workers who must really hate to see her coming. Leaving her carts parked
outside, she goes into one dress shop particularly and spends ages looking
at and touching everything. The salesclerk looks like she's wanting to
have everything in the store dry-cleaned after the crazy woman finally
A woman, of the same age, has a bicycle and more often waddles along
straddling it than actually riding the thing. She rants away constantly,
frequently getting into heated exchanges with passers-by, although I've
luckily managed to avoid her except on one occasion when they made her
move her bicycle away from the front entrance of Sinclair Library. I was
having a smoke outside, and she came over to me to rant about how unfair
they were. Didn't get much sympathy from me, with the bicycle racks only
about six feet away. She got into an argument with a young man at the
mall on Saturday, sufficiently heated that a security guard escorted her
from the premises.
Speaking of bicycles, I guess the Mongoose must have whizzed on his at the
wrong time. After more than a week's absence, he was at the mall on
Friday, looking rather battered, his left arm in a sling. No sign of his
fancy Mongoose bicycle. He was back on Saturday, walking around with his
usual angry scrowl, presumably chasing quarters again. He really is the
most unpleasant young man on the scene.
"Where is Ala Moana Beach?" asked a rather large Polynesian lady on the
second level of the mall.
I pointed at the clearly visible ocean, said "across the street",
resisting the temptation to add "by the ocean, where you'd expect to find
She still looked confused, so I was more specifically helpful and pointed
to a nearby stairwell, told her to go down there, then cross the street.
She thanked me and waddled off to the stairs.
And I was leaving the drugstore, second brew in my backpack, when I saw a
young couple standing there debating which direction to go in. He was
stunningly handsome and I guess I must have been gaping in adoration
because his lady friend looked at me and smiled broadly. "You have great
taste in men," I said. He blushed! She laughed, said "I know" and gave
him a pat on his shoulder. Sweet.
Unprecedented. The tenth of the month and there is still a ten dollar
bill left from the Fabled Pension Check. There's a five, too, but that
gets credited to the Cash Lady. The absence of Bad Boys is the primary
reason. Without pressure from them, I managed to get through August
without borrowing against the FPC at all, and without them around it
easily lasts longer. I don't deny there are moments when I'd happily
spend it all to have Angelo back again.
Where do we all belong ...
Bad Boys Sunday.
I stayed on campus all morning, mostly playing Abandoned Codex
since Seventh Circle was yet again down. When I got ready to
leave, I strolled across campus picking up snipes, then stopped in
Sinclair Library for a final check of email before heading to the bus. As
I was leaving, the Cherub walked in. Unsurprisingly, he had not lost
the weight he'd said he was going to during the summer, but he looked less
frazzled than he had before leaving for Kauai and it was good to see him.
Back at the mall, I spotted Rocky and ducked before he saw me. I didn't
really want to talk to him and especially not before I'd had my first
brew of the day. The snipes supply on campus had been meagre and it
wasn't much better at the mall. I had to wait over half an hour for that
first brew, hunting snipes until I had enough for the beer break. I'd
stopped by the State Library on Saturday where the honor collection was
less promising than usual, so I settled for Danielle Steel's The
Ring which turned out to be a better choice than expected. It's
probably the best of her things I've yet encountered.
After the beer I had a shower and washed the gray polo shirt, having
decided I would keep it despite its unwelcome polyester content. And of
course, there is the advantage of its drying more quickly than a pure
cotton one does.
Back at the mall, I again saw Rocky, sitting alone on a bench outside
Arby's. He spotted me, too late to duck. He said he thought Angelo might
be dead! What?! He'd heard that Angelo had stolen some money from The
Doc and a Filipino friend of The Doc's was going to take Angelo out with a
lethal injection of some kind. Sounded like a pipe fantasy to me. I said
I could believe Angelo would steal the money but I couldn't believe The
Doc would be that upset about it, might get someone to beat Angelo up but
certainly not kill him. Well, no one had seen Angelo anywhere. I said he
could be in jail or, if he really had stolen that much money from The Doc,
he might well have headed off to Kauai to hideout. But Rocky was
convinced Angelo was dead.
He asked if I had beer money. "You must be joking!" I said. "I will have
when you give me the two dollars you owe me." He reluctantly handed over
the two bucks. There was, of course, no mention at all of that twenty he
had several times promised. I pocketed the bills and went on my way.
Just before going into the drugstore to buy the brew I heard, "got any
We sat on a planter ledge and talked for awhile. He said, "thanks for
helping me out in the game." "What??" The rascal had been playing a new
character. I'd had no idea it was him, the thought hadn't even occurred
to me because it has been months since Mondo last played. He was
surprised I hadn't guessed, since I'd been so kind to him. I said at my
level the main pleasure in the game was helping out new characters, even
if they turned out to be veteran players. He was pleased to have fooled
me, though, and even more so to have fooled the Sleeptalker who he'd
played several tricks on in the game.
He's taking a "computer class" somewhere. As usual, Mondo was totally
vague about the details and it's always useless to ask him questions, but
apparently that's why he had gotten into the game again.
We strolled through the mall together while I replenished my snipes
supply. He evidently wasn't interested in seeing Rocky, was leading the
way but turned before heading toward where Rocky had been, stopped to
watch the racing video at the sports store. He asked what plans I had for
later and I said not much, just getting a beer and going to the park to
drink it. And him? Going home to watch teevee. I wished he would invite
me and was relieved he didn't, at the same time. I waited awhile and then
said I was off to get that beer and over to the park for sunset, so we
shook hands again and I went on my way.
