THE FOURTH YEAR
more tales from the year of the dragon
I mean that my mind could only pull itself together,
formulate thought out of the muddle of longing and pain,
when it was touched by another mind ...
Anne Rice: Interview with the Vampire
remember, remember, the fifth of November
a lonely hunter
thus spake zarathustra
lucky seven in waikiki
I suppose it was fitting that I spent the evening of the Third Anniversary
drinking beer and smoking the weed with Angelo and Rossini.
Angelo had already spent all his Crazy Money, sold his foodstamps, and
the gathering was his going-away party since he'd finally bought the
ticket and was leaving for Kauai the next morning. He's uncertain how
long he'll stay and not entirely happy about going at all, but it seems
likely he'll be gone at least until November's Crazy Money arrives. He
was in a sweet, mellow mood, reminding me again how very much I do like
The Sleeptalker's absence from the game is explained by the fact that the
computer had been rented and Chinatown Bobby returned it. The old man has
left them, so it's just C.B. and the Sleeptalker there now, and C.B. wants
to move to Florida next month, taking the Sleeptalker with him. I said
I'd file that one in the same drawer with the North Shore House plan of a
couple months ago, wait to see if it's just a pipe dream. If it does
happen, I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear eventually that the
Sleeptalker killed C.B.
The weekend was, aside from the Sunday gathering, thoroughly
unexceptional. I'd gone to the State Library on Saturday and was much
pleased to find Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire along with
yet another Koontz volume. Rice is such an elegant writer.
But everything is in doldrums, waiting for that confounded money, and
amusing evenings getting drunk with Bad Boys or reading stylish novels
really doesn't much change that.
I saw Rocky at the mall on Monday afternoon. He was looking wrecked,
asked to borrow five dollars. "Good Lord," I said, "it's only the ninth
of the month!" $400+ dollars up in smoke in four and a half days? I
refused the request, as much because I only had seven dollars as from any
disapproval of his somewhat ridiculous extravagance.
I know I am not going to be a paragon of money management when my Crazy
Money starts, especially the first round after this hideous drought of
waiting for it, but I'm pretty sure I won't go through it as fast as Rocky
and Angelo do. Good reverse role models they are, for me.
On the other hand, I do sympathize with them and even, to some extent,
understand the way they handle it. It's a more elaborate version of my
having enough money for a beer and saying oh to hell with it, drink it now
instead of sitting around wondering when to do it. And I find myself now
constantly thinking "when the money comes ...".
Off the hook on my first resolution already. Betka pointed out that
November 5th is a Sunday. Okay, so a new passport won't after all be the
first thing on the list. I suppose right at the top of my list is the end
of snipe hunting. As with easy quarters, I'm sure I'll pick up any
sufficiently enticing Japanese-length butts, but I certainly won't be
actively hunting them. November will be Virgin Cigarettes Month,
definitely. Snipe hunting is the thing I hate most about this crazy
lifestyle, albeit not enough to quit smoking.
On that last evening with him, Angelo had asked, "are you going to sleep
with me tonight?" Sweet. So, okay, I did go to the hacienda, settled on
the bench beside him, and I've gone back there each night since instead of
to Park Place. The bench is more comfortable, and the current group of
people staying there are mostly quiet and non-snoring. It was Mr. Clean's
horrendous snoring which most swayed the decision to return "home", plus
knowing the second weekend of October will involve a three-evening
festival at Park Place making it unavailable until much later than usual.
Sun versus natal Sun on Thursday, Fool Moon on Friday the Thirteenth.
Pray for us sinners ...
All the young men ...
The Young Hardhat has either got a new job or has taken the week off,
because he hasn't been seen, and he has been missed. But as has always
been the case, the hacienda continues to be the major resource when it
comes to interesting young men. There are three of them, all new to me,
who have been there each night. The Blonde Enigma and his two slim, brown
buddies who sleep only in shorts and tee shirt. They are always asleep
when I get there, are usually still sleeping when I leave although on
Friday morning, the cutest of the brown lads was awake and treated me to
the sight of his beautiful torso when he switched tee shirts. Very much
in the Mondo mode, but with a better body. The Enigma has been on the
bench beside me except for one night. At times he looks like a total hunk
but from some angles and some sleeping expressions, doesn't look nearly as
interesting. A puzzle. Most nights he has been in shorts and tee shirt,
but one night was wearing camouflage fatique pants, one of my weaknesses.
All of them are nice, non-snoring sleep companions, and thoroughly
Speaking of Mondo, I was amazed to see him at the mall very early on
Thursday. I'd finished coffee at McD's and was walking over to shave when
I saw him bouncing toward me, skateboard in hand. He was in a bubbly,
happy mood, bigger smiles than I've ever seen from him, but as usual, so
spaced as to be nearly unintelligible. Obscure object of desire, indeed.
A little melon fell from heaven. Well, actually from California, but I
know to some folks that's synonymous. It was a more than welcome windfall
since this continues to be a very, very difficult time, even more so than
had expected it to be. It's irksome enough waiting for the Crazy Money to
arrive without them making it even more so by the long time it's taking
them to send me official confirmation and instructions about who, when and
where to start those required twice-monthly therapy sessions. I guess
they figure that since I won't start getting paid until next month,
there's no hurry. Somehow it all seems calculated to make life more
Fantasy window-shopping, even going into one store to more closely
investigate some tempting high tech toys, being especially intrigued by
the sweet little mini-disc recorders. It reminds me of childhood when my
sister and I played a game we invented ... record shops and collectors,
the "recordings" paper discs cut using a silver dollar as a template. And
of the long, long time I spent fervently wishing for a tape recorder,
which at that time I only knew existed because of articles in magazines
like Popular Mechanics. It took awhile, but those wishes certainly
were granted eventually and there haven't been many times in my life when
I didn't have one kind or another of audio and/or video recording devices.
Do I really need one now? Isn't the idea to keep the backpack as
lightweight as possible? (Not that a mini-disc player and collection of
discs would add that much weight). With live music gigs every night of
the week in this town, do I need to carry around "canned" stuff?
Questions of a thousand Crazy Money dreams.
Despite some earnest but ineffective lectures to myself on the theme of
Be Here Now, I realize I just have to surrender, accept the fact
that it isn't going to happen for the rest of October 2000. This, even
though I realize how stupid it is. Just how different would this Fool
Moon Weekend have been had the first batch of Crazy Money suddenly
appeared on my plastic card? Probably not much.
There wouldn't have been any snipe hunting which would have been the
greatest luxury. I would be wearing some new clothes. Although an
expedition to Savers is high on the list, I'm also planning on a Duke's
polo shirt, the third one I'll have owned. The first two were worn until
they faded away to rags. And it's time to acquire a winter shirt, plus
some kind of cover (flannel sheet, probably, because I really don't like
those "space blankets"). Yes, the nights are getting cool.
I never much liked Duke's on a weekend, prefer not to even go into Waikiki
at all on Saturday, but maybe I would have had a couple of beers at the
mall's Mai Tai Bar. Ordinarily I might have gone to Manoa Garden on
Friday evening for the live music, but the Fool Moon night's offering was
"Punk Night" with several bands and I heard more than enough of the
"music" just walking past, so that would have been out.
So, indeed, yes, it wouldn't have been much different with a few hundred
dollars in pocket.
The new boys apparently share their wardrobe and it has been Luther's turn
to wear the camouflage fatiques for two nights. I'm not entirely sure why
I settled on that name for the most handsome of the two brown lads, but so
it is. The Enigma has been on a corner bench for two nights, surrounded
by the brown lads, reminding me of the old days when it sometimes seemed
Rocky and Mondo conspired to keep the Sleeptalker isolated from me. In
this case, I don't mind at all since I've had the bench next to Luther and
he is quite stunning in those camouflage pants with a generously stuffed
crotch and a sweatshirt which slides up in the night to reveal a strip of
flat brown belly. It's a good thing I've felt quite tired, not a wise
idea to stay awake all night enjoying the view.
Jonathan Cainer said something rather dramatic about Friday the Thirteenth
being some kind of turning point I'd remember in years to come. No, I
don't think so, unless it does turn out to be the last time I have a
sexual encounter with a sweet young student. And somehow I don't think
that will be the case.
"You've been poor too long," I told myself over my sunset brew. Lost
imagination, lost any shred of style. The weekend would have been no
different? What about Eggs Benedict and a Bloody Mary sitting by the ocean
at the Halekulani a little after sunrise?
Then along came Rocky and another way the weekend could have been very
different. He was in a happy, flirtatious mood and looked better
than he has in a long time. Scrumptious. Yeh, I could have had
Rocky for fifty bucks, no problem, and he'd be worth it. Not only that,
but making it purely a business transaction would keep it from being
loaded in other ways.
He begged for a beer. I declined, sipping the last of mine. He begged
and flirted some more. So I finally gave in, said take off your shirt and
give me a look at that beautiful chest of yours to pay for your beer.
Big grin, stood up and peeled off the shirt, posed nicely for me. If
anything, his body is getting better with age (not that 24 is even close
to being over the hill). Yes, it would have been worth it.
What a small town this is. Luther is Tongan, Rocky told me. He knew
immediately who I was talking about when he asked who was staying at the
hacienda. Rocky and Luther had a major punch-up not long ago. That must
have been quite a fight.
Angelo had called the Iceman, said he hated it in Kauai and is returning
this week. And Chinatown-B had shown Rocky the airline tickets, so if the
Sleeptalker doesn't back out at the last minute, they'll be off to Orlando
soon. Silly Sleeptalker, he could have done so much better.
All my children ...
I spent my next-to-last dollar on a Monday nightcap bottle of Mickey's,
enjoyed it while continuing Eric Lustbader's exotic thriller, French
Kiss. The weekend reading had been Grisham's The Rainmaker,
engrossing but annoying in the way all his books are. I don't know much
about the legal profession but I've worked enough with insurance companies
and brokers to know his depiction of that industry in this book is
nonsense. I suspect the legal picture is equally so. Lustbader's global
yarn is probably even greater nonsense, but one isn't asked to really
I was feeling extremely down all day, burdened even further by the
prospect of hunting for quarters for the almost two weeks before the
Fabled Pension Check arrives to soothe the pain of waiting for the Crazy
Money. The last time I went through something like this was in late 1988
when my nephew and I arrived in Seattle and had to wait for a replacement
credit card to arrive before we could set out on our expedition through
the USA west of the Mississippi. Those days of waiting were heavy, as are
these. I'm just no good at the game of waiting.
So I only wanted to get to the hacienda and collapse on a bench, escape
into sleep, even if dreams, too, have been shadowed by this money idiocy.
Luther and his buddies were already asleep with, alas, no vacant bench
beside them. But on the back bench of the front row, there sat the
Sleeptalker and Angelo, beer bottles in hand, Rossini asleep on a bench in
front of them. I sat outside to finish my cigarette. The Sleeptalker
asked me to drink some beer with them. I just waved and shook my head,
signalling that I'd had enough already. Angelo peered around a column at
me, and I waved to him.
It has been such a long time since I last caught a glimpse of the
Sleeptalker I'd almost forgotten just what magic chemistry there is
between us, how utterly desireable he is for me. But I couldn't talk to
him. I knew there was no way I could not be bitchy about his hideously
ill-advised journey with Chinatown-B.
I finished my cigarette and left without saying anything, walked over to
the New Cloisters and slept there, despite the bright flourescent light
and the chiming clock tower, a later-arriving bench companion rocking the
boat every time he shifted position. At least I was with strangers, no
sexy Bad Boys to bewitch, bother and bewilder me.
Perhaps not a saison in hell, but sometimes three days can seem
like a season. I really shouldn't complain. This year has been
relatively free of real downers. And certainly it wasn't entirely
unexpected after that brief swing into manic mode.
But the severity of it does catch me offguard. I can't call it
suicidal because it's deep enough that it doesn't even seem worth the
bother to jump off the Aloha Tower.
I've tried to break the causes into individual segments, look at each and
see what can be done about them.
Nothing, in the first case, and perhaps the most crucial. There is
nothing I can do about the Sleeptalker and it would probably be a major
mistake to even try. With that one, I just have to accept the fact that
it is justifiably an extremely depressing situation which is beyond my
control or ability to influence.
There is, likewise, little I can do about the bureaucratic dance, although
if it continues to be stalled for much longer I shall visit the office and
ask my caseworker just what is going on and what I am supposed to do.
It's absurd that more than two weeks have passed without receiving further
word from them, especially with that obligation to attend twice-monthly
therapy sessions pending.
As for the money itself, well, I know completely it won't really
make that much difference, especially after the novelty of it has dimmed.
But I also know that suffering through two weeks of hunting quarters only
to have that largesse dumped in my lap is asking for trouble. That I
could do something about, or at least try to, so I asked for a loan
against the Crazy Money. Request was granted.
It will be interesting to see just what effect that has.
Day One of the Crazy Money wasn't much different than any other Wednesday
in recent months. As on the day of the Fabled Pension Check's arrival
each month, the first reaction was "duh ... money in pocket, now what?"
A little more intense this time, of course, since it's just the first of
several melons from heaven coming up in the immediate future.
I did well enough to be pleased with myself. The lion's share of the
day's expenses went for beer. $14 for beer, a tie between cigarettes and
a book at $8 each. Add a bowl of chili, the price of which I didn't even
notice, and that was the cash money outlay for the day.
The beer was extravagant but it's refreshing to pay extra for quality.
And the book was Maeve Binchy's Tara Road which I've been longing
for since it appeared in the shops a few months ago. No doubt about it,
she is my favorite living author.
When I got to the hacienda the night before, Angelo was sitting on the
steps talking with an older man I'd not seen before. I was tired again,
just waved and settled on a bench, was asleep before they'd finished
chatting. I had to smile in the morning, looking at Angelo asleep,
wearing white jeans. Considering how fussy he is about his clothes being
clean, those pants must mean visiting the laundromat almost every day.
Funny sweetie, he is.
I was a little surprised he hadn't come looking for me since his return
from Kauai, but then I spent very little time at the mall and was only in
the park in the late afternoon long enough to drink a bottle of Colt, eat
a sandwich, and treat the birds to some buttermilk biscuits which they
seem especially fond of. I know the Gypsy Boy uses his foodstamps to feed
Cat, but I wonder how many of us spend plastic money on bird feeding?
Of course, Angelo doesn't know I have money, although he undoubtedly heard
about me buying a beer for Rocky. And Angelo most likely came back from
Kauai with birthday money from Mama, since he turns 24 next week Friday.
The day was made complete by ... at last ... arrival of the written
confirmation that, yes, I indeed do have Crazy Money coming for six
months. They are certainly treating me differently than they have any of
the Bad Boys. It's entirely up to me to arrange the therapy sessions
and apparently they will not even monitor it on a regular basis, simply
warned me that if I hadn't complied at the end of the six months, I'd be
dropped. But I was a little irked, although not surprised, to see I'll
get less than Angelo or Rocky, thanks to the Fabled Pension Check.
Humbug, the price of honesty. Never should have told them about that,
since they would most likely never have found out about it.
Still, it was a relief to get that confirmation, as it was to get the cash
advance, even if, like I said, the main reaction is "duh .... what now?"
Crazy Money letters:
Subject: I may be crazy, but ...
... I ain't nearly as crazy as The System.
After waiting two and a half weeks, I finally got written confirmation
that I'm officially crazy, unable to work "more than 30 hours a week".
There were three letters, posted separately, arriving at the same time.
One of them warned me again that I must seek "psycho therapy" [yes, two
words] twice a month or be dumped from the program.
The Jewish doctor had told me to go to Straub Clinic.
I went there, letter in hand. The young lady at the reception desk hadn't
a clue what to do with me. She called my "caseworker", who then spoke to
me. The caseworker said she couldn't tell me how to fulfill the
obligation, just that I had to do it.
As the receptionist said, "this letter doesn't make any sense." I assured
her it was the most sensible of the three I'd received. The one
explaining my actual cash benefits is an utter classic. It starts off
saying I would get $31 a month. I have absolutely no idea what that is,
but it's nonsense, because I get $350 a month, eighty dollars less than
most people I know because of my Fabled Pension Check.
Well, she thought maybe I should see the psychiatrists. Errrr .... yes, I
think that is what "psycho therapy" implies, but they have moved from
Straub Clinic next door to the First Insurance building. I went there.
The security dude told me the psychiatric section of Straub was on the
10th floor. That was the Straub Foundation. Back down to the 8th floor
Now, my largesse began on October 1st and yes, bingo, suddenly $350
appeared on my plastic card. And my obligation is to have those two
sessions monthly. The first time the Straub headshrinks can see me is
I tell you, if they try to disqualify me for this, I am going to raise
And if I hadn't just spent an entirely delightful afternoon treating some
Bad Boys to beer at the Mai Tai Bar, Ala Moana, I'd think the whole effing
exercise is incredibly stupid.
You know, what I think is most disgusting and even amoral about this ...
To convert the Crazy Money to cash from plastic, one is forced to use a
bank's ATM machine.
And the bank charges one dollar for each withdrawal.
And it was indeed an absolutely delightful afternoon at the Mai Tai Bar,
the best time I've had with the Bad Boys since those delicious days with
the Sleeptalker. I owed Rossini, he has been so kind buying me beer when
I was broke. "I don't owe him anything," I said, looking at Angelo, who
grinned and said he'd drink ice water. But we went through forty dollars
of beer and two shots of Cuervo 1800, one for me and one shared with
Angelo. He was being a scandalous flirt and I could actually have ended
up in bed with him.
I just wasn't sure I really want to. Oh, I do want it, no use denying
that, but the friendship is so sweet and amusing with him having that bait
to dangle before me. I can't give it up unless I'm really sure I want
his body that much.
Each day the main extravagant gesture has gotten larger, time to slow down
already. On Thursday that GUESS bracelet finally fell off without me
noticing it, probably thanks to the two jugs of Sam Adams Oktoberfest brew
I'd consumed before sensing something strange about my wrist. Yes, it
being naked. I went to the Silver Rhino at the mall and bought a Balinese
sterling silver replacement. Like some New York Jewish lady, Angelo
admired it, asked, "and it was how much?" Heh. Twenty-four, I said. He
also admired my new tan corduroy trousers and asked how much they had
cost, had I bought them at one of the posh department stores? Five
dollars, I said, and no, at Savers, where I had also acquired two new
shirts. One of them is a dusty medium-blue tee shirt with a fleur-de-lis
and FIRENZE ITALIA elegantly embroidered in gold thread on the front.
Odd journey it must have made, from Florence to a bargain clothing store
But then its new owner has had a pretty odd journey to Honolulu, too.
Here we go again, the hacienda declared off-limits. The "assistant
director" of the place came out at about ten o'clock on Saturday night and
woke us up. He explained that they didn't like to do it, but there had
just been too many people treating the place like a nightclub, drinking
beer and leaving bottles scattered around. As I said to Angelo, walking
over to the New Cloisters, "now who would do a thing like that?"
I had gotten there fairly early, hadn't even noticed the time after having
a third bottle of Colt in the park at sunset, and it was only me, Angelo
and Rossini who were at the hacienda to be evicted. Surprisingly enough,
it was also only us, with one later addition, at the New Cloisters where
Angelo and I shared one of the long benches. I suspect the bright light
and the chiming clock has made the place less desireable as a sleeping
sanctuary. That's fine with me, earplugs in place (not that they block out
the midnight peal especially) and shorts folded over my eyes to block the
light. And certainly it was fine to be sharing the bench with that
As resolved, I did manage to slow down on Saturday. Morning on campus,
then a trip to Chinatown for cheap cigarettes, stopping by the State
Library to pick up a couple of books, since I was nearing the end of
Binchy's fine Tara Road and thought it best to postpone buying
another of her books until next month. There are now only three or four I
haven't read, and I want to read them all.
Whether I would have held it down to 40oz bottles of cheap beer had any of
the Bad Boys come along, I doubt, but on my own it was no problem. I'd
considered going to the gig at Gordon Biersch in the evening but was
sufficiently oiled to know I'd never last until Makana's nine o'clock
start. As I told Kory K last week, I just can't drink as much as I used
to be able to. And that's not a bad thing at all.
Sunday was dreary, despite Cainer's predictions of some brightening
influence. It was cloudy, the air heavy and sultry, tempting to find some
air-conditioned place and not budge. For some hours I did that, staying
on campus in the computer lab, avoiding the mall where there was one of
the awful "sidewalk sales" and larger than usual crowds. But I did
go to the park for a late lunchtime sandwich and brew which just
slightly improved my mood. No bad boys all day. Angelo and Rossini are
into a heavy inseparable phase, which happens now and then, and I wonder
what they are doing all day.
After a late afternoon return to campus the mood was sagging again, didn't
improve much over a nightcap. When I got to the New Cloisters, Angelo and
Rossini were sharing a long bench, Angelo looked up and we exchanged
waves. It was almost a full house, but amazingly enough the one solo
bench was free, so I grabbed it. It's less sheltered from the wind, which
kept blowing the shorts off my eyes and letting the bright light wake me
up. I thought I should do a "What's My Line" routine and get eye masks ...
just in time for Halloween. Restless sleep and strange, strange dreams.
The Young Hardhat was at the mall on Monday morning, a bright start to the
day. He looked right in my eyes the second time he passed me, with a
totally neutral expression. He's so damned cute he must have plenty of
experience with both sexes giving him lustful looks, but he certainly
shows no sign of acknowledging it, either positively or negatively. I
thought, if Rocky's worth fifty dollars, this guy is worth a hundred.
Money, no money -- no difference. That's a crock. Maybe it's true on an
abstract philosophical level but in the so-called Real World, there's just
no way it doesn't make a difference.
Finally made it!
Tuesday, I stayed on campus the entire day, indulging in the most intense
session of MUDding since 1987. Now, as then, I was very close to the top
of the ladder. For months I've played at level 99 in Seventh
Circle, not much concerned with the rather tedious crawl to 100, the
max. But Monday was a thoroughly dispiriting, even depressing day in the
game. And with a certain irony, it may be that the two most important
elements of my life in the past two years are about to disappear at almost
the same time.
My preoccupation with Seventh Circle was in the beginning, of
course, entirely the result of the Sleeptalker playing it. Then I began
to enjoy the company of many of the players, having been fond of these
games for so many years and well aware that the success of any particular
game depends absolutely on a group of interesting, loyal players.
Unfortunately, Boss Brook has run this game for so long, and has evidently
spent so little time looking at other free MUDs on the net, that he's lost
sight of that. And the most influential "Immortal" on Seventh
Circle, who calls herself "Darkana", is such an egomaniac she has
probably never known it.
So Brook has decided he wants to run an entirely new MUD and is still
uncertain whether he will keep Seventh Circle up on a different
port address. He's crazy if he thinks his player base will switch to a
new game, starting from scratch, unless it's a very, very good MUD and he
finds much better "Immortals" to manage it than he has done with
Seventh Circle. And Darkana, especially, is being a total bitch
about the whole thing, probably miffed at losing her "Immortal" status,
and insisting that we have to prove we are "worthy" of having the game
continue on a different port (without, as Brook plans, any Immortals at
all). As if playing the thing for years hasn't already proven our
commitment to it.
So I decided it was time to make that final effort, reach the top, if only
because I knew it would irk Darkana who has never managed to do it with
her earlier "mortal" players. And it was delightful to reach the peak
while she was on-line. She was the only player on at the time who didn't
offer hearty congratulations. Heh.
The situation within the game had me in a totally foul mood by late
afternoon on Monday, but I had agreed to meet Mme de Crécy for after-work
drinks at Gordon Biersch and her always fine company plus the pleasure of
sitting out by the harbor on a warm autumn evening considerably improved
my state of mind. After walking her home, I went on to the New Cloisters
and was much surprised to see Rossini there without Angelo. Angelo's
grandmother had given him some money when he returned from Kauai, but he'd
said his mother was sending his birthday money this week, so I assume he
got it and was, as usual, holed up in a Waikiki room with his glass pipe,
reason enough for Rossini to be on his own.
After the more cheering day in the game on Tuesday, I went directly from
campus to the New Cloisters, the first person there. Despite a large
gathering in the meeting hall, I was so tired I fell asleep and didn't
even awaken when the crowd departed. I did stir slightly when someone
took the other end of the bench, a young man I've mistaken for Angelo
several times, and did again. It was only when I more fully woke up later
that I saw it wasn't Angelo. This fellow surely does toss and turn in his
sleep, and I finally moved to another bench. Odd how the population
count there changes so much each night, even more odd it didn't turn out
to be a full house since it seemed to rain throughout the night.
And it's also odd how little it can take to make a crazy old man welcome
each dawn. I'm so smitten with the Young Hardhat, though, that he's the
main reason I look forward to still being alive at the next dawn. He
has changed habits, now goes to McD's each morning, arriving a little
later than I do. As he passes my bench, he's on his own, but twice he has
met a co-worker in McD's so returns with company. On his own, he has each
time looked me directly in the eye. With his buddy, he ignores me, and I
am careful not to make my adoration obvious then. But either way, how I
do treasure those moments each morning.
Oh gawd, he's back. Angelo told me the Sleeptalker and Chinatown-B had a
fight, which explained why the Sleeptalker had been at the hacienda a
couple of weeks ago. But he had gone back to Chinatown-B the next day. I
guess they must have had another fight, because the Sleeptalker showed up
at the New Cloisters on Wednesday night, sometime after I'd been asleep.
Once again, I was the first to arrive there and took the one solo bench.
A little later I woke to the eleven-chime clock serenade and saw Rossini
was on the bench next to me. Just before the midnight chime, I was
awakened again by yakking. The Sleeptalker. I pretended to be asleep,
could see him from a gap in my shorts-over-eyes cover. It took him ages
to settle down and after first trying a bench on the other side of the
area, he moved to share the one with Rossini. Then he started chatting to
Angelo2. His parents have moved again, his father to Makaha and his
mother to Nanakuli. He told Angelo2 about his mother having the
restraining order against him. I think the Sleeptalker's quite proud of
that, and he always gets the "amazing your own family could do such a
thing" reaction. You have to know him better to understand just how they
could be driven to it.
