tales from the year of the snake

I'm just tryin' to get along
without shovin' nobody around.

john steinbeck

exit ram, enter bull
760-768
769-775

Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now.
Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles.

J.D. Salinger

late spring fever in the park
776-780

How can I escape, except through faith, madness, or death?
Natsume Soseki

the june follies
781-782

There is a pleasure sure in being mad which none but madmen know.
Dryden

follow your heart
783-792
793-799

neurontinic nexus
800-807
808-813

serpens augustus
814-816
817-822
823-826

tale end of the fourth
827-834
835-843
844-846

-----

760

Goodbye Aries.

In his message for this week, Cainer wrote: We have to ask: what's the one thing that you're sure of beyond all question? Take another (very) good look at it. Now why, precisely, are you so sure? Don't be afraid to think the unthinkable. You'll make a big breakthrough with an old problem if you do.

I like it when he gives me something like that to chew on for a week, and I've gnawed away at various possibilities although I have no sense whatever of making a "breakthrough", big or small, so maybe I haven't grasped which unthinkable thing it is. But it has been interesting pondering.

Doing the same thing today one did yesterday eventually produces one of those ordinary days so detested by the Steppenwolf. Understandably. Sometimes it seems better to be deeply depressed and miserable or deliriously happy than to be stuck in a state of contentment with a slight edge of boredom because nothing unusual is happening. Such a day was Thursday.

After relishing, but suffering, Grapes of Wrath (lordy, what an ending), I thought some light reading was in order, checked the fifty cent cart and got J.B. Priestley's Salt is Leaving. Entertaining mystery yarn in true British style. Then I went on to the very American An Inconvenient Woman by Dominick Dunne, a writer I've not read before. I turned down, at least for now, Hugo's Les Miserables. Definitely not light reading.

So after the usual drizzly night, it was coffee at McD's, lunchtime in the secluded grove with a Mickey's and sandwiches and my feathered companions, playing awhile in Seventh Circle, getting Gabriella to level 35. Then to the mall for a nightcap which I had to drink in the Orchid Walk since it was drizzling again. A very ordinary day.

Then a minor miracle, a night without falling water. I know, I know, we depend on this little island entirely upon rainwater so all drops of it should be seen as a blessing, especially since this urban civilization wastes so much of the stuff day after day. I hate to think how many gallons must go down the drain every 24 hours just between them washing down the mall every night and the over-irrigation in the park. So I tell myself to don't even think about grumbling when water falls from the sky. Still, it is nice to have a break from it once in awhile.

And twenty-eight years ago I was "introduced to the juice bar hangout in Mohan Singh Place." That was, probably still is, the Delhi equivalent of a mall but, I hasten to add, bearing not much resemblance to the American or English version. The ground floor was occupied mainly by fruit and vegetable hole-in-the-wall places with the most extraordinary mix of aromas I've ever encountered. As I said in the India Notebooks, the first time I went in the place I immediately fled out. A few weeks later, I was there every morning, greeted cheerfully by the happy Sikh owner of a fresh juice bar, drinking either orange juice or the Indian "Coke", Campa-Cola. He kept several tapes of Western rock music to lure in more of us (relatively) high-spending hippies but had so little experience with it that he never noticed when the batteries were running low and one of us had to tell him. He snorted heroin to "see the Guru" and gave me my very first experience of that substance when handing me a little wax-paper packet and telling me to sniff it. "You know what it is," he said. I didn't, but soon found out. Old times, good times.

Looking back at the Tales from this Aries-to-Taurus transition time, I see they were times when everything was going exceptionally smoothly with the Sleeptalker. No doubt about it, if he were around again for this arrival of the Bull, I would not be muttering about "ordinary" days.

761

The sky is getting light by 5:30 and with the warmer weather, it's good to start the day sitting on my bench having a couple of smokes and looking at the ocean and Diamond Head in the distance. It also helps to remember dreams again. Very rare for me to dream of an incident exactly as it happened but that was the case on Saturday night and I woke up chuckling, it was so real. A replay of the night at the hacienda when the Sleeptalker had us all laughing by saying the coral cut he'd got on his foot was the result of a "small shark" biting him. Sweet, funny dream.

"You're so bad," the Cherub said, laughing. I told him I wished I knew what church group the Sleeptalker had gone to since I'd go, too, just to see the look on his face when I walked in. The Cherub came looking for me late on Friday afternoon for a delayed birthday celebration at the Garden. One beer and three Monsters later I was utterly smashed, fell asleep somewhere on campus (don't remember where, just waking up and seeing it was a little after midnight). I went to a more hidden place and collapsed again, too far gone to worry about the consequences. Fortunately, I wasn't discovered.

They keep shifting the Cherub around at his job, I suppose with the idea of letting him get familiar with the different aspects of the place although he tends to see it as punishment. He's in the lumberyard now and hates it. He also hated his father showing up twice unannounced at his workplace, ostensibly to check out the operation since his businesses on Kauai are similar. After the second time, the Cherub had asked his father not to visit again since it increased the "poor little rich boy" jibes he gets from co-workers who are aware of his father's success on Kauai. It must be difficult growing up knowing someday, if you outlive your parents, you'll be a millionaire. I asked the Cherub what else he'd been doing besides working. Working and drinking. It reminded me of the psychologist who said he understood how I'd feel differently about drinking if I were in my twenties than I do now. Indeed.

There was a quite handsome fellow sitting there on his own and at one point the Cherub and I were guessing what his name was. I finally went over and asked. The Cherub won. John. Handsome John.

After that prolonged drinking session I was feeling pretty awful on Saturday morning, downed two cups of coffee and read until the computer lab opened. Two unabashed soap opera novels in a row. In Barbara Delinksy's More Than Friends, a young teenage boy even said he was watching the afternoon soaps because it was just like their life. Yes, a very All My Children or One Life to Live kind of story, but relatively entertaining.

After my lunchtime Colt and sandwiches, I napped for awhile on the secluded grove bench and finally felt halfway human again afterwards although afternoon naps are really not a good idea since it's then more difficult to sleep at night. Having finished the Delinsky book, I'd planned on listening to the radio but NPR is into one of its begging bowl campaigns making it unlistenable so I settled down early and lay there thinking for quite some time before falling asleep. So many sirens during the night ... must have been a troubled Saturday night for ambulance folks and firemen.

Aftermath of the strike: in order to make up the lost days, they are holding classes on Saturdays and Sundays, plan to shorten the pre-finals study period by two days. So no more quiet Sundays on campus for a few weeks. If I were more of a nightowl, I'd be pleased, since the libraries are staying open until midnight and won't have the usual early closing on Saturdays. But unless it's guzzling time at the Garden, I rarely stay on campus past sunset anyway.

Cainer writes about this last week of April: If you're young inside, you'll stay young on the outside. Keep that in mind this week... and you may yet find your own secret of eternal youth. I wonder what he'd think about my favorite theory on that subject.

762

Life can indeed be stranger than fiction or fantasy. No way could I have imagined the scenario which took place on Sunday evening. I had bought my nightcap Mickey's, went to the park to drink it and continue reading Elizabeth George's Missing Joseph which I'd found on the fifty-cent cart earlier. It started to drizzle so I returned to the mall and sat in the Orchid Walk.

A young man, probably early twenties and at least partly Filipino, sat down on the bench beside me and asked for a cigarette. He was happily drunk and on the way to getting more so, taking slugs from a small brown-bagged vodka bottle. I nodded at the bottle and said, "if you can afford to buy that, you can buy cigarettes." His girlfriend had bought him the bottle, he told me, before she'd gone home to Salt Lake. Then he apologized several times for having asked, said he'd never do it again. "I doubt that," I said and laughed, gave him a cigarette and a light. Profuse thanks. Then he dropped the cigarette. It rolled under the bench and he draped himself over my leg to reach the smoke. He was wearing a black tanktop which nicely displayed fine brown arms and shoulders, reminding me of Rocky. He sat back up, took a couple more drags on the cigarette and then said, "kiss me." [!].

So I did. Lucky girlfriend. Such soft lips and such a sweet, tender kiss. And I was thinking, yikes, if one of the Bad Boys came around the corner and saw that, I'd never hear the end of it. I told the lad it was getting late, looked like being a wet night so he should probably go home. Where was home? Salt Lake, too. If I'd had a home, you can bet he would have been invited to share it for the night. The flames of passion have been quenched by Paxil to a barely-burning pilot light, but that kiss did turn up the heat. He dallied for awhile, I again encouraged him to get on a bus. Finally he said, "give me another kiss and I'll go home." I was happy to oblige. Then he stood up, hesitated again. I said, "go home before I try to take off your pants." A big grin in reply, suggesting I wouldn't have had much trouble with that mission. But he staggered off to the bus stop, by this time having ditched the brown bag, just carrying the vodka bottle in his hand. I hope he made it home okay, a very sweet (if totally puzzling) fellow.

I thought of him again on Monday morning. Another young man was sprawled on the sidewalk, on his back, one arm over his eyes. Before my bus arrived he had gotten up, was on his hands and knees throwing up. There but for the grace ....

I'd told myself it was time to shape up, get myself and my belongings cleaned up, stop this eternal procrastinating. So I had an early shower and went directly to the laundromat. The kind of laundry session I most hate, where the backpack has to be emptied and washed, too, since it had gotten very grubby. After that chore, there was only enough money for one beer. Lunchtime or later? Oh to hell with it, lunchtime. Vienna sausage sandwiches, plenty of bread for the usual companions. So I didn't go online until early afternoon, an unusual variation in habit pattern.

It was a Krishna day, so I left in time to get a heaping plate of rather boring food, much of which went to the birds there. Wisconsin was again dishing out the food from the truck. I was about halfway through the meal when Rossini, Angelo and his "little brother" arrived (the brother I was not supposed to be allowed to meet).

Little Brother's going to be eighteen soon, is a little taller than Angelo and very slim. He looks entirely Filipino. If I didn't know his mother is Japanese, I'd never have guessed it. The only thing that suggests he and Angelo are brothers are their beautiful brown eyes. Little Brother reminds me a lot of the Sleeptalker, not in appearance but in the way he thinks and the things that he worries about. He's very cute and a bit jumpy, hopped up now and then, pulled his tee shirt up to adjust his low-slung white pants which drooped down from about two inches of exposed boxer shorts. He complained that he had lost too much weight while in the juvenile home, wouldn't take off his shirt if girls were around because he's "too skinny". My admiring look should have consoled him a little. He said that with him and C-One (who is indeed very skinny), girls were only interested if they had "blow". In his usage, "blow" is apparently not heroin but includes either ice or crack. I suggested he hadn't found the right women. He said he has the hots for a Hawaiian woman, several years older than him, and she'd told him they had a future together if he straightened himself out and got a job. So he was determined to try the Job Corps but at the same time was certain if he had a "cah" (which he says like a true Cape Codder) he could get laid every night. Funny fellow, utterly concentrated on "blow", women and "cahs".

Rossini gave me money to buy myself a beer, the sweetheart, and added five dollars to get raw tuna for them. I used my foodstamps and pocketed the five, as he no doubt suspected I would do. So I went to the supermarket to do the shopping and when I returned another Filipino, probably early thirties, had joined the table. I vaguely remember having seen him before. He had both a bottle of Mickey's and a big bottle of vodka which he offered around although I was the only one who accepted, Little Brother being quite impressed by the amount of my "sips". (Okay, I admit, I took a larger one than I would have the last round, just to amuse him.)

Rossini's mother died. A heart attack, and she was only 47, a great shock for him. That inspired chat about life and death. Little Brother said he almost agreed with people who thought we were dead and this is hell. Angelo asked how that could be, when there are at least some times when life is good. Rossini disagreed, said he really enjoyed living. The newcomer, by that time slurringly sloshed, got all weepy and encouraged Rossini to let his grief out. Angelo said Rossini's mother wouldn't want him to be sitting around all gloomy. Rossini said he'd been very close to her and he missed her but didn't want to sit around mourning her, an outlook I encouraged. Eventually the newcomer said he had to go look for someone but would be back. Rossini said, "we probably won't be here" and I laughed, said the newcomer wasn't likely to be back either. Man could hardly walk already.

Awhile later the three of them got up to leave. I told Angelo about Little Brother, "bring him back anytime" and got a big grin in reply. I was actually the one responsible for Little Brother being there, because I'd found a monthly bus pass and had given it to Angelo for his brother. And I was glad I had since Little Brother is a most welcome addition to the Bad Boys (and quite possibly the baddest of them all). Earlier he had been protesting his innocence in some past squabbles with both his mother and sister. Angelo said to him, "you're no angel, you know." I told Rossini I didn't know which one was the pot calling the kettle black.

Off to my bench then for a fairly dry, balmy night and a most peculiar dream involved with an exhibition by Stankiewicz, his usual sculpture but some wonderfully bizarre paintings, too, which neither he nor anyone else I know has ever painted.

And waking, both Monday and Tuesday mornings, thinking "oh, these local boys."