I was enjoying the beer and the brew in the park when Angelo walked over
and sat at the table! "You don't look like a ghost," I said, and told him
the story I'd heard from Rocky. Like I, Angelo attributed it to the glass
pipe, denied having stolen money from The Doc. And what had he been up to
during his eleven-day disappearance? Holed up alone in a Waikiki hotel
(undoubtedly with his own glass pipe).
He apparently had no interest in seeing Rocky, either. These guys are so
totally weird when they have money, so afraid someone is going to try and
get something from them. They'd rather hideout on their own somewhere
than take that risk. Probably to his surprise, I decided the only way to
handle it was after awhile getting up, saying "I'm glad you're still
alive, anyway" and walking off with a goodbye wave.
I got another beer, hid out myself at the other end of the park, and
joined LongJohn, Sidney and the cats at Park Place for the night.
When I got to the computer lab on Monday morning, there was an email
waiting from the Sleeptalker.
And then, on Monday, for something completely different.
I was determined to avoid the Bad Boys, even if I had to hide on campus
all day or take a bus to the other side of the mountains. But as I said,
there was, much to my surprise, an email from the Sleeptalker when I
logged in and then he appeared in Seventh Circle. It was too early
for him to be playing at the State Library, so I guess they must finally
have sorted it out at Chinatown-B's for him to get telnet access.
But I also got a surprise email from Kory K who was home in bed with a
thrown back. He kindly offered laundry facilities and a hot shower in
exchange for keeping him company and going out to fetch food for him at
lunchtime. Ahhhhh, the luxury of it. A comfy, soft sofa to lounge on
while watching television, clean clothes, a scrumptious hot shower ... and
beer. Like I wrote Kory later, a lovely change from benches and Bad Boys.
Bits of this and that on the picture box, then we watched the tape of the
legendary Spinal Tap film. I'd seen lots of clips from it before but
somehow had never seen the entire movie. I can see why it has become a
cult favorite, most amusing and entertaining, evoking lots of memories of
the crazy late Sixties.
I went out to get lunch for Kory, picked up a bottle of Colt for myself to
supplement the Bud Lite, Coors Lite (yeukh) and Asahi I'd already had, so
by the time I finally left him in peace and went on my way, I was fairly
sloshed. Astrologically speaking, the next full moon is supposed to be
the strong one for us Aries folks, but if it's any stronger than the one
coming in two days, heaven help me, I'll be a full force raving lunar-tic
instead of the quietly raving one I am this round.
I had been abruptly awakened Monday morning at Park Place when I felt
someone touching my ankle. It's not that I'd mind someone touching my
ankle, but I'd prefer to be awake first. It was the little brown tabby
cat who has spent so much time staring at me and I guess had finally
decided I was worthy of cuddling up to. I'm afraid he was even more
startled than I was when I suddenly awoke and he quickly moved away about
three feet and sat again to look at me. He was there again on Tuesday
night when I arrived, as were LongJohn and Sidney. They, and the little
cat, may not be quite the visual delights of the hacienda (at times), but
they certainly are less distracting companions in the night, cuddled up on
my ankle or not.
I made the Sleeptalker very happy on Wednesday, and making him happy still
has the power to greatly please me, too. They've added a strange new
sword to Seventh Circle. It only sometimes appears when you
successfully defeat one of the tougher critters and if you sacrifice the
sword to your deity, there's a thirty percent chance of getting the fabled
Elvenbane sword. That, of course, was the treasured item the Sleeptalker
first bartered himself for, and subsequently lost the sword.
Well, I'd tried four times with the sacrifice, failing to get the
Elvenbane. The next time I got that Widow-Maker, as it's called, I gave
it to the Sleeptalker. Someone stole it from him and sacrificed it,
without getting an Elvenbane. The Sleeptalker hadn't known about the
sacrifical gamble, was utterly puzzled why the thieving opponent had
done it. I explained. Once again, I tried three times before getting
another Widow-Maker but when I did, I gave it to the Sleeptalker. He
sacrificed it and got the Elvenbane. Yes, he was a happy camper. Me,
too. It seemed to bring the whole dance full circle.
Except for enjoying the Sleeptalker's company in the game, both Tuesday
and Wednesday were days free of the Bad Boys. Quiet days, mostly spent on
campus, quiet nights at Park Place with LongJohn, Sidney and the cats.
Alas, a third, rather chubby man joined us. He snores. Time to adjust
the earplugs. Once again I wondered how many men are homeless because
they snore so loudly no one can bear to live with them. And it seems
every sanctuary eventually acquires one of the poor creatures. At least
this one stays within a frequency and volume range that can be blocked by
the earplugs and, happily, I was given two new pair of them at the end of
I finished Steel's The Ring, went on to Larry McMurtry's Streets
of Laredo, a very big leap in style, era and historical circumstance.
Anyone who hasn't come in contact with Danielle Steel and is curious about
the phenomenon would do well to begin with The Ring. Definitely
the best work of hers I've encountered, but then it surely helps to deal
with something as intense and weird as the Germans vs Jews insanity.
Although I didn't share it, I could at least partly understand why my
parents were prejudiced against blacks and Mexicans, but I never could
figure out why Jews were on their list. There couldn't have been many of
them in North Texas where my parents grew up and they certainly weren't
religious enough to adopt the attitude for the "Christ-killers" crap. I
don't know why, but I'm glad I didn't get infected with it.