He has a truly dreadful haircut and is extraordinarily pale, must not have
left the apartment for weeks. And he looks so much older than he did a
year ago, although far younger than 25. Still, undeniably a sweet
vision when he finally settled down and pulled his tee shirt up to reveal
that slim torso, stuck one hand down the front of his pants. Sigh.
He was carrying a large, well-filled Nike bag, so maybe this time he
really has left Chinatown-B. I have half expected him to back out of the
Florida trip and am curious to see whether he does stay away from
Chinatown-B this time, but I still want to keep my distance. It's all
over now, Baby Blue, and I don't mind if it stays that way, even if I
can't deny I love the guy as much as ever.
Dame Fortune gave me a sweet bonus gift on Wednesday by timing my arrival
at the mall for lunch, the first-ever midday encounter with the Young
Hardhat. I followed along behind him on my way to supermarket, smiling
when he stopped to admire a puppy in the pet store window. One sweet
puppy admiring another. But, alas, no sign of him on Thursday morning.
Maybe he'd joined one of the mobs of young men in line outside
stores in the pre-dawn hours, waiting for a chance to acquire a
Playstation 2. I wonder how many people called in "sick" because of the
first day of sale for that gadget?
Speaking of gadgets, I acquired a Braun battery travel razor. I'd had one
when I started this trip three years ago but it eventually gave up the
ghost and I've relied on blades since then. Nice to have that little
touch of luxury back again.
But as expected, the greatest luxury provided by the Crazy Money is the
end of snipe hunting. A close second, though, is being able to go to the
Paradise Palms cafe on campus when I feel in the mood for a hot breakfast.
Scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast .... yes, that's luxury.
There are plenty of fish in the sea.
I couldn't help thinking of that as I was walking along the beach in
Waikiki at sunset on Thursday. So many handsome, even beautiful young
men, slim brown bodies, surfboards under their arm. The dear Sleeptalker
would have looked like a total wimp beside any of them, and a very white
wimp. But when I woke during the night to see him sleeping again on the
bench with Rossini, no use denying he's still Number One in my sea.
I'd stayed on campus for the morning, went to the park for a lunchtime
brew and Swiss cheese on rolls, the birds getting the major share of the
rolls. How brutal Nature can be. A tiny zebra dove had fallen out of or
prematurely left the nest. A fat white European pigeon rushed over
and appeared intent on stomping it to death. Yeukh. Needless to say, I
jumped up and chased the pigeon away, but I suspect that baby zebra dove
was doomed, one way or another.
The pigeons are such a menace in the park, make it so difficult to feed
the little doves. I've taken to wedging bread in between the slats of the
picnic table so the doves can peck away at it in peace, but it often means
having to chase the bolder, greedier pigeons away when they try to join in
rather than being content with the crumbs which fall beneath the table.
By now those damned pigeons should know what "let the little ones eat"
I stayed in the park until late afternoon before heading to Waikiki. I'd
told Angelo I'd take him with me to Aunty Genoa's birthday gig at the
Hawaiian Regent but he didn't show up at the mall or the park. I saw
Rocky, who wanted me to buy him lunch, said he was starving. "You poor
baby," I said, and went on to the supermarket. I needed to change a
twenty, would have given him five if he'd still been sitting outside but
he had gone on his way. Just as well, I really shouldn't pamper these
So I went to the gig on my own which was also probably just as well,
easier to enjoy the magic of the evening without chatter. And it was, as
always, indeed magic. A rather sweet new bartender was looking after me
well all evening despite the enormous crowd and the heavy workload. He
spotted me wiping away a tear or two after Jerry Santos joined Genoa for a
duet, and gave me a beer. Now that's a routine I'd never thought of,
sitting weeping at a bar and being pitied enough to get free beer. Hmmmm.
I went straight to the New Cloisters after the gig. Angelo, Rossini and
the Sleeptalker were there. Although I can never be sure with Angelo,
it's always absolutely clear when the Sleeptalker has been at the glass
pipe. He talks in a funny high voice like a cartoon character. I told
Angelo I'd looked for him, said Rocky had been looking for him, too. "So
you spent all mama's money already, eh?" I asked, and he grinned, admitted
he had. I wished him a happy birthday, a couple of hours early, and went
to a bench on the other side of the area, was quickly asleep, earplugs
blocking their continued chat.
Looking at the three of them still asleep when I left in the morning, I
thought "seems like old times" .... and wondered how long it will be
before they manage to get us all kicked out of this sanctuary, too.
Hmmm, replace the Bad Boys with some Good Boys? Maybe. Of course, just
how "good" they are, I can't say yet. Accepting free beer from a Dirty
Old Man is just being smart, not necessarily "bad". And certainly they
seem like earnest young students, are very sweet and polite, and
apparently allow themselves one night a week of drinking at Manoa Garden.
Sweethearts, all of them, but one is especially so.
In utter contrast to Thursday night with Genoa and friends, Friday at the
Garden featured a band that call themselves THC. Caribbean types, or
wannabes, with enough hair to make a thousand wigs. One of the keyboard
players was fairly old, a grizzled white beard, and dreadlocks hanging
down below his knees! They were very impatient with the two lads on the
soundboard and walked out after playing for a couple of minutes. I guess
they debated losing whatever income they would have gotten from the gig,
because they returned after about ten minutes. The music was rather
indifferent, neither good nor bad.
But the main pleasure for me, and the reason I stayed longer than I
otherwise would have, was watching the three young men at a nearby table.
As I said, one of them was a real sweetheart. Two were drinking large
bottles of Heineken, watching every young woman who came into the place.
One of them finally got up the courage to approach a rather pretty girl
who gave him an abrupt cold shoulder. The sweetie noticed me watching the
routine and we exchanged grins. I told the server to give them two more
bottles of the Heineken and they came over to shake my hand and thank me,
returned to do it again as they were leaving and said they'd see me next
Friday. Yes, I think they'd do very nicely as a replacement for the Bad
Another surprise of the evening was handsome young Gregory walking
through, the first time I've seen him in ages. I told him he looked like
a real surfer dude, as he did, and he laughed, said that's just what he
has turned into. I offered to buy him a beer but he's stopped drinking.
Clever fellow. Alcohol is such a lousy drug (says I, groaning through the
After debating whether or not to have the roast turkey I'd seen was a
Friday lunch option at the campus cafe, Paradise Palms, I went instead to
the park for the usual sandwich and beer combo. I'm sure the zebra doves
were grateful I'd decided against the turkey. Walking through the mall
afterwards, I spotted Mme de Crécy and her sister, visiting from North
Carolina, sitting outside at Bubba Gump's so I joined them, had two of
that place's excellent "Boilers" ... a glass of Bud and a shot of Cuervo.
How do I love tequila, never mind what a lousy drug it is.
They went on to do some birthday gift shopping and I returned to campus,
played Seventh Circle for awhile, then sat in the secluded grove
continuing A Certain Justice, an elegant tale of murder from the
always delightful P.D. James which Mme de Crécy had kindly given me on
Then to the Garden, those sweet encounters and far too much of the Sam
Adams Oktoberfest brew. Fortunately I had the sense to throw half of the
last one away, got on a mall-bound bus and fell asleep, woke up to find
myself way up in the mountains. Ooops. The driver thought it funny, said
we'd be taking a five minute break and then he'd be going through
downtown. It was beautiful up there, so incredibly quiet, with the
twinkling lights of the downtown skyline off in the distance.
Quiet it was NOT, however, at the New Cloisters. The Social Horror Club
was in full swing. The Sleeptalker sounding like Minnie Mouse, Rossini
literally staggering drunk, even the dreaded RedEye back. I wished Angelo
a happy birthday again and left. No, it won't be long before they get
everyone evicted from that sanctuary, too. Back to Park Place, Sidney and
Mr. Clean, Long John missing. Darkness ... and quiet ... and sweet
thoughts about Good Boys.
Make someone happy, make just one someone happy ...
Impossible. If you make someone happy, it also gives you at least a
moment of happiness, so you can't do it for just one someone. Each day
I've tried to do at least one little thing to make someone happy, whether
it's a free beer, a pack of cigarettes or even, in the case of Sidney,
just three cigarettes. Heaven knows, I have more knowledge of who needs
what and just how much is appropriate than anyone else at the mall and in
the beach park. So far, only one strike-out. The Queen Mum always
carries two large plastic bags and one of them is getting really battered.
So I thought I'd buy her one of the big cloth carrier bags from the Old
Navy store. Silly buggers wouldn't sell me one ... they're just for use
while shopping in the store. ABC charges almost $12 for a similar canvas
tote bag, but that's way overboard for the Queen Mum. It's important not
to give too much. I'll have to look around at Savers next time I'm there
and see if they have anything suitable.
The weekend was again quite unexceptionable, mornings on campus,
afternoons in the park, as little time as possible in the ever-crowded
mall, although I did stay for the Hawaiian Thistle Pipes Band gig on
Sunday afternoon. Hearing a group of bagpipers launch into "Amazing
Grace" always sends a chill of pleasure through me and this was no
exception. What they had to do with the French Festival entertainment,
I'm not sure, but no complaints.
No Bad Boys all weekend, very strange since they must all be quite broke
by now. I do wonder what they're doing with themselves all day, and
where, even if I haven't really minded the break.
There are two areas at Park Place, one on the south, the other on the
north, and I've always slept with Long John, Sidney and Mr. Clean in the
south part. But there had been a Taiwanese Festival there all day
Saturday and were still tables and stacked folding chairs in the sleeping
area, so I went to the north one instead. There was just one other man
there, and he didn't snore. Most excellent. So I returned on Sunday
night and had the place to myself. I suspect this is mainly because
there's little shelter from the wind there, so once it gets cooler, or if
it's wet, the south area would be the better option.
But despite wondering at sunset whether it was finally going to feel
cooler than comfortable during the night, since the wind was gusting and
it did indeed feel cooler than it has since last winter, the wind died
down and it was again a very warm night. It was enough of a warning,
though, to move the question of acquiring a flannel sheet or somesuch to
the top of the list, despite having no joy in the thought of lugging the
thing around until spring.
All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air ...
with one enormous chair, oh wouldn't it be luverly ...
Nawwww ... unnecessary luxury in these tropic climes. Still, I have to
admit it's a winter fantasy.
"You saw your buddy?" Rocky asked, although I was sure he knew I had.
"Yes, I saw him twice last week." "And you were real happy?" he grinned.
"No," I said, "I stopped sleeping there." He was surprised. I explained
that they always wanted to party but I had already partied elsewhere and
when I got to the bench I just wanted to sleep. One nice thing about the
Bad Boys is the grapevine they form. I can always count on saying
something to one of them and know it will circulate. And I was glad to
let the Sleeptalker know it isn't something personal against him.
Of course, Rocky asked me to buy him something, this time breakfast. I
refused, but offered him a McD's coupon for a free sandwich. He didn't
want it. "Picky, picky," I said, and went on my way.
As difficult as it is sometimes to be with my "buddy" in person, it has
almost always been a pleasure to have the Sleeptalker in Seventh
Circle and I was happy to see him login on Monday morning. I figured
he'd eventually return to the game, especially when broke, and as usual, I
helped him out with some difficult-to-get gear, enjoyed our exchanges. But
I didn't change my plans, left while he was still playing, saying I had to
go to Chinatown to buy smokes and then do laundry. And I did, making a
stop at the State Library to pick up a book. The silly laundromat's
machine was out of soap, so I ended up going back toward campus and using
the laundromat there.
Stupid that laundry technology has improved so little, that it takes so
much time to wash and dry a few clothes, but I had a bottle of Colt with
paper cup and straw, sat on a large boulder outside (with a view of my
machine), smoked, drank and contemplated the chalky corpse of a little
gecko which was laying belly-up on the sidewalk.
I had seriously considered the notion of just buying new clothes from that
very cheap discount store instead of bothering with laundry anymore, but
failed to reckon on acquiring some stuff I like well enough to want to
keep for awhile, at least. So what is needed is a Star Trek type
replicator, could just put the dirty ones in it and get clean duplicates.
After all, this is almost the 21st century, can't we get a little decent
November began with a gloomy, gray day, not once a trace of sunshine. It
did, at least, stay dry until after sunset and then seemed to rain all
night, continuing in the morning. I got to Park Place North just before
the rain began, so no problem, although it did mean more people in
residence than usual.
After having the place blissfully to myself for a couple of nights, I woke
up on Tuesday night to see that the Wild Man had settled on the other side
of the area. I've seen him in the park for many years, long before I
joined the tribe. He is a determined loner, rarely speaks to anyone. He
almost never wears a shirt, just shorts and low boots, carries two stuffed
bags and a guitar. Every day he takes over a picnic table in the park,
spends more time shadow-boxing than playing the guitar, and makes
occasional trips to the mall, I think mainly for snipe hunting. I've
showered with him several times but have never exchanged any words with
him, so it was a surprise to see him sleeping so near me. He was back
again on the wet Wednesday night, along with a man with a bicycle, and
later a rather noisy couple abandoned their usual place in the park and
took shelter with us. The man was either a loony or drunk, kept making a
grim cackling noise. It was too wet to switch to Park Place South, so I
adjusted the earplugs and went back to sleep.
I stayed on campus all day aside from a quick trip downtown to collect the
Fabled Pension Check and to Waikiki to cash it, celebrated its arrival
with three jugs of that Sam Adams Oktoberfest brew. "I'll almost be glad
when this stuff is gone," I told Bartender Bryant, "almost." It is
most excellent beer but so strong. Only by spreading those three jugs
over seven hours and following up the last one with a Mexican dinner did I
escape misery the next morning.
My appropriate-for-Halloween reading material had been Orson Scott Card's
charming fantasy, Enchantment, and Danielle Steel's The
Ghost. Both of them blended a contemporary story with one from the
distant past, Card's via a portal in time, Steel's with diaries from a
woman who had owned the house the contemporary hero lived in. Both good
reading, and again one of Steel's better works. And now for something
completely different, discovered on Hamilton Library's fifty-cent cart,
Anatoli Rybakov's Children of the Arbat, set in pre-WW2 Stalinist
Russia. It makes me very, very happy to have arrived on this planet in
the USA and not the USSR.
I only discovered later in the day that the Big Island had been utterly
drenched with record rains, roads washed out, houses even shifted from
their foundations by the raging floods. There was a Flood Watch on this
island and heavy thunderstorms predicted later. It actually turned out to
be a fairly pleasant, although heavy atmosphere, mid-day and I went to the
Garden for a Sam Adams and continued the fine Rybakov novel. I saw the
Cherub and offered to buy him a beer but he was eager to get home before
the weather worsened. When I got back to the computer lab, there was a
message from Kory K offering shelter for the night. Ahhhh ... yes, a
comfy futon was a very much nicer prospect than a damp concrete floor at
Luckily the heavy late afternoon rains paused long enough for me to pick
up a big steak and some brew, getting to Kory's place without being
drenched. Comfy place, good company (including the ever delightful
Keali'i) and lousy television. If I had that room somewhere, far away
from the cold night air, I would NOT want a television set in it.
The university was closed for Election Day, necessarily making it
a day very different from the usual routine. So I decided, for the
first time this year, to spend the entire day in Waikiki. It was such
perfect weather, as I said elsewhere the kind of November day which truly
makes me feel lucky to live here. I sat in Kapiolani Park reading during
the morning, walked over to get a bottle of Colt and returned again to the
book, stopping to watch a group of hula dancers practising in that elegant
new bandstand. Then I grabbed an abandoned beach mat and settled on the
sand to soak up the sun for an hour or so and watch the handsome young men
frolicking in the water nearby.
I had determined to limit myself to a twenty-dollar budget for the day,
knowing that being offline would make it more of a temptation to buy my
way out of boredom. But as it turned out, I didn't even spend half that.
I resisted the ever-increasing internet cafes, walked into Duke's but saw
it was quite crowded and without anyone particularly interesting,
considered visiting the new Hula's for the first time but rejected that
idea, too. So breakfast and an early dinner at Jack-in-the-Box and two
bottles of Colt, a final one as a nightcap back at the mall ... that was
it for outgoing money.
There had been neither Bad nor Good Boys on Friday. Aside from a quick
trip to Chinatown to buy cigarettes and lunch at the beach park, I spent
all day and most of the evening on campus. I was surprised not to see at
least one of the Bad Boys at the park, equally surprised the lads from
last week weren't at Manoa Garden for the evening gig.
The band was called Syx Pack, had more potential than most I've
heard this season at the Garden although like so many of the local young
musicians with ambitions to rock, they just don't understand that making a
lot of noise isn't the most important thing. Too much effort to arouse
enthusiasm, not nearly enough attention to making the words of the songs
comprehensible. I left after the first set. Flash was there, the first
time I've seen him in over a year. He either didn't notice me at all or
just didn't want to leave his friends to say hello to the old guy sitting
in the back. But otherwise the crowd was mostly the old tenured UH
workers or professors who seem to spend much of their lifes sitting in
Manoa Garden, mid-day and evening, sucking up the cheap beer.
On Saturday I didn't even go to the beach for lunch, stayed on campus
until the computer lab closed at 4:30. I decided I'd see how quickly I
could level a new character in Seventh Circle, got him to level 35
in two days, enjoying everyone trying to figure out who is playing him.
Back at the mall, I bought Card's Ender's Game which had been
highly recommended. I really dislike shopping at Waldenbooks because you
always have to put up with their song-and-dance about joining the
Preferred Reader Program. I feel like saying, "shut up and give me the
change", but instead say, once again, "I don't shop here that often." And
I wouldn't have then, either, had it not started pouring rain soon after I
got to the mall.
Thanks to the wet evening, Park Place North was packed. I got there early
enough to grab space in the most sheltered corner, woke later to see the
Wild Man had settled less than three feet from me. Amazing ... eight
people and not one of them snored. Even so, on Sunday I returned to Park
Place South, LongJohn and Sidney.
I wasn't surprised to see no Bad Boys on Sunday since it was Crazy Money
Day and they'd no doubt be holed up somewhere with their glass pipes until
the money runs out. I'm amused a little by realizing it is actually
Rossini I most miss. He's just such an easy fellow to be with, made even
more so by having no big physical yearning for him. But I miss Angelo,
too, and in the game, the Sleeptalker. Only in the game.
I walked into the supermarket, picked up the Swiss cheese, rolls, and
bottle of Colt for my lunch and headed to the checkout counter. I thought
I was having a morphine flashback, had stepped into the Twilight Zone or
had actually gone crazy. What the hell was the Sleeptalker doing on the
cover of People magazine??? And with the banner, "sexiest man
Not that I disagree whatever with the banner.
I could only see the top half of the cover, the rest blocked by other
stuff. Those eyes, that hair, that expression.
Ahhhh, now I understand why I suddenly became so interested in the career
of Brad Pitt.
I woke on Friday morning, wondering why they'd turned the lights on. No
electricity involved ... it was that big glowing ball in the sky shining
in my eyes. Looking over, I saw the moonbeams were also softly
illuminating the figure of Sidney, once again laying there stark naked,
slowly stroking his lengthy pole. I lit a cigarette, lay there and
watched. He must have known I was looking but evidently wasn't concerned,
and he seemed to be just enjoying playing with it, not seriously trying to
get off. When I finished my smoke, I rolled up my mats, went over and
knelt beside him, handed him two cigarettes. "Thanks, man," he said,
"you're the best." As before, he showed absolutely no concern about being
there naked with a hard-on. I rubbed my hand across his chest and down
over his flat belly, but when my hand touched the base of his hard pole,
he gently pushed my hand back up, not away, and chuckled. I patted him
again on his belly and walked away with a little wave. Strange fellow,
and really quite a sweetheart.
Although every day I see plenty of interesting, sexy young men, especially
at the beach in Waikiki and on the UH campus, it's surprisingly rare that
I see one I really want. Lightning struck twice on Wednesday,
though, with the first amusing shower companion I've had in weeks and
again later at Manoa Garden. The young Korean sharing the shower kept his
shorts on but I enjoyed his fine body and even more when he finally did
remove the shorts. Very well equipped, he was, and it soon was on its way
to full glory. Alas, someone else came in to wait for a shower. Rotten
timing. I felt like giving the guy two dollars, saying "go have a beer on
me, come back in twenty minutes." Oh well, Dame Fortune can't be expected
to come through every time.
I'm not usually attracted to the beefcake type but sitting in the early
evening at Manoa Garden, drinking my second Sam Adams and reading, I
looked up to see a very muscular hunk, dressed in shorts and a tanktop,
sit at the table right in front of mine, legs widely spread, facing me.
Such large, strong arms. If I were fortunate enough to rub my hands
over those muscles, it would be a record, easily the biggest biceps I've ever
touched in my life. He was aware of my attention but ignored it,
concentrating very hard on something he was writing, but the third time
his cellular phone went off, he glanced at me and grinned. Be still, my
beating heart. A fourth call must have prompted him to make a move, and
he smiled again as he left.
Ah yes, lightning twice in one day. I'm getting too old for this.
I haven't mentioned yet the event which began this hideously political
week. Some time ago I received an email from a student asking if I would
be willing to participate as the subject of an "oral biography", a class
project. I agreed, replied to a basic-statistics questionnaire she sent
and then arranged to meet her on Monday morning in the secluded grove. As
she had warned me, she turned on a tape recorder and spent an hour asking
me questions. She's a very attractive young woman with warm, friendly
eyes and an enigmatic smile which was the response most of my answers
received. She's aware of the Tales and has some knowledge of local online
history, so many of her questions concentrated on that, with surprisingly
few about the more distant past. I'd had some moments of dread about the
exercise after having agreed to it, but it was actually quite pleasant and
Then, sigh, the dreadful Election. For a country which has spent so much
energy, so many lives, such an abundance of resources trying to push our
ideal model of government down the collective throats of the
planet, it's absurd we can't just let our people vote, efficiently count
the results and determine our leader for the next four years. The entire
concept of the Electoral College is antiquated and useless in this
technological age, if it ever did make sense. And to take so long to come
up with the definitive result is almost unbelievable, an embarrassing
moment of history for the United States.
Little wonder I felt like drinking beer and losing myself in lustful
thoughts of handsome young men.
Twice recently, I've seen the one-time Curmudgeon of Usenet. The second
time, he asked "you still reading that?" But it was three books down the
line since I'd last seen him. I told him that
reading keeps me "sane", but I deny I ever said that. I have to be crazy
if I'm getting the Crazy Money, don't I?
Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is a fine, provocative sci-fi
novel. I much enjoyed it, but oddly not enough that when, later, I was in
a bookstore holding the sequel in my hand, to buy that one. Maybe at some
future time, in a used bookstore. And let us thank the Fates that Jelly's
has moved their book enterprise to Puck's Alley, just downhill from the
University. Another fifty-cent "cart" to peruse. But no, they don't have
the Card sequel, nor do they have Jordan's eighth Wheel of Time
volume. I only noticed in the mall on Saturday morning that he has the
ninth one now available ... hardcover only, thus far. I can wait.
What I did have was Danielle Steel's Family Album. Extraordinary.
Dell Books reprinted a special edition of it, as she says in the intro,
one of her favorites, and gave it away FREE to celebrate the publication
of her FIFTIETH novel last month. Okay, strange, but certainly Family
Album is one of her best.
Pete Hamlin's Loving Women was good, too. A definite Kerouac
influence. Growing up in the Fifties, young virgin man from
Brooklyn joining the Navy and being sent Down South. The novel really
should become required reading for any teenager wanting a REAL manual on
the troublesome subject of sex. Never mind the thing depressed me big
And the boys ....
Sidney is crazy. Ignore his penchant for getting naked and showing
his dick to the world. I saw him at the bus stop on Friday evening and
offered him two cigarettes. "Thank you, sir," he said, "but I only smoke
Marboros." [!!!] Oh well, I give up on that lad. Angelo's a little like
that, very much prefers Kools, but what the hell. If I have the nicotine
craving, I don't care what brand it is. I like Pall Malls but I'm not
paying more than twice the price of "native" brands to smoke them. Silly
And in the game, a new player appeared named "Mondo". There are only
about half a dozen people, aside from Readers of the Tales, who know about
that nickname. Now which of them would start a new character in
Seventh Circle using that name. Not the real "Mondo", I'd wager.
The nights are too long. Yes, of course, we're heading into the darkest
time of the year and even though there isn't nearly as much difference at
this latitude as there is further north, the nights are still discernably
longer. But that's not what I mean. My inner clock has gone whacko,
drifted out of sync by an hour or more. I'm almost always ready for sleep
by nine, sometimes even eight, but then wake up sometime between three and
four as if it's time to start a new day. Nothing to do at that hour but
buy coffee from 7-Eleven and sit drinking it and smoking until the world
wakes up. So instead I look at my watch, sigh, and force myself to lay
back down again, perhaps drift into light sleep for another hour.
I'd had enough of naked Sidney for this Fool Moon cycle, moved back to
Park Place North. The crazy couple were there on Friday night but had
mercifully fallen asleep early. On Saturday I had the place to myself
most of the night, although a bicycle fellow arrived in the wee, wee hours
and quietly settled on the other side of the area. Despite the quiet
space, I don't think I slept continuously for more than two hours either
Another off-line day was expected because of the Veteran's Day holiday,
but although the State Library closed for the entire three-day weekend, at
UH they staggered it. The libraries closed on Friday, but the computer
lab stayed open. It closed on Saturday, but the libraries were open.
Everything closed at five but at least it made access available during the
day. I went down to the park for lunch on Friday, but stayed on campus
all day Saturday, hardly spoke to anyone either day.
I wonder if someone is still trying to write that mythic "Great American
Novel"? If so, wasting their time. It was published two months after I
was born, written by a twenty-three-year-old woman. The art of writing
novels simply doesn't get any better than The Heart is a Lonely
Hunter by Carson McCullers, don't care what country we are talking
Not an easy book to read, though.