763

It's official, the Sleeptalker is the craziest of us all (why am I not surprised?). He qualified for a two-year "disability bus pass". Angelo and I only rate six months. We must strive harder to emulate the Sleeptalker.

The official diagnosis in my case is "alcoholic depressive" and of the multiple choice justifications for the pass, the Doc checked inability, without significant difficulty, to "use the City transit bus due to confusion or disorientation". Ha! Not to mention zoning out on one and surfacing to find myself way out in the country somewhere. It strikes me as somewhat illogical to give someone a cheap bus pass if they are unable to use it due to confusion or disorientation, but then there is very little about this entire system which makes real sense. I am, of course, nonetheless quite grateful for it.

The paxification of albert the panther. I'm going to become a walking bag of Paxil. (The thought inspired the internal jukebox to rev up "Yellow Submarine"). Dosage tripled, to sixty milligrams a day. If that doesn't do it, the Doc will throw an additional chemical into the stew since maybe there are "other receptors" which need oiling. I wish I could persuade him to let me trade alcohol for Valium, but not much chance (and probably even less a chance that I'd really abide by the agreement since the combination of those two substances is so delicious).

We talked a bit about "ice". He was amused to hear that I know some of his other patients and enjoyed the tease I'd made about being paid hush money, said maybe you have a career as a DHSS informant. Heh. I told him I thought ice was the main problem with the street boys and he agreed, said he would not even try it once if anyone offered. "I'll try anything once," I said, and admitted I had tried ice three times, was grateful I didn't really like it that much. He said maybe he should insist upon urine tests for his patients. "I think you'd lose some patients," I replied, and he chuckled. He also said he was aware that he had some patients who were using the stuff but weren't admitting it, but that he could tell. I am not surprised. I'm sure I know at least one of those, too.

He went easier than usual on the alcohol lectures this session, but did talk about me finding something to do to earn money. I said the problem was often more a case of sitting on a bench asking myself "what to do, what to do?", never mind making money at it.

A pleasant enough chat and I'll have a double feature next time, first a half hour with him followed immediately by a half-hour with the psychologist. Sigh.

I walked from his office over to the State Library since I'd finished an inconsequential English haunted manor house yarn not worth mentioning and pockets are too empty now even for the fifty-cent cart. Ken Follett's ambitious historical novel, Pillars of the Earth, is off to a promising start.

Then I spent the rest of the day "hanging out" at the mall. Lousy Quarter Hunt, total score of only $1.04, thanks to two strollers and some dropped pennies. Oh well, I had used the last of the foodstamps for coffee on Wednesday morning, so at least I had two mornings worth of McD's senior coffee in pocket and was happy with it the next morning.

Tuesday night had been very wet, rain throughout the night which mercifully stopped just before dawn although it was a very gray morning. I had no idea rats sit up and "wash" their faces with their front paws like a cat. Amazing what such a bit of behavior can do to change one's perception. In addition to the Cat Lady with her morning bucket of something, there is a Rat Man! He comes later than she does, leaves a bit of dried food for both the cats and the rats. Three of the rats came scurrying, sat there nibbling away and making quick movements to shoo off some ringneck doves, then one of them sat up and washed its face. Sweet.

Despite that amusing interlude, I was in a terrible mood on Wednesday morning, for no reason whatsoever. I'd had a decent sleep despite the rain and an interesting dream, once again about art work but this time my own. Damn, if I could make waking-life pictures as good as those were, I wouldn't have to think about doing something to make money. The mood didn't really lift until after the session with the Doc, so maybe it was partly caused by the anticipation of that and relief to have it over with.

There was so much food abandoned at the mall that I had no need to walk over to the park and eat a Krishna platter. One dish was especially tastey, canelloni and boiled potatoes in a yummy sauce. Strange mixture, though. Spaghetti from Patti's Chinese Kitchen sucks rhino, but their pork or beef concoctions are decent enough. I eat far more when I spend a lengthy time at the mall than I do even when the foodstamps balance is at its peak.

Speaking of peaks, my emotional and physical biocycles are now at the top. Hmmmm. I found it much easier to agree with the picture when they were at the bottom. Just call me a cock-eyed pessimist?

764

Sixty milligrams of Paxil plus forty zones of malt liquor equals manic swing. About time, too. Even without the brew, the triple dosage sharply increases those times when I fall into a trance. Poor Gabriella almost got killed because I was sitting there staring at the computer screen but not seeing it or paying attention. Still, she has made it to level 49 so can't complain if her controller zonks out now and then.

I'm very much surprised that when writing about Little Brother (who has been much in my thoughts since meeting him) I failed to mention the fact that he has AIDS. Well, that's his way of saying it. I think it's more accurate at this point to say he is HIV-positive. Tragic for such a young man. When he was lamenting the fact that it turned off the girls, Rossini and Angelo both said, almost in chorus, "just use a condom". I suspect it would still turn off most women. Not me, though. Maybe that's why Angelo said I couldn't meet Little Brother. My guess is, he got it from shared needles, but with these local boys, who knows.

I do wish someone would discover a cure for that wretched disease.

Both Thursday and Friday I was only on campus for a couple of hours in the morning. Thursday I took the long bus ride out to the Transit Center again to get my six-month bus pass. Clever set-up they have. You sit in a chair to have your picture taken by a digital camera, the lady having typed in the info on her computer keyboard, and a few minutes later a machine spits out a laminated card. The place must get very crowded on the last day of a month, but there was only one person in front of me so the procedure took far less time than the trip out there.

Then I returned to the mall and spent the rest of the day alternating between wandering around there and sitting in the park reading, a routine followed on Friday as well. Follett's Pillars of the Earth is a most admirable novel, thoroughly engrossing and making life in 12th century England alive and fascinating.

Sister Mercy walked over to my table at one point and asked if I wanted a sandwich. I said, "no thanks, just say a prayer for me." She beamed. Then a Filipino fellow, probably early thirties, came along and sat down. He is married to a Hawaiian woman, has three children. They're in the Philippines and he wants badly to go back there, too, said he just can't find a way to make money in this town. Nice man, I enjoyed our chat.

Friday dinner was from the Krishna folks, better than the last time. Monday's handout will probably be exceptional since they're having a festival at the temple this weekend with a "special love feast" on Sunday, so we'll no doubt get leftovers from that. I'll even think about going to the feast, but probably won't. I just don't feel comfortable thinking of being with a group of strangers, will have to force myself to see "Faust".

A friend is having the same problem. He says he's never experienced this before and is obviously having trouble with it. For me, it has usually been the reverse, the times when I've enjoyed being in a crowd are the exceptions. Unfortunately, his lady friend doesn't sound very sympathetic about it, complains about going out so rarely and when they do, she wants to extend it beyond the point where he's feeling comfortable. Too bad, because she could probably help him even more than the psychiatrist (yes, the same one I see).

Like me, he has less of a problem with places like the mall, despite the crowds, so it's not plain agoraphobia. He has a particular difficulty with restaurants, though, knowing one has to sit through the time it takes to order and eat a meal. I can sympathize with that, too, although I don't have the problem with friends, just have no desire to do it with people I've not met.

I can well imagine, though, how much more difficult it would be if I had a lover who didn't understand. However, I certainly wouldn't mind trying. Hmmmm ... maybe.

765

"You drink gin?" asked the Old Guitarist. "I drink anything with alcohol in it except after shave," I said. He laughed, pulled out a bottle of Gordon's Dry Gin from his backpack and gave it to me, said he just doesn't like the taste of the stuff. And there I had been thinking Sunday would be only a two-Colt day.

On both Saturday and Sunday I only stayed on campus for a couple of hours in the morning, spent most of the time in the park happily lost in the 12th century. I was sorry when the book ended, wish he'd write a sequel. I did finally get back to my long-ago habit of listening to Lasser's hour of theatre music Saturday evening. In the afternoon I'd tuned in for the final broadcast this season from the Metropolitan Opera, said "oh, no" aloud which made some zebra doves give me "what's up" looks. Mozart would have been divine, Verdi or Puccini fine, too, but Berg's Lulu? No, thanks, once was more than enough for me.

The theatre hour was fun, though, songs about the Big City ... that island in New York, of course. Dunno why he didn't include "I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, too ...", but enjoyed almost all of what he did play. I was disappointed in one recording by Bobby Short because I used to like him a lot but in that one (a song I didn't know), he sounded terribly affected. Must have been an off-day in the recording session, but somebody should have told him to try again the next day.

After finishing Follett's fine novel, I went on to Edward Stewart's Privileged Lives, a cops and murderers and lawyers tale set among the high life on that New York island. Some of the characters very much remind me of people I knew, especially the artists and art dealers and rich ladies giving dinner parties.

The sky on Sunday remained almost solid gray but there was surprisingly little rain. After my first (stiff) gin and Coke (bleugh mixture but too broke to buy orange juice), I sprawled on the grass and dozed for awhile, then wandered the mall looking at all the cute young men (and there was an abundant supply of them). I think Amadeus has left permanently, though, haven't seen him for a couple of weeks, after having seen him with what may have been his parents. Perhaps he had just been waiting for them to arrive.

Food was unusually scarce but I couldn't face going to the Krishna temple and resisted the temptation to go to IHS. Finally some weird dish from California Pizza Kitchen was abandoned. It was like sloppy ravioli, very spicey. A little later there was the more common white box from Patti's Chinese Kitchen, half full of fried noodles. Not exactly a feast, but sufficient.

Naturally, with that bottle of gin I was fairly sloshed by sunset and went to the bench relatively early. I've switched back to the West Side after doing so to escape the Friday night band at the marina. It is nice to be further from the path so only the loudest of the motormouth walkers are heard in the pre-dawn hour. Dream filled nights since switching to the triple Paxil dose and no doubt inspired by the hour of theatre music and this murder novel, an unusual number of them set in New York City. But there was a sweet one on Sunday night, dreaming of a long hug with Angelo.

766

I finished off the gin at lunchtime, then left campus in early afternoon to go downtown. When I got off the bus, I looked at my watch and it said 4:30. I was surprised it was so late. Doofus! That was the DATE, not the time. Silly cheap watch. The Fabled Pension Check was awaiting me, happily. So off to Waikiki to cash it. Still not having realized I had seen the date and not the time, I thought it would be too late for Krishna food so had a new "Western Cheeseburger" at Jack. I'm not sure what makes it "Western", maybe the little dab of barbecue sauce, but at ninety-nine cents it certainly beats the cheap McD's cheeseburger by a long shot. I had picked up a bottle of Colt on the way, so sat at one of the tables outside enjoying that with the burger.

The Scarecrow walked by, filthy dirty as always, drinking from a large can of Budweiser in a paper bag! He finished it as he strolled back and forth, then went away for a bit. When he wandered back in, I gave him five dollars and told him to get himself another beer. He just stood there looking at the five in his hand, said not a word, and walked away. I saw him cross the street to the 7-Eleven and come out with another large can of Bud. Silly fellow should learn to drink cheap 40oz bottles of brew. Not to mention at least say thank you.

Back to the mall, getting a second bottle (Mickey's that time because the goofy supermarket has raised the price of Colt to $3, a town record). Crossing to the park, I saw people lined up for the Krishna truck, finally looked at the watch again and saw it was only then just past 4:30. Ha!

I finished the Manhattan murder yarn, was listening to "All Things Considered" on the radio when Angelo and Rossini walked over, accompanied by Mondo. Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley ...

I gave Rossini money to buy us a round of beer, said he and Angelo could have cheap forties but Mondo could have whatever he wanted. Rascal asked for Heineken. S'okay, he's worth it. He stayed with me while the other two went shopping. He's going to be a father again, this time a boy, due in August. Evidently neither he nor the mother-to-be have any interest whatever in getting married and it wasn't even clear whether he still sees her. I don't understand why these young women don't use the pill. Twenty-four years old with two children by different women.

Angelo and Rossini returned with the beer just after Mondo had asked to borrow five dollars. Naturally I gave it to him. It's the first time he's ever asked. Later Rossini asked to borrow twenty. I said no. Then ten, please please please. Funny fellow. So I gave him ten. I'll get that back, but I'll be surprised if Mondo even remembers borrowing five. He is undoubtedly the most spaced-out of the Boys.

At one point he scolded me for making some flirtatious remark, very seriously made it clear he wasn't available. Not more than fifteen minutes later, he was flirting away, pulling up his shirt and rubbing his flat brown belly. Fine body, beautiful smiling eyes. Just slightly mad, that's all.

I told Angelo that Little Brother could earn twenty from me any time, which got a laugh and Rossini asked if Angelo was jealous. I said, "no, Angelo really doesn't want me to suck his dick." Angelo smiled and said, "we're drinking buddies" and reached out to shake my hand.

Once again the subject of getting an apartment together came up, since Rossini soon has to leave where he was living with his mother which now belongs to his stepfather. I said we'd have to tie Angelo up on the fifth of each month, drag him to an ATM and get the rent money before he spent it all.