Wednesday saw the end of paper money. Hello, Cash Lady, where are you?
I was sitting on a planter ledge near the supermarket, having an unusual
Thursday dinner. Potato salad, a chilled capuccino and a pint of Ben &
Jerry's Chocolate Brownie ice cream. The Horror Club, or most of it,
walked by. Rocky, Angelo, Rossini and a cute lad I'd not seen before.
Rossini waved, Angelo ignored me, Rocky looked at the potato salad and
asked, "good?" I nodded. A few minutes later Rossini came back and asked
if I had a nickel.
I had a nickel, but I said no. Sheez, between the three of them they'd
gotten almost $1300 nine days earlier, and they're asking me for a nickel?
It was probably for the phone, but considering how much Angelo uses the
telephone, he should've had the sense to buy a phone card. And in any
case, I'd firmly resolved that the Bad Boys were not going to get a penny
of cash money from me this month, so refusing was a matter of principle,
not to mention having just enough nickels and dimes to make up fifty
cents, a quarter of the price of a 40oz bottle.
Didn't see them again, nor on Friday. The Sleeptalker, after having been
quite amusing in Seventh Circle all week, showed up in the game
late on Friday afternoon and was all weird and strange. Glass pipe time
again, I'd guess. He said publicly he was going to kill off his
character, etc. etc., but said nothing directly to me and I made no
comment about his moans, nor did anyone else. He was still playing when I
left for the mall.
No Cash Lady, but the Quarter Hunt was relatively successful on both
Thursday and Friday, although I didn't get second bottle money on Thursday
until it was late enough to pocket it for the next day and just head to
Park Place. When I got there, no one at all was there except the cats.
Most peculiar, the first night LongJohn has been missing. It felt a
little odd to settle down to sleep all alone, but when I woke later, I saw
the Chubby Snorer had arrived as well as a stranger. LongJohn was back on
Friday, as was the Chubby Snorer, but although I've seen Sidney in the
mall each day, he hasn't turned up at night.
The annual Aloha Week festival began with a downtown street party on
Friday night but I wasn't in the mood for large crowds so stayed away this
year. And the festivities meant a different-than-usual awakening on
Saturday morning since people started arriving to prepare for the parade
which begins in the park and winds through Waikiki. I wasn't in the mood
for a parade, either.
Or for the weekend. When I was an office drone, the weekend's arrival was
of course most welcome. Now it's just inconvenient. The supermarket
doesn't open until seven, instead of the usual hour earlier, so if I don't
want to waste quarters on McD's coffee, I have to go from Park Place to
the mall and tuck away my grass mat, then walk back to 7-Eleven for
plastic-eligible chilled coffee. Okay, not a big deal, but not a reason to
welcome the weekend.
Meanwhile, back to Dean Koontz and Mr. Murder, with another one of
his favorite themes, the good guy somehow becoming psychically linked with
a bad guy. Koontz really has a talent for weird yarns with a slightly
nauseating edge to them.
I just seem to have a talent for living them sometimes, not necessarily
Eat your hearts out, romance writers. I have a perfectly legitimate
excuse to write about a "throbbing erection". Just the facts, m'am, just
I stayed on campus until early afternoon on Saturday, played in both games
for awhile. No appearance by the Sleeptalker. The mall was even more
crowded than usual when I returned and I figured many of the swarming mob
were people who had come in for the parade. Not many heavy-duty food
shoppers among them, either, but then it made sense that they'd watch the
parade, spend the afternoon cruising the mall, and only do any food
shopping later in the day when they left to go home.
Such proved to be the case. As sunset approached, I was still one quarter
short of beer money. Then I spotted a baby stroller, wheeled it back and
got not only my two quarters, but another which had been jammed in the
refund slot. An apt omen for the rest of the evening, when there was one
score after another. I was even late getting to the Makaha Sons gig
because carts kept turning up on my way there.
Although I've always understood why the Makaha Sons are among the most
popular musicians locally, I've never been especially touched by them
myself. I think part of the reason is that for a long time they only
played big concert venues like the Waikiki Shell, where they are so
distant from the audience there is no real interaction. Although they've
recently begun to play smaller venues, it has been at places I can't
afford. So it was a delight to have them at the mall's CenterStage and the
gig was a pleasure from start (or at least as soon after the start as I
managed to get there) to end.
I tried not to be envious of one little girl who got up to dance and was
such a sweetheart, so graceful, that people began to throw dollar bills on
the floor at her feet. She must have scored at least thirty dollars, and
well deserved every one of them.
Somewhat to my surprise, I spotted Rocky over on the edge of the crowd and
he stayed for the whole gig. It was the only (indirect) contact with the
Bad Boys all day, and I slipped away after the gig without meeting him.
During that unusually long search for one more quarter, I'd thought that
the minute I found it I'd head to the beer cooler at the drugstore, but
the Quarter Hunt was so active I knew it would be dumb to abandon it at
that point, and it remained so after the Makaha Sons. So I waited until
early nightcap time to buy the beer, by then already having money for a
second one. And by the time I finally left the mall, there was enough for
yet another one. Sunday was looking good.
