tales from the year of the snake

Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it
unto one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:40

the least of these
682-683
684-686
687-688
689-691
692-694

... that he is searching desperately for the lesson and for the song and for the raison d'etre, that he wants to understand his own story and he wants you to understand it, and that it is the very best story he has right now to tell. If that's not enough, read something else.
Anne Rice: Memnoch the Devil

the vampire panther
695-697
698-701
702-704
705-708

countdown to aries
709-715
716-724
725-729
730-736

the season of the ram
737-740
741-744
745-748
749-752
753-756
757-759

682


1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001

I am told that my initial Year of the Snake brought my first attempt to abort this weird life. Well, only I see it that way. Everyone else apparently thought I was just a one-year-old who got pneumonia, spent quite some time in hospital and almost died. Sound familiar?

If I remember correctly, the second Year of the Snake was when I decided I wanted to be a writer, started a doomed "underground newspaper" at my junior high school, and sold a story to Playmate magazine for fifty dollars. Children's Playmate, alas, not Mister Hefner's like-named glossy rag which probably wasn't around yet. The so-called newspaper was squelched after five or six issues by a horrified faculty member who somehow came into possession of a copy. I don't remember just what criticism of the school caused such a strong reaction.

1965, the Third Year? Not a very dramatic one, as I recall, just making paintings and sculpture, preparing for my first NYC one-man exhibition the following year. It was probably the first year in Manhattan when there was a certain amount of financial stability, even a bit of luxury, after some when things were pretty tight.

Number Four, 1977. Hmmmm. Back in Manhattan, after that long time in London, the first trip to India and Nepal, and a brief time in Washington. But no, nothing immediately comes to mind that can be firmly placed in that year. I think it went by in a more-or-less comfortable haze of various temporary office jobs and excellent smoking materials.

1989. The Fifth Year of the Snake. Ah, that one had long-lasting consequences since Jonathan came to visit and then stayed five years, I settled into that boring insurance job for as long.

Not much of a pattern, there, nothing to help predict what the Sixth Year of the Snake is likely to bring.

"Mine is the wisdom of ages. I hold the key to the mysteries of life. Casting my seeds on fertile ground I nurture them with constancy and purpose. My sights are fixed. My gaze unchanging. Unyielding, inexorable and deep I advance with steady, un-slackened gait, the solid earth beneath me. I AM THE SNAKE."

Sounds almost like Anne Rice. And speaking of her, it's highly unlikely I would pick up a book called The Mummy, much less pay fifty cents for it, if it hadn't also included the name Anne Rice on the cover. She surely is preoccupied with themes of immortality. She's equally as surely a delightfully stylish writer who can take something as off-the-wall as this one and turn it into a pleasurable read. And it was that I turned to after finishing the Patterson courtroom drama with lunch in the secluded grove on Tuesday, the day turning out to be relatively pleasant despite that ludicrous nonsense with the psychiatrist at the beginning.

As I wrote once, sometimes things just get so ridiculous they become comic instead of depressing. "Who are you supposed to be seeing?" asked the psychiatrist. "You." "What's my name?" Stomping on the urge to say something improper, I just told him his name. "Who did your first evaluation?" "You." Silly man. But I'd better hide that sentiment way down deep somewhere since he holds my fate in his paws. Partly. If he were so unreasonable as to deny the continuation of the Crazy Money, I'm told the Legal Aid Society is happy to take up the cause and the appeal. I'd just as soon not have that elaborate dance, so must behave myself with the doc.

And be sure to get to the appointment with the other doc this time, even if it does seem a rather lame thing to do on New Year's Day.

682a


Sheez, I was almost late to the appointment with the Doc.

A pity he isn't the one who does the evaluation stuff as well, since I wouldn't be too worried about him letting me coast on this program for a year. I think I might be in big trouble with the Evaluating Doc, though, since now it has listed on my form the number of appointments I've attended and, shudder, one date under "missed appointments". The Evaluating Doc is such an automaton, he'll probably see that and instantly disqualify me.

Oh well, one advantage of reading those Tales from three years ago is seeing how life was when I was very, very poor, remembering those mornings of walking through the "beer gardens" and finding discarded cans and bottles of beer, carrying a flask around to collect partial leavings ... and all the other stories of having empty pockets. Of course, that was before the Bad Boys became more than silent sleeping companions.

(Don't think I'm unaware how they influenced my thoughts about this whole "welfare" game.)

I finally got to the story with the first appearance of the Sleeptalker. It is misleading, because I say he doesn't compare to Mondo, with whom I was (and still am) much smitten. But that comparison had to do with Mondo's dark handsomeness and, no, the Sleeptalker can't be compared to that and, as I said, "few men can". There are so many ways Mondo doesn't "compare" to the Sleeptalker, I hardly know where to start, nor is it necessary.

The Doc assured me that many writers in the field are actually "boring". He has seen Judith Beck in person, she once visited here. And he agreed with me that her writing seems burdened by her desire to defend her father's theories, as well as agreeing that using just one sample case in this book is too limiting.

I told him one reason I was happy to undertake reading the thing was because I hoped it might give me some hints about how to deal with the Boys. I gave the specific example of the Sleeptalker and how he most strongly detests people who act exactly the way he does at his worst. How it seemed, according to Doctor Beck, that it was only necessary for him to realize he's doing that to turn on the light, so to speak, in his mind. No, the Doc assured me, he has young patients who are fully aware that they hate seeing themselves in someone else and consequently "hate" that person but it makes no difference. Sigh.

It was, as it has been each time, a pleasant conversation. I don't think he really believes in "cognitive therapy" in the strong way that some of its adherents do. I also think he's totally aware of this game I'm playing with the System and wouldn't really mind if I did achieve my goal of staying under what he called the "umbrella" for a year.

He wished me luck with the Evaluating Doc. I think I'll need it. Big time.

683


"At last!" said the Sleeptalker, as though he had been diligently searching for me and was overjoyed to finally find me. Doctor Livingstone, I presume?

It had begun to drizzle in the late afternoon so I'd had to seek shelter on campus for my sunset brew, continuing Anne Rice's outlandish fantasy. I returned to the computer lab, played the game off and on, then decided to hell with it, had been a hard day, I wanted another bottle, never mind the consequences in the days just before the Fabled Pension Check next arrives. So I went to the mall, did a walk for snipes, bought a Mickey's and sat in the orchid walk with it, and back to the book.

Still drizzling off and on, but I managed to reach the New Cloisters during a pause in the wetness. Much to my surprise, there was only one person in the main area, already asleep. I settled on one of the long benches, but a very large man arrived and took the other end. I could instantly tell I was in for a rocky ride every time he shifted position, so I moved over to the one bench too short for two. A rare event, indeed, to find that bench vacant so late in the evening.

I was hovering on the edge of sleep, my windbreaker over my eyes to block the light, when I felt a gentle pat on my shoulder, looked up into those beautiful brown eyes. "At last!", indeed. The Sleeptalker and Angelo. They wanted cigarettes, I said sorry, I was broke, but had snipes, which I shared. The Sleeptalker took the end of the bench at a right angle to mine, Angelo walked over to where the large man was sleeping and settled there. Evidently Angelo had spent the previous three nights at Rossini's place.

The Sleeptalker had picked up his paycheck and quit the job, bought a new backpack and all new clothes and, I presume, was broke again. He said some man had given him a hundred dollars to "suck my dick" but I'm not sure if he was serious or just teasing me. Not for the first time I was amused by his playful attempts to invoke jealousy. He must get a lot of it from his gay admirers but he's not getting it from me, even when I do feel it. "Beats working," I said. He flexed his arms, said he needed to work on his body if he were going to be successful at selling it. I told him he didn't have to worry about that, he had everything he needed, more than enough.

He kept looking into my eyes with those smiling brown ones of his. I've never seen him look at me that way before and it deeply touched me, was as good, perhaps better, than having sex with him. A happy, teasing, affectionate interlude. All I could do was smile back and try to say "I love you" with my eyes. I have never had a more romantic quarter hour in my long life. One last time he gave me that lingering look into the eyes and that wonderful smile before rolling over to escape the light and sleep.

The first night of the Snake, laying by the Sleeptalker, our heads only inches from each other. Screw the docs, screw the system. The best things in life are free.

684

"Can you imagine what it's like to be in love with three of these boys at the same time?" asked Wisconsin.
"Yes," I said, "but I don't have to imagine it." He laughed. "It gets to be rather exhausting sometimes," I added.
"It fills me with energy. But I never seem to actually get the goods."
"I must be luckier than you," said with what was intended as a gentle leer, getting another laugh as I picked up my coffee and wandered off.

I'm not too pleased with Wisconsin joining the early morning crowd at McD's. Some of them have their regular buddies, those who enjoy gabbing away in that pre-dawn hour. Most, and I, just want to sit quietly alone with cheap cups of coffee. I'm probably the only one there Wisconsin can talk with about his "boys", making me a prime target. I had hinted that I wasn't interested in conversation by just continuing to read when he sat on the bench beside me. That didn't work, so maybe getting up after that brief exchange and walking off will do it. At least the next morning he just greeted me as he passed, didn't come back out from McD's to sit.

Thursday was a quiet day. I finished the Rice nonsense, admiring the way she so skillfully wrought an amusing novel out of total absurdity, smiling at her habitual tactic of not quite ending a book, leaving it wide open for a follow-up. Then I went on to Percy Walker's The Last Gentleman. Much as I enjoy reading people like King, Steel and Rice, I never feel a wish to write as they do, despite their enormous commercial success (and sometime literary success). Walker, though, is a different thing altogether. Yes, I'd love to be able to write like he does.

The Cherub came to the computer lab in the late afternoon to get me. We walked downhill where he bought us a couple of 40s and returned to the secluded grove to drink and talk. He is a devoted admirer of Bukowski, so the first thing on the agenda was to tell him I'd seen a collection of Bukowski's short stories in the new acquisitions shelves at Hamilton. The Most Beautiful Woman in Town. I said I'd opened it randomly at several places and was greatly amused that at every drop-in, Bukowski was talking about blow jobs. One was described in such complete detail, a wickedly teasing way of going about it. I said I should try that on the Sleeptalker but was afraid he'd slap me up against the head and tell me to get on with it. The Cherub laughed and agreed that might be a risk.

He carefully examined every young woman who walked through the grove and I fell into the game, not alas getting nearly as many interesting specimens to consider as he did. Eventually I said word would get out that two weirdos were sitting in the grove passing judgment on everyone who walked through and people would start avoiding the place. Not a bad idea. One young man came along who certainly appeared to be gay. The Cherub thinks he is, but the fellow does have a girlfriend and the Cherub had tried to make a move on her while the boyfriend was away during the holidays. The Cherub was sure he would have succeeded had the boyfriend stayed away longer. I said we should set up a foursome, I would be happy to take care of the young man while he got the lady. "How far would you go with that?" he asked, wondering just how awful a man I'd be prepared to take off his hands, so to speak. "Oh, you've been a good friend," I said, "I'd stretch it a lot." Funny man, the Cherub.

He gave me a couple of dollars for another brew and went on his way to rehearsal. I returned to the computer lab and played the game for awhile, finally getting my warrior to level 97, after having been stuck at 96 for many weeks. The high 90s are so dull, I don't know why I bother. I had hoped the Sleeptalker might make an appearance, but no luck. I'm sure he would have been on campus if Angelo had not been at the New Cloisters. But Angelo foolishly never buys a bus pass with his 400+ Crazy Money and he has no interest in computers or books so probably wouldn't have been much interested in a trip to campus anyway.

And the New Cloisters .... sigh. I've been making good progress with my effort to reduce sleeping time, waiting until around ten o'clock to head off to a bench. And as I had the evening before, I went to the mall, bought the bottle, sat enjoying it and reading and watching the cute boys walk by, then took a bus downtown. The New Cloisters was totally deserted. But the pick-up truck which normally just swings through late in the evening, presumably a casual security check, was parked there and a man with a flashlight was checking all the doors. He must have chased everyone away, an assumption made stronger the next morning when I saw two of the New Cloisters regulars walking to a bus stop from wherever they had spent the night. A permanent ban? If so, at least this time it's not the fault of the Bad Boys.

I walked on to GovSanc and took the outside bench which is shadowed from the lights, the lobby work still continuing. I was the only one there and I wondered where the Sleeptalker and Angelo had gone if they'd been chased out of the New Cloisters. And sighed again over the neverending changes in the rules, over how difficult it is to find a sheltered, quiet spot for a few hours of sleep. Time, I suppose, to investigate the church where Rocky has reportedly been staying. Although just how quiet it will be, if the Social Horror Club moves there, is another question.

685


"I'll give you a dollar if you can guess what I did today," challenged the Cherub.
"Jerked off."
Wheee, what an easy dollar that was.

Good sport that he is, he paid up even if it was naughty of me to accept, especially since he'd brought me a bottle of Mickey's. He had a very early rehearsal Friday so couldn't linger in the grove. I didn't even find out what he had actually been talking about.

The greatest surprise on Friday was finding an email from Michael Lasser in my mailbox. He's the host of that wonderful hour on NPR each week which got mentioned a lot in the Tales until my radio-cassette machine went off to junkyard heaven. I had complained about him saying "I'm Michael Lasser" so often and he explained that they make him do it. Like I told him, no matter, the music more than makes up for it and, at least here in Honolulu, is about the only chance radio provides to hear classic American popular music, especially theatre music. I've considered each month when the Crazy Money arrives buying just an FM radio, and his mail pushes that up higher on the agenda, made me realize how much I miss hearing him each Saturday evening, as well as the Prairie Home Companion. About time for a little Mozart and Mahler, too.

A shame, of course, I can't sit on a bench in the beautiful hacienda to listen. Nor can I sit on one at the New Cloisters. The ban is permanent. I stopped by there early on Saturday morning. There were notices taped to the benches telling people to remove any belongings. Some people, including Angelo, had stashed sheets or blankets there, and everything was to have been thrown out on Friday. Nice of them to give advance warning like that. Not so nice of them to put up the "No Tresspassing" signs. I walked on to the bus stop muttering something about what you do unto the least of them ...

I'm happy there was that heartwarming interlude with the Sleeptalker on the final night.

I've continued with my reading of the earlier Tales and was amused to be reminded of just how important Mondo was and how gradually he (and everyone else) got eclipsed by the Sleeptalker. That's mainly because Mondo disappeared and has been seen so infrequently, not because of any decrease in my love for the man. But then the chances of that friendship taking the same path as the one with the Sleeptalker are extremely remote, would be even if Mondo were still a regular part of my life.

The Cherub asked me that evening we sat in the grove drinking if I spent much time going back and editing the Tales. (He doesn't read them, dislikes reading stuff on a computer screen.) This is the first time I've read those earlier ones in a long while and there are now and then temptations to make changes. I yielded with some minor excisions, but resisted most of them. It's more useful to me as a record of just what was going on in my head at the time, and that all too often includes things I'd as soon forget ... or deny. Let it be.

I finished that remarkable novel by Percy West, with its puzzling finale, and had Joseph Wambaugh's The Golden Orange already in the backpack. But someone left a recent copy of the New York Magazine on a campus bench, so that provided lunchtime entertainment on Saturday. I don't think I've ever seen such a decadent publication. I know, all too well, that New York City has always been slightly outrageous, folks there pride themselves on being so, but this magazine suggests things are close to out of control there. Up the revolution, but how kind of the restaurant reviewer to have the leftovers from the $500+ luncheon for two put in a bag for the first "street person" she saw.

As you do unto the least of them ...

686


You can't hurry love, no you just got to wait
You know love don't come easy, it's a game of give and take


McD's treating me to the Gospel According to the Supremes when I went in Sunday morning to get my coffee. Since they got rid of that awful Yuletide muzak, they've had a loop of classic Sixties stuff playing, a major exercise in nostalgia every morning.

Speaking of Gospels, I thought I'd better have a look to see if my memory was functioning properly, especially since it frequently doesn't these days. Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. My recollection was pretty close. But, no, I won't yield to the temptation to write "Matthew 25:40" with a magic marker on all the benches at the New Cloisters.

Murder. It's commonplace, of course, in many of the books I read, and I was profoundly affected by a few public ones, like the Kennedy brothers and Lennon. But it has rarely touched my life directly. I've only known one person who was murdered, a young Englishman stabbed to death in Morocco. And, at least so far as I know, I've never met a murderer. Until the past few days. One of them may have just been bragging to convince me how tough he is and the other is, thus far, only accused. An old tourist, past eighty, was killed in the public toilet of a Waikiki hotel. The prime suspect's photograph was on the front page of the newspaper and I immediately recognized him, no doubt about it. He had now and then stayed at the hacienda, stuck in memory because of the way he would often groan in his sleep, as if in utter agony. It was a thoroughly frightening sound and also made me feel very sorry for him. Spooky to think I've spent nights on a bench beside a killer.

It was also solid evidence of how bad I am at guessing age. I referred to him in the Tales as a "young man", having thought he was in his mid-twenties. Instead, it's early forties. Even given the dim lighting at the hacienda, that's a major misjudgment. But I thought all the Bad Boys were teenagers until I learned different. Understandable in the case of the Sleeptalker, everyone agrees he looks much younger than he is, will probably still be carded in bars when he's thirty. Otherwise, I guess it's just one more brick in the "I grow old, I grow old" wall.

It was a quiet Saturday on campus, going downhill for the usual sandwich, chips and Colt lunch, adding a muffin for the birds since there wasn't likely to be anything discarded for them. Foolishness, since there's only ten dollars left of foodstamps and the replenishing allowance isn't due for another week. Shrug. Two more such lunches until the Fabled Pension Check arrives. All the more absurd to read about those five hundred dollar Manhattan luncheons.

I'd GovSanc to myself for two nights, but the Large Man and the Bicycle Man both arrived on Saturday. I should ask them where they're sleeping the other nights, but that's one question which is considered very bad manners amongst the nomads. If someone doesn't volunteer the information, it's rude to ask, something which always comes to mind when the Doc asks me where I'm sleeping. (I even had a moment of paranoia, remembered telling him about the New Cloisters when he asked at the last visit, wondering if he'd called the church and gotten us kicked out .... what, me crazy?)

There had been a major slump in mood as I left the campus in late afternoon, faced with five-or-so hours before it was dark enough for the bench, and in no mood for the usual Saturday night mall mob. I walked through collecting snipes, not very successfully, ate some macaroni salad from an abandoned plate lunch box, then bought a bottle of Mickey's and went over to enjoy it and the sunset in the park. They appear to be letting people sleep in one small area there, since some were already settling on the few picnic tables or wrapped in tarps on the ground. No shelter at all in that area except for the busy bus stop where the Duchess spends every night, sleeping in a sitting position. Poor woman.

The Wambaugh book is mildly entertaining but not exceptional, did little to improve the sour mood, nor did the absence of all Bad Boys even if I wasn't at all certain I wanted to see any of them. Back to the mall as it grew dark. I scored six quarters, four of them from strollers which hadn't been fully pushed into the return corral, a welcome boost to my senior coffee fund which was also running on empty. Snipes again rather scarce, the situation not helped by a few young people grabbing them, undoubtedly because they're too young to legally buy a pack not because they're too broke to afford it.

But for some reason ... the sunset, the beer, the beautiful crescent moon with the shining planet nearby it? Whatever, the mood improved a little. Maybe it was also because I become gradually more reconciled to trouble on Monday, feeling rather certain that grouchy psychiatrist is going to kick me out of the Crazy Money program, dreading the dreary routine of appealing his decision.

And trying, trying, as always, to remind myself it doesn't matter.

687

Very much to my surprise, the psychiatrist authorized another six months, extending the Crazy Money through September. He asked if I was still depressed, but all of his other questions had to do with finding shelter, about how difficult it is for a sixty-year-old man to be living on the streets (tell me about it), etc. I told him I'd be happy at this point to rent space on someone's garage floor. He didn't volunteer.

Even happier after Sunday night or, rather, early Monday morning. A man with one of those "Sheriff" jackets again arrived at GovSanc, shortly before one o'clock, and made the three of us staying there leave. "You have to wake up," is all he said. I suppose, as with the mall, a person could sit there all night so long as they didn't fall asleep.

I walked over to the church where Rocky had supposedly been staying. Must have been a change in the rules there, too, because the courtyard with benches was blocked by a fence with padlocked gate (unless Rocky had been climbing over the fence, Sleeptalker style). So I went on to the park, thought that if I ended up walking around until dawn I might as well check out what's happening there. Six people were sleeping at Park Place North, one at Park Place South. I didn't bother going back to the mall to see if my stashed grass mats were still there, just spread out my windbreaker and slept on that. Not much difference, really, between the concrete floor there and the concrete bench at GovSanc.

Time to see the Boys and find out what solution they've come up with, but I've no idea where to look for them until the Sleeptalker makes an appearance in the game or they show up at the mall. Depressing though the sleeping sanctuary problem is, the unexpected news from the psychiatrist certainly did much to uplift my mood which had been dragging again throughout Sunday.

After that good news from the psychiatrist, I walked over to the State Library where the selection was rather dismal. Never mind, has to do until the Fabled Pension Check arrives, no more fifty cent carts till then. I had finished that lacklustre Wambaugh novel with Sunday's sunset brew so my backpack was unusually empty of reading material. Ah well, William Martin's Back Bay fills the gap until something better comes along, and it was with that I settled for lunch in the secluded grove, despite occasional light drizzle, also reaching the end of foodstamps with my sandwich and chips. The birds had to make do with crusts. How to explain to a zebra dove about pension checks and Crazy Money?

687a


4:30pm: Ring.

Hmm... "Hello"

"Hi, we're downstairs. Can you let us up?"

"Hi Albert. Okay."

Buzz. Hmmm. Wonder who "we" could be.

A few minutes later Albert was standing in my doorway with the sleeptalker in tow. "He's hungry. You got any food?" Umm... sure. Chips, Girl Scout Cookies, butter cookies... oh, and a couple of old chicken wings.

As the sleeptalker ate Albert went through my spare coin box looking for enough slugs to buy a couple beers. "Hey, there's a can of chili that Albert brought over a couple of months ago up on a shelf somewhere. Want me to open that up?"

"Sure."

After the sleeptalker finished feasting on my junkfood Albert suggested that he run up the street for a couple of beers. He left me with the sleeptalker and headed up the street to make his run. We sat and watched tv to wait for his return. A few minutes later Albert was back with the beer in hand and quickly went to work on the first bottle. As we sat on the lanai and talked the topic of the Tales came up.

"You mean this sick bastard is writing about me?" "That's f@#ked!"

"Yep, and all those times he's had you too."

"Damn, that's really F@#KED!!! So everyone thinks I'm a gaywad?!?"

"Don't know about that but there are a lot of people out there who'd like to know what you look like. Wanna take a picture so we can put it up online? We can charge everyone $20 for the URL."

Panther grinned and mentioned a couple readers who have asked for a picture of the sleeptalker to be posted. "I'll put it up on www.amihotornot.com, it's a site where people will rate your looks."

"No F'N way!"

A little later the topic of swallowing came up. "Yuck, too much info. Lemme go take care of my laundry so I don't have to hear this."

I sat inside, folding my clothes when I heard, "Hey, I'll pay you $100 for your body when my crazy money comes in."

"$100 for this skinny thing," replied the sleeptalker, lifting up his shirt.

"Aww come on. Lift it up. Gimme one more look."

"Aww shaddup. Give it a rest already."

A few minutes later the beer was gone and Albert stood up and announced that they were leaving. 7:30pm. Damn it's about time. "Hey! What happened to all my cigarettes?!?"

"Don't worry about it Kory K, I'll buy you a whole carton when my crazy money comes in."

"Are you sure?"

"Don't worry about it. Cigarettes for you, sleeptalker for me." he grinned.

The sleeptalker who was busy taking care of his dirty dishes in the sink turned around and rolled his eyes.

Albert laughed, shook my hand and quietly deposited his empty cup in the trash(which I later had to fish out and wash). "Thank you, Kory K. I don't know how you put up with me."

"Neither do I!" I thought.

The sleeptalker politely thanked me and walked out the door followed close behind by the Panther. "Night guys. And Albert, don't forget my cigarettes."

"No worrys."

That's right. I'm going upstairs right now and write your Tale for you so you don't forget!

..fini...


Kory K

687b


"It's a first for the Tales," I told Kory K, small consolation when I turned up announced on his doorstep late Monday afternoon ... with the Love of My Life. True though, it was indeed the first time the Sleeptalker and I had been there together.

In one of those perfect timings Dame Fortune seems to enjoy, I had walked over to the bus stop on campus, heading downhill for a bottle of Colt. A bus arrived, with the Sleeptalker. He said he was hungry. I told him I was sorry, I'd used the last of my foodstamps for lunch and was broke. It honestly didn't occur to me until the next morning that I could have, and probably should have, used the beer money to buy him a couple of cheap burgers. Instead, I told him I'd be back and got on the bus.

To my surprise, when I returned with the beer he was still at the bus stop. I had expected him to head to the computer lab. We sat in the secluded grove talking as I drank the beer which he declined sharing. He was all over the place in his conversation, starting with being bouncy and excited because he'd exchanged a few words with a young lady at the bus stop. "An instant boner," he said and, yes, the evidence was enticingly obvious in the front of his pants. He laughed because I wouldn't stop looking at it.

Then he jumped to a story about his little sister and how he'd teased her when she was learning to write, telling her she should use the other hand. She did and has been left-handed ever since, he said. Later at Kory K's, he repeated the story.

Back to sex. He told me again about the man who had paid him, did a funny mimic of the fellow, then very seriously said how he hates it when people linger after it's over. As I know well, the minute he gets off, he's ready to pull up his pants and forget it ever happened. I told him he can get away with that with men, but he'd better watch out trying it with a woman, they might not appreciate his wham-bam-thank-you-mam routine.

Family again. I had noticed a poster with those "wanted" photos at the police station in Chinatown, especially the fellow in the top left corner who had the same last name as the Sleeptalker. It's not a common surname, so I assumed they must be related and, indeed, it's his little brother. The Sleeptalker seemed almost proud of it and I thought if he had a wall to put it on, he'd probably want a copy of the poster.

No one seems to have come up yet with an answer to the problem of sleeping sanctuary, alas. He can stay at his benefactor's place, but only if he's willing to give his body in exchange for shelter and a few bucks. It's enough to make me want an apartment of my own.

He said again how hungry he was and was regretting he'd spent all his money on drugs, said never again would he waste twenty dollars on "that shit". Likely story. I looked at my watch, saw it was too late to find Kory K in his office, so suggested we go down to Kory's apartment, that he would surely have something to eat in his kitchen (I'd forgotten that can of chili I'd left there).

And thus, Tale687a.

It was delightful being there and most enjoyable to watch the two of them together. And I think the Sleeptalker really for the first time understood about the Tales. He has known about them for years but I don't think he truly understood that I have been writing about HIM.

A reader wrote: Knowing there's somebody who will always be there, and be on my side, even if they scold or give doses of reality perspective, well it really is pretty important to surviving. And, speaking from my own early street experiences, lust and in-loveness are much more reliable (trustworthy ??) to a storm-tossed soul seeking 'shelter', than platonic love or kindness ever would have been.

Comforting words, immersed as I am in lust and in-loveness.

688


Busted! A man lives sixty years without having gotten so much as a traffic or parking ticket, then he gets one for "camping without a permit". I was right in my recent speculation. A "citation" is like a traffic ticket, indeed the form used is the same, the top box covering traffic/parking offenses, the middle one "infractions" (whatever they are) and the third criminal offenses, which it appears sleeping in the park falls under. It says I can simply mail in the fine, but in the box which supposedly tells me how much that is, the officer wrote "C07". Huh? To "informally discuss" the thing, I have to appear in court on February 28th. If I wanted a full trial, I'd have to pay $25 in court costs. Hmmm, a jury trial for sleeping in the park? Amusing notion, but I don't think I want to waste my crazy money on it.

If the fine isn't paid and I don't show up at court, they'll issue a bench warrant, says the form. Wow, I can finally join the Bad Boys Bench Warrant Club.

The police swept through the park at about 3:30 on Wednesday morning. They were oddly selective about the people they targeted, hitting everyone who was sleeping in a place with overhead cover but none of those sprawled on picnic tables or curled on the tiny benches along the beach. And I only saw them approach one man who was sleeping on the grass, but they didn't appear to give him a citation. The group of men who spend the night at a snack bar's tables were all given citations, but they just waited until the police departed and settled back down to sleep.

Fun and games, fun and games.

When the Sleeptalker and I left Kory K's, he said he felt like going into Star Market and stealing a big steak. I told him if I'd had foodstamps left I would have bought him one before going to Kory's, could have put it in Kory's grill. I also told him that if he went to campus later in the week, I'd be happy to buy him a meal and a couple of beers. (No, in case you're wondering, I was only joking about paying him a hundred bucks for his body.) Then, as he used to do often, he just wandered off without saying anything about where he was going or even goodbye.

I went to the mall, picked up some snipes, read awhile, and then walked over to Park Place South for an uneventful night, only four other people there.

As seems to happen more and more, I had an awful hangover on Tuesday morning, not from booze but what I guess could be called a psychic hangover. The Sleeptalker really does have an intense unbalancing effect on me.

And what next are "They" going to do to disturb my life?! The secluded grove is, or was, bordered on one side by an open, hilly area between the walk and a parking area. It was more like bumps than hills, with scraggly vegetation covering it, only memorable at one time of the year when a quite beautiful delicate flowering "weed" is in bloom. Well, on Tuesday in came a bulldozer to level the hills. How very odd that a university which is supposedly so hard-pressed for cash should be spending some on this puzzling new development. I shall wait with considerable curiosity to see what they're going to do with the newly-leveled space, but until whatever it is gets completed, the secluded grove joins the ever-growing list of former pleasure spots.

So I took a bus to the mall, bought a bottle of Mickey's and planned to sit in the park with it. The weather gods decided otherwise, conjuring up midday showers. An orchid walk bench to the rescue. Considering how the night turned out, I suppose I was lucky not to get busted for drinking beer there.

Helen R had the day off and asked if I'd like to join her for a film. Two of them, in fact, but I declined the invite to "Thirteen Days". Living through the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis was quite enough, I've no desire to see a film about it. But oh yes, most happy to see "Snatch", and since I'd had nothing to eat since a few bites of the Sleeptalker's chili the evening before, that big hotdog Helen bought me was happily welcome, too.

The Sleeptalker complained because people say he looks like Brad Pitt. I don't see any reason whatever to complain about such a flattering comparison. As I said about the recent People Magazine cover, yes, there is a definite resemblance, especially in the upper face. But if the Sleeptalker saw "Snatch", I'm afraid he'd be even more distressed about his "skinny body". There was ample opportunity in the film to enjoy Pitt's much more padded one. And I had to wonder if the almost lingering shot of his briefs-covered crotch was also padded or if that was all the Real Thing. Delightful, whichever. Amusing film, too, but I confess my interest was totally fixed on young Mr. Pitt ... and his fine body.

The Sleeptalker would never believe it, but I actually prefer his "skinny" one.

Helen and I went back to the mall after the film and she offered to buy us dinner, although she wanted to get it take-out and head home after having been at the movies all afternoon. Yikes, I learned my lesson: when ordering a chili dog at the L&L Drive-In, be sure to say "chili dog sandwich". I didn't notice that there was also a chili dog plate lunch option, didn't understand when the fellow asked if I wanted "mini or regular", and said regular. Two chili-dogs, two scoops rice, one scoop macaroni salad .... way too much for me to eat, despite the sparse diet of recent days. I carefully tied the bag and left what I couldn't eat on a planter ledge, later saw an old bearded guy pick it up and sit happily finishing it off.

William Martin's Back Bay, after an uncertain beginning, turns out to be quite an entertaining book, balancing chapters set in Boston of 1814 with more modern times and I sat reading it with a Mickey's nightcap before heading over to Park Place South.

There was only one other man there when I arrived but a little later the couple who had been there the night before returned. He walked over and asked, "you all right, pops?" Slightly puzzled, I assured him I was, but he returned after awhile and offered me a blanket. I thanked him but said my heavy sweatshirt was sufficient (and indeed it was, being such a warm night for late January). He and his lady yakked away for so long I was tempted to get up and shift to Park Place North. Maybe I should have, but I suppose the lawmen had gone there, too.

It was kind of them to time their raid on a warm, clear night anyway. I walked slowly along the beach, stopped to watch them hassling the gang at the snack bar and then went over to 7-Eleven and got a can of chilled coffee, returned to the park and sat on a bench by the beach. When you see the Southern Cross for the first time ... Certainly not the first time, but it's always special to see, that lopsided cross above the southern horizon.

And to ponder what to do about this sleeping crisis. Surrender and go to the shelter? (I suppose I should at least give it a try one night anyway.) Return to my earliest plan of sleeping during the day and stay up all night? I don't know. I guess the answer to this dilemma is the same as it is for any of them, including the dance with the Sleeptalker.

Be here now.

689

In something of a deja vu back to the earliest Tales, I realize I would no doubt have to spend several sleepless nights before I could begin seriously to turn things around, sleep more in the daytime, and suffer the equivalent of jet lag which that would produce. I definitely didn't feel like sleeping during the day on Wednesday, despite having had only about four hours of sleep. But by a little after ten at night, I was wanting to lay down.

Everyone says the shelter is a den of thieves and it seemed almost an omen to run into someone who used to stay there, hear him repeat the warning. I said I didn't really have that much to lose. "Well, even if you lose it, you don't want to lose it to creeps like those," he said. Probably so.

The Fabled Pension Check arrived, so when the Cherub came to look for me in the secluded grove, I was able to offer him beer at the Garden before his Faust rehearsal. That bulldozer had just been sitting there in the same position it had been the day before. Whatever plans they have for the place, they don't seem to be in any rush to complete them. Since I'd had to go to Waikiki to cash the check, I'd stopped back at the mall for lunch in the park, a Mickey's and two "Big 'n Tastey' burgers from McD's. Almost as good as Jumbo Jacks, but not quite. No Jack that close to the mall, though, unfortunately. Then in mid-afternoon I returned to campus, spent some time online, and went for another brew which I was just finishing when the Cherub arrived.

He had also seen "Snatch" and when I mentioned having seen it, he immediately noted that lingering crotch shot. I suspect that scene will probably be the one thing most people remember about the film, whether they share my particular interest in it or not.

I showed him my infamous "citation", and like I, he wondered what an "infraction" is. If sleeping in a park is "criminal", then whatever can an "infraction" be? [I'm trying to find out, like a curious cat ... yes, I recall that saying.]

When he left for rehearsal, I went back to the computer lab for awhile, and then headed to the mall. I didn't want any more beer, considered going downtown and just walk around, check out where people have found a place to sleep. But it was again a clear, dry night, so remembering that the police hadn't bothered people on picnic tables or the little benches along the beach, I decided to give them a try instead. The picnic table wasn't bad, but there was nothing at all blocking the wind so it got very cool after a few hours.

And "Prissy", a mall regular who is quite mad, settled on the grass not far away and had a lively conversation with his invisible friend, punctuated with his shrill, ultra-effeminate giggles. I walked over to the beach, strolled down the length of it checking out the scene. The snack bar gang were back in residence, as usual, but there was no one at Park Place South. Several people were scrunched up on the short benches, so I settled on one which was shaded from the streetlights. Those benches really are short, but at least the back provided something of a windbreak and I slept until those absurdly early walkers started showing up at four in the morning. I moved back to the picnic table which, surprisingly, was still vacant and dozed for another hour.