It must have been a rough weekend for the young'uns. Both the Young
Hardhat and Rocky looked totally wrecked on Monday morning. Rocky came
into the men's room as I was shaving, said nothing but headed directly to
a stall. I looked for him afterwards, would have bought him breakfast
just to hear the latest gossip, but he was nowhere around. At least one
of the Bad Boys is alive. And not the only one, as I discovered in
the course of the day.
Sunday was a dreary gray day with frequent drizzle. I stayed on campus
all day but had to abandon the secluded grove for a sheltered spot at
lunchtime because of the wetness. Reading, drinking beer, playing
Seventh Circle, returning to the mall for a baked potato at Arby's
and a nightcap Colt before heading to Park Place North. The bicycle man
from the night before was there, sound asleep with a squawky little radio
yakking away. Sigh. I moved to PP South. Just LongJohn and his bicycle
man buddy, no Sidney, a quiet night, once again waking a little after
three and feeling like it was time to start the new day.
The morning was again gray, with frequent drizzle, even one torrential
downpour on campus, but then it cleared and was quite pleasant. I played
the game until late morning, then went downtown to buy cigarettes. Back
to the mall, cheese, rolls and a bottle of Colt for lunch in the park.
Rocky, again. He has a new boy. Very tall and slim ["spare me, please",
I moaned to myself]. So tall, Rocky looks like a real little shrimp
beside him, barely comes up to his shoulders. I ignored them, Rocky
ignored me. They were at a nearby table with a lad who is part of a small
colony which has been camping in the park for some weeks. That fellow has
a magnificent body but when you get close to him, you see what a hard,
almost cruel face he has. I told myself to just forget about it. The
three of them left at one point, went back to the mall, but returned and
sat on the grass near the little dome tent that colony has erected.
Lunch and beer finished, zebra doves stuffed with my excess rolls, I went
back to the mall for a refill. Angelo! He didn't see me, was all alone.
I followed along behind him. Looked like he was headed for the favorite
store and I had no ambition to "spin" for him, but he by-passed that and
continued, probably headed to Border's. I stopped following, went to get
another bottle of beer. Treat 'em like cats. If he'd wanted to see me
(or Rocky) he would've checked the park. Of course, he's probably
avoiding me since he owes me twenty dollars. Silly boy, if so, since I'd
planned from the start to write it off as a birthday gift. Would've been
nicer if he'd handed me twenty and I'd given it back to him, but then it's
probably not fair to expect such young fellows to understand style.
Back then to campus, after finishing the second beer. Sitting at my
favorite terminal, seeing someone hadn't closed the telnet program ... and
had been logged into mud.oro.net:4000. The lingering message bid farewell
to the Sleeptalker.
Having enjoyed sitting in the chair still warm from the Sleeptalker's cute
butt, I took a smoke break. In the game my 14-year-old friend had
immediately told me I'd just missed the Sleeptalker. Outside the lab, I
saw the Cherub who repeated the news. They had talked briefly. The
Cherub said the Sleeptalker was "looking good". "That's the problem," I
sighed, "he always does." The Cherub laughed. It's odd and quite
touching that such a straight young man is so sympathetic about this
bizarre romance between the Old Man and the Waianae Kid.
Although he didn't mention it until the next morning, it was the eve of
the Cherub's twenty-fifth birthday, so I was doubly glad when hearing it
that I'd treated him to beer for the evening. He was broke again and he's
been kind to me when the situation was reversed, so I owed him anyway. We
downed two large jugs of that wickedly strong Sam Adams Oktoberfest brew
and when the Garden closed, went on to the house where he rents a room and
killed a large bottle of red wine. I ended up happily cocooned in a comfy
quilt on his floor, slept so soundly that when he woke me and asked if I
wanted to get coffee, I thought he'd just laid down for awhile and then
decided to have coffee. But it was 6:30 in the morning. That's the first
solid sleep I've had in a long time.
The Cherub seems to think I'm being too hard on the Sleeptalker. I think
he's being too hard on his mother and her role in the pending divorce. So
we spent some time discussing both situations. We're probably both right.
I felt pretty wrecked the next morning but scrambled eggs, bacon and toast
helped remove most of the fog. I had to make a quick trip downtown to
collect mail but otherwise stayed on campus until heading to the beach
park for lunch. I would've had lunch on campus as well had I not wanted
to shower. No Bad Boys in sight but that Dome Tent Crew at the park has a
new member, very much in the Sleeptalker style, who was a pleasure to
watch as they tossed around a frisbee and then he did some fancy moves
with a skateboard before settling by himself a little distance away to
And on that subject, Andrew Greeley's Irish Gold is a delightful
book, and sure don't I have to be careful not to start writing like
himself. Bad enough for my thoughts to be coming out in Western Irish
Winter arrived on Thursday night. The usual annual conversations in the
mall next morning: "didn't it get suddenly cold", "I hate it when it does
that", etc. Not exactly thermal underwear time, but certainly reviving
the layered look, a tee shirt and a polo shirt over it, windbreaker
over that during the night. I did shop for a suitable cover last week but
didn't find anything compact enough, thought I'd just go to a fabric store
and buy a couple of yards of heavy flannel. I guess it's time to stop
putting it off.
And it does look like this will be a wet and windy winter, judging by its
start. It poured rain for much of the night on Wednesday and I had to get
up at one point and move my mats further from the edge at Park Place
South, then make the long walk around the tennis courts in the morning
since the usual walk across the grass would have been a very soggy one.
Although it was pleasant during the day on Thursday, it began to rain
again as I was on the bus headed to the park. Fortunately it stopped long
enough for me to cross from the mall to Park Place. I started out at
North but that dreadful couple were there. She was obviously ready to
sleep but he wouldn't shut up, and her screeches at him to "fock it off"
were more annoying than his incoherent mumbling. I switched to South, as
usual, far more crowded in such weather but at least only with loners
quietly sleeping or preparing to ... and about a dozen cats all sitting
and watching me as I settled down.
When I bought Greeley's Irish Gold from the fifty-cent cart I
noticed the sequel, Irish Lace, was there, too, and was very
pleased to see it still there when I realized how much I was enjoying the
first book, quickly went to the store for the second. It's totally
remarkable that one of the most charming and endearing female characters
in contemporary fiction has been created by a Catholic priest. Equally
remarkable that favorite line of mine from the first book. When told the
Mass is now called the Eucharist, our heroine replied "the focking Mass is
the focking Mass". Yes, a priest who can be that amusing is certainly on
my list of most-treasured writers.
And wasn't it grand indeed that after a few drops of the malt taken during
the day while reading the second book, I was given a free jar of the stuff
to enjoy while finishing it after sunset. Brilliant.
A gray, damp Saturday morning (after yet another rain-drenched night) was
suddenly brightened. Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is ... the
Young Hardhat. Looks like his schedule has changed to include working on
Saturday. Fine with me.
And so is that new young fellow in the park, the Discus Thrower. I'd like
to see him posing as the classic statue of that figure. After the usual
trip to Chinatown for cheap cigarettes and the State Library for books, I
went to the park for Friday lunch. Enjoyed the cheese and rolls, and the
beer, the birds enjoyed sharing the rolls. But I most enjoyed watching
the Discus Thrower and his buddies playing frisbee catch again. Then the
Discus Thrower made a wild pitch and the frisbee ended up stuck in the top
of a tall palm tree. For half an hour they tried to get the thing down.
One of the guys was very good at palm climbing, made it nearly to the top
and knocked off a lot of dead leaves but didn't manage to dislodge the
frisbee. The Discus Thrower tried climbing, much fun to watch, but barely
managed to get about five feet up the trunk before sliding back down. Then
he stood there throwing big rocks into the tree. More dead leaves fell,
but no frisbee. They finally gave up. I was tempted to go to the mall
and buy them a new frisbee but tell myself it's wiser to keep my distance,
especially with such apparently permanent residents of the park, and with
that one being so very much in the Sleeptalker style.
A young lady at 7-Eleven unwittingly did me a great favor when she asked
if I wanted the beer charged to my plastic as well. Wow, didn't know I
could spend the cash part of it directly in the store. I surely did.
There was $20 cash still on the card but no way to get it from an ATM
since the dollar withdrawal fee was missing, so it was like suddenly
finding an extra twenty in my pocket. And considering the state of those
pockets, a more than welcome discovery.
Back to the secluded grove with that, the third Colt of the day, and
continuing reading at sunset. From one of the most clever heroines of
contemporary fiction to one of the dumbest, the central figure in Doris
Lessing's The Good Terrorist. What kind of nutty female would live
with and support a layabout gay wannabe-terrorist for fifteen years?
Amusing novel, but sheez, is that woman stupid or what.
Three 40oz bottles are enough for one day so I refrained from the Friday
night gig at Manoa Garden, went off to Park Place at about 8:30. There
was some big gathering underway but as often happens, the north gate
hadn't been opened. The Wild Man and someone else were already there
asleep, so I settled in a corner and joined them. Then the Dreadful
Couple moved in when it started raining, squabbling away as usual. With
only two exceptions I know of, every male-female couple on the streets
constantly bicker and bitch at each other. Fortunately they shut up
fairly quickly, but they had woken the Wild Man who then decided to sit up
and plunk on his guitar! People are so damned self-centered and
inconsiderate. I moved to Park Place South. Ye gawds, yet another
squabbling couple. Mercifully, they, too, soon shut up and it was a
peaceful night except for once again having to get up and move further
from the edge when the rain got too heavy.
Earlier, I saw the Cherub briefly. He was happy about landing a
part in the production of "Faust" here next April and him being in it
gives me yet another reason to look forward to it. Not to mention looking
forward to spring, full stop. Here it is just Thanksgiving week and I'm
already wishing winter was over.
Unlike one of my favorite on-line journal writers, I don't
have anything nearly as interesting as "flying fat globules" to talk
about, just another slightly dull, routine weekend. Oh well, get
Thanksgiving out of the way and one more slightly dull, routine weekend
and we can go full force into that annual Spirit thing. A cute young
fellow passed me Sunday evening who seemed to already be infected, was
merrily whistling "Joy to the World". I looked up from my book and smiled
at him. He returned the smile, went back to whistling, and then looked
back once more with another smile before going on his way. Dear Santa,
maybe there's room in the stocking for the Young Hardhat and the Young
A reader has been teasing me about having turned into a Capitalist
since I got the Crazy Money grant. Hmmmm, maybe so. The thought of
returning, even for a few days, to totally empty pockets, snipe and
quarter hunting, gives me the shudders. Hanging onto every penny.
Another reader kindly suggested what sounds like an ideal solution to the
sleep-cover problem but examining those pockets and what's left on the
plastic, I decided I'd risk a few shivery nights and wait until the Fabled
Pension Check arrives before checking out her idea. Just enough cash for
cigarettes and beer until then ... and McD's senior coffee in the
mornings, helped a bit early Monday morning when a stroller was just
sitting there waiting to be returned for those two quarters. No more
scrambled eggs until December, though.
I ran into the Cherub late Sunday afternoon and we chatted for awhile
sitting outside Sinclair Library. He amused me with stories of the
rehearsals for "Faust", especially the simulated orgy scene in Part One,
and with an account of a "rave" he'd gone to on Saturday night. There's a
young lady in the "Faust" cast he's developing a major crush on and he was
worrying about getting a "miniature rose" and giving it to her. Would she
think it was stupid? I told him he knows her, I don't, so he's in a
better position to judge whether she'd think it was stupid .... or sweet
and stupid. Young love.
I'd lined up a Danielle Steel double feature for the weekend and much
enjoyed Wings, another of her best. Funnily enough, the Cherub has
to write a book report on her The Gift, half-jokingly suggested I
write it for him. Then he said the professor would never believe he had
written it. I'm not sure if that's a clever compliment or a clever
insult, but I can't imagine writing a collegiate-type report on a Steel
novel. The second one of the weekend was Five Days in Paris, more
her fluffier type of yarn about the rich and famous but entertaining
I stayed on campus all weekend, only returning to the mall for a nightcap
before heading to Park Place South which was mercifully peaceful both
Saturday and Sunday nights. Such odd dreams on Sunday night, buying a
tiny Miro painting. It wasn't at all his style, a dreamily realistic
study of a small restaurant with quite magically done glowing balls as
lights. Why I thought it by Miro, I don't know, but I did manage to buy
it for an absurdly small amount of money. There was a second painting I
was after, too, but I can't remember anything about it or who the artist
was. Maybe that's what a bedtime snack of cottage cheese and potato chips
washed down by a Mickey's does to the guy who lives in the dreams (which
much of the time just doesn't seem to be me at all).
You keep coming back like a song ...
"Cute as ever," I said to Angelo, rubbing my hand through his
gel-stiffened hair. Big grin from him, splutter from Rocky, "hey! what
about me!" I had been in the park for rolls and cheese and beer and when
returning, on my way to the bus stop, there the two of them were sitting
on a planter ledge. After that little exchange I walked on, just waving
as they tried to call me back.
Arriving on campus, logging into the game, there was the Sleeptalker,
bubbly and chatty. I had been keeping a couple of gifts for him, so
handed them over, told him he should have stuck around that day he was
last on campus since the Cherub and I had spent the evening drinking.
Wicked of me. I didn't tell him the Cherub had asked me to have drinks
again later, didn't want to strain my already too-thin budget buying beer
for the Sleeptalker. Next month, maybe.
He had to leave to meet Angelo for a soup kitchen dinner anyway and
shortly after he did, the Cherub came along and we went to the Garden.
Drizzle, drizzle, but we managed to stay fairly dry under the shabby
umbrella over the table. More talk of "Faust", his new crush, and more
effort to persuade him to be kinder to his mother over the divorce,
listening without much enthusiasm to his all-too-enthusiastic reaction to
the news from his father that he'll be getting a Ford "Explorer". I've
just never been able to work up much interest in automobiles of any kind,
with the exception of KM's wonderful white pick-up or Harold Kama's
delightful jeep, and that had more to do with the driver than the vehicle.
The Cherub had an evening rehearsal so I finished my last beer and went to
the mall. Wow, luggage lockers being installed! But gasp, a dollar an
hour, maximum time of five per day. I suppose there may be special enough
evenings when I'd be willing to pay that to be rid of the backpack for a
few hours, but I certainly would have made a lot more use of them had they
been a little more reasonably priced. That rate is even worse than the
On my last visit to the State Library, one of the books I'd found is Terry
Goodkind's massive Wizard's First Rule and it is incredible for a
first novel, as good as (possibly even better than) Robert Jordan. It
wouldn't be too difficult to do nothing but sit and read it until the
final page, number 836.
But I finally pulled myself away from it as the mall was closing and
headed over to Park Place South. Uh-oh, just before I got there I saw a
police scooter pull in. I had noticed earlier that all the dome tents
were gone, assume they must have decided it's time to discourage the
ever-increasing population taking up full-time residence in the park. One
of the fellows at Park Place South got up, rolled his mats and left, but
LongJohn was still there when the police left, was pacing up and down in
his usual limp. I probably should've gone over and asked him what the cop
had said, but decided I'd just hop on a bus and head to the New Cloisters,
hoping there would still be bench space. Only four people there, no
problem, so I settled at the other end of a long bench occupied by a young
man in flowery surfer shorts, with the Roadrunner on the floor nearby. By
morning it was a full house, though, and I saw Angelo had arrived after
I'd fallen asleep. That goofy clock is still chiming one hour fast, even
though the clock hands are in the accurate position, but it was a
relatively peaceful night.
I do wish the Powers-That-Be would stop playing these changing rules game,
though. For years the police have always told people found sleeping
elsewhere to go to the beach park. Now they're going to harrass people
there, too? They expect all those folks to just vanish into thin air at
The Cherub certainly was right. The Sleeptalker is indeed "looking good",
better than at any time since the night, almost three years ago, when I
first saw him. Then his hair was like a blonde bearskin cap. Now it's
longer than I've ever seen it, with straight bangs over his forehead down
to his eyebrows. Adorable.
I suppose I should be grateful he doesn't sound as good as he looks.
He was at the New Cloisters on both Wednesday and Thursday nights, both
times, of course, paying no attention at all to the fact people were
already there sleeping, holding down the stage with his antics as always.
Both nights I just pretended to be asleep. One of the regulars is a
Filipino man, probably in his late 40's. He's very strange, seems never
to sleep more than an hour or two at a time before sitting up and fiddling
around with the stuff he carries in one shopping bag. If anyone is
unfortunate enough to wake up and he notices, he's ready to yak, no matter
what the hour. He's probably gay, always tries to grab the attention of
the youngest, cutest guy there, and I saw him very early Thursday morning
sitting there gazing at the sleeping Sleeptalker and thought, "uh-huh,
know just how you feel".
Perfect audience for the Sleeptalker, of course, and provides a most
amusing demonstration of how the Sleeptalker, consciously or
unconsciously, mimics. He talks to someone in the same accent they use,
but just slightly, subtly exaggerated, and hearing his copy of that rapid,
clipped Filipino English is as funny as anything Frank de Lima has ever
done. But what nonsense he does spout, crap about "his girlfriend" (which
he hasn't had since high school), all his big plans about the next trip to
Vegas (even though the Iceman vowed never to use the Sleeptalker again),
etc. etc. Still, even though it went on for an hour Thursday night and
I just wanted to sleep, I couldn't help enjoying the act.
And I certainly enjoyed gazing myself for a few minutes each morning,
watching him asleep on the bench across from me.
I saw Mondo at the mall early on Thanksgiving morning, but just waved to
him, kept on walking. He looked thoroughly stoned and equally thoroughly
happy. And while I was waiting for Helen R outside Sizzler's in Waikiki,
Rocky came along with a fellow I've never seen before. He wanted to
borrow five dollars. I told him I just couldn't do it, still had another
week to get through. He took it well and bounced on his way, after pulling
up his shirt and giving me a glimpse of his brown belly and fancy boxer
shorts which I complimented him on.
Helen had kindly invited me to the traditional all-you-can-eat holiday
buffet there, which we also did two years ago. As I told her, it's a
waste taking me to these all-you-can-eat things, would have been more
sensible to have ordered their usual turkey platter at half the price.
But I did eat so much I was utterly stuffed, returned to the park and
napped on a picnic table bench for a couple of hours. I was still so full
that I couldn't finish my nightcap bottle of Colt later. Blasphemy,
throwing away a quarter bottle of beer.
But aside from that, Thanksgiving was a bore.
I had heard the Filipino Insomniac warn the Sleeptalker that we probably
wouldn't be able to sleep at the New Cloisters on Friday night since they
were having one of their big craft fair/bazaar events on Saturday, would
have security men around during the night who would chase everyone off
while things were being set up for the next day. It's always something.
So I decided I'd take a chance on returning to Park Place. At the worst,
I'd get a little sleep before the cops arrived. There were two people
sleeping already at Park Place North when I got there, nice and peaceful
until the Wild Man arrived shortly after I'd fallen asleep. He was
chatting to a friend, softly most of the time but louder at
moments when he appeared to get angry. For all I know, his "friend" could
have been a six foot rabbit. He was certainly invisible.
It's a little difficult falling asleep when you're wondering if any minute
a cop will shine a light in your face, but maybe that visit before was
just one of the sporadic harrassment routines, a bored cop with nothing
better to do, because we were left alone all night. After two nights of
frequently Sleeptalker-interrupted sleep, I enjoyed the quiet so much I
slept until seven. Being snug in my heavy Gordon Biersch sweatshirt no
doubt helped, too.
I had retrieved that earlier at Mme de Crécy's, also enjoying a second
Thanksgiving dinner, much yummier than the first, throwing my dirty
clothes into the washer/drier and watching "The Green Mile" via DVD.
Interesting film, certainly one of the better adaptations from Stephen
King, but its credibility was seriously damaged by having one moronic,
sadistic prison guard with the rest all being intelligent, rather
sensitive men. A very unlikely scenario in a Southern prison in the late
1930's, never mind the for-King subtle supernatural aspects of the tale.
It's odd how Tom Hanks, having been such a cute young man, has turned into
a rather bland, nondescript adult, however talented an actor. Not one of
those where "cute" turns to "handsome".
Mixed blessing though it is to sleep near the Sleeptalker (unless it's
very near), it is a pleasure to have him in the game and I was
delighted to see him login on Saturday morning. The game is so much more
amusing when he's there and he played all morning. I played until the
weather switched again, after having alternated between pleasant sunshine
and dreary drizzle. Once the sunshine returned, I went
downhill and got a sandwich, chips and a bottle of Colt. Then it was
cough, splutter as I was sipping on the brew and read:
"Thought you was some bad-ass Top Rank gangbang motherfucker, but you
just some bitch-ass sissy like all them elderly niggers down at the corner
by Best Way Liquor with they forty zones of Colt."
My "Bad Boys" are complete angels compared to the ones in Scott Turow's
The Laws of Our Fathers. Forty zones of Colt. I like it.
Back to the game, then, until the Cherub came along. I took a smoke break
and sat outside with him for awhile talking. He wanted us to get eighty
"zones" of Colt each, on him, and sit somewhere getting drunk. Well, it
was back to a dreary drizzle cycle so nowhere too pleasant to go and,
besides, I know he has two books he should be reading if he's not going to
flunk his Modern Lit. credit, so I declined, told him to go off somewhere
quiet and read instead.
When it was closing time at the computer lab, I went back to the mall, saw
Angelo with a young couple I'd never seen before (or so I thought). He
had been in Waikiki with the Sleeptalker and Rossini, went to the military
hotel to have a shower (never mind he had no business being there).
While he was in the shower, someone stole his backpack. Poor fellow. He
wanted to borrow money. I declined, reminding him his credit isn't
exactly good with me. And there was something fishy about it, too.
Rossini surely would have given him some money, and what was Angelo doing
back at the mall, hanging out with that couple if he was in such desperate
straits? And I guess at the base of it all is me just feeling a little
weary of these guys who never have any time for you unless they want
something. So I resisted the further pleas and went on my way, getting
forty zones of Colt and acting like some elderly nigger enjoying sunset in
the park with it.
Well, I was wrong. The final weekend of November 2000 wasn't at all dull
Okay, okay, I know anyone silly enough to read these things is thoroughly
weary of hearing about the Sleeptalker. But I got a hug from him on the
last Sunday of November and said softly into his ear, "you know I love
And yes, I do. Six decades on this planet and there has never been anyone
I have more loved and been "in love with". Big difference, if you haven't
yet discovered it. In this case, it's both, and sets another record.
I've never been "in love with" anyone that long before. Three years,
I played the game for most of Sunday morning, then walked downhill to get
a sandwich and "forty zones" of Colt. When I got off the bus headed back
to campus, I heard "hi, Albert". The Sleeptalker.
He was all excited about a fight he'd gotten into on Saturday night at the
New Cloisters. The young couple who had been there a few nights ago. The
Sleeptalker said the fellow had been noisy and woke him up [!!!!], so he'd
told the guy to chill out, he was trying to sleep. Well, the fellow
apparently had to prove himself to his ladyfriend and challenged the
Sleeptalker, so they had a punch-up. I'm so glad I wasn't there. And the
really weird thing is, that was the same couple I'd seen the previous
evening with Angelo. Seems like a big time split amongst the Bad Boys.
We were walking down the path and I asked, "you going to the
computer lab?" He said he didn't really know. "Well," I said, "I'm going
down there to have lunch and will be at the lab later", gesturing toward
the secluded grove, not inviting him to join me. In the grove, I'd just
opened my book and started to read when the Cherub came along. I told him
the Sleeptalker was on campus. We chatted for awhile. He's very
interested in Andy Warhol, although I can't really imagine why, so I again
tried to tell him everything I experienced with Andy, starting with the
day I walked into the Stable Gallery and saw it littered with stacked
boxes of Campbell Soup (or so it appeared), and tried to explain what a
threat all that was to the old-timers on the scene, the second (or third)
generation of "Abstract Expressionists", etc. etc.
I'm a museum piece.
I told the Cherub if he bought me a bottle of Colt, I'd buy one for the
Sleeptalker. The rascal said he'd buy it for the Sleeptalker, but not for
me. Okay, so we went to get the Sleeptalker, walked downhill and got the
bottles, then sat in the secluded grove and talked. The Sleeptalker now
has decided he wants to be an architect! Great, I said, do design
something better than that awful Bachman Hall, the administrative center
of the University of Hawaii, which we were looking at.
We heard the entire story of the fight (again), then eventually the
Sleeptalker pulled out his precious cellphone and called Rossini, so we
heard a slightly different version of the story, which included the news
that the Sleeptalker had supposedly loaned that fellow a hundred dollars.
Hmmm, the Sleeptalker said he has given up smoking the ice, but I wonder.
The Cherub and I exchanged a few discreet raised-eyebrow glances, but said
Then the Cherub, as he's done several times recently, started musing
about getting something stronger than forty zones. Ahhhh ... the
Sleeptalker roused himself to the challenge and they went off together to
do some shopping. That's when I got my hug.
"You gonna be here?" asked the Sleeptalker. "I want to hang out with
[sigh very deeply]
After the Cherub and the Sleeptalker left for Chinatown, I went downhill
for another brew, enjoyed it and continuing the Turow book at sunset time.
I was semi-hiding out at Sinclair Library but they found me when they
returned, carrying ice, weed and a bottle of wine. I declined the ice, as
did the Sleeptalker, and went very easy on the wine, but enjoyed the
smoke. That finished, we went down to Magoo's for more beer. The
Sleeptalker by then was well stoned and drunk, casually threw up in the
corner by the table and continued with the next glass of beer. Very Roman
He suddenly looked terribly gaunt to my stoned eyes and I said to the
Cherub, "Dostoevsky", nodding at the Sleeptalker.
I thought it was too close to a possible meltdown point, so despite
protests I went on my way, too late to linger for a bus, easier to walk
slowly to Park Place and snuggle up in my sweatshirt.