I was sitting on a bench enjoying that beer and continuing the Koontz
horror. When I recently catalogued some of the mall crazies, I left out
one woman, I suppose mainly because I've so carefully avoided any direct
contact with her. She's in her forties, reminds me a little of Agnes
Moorehead. She has bushy, frizzy hair which she always has swept to one
side and held by a large comb, and she often has an elastic bandage on an
ankle or wrist. I've overheard her talking to the few mall regulars she
can manage to grab and it's always a moan about some physical ailment and
how the doctors can't find an answer, etc. etc. I've never spoken to her
I saw her approach and sit on a nearby bench. After a few minutes she
stomped over, stood in front of me and said she was sick and tired of all
the drugs in the mall and she just wished I'd stop it. I told her I
didn't know what she was on about, I had no money to buy drugs, so had
nothing to do with it. "Oh I know they are giving you medications
to distribute," she said, "and I just want you to stop it." I told her,
with utter accuracy, "you're crazy", and she walked off grumbling to
"Well, I never!", as my grandmother used to say.
Sidney was already asleep at Park Place when I got there. He raised his
head, saw it was me, and curled back down again. When I woke up Sunday
morning, I looked over and thought, hmmmm, strange profile against the dim
light of the coming dawn. Strange, indeed. Sidney was laying on his
back, stark naked, with a ... yes ... throbbing erection. In fact, it was
throbbing so vigorously it was bobbing up and down. He must have been
having a fine dream.
I lit a snipe and stood there enjoying the view. He woke up. Without the
least sign of discomfort or embarrassment, he said "good morning" and
asked if I had a smoke. Just snipes, I said, and sat down beside him,
handed him the box. He sat up, that pole standing tall between his legs,
and picked out a snipe. I lit it for him. He told me a nice man had been
in the park the evening before, had taken him downtown in a van to a
church where they fed him and gave him a copy of the New Testament, which
he showed me. Funny conversation to be having with a naked young man with
a hard-on. I patted him on the leg, wished him a good day. He patted my
shoulder in return and wished me the same, said he'd see me later.
Maybe I wasn't joking after all when I told Angelo that Sidney was my new
I saw Sidney in the mall several times on Sunday, each time being greeted
with his smile and funny little wave, an almost-peace-sign gesture. And
of course, each time I was reminded of that extraordinary moment in the
predawn. For me it was certainly a sexually stimulating experience but I
suspect for him it had little or no sexual connotation. Like Mondo,
Sidney exists in his own reality and I don't think it touches at too many
points with what I perceive as reality.
But then there must be as many "realities" as there are living beings.
The little black ant who crawls onto my leg and idiotically, senselessly
suddenly bites me and gets itself squashed has a reality utterly remote
from mine, as do the zebra doves whose idea of paradise must be a crazy
old man who comes around at lunchtime and gives them crusts of bread.
Such a kindly giant, he even shooes away greedy pigeons, reminding them of
the Dalai Lama and his "let the little ones eat". Infinite realities,
And even for me, that moment with Sidney was more treasured because of his
total lack of concern about his aroused nakedness, the certain feeling
that he trusts me. Of the Bad Boys, only Mondo seems as secure with me as
Sidney. Friend of the madmen.
Sidney and I exchanged groans once over the scarcity of snipes in the mall
on Sunday. The Quarter Hunt was even worse and I was grateful all over
again for the bountiful Saturday. With financing for two brews in pocket,
I wasn't, of course, all that ambitious with the hunt, but I don't think
it would have helped much if I had been. Only with the final clean-up did
I manage to score enough for the next day's first brew.
Although Cainer had been grumbling warnings about planetary face-offs on
Monday, it was a nicely balanced day for me. Morning on campus, playing
Seventh Circle, a trip downtown to collect mail and stop in the
State Library to replenish the supply of reading material. Then to the
mall, a beer-sandwich-and-chips lunch in the park with the zebra doves and
finishing Koontz's Mr. Murder.
It's the weakest of his books I've yet encountered, far too grandiose and
especially weakened by some unnecessary implausibilities. Well
constructed, as always, and with some unusual philosophizing about the
meaning of reading fiction, but it could have been a much better novel.
With his Phantoms already in the backpack, I took a break and read
The Poet by Michael Connelly. It's an above-average tale of an
above-average serial killer. Above-average fictional serial killer, that
is. I have an unpleasant suspicion the real above-average serial killers
never get caught.
After another run for snipes and scoring a few more quarters, I returned
to campus and the game until early evening when it was back to the mall
for a nightcap and more reading, then to Park Place. Sidney was already
there, again looked up to see it was me, and settled back down, this time
keeping his clothes on all night and, as often happens, disappearing at
some point in the night, a cat on the prowl.
Yes, a nicely balanced day.
The Sleeptalker had been in Seventh Circle on Monday evening and I
had, as usual, helped him out getting some better gear. He was there
again early on Tuesday morning. After a little while, he said he was
"very drunk". "At 8:40 in the morning?!" He'd been up all night, he
said. "Perhaps you need to slow down a little," I advised. No comment,
but then he knows that as well as I do. I'm very glad he's spending more
time in the game even if it does throw me back into the
wish-I-could-help-him frame of mind which has been so constant a part of
He left the game mid-morning without saying anything and I figured he had
probably finally collapsed from lack of sleep, but after I returned to
campus after lunch and a shower at the beach, he again appeared in the
game. He's managed to get one of his characters to level 90, by far the
best he's done yet in there.
No problem, again, getting quarters for a nightcap although I did come up
two short for the next day, still close enough to settle down to sleep
with the comfortable feeling that a brew was in the future.
And the days of summer dwindle down ...