Not what I'd call a very satisfactory solution to the problem and obviously one which only works when it stays dry all night. Certainly more than enough to make a man sigh with nostalgia and recall the luxurious days of the cloisters and the hacienda.

These nights of short, interrupted sleep will no doubt eventually wear me down to a frazzle. As Helen Kane sang, I don't care, I don't care ...

I considered sensible possibilities on Thursday, like doing laundry (since my pants are really looking a bit grubby), but instead, feeling somewhat weak, I went to Paradise Palms Cafe and ate scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and a cup of tea for a late breakfast. Didn't much revive me, but then who wanted to be revived?

At lunchtime, after that late breakfast feeling not at all hungry, I took a bus downhill. The driver had decided we'd all just love some muzak while waiting for him to finish his cigarette and drive, stuck his little radio next to the sound system so we'd clearly hear it instead of announcements for the next stop. I surely do hope that doesn't become commonplace for bus drivers. And of course, there is a law against playing a radio without headphones, never even think about inflicting it on all riders via the bus-wide sound system.

Once again, just finishing the brew I'd bought downhill, sitting in the secluded grove where the damnable bulldozer finished its demolition and went away, the Cherub came along. I took him to the Garden and bought us beers. A friend of his, an utter hunk, came along and joined us, but despite my invitation, wouldn't join us in quaffing that beverage.

"Love, love is strange," sang Mickey and Sylvia. Life, too.

690


Terri wrote: The next thing that popped into my mind is the question about why you began your journey of living on the streets. I don't recall any particular entry in the beginning that addressed that. Somehow I've gotten in my mind that you closed your apartment door for the last time and stepped into the street as a sort of "grand experiment". Is that right? Or did I imagine that?

And she asked me to write about it. When the year of working from home came to an end, the only way I could see to earn the six hundred dollars rent each month was to return to some kind of office job, a thoroughly depressing idea. It was much the same mood I'd been in, years before, giving up everything and walking out of New York City. Wanting to commit suicide, but thinking why not try something totally different, see what happens? Perhaps that qualifies as a "grand experiment", perhaps can more accurately be seen as a desperate measure taken to stay alive, even if not seeing any real reason to do so.

As the early Tales make clear, I really had no idea what it would be like to live on the street. The walking trip was different, I was a wanderer, hadn't any clear notion where I was going and didn't much care, only sought each night to find a safe, dry place for a few hours sleep, made little or no contact with other people and had no desire to linger for long in any one place. I suspected that what I had learned in that experience of homeless living would have little relevance to life on the streets in Honolulu, and that's correct, although it did prepare me a little for the instability of having no fixed abode.

And as can be seen from the Tales, most of this three+ year adventure has been relatively pleasant. There have been few cold and hungry nights. Even had there been more of them, though, it would be more than counterbalanced for me by the people I've met, the friendships formed, none of it likely to have happened in my life as an apartment dweller.

This is probably the most unsettled and unhappy time since those very earliest weeks, maybe more so because the early time was gilded somewhat by the sense of adventure and novelty. I wasn't expecting to find sanctuaries like the cloisters and the hacienda, knew nothing different than spending each night where I landed, so to speak. The brief time of depending on the airport changed that and the hacienda, especially, changed it even more. So now there is the feeling of loss, the daily insecurity of not knowing where I'll spend the night, the dreaded inevitability of the first that comes along with heavy rain.

When, after several months of thinking about it, I did decide to walk out of that apartment, it was also like the Hindu's view of life progression, entering the final stage. Perhaps it was premature, but then I have been prone to that throughout my life, like when living in northern climes, shifting to summer clothes a few weeks too early each year.

Grand experiment or experiment in madness? I'm not sure, I only know that at the time it seemed like the most attractive option despite the slightly scarey aspects of it. And I did stash that box of shoes and clothes, the things I would need if I changed my mind and wanted to bail out via a temporary office job and a room at the YMCA. I've never been seriously tempted to do that. Oh, I'd love that room, but I can only shudder at the prospect of sitting in an office all day to pay for it.

Whether one of those office jobs or something else, I hope the Cherub finds a job soon, for both our sake. I don't know how long we can hold up with the pre-rehearsal drinking sessions, or how on earth he is managing to get through a rehearsal anyway, when at the end of those sessions, I just feel like collapsing on a bench somewhere. That was certainly the case after our Thursday afternoon and early evening at the Garden, and I took a bus directly downtown, by-passing the mall. Occasionally, when the Social Club had turned the hacienda into too much of a party place, I had walked over to a small nearby park, the same one I recently sat in while waiting for my social worker to return from lunch. In the center of the park are public toilets and the walkways leading to them have a narrow roof supported by columns, with a low stone wall along one side of the walk. If raining, even with a slight wind, it wouldn't be much of a shelter.

There have usually been a few men sleeping there, some on the low wall, some on the concrete walk beside it, and there were three already there when I arrived, all on the northern side of the toilets building. I settled on the southern side, remained alone there all night. The main disadvantage of the place, aside from the sparse shelter, is the nearby basketball court which attracts nocturnal players. Two young men and a woman even showed up about 2:30 in the morning to play, mercifully not staying very long. The other disadvantage is the toilet building itself, which stays open all night with the resulting loud flushing noises waking me several times. Sanctuary, it is not, but at least no citation-wielding lawman came along to pester us.

691


"Winter drought parches islands", the main headline from Saturday morning's newspaper. Not a lament I can join. It did rain lightly in the early hours, proving the shelter at Small Park is better than nothing. In addition to the covered wall there are also benches along the edges of the park and it was on one of those, most distant from the basketball court, I settled late Friday evening. But when the sprinkles began I moved again to the low wall where I'd been the previous night. The same three men were on the northern side.

In addition to basketball and flushing toilets, another disadvantage to Small Park is the nearby Pipeline, a wee hours club. Fortunately it is distant enough to remain unheard but it has very little parking available and patrons use on-street spots for blocks around, including the streets surrounding Small Park. So there are periodic wake-ups from around 2:30 until four each morning. Odd how many people let loose with yells after their clubbing session. They don't sound genuine enough to qualify as a primal scream, nor do they suggest any real sense of happiness and abandon. Maybe it's frustration from having spent a lot of money and getting no satisfaction?

But the body begins to adjust to shorter and frequently interrupted sleep and for the first time since this nocturnal hassle began, I woke on Saturday morning without feeling slightly washed-out.

Friday was one of those days when I spoke to no one aside from thank you's to salesclerks and a few exchanges in the game. My spirits were still sagging and even though I had no desire whatever to spend an hour and a half in a laundromat, I thought having clean clothes might have a cheering effect. So I bought detergent and a bottle of Colt, found a "Super Gulp" cup from 7-Eleven as disguise, and put everything but my surfer shorts and windbreaker into the washing machine. I had Philip Friedman's courtroom drama, Reasonable Doubt, to help pass the time. And yes, clean clothes did provide a little boost.

The mailserver at zeus.interpac.net seems to be hiccuping again since nothing arrived all day from the more active mail-list I'm on. People have puzzled about the different addresses. The main address is panther@zeus.interpac.net. The panther@kolohe1.com is merely a forwarding address and I use it almost exclusively when posting to Usenet, thus providing an instant clue that responses to it are prompted by something I said on the newsgroups. And panther@vanderburg.org is also just a forwarding address, used in the Tales, again providing the source of mails received to it. But now and then all or one of the addresses gets wonky and mails bounce back to folks or finally arrive many hours later. It's always something ...

A reader amused me by writing: It does peek my curiosity that [the Sleeptalker] would randomly keep bumping into these guys willing to do sex for whatever trades; either that or he must have incredible pheremones.

Yes, I suspect his pheremones are incredible. Heh. But how is it the young man continually connects with gay benefactors or wannabe benefactors? I'm not sure. Every openly gay man I know has the Sleeptalker high on his most-wanted list. Pheremones or not, the guy is young and looks even younger, is genuinely cute and has a fine body which he often generously displays. He's also, as I've said, a thoroughly delightful flirt, does it with everyone and never (or very, very rarely) errs into cockteasing. He seems the epitome of the straight young guy who can be had. It's little wonder he captivates every gay man he meets, but how it is so many find him, I don't know. He doesn't seem to be actively looking for them, certainly doesn't go places where he'd be apt to meet them. (The thought of taking the Sleeptalker to a gay bar is one which produces an instant grin.) Maybe Dame Fortune is just being generous with the connections.

I was a little surprised he didn't show up on campus since I'd said I planned to go to the Garden on Friday for the music, didn't specifically invite him but let it stand as one opportunity for that food and brew I'd said I'd be happy to buy him. The Cherub's father was flying over from Kauai, so he wouldn't be at the Garden but would be busy trying to charm daddy out of some cash. I was hoping he'd succeed since the plan, if so, would be to see Harold Kama on Sunday night, way out in the country at the Sugar Bar in Haleiwa. Goofus that I am, I'd already spent too much of the Fabled Pension Check to provide gas and beverage money for the expedition. At least enough of it had been spent on the Cherub to justify his spending daddy's money on the plan, if he got some.

Since neither of them were around, I decided not to go to the Garden, a decision made easier when I walked past and wasn't much impressed with the music, just went down for another bottle of Colt and sat in the secluded grove reading ... and thinking. About shelter, money, pheremones, law codes, all and everything.

692

"You must have been very cold over here," said one of the Small Park regulars, emerging from the toilet building after his usual wake-up coughing and spluttering routine.
"Yes, it was pretty cold. Winter has arrived."
"I had a sweater, jacket and a blanket, and I was still cold. If I'd had an extra blanket, I would've thrown it over you."

I thanked him, said I'd definitely be buying one on Monday. It has been such a mild winter until now that I've kept putting it off since there hasn't been any need for one. But it has been years since I've felt as cold as I did in the predawn hours of Sunday, certainly not since I've been in Hawaii. A tee shirt, polo shirt, sweatshirt and windbreaker just wasn't enough. I carry a large heavy plastic garbage bag, cut open, to lay on, more in case of dirty benches or walls than insulation against the cold of the concrete. But I used it for a cover instead, and that helped a little even if it did mean constantly waking up to tuck the thing under me.

As if taunted by that "winter drought" headline, it had started to rain mid-morning on Saturday, continued doing it all through the afternoon. The wind was blowing the stuff almost horizontally at times and I was lucky that my first trip downhill and back got completed during a relatively dry break.

It was a surprise, and a delightful one, to discover The Vampire Lestat on the fifty-cent cart at the bookstore, the second volume of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. I sat happily in a sheltered place on campus with that and a bottle of Colt plus a sandwich while the windblown rain continued all around me, then took advantage of another break in the rain to go downhill again for a second brew and a pack of cheap cigarettes. I would have preferred to rely on snipes, but there weren't likely to be many on campus which was fairly deserted and I was enjoying the book too much, didn't want to undertake a snipe-hunting expedition to the mall, especially since the computer lab would be closing at four-thirty.

After a final online session, I did go to the mall, hunted snipes even though I didn't need them yet. Mondo was sitting on a wall across from the sports store, so engrossed in a racing car video that he didn't notice me. As usual, he had a very happy, spaced look on his face and I decided not to interrupt his obvious enjoyment of the racing. No other Bad Boys, still no Travis, who must have left the supermarket job, just as I suspect the Young Hardhat has been switched to a different construction site, alas. And I wonder what has become of Sidney? He's been missing for several weeks now.

A little after sunset I bought a cheap burger from McD's and another brew, continued my reading on a bench in the Orchid Walk. Mercifully, the rain had stopped but the wind was fierce. It stayed that way all night. I was shivering so much when walking from Small Park over to the bus stop in the morning, it was difficult to keep a grip on my first cigarette of the day.

And I was still pondering the bizarre repetitions in my dreams of people falling, from a bridge, from buildings, one from a tree. The first one fell straight from a bridge, head downwards. The one from the tree fell feet first, was holding a baby. That one got up, seemed to have only hurt one ankle, the baby unharmed. Weird stuff, but at least evidence that I had gotten a little sleep even though it hadn't really seemed like it, what with keeping the plastic cover tucked in and enduring the larger than usual crowd of Saturday night club-goers as they departed in the wee hours.

Despite the uncomfortable night, I felt in fairly good spirits on Sunday morning, helped by a smiling Filipino teenager who asked me for a light at the mall, then sat on the bench next to me waiting for a bus. He stretched, posed, lifted up his sweatshirt to show me some skin. Oh, these local boys.

693


I told the Cherub about the reader wondering how it is the Sleeptalker attracts so many gay benefactors. "They haven't seen him," he said.

Ha! This from a determinedly heterosexual young man. Thanks for making me feel not quite so crazy after all.

Except for a couple of hours in the afternoon, it was the first day this winter I kept the sweatshirt on. And even during the few hours without it, I was sitting in the sun in the secluded grove rather than seeking the usual shaded spots. The wind continued all day but it did stay dry. That fellow who is a regular at Small Park recommended sleeping in what he calls the "cupboard", an area at the back of the toilet building which has a high wall on the other side of the walk leading to a locked door at the end which I assume is a park worker's supply clost. The small overhanging roof is not large enough to shield the whole body, so if it started to rain too heavily, the lower legs and feet would definitely need to be under plastic.

But since the main problem was the wind, I decided to try it on Sunday night, surprised that none of the regulars used it. The space is really only large enough for one person. Much better, there, the garbage bag cover staying more securely tucked in and, as I realized when getting up to water the bushes, it was considerably warmer in that sheltered area than it would have been on the open benches. Still decidedly chilly, though.

The Cherub had an afternoon Faust rehearsal, came looking for me in late morning. His father had treated him to an extravagant dinner but had given him no money. His mother, though, had tranferred some to his bank account, not as much as he'd wished but enough to pay the rent and phone bill. He wanted to go ahead with the Haleiwa plan but I said, no, it's not sensible to be spending that money when you've no idea when more is coming. He was fretting because I'd spent so much on him at the Garden. Ah, what a contrast from the Sleeptalker and Angelo, both of whom disappear when they get money, never mind how much I might have recently spent on them.

"When I have it, I spend it," I said. True words. And almost always, with no regrets.

We walked downhill for bottles of Colt and sandwiches, letting him partly assuage his guilt. Then another walk downhill for a second bottle before he left for rehearsal, having guzzled a can of Bud himself since he didn't have time for the second forty. The Vampire Lestat is by far the best thing I've yet read from Anne Rice and I spent most of the afternoon engrossed in that, returning to the computer lab briefly before it closed.

The Cherub returned to the grove after his rehearsal. By then it was once again feeling very chilly in the sunset wind, so we got in his car bound for the mall. He stopped by the house where he rents a room, over my protests, to get a blanket. But it was a thick double, almost a quilt, and would have been impossible to get in the backpack. He said I could just ditch it, but I declined, told him I'd be okay.

Everything at the mall was closed except the supermarket and, as happens now and then, they didn't have a single malt liquor at the usual $1.99 price, were greedily trying to get three dollars a bottle for the stuff. Maybe they figure all the SocSec and Crazy Money types who are probably the best customers for those bottles won't mind paying the extra dollar during the payday season. Phooey. We went on to 7-Eleven, then to a Jack in the Box for burgers. He suggested going to visit a student friend of his in one of the dorms because he had a videotape he wanted to watch, so I told him to go ahead, I'd just hang around and eventually get the bus down to Small Park.

I decided I really didn't need that fourth bottle of Colt, hid it away on campus thinking that as cold as it is, the thing would be chilled enough for drinking the next day. But then all those years in England have me conditioned to not mind warm beer anyway. I was glad I'd made that choice on Monday morning, sure my head would have been a lot foggier if I'd indulged in that bottle.

Crazy Money Day. Ho hum.

694


"You doing all right, brother?" asked Conrad, looking pretty stewed already even before noon. Yes, I was fine, I told him. "Payday!" he cheered. I said yep, waved my just-bought slippers at him, said I was "stepping out". He's such a strange man and our encounters are even more odd now that I know how incredibly hung he is. Not that I want it, but just knowing it is a peculiar feeling.

I left campus after a brief morning on-line time and breakfast at Paradise Palms, went to the mall to get those cigarettes I'd promised Kory K. I got lucky, a shop had Marlboro Milds on sale, two packs for little more than the usual price of one. I checked Sears for some kind of covering, might have just bought a vinyl tablecloth if they'd had them in anything but red-and-white checks. On to Sports Authority. No space blankets, but they did have cheap tarps so I bought a 6x8 feet one. Lightweight, but it surely does take up a lot of room in the backpack. Later, though, I was most happy to have it.

I walked back to the mall, bought a lunchtime Colt and the new slippers and after that brief exchange with Conrad, crossed over to the beach park to drink and continue The Vampire Lestat. As I told the Cherub later, Anne Rice is writing all my favorite fantasies, and I do love Lestat. She also reminds me how I've long seen the similarities between we seekers of that "Fountain of Youth" and the mythical vampires (if they are mythical). The Vampire Panther wouldn't mind feeding again, but where oh where has my big boy gone? Just as well he didn't materialize on payday, I guess.

I love you! Give me more! Yes, more. But never enough.
It was useless.
What had these transfusions done to his body and soul? Made him see the descent of the falling leaf in greater detail?


Anne Rice is too wonderful. I went to the used bookshop and bought the third volume of her incredible Chronicles, Queen of the Damned

Returning to campus, I was walking toward the computer lab when I crossed paths with the Cherub. Faust is going to do me in. To the Garden, for another long pre-rehearsal beer session while he drooled over all the young ladies and I saw a few interesting specimens myself. He tried out some of his lines on me. Somehow the phrase "silliness and smut" just doesn't sound like Goethe, but did seem quite funny after two large jugs of Budweiser, as did much of our conversation.

When he scurried off to rehearsal, I went back to the computer lab, got the news that mail had arrived from my beloved Felix. [Search the King James Bible for that reference.] For a brief time, Felix had toyed with online life, decided it wasn't for him and went back to pen-and-paper, envelopes with postage stamps. For a much longer time, there was silence, although a mutual friend in Manhattan would now and again send news. Then a card arrived. I replied with a series of postcards, never receiving any notice they had arrived, had been read. Dear Felix opened his so-welcome missive with: "Time had to pass until it didn't trouble me that you're still and always in love."

I've loved him for over forty years now. The Sleeptalker is a newbie. But oh dear gods, is he a sweet one.

695

"What's up?" asked the Sleeptalker. Odd how often he materializes when that Fool Moon is in the sky, now of course reviving the never very dormant memory of that magical "you can have it" night, ten moons ago.

I was on the bus from the mall to Small Park when he boarded, sat in the seat behind me. He looked ragged and tired, seemed in a very sullen mood. I looked back at him several times. He didn't acknowledge it, kept on eating from a bag of popcorn. Much as he hates to be on his own, I think he sometimes deliberately contrives a day or an evening all by himself, perhaps to prove he can do it. After a few minutes he got up and moved to a seat further back, again didn't glance my way when I left the bus. Okay, pussycat, whenever you want a stroke or two, I'll be here.

It surprises me there is no competition for that "cupboard" spot at Small Park. I woke there early on Monday morning to a thump-thump-thump sound, at first thought it was someone on the basketball court. No, it was rain dripping from the tiny roof, hitting my new tarp and making it into a drum. Fortunately, I was able to tuck the tarp in closer to me and escape the drip. Nuisance though it may be to carry around, it certainly makes for dry and warmer nights.

Tuesday night some old guy woke me up at two in the morning asking if I wanted a cigarette! Fool moon madness, I guess. I said no thanks, and tucked my head back under the tarp, figuring he was just looking for someone to talk to. Probably the case, since he grabbed one of the regulars when that early riser got up and they again woke me at about four-thirty with their chatter.

It had been a quiet day with rapidly shifting weather starting with gray clouds after the predawn rains, then complete sunshine, and back by noon to drizzle, dry again by sunset. I had fried eggs and bacon at Paradise Palms in the morning, then was hit by an earlier than usual desire for beer. Maybe it was knowing that bottle was hidden away but probably, too, because I was eager to return to Queen of the Damned. Rice is so convincing with these books and the characters from all of them are continually interwoven, events seen more than once from different perspectives. It all begins to seem like history, not fiction.

Although nothing further has happened with the cleared and level ground edging the secluded grove, they have now started work on an old wooden building at one end of the place. I debated about going to the mall and park for a sandwich and brew lunch, but decided to remain on campus instead, despite the distracting workmen near the grove. As it turned out, they didn't matter much because the drizzle began and I had to seek a sheltered spot anyway. Back online again for awhile, then, and to the Garden for a sunset jug of Budweiser, continuing the book. As I was leaving, the Hunk who had joined me and the Cherub recently walked in, asked if I'd seen the Cherub. No rehearsal today, I told him, so he probably wasn't on campus. That guy has such a sexy body, beefier than my usual preference but combined with his warm personality making a decidedly desirable package. I was bold enough to pat him on his shoulder as we separated. Solid. Very solid.

Back at the mall, I was surprised to feel hungry and was definitely craving mashed potatoes. So I got extravagant and went to the Orleans Express for bourbon chicken, jambalaya and, yep, mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Good stuff. Then I made a round for snipes, stopping to admire the new poster Armani has put up. They've finally got a decent model. For years Armani set the standard for male models but then went through a strange punk phase. Now the standard bearer is Abercrombie & Fitch, even if so many gay writers on the web sneer at them. What's wrong with the cleancut All-American look? Absolutely nothing, I say, especially considering the current batch of photos at A&S, well worth the trip up to the third level of the mall where I otherwise rarely go.

Then on to the bus and that brief encounter with the Sleeptalker, amused, as always, by how Dame Fortune works out the timing on these things.

696


Questions from a recent Tale: 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 note?

Answers: yes, yes, and I don't know.

Helen R was on campus Wednesday for a conference, so I joined her and Kory K for lunch. The building Kory works in has open areas with benches on each floor, with a sweeping panoramic view of Diamond Head and Waikiki, a fine place to eat Marriott's less than exciting roast chicken. Leaving them, I thought of going to Manoa Garden for a beer, then told myself to be sensible, walk downhill and buy a bottle of Colt, more beer at half the price. I crossed paths with the Cherub who was on his way down there, too, the same objective in mind.

We got the Colts and returned to the secluded grove, had only been there a short while when the Sleeptalker came walking through. The Cherub was much surprised that I'd known from such a distance who it was. He might not have believed it, but the fact was I had a strong feeling the Sleeptalker was on campus, must have sensed it the moment he got off the bus. He was looking fine, unlike the night before, and was in high spirits, wanted to drink beer, too, but in the Garden.

So to the Garden we went. Rossini called the Sleeptalker via cellular phone which somehow the Sleeptalker has managed to keep activated and a little later Rossini and Angelo arrived. Another round of beer. They all wanted the glass pipe. I had already promised the Sleeptalker one this month, doubled the ante as an offer for Round Eight. He agreed.

Rossini, the Sleeptalker and I walked down to Rossini's apartment while the Cherub and Angelo went shopping. Round Eight was magic, truly magic. I can't adequately describe how much I cherish that beautiful body of his, how I treasure the way he gently holds the sides of my head, how I love that wonderful little chuckle at the climax.

The successful shoppers returned and this time Angelo did the honors of getting the pipe fired for me and, as the Sleeptalker had, encouraging me to puff gently. They thought this batch was stronger than we'd had before, and I couldn't disagree. I was surprised not to get the heavy sweats but found myself breathing with sharp exhales for hours, a bizzare effect which lingered through the night and into Thursday morning. They played cards again, Gin Rummy this time, and again I declined to join in, feeling far too spaced to even think about holding cards. Around seven o'clock, the fellow who shares the place with Rossini complained about the party in progress. I'm not sure why, didn't realize until we left how early in the evening it was. Perhaps he was irked that we didn't invite him to join the circle.

Angelo stayed there, the Cherub, the Sleeptalker and I went to the Cherub's apartment. They continued to play cards. The Cherub is not supposed to smoke in the place, so we now and then crammed into the bathroom, blowing the smoke out the window over the shower. Then I decided to have a shower and that hot water felt absolutely wonderful. It also provided an intense deja vu experience. Just as often happened with pharmaceutical methamphetamine, I really wanted to get off myself, but just couldn't, not helped much by the Sleeptalker strolling in and asking, "you jagging off?" Trying to, my friend, trying to.

I gave it up as a lost cause, the Cherub spread out two big quilts for us and I lay back listening to Mozart on the radio. After awhile, the Sleeptalker decided he would have a shower, too. The shower curtain was not transparent, but did provide an enticing glimpse and I couldn't resist going in to watch, could probably have finally completed the "jagging off" if the Sleeptalker hadn't complained about me staring at him. He thought the curtain was more transparent than it actually was and after he had dried off, had his pants back on, I stepped into the shower to show him how I'd only been getting a teasing (but delightful) show.

"In for a penny, in for a pound," I muttered to the Cherub who was half dozing by then. I offered the Sleeptalker twenty dollars just to get naked and let me look at his body while I took care of my by then extreme desire, almost discomfort. He refused, went back and lay down on his quilt. I got naked in the shower and tried again, without his assistance, but in he came, sat there watching for a bit. Funny, I never thought I'd be putting on such a show for him, certainly found it more arousing but suspected he was going to yield if I begged a little, so I stopped before going all the way even though by then I could have.

Much to my surprise, he not only granted the request and got naked, he even matched my show. I've always wanted to watch him do that, and there was no more holding back, the release came with a wonderful climax. He wanted to finish himself off, too, but didn't want me to watch to the conclusion. A pity, that would have been a vision I'd treasure, but he'd already been so generous I wasn't going to push it, left him alone and went back to lay down.

Not long after, he emerged from the bathroom and settled down. I don't think he slept at all, several times during the night nudged me for a cigarette, and I only lightly dozed myself.

The Cherub got a job, was to start at seven in the morning. How the lad ever made it through the day, I don't know. He gave us a ride to campus and the Sleeptalker and I sat outside the computer lab, not yet open, drinking coffee and smoking. Then he went into the game, played for about an hour and suddenly got up and left without saying anything, didn't return to the lab. I scolded myself for wishing he'd at least said goodbye.

But those fool moon's eyes, how sweet it was.

696a


It's easy to understand why some people get so hooked on this drug, ice. It leaves you feeling so wrecked the next day, there's no doubt great temptation to indulge again to relieve the inner wasteland. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Sleeptalker took that twenty and went to buy another pipe-full.

I can't allow myself to do that, am sure it is far wiser to strictly limit myself to a once-a-month adventure, assuming the Sleeptalker is around to enjoy it with. And even though I could, by cutting down on other extravagances afford it financially, I don't think I'd long have the strength to survive more frequent use.

I am grateful for it, though, as has been the case with most drugs I've tried. That extraordinary dance with the Sleeptalker simply couldn't have happened without it. It's amusing to read the earlier Tales where I am persuading myself not to get too drunk when with the Sleeptalker. Did crossing the line between non-sexual and sexual experiences with him really change that? And too drunk is nothing compared to the ice condition. I doubt I could get drunk enough to let myself participate in that uninhibited physical pleasure I felt with him, and even while immensely enjoying it, a part of my mind was seeing it as quite degrading. I don't think I really believe that, either, but I am fairly certain those thoughts would have stopped me if not for the influence of the drug.

A gray, cloudy day without tradewinds. A washed-out, gray feeling physically, a scattered, almost incoherent inner landscape. I couldn't face eating anything until late morning, then had just a bowl of soup. Had the weather been more pleasant, I might have gone to the beach park to lay in the sun for a time. As it was, I wandered the campus in something of a daze, unable to reach any conclusions about all the questions these encounters with the Sleeptalker raise. Post-coital angst again? Or the trauma of leaving a very special state of body and mind, an even more special duet (or duel?), to return to the too close to meaningless thing that passes for life in between such grand adventures.

What had these transfusions done to his body and soul?
Made him see the descent of the falling leaf in greater detail?


No, leaving him not even noticing a falling leaf, feeling too much like one himself.

697


I understood more clearly the foundation of cognitive therapy on that gray and gloomy Thursday. Feeling so shattered and awful physically, mentally and emotionally, anything my mind considered was seen in the worst possible light. The Fool Moon Party, being so much in my thoughts, was reviewed, unwillingly and unwanted, in utterly negative terms. Yes, those cognitive folks are right about how strong the effect of our thinking is on the "reality" and what a mess we can make of even the most beautiful.

They are wrong, though, I think, in assuming they can know what is dysfunctional thinking, so their framework becomes a tool for domination and preaching, just as surely as any religion does. If they think something is unhealthy, dysfunctional, then a disciple or patient must be brought to think of it in the same way. If they do not, they are "sick".

In his letter, Felix admitted he had recently seen a man who had stirred all the flames of passion in his heart, after a very long time of feeling that was all in the past. I understand so well what he means. I, too, expected old age to be so much different than it has turned out to be. And knowing him, he must have struggled very hard to maintain the illusion of "outgrowing" lust and passion.

And, indeed, doesn't it seem so much more noble to do so? Don't the Tales speak of the desire to be the elder, the father confessor, the wise or at least kindly old man who loves without desire? As I read through the Tales of the second year, I see it time and time again, trying to convince myself that should be my role with the Bad Boys, especially the Sleeptalker. But how very much different the Eighth Encounter was from that ideal.

I can't imagine how the Sleeptalker copes with the afterthoughts following our intimate encounters, considering how much energy goes into the process for me and how wildly those thoughts and interpretations vary. Like the last time at the hacienda, the Full Moon Party stepped out further than either of us meant it to. Not since the Dutchman have I allowed myself to yield so completely to desire, so actively played the master-slave game, kneeling naked at his feet and begging for him. I know he enjoyed it, and I know equally well he will feel very, very guilty about it but will probably cope with it at least partly by blaming the drug ... and me.

Blame the drug? Nope, I can't take that easy way out. But like I said, it wouldn't have happened without it. I realized in my pondering that ice is unique in my experience with drugs. I would not seek the substance on my own, for myself, I'm not at all fascinated by it as such. It's a tool to get the Sleeptalker, to play through scenarios with him which have existed in fantasy and remain afterwards as lust-inspiring memories. But I also have to admit that I'm afraid of it, fear an escalation, fear that succeeding encounters must go further and further in order not to become dulled by repetition. His supposed hope that I'll eventually get bored with just sucking his dick might come true?

Well, at the hacienda one wall fell when he touched me. He has built that one back, I think, and I don't mind at all, truly prefer it. And at the Full Moon Party, one of my walls fell. It certainly wasn't as high a wall as his, though, and I'm not at all sure I want to rebuild it anyway.

I'm also not at all sure I'm happy with this once-a-month party routine I've fallen into. Luckily, this is a short month, the long stretch of poverty I see ahead will be a relatively brief one. And reading those second year Tales definitely provides clear evidence that days of being broke, dependent on snipes and quarter hunting, are not so bad as they now seem. So the party routine, especially when there is the ultimate prize of the Sleeptalker's nectar, may be worth the price. May be.

The sky stayed completely covered with gray, gloomy clouds all day Thursday, perfectly matching my inner weather. Frequent drizzle or heavier rain continued throughout the day, mercifully ending after the unseen sunset. I waited until early afternoon for the walk downhill to get a beer, had no desire to eat any more than that bowl of soup I'd had in the late morning. After a brief time in the secluded grove, resumed drizzle meant seeking a sheltered bench again. I was grateful for Rice's Queen of the Damned which, even though not as compelling a book as Lestat, nevertheless brought relief from immersion in my own thoughts.

By late afternoon I was truly exhausted, wanted only for the hands of the clock to move more swiftly to nightfall. I went to the mall, bought cheese and rolls and another beer, ate a light supper and continued the book, grateful I saw no one I knew, although I was looking forward to talking with the Cherub, getting his impressions of the Fool Moon Party. I'm grateful, too, though, he got that job, bringing an end to those lengthy pre-rehearsal drinking sessions.

A bus to Small Park, collapsing into much desired sleep snug in the Cupboard under that luxurious tarp, exhausted from so much thinking.

698

You have GOT to calm down, slow down, I kept telling myself throughout Friday, another day when the sky was covered in gloomy gray clouds. It did stay dry, though, and the trade-off is having much warmer temperatures, so much warmer I didn't need my windbreaker over the sweatshirt at night, could even have done without the tarp. Its guarantee against unexpected water from the sky was appreciated, though, as was the surprise of a much smaller than usual club crowd for a Friday night.

Calm down, slow down. Yes. The fact is, these Magic Theatre times with the glass pipe and the Sleeptalker utterly upset my inner balance, which is somewhat precarious anyway. And although I was actually happy not to see him the following day, by Friday I was hungry for his company. I want more ordinary time with him, time with maybe a couple of beers and nothing stronger, time without sex play, just his company and talk. That would help so much to navigate the choppy inner water those not-at-all ordinary times leave behind. But that just isn't going to happen, I fear, no more than the fantasy of snuggling up naked together in a bed and drifting into sleep. He is what he is, and no fantasies of mine are going to change that.

Endless churning of the mind. Anne Rice, again, at least a little to the rescue. She is indeed writing all my fantasies and in the fourth volume of her Chronicles, The Tale of the Body Thief, she goes even further than before. Extraordinary imagination, that woman has. Despite the pockets which are rapidly approaching empty, I was more than happy I'd spent two Colt's worth of dwindling resources on volume four. Not long after I first moved to New York, I fell in love with a statue. Just a head, in fact, Roman, at the Metropolitan Museum. I even went to the office and arranged to buy a photograph of it, had it framed on the wall over my bed. That memory came to mind when I accepted that I've fallen in love with Lestat. A statue, a character in books ... so much safer to fall in love with than an all too flesh-and-blood lad from Waianae.

I stayed on campus all day, spoke to no one. And I spent a little more of the new foodstamps allowance. It's the first time I've gone four days without spending any of the monthly allotment. Would that such a miracle could happen with the cash part of the bounty. Sandwich, chips and beer in the secluded grove with the final chapters of Queen of the Damned. A little stretched, that one, a little too ambitious with its theme of desired world domination, but maybe killing all but one man to every hundred women is one of Rice's fantasies. Since she does so well writing about mine, I can hardly grumble about her writing her own.

Online again, I was continuing the process of combining shorter groups of earlier tales into larger files. I've been very lazy about doing that for some time now, so it turned into more of a chore than I had patience for. I went to Hamilton Library and luckily one of the few terminals left with a dot matrix printer was vacant, so I was able to print out the main index for the Tales. With that as a guide, I went about deleting the deadwood caused from combining files and zap, like a total idiot I wiped out the tale of those months in hospital. Calm down, slow down.

Well, most fortunate, I had not long ago suffered one of my periodic fits of nervousness about there being no back-up of the Tales in my possession. A notable webmaster kindly came to my rescue and downloaded them all to his computer, intending to put them on a CD-ROM. He equally kindly uploaded a replacement for the zapped tale. Whew.

Yes, my dear Panther, repeat after me: calm down, slow down.

699


Too soon, too soon. What did I most want, I had been pondering on Saturday. To see the Sleeptalker? To find some way to break or escape the spell we have cast on each other? Either way, more time needed to pass, but the mischievous Dame had other plans.

Since everything closed at the University by five on Saturday, I left for the mall, did a round for snipes, bought a bottle of Mickey's as a combined sunset brew and nightcap, planning to sit in the park and continue the amazing account of Lestat and the Body Thief. At the bus stop on the way to the park ... Rocky and the Sleeptalker. Rocky was charming, the Sleeptalker understandably aloof. I could well sympathize with how he would have preferred more time to pass, too. As I've often done, I built a tenuous bridge with chat of the game. Luckily, a few old-timers had made a rare appearance on Friday and, as always, the Sleeptalker couldn't resist a chance to talk about the game. I wonder, if not for that game, would so much that has happened between us ever have taken place?