Angelo and Rossini went off again to spend the borrowed ten on the glass pipe. Mondo was lamenting his inability to drive, said he really wished he could learn how to do it right. I told him the story could make a film, a great car thief who can't drive. He is still living in one of his inherited apartments, said I could always stay there "for a few days" for which I thanked him even though I don't think I could handle being alone with him overnight inside. The others returned, bringing more beer. By that time I'd had enough so soon said goodnight to them and went off to the West Side bench, happy to have had those delightful hours with them. They may indeed be Bad Boys, but they certainly are sweet ones.

767

Oh yes, life is indeed stranger than fiction. Of all the Boys, Rocky is the one I would not have expected to end up being kept. But so it is, he's living with a UH Professor [!] in an apartment in Makaha. Brave man, picking up Rocky on the street. He looks like such a tough guy (and can certainly be one), not someone I'd dare to cruise. They went for a ride in the professor's car and then he asked Rocky to let him have it. Rocky told him it would cost money, the professor said he didn't like paying for sex, but evidently gave in (Rocky didn't say how much). Consequently Rocky moved in with the professor who has bought him membership in a fitness club and seems to be treating him well.

Rocky's nervous about the sex part of it, especially since the professor tries now and then to get Rocky to reciprocate, and he's worried he'll fly off the handle at some point. I told him if he started to feel uncomfortable or unhappy, just leave, don't make trouble. He said he did leave for two weeks but the professor came looking for him and he went back.

An odd and quite surprising development in the saga of the Bad Boys.

Rossini had told me Rocky was working at the World Cafe, a dance club which used to be near enough the hacienda that its thump-thump music sometimes interfered with getting to sleep. It has now moved out of town on the highway to the airport. Rocky said the job was awful and he didn't stick it very long. Like all these fellows, getting a job means losing the Crazy Money (unless it's an off-the-record job). Then they quit and have to start all over again with the application circus. So right now he has no income and is dependent on the professor. I can well imagine how that suits the professor just fine.

I began May Day with the usual couple of hours on campus, then went downhill to check the fifty-cent cart at the bookshop. Graham Greene's Monsignor Quixote was new to me, totally charming and I was only sorry it was so short. Since the weather was fairly uncertain, I returned to campus only to drink a lunchtime brew and read, shared some bread with the birds, and then went to the mall.

I soon finished the book, sitting in the park, and thought I'd check the radio, see what was on. Hmmph, somehow I managed to lose the headphones, probably when unpacking at night and not noticing them fall. What a nuisance. No more radio until Crazy Money Saturday.

The other find at the bookshop was Grisham's Runaway Jury so I started that. It seems as fantastic as most of his books but still makes for pleasant reading. I'd crossed back to the mall for a brew and was halfway through that when I saw Rocky strutting along a path in the distance. That walk of his is unmistakable. A little later he came up from behind me and knocked my backpack off the bench, one of his usual little jokes. No doubt about it, his story was more amusing than Grisham's.

Rocky doesn't believe the tale of Mondo's second baby. He said he's known Mondo a very long time and Mondo has always made up stories which he then starts to believe himself, can't tell the difference between what's real and what's fantasy. Quite possibly so, I'm not sure. I've never noticed major discrepancies in his stories when he repeats them, so if it is fantasy, then he must indeed believe it.

I gave Rocky a five and told him to buy himself some beer. "You're a good man," he said, very happy with the unexpected handout. I teased that next year when the SocSec starts, I'll outbid his professor. "Get an apartment in Waikiki, though," he said with a grin.

An apartment in Waikiki with Rocky naked in bed. Not a bad dream.

768

An odd fate, a man my age who finds himself with a group of young men who become interwoven in his life for over three years, appearing and disappearing, and this week surely is emphasizing that.

I made my usual trip to campus in the morning, had lunch in the secluded grove. I had planned to listen to the Natalie MacMaster concert from outside Andrews Amphitheatre in the evening, but the afternoon soundcheck and rehearsal changed my mind. An hour of that drummer was more than enough.

John Grisham should be credited, I think, with creating a new literary genre, legal fantasy. I've now read almost all his books and Runaway Jury gets my prize for the most unbelievable. That, of course, doesn't stop it from being amusing entertainment.

After the rehearsal I returned to the mall, got a Colt (which the supermarket marked back down to $1.99 with their discount card) and went to the park to continue the tobacco trial fantasy. The Krishna truck arrived so after the line had dwindled, I went to get a plate. Heaping, as usual, and quite tastey but it did give me severe indigestion later which was possibly a blessing in disguise.

I had just gotten up to go for another bottle when Mondo called me. He walked over to the mall with me and as we were crossing back to the park he said, "I miss you." I was touched, of course.

So we sat for about three hours and he talked. It would be a generous estimate to say I understood about a quarter of what he said but it didn't matter, he obviously just wanted someone who would listen as he rambled, thought aloud. He probably doesn't have much opportunity for that because the other Boys aren't as sympathetic or as patient as I am.

He talked about people, family, school friends, as if I knew who they were, when in fact, only his brother is known to me. And he jumped around in such random chronology that it was difficult to figure out whether he was talking about past, and how distant, or present. I wished I'd had a tape recorder, would have liked to transcribe a bit of his monologue to give the sense of what it was like. It's a kind of "craziness" I've never experienced before and it's much stronger when alone with him, something which really hasn't happened very often in our long friendship.

He's weary of being an object of desire, no matter who is doing the desiring. I told him if he'd been born fat and ugly he wouldn't have the problem, but bad luck, he was born handsome, would just have to live with it. And that's the truth.

Once again he asked me, and several times, to go home with him. I said I'd like very much to but I didn't think it was a good idea, tried to find some way to tell him that I just find him too desireable, that it would be a certain torment to sleep alone with him in a room. But I stopped short of saying that quite so plainly. That was the point when I was almost grateful for the uncomfortable physical feeling from that Krishna pig-out. If it hadn't been for that, I probably would have yielded and gone home with him, then would have had to put on a mental straitjacket to make me behave myself.

He's unhappy with the manageress in his building and is thinking of leaving, return to the IHS shelter. Interesting. If he does, I may well go there for the first time since I'd feel more comfortable in his company ... and wouldn't have the temptations which being alone with him inspire.

One peculiar thing (out of many) that he said puzzles me. He complained about local girls who started a relationship okay but then "turned Japanese". I was tempted to ask what he meant by that but by then it was clear he was not really listening to questions and I had stopped trying, just let him ramble on, making a comment now and then.

A sweet, handsome, so very sexy young man with as muddled and confused a mind as I've ever known. But I'm certainly grateful our paths crossed and sometimes join.

769

The Return of the Bad Boys continued full steam on Thursday. I was sitting in the park just before sunset when Rossini, Angelo and Little Brother arrived. Rossini gave me the ten dollars he owed me. I gave it back to him and told him to buy us a round of beer. So he and Little Brother went shopping. While they were gone Angelo said Little Brother had lied, he's sixteen. Angelo agreed with me when I said in many ways Little Brother reminds me of the Sleeptalker.

They returned with the beer and the usual tub of raw tuna (I say that rather than ahi poke, since I wouldn't have had the faintest idea what poke is before coming here). Little Brother kept giving me wary looks. I said, "don't worry, I'm harmless, ask Angelo." He laughed and relaxed, got more and more animated with the beer. Then Plato walked over. First time I've seen him since the hacienda days. I shared my beer with him, was happy to see him. He, like Rossini, is a favorite Boy but not an obscure object of desire.

Little Brother, like the Sleeptalker, dominated the coversation, often jumping up to emphasize a point. He has decided to continue living with his sister and was going back to Waianae High starting on Friday (an odd bit of timing). He said he had to have some "blow" to get hyped enough to survive the first day back at school. So when the beer was finished, they got up to go fill the pipe. Angelo asked if I was coming along. I said no, I'd had enough to drink and was going to make an early night of it. He said he'd see me on Saturday (very doubtful, given that's Crazy Money day).

He'd said earlier that he was going to buy a watch. I asked what he'd done with the expensive one he bought a few months ago. Returned it to the store for a refund. I told him he should go to one of his pawn shop friends, was sure to get a better watch for less money. "It wouldn't be new," he said. Sigh. He's now toying with the idea of getting a security guard job. I can just imagine how long he'd stick with that.

Little Brother came over to shake my hand in farewell, then stood back and pulled up his tee-shirt giving me a nice full view of his slim, very desirable body. What rascals these Bad Boys are.

They had only been gone for about fifteen minutes when Rocky arrived. He had come to find me to share a joint. What a sweetie. I told him Mondo had said Rocky was getting "big", gesturing with a bodybuilder pose to indicate Mondo was talking about the arms. Rocky was pleased. Although I'd told the other lads I had seen Rocky, I didn't say anything about his professor friend to them. He'll probably tell them, but I'd rather leave the choice and the version of the story to him.

He only stayed long enough to finish the smoke and had me fearing for his life when he jumped down into the canal and crossed directly through it and over the highway to the mall, cars whizzing by. He gave a big wave when he reached the other side. All I had in my mind was that chicken I saw get run over and Mondo having told me his brother is in a cast after having gotten hit by a car. Whew.

It was a thoroughly wet night but at least not overly windy. When I got to McD's in the morning there was a sign announcing store hours are now 9AM-9PM. Sheez, what idiots. The nearby Subway should open an hour earlier instead of waiting until seven, would no doubt pick up all the early McD's gang. Instead, the supermarket is getting the business. But, alas, it too doesn't open until seven on weekends.

It's always something ...

770

Aside from the magical times with the Sleeptalker, the first Friday and weekend of May was the most delightful time I've yet had with the Bad Boys. It cost me a lot, but there's one thing that I've got, it's my boys ...

I was sitting in the park reading on Friday afternoon, then went over to have a shower. A young Japanese tourist was in the shower and gave me a big smile when I walked in, then promptly got a "throbbing erection". Nicely equipped, too, especially for a Japanese. He must have been in his late teens, had one of those brush haircuts which stand straight up, very cute indeed. I was quite happy to take care of him, but he wanted to reciprocate. Sheez, I never expected to have such things happen in my old age. A rather hunky blonde came in, interrupting our fun. We went out to dry off, but the blonde was obviously wanting to play, too, and the Japanese lad looked longingly at him. I grinned and gestured that he should go back in there. He did and immediately started serving the blonde, who had the same surprised look on his face I'd probably had on mine. He pointed down at the lad and beckoned me in. Wow, first time I've been involved in a threesome in many years. Venus in Aries finally starts to live up to the promise Cainer has been claiming for her.

The blonde interrupted, said he had to go. The Japanese lad didn't want to stop, the blonde laughed and said, "down boy". As he was leaving, I said I don't know what else better you could have to do. After he left, I finished off the lad. Sweet, sweet Fountain of Youth.

I was back at the picnic table feeling somewhat dazed by it all when Angelo walked over. Okay, I promised it would be a "secret" so I won't write about what happened next. At last!

We had returned to the table when Rossini arrived. Angelo said they should get a hotel room in Waikiki when the Crazy Money arrived at midnight, called Little Brother and told him to join us, then asked me to as well. A night with Little Brother!? You better believe it. And I was quite touched by my first invitation to one of Angelo's Crazy Money Hotel Bashes.

Little Brother arrived, we drank a second round of beer and then headed to Waikiki, waited around until the Crazy Money arrived and got a room on the 28th floor of the Maile Sky Court. Beautiful view, decent room, large bathroom. They left, took a cab to do glass-pipe shopping and I had a luxurious hot shower while they were away. Back they came with the little plastic bags and a twelve-pack of Bud.

Round went the pipe, each of them coaching me how to improve my technique. An ice pipe is very different from a hashish pipe and the best results seem to come from taking a series of gentle, brief puffs until the lungs are filled and then letting it slowly out the nose. Little Brother said "if you hold it in too long, it will make a hole in your heart" [!], Rossini blamed the sweating on holding it in too long. That may well be, because as the last time, I quickly started dripping sweat.

Rossini paid for a bunch of short porn films on the hotel television network. Really junk stuff, no attempt at a story, just one scene after another of a man and a woman rather frantically going at it. Not a one of the men was in the least bit interesting despite some rather huge equipment and the soundtracks were horrendous. Rossini and Little Brother had the two beds, I settled on the floor beside the teevee, enjoying the view of shirtless Little Brother far more than anything on that picture box. He has such a splendid body. Not as cute a face as the Sleeptalker, but a better body, indeed the best of the Bad Boys. Being sixteen doesn't hurt, of course.

In between beers, Rossini went for another twelve-pack and then the pipe was passed again, while women on the teevee kept moaning "yes, yes, oh god, yes" ad infinitum. I finally asked Rossini if he could turn the sound down a bit. Next morning I asked, "tell me, did you once get a hard-on during the movies" and he admitted he hadn't. Ha!.

We finally settled down although I doubt anyone really slept very much. I certainly didn't. The cloud which lingered over the entire adventure was a quite unpleasant physical discomfort, the result of eating the Krishna food in the afternoon. As has happened before, it produced a nasty mix of gas and indigestion. That was bad enough, but by noon on Saturday it had switched to the runs. Never mind Montezuma's Revenge, Krishna's Revenge is fierce.