I'd been on campus for about an hour Monday morning when the Cherub and
the Sleeptalker arrived, both looking rather shattered. The Cherub
eventually wandered off, but the Sleeptalker stayed on campus all day,
playing Seventh Circle for hours. In the late afternoon we went
down to get two bottles of Colt but he only drank about half of his before
getting itchy to return to the game. Okay by me, I finished his bottle
and mine, thought about what deja vu the whole day had been. By
mid-afternoon I had half been wanting to just flee, the other half of
course very much enjoying his company.
He complained, as he has in the past, about how eventually none of the
Boys want to hang out with him, seems genuinely puzzled by it. I didn't
suggest that it could be because he inevitably pulls some kind of asshole
act that makes people decide it's best to shun him for awhile. Instead, I
just talked about how cyclic it all is with the Boys, how two of them hang
out together constantly for awhile and then change partners. I mentioned
the one exception, the Fatman and the Cowboy, who were together for such a
long time. The Sleeptalker had seen the Cowboy at IHS being taken off to
hospital in an ambulance, but didn't know what was wrong with him. He
also told me the Iceman is in jail, but doesn't know whether it's for
drugs or something else.
He said he felt like his life was falling apart but admitted there isn't
really anything that much different than it has been for the three years
I've known him. And he's a little envious of Angelo being able to at
least maintain contact with his mother and sisters, says he misses his
family very much but they don't even want to talk to him on the phone.
Poor confused young man. There is so much about him which is genuinely
sweet and gentle but he always has to counter any evidence of that with
his tough guy routine. As it has always been, there's not much to say
that could help and I guess just having a sympathetic listener is what he
most wants, along with knowing there is indeed at least one person who
does love him.
"Tell, me, did you have to have a drink before you came to see me?"
"Yes, of course."
"No, I mean did you have to?
"I heard the question and answered it honestly."
"I knew it would relax me."
"Would you smoke marijuana instead of the beer?"
"So why not?"
"It's too expensive."
"How much does it cost to drink the beer you want each week?"
"Four dollars a day, say thirty dollars a week."
"And the marijuana?"
"Two hundred dollars."
He grinned, and retired.
Yes, I quite like my psychologist. He isn't a psychiatrist after all, but
since he's a Ph.D and I'd been told "doctor" I had just assumed he was the
whole nine yards. Japanese heritage, but probably local. I'll ask him
next time. He asked at the end of our amusing interview, "do you have a
question to ask me, I've asked you so many?"
I said, "no, I'll think about it, and ask it next time I see you." [on the
14th of December].
He was, right off the bat, amused by the fact that I'd answered on the
questionnaire I had to fill out before seeing him, when being asked why I
was there, "because it's required by the GA [General Assistance] program".
He'd never seen that before, had no doubt seen many elaborate answers, but
not just a straightforward, honest one. I told him I wasn't all too happy
with the whole thing, had gotten lots of coaching and advice about what I
should say, but I had decided just to be straightforward and as honest as
I could be. All I really want is this luverly welfare payment until my
real Social Security arrives seventeen months from now. I didn't say it
quite that blatantly, but almost.
Unless I totally misjudge the dude, I think I'm home free.
Alas, the Sleeptalker didn't return to campus on Tuesday. I'd told him I
would be around in the morning, but would disappear by lunchtime. But I
imagine I'd been a letdown when I didn't stick with him on either Sunday
or Monday nights. Always been the problem, I just can't be a 24-hour
buddy, not this way. I know how I could be, and I'd even be willing to
work for it, but that's not what he really wants and in this case, he's
probably smarter than I am.
I guess I just got lucky that undisturbed night at Park Place. On
Wednesday night, the police returned. "There's no camping in the park.
I'll be back in five minutes and if you aren't gone you'll get a
citation." A citation? Like a parking ticket? And then what, pay
the fine or go to jail? A free bed, anyway ...
So it was back to the New Cloisters. The Sleeptalker apparently
reconciled with the Young Couple because he was there with them and
Angelo. Unusually, the lights were off (as were the chimes on the clock),
so I didn't say anything, just settled on the most distant bench with a
stranger and waited out the time for them to quiet down so I could fall
asleep. I couldn't help but grin at the memory of the Sleeptalker's
complaints about people making too much noise since, as usual, he was the
loudest of them all. The Young Couple evidently went away shortly after
eleven o'clock and it was just the Sleeptalker and Angelo there in the
morning, still asleep when I left. So I guess they are the new Buddy Team
of the Moment again. The Sleeptalker will be getting his money on Sunday,
Angelo on Tuesday, so the New Cloisters will no doubt be peaceful for a
week or so.
But it is indeed unfortunate to lose the park as a sanctuary. As has been
the case with all the others, the loss is largely the fault of the nomads
and the homeless, especially those who just won't be discreet enough about
their presence there. I'm sure it was the increasing number of people
setting up tents and making almost a permanent home of their particular
area, complete with a kitchen set-up and clothes hanging on lines, which
inspired this new crackdown. Just as it was the Bad Boys and their Party
Times which closed all the others. And I won't be at all surprised if
they manage it with the New Cloisters, too.
The psychologist's favorite "gimmick" is "cognitive therapy". His example
was "if you say something is grim, it will be." I don't want to rain on
anyone's parade if they think they've found an answer, but as I see it, if
a spade is a spade, it's a spade and calling it a heart isn't going to
change it. And this neverending crap with the Powers-That-Be over a place
to just lay down and sleep a few hours is a bummer-type spade.
I went drinking with the Cherub again on Tuesday night, starting at Manoa
Garden and moving eventually to Magoo's, staying until we were both drunk
enough to go back to his place, where I collapsed on the floor again and
slept soundly. He's leaving there on the fifteenth, so is less concerned
with what his landlord thinks about what the Cherub is doing. And the
Cherub seems determined to end his collegiate career (for now) in one long
binge. Lordy, can that boy drink, too. Of all the people I know, he is
in the most danger of becoming a true alcoholic. He's a pleasant drunk,
though, aside from eventually getting too sassy with young ladies and
thinking he's being subtle when he's as blatant and offensive as it can
get. Aside from one episode like that, it was a delightful evening,
despite paying the price of a very fuzzy head the next morning. He
has decided not to return next semester, will go to Kauai for the holidays
and then be back here looking for a job, planning to finish up his degree
work either in the summer or next fall. I'll miss him being on campus,
but have to admit it's probably for the best, for both of us at this
He bought me scrambled eggs at Paradise Palms on Wednesday morning, so
there was one more round of eggs for November after all. Then he went on
his way and I played the game until lunchtime. No sign of the
He will hear the wagon, but he won't know. So there will be one within
his hearing before his seeing. And then he will see me and he will be
excited. And so there will be two within his seeing before his
If someone had shown me that passage and asked me to guess who'd written
it, I would instantly have said Gertrude Stein. Not. William Faulkner.
Light in August, an extraordinarily strange novel.
Confounded Edna, making me wait for the Fabled Pension Check this month,
when I would have been very happy to see it on either of the last two days
of November. On the final one, I was even reduced to snipe and quarter
hunting, neither very successfully. I did have two-Colt money already, so
wasn't really putting that much effort into it, true, but they've changed
things at the mall, added corrals and such, which makes it more difficult,
too. After about an hour, I said to hell with it, and went off to have my
sunset brew and continue Faulkner's incredible book. I have to adjust,
remember it's necessary to time that sunset brew a little earlier now if I
want enough light to read by before the bottle is empty.
I know, of course, the first answer to the New Cloisters problem is to
arrive later than I'd prefer. That runs the risk of full benches, but
spares me at least some of the Social Horror Club. The Sleeptalker,
Angelo, Mondo and the Young Couple were all there when I arrived. I
returned their greeting with a wave and went over to my usual corner spot,
settled down. Mondo walked over and asked for a smoke. I only had about
ten virgin smokes left but gave him one of them with a sigh. The lights
were still on so it was my first chance to really look at the Young
Couple. They are indeed young, very much so. Sad to see a teenage couple
like that living on the streets, sadder still to suspect she'll eventually
get pregnant and neither of them are ready for that, obvious just by
looking and listening.
They had sheets and a blanket with them this time, settled on the floor
near me. I'd already fallen asleep when Mondo apparently left and a young
man who mercifully only occasionally snored took the other end of my
bench. It's probably the least satisfactory night sanctuary yet, but I
guess it must be better than the shelter if so many veterans of that place
prefer the New Cloisters to returning there.
That wretched check didn't arrive on the first, either. Okay, okay, I
know the lesson already. Foolish to expect its arrival a couple of days
early, even to expect it on the day it is due. But, of course, I had.
What to do but shrug, grin and say, "oh well, one day without beer
won't prove fatal."
I went to the mall for awhile at lunchtime, found not a single quarter and
not all that many snipes, but at least an abandoned plate lunch box
provided a hearty meal of stir-fried vegetables and rice. Back on campus,
in the game, there was an amusing time when they declared one day a year
as an official Seventh Circle holiday: "Reting Day". All because I
finally was pleased enough with a new feature in the game to post a public
note of compliments.
The Cherub came along, said he still had about six dollars on his credit
card so would get two forties and come back, we could sit outside the
Garden and listen to the bands later. It was "Alternative Music" night,
aka punk rock, not very promising, but forty zones of Colt was sufficient
reason to suffer some terrible music for awhile. Oddly, though, the
Cherub never returned and he wasn't at the Garden when I strolled by there
on my way to a mall-bound bus. I hope he didn't do anything crazy like
try to stuff extra bottles of beer in his backpack and spend the night in
the lock-up, but it wouldn't greatly surprise me.
The mall was packed and I thought I was very likely to go into a major
"Bah Humbug" mode before this whacko season is behind us. I'd spent some
time researching "cognitive therapy" on the web earlier. The key
ingredients appear to be thought pattern modification and behavior
modification. My instant reaction was to think of old dogs and new
tricks, but okay, if the Doc wants to have a go, I'll play along. So I
guess I should deny my usual bah humbug frame of mind and start humming
Christmas carols. Hmmmm ...
The snipes supply was good and there was more food, but again, not a
single quarter. How very odd. I lingered until almost ten, knowing
that's when the lights go out at the New Cloisters. Only Angelo there,
the other Bad Boys and the Young Couple missing. The Sleeptalker must
know someone whose name begins with a letter in the first half of the
alphabet. They get their Crazy Money on the first. Angelo came over and
asked, "you got a cigarette?" I said, "why is it everytime I see you, I
hear 'you got?' and never 'you want?'". He laughed and said that was
because he never saw me when he had anything to give. Uh-huh. I told
him, nope, out of cigarettes and money, but gave him a snipe and settled
down to sleep. Without the Sleeptalker and the Young Couple, it was an
unusually peaceful night there.
On Saturday morning, I checked to see that I'd set up everything okay with
returning PicoSearch for the Tales. Funny stuff, the results it gives,
almost automatic poetry of sorts.
The Panther's Tale: 641-644 641 You keep coming back like a song ...
"Cute as ever," I said to Angelo, ...
... game, there was the sleeptalker, bubbly and chatty. i had be ...
... buying beer for the sleeptalker. next month, maybe. he had t ...
... inly was right. the sleeptalker is indeed "looking good", be ...
... ing at the sleeping sleeptalker and thought, "uh-huh, know j ...
... ct audience for the sleeptalker, of course, and provides a m ...
At last, the Fabled Pension Check arrived. Aside from going to collect
it, cash it and buy cigarettes, I stayed on campus all day, very much
enjoying that first Colt after the day of drought and finishing Faulkner's
magnificent novel. I knew it would be impossible downtown until quite
late because of the annual festivities with the "City Lights" being turned
on, so I dawdled in the mall until almost ten before heading to the New
Cloisters. Everything still in full swing, alas. Angelo and the
Sleeptalker were there, but the Sleeptalker wandered off shortly after I
arrived, without saying anything.
So I sat talking with Angelo for awhile, both of us wishing the music
would end across the street since we were ready for sleep. After the
third Colt of the day, I was more than ready. We gave up, settled down
even though the music was still booming. I gave Angelo a five dollar
bill, told him to have breakfast on me. He's such a sweetie, even if I
don't really lust after his body, but can't tell him so. It was a
pleasure to share the bench with him through that constantly disturbed
The Sleeptalker returned with the Young Couple, then they went away again.
Awhile later, he came back once more and woke me up to ask for a cigarette
lighter. The three of them seem to have stayed up all night, disappearing
and returning, and then I saw them at the mall just after six the next
morning. A strange trio, they are. Strange, too, that Angelo seems to
have split off from them and that Rossini is still missing. I doubt I'll
ever really fathom the mystery of these guys and, of course, they probably
Sunday evening I saw the Godfather of them all, Rocky, sitting glumly at
the bus stop in the mall. I asked if he was heading to Waikiki and he
sullenly said he was on his way to the soup kitchen to eat. "Ahhh," I
said, and gave him a five dollar bill. "Here, have a beer on me
afterwards." That cheered him up. What the heck, I'd had more than
enough reminder of how it is to be flat broke ... and just for one day.
These guys have suffered it for a couple of weeks now. Their own fault,
of course, but then I got more pleasure from giving away those two fives
than I would have from the 200 zones of Colt they would have bought me.
I had considered going to a performance of "The Messiah" but if I was to
sit in polite society in a church I would've needed a shower and a trip to
the laundromat. Too much trouble. I made do with playing my favorite
bits in my head.
Again, I stayed on campus all day, playing the game, drinking beer and
reading John Gardner's The Sunlight Dialogues which, oddly enough,
is very Faulkner-like in mood even if the writing is not even close to
being as stylish. By sunset I suddenly realized how intensely hungry I
was, as if somehow it had just escaped my notice that I hadn't eaten all
day. I headed back to the mall, ate lasagna at Sbarro's, got another
bottle of Colt and continued reading.
So there I was, sipping beer discreetly from paper cup with straw, when I
hear loud ranting coming my direction. Ah, one of the most loony of the
regular mall-loonies, a grubby bearded man who now and then decides to
harangue some poor passer-by as if the stranger had somehow deeply
offended by simply existing. He was accompanied by four security guards,
escorting him from the mall, and he certainly wasn't going quietly. A
police sedan pulled up behind my bench. Gulp. Two cops got out and went
to join the security guards, too intent on the ranter to pay attention
to me and my Pepsi cup, or to me at all. The bearded one eventually went
on his way over to the park, piece of paper in hand. A one-year no
trespass agreement, most likely. I can't say I'll miss seeing him at the
It was a fine, peaceful night at the New Cloisters. The Sleeptalker would
have gotten his Crazy Money, so he'll be missing for a few days, and
without him as catalyst, the Young Couple just settled down quietly when
they arrived. I didn't even notice them until I woke in the morning. Or
rather when I was awakened. The dreadful Filipino Insomniac had taken the
other end of my bench and just before five had put on his headphones and
was beating rhythm to the music, using the bench as a drum. Sheez.
"Thanks for waking me up," I said sarcastically. "Oh, was I making
noise?" "Yes, you were." "I'm so sorry," he said. Likely story.
Never mind. The Young Hardhat was at the mall. I'd missed him all last
week. And there's no better way to start a new one than catching a
glimpse of him.
Crazy Money Day. I'm not quite sure what I like most about it, getting
the money myself or knowing that it signals a week or so of peace and
quiet while the Bad Boys are off in Waikiki spending theirs. I took a
hundred cash from the card and told myself, okay, that's it, not a penny
more of cash money until at least the fifteenth. That Christmas-New
Year's time is bad enough without getting through it flat broke. I can
look back at last year and again feel grateful for having escaped it all
in that comfy hospital bed.
I was sitting in the secluded grove reading this really not-very-good
Gardner novel, wondering if I should just toss it in the trash and go to
Jelly's, see what was more interesting on their fifty-cent cart, but kept
on plodding through it. The Cherub came along. No, he hadn't done an
Angelo, but in his way, just as bad. He had bought a money order for his
rent, at the new place, cashed it instead of sending it to his landlady
and spent the money on booze and drugs. Then he called his father who,
foolishly, sent him another hundred. I was a bit hard on him all evening,
telling him it would probably be best if his father just cut him off,
would be even better if he cut himself off. It's absurd to be twenty-five
and still living off one's parents.
He told me more about the divorce. His mother sounds like a bit of a wild
woman, but then his father doesn't sound altogether sane, either. His
father had bought a large boat, was having it delivered to Kauai via the
Panama Canal. He'd flown down there to meet it and they sailed to Los
Angeles. There his mother joined in and apparently had an affair with the
young man who was the "captain". More power to her, I said, but of
course, the Cherub doesn't quite see it that way.
A young Japanese woman walked through the grove, the Cherub lusting
heavily. I said, today's your day, yesterday was mine. There's an old
song, "have you ever seen a dream walking?" Well, on Sunday, I did. An
absolutely beautiful blonde, tousled hair boy with a Sleeptalker-like
body. How on earth had I missed him all this semester? The Cherub
thought he knew who I meant, said he'd seen what was probably the fellow
up at the Business Admin complex. Ah, I rarely go there, so quite
possible. My mistake, if so.
I offered to buy the Cherub a beer at the Garden, but he had class, went
on his way. After awhile he returned and we did go to the Garden, stayed
all evening. By then, I'd already had two Colts and by the time we left,
him leaving a little before me without finishing his last beer, I couldn't
finish mine either. Yes, it really won't be a bad thing, him heading off
to Kauai soon. I'll miss him, but I just can't keep up with him.
And it's such a mistake to drink so much without eating, and I knew it
well once again on Tuesday morning. Scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, a
half-pint of milk did help .... a little. That's another thing I'll miss.
The Paradise Palms Cafe on campus will close for the last two weeks of the
month. On the other hand, so will the Garden, which will certainly help
my budget considerably.
But still, bah humbug.
Well, there was one time before. That morning I wrote about when the
Sleeptalker came stumbling into the mall, barefoot, wearing nothing but
shorts. Even his slippers had been stolen. That time I had to hold him
up and get him across the street so he could collapse and sleep for a few
hours. Yes, he looked as wrecked that morning as he did on Wednesday.
I had to go to Chinatown to buy cigarettes, so thought I'd have lunch at
the beach park. Swiss cheese and rolls, a bottle of Colt, the rolls as
usual being shared with the Zebra doves. The Sleeptalker and Angelo
approached. The Sleeptalker walked very close to my table and kept on
walking without saying anything at all, went to a nearby table, sat down
and put his head on his arms. Angelo stopped and talked for a few
Okay, the Sleeptalker is hooked on methamphetamine. No doubt about it.
And there is absolutely no one on this earth who can save him except
himself. Been there, done that, I know.
One of the Doc's questions was, naturally, asking what about my life
depressed me, and I told him one thing was seeing these young men, with
their whole lives before them, and just not knowing how to help them.
"Why do you want to help them?" he asked. Excuse me if I glare. What a
stupid question. I should've said that, but I was trying to be polite,
since we'd just met for the first time. Why did I let him get away with
Polite, kind. I'm sick of being that, maybe most of all to people who are
getting paid to put up with whatever someone wants to dish them.
The encounter with the Sleeptalker thoroughly depressed me and I fled back
to campus. The Cherub came through the secluded grove, stopped to chat for
awhile before going off to continue working on his Danielle Steel paper.
And I kept chugging on through that tedious Gardner book although I
haven't the faintest idea why I bothered. After half-heartedly playing
the game for awhile, I went to Manoa Garden, had stir-fried chicken and
vegetables and a nightcap jug of Bud. The food there sucks. I really
should remember it.
At the New Cloisters a sizeable crowd was in the process of leaving.
Apparently there had been a funeral. The Sleeptalker said not a word
again, quickly settled down on a bench. I took my usual spot in the most
distant corner. Angelo walked over and gave me a cigarette which I
accepted even though I didn't need it. I figured it was some kind of a
consolation offering since he must have been a little uncomfortable with
the Sleeptalker's withdrawn behavior. Me, too, but what's to be done
Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and fame
Louis from Rio, strumming his guitar and singing Rolling Stones for us.
Such a funny fellow he is. Us? Ahhh ... from one extreme to another, or
I decided on Thursday morning I'd finally stop putting it off and headed
directly to the laundromat after coffee at McD's. Clean clothes, new
slippers, what a refreshing start to the day. By the time I got to
campus, had bacon and eggs for breakfast, and logged into Seventh
Circle, the Sleeptalker was already there, playing from the State
Library. To say I was astonished to see him in the game is an
understatement. He was all chatty and friendly and being exceptionally
witty with his public remarks, a most entertaining morning.
He was still playing when I returned from Colts-and-sandwich lunch. I'd
finally finished that weary Gardner book and went on to the far more
enjoyable Doctorow: The Waterworks, set in Boss Tweed's Manhattan.
I was engrossed enough in that to go for the second Colt and continue
reading. I'm not sure if the Sleeptalker had taken a lunch break or had
played right through my absence, but he was still in great form and I
wondered how on earth he'd gone from his shattered isolation the day
before to this bubbly, sociable clown.
As sunset approached, I said I'd had enough of the game for the day, was
heading to the Garden for a beer. I'd seen the Cherub earlier, had asked
him to join me, but he had a three-hour rehearsal of "Faust" he had to be
at. Much grumbling about how unfair it was to schedule that just as the
dreaded Finals Week arrives and while I agreed it seemed a bit strenuous
of the director, still, the Cherub needs to remember how lucky he is to be
part of the thing. I seem to spend an awful lot of time lately scolding
him. He's leaving for Kauai on Monday, so I told him to join me at the
Garden the next evening, then, for beer and music.
I was sitting outside at the Garden with a large jug of Bud and continuing
the book when the Sleeptalker walked in. He had obviously been hitting
the pipe and, in fact, brought it out later as we were heading off to the
bus stop, but it was a happier high than he usually seems to hit and it
was a delightful evening with him. The Finals Week stress hit the Garden
at one point when there was a major punch-up between two young men and for
a moment it looked like it might turn into a minor riot as their friends
were trying both to separate them and almost starting to fight each other
at the same time. Security arrived and chilled everyone out. Fun and
It was when we were leaving that we saw Louis from Rio coming along,
guitar case in hand, and got treated to the impromptu recital. Then off
to the New Cloisters. Angelo already there, and the Filipino Insomniac
(the Sleeptalker insists the fellow is Hawaiian but I don't believe it).
The Sleeptalker and I shared a bench but I don't think he got much sleep.
Everytime I stirred, he was just sitting there staring blankly into space.
He had said he was trying to quit smoking ... tobacco. I told him he
should concentrate on quitting the pipe, never mind cigarettes. Fat
Until sunset, anyway, Friday was a quiet day. As I said, I'd asked the
Cherub to join me at the Garden in the evening. The very popular local
reggae band, Ooklah the Moc, would be playing and it was the Cherub's last
Friday at the Garden until sometime next year. Although he's only
planning to stay on Kauai until the day after Christmas, the Garden will
be closed until January eighth because of the after-holiday "Winter Break"
week. I'd asked the Sleeptalker to join us, too, and Angelo, but didn't
really expect them to show up.
The Cherub arrived at the computer lab, had a forty in his backpack, so we
went to the secluded grove and talked while he drank that. I declined the
offer to share, having had two during the afternoon. Then to the Garden
which was already getting crowded, arriving luckily in time to secure one
of the few tables still vacant. Shortly after the music started, to my
surprise, the Sleeptalker and Angelo arrived. The Sleeptalker had gotten
a haircut, a more subtle one than usual, was acting rather strange, going
back and forth between a kind of tense withdrawal to bubbling grins and
amusing exchanges with the Cherub. Angelo was his usual mellow self,
appeared to be enjoying his first experience of the Garden on gig night.
The beer flowed, as did my money, but what the hell, what's one more
broken resolution in a lifelong string of them? I kept passing on most of
my beer to the Boys, keeping their glasses filled. Then someone abandoned
a full mixed drink of some kind which the Cherub promptly retrieved and
gave to me. Nice citrus mix, probably with vodka, strong but quite
refreshing, and I nursed that for the rest of the evening.
Angelo would catch me every time I drifted into reverie over the
Sleeptalker, give me his big knowing grin. Then a friend of the Cherub
joined us, handsome hunk of a fellow who amused me by continually looking
down at his bulging biceps as if checking to see they were still there.
They all had a full supply of beer so I decided it was time for me to be
on my way, a nice formal handshake from the Cherub and thanks for the
party. Okay, that's my party-for-the-season and went more smoothly and
amusingly than I had expected.
It is, after all, Crazy Money, and if I don't spend it crazily, isn't that
Besides, I am. Crazy. And still in love, after all these years.
Heaven knows what was going on at the New Cloisters. The place was a
quarter full of Christmas trees and there were people there with a big
boombox. I don't know if they were going to give the things away to poor
folks or planned to sell them but it was soon clear there was going to be
all-night activity. At first I tried sleeping on one of the too-short
benches some distance away from the usual area, but even there the boombox
was annoying. So I left and went exploring to see if I could find some
other spot to catch a few hours sleep. Much to my surprise, I saw about
half a dozen men sleeping on benches at one of the large government
buildings, so settled there, wondering how early someone would come around
to throw us out. As I recall, I had once slept there when escaping a
Social Horror Club shindig at the hacienda, and a guard arriving to open
the building had told me before dawn "you can't sleep here" and I'd
thought "I just did." Perhaps because it was Saturday morning, no one
arrived before I woke just after five.
I'd finished the entertaining Doctorow novel, went on to the one I'd been
saving for the weekend, Father Greeley's Irish Whiskey, the third
of his books with the delicious Irish heroine, Nuala Anne McGrail. As
expected, it cheered me up a lot. Despite the relative success of my
"party", I was for the most part depressed by it. I love these guys,
one of them exceptionally so, but I do now and then have moments when I
wish I'd just sat quietly in that focking insurance job, kept on paying
that exorbitant monthly rent, and never met any of them.
But only fleeting moments ...
As it turned out, my party at Manoa Garden was a farewell in more than one
way. Goodbye, too, to the Garden itself as we've known it. There's an
outdoor courtyard there with about fifteen round concrete tables, three
curved concrete benches around most. And most also had a battered metal
umbrella. Some benches were missing and, in fact, my favorite table was
missing its umbrella and had only one bench left, an ideal spot for a man
on his own.