Friend of madmen, indeed.
I'm not qualified for this. But then the people who supposedly are
qualified are sitting in comfy air-conditioned offices signing papers to
fill the glass pipes of crack and ice addicts. They aren't at the beach
park, except maybe when it's office picnic time.
Evidently Sidney has problems with exhibitionism. I have no difficulty
understanding that, am in complete sympathy with it. But I am surprised
to have known him all these months without having seen any evidence of it
until this week. And while I understand the fun of it, I don't
really think Sidney's motivation is sexual. If it's anything I can
understand, it's maybe for him more of case of freedom. That, too, I
sympathize with. There's a definite pleasure in just getting naked,
especially when you live on the street and the only opportunity to do so
is in the beach shower. But the most difficult thing of all is that I
don't think Sidney is aware of what he's doing on any conscious level.
After the morning on campus, I returned to the mall and found the two
quarters I needed for a lunchtime brew. I bought that, a sandwich and
chips, and went to my usual table in the park where my zebra doves soon
arrived. We had just finished the sandwich when I saw Sidney walking
through the park with his usual endearing bounce. But he had his shorts
down so far his entire butt was exposed and, I assumed, equal exposure was
taking place in the front. The Old Vodka Drinker and his buddies gaped.
Sidney went and sat down at a picnic table, his shorts down to his knees.
The location was ill-advised, too near the spot where a group of Samoan
ladies often gather in the late afternoon. So I filled my cup and walked
over to Sidney, offered him the longest snipe I had, and sat down beside
him. I thought being honest was the best idea, so I told him that I might
enjoy looking at it but there were some women who came to the park who
might be offended, and he should be more careful. Perhaps I should have
just said directly, "pull up your pants". Certainly it seemed clear he
had no idea what I was even talking about. I couldn't find any way to get
through to him, he was further out somewhere than even Mondo gets when
thoroughly zonked on the weed.
I gave up, told him again to be careful and said I would miss him as a
sleeping companion if he got locked up. He just smiled and thanked me for
the snipe which he had declined to light when I gave it to him, was just
holding it. I walked to a nearby table and got out my book, reading while
now and then looking over at Sidney. The first of the Samoan ladies
arrived. They evidently called the cops. Miraculously, just before the
two policemen arrived, Sidney had pulled up his shorts. I saw them
talking to him, but apparently they only warned him and asked him to leave
the area. He put his tee shirt back on and bounced off toward the mall.
Maybe my remark about women possibly being offended had prompted Sidney to
pull up his shorts when the Samoan ladies arrived, maybe not. Whatever, I
was glad I'd at least tried to help. I'd had a difficult time deciding
whether to make the effort or, like the rest of the park regulars, just
sit and watch what happened. But Sidney's a sweet guy. I had to try.
Compared to such things, it's even more irrelevant that I finally made
Level 99 in Seventh Circle after returning to campus. One more to
go to the top. I was sorry the Sleeptalker wasn't in at the time.
Last week, a player had told me he was a middle-aged man who used to play
with the Sleeptalker at UH. Not sure if there was an intended innuendo, I
just replied that I'm an old man who used to play with the Sleeptalker at
UH. Funny thing was, that player is the one I thought Mondo had been
playing. Mondo hadn't told me which new player he was, so now I still
don't know. Be nice to all new players, I guess. Never know when one of
them is a handsome, sexy brown-skinned young man.
And I'm grateful Sidney qualifies on all those counts except handsome. It
would be even more difficult if he were.
In an email received on Thursday, Mme de Crécy mentioned "your choice of
I would have thought these Tales have made it clear that it is not I who
chooses. They choose me. I don't look for them, they look for
me. I've done quite well this month in avoiding the Bad Boys. I needed a
break, I needed time to reconsider what seems in their best interest and
my own. And aside from the on-line contact with the Sleeptalker almost
daily, it has been a fairly successful withdrawal.
At least until Thursday evening. "Don't expect any sympathy from me," I
told Angelo. "When you had all that money, what did you buy for me? Did
you buy me even one beer?"
He grinned and said, "I didn't buy you jackshit."
Indeed, and what goes around comes around.
After a late afternoon-early evening visit to campus, I returned to the
mall, briefly looked around for quarters and snipes, then bought my
nightcap brew and a sandwich. I was walking past the men's room when I
saw Angelo standing outside waiting for someone. I waved and asked, "how
you doing?" He said something about buying a beer for him and I just
laughed and said, "you must be joking" and kept on walking.
A little later I saw him coming toward the bench I was sitting on. He was
with the Iceman who passed behind the bench, Angelo in front, headed for
the bus stop. I thought they were going to get a Waikiki-bound bus, but
only the Iceman got on it. Angelo returned and sat down with me. He had
been shopping, was wearing a new pair of shorts and was quite concerned
about them. Did they look okay, did they look too small? I thought them
rather dull, plain and in an Army-fatigue kind of green, but they had been
priced at fifty dollars and Angelo was trying to be pleased with his coup,
so I said nothing to discourage it. He kept fretting about them,
eventually got up and asked how they looked from the back. By then it had
become clear his concern about them being too small was simply because the
legs were more narrow-cut than the shorts he usually wears. I said
they looked fine, although they didn't show off his cute butt as well as
his black ones. He laughed. I wasn't sure if that was a plus or a minus
in his view.