He was obviously in his post-ice purification frenzy. Give up tobacco, give up alcohol, probably even gives up "jagging off". He isn't nearly as addicted to tobacco as I am, but it still must be a tortuous exercise for him. He would no doubt in earlier times wear a hairshirt and go in for self-flagellation. He did ask if I'd seen the Cherub and I said I'd probably see him on Sunday, but with his job and the rehearsal schedule, didn't expect to see much of him during the week.

He waved away the smoke from my cigarette, then walked a little distance apart from us. Rocky gave me a "what's up?" look. "He's twitchy," I said. "He'll get over it, may take a couple of weeks, but he'll get over it." Rocky laughed and I could tell he was thinking, "ah, you two have been at it again." Quite so, dear Rocky, quite so.

Of course, purification period or not, I'm sure if I'd suggested filling the pipe, the Sleeptalker would have jumped at it. Don't think I wasn't tempted. Rocky clearly would have preferred to stay with me and drink beer, but equally didn't want to abandon the Sleeptalker. I said I was going on to the park and left them. They boarded a downtown bus, probably headed to get a free meal.

I don't mean at all to sneer at the Sleeptalker's purity routine. As I wrote, I felt something of the same urge after that first Ice Dance and I certainly went through all that in the High Acid Days. I remember telling the doctor one day, "I just want to get off everything." And it's just one facet of the problem which had always plagued me and still is. Do we strive to achieve some notion of the "better" us, or save that energy for accepting and coping with what we really are? A question very much in my thoughts after those moments of playing slave to the Sleeptalker.

Saturday was yet again a gloomy gray day although a band of blue sky did appear briefly in the afternoon and it didn't rain. There were several conferences on campus and a Girl Scouts Council gathering in the sports complex, so the place was much more crowded than usual for a weekend. Hotdogs, beer and Rice in the secluded grove early afternoon. And after that sunset brew, another round for snipes and off to Small Park and the Cupboard. It rained during the night, the sound of the drips again waking me, but the tarp is really like sleeping in a tent, staying warm and dry despite the cool breeze and drizzle. Most unusually, I slept until almost six-thirty.

Gloomy gray clouds again. Sigh.

700


Failure. That's the real problem, I decided on that gloomy gray Sunday. I can't even be a successful alcoholic. What genuine alcoholic would waste on a book enough money for two-and-a-half Colt bottles?

Coping with failure. Little wonder death seems always so attractive. Let me out of this mess, let me start over or, if so it be, cease to exist altogether. I'd hardly care if that were the case, would I? Well, okay, if you (whoever you are) can't grant me that wish, then how about one of those so-common old age conversions, let me suddenly believe in something, let me dedicate the rest of my life in its service. But no, you (whoever you are) won't give me that either, will you?

And you won't even give me a few hints now and then? Or do you give them in such a subtle way they get utterly lost in this absurd maelstrom of a life I lead?

It occurred to me, in a moment of feeling extraordinarily grateful for a very, very long cigarette butt, that the solution to the tobacco problem is to buy a pack of cigarettes. Then wait until I absolutely, desperately must smoke one, sink into the joy of it, truly appreciate the decadent luxury of smoking it. Makes so much more sense, has so much more style than scrounging around for people's leftovers, doesn't it? Was that a hint? Be a little more clear about it, I need some reason to believe, as that lovely sixties song said.

And another solution of sorts ... get more playmates. "Plenty of fish in the sea" (even he told me that), "don't put all your eggs in one basket". Wisdom of the ages? Ah yes, there must be plenty of luscious young men, street boys or otherwise, who'd be happy to pick up a twenty dollar bill as easily as the Sleeptalker did. Or was that just a self-indulgent way of seeking a solution?

Failure. Failure to be the one he wants me to be, or even the one I want to be for him. Failure to defeat this melancholy, as gray and gloomy as the sky overhead. Failure to find that reason to believe.

I was sorry the Cherub didn't stop by the lab before his Sunday afternoon rehearsal. I would very much have liked to see him, but perhaps he, too, needs more time. I've no idea how he classified that Fool Moon Party, although I suspect he would have liked to file it in an Interesting Experiences I've Had folder, perhaps cross-referenced to a Dirty Old Men I Have Known file. On the other hand, it might just have been a boring nuisance for him, not worth cataloguing, just thrown into the debris of memory. Who knows where the Cherub's head goes on that drug. Maybe I'll get the chance to ask him. Our spell on each other may be weak compared to the one the Sleeptalker and I have woven around ourselves, but it's there.

Yes, I do understand the spell cast on me and the Sleeptalker is mutual, and I would not be at all surprised to discover he wants free from it as much as I do, perhaps even more. I think we're stuck. How sweet it would be if he could comprehend that, too. We could comfort each other, lament together the treacherous twists of karma. Maybe after a few more lifetimes of this silly dance we're doing this time around?

I think I'm finally going crazy. I don't mind, have always thought I might, have even been disappointed I hadn't.

701


I knew I needed it but I didn't realize until after getting it just how true that was, how much I'd needed it. The Cherub found me in the library after his afternoon rehearsal. We went outside. It had begun to rain, in a few minutes was really pouring down, so we stood under the shelter and talked.

The Cherub is an acute observer of people and events, can see them with a clarity which often amazes and delights me. This is true with only one exception: himself. He is not of course alone in that. "I don't know why you feel guilty about it." I hadn't said I did, but I suppose it was more than obvious. Gilead's balm, those words. His main concern appears to have been that I was getting too .... I couldn't remember what word he'd used. Frantic, frenetic? Then reading Memnoch on the bus to campus Monday morning, I saw the word. Frenzied. Yes, too frenzied. Worryingly so. And I thought I really should keep in mind, all the time, that another heart attack will probably be the end of this life, and how unspeakably unkind it would have been to drop dead at the Sleeptalker's feet. Overly melodramatic thinking, no doubt, but certainly not an impossible scenario, however horrific.

The Cherub of course saw the events of the evening more calmly than I did, noted how the Sleeptalker wouldn't leave me alone. I realized my necessarily condensed version of events omitted the fact that the Sleeptalker had three times come into the bathroom, gone out again, then returned. Moth to the flame. But while I see it all as my fault, feel badly at having pushed the Sleeptalker further than I had intended, the Cherub saw it more as a mutual dance and he's probably right about that, just as he's right about there not really being a reason for guilt.

He noted with amusement how in the morning as we were getting ready to leave, the Sleeptalker had taken that twenty dollar bill out of his pocket, made sure the Cherub saw it before repocketing it. Yes, it was just a job for me, see how well paid I was for it. How much easier it does make it for the Sleeptalker. I'm grateful it is so.

The Cherub is in trouble. His job is some distance away and he doesn't get paid until the 22nd, doesn't have money for gas. His strange father refused to send him even twenty dollars. It's so bizarre, after having supported him for so long, and even more so because he apparently has visions of the Cherub eventually stepping into his shoes, taking over the family business. And the job the Cherub has couldn't be a more perfect foundation for just such a future. Of all times, it would seem this is it, this is when his father really should help out a little. A strange man, indeed.

I said we could appeal to Kory K, that he'd probably be willing to help. But later I felt bothered by that and realized the proper solution is to give the Cherub the twenty I have tucked away, my beer money for the rest of the month. He has been a kind and valuable friend, small sacrifice to make in return. I really don't like the look of the rest of this month.

I wouldn't allow myself the luxury of blaming the drug, but a reader didn't share my reluctance. Speaking of the bleak Tale 700, he wrote: "It's the ice...batu... it messes your mind. Even once in a crazy moon, it fucks your head. You are never the same after ice. The longer you do, the more you change, the stranger it gets." And he added: "The drug takes chunks of your brain. You never get them back."

Visual image of my head with a little empty chamber there, no wonder there's such a tormenting loss of balance. Was it so much worse this time because of the sex game with the Sleeptalker and my baffling reactions to that, or was it indeed the drug, losing more of my brain because of the second time around? The reader apologized for preaching. I told him I appreciated it, that if I get burned playing with this fire, he would have felt badly about not having at least tried to warn me.

Playing with fire. A fire juggler, the Sleeptalker and the Batu. Do I think I'm made of asbestos?

I know, I know. I am so immersed in this strange and wonderful universe of Anne Rice that I am seeing things and interpreting them differently than I probably would have at another time. No accidents. Karma. But perhaps the reader is right and the drug is a more powerful part of it than I realize or am willing to admit.

The Cherub doesn't hesitate to go where angels fear to tread, he's already looking forward to the next party, seems not to suffer the tormented aftermath the Sleeptalker and I experience. He said we should pool our resources, do double the amount next time! Given my extreme tolerance for drugs, I do realize I haven't experienced anything close to what would be for me a genuine "ice high". But considering how far I stepped out of myself, how horrible the hangover, I am not at all sure the high would be worth it. I am not, of course, dumb enough to claim I'm not tempted.

"Did you have beer today?" the Cherub asked. "Yes, two." "Two forties? You do lead a wonderful life."

Ha! Oh yes, my friend, a wonderful life indeed.

702

At last, blue sky and sunshine! And what did I do with the morning's brightness? Sat in the library and read some seventy pages of Mircea Eliade's fourth and final volume of journals. I had gone to the "15 minute only express search" terminals to find where, in that Carroll-ish classification system, I might find the venerable Eliade. Of course, he is scattered hither and yon. I noted the first reference and went there, not actually looking for his Journals, but it was a good place to begin my re-acquaintance with the gentleman.

One of my new readers is a little concerned about asking questions. The strange thing is, on Usenet what little I write there always attracts the most insipid, banal mentalities, lame intellects who cannot even construct decent insults. But the Tales somehow escape those morons and what correspondence the Tales do generate is almost always interesting and intelligent. I greatly enjoy it, and the questions.

A few of the questions I shall answer publicly since I suspect more than one reader might have asked them silently.

If you both desire something, what the problem with whatever games you're playing? They are just games. You don't feel as a murderer each time you put a sword inside a virtual enemy, do you ?

That last one, I should put to the Sleeptalker directly, that would be amusing. Here is what must be remembered: these things are a sin to this young man. Understand, he truly believes that. The almost identical scenario, years ago with the Dutchman, was a giggle the next day. Hey, what a silly game, wasn't it fun. With the Sleeptalker, I am leading him into the valley of the shadow of death, I am a disciple of the Devil tempting him, even worse, making him enjoy sinning, whether he wants to admit it or not. Even if I don't believe it, how can I not feel guilty for doing it to him? "This is sick," he said. He was probably right, it probably was sick, but yes, to some of us it was merely a game. Is football sick? Boxing? Bullfighting? Yes, yes, yes. Is playing a naked slave kneeling to a master in adoration sick? Oh yes. But what a lovely game. Only, alas, guilt-free when both players in the game understand it is that.

And why would being a nice older man to the young ones be incompatible with feeling sexual desires for some of them?

Again, this concept of sin plays a major role. But here there is more, there is the question, does this man really care about me or does he just want to get in my pants? Angelo asked that question directly. Am I a true friend to them, or am I just a dirty old man who wants their bodies? As the other reader so comfortingly said, lust may be more believable than Platonic caring. But I can't help thinking my role would be better played if I admitted the lust but did nothing to satisfy it physically. We confuse the concept of "love" so much, so few people really understand when I say I love these young men. I love them all. Yes, the Sleeptalker is special, different, the feelings I have for him are beyond almost all my previous experience of loving. But I love them all, and I certainly lust for some of them. I can't help seeing, though, that the relationships with which I feel most comfortable, most satisfied, are those where the sexual attraction has been open knowledge between us but no attempt has been made to consummate that desire.

Not that I have any intention whatsoever of refraining from any opportunity I get to enjoy the Sleeptalker's beautiful body.

While I am about Catholicism, what did you find attractive in it as a youth?

The psychologist asked me why I had become a Catholic. I told him, quite honestly, it was because I'd fallen in love with a priest. He dropped that like the proverbial hot potato. As I told Mme de Crécy recently, he has no desire whatever to get into deep water with me, which is why I can't talk about the Sleeptalker to him.

Yes, I did have a huge crush on a delightful young priest, was thrilled when he performed the baptism, but it was more than that. It was the mystery of it, passing a church and looking in, seeing the candles, the crucifix, smelling the incense and, when finally getting brave enough to enter, hearing the ancient Latin phrases, watching the magical mystery of the movements, the dance of the Mass. And my best friend at the time was Catholic, a boy I loved very much, a boy who somehow managed to overcome the notion of sin and relished getting naked together and rubbing against each other until that new-to-both-of-us mystery of the body completed itself. Such innocence ... and yet I am sure I could easily accomplish that same result given the chance now to do it with the Sleeptalker. He so excites and arouses me.

My main contact with Christianity had been with the Southern Protestant group which calls itself the "Church of Christ". Austere, somber buildings, but wonderful, wonderful gospel music, still very dear to my heart. Alas, no mystery at all, none of the ancient allure of Roman Catholicism. And, too, it should not be forgotten that becoming Catholic was, up to that point, the ultimate rebellion against the authority of grandparents and parents, something which was always highly attractive for me.

Another silly question is : how did you come to learn latin, if I understood you correctly? I thought American people never did. Another of my prejudices?

I've no idea whether it still exists in these modern times, but when I was in what we call Junior High School, one had to take a foreign language. There was a choice (and this was in Texas, not exactly a citadel of intellectual prowess) between Spanish, French and Latin. Only one year was required, but I loved Latin, admired the teacher and eagerly went on for the second year. Amo, amas, amat ... how little I remember.

You sound very young when you speak of your opinion that old age would have been without sexual desires.

I wonder, that surely must be a common misperception. And it is only when we reach old age we can see what nonsense it is. In many ways, I am more interested now than I was when younger. Old age, experience, even jadedness allows one to so much better appreciate the magnificent beauty of some young men, the breathtaking wonder of their bodies, the charm of their naive thoughts and cares and concerns.

And remember : if you worry about a problem, then you've got two problems.

Quite so. But perhaps that is better than trying to ignore the problem, sweep it under the carpet? Yes, my post-ice bewilderment magnified the problem, I don't at all deny I am taking the whole thing far too seriously. It simply matters too much to me to get away with saying "it doesn't matter", even if I know, intellectually, that's absolutely true.

Leaving dear old Eliade, I went downhill, got the usual sandwich and chips and beer lunch, with a cornbread muffin for the little zebra doves, and returned to the dear young (albeit centuries old) Lestat and his astounding meeting with God Incarnate, not to mention the adversary. Utterly extraordinary book, Memnoch the Devil.

Alas, once again dense gloomy clouds rolled in, big drops of rain began to fall and I had to seek a sheltered bench to continue. The place, which is usually almost as quiet as the secluded grove, was more like Grand Central Station. I guess I had things topsy-turvy, should have enjoyed Lestat's adventures in the morning sunlight, saved Eliade's account of his final years until the damp afternoon.

But then so much in my life right now is topsy-turvy, what's another mis-planned day?

703

Believe in me, in my words, in what I have said and what has been written down.
I am, still, the hero of my own dreams, and let me please keep my place in yours.
I am the Vampire Lestat.
Let me now pass from fiction into legend.

THE END

9:43 February 28, 1994
Adieu, mon amour

-----

It was a good thing people were so preoccupied, scurrying around, fretting over how to reach their destinations without getting drenched. No one was bothered by, even noticed, the old man sitting in the Orchid Walk, book in hand and tears on cheeks. Water from the skies, water from the eyes. The first had continued all day. The second began when the old priest exclaimed, "That in my lifetime, God ... it's the Veronica!", continued when the assembled crowd sang, "And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and lets me call Him by name", not the first time that musical memory from childhood has appeared in these Tales.

But adieu, mon amour?! I felt like howling as Lestat so often did himself, NO! Not possible. I can understand how Lestat and his chronicler would feel drained and exhausted after this magnificent adventure, saddened as I am, too, by the end of the splendid Armand, but no, Lestat would recover himself. Not a chance he could resist further adventures, and I want to hear about them. I hope he is already giving gentle pokes at Anne Rice, pushing her to keyboard or quill and paper, whatever she uses in her role as chronicler.

... it's the Veronica. I wonder, if that fabled relic, supposedly lost during the Fourth Crusade, was somehow found, it would make as much difference to me as it did to so many in this (I say again) extraordinary book, Memnon the Devil? (I wish she had just called it Memnon. Lucifer is no devil.) I feel pretty sure it wouldn't touch me at all if it looked like it does in Memling's painting.

After being forced to take shelter after that miraculously sunny Monday morning, I had to continue doing it for the rest of the day. It rained and rained, right through the night, right through the next day and again through the night. Just the inevitable dreaded kind of nights I expected. I quickly learned the groundcover of the large garbage bag was a bad idea. If the tarp leaves any of that "mattress" exposed, raindrops collect on it until forming a little pool. The solution is to wrap up in the tarp like a cocoon, even if it does get slightly damp because the body's moisture can't escape and accumulates. Not as bad as it was on the Walk, when I'd made the mistake of sewing two space blankets together into a sleeping bag. In the heat of a New Jersey summer, that did literally produce little pools inside the bag. But in the coolness of a Hawaii winter night, the slight dampness from trapped perspiration is certainly far more comfortable than getting drenched by endlessly pouring rain.

On Wednesday morning, that fellow who had fretted over me being cold spoke to me again, said he now had an extra blanket which I was welcome to use. I thanked him, but said I was actually finding it more than warm enough wrapped up in that tarp, was wishing I could leave it more open to the air. "It's the wetness that's the problem now," I said. He agreed, said he'd slept inside the toilet (as had all but one of the regulars). He shook my hand and wished me a good day. Nice fellow, makes me feel more comfortable knowing someone like that is sleeping nearby.

My question today is not easy for me to word in English. If the Sleeptalker wasn't some memory of your previous lifes, but a combination of people you loved in this one, making you feel towards him the way you did towards them, who would be among the people of your past those combined in him, and those who would stay quite distinct?

Provocative, intriguing question. I kept returning to it throughout the day and evening, until swept away into the universe of Lestat. At first I thought of it just as physical similarities, but I think the question is asking more than that. And in thinking about it, I was surprised myself to realize just how unique the Sleeptalker is. I've never known anyone quite like him, not in this life anyway, and the many ways in which I do love him have never been combined before.

"Those who would stay quite distinct" certainly includes the three men I lived with for the longest times, my two five-year lovers and Jonathan. It may sound peculiar, but I didn't love either of those I was "married" to nearly as much as I do the Sleeptalker. That was true of the Dutchman, too, until the Sleeptalker the love of my life. The Dutchman, though, never inspired feelings of paternal love. Fraternal, yes. Lust, most definitely, and in that case my feelings for him most closely match those for the Sleeptalker.

But the Dutchman was, perhaps still is, an intellectual genius, an artist, a philosopher. The Sleeptalker is an innocent, naive, superstitious (as I see his religiosity) young man. Little wonder feelings for them are far from forming a match otherwise. In some ways, Jonathan comes closest to the Sleeptalker on that level, as he does in inspiring thoughts of paternal love. Amusing thought, a combination of the Dutchman and Jonathan, a wildly improbable mix which is yet not too difficult to see in the Sleeptalker.

Well, any excuse to think about, talk or write about, the Sleeptalker is always welcome. I don't know, though, if that answers the reader's question.

I spent a lot of time on Tuesday working on the continuing project of combining the earlier Tales into larger files, had to consult an HTML reference site to refresh my memory on the technique of adding links which jump to a particular place in a document. Almost like embroidery, work on such things. (I have now and then considered embroidery, an amusement which happily occupied many stoned hours in the long English winters of the late Sixties, although I'd probably feel somewhat silly now wearing the resulting shirts and jackets covered in flowers and butterflies.)

Waking on Wednesday after a soggy night of strange, strange dreams. In a small jet plane, three seats in the cockpit, with the pilot, me in the middle, and the Sleeptalker on my other side, gliding down a long take-off path, being amazed to see someone on a bicycle behind us, but alas, waking before we actually left the ground. At a party and someone saying to me, "that's the Vampire Pandora," feeling thrilled and yet disappointed that it should be my least favorite of Rice's wondrous characters. Waking to yet another morning of gloomy gray skies, frequent drizzle, with gusting wind added. Reading again the final chapters of Memnon with my morning coffee and, again, feeling very much like letting the tears flow.

The winter of our discontent, the life of our discontent. Calm down, slow down, spring will come.

704

My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine ...

Sometimes I wonder, will the well run dry, will the good Dame weary of putting interesting young men in my path? I know, of course, that in this place especially there will never be an end to visual fascinations. But schooled by the Bad Boys, I won't allow myself to make the first approach.

The Dame might have said, hey, what about the Tongan? Yes, that hunk with the solid shoulders is Tongan, the Cherub tells me, adding the ... errr ... interesting information that he is also very well hung. One day the Cherub walked into the Tongan's room, expecting to find him alone, and he was naked in the bed with a young lady, providing the Cherub with an opportunity I'd be most happy to share.

But even without the assistance of an introduction, a new Boy has arrived. Amadeus. He made his debut on Valentine's morning, sitting on a bench in the mall, some distance from McD's. Amadeus, because he is a dark-haired reminder of young Hulce in that handsome film. At least partly Filipino, I'd guess, possibly with some Japanese genes. Early twenties, so cute I was reluctant to look too carefully or too long. He was wearing a rainsuit, jacket and trousers of transparent plastic. I immediately thought how sweet it would be to see him in that, minus the clothing underneath it.

I wasn't sure, thought he might just be a tourist out so early in the morning. But the next day I was sitting on my usual bench in the Orchid Walk, reading while enjoying my refill cup of coffee. Amadeus walked up, sat beside me. Oh, sweet and lovely lady, be good ...

His English is hesitant, heavily accented. Like everyone these days, he talked of the weather, this seemingly neverending hideous weather. Such a wonderful smile the lad has. I was a little astounded to realize that, oops, it has happened, someone has come along who would be the winner in a contest ... which would I pick, given the choice, Amadeus or the Sleeptalker? No doubt a temporary aberration, a choice which would have to be reconsidered if I had the two of them together, but still, a somewhat refreshing novelty.

I finished my coffee, got up to leave, giving him a benedictory pat on the head. Such soft hair. Another of those smiles as my reward, as he lay down on the bench, stretched out. After brushing my teeth, I headed to the bus stop, just missed a campus-bound bus. Oh well, an omen, I used as an excuse, and walked back for one more glimpse of Amadeus. He was sound asleep. I wished I could have put a blanket over him, tucked him in, touched that soft hair again as I wished him pleasant dreams.

A sweet Valentine, indeed, and I thank you, Madama Fortuna.

I'm afraid the Feast Day of Saint Valentine was not so sweet where the weather was concerned. Added to the gloomy clouds and frequent drizzle was wind, fierce gusting wind that has made an utter shambles of the campus and made it a slightly frightening thing, walking amidst flying tree branches and coconuts. I made a quick trip to the State Library in the morning, surprised to complete the journey without getting drenched somewhere along the way, then stopped at the mall to collect snipes. Someone had abandoned a plate lunch box with two fried eggs, four slices of spam and an enormous amount of plain rice. The rice had evidently been the ballast which kept the box from being blown away. An odd free lunch, but I wasn't complaining. That's the first time I've eaten Spam in many a moon.

Since the mountains near campus were shrouded in gray mist, I decided I'd have what I'd thought would be my only beer of the day at the mall, found a sheltered bench I'd not used before, remote enough to discreetly fill a paper cup. The selection at the library had not been very promising, but Ken Follett's A Place Called Freedom is an interesting-enough diversion. I hadn't expected to find anything which would impress me much after that splendid time with Lestat, so satisfactory amusement is enough.

Back on campus, at the computer lab. The Cherub came in, about an hour to spare before rehearsal, and invited me to the Garden for a brew. Say what? There I was, preparing to give up my hoarded twenty to fill his gas tank. But Mama had sent twenty as a Valentine. Moreover, his landlord had not deposited the rent check, thus the money was still in his account. Or was in his account. Naughty fellow, the Cherub. So we drank a beer and talked, as usual, of the Sleeptalker and the Tongan and Angelo, about his job and the people he works with, about the Tales and some of the recent reader reactions. He was much pleased to hear that a reader had said "thank God for the Cherub!" after I'd written about his comforting reactions to the latest Ice Dance.

When he went off to rehearsal, I stopped in briefly at Sinclair Library and then took the bus directly to Small Park, by-passing the mall. The rain had mercifully paused, giving me time to settle down in my tarp cocoon before it began to dribble from the sky yet again. I had to more securely than ever tuck myself in because the wind, even in the sheltered Cupboard, whipped around so erratically the tarp kept breaking loose. I finally got it adjusted, finding the crucial solution of putting the top corners under my head. Lousy pillow, but excellent anchorage.

Dreams again, lots of dreams, but none as sweet as the "dream walking" in the morning. Amadeus. Sigh. A reader wrote on Valentine's Day, saying he didn't know the reason for some of the names in this saga, suggested I should compose a glossary. Amusing idea. He has forgotten, in some cases. Only because I've so recently re-read the earlier Tales do I remember explaining some he's forgotten, like for example the Duchess, name inspired by the Tenniel illustrations for Alice. Yes, a glossary would be an amusing exercise.

As would be a dance with Amadeus.

705

On Thursday, I read all the Tales from the Past, since I knew the next day I would be combining them into one large file. I am still much dissatisfied with 80 West Cromwell Road. As I've said before, it gives almost no idea how special it was to live in London in the second half of the Sixties. I started to write some more about it on Friday afternoon, and especially about Michael, but then the Cherub arrived.

He had also come to get me on Thursday for another one hour pre-rehearsal brew but, as he had promised, Friday was one of the classic all-out evenings of drink. He had his car, so we drove down to the mall where he bought cigarettes, that two-for-one special still going, and two bottles of Colt. He declined my invitation to buy some food for his house using my plastic, silly boy. Back to the secluded grove, then. He was a bit frazzled from work, I think, has been doing lots of overtime and is expecting almost four hundred on his first check. I didn't want to rain on his parade, but did remind him there was soon going to be two months rent due, since he's spent much of the first one. He'll no doubt stick with the job longer than the Bad Boys would, but I wouldn't bet money that it will last a year, or even six months.

It was one of those times with him where the conversation constantly hovered on the edge of argument and I had to step lightly several times to keep it from falling over. I did get a good laugh when he said, "but I like the Sleeptalker!" (What, I don't?) That had been his reaction when we were talking about the ice experience and I said I'd like to try it sometime without the Sleeptalker being there. I was, still am, puzzled by his saying he didn't like the way Angelo treated the Sleeptalker. I must ask him what he means, because I didn't notice anything unusual between Angelo and the Sleeptalker that evening all of us were together, but he veered the conversation off before I could pursue it.

He said we'd go to the Garden for one more beer and to hear the band, a reggae flavored group I'd not seen before, then on the way decided we should have "Monsters" instead. I don't know just how many different kinds of booze goes into a Monster, but it has a light, refreshing taste and packs quite a whallop. As if Dame Fortune hadn't been good enough for one week, sending Amadeus along, another one showed up. The Hungarian. What a sweetheart. We had been talking to the Frenchman, a young student friend of the Cherub's, when the Hungarian, also a student, came over and joined us. The Frenchman bought another round of Monsters for me and the Cherub, but I shared most of that one with the Hungarian. They were both quite funny, interspersing their perusal of the young ladies with suggested likely targets for me ... as if I needed anyone as long as that sweet Hungarian lad was looking into my eyes. Both young men were delightful, charming company.

It was one of those evenings which end in a blur. I don't even remember leaving the Garden and getting on a bus, didn't notice where I was until we were well beyond downtown Honolulu. I got out, almost decided to spend the night on the bus stop bench since I wasn't sure if the buses were still running. One did come along, though, so I went back to Small Park. For the first time, someone had taken the Cupboard, but it was a dry night, no problem sleeping on the covered walk, wrapped up in my cocoon. No problem at all, I didn't wake until 6:45!

I hadn't seen Amadeus on Friday, but did see him briefly Saturday morning, leaving the men's room as I was going in. Yes, he's a decidedly strong magnet. I walked over to the park later, but didn't see him. I'll have to explore more thoroughly, find out where he's hanging out there. Monday, being "President's Day" will be an off-line day, plenty of opportunity to go hunting.

Earlier in the day I had been poking around the Web, looked at several sites devoted to Brad Pitt. There certainly are some fine photographs available of young Mister Pitt. To my great surprise, I discovered that Tom Cruise played Lestat in the film version of "Interview with the Vampire". I hadn't paid any attention to the film at all when it was released. Cruise wouldn't have been my choice for the role, but Pitt as Louis is splendid. I doubt I'll be much pleased with the film, but do want to see it.

And I read a 1940 essay by Toynbee on Christianity and Civilization. He argues too strenuously against Gibbons and his proposition that Christianity played a major role in the downfall of the Roman Empire. Methinks the gentleman did protest too much. I do like the way Toynbee writes, though.

What a joy it was to have blue skies and sunshine, even if the wind continued to be overly gusty, to lunch again in the secluded grove with sandwich, chips and brew, a cornmeal muffin for the birds. I think those little critters are spreading the word to all their friends and family. The crowd has increased to about thirty of them, with two Brazilian cardinals and half a dozen bulbuls joining in, along with two very handsome birds I haven't yet identified.

Mars in opposition to Jupiter. Cainer wrote: it suggests a dramatic event of some kind; a showdown, a test of strength or a power struggle which somehow causes you to reconsider your deepest motives and beliefs. Dramatic stuff for a three-day holiday weekend.

706

Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth ...

In the witty introduction to his novel, The Cardinal Sins, Father Greeley says, "Traditional Catholic spirituality has contended that all of us have a 'dominant fault', the cardinal sin that is strongest in our personality ..." I think lust and sloth are pretty evenly matched in me.

The State Library selection of freebies may have been rather lacklustre, but I was more than happy to find Father Greeley's book on the fifty-cent cart at Hamilton. It has been on my most-wanted list for months. I was also delighted to discover that Hamilton, although it has none of her books, does have two books about Anne Rice, the biography I had planned to buy next month and one called Anne Rice and Sexual Politics: The Early Novels. A decidedly intriguing title.

Meanwhile ... some nomads simply spend a great deal of time sleeping and it looks like that may be the Amadeus method. With the usual early closing of the university on Saturday, I went to the mall, did a round for snipes and bought a bottle of Mickey's. I had almost finished an inconsequential Rinehart mystery, The Yellow Room, and was eager to complete it, get on to Greeley. I went to a bench in the Orchid Walk and there was Amadeus, sitting up, wrapped in a rather elegant little blanket, and sound asleep, looking angelic.

For the first time this month, I'd had one of those luxury lunches that used to be more frequent. It was such a lovely day, I celebrated with French pate (cognac and truffles) on pan de sol rolls. A lady standing in line behind me gave a disapproving look, one of the few times I've gotten that "welfare slug" resentment. I guess I asked for it, what with a five dollar packet of expensive goose liver plus that big bottle of Colt, pulling out the foodstamps card. Delicious though it was, the extravagant lunch played havoc with my internal plumbing. If there's one thing any nomad must especially hate, it's diarrea. Twice I thought there was going to be a disaster before I got from the Orchid Walk to the toilet. After the second such treacherous dash, I decided to hell with it, just sat there finishing my beer and reading. Oddly, after those two attacks, it stopped, didn't return in the morning.

But it did mean, alas, having to surrender the pleasure of watching the sleeping Amadeus, and he was gone when I finally left the sanctuary of the toilet. When I walked there again on Sunday morning, though, he was once again on the bench. Unfortunately he had the blanket over his head, there was nothing to admire but his bare feet. Then he got up and walked away and I saw him again in the bathroom. Another, rather dull, nomad asked him where he was going. Amadeus said, "nowhere to go." Hmmmm, wait until the Fabled Pension Check arrives, my lad, perhaps I can suggest some interesting diversions. Well, at least invite him to lunch.

I don't think there's a future with Amadeus, though. He seems very much a loner and hasn't acknowledged me at all after that brief rainy evening conversation. Given my overall mood this weekend, I don't really care, realized on Sunday morning how relieved I was not to have seen any of the Bad Boys all week, even if I did feel a bit lonely on Saturday afternoon. I certainly would have been happy to see the Hungarian, really would like to spend some time chatting with him, but I guess I'm also feeling a bit weary of that cardinal sin, lust. Like please give it a rest, okay?

Fat chance.

707

In a dream, the God of Rain spoke to me. He told me it was important to remember he is also the God of Transformation. I wish I could remember his exact words then, but the sense of it was that I should not worry about my friendship with the Sleeptalker, that it is in his portfolio, so to speak. Strange thing, the dream mind.

I lingered on campus later than usual on Sunday evening, didn't get to the mall until everything had closed and the cleaning army had made one final sweep through the place. Consequently, a major shortage of snipes on Monday morning. I had my two cups of coffee, then went to Waikiki. Alas, the snipes hunting wasn't much better there, but I did score a few very long ones at the posh Moana Surfrider Hotel, so sat on a bench facing the beach and finished Father Greeley's provocative novel.

Back then to the mall, stopping in the supermarket for a chilled cappucino and a couple of Power Bars. I was sitting at a bus stop eating one of them when Amadeus walked up, sat on the bench next to mine. As before, he didn't acknowledge me at all but noted my looking at him a couple of times. He was eating something from a plastic dish with cover, so must at least have funds for food. He apparently doesn't smoke, leaving out one of the more handy methods of approach. Eventually he walked off and I followed discreetly, curious to see where he was headed. He strolled for awhile, then settled at a table in the enclosed Food Court area. It would have been too obvious to follow him in there, so I went off on a snipe hunt and when I returned, he was gone.

I walked over to the beach park but didn't see him or anyone else I know, although all the regulars were there along with more folks than usual setting up for holiday picnics. I sat and read for awhile, Sue Miller's The Good Mother, a first novel which is obviously very earnest and sincere but fails somehow to really catch my attention.

With some effort, I persuaded myself to wait until after noon before buying a bottle of Mickey's, then returned to the park to drink it and continue the book. Myra and an older man were sitting at a table some distance away, the first I've seen her in quite some time.

A woman who has been on the streets longer than I have has shifted her base of operations from Waikiki to the beach park. She's a heavy-set woman, always wears clothes that bring to mind a nun or a puritan nurse or somesuch, long white skirts and a strange headdress. She has a shopping cart piled high with stuff, including several cat carriers. I've never gotten close enough to her to see if there are actually any cats in them. She seems to be some kind of a religious freak ... I once saw her putting her hand on a young woman's head and praying away fervently ... and she frequently is talking to herself in a manner which seems more like preaching than mere chatter. Evidently she has "adopted" a young man who hangs out in the park, spent quite some time preparing food of some sort for him and then called him over to hand him a plate.

Finishing the beer, I got up to leave and Myra rushed after me to say hello and give me a hug. She was wearing a Disneyland 2001 tee shirt and when I asked, yes, she had been there, was still very excited about it. She made me promise to make it to Aunty Genoa's gig at the Regent soon. I warned her it couldn't be until March.

And ain't that the truth. This is poverty week. Like old times (note, I am NOT saying "the good old days"). You want beer? Look for quarters. I did manage to find about two dollars in quarters and other dropped coins, hardly as successful as the old times but I guess not too bad considering how out of practice I am. Out of shape, too. My shoulders were complaining about lugging the backpack around so continuously and my right leg hurt above the ankle. It's okay, I told myself, maybe you'll learn a lesson from this? (I doubt it.) I'll probably weaken and borrow against the future, as usual.

