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.
the least of these
... 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
countdown to aries
the season of the ram
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
"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
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.
"I'll give you a dollar if you can guess what I did today," challenged the
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 ...
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
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.
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
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
"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
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
"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."
That's right. I'm going upstairs right now and write your Tale for you so you
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
"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
email@example.com. The firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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
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
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.
"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
"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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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.
"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.
"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
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
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
But those fool moon's eyes, how sweet it was.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Gloomy gray clouds again. Sigh.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Believe in me, in my words, in what I have said and what has been written
I am, still, the hero of my own dreams, and let me please keep my place in
I am the Vampire Lestat.
Let me now pass from fiction into legend.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Oh my God in heaven or, as my mother mysteriously said, "heavens to
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 ...
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
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.
I guess the only solution is to switch to a nightowl routine, sleeping in
At McD's in the morning, the sound system revved up "what becomes of the
broken hearted ..." when I walked in. Cute.
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.
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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
Brown Baker thoroughly disliked a batch of
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
"Camping arrests have dipped since Travis County Magistrate Jim Coronado
ruled that sleeping, even in public, is constitutionally protected,
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
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.
"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
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.
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
Meanwhile, I popped the first pill, wait to start feeling seasick.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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 ...
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 ....
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
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
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
As I said, oremus ...
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
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?
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
"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."
"... 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
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?
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.
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"
My peculiar life ...
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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".
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
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?
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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".
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 ...
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
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?
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 ...
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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