All smashed to smithereens on Saturday morning. Well, it's a long overdue
refurbishment but a little surprising they didn't wait until after Finals
Week to launch into it. And the buggers also took away two round
tables under shelter outside the Garden. I hope they replace those, too,
because they've been my favorite place to sit when it's too damp to use
the Secluded Grove.
All things must pass ...
I played the game a little, read a little, drank too much beer, finished
the Greeley book but couldn't decide on something from the fifty-cent cart
at Jelly's so headed off fairly early to the place I guess I'll call
GovSanc. Only four of us there Saturday night, and it was a restless
night for me, I think partly because I know we really shouldn't be
sleeping there and half expect to get awakened at any moment. But it was
also because Marathon Sunday was arriving before dawn. Ah yes, the
Honolulu Marathon would be going right past the building shortly after
five in the morning.
I was already up and on my way by the time the fireworks went off to mark
the beginning of the race, wanted to get out of the area before I was
hemmed in by two streams of runners heading into the downtown district and
then back out again. Buses were all diverted from their usual routes, so
I had to walk awhile before I could get one to the mall, luckily crossed
the marathon route just after the front-runner zoomed past. He was a good
two blocks ahead of the next batch of them. African fellow, I'd guess.
There are apparently two men named John Gardner writing novels, one
American and the other English. The latter has written a few books
continuing the life of Fleming's J. Bond, which I can happily do without,
but his The Secret Generations is entertaining stuff. I picked it
from the fifty-cent cart when I realized it wasn't, as I'd first thought,
by the American Gardner, enjoyed it with a Colt and sandwich for lunch.
As sunset time approached, I went for another Colt and was continuing the
book when the Cherub came along for one Final Hurrah, a bottle of tequila
in his backpack. So much for my plans to keep it a light-drink day. I
don't have too clear a recollection of just how I did it, but I ended up
eventually asleep at the New Cloisters where, happily, the lights had been
turned off and everyone was quiet. I slept so soundly and had such vivid
dreams that when I woke it felt more like I was asleep and dreaming than
it had when I was actually asleep.
I spent some time both Saturday and Sunday reading the Tales from this
time two years ago. There weren't, of course, any from this time a year
ago since I was off on the Moon with the Japanese Emperor. In many ways,
the Tales from two years ago are as far-fetched as those morphine dreams.
And who would've thought the Sleeptalker would still be such a major
player in the drama? Me, probably, but I'm not sure even I would have
The last Fool Moon of 2000 came and went without much hoopla, even the
Sleeptalker causing no more disturbance than usual on the night of
fullness. Angelo was already at the New Cloisters when I arrived. I
settled on the other end of his bench, he raised his head to see who it
was, smiled, and lay back down. The Sleeptalker didn't arrive until I'd
been asleep for awhile, naturally had to chatter away for half an hour to
a young fellow I didn't know. I adjusted the earplugs which still didn't
totally block them, but at least made it impossible to understand what was
being said and thus easier to drift back into sleep. The Sleeptalker
eventually settled on a bench directly across from me and since the lights
were left on, thus provided something nice to look at when I woke during
the night. It's not just little kids that should be seen and not heard.
It had been a fairly dull Monday on campus. The game was down all
afternoon and evening, was still unavailable early the next morning, and
none of the alternatives had enough players to be interesting. Reading,
drinking, sharing lunch with the zebra doves in the secluded grove, a
usual day in the life. I saw the Cherub one last time in mid-morning,
fretting because his ticket to Kauai still hadn't arrived. I assume it
must have later, since I didn't see him again. The game did finally
return in the early afternoon Tuesday but I didn't play for long, wasn't
feeling all that well and even decided to drink some Pepsi instead of a
lunchtime beer. I lay down for a couple of hours in the secluded grove,
wondering what kind of unpleasant critter had invaded my body this time.
By late afternoon I debated it and thought I'd feel worse
from the tension of no beer at all than I would from drinking, whatever
was the matter with me. So I walked downhill, bought a Colt, and returned
to drink it and finish The Secret Generations. It did, indeed,
relax me but I refrained from a later follow-up, went quite early to the
New Cloisters and collapsed on the bench just as the clock chimed eight.
I did get a little sleep before the Social Horrors arrived. The
Sleeptalker, Angelo, Rossini, Mondo and someone I don't know. I just left
my shorts over my face blocking the light and drifted in and out of sleep
despite their chatter. Rossini went off at some point and, judging by the
pops, brought back a twelve-pack of beer. Excellent. Once they'd (very
quickly) guzzled that, they all settled down and the rest of the night was
peaceful. How I do wish for an alternative sleeping sanctuary, though.
Physically, I felt a little better on Wednesday. Not much, but enough to
swing toward the idea that this is just one more instance where the
"chronic" in "brochitis" tilts toward "acute". The weather has been
unusually pleasant this month, much warmer than usual, but it did get a
bit cooler on Tuesday and on Wednesday there were also times of dreary
gray skies and drizzle. The outer echoing the inner? This is not a
But then I did not expect it to be.
Summer colds here are often so mild you hardly notice having one and they
vanish within days. This baby, though, is a full-fledged waterfall-nose
Winter Head Cold. Little surprise I wondered on the first day if I'd
gotten the flu. By Wednesday afternoon, though, it had settled into blow
nose every five minutes mode, most of the aching joint flu-like symptoms
abated, at least sufficiently to be masked by aspirin. So much for the
wonders of taking vitamins. Uh-huh, I finally yielded on the first and
bought some of those 100-percent-of-all-good-things pills. Okay, okay, I
know afficionados will say something like two weeks isn't long enough to
have gotten your cells saturated, etc. etc.
The Sleeptalker and Rossini came into the game on Wednesday afternoon for
about an hour, playing from the State Library. When I first started
playing this thing, almost three years ago now, Rossini had one of the
highest ranking players from Hawaii. But when he went into heavy
glass-pipe la-la land he lost interest, and it was the first time I've
seen him in there all year. A huge row erupted shortly after they left
and I was glad they weren't there because the Sleeptalker would
undoubtedly have joined in the yelling and gotten himself frozen or worse.
The Bosses (aka "Immortals") in Seventh Circle are just so inept at
diplomacy, refuse to accept the fact that they simply cannot demand
respect but have to earn it. I kept my mouth shut for the most part,
while trying to calm some of the kids down with private messages warning
them they were fighting a losing battle. By the time I got fed up with it
and left, about half a dozen players were "frozen" for 24 hours as a
penalty, one of them even had all his stuff taken away. The worst storm
we've had in there for a long time.
I had stopped down to the State Library earlier myself to pick up a couple
of books, was delighted to find Father Greeley's Happy are the
Oppressed and spent much time reading it during the afternoon,
continuing with a sunset brew. It drizzled on and off so I kept having to
re-locate from the secluded grove, but it cleared just before sunset.
This is the winter, I think, when I finally stop being in love with the
Sleeptalker. I doubt I'll ever stop loving the man, but he's just being
too much of an asshole for anyone to be in love with at this point.
Even the Cherub said he'd thought the Sleeptalker was being a "jerk" at
the Garden Party, and by the Sleeptalker's standards recently, he had
actually been almost charming now and then that evening. But sheez, at
the New Cloisters he's just a boor, a loud, tedious boor who seems to
really think he can get away with convincing people how wondrously happy
he is by acting like a fourteen-year-old brat, jumping up and down and
yelling. Mercifully, someone came along to get him. I heard the
Sleeptalker say, "Let's go!", and off they went, happily not returning. I
do hope he soon finds another old queen to look after him for awhile,
leave the rest of us in peace. The other Bad Boys are so quiet and
considerate when the Sleeptalker's not around.
I'd finished my morning coffee, was on the way into the men's room to
shave, when the Young Hardhat approached, went in just in front of me. As
usual, he looked right into my eyes. He went into a stall, I shaved, and
when he came out I was putting my razor away. He looked into my eyes
again and I could swear it was like the light bulb finally went on. "So
that's why you look at me all the time!" Could be wrong, but that's the
distinct feeling I had. And as he was leaving, he turned his head and
looked back at me one more time with a slight grin. Lordy, what a
Do I want him? YES! Could I have him? I really think it's quite
possible, after that little exchange. But even if Dame Fortune doesn't
have that in her cards, I deeply appreciate the sweet moments with him she
has given me.
"You're a gift to a cognitive therapist, a challenge," said the Doc. My
second round with the Doc. Okay, I can really understand now how some of
the lads are CRAZY enough to miss their appointments, because I didn't
want to go. Not at all, at all, as Father Greeley would say. But I did.
I talked a little about the Bad Boys. The Doc at first misunderstood,
thought it was someone else who was destroying our precious sanctuaries.
Uh-uh, it's my "friends" who are doing it, I explained. I haven't yet
gotten to talking about the Sleeptalker specifically. He asked me what I
do with the money I get from this program. I told him about the Garden
Party and how, because of it, I would certainly run short this month.
"You're too nice," he said. Hmmm, a Freudian this man is not.
He's nice, too, though.
"Wow," I said, "you've put on some weight." Rossini thought that very
funny, so I suspect Angelo has now and then teased Rossini about his
tendency to get a bit chubby. Angelo had gotten up from the bench we were
sharing to switch tee-shirts, grinning as I watched the display and made
my observation. Then he strutted over and examined his image in the
reflection of the nearby windows, said his arms were as big as Rocky's.
I was kind, didn't mention the fact that Rocky's belly is still very flat
I was feeling sufficiently better to chat with the lads a bit when I got
to the New Cloisters on Thursday night, made easier by the absence of the
Sleeptalker. Angelo, Rossini, Mondo and the new lad I'll call the Karate
Kid because of his ... errr, to my decadent mind, rather suspicious ...
fondness for trying out various martial arts routines involving close body
contact. The Karate Kid is a rarity among the lads because he's a
devoted reader, will usually pull out his book once everyone has settled
down and read for an hour or so. But he's also something of a bore and
it will require some effort to keep our contacts at least neutral.
There was a gathering at the church which didn't end until after nine and
then some cleaning people making an awful lot of noise until midnight, so
it was a far from peaceful start to the night but this time not the fault
of the Bad Boys.
I was, as usual, sitting outside McD's at the mall early next morning, on
my refill cup of coffee, when Rocky came along. "Just cruising," he said,
in reply to my asking what he was doing there so early. The Cherub had
given me some award vouchers for free breakfast sandwiches/bagels, so I
offered one of them to Rocky and this time he accepted. A steak and egg
bagel was too much to resist, I guess. He's a sweetie.
Further to the question from the Doc about what I do with the money, I said
"spend it on others, buy cigarettes, beer, books and food." Yes, in that
order, although if one thinks of foodstamps as "money", then food would move
into first or second place.
He supposed it wasn't possible to find a private space to rent with this
welfare largesse? No, not really. I told him I'd be happy to give someone a
hundred a month just for some floor space in their garage or carport, some
space with shelter from the rain where I could, from 8pm to 6am, lay down and
LEGALLY sleep. Oh, I'm sure there's someone out there who would be happy to
pick up such an easy hundred a month, but Dame Fortune has to connect us.
Otherwise, as I told the Doc, I just have to survive until May 2002 when
SocSec makes it possible to get that room somewhere, far away from the cold
night air ....
Friday. The End of Finals Week. Gott sei dank. Hard to know which is worse
in December, the mall with its holiday shopping madness or the university
campus with its final exam madness.
December is most definitely not my favorite month of the year.
"Hey, loan me five dollars," Rocky asked, again appearing at the mall in
the very early morning. I told him I only had three dollars in my pocket.
"Well, loan me three then." I said "that's MY three dollars". He
laughed, "okay then", went on his way. It was especially funny because I
had dreamed of him during the night, had almost crossed the Rubicon and
given him twenty dollars for his body but mercifully woke up before
completing the transaction.
GovSanc is certainly providing a fine solution, however temporary it may
be, to the problem of a sleeping sanctuary. The building doesn't open on
the weekends, so on Friday and Saturday nights there's no concern about
the security man showing up early to open the place. And there are only
three or four regulars there, all of whom say nothing to one another but
just quietly settle down and sleep, leave very early in the morning. I
think the main reason the place isn't more popular is concrete. Literally.
The benches are made of molded concrete and they are very much colder than
the wooden benches at the New Cloisters. When first laying down it feels
like the cold stone will drain every drop of warmth from the body, but
eventually at least the surface of the bench does absorb sufficient body
heat to feel comfortable enough. And a quarter hour or so of the cold
slab is far less of a discomfort than a couple of hours of the Social
Of course, on Monday morning there was the concern about the arrival of
the security people, but it's only a five minute walk to the New
Cloisters, so when I woke at about three-thirty I left and went there,
happily finding the other end of Rossini's bench vacant, and slept for
another hour and a half. The risk is finding a full house, but for an
hour or two, it wouldn't be that bad on the too-short benches nearby, and
there are always plenty of them. I guess I'm not the only one using the
early-departure system because when I left GovSanc all but one of the men
who'd been there during the night had left and the remaining one was
It looks like the Sleeptalker has found a "new boy", as they say, because
he was missing again. Good, very good. Just Angelo, Rossini and the
Karate Kid there from the Horror Club. Pity about the Karate Kid ...
without him, Angelo and Rossini would settle down quietly, too. But
splitting the night between the two places is a fine solution.
The campus was quiet and mostly deserted on the weekend. Despite the
inconveniences of this holiday time and the following Winter Break, it is
indeed splendid to have the place more or less to myself. The other
welcome find on my trip to the State Library was Anne Rice's
Lasher, the second volume of the Mayfair Witches saga. As Nuala
would say, "brilliant, focking brilliant". I was so impressed by it that
I went to the used bookstore and bought the third volume, Taltos.
Fortunately they had 50% off on all fiction as their weekend special, and
it's more than worth the two dollars I shouldn't have spent on it.
So it was a weekend of bread and cheese and beer, quiet hours in the
secluded grove, just me and the ground doves ... and witches and Ashlars.
Oddly, I had GovSanc entirely to myself on Monday and Tuesday nights.
When I arrived at about nine on Monday and saw no one there, I thought,
uh-oh, someone must have chased everybody away. If so, they didn't
return. I'd much prefer to have at least one other person there. The
only place I've felt totally comfortable on my own was the hacienda and
those were rare nights indeed.
Both nights I shifted to the New Cloisters between 3:30 and four, finding
a vacant spot on Monday but on Tuesday having to test the theory that a
too-short bench would suffice for an hour since it was a totally full
house, with four people on the floor. The too-short bench was fine,
though. The lights were out at the New Cloisters both nights so it was
difficult to tell who was there. I did recognize Angelo's cover but
couldn't make out who the others were.
Since the university closed early on the weekend, I had gone to the mall
on Sunday evening. Yeukh. I fled to the park after about half an hour of
the madness, even if picking up some quarters would have been welcome.
The idiotic supermarket has added to their stable of carts but the new
ones have chains that are so long the quarter can be self-extracted.
Stupid ... why bother with quarters at all? So the parking lot was
littered with carts missing their quarter. And the stroller corrals were
out of refund money, as I discovered on Monday morning when returning one
to a corral and getting zilch for the effort.
Oh well. It's certainly nothing rare in my life to be broke at
Christmastime, so why should AD 2000 be any exception?
After that thoroughly unpleasant, brief time amidst the shopping madness,
I decided that by far the wisest thing was just to stay on campus all day
and evening. I'd finished the Anne Rice trilogy on Sunday, went to the
State Library on Monday, found Hanover Place by Michael M. Thomas,
a fascinating century-spanning tale of a New York City family, second only
to J.P. Morgan as a financial power on the Street. It could have
degenerated into sheer soap opera, but Thomas is literate and stylish
enough to make it more than that. If I had any money to spare, though, I
would certainly have gone for more Anne Rice. I want to read all the
follow-ups to her Conversation with the Vampire. And I want to
read the rest of Greeley's work, especially the non-fiction ones.
Patience, patience. Maybe instead of giving my monthly party in January,
I should just head to the bookstore on payday.
I had to grin when I saw the current Honolulu Weekly, noting that the
Garden Party rated as one of the top musical evenings of December. Cool.
Cool, too, that the Solstice is upon us. I'm tired of getting up in the
morning to such darkness that it feels like the middle of the night, more
than pleased that we now start the climb back into Light.
I got my wish for just one other person. A bicycle man was at GovSanc on
Wednesday and Thursday nights, arrived somewhat later than I did, still
sleeping when I left, although on Friday morning, I was so soundly asleep
I didn't awaken until about 5:15 when the man arrived to open the
building. He turned on the lights inside the lobby, which immediately
woke me up, and then made some banging noises, but didn't come outside to
shoo us away. The bicycle man was still asleep when I left for the bus
A long spell of sunny, warm days was broken on Wednesday by heavy grey
clouds and occasional drizzle, which meant both lunchtime and sunset brews
under shelter. Then it rained quite heavily during the night, although I
was lucky, changed from GovSanc to the New Cloisters during a dry
interval, settled on a bench with some unknown person and an hour or
so later woke up to the sound of really heavy rain. The person who had
been sharing Angelo's bench had left, so I sat in that drier, more
sheltered spot until the rain subsided enough to walk over to the bus
It was quite clear the money was going to run out completely, so I
negotiated a Christmas Eve loan to keep the rest of the year from being
truly dismal, could then relax and just figure out how to stretch the few
remaining pennies until the 24th. Cigarettes or beer, which has the
priority? Still fifty dollars in food stamps, so no worries about food.
Sheez, what a crazy life.
I finished Hanover Place which really did get a bit carried away
with the anti-Jewish schtick and went on to Scott Turow's The Burden of
Proof, once again involved with high-finance types and amusing enough
if nothing to recommend. Since the State Library was closing for all
three days of the holiday weekend, a quick trip down there on Friday was
necessary to make sure I had enough mindless diversion to distract me for
Speaking of mindless diversion, I got quite entranced by Am I Hot or Not, a clever web site
where folks submit their photograph and we all get to rate them from one
to ten. I read about it in another on-line journal and since Hamilton
Library is not heavily used during this interim period between semesters,
I spent far too much time on a Web-capable computer there looking at boys
who aren't half as cute as ones I see every day in the mall or on campus.
Seventh Circle was down again for much of Thursday and when it
finally returned on Friday there was, of course, no explanation for what
had happened, as usual. I played another MUD, started by a former
immortal and now persona-non-grata player from 7th, but he's such a
jerk as an immortal, I almost gave it up for good. Still, despite him,
it's a fairly decent mud and many of the disaffected players from
7th have migrated there, so I played awhile again on Friday. I
won't mention the link to it, at least not yet, because I'm not at all
sure it deserves the publicity. I looked in on Bartle's MUD2 but, alas,
no one there except one other immortal, afk [away from keyboard]. I just
don't think there's much hope for Bartle's delightful game as long as he
thinks he can find people willing to pay $25 a month to play it.
Happily, the nasty head cold departed without the usual prolonged
postnasal dripping crap, but just to make sure I'm not totally relaxed
with the body, that crumbling molar has been twitching again. With nice
synchronicity, I found a subscription drug plastic tub with lots of little
white pills in it. Ultram, they identify themselves. I looked it up on
the Web. A pain killer. One of those where they say, much to my
amusement, "it works but we have no idea how". Heh. I read the horror
stories about side effects and long-term addiction, etc. etc., but sampled
one. Yeh, it works. No side effects.
Cainer keeps screeching about what a great Christmas it is going to be,
Solar Eclipse and all. I just read him and mutter, "bah humbug", and wait
for the whole nonsensical mania to be over.
Wisconsin has an extraordinary new boy. Tall, skinny, young with very
dark hair, totally in ultra gothic punk style. Heavy black leather jacket
with spiked metal studs on the sleeves, a large marijuana leaf crudely
painted on the back. White pants roughly cut off below the knee, worn
over full length black ones, covered in scribbles, things like "KORN"
(with a backward K) and FUCK repeated in a column down one leg. They
instantly take the Most Unlikely Couple badge away from the Fatman and his
One wonders how Wisconsin and his Punk Boy can be together without feeling
embarrassed by each other. Admittedly, I'd be happy to see the lad
stripped of all his regalia, a privilege Wisconsin has probably had and
paid handsomely for. Can't blame him for that, if so. I wondered if
people saw me and the Sleeptalker, or me and Angelo, as that unlikely a
pair. Probably not. The Bad Boys are oddly very conservative in
The Fatman's new boy is actually on the edge of being too old to be
considered a boy anymore. He's a small fellow, at least part Filipino,
and rather cute although not even close to the Cowboy. They were at
Hamilton Library twice during the week. The Fatman just never stops
talking, not for a moment. I've never once seen him when he wasn't
chattering away. I wondered if he stops long enough to suck the boy off,
if that's possible at the Shelter where, I'm told, they both stay.
It was a pleasant Friday, the weather staying dry and balmy. Lunchtime
hotdogs and brew in the secluded grove, continuing the Turow book,
treating my little flock of zebra doves to hotdog buns. A little time in
each of the two MUDs, the newer one amusing in the early afternoon but
once again in the evening having no one there at all except the owner,
AFK. That despite his boasts that most of 7th's best players have
deserted it for his MUD. Odd, then, that there were ten players in 7th at
the time. I'd like to find a SMAUG-based MUD which is sensibly managed
but where I know no one and am known by no one.
I returned to the secluded grove for a sunset brew, would like to have had
a third but realized that would have meant only one on Saturday so
abstained. The Bicycle Man was already at GovSanc when I arrived,
grateful to have a place where I can settle down quietly to sleep even
though it's just past nine o'clock. Sometime later a large man who had
been there before also arrived, quietly enough that it didn't wake me.
All I want for Christmas, dear Santa, is to have GovSanc left undisturbed
as a nighttime sanctuary.
The advantage of the weekend, of course, was being able to sleep there
until time to head to the mall for coffee. It was drizzling lightly, but
not enough to be a real bother, and at the bus stop was a definite number
"8". Sweetheart of a local Japanese lad, kitchen worker, judging by the
black-and-white checked pants he was wearing. I wonder why kitchen
helpers almost always wear those kind of pants, and where they get them?
I've never seen them in a shop anywhere. A few wear black-and-white
striped pants, but most of them wear the tiny checked ones. He got on the
same bus I did, but left at Ward Warehouse, must work in one of the
restaurants there. I was surprised I've never seen him before.
And then at the mall there was a large group of young Japanese lads,
numerous "eight"'s among them. Who needs Am I Hot?
What a way to start Christmas Eve, a snipes run (well, walk) through the
mall. Not a very successful one, either. Although the mall had been open
until eleven the evening before, they must have kept enough of the
cleaning army around to do a final sweep of the place after closing.
Hunting snipes, what fond memories ... NOT.
"Hey, loan me a couple of bucks," Rocky had said yet again on Saturday
night. "No can," I said, "I'm broke", and left him, went to buy a sunset
brew. No, I didn't feel in the least bit guilty drinking my beer instead
of having loaned him the two dollars. I almost wish he'd do an Angelo,
borrow money and not pay it back so I'd have the perfect reason to say no.
Christmas seems to be having a Fool Moon effect on some folks. That
bearded loony who was recently evicted from the mall was at the bus stop
on Christmas Eve morning, pre-dawn, loudly applauding each passing
vehicle [?]. And Blondie was outside McD's, ranting away in Japanese at
the top of her shrill voice. I guess she finally got hungry enough to
shut up and go inside to get her breakfast. Such a strange woman, she is.
I saw her not long ago just after she'd left the shower, without her usual
very heavy make-up. She's good with that face paint, looks at least
twenty years younger when fully disguised.
Although everything else on campus was closed, surprisingly the little
computer lab stayed open, so I spent the morning going back and forth
between the two MUDs before having an early sandwich and brew for lunch.
Then it was down to Mme de Crécy's for the late afternoon and evening ...
and an absolutely scrumptious Christmas feast, one of the best I can
remember. I was so stuffed I didn't eat a bite the entire next day.
And the next day, Christmas 2000, was one of the briefest I've known. Very
much to my surprise, I slept right through the night until almost seven
o'clock and was back asleep on the same bench by seven that evening.
Knowing the mall would be a closed, shuttered ghost town, I went directly
to Waikiki for coffee from Jack. Later I saw the McD's across from the
beach was open, unusual for them, so had a second coffee in mid-morning.
Like Christmas Eve, it was a clear, sunny, very warm day and by ten
o'clock I was seeking shade. Watching all the half-naked boys romping in
the surf, strutting on the beach ... uh-huh, here we know that
Christmas will be green and bright ... and sexy.
I sat in the park all afternoon, making trips over to the ABC stores to
buy brew three times, watching the boys some more and reading Mary Higgins
Clark's The Cradle Will Fall, engrossing enough to actually
distract my attention from all the brown flesh around me.
At six I was supposed to have met Helen R for dinner, but was far too
smashed to consider it, instead got on a bus bound for the bench. A cute
young Japanese lad was sitting next to me, didn't move his leg when I let
mine brush against his. A fun ride. Angelo, Rossini and the Karate Kid
were at GovSanc [sigh]. I returned their waves but didn't say anything,
and since the Karate Kid was as usual yakking away a mile-a-minute, I went
to the most distant bench and settled down, was very soon asleep. They
didn't spend the night there, must have just been waiting for a gathering
to end at the New Cloisters.
So, one of the dreaded holidays over with. Roll on January 2nd ...
I do not believe in much, defining believe in as accepting
something as truth which one really has no way of knowing whether it is
true or not.
Thus, I do not believe in God. I do not believe, most especially, in the
God of the Christians who, according to the Jews, has been known to us for
over five thousand years and then more-or-less two thousand years ago
decided to impregnate a young human woman, somehow leaving her a virgin in
the process, and producing his one and only son (in plus-5000 years??) who
was destined to be rather cruelly killed, thus in some utterly
unfathomable way relieve the rest of us of the sins of the first Man and
Woman, not that it was our fault at all that they ate from the fruit which
that God had absurdly put in the Garden to tempt them (nor was it theirs
If a current day sci-fi writer wrote such an outlandish tale, I am sure it
would be immediately rejected.