C-Two is out of jail. He told Angelo he had learned his lesson, and
despite Angelo's attempt to persuade him otherwise, C-Two is staying in
Waianae. I'm happy for him. At the least, Angelo is certainly not a good
influence and although I'd like very much to see C-Two, it's better he's
not coming into town.
Angelo showed me the two drugs the clinical psychologist gave him, and
he's taking both of them daily. One is the anti-depressant I was given in
the hospital and was then taken off due to the known side-effect of
severe tremors in the hands. Fortunately he doesn't seem to have
experienced any of that, but he hasn't been taking them long enough for
it really to have kicked in yet. The other, primarily aimed at
controlling "the voices", I've never heard of. I urged him to continue
taking them, stressed how it was essential not to miss even one day.
He told me in more detail about what he's been up to. After getting his
first check, he and the Iceman had holed up in a Waikiki hotel for five
days, eating steak, watching teevee, drinking beer and, of course, sucking
on the glass pipe. In exchange for the hospitality, the Iceman had
supposedly filled the pipe at cost. From what I've heard about the
Iceman, that seems unlikely, but I didn't say so. Angelo was broke by the
tenth of the month, sold all his food stamps, and then returned to
shopping in order to buy breakfast and cigarettes every day, said he'd
been eating dinner at the Christian soup kitchen downtown and sleeping at
the hacienda. And since his shopping that day had been just for clothes
and not pawnable items, he was again flat broke. Since he figured he
wasn't getting a beer from me (he'd asked if my paper cup was a beer, and
I said, what, you think I'm sitting here drinking a Coke), he then asked
for a soda, prompting the above remark about "sympathy".
It was certainly tempting to yield, to buy us both beer and continue to
enjoy his company, but I was determined to stand firm, got up after I
finished my beer and said I had to hunt snipes and left him. He really
needs to know he can't do this crap of disappearing when he has money and
then coming back when he's broke expecting goodies from me. I think he
knows it now. It certainly isn't because I expected, or even wanted, him
to buy me anything, but if he'd had the sense to even spend four bucks on
a couple of beers for me, he would have had my goodwill during the dry
time he knew was coming. Can't let him get away with it.
Koontz's Phantoms was right off-the-wall, but that's okay, it was a
good read. The problem with Mr. Murder was that he tried to write
it as a realistic story, and despite some of the stuff being very
far-fetched, these days it's not impossible to believe in something like a
human clone. It is, though, ludicrous that a powerful, secret
international organization could goof their first successful attempt at
making such a clone by making a mistake with blood and marrow samples.
With Phantoms, there's just the Devil to deal with, or at least
some prehistoric survivor who managed to inspire all the Satanic legends
and was responsible for the many documented mass disappearances throughout
history. Bugger must have gotten lazy, going from the Mayan civilization
to a small Colorado town, but so it goes. Like I said, a good read.
Then for something very different, John Updike's Rabbit at Rest.
Long sentences, many loaded with enough metaphors to support most writers
through several chapters. Cantata on the Fear of Dying, in the key of
I choose my books, but, no, I don't choose my companions. I'm grateful
for both, though.
Ugh. Hangover Tuesday. A thoroughly uneventful weekend, the only
variation in routine being a night at the hacienda since Park Place was
the staging point for a charity "night walk" on Saturday. Sitting on a
planter ledge outside the supermarket on Monday morning and watching that
sweet little construction worker arrive to buy his huge container of
orange-passion fruit juice reminding me of another reason the weekends
aren't welcome. Such a cute little Filipino lad he is, very short hair
except for a six-inch wispy fringe in the back middle, a blue hardhat,
camouflage fatigue pants, a bright deep orange teeshirt. I love seeing
him each morning. Or at least each Monday-through-Friday morning.
Even on Tuesday, too, despite the hangover.
I'd seen the Cherub at the computer lab on Sunday and he arrived again
late in the afternoon on Monday carrying a bag with a huge bottle of
"Pepsi One", an almost-as-large bottle of Jack Daniels and a big onion.
Strange combination. He asked if I wanted to join him at Manoa Garden for
a beer but when we got there decided we should drink some of the whiskey
first and then have the beer. So we got cups of ice and went to the
secluded grove, drank whiskey and, as always with the Cherub, talked about
a zillion things under the sun including the news that his parents, after
thirty-one years of marriage, are getting a divorce. About half an hour
before closing time we returned to the Garden where Bartender Bryant
greeted me warmly (my first visit this school year), got two beers and sat
outside drinking them. By then things were getting a bit fuzzy and I
don't remember the details of the walk downhill to get smokes. The plan
was to go to Magoo's for more beer and then I was going to sleep at the
Cherub's place. But a very sexy young man came along, someone the Cherub
knows, and I figured I was way too far gone to be in the company of such a
hunk without embarrassing the Cherub so disappeared after lagging a bit
behind them. Strange, funny evening. The Cherub's a sweetheart.
I don't really choose the books I read, I only choose after Dame Fortune
has chosen. And I surely do jump around ... following the Updike
masterwork with Jackie Collins' American Star, another Koontz
waiting in the backpack.
The focus this week is really on Thursday. I have to see my "caseworker"
for the routine re-application for next year's foodstamps. It's the
perfect opportunity to go for that officially crazy badge. I don't really
expect to get it, but what a change it will make if I do.
excerpt from an email sent:
As you'll no doubt have noticed, I've slept (sometimes more than one
night) on your mails before answering.
I'm grateful especially for the last one because it showed me how stupid
I've been with judging the Bad Boys and what they do with their money.