Back to the mall for more snipe hunting which finally began to be a bit more successful despite the inevitable deterrence of Japanese hanging onto ashtrays. I wish those people would learn to walk and smoke at the same time.

Two large bowls of ramen had been left in the Food Court, as well as a can of shelled walnuts, still sealed. How odd. That ramen is quite delicious but incredibly dehydrating. I stay thirsty for hours afterwards, one of the few times when I eagerly drink water. I certainly wasn't hungry, but thought I'd check anyway, see if the Krishna people still give out food in the park. Evidently they do, but later than before, because I gave up on them and returned to the mall, only afterwards discovering evidence that people had been fed the usual Krishna food (with, as usual, much of it being discarded for the birds). On my way back to the mall, I saw Amadeus laying face down on the grass in full sunshine.

I just can't think of a way to approach him. He's so obviously a loner and doesn't seem at all inclined to talk. Leave it in Dame Fortune's hands, I told myself ... or the God of Rain's.

As sunset neared, I yielded and had a second bottle of Mickey's, making the excuse that I had, after all, found the money for it. One more round for snipes, feet by that time complaining of the unnecessary greed, since there were already two full boxes in the backpack. Then reading awhile before getting the bus down to Small Park. It was the third night I've shared the Cupboard with the Blanket Man. The first night he was in there, I slept outside on the walk, but I much prefer the tucked-away feeling of the Cupboard, so the next night just settled at the other end from him and continued to each night. He's always asleep when I get there and wakes up very early, is gone before I wake. We are both very quiet with arrival and departure, good roommates, I suppose. It was an especially clear night on Monday, warmer than it had been, too, and I lay there for awhile looking up at Orion and thinking how very odd it is that, with all the things I've done in this life, I should end up laying on a flagstone floor on a volcanic mountaintop in the Pacific, stargazing.

708

Notre Dame des Questions asked: Wouldn't you have a slight tendency to love more, or think you loved more, among your different lovers, those who kept partly out of your reach ?

And I replied: "Not slight, very much so. And they are often keenly aware of that. Even the Sleeptalker was aware of it, one reason I think it took two years before he gave in, and a reason he rations my access to him even now. Clever lad."

Isn't it the usual case that if we desire something, we desire it even more if we can't immediately obtain it? And I think, even with those long-term love affairs of my life, my lovers understood how that was a tool of power for them. Certainly with Michael, the second five-year lover, he not only understood it, he sharply wielded it. Very unlikely that partnership would have continued nearly as long had he not. Perhaps it was instant karma, since I was undoubtedly more guilty of manipulation on that level with Edward.

There seems to be another factor, that many homosexuals function via a constant-novelty program. Once they obtain someone, they lose interest, go to look for another new conquest. The Sleeptalker is aware of that, too, has (incredible though it seems to me) probably experienced it and may have expected it with me. Oh yes, the unattainable adds much to the desirability for me, but no, I've never experienced a situation where having finally gotten what I desired, I was immediately no longer interested. It has always taken some time before that initial passionate desire was tempered by realizing the cute young guy I wanted so much was a boring airhead, for example. No problem there, for the Sleeptalker. Boring he is not.

It feels longer since I've seen any of the Boys than it actually has been, but they certainly haven't been out of my thoughts. I miss having at least one common sleeping place where we could occasionally touch base, but then the Sleeptalker and Angelo do know where to look for me if they feel the need to.

I went downhill earlier than usual on Tuesday to buy brew and lunch, sat in the secluded grove with birds and book. Despite, as I said, not being really captivated by Sue Miller's The Good Mother, I did finish it. Remarkable, how she writes about sex, very explicitly but strangely not in any way arousing. Yet it isn't clinical, either. I definitely admire it, but am a bit puzzled by the reactions it evoked, making it, all in all, a most interesting read.

Since I did, as expected, weaken and hock twenty dollars of the future for the present moment's comforts, I could indulge in the fifty-cent cart at the used bookstore rather than making the trek downtown to the State Library. Danielle Steel's unusually short, equally unusually funny novel, The Klone and I is quite a departure from her usual material and thoroughly entertaining. It seems exceptionally well suited to television, either as a made-for-tv film or even a series. Not that the formidable, and admirable, Mrs. Steel needs me to be ambitious for her. I'm just grateful for such a witty, amusing diversion.

Kory K urged me on Tuesday to explore the possibilities of even more assistance via various veteran's programs. I told him I was content with what I am getting now, consider it excellent training for the SocSec days which I may somehow survive long enough to experience. The Old Guitarist had made a similar recommendation sometime ago, noting that I was wearing cheap reading glasses from the drugstore, telling me I could get a free, exact prescription pair of the things from the Tripler Army Medical Center.

And my way of thinking about it all? Well, what if on March 5th when the Crazy Money arrives, I ask Amadeus if he'd like to spend the night with me in a Waikiki hotel room? Food, beer, television ... just get naked with me and cuddle up in bed for a lovely night of sleep. Or if he felt like more than that, sure, why not?

Oh please have some pity, all alone in this big city ....

One of my readers called me an old slut. I did not at all disagree.

709

It was that time again, time to spend half an hour with the Doc to earn my Crazy Money. I even managed to get there ten minutes early. He congratulated me on my six months' extension. I told him the Qualifying Doc had suggested I be referred to a psychiatrist so as to add drug therapy to the "counseling". He said he'd thought I would want to go the "natural" route. Hmmmph, the man obviously hasn't sensed what a dope fiend I am. Well, I corrected any lingering misperception on that score by telling him about the ice. He was suitably impressed that it was so powerful it took more than a week for me to regain my balance. I wondered how he would have reacted had I told him about the sex as well, but decided to be kind. After all, he's a nice man, just doing his job, has always made it fairly obvious that he doesn't want to dig very deep. And there sure as hell isn't anything he could do or say to be of much assistance in my dance with the Sleeptalker, is there?

So he made an appointment with the pill-pusher for me and another one with him. Sheez, twice in March I have to go see docs. Oh well, maybe there's an interesting new drug. I did tell him that if I were my own doc, I'd just prescribe Valium and he wasn't as against it as I would have expected. Would that I get so lucky with the psychiatrist.

I had hoped the Cherub would show up on Tuesday. No luck. The final days before payday are too much for him, he's in hiding? I begin to feel cut off from all the Boys. "You need a new hobby," I told myself. Uh-huh. I need some new Boys, that's what I need, perk life up a little in these last weeks of Winter 2001.

And then just after writing that paragraph, the Cherub arrived at the lab. He didn't have to be at rehearsal so we walked up to the dorm where the Frenchman lives, the Cherub wanting to borrow twenty dollars. The Frenchman went with us to an ATM but declined joining us at the Garden, saying he'd see us there on Friday. My ears perked up when he started talking about the Hungarian (and he calls him that, too). They have a photography class together and he says the Hungarian is doing some excellent work. File that in my "can I see your etchings?" folder.

Bartender Bryant scolded the Cherub for having allowed me to wander off on my own Friday evening but of course I defended him. If I get so drunk I end up out in the sticks somewhere, it's not the Cherub's problem. Or Bryant's, for that matter.

Although I still didn't get the exact details, apparently the problem with Angelo had to do with money. All the Cherub had to do was say "Angelo" and "money" in one sentence. Somehow he'd noticed that Angelo did have money in his pocket, had gotten it via one of his usual shop-and-sell expeditions and, as always, had no inclination to share it with the Sleeptalker, or anyone else. That's my boy, Angelo, take it or leave it.

The Sleeptalker would no doubt be much pleased if he knew what a fan he has in the Cherub. He doesn't think there's the slightest chance I could find someone better. I don't disagree, but it is ironic and amusing to find myself listening to someone defend the Sleeptalker. The Cherub looked quite dismayed when I said it could actually be over, that last time might have been more than the Sleeptalker can handle. I don't think that's the case, but no question, it might be.

After having a large Budweiser at the Garden, we walked downhill for two bottles of Colt and returned to our conversation in the secluded grove. The Cherub is extraordinarily naive about workplace politics and far too ambitious. He's only been on the job for two weeks and already knows how everything could be better run. No problem with that, but as I told him, it's essential to keep that attitude to himself, not rock the boat. "Just pretend everyone can hear what you're thinking," I advised. He'd gotten chewed out when a supervisor noticed him and another employee comparing their paystubs, a major taboo in almost every business I've worked for. And he gets so involved with his workmates. I told him he seems to be more involved with them after two weeks than I was with my co-workers after five years in that insurance job. I don't rate the odds on him staying in the job very high, but I guess it's a live-and-learn situation, there's not really any way to do more than pass on advice even if it appears to be largely ignored.

We parted after the 40s were empty with plans to join up on Friday evening. I didn't get to Small Park until almost eleven, slept soundly and woke at about 4:45, surprised to see the Blanket Man still asleep, the first time he hasn't been gone by the time I woke up. The sky was absolutely clear, not a cloud, and it was pleasantly warm. But of course, all I have to do is look back at the Tales to see that winter isn't over yet. Inside or outside.

709a

Stendhal sums up the different stages of falling in love :

- admiring the other person
- thinking how it would be nice to kiss him/her and be kissed, etc.
- having hopes that stage 2 will happen
- even after the shortest moment of hope, then love is born
- the first cristallisation begins
- doubts and misgivings occur
- then it's the second cristallisation

No long-lasting love without the alternance of hope and doubts... Does it remind you of something ?


Sigh .... just change "admiring" in stage one to "adoring". Even after the shortest moment. Not for the first time, my readers refuse to allow me to forget how much in love I am with the Sleeptalker.

Never mind, I shall persevere, comfort myself with thoughts of just disappearing somehow, somewhere. I need a long rest from all this, but I don't suppose I'll get it until departing this life and even then may end up like Lestat in that place, but without his capability of fleeing it.

When is Spring in Hawaii (the real one, I mean, not the official)?

There is no sharp boundary between seasons here, really no seasons at all. Right now it is probably a more "spring like" time than it will be in the first weeks of official Spring. As I've mentioned in the Tales, there is a definite awareness of the longer hours of darkness, especially for one who lives under the open sky. But flowers bloom continuously, the grass is always green, trees shed their leaves at differing times, there's sometimes a little more rain in the winter months (but that can also come in the spring, too) ... no, there's not an awareness of a dividing line between winter and spring. Already the increase in the time of light is obvious and, as I say, these days are as sunny and warm as any spring day is likely to be. Perfect shorts and tee shirt weather ... with the old familiar problem of it still getting cool enough during the night to need a sweatshirt. So the backpack is too full to stick long pants in it during the day and switch to wearing shorts. No matter, it means I begin to see more slim barechested young men, even on campus where it's relatively rare.

That brief, but most enjoyable, Steel "high tech love story" was followed by David Baldacci's Total Control, an elaborate tale of corporate espionage, sabotage, blown-up airliner and assorted murders, complete with hardened veteran FBI agent, etc. etc. Utterly irrelevant but not without its amusement, especially sitting in the secluded grove with my little faithful flock of featherballs and a trusty bottle of Colt.

Didn't mean I failed to occasionally sigh and think of "disappearing", especially when the Crazy Money arrives.

710

Oh my God in heaven or, as my mother mysteriously said, "heavens to Betsy!"

The Hungarian.

He is adorable. Those dark brown curly locks draped over his forehead, those Fool Moon's eyes even when it isn't a Full Moon. Adorable. And he's an artist. I told him I'd heard about his photographs. He went to his Art Building locker to retrieve some prints and brought them back so I could see them. Most excellent indeed. He has a splendid eye for detail, framing a shot with impeccable taste, sensibly using only black-and-white.

When I walked into McD's on Friday morning, the sound system regaled me with Dusty Springfield. "You don't have to say you love me ..." Indeed.

She was such a delightful singer. Beautiful voice, totally tuned-in to what was required in the mid-Sixties for "stage presence", those outrageous beehive hair-do's and the gestures of hands and arms. It didn't help her career at all when she fell, hook-line-and-sinker, for one of the back-up singers with Ike & Tina Turner and that singer left those admirable musicians to stay in England with Dusty. But I don't blame either of them, no way, no how. "You don't have to say you love me ..."

As for me, am I going to spend what is left of this long life falling utterly in love with one young man after another? Okay, okay, I guess that isn't a fair complaint. After all, it has been almost three years since I fell the last time (and still remain fallen). With sweet irony, I had just walked past the place where the Sleeptalker had written his name in the dust of an electrical housing, as always had felt my heart warmed by seeing his graffiti. And then ... wham ... sitting on a bench in the Art Building was the Hungarian, who beckoned me over. He was with a very, very cute Filipino lad, too. Yikes. While the Hungarian was away getting the photographic prints, I chatted with his friend, a very serious student evidently, who confessed he is having a difficult semester, is worried he may not make it through some biology class with passing grades. A real sweetie, but when the Hungarian returned, I have to admit my total attention was yet again captured.

"I don't have much money," said the Hungarian. Errrr .... stop it, Panther, don't even think about telling the lad how he can easily get more. But then what, maybe that was just what he had in mind?

You see how difficult life can get for an old man who is entranced by sweet young men? But then I probably have it easier than the old guys who like the female version. Maybe ...

I suppose there will be an "a" addendum to this Tale, because the Hungarian said he would be at Manoa Garden in the evening ...

710a

False alarm. Oh, he is indeed adorable, the Hungarian, and I'd love to get his clothes off, but the spark just isn't there. Stuck at Stendhal's second step. Just as well.

It reminds me of the months in London after Michael left for New York. Too eager to fall in love, too desperate to fill the hole in my life he'd left, constantly finding a candidate who more often than not didn't last beyond a couple of encounters. It's even dumber this time because I don't really need it, not at all. Being in love with one is more than enough, even if he has gone missing.

In a fit of being "responsible", or more because I was fed up with dirty pants and wanted to switch back to the gray polo shirt I'd stashed away, I bought a bottle of Colt and sat sipping it from a paper cup in the laundromat, finishing that Baldacci epic while the clothes tumbled. Then to the fifty-cent cart where I happily grabbed Orson Scott Card's Lost Boys and returned to campus.

The Frenchman came into the computer lab, the first time I'd seen him there, and was busy for a long time writing a lengthy email. The Cherub arrived, said he had singing practice for an hour and we all agreed to meet at the Garden around six-thirty. I'd had a second Colt in the late afternoon, was tempted to just go get another one and skip the Garden altogether, but I did want to see the Hungarian again.

The band was another so-so reggae group called Brimstone which rarely managed to get my toe tapping and eventually I more or less stopped noticing them despite the over-amplification. One of my favorite bartenders from Duke's was there and I stopped over to his table to say hello to him, just greeted him and went back to our table. He followed me over and gave me a couple of bear hugs. "Well, at least I got some hugs," I told the Cherub. A little later, I confessed that I really wished the Sleeptalker was there. "I wish he were, too," said the Cherub.

We sat at the table most of the time, the Frenchman and the Hungarian roaming around checking out the young ladies, returning to the table between hunting expeditions. The Cherub agreed with my observation that there were more good-looking men there than women. Four prime specimens, in fact, keeping me happily busy watching.

After a second "Monster", when the lads were all circulating, I left, got on the bus and once again lost consciousness. It's not really sleeping or passing out, just drifting and losing track of where I am. We were up in the mountains somewhere when I surfaced, got off the bus and started walking toward the city lights in the distance. I hadn't the faintest idea where I was, but reached another bus stop where three young men were sitting, and I asked where I could get a bus downtown. One more bus stopping there which would eventually go downtown, they told me.

The Blanket Man was asleep when I got to Small Park. At some early morning hour (I didn't check the time), the police arrived, one of them very young and rather cute. Another ticket, this time for being in a park that is "closed". As the Blanket Man said in the morning, the cop was a rookie, should have ticketed us for illegal camping, since there are no open/closed hours posted at that park. He said it would be a twenty-five dollar fine, but he planned to "fight it". "I'm just going to ignore it," I said, "eventually they'll put me in jail and I'll get time served from the judge the next morning. What the hell, will get a place to sleep." At least the young policeman was kind enough to say we could stay the night there. He was quite apologetic, obviously wasn't pleased with his task, said he was just doing his job and blamed it on the City Council. Quite so.

I guess the only solution is to switch to a nightowl routine, sleeping in the daytime.

At McD's in the morning, the sound system revved up "what becomes of the broken hearted ..." when I walked in. Cute.

711

7-Eleven. I can remember when that chain of stores first started, how it seemed quite miraculous that there was a place open until eleven at night where one could buy cigarettes. Now, at least here in Hawaii, they are open twenty-four hours, making the name somewhat meaningless. I spend more of my Crazy Money and foodstamps largesse there than anywhere else, mainly because they are so convenient to the campus.

The last Saturday of February 2001 wasn't just "spring-like", it was summertime. I shed the sweatshirt the moment I got to the mall, and the polo shirt soon followed it into the backpack. A tee shirt was more than enough. I had my usual two cups of coffee, continuing the Card book, then went to campus, spent a few hours online in the lab before switching to Hamilton and the web-browser computers. I'd spent some time during the week checking links on the Cave, finally got around to exploring, see what new interesting sites had become available which merited inclusion in my collection of links. I found quite a few additions to the Nepal section of the Asian page. And, of course, there were the usual changes of address and a few disappearances. The Hawaii Visitors Bureau yet again changed the URLs for their neighbor island pages. Stupid people, that must be the fourth time they've done that, not even bothering to put up an automatic transfer page at the old address. Someone must want folks to access only via their main page, but that doesn't make much sense. Webmaster egomaniac?

I started a new character in Seventh Circle, my first attempt at playing a Mage. Rubella, a female half-human, half-elf. Heh. It's always fun to play there without anyone knowing it is Reting. I'd had yet another squabble with the Witch Darkana the day before. It's really too bad how Boss Brook has given this English cow such power there, because she is just plain unimaginative, keeps putting in what she thinks are clever flourishes. Since she doesn't actually play, as a mortal, she doesn't understand how her little cutesy additions get to be so deadly dull after a hundred repetitions (or less). Seventh probably is the best SMAUG-type MUD on the net, but it could be so much better.

I was intrigued by the The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict web site. Could I join a monastery? Maybe. Probably be happier in the Peace Corps, though.

I waited until early afternoon before walking downhill, buying the usual sandwich, bag of chips and a Colt, returning to the secluded grove to share with the featherballs and continue the fascinating Card novel. Mme de Crécy scolded me a few days ago for not writing a "best-seller". But I just don't have the plotting capability of Card or Grisham or Steel.

Helen R kindly invited me to dinner, so I left campus around five and joined her for Chinese vittles, including a very, very spicy sweet-and-sour soup. Definitely beat another sandwich meal, and even more welcome at this time of the month, empty pockets and foodstamps dwindling.

Later I got a bottle of Colt and went to the park to continue reading. The Duchess and an old limping fellow I'll call Wobbly were already at the bus stop, him laying down in a huge comforter. A police car pulled up and squawked something through a loudspeaker about it being a "public bus stop", no sleeping. Wobbly sat up until the car left and then settled back down, was still there the next morning. Weird, the police doing that, not even getting out of the car and not returning to harrass them again. Then I wondered ... is there actually a law against sleeping on a bus stop bench?

A young brown fellow wearing just shorts, and those so low-slung you could see the top fringe of crotch hair, walked over and asked for a cigarette. I gave him one, greatly enjoyed seeing his fine body up close. He said he'd broken up with his girlfriend, after two and a half years. He'd told her those other guys were just using her for sex, but she wouldn't listen and he was tired of it. Considering what a splendid body the lad has, hard to imagine why anyone would look for more. And, as always, I was puzzled why someone would tell a total stranger such intimate details.

A few people were settled in the covered area around a snack bar but the crackdown does seem to have mostly cleared the park. It's surprising they are letting those people stay, especially since it's a lighted, conspicuous place. A little after midnight I walked out to the most remote area of the park, saw one man sleeping on a bench, so took the next one and got a few hours undisturbed rest, remembering the night long ago when I had gone out to that area and felt spooked by no one else being there.

No Bad Boys, no Amadeus. But if that lad without the girlfriend cares to join my flock, he's more than welcome.

712

There are more people sleeping in the beach park than I thought. I looked around on Sunday evening, was surprised to see a few people at Park Place North. But even more people are finding little places, dark and isolated, to nest in for the night. Trouble with that, as I discovered, is needing to know the irrigation schedule and I have a suspicion they are deliberately turning on sprinklers just long enough to discourage nesters. I curled up in my tarp in one such dark place, only to be awakened after about an hour by water splashing on me. But by the time I moved on, the sprinklers had stopped. Hmmmm. So back to the bench I'd been on the night before, this time with two nearby companions rather than just one. I suppose eventually some conscientious police scooter driver will swing out that way and bust us all. Until then the main disadvantage of the place is the small crowd of people who start their walking exercises at four in the morning, including some inevitable motormouths. How anyone would want to get up at that hour and walk in the park, yakking away, is beyond me. How they can find a companion who will listen is even further beyond my comprehension.

Speaking of companions, I've had men, young and old, cats, giant roaches, centipedes, even toads, as sleeping buddies. But Sunday night brought a first. A rat. A huge rat, big as a mongoose (which is what I first thought it was). It ran right up to the bench under me but when I rustled the tarp, it dashed back to the stone beach wall and over it. Then it came back for another look, I guess, with the same result. I do not intend to add rats to my list of critters to feed, and hope none of them get friendly enough to climb up onto the bench and lay down or lie down with me.

Lay, lie. Sigh. A reader writes: one trap that consistently snares you (and many others, regardless of linguistic ability or education) is the difference between the transitive verb "to lay" and the intransitive verb "to lie." Maybe I should rephrase that to say I hope none of the rats get friendly enough to cuddle up with me. Hmmm, lay down, cuddle up. Weird thing, the English language.

No Amadeus. Maybe he has moved on. Still no Bad Boys, and still no Sidney. And the Fatman has gone missing now, too. A couple of his boys have been on campus occasionally, especially the Pirate, but not the Fatman. Where do people go?

The tradewinds went somewhere, too. And as always, when they cease to blow there's no telling what will happen with the weather. It was totally cloudy for most of Sunday, but stayed dry, cleared during the night, was mostly cloudy again on Monday morning. It's warm, somewhat humid, an odd mix of clammy and sultry. It did nothing to improve my mood on Sunday.

I thoroughly dislike the mental state I allow myself to fall into during the last few days before the Fabled Pension Check, yes, I do.

713

I have been wondering many times about your thoughts about "old", when applied to yourself. It seems to me you didn't raise the point so often in the first tales, except for the recurring allusion to "senior coffee". If I were to work upon your text - but I'm afraid I'm too lazy for that, at least at the moment - I would use the search function you so kindly provided, and look where you used "old" applied to yourself, if there were periods when you used it more, what were the circumstances, and your feelings about it. For the moment, I'd rather have your own opinion ...

I have written somewhere in the Tales about how strange it is that I don't feel "old", how I really feel very little different than I did thirty years ago. And I know I don't look as old as many people my age, no doubt because I've been fortunate enough to drink from that Fountain of Youth as often as I have. [I may be teasing, or I may not be.]

As a youth, I did not expect to live beyond the ancient age of thirty. I thought it was horrendous that "old men" wore Levi's, swore I would never do such a thing if the worst happened and I did live into my thirties. Right up into recent years, I cherished the illusion that sex, lust, all that stuff, would leave me behind, would no longer be of any importance, once I got to fifty ... at least.

It isn't at all what I expected it to be.

In the Tales, I am not sure. I also don't have the patience to look back through them and see how I discussed old age. Reaching sixty was not any kind of dividing line for me, of that I feel sure. Perhaps most relevant to how I began to refer to myself as "old" is simply the relative aspect of having these young men as friends. With very few exceptions, my oldest friend is an unripe twenty-five. And, of course, it's one of those green apples who is most important to me.

To him, I am an old man. As he said to me very early in our knowing each other, he was amazed to meet an old man who wasn't "unhappy".

And perhaps it is important to realize I have fallen in love, and have remained so for quite some time, with a man who could easily be my son, could even (with a little precocity) be my grandson. And to him, I am more closely associated with his recently departed grandfather.

I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear my trousers rolled ...

["Senior coffee" is simply economics. I am cheating, am not really old enough to legitimately purchase it at that price. Who said gray hair isn't a blessing?]

If the weather on Sunday was peculiar, well, I don't know what to call the weather on Monday. For most of the day, one half of the sky was absolutely clear blue sky and the other half was covered with dense, dark gray clouds from which rain not infrequently fell. Alas, the wet half was over the campus. I did have enough sense to take lunch under the blue half, at the beach park, didn't get dribbled on until I returned to campus with an ill-advised second bottle of Colt and sat in the secluded grove until driven out by the God of Rain. Talks sweet in dreams, but then dumps on me in waking life. But by sunset, the clear part of the sky took over and the rains stopped. Like I said, not quite sure what to call it, overall.

"Ill-advised", because if that Fabled Pension Check doesn't arrive very, very soon, I may have to suffer through a day WITHOUT a beer, perish the thought.

But I digress. What should I say, sensibly if not sagely, about "old age"? Yes, I do think the age of sixty is the beginning of old age, even in these times of extended life expectancy, even if reaching it made no impression on me whatsoever. If I didn't feel any different at 50 than I did at 30 (and I didn't), then what's another decade? Will I start to really feel old when the skin gets wrinkled and saggy, like the truly old folks I see every day? Or even then, will the inside of me still feel not that much different? I don't know. It's, I say again, not at all what I expected, I don't really understand it ... and despite the sometimes pain, I am not unhappy to find myself capable of desiring a sweet young twenty-something, even if a part of me would be relieved to file all that under Ancient History.

Another question which I have been asked by quite a few people, so I'll answer it, too, publicly: ... what have you done with your paintings ? All gone ? Or have you kept some traces ? Photographs ? Drawings ?

I am sure the people in England whose portraits I did still have them. Maybe the Hilton Corporation still has the three they bought, stuck somewhere in storage just in case they might be valuable someday. A university in Southern California (Pomona? I'm not sure) no doubt still has a very large canvas depicting George Washington (in Lichtenstein style) with Gertrude Stein (Picassoid). Otherwise, no idea. Photographs undoubtedly exist. Edward Meneeley probably has color slides. I even considered not too long ago contacting him to see if that's so, would be amusing to put them up on the web. And for certain, there is a complete collection of the Dada News right here in Honolulu.

Equally for certain, of course, is that it doesn't really matter.

But then, what does?

714

Of all those friends and lovers, there are none compare to you ... in my life I loved you more ...

I may have to go to 7-Eleven for my morning coffee. McD's is too much stress at that hour of the day, with those Sixties classics playing. And that Beatles one, which wasn't a particular favorite at the time, definitely made me feel like crying. It also set the mind spinning, made me realize I am indeed thinking about the Sleeptalker as a completed dance. It's all over now, baby blue. On the basis of time alone, that's absurd. Certainly more time has passed between seeing him in the past, especially when he went out to Waianae to work with his father for months. And I've always been much impressed by how he has never ceased to surprise me. I've even, more than once, tried to convince myself it was finished. This time it just seems my mind has, on its own, crept into thinking about it that way.

I'm a little puzzled, but it's certainly not the first time my mind's functioning has baffled me and isn't likely to be the last.

A reader brought to my attention an article about this madness of keeping on-line journals, in which Ryan is mentioned. I particularly liked the remarks from Dave Winer, making it sound like we are doing something fine for civilization. He's probably right, the world might be better if everyone kept a public diary. Of course, they'd have to refrain from cheating. I'd like to see Saddam Hussein do it, would undoubtedly be more interesting than one from the Bush Person.

And playing in google.com, I found this article about my brother-in-law, "... arguably one of the most powerful men in Louisville". Amusing place, this world-wide web.

In so-called "real" life, I had a little debate with myself on Monday evening. I wanted another bottle of Colt. I had the cash, but it would have knocked out Tuesday morning's senior coffee by one quarter. No problem, a stroller was abandoned at the taxi stand. But I also had to consider that the Fabled Pension Check might well not arrive the next day and I'd want that brew even more if it was the only one of a day instead of the third. Well, readers of the Tales must by now know me well enough. I drank it.

And once again fate was kind, the FPC did indeed arrive on Tuesday. It was funny, I went downtown to the State Library to collect some new reading material. The selection was dismal, but I picked a couple of things to tide me over until I could go shopping for something better. Then just before I was about to leave the library, a young lady rolled up a cart and started replenishing the "honor collection" shelves. My two earlier selections were promptly returned, replaced by Danielle Steel and Stephen King new-to-me volumes. Then I felt very strongly, especially after that little nod from Dame Fortune, that I should walk down the street and check the mailbox. But I knew I'd feel even more disappointed if the money wasn't there, so returned to campus. An email told me I should have listened to intuition. The Fabled Pension Check had arrived.

Back downtown, to Waikiki to cash it, a bottle of Mickey's and a pack of cheap cigarettes in backpack. Not sure what I've done to deserve such kindness from Dame Fortune, but I am grateful.

Even if, of course, the minute I get that green paper in my pocket I realize it doesn't really matter. Hmmmm ... didn't I just say that in a Tale?

715

Sugar pie, honey bunch ...

Okay, that was a bit kinder of McD's, making me feel rather silly since I could have danced to it, right there at 5:30 in the morning. I guess it beats crying over a love song as a way to start a new day.

Ah, the luxury of money in pocket, even if it "doesn't really matter". Virgin cigarettes, two jugs of Budweiser at the Garden. Legal drinking. I had begun Danielle Steel's Season of Passion with a second 40 zones and continued reading it at the Garden. It's one of her earlier books and is more directly about the experience of being a best-selling author than any I've yet encountered. That aspect of the book is so interesting it makes the soap-opera plot frills somewhat silly and irrelevant.

Now and then I'd put the book down, look at the people at surrounding tables and think again about Tomita-san. Bryant told me Tomita-san is a bartender now, working at the Blaisdell Concert Hall and at one of the hotel chains. Alas, he didn't remember (or didn't want to tell me) which hotel. I've never been to the Blaisdell, maybe it's time I changed that. Interestingly, I recently was told that Captain John wanted me to go to Waikiki for a free ride on the catamaran since he's back with it on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Captain John and Tomita-san, gods in my personal pantheon. Yes, I'd love to see both of them again, even while telling myself, "don't be stupid, you know you can't have either of them the way you want to, and you know you won't be sensible and just rest content with what you can have."

Cats and rats. On Tuesday morning I woke to see a pretty ginger colored cat sitting under the palm tree at the foot of my bench. A large rat ran past quickly toward the seawall, almost hopping as it dashed. The cat totally ignored it. On Wednesday morning there was a black-and-white cat under the tree and once again a rat made that same dash, again was ignored. It made me wonder what goes on around my bench while I'm nestled under the tarp, off in dreamland. I'm glad the cats do ignore those dashing rodents, though. The rats are so large I'd be afraid for the cat.

Ash Wednesday. Last year I gave up Lent for Lent, which seemed to work out much better than the previous year when I got oddly twisted by it. In my first few years of being Catholic, I was very pleased to walk around with the smudge on my forehead, especially enjoyed how much it annoyed my mother. If only there were a church here with even a hint of magic, I would visit it today, for old time's sake, but most of them are ugly, relatively new buildings. Granted, I still haven't set foot in the big one at Sacred Heart, mainly because it's in such an awkward location. Now that's a lousy excuse, too, since I have at least a few times made the journey to Kahala Mall and buses going there pass right by Sacred Heart. Okay, so I'm a bit muddled by Lenten thoughts, as usual.

Why do you say your paintings do not really matter ? If the moment of your life when you made then meant enough for you to write about it, then why shouldn't it be the same about the paintings ?

They were important to me when I made them or, perhaps more accurately, the process of making them was important. Sometimes, not always, they took on importance to me as objects. There was one self-portrait in browns, probably still owned by Vicente Arroyo in London, and the portrait of the Dutchman I especially liked. I don't remember what happened to that one. And a large, Rorshachian abstract in blues, the painting which interested Bertha Schaefer sufficiently to become my dealer, was one I liked so much I refused to sell it, especially to a Long Island Jewish lady who thought it would be perfect over her new sofa. (I figured that once she bought another sofa, the painting would be thrown in the trash with the old sofa.)

But it was the process itself which was my primary interest (and I seem to recall Pollock discussing this in a way I thoroughly understood and sympathized with). Usually, what happened to the results didn't much matter to me and, as I've said before, I never thought them as good as other people did. And it certainly doesn't matter at all, these many years later, what has become of them.

And how could you stop painting ? You said somewhere it wasn't fun any more. Is it the last you could say about it ? It felt a little like evading the question somehow, but then I must admit I never quite understood Duchamp, either, and there are hundreds of books about him. So the length of the answer has not much to do with understanding.

Who could "understand" Duchamp! I'm not anything nearly as complex as that mysterious master. But, true, saying I stopped because it wasn't fun anymore is flippant. I ran out of things to say. The painter's version of writer's block? It was also complicated by the Acid Years. I came to feel that I couldn't produce paintings and drawings unless I was stoned. I still think the drawings I did then were the best I'd ever done, but many knowledgeable people did not agree. I was bitterly disappointed when Richard Brown Baker thoroughly disliked a batch of hashish-inspired drawings, even though he was quite kind about his rejection. I haven't done any drawings like that since the set inspired by Maxwell Davies' "Miss Donnithorne" (he might still have those, too, speaking of surviving works).

I do think now and then of painting again, would no doubt do it if I had the space and materials. I wonder, though. One afternoon I was sitting in a bar in the Village. An elegantly dressed black man came in and sat on the barstool next to me, asked what I did. When I told him I had been a painter but was too broke right then to buy materials, he pulled out his checkbook and wrote me a check for a thousand dollars. I thought it was a joke, expected the thing to bounce. It didn't. A completely different kind of drawing sprang from that. And thinking about that reminds me, there is one set from that period here in Honolulu and I suspect Felix has some of those, too, as may my astounding patron at the bar.

Time for a retrospective? Naw, we'll leave whatever survives in deserved obscurity. Will there be more? I dunno, maybe if I find the right bar.

715a

What I mostly meant was, I thought the process of painting was something difficult to take out of one's life (like drug, but then you can also do without drugs).

I remember someone (Jung?) putting forth the idea that if one had a "creative impulse", then not exercising that would eat a person from within, destroy that person.

But you see, my impulse was from as early as I can remember to be a "writer". Not a "painter". No reason whatsoever, of course, why one cannot be both, or even a world-wide-web journal keeper. Maybe any of it would keep someone from eating themselves alive from within?

I dabbled with making visual images, using oil paint and canvas "boards" in the beginning because I so admired the Southern artist Jarvin Parks. Then there was the sweetest little blonde fellow I wanted to see naked. We were co-workers at an Atlanta branch of a major American insurance company. Oh, what a strange fellow he was. He would sit in the toilet every day, just sitting there, and I would look under the partition, gaze at him across from me, see what was dangling between his legs. And he never touched it.

His older brother was a bus driver. He wasn't as cute, but almost, and one night I met him somewhere (I don't remember where) and we ended up together in my bed at the downtown Atlanta YMCA. He was what they (or anyone) would call a "good fuck". He was also much amused by the fact that I had a crush on his little brother.

Well, eventually, my artistic impulses got little brother to pose for me. Naked. And I made a painting of him. Then I gave him a massage. Never once did he get an erection. I still don't know where that boy's mind was, have never encountered such a thing since then.

I moved to New York City and that lovely lady of fate almost instantly crossed my path with an artist. Edward Meneeley. I think, from this very, very distant perspective, that it was Grecian. I fell in love with my father, or I remembered how I had been. Edward deserved so much more than I ever gave him and if what Lestat saw in that place is true, then one of my major chores will be to forgive myself for those years with Edward. He's such a kind, gentle man, I am sure he would tell me to stop being silly, but I know what I'm talking about.