And, of course, that is one reason why I have such a problem with this
annual madness we call "Christmas" and am quite happy another has come and
As the end of an "Anno Domini" approaches, even not believing in the
Domini and realizing what a patched-up, botched job it is of keeping track
of "time", there is an introspective mood which creeps along, making me
think what I was especially grateful for in the past one.
No contest there. The Sleeptalker. Of course.
If he lives long enough, which isn't too likely, I hope somehow he
understands eventually just how kind he was to an old man, and I hope
someone does the same for him.
Although the Sleeptalker certainly tops the list, having been responsible
for both the highest and lowest moments of the year, there are plenty of
other reasons to be grateful for AD 2000. All in all, it was one of the
best, smoothest years of my life, despite having begun it flat on my back
in a hospital bed, unable even to walk.
Those kind and caring folks at Castle Medical Center are definitely on the
list, as are the friends who provided moral support throughout the
hospital stay and, most especially, in the very difficult weeks which
immediately followed leaving that sanctuary. It's easy to forget now, as
I effortlessly climb the steps onto a bus, that it was then such an
All the Boys are on that list, too, of course. Rocky, Mondo, Angelo,
Rossini, the Young Husband, the Cherub ... and even those who gave much
briefer moments of happiness, the Young Hardhat, Travis, and many un-named
ones, some encountered only once.
And this beautiful island, this mountaintop in the middle of the great
Pacific Ocean. If the Sleeptalker has any near rival, it is surely the
island of his birth. And Dame Fortune, who brought me here, and continues
to smile ... most of the time. The hacienda, the New Cloisters, GovSanc,
the beach park, Waikiki, and very definitely the campus of the University
of Hawaii at Manoa.
The Internet and access to it, the libraries and bookshops and their
generous supply of free or very inexpensive books which made AD 2000 one
of the best years ever for memorable reading.
Beer. Oh yes, those cheap 40oz bottles of malt liquor are on the list,
for sure. The foodstamps and the Crazy Money are there, too.
Cue up Sinatra ... it was a very good year ...
The right place at the right time ...
I was sitting outside McD's on New Year's Eve morning. An old couple
walked past and the man handed me an unopened pack of cigarettes. I
thanked him, wished him a happy new year. "Happy New Year to you, too, my
friend," he said.
On Thursday the decision had to be made. Cigarettes or beer? Ah well,
back to snipes hunting. For any newcomers to the Tales, "snipes" and
"shorts" is street-talk for cigarette butts, and we are fortunate here
because of the Japanese habit of lighting cigarettes, then putting them
out after a few puffs. A stroll through the mall during peak hours
usually yields at least one full box of lengthy snipes. Saturday morning
the supply was especially bountiful. They must have discontinued the late
night cleaning crew. Life returns to normal.
But Dame Fortune really outdid herself with choreographed timing and
circumstance on Saturday evening. A lunchtime brew had used the last of
the paper money. It was time to revive the Quarter Hunt. Six were needed
for a sunset brew. After a not-very-successful hour, I was grumbling
about how a beer really wasn't worth all this effort, then found an
abandoned stroller. Two quarters ... excellent! Finally, the six were in
hand and I went to the drugstore for a bottle of Mickey's. They were sold
out. Sigh. Back down to the supermarket. And who should be there but
the Cherub, back from Kauai!
Yes, that was brilliant, Dame Fortune. Had the final quarter showed up
just a few minutes earlier, or had the drugstore not been sold out, I
would certainly have missed the Cherub. It's indeed rare to run into him
at the mall. He was in a hurry to get his groceries home, so we only
chatted for a few minutes, but he gave me money for New Year's Eve brew in
exchange for a promise that it would be my turn when Manoa Garden re-opens
on the eighth.
Beer money, a pack of virgin cigarettes. Yes, the right places and the
The last week of 2000 was otherwise quite ordinary and unexceptionable.
As I said, it was a good year for reading and went out on a high level
with two more volumes in Orson Scott Card's Ender saga. Speaker
for the Dead, easily standing on its own, is definitely one of the
finest science-fiction novels I've read, with a fascinating vision of what
an alien species might be like. And Ender's Shadow is an
exceptionally bold, and successful, book based on the exact same time
frame and events as Ender's Game, seen from a different
perspective. I was amazed at how well Card pulled that one off.
Alas, then it was dependent upon the freebie selection at the State
Library to provide holiday weekend reading. Since the library would be
closed for the three-day weekend, I stopped down on Friday, looking for a
couple of nice thick ones. No question about thickness when it comes to
Michener's Alaska, but it's still open to question whether I'll
finish it or not. I'm not particularly a Michener fan nor, for that
matter, all that much interested in Alaska. I've never read his
Hawaii and loathed the movie but, still, I thought I'd give this
one a try. So I am, with a Danielle effort (improbably involving the
Russian Revolution) held in reserve in case this Michener thing doesn't
get further off the ground than it has in the first two hundred pages.
Speaking of reading, there is a new reader of the Tales who discovered
them not long ago and is making his way through them all from the
beginning. A formidable task! As is my habit, I read the past year's
Tales at the end of a year or in the beginning of a new one, and just that
is enough for me of reading me.
No Bad Boys all week. I was especially surprised not to see at least one
of them at the mall on Saturday, since I was there from about four in the
afternoon until almost nine. I do wonder what they're doing with
themselves during the daytime, particularly Rossini and Angelo. The
Sleeptalker must still be with his "new boy". Rocky had asked me if I
was jealous. Not at all, I assured him. I'd like nothing more for the
Sleeptalker than for him to find a playmate closer to his own age, and for
it to last longer than his usual buddyships.
The Fatman and his new boy seem to have split already and the new "boy"
was at Hamilton one afternoon on his own. He sat at a terminal across
from me and was so deeply engrossed in whatever he was doing that I had a
chance to look at him more closely than before. He must be in his early
thirties, is certainly a very sexy man but rough looking, so much so I'd
not even think of approaching him even just on a friendly basis. Brave
Fatman. Meanwhile, he has hooked up with one-half of the long-time
Airport Couple. Funnily, that one talks as constantly as the Fatman, and
I see them strolling along together, both chatting away at the same time,
obviously neither of them listening to the other.
I had hoped the Fabled Pension Check would arrive on Saturday. No luck.
I shall no doubt be grateful it didn't when it does eventually get here,
since I probably would've spent a lot of it on the holiday weekend. And
three cheers for that nice stranger and the Cherub stepping in to at
least partly fill the gap.
Aloha oe, AD 2000.
The first morning of the new year began clear and sunny but anyone who has
lived here for long knew it wouldn't stay that way. The mahukona,
the wretched Kona Winds ... what a nasty omen for the beginning of a new
Anno Domini. I suppose most places in the Northern Hemisphere, folks
welcome a wind from the south in the midst of winter, but not here. As
expected, it was soon completely overcast and the nasty volcanic gook in
the air shrouded the mountains in haze. Despite threatening all day,
it didn't rain until nightfall.
After a quiet New Year's Eve day on campus, when the computer lab closed
at 4:30 I headed to the mall, found enough quarters to ensure New Year's
Day would also be a two-Colt one. I'd had one with the Eve lunch but had
little to eat all day, so the second one after sunset had me sufficiently
buzzed. I wasn't tempted to unwisely splurge on a third. I got to
GovSanc a little after eight and slept until about ten-thirty when a man
with a flashlight, wearing a jacket that said SHERIFF on the back, woke me
and said, "you can't sleep here, sir." A polite eviction. I suppose they
were detailed to patrol the downtown buildings to make sure clandestine
street parties weren't in progress since most of downtown was full of
Oh well, it was in a way appropriate that I spent the final hours of the
old year and the first ones of the new on a bench across from Angelo and
the Sleeptalker. When I arrived at the New Cloisters, still a bit buzzed
and groggy from my couple of hours of sleep, the Sleeptalker called me
over and tried to get me into a bizarre argument he was having, insisting
that Angelo was Mexican. As I told Angelo the next evening, it hadn't
seemed worth telling the Sleeptalker that Angelo has a very famous Spanish
surname, or to point out that most Mexicans are of Spanish origin anyway.
Angelo laughed and said I'd seemed too far gone to care anyway, and I
said, at that point the Sleeptalker could have insisted you were an Eskimo and
I wouldn't have argued.
The Sleeptalker was totally wound up, chattering away non-stop in his best
mock Filipino accent, so wrapped up in his family, as usual. Much talk of
"my grandfahdah and my grandmuhdah" filtered through my earplugs as I lay
on the bench across from them, admired Angelo for his patience, and felt
sorry yet again for the poor Sleeptalker, so bound by a family which wants
nothing to do with him. The Insomniac arrived with a few beers and
surprisingly, after they finished those, both the Sleeptalker and Angelo
quickly settled down, were asleep by eleven-thirty and didn't even stir
when the expected explosions greeted AD 2001.
I knew McD's at the mall wasn't opening until ten on New Year's Day, so
went directly to Waikiki and enjoyed my dawn coffee at a McD's there which
has added a little patio with tables and chairs, a most pleasant place
for morning coffee when the weather is fine. Then I strolled along the
beach in that brisk wind which was blowing in from the ocean, making the
water unusually choppy, sat for awhile in the park enjoying the early sun
and watching slim brown boys using the nearby exercise area. Judging by
the litter in the streets, the police must have given up on trying to
enforce the no-drinking laws the night before and the cleaning army had
enough to do clearing all the cans and bottles that they hadn't gotten to
the ashtrays. Two full boxes of lengthy snipes just by walking through
the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
Late morning, I returned to the mall. By then it had clouded over and I
spent a lazy day alternating between wandering around the mall, sitting
for awhile reading, waiting until early afternoon for the first brew. I
saw Rocky, who was all bouncy and happy because he's got a new job,
starting the next day at some unspecified task in the Convention Center.
It's funny how very happy the lads get when they land one of these jobs
and how very quickly the enthusiasm begins to lag, but I congratulated him
and teased that now I can ask him to loan me a couple of dollars instead
of the other way around.
Poor Angelo. When I told him later about Rocky, he rather mournfully told
me Rossini has found a place to live. One with a job, one with a room,
leaving Angelo feeling left out, I guess.
I thought it probably best not to return to GovSanc, just in case that
lawman paid a follow-up visit, and luckily got to the New Cloisters during
a break in the drizzle. I chatted briefly with Angelo and then settled on
the other end of his bench, hoping the Sleeptalker wouldn't turn up. He
didn't, but some even more disturbing people did, two Filipino couples.
They made a great deal of noise, would then settle for awhile before once
again starting to yak away and didn't finally quiet down until just
before the big clock chimed midnight. If it hadn't been so wet I would
have moved over to one of the too-short benches, but by then the rain was
falling so heavily I would've gotten soaked just from the short distance
between overhead cover. Oh well, I told myself, I really need to adjust
my inner balance anyway. I've been sleeping too much, really do not need
a full eight hours of sleep. And I certainly didn't get it, because those
jabbering Filipinos were at it again by five in the morning. I assume
they must have long afternoon naps somewhere.
I had plugged on with the Michener book until the transition of Alaska
from Russia to America and the Klondike goldrush, then decided I'd had it
with the thing. It has what must be the potential for twenty novels but
as it is, each story just begins to get interesting when it ends and the
next begins. Like many such oversized paperbacks, it had started to fall
apart physically as well, so I threw it away, turned instead to Danielle
Steel's Zoya which does, indeed, begin with the Russian Revolution
but gets through that part in less than a quarter of the book. I am sure
he wouldn't agree, but I think Steel is a much better writer than
So the New Year began with about five hours on a bench looking across at
Angelo and the Sleeptalker. Despite the dreary south wind and, even more
importantly, the lamented absence of the Fabled Pension Check, it was a
pleasant enough day. And despite the annoying companions it was, too, a
pleasure to spend the first full night of the new year with my favorite
sleeping partner. Okay, AD 2001, what else can you show me?
Two of the treasures had been missing for so long I was beginning to think
they might be gone for good. Still not sure about Travis, perhaps he has
left the supermarket, but the Young Hardhat finally appeared on Thursday
morning. As always, he looked right into my eyes. He is such a
sweetheart. I'll be sorry to see the construction project at the mall
come to an end.
After a morning spent mostly on-line, I went to the State Library on
Tuesday, picked up a couple of books and then checked mail. No joy. So
in the late afternoon I headed to the mall to look for the three quarters
I needed for a sunset brew. The Mongoose was back on duty. He has dyed
his hair. It is so blatantly obvious a dye job that he looks even more
absurd than usual. Mme de Crécy had suggested watching "2001" on New
Year's Day and although I declined, I asked for a film rain check,
Visconti's "Death in Venice", come birthday time. That film, among its
many influences on my life, particularly brought to an end any thought of
hair coloring. Thoughts that made the New Year entry from Terri even more
With the Mongoose active, it seemed unlikely I'd find those missing
quarters. I was taking a smoke break, sitting on a planter ledge outside
the supermarket, when the Cherub walked up. Amazing to run into him at
the mall again so soon. He first gave me the quarters I needed, then
changed his mind about going home and bought us two 40s. We went over to
the park to drink them and I finally got the story of what had happened
during his holiday visit to Kauai.
His estranged parents had launched the thing in classic style. Mother was
supposed to have sent the plane ticket, but didn't. Father refused to
step in, saying it was her turn. The Cherub ended up having to borrow
money to get the ticket himself. I said I wouldn't have gone at all.
He spent the first half of the time with his mother, never saw the two of
them together. When she flew off to the mainland for Christmas with her
family, he then stayed with his father. Father thinks of nothing but a
reconciliation and talks of killing himself if it doesn't happen. Mother,
on the other hand, said how wonderful it was to live without someone else
being "in control". Yes, when I questioned it, the Cherub admitted his
father is indeed a control freak, even down to being a fanatic about where
things are placed in a room. His father's last words to the Cherub as he
was about to board the return plane were "pray for me", understood as
meaning pray for the reconciliation to happen. What a dreary way to have
spent the holiday.
We walked over to the mall where he bought two more bottles and we
continued the discussion back in the park. Then I went on my way to the
New Cloisters, settled on one of the too-short benches rather than endure
those chattering Filipino couples again. I finally figured out a way to
sleep on those little benches, picking two that are side-by-side and
bending my legs around the metal armrests. At about four-thirty I was
awakened by three young men who were sitting on the floor not far away,
all in speedy motormouth condition. Sheez. Since there's no problem
sitting anywhere and talking all night, why do these yobs have to pick a
place where people are sleeping?
I reminded myself of what I'd said about not needing so much sleep anyway,
and took the bus to the mall, sat outside McD's reading until it opened.
Zoya is classic Danielle Steel. Riches to rags to riches to rags
to riches. Funny stuff, quite enjoyable. Next in line was Pandora
from Anne Rice, expanding one of the characters from her Conversation
with the Vampire and providing interesting lunch-time reading while I
enjoyed the brew made possible by the Cherub's quarters.
Then again downtown to check mail. Hurrah, at last that damned check was
there. As I recall, this is only the second time it has been as late, so
I shouldn't complain. And a few days of being dependent on snipe hunting
provided a good reminder of just how grateful I am for that Crazy Money,
never mind once again dreading the upcoming appointment with the Doc.
Off to Waikiki to cash it and celebrate with another brew and a pack of
Pall Malls, surrounded in the secluded grove by zebra doves who were so
disappointed I'd brought nothing for them that I dug in a trash can, found
an abandoned plate lunch box and gave them the rice. When it got too dark
to read, I returned to the mall, continuing the celebration with yet
another bottle. Once again, along came the Cherub. He's turning into as
big a mall rat as I am. This time, though, he was on his way home,
intending to settle in with a bottle of wine and a book. He'd seen the
car his father is buying for him, said it wasn't in very good shape and in
any case, he didn't at this point know how he'd be able to afford the gas
anyway. He has applied for several jobs, thus far without success. I was
hoping his application at the bookstore near campus would be accepted,
would have been fun to have him working there, but he hadn't heard from
Back to the peace and quiet of GovSanc for the night, undisturbed by the
man who quietly arrived during the night and took the bench next to mine
or by the man who was equally quiet on the bench across the way. My kind
of sleeping companions. I wish a little that Angelo would move to GovSanc
but that might bring all the others there, too, so I'll keep a lid on that
wish. And, of course, with Friday being Crazy Money day, the Bad Boys
will all disappear with their glass pipes for awhile.
As for me, I'm just glad those empty pockets days passed as pleasantly as
Oh man, on a list of the most dumb, most crazy things I've done in my
life, this ranks right up in the top. Would you believe, I missed the
appointment with the Doc! Sheez. Okay, I had slightly dreaded it, again,
but I was well prepared. He'd told me the last time to continue my
research as "homework" and I'd begun a book called Cognitive Therapy:
Basics and Beyond by the daughter of Aaron Beck, the man who concocted
this method of psychotherapy in the 60s. I figured that would more than
cover the assignment.
I'd had breakfast at the Paradise Palms Cafe so didn't plan to eat lunch,
went downhill to get a bottle of Colt and check the fifty-cent cart at the
bookstore. Then I sat reading in the secluded grove until the beer was
finished. It was only about one o'clock, too late for another brew but
early enough not to have to worry yet about making the three o'clock
appointment with the Doc. So I returned to the computer lab, got so
engrossed with on-line activities that I just didn't notice the time pass.
Finally I looked up at the clock. Erk! It was 2:45. No way to get
downtown in time. I called the office, apologized to the receptionist,
set another appointment (for the 24th) and asked her to tell the Doc I was
reading Judith Beck's book. Sigh.
If he follows the guidelines strictly, they'll cut off the Crazy Money and
make me go through the whole application procedure again. What an idiot.
All the Boys have done this at one time or another and we've always agreed
it was a certain sign that they deserved the Crazy Money. How crazy can
Aside from walking around the rest of the day muttering to myself, "I
can't believe you did that", I also had to wonder why on earth I had. If
you don't believe in accidents, then there had to be other reasons besides
just losing track of the time. I had asked Helen R to join me for dinner
at Smorgy's in Waikiki, an open-air laidback restaurant with an
all-you-can-eat buffet, so shoved the pondering to the backburner and went
off to meet her. Yikes, was late getting there, too. 01/05/01 was
definitely a day when my clock went whacko.
As always in such places, I ate more than was wise so frequently woke in
the night, still feeling stuffed. I have a more difficult time coping
with overeating than overdrinking.
Meanwhile, Pandora was, all in all, a disappointing book, judged by
the high standards Anne Rice has herself set. After finishing it, I
wondered if she'd scribbled it down for contractual obligations. On the
other hand, Silent Honor is a noble attempt by Danielle Steel to
write a novel that needs to be written. The attack on Pearl Harbor may
have been a "day that will live in infamy", but the treatment of
Japanese-Americans in this country afterwards, even those of Japanese
ancestry who were born here and were American citizens in every sense ...
years that will live in infamy. Danielle made a fine effort and I admire
In fact, the more I read of her work, the more I do admire her. The
Cherub hovers always on the edge of being an intellectual snob, so is
quite patronizingly indulgent when I mention Steel, even if he did have to
read her to get that one collegiate credit he needed. But yes, she's an
excellent novelist, one of the best we have in this country at the moment,
and Silent Honor is proof of it.
Thanks to the bookstore cart, it's a Steel double feature because they had
her Once in a Lifetime. Interesting this one, the first of her
books I've encountered where the main character is a female writer of
best-sellers. The plot circumstances don't seem to have much to do with
Steel's own life, what little I know about it, but surely most of the
observations about that kind of success must mirror her own.
The Cherub said, during our last conversation, "you seem to be closing the
door on life." Hmmmm. Am I closing it, or is it closing itself? I've
enjoyed reading the tales of the past year, enjoyed being reminded again
of some of its sweetest moments, even enjoyed being reminded of how very
much I love the Sleeptalker. In retrospect, it doesn't look like any door
had closed at all, but the Cherub is probably right on a very basic level.
Any crumb of interest that comes along, whether a decent book or a tender,
brief love affair, is at this point the proverbial icing on the cake. The
door is closed, but now and then opens a crack.
With or without Crazy Money.
Sunday, the seventh day of AD 2001. Eight quite splendid hours with the
Man I Love.
I was in a foul mood on Saturday, for no particular reason which is the
worst kind of foul moods to be in. And I knew it was one of those mental
states where there's really nothing to do about it but wait for it to
pass, so I stayed on campus, alternated between being on-line and sitting
in the secluded grove, reading and drinking. Since it's the last weekend
before school starts, everything but the little computer lab was closed
and it, too, closed at 4:30. So I had one last brew after that and went
very early to GovSanc, slept for almost nine hours, just me, a man on a
bench across from me and the more-or-less regular Bicycle Man quietly on
the bench next to me.
I had just bought my coffee at McD's early on Sunday morning when the
Sleeptalker walked in. He'd had a fight with the fellow he has been
staying with, had left there in the wee hours and, I guess, came looking
for me. He had a job for awhile as, incredibly enough, a security guard.
Consequently, he lost the Crazy Money allowance and, of course, before
long, the job. He had one final check coming but couldn't collect it until
Monday. So he was broke, and believe me, the Sleeptalker is at his best
when he's broke.
And his best is very sweet indeed.
I bought him a coffee and then we went to campus, played both MUDs for
several hours. He was hungry. I had a craving for a Bloody Mary, which
happens now and then. It was still half an hour too early for the East
Side Grill to open, so I got him some food from the 7-Eleven to hold him
over, then we went to the Grill. I drank Bloody Mary's, he drank Long
Island Iced Teas. Lots of weird sports things on the multi-tv setup,
basketball on one, football on another, and on the one directly in front
of us, first sumo, then a bizarre series of contests to determine "The
World's Strongest Man", coming from South Africa. An enormous fellow from
More rounds of re-filled glasses than I could count, but who was counting.
The Sleeptalker is an uncle again, for the fourth time, his new nephew
having been christened "Justice". That sister is one of the few members
of the family the Sleeptalker can still visit, so he had seen his nephew.
How he does love talking about his family. I hadn't heard before that his
mother is a member of one of the churches which indulges in the "speaking
in tongues" (which he called "speaking languages"), am not sure why but
had assumed he would have been raised as a Catholic, given the
Filipino and Portuguese backgrounds.
And for the first time in many moons, I could finally, safely tease him
again about what a total sweetheart he is, both in the bar and, later,
back in the game. It's finally okay again, he has gotten over it at
last, and can relax about the fact that I adore him.
That pretty well sums it up, too.
I wasn't unhappy when he said in mid afternoon that he had to go look for
Angelo, although I hadn't quite understood why he was so eager to find
Angelo when he'd mentioned it earlier. The Sleeptalker is thinking about
using his final paycheck to go to Kauai for awhile. He has an invitation
from someone to stay there, so I suppose he wanted to talk to Angelo about
details. Not sure, but, no, I wasn't unhappy to see him go, was just very
pleased to have had such a completely pleasant time with him and to have
been reassured that, yes, I'm still the man he looks for when things go
wrong and, yes, I still seem to have the knack of helping him sort it out.
That's exactly what I want for him ... and for us.
A reader wrote: Don't know if you can read the files, they're supposed
to be the best approx of a panther I had in my collection. But I'm no
expert, not many of these animals where I live.
Heh. Well, not many panthers here, either, and mercifully no critters as
fearsome as that, although there may be a few human animals which come
As is not unusual, Fool Moon time brought with it an extraordinary
encounter. I went to Manoa Garden to welcome back Bryant the Bartender,
was sitting outside with my brew and Father Greeley's Happy are the
Clean of Heart, wondering if the Cherub would appear. He didn't. But
a quite handsome young man, the perfect image of a Hollywood Jesus, came
over to my table and sat down. Collar-length dark hair, slightly tousled,
a neatly trimmed beard and moustache. He noted the book. I explained the
title was a paraphrase of the Beatitude, "blessed are the pure in heart".
He said he wasn't happy, put his head down on his arm and sobbed.
Not just a handsome young man, a handsome young madman. I patted his
head, he recovered, asked my name, said his was Octavius. No way I can
come up with a nickname better than that for him, so I'll use the name he
gave me, although he said later it wasn't his real name. He asked why I
was there and I explained that the bartender had been a friend for many
years, so I had come to welcome him back. Later he repeated the
question, I repeated the answer. He wondered if I wasn't really there to
pick up a young man! Well, I said, I now and then meet interesting young
men here, but no, that's not the reason I was there. He told me he
thought sex between men was "wrong", but said it more with a feeling of
sadness than conviction.
He said he wanted to "dominate the world", reached over at one point and
gently touched my face, said, "if you followed me, I could make you young
again." I told him I didn't really want to be young again and that I
couldn't follow someone who believed in "wrong".
"Do you have a gun?" he asked. "Why on earth would I have a gun here in
Honolulu?" I replied. A little later, he asked the question again.
I finished my beer, didn't really want another although I considered and
rejected the notion of offering to buy a second round. So I got up to
leave, patted him on the shoulder and wished him pleasant dreams.
"Pleasant dreams to you, too," he said. Such a gentle, strange, sweet
madman, such a very very strange conversation. Those Fool Moon's eyes,
After the Sleeptalker had left on Sunday, I'd spent the rest of the day
reading in the secluded grove. Maeve Binchy's delightful Evening
Class had been on the fifty-cent cart and was, as all of her books
are, wonderful to read. I'm only sorry there's just one of her works I
haven't yet found, but several of them are well worth a second read. I
stayed on campus until after sunset, then went directly to GovSanc for a
quiet night. In the morning I walked past the New Cloisters. The
Sleeptalker was there, on his own, asleep and looking angelic. Thinking
about it, I remembered he'd said something about wanting to sell his
foodstamps and that was probably why he was eager to find Angelo, the
expert on that subject. But it looked like he'd have to wait until
Angelo's money runs out, as I'd warned him.