I was running to the bathroom so often, I called Helen R and told her I just couldn't make it to "Faust I". Ridiculous to eagerly anticipate something for almost a year and then be defeated by body malfunction.

By mid-morning on Saturday, they were ready to go pipe shopping again. First we negotiated over staying another night. I agreed to throw in a twenty and another for smoke. Little Brother was going to contribute, too, but he wanted to invite some "chicks" from Waianae to the party. Big time negotiating between him and Angelo who unsurprisingly knew I wouldn't be too keen on that notion and I don't think he was either. Rossini was in for the same as me, either way. I said I didn't mind if they wanted the mixed party, but I wouldn't stay. Little Brother said he wouldn't contribute to the rent if the chicks couldn't come but would go home instead. Angelo, Rossini and I agreed to split the rent three-ways then. They left to shop again, must have taken a cab since they were back so soon.

As I expected, Little Brother did not go home. I didn't think he'd pass up some more rounds of that pipe (and two more twelve-packs which I picked up while they were gone). The first round of the pipe when they returned was really the first time I've experienced the "high" of ice. It was almost like the acid take-off, rocket zoom. It caught me so by surprise, I was shocked ... delightfully so, but also feeling a bit seasick from the jolt. That quickly passed and they were all chuckling over my reaction.

Sitting there zonked, loving the view of that beautiful brown body, so happy he ditched the shirt each time he came in ... and the shoes. Sweet feet, too. Angelo was enjoying my reaction to little brother, kept grinning at me. I said to Little Brother, "I'll give you twenty dollars if you let me watch you take a shower." The first reaction was just "no". After another round of the pipe, he grinned and said "does the offer still stand?" I said yes. "You might not like what you see." I said, "then I'll ask for a refund." He laughed and said, "no refunds." Then dropped the subject for a bit.

Another round, then came the conditions. No touching. Heh. The shower was in a bathtub, cabinet with washbasin at the foot. I said I'd sit on that and he could leave the end of the shower curtain open. The door had to stay open, too. Okay. You can't jag-off. Okay. Twenty dollars and a pack of cigarettes. Okay.

How sweet it was. He really thought I am crazy when I told him next morning I'd enjoyed that more than the pipe.

After the shower party, he asked if he could stay after all. I said I didn't mind, but since I'd helped with the rent, I got his bed this time. Rascal punished me by settling on the floor on the other side of Rossini, so I couldn't even see him, but several times during the night got up to sit in a chair, drink more beer and smoke a cigarette, coming over to get my lighter each time and giving me one of his beautiful smiles. What a flirt.

Meanwhile, I was having to get up at least once every half hour to head to the bathroom. I don't think I'll ever eat that Krishna food again. It finally stopped late on Sunday but too late to make it to "Faust II". My mistake, I should not have waited until the final performances.

Sunday morning. Once again, only short naps in lieu of sleep. They wanted to go pipe-shopping yet again since we didn't have to leave the hotel until noon. Sigh. Okay, another twenty contribution. Off they went, returned to pass the pipe. Sheez, what a zoom once again, no matter life was starting to feel a bit ragged around the edges. For them, too, I guess, since at check-out time they decided it was crash-at-home next. I thanked them all for a wonderful time and took the bus to the park, slept a few hours on a bench before getting something to eat (for the first time since Friday afternoon's unfortunate meal).

Alas, Angelo and Little Brother are leaving this Friday for Kauai. Little Brother will only be there for the weekend because of school, but Angelo plans to stay until June Crazy Money arrives and it's unlikely Little Brother will come into town without him. Of course, the last time Angelo left for a month of Kauai he got so bored he returned in a week.

And given how intense an experience it has been with those two delightful brothers recently, a little break is probably not a bad idea at all. Intense and quite exhausting, but I surely am grateful the maps of Karma had us on the same path this lifetime.

771

Sitting in a bar at the airport, sounds from the past on the muzak. Can't buy me love, money can't buy me love ...

"The Beatles?" asked Angelo.
"Yes, about '63 or '64, I think."
Big grin. "But money can buy you sex."
Rascal!
"Money can buy you sex but the Beatles were right, it can't buy you love."

I was in the park late afternoon on Monday when Angelo walked over. He had changed his mind, was leaving for Kauai in the evening. He said he needed some beer so we walked to the mall and I got two forties and a tub of his beloved fish, returned to the park.

Most of the talk was, of course, about the Ice Follies weekend. Angelo said his brother hadn't had much to say about it but he thinks I'm crazy. Join the crowd. If I had met an old man when I was sixteen and he gave me twenty dollars just to watch me shower, I would've thought he was crazy, too.

Angelo wanted me to go to the airport with him. I agreed, if I got a farewell hug. "You'll have to hug me," he said. Heh. He had planned to get an earlier flight than he eventually took because we lingered over the beer. He admitted he was very nervous about going home, seeing his mother, making me remember the last time I was making such a trip. I had too much Valium in me to get nervous but was still dreading it.

Finally we got on the bus, arrived at the airport to discover a flight to Kauai had left a few minutes before so it would be almost an hour before the next one. So I offered to buy him another beer and it was much fun sitting in that bar with him, songs from my life when I was the same age as he is playing in the background. He does have the most beautiful brown eyes.

As flight time approached, I walked with him to the gate and before he boarded, I got that hug. You got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true ...

I am going to miss him. He's already planning the June Follies, said he'd bring his brother along. I told him that would be fun but he doesn't have to, I'm quite content with his company. I don't want to get caught in sibling rivalry or have Angelo think I'm only with him so I can be with Little Brother. But yes, I wouldn't mind at all an encore of that shower show and I have a suspicion somewhere down the road it will be more than that, too. The standard these days seems to be a two-year courtship. Sigh.

Back at the park, someone had taken the West Side bench so I went to the East Side. Damn, they've altered the irrigation system so I was awakened early Tuesday morning by what I thought was heavy rain hitting the tarp. Caught between two sprinklers. I escaped without getting drenched, went to the main park and napped a little longer on a picnic table bench. The population on the lawn has increased again, strange during this week when the police are everywhere.

The "disruption" expected from the Asian Development Bank has all, no surprise, been caused by the police. I've passed the convention center several times and not once have I seen even ONE demonstrator, much less a mob of them. But the police have closed almost half the beach park, using it for their troop gathering, and they hang around there all day waiting for the riot which doesn't seem very likely to happen (nor did it ever). So far at least the police are not hassling the homeless, probably have instructions to lay off this week since the politicians swore the new laws were not aimed at us.

Ice does produce the worst hangover of any drug I know, far worse and longer-lasting than anything alcohol can do, even harder than getting off heroin (at least after a fairly brief time with that substance). Sunday evening I wouldn't have minded at all if I'd just died, anything to escape that horrible feeling. Little wonder people so often yield and light the pipe again. And I was still far from back to "normal" on Tuesday, ended up spending the entire day in the park, sleeping most of the time, not in the least inclined to make my usual trip to campus.

But it isn't as bad this time as it was after that extravaganza with the Sleeptalker because there isn't all the guilt to wrestle with. Angelo doesn't share the Sleeptalker's afterwards-angst, Little Brother is probably happily boasting to all his buddies about what an easy twenty bucks he picked up, and Rossini just smiles on like a happy Buddha letting folks get on with their own dances.

No, money can't buy you love but it surely can buy you some happy hours and treasured memories.

772

I saw Mondo sitting in the mall on Wednesday but didn't go over to him. I needed more recovery time. Although I can't define the why or how, at least yet, there is the feeling that the weekend marked the transition into some new phase of this adventure. I'm still physically exhausted from the Ice Follies and my mind is in a whirl, not time yet for another dance with the Bad Boys.

But I would have, had it been Angelo. Once I began to collect key excerpts from the Tales about him, as with the Sleeptalker, but I didn't get very far with it. While thoughts of Little Brother dominated on Tuesday, the mind shifted to Angelo on Wednesday and I realized it has finally happened, despite two years of resisting it. I've loved him all along but have rarely given in to thoughts of desiring him, a process made easier by having been so smitten with the Sleeptalker. But I guess it has happened, Angelo has captured the crown or is at least co-ruler.

He's such a sweet, funny fellow. I miss him badly already.

After a couple of hours on campus I went to the State Library to check the freebie collection, was happy to see another Ken Follett book, The Third Twin, in the batch. No one can accuse Follett of lack of versatility. This book couldn't be more different than Pillars of the Earth. Back at the park, I had a beer and some cheese with rolls. The internal plumbing is still not entirely back to normal so I've been trying to be quite careful with what I eat. By the time the beer was finished I was about to fall off the bench with drowsiness, so lay down and slept awhile, woke up, had another beer, and went back to sleep.

At last, some demonstrators outside the convention center. When I passed by it seemed to be all Hawaiian Sovereignty groups although what the Asian Development Bank has to do with them, I don't know. I guess they decided to take advantage of the assured press coverage. Whether the crowd of protestors grew, I didn't want to see, but out came the police helicopters, making an infernal racket as two of them hovered over the intersections, and then four cops on huge horses went clopping past my table. I'll surely be glad when those bankers pack up on Friday and go away. And I pray the World Bank never thinks of meeting here.

There was an article in the day's paper about the increase in ice and heroin usage on the Big Island. Young people there are using heroin to combat the aftermath of an ice binge. Not a bad idea, although Valium would suffice. Better living through chemistry. Since I don't have either, I have to make do with beer and sleep, which pretty much sums up what Wednesday was like.

And woven through both waking and sleeping moments were thoughts of Angelo, of the times we've had together ... and the hope there will be many more.

773

Beer and sleep, more beer and more sleep ... and a bit of cannabis sativa doesn't hurt, either. Looks to me like I have to accept that one round of that glass pipe equals for me one day of recovery time. So Thursday passed by in cycles of drinking and napping. Then, sitting in the park with my sunset brew, Rocky came to look for me.

He offered me a hit from his smoke but it was so short that I didn't want to deprive him. "Go ahead," he said, "I've got another one." And that soon came out as he handed it to me to light. Nice weed they grow on the Big Island, very nice.

Of course, Rocky wanted to hear all the details of the Ice Follies party and I told him most of them. He would have enjoyed the shower story but I wasn't sure Little Brother would like me telling the others so didn't mention it, although I did tell him how Little Brother was so much like the Sleeptalker and admitted to having a heavy crush on him.

Rocky hadn't been "home" in four days, he said, and then laughed, "look, I'm calling it home already."

He was "starving" so I offered to buy him dinner from the supermarket. I do enjoy walking into those places with one of the boys and saying, "you can have anything you want." I got myself another beer and one for him, then we went back to the park. He got up after awhile to take a leak against a tree. I told him, "hey, turn this way." He laughed and when he finished pissing turned around and gave me a look at it before putting it away. Lordy that boy is hung. I tend to think my memory is exaggerating but it isn't. And that little peep show got repeated later. Rocky made it quite clear that he's mine for the asking, just got to put the money in his paw. Maybe next month I'll finally take him up on it.

Most of our talk was, oddly enough, about New York City. He's fascinated by thoughts of the place and asked dozens of questions. I told him if I had the money I'd take him there for a visit, just for the fun of watching his reactions.

He left at about nine o'clock, planning to return to Makaha. I hope he didn't arrive to find the professor had gotten a replacement during his absence. And I went to my bench and settled for the night, surprised to so quickly fall asleep after having napped so much during the day. Not only did I sleep well, but I woke about 5:30, folded up my tarp and put it away, lay back down and promptly fell asleep for another hour. Then I walked over to the main park and parked on a picnic table bench and slept yet another hour. Most unusual.

I had no desire to go to campus so spent the day in the park, another day of beer and sleep. This time it was Rossini who came looking for me in the late afternoon, bringing Plato along. Rossini brought me a beer and gave me the ten dollars he had borrowed from me to pay for his porn movies. I asked him if he'd thought it was worth it. "I don't now," he said, "but I did at the time." His uncle runs a construction company and has signed Rossini on for a two-month job, starting Monday. He'll be making twenty-five an hour so will have a nice little stash if he sticks it out for the two months. Since he'll have to get up at five it will certainly put the damper on his party life, though. I felt selfishly happy about it since it means I'll probably get to spend more time with Angelo on his own. For months now, he has always been with Rossini each time I've seen him.

Rossini and Plato went on their way at sunset. I went to get a sandwich and another brew, went to my night-time bench and watched the late surfers, listened to the radio for awhile. Earlier I had been delighted when they played Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko", wished it had been the opera instead of just the orchestral piece but loved hearing it again anyway.