His enthusiasm for creating visual images was utterly infectious. He was very kind about my writing efforts, especially after the Provincetown Review quite brutally rejected one of my short stories, but his interest and energy was in making visual images. How could I resist doing likewise?

Difficult to take out of my life? Yes. But not nearly as great a task as it would be if I stopped writing. That, I probably shall never do, alas.

I would, though, as I suggested, no doubt return to the creation of images if the circumstances permitted.

There are a few "homeless people" in Honolulu who are actually very good artists. One sits with a sketchbook every day, quietly drawing people around him. Another has amazing visions of acid-like realities, very complex and handsome.

Hell, even I drew something on a tabletop at Manoa Garden last week, and the Frenchman so cleverly transformed it into the image of a pig!

So perhaps you were right. One can no more stop making images, stop writing words, than one can stop wanting to take drugs.

To step outside "normal reality" which, pardon the expression, is boring as hell.

716

James Keller's Anne Rice and Sexual Politics is so earnestly serious it's in a way comical. Although she must have cringed at some of his critical remarks, especially about her "public persona", she must also have gotten some good laughs from stuff he obviously didn't intend to be funny. Not having seen or read any of the interviews he cites, I can't agree or disagree with his observations about Rice as a person, but do agree with most of what he says about the books, if not with some of the conclusions he makes. It was good to see I'm not the only person seriously puzzled by Pandora and why on earth she wrote it. As Keller says, the entire book could easily have been a mere digression in one of her better works. I only read his introduction and about half the first chapter, dealing with the "queer reading" of her books and the claimed (and believable) homosexual identification with her vampire characters. Interesting stuff, but I'd rather read Rice herself, and was pleased to see the new one about Vittorio appear in paperback a few days ago.

Meanwhile, until the Crazy Money arrives, I shall just enjoy looking at it in the bookstore window and continue with Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis which, like most of his books, is totally captivating. So engrossing, in fact, that I spent most of Wednesday evening sitting outside at the Garden, sipping on a Monster and getting thoroughly sloshed while lost in King's strange reality.

"Queer reading". I haven't heard the term before. I immediately thought of Conrad's Lord Jim. I guess I gave it a "queer reading", although it's difficult to comprehend how anyone couldn't, at least in these times.

Wednesday was my first day as an official fugitive from justice since, having ignored my order to appear in court the day before, supposedly a bench warrant for my arrest will have been issued. A couple of people have told me they won't really bother for such a minor offense and they seem to have enough experience to know what they're talking about. I guess I won't find out until the police stop me again for whatever reason, since the first thing they do is call in to check on outstanding warrants. It's no concern to me, the only nuisance is that smoking isn't allowed in the downtown holding cell where they keep people until the next morning's appearance before the judge. And since I'm "under psychiatric care", as they say, the judge would only give me "time served" anyway. Not smoking for however long I'd be stuck in that cell would be torture enough for the hideous offense of sleeping in a park.

The majority opinion now seems to be that this increased harrassment is a prelude to the gathering here in May of the Asian Development Bank, the fear of the powers-that-be that a horde of protestors will descend on Honolulu and create the kind of riots which accompany World Bank conferences. The City Council is considering new laws which will allow the police to use horses and dogs in the parks to arrest "campers", defines "camping" (as the current law does not) in a number of ways that, if enforced, would mean people could not take a nap in a public park, doze in the sun on the beach, or even barbecue, since mere "sleeping" and "cooking" would be evidence of "camping". They are even proposing a law forbidding the wearing of masks or false beards! It has been a very, very long time since I've taken part in any kind of a protest demonstration (not since one outside the American Embassy in London to protest our insane Vietnam policy), but perhaps I should go to one being planned at the next City Council session to continue discussion of these new laws. What is a little peculiar is the apparent decision by the police to enforce the laws even before they have been passed, but at least they haven't yet shown up with horses and dogs.

The current Honolulu Weekly quotes someone as saying enforcement of these new laws would be at the "discretion" of the police, a pretense that they are not aimed at the homeless. Humbug. Since when did we allow the police to determine whether or not a law should be enforced? And wouldn't it be fun to go around making a citizen's arrest on any jet-lagged Japanese tourist caught napping in public?

It's a difficult choice for me, in many ways something I haven't had to consider since those grim days of Vietnam. A large part of me wants to just say, leave me alone, let me live my life, don't bother me and I won't bother you. And an even larger part says don't even think about protesting, it won't do any good (even though I know it finally, much later than it should have, did make a difference in the case of Vietnam). This, of course, is such a minor thing compared to that horror. And not many people care.

No, most people don't give a damn, nor is there any particular reason for them to do so. Am I my brother's keeper? (The Sleeptalker once asked that, very seriously. I was flummoxed.) And because they don't, I suspect protests will have very little effect. The laws will be passed. A major riot is utterly unlikely in this lazy town, even over something as vile and evil as the Asian Development Bank, but the stupid laws will go on making life difficult for some of us, particularly when there's a power-hungry cop who likes to exercise her/her "discretion".

It's depressing. I would indeed leave this town if I could. Just gotta find some way to survive for another thirteen months. Maybe then I can leave this country, shake the dust from my sandals. Surely is a deja vu feeling from the Sixties, making it even more apt that King's Atlantis came my way right now.

717

It was a widely accepted idea in NYC in the early Sixties that painters and sculptors who wrote or talked about art talked crap. I knew there were exceptions, like Pollock and Motherwell, but had to agree, yes, in general it was a valid conclusion. I saw too much crap to doubt it, probably did enough of my own. So I write about it with some reluctance, even when not really talking about "art" so much as my own experience, which indeed may have had very little to do with art.

This most interesting and valued reader writes:

I was wondering what kind of a portraitist you were. As everyone, I've seen lots of portraits, either from amateurs, professionals, or all the people who are between the two statuses. It seemed to me there were three kinds of portraits, though it doesn't mean three kinds of painters, because some of them go from one type to the other :

- the portraits which have a likeness to the sitter, even if sometimes an elaborated one, like Bacon's ;
- the portraits which have a likeness to the painter, and not to the sitter; some of Picasso's were like that (also those by one of my friends, who was at the Ecole des Beaux Arts at the time. He was more of an abstract painter, but each time he tried a portrait as an exercise it looked like himself, whatever the sitter)
- the portraits which do not have a physical likeness, but maybe another kind of likeness. These ones can be terrible or fascinating, according to the artist.

Where would you put your owns ? In another kind altogether ?


Oh definitely the third of those. Perhaps if I explain the way they were done, it will give the idea. I took a photograph (as a color slide), projected that onto a canvas, then sketched with a pencil what seemed the necessary outline of the head and face. I decided on the color scheme to be used, filled however-many plastic "squeeze bottles" with narrow tips (like ketchup bottles) with paint. More often than not, I used gray for the outlining, dripped (salute Jackson) paint along the penciled lines. Then I took a large sheet of drawing paper and pressed it on the canvas, immediately getting a "drawing" to match the final portrait. Then, like a coloring book, I filled in the blanks and the background.

... "another kind of likeness". Not in the least photographic but strangely, when really successful, they captured something about the person, it was without question a portrait of that person. I did one, mostly in soft grays and pinks of my English friend, Shayne Pope, holding a bouquet of flowers. I don't think anyone could have painted that young man more appropriately and I don't mean it as bragging, I was as surprised as anyone could be by the success of it. (Another of those surviving works, I am sure.)

With Michael McKibbon, I did a triptych. The same photo, but each in extremely different color schemes. Those too, I think, captured him, and for a very long time were the only things hanging in our main room of dark gray walls.

The portrait of the Dutchman was the best painting I ever did, as I saw it, based on the photograph which is linked in a Tale and unusual in that, like the one of Shayne, it wasn't just the head. (In the photograph, the head looks quite weird, especially on the web, because a tree in the distance makes it look like he has some huge beehive hairdo.)

I don't see much point in making a photographic likeness of someone as a painting, why not just use the camera? But when a painting of someone does succeed, it tells something about the subject a photographic image doesn't. And color plays a great role in that, but to talk more in that vein would leave me open to that early Sixties maxim.

The Sixties. Along with this deja vu feeling of disillusionment about America which played such an enormous role in my life in that decade, Stephen King is dragging me into even more. No one has yet written the definitive novel about that decade, but he's made a noble and much admired effort.

And how fortunate I was. After all, I was still in the active Army Reserves, could certainly have been called up and sent to Vietnam. I don't think I would have gone, but maybe back then I wouldn't have been brave enough to ask the first lieutenant I saw if I could give him a blow job or show up wearing a ball gown and wig. I didn't move to England because it greatly increased my chances of not being called up, although it did, but because I was just so weary of this country, so shattered by the deaths of the Kennedy brothers, so fed up with that idiotic "art world" in Manhattan.

Well, at least now we aren't involved in some utterly stupid war (except for our continued and unnecessary harrassment of Iraq) and no bright and shining men have been killed (but are there any that would matter?)

... deja vu nonetheless.

718

The Cherub arrived at the computer lab early on Thursday evening. He was broke again so I took him to the Garden and bought us Monsters. Once again he was worried that he might be banned from there. After I'd left on Friday there was a big punch-up. The Frenchman got his jaw broken, or seriously injured anyway, by some large Hawaiian fellow and the Cherub had joined in, trying to defend the Frenchman. Security dudes, the cops, the works. Bartender Bryant shrugged it off, said he couldn't blame the Cherub for standing up for a friend. I'm glad I left before the melee.

Talk of his job, Faust, Stephen King, the Sleeptalker, and the Frenchman on morphine. The Cherub was in a rather grumpy mood even though he was taking the day off on Friday. I think it's tough for him, working at a job he doesn't really like and getting broke so quickly, a situation I know all too well. He left after finishing the drink. I bought another one and returned to King's visions of life in the Sixties.

Octavius came out with food but no drink, sat at my table. I said I was happy to see him, had begun to wonder if I'd hallucinated him after our unusual first encounter. He had been very drunk that evening, he confessed, and remembered little of what had happened. "I was all drunk and everything" came instantly to mind. A shame it hadn't had the same results as it did with the Sleeptalker, because Octavius does have considerable sex appeal, even if it would seem like having sex with Jesus. He's just too perfect a cinematic image of the Nazarene. He's also much more amusing when drunk than sober.

Ending the day with Octavius, starting the next one with Amadeus. Once again he was sitting on a bench in the orchid walk with his little blanket over his head, nothing but his sweet bare feet to admire. As I was finishing my refill cup of coffee, though, he got up and walked past me on his way to the park. I grumbled at myself for having spent so much of the Fabled Pension Check already that I couldn't offer him breakfast.

Booze, tobacco, one breakfast ... and just enough money left for cheap beer until Monday and Crazy Money's arrival. Little did I know when I found out I'd be getting that pension money (much to my surprise) and vowed to spend it all in bars, just how close I'd come to keeping that vow.

Poor Rubella the Mage. After such a long time playing high lifes, Reting at the top level of 100, Baggins the Warrior at 98, it's difficult to adjust to a level 15. I keep getting the poor dear killed by being too impatient and ambitious. At one point on Thursday, I told myself, "you're playing like the Sleeptalker, knock it off." No one has yet guessed it's me, mainly because I've kept fairly quiet and have been very sneaky about taking Reting in to help out with money and equipment.

It's funny how big a role the card game of Hearts plays in the King novel. I used to be quite addicted to that, too, can understand how fanatic the college guys got about the game, especially at a nickel a point. And now it's MUD for me, as it has been since 1986. There are worse addictions.

Hearts in Atlantis is a splendid book, really three books using some of the same characters, Stephen King's best, I think. When I saw I would finish it by day's end, I went to the State Library just before closing. Again, not a very interesting collection of freebies, but I grabbed Colleen McCullough's Caesar's Women, a long way from her Thornbirds and King's so-American saga. I haven't read anything of McCullough except Thornbirds (and love the film they made of her earlier book, Tim), but it's an ambitious and entertaining work, this Roman tale.

The sky looked threatening over campus, so I decided I might as well spend the evening at the mall. No great profit in it, only two quarters. It should have been three, but one stroller corral was running on empty, apparently spit out its last quarter for me instead of the two it should have given. I had cut it very close at lunchtime, closer than I'd realized or intended. After getting my sandwich and chips plus the cornbread muffin for the featherballs, there was a grand carry-over on foodstamps of TWO CENTS. But there was an ample amount of food kindly abandoned at the mall, including what looked like an untouched pasta salad left on a planter ledge and some beef stew and stir-fried veggies.

I had been awakened on Thursday night by the sound of raindrops hitting the tarp, but it hadn't lasted long. Friday night, alas, was something quite different. It hardly stopped raining all night. There was also some party going on at the marina, a rather dreary band playing very loudly, but I was so relieved to get to the bench and tuck the tarp around me between downpours that I fell asleep despite the junk music and the tap-tap of the rain on my cover. The worst part was having to stay pretty much locked into one position all night in order to keep the tarp in place. My first night of fairly solid rain with no overhead shelter. I surely won't complain if such events are rare.

Help me make it through the night ... and this weekend.

719

What, then, one might well ask, am I yakking about? To tell you the truth, which I do try to do, I don't really know. I'm just pissed off that a little group of people can make stupid laws and so many others are simply ignoring it. Very annoyed and very depressed by it. And as always when reaching that point, just wanting to run away somewhere else, leave it all behind.

Tough. Nohow to run, nohow to hide. Plenty of where's, but no how's.


Interspersing McCullough's fascinating re-creation of Caesar's Rome with my own never-ending mind chatter, I decided to take the easy way out, zapped the rest of this Tale as it existed originally and the remarks in a recent Tale which prompted it. If I don't understand what I'm "yakking" about, then I should shut up.

I spent the Saturday on campus, alone. The windy, wet night left me feeling soggy and bedraggled even if I hadn't actually gotten physically more than a little damp. So I decided not to go to the all-day concert being held on the lawn at Bishop Museum even though it meant giving up, yet again, the long intended opportunity of meeting Keali`i Reichel. I was in no mood at all to cope with a crowd, even with good music as the incentive.

Seventh Circle was down, so I spent some time looking at other similar MUDs. It's time-consuming because you really need to play a new character up to at least the fifth level before getting an idea whether the particular game is worth pursuing further. After several duds, I did find one, Aethar, which looked promising, played it off and on throughout the day. Caduceus the Elf Ranger. It has some of the same areas as Seventh so doesn't require a major mapping effort, at least initially. Much as I usually enjoy mapping a totally unknown game, I'm not in a sufficiently patient mood to tackle it right now.

With the usual early closing at the university on Saturdays, it was off to the mall. Another inner debate which had bubbled under all day was quickly settled. I had enough money for three zones one day of the weekend, two the other day. Which was it to be, Saturday or Sunday, with the bonus bottle? Dame Fortune said forget about it, put three strollers in my path immediately after getting to the mall. That was a fast $1.50, soon topped up to three dollars at which point I stopped looking.

No Bad Boys. I was wanting to see at least one of them, just to get news of the others.

Off, fairly buzzed, to the bench, nobody else around. Waking to the tap-tap of raindrops on the tarp, going back to sleep, waking again to the chatter of the four o'clock motormouth walkers, then some more raindrops. The usual gang wasn't at the snack bar, making me wonder if the police had cleared them out again. For the second morning in a row there were young people who were drunk, stoned or both, apparently winding up a party night. One young man was shouting with laughter, telling his friends "she kept saying, oh my God, it's so big!", repeated several times. I wanted to see if she'd known what she was talking about, but 4:45 in the morning is too early for such stuff, even for this dirty old man.

And the clock ticks down. Maybe I will make it through this lost weekend after all.

720

"Camping arrests have dipped since Travis County Magistrate Jim Coronado ruled that sleeping, even in public, is constitutionally protected, officials say."

Three cheers for the Texas judge. I am told others view a ban on sleeping in public as unconstitutional only if there are not sufficient shelter beds for the homeless population. Methinks I shall reach SocSec long before the courts finally sort this out and I, no doubt, shall rejoin the majority of the population who could care less. Of course, there's not a chance the main shelter here could provide beds for all the people living on the street and in the parks, but I'm sure they'd love to have the funds such an effort would bring in. Business boom, baby.

Sunday was quite dull. The weather improved and certainly it was luxurious to have a night without raindrops beating on the tarp, just as it was luxurious to have those three bottles of malt liquor. Good thing Dame Fortune was so generous with the quarters on Saturday because there were none at all on Sunday, snipe hunting was a nuisance all day, and food was scarce.

Never mind. To the ATM before dawn on Monday. cRaZy MoNeY time! Yawn.

Purchase number one, of course, a pack of cigarettes. The clerk at 7-Eleven shortchanged me, I realized after leaving the store. I wondered why she didn't complete the ring-up, so the register showed what change was due. And I wonder how much she manages to pocket each day with that trick. Karma's gonna get her ... and I'll keep a sharp eye on her, too, whenever I go to that branch, which isn't often.

Second expenditure: fried eggs and bacon, toast and milk at Paradise Palms. Correct change, too.

Third: paying back the pre-spent twenty.

Not bad, getting all that taken care of before the first alcohol hit the bill, but that came along a little earlier than usual since I wanted to be at the theatre for the one o'clock showing of "Pollock".

I told one of the Bad Boys once, whether the Sleeptalker or Angelo, I don't recall, that when one reaches the venerable age of sixty, anything which is "unique" has a certain value. A man of sixty years has seen and experienced so much, there is little novelty left in life, especially in a time such as this when so little is being done which can honestly be called culturally, artistically adventuresome. Little wonder we look back on the Sixties with affection.

So this film instantly scored because I've never seen one before which attempted to portray so many people I have known personally. (Lordy, was DeKooning ever that cute?) It's quite an uncanny feeling.

It was utterly depressing, but how could it have been otherwise? Jackson Pollock's life was a mess, never mind what he managed to create despite that. I was only surprised by one piece of it, never knew Hans Namuth was such a jackass. I thought Alfonso Ossorio should have been given a little more credit for his financial support of Pollock, although he and his lover were very nicely re-created. It was wonderful that Pollock, assuming this film stuck to facts, gave Clement Greenberg such a hard time for putting Clyfford Still on a level with Pollock. Greenberg deserved it. Peggy Guggenheim was perfectly portrayed, and of course they couldn't have neglected to include Pollock's legendary pissing in her fireplace.

And Lee Krasner Pollock? Yes, the film did an excellent job of showing what a Jewish bitch she was while also making it clear how much she loved Jackson and how well she understood the significance of what he was doing. It must have been extraordinarily painful for her when Peggy Guggenheim walked into their dreary walk-up in Manhattan and, without knowing, first saw Krasner's work and wasn't kind. Krasner was a second-rate painter, never mind the huge retrospective which is going to tour America next year. But she was a brave lady and no doubt Pollock was correct if he did say, as in the film, that she kept him alive. At least for longer than he might have stayed otherwise.

Some of the film was too subtle. The scene where Jackson was trying to get his family to understand what he had achieved made it look like he was bigheaded. I am sure that wasn't what the scene meant to say, am even more sure he wasn't. Some of it was, quite frankly, boring. As a film, divorced from its subject matter, it is not all that successful. I was too emotionally involved to care very much, and I could easily, if I'd had a room somewhere to myself, have left the theatre, bought a bottle of tequila, drunk the whole thing and cried myself to sleep.

Jackson Pollock is more important to me than any artist who has ever lived, and I am grateful a film was made about his life which, all in all, does him and his achievement justice. I dreaded seeing it, but am happy I did, even if I still feel like crying.

721

"You're a homosexual?!" asked Peter with obviously genuine surprise. How sweet, how naive some young men can be. "Well, of course I am," I said, patting him on his fine shoulder as I left. As I told him, I was getting too drunk and his handsome legs were making me want to misbehave, so I had to go. Not just his legs are admirable, he's a fine looking man, a father with a little girl, wife and child on the mainland while he is a student here. I was already fairly drunk when he greatly surprised me by sitting at the table next to me, and then turning toward me and starting a conversation. But why did he think I'd been gazing at him with something close to adoration, why did I buy him a beer? Yes, sweet and naive. And very handsome.

The Cherub had arrived at the computer lab, ready for a pre-rehearsal drinking session. Will we survive until Faust is over and done with? He had seen "Pollock" on the weekend so it dominated the conversation, and we formally drank a toast to Lee Krasner, something I would never have expected to do.

Octavius joined us but perhaps I was being too outrageous for him or he was miffed not to be the center of attention. For whatever reason, he got up abruptly at one point and moved to a table by himself. Strange young man and, like I said, far more amusing when he's drunk than sober.

I do love Manoa Garden. And those "Monsters" ... one shot each of vodka, gin and tequila, the 34 ounce glass topped up with Triple Sec (I have to look on the web because I don't know exactly what that is), and a splash of Coke or some green fruity stuff, depending on whether one wants a Green or a Brown Monster. First cousin to Long Island Iced Tea and a yummy, potent drink indeed. Two of those, an excellent pair of legs to lust over, and I was more than ready to collapse on the bench and sleep soundly until a little after five the next morning. The Tongan arriving at Sinclair Library while I was making a last check of mail was icing on the cake. What a sexy man he is.

By eight o'clock on Tuesday morning I was ready for a drink. I suppose if I do make it to SocSec I will truly become an alcoholic, big time, Jackson style.

There was email in the box which I didn't read, because when I replied to the second one, the computer froze and I don't think it got sent. Just as well, I rephrased it (more gently) next morning. I should probably stay off the computer altogether when even a little drunk, certainly when very drunk, or else restrict myself to MUDs where I can make an idiot of myself without it getting recorded anywhere.

And among those I hadn't read was an amusing little exchange about me, initiated in a mail which had been intended as private and had instead been sent to the only "social" mail-list I am on. Ha! I've done that a few times (again when drunker than I should have been ... don't drink and drive, sure, but don't drink and compute, too). My slip-ups were mostly on Usenet, intending to reply personally to a post but hitting the wrong button and publicly posting it, usually not noticing until the next day when cancelling it hadn't stopped too many people from reading it already.

In the current case, two ladies are discussing me, both of whom know what's better for me than I do. That they think this is no surprise, of course, it has always been obvious, and I feel fairly certain their intentions are good. I feel equally certain that neither really understands me at all.

But then who does? I certainly don't.

722

It's paxil vobiscum time again, although this round it will be double the normal dosage, perhaps even escalating to triple. This strategy carries with it the warning that "manic episodes" sometimes occur with high dosages of Paxil and I am to let the Doc know immediately if such a thing occurs. I assured him I have considerable experience with manic swing, would have no difficulty at all in recognizing the onset of one. I didn't add that I'd let him know after enjoying it for a few days. Hell, I have so few friends left, the usual past problem with manic swings wouldn't exist, hardly any to lose.

The Chinese Psychiatrist is a most interesting man.

"If I gave you the drugs to make it possible, would you do it today?" he asked me about suicide. Yes, definitely, I told him, but I'd have a few drinks first. But oh yes, absolutely no doubt about it, give me a certain, comfortable way out and I WOULD take it. "The way out is via the door, how is it no one uses this method?" Bow to Master Kung.

This Doc is the first to make an issue of alcohol. He clearly would prefer if I did not drink at all, but says I should definitely limit it to "one or two beers" a day, and I knew he meant little 12 ounce cans of Budweiser. Good thing I didn't mention the Monsters. I told him I enjoyed drinking and saw no reason to abstain from it, not even to be "happy" because I was taking the drugs he would give me if I didn't use alcohol. Happiness is a cold beer, baby, at least as close to happiness as I expect to get unless the Sleeptalker returns and stands naked again in front of me.

I arrived at the clinic not long after a major uproar had taken place. A large fire truck, an ambulance and a number of police vehicles were parked in the street in front of the building. Evidently some very crude looking woman, who was still ranting in the doctors' office area, had created a disturbance (and still was). Two security men had arrived and one of them had a heart attack. I saw his grossly overweight body being wheeled out on a gurney, an attendant pounding his chest as they wheeled him away.

Somehow I think this Fool Moon, now less than 48 hours away, is gonna be a doozy.

Meanwhile, I popped the first pill, wait to start feeling seasick.

paxil vobiscum

723

Yeukh, no doubt about it, the "side effects" from Paxil click in very much sooner on double dosage, in twenty-four hours even. Trembling hands, shivering body even when sitting in warm sun, occasional bouts of nausea. What a sweet price for "happiness". Drug-induced "happiness" (and you know just how much faith I have in that).

But of course, the Chinese Psychiatrist was interesting enough that I did have, do have, to consider his advice, never mind the junk aspects of this drug he has given me. I certainly did nothing on the first day to take his advice very seriously, though. It was payday for the Cherub, and no rehearsal, prompting a serious, all-evening drinking session.

The Cherub is, without question, the most mis-named character in the Tales.

When we got to the Garden, Bryant ranted at some length. The punch-up on Friday had gotten quite a write-up in the campus newspaper, so the management of the Garden was horrified, have decided to introduce new policies for dealing with Friday nights (the only time they have live music), including adding a third bartender. Another body to split tips with does not, of course, please Bryant, especially on the busiest night of the week. I don't quite understand the logic, very much doubt the fight was inspired by people pissed-off at having to stand in line too long at the bar, but then no one will give me a clear account of just what happened, and the Cherub was irked with me because I told Bryant what little I did know about it.

My radar for spotting upcoming brawls must be quite good. The Cherub and I moved on to Magoo's, a pizza-and-beer establishment downhill from campus. I wasn't keen on the idea, but he bribed me with the promise of a shot of tequila as well as a pitcher of beer. We'd already had enough at the Garden, and it wasn't long before he began to slide into his obnoxious drunk mode. He doesn't even know he's doing it, and I'm sure I don't when it happens to me either, so I don't in the least bit blame him. But I also won't put up with it, so I thanked him for an "interesting evening" and departed, some angry rants from him as I left. I was still sitting across the street at the bus stop when I saw him and some other people being escorted from Magoo's by a security person, and then a fight broke out on the sidewalk, the Cherub punched and landing in the gutter. A police scooter arrived and stopped any further fighting, the Cherub plodded off uphill to where he had left his car.

All my children ...

It was a welcome dry night and I slept till the unusual hour of almost 6:30. Then I decided I'd go to the discount store and get myself something new to wear, since my gray polo shirt was fairly grubby and I didn't feel at all like doing laundry. I'm much more colorful than is my usual habit, a heavy cotton polo shirt in horizontal stripes of dusty violet, green, dark blue and a thinner stripe of tan. Panther the Easter Egg, premature as usual, although of course the green is appropriate for the Irish fest ahead of us. On my way to the store it started drizzling rain and I had to stop under a bus shelter for awhile to wait for it to stop.

But then it turned into quite a pleasant day, so I went back to the mall and crossed over to the park for my first beach shower of the year. The shower with hot water on campus had, alas, not been left unlocked for over a week, it was time for more than washbasin spit baths. Very, very cold water, of course, but an interesting nomad shower companion, admirably equipped. Too chilly to even think seriously about anything but getting clean, dry, and out of there. Swiss cheese and rolls with a Colt for lunch, as always at the beach park trying to shoo off the pigeons to let the little doves eat.

Finally, then, to campus, much later than usual, another Colt and finishing the Perry book in the secluded grove, giving those little featherballs three rolls I had saved for them.

Responding to an email by writing:

Jackson was dead before I got to New York. I knew his widow, which I have written about, and all the survivors from his time, including B.H. Friedman, one of his major champions ("Energy Made Visible") and Clement Greenberg, the critic Jackson gave a hard time in the film, deservedly, and of course, Alfonso Ossorio who played a more major role in Pollock's life than the film shows.

So far as I know, the film was very true to the facts and portrays the people quite accurately as I knew them, with the exception of Hans Namuth, the photographer who did the extraordinary film of Jackson at work. Even with him, perhaps what Namuth achieved excuses his insensitivity as depicted in the film, but I don't think so. My own impression of him was that of "a nice old man", but it wouldn't be the first time I mistook someone's character.

724

The Cherub again came to get me at the computer lab and we went to Manoa Garden. A bit dumb, since he's almost broke and I've spent far too much of the Crazy Money in this first week of it, but I was feeling rotten from this damn Paxil adjustment and didn't care, just wanted a drink, never mind the expense or the Doc's recommendation.

As I suspected, the Cherub had made some smartass remark to a young lady after I'd left Magoo's the night before. He picked the wrong one. She slugged him twice. Slugged, not slapped, one hard enough to cut his lip. Then her brother jumped in, challenged the Cherub to a fight, and they were all escorted from the premises. The Cherub remembers what happened outside differently than what I saw, thinks he ended up in the gutter because he had rushed the guy and fell, not because he'd gotten punched hard enough to knock him down. Didn't look that way to me, but I wasn't going to argue about it. We were both puzzled by how quickly that cop arrived, but I think it was fortunate for the Cherub. That sounded like a pretty effective brother-sister team.

There's a very cute local Japanese fellow with the ends of his hair bleached. I've seen him several times at the Garden before, and when I returned to our table after getting a drink, he was standing there talking to the Cherub, another young man with him. They were inviting us to take part in a Bible discussion class. Tempting, and I probably would have accepted had I been on my own, just to spend a little time with the part-blonde.

Speaking of bleached blondes, I can tell with some reliability when the moon is full even without consulting the moon calendar, just by Blondie at the mall. She was in full rant outside McD's on Friday morning, while that big round ball was shining in the sky. It took her about 20 minutes to complete the short walk to McD's, stopping and loudly lecturing some invisible companion every few steps, a routine she does every time the moon nears full.

Although it had only rained lightly and briefly once during the night, it was a thoroughly restless one because the wind was fierce and rarely stopped blasting away at me all night. The tarp had to be kept very carefully tucked in because the wind grabbed any loose edge and whipped it off. Tucked in, though, the wind pushed it into my face, and I finally worked out a method that helped, using one of the backpack straps as an arch, keeping the tarp slightly elevated. Little wonder several guys were asleep in the toilet the next morning.

My mood was pretty close to dismal all day and that wind-tossed sleep didn't help much, nor did a rather mundane murder mystery, Heart of War by Lucian Truscott, interesting mainly because it's set at Fort Benning, Georgia, where I spent some of the early months of my time in the Army and had my first real love affair, at the ripe old age of sixteen.

The Chinese Doc asked me what I thought was the main reason I so often feel depressed. I told him "because I don't know what to do." I've pondered that answer since making it (reminding myself at the same time that it isn't necessary to do anything), but yes, I think that was an accurate response to his question.

725

Full moon and empty arms ... One of those classical rip-offs, if I remember correctly. Rachmaninoff, perhaps? Strange, but apt, choice for the internal jukebox since it was, indeed, a very boring Fool Moon, especially compared to the previous one.

This wretched wind. It's enough of a nuisance in the daytime, absolutely hideous at night. A few minutes of barely a breeze and then suddenly, whoosh, an enormous gust. And the Fool Moon night also added rain and one of the worst bands I've ever heard in my long life. I had finished that quite banal murder mystery novel. If one is going to write a "whodunnit", then the reader should certainly not be able to easily guess who the culprit was when barely halfway through the book. But I didn't feel like making the effort to trek downhill and get more reading material, then was amused by how much I missed having some on the bus rides and with the morning coffee next day.

A dreadful Beatles-clone band was at Manoa Garden so after having a sunset drink there, sheltered from the frequent drizzle which had dripped on me off and on throughout the day, left for the mall. I was so weary and when I looked in the mirror in the restroom I said, "yikes, you look awful." Off to the bench, never mind it was only about eight-thirty. Better hidden under a tarp than walking around feeling exhausted and looking worse.

But I must get my routine adjusted for Friday nights because obviously that club at the marina can't afford a decent band, yet they allow the inept ones they do get to play very, very loudly, there being no tax-paying householders in the nearby vicinity. I don't think I've ever heard a worse bass guitarist and I've certainly never heard a worse version of the Stones' "Brown Sugar". Ordinarily I don't use earplugs on my oceanside bench, the sound of lapping water is gentle persuasion to sleep and, at least in this time of winter, there are not many people around until those pre-dawn walkers show up. But I was grateful the earplugs at least blocked some of that dismal attempt to make "music".

Wind, rain, stiff from staying in one position trying to keep myself fully covered by the tarp. And with the wind and rain, the tarp itself got clammy and nasty-feeling. Oh yes, a lovely night under that full moon which did now and then peek out from the dripping clouds. Absolutely lovely. Hmmmmm.

A sweet and sour mail call on Saturday. A little melon fell from heaven, and not such a little one, either. Some extra "mad money" from California readers I don't know at all. That was sweet indeed. For the first time, I had seriously considered giving up on-line life altogether. I've several times thought of ending the Tales, of course, but hadn't until this week contemplated leaving the whole thing. So it was heartwarming and reassuring to get such a vote of confidence.

It was also a more than welcome counterbalance to my annoyance with myself for having spent so much of the month's Crazy Money so quickly, even without glass pipes and the Sleeptalker, and to the other object in the mailbox. Those social worker people, again. Telling me I must have my re-evaluation appointment before April 2nd or lose the Crazy Money. Say what? I had the damned appointment weeks ago, was approved. Sigh. Obviously the Doc's approval form has gone astray. So off I must go on Monday to talk again to that bored utterly un-caring woman, my caseworker. I just can't tell you how much I look forward to that.

Unbelievable. Two months when the foodstamps or Crazy Money simply didn't arrive, given no explanation when going to the welfare office, just told it would be there the next day. Setting the re-evaluation appointment and arriving to find there was no record of it, having to re-schedule. And now having done it, being told I haven't. Like I said, little wonder people who really need the assistance don't get it. You have to be totally insane to even bother. I look forward to SocSec when I shall tell the lot of them to stick their forms in the proverbial place where the sun don't shine.

At least the State Library had a couple of interesting offerings in their freebie collection, starting with Father Greeley's Happy are the Meek, and I enjoyed beginning that, as I have with all his most admirable books, in the secluded grove, cheese and roll sandwiches with a bottle of Colt, and sharing the bread with the ever increasing flock of zebra doves who come to lunch with me.

And Jonathan Cainer wrote about the new week: What's best for you? What's best for the person you care about? What's the reason for the difference between the answer to the first question and the second? This week, you need to begin by accepting that there IS a difference.

Honey chile, I accepted that a LONG time ago.

726

A perceptive reader wrote: About the last paragraph of 724, though : I thought it was when you felt in charge of someone that you felt better. And that I was the one having to do things all the time to escape depression. Funny I misunderstood to such an extent.

Not "in charge". As Meister Hesse said in Magister Ludi, all I want is someone who needs me. For the past month the only person in my life who comes close to that is the Cherub and he doesn't really need me. I'm just a drinking buddy to him, someone who will perhaps listen more to him than his other friends will. Not the same as the Sleeptalker or, for a time, Angelo. No, that position is vacant right now, and I am not doing too well with adjusting to the empty niche.

The first thing the Cherub asked me on Saturday when he came to the secluded grove looking for me was, "did you see the Sleeptalker?" No, he skipped this full moon, as I had expected him to. For whatever reason, he doesn't need me right now, at least not enough to overcome the repercussions of that last full moon evening.

I think, though, the compulsion to be doing something is not a case of escaping depression but more one of escaping boredom. My thinking is simply not interesting enough to me right now and I feel divorced from the pleasures of non-thinking observation, except perhaps when the observed is a desirable young man. When I sink so far into gloom that even that fails to get my attention, then I will be indeed in deep shit, as they say.