If you grovel and degrade yourself by claiming to be "crazy" to some
people who are undoubtedly more "crazy" than you are, then you have the
absolute right to spend that money anyway you damned well please.
All by way of prelude to the dreaded dance of the bureaucrats. I had been
thinking about it since Angelo and Rocky got their mental disability
allowance approved, then along came the appointment notice for renewal of
foodstamps for next year. So I had to think about it all over again,
asked the advice of a couple of people. I'd thought that if I did get it,
one of the first things I'd probably do is invite the Sleeptalker to
dinner at Gordon Biersch. That got me a nice lecture which prompted the
above reply. I'll be very surprised if I do get it, but I won't be
at all surprised if I end up inviting the Sleeptalker to dinner if the
allowance is approved.
The appointment with the psychiatrist is early next Monday morning. I'm
not sure I should have entered this maze, but we'll see what
Sidney disappeared for several days and nights. I was hoping he was okay
and hadn't gotten locked up for letting it all hang out in the wrong place
at the wrong time. But then on Tuesday night he was back at Park Place,
sitting there stark naked. Well, no problem, LongJohn and I don't really
care and it's so dark once the tennis court lights go off, no one else
would notice. And I was feeling so weary, not even a naked young man
could keep me awake.
That place would be so much nicer if the snorer would go elsewhere. He
doesn't arrive until long after I've gone to sleep, but if I do wake up
once he's there, it's often difficult to get the earplugs adjusted to
block him out. He had his head shaved so instantly earned the nickname
Wednesday and Thursday were dreary. Dull gray skies and, especially on
Wednesday, frequent drizzle, although once I'd gotten to Park Place it was
rather peaceful watching the rain fall during the night. I was surprised
more of the people who stay in the park didn't take shelter with us, but
certainly wasn't complaining.
On Wednesday afternoon I was sitting at my usual picnic table reading when
a couple of loonies walked by. One of them was shouting insults at some
of us in the park, and all of them were some variation on "bag". The Old
Vodka Drinker was a "douchebag", a black man who usually naps under the
same tree each afternoon was a "scumbag". I got off relatively lightly
with "dirtbag". Then on Thursday the same man asked me in the mall if
I had any spare change! I said, "dirtbags don't carry change." He
probably didn't have the least clue what I was talking about.
And waiting in line at the supermarket, sandwich and Colt in hand, one of
the mall regulars was standing behind me, saw me use plastic for the
sandwich, quarters for the beer. "You must walk twenty miles a day!" he
said. "I return carts now and then, but when I see you returning one, I
say he really earns it."
That's me. Champion Cart Returner of the Mall, a legend in my own time.
What a strange old bird. It has been a long, long time since I've had any
contact with a New York-style Jewish old man, but that's what the
government-approved head-doctor instantly reminded me of. His office was
on the 33rd floor of a downtown glass tower with a staggering view of the
mountains, and I was glad it was a clear, sunny morning, making the view
even more spectacular. No receptionist, a waiting room with about four
chairs and a totally bare office except for his chair and paper-covered
desk, a second chair beside the desk.
A few preliminary questions, then had I seen a psychiatrist within the
last year? Well, it was a lucky day indeed when Mme de Crécy called that
research clinic for me, lucky again when the same doctor was available
during the hospital adventure. His name has a certain magic here.
Approved for six months.
Like I said, life is certainly going to change.
I was so patronizingly indulgent toward the Bad Boys when they were
spending incredible energy on dreaming about what they'd do when they got
approved for Crazy Money that I almost had to keep a lid on it
myself. And then, I didn't really expect to get it. But okay, I slipped
up a little, couldn't resist a few fantasies about what I'd do. Now I can
go all out. I won't start getting money until the fifth of November, but
it starts with the date of application, so the first chunk will be double.
Combined with the Fabled Pension Check, that will mean almost a thousand
dollars within a few days' time. Yes, that will inspire a goodly number
of fantasies, all edged with the proviso, of course, that I survive that
Oddly enough, the first thing on the list is renewing my passport. I've
had an American passport continuously since I was thirteen and it has
felt very odd to have only an expired one. So, okay, first thing will be
getting photos taken and putting in the application.
Only then, to Duke's ...
The Fabled Pension Check didn't arrive on Saturday which was very
disappointing but, of course, now that I've gotten through the weekend,
I'm just as happy it didn't. And the Quarter Hunt went very well on
Saturday, enough for two bottles of Colt, financing for the first one on
Sunday and, after spotting an abandoned stroller first thing in the
morning, halfway to Sunday's second bottle. The Mongoose was around
briefly on Sunday, his arm finally out of the sling. He was moving around
very slowly on that bicycle. I guess he learned his lesson about
whizzing. If he scored any quarters, I didn't see it. He'd certainly be
a happy camper if he knew about my Crazy Money award.
Rocky had asked me for food on Thursday evening. I declined, saying my
foodstamps card was running on empty. So October arrived and I'd made it,
an entire month without spending a penny on the Bad Boys. It's not a
record I'm especially pleased with. If anything, the contrary, since it
wasn't what I really regard as a noble goal, was done more in their
best interest than my own. And I do so hate people treating me that way.
They, too, will be happy campers to hear the news .... if I tell them.
I'm a little inclined to think it might be wiser not to.