Praise be, it was the last day of the Asian Development Bank conference. The police in their confounded helicopters were hovering overhead for hours making a beastly racket. Someone had discarded the ADB's annual report on India, a handsome quarter-inch volume. I glanced through it, read bits which I thought most likely to include objectionable stuff but didn't see any. I can understand how a leader in India might well be annoyed by strangers taking such a hard look at the country's current status and putting forth solid recommendations. But it's such a small, crowded planet and whatever the seventh largest country with the second largest population does can't help but affect us all. Those who are objecting to the ADB seem misguided, to me. Maybe they make mistakes and maybe it's wrong to use financial power as leverage but it still seems better than doing nothing or letting local politicians do what they will without regard for the global consequences.

But I surely am glad to see them pack up and leave this sleepy town in peace.

As for my own sleepiness, I wouldn't mind at all settling down to sleep and waking up two weeks from now.

774

No celebration of Egbert's birthday this year ? I thought it was around this time of the year. Are you beginning a post-Egbert life ?

Ha! That'll be the day I die, as the song said. The Dutchman's birthday was the sixth and I thought seeing "Faust II" would be the perfect way to celebrate it. I'm sure he'd agree, though, that the Ice Follies was an even more appropriate birthday party, never mind the week-long hangover.

Alas, the second weekend of May wasn't even close to being as delightful as the first. The weather, at least, was fine and I still had beer money on Saturday so after a brief time online in the morning I spent the rest of the day in the park. I listened to the first act of "Rigoletto" done by the Chicago Lyric Opera but found the tenor so annoying I gave it up, later listened to Prairie Home Companion. They've now scheduled an hour of Celtic music between that and Michael Lasser's theatre hour, making for three hours of most enjoyable entertainment. Lasser's theme was songs about immigrants and should have included Dylan's "I Pity the Poor Immigrant", even if it's not a theatre song. It did include two wonderful tracks by Nora Bayes that I've never heard before. I'd be more than happy to hear an entire hour devoted to her.

I slept till almost seven o'clock on Sunday morning so didn't have to repeat Saturday morning's trek to 7-Eleven for coffee since the supermarket was open. Once again there was no desire to get online so I stayed in the park. Empty pockets but I didn't feel like quarter hunting although I returned one cart which happened to be in my path. There were two old guys drinking at lunchtime, one left and the other staggered over to my table, wished me happy Mother's Day. He was incredibly drunk, could barely walk ... or talk. But he did manage to explain that we should all be celebrating Mother's Day because of the Mother of God. Then he got up and wobbled away, leaving half a bottle of vodka behind. I think he was too drunk to even realize he'd left it. I watched until he got on a bus and then went to the supermarket for tomato juice, drank Bloody Mary's for the rest of the day, saluting mothers everywhere, of gods or demons or in between.

A reader asked: I read somewhere yesterday that what is in a backpack besides what's needed for the basic necessities of life (but then what are the basic necessities of life ? I remember your friend in India with toilet paper in his packpack) is the reflection of the person's soul. So, what is it in your case ?.

Well, let's see. It usually has the tarp, a sweatshirt and socks for sleeping. A paperback book or two. Radio, battery razor, toothbrush and toothpaste, rarely-used plastic teeth, assorted pens, bottle opener, cigarette lighters, a plastic bag of so-called vital documents (birth certificate, expired passport, Army service records and welfare junk). Aspirin, Vitamin and Paxil tubs. Little Swiss Army knife. Reading glasses. Right now it still has some vodka but that's unusual, and a couple of "Power Bars".

Hmmmm, my soul's reflection is pretty basic stuff. The book titles would give some indication of its current condition, I guess. Only one at the moment, Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers.

... what is it you kept somewhere when you left your home ? (I don't mean in detail, I'm not THAT nosy, believe it or not - just a general idea).

I packed a box with enough office-suitable clothes (and shoes) that I could, if I had changed my mind, get a temporary office job. I tried wearing the shoes after the hospital stay but couldn't stand them; otherwise nothing in the box has been worn in three and a half years except for a pair of trousers I put on while current stuff was in the washing machine.

There are a few "treasures" in the box, too. The India Notebooks, a few objects of sentimental value like the bronze bell from Frances, a little figure of Ganesh, some photographs (including the ones which appear in the Tales), a few computer discs, a photo of Harold Kama in an enameled India frame. Not in the box, but left with Mme de Crécy, too, is the set of Dada News, some CDs and cassettes.

Some of those things, especially the photographs, have spent more time in such a "stash box" than they have out of one. Had it not been for the fire at the Chelsea Hotel which destroyed my two trunks, I'd probably be lugging around and stashing even more stuff.

The reader also recently wondered if it would not be possible to live the way I am doing even if I did have an apartment. Yes, theoretically it would physically be possible although I know myself well enough to strongly suspect I would not. The temptation to just stay in bed and read would be too great, I'd never spend days in the park and would thus miss all the "chance" encounters.

But even more importantly, the state of mind would be different and thus the way I relate to my fellow nomads. (And at this point, I'd obviously end up with some roommates, too, especially Angelo.) Well, we shall see if I survive until this time next year just how different life will be, since after a couple of months of outrageous partying, I'll no doubt end up with at least a room somewhere. And a roommate ...

I miss Angelo even more than I thought I would. I might not have seen him for a week even if he was on the island, of course, but at least there was always the chance he might come walking along, looking for me in the park, and the absence of that chance is much missed. I'm a little surprised to find myself missing him more than even the Sleeptalker.

And now the dark side of the Ice Follies method ... two penniless weeks to plod through. Sigh.

775

Angelo is back already, as usual having quickly become bored with life on Kauai. He and Rossini came to the park at sunset on Wednesday. The Ice Cream Lad had stopped to talk just before the others arrived. He gets that title because he carries around a cooler with a huge block of ice cream and sells cones to the tourists. I hadn't seen him in months although he used to play Seventh Circle and wanted to hear all the news. He said he didn't believe Angelo had gone to Kauai so I told him I'd watched as he walked through the boarding gate, but neither of us were much surprised when Angelo appeared.

Angelo was in one of his grumpy moods, no doubt partly because of the two-week drought we both face, but I was happy to see him even so.

I didn't go to campus on Tuesday or Wednesday, stayed in the park instead. There is a definite manic tendency to this high dose of Paxil, making me slightly hyper and little inclined to do much of anything.

I think I need to amend that saying, "when a guru is needed, a guru appears" to "when a Bad Boy is needed, a Bad Boy appears", although perhaps they are gurus, too. A new one on Tuesday, that magic combination of half-Filipino, half-Japanese, born in the Phillipines but raised in Japan although his American English has no trace of an accent. He's seventeen and like Angelo's sweet little brother goes by initials. JD.

And he is quite simply the cutest Bad Boy yet, absolutely adorable. Talk about love at first sight ... I was head over heels within a minute. Alas, I may never see him again because he was planning to enlist in the Army the next day, but it certainly was a most delightful evening. We walked over to the supermarket and I bought him some food since he hadn't eaten all day, then returned to the park and talked until quite late. He even walked out and sprawled beside me on the tarp. I wasn't sure if he was inviting or expecting more, but I just kept my hand on his shoulder. After awhile he jumped up, said he was going to look for his "boy Lewis" and wandered off, saying "thanks for everything." Such a sweetheart.

I fell asleep on Wednesday morning and was consequently a few minutes late for the psychiatrist. I think he's given up on me, didn't even set another appointment. The half hour afterwards with the psychologist was more pleasant and I talked more about the Boys than I have up to now. He said he felt they were failing with the young street people, and I couldn't disagree judged by what I see and hear. But as I told him, they just can't spend the amount of time with these guys, really needed to discover their stories and their concerns. He said, "it's a shame you don't get paid for it." Ha! But I do get paid, just not in cash. "They're the most important thing in my life," I said. He did set an appointment for mid-June so at least the Crazy Money remains whether the psychiatrist has given up or not. I suppose he'll expect me to make an appointment when the Paxil runs out, but I'm not sure I want to go on taking the stuff, am still debating it.

A mixed bag, this week. The joy of meeting JD and the fun of listening to him, the pleasure of having Angelo back on the island certainly the highs, the psychiatrist and empty pockets the lows ... ups and downs, downs and ups. And the painted ponies go round and round.

776

I have been wondering for some time about your relation with Angelo.

Welcome to the club, gentle reader. Me, too, and I am quite sure he does as well. There is much about it which is a complete mystery to me.

Didn't he tell you more things about himself than the Sleeptalker did, so that you felt more useful to him ? Or was it the other way round, the Sleeptalker telling you more ? Not always clear from the Tales.

The Tales are misleading in this case. I know far more about the Sleeptalker. Angelo is very reserved, rarely talks about his childhood or admits to current worries aside from lack of money. The Sleeptalker, though, has told me many things that I felt were too intimate and personal to write about. I would see it as a betrayal of trust. And, of course, some of it really could not be of any great interest to anyone but the two of us.

More precisely, from the time when I read the Tales about the period when the Sleeptalker stayed away two months, being at home. I wondered whether you had a closer relationship with Angelo at that time because the Sleeptalker wasn't here and "you needed someone to need you" or whether it was more Angelo trying to have a closer relationship with you and see if he could hold your interest as much as the Sleeptalker did.

As I've said in the past, all the Boys regard the Sleeptalker as the standard setter, so I think it very likely that Angelo did, consciously or not, try to replace the Sleeptalker. During the time the Sleeptalker was in Waianae and I was spending a great deal of time with Angelo, we went through that very funny phase when he was outrageously flirting with me while at the same time saying it would never happen. I remember the time he said, "I must stop this" and a few minutes later went right back to the flirting. He was so good at it that I began to desire his body even though I hadn't in the beginning. Why he so unexpectedly changed his mind about "never happen" is the greatest mystery of all.

As I've also explained, except for Mondo who is more often than not happy with just his own company, all the Boys strongly prefer to pair up into buddy teams. They tend to drift from one pairing to another. I was the natural replacement for the Sleeptalker in Angelo's case. But when we lost our favorite group sleeping place, Angelo began to spend more time with Rossini. Now he seems to have returned, alas, to RedEye.

Thursday was one of those days when I spoke to no one except for a few words to shopclerks, but I was sitting outside the supermarket with my morning coffee on Friday when Angelo and RedEye arrived. They had spent the night in town, sleeping "in three different places". I was glad Angelo hadn't come looking for me the evening before, that he remembers my refusal to hang out with RedEye. I wouldn't care to go through that dispute again, it having been the closest we've ever come to a real argument. "Everyone needs a friend," as Angelo said, but I'm just not willing to take on RedEye, even to spend time with Angelo.

Angelo wanted to call Rossini, whose job it turns out will not begin until June first. I encouraged him to wait until eight o'clock at least and he did, but Rossini was still sleeping. So Angelo decided he'd go home to shower and eat, said he'd be back in the afternoon. I guess Rossini didn't want to come into town, though, because Angelo hasn't been seen since those morning hours.

Most unusually, Rossini came alone to the park looking for me on Saturday, bringing a beer. It finally gave me the chance to ask about the voices he hears, because I haven't wanted to talk to him about them in front of the others. He doesn't know who the voices belong to but said he hears them very clearly and that they want to kill him! Shudder. So long as he takes whatever drug it is (I didn't ask), they don't bother him, but if he skips even one day they return, particularly if he has been smoking the glass pipe.

Later we were joined by Lord and Lady Moana, as I call them. They've lived in the park for months. Both are in their late 40s or early 50s, I'd guess, at least part Hawaiian and look well battle-scarred and tough but are actually quite gentle despite the appearance and the crudity of their way of talking. She has five children and one of her daughters later came along with a friend I thought was a guy but wasn't. Definitely fooled me. A handsome Japanese fellow, shirtless, then joined us and grumbled at me for staring at his body. Lady Moana thought that very funny and scolded him, asked how he'd feel if every time he stared at a chick's tits he'd have to worry about her punching him out.

Rossini and I walked over to the mall and he gave me cash in exchange for using foodstamps for food, so I got myself another beer as did he. That crazy old drunk had left a quarter bottle of vodka behind again but I was much happier to have beer, gave the vodka to Lord Moana when we returned to the park. A most enjoyable evening, but I surely was sorry to hear from Lady Moana that JD did, indeed, join the Army (even if I had encouraged him to go for it).

This role of Father Confessor is not, however, always such a pleasure. I got stuck with young Chuck on Sunday afternoon. He's a mix of Hawaiian, Filipino and probably a few others, a real poi dog as they call mongrels here. Not at all cute but sweet in the way that C-Two is. Unfortunately he'd had a big punch-up with his lady friend the night before, with her doing all the punching, then telling him to get out of the house. And he rambled on at great length about it, speaking as he always does in heavier pidgin than the other boys use (at least when with me) and not managing to utter a single sentence without "fucking" in it. I was much relieved when Lord Moana came over and joined us, so I could just sit back and let them grumble about women troubles together. (Lord and Lady M sometimes have ferocious verbal fights.)

I'd found enough quarters for a beer, despite heavy competition from the Mongoose, and when I finished that I told the guys I was going back to the quarter hunt since I only needed two more for a sunset brew. After finding them I went to a different part of the park to escape both the gentlemen with the lady problems and the noisey, huge picnic being held by the Carpenters Union.