The Cherub was himself in deep gloom. I've never seen him so morose. I wasn't in great spirits myself, still plagued by the discomfort of adjustment to Paxil. That, at least, seemed a little lighter on Sunday morning, helped no doubt by a relatively decent sleep. It was a dry night and the wind did its ferocious gusting routine less frequently. Just why the Cherub was so unhappy, I couldn't discover, and he soon left, saying he was going to Hamilton Library to continue his research into Frank Lloyd Wright. He did return after the library closed but declined my offer of a beer since he had to meet someone.

I went to the mall where entertainment for the annual "Honolulu Festival" was underway, the place enlivened by many Japanese people in various native costumes, and the stage occupied by Japanese ladies doing the hula to canned music. I bought a Colt and two cheap burgers from McD's and went to the park to continue Father Greeley's as always delightful book. Now he can write a whodunnit which left me baffled until the very end, but the story, as with most of his writing, is inconsequential compared to his delicious asides on the subjects of God, the Church, and human nature.

It did start to drizzle, so I had to return to the mall to seek shelter for continued reading, to finish the beer, and wait until it was late enough to head for the bench, by which time the light rain had stopped. For several nights now, it has been just me and a rather large dark woman who takes the next bench along, some ten or fifteen feet away. I never see her during the daytime. The first night she came out there, I heard her ask, "excuse me, sir, are you crying?" I assured her I wasn't, although I would have had good reason to that night, and she went on her way. I hope it continues to be so sparsely populated there, more chance the police will leave us alone. They do seem to have cooled their enforcement efforts for the moment, though, since the snack bar area has been a full house, all floor space occupied.

Early on Saturday morning I saw Amadeus sitting in the mall. He had new khaki trousers and, alas, shoes. Such delightful feet shouldn't be hidden from view. I was in too ragged a mood to risk asking him to breakfast. And I fear, sweet as he looks, he's not the one to fill that vacancy.

Perhaps it's time to petition Dame Fortune ...

726a

The Cherub confessed he had given up, had sold Gertrude Stein's Making of Americans to the used bookstore. I certainly can't blame him for that since I've quite a few times given up reading that book, but not for the same reason. He said he had little patience with "stream of consciousness" writing. But that is not what Stein was doing. He's too young to understand that, so I didn't argue with him. He'll probably get the point eventually, but even then (like I) may not be able to get through that Everest of Stein. Or Joyce's Ulysses.

Next on my own reading list is Stephen King's The Tommyknockers. It looks physically almost as huge as the Stein book but, like all his work, is considerably more approachable ... and engrossing. Some wonderful examples of metaphor, too, somewhat unusual for King. "... so various and new, glistening like the fresh ejaculate of a young boy's first wetdream". Ha! High ten to Mister King.

The Cherub had declined my offer of a sandwich and forty zones for lunch on Sunday, said he had rehearsal. But he did arrive at the secluded grove not long after I'd made my second trip downhill, was just opening the second forty zones. I offered him the money to go get himself one and re-join me. "I probably wouldn't come back," he said. "That's okay."

No, he said instead he was going down to the used bookstore to "browse". I told him I'd done that day before yesterday, was disappointed by how much they didn't have, including Evelyn Waugh. "Who's that?" he asked. How fleeting is fame and honour.

And no, the Cherub doesn't fill that vacant niche.

But then, isn't it about time for "self-sufficiency" or, if that's beyond me, relying on something else, like "devotion to God" (or some lesser imagination of such a being, like Krishna or Shinran?). Or at least amuse myself with notions of filing a lawsuit against DHSS for mental cruelty and emotional torture? Oh, okay, I did fantasize about that, found it an amusing diversion for a few minutes.

Once a reader complained because the tale from the previous day was "boring". I asked him, what should I do? Go out and create something interesting, kill somebody, get beat up for propositioning the wrong man, steal an expensive watch from Cartier or Tiffany? Collect some cool material for a more amusing tale?

These days, the Tales veer perilously close to what the inimitable Ophelia Z complained about when she said all keepers of on-line journals eventually seem to "whine". But then is there any human being alive on this planet who hasn't at one point or another whined? And if one of those is trying to write about that one's life, how to do so honestly without whining? (Or, like Ophelia, just stop doing it? Not whining, writing.)

Beat me daddy, eight to the bar ....

727

Arrrrghhh. Not for the first time I ask, who deserves this Crazy Badge more, me or the system? Off to DHSS I went early on Monday morning. The security guard/receptionist, a grotesquely overweight man, was literally falling asleep in his chair. I filled out the "walk-in" slip asking to see my social worker, he picked up the phone to call her and fell back asleep while waiting for a response. Fortunately, another worker came over and nudged him awake, took the slips and presumably delivered them (three of us were by then waiting at the counter with the sleeping telephonist).

My social worker came out, asked "what letter?" I showed it to her, she read it, said, "let me check." A few minutes later she returned and said, "it's okay, I have it." I couldn't resist making her admit it openly. "So I shouldn't have gotten this letter?" I asked. Sheepishly, she confessed, "that's right." A young fellow in a wheelchair who had been listening to the entire exchange gave me a "right on" grin as I turned to leave.

Madness. But at least my Crazy Money is intact until October. Maybe. I won't be in the least surprised if it hiccups again, always check the balance on the due date before trying to actually use the stuff.

In some questions about me and the process of waiting, a state of time I often find so irksome, a reader asked, "Do you think it will be the same when the time for the SS money approaches ?" Oh my, do I. Since I will become eligible on April 12, 2002, I assume I will not actually get any money until May 1st, and even then only a little more than half the usual monthly allotment. Thus I feel quite certain that March and April 2002 is likely to be one of the worst times of my long life. What I must do, of course, is try to keep this Crazy Money going so it overlaps the start of SocSec. Let us pray ....

I can think, I can wait, I can fast. When I discussed that line from Hesse's Siddhartha, I said I don't do much waiting, and this is true. It is something which is only seriously part of my life in the days before the Fabled Pension Check arrives, and it is clear from the Tales just how twisted I sometimes get with it. And I deeply resent even that involvement with waiting, know it's utter foolishness on my part. Be here now.

The reader spoke of another aspect to waiting, the pleasure in the time of anticipation, sweeter sometimes than the arrival of what one was waiting for. Yes, I understand that well. In quite a few of my "romances", I know the desire, the fantasy of how wonderful it would be, has sometimes been much sweeter than actually getting what I wanted so badly, waited for so eagerly. Like I said, the Sleeptalker was a perfect example of NOT being that but the reality surpassing the expectation. And it surely was a long wait for it, too, and I must admit, there was considerable pleasure in the anticipation.

We should probably not even use such a catch-all term as waiting, abolish it from the language and use different words for the very diverse kinds of waiting there are. In the case of the expected arrival of money, for me "the tortuous passage of time", perhaps. There is no sweetness in the wait, just extreme annoyance with myself for letting it matter and the certain knowledge that it isn't really going to matter that much anyway. Not really, comfortable and amusing as it may be to have dollars in pocket rather than empty ones.

I have been bitching on the homeless-l mail-list about the situation here in Honolulu and a reader of that list wrote: "Brother you would not care to be sleeping here we got 58 inches of snow in three storms!" and sent me a picture of his "igloo":



I told him I shall certainly think of that when I'm next huddled under my tarp, complaining about the blasting tradewinds and the raindrops, the shivering temperatures in the low 70's. So it was on Sunday night. I left campus, went to the mall with superb timing since I unexpectedly connected with Helen R and consequently had that yummy lasagna from Sbarro's for dinner. I'd been tempting myself with that possibility for several days but told myself it was ludicrous to spend six dollars on a meal. Then I bought a bottle of Mickey's and went to the park to continue King's amusing book. Amadeus arrived and sat at the table next to me, was still there when I left for the bench, wishing I knew how to make contact with the lad but certain it is he who must let me know he wants it. Cats.

My neighbor from the past few nights wasn't there and didn't arrive. The wind wasn't as bad as it has been but still whipped around the tarp now and then, waking me. Later I heard what I thought was the pack of pre-dawn motormouths, looked at my watch (which I have to use the cigarette lighter to do) and saw it wasn't quite yet three in the morning. Whatever are people doing, walking out there yakking at that hour? Back to sleep until the sound of raindrops woke me again. Falling snow would be quieter, but that's okay, I'll happily stick with the rain.

I was walking over to McD's and a police car cruised slowly past the snack bar which was again full of bodies on the floor. What? They overloaded the already overloaded court system with arrests for "illegal camping", have been told to lay off? Whatever the reason, I hope they continue to ignore us.

As I said, oremus ...

728

Waiting ... Whining. Two "W words", and then they connect. Well, even if I am trying diligently to ignore it, this is the Lenten season, and it has me twisted this round as it has before, no matter how much I try to deny it.

Or Confucius and his "have no twisted thoughts". He didn't have to deal with the 21st Century, DHSS, well-meaning friends, and the Church.

I know, that's a whine.

But here we have a significant portion of mankind waiting. For what? The Second Coming, of course. And it's not just the Christians, there are those waiting for the Ultimate Buddha, too.

Whoever wrote that "Q" that the Gospels are supposedly based on was evidently much mistaken. Jesus didn't say he was returning in clouds of glory within their lifetimes. He told me so. [What, you don't think I deserve my Crazy Money?]. Of course, he returned, and in their lifetimes. Just decided to use different tactics. Good idea, too, considering that other W word.

Has there ever been a bigger WHINE in all the history of mankind than those words on the cross? Why hast thou forsaken me?

How sweet it would be to believe, to be a "Christian". But if that wonderful teacher had not first inspired grave doubt by cursing the poor fig tree, he most definitely would have with his monumental whine on the cross. I wish I could read Father Greeley's thoughts on those famous (or infamous) "Seven Last Words".

I apologize if I offend any readers. It won't be the first time and, if I keep on writing these things or survive to do it, certainly won't be the last. I envy any of you who genuinely believes, no matter what manifestation of some ultimate being you believe in. But I can't help thinking every attempt "it" has made to communicate to us lowlifes "it" supposedly created has been a dismal flop.

We barely remember the pre-Egyptian gods, except perhaps via the few sun-worshippers still existing in India. The gods of Egypt, Greece and Rome are nothing to us but "mythology", the northern countries' pantheons even less, except in our names for days of the week. The Jews continue, possibly with the greatest, most long-lasting devotion, to their should-be-unmentionable name of that. Christians are relative newbies, Muslims even more so.

All waiting, waiting ....

Little wonder I have such a problem with the concept, eh?

729

Bartender Bryant is being so hysterical about that recent punch-up, has now extended the "changes" that incident supposedly brought about to being utterly miserly with the shots, now poured to the brim and not a splash over. If the coming Spring Break doesn't cool him down, maybe a reduced tip jar will. And he mistakenly considers the Cherub and the Frenchman as "my boys". "I hardly know the Frenchman," I protested, "rarely have seen him except here on Friday evenings." Bryant was steamed because the Frenchman had shown up, with the Cherub, last Friday, refused to serve the Frenchman because he didn't have his ID with him. His real reason, of course, was the Frenchman's role in the punch-up, whether he was to blame or not. "It's his attitude," Bryant said, "the local dude wouldn't have just slugged him without a reason." And the Frenchman had made the mistake of being huffy with Bryant about the ID. "It's just the French attitude," I told him. "They often seem to be very arrogant to us."

[Let us not even talk about how "arrogant" Americans appear, and often are, to the rest of the world.]

I went to the Garden in the late afternoon, too lazy to walk downhill for another bottle and feeling more in the mood for the hard stuff, anyway. If Bryant is going to be so miserly with it, though, I shall have to carry around a little bottle of vodka and top the Monster up a bit.

About three-quarters of the way through The Tommyknockers, I grumbled, "this is rubbish." Entertaining rubbish, no doubt about it, but when he can write as meaningful a book as Hearts in Atlantis, it's a shame Stephen King wastes his time with stuff like Tommyknockers. He could undoubtedly show me his royalty statements for book sales and mention the film rights, say to me, "waste?!" And then who am I to talk about anyone "wasting time"?

Waiting. I thought more about it when I got to the mall and, as always, saw those people who sit there day after day, doing nothing, not even reading. The ultimate waiting, waiting for death. And while waiting, wasting, killing time. Of course, for every one of those folks sitting there doing it publicly, there are tens of thousands sitting in sordid little rooms doing the same thing, probably watching television.

"Depression is a curable disease," the Chinese psychiatrist said. I told him I think sometimes it makes perfect sense to feel depressed. The thought of all those people sitting alone watching television day after day is certainly reason enough.

Before going to the mall, I stopped by the used bookstore where the fifty-cent table had a more interesting selection than it has in months. I was tempted by a very thick saga Stephen King wrote in collaboration with Peter Straub but said, no, I've had enough of that stuff for awhile, picked two volumes by Henry James instead and began The American with Tuesday morning's coffee. First time in about forty years I've re-read it.

"I suppose you speak French as well as English?"
"Better! said Mr. Tristram, roundly. "It's a splendid language. You can say all sorts of bright things in it."
"But I suppose," said Christopher Newman, with an earnest desire for information, "that you must be bright to begin with."
"Not a bit; that's just the beauty of it."


Ha!

730

"... that charming city Brussels."

Really, Mister James. Bruxelles has always seemed to me a boring, dull, gray old dowager of cities. Fit to be the bureaucratic center of the European Union in the way that Washington, D.C., with all its fake Greek temples, is fit to be the capitol city of this union of states. But charming???

I write, sitting in Sinclair Library at the University of Hawaii, and look over to my left, see shelves full of thick volumes. I note the title on one: Century Magazine, May-Oct 1921. Fascinating. I could probably spend hours engrossed in those thick objects. Not as thick as one I almost dropped yesterday at Hamilton Library. One of the biggest books I've ever held in my hands: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection. I tried to slide a few books out a bit on the shelf below, rest that gargantuan tome on them. The books below clattered out onto the floor. Okay, I shall try again, only next time lug Peggy's catalogue over to a (hopefully sturdy) desk and more thoroughly peruse it. I have to do it soon, though, because they are moving books into the new Hamilton Annex, not yet open to the public. Most of the art books have already vanished.

Peggy did buy a lot of crap, but also some very fine paintings.

Cities. My favorite, as I've said before, is certainly Kathmandu, jewel of the Himalayas. I am told it has suffered greatly since my last visit, almost thirteen years ago, but I have a strong suspicion I will love it just as much when, Dame Fortune willing, I next visit it. Given the choice, that is where I would end this life.

Delhi, too, has a special place in my heart, a wonderful, insane city, unlike any other I have experienced. New Orleans, of course. San Antonio. And yes, even New York City, or at least Manhattan. London. Paris. Rome.

Ah, I am an urban nomad, indeed, although I'm not at all sure I'd want to be "homeless" in any of those places. I have a strong suspicion that Honolulu is the best city in which to live in that strata of society, never mind the recent urges of the householders to hassle us. Tahiti, of course, might be a better option.

I teased Bryant the Bartender so mercilessly that he relented and fixed me a proper Monster. Bryant really is a "good man", has a kind heart, has to put up with an enormous amount of crap. I like him very much.

I like Henry James a lot, too. It's so funny how we Americans have kept noodling on about the "great American novel", when it has been written so many times. I also liked the rather handsome young Japanese fellow who was sitting at the next table while, or whilst, as our traditional British cousins would say, I was enjoying The American with a proper Monster.

Like so many of these Asian-descended young men, including the one sitting next to me at the terminal as I write (no longer now at Sinclair Library, but back at the computer lab where they kindly allow us nomads to use the terminals), he had the habit (compulsion?) of constantly jiggling his leg up and down. Nervous energy, is it? I never saw it until I came to Hawaii. Almost all of them do it, whether locally born or a temporary tourist. How very odd.

And why do women walk around in shoes which go clop-clop-clop, making one think a horse is walking by?

731

No doubt his devoted admirers, especially the professorial types, would cringe when I say that The American could so easily be a Danielle Steel novel. Of course, Henry James has a different, somewhat dusty if not archaic, albeit charming, style, but really, the book overall is very much in the Steel vein, or I suppose more accurately, her books are in the James vein. I finished it and went on to a volume of his most respected shorter works, starting with the bizarre Daisy Miller, also finished with a mid-afternoon brew in the secluded grove. Steel could have turned that one into a thousand-pager.

As Jonathan Cainer says about this time, "Those for whom physical room to manoeuvre is limited are seeking spiritual or creative ways to escape mundanity. Perhaps so. The new Honolulu Weekly brought an interesting item, suggesting the next line of strategy is going to be simply closing ALL public parks from 10pm to 6am. This is probably good news for those of us who only want to sleep on a bench, since it will expand the number of concerned people, of potential protestors. No more night fishing, no moonlight picnics, no earlybird walkers? It is a sad thing to see householders get so hysterical, especially in this beautiful place where such restrictive, anal notions seem so alien.

It does, of course, also suggest that my nights on the bench, huddled under a tarp while wind beats at me and rain wakes me with its drumming, are a temporary solution. Either I must force myself to adjust to sleeping in the daytime and staying awake all night or resign myself to living in the "shelter" for a year, the only two options I see as viable at this time.

Ironically, a protest meeting is scheduled this week at the church which for such a long time allowed homeless people to sleep on their outdoor benches (the "cloisters" in these Tales) and then changed policy so that one cannot even sit there late at night without the police being called.

They were announcing the choice for the new "president" of the University on Tuesday so the campus security was on high alert and they even had uniformed police persons stationed around the administrative building. They were expecting riots over the choice? So I left fairly early, went to the mall, wandered around looking at cute boys until sunset and then got cheese, rolls and a bottle of Colt, went to the park and back to my reading. There is only one picnic table where the light is reliable enough to read by. So many of them are either burned out altogether or blink on and off. Soon, once again, Amadeus arrived and sat at the next table. I got sufficiently engrossed in the book that I didn't notice when he left, so am still wondering where he sleeps.

Mrs. Steel could not have written Washington Square. I feel fairly confident that admirable woman would agree with me.

And what do I feel about Octavius, who came to Manoa Garden and talked with me for awhile? Well, he told me his pursuit here at the University of Hawaii is "film". I spoke of Pasolini. "Who?" he asked.

And these people, these "professors" at UH want me to feel concerned about how many dollars they earn each year? No, I don't think so.

731a

What a silly thing to write. I was all drunk and everything. Of course, the faculty at UH deserve more money, the salaries at the University are pitiful. Never mind I have been again and again appalled by what these students tell me about the "education" they are getting, it's probably no worse here than at any other provincial university in this country.

But then it looks like all teachers are going on strike, at every level, to demand more money. More power to them. We do seem to be entering a rather stormy time on this little island, a number of possible labor strikes on the horizon and that wretched Asian Development Bank meeting (during which I must try to just get out of town).

I do wish Octavius was agreeable to letting me have his body, I thought later as I settled on my bench. Yes, that would be a treat, but not, alas, one I am likely to get.

Meanwhile, Paxil adjustment resumes. It had settled down, but then it was time to double the initial dose so back to the weirdness. A peculiar thing, to do something that causes greater depression in order to "treat" depression.

My peculiar life ...

732

albert, are you as angry as you seem these last few days ...

Yes, I suppose I am, although perhaps irritated, annoyed are better words than anger? I have mentioned before how little patience I have with incapacity of the body. And I make no allowance when it is not at all the body's fault. I am saturating it with nicotine, alcohol and this absurd chemical substance they call "Paxil". How can I complain, sensibly, if it malfunctions? But I do, even so.

I told Bryant the Bartender, when I ordered my second (generous) Monster, that my doctor had recommended giving up alcohol so I was spending all my money and then would follow his path for a little while since I'd have no choice. Maybe that is what I am doing, I really don't know. I can't remember when I have felt this lost before.

I don't think I have been this lost before.

And it certainly doesn't matter. As I see it, I have had quite a good time with this life, I'd say probably better than I deserved but I suspect karma gives us what we somehow earned. I wouldn't think I've done much to add to my credit balance this time around, and I have no great hope for the next one, either.

But then there is always the comforting notion that this is it. You die, and there are no further complications. You are GONE. Yes, that has a certain feeling of comfort.

Hurry up, please, it's time.

What an extraordinary influence Henry James has had on American writing. Capote must have relished The Aspern Papers. Me, too.

But let us not evade that question of "anger". I do not enjoy being angry, never have. I couldn't be an Angry Young Man or the Last Angry Man because I so rarely reach that stage of emotion. I think, truth to tell, the best description of me now is a wonderful recording by Pearl Bailey about being "so tired".

That, I am, with no question.

733

Well, the first supposed "benefit" of Paxil arrived on the eve of Saint Patrick's Wake, the increased intensity of light and color. One could get the same effect from even a small dose of LSD or mescaline, of course. But it does suggest driving in a car with a very dirty windshield and then suddenly getting it cleaned, seeing the world through new eyes. It's an effect to which one very quickly becomes jaded, in my experience, but encouraging as a sign of leaving the nastier side-effects behind and moving on to what this stuff is actually supposed to do for a person.

What an oddly lonely week this has been. Except for that interlude with Octavius and the brief exchanges of quips with Bartender Bryant, I've been on my own. Me and Henry James. Such a vivid (and morbid) imagination he had. I don't think I've ever read The Pupil before. Very strange tale. I've certainly read Turn of the Screw but one of the advantages of failing memory is not remembering, so I came upon it as something quite new.

Since I only had one more short work left unread in the volume, I stopped by the used bookstore to check their fifty-cent cart. I declined the opportunity to continue my perusal of earlier American works, didn't pick up any of the three Hawthorne works available. Once I finish with Mister James, I'll take a light-years leap to Arthur C. Clarke.

It was a beautiful morning but drizzle set in and I had to seek shelter to finish off my lunchtime Colt. A Channel 2 news van pulled up near my bench. No idea what was newsworthy on the campus on Friday, but it made me slightly nervous sitting there quaffing my verboten beer with a camera that nearby. Paranoia? Naw, just common sense.

It occurred to me that the solution to my nocturnal problem may be to head to the "rough". There are a number of nomads who make their nests on the wooded hillside adjoining the University, supposedly even some shallow caves up there in which they have taken up residence. If I could find a way to get across the creek separating the campus from that mostly uninhabited area, I could probably create my own nest. A pity these tarps don't come in green, they'd be much less visible. An idea I shall explore.

The City Council amended their absurd definition of camping at least a little. They deleted the provision which would have allowed the police to arrest someone on the spot for sleeping in a park. The current policy of handing out a "citation" (equivalent to a parking ticket) will continue. Of course, if one doesn't appear in court to answer that citation, then one is subject to arrest. Just call me a criminal.

Thursday night was the first in some time when the wind wasn't a nuisance and it didn't rain, but this is such an uneven time in these islands. It is usually very chilly in the predawn hours (even if I do feel like a wimp, walking along in my tee shirt, polo shirt and heavy sweatshirt, past folks who have just come out of the ocean and are taking a cold shower ... brrrrr) and then it gets sweatingly warm during the day.

Springtime in paradise ... although it remains to be seen just how paradisical it shall be.

734

The woman in front of me at 7-Eleven handed over her foodstamps card. Rejected. "You only have $2.02 left," said the clerk. Poor lady, just barely more than halfway through the month. My allowance is right on target, only hit the half-gone point on Saint Patrick's Day morning. If only I could manage the cash portion as well.

All the lonely people ... I was sitting at my usual table, finishing Henry James' The Beast in the Jungle with a nightcap bottle of Mickey's. They certainly saved the most weird tale in the collection for the last, so weird and depressing I almost gave up on it. A staggeringly drunk man, probably in his early thirties and possibly Indian or Pakistani, sat down and cheerfully, slurringly greeted me. It was evident within moments that he was a crashing bore, probably even more so being intoxicated. I turned away and continued reading, hoping each time he said he had to go that he really meant it, but it took half a dozen such declarations before he finally staggered on to the next table. I guess when I just ignored his "what are you reading?" question, he got the message. Amadeus was missing, alas. I enjoy just having him sitting nearby.

The next morning I was sitting in the orchid walk with my refill cup of coffee when a local lady in a bright muumuu walked up, asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee. I thanked her, but pointed to mine, saying I already had one. Could she sit down? Yes. Another crashing bore, and I would have been much happier to have been left alone with Clarke's fascinating The Songs of Distant Earth. I am certain I have read it before but remember nothing of it. I couldn't take much more than five minutes of that chatty woman, wished her a good day and went on my way.

There is something to be said for the lone wolf life.

Although her "controller" cannot be said to have had a very good week, Rubella the Mage did very well in Seventh Circle, already very close to Level 50. Talk about bad breath, she recently gained a spell called "gas breath" which hits every creature in the location, kills the weaker ones outright. It has been amusing playing her because I've never before played the type of character which is so dependent upon magic spells rather than swordplay. And it's also amusing that no one still has figured out who is playing her. There has been a larger and better crowd of players recently than for some time and only the continuing absence of the Sleeptalker keeps it from being as entertaining as it otherwise would be.

Well, I'm glad at least the colours came back. Some of your last Tales could have been named The Black Writings.

That's good. The most important goal in writing these things is to make them reflect the reality of my life and it was indeed a through a glass darkly week, probably worse even than the Tales suggest. When Rubella stumbled into a "black hole" in the game on Friday, I grinned and said welcome to the party.

On Saturday morning, I re-read the Tales about my first experience with Paxil, where the brightening of vision is also mentioned, and I woke to another remembered effect, a feeling as if the brain is swollen and a disassociation from what is happening around me. It is an uncanny feeling but not really discomforting. I am curious to see what a yet-again-doubled dose will do, but don't know when the Doc intends to take that step. I have the dubious pleasure of seeing both the psychiatrist and the psychologist on the first day of Aries, so shall probably soon find out what the plan is.

As usual, the marina had a dreadful band playing on Friday night. Strange. I know Manoa Garden doesn't pay very generously, but they do manage to get far more listenable musicians than that marina club does (and I would think that club has a larger budget). I explored alternatives to my usual bench, found one which may actually be better, distant enough to make the music faint and distant enough, too, from the walkway that the earliest motormouth walkers didn't wake me. Sleeping until 5:45 is a pleasure, not having to sit around and wait for McD's to open for those addicted-to cups of caffeine. And another night of gentle breeze and no rainfall was also welcome. If only we didn't have this nonsense of it being against the law hanging over our heads, that bench would suit me well as a long-term residence, even if I do still miss those gathering places where the Bad Boys were inevitable companions. And how strange it is not a one of them has appeared at the mall.

But then didn't I just write, There is something to be said for the lone wolf life.

735

Walking downhill from campus to get lunch, I passed a group of six local young men. One of them must have been my Saint Patrick's Day gift-bearer because otherwise they would have spotted the five dollar bill laying on the sidewalk just after they walked past me. Cheers! (And to Dame Fortune for nudging me to wait a little later than usual to make that walk.)

So far at least, that's the only thing which justifies Cainer's optimistic message about this weekend. With the early closing on Saturday, I went to the mall, walked around briefly and then headed to my usual table in the park with a bottle of Mickey's and Ronald Blythe's Akenfield, a non-fiction study of a small English farming village with a population of 298 (shudder), in the Sixties. The most intensely dark clouds I've ever seen here came rolling over the mountains and I headed back to the mall just before a torrential drenching began. Fortunately it didn't last very long and then the sky cleared. I was very tired and looking forward to darkness so I could head to the bench. No idea why I've been so physically exhausted recently.

A young man who is a park regular walked past my bench in the orchid walk. He had a colorful, fringed shawl draped over his shoulders, rather odd since it was such lightweight fabric it could hardly have given much protection. He said he had been sleeping and someone had stolen his backpack, so he had to wear the shawl until he could get more clothes. I made sympathetic noises even though not really believing him. I've never seen him with a backpack and he has worn the same clothes for the several months I've been seeing him. Then he made his story even less believable by saying someone had stolen five hundred dollars from him the day before. Yeh, sure.

The Wild Man was asleep, shirtless as usual, on the next bench. Two women walked past and put two paper bags down beside him, perhaps from that church group in the park that hands out food in paper bags. I guess I didn't look homeless enough to them to qualify. A security guard walked by and of course woke up the Wild Man who grinned at me.

As soon as it was dark, I returned to the park. A couple were sitting on my new bench so I took the one further along and quickly settled down to sleep. Bad choice. At three in the morning the sprinklers went off in that area. The first bench is out of range, but the one I was on got a sweep of water across the feet. I could have just stayed, the tarp protecting me, but I knew it would keep me awake so I moved back to my original bench across from the marina, where my frequent companion, the large dark lady was settled on the next bench. Someone had left a sweatshirt on my bench, which made a nice pillow. The sky was totally clear, the Great Bear almost directly overhead. Twinkle, twinkle little star ... like a teatray in the sky.

Sitting outside McD's with my morning coffee, it was disconcerting to have the Scarecrow pacing back and forth. He is a young bearded fellow, with curly hair, extremely skinny. He wears a tee shirt which is torn around the neck and hangs off one shoulder, some utterly filthy once-white pants and sandals. His feet are absolutely black with caked dirt. If he were shaved and cleaned up, he'd probably be quite nice looking. As it is, he easily qualifies for the most pathetic of the park/mall crowd, and I hope he doesn't make a habit of that morning pacing. Later he did the same at the bus stop. Perhaps he thought I looked like a possible target for a handout if he made me feel guilty enough and I did, indeed, think to myself, sheez, you could have had one less Monster and given the poor man five dollars (or even the one I'd found earlier if I hadn't already spent it on cigarettes and beer). Just a twinge, though. If he took the trouble to wash his feet, I'd feel more sympathetic, however unreasonable that may be. He just seems too far gone to be helped with money, one of those who really need to see the Docs and get some chemical assistance.

Blythe's intention was noble and worthy of much respect, but after I had read about twenty of the life stories of the little town's inhabitants, I gave up. Someone should do a similar book on a village of India, it might well put an end to the absurd notion of urbanites in that country that a "return to the village" is some kind of ideal. What utterly boring lifes those people led. No doubt, still lead.

So I left it somewhere another person might find and enjoy it, went to the bookshop and got Redemption by Leon Uris, a sweeping saga of the "Irish Problem". Not even a quarter into it, I was much amused to read the reactions of two men who discovered they were conceived out of wedlock.

Colours. The sky (or, of course, the sun's rays through the atmosphere creating the illusion of colour) is a very dull blue. Quite boring, no matter how welcome an almost totally clear sky was on Sunday. But this island does provide an astounding variety of green.

And that hillside across the creek looks more and more like the Promised Land.

736

It would, I fear, have been a very soggy "Promised Land" on Sunday night. The main drawback to that deserted hillside is, of course, the reason it is always so lushly green. It's one of the wettest areas in this part of the island.

After two nights when it had gotten uncomfortably cold, it was a pleasure to have a night which at least started out quite balmy. Once again I had followed the pattern of a nightcap and reading at the lighted table. I lingered longer than I should have before returning to the mall on a snipes run. As usual, the early Sunday closing meant things had been pretty much cleaned out by the time I made my walkthrough.

Another recent pattern repeated itself, alas. Settling down to sleep as soon as it gets dark has meant waking at about two in the morning, being unable to go back to sleep for awhile. Perhaps my body is, without my concious prodding, trying to shift sleeping time. Whatever the reason, it's a nuisance. And I had just fallen asleep again, or so it seemed, when the sound of rain drumming on the tarp woke me up and I had to make sure me and the backpack were securely tucked in. It rained so heavily that the usual clammy underside of the tarp accumulated enough moisture to get my clothes damp. Nasty. Just after five the rain decreased to a light drizzle so I splashed my way over to the mall for coffee, happy the Scarecrow didn't repeat his previous morning's pacing. One local man, like the Wild Man, almost always shirtless, was howling over and over ... and it's not even full moon. But it is a world full of loonies.

At least McD's has changed its music from Sixties stuff to classic American theatre and film songs. On Sunday morning it had been Ella and Louis doing "Cheek to Cheek" and on Monday a female vocalist I didn't recognize with "From This Moment On". Interesting, and not nearly as emotionally loaded.

On campus, drizzle was still falling. I stayed a couple of hours and then returned to the mall when the sky began to clear, had lunch in the park and let my tarp dry in the sun, as well as the slightly damp sweatshirt. I suppose what could be seen as another benefit of Paxil is an increased appetite. Not long after finishing my cheese and rolls, I felt hungry again, thought perhaps I'd wait around for the Krishna truck but on a snipes run through the mall, found a plate lunch box left on a planter ledge, heavy with some sweetly glazed chicken lumps and fried rice. Knowing the beer fund is running on empty, I debated whether to have a second, naturally went ahead and did it. All shaded tables in the park were by then occupied, but despite being sunny it was fairly cool, with a stiff breeze, so I sat in the sun and continued the Uris book. I had been sufficiently entertained with my own thoughts during lunch not to pick up the book, another Paxil benefit?

Only one quarter scored from an abandoned shopping cart. I shall have to pursue that game more vigorously for awhile, not enough coins in hand even for the morning coffee for the rest of this month.

The end of winter. I shall not mourn its passing.

737

Wheeee ... here we go. Double dose. The side-effects may become more severe, said the Doc, and repeated the caution about possible manic episodes. If walking around on legs that feel somewhat rubbery is any indication, yes, I'd agree about the increased side-effects, so bring on the manic swing, let's have some fun with this junk.

Like last year, calendric Spring arrived with one of the coolest mornings of the year. I remembered writing that the world is full of loonies and considered every person who had left their warm, comfy beds to walk in the chilly darkness was one of those loonies. Not to mention those utterly mad people who were in the ocean! I would have kept my sweatshirt on until late morning but it's too grubby (yes, I neglected to do laundry until it becomes a choice of wearing dirty clothes or drinking one more beer, so you know what I decided). By lunchtime it was quite warm, continuing the unsettling contrast which is always a feature of this time of year in Hawaii.

At one o'clock I saw the psychiatrist. Once again the waiting room provided a bit of drama, although not as hectic as someone having a heart attack. This time it was a mother and "child". The child, I learned, is twenty-two years old and severely retarded. She had a little pillow for him and got him to lay on the floor with his head on the pillow, comforted him because he was distressed he'd lost his "stick" while outside. The poor woman. Poor lad, too, but he doesn't know it. She does.

At two o'clock I saw the psychologist, after going downstairs for a smoke break between sessions. The psychiatrist simply cannot understand why I would be unwilling to consider a "job" even if I didn't enjoy doing it. Okay, I know many people find that difficult to grasp, probably most people aside from my fellow nomads who understand perfectly. I suspect one of the doc's major goals is to make me see my error. I fear it is one he won't achieve. The psychologist seems to have settled on just having a nice chat about this and that and we talked as much about the University and the pending strike by teachers as anything else.

A prescription for sixty 20mg tablets of Paxil, renewable twice, a civilized way to go about it. I suppose there must not be a known fatal overdose limit for the stuff. The hospital pharmacy kindly provided a voucher for a free cup of coffee from the cafe while waiting. I used it to wash down two of the 20mg tabs I still had, not having thought to ask if it was better to take the two at one time or stagger them. Probably doesn't matter, a conclusion supported by what is said on the web. Odd he didn't prescribe 40mg tablets. Needless to say, I would have much preferred the $618 it would take to fill the prescription if not covered by insurance.

I had spent a couple of hours on campus in the early morning, decided after finishing the medical chores I'd forget computers for the rest of the day, returned to the mall. Rolls, ham, cheese, a bottle of Colt and over to the park to continue Redemption. If I had realized the Battle of Gallipoli was going to be such a major part of the book, I might not have selected it. The film was more than enough indirect suffering through that monumental military fuck-up. But Uris does a splendid job with his account, too, so I shudder through it.