Rocky found me again on Sunday evening. I said I only had enough for one
beer, with an emphasis on ONE, and again said my foodstamps card was
empty. I guess he'd forgotten I'm in the fifth-of-the-month crowd, or
perhaps he thought my pension money had arrived. I have to admit that if
it had, I would've bought him a beer. After all, it was October, the goal
had been met.
And the vow isn't renewed.
I went a bit manic on Monday. In my younger days I was a classic manic
depressive, but the manic swings gradually faded away. Now I just get
depressed or ordinary, sometimes a little happy. But not manic. It was a
nice feeling. "Hello, old friend," I thought.
After collecting the Fabled Pension Check and cashing it, I went to
Chinatown for cheap cigarettes. Mondo was there. He was even more
spaced-out than usual so it was difficult talking to him. He says he has
decided to move to California, but who knows if he means it or it's just
the most recent smoke dream. I said I was going back to the mall and he
tagged along. On the crowded bus he sat in front and I went to the back,
decided I really wasn't in the mood to hang out with him (or buy him
beer), so I slipped off the bus early without him noticing. The 7-Eleven
is selling BLT's now ... yummy. Or would be if they'd make the bacon a
bit more crisp. So I got one of those and a bottle of Colt and sat in the
park at the end where the Bad Boys rarely go, continued reading Richard
North Patterson's Escape the Night. It's well written but I'm not
at all enjoying it, have had enough of books about unpleasant things
happening to nice people.
I wondered if I'll become like the Bad Boys, get money in my pocket and
disappear? If I do, I certainly won't come sneaking back when it's all
gone looking for a free beer.
Back to campus and the game. I'd asked Mondo if he'd seen the Sleeptalker
and couldn't make the least bit of sense out of his reply, so have no idea
why the Sleeptalker has again gone missing from the game. I decided I'd
start playing Bartle's MUD2 again, one of the money-dreams since it costs
about $20 a month to play. It will be fun to be Panther the Wizard again,
probably worth the hassle of getting a money order and sending it off to
Canada. And it's so much more elegant a game than Seventh Circle.
So I asked an old MUD2 friend if he'd get me started with his plastic.
Silly thing to do to a friend.
At sunset I went to Manoa Garden and bought a jug of the new Sam Adams
Oktoberfest brew. Good stuff, nice to walk into a bar and buy it, sit in
the garden outside legally drinking instead of heading to a store and
buying a 40oz-er, sneaking it from a cup and straw. More money-dreams.
The Fabled Pension Check is a rehearsal, and I guess in a way the Crazy
Money will be a rehearsal for SocSec time, eighteen months down the road.
In the old days, a manic swing could last for weeks (especially in late
March and early April). I don't think I have the energy for that now.
And Tuesday started off with me feeling really exhausted and down. But
then it revved up again.
Oh my, it's rabbit-hole time?
Roller coaster. By late Tuesday morning the car had whizzed its way to
the bottom. A bottle of Mickey's and two "Big 'n Tastey" burgers from
McD's in the park, finishing that unpleasant book, and things were on the
upward climb again. A second bottle of Mickey's, and back to campus.
Maybe when the Crazy Money comes I might have to take a break from on-line
life for a bit, to stay out of trouble.
That Sam Adams Oktoberfest brew is really a decent beer, so I went to the
Garden after sunset for another jug of the stuff, was shocked to see
Bartender Bryant with a short haircut. I'd teased him the day before
about how long his hair was. It has always been shoulder length,
sometimes looking almost like a wig. He said he was getting it taken care
of the next morning but didn't warn me he was planning a very big switch.
It looks much, much better, as I told him.
Back to play the game for a little while before heading to the mall and a
final snipes run which incidentally bagged two dollars in quarters from
abandoned baby strollers. The Crazy Money may end the Quarter Hunt game,
at least for most of the month, but no point in just leaving easy money
I woke once in the night and thought some strange animal was watching me
with its glowing eyes. Turned out to be a soda can, distant streetlights
reflecting in two spots on the shiney bottom of it. Yes, doctor,
Although, most unusually, I spent actual cash money on food Wednesday, I
still had too much to drink and not enough to eat, topped off with a
post-sunset visit to the Garden and two jugs of that Sam Adams Oktoberfest
brew. Consequently, I felt lousy for most of Thursday and reminded myself
that I really have to set limits or that Crazy Money is going to make life
more difficult and unpleasant instead of the other way around.
And I couldn't stop thinking what a long, hard month this is going to be.
It's a shame they don't just go ahead and give me the first month's
allowance. Of course it will be great fun to have that bonanza, but it
certainly isn't going to be fun waiting for it. That's what I always
hated about Christmas as a child.
As expected, no sign of the Bad Boys. This is the one time of the month I
don't have to avoid them. They're all tucked away with their Crazy Money
and their glass pipes. But Sidney, too, has disappeared again, although
there have been one or two strangers at Park Place joining LongJohn, Mr.
Clean, me and the cats.
Behind on the book reports ... two Dean Koontz epics in a row, Dark
Rivers of the Heart and The Bad Place. A blurb said
Rivers was a "departure" for Koontz, but not really. True, it did
lack his usual supernatural villain but otherwise employed the same
themes he uses all the time. And The Bad Place was beyond being
"off the wall". Both amusing enough diversion. And then John MacDonald's
One More Sunday, likewise amusing, a yarn about one of those
money-rich, spirit-poor evangelical empires. The Cherub told me I should
read Catullus. Hmmmm ...
And another thought that keeps recurring: the memory of the reader who,
in the early days of the Tales, wrote money, no money - all the