I've been troubled in the past few days by morning shakiness, so bad on Friday that Angelo was much amused by the difficulty I had even getting a cigarette lit. Delirium tremens I wondered? So when I finally went to campus on Sunday morning, I looked around for references on the Web. Although the symptoms match, it supposedly shouldn't start until after a heavy period of drinking followed by two or three days of none. And I wondered why the psychiatrist has been trying to get me to stop drinking altogether without any suggestion of detox treatment since several sources said there is a 20 percent chance of death from untreated DTs! I think I'll do my best to get at least a beer a day because it sounds like an extremely unpleasant way to go ... and I would have thought the doc might better have suggested a gradual tapering off.

Whatever it is, the shaking stops as soon as a little alcohol is ingested, even a shot's worth of vodka. One article suggested taking magnesium supplements so I got some, started taking them on Sunday and wasn't as badly affected Monday morning. Whether that's because of the magnesium or (more likely) having had only beer and no vodka on Sunday, I don't know.

Back to the subject of the Tales, the reader asks: - why do you index your Tales with numbers and not with dates (as in the Indian notebooks) ? Do you have the dates somewhere, which enables you to read entries from one year back, for example, or do you find them easily enough ?

When I began writing I was thinking in terms of stories, not a day-to-day diary, had in mind the 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights. And it was also not in any way important to me to place things by exact dates. The titles given to groupings of the Tales often point to the approximate dates, though, and I find it fairly easy to find, let's say, the Tales from a year or two ago from this same time, the end of Taurus.

This May has been quite different, though. I've skipped an unprecedented number of days (aside from the hospital adventure) without writing or even getting online. Whether this is a growing tendency or just late spring fever remains to be seen ...

777

Seven-seven-seven. Wave to Aleister.

One of the things I learned from Little Brother is that current teenage slang for a cop is "popo". A Motorcycle Popo Gang arrived at the park early on Tuesday morning, parked their bikes in a line, three of them riding down to the trees where they made the sleeping people get up (including Lord and Lady Moana). Ah, it was the annual JPO Field Day. Junior Popo Officers. That was an instant reminder of KM2, since he was a JPO. And it was amusing to realize I hadn't thought of him for quite some time although there were months when hardly an hour, certainly never a day, went by without thinking of him. I wonder if I'll reach the point where I can go a week without thinking of the Sleeptalker? Probably not, and certainly not if I keep hanging out with the Boys, who never fail to talk about him.

There may be more to his current story than we've yet heard. I met a fellow named Mark on Monday who has just left the place where the Sleeptalker is. It is indeed a Christian organization but is linked to the parole system and going through their rehab program is a requirement for parole. Mark hated the place, was very happy to be free of it, and is already back to the glass pipe. He offered to share but had so little left that I thanked him and said he should keep it for himself. He's 41, a very handsome fellow, as I told him eventually. Originally from Ohio, he has been here since the mid-80s and evidently has spent a large part of the time in one jail or another. Very nice man, though, another welcome addition to the drinking buddy list.

Less so is Gabby, a grizzled bearded guy who is 58 but looks older. He wobbled over to my table later on Monday, was wearing one shoe and one slipper, asked if I had seen the other shoe anywhere. No, I hadn't. He is a total amateur at Honolulu street life, didn't say exactly how long he has been here but he seems likely to be a fairly recent arrival. I explained about IHS to him, told him he could certainly get foodstamps and probably Crazy Money, but sorry, I know nothing much about what the Veterans Administration would do. And especially in his case because he got a less-than-honorable discharge after killing a Korean woman. He came around again on Tuesday, asked again how to get to IHS. He was planning to walk there, which is quite a hike, especially for someone as drunk and staggering as he was. He has an annoying attitude of know-it-all when in fact he knows almost nothing. I won't mind at all if I never see him again.

Lord Moana is 38, he told me on Tuesday, but he looks at least ten years older. He has been on the street since he was ten. Since that evening with Rossini, him and his lady, he has come over each day to say hello at least once. He's always shirtless, very very dark brown and with quite a nice, muscular body, but such a rough-looking face. He calls me either Smiley or Uncle, and is another welcome addition to the drinking buddy group as well as providing the comforting feeling of knowing he would step in if some loony came around trying to cause trouble.

There is certainly one of those currently living in a toilet/changing room building, although he doesn't seem dangerous despite having an awesome machete on the bench beside him. His upper body, at least, is covered with very colorful tattoos. Although he chattered away to me when I went to use the toilet in the pre-dawn hour, I could understand very little of what he was saying. Fearsome looking fellow, but I think probably harmless.

I stayed in the park all day on Tuesday, deciding to skip online life again. I planned to have an early shower but the Popo Mob made me nervous so I decided to walk to the shower at the other end of the park. As I was about to set out, I ran into Mme de Crécy who had just finished her early morning swim. She chided me for caring more about my park buddies than my online friends but of course she knows that's nonsense. Let's face it, being in actual contact with good company is a hell of a lot better than virtual contact. I'm reminded of a sci-fi story set in a society where physical meetings were utterly taboo, all contact was via computer (prophetic, since the story was written long before "internet" existed). Give me the old-fashioned hug or handshake, please.

But a little of the online life, too, of course. Lady Gabriella has climbed to level 58 now and was finally inducted into the Guild of Druids, a process delayed because there has been a still-unresolved squabble over the leadership. I wish more of the Boys who used to frequently play (including Rossini) would return and, oh yes, most of all the Sleeptalker. Any contact with him, in person or electronically, would be more than welcome.

On Tuesday night I dreamed of ice for the first time. If I had a chunk of the stuff in waking life like the one I had in the dream, Angelo's beautiful big brown eyes would get even bigger.

778

That was the week that was and I'd better write about it before I forget everything. And because the times they are a'changing ...

Rossini came alone to the park on Wednesday at about sunset. He called Angelo, trying to get him to join us. I even spoke to Angelo myself, a first via telephone, but he didn't want to make the long trip in, said he'd join us on Thursday. So Rossini and I spent the evening drinking beer and talking. He was born almost three months premature so began life in an incubator. His father died when he was very young and his mother re-married. He didn't say much about that or his stepfather, but I gather from things he's said in the past that they don't get along very well. He's understandably still having some trouble adjusting to his mother's death.

He left around ten but was back again late Thursday morning. Once again he called Angelo and he eventually joined us, as did Rocky. Angelo asked if we could hang out for awhile at Kory K's, much to my surprise. Well, since Kory's ladyfriend has hula lessons on Thursday I was pretty sure he'd be home on his own. The old man and three bad boys and Kory K ... much fun although by then I was so drunk I barely remember what was said. The next day Kory told me he thought they all seem like nice guys. This is true.

When we left and got to the bus stop, they decided to go home and I just sat there for awhile before getting the last bus back to the mall and park.

Then early afternoon on Friday, Angelo and Rossini showed up in the park, having just had lunch at the River of Life soup kitchen ... WITH THE SLEEPTALKER. They both commented on the fact that he has put on weight and has been working out so his arms are more muscular. "He's looking good," said Rossini, getting my standard response, "he always does." Rossini also told me the Sleeptalker had gotten into a fight and evidently received quite a beating, has a scar over his left eye.

Their other big news was that Rossini has gotten Angelo a job on the construction project, too, and they will begin on Tuesday. That means I won't be seeing them except on weekends. It will also mean a major shift in the balance of my relationship with Angelo because he's very different when he has money. They'll be clearing about $700/week so I expect a major difference. It won't change Rossini, but I could already see what's to come when, on Saturday, Angelo did one of his "best buddies until something better comes along" acts. That used to be so common I developed at least some immunity to it. I'll have to harden my shell again.

Making that much money, they will lose all benefits including medical insurance so Rossini is somewhat worried about how much trouble he'll have with his "voices" once he's out of the medication. The other question, of course, is whether Angelo will stick it out for two months. I think he will, mainly because the money is so good but also because he'll be with Rossini. The answer probably won't come until after their first paycheck next Friday no doubt followed by a grand ice party. Rossini is planning to save as much as he can but I'm sure Angelo will spend it as fast as he gets it and will then have to wait until re-application for benefits goes through. But who knows, maybe they'll go on to another job. Changes, in any case.

Lord and Lady Moana joined us for awhile, then went off to the mall. Angelo and Rossini decided to see "Pearl Harbor". So for the second time on Friday, I declined the invitation, having earlier told Helen R thanks for asking but I don't want to see it.

Rossini again came to look for me in the park on Saturday, this time with Plato tagging along. We had been talking about him the day before and they told me Plato is worried that he's never going to find a woman who wants him. I said I didn't know why because he's really quite a cute guy, and I told Plato so. I was astonished to be told he is thirty. He says he still gets carded every time, even for cigarettes. No surprise, I thought he was in his late teens. He's a sweet fellow and for the first time teased me a little in a flirtatious way.

Three other little flirts had walked near my table earlier. Definitely teenagers and one shirtless with a fine body indeed. They instantly clued in on my interest, smiled and kept looking back as they walked on, finally waved, still smiling. When they returned later, I held up a cigarette pack and the beer Rossini had brought me, offering them to the lads, but they just grinned and shook their heads no, again waved to me before crossing over to the mall. Local boys no ka oi, uh-huh.

Rossini tried to find Angelo who was supposedly with some friend I haven't met, planning to pool resources for one round of the glass pipe. Well, he finally got him on the phone and said they'd be down. They did come down, in a white car, and didn't even get out. Rossini walked over, said something to Angelo, got in the car and they drove off. Plato thought they'd go shopping and return, was wondering why they hadn't taken the ten dollars he was going to put in. I didn't expect them to return. If the friend drives that nice a car, he no doubt has bucks in his pocket and he smokes the ice, a combination that is definitely "something better". Sigh.

So I chatted with Plato for awhile, mostly about Seventh Circle, until he finally gave up on the others returning and went on his way. I was so tired I went straight to my bench, fell asleep during the hour of Celtic music and consequently missed the theatre hour.

Heavy shakes on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so bad I had to use both hands to hold my coffee and even then had difficulty. I'm going to stop taking Paxil, see if that has anything to do with it. But yes, even I finally agree that it's time to cut down on the drink. A beer with dawn once in a great while is fine, not two mornings in a row, much less every morning. But both weekend mornings I had almost a full bottle of Mickey's in my backpack, leftover from the previous evening (thanks to Rossini), and finished them off with the sunrise.

So now a new routine begins, two months at least without my favorite Bad Boys except on weekends (if then ... Angelo with all that money in his pocket may vanish for the duration). Paxil withdrawal, still a few days of being flat broke, a growing concern about overdoing the drink.

And not having the faintest idea what to do next.

779

The Panther's Tale, now with enlarged cast of players, sex drugs and rock 'n roll ... and sunburn.

Cody. Such a great name, I can't possibly come up with an alias. Twenty-eight, originally from Ohio but has been here for years. "You're a very handsome man," I eventually told him. "Thank you," he said, "so are you." "Not really, but sweet of you to say so." He stays at the IHS shelter, said it really wasn't so bad. "So if I slept there, I could sleep on the mat next to you?" I teased. "Sure." No, I don't think he's at all gay, just very comfortable and sweet-natured.

We spent Sunday afternoon together, drinking beer and talking. Then I had to leave to meet Helen R who kindly took me to LikeLike Drive-In (which isn't a drive-in, like most of the so-called drive-ins in this town) for dinner. Their hot roast beef sandwich, mashed potatoes and gravy ... delicious.

David. Taking a nightcap beer to my bench, I was sitting there drinking, watching the surf which in summer is higher on the south shore than the north (although not as dramatic as north shore winter surf). A fine looking young man wearing shorts and a tee shirt walked up, introduced himself and shook my hand. He stood there chatting about this and that, mentioned how cool it was getting. True, the days are very very warm but the nights are cooler than usual for this time of year. However, while he was talking about feeling chilly, the bulge in his shorts kept getting larger and larger. "I think part of you is hot enough," I said. He laughed, sat down on the bench beside me. Ah, sweet fountain of youth. He rated me "ten out of ten", too. So are you, my friend, so are you.

Pedro and Inri [!] and Paulo. The Filipino Musketeers. Imagine naming a child Inri. Pedro and Inri are both dishwashers in different Waikiki restaurants, one of which I know well since it was my nephew's favorite. They are both married with children, all in the Philipines. They sleep in the park because they send as much money as they can to their families. I have a strong suspicion I am falling in love again. With Pedro. He's such a teddy bear, warm and huggable. My favorite moment (so far) was Saturday afternoon when he went to lay on the grass near my table to take a nap. A group of yakky people arrived and sat at a table even closer to him. So much for his nap. He looked over at me, shrugged, and invitingly patted the grass beside him. So I walked over and threw myself on top of him. Sigh.