Three quarters had turned up the evening before, another one in the morning, three more during my final walk through the mall on a snipes hunt. Financing for the next day's senior coffee and one beer in pocket, I headed off to the bench. The previous night, there had been a police sedan and one of their three-wheeler things in the parking lot, fretting over two cars which were still there after the official (but often ignored) 8pm closing. I couldn't help thinking there should be more real crime in this town, keep the guys better occupied. On Tuesday night there were half a dozen or so cars still there, but no cops. They are so inconsistent.

I was waiting in line at McD's the next morning. Amadeus walked in. The music loop started playing Louis Armstrong singing "Let's Fall in Love".

738

Everything's always running out. The last drop trickles from the big green bottle, the last snipe extracted from what seemed so recently a full box, the last coins exchanged for cups of coffee which are soon empty, the foodstamps balance dwindles toward zero, the last day of winter fades into spring. Running on empty.

Echo from last year, certainly no different this one except for the addition of Paxil and the subtraction of the Hacienda and the Bad Boys. I told the psychiatrist about the Tales, as part of answering his question about what my days are like. "What do you write about," he asked, "aren't the days all the same?" Not only the days, dear sir, but the years.

Although I browsed the subject on the web the first time I encountered Paxil, I checked it out more thoroughly on Wednesday since I'm going to be bombarding my body with the stuff. Oddly, most information is about the side-effects and the difficulty with post-use withdrawal. Very little is said about the presumed actual benefits. And I was right, there is no reported case of death from overdose. I guess there's not much point in trying to be the first one by swallowing all 6000mg at once.

I found one fellow who kept a diary last year during his initial experience with Paxil and experienced much of the same things I am, including the increased appetite (even though the official doctrine says it is apt to decrease appetite, which may be propaganda to lessen the fears of those who think taking it will make them fat). He was also troubled by the sleepiness, something which annoys me less than hunger. Right now the most irksome result of the increased dosage is the feeling of wobbliness. My legs just don't feel reliable enough to trust, and probably aren't. If only it had other aspects of feeling drunk.

The psychologist said, when we were talking about the increased difficulties of sleeping in public, that he has some patients who decided to "take to the mountains". The idea continues to simmer on a backburner of my mind, gains support every time I look over at the green, steep hillside with its clumps of large bushes which would provide screening. It's a more attractive idea after a pleasant, dry night than on a wet and windy morning, this is true.

Not to be unkind to the two doctors, both of whom seem sincere gentlemen, I understand better how the Bad Boys have spent years at this and have gained little but the few days of luxury provided by the money. I can't honestly say I've found any real value in the talks and have gained no incentives, no objective insights. The money, too, I much appreciate. It remains to be seen whether this chemical aid will be a genuine contribution to a happier state of mind.

Writing about the Tales from the Past, a reader asked: Did you feel like a different person each time (not when you were writing them, though maybe that, too, but when you were living them) ?

I replied: Well, in many ways I was a different person in each phase, as divided in the Tales of the Past. Certainly the circumstances, environment and the people I had as friends were very different. I wonder, is this cat on his eighth or ninth life?

739

At last! Rocky was at the mall early on Friday morning, the first glimpse of the Bad Boys in a much longer time than usual. He didn't see me and I didn't go over to talk to him because I knew he'd ask to borrow money. I certainly didn't have any to give him. For the first time in many moons, I didn't even have the thirty-six cents for senior coffee. Not a single quarter on Thursday evening, although there was one next morning. But I had given up a little after nine the night before, went to the supermarket and got two cans of coffee with the dwindling foodstamps allowance. March 2001 sets a new record for idiotic money management. It would be nice to think I'll learn my lesson, suffering through the penniless week ahead, but I very much doubt it. And I know for sure I am not going to enjoy it.

Now there's where "cognitive therapy" should come in. If I think the week is going to be miserable, it will be. Ha!

The Uris book finished, I went on to Susan Howatch's Mystical Paths, a fascinating tale of a young priest, Church of England flavor, with a bent toward mysticism and some psychic talents. Howatch does a splendid job of showing how the revolution of the Sixties was handled by the English in their very different, but thoroughly British, ways, not always dependent upon their social status or background. An amusing and stylish novel, indeed, evoking some strong memories of friends I had at the time.

Stashing those two cans of coffee in the backpack, I headed over to my bench. Two police sedans were in the parking lot again, so I waited until they left before settling down, as did my usual lady companion on the next bench. Once again it was a dry, but quite chilly night and again I grumbled at myself for not having done the laundry since I certainly would have worn the sweatshirt until the promised sunshine raised the temperature more. I don't mind sitting around the mall in the early morning wearing a grubby sweatshirt, but don't want to appear on campus that way, no matter how many students walk around looking even grubbier. That sunshine didn't last long. The sky clouded over, but at least it did become a bit warmer.

The Airport Couple are back together again. I suspect the younger, missing one has been in jail. He has that look. But all is well, they walk along yakking away at the same time as always. I wondered if the Sleeptalker returned and we were walking along together, people would make similar comments and wondered, too, what on earth that fellow is doing. It would almost have been worth hearing Rocky's plea for a loan to find out what the others are up to. Almost.

Fortunately the Airport Couple has not discovered the little computer lab, depend upon Hamilton Library. They'll be lost after the weekend, since Hamilton is closing until April. Even then it appears the main building will remained closed, but the new Annex will open. I'll miss the web browsing capability during the closed week, but assume they will have terminals in the new building. How much effect the Hamilton transition and what now seems certain to be a teachers strike will have on life remains to be seen. It's always something.

I wonder which parts of your past lives (which friends, for example, or things you were doing, like playing MUD) still influence your present life?

1 - Childhood and school
2 - Military
3 - NYC I: Artist
4 - London and India: Doper/occasional artist
5 - NYC II: Office slave and doper/artist
6 - London: Office slave and doper/computer freak
7 - Honolulu: Office slave and computer freak
8 - Honolulu: Nomad, aka Homeless person and computer freak

Ah, eight lives, I'd say.

Only certain writers, composers and musicians have been important through all eight "lives", more of them from 3 onwards. The only friend with that span is Felix, again from 3 into the present, although I am sure there are others who would be so if I made contact with them. Harley spans from 4 forward, fellow MUD players from 6 forward. With all of them, contact is infrequent, and only via email or post. I probably have more friends, certainly know more people to speak to, in life 8 than in any since 3.

Reading and listening to music and lusting after desirable men are there throughout and, less consistently, writing. Drugs, of one form or another, have been an important part of life since 4, but were far more so in 4-6 than since then primarily due to economics. Activities, things I enjoy doing, have clearly had greater longevity than people, but then those things go with you while most people eventually drift away when contact is only indirect or when you turn out to be something other than they had expected, some of those between 7 and 8 and even within 8 alone.

The biggest dividing line between "lives" is unquestionably that between pre-LSD and post-LSD. One trip down that rabbit hole and life was never the same again. I seriously doubt I would be able to live 8 without having crossed that divide, although certainly the time in India also helps.

It has been a good life, if not an especially happy one and I am inclined to believe that is primarily the result of never having really contacted the "source", whether one calls it God or Tao or the Ground of Being or whatever, nor having truly come to believe.

Another reader writes in response to the question, is this the cat's eighth or ninth life: Some live forever - death is just the part of life that the eye of mortal man cannot see.

Perhaps so.

740

Not bad, starting the day with twenty-six cents, ending it with $1.74, especially since I only wandered the mall for an hour before closing. As I noted back when the Quarter Hunt was a more frequent game, one does have to spend time at it to really be successful, and it is necessary to wander the entire mall and parking lots. A dollar of that largesse came from two strollers which had been abandoned some distance out in the parking areas. One more stroller and, of course, morning coffee would have bitten the dust in favor of a bottle of malt liquor. No such luck, so Aries Day 3 was the first alcohol-free day of the year. It didn't bother me as much as it has in the past, perhaps partly because Paxil provides some of the sensation of being slightly drunk. Also, though, because after that dismal Thursday evening without a single quarter, I had no expectation at all of coming up with the six I needed when getting to the mall on Friday.

I ran into the Frenchman late in the afternoon and we had a brief chat. No, I hadn't seen the Cherub all week, nor had he. I told him the Cherub does this sometimes, just disappears for awhile. I didn't detail my theory that having also suffered a penniless week, the Cherub may well have decided to withdraw from our mutually reinforcing bad habits. Spend (partly on each other) till there's no more left, hang out at the Garden paying twice as much, or more, for less alcohol. Indeed, had I stayed away from the Garden this month I'd be in no money bind now.

Since I do enjoy the place so much, a compromise I've suggested to myself was limiting it to one visit a week, but I don't know why I even bother talking to myself about such things since I know damned well I won't listen later.

As I was about to cross over to the park I saw there was some major to-do underway. Five police sedans and two three-wheelers, blue lights flashing! I saw them escorting one young man in handcuffs, putting him in the back of a sedan, but the other people in the group he'd been with were scattering. Oddly, this was all taking place right by the bus stop where the Duchess and Wobbly were already settled, but the police seemed to be just ignoring them. That young man must have been on the "most wanted" list to rate such a turnout.

I discreetly walked down to the next crossing to make my way to the bench. There was no band playing at the Marina so I settled on my usual bench. Ah, but the band was evidently taking a break, because they soon started playing. It was less over-amplified than usual and the band was not bad, rather casual in a Dead sort of way. I fell asleep while they were still playing.

It was a potpourri night, beginning so warm that I left the tarp open on one side, it being too hot wrapped fully in it. I'd thought the night before, when feeling the chill, that I'd soon be complaining about how the thing is too hot when I have to keep under it as shelter from the rain even when it's not needed for warmth. Later it rained awhile, so I had to adjust myself accordingly. That stopped and it became quite cool again, although not as much as it had been the previous few nights. Despite the weather-based interruptions and some very odd dreams, it was a better night than I'd expected since the absence of beer often invokes severe insomnia.

Saturday was gray and dreary, Kona winds again. My timing was fortunate, though, because I left campus, went to the State Library and got back to the mall before it started pouring rain. And I do mean pour. As always, that leaky mall turns into a swamp and it was packed with people since a rainy day means nothing for tourists to do but shop. Nothing for me to do but hunt quarters, and quite successfully.

I saw Mondo, was amused by how my mind always automatically says "dark, sexy, handsome Mondo", which is indeed true. He didn't see me and I didn't want to talk to him, or to anyone.

By late afternoon I realized the Doc had been right about the increased dosage. I was keenly aware that Paxil had "clicked in" and I never felt anything like that during my past experiences with it. To feel happy with no reason for feeling so is a strange thing for me, and I was also very much aware of being on a drug. The physical aspect is difficult to put into words. The body feels something like a shell and I can feel things happening in my chest without any clear details (heart beating, lungs expanding and contracting?) Without the slightest difficulty or intention, I fall into a kind of trance, surface five or ten minutes later feeling like I've come out of self-hypnosis, which is possibly not inaccurate. It's all quite intriguing and not unpleasant.

I sat with my well-earned beer and continued the delightful Howatch book, grateful the rain had stopped before it was time to head to the bench. It started again during the night, though, and I was sleeping so soundly that by the time I woke to do the usual tucking-in, too late, one side of my trousers and sweatshirt was already wet. Yeukh. Never mind, back to sleep. How splendid the sun felt in the morning. I sat in it for an hour while the clothes dried on my body, continuing the book. As with Father Greeley's books, the story is interesting enough but the real joy comes from the asides on God, religion, sex, human nature. Howatch and Greeley make a good pair.

Whether Panther and Paxil do is still open to question, but I'm beginning to enjoy the test.

741

Why is it that "not having truly come to believe" made your life a better one, or did I get this sentence wrong ?

The reader didn't get the sentence wrong, I wrote it wrong. I realized when reading it later how ambiguous it was but decided to let it stand since I'm really not sure which meaning is accurate. What I intended to say, though, was that I think my life would have been happier (not necessarily better) if I had come to believe in something, and evidence suggests that the Christian path would have been most appropriate. Unlike Dame Fortune, Dame Grace has not seen fit to smile upon me and although I go through times when I pretend to believe, I never really have.

The Hindu gods, because they so clearly represent some force in life, bring me closer to believing, but not close enough to follow the sometimes felt urge to join a community of Hindu or neo-Hindu monks. A Taoist community has an even greater allure, but I don't want to give up my vices for either.

And I suppose, despite the many alliances I have formed, I have a basic feeling of living this life alone. That's the way it is, the way it is meant to be.

Monday was the annual Prince Kuhio Day, a state holiday with government, schools and some banks closed but business as usual for most enterprises. Of course, it meant an off-line day for me, another one coming up on Good Friday. Although I missed my habitual morning hours on the computer, it didn't leave me with the sometimes lost feeling I get on such days. I felt quite lucky, finding sufficient quarters for a beer and the next morning's coffee early in the morning, before ten o'clock, although only three more quarters turned up during the day. I saw the Mongoose for the first time in quite awhile but he fortunately wasn't hunting. I think he may have given it up and can hardly blame him. It certainly hasn't been as bountiful as it once was.

The increased appetite is a nuisance, especially since it is strongest in the morning when so little abandoned food is around. So it has played havoc with my carefully rationed foodstamps allowance. Later in the day, when there is more food available than any one person could eat (except for Tubby who was munching his way through trashcans all day), the appetite is no longer there. Yes, a nuisance.

I alternated between sitting in the park reading and strolling the mall, having a shower once the afternoon reached its warmest point (and that was quite warm, time to shed the polo shirt). There was a moment when I felt very certain the Sleeptalker was nearby. I kept a sharp eye out for him because I would very much have liked to see him but didn't want him to see me. As with the sightings of Rocky and Mondo, just the glimpse is enough at this point. I'm in a Garbo phase, happy to be left alone, no contact with anyone.

Because of the Monday holiday, there were more people lingering late in the park on Sunday evening and two men were sitting on my usual bench. I waited awhile to see if they'd leave, then gave up and settled on a narrow picnic table bench for the night. It's in a dark area and under the shelter of a large tree, so isn't a bad bed although certainly not as comfortably wide as the bench and I was happy to find that vacant on Monday night. Both nights were dry and Monday was sufficiently warm that I didn't completely cover up under the tarp until the early hours of morning.

Every morning when I wake up I feel grateful to have been left alone one more night. It looks like the police are clearing the snack bar area since there haven't been the usual bodies on the floor there. A few people are evidently circumventing (or trying to) the new restrictions by spending the night sitting up in canvas chairs, adopting the routine of the Duchess, sleeping in a sitting position. But there are still some diehards on the grass. The director of IHS, the main shelter, was quoted as saying they are at capacity and she doesn't blame people for trying to find alternatives (this from the homeless-l mail-list where someone has updated the situation in Honolulu with newspaper reports I hadn't seen).

Speaking of newspapers, we now have twice as many as we used to and it's amusing to compare the headlines on the two morning and two evening papers. Thus far they have been widely dissimilar. I continue my habit of only reading the things if a copy happens to be conveniently in my path (not, as some do, browsing the trash for one).

My holiday reading was Susan Howatch's Glamorous Powers which I was most happy to find in the library's freebie collection. Chronologically, it is the predecessor to Mystical Paths but they are not written in such a way that it detracts from the books if not read in sequence. An enjoyable and thought-provoking writer, Ms. Howatch.

The physical oddities caused by Paxil continue to decrease (or I become so accustomed to them I no longer notice?) but that tendency to drift into a trance is very much there and it happens without the least intention, usually at totally unexpected moments. It's actually quite a pleasure.

742

Probably influenced by Howatch's splendid book, I found myself plodding through the mall and thinking, "you're not just doing this to hunt for quarters, it's an act of penance for having been so stupid." I was more successful at finding quarters than attaining any self-forgiveness, I think.

It is Spring Break week on campus so the place is comparatively deserted. During the hour or so I spent in the computer lab there were only four of us strays there, me, Virginia, the False Prophet and the Cat Man. Virginia is a strange, ultra-withdrawn man who used to be a regular at the Cloisters. Every time the Sleeptalker sees him, he asks, "is that a man or a woman?" Definitely a man, but with a high feminine voice (perhaps that's one reason he uses it so little?) and an androgynous body, making the Sleeptalker's confusion quite understandable even if I've been puzzled why he asks it again and again. The False Prophet has never forgiven me for telling him to move elsewhere when he complained my smoking was keeping him awake. The man has such an unpleasant aura I am quite happy to be shunned by him, try to ignore his presence altogether. The Cat Man is a mystery. He has an old station wagon which is continually parked behind the theatre. It is absolutely loaded to the roof with cartons of cat food. Whether he sleeps in it, I don't know, but I wonder why the campus security allows him to keep it there month after month. He rarely speaks except to say good morning; the only conversation of any length I've had with him was after returning from the hospital when he asked where I had been.

I was happy, again, that the other nomads haven't discovered the little computer lab. Otherwise it would be totally occupied since the Airport Couple are ordinarily at Hamilton every day and recently the Pirate and his ladyfriend have been, too. Yes, the Pirate has replaced the missing Fat Man with a woman who is slightly more attractive than the Fat Man. But only slightly. They arrived at the bus stop a few days ago, sat on a bench several away from mine. She constantly chatters (like the Fat Man) and the Pirate responds only with grunts. An odd couple, and strange that such a sexy man doesn't attract more interesting companions.

When I returned to the mall on Tuesday morning I immediately found two quarters. Never mind waiting until sunset, I said, as soon as you find the three more that are needed for a beer, drink the damned thing. And I did, not even waiting until I'd found one more for the next morning's coffee. No problem, seven more turned up before my act of penance finally wore me out.

A new female security guard scolded me for taking a butt from an ashtray, called it "digging in the trash". I'd love to see her reaction when she spots Tubby doing his routine of truly digging through the trash and eating or drinking whatever he finds while leaning over the can. He really is getting enormous and his tits are so large they'd probably be the envy of some women even if the rest of his body certainly wouldn't be.

Of course, I was annoyed by the lecture although I understand why a novice in the security army can fret over something like snipe hunters since they haven't yet seen the more repellent trashpickers at work. And it is, as that young man once said to me, "oh, gross". How splendid it would be NOT to like smoking tobacco, but I simply don't have the strength to give it up, no matter what "gross" lengths I go to in maintaining the supply.

How does that fit into the framework of one thing I truly do believe in, that there are "no accidents"? A good question. I shall ponder it.

743

I didn't like the first suggestion which came to mind when thinking further of smoking and no accidents, that I had started smoking so I would in later life have the enormous challenge of quitting, good for the soul and all that. No, I don't like that notion.

Although some of my relatives used chewing tobacco (a habit I found utterly repulsive as they sat spitting into large coffee cans), so far as I can recall, I didn't know anyone who smoked when I was a child. It became an issue during the Korean War when my mother's buddy, the young woman who lived next door to us, persuaded my mother to smoke occasionally. My mother made the rather silly mistake of asking me to promise never to tell my father. Naturally, when he returned from the war and I had a disagreement with my mother, I attempted to use it as blackmail. She told me she had already confessed it to my father, but I don't know if she was telling the truth. I doubt he would have much cared anyway.

I am pretty sure, although not absolutely certain, that my main reason for buying my first pack of cigarettes was because I knew my parents would object. I had a great fondness for doing anything which would annoy them and get their disapproval. Was it a way of getting attention? Perhaps. As soon as I got my first paycheck from my summer job at Woolworth's, I bought a pack of Lucky Strikes. I was fourteen. I think that pack lasted me several weeks. Even when I was in the Army I disliked smoking before breakfast. I don't remember when it switched to the continued habit of reaching for a cigarette immediately upon waking, and these days I smoke more during the first hour of a day than at any other time, as if to make up for the sleeping, tobacco-less night.

Okay, so all I managed to do was review the history of tobacco usage, came absolutely no closer to understanding how that is "no accident" or why I am so obsessed by it. I can go a day (or more) without alcohol with little discomfort, but tobacco? Not a chance. The only time I have quit for a prolonged period was that hospital stay. Some people thought I was an idiot for lighting a cigarette afterwards but believe me, the thought of that was much in my mind throughout those weeks, and indeed, I did smoke (and drink beer) in my morphine dreams.

Meanwhile, a minor miracle. With more power than alcohol (if not tobacco), books and laziness rule my life. I really didn't want to bother going to the State Library on Wednesday but I had a Stephen Donaldson book which I almost instantly knew I didn't want to continue after starting it. I much admire his Chronicles of Stephen Covenant books, but I was in no mood for a fantasy about some medieval hunk who jumped through a mirror into a Madison Avenue condominium. So I went to the used bookstore and there were, much to my amazement, two more of Susan Howatch's "Church of England" books. I had no hesitation in spending half the money for a bottle of brew on them.

In Glittering Images, as in the other two novels in the five-book series I've read, a crucial element is a father-son relationship, so I left behind my rather useless ponderings on the subject of tobacco and considered, as seriously and deeply as I could manage, my father. I am not quite prepared to write about that yet.

Most unusually, I had utterly ignored the state of the plastic bag I keep my coins in, so smiled indeed on Thursday morning when I did reach into it and found exactly the thirty-six cents needed for my morning coffee from McD's. Alas, an announcement greeted me, informing us that the price for that addiction will increase on April 3rd to fifty-two cents. Hmmmph.

So for three hours I was totally penniless. Yes, not even one penny in my pocket. Then word came that a melon had fallen from the heaven called California. The end of the week of penury and penance, unexpectedly early. I felt extremely unworthy. That period of "suffering" was really not so unkind, was it? Only one day without the taste of beer.

A reader wrote: I have been wondering about your Garbo mood. Ever since you avoided Rocky, because you've known him for so long, it couldn't be the first time you were broke when meeting him.

Indeed not. I've known Rocky for almost three and a half years now and certainly most of the times I've encountered him, my pockets have been empty, especially before the Crazy Money began. But I love Rocky like a son, and what father could not feel quilty when he realized he had indulged his own vices to such excess that he could not even give his son a five dollar bill. Give, not loan. And I know all too well what a wonderful boost to morale a five dollar bill can be.

And, too, I am very very busy trying to put my own house in order, since I realize it is in total disarray. I must find my own center of balance before I can hope to assist a young man possibly even more astray than I am. So when that wretched internal jukebox latched onto "oh my darling Clementine, you are gone and lost forever, dreadful sorry, Clementine", I not only wanted to unplug the damned thing forever, even chop it into pieces with an axe so I would never again hear music in my head, I was also grateful "Clementine" doesn't scan with "Sleeptalker".

744

The Cherub came to the computer lab to get me on Thursday evening. He had his Faustian rehearsal in half an hour. Manoa Garden is closed during this Spring Break week, so I couldn't offer to buy him a beer there, but the director of "Faust" had warned him not to show up for rehearsal "intoxicated" again, so it didn't matter. The Cherub offered no explanation for his disappearance, nor did I ask for one. I did enjoy his sheepish grin when he was complaining bitterly about his job and I asked what his father had said about it. "He thinks it's all okay," said the Cherub. He was carrying a paperback of a Sartre novel, I pulled out Glittering Images, said I had just finished it and that one of the main themes was a son who had maintained through much of his life a "glittering image" for his father.

I suppose I did that a little, too, with my father, although I gave up on what I early realized as an impossible task. My father was impossible to impress, I doubt even if I had become the President of the United States he would have been impressed.

I became aware during my ponderings on the history of my tobacco usage that it was my Mother's birthday. 77 or 78, I think. Since my brother-in-law astonished me by responding to an email not long ago, I assume he will let me know when Martha departs this existence. I did have a (short) fantasy about a "reconciliation" with her before that happens, but it's not a very sensible idea. I could not only resist mentioning the fact that I was conceived out of wedlock, I would surely ask her if my "father" was really the one who impregnated her. I very much doubt it, but I'm equally sure she would not want to hear the question, much less answer it honestly.

I was awakened, as usual, by the sound of people chatting. I lit my cigarette lighter and looked at my watch. It was five minutes to four in the morning. There is some colony of extremist Stoics in this town? I think I could better understand someone who leaves their shelter at that hour of the day and walks in the park if they didn't constantly babble inanities. I managed to smoke a cigarette and fall asleep again, grateful it had only rained lightly and briefly during the night.

And I decided I would mention to the psychiatrist when I next see him (too soon) this enigma of the "internal jukebox". Is it common for people to hear music in their heads?

745

I left campus earlier than usual on Friday, bought a bottle of Mickey's and went to the park. People were walking from the beach carrying paper plates of food. Ah, the Krishna folks are apparently now serving from 4:30 to 5. I went to get a plate, was much surprised to see Wisconsin assisting in the truck. I wonder if he's gone to live with them or was just volunteering but it was too busy to chat. The meal was not as generous as they used to provide but the fresh sliced cucumber was especially tasty. I so rarely eat fresh fruit or vegetables because they are sold before they're ready to eat and I can hardly carry around stuff in the backpack waiting for it to ripen. Ready-made salads are not only usually dull, heavy on iceberg lettuce, but also rather expensive. A slab of wheat bread with a generously thick slice of cheese was also most welcome, and the birds enjoyed the plain rice.

Finishing the meal and returning to Ultimate Prizes, my reading was interrupted when a family arrived at a nearby table. The father was a strikingly handsome man who was patiently trying to help his little boy learn to ride a bicycle. Extreme deja vu, since the lad was having as much trouble with it as I did at his age. I had desperately wanted a bicycle and then had one hell of a time learning to ride the thing. After one particularly nasty fall, I decided I wanted no more of the contraption. My father was fiercely insistent, even resorted to the belt in order to force me back on the wheels. As I left the park, I stopped by their table and said, "I had the same problem when I was a boy. You handle it very well." He thanked me and shook my hand, his wife smiled and also thanked me. What a fine man, and what a patient father.

What was it like, for a girl of 17, to be pregnant out of wedlock, in the place where your mother lived, just before the war ?

I don't really know, but I suspect it would have been pretty awful. And it must have been thoroughly complicated by the fact that my mother had not only been conceived but was born out of wedlock, even though she didn't know it at the time. I shudder to think what it was like between her and her mother, and how bizarre it was that her mother always insisted she had been adopted. They were far enough away from my father's family in North Texas that my early birth would no doubt have raised eyebrows but was probably never openly mentioned. Certainly no one in the family ever said anything to make me suspect it, although I wondered even as a child if the man truly was my father, later shoved that aside when I discovered what a Freudian cliche it is. Howatch details some very complex family relationships in these Church of England books, but few of them are any more strange than my own.

When did your "internal jukebox" begin ? A long time ago ?

It has been there for as long as I can remember, although it hasn't annoyed me as it has recently by getting stuck on one song for much of the day. And one of its current favorites is that dreadful "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now". I force it to stop, or to play something different, but it sneaks back in again. One day this week it kept alternating between "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Candle in the Wind", two songs I like very much but didn't want to listen to again and again all day. And it does come up with some odd choices, like "Carousel Waltz" and "How to Handle a Woman". I've heard people complain because a song "sticks in their mind", but I've never heard or read of anyone who has it as such a constant thing. Like I said, there are times when I'd like nothing more than to unplug the damned thing, and one of the happier aspects of these "Paxil trances" is that they lack a music soundtrack.

Of course, considering all the people who walk around with headphones and earplugs listening to mechanically reproduced music, I should probably consider myself lucky. No batteries required. Both a reader and the psychologist recommended acquiring a radio (although not for the purpose of blocking out that infernal internal jukebox). I do agree, am determined that the April Crazy Money will have that acquisition in first place.

Another reader wrote: After I wrote that note I noticed that you had put up the India Notebooks that you had mentioned in the Early Tales; and started to read them, finished 10. It's quite a contrast between then and now as far as writing style; and I believe the titles express the difference succinctly. I find the Notebooks rather frantic and choppy reading with it's detailing of the days events, where the Tales are quite pleasant ( if sometimes thought and concern provoking ) reading while basically covering the same sort of territory.

Unlike this temptation-to-be-indulgent method of tapping on a keyboard, the India Notebooks were transcribed with a felt-tip pen in little black-bound books of blank, lined paper. It was not so much my intention to keep a "diary" as to continue the discipline suggested by the Dutchman, never a day without a line, and to provide a future prompt, allow myself to look back at that extraordinary time in my life and remember. I am grateful for it now, and grateful, too, that the time comes around again when I can look back and see what I was doing, thinking, all those years ago.

And I am very grateful indeed that I had that time in India. There is little in my life, except for the extraordinary dance with the Sleeptalker, I cherish as much as those months as a "stranger in a strange land".

746

I had considered going to a performance of a Beethoven Mass being given at one of the more handsome churches on Sunday evening but wasn't at all in the mood for sitting in polite society. Perhaps just as well, since I grumbled through what I thought an extremely tiresome piece of music only to be told afterwards I had been listening to Beethoven's Leonore Overture #3.

Yes, I acquired a small Sony FM stereo radio. I had gone downtown on Saturday to check the mailbox, found it empty. I'd been impatiently early, since I had an email next morning telling me the Fabled Pension Check had indeed arrived. With the less frequent Sunday bus schedules, it took most of the morning to retrieve the check, go to Waikiki to cash it and return to campus. Beer and a cheap burger in the secluded grove, continuing Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I'd hoped on Friday that the bookstore would have the one remaining Howatch Church of England book I haven't yet found. Since they didn't, I decided to revisit Austen's portrait of English life, decidedly more restrained than Howatch. That concluded, I went on to Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse which I must admit I find rather tedious. My own mind natters on and on quite enough without reading the stuff other people's minds are nattering about.

I went back to the lab and played Rubella for awhile. When they increased levels in Seventh Circle from 69 to 100, they created unfortunate imbalances by raising the toughness of some opponents and denying access to certain areas until level 60 is reached. This makes the late 50's a rather dull time and I was happy to finally slog through them, then made rapid progress into the 70's.

A second brew and a cornbread muffin for my feathered friends who had been clearly disappointed to share only a bit of burger bun earlier, drifting on through Woolf's meanderings, and then to the mall. I looked at several stores to find the radio I wanted at the best price and was happy to find just the right one for only $11. A sunset brew, then, in the park, listening to Beethoven, afterwards declining Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring". (The announcer said "printemps" as "prawn-toe".) But later I enjoyed a rather silly program of appropriate to April Fool's Day songs, the best by Tom Lehrer and the wonderful Anna Russell. The programmer really should have played Gertrude Lawrence's version of Cole Porter's "The Physician" instead of a less stylish more recent one. Resuming my career as critic of National Public Radio ...

It rained frequently during the night but I managed to stay dry, woke half an hour too early so sat reading Woolf while waiting for McD's to open for that last round of thirty-six cent coffee. Up goes the price on Tuesday, but I suppose fifty-two cents a day for that morning luxury is worth it, since the nearest Jack-in-the-Box is further than I'd want to walk at that hour.

All in all, a rather dull weekend although at least not unpleasant. Treading water, treading water.

Are you getting fed up with all the positive prospects I keep promising? asks Jonathan Cainer on Monday. Mind-reader, eh?

747

Monday morning was gray and gloomy, back to school time with the usual flock of chattering young ladies from St. Francis filling the campus bound bus. After a brief time online I trekked off to the laundromat ... at last. Plodding on with To the Lighthouse until the clothes were washed and dried, I decided to abandon Mrs. Woolf. I greatly respect her as a writer and even admire what she was doing with this book, but really, the dreary thoughts of dreary people make for a dreary book, no matter how well written.

So I stopped in the bookstore, finally yielded and bought that King/Straub collaboration I'd declined a few weeks ago, but tucked it in the backpack and began Nancy Mitford's The Blessing first. Delightful, witty book. Little wonder Evelyn Waugh praised it (and no doubt he would have even if the book wasn't dedicated to him). Clean clothes, a cold beer, cornbread for the feathered friends and a stylishly amusing book made for a most pleasant time in the secluded grove. Another brief online session, made more so by Seventh Circle being down, and then to Manoa Garden to welcome back Bryant and wickedly indulge myself with two of those colossal "Monsters". Since the alcohol consumption has been much lower than usual recently, I got quite happily sloshed and enjoyed the book even more.

Later I thought it rather odd I hadn't listened to the radio at all.

Although dry, it was fiercely windy during the night, several times managed to fling the tarp off. Spring is here, though, and so it was nothing as nasty as the last windy night. The lady with the bucket of food for the cats (who is mentioned in the very first of these Tales) arrived earlier than usual with that sweet black and white cat prancing along behind her while she called for the ginger one (she calls him Shadow) who casually strolled over, taking his time. A rat sat on the wall watching, probably waiting for his chance to grab some food, too. That lady used to come with what I assume was her husband and I wondered if she's a widow now. Such devotion, coming out every morning before dawn, year after year, to feed those lucky cats.

And speaking of lucky cats, when I got to campus, there was a message telling me mail had arrived, so I went downtown to collect it. A melon from the heavenly California vine! And with the instructions to have a "few monsters and a pack of smokes". What a perfectly splendid excuse for ignoring my thoughts about only going to the Garden once a week. And since I can't find that Newport Beach Easter Bunny's email address, I'll say thanks very much indeed to him here.

Just as well the bar doesn't open until noon, I might have headed directly there to start following the instructions. Instead I went to Paradise Palms, had scrambled eggs, bacon and toast and gazed with admiration at a young man sitting nearby. The St. Francis girls may be a nuisance on the bus but there are decided advantages to the end of spring break.

How long they will last is questionable, since the teachers are poised to go on strike. And what that now-seems-inevitable strike will do to my life remains to be seen, whether the computer lab and libraries will stay open. Cue-up Roseanne Roseannadanna.

748

I decided very quickly that I didn't want to read the King/Straub book after all when it got off to such a silly start, so made another trip to the bookstore. Patrick White's The Solid Mandala is a very strange book, but more interesting than staring seagulls and spooky things in the sand scaring little boys. After the late breakfast, I didn't want lunch which was a mistake since I didn't eat anything for the rest of the day. The Cherub came looking for me in the late afternoon and we had one of our classic drunken evenings at the Garden. I really must learn to munch at least a sandwich in between Monsters.

He has been promoted to assistant supervisor at his job which has cheered him up, at least for awhile, but what else we talked about for hours I really don't remember. I was literally staggering by the time I left the place. Ah, I do recall that he was impressed by me reading a Nobel Prize winner when we did our usual comparison of current reading material.

At least I managed to walk downhill, get a bus and head over to my park bench. For the first time, someone was sleeping on it, the woman on her usual one, so I had to settle for one which is in a less dark spot. The wind was very strong again but I reversed my usual method of wrapping up in the tarp so it stayed in place, although the battering of the wind woke me several times. Luckily, I got up and was already at the mall when it started to rain.

The skies cleared by mid-day so I enjoyed a Colt and bag of chips in the secluded grove, listening to some melancholy Russian folk music on the radio. Then it was time for the Psychiatrist again. As I confessed to him, I really hadn't wanted to go. I totally forgot to mention the internal jukebox, but did tell him about avoiding people. "That's no good," he said, and asked me why. I said I just didn't want to have irrelevant conversations which was certainly part of the truth. I hope he wasn't insulted. He's so centered on alcohol. Sigh. I said I could conceive cutting down on it but not quitting altogether. I don't want to, why should I? Makes no sense to me at all.

I said the Paxil seems to have brought about more stability in thought and said no to the question if I'd had "suicidal thoughts", but stressed again that they have always been a part of me. He seems to think this drug will somehow make them vanish forever, but I very much doubt it. There again, makes no sense to me. Why should an almost sixty-one year old man not now and then think wistfully of getting a new chance (if that's the way it goes), roasting in hell, or being exterminated forever?