The first day of the new school term. As usual, the campus was like a
swarming, disturbed anthill and, as I'd planned, I left and made the
lengthy trip out to the discount clothing store. A dark brown tee shirt
with a Hawaiian design in a band around the chest, a polo shirt from Bill
Blass in a most unusual color, sort of dusty brownish plum, I guess it
could be called, and plaid brushed-cotton boxer shorts with an embroidered
image of Winnie the Pooh on them, originally from the Disney store. I
didn't find any trousers I liked as much as the ones I have, but it was
nice to have the novelty of the other new things and amusing that an old
homeless guy is walking around wearing Bill Blass.
To Chinatown then for cheap cigarettes and finally, after having eyed it
for several months, a silver Tibetan ring, deeply engraved with what I
think is "om mani padme hum" in Tibetan characters. Such a lovely young
woman working in the shop, making the transaction even more of a pleasure.
Then to the bookstore, selecting the Greeley book (despite its higher
price tag) and another one from Danielle. A sandwich and a bottle of
Colt, a cornbread muffin for the birds, late lunch in the secluded grove
which wasn't very secluded. There seem to be more students this term, or
perhaps it's just because so many had to be there for the first
Another Colt, continuing the as always totally charming book, back on-line
for awhile and then to that mysterious encounter with a man who wants to
dominate the world. A shame he thinks it is "wrong". I would have been
happy to instruct him in my theories of how to stay young.
Fierce hangovers two days in a row ... ugh. When will I learn that three
40s is my daily limit, even when they're spread over an afternoon and
The Cherub came to the computer lab on Tuesday afternoon and we went to
Manoa Garden, drank until early evening when he had to stagger off to a
Faustian rehearsal. I told him about Sunday with the Sleeptalker, Monday
with Octavius. I was hoping Octavius would be at the Garden again, it
would be interesting to see him and the Cherub interact. And I want to see
Octavius again, plain and simple. Not that day, alas, nor was he there on
Wednesday evening when I walked past and saw the Cherub there again,
although the Cherub said people at a nearby table had been talking about
Octavius. The Cherub had made a mistake, thought he was supposed to be at
rehearsal that evening, too, but he wasn't needed. I'd already had my
three 40s but didn't decline his offer of another, as I should have. Pay
the price, pay the price.
Although she obviously took the writing of it very seriously, I don't
think Danielle Steel's Message from Nam is one of her better books
and I'm puzzled why she went with such an utterly improbable ending. I
knew I was going to finish it on Wednesday so made a trip down to the
State Library to check the freebie collection. Most excellent timing,
since there were two of Father Greeley's novels.
For a change, I went to the beach park for lunch, then, instead of
returning directly to campus. Same old bums in the park, no Bad Boys
there or the mall. Finishing the Steel effort, on to Greeley's Ascent
into Hell, heavier than most of the things I've read by him.
"You'll understand, however, only when you find what you're looking
"Which is.... ?" he asked.
"God .... who else?"
I told the Cherub that if I lived where Father Greeley was saying Mass
(okay, the Eucharist), I'd go to church every day, just to hear the
The weather was pleasant and it was quite warm in the sun but I was
grateful someone had left the shower room unlocked on campus so I'd had a
hot shower earlier, no need to contemplate a cold one at the beach
At first on Thursday morning, the campus seemed somewhat less crowded than
it had been all week, but that changed by late morning. There really must
have been an increase in enrollment numbers this term. I can't remember
it having been quite this dense before. But certainly no complaints.
There are so many interesting young men in this new crop, even an old
jaded soul like me is often quite amazed.
A reader corrected me. It's no longer sermons at the Mass, it's
"homilies" at the "Eucharist". And he pointed to the Father Andrew Greeley website,
where some of those homilies I'd hear every day if I could are collected.
I might have known the inimitable Father Greeley would have a website,
should have done a search. It's taking me awhile to catch up with this
newfangled Mother Church. There's also a site with some newspaper
articles he has written. I promptly added both links to my Reading Room.
Father Greeley's novels certainly are those oft-cited, but not always
accurately, "impossible to put down" books. I finished Ascent into
Hell by the end of Thursday and went on to his Love Song, while
reading a little from the two web sites as well. I think his often
thoroughly thought-provoking comments on the subject of religion are
possibly easier to take when they come flying at you in the middle of a
engrossing fictional tale than in a "homily".
After those two hangover-plagued days, I was determined to limit myself to
two 40s on Thursday, consequently felt almost human on Friday morning.
There was a strong temptation to yield, have a sunset brew, but
fortunately Octavius was again not at the Garden, making it easier to
resist the temptation. That other extraordinary young man, however, did
make a surprising appearance in the game at sunset time, playing from the
He was most pleased to have been given his security guard job back.
Judging by the Sleeptalker's prior record, that probably means he had
failed to appear for work one day and had just assumed he'd get fired.
But evidently when he went to get what he thought would be his final
check, he was invited to stay on. It surely won't last long, but it's
equally surely better for him than the Crazy Money routine. They must be
quite desperate for men to walk around premises, punching in at the
required checkpoints along the way.
He hadn't seen Angelo, speculated that Angelo had either gone to Kauai
(unlikely, I'd think) or was staying with someone he named but I don't
remember having met. The Sleeptalker said he wanted to find somewhere
better than the New Cloisters to sleep, there was a "doper" staying there
now who was irking him by constantly yakking about cocaine. In Judith
Beck's cosmos with its thoroughly unconvincing excerpts from supposed case
histories, it should be a simple matter of pointing out to the Sleeptalker
how he condemns most strongly those who behave just like him. That would
almost instantly change his way of thinking. Sorry, Dr. Beck, I just don't
think the real world works like that, am certain the one I live in
The Sleeptalker asked if I wanted to "party" at the New Cloisters later.
I said that by the time I got downtown, I'd just want to sleep, had
overdone the party routine in the last two days. I suppose by "party" he
had just meant drinking beer, but I could easily think of more interesting
possibilities. Patience, patience.
As Cainer had written earlier this week, "all you have to do is wait."
Then, my turn to attack, I disrobed my man.
I devoured him, uncovered, full-length,
Explored, then reveled in his youthful strength,
And traced his wonders with my eager hand.
The good Father Greeley inspiring at least one of his readers to thoughts
of committing mortal sin. I thought he was paraphrasing the Song of
Songs and went to have a look. No, incredible as that particular book
of Holy Scripture is, there are no lines in it which correspond to those,
at least not directly enough to be recognized. Still, I suppose nudging
the sinful-thoughts reader to check out the Book is some kind of balance.
What a strange Friday. After a peaceful night and, as I said, waking with
the relief of not feeling physically awful, I went as usual to have
pre-dawn coffee at McD's, then to campus. I had resolved, without making
it one of those absurd New Year's things, to spend more time on The Panther's Cave, checking links, correcting
addresses, getting rid of deadwood. So I did that, luckily finding a
vacant web terminal at Hamilton Library to make the process easier (not
helped by four or five homeless persons, only some of whom may merit the
nomad definition, who occupy said terminals for too much time daily).
As mid-day approached, I went downhill for a sandwich and a bottle of
Colt, already having three sesame-seed hamburger buns leftover from
Thursday for the zebra doves in the secluded grove. Although I have been
closely observing them for over three years now, I did see a first. One
of them flew in with a large twig in its beak and proceeded to do a
backwards circle dance. Was that an invitation to build a nest? I'm not
sure, and perhaps none of the others were either, or else they just
weren't interested, because he (or she ... I can't tell male from female
with them) dropped the twig and joined in pecking away at the chunks of
bread. Delightful dance, though.
I was so engrossed in Father Greeley's Love Song that I returned
downhill for another Colt. When I got back to the secluded grove, a
security guard was taking his break there. Okay, the brew had to wait
until he finished and went away. So much for "secluded".
That finally opened and finished, I said no, you will not at this time
have a third, but had best, instead, make the trip down to Chinatown since
the last pack of Seneca cigarettes had been opened. Alas, that may be the
last pack of Seneca cigarettes for a long time. My favorite vendor was
shuttered and closed. The nearby competitor no longer offered any "Native
brands" at all. Crackdown, obviously. I returned to campus and searched
the web site of the local newspaper, found this item:
"Beginning Jan. 1, cigarette and tobacco wholesalers and dealers
will be required to affix small square stamps to individual
cigarette packages as proof the 5-cents-a-pack taxes were paid on
Deep sigh. Well, it certainly was fine while it lasted, and I shall miss
that Seneca brand which wasn't only cheap but quite decent smokes. Just
why paying that five cents, which they should have been doing all along,
and affixing the stamp should raise the price of the cheapest pack by one
dollar is a question. Time to cut down, time to reinstate the snipe hunt
full-time, not just in the broke last week of the month.
The long run of sunny warm days ended as sunset approached. Gray clouds
and light drizzle arrived just at the time the band was to start at Manoa
Garden. I didn't mind, wasn't at all in the mood for crowds, so didn't
plan to go. I did walk past to see if Octavius was there. I guess
he's just not a regular at the Garden, or else is a late arriver. It
certainly was crowded, though, despite the threatening weather.
To the mall for a nightcap instead, continuing and almost finishing
Love Song. Then the next unpleasant surprise of the day. All the
lobby lights were blazing at GovSanc and a crew of workmen were doing
something in there. So on to the New Cloisters. Several people were
still awake in the main area and I didn't see either Angelo or the
Sleeptalker. I settled on the too-short benches and was quickly asleep
although I later had to switch to another pair of benches when two yobs
sat at the ones next to mine and were yakking away, at one-thirty in the
It seems to have rained all night and although the Saturday sky was fairly
clear at dawn, by the time the computer lab opened on campus it had again
clouded over and a light drizzle was falling. As within, so without ...
or vice versa.
Conrad certainly has a big dick. I really don't like the man and it had
never occurred to me to wonder what's in his shorts. But I could hardly
fail to notice when I was walking to my usual bench in the mall and he was
standing there with it hanging out, pissing in the planter box. Wrecked
again, obviously. He goes into a rehab/detox place, after a month comes
out cleaned-up and sober, sits around in McD's a lot looking gloomy and
miserable. Then it's back to the sauce, starting with 12-packs of beer
and soon on to bottles of harder stuff. He gets incredibly drunk, almost
unable to walk, and obviously too far gone to care if he pulls out his big
willie right in the crowded mall.
So he's back again, as is Bla. No idea what happened to him, but he's
been missing for months, finally turned up at McD's on Sunday morning,
gave me his usual upward nod and smile. Sexy man. The Whore, who is no
more sexy than Conrad, has also rejoined the early morning McD's crowd
altho he seems to have permanently abandoned the Quarter Hunt. Not so,
the Mongoose, who was whizzing around on his bicycle Saturday evening.
Alas, both Travis and the Young Hardhat were missing all week.
The weather brightened by late morning on Saturday. I went to the State
Library where the selection wasn't very interesting. Pity, since the
place would be closed on Monday, but I guess I can sacrifice one Colt's
worth of money at the fifty cent cart in the bookstore. I did get
Danielle Steel's The Ranch, returned to the secluded grove with
hotdogs, a Colt, fed the birds and started the book.
"What's for supper?"
"What's in it?"
"Everything but the kitchen sink," was inevitably my mother's reply.
That pretty well sums up this epic from Danielle, too. Suicides,
divorces, attempted murder, a forest fire, AIDS, etc. etc. Amusing fluff,
though, if certainly not one of her best.
The Fatman and the Pirate (formerly referred to as his New Boy) were at
Hamilton when I returned. The Pirate was wearing those gray-blue-white
camouflage fatigue pants, combat boots and a tanktop, from a distance
looked fascinating. Up close, I continue to be put off by his very tough
looking face. I thought how much fun it would be to see the Sleeptalker
in that gear but it's just as well he never wears camouflage fatigues. I
really don't need any added incentives to lust when it comes to him.
I went back downhill for a second Colt, stopped to watch the football
boys at an informal practice, most of them bare-chested and wearing
sweatshorts. The Freshman of the Year was stunning, his title secure
despite some heavy competition from the new crop.
I must have spring fever and it isn't even spring ... not by a
long shot. Guess it must be the tip of the tail of the departing Dragon.
I am a very lucky man, indeed. And despite all the complications
and occasional storms, my three-year friendship with the Sleeptalker is
without question the most treasured evidence of that "luck". And even as
it was happening, I knew there was also no doubt that Round Seven with
him would forever be a highlight of that friendship and one of the
sweetest memories of this long life. Yes, one of those times when a man
sighs deeply and says, I could die happily after that ... and really
mean it, in my case, even wish it.
The university was closed for Martin Luther King Day, so it was an
off-line day and, as always with those irregularities, I was somewhat at a
loss as to what to do with it. I'd slept at GovSanc, didn't have to arise
early since the building would be closed for the holiday, and went as
usual to the mall to have coffee when I did get up. Then I went to
Chinatown to further explore the cigarette situation. My favorite place
appears to be permanently closed and once the shops having a "close-out"
do in fact stop selling cigarettes, it looks like the cheapest will be $3.
Hardly worth a trip to Chinatown, since 7-Eleven offers one brand at
Then I went to Waikiki, strolled along the beach in the early sunshine and
thought how much better the hunk-watching is on campus, with a few notable
exceptions. Of course, the advantage of Waikiki, with those exceptions,
is that one sees a LOT more of each. On the other hand, I feel terribly
overdressed with long pants and the backpack, strolling amongst slim brown
lads wearing nothing but shorts. And there was going to be a parade for
the holiday, ending at Kapiolani Park which was already quite crowded with
folks staking out their picnic areas.
So I decided I'd go back to the mall and beach park, forget about Waikiki.
A fortuitous decision. I had an early lunch of Swiss cheese on rolls
with a bottle of Colt, returned to the mall for a second bottle. I saw
Rocky sitting on a bench, wearing expensive-looking new headphones, and we
exchanged waves but didn't speak. With the bottle in backpack, I went
back to the park, saw the Sleeptalker, Angelo and Rossini sitting on the
grass, heard them calling me over.
They had an eighteen-pack of Budweiser, so I uncapped my bottle and joined
them. The Sleeptalker was full of tales of his security guard job, as
always jumping up now and then to act out the more amusing stories. He
was in absolutely top notch form, unbeatable. After a couple of hours he
and Rossini began to negotiate the acquisition of filling for the glass
pipe. Evidently Rossini has again changed his mind about totally staying
away from "ice" (aka crystal methamphetamine) and agreed to buy one
helping if the Sleeptalker would buy one. I said I'd just stay in the
park and maybe see them later, but all three of them urged me to join
them. Angelo had been staying at a place in Waikiki, a studio apartment
in a building which is mostly hotel rooms. The man who lives there had
gone to the mainland, so Angelo had the place in the meantime, didn't tell
us until the next day that it would, in fact, be the final one.
So I tagged along as they walked to a nearby bar to buy the goods.
Sitting outside was a young local couple who had joints to sell, so the
Sleeptalker bought one, as did Angelo. If I'd known how good the stuff
was going to turn out, I probably would've too. Most excellent quality
for street weed.
The tiny plastic bags with the white powder having been obtained, off we
went to Waikiki. The apartment was just hideous and very tiny, but on the
22nd floor and with a large lanai (balcony). Unbelievable that someone
was paying seven hundred dollars a month for the place (or had been).
The Sleeptalker was utterly delightful in the tender way he instructed me
in the proper use of the glass pipe, getting the stuff smoking and holding
the pipe while I gently inhaled from it (after he had softly scolded me
for puffing too hard), his fingers touching my lips. The problem is, the
smoke has no body to it, impossible to feel that one's lungs are filling
up with smoke. It reminds me of smoking pure hashish in a pipe, something
I never liked as much as mixing it with tobacco, and for the same reason.
The smoke needs more substance. Still, I carefully followed the
Sleeptalker's instructions and eventually mastered the technique,
although, with no complaints from me, he continued each round to do the
firing and holding the pipe for me. If I had not already, and for so
long, been in love with the man, that hour would most certainly have done
I was addicted to methamphetamine for a long time, thought ice would be
much the same. A wrong assumption. It shares certain things, especially
my tendency to abundantly sweat and that not so happily remembered
tenseness in the jaws. But it actually reminds me more of heroin than any
other drug I have experienced. Mellow, very mellow. I don't know how it
is that the Sleeptalker has so often seemed hyper on the stuff and wonder
perhaps if those times he hadn't been smoking "crack" instead of ice.
Certainly I saw for the first time what Angelo had told me about the
Sleeptalker under the influence of ice. He gets utterly withdrawn and
absolutely, totally fascinated with mirrors. Narcissus in person. He sat
for at least an hour on the end of a bed, gazing intently into a mirror on
the opposite wall. Fine with me, since I could sit gazing just as
intently at him, with occasional glances at Angelo who was smirking, but
kindly, at my adoration.
Angelo told us we were all welcome to sleep there. The Sleeptalker was
supposed to be at work at six the next morning, said he had to go downtown
to get his uniform from his locker. I volunteered to go along with him,
partly because I was concerned about how thoroughly stoned he was. So was
I, but I have a lot more experience than he does. It was a strange trip,
with very few words exchanged but at the same time as if in a very
intimate space bubble, just the two of us, no matter how many other people
were around us. When we returned, the pipe was passed one more time, as
were the two smokes. Zonked, utterly zonked. I had offered to pick up
some beer on the way back, but the Sleeptalker said (rightly) that we
didn't really need it. Angelo and Rossini were quite eager for some,
though, so I went to the shop downstairs in the hotel and bought two
six-packs. The clerk mysteriously only charged me for one. I certainly
We were watching, for most of the evening, one of those dreadful "top one
hundred" things that have come to dominate VH-1, this time the top one
hundred "hard rock bands". The three of them played poker for awhile. I
said I was too stoned to remember which card combinations were higher than
others, so would watch, just as well since the variation of poker
they played was totally new to me. Rossini was the first to conk out,
settling on the floor between the twin beds. The Sleeptalker was reading
the Bible, now and then asking me the meaning of words which he didn't
know. Synagogue, palsy, tempest and even, to my surprise, persecution.
He asked plaintively at one point if we didn't spend a lot of time
"repenting", said he seems to be doing it all the time even if he does
continue to do things that he knows he will feel a need to repent for
afterwards. I suggested that we really have to decide ourselves what is
"right" or "wrong" for us, not just accept other guidelines, but knew I'd
have no impact, not up against his extraordinary dance with Christianity.
Angelo then collapsed on the bed nearest the windows and I settled on the
floor between them and his bed, the Sleeptalker still sitting on the other
bed, again entranced by the mirror. I didn't really sleep at all, just
now and then dozed. The Sleeptalker came over and gently patted me
several times during the night to ask for a cigarette. I don't think he
slept at all, either. Sleeplessness is another thing ice has in common
with plain old methamphetamine, although Rossini and Angelo seem immune to
that particular effect.
I got up at about 5:15, preparing to alert the Sleeptalker on his
get-to-work deadline. He was working very nearby, so didn't need much
time to don his uniform and head off. But he would sit up, sit there
thinking and again looking in the mirror, then lay back down again,
eventually said he just couldn't make it to work. I urged, encouraged,
than wondered perhaps if I left he might change his mind, so said I was
going out to get coffee. When I returned, Angelo was up, the Sleeptalker
still there, laying in bed but awake. Angelo went out to get cigarettes
and also brought back a six-pack of beer. Yikes. The three of us drank
that, Rossini still sleeping. They wanted more, so I got another two
Rossini finally woke up, said he had to go to his mother's and left. The
Sleeptalker tried his best to get something from the empty pipe, with no
luck, and he started wishing for another little bag. I guess my
expression must have been very obvious, because Angelo saw what I was
thinking before I'd said a word, and he thought it very funny. Okay,
wicked of me, but when he accused me, I admitted, yes, I had thought of a
way the Sleeptalker could get that pipe filled. To my amazement, the
Sleeptalker instantly agreed, said to give the twenty to Angelo and let
him go shopping.
The minute Angelo was out the door, the Sleeptalker lay back on the bed
and said, "okay, let's do it, but it's not already hard". Minor problem
that was, a situation that promptly changed. Oh so sweet to finally be in
a bed with him, alone in a locked room, time to take it slow and easy and
relish every moment of it. And he was far more responsive than he's ever
been before, adding to the delight of how well we've come to adjust to
each other physically. Twice he was on the brink and deliberately eased
off and when he finally did let it go, I felt as close to utter happiness
as I've ever been or am likely to be. I told him afterwards I felt a
little guilty, that I should have just given him the money instead of
making him pay for it. "That's okay," he said, "I enjoyed it."
So say us both.
Angelo returned and again the pipe made its rounds. The Sleeptalker
vanished into the bathroom for a long time. Then someone tried to enter
the apartment, but went away without knocking. Angelo finally confessed
that the guy who rented the apartment was supposed to have been back the
previous Friday, the rent was overdue, and they'd been told the place
would have to be vacated on Tuesday, i.e. today. So he assumed it was the
landlord coming around and we made an effort to tidy up the place a bit,
expecting him or her to return. She did, not long afterwards, was very
pleasant but told us it had been agreed by the tenant that the place would
be vacated. I knocked on the bathroom door, told the Sleeptalker we had
to leave, and we did, me putting six cans of beer from the fridge in my
Downstairs, they debated about what to do next. I said I had to go to UH
for awhile, didn't want people worried by my continued absence on-line.
The Sleeptalker was agreeable to going along, but Angelo had something to
take to a pawn shop. I thought that the Sleeptalker, after the pipe
and sex, would probably be happier out of my company for a bit, so
suggested they take the beer and go on the pawn shop, that I might meet up
with them later. They both seemed relieved by the solution and both
thanked me as my bus came first and I got up to leave. "No. Thank you," I
said to them, "I've never gotten off on that stuff before and it was good
to finally experience it."
"And especially, thank you," I said to the Sleeptalker, rubbing my hand
through his hair. He grinned. Sweetheart just doesn't say enough.
When I finally, after almost forty-eight hours, really fell asleep there
was a kaleidoscope of amusing dreams making we wonder if Rossini's
apparent ability to use ice in sleep isn't more fortunate than me and the
Sleeptalker and our sleeplessness. The inspiration for one of the dreams
was clear. Not long ago I was at Hamilton Library when all the web
terminals were occupied. To amuse myself while waiting for a vacancy, I
looked around on one of the terminals which is restricted to other library
websites, including the Library of Congress.
They mounted an exhibition of treasures from the Vatican Library and I
read from the catalogue the early history of that collection and how it
was expanded by various popes through the centuries, progress often
interrupted by death of an interested pope. In the dream, which was one
of those maybe-a-past-life kind, I was employed in the court of a major
Emperor who was dedicated to founding a great library. Alas, the very
enjoyable (and realistic) career of examining and cataloging rare and
ancient texts was interrupted by the death of my employer. He had gone to
use the royal outhouse, the seat had collapsed and he had fallen in! I
trust none of the papal patrons had such an unfortunate finale.
It was highly interesting to observe the very different reactions the four
of us had to ice and equally so, to the next-day aftermath. My own
experience was probably not what it would typically be, more analytical
and comparing. There was at first a truly shocked surprise at finding
myself so stoned, more than I've experienced in a very long time
and I was much involved in comparing it to pharmaceutical amphetamines.
There was none of the zinging clarity of thought or the ever-amusing dance
of words exchanged with someone equally affected. No doubt just as well,
since that was the main reason I got so hooked on methamphetamine, that
and the enticing feeling that one was always just on the verge of
Rossini and Angelo were more social, although even during the poker game
their conversation was subdued. None of us seemed to fall into the
tendency to jabber away which was usually part of my previous experiences
with speed, altho I noticed myself doing it the next day with the Cherub.
Perhaps I would have been inclined to be more talkative the previous
evening had I not been exercising a lot of caution, not wishing to intrude
on what the other three were experiencing. That thought, especially, with
the Sleeptalker in mind, since his way is so solitary and withdrawn, the
impromptu Bible Class notwithstanding.
And it is the Sleeptalker who seems to suffer the most intense next-day
hangover, who certainly appeared to be enduring some kind of psychic pain.
I've long noted how all the lads repent, as the Sleeptalker would put it,
the day after sessions with ice or crack. I think a large part of that is
financial, though. Ice is a very cheap drug, probably the cheapest
available. An eight hour high for $20-25 is a bargain. But for all of
us, that represents a substantial outlay and for them, one round is not
enough if they have sufficient money in pocket for two or three. The
aftermath then inevitably includes regret at having spent so much for what
afterwards seems a very short time. I've been through that routine so
much for reasons other than drug expenditures that it's not a factor for
me. I was amused to discover a definite feeling of thinking, "maybe I
should take some time off, clean out my system," and that was stronger
after the second day of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. But I was surprised
not to feel a greater droop in spirits, especially after that memorable
hour alone with the Sleeptalker.
I had just finished writing the previous tale when the Cherub arrived at
the computer lab on Tuesday. He had Faustian rehearsal at seven, but
there was time for a beer at the Garden beforehand. He had gotten quite
drunk there on Friday, was worried about whether he might be in trouble
with Bryant the Bartender. I told him my experience was, best thing to do
was just openly apologize if so. He almost hid behind me as we stepped up
to the bar and I told Bryant the Cherub was worried that he might be in
disgrace. No problem, he seems to have over-amplified whatever it was
he'd done and failed to realize Bryant is so busy on Friday evenings the
Cherub would have had to be pretty outrageous to even get Bryant's
As we were sitting outside with the beer, I realized I was indeed falling
into speed motormouth mode, forced myself to knock it off. I was still
feeling thoroughly buzzed from that lunchtime pipe and perhaps even more
by the thoroughly unexpected interlude in bed with the Sleeptalker. The
Cherub, after such a long time of knowing both me and the Sleeptalker, was
of course a perfect audience. Not surprisingly, he was envious of the
pipe experience, if not the rest.
I returned to the lab briefly after he left for rehearsal but was by then
feeling pretty exhausted, wanted to at least lay down somewhere even if I
suspected I still wasn't ready for sleep. Angelo and the Sleeptalker had
said they'd be at the New Cloisters for the night, but they may have meant
another church they'd told me about where they say Rocky has been staying.