We've been together every day for at least a few hours, in varying combinations. Pedro's parents both suffer from cataracts and he got one, too, at a surprisingly early age, has just had surgery to remove it from his right eye. So he isn't working until June 12th, on doctor's orders, and is very impatient about the delay. Inri, though, has disappeared at various times depending upon his shift, and Paulo doesn't work at all. Neither Pedro nor Inri speak very good English and their language is one I've never heard of. Starts with an "S". I looked at some web sources on the Philippines but couldn't find any mention of it. They've tried to teach me a few phrases. It seems to have the same relationship to Spanish as Cajun does to French and they understand the few things I remember how to say in Spanish. Fine lads, all of them, but Pedro is special.

Pedro offered to sell me his Aiwa radio-cassette player for ten dollars so I bought it, complete with the Madonna "Immaculate Collection" tape. (You will thus assume, correctly, that the Fabled Pension Check arrived). I do like Madonna but I have to admit I don't like most of her music. Still, it's nice to have a tape player again.

Tuesday night was quite a gathering ... Lord and Lady Moana, Crazy MaryJane with her little enameled pipe and her very handsome boyfriend, Pedro and another fellow I'd not met, a friend of Lady Moana's. MJ had some truly splendid weed in that little pipe. I got thoroughly and utterly zonked, even more than with the glass pipe and its contents. There was a remarkable adventure afterwards but I think I'll file that with the very few others that have been deliberately omitted from the Tales. Maybe I should create a collection to be made public only I've departed this ball of dirt.

Rossini came over to the park on Saturday afternoon, one of his co-workers with him, carrying a twelve-pack of Budweiser. He said Angelo might be coming in later but if he did, he probably went to his friend with the car. The work is hard, he said, but the money is too good to bitch about it much. His co-worker reminded me of the Cherub, especially the way he complained about having to do things the way he was told even when he knew there was a better way. Rossini agreed but told him just to go with the flow. He said Angelo was doing okay although he had fallen asleep for two hours on the job one day!

Because of all the company, I've read less this week than in a long time. It took six days for me to wade through Tom Clancey's Rainbow Six. He's not one of my favorite writers but that was a pretty good batch of yarns all interwoven. Then much to my surprise, the State Library's freebie collection had Salinger's Catcher in the Rye which I haven't read in at least twenty years. Brilliant writing, even if I do now and then feel like giving young Holden a slap.

They installed a revised version of the game on Seventh Circle which has some things I like better, some I dislike very much. But I did play a little on the three mornings I went to campus, got Gabriella up to level 61.

But I do feel a definite shift away from on-line interests, as suggested by the thought of making the Tales a weekly endeavor for awhile. Spending so much more time in the park makes a big difference in the social relationship with the others there. It begins to feel like a family in some ways.

A reader asked: Did you ever, or rather do you often, have this feeling of irrelevance when reading messages of the householders' tribe? That brought to mind my friend Michael who, writing from the Warhol-world of Manhattan to me on the India mountaintop, said he'd probably sound like a mosquito buzzing in the distance. Yes, there is that feeling, especially when people talk about cars and high-tech toys and fancy restaurants, etc. Two different worlds, we live in two different worlds ...

Right now, I'm happier than usual with mine.

780

Cainer writes about this first week of June: So here's the big question. If the love and money planet has been in your sign all this time, how come you aren't now a millionaire with gorgeous admirers peeling grapes for you? Oh well, maybe next year's visit of Venus will bring you that. Or, maybe and more likely, this year's visit ain't over yet. I won't promise all the above but it should be a pretty good week.

And since the immediate future promises to provide enough material for a Tale all for itself, I'd better write one on this eve of Crazy Money Day.

My cup ranneth over on Sunday. Angelo, Rocky, Rossini, Pedro, Inri and David. No, I'm not falling in love with Pedro. It only took a couple of hours with the real thing to remind me. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with, but when one of the two you really do love is around, the rest fade into their proper perspective.

Well, Angelo lasted one week on the job and has decided to quit. He and Rocky came to the park in the late afternoon. Rocky has continued his sessions at the fitness center and, sheez, that boy does look fit indeed. What a splendid body. But Angelo is Numero Uno (or at least shares that title with you-know-who) and it surely was good to see him.

I had seen Pedro earlier, then left to go downtown. Richard Ho'opi'i, a truly classic Hawaiian musician, was playing at the Palace. The notice I'd seen said it was going to be his brother, Sol, but no complaint ... Richard is in a class with Genoa Keawe when it comes to creating an atmosphere of joy and love with his personality, smile and music. And he had his "apprentice", Bobo Miles, with him. Bobo has been studying with Richard for two years under a grant program from the State Foundation and he has one of the most beautiful voices I've yet heard in these islands. A thoroughly delightful hour.

After returning to the park and enjoying Angelo and Rocky's company for a couple of hours, we were joined by Pedro. The Bad Boys headed home to Makaha and about ten minutes later Rossini arrived looking for them. He didn't yet know that Angelo planned to quit, but didn't seem too surprised. He didn't stay long, then Pedro wandered off and returned with a bottle of Mickey's. I don't know how he got it since he supposedly has no money (better not ask is the standard policy). Pedro got a "citation" on Saturday night, his second one. The new way of doing it is to put the amount of the fine on the ticket so you can pay without going to court. His first one was for $15 and the second for $25. Bastids. So much for the law not being targeted at the homeless. They'll have to send me to jail before they get any money out of my pocket.

Pedro and Inri's language is "CEBUANO (Sugbuhanon, Sugbuanon, Visayan, Bisayan, Binisaya, Sebuano). Spoken in Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Visayas and parts of Mindanao, Philippines". Not only have I never heard of it, I also haven't heard of some of those places. They also refer to themselves as Cebuanos, as I noted when Rocky asked Pedro if he was Ilicano.

After sunset I went over to the mall, bought my nightcap and headed out to the bench. Along came David for Round Two. He's a very sexy man but it's strictly a physical pleasure, I can't say I have any great affection for him. Still, at my age I'm always surprised to get it and have no complaints whatever.

I settled down to sleep, had just drifted into an amusing dream when Pedro and Inri came out. They lay on the grass a little distance from my bench. Then it started raining lightly so they got up, woke me again. Sigh. Inri went off on his own and Pedro put his grass mat right by my bench, kept making noise until I finally said, "go to sleep". I guess he couldn't (or he was expecting more attention from me?) because he eventually left, too.

Yes, a very full Sunday, and made even better by some delicious food from a large Filipino picnic in the park. Yummy fried chicken, lobster (!) and the best potato salad I've ever eaten. Most kind of them to share. That happened last weekend, too, but it was the night I'd had dinner with Helen R so I declined with thanks.

And now .... like Cainer said, it ain't over yet. The June Ice Follies are scheduled to begin late Tuesday morning. Me, Angelo and Rocky. Oh my, oh my ....

781

A tale told by an idiot, signifying madness ...

This is one of those Tales which would be told differently by each participant. The basic details might be more or less the same (probably less), but the interpretations would, I am sure, be very very different. Mine would undoubtedly be quite unlike those of Angelo or Rocky. And I cannot even vouch for the accuracy of my own.

Batu, the local term for crystal methamphetamine or "ice", distorts perception. And although I have observed it in others, this was the first time I experienced its ability to induce paranoia. Except for the morphine-inspired paranoid episodes, I've not had such attacks since the Hyde Park days. At least with batu, I am almost always aware when it is paranoia or could be.

It also inspires greed. If I refrain from using the stuff in future (which would no doubt be the most sensible thing I've done in years), it will not be from fear of addiction, damage to the body, or even the wasted money, it will be because I loathe watching the greed.

I said about the May Ice Follies that I did not regret it at all, and I meant it. At no time during those empty pockets weeks did I once think, I wish I hadn't been so stupid, I'd now have a few dollars. The same cannot be said about the June extravaganza. If I could turn back the clock, I'd jump to noon last Tuesday ... and do everything differently. If that's too much to ask, I'd at least change several of the decisions I made along the way.

Angelo and Rocky were supposed to meet me at ten in the morning on Crazy Money Day. So the first decision I'd change would be to make the trip to UH and repay the Banker ... since they didn't show up until a little after noon. By then I had four packs of cigarettes, a little bag of batu, the glass pipe, and four ready-rolled cylinders of pakalolo. (That's the local term for the noble cannibas sativa plant). Oh yes, I have my own sources now, was sitting there grinning at how surprised the lads would be when they found out I already had my own stash (and they were). Now that's the point I'd like to jump back to. The second time around, I'd go into hiding, get stoned all by myself and really investigate this batu stuff.

I admit to an increasing liking for it but I haven't the faintest idea why. It doesn't at all get me high in the way the pharmaceutical version did (and I'm a little grateful for that, because that high of light-speed thinking is truly a delight ... and VERY addictive). No, I just don't know why I like this version at all. But I do.

The lads arrived. The first thing they wanted to do was drink 40's (somewhat to my surprise). But they didn't want to stay in the park. It's obvious they don't approve of the Cebuano Boys ... mere Filipino dishwashers. Fucking little snobs.

If the Bad Boys were publicly-traded corporations, the reports would read "Angelo plunges, Rocky sags".

So we walked over to another park, getting 40's on the way. Then it was dashing around Chinatown (in sweltering heat) shopping. After I refused to pay for a taxi to Waikiki (one of my few smart moves), we took a bus, checked into the Ohana Hobron hotel, picking up beer on the way. I let them buy their own Budweiser and got my usual Colt, another smart move I should have stuck to throughout the adventure.

Around and round went the pipe and the smokes. When the supply was running low, I brought out my stash to surprise and delight. The party went nonstop from about three o'clock on Tuesday until late Wednesday night. By late Tuesday evening I would have bailed out had it not been for the weather. Another decision I'd change. Getting wet would have been easier. But thunder was rumbling away in the heavens (very unusual for here) and it was pouring rain, as much as 3-4 inches an hour as was reported later.

This was, of course, the first time I've been with Rocky and Angelo in a private place. They are utterly different and it was amusing to see how it changed when one or the other went on a shopping trip. Immediately back to the light, flirtatious mode they usually employ. But while we were all together, it seemed they had to go out of their way to prove how macho they were and how hopeless it was for me to even think of wanting their bodies. [!] Believe me, by the time I finally did bail out, I wouldn't have taken their bodies if they'd begged. Yes, it was that bad.

They constantly bitched at me, scolded, warned. It was amusing when they echoed the Sleeptalker, complaining that I was "staring". During one of the few halfway sensible conversations that complaint was made again. I noted that it was a matter of habit, when talking with a couple of people, to look at the one speaking. Whoosh, right over their heads, as went most of my efforts to explain anything. Okay, to hell with you ... I spent at least an hour deliberately not looking at either of them. They complained that I was "being all mad". Sigh.

Same complaint another time. The first batch of pakalolo was very strong and I fell into the chatter trap. I knew it was happening. Most of my remarks were addressed to the television, since neither of them responded to anything. They complained I was talking too much. Okay, I kept my mouth firmly shut. I was "being all mad" again ...

They complained, as did the Sleeptalker, about the weird breathing I get from smoking the batu ... heavy exhaling. I hate it myself but as I tried to explain (again fruitlessly), it's involuntary. In order to stop it, I have to constantly think of my breathing. A nice yogic exercise but hardly compatible with kicking back and partying. The funny thing about this one was that Angelo did the same thing, sharply exhaling before saying anything. I didn't mention it.

Much concern about whether I was going to "misbehave". Okay, I eventually saw the tactical reason. What a nice excuse for drug-hogging. Greed took over right from the start. With the first pipe, Angelo took three big hits before passing it ... and from then on, it was two for him, one for me. On the third day, Rocky added a crack pipe to the arsenal. The two of them went into the bathroom (altho leaving the door open) and smoked it. Considering that infamous episode of buying Rocky the pipe and crack, then not being offered even one hit, I thought that outrageous. Angelo said it was because "you can't handle it". "I managed to handle it okay with the Sleeptalker." Just a handy excuse for drug-hogging.

I told them a little later they had the worst doper-manners of anyone I'd ever known. I guess that sank in because Rocky later apologized for not sharing. That apology is getting pretty thin. (I would have taken only one, just as a matter of comparison to the batu, but I don't want to get involved in that crack stuff).

The Name Game dominated the entire adventure. I've experienced this patter of theirs before but only in small doses. Like teenagers having their first pakalolo high, they sat bouncing one name after another at each other, giggling all the time. They start with old school friends, where it's usually one saying the first name and the other the second. By the third day I knew exactly what was going to follow the name, having heard it so many times. "Ronald Whatever. Never call me by my first name." Giggle hysterically. I said nothing until the third day, then just noted that if I sat there saying one name after another, they'd definitely jump on me. "I'm puzzled by it," I said. "He's complaining again," said Rocky. "I said I was puzzled. That's not complaining." Whoosh, right over the head again.