After leaving him, on the bus back to campus was an extraordinary man. I immediately thought of the Sleeptalker and realized if he had asked me "is that a man or a woman?", it would have taken me awhile to reply, because I really wasn't sure. Long gray hair, rings on almost every finger (and one thumb) and several bracelets. But yes, definitely a man, I eventually decided. I'm surprised I haven't seen such an eccentric person before.

There was good news in the morning's campus newspaper, reporting that the libraries plan to stay open even if the strike does begin tomorrow, although possibly with reduced hours. They will "take it day by day" the spokesperson said. An excellent method.

749

An odd feeling, crossing a picket line to get onto campus.

I also went back to the part of the Tales from the Past that deal with your return from India, and the period that followed. It seems you had a pretty difficult time then. It seemed also to me that it had been very long, but it's difficult to know whether it's because you felt it was long and make the reader feel the same through your way of writing about it, or whether it was "objectively" (if such a thing exists) long (sometimes you date things very precisely, sometimes not). Was it leaving India the most difficult, or coming back to things not quite yet solved, or something else ?

The years after returning from the first trip to the East were the most difficult of my life. I was very much in love with that young Indian man and I was in love with his country, shattered to leave both. I was keenly aware of how little money it would have taken to continue enjoying those loves, disillusioned with friends (and family) who refused to assist any further, even more so when I did return to the West. And going so quickly to America probably made it even worse because the utter extravagance, waste and concentration on expensive, irrelevant things was so hideous. There was no one at all who could understand how I felt. So I went as "crazy" as I've ever been, and stayed that way for, yes, quite a long time, even if I did manage to pull myself together enough to fake being an employee and one way or another keep a roof over my head.

There are ways in which I have never recovered from that "Eastern Aftermath", as I called that Tale, and I have more than once wished I had followed the possibly more difficult path of having gone "native" and "underground", remaining there even without money or a valid visa, as so many did.

And, of course, I only have to read those India Notebooks to see how totally loony I was even while still there, getting a little money and heading off to five-star hotels, buying what seems like an neverending cornucopia of drugs. So in one way, I can see it all as really the "Aftermath of the Dutchman", the most influential and explosive love relationship of my life (although the Sleeptalker comes very close indeed).

The Dutchman, India, Nepal, Deepak, the return to the West, the Sleeptalker ... utter hurricanes in my life. And not for a single moment do I regret any of those maelstroms, even if I may wish I had behaved differently in some of the episodes within them.

Yes, it took a very long while. As India Airlines said at the time, "India. You'll never be the same again."

I'd like to be cremated and my ashes spread in the Pacific Ocean while Edith Piaf sings "Je regrette rien", but alas, there are some regrets, as I suspect there were for her, too. And certainly those post-India years contain most of them, although, yes, I'd say it starts with the Dutchman. My relationship with my family, the things I did in my earlier years, I can brush aside as not entirely being my "fault". I think it wasn't until the Dutchman that I can look at myself and say, "what an idiot you were", and then even more strongly during that time in the East.

I finished that most peculiar Australian novel and went on to Father Greeley's Rite of Spring, even if I had declined Maestro Stravinsky's musings on the subject. The Good Father speaks some very relevant thoughts, as always.

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

750

The striking teachers are trying to persuade us that being on campus "undermines" their effort, a piece of attempted logic that doesn't much impress me. I fail to see how my abstaining from being on campus would do anything whatever to help the governor of this State come to his senses.

The exercise in nostalgia begun in the previous tale continued through the afternoon and evening. I went to the Garden to complete those kind instructions to have "a few" Monsters but this time had the sense to limit it to a couple, with an online break as Rubella in between them. She made it to level 81, and I probably will not bother to take her much higher since the 90s are quite dull. Bryant told me I was the first person to buy a drink, that the Garden had been so empty they were thinking of closing for the duration of the strike and had cancelled the usual Friday night's music. I didn't note how good that would be for my budget, at least not aloud.

My French reader corrected me, it is "Je ne regrette rien", and the reader has understandably more complex ideas about that song. I've always thought of it merely as "I regret nothing", while admitting, it has been such a long time since I've seen the English translation of the lyrics, I don't honestly know what the song says as a whole. (Thus making it an odd choice for the dropping of ashes.)

It is not the "bad times" of my life I regret at all, but the times when my own judgment has failed, when I said and did things I knew even at the time were unwise or downright foolish. In earlier years those moments were all inspired by jealousy, the bane of my life. And most, if not all, the others were assisted by drugged consciousness of one kind or another.

Later on Thursday, sitting in the park with a nightcap brew, I scolded myself for yet again ignoring "be here now", but tried to excuse it with the approach of that Natal Sun-Sun conjunction, a time which always tends to encourage remembering, nostalgia, even melancholy.

And of course, it is the 28th anniversary. The beginning of that first Journey to the East, sitting there in my London apartment, stoned, listening to Rita Coolidge and the Pink Floyd, feeling slightly terrified at the prospect of leaping off into totally unknown territory all by myself but at the same time happy to be escaping the bizarre life I had been living in London in that post-Cromwell Road period.

After an unusually disturbed and restless sleep, I was feeling more than ever in a "bubble" on Friday morning. I tried to explain to the Psychiatrist what I meant by this no-doubt Paxil inspired sensation, not with much success, I think. Remote, somewhat cut-off from reality, as if in a transparent space suit (regrettably not sound-proof), again with that strange swollen brain feeling. It isn't especially unpleasant but is indeed peculiar.

Although I'm aware of having a very active dreamlife, I don't remember a thing about them in the morning recently, most unusual. A reader thought it surprising that I so often dream of indoor scenarios. Almost always, actually. And I was reminded that it has been some time since I've had a department store dream, something which has been a part of my dreamlife for as long as I can remember. Oddly, I can't now recall many details of those recurring dreams, although an escalator seems to have always been a part of them. I wonder, was I fascinated or terrified by escalators as a child? (I see both reactions from children here at the mall.)

McD's is a puzzle. Raise the prices and reduce the service, no longer opening at five-thirty but at six. Phooey, I said, and walked to 7-Eleven, although I'll no doubt yield in time and wait around rather than making that walk. There's an odd rash of raised prices this week. 7-Eleven increased the price of Colt by ten cents, the supermarket by twenty-one. And the price of Power Bar Plus jumped a dollar! Okay, so I'll drink Mickey's and give up those "healthy" bars.

What's next in the "it's always something" dance?

751

Blue moon, you saw me standing alone,
Without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own ...


It wasn't a "blue" moon but it certainly was a magnificent moonrise. I had walked down to 7-Eleven to get my nightcap brew and when I crossed back to the park, there it was, that enormous round light in the sky, perfectly accented by a nearby fluffy little cloud, gleaming white with moonlight. I know several stories explaining the phases of the moon, but can't recall any which account for the magnification of the atmosphere, why the moon appears so huge when rising and shrinks as it climbs into the sky. There must be such myths.

The reader explained that "je ne regrette rien" is the written form but that it is commonly spoken as "je regrette rien". For some reason that brought to mind Lily Tomlin's "is this the party to whom I am speaking?" and jumped from there to the Marx Brothers and "party of the first part". A strange thing, language. An even stranger thing, the mind.

And that strange entity delighted me with a Fool Moon appearance of the Sleeptalker, alas only in dream. A totally innocent one, too, but I was so happy to see him, he was at his most charming and I suppose because it was in dreamlife, I could freely gaze at him and note again how much I love the man.

Not surprising that an appearance by him would be strong enough to survive the current (and unwelcome) tendency to forget all dreams.

I am spending too much time thinking about those doctors. Friday was such a grim day, the sky a featureless gray cloud cover with frequent drizzle, and for much of it I felt thoroughly depressed, no matter how much my brain may be saturated with that substance which the one doctor is certain eliminates depression. Autopsies on suicide victims all show their brain was serotonin deficient, he told me. Autopsies didn't, of course, show anything about what was happening in their lives to make them want to escape it. All a matter of body chemistry. Humbug.

In that manner of thinking, I guess a spiritual crisis would simply be a chemical imbalance. Poor John's Dark Night of the Soul.

Wanting to avoid the Friday night band, I went again to the bench on the other side, had I think only recently fallen asleep when I heard a man say, "hello, hello". I peeked out from under the tarp, saw a fortiesh man in a wetsuit, one half of the top slung off revealing a scrawny, hairy body. "I'm off to find some cute young women," he said, and repeated it. "Good for you, I'm going back to sleep," I replied and escaped under the tarp, muttering to myself about peculiar people.

The weather was much more pleasant on Saturday. My luncheon handouts in the secluded grove have attracted a second batch of bulbuls, creating a quite hilarious pandemonium as they try to grab some cornbread and the rivals swoop down on them, dazzling aerial acrobatics, fluttering under the benches like some wild videogame of jet fighters. Two of them even battled it out for awhile, rising vertically face-to-face and going at each other with their claws. With all the shenanigans, they end up getting less to eat than they would if they just chilled out and shared.

I decided to treat my own self with an Andrew Greeley binge, followed-up his Rite of Spring with Summer at the Lake. It uses very complex techniques of multiple narrators and mixed jumps through their shared histories. Despite some of his usual delightful asides, I think it's not one of his best works. But Angel Fire is. And it's also solid evidence that the good Father Greeley is as good as creators of contemporary American fiction get (and quite possibly the best of contemporary commentators on religion).

On the weekend, the campus was happily free of striking teachers in picket lines except for a small group oddly blocking one access road to lower campus. I overheard several conversations between students commenting on the campaign to keep people off campus, all of them agreeing with my observation that it makes no sense. A tactical error on the part of the teachers, methinks. Why weaken support by pressure for something which cannot really make any difference?

I so disliked running the gauntlet of the picket line, I went to Manoa Garden early on Friday afternoon, intending to drink a beer there rather than leaving and returning through the picketers. Despite a report in the morning campus newspapers quoting a Marriott spokesperson who said their facilities would remain open, the Garden was closed. Oh well, saved me some money.

On Saturday, waiting for a bus back uphill after going to get lunch, the Old Guitarist came along on his bicycle, brown-bagging his forty zones of Colt, and stopped to talk. He told several boasting stories about his recent sexual adventures with women lusting for his body, then ogled a young woman who walked past. I told him he was old enough to be her grandfather, to behave himself (look who's talking). The young lady was obviously irked by his attention and when she walked back past us again, turned to look at him directly and said, "fuck you." Ha! So much for his seductive powers. "She must be on her period," he said. Maybe she just doesn't like dirty old men, I didn't say.

And Sunday marks the three and one half year point in this Strange New Life.

752

Return of the Bad Boys ... at least for one evening.

After a pleasant day on campus, I returned to the mall late on Sunday afternoon, was heading toward the check-out counter at the supermarket when Rossini walked in. He looked down at the bottle of Mickey's in my basket and asked if I was going over to the park. Yes, I said, and waited outside for him. His left arm was bandaged from the elbow to the tips of his fingers. "You hit someone too hard?" No, he had gotten very drunk and "fell through a window". It had taken more than forty stitches to sew up the wound. Judging by the hideous healed gash above the bandage, I hate to think what the rest of it must look like.

We had only been in the park for a few minutes when Angelo called. Rossini told him where we were and shortly afterwards, Angelo and C-One arrived. Rossini has returned to his mother's house and Angelo is staying with his sister in Waianae. He had lost his plastic card for foodstamps and Crazy Money, was in town to pick up a new one on Monday morning.

The Sleeptalker has been "adopted" by some church group who whisked him away to a rehab center where he has been for six weeks. Once leaving there, he is supposed to follow some kind of "program" for a year. I cannot imagine him sticking with anything that long, but lasting for six weeks in the rehab place is a hopeful sign. He wants Jesus and a family so much, perhaps these church people can fill the need.

And if they turn him into a preacher, I'll start going to church.

I gave Angelo money so he could get beer for him and C-One. When they returned he tried to persuade me to fill the glass pipe. I said I'd stand another round of beer, but that was all. He has lost a bit of weight and flirted outrageously, pulling up his tee shirt many times to display his flatter belly. What a rascal, but a sweetie, too, as is C-One.

He has a new cell phone, the smallest, most elegant one I've ever seen. $130, he said. Sheez.

We all walked back to the mall to get the next round of 40s and those finished, Rossini left to go home. Angelo and C-One were planning to stay at Park Place North. I told them they might get away with it, no way of knowing whether the cops would pick that night to come around or not, but I went out to my usual bench and collapsed under my tarp, slightly drunk and a little exhausted from the unaccustomed company.



753

I'm glad you had news about your friends, though it must be difficult for you, at the same time, knowing maybe you won't be seeing the Sleeptalker for a while. But if there is a possibility of a "better" future for him, it's what you really wished, isn't it ?

Believe me, I spent much time on Monday pondering that. From a purely selfish point of view, I am dismayed. I suppose it must be akin to what someone in love would feel if their beloved became a monk or a nun. One cannot be unhappy for the beloved, only for oneself, knowing at the same time that even that unhappiness is, shall we say, "dishonourable".

I worry that these people may be a bad influence, having no faith in the certainty that just because a group is Christian, it is going to be a good one. I worry about how they are certain to put great pressure on him to suppress his sexual desires and what effect that will have on him as a man. If they are transformed into love for Jesus, become spiritual energy, most excellent, but if they are just swept into a closet and fester away, disastrous. I'm sure the group leaders will have much influence on how that problem is resolved, or eased.

I'm, of course, delighted if he manages to find the strength to stay off drugs, especially ice. That alone would make losing his companionship worth it.

Yes, it's a muddle but, yes, I do indeed want what is best for him and I admit it is likely these people can better help him than I can. I also have to admit I am selfish enough that I would be very happy to see him if he does abandon this new path, nor would I be much surprised if that happens. If it doesn't, though, all the more reason to be happy for him.

Meanwhile, the weather gods are taking April Showers far too seriously this year. Even on days which are mostly pleasant and sunny, there have been frequent sudden downpours, sometimes that strange Hawaiian mixture of simultaneous sun and rain. And Monday night was hideous, fiercely windy and wet. I managed to escape with only slightly damp clothes but had such a disturbed sleep that I didn't surface until the unusually late time of six-thirty.

It had been one of those days when I should have done something to make for a more interesting Tale. I first went downtown to the drugstore there because the one at the mall doesn't stock the cheap little plastic "wallets" or bus-pass holders. The one I had was falling apart and I've meant for two months to get a new one. Fortunately the store also had AA batteries on sale, so I got my razor back into top gear and, because the old ones had gotten pretty scratched up in a year of use, got new reading glasses. Responsible shopping.

Since I was down there, I stopped into the State Library to check the freebie collection. It was a pretty uninteresting batch, but I took Danielle Steel's The Crossing, and returned to campus. Finishing Greeley's wonderful Angel Fire with lunch in the secluded grove, I took out the radio, tuned in just as the announcer was introducing a Robert Schumann piano piece, translated title being something like "Carnival Pranks from Vienna". Sounded like a dreary carnival they must have had in old Osterreich, I gave up on it, and scanned the other choices. I agree with the Sleeptalker, "radio here sucks". Back to NPR which had gone on to an orchestral work which was tiresome but I was curious to know who had written it so waited to find out. Also Robert Schumann, his "Faust Overture". That must be the least interesting piece of music ever inspired by Goethe's masterwork.

And speaking of Faust, the UH production cancelled the originally scheduled first performances because of the continuing teachers strike. If the strike continues too much longer, the whole project will be cancelled which would be a great pity, especially after all the time and effort which has gone into it.

I went to the mall a little before sunset. It started drizzling, so I sat in the Orchid Walk with a Mickey's and a chef salad, started Steel's voyage on the Lusitania and wished I had instead returned to the bookstore and treated myself to some more Greeley.

And wishing later, cowering damply under the tarp, that someone, church group or otherwise, would "adopt" me. Of course, I'd probably be an even bigger problem child than the Sleeptalker.

754

I think Angelo is getting bored living out in the country. He came into town again on Tuesday. I was sitting in the Orchid Walk when he and Rossini came along carrying beer and Angelo's beloved raw tuna. I said I had just finished a bottle, would get another and join them in the park. So we again spent the evening together. Rossini went off to the toilets at one point to indulge in the glass pipe, but Angelo has again given it up, or so he said. He has also given up his usual shoplifting routine. I would be surprised if either "reform" is long-lasting.

More talk, of course, about the Sleeptalker. Neither of them have actually seen him for two months but Rossini had one telephone conversation with him which produced the news about the church group. Rossini is hopeful that it will be good for the Sleeptalker. I wish he knew which group it is but knowing how vague the Sleeptalker can be, it's understandable how few details are known.

I asked Rossini if he'd ever had a job. He laughed and said yes, but not for the past five years and probably never again since the injury to his arm will qualify him for long-term disability money. Angelo said he'd had three jobs but didn't say what they had been. He complained that his mother has again been reminding him it's time he settled into some way of making a living. "Well, if you have a son, won't you feel the same way if he's twenty-four and living the way you are?" I asked, more to encourage him to be patient with his mother than to agree with her. I can't really blame the guy for living the way he is.

(I am not unaware of how bizarre it is for a man who never coped with his own mother to be advising these lads on the subject.)

I saw another one of those, the Cherub, briefly at lunchtime. He had the day off and was busy organizing a gift for his mother's birthday. Another Aries mama, huh? I sympathize even more with him, knowing that.

Such a day of feeling damp. I'd no sooner get dried out than I'd get caught in yet another totally unexpected downpour. No suspicious looking clouds, no few warning drops, just sudden splash! Then the temperature dropped sharply, the wind making it feel even cooler, as we all complained in the park. I complained even more during the night which was easily as cold as any during winter.

And woke up to the internal jukebox ... because you're mine the sun will shine, the moon and stars will say you're mine ...

Sigh.

755

I headed to my bench early on Good Friday evening. Helen R had kindly treated me to a scrumptious Italian dinner at Angelo Pietra so I was stuffed and ready to curl up for the night. I had put on my sweatshirt and night socks, was sitting there enjoying a final cigarette. My tarp was still folded on the bench beside me. Suddenly there was a ferocious gust of wind which picked up the tarp, unfolded it in mid-air and threw it into the ocean. "Was that really necessary?" I asked Someone Up There.

But then I've asked that question frequently this week. It's a mystery to me how there can be long periods of relatively light breeze or stillness and then these sudden blasts of gale force wind for three or four minutes.

There is a 24-hour store within walking distance which sells tarps but I really didn't feel like making the walk there and back. I'd noticed a couple of discarded grass beach mats nearby so I got those and cocooned myself in them. They aren't completely watertight but there were only a couple of light showers during the night so I stayed mostly dry. Off to that store first thing in the morning, though, to replace the tarp.

Waiting at a bus stop then, across from a Catholic church, I thought I'd stop in for a Holy Saturday visit. Iron gates before the doors padlocked. We need a modern miracle. Let every door of every "Christian" church on the planet be thrown open at Easter Sunday dawn and be fixed in place, impossible for any earthly power to close again. They can lock their damned gold and treasures in a bank vault, leave "God's house" open.

There is nothing special about threescore and one years and there was nothing special about the day marking its completion. I did treat myself with two more of Father Greeley's splendid novels and indulged in four of those forty-ounce bottles of brew, spread from late morning to early evening. I played in Seventh Circle for several hours, giving Rubella the Mage a break when she reached level 85 and starting a new character, Gabriella the Druid. As always when starting a new character, I get too ambitious too quickly so she had a rockier time getting to level 10 than she should have but then things got easier. Between that fun and Greeley's Angels of September, the brew and a welcome dry lunchtime in the secluded grove, it was a pleasant day, no more, but then who could ask for it?

I switched to the West Side bench, hoping the back of the bench would provide at least a little windbreak. A little is about it, too. The disadvantage of that side of the sleeping sanctuary is that the bench is near a corner favored by night (or predawn) fishers who often wake me as they pound supports for their rods into the ground. Fortunately, they are otherwise quiet, unlike the walking motormouths. Friday night there was even a night snorkeler using that corner as his launching pad. I wonder what he thought if he swam under my floating tarp.

A scholarly reader informs me that it is merely an optical illusion, the rising full moon appearing so much larger, one caused by having reference points (like trees or buildings). Hmmmmmm. I've no idea where I got the notion that it is caused by atmospheric magnification. Perhaps that's my modern myth to explain the phenomenon. I shall have to observe more critically next Fool Moon because it just seems unbelievable that optical illusion is the only explanation. The thing looks SO much bigger upon rising.

By Friday afternoon, I had finished both of the Greeley books (the second was his An Occasion of Sin) and had nothing to read. I didn't want to make the trip to the used bookstore, so relied on the radio for distraction. Handel's Concerto Grosso in A Major was splendid, as was Haydn's Symphony 95 written in the year Mozart died. But more modern stuff left me cold and I was bored by most of All Things Considered, had a rare afternoon nap instead. I think I really would go crazy without books.

And despite telling myself que sera, sera and insisting that I give it up, rest content with the sweet memories, I still haven't really come to terms with the unexpected Sleeptalker development. Working on it, working on it.

756

Bought Indian cigarettes (too expensive -- three different brands 4-1/2, 5, 6-1/2 rupees)

At the exchange rate then, equalled about 28, 35 or 43 cents! Now the cheapest ones I can find are $2.80 with four cents on the dollar tax.

Amusing, to have those writings from such a long time ago. I wish I had the London notebooks which preceded them, the Nepal books which came after, and even the NYC ones from the early 80s. A journalist from a local newspaper has been questioning me about the Tales, but always I have been writing down the story of my life, even when I was in my early teens (and as I have told) discovered my naughty mother was sneaking peeks and I had to change to a code. It's a code I still use now and then, in these Tales.

It's somewhat ironic that I shall, as usual, run short of money before this "cruellest month" is over, partly the fault of what I am told is the "richest priest in America". But oh my, the good Father Greeley's Contract with an Angel is more than worth it. I give full points to any writer who can make me laugh aloud once in a book, and he accomplishes it several times with this one. The Archangel Gabriel, as an attractive Gabriella in Angel Fire was a delight, but Michael, as a hunky black man in this one is incomparable.

So, a heavenly being appears, tells you there isn't much longer to live and it is advisable to contact and forgive all those you have in one way or another offended (even if not entirely your fault). A challenging idea.

I would, of course, have to begin with my mother, since my father is departed and that meeting is no longer possible on this plane of existence. The main character of Contract with an Angel has that problem, too, but I haven't yet gotten to the point where he copes with it. As usual, Father Greeley is being compassionate with his characters and the dude will probably cope far better than I could, but then I don't have the Boss Seraph Michael peeking over my shoulder. At least, not that I'm aware of.

In an amusing bit of synchronicity, I had been on a bus passing a very large, long-time empty plot of ground and fell into a brief fantasy about how I would buy that space and construct my dream house on it. I've talked before about the dream house fantasy, but it has been dormant for awhile because it was mostly inspired, in recent years, by the Sleeptalker and what I would give him had I the power. And I was somewhat amazed when it twisted into creating a little guest cottage off the main house, a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. I would email my brother-in-law and tell him I have no idea what the state of Martha's health is, but if she'd like, I'd send her a plane ticket (first class, of course), and she was welcome to stay here as long as she liked. "What you say?!" asked another voice, "that would be a DISASTER". (And that was before I began this enchanting novel by Father Greeley.)

But didn't I note recently what a strange thing the mind is?

That much of this Tale was written early on Holy Saturday. By the end of the day I had finished the delightful Contract with an Angel. As it turned out, his attempted reconciliation with his parents was even more of a disaster than my last try with mine. But then his parents were worse than mine. Not only was he also conceived out of wedlock, his mother repeatedly threw it in his face as he was growing up, claiming he was the result of "rape"! What a piece of work is man(kind).

Two unexpected encounters on Holy Saturday. I was sitting at a picnic table in the park reading when Mme de Crécy walked up. What a surprise. She was in full Mama Mode, as is too often the case. Why is it I have always inspired so many women to turn mama-authority figure on me? Of course, I shouldn't have mentioned the Sleeptalker at all to her. For a year she insisted it was just another one of my infatuations, then (and now) she sees it as a "self-destructive" relationship and is totally incapable of understanding it has not ever been a matter of choice. I should just put the subject off-limits when talking with her.

A little later in the mall, Rocky came strutting along, looking absolutely splendid in his usual tank-top. Naturally, the first thing he asked was if I'd seen the Sleeptalker. I told him the news. "You miss him, yeh?" he asked with a big grin. "Well, of course, I miss him." They are all so amused that I've been crazy for the Sleeptalker for so long. Rocky asked where I was going and I said to buy a beer. "Buy me one, too," he said. "Why? What have you ever done for me?" I teased. He gave me a playful poke. I pulled out three dollars and told him to buy himself a beer, knowing he'd really prefer that than being obligated to sit with me while drinking one if I'd bought it for him. Another big grin and a "good to see you" farewell, which I echoed. A sweetheart, that man.

A reader sent an interesting web reference about that "moon illusion". Fascinating.

Another interesting web resource is the Biorhythm Calculator. I was much intrigued by this idea for a long time, even went to the trouble while in India of calculating mine manually. Now all that's necessary is to enter the birthdate and instantly get a pretty colored graph. I was not in the least surprised to see that my emotional and physical waves are in synch, at the very bottom of the curve. The pits. Intellectual, though, is at the peak. Hmmmph.

It rained a lot during the night but I managed to stay dry under my new tarp, was awakened about 4:30 by the sound of "testing, testing, one, two ...". My bedroom invaded by folks preparing for an Easter sunrise service. I had planned ahead, bought two cans of coffee before heading to the bench the night before, so packed up my stuff and fled the microphone testing, sat in the Orchid Walk with my coffee and began Virgin and Martyr. Didn't take many pages to tell it's another winner from the good Father Greeley.

Easter 2001. Never thought I'd live to see it.

757

In the mall the people come and go, probably never talking of Michelangelo. One who has been missing for such a long time I thought he was gone for good returned on Easter Monday evening. Travis at the supermarket. Wherever he has been, he's spent time in the sun because he has a darker tan than I've ever seen him have. Travis is unquestionably one of the most desireable human beings I have ever seen. I can't see "auras" but I can sense them and I feel certain he is a kind, gentle, sweet, slightly bashful young man and just as cute as anyone can get. I was stunned to see him again, stood at the counter gaping and the young lady waiting for me to get it together and hand her my discount card and money must have thought I was stoned or drunk.

Easter Sunday was quite delightful. I've never been wished "Happy Easter!" so many times before, from little children to old bag ladies. Extraordinary. Most of the mall was closed all day so to get my nightcap, I walked down to 7-Eleven. Crossing the bridge back to the park, two little girls were playing there, one with a toy cellphone. They smiled and waved, I returned it. Then they followed me, the oldest one asking, "do you have a home?" I said no, I don't. She asked my name. I told her. She told me her name and her sister's name and their birthdays. I asked her if she'd had a phone call. "No, it's a fake," she said. Ha! They said goodbye and strolled back to the bridge, wishing me a Happy Easter as they went. One has to be grateful sometimes that the old parental warning about not speaking to strangers is ignored, a charming interlude.

Another little fellow on a bicycle, maybe nine or ten, was an outrageous flirt, waved and smiled so sweetly each time he rode past my table. What a ladykiller that one is gonna be.

As last year, the computer lab was surprisingly open on Easter, so I spent the morning there after debating about visiting a church and deciding against it. Too much of a cliche, showing up at church on Easter after having not been in one for such a long time. I bought a loaf of bread and some ham for lunch, with a Colt of course, and the birdies had a major pig-out. The pecking order is amusing. The zebra doves are at the bottom, one reason I am so kind to them and shoo bigger, greedier birds away if they turn bully. Sparrows are the most sassy, such rascals. They will ignore a nice piece of bread just laying there in order to snatch one from another bird, even sometimes from their beaks. The two groups of bulbuls continue their outrageous antics and were joined on Easter by two groups of mynahs who spent so much time protecting their territory they hardly got anything to eat at all. The Brazilian cardinals, oddly enough, are the most bold. Even the bulbuls back off when threatened by one of those feisty little redheads. Fortunately, the European pigeons have thus far not discovered the lunchtime largesse in the secluded grove, and there is only one ringnecked dove which, like the mynahs, spends most of its time chasing any invaders away while ignoring others not of its own kind.

Father Greeley's Virgin and Martyr was a great read and I wasn't at all surprised that its heroine was neither of the title terms. In some ways it forms a perfect companion volume to Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis, portraits of the dark side of the Sixties in America.

Empty pockets looming, I told myself to forget about continuing my exploration of the good Father Greeley's wonderful output until next month. Back to the fifty-cent cart. First find, John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Dorothy Parker is quoted as having said "the greatest American novel I have ever read." Could never disagree with that admirable lady and there certainly isn't any reason to consider it in this case.

Whenever I ask a question in the Tales, I end up pondering it for days. So, why is it I form relationships with women who are quick to adopt a "mother mode"? When I woke up on Tuesday morning, lit a cigarette and sat watching the lights reflecting in the harbor, I thought, "because you're a spoiled brat". A reader and I recently discussed the fact that neither of us "feel our age" and I said I was sure some head-doctor has labeled it a Peter Pan Complex. But I think perhaps the real reason is that I am attracted to not necessarily beautiful but physically appealing women with above average intelligence. With that combination they understandably tend to be ambitious. And they are ambitious not only for themselves, but for their friends. With good reason, they have seen me throughout my life as not "living up to my potential", so they play Mama. All with the best of intentions, of course. Sigh.

And sigh about this spring weather, too. It would be nice indeed to have one entire day and night without water falling from the sky.

758

Like to stay drunk all the time. Who says it's bad? Who dares to say it's bad? Preachers -- but they got their own kind of drunkenness. Thin, barren women, but they're too miserable to know. Reformers -- but they don't bite deep enough into living to know. No -- the stars are close and dear and I have joined the brotherhood of the worlds. And everything's holy -- everything, even me.

He didn't know about Chinese Psychiatrists.

Easy to identify with the Okies despite the many differences between a contemporary urban nomad and those migrants in Grapes of Wrath. We share many of the same problems, especially finding a place to sleep, keeping clean, finding food. But most of us are living this way by choice and those who gave America its first real experience of the "homeless problem" were not. They were also willing and eager to work, no matter for how absurdly low a wage. I don't know a single urban nomad with that attitude. And I seriously doubt anyone will ever write such a splendid book about us.

The Okies with their jalopies converted into makeshift trucks, carrying as many of their belongings across country as they could ... reminds me, too, of a great mystery. Why do some urban nomads lug around so much stuff? The ones with shopping carts stacked high, plastic bags hung around them loaded with what is probably absolute junk. One of the most puzzling is the Hooded Lady, so-called because she has long worn a grubby, hooded sweatshirt with such short shorts they can't be seen, making it appear she's wearing nothing but that shirt. She sleeps at a bus stop shelter in the park and has steadily increased the amount of stuff she carries around. Two large garbage bags crammed full, very heavy judging by the way she carries them, one at a time. Every morning she makes the trip from the bus stop in stages, carrying each of the large bags a short distance, returning for a cardboard box of stuff and several plastic shopping bags plus some grass beach mats. She eventually gets it all to a picnic table, so much junk it takes up a whole bench. And in the evening she makes the trip in reverse. I can't imagine why she does it.

One of the other regular occupants at that bus stop irks the hell out of me. He sleeps on the same bench night after night, and every morning leaves loads of trash scattered around, empty paper cups, food wrappings and other assorted litter. The cleaning people must hate him. You'd think someone fortunate enough to have the same "bedroom" every night would at least keep the area clean. The Big Local Dude would have given him hell back in the hacienda days.

The Airport Couple have split up again and I was much surprised to see the younger one also sleeping at that bus stop on Wednesday morning. I've seen him on his own for several days, but that's the first time I've seen him sleeping in the park. The shelter must be even more unpleasant than usual if such a regular avoids it.

I certainly didn't get my weather wish on Tuesday. It rained now and then during the day, through much of the evening and night. Fortunately there was a break around nine-thirty and I got to the bench. It was wet, of course, so I had to carefully arrange the tarp to keep the inner side dry. The West Side benches had been taken the night before, so I returned to the East Side and went there again on Tuesday. The large black lady was huddled under a big umbrella on the next bench. Drizzle, drip, tap tap tap. But I slept well enough that I didn't surface until the Cat Lady woke me, banging a spoon on the bucket of food to call the cats. She calls the black-and-white one Bobby.

Ryan and I made the newspaper again. I must be slipping, no "notorious" label this time. I would, of course, be most willing to regain the title but Dame Fortune just hasn't provided opportunities lately. Plenty of temptations, but no opportunities.

It's a well-written article, I think better than the recent one in Newsweek which also mentioned Ryan.

The best newspaper news, though ... the headlines Wednesday morning. The strike is over at the University (or at least it will be if the union membership agrees to the settlement reached, which seems likely). At last.

759

Angelo made me very happy on Wednesday evening. I bought a bottle of Mickey's, crossed over from the mall to the park and saw Angelo and Rossini sitting at a table. Angelo was more talkative than usual and he finally mentioned his "stutter". I've long wondered just how important it is to him but could never think of a way to bring up the subject. I'm not sure it really is a stutter. It's very subtle and seems not that he's having difficulty in the classic way pronouncing certain consonants. I think it's more a case of his knowing what he wants to say but not quickly enough finding the exact words and tentatively speaking them before he's really sure that's the word he wants. I find it totally endearing, one of my favorite things about him. But he definitely sees it as a handicap and is probably more worried about it than I've thought.

A friend of his is doing well as a car salesman and is encouraging Angelo to give it a try, but he's afraid the "stutter" would make such a job impossible. And when talking about it, the stutter got much worse. Once again, I feel utterly useless, haven't a clue how to offer help, but I'm glad he finally talked about it.

He is, as I suspected, very bored living in Waianae. His little brother is out of that juvenile detention home he was in for a year and they are both now living with the sister. A kind woman, holding down two jobs and providing shelter (and probably food) to her layabout brothers. And as I also suspected, Angelo's "giving up" ice was just the usual day-after never-again resolve. But the shoplifting career does seem to be over. He hadn't told me that he'd gotten caught again and spent two weeks in jail, with the warning that another offense would get him at least ninety days.

We are seeing the same psychiatrist and I teased him, said it must be worth twenty or forty bucks a month to keep me quiet, not tell the doc he's using all his money on ice. He's only having to see the doc once every two months, said "you must really be crazy" when I told him I was going twice a month. Heh.

Once again the "networking" value of the Bad Boys came through, with details on how to get the very cheap "disability" bus pass. Good news, since the senior citizen one I found runs out at the end of the month.

I saw the psychologist earlier in the day, the first time I've had a morning appointment. As usual, it was just a friendly chat about this and that (teachers strike, mostly), but I did mention the Sleeptalker for the first time, referring to him as "my favorite of the street boys". The doc amused me by echoing what a reader wrote when noting that judging by the Tales, the Sleeptalker is capable of taking what he wants or needs from a situation and ignoring the rest. The doc knew of such cases, too. A reassuring notion, even if it doesn't totally put to rest fears of brainwashing and such.

The internal jukebox he diagnosed as "not a clinical problem", after asking several questions about it. He always ends a session by asking if I have any questions for him, so I asked if it was usual for people to hear music in their heads. (Perhaps not, in the way that I do.)

But as with the psychiatrist, the conversations seem to have little deep relevance to what is going on in my head and a chat with Mme de Crécy (after the Boys had departed and she came walking through the park) had me saying most of the stuff I should say to the docs, I guess. Bewitched, bothered and bewildered. I can't say I'm unhappy, certainly not depressed, just puzzled. What on earth am I doing and why? That kind of puzzlement. And so the easy way out is to just keep on doing today what I did yesterday.