In any case, the Sleeptalker wasn't at the New Cloisters when I walked by,
although Angelo may have been one of the bodies totally concealed under
sheets. That place has become such a social club, half a dozen people
sitting there yakking away. One young man whom I've seen before but don't
really know waved for me to join them. I said I was just looking to see
if the Sleeptalker or Angelo were there, and went on my way to GovSanc.
Work was again going on in the lobby which was brightly lit, so I settled
on a bench around the corner from my usual spot, the darkest of the other
options. The Bicycle Man was already on his bench despite the light and
the Fat Regular arrived later, like me settled on one in the shadows
It took quite a long time before I did finally fall asleep but it was good
to just relax on the bench and think about the events of the two days. I
had been thoroughly engrossed in The Hellfire Club, an elegant
mystery by Peter Straub, but hadn't taken it out of my backpack since that
early afternoon encounter with the lads. It was one of those too-rare
times when real life was far more interesting than any fiction could be.
I got word that an envelope, "hand-addressed", had arrived from DHSS.
Uh-oh. I thought it was probably notice that the Crazy Money had been cut
off because of my missed appointment, and the mind immediately began to
ponder the consequences, the adjustments that would have to be made. I'd
already been scolding myself for not having made the necessary shift in my
routine to allow more time for snipe hunting. If I don't have the
fortitude, or desire, to quit smoking or to very sharply cut down,
then I just have to spend more time looking for those butts during the
next two weeks or so and should make it a permanent part of my routine
until the SocSec Era arrives.
At first, I thought I'd wait and pick up the dreaded envelope on my
way to GovSanc but I couldn't stop thinking about it, decided I might as
well make the trip downtown. The buses to and from campus had been packed
all day with Japanese folks, older than usual, who appear to be housed in
the Pagoda Hotel near the mall and, I suspect, travel to campus for
something that's going on at the East-West Center. That bus was the most
crowded yet but I got lucky, managed to get a seat. When the bus reached
a stop downhill from campus, I saw Angelo, Rossini and Mondo standing
there. They didn't notice me, evidently decided to wait for a less
crowded bus. Just as we were about to leave, Rossini spotted me, told
Angelo, and we exchanged waves. I was relieved the Sleeptalker wasn't
with them, hope it meant he followed through on his plan to arrive at
work that morning, telling them he'd been too sick the day before to make
Whew. The envelope wasn't what I feared, just the papers I have to fill
out for the six-month re-evaluation appointment which has to be made
before February 16th.
I debated about returning to campus for a sunset brew, or just stopping at
the mall and having it in the beach park, but I was afraid the Boys would
be there and although I had been delighted to see them from the bus, I
really wasn't ready to spend more time with them yet. Too much mental
digesting still in progress. So I did return to campus.
Two bottles of Colt is not, I suppose, even close to "cleaning out" the
system, but compared to what had been absorbed in the previous two days,
was almost teetotal-ish. I'd had the first with lunch in the secluded
grove which this semester really needs to be renamed the unsecluded grove.
One young woman annoyingly took a bench right beside mine, even though
there were other possibilities, but fortunately she didn't stay long. That
security guard who had been there before (and amusingly enough, works for
the same firm as the Sleeptalker) evidently plans to take his lunch break
there every day. His job is really only concerned with the parking
garage, but I'm certainly not going to take the chance of filling my beer
cup if he's in view. It would indeed be witty of Dame Fortune if she
arranges a spot on that team for the Sleeptalker, not impossible since the
firm apparently switches people around frequently. It would probably be
disastrous for him, though, because he'd be tempted to jump on a computer
on his lunch break and inevitably get too wrapped up in the game to stick
to his work schedule.
Mental digesting. Yes. A reader wrote: Hope the post coital angst
will prove to be decreasing for [the Sleeptalker]. I have to wonder
if my "post coital angst" isn't probably greater than his. No matter how
much I desire it, no matter how much I love it while it's happening and
cherish the memory afterwards, I'm just not at all sure if it's the best
thing for him and for our friendship. So each time I spend a lot of time
afterwards, if not "repenting" then certainly pondering.
Judith Beck irked me immediately by the almost arrogant way she
assumes that she knows what "dysfunctional thinking" is, and I definitely
don't agree with some of the examples she provides. I don't think it's
necessarily dysfunctional and I certainly don't think it can be altered as
easily as she claims. Fodder for my next meeting with the Doc. But yes,
okay, I'm not claiming to be free of "dysfunctional thinking", not at all.
And I'm inclined to think a very good example of that was realizing on
Wednesday that it's easier for me, in some ways, to cope with an
unpleasant time with the Sleeptalker than a pleasant one. Yes, that's
dysfunctional. After the (actually very few) truly unpleasant
interactions, there was just the simple acceptance of it being time to
break off contact. After the pleasant ones, and the more pleasant the
more complex the aftermath thinking, it's almost as though I want to write
"The End" on the story. Can it ever happen again? Can it get even
better? Wouldn't it be best, for both of us, to end it on such a happy
And the most ridiculous thing about that kind of thinking is the absurd
notion that I have any choice. Oh, I do, but I don't want to.
Okay, that's all dysfunctional. But Doc Beck ain't got the easy answers
she thinks she does.
Tale 676 certainly provides a clearcut example of violating the concept,
Be Here Now. Embarrassing but, no, I won't yield to the temptation
and edit it out. Probably even worse, it provides evidence that I am
still foolish enough to think I might know what's better for someone else
than they do themselves.
Reactions from readers. Well, the easiest first: objections to paying for
sex. One was quite touching, expressed the idea that it's clear I would
be a kind and generous lover, there must be a young man who would
recognize the value of that, and thus it is sad I would have to pay
for it. A sweet thought. However, one must deal with things as they are,
not as how they could be if Dame Fortune wished it to be that way.
I have never had the slightest problem with paying for sex, did it even at
a time when I was capable of getting a much higher price for my own body
than I paid for another. I wanted his body, he wanted some extra cash for
a trip to Fort Lauderdale, everybody happy. As for now, there is nothing
in this world I want more than that which only the Sleeptalker can
provide. It would be stupid, idiotic, to deny myself that because of
money, although there may well be other reasons I should.
And, as I told one reader, it makes it easier for him. With the exception
of the ill-fated Sixth Encounter, it has always been a case of exchanging
something he wants for something I want. Thus no need for him to even
consider he may have wanted the sex himself. The young man earnestly
believes it is a "sin". How much heavier the "repentance" if he has to
consider he wanted to commit it, rather than the easier out of a necessary
evil to achieve something else that was wanted?
A more difficult protest. No, I do not believe the Sleeptalker was using
a calculated strategy to set me up as a steady provider of the drug he
loves so much. Yes, I know he has time and again used gay men,
he has been very open in talking about it with me. But I also know those
men, like I, had absolutely no objection to being used, at least
not initially. Some of them were too stupid to hold onto that acceptance,
wanted more, and lost the Sleeptalker. I won't do anything for him I
don't really want to do and, as he has discovered, there is a limit to how
far he can push me. He's a very intelligent man, has the smarts to have
survived on the streets for eight or nine years now, but he doesn't
calculate like that. He's much closer to be here now than I am.
If I am wrong and the reader is right, I still have no objection. If I
were to reach a decision not to have sex with the Sleeptalker again, it
would certainly not be because of money or reluctance to exchange the
glass pipe for his body. If he's comfortable with it, I am.
And the expected objection. The drug. Yes, I am very aware it is a
dangerous substance. I only have to recall the imagined scene of Mackey
Feary hanging in his cell to remind myself of that, should I begin to
forget it. But in that case, as in every other "drug wreck" I know,
whatever the substance, the problem was not really the drug. For all the
horror stories about heroin, I also remember the charming American I met
in Kathmandu who had been living there for a very long time and for even
longer had used heroin daily.
And no, absolutely not! I am in no way recommending that anyone should
try it. Not it, not any drug, not caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, none of it.
I am absolutely convinced the best way to live this life is to do it free
of any of that stuff. The Mormon, the Hindu ascetic ... they have the
right idea. I am not strong enough to walk that path, but if I were to
recommend anything to anyone, that would be it. I don't, however, want to
preach and I most certainly don't want to preach what I don't practice.
For economic reasons alone, the lads are limited in how far they can go
with their desire for and enjoyment of this drug although, undoubtedly, if
the Sleeptalker were really calculating, he could find someone who would
go much further than I can in buying his body for a pipe-full. But at
least for now, I am not that concerned for any of them going too far with
either of the glass-pipe fillings, however much I may have been annoyed
from time to time by the effect on them of indulging. And, of course,
that was annoyance because of the inconvenience to me, not genuine concern
for their well-being, wasn't it?
Much to my surprise, I have heard from another reader who has only now
discovered the Tales and, like the other I recently mentioned, is reading
them from the beginning. Extraordinary. The new one mentioned being at
Tale 66. I naturally went to read it. Oh dear, what a mess that time
was, what growing pains as this strange new life began.
How very much sweeter and, yes, even enlightening, is this amazing
continuing dance with the Bad Boys.
Although not even remotely as heavy as the Sleeptalker's apparent
morning-after anguish, the hangover or slump did arrive and on Thursday
afternoon I was feeling utterly drained, the epitome of tired and weary.
I had finished Peter Straub's The Hellfire Club with lunch on
Wednesday. Stephen King is quoted as saying it is Straub's best book.
From what I have read of Straub, I'd reserve that for Ghost Story
but Hellfire is, as I said, definitely an elegant mystery,
thoroughly enjoyable reading. Enjoyable, too, was Danielle Steel's A
Perfect Stranger which followed. It is, I think, the earliest by her
I've yet read (1981) and lacks the sophistication and depth of her more
recent books. A decent soap opera, though, made perhaps more relevant to
me just now because of its old man in love with young woman theme. I wish
this old man had the money that one did but I know that would most likely
not make things any better, not really, might even make them worse.
Since it clearly wasn't going to last that long, I made the trip to the
State Library late morning on Thursday. Ugh, heavy backpack. Stephen
King does write some very thick books. But first, John Grisham's
The Partner, one of the few gaps on my mental shelf of his
I had gone to GovSanc fairly early on Wednesday evening, more than ready
to collapse on a bench. Alas, the lobby work was still underway and, even
worse, on the shadowed bench which I had substituted for my usual one sat
a very dreary wannabe blues singer, plunking on a guitar and making vocal
noises which I assume he considered singing. Not at all what I wanted for
an early night on the bench, so back to the New Cloisters. I slipped by
the main area unnoticed and went to one of the too-short benches. The
Karate Kid was almost shouting away, sounded very stoned, drunk, or both,
and was so loud I could hear him from a considerable distance, even with
What a blessing those Pflent's earplugs are, though.
He was still ranting when I fell asleep but apparently went away at some
point since he wasn't there when I left next morning. Nor were Angelo or
Heeding my day-before self lecture, I stopped by the mall after my State
Library visit and did the rounds for snipes. Snipes are relatively
abundant on campus, too, but during the day there is almost always someone
sitting near the ashtrays so I try to keep my hunting for the evening
hours. I'm glad the dreadful False Prophet doesn't smoke. He has become
major competition for any abandoned plate lunch boxes but at least doesn't
raid the ashtrays. He seems to spend all his time on campus these days,
must have found somewhere there he can hide away during the night.
Perhaps I should follow him one night and discover where, get him banned
from campus for a year (naughty thought, but I can't resist having it even
if I don't follow through).
The trip downtown and the stop at the mall meant getting to the secluded
grove later than usual, just in time to see that security guard leave.
Yes, I guess I'll have to adjust my routine, plan to take my beer and
sandwich break an hour later than I have been doing. That's okay, I
suppose he's doing me a favor, helping me to postpone the first brew of
the day, especially these days when two has to be the absolute limit
unless I want to hunt quarters.
Like so many of Grisham's books, The Partner is absolute nonsense,
but ridiculously engrossing and his usual snide sarcasm is dished out with
a lighter touch in this one. It seems to be a personal fantasy turned
into a novel. I was enjoying it enough to grab another Colt and continue
reading. By then, though, I was feeling that slump, more physical than
drooping spirits, mercifully. Of course, I was much occupied with
thoughts of the Sleeptalker, of what I had written in Tale 676 and of
reactions from readers to it all. Not even Grisham's captivating ways
could stop that flow.
At sunset, I stopped down to visit Kory K for awhile, catch up on what he
and mutual friends have been up to, the first such opportunity in this new
year. I probably would have made it a much longer visit had I not been
feeling so exhausted, went directly from there to GovSanc. Lobby work
still underway but, praise Allah, no blues pseudo-singer in residence. No
one there at all, although the Fat Regular and the Bicycle Man arrived
after I'd fallen asleep.
It was the first night I've awakened feeling rather chilly. This is such
a mild winter. Each morning I've promptly removed the sweatshirt when
arriving at the mall. I saw Wisconsin for the first time in weeks, was
surprised to see he's at last shaved those frizzy white sideburns (a
definite improvement in appearance, anyway) and was more than pleased he
didn't return after a passing greeting.
The normal balance, if such a term can be applied to my strange life,
began to return on Friday. I even noticed a couple of cute young men.
After that so sweet time with the Sleeptalker, I had no interest at all.
Brad Pitt could have walked by and I might not have noticed. I only wish
the effect were longer-lasting, like a lifetime's worth.
I interrupted my reading and went back to the computer lab, caught up with
email. My habit is to keep, among my mail folders, two called "tales"
and "later". Often I tuck something into those folders and go far too
long before replying. Oddly, I'd had two similar queries from readers,
both now answered, about how I regard responses from readers. I'm still
amazed I have any readers to begin with and welcome the responses, even
when negative. I enjoy the prod they often give me to think further about
what I've done and how I've written about it, appreciate seeing things
from a different, possibly more objective, viewpoint.
Back downhill for another brew and beginning King's massive Bag of
Bones, waiting for that "normal balance" to continue its return,
wondering what on earth is going to happen next in the life of the Old Man
and the Bad Boys.
Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: Middle English yernen, from Old English giernan; akin to
Old High German geron to desire, Latin hortari to urge, encourage, Greek
chairein to rejoice
Date: before 12th century
1 : to long persistently, wistfully, or sadly
2 : to feel tenderness or compassion
Lovely word, not a very comfortable state of mind, however, especially
when definition #1 is dominating. The wretched internal jukebox, rather
than picking that twenties song, "Yearning", which played such a role in
Steppenwolf, instead got stuck Saturday on "That Old Black Magic"
and just wouldn't give up. By late afternoon I was beginning to think I
would go totally insane before the end of the day.
This is just not what I thought old age would be, not at all. Never mind
ice, never mind alcohol, just give me one of those drugs where a strong
side-effect is losing sexual desire. That's usually considered a
negative. Not for me right now, it wouldn't be. Spring fever in January
I wanted to run away. In all these years I've lived on this island, I've
never felt such a strong desire to head to the airport and get on a plane,
no matter where it was going. The other islands wouldn't be far enough,
different enough, but at least I wouldn't see anyone I knew there (well,
except maybe in Hilo) and I wouldn't be walking around thinking I might
see a certain someone or hoping that I would. I should stay away but
what can I do, I hear your name and I'm aflame .... Don't even have
to hear it, just think it.
Yes, Saturday was grim, the worst day of the Dragon. Only three to go,
but will the Snake be any different? Given the phallic association, maybe
even worse. No, that's not possible. It can't get any more obsessive
than it was on Saturday.
But how to break loose? How to get out from under that "old black magic"
spell? I just don't know.
When everything closed at UH, I went to the mall. Would have, anyway,
because I wanted to hear a new band that was playing at six. The Waihole
Ditch Band is a decent group of musicians, immediately brought to mind the
Flying Burrito Brothers, something no other local band has done. And
the biggest surprise of the gig was their version of "Brown Eyed Girl". I
don't like that song which is a favorite of local bands. But their
version was wonderful, made me wish I'd had a tape recorder with me.
Since I couldn't stop thinking about him, I decided what I'd do was survey
the always-crowded Saturday night mall and see how many men I could spot
who could fill his place. Incredibly enough, only two possible candidates
were spotted. One of them, amusingly, is also a security guard. I've had
a slight crush on him for a long time but he's noticeably lost weight and
looks even better. Too much better, I got lost in lust just watching him
when he took up his post during the gig almost directly in front of me.
Out of the proverbial frying pan into the fire.
Alas, he and the other possible substitute could only be like one of those
drugstore remedies which are for "temporary relief", not that either of
them were likely to be interested or available anyway. A number of
possibles were eliminated because even though they had great physical
attractiveness, it was clear that they knew it. One of the Sleeptalker's
great charms is that he really doesn't know how cute he is.
I'd had a lunchtime Colt while continuing King's slightly outrageous
Bag of Bones, another in late afternoon. As I said, two has to be
the limit unless I want to hunt quarters. During a round of the mall to
collect snipes, there were three abandoned strollers in my path! Okay, so
I wasn't deliberately hunting quarters, but when two shopping carts then
showed up together, I said, yippee, a three Colt day after all.
As had happened the evening before, the orchid walk, already dominated by
bums, attracted some noisy people, this time a grandmother with her two
little monsters, each with those fancy scooters. So much for a quiet time
with brew and book. I fled out to the park. The book was so riveting I
could have sat there until the wee hours of the morning finishing it, but
once the beer was gone, I went on to GovSanc. The lobby dark for a
change, the Fat Regular and the Bicycle Man already asleep. They
certainly got up early on Sunday, though. I woke, had to water the
bushes, saw they were both gone and couldn't believe my watch said 3:30.
How strange. But it's also strange how we are the only three regulars
there, unlike all the other places where the population constantly varies.
Count your blessings ...
Now could I kindly be blessed with some solution to this madness of being
possessed by thoughts of the Sleeptalker?
Stephen King writes, in his interesting afterword to the book, "I hope
Bag of Bones gave you at least one sleepless night." No, it didn't
do that, but it may well have inspired one of the most unusual dreams I've
ever had. I was a black boy. My mother was straightforward Hattie
McDaniels, complete with a voluminous red skirt echoing Mammy's petticoat
in GWTW. Never, ever dreamed I was black before. It woke me up.
King also says, "I have been routinely accused of writing to outrageous
lengths." There is certainly much that could have been left out of Bag
of Bones, the best of his works I've yet encountered, but I'm glad he
did indulge himself by letting his hero, a best-selling writer, make some
wry observations about his colleagues on that yardstick of success. One
he seems particularly to admire is Richard North Patterson, making it
appropriate to follow up his book with Patterson's Degree of Guilt,
found on the fifty-cent cart at the used bookshop.
I wonder if he's right about Danielle Steel writing several books in a
flurry of creative energy, then stashing them away for publication over a
commercially-sensible interval? (He doesn't say it quite like that, but
the implication is clear, since his fictional hero did the same.)
Fiction. What would I do without it giving me a least some moments of
freedom from the endless meanderings of my own mind, dysfunctional or
With the doc appointment looming, I thought I'd better spend some more
time with Judith Beck. Gawd, she's a boring writer. She's clever enough
to anticipate much of the possible criticism regarding this system called
Cognitive Therapy, but either too self-confident or too blind to answer in
advance the reader who thinks she is boring, totally lacking style. Both
Freud and Jung were far more stylish, not to even mention Laing, whether
one accepted their theories and ideas or not. And Beck limits herself to
one particular case history which is so damned simple it seriously
undermines the book as a whole. A lonely, repressed female college
student with almost no self respect or confidence? An easy mark, eh,
I'd like to see her tackle the Sleeptalker. On the other hand, there's
too much danger she'd make a mess of it. Look who's talking ...
I am touched by a reader who wrote: "... when I happened to speak to
young homeless people, it seemed that being singled out by someone who
loved them made a difference in their capacity for survival". It
would be wonderful, indeed, if I could believe my love for the Sleeptalker
helps him at all, much less on so basic and important a level. I know,
have seen again and again, how he comes to me when there has been an
emotional storm in his life. I know that's my main role in his life and
it's one I am more than happy to play. A large part of me wants to play
only that role, but this lusting beast still too alive in an old
man's body isn't content with that. The Sleeptalker is just too damned
desireable and that most intimate contact with him too sweet.
The final Sunday of the Dragon, if not as frantic as Saturday, was
still loaded with the mental and emotional storm which had been brewed by
that magical Tuesday, no matter how much I tried to grab hold of the reins
and stop the runaway carriage. At least the penultimate day of the Dragon
found the internal jukebox had finally switched its tune, was firmly stuck
on "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". A puzzling song, indeed, but not as
intimately disturbing as that old black magic called love.
After being prompted by the new reader to have a look back at Tale 66, I
got sufficiently interested to go on reading and was amused to come across
a later episode where someone had suggested making five wishes before
sleeping each night as a way to clarify what it is I really want. I
wrote: One would do it. I'd like to have fifty dollars a week income,
in addition to the pension check which could then be used for "capital
expenses" like new slippers, or mosquito repellent, or toothpaste.
Took three years, but the Crazy Money finally granted that wish. Of
course, I never manage to spread it out so there's fifty per week and
certainly haven't in January 2001. When I made that wish, though, I had
no idea I'd end up hosting Bad Boys parties when the wish came true. At
that point I'd been sleeping next to Rocky for months without exchanging a
word with him. When I next see him, I'll tell him about his first words
to me, "what you looking at?"
I'll soon reach the point in the "stories" (as the Boys call the Tales)
where the Sleeptalker makes his first appearance. The last time I saw the
Cherub, he asked if it really had been love at first sight. Ain't no
doubt about it.
At last, on Monday I finally started to calm down a little. And I
understood the virgin ice experience plus sex with the Sleeptalker had
thrown me sideways, more so than I had at first realized or wanted to
admit. If the drug has as much impact on the lads and their inner balance
as it did on me, little wonder their lives are often in such turmoil.
Little wonder, too, that the folks who most need help from The System
aren't getting it. You have to be at least together enough to dig through
As I mentioned, I got the order to set up a re-evaluation appointment. The
instructions were to call the doctor, then call my social worker so she
could obtain the necessary medical coupon. Okay, there's seventy cents
they shouldn't expect a street person to have, no reason why the paper
couldn't have just told me when to be at the doctor and the coupon
enclosed. Far too easy, of course. I had the advantage of
access to a friend's telephone. Most of the street people I know don't
have even that.
I called the doctor's office, had extreme difficulty in understanding the
young woman who answered. Their rules are utterly rigid, one must accept
the next available appointment, and that was at 9:10 on Tuesday, the
following day. The last time I went through this, I'd had to go to the
social worker to pick up the coupon. I was concerned I might not be able
to get it in time, so asked for a later appointment because of that. No,
not possible. I said I'd talk to my social worker and call back (tack on
another thirty-five cents, for most people). Naturally, the worker was
unavailable, please call back. Sigh. Instead, I called the doctor's
office again and accepted the appointment. Then I went to the social
worker's office. She was at lunch.
"I need a beer," said I (to myself), went to the nearest store selling the
stuff. The only malt liquor they had was Cobra, price unmarked. I asked
the clerk. To my surprise, the standard $1.99. Bottle in backpack, I went
to a nearby park, luckily finding a large paper cup, lid and straw on the
way. That park is bizarre. Not a single bench in the place is in shade.
So I sat on the grass under a small tree, filled my cup and returned to
the Patterson book, my watch beside me so I could keep an eye on the hour
which needed to pass.
Dame Fortune decided to tease me. Two young men in tee shirts and shorts
arrived to play on the nearby basketball court. One of them took off his
shirt. If I had been far enough away not to be able to see his face, I
could easily have thought it was the Sleeptalker. Slim, lightly and
enticingly muscular, no hair on the chest until the little brown line near
the navel. And he struck poses so much like the Sleeptalker's routines
that I had a most difficult time paying attention at all to the book.
Funny lady, that Dame.
Back to the office. The social worker came out, said she had the coupon
and she was mailing it to the doctor (?!) and if he had any questions, he
should call her. Sigh again.
And again say, I need a beer. So to the mall, a round to collect snipes,
a stop in the supermarket for a sandwich, chips and Colt, and over to the
park to, this time, concentrate on the most enjoyable book. Yes, fiction,
please give me some relief, stop me from thinking about this insane thing
I returned to campus briefly. The Sleeptalker was to have gotten his
paycheck on Sunday and had Monday off (an unwise piece of scheduling on
the part of his employer). I hadn't expected to see him at the mall or in
the park and wasn't much surprised when he wasn't in the game either. It
surely was glass pipe time, wherever he might be enjoying it and with
whomever. And part of the calming down was accepting the fact that I
probably won't see him again until he loses the job. That, of course,
is not likely to be too far in the future but in the meantime, I should at
least try to stop thinking about him so much.
The lobby work was again underway at GovSanc, the workers just inside the
glass wall by the benches we usually sleep on. It was very windy, making
the alternative bench a rather unsatisfactory place for the night, so I
walked over to the New Cloisters. Much to my surprise, only the Filipino
Insomniac and a couple I hadn't seen before were there. The Insomniac
said something about how long it's been since he'd seen me, told me
Rossini had gotten a place, wondered why the Karate Kid wasn't there, etc.
I settled on a bench, but then the couple (who were on a blanket on the
floor) started squabbling. Sigh. I got up, waved to the Insomniac and
said, "it's quieter over there", and moved to one of the too-short
benches. Someone else had already done likewise, and was asleep already.
Off to the mall at five in the morning. Coffee in hand, I tackled the
form I needed to fill out for the psychiatrist, went downtown well in
advance of the appointment time and sat in his barren waiting room. He
came out, motioned me to sit on the one extra chair in his office, asked
my name, shuffled through the papers on his desk, and said he had no
record of my having an appointment. Grrrr. Okay, so I was to call his
office and make another one. Thirty-five more cents, and this time I did
spend it, using a payphone downstairs. Don't even think of asking why the
man couldn't just give me an appointment right there in his office.
So that dance is re-scheduled for the first Monday of the Snake. Like I
said, at least together enough to dig through the bullshit. And with
change in pocket.