So there we were, sitting around smoking and watching some extremely boring crap on television when there was a knock on the door. Jump! So far as Rocky and I knew, no one was aware we were there. Ah, but Angelo had told Little Brother. So when someone called saying he was a friend who needed to get in touch with Angelo, Little Brother passed on the info. The arrivee was a "representative" of someone Angelo owed money to. That someone was about to come upstairs, too. Ye gods. Much to my surprise, the "hitman" was the co-worker Rossini had brought along last week. Probably fortunately for Angelo, the Hitman and I had gotten along well and he eased up a little on his attitude when he saw me. The Man arrived, the closest thing to a bona fide gangster I have seen in years. Not a man I'd try to cross. Obviously the Hitman had told the Gangster that Angelo had quit his job, so it was time to collect the debt, and I think they were quite prepared to beat Angelo to a pulp if he didn't pay up. Angelo obviously was, too, and looked quite scared. Even Rocky was clearly nervous. Meanwhile, I had a rather pleasant chat with the Gangster, assured him this was all news to me.

I could only rescue Angelo by including the forty dollars I had tucked away to repay the Banker (and had carefully not mentioned). Angelo solemnly vowed to repay me on Friday when he got his paycheck from that one week of work. Rocky said he would stand guarantor, that if Angelo didn't pay up, he would. Angelo pleaded. Okay, I didn't at all like the idea of sitting watching Angelo get beat up and I was nervous about being in a room with all that stuff and having a neighbor call security or the police if they heard a fight going on. So I yielded. The two tough guys departed. Whew. I must admit, I found the whole thing a little scarey, too.

But I was very irked at having to give up that forty because I had promised the Banker he would get repaid this month (after having welched on half of it the month before, thanks to the May Ice Follies). Again I was assured they would bring the money to the park on Friday afternoon. Was I surprised when neither of them showed up? Silly question.

Another mistake. I should have taken Angelo's cellphone and held it hostage until he paid up.

Something had gone wrong with Rocky's benefits, but he was to get double this month since none came through last month. They arrived, so the party was extended when he offered to get a room (having paid nothing for the first two nights). He knows a cheaper place and I wondered why in hell we hadn't gone there in the first place since I much preferred it. No air conditioning, but there is a lanai (balcony) and a ceiling fan. But ... no porno movies to buy on teevee (answering the 'why the hell' question).

I had been holding tightly onto my last twenty dollar bill, resisting a number of attempts from Angelo to get some of it. I swear that guy looks at me and sees an ATM machine. Since the nonstop barrage of complaints continued, I observed at one point that if I was such an awful companion, they must only put up with me for the money. Instant protests that it wasn't true, from both of them. Hmmmm ...

Later they were sitting together on the lanai and I was flipping channels on the television. I overheard Rocky say "we have to stop scolding him so much." Hmmmm ...

Another shopping expedition. Okay, okay, I'll put in ten for the batu. They get back (that was the trip that added the crack pipe). After he and Rocky had shared that, Angelo prepared the batu pipe, gave me a couple of hits to his three (about as generous as he got the whole time). A little later, I said I wanted another and he refused to give me the pipe, told me to wait! I explained that I prefer smoking several rounds and then waiting awhile, that "sipping" like that did absolutely nothing for me. He refused. Okay, I was finally getting "all mad". There was still half of the bag to go. I asked him to give me my share of that and I would leave. He refused, said we should wait until morning. I didn't want to wait until morning, I wanted to end it that night, I'd had enough of the Follies for this month. He could keep his share for the morning. No.

The two of them settled down to sleep. I knew I wasn't going to sleep at all again (although I had gotten about six hours of sleep the second night). So I took the pipe after Angelo settled down and finished off what was left in it. If I could have found that bag, I would've taken it all.

A crazy night of reviewing the whole adventure. At one point I went onto the lanai and seriously considered jumping. There was an empty parking lot below. But I wasn't sure if ten floors would do the trick and certainly didn't want to end up all broken and battered but still alive. And more importantly, it would have been a very nasty thing to do to the lads. But I did want to jump.

By dawn, I was feeling totally wrecked, couldn't face the idea of them waking up and enduring more bitching and insults, not to mention the damned Name Game, even to get my share of the batu. So I packed up, left a note thanking Rocky, and left.

If there is one thing the Tales prove, it is that speculation about the future is utterly futile. Things have so often turned out completely different from the possibilities I contemplated. But I am determined NEVER to find myself alone with Rocky and Angelo in a hotel room again.

782

I've noted before that beautiful sunsets are commonplace here, but Friday's was truly spectacular. I walked over to a spot near the ocean, sat on the grass and leaned against a palm tree. Nearby a group of people were softly tapping on drums and chanting Hare Krishna. No, not the ISKCON folks, but followers of Chris Butler. Butler is now styling himself Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, an unfortunate bit of nonsense (as I see it) which prevents me from becoming more involved with his group, as it has for some years even when his alias was less grandiose. My nephew and I faithfully watched Butler's weekly half-hour on television for years, though.

They stopped chanting a little while before the sun finally sank into the ocean. One of them walked to the ocean, passing near me, and when he returned I urged him to pass on a message that they should continue until the sun had set. A few moments later they began again and he returned, handed me a booklet and thanked me, said I had inspired them to continue.

I opened the booklet and my eye fell on: Everyone is suffering. Yet a fool, despite the fact that he keeps getting his teeth kicked in, never thinks twice about the whole thing.

Well, that did it. Very early in the Follies the most treasured moment of all with the Sleeptalker had surfaced in memory. "Follow your heart. I want you to follow your heart." I came very close to bursting into tears, would have had I been alone. That had to wait until the magical sunset, the names of Gods being softly chanted, a message in a booklet and then, once more, the words of the Sleeptalker.

After that cathartic interlude, I gave myself a stern lecture. It is just NOT ON to spend the rest of this month wallowing in regret, crying over spilt milk, thinking of all the things I could be doing if not for ... no, it would be even more stupid than making the mistakes in the first place. And .... upon further reflection, I am not at all convinced mistakes were, in fact, made. No accidents. All's for the best in this best of all possible worlds. And throughout the Follies, even in the worst moments, I had an intensely strong feeling that I was undergoing a series of lessons. Often I had no idea what I was being taught, and still don't, but sometimes I did and I knew, and know, it was worth it.

In Seventh Circle, high magic users such as mages and druids have a "charm" spell. It is very difficult to cast and when successful causes a significant drain on one's magical energy. But when it works, the creature one "charms" becomes a slave, follows the master around and carries out any orders, even to the point of killing. Angelo is a most highly accomplished wielder of this spell in so-called real life. If he encountered a barren fig tree and wanted a snack, he'd merely charm the tree which would burst into leaf, blossom, produce fruit and ripen it for him within minutes.

Amusingly, that spell has been temporarily disabled in the game because it was "being abused". If only it were so easy to disable it in the case of Angelo.

Pedro came over to the park from the mall on Saturday and said "your two friends are outside Foodland". Ahhh. And sure enough, they soon came walking over. Angelo and Rocky. Well, first on the agenda was a wildly implausible story about how Angelo hadn't yet been able to cash the check and thus did not have my money. I said to Rocky, "I guess you'll have to cover it then, as you agreed to do." "I never said that!" Liar, liar, pants on fire. It would have been far more honorable had he just explained his own financial circumstances, as I discovered a little later. He did not get double benefits as expected, just one month's worth, and he is now suspended for three months. Missed the appointment with the doc and didn't re-schedule it. Silly boy. (It was setting a new appointment when missing one of mine that saved me.)

But even sillier, in the long run, to pull the "I never said that" routine. In that "stock market" report, Rocky is no longer being traded on the Panther Exchange. That lie sent it plunging but a little later he finally pushed it over the limit. They were hungry, offered me a dollar each if I'd get a tub of raw fish. I didn't feel like walking over to the mall but agreed to give Rocky my foodstamps card and let him do the shopping (Angelo being still banned from the supermarket). It's something of a brotherhood badge to share use of those cards, although this was the first time I'd let anyone but Rossini use mine.

He goes off. I change my mind, decide I want to get a beer with those two dollars, so go over to the mall. I meet Rocky coming out of the supermarket, he hands me my card and the receipt. I said I was going upstairs to get beer and would meet them back in the park. When I got there, Pedro was alone at the table. I sat down, looked at the receipt and saw Rocky had spent EIGHTEEN DOLLARS in the supermarket. Okay, bad enough, but then for the two of them to go off and eat it all without sharing???!!!

See what I mean about how that "kicked in the teeth" passage touched me?

Eventually they returned, Angelo wielding that charm spell with extraordinary skill. Rocky had, though, slipped into the worst of his Follies mode, probably feeling guilty about ripping off those stamps. I said nothing but eventually got so fed up with his act that I left.

The June Follies. Last Act.

783

"Manu" is Cebuano for "cow". I forget what the word for goat is, but then that's not a word I use very often in any language. (It was interesting, though, that Pedro placed it so high on the list.) The word for horse is very close to the Spanish and "caballero" means horse rider. Most amusing, Cebuano for "penis" sounds like "pokee". Little wonder they get a sniggering look on their faces when we talk of eating ahi poke.

What Cebuano for "quarrel" is, I don't know, but Pedro and Inri apparently had a major one and for two nights, Pedro has slept on the grass by my bench. Both of them have come looking for me individually but only Inri has spoken of their estrangement. His English is so limited it is difficult to carry on much of a conversation but both of them have made it clear they value my friendship even more while cut off from each other. With no knowledge of what caused the argument or their past history and the patterns of their friendship, there is little I can do to play mediator or to bring about a reconciliation. So I wait and watch.

On Sunday, Helen took me to the new Ward 16 complex to see "Evolution". The new theatres, based on the one we were in, are splendid, the best on the island and when the still unfinished complex is completed it seems likely to become a major part of life here. As for the film, I wrote later to a friend: Amusing as it was, pondering "Evolution" later I felt the film really did have a tragic ending. If that life form could advance itself so quickly in such a brief time, it is entirely likely they would have done a better job of taking care of this ball of dirt than we are doing. Mankind should have lost.

Monday was a local holiday in honor of Kamehameha, the chieftain who first united the islands. State government, schools and banks were closed but otherwise it was business as usual. Dame Fortune, perhaps inspired by the holiday, utterly surpassed herself. It was truly a Lucky Day. One of her gifts, though, surely was a loaded one. A little tub of sleeping pills (or so I assume, since the prescription label said they are for "insomnia"). I put them in my empty Paxil bottle but failed to make a note of their name. Maybe I didn't want to check the web and see what a fatal dose would be. The original label had a skull-and-crossbones on it, a warning against using them with alcohol. Rubbish. I tried one of them despite having had a bottle of Colt. Made for a peaceful sleep and was happily free of the morning-after grogginess I've experienced from most sleep aids.

And yet another drug, one I haven't had for about twenty years although it used to be a real favorite: amyl nitrate. Talk about a rush ... batu doesn't come close. A pity it lasts such a brief time, but a delightful exercise in nostalgia, finding that bottle, saying hmmmm, I know what that looks like, can it be? Sniff. Uh-huh. Later I was told by Rocky that the recreational form of the stuff can be bought in sex shops here. Wow. It is banned in some places on the mainland and in England, so it never occurred to me to check it out here.

Yes, Rocky. He was in the mall on Tuesday evening, having just returned from a couple of days on Kauai. He waved me over to the table where he was sitting, asked if I'd seen Angelo. He said Angelo had gotten his money on Monday so he was surprised I still hadn't been repaid. "You'll never smell that money again," he said. Quite possibly, quite possibly. Rocky asked if I was "all mad" at Angelo. I said no, I wasn't mad at him but I was very disappointed in him. I didn't add, and also with you. I'd pondered how to handle my relationship with both of them, decided in the case of Rocky to revert back to an earlier mode, friendly but cautious.

With Angelo, it hinges on whether or not he does return that money. I cannot say it is foolish of him to put more value on the money than our friendship, then turn around and do the same thing myself. Indeed, if it were MY money, if I didn't owe it to someone else, I'd be thinking about it in a totally different way. I debated asking someone else to loan me just the forty that I owe, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, but am still not sure that's the right thing to do. What I am very sure about is that so long as batu is a part of my life, I shall not borrow money again.

Rocky totally floored me when he complained about the past and how, when I was with the Sleeptalker, I ignored him. "You never even look at me when he's around." Contrast that to all the bitching during the Follies about me "staring" at him, sigh deeply, and say what a piece of work is man.

Among the other holiday gifts from Dame Fortune was what had been in first place on the ill-fated shopping list for this month: a new backpack. Uncanny. It was July 5th last year when I found a new backpack in the mall and that one was definitely showing its age. Funnily enough, I had spent some time in the early morning working on it with needle-and-thread, repairing a fraying strap and seams which were promising to burst open at any moment. Unnecessary, since a totally new one was just around the corner. As last year, the new one appeared to have been thoroughly searched and there was nothing of any value in it but no matter, it's the bag itself that I needed.

Almost as strange, someone threw away a very new tee shirt. It is black with a discreet Hawaiian-design band in gray across the front and tiny logos on each sleeve, but happily blank on the back as I prefer. (I haven't mentioned, but since the May Follies I have dressed entirely in black). The "discretion" of the design is broken by a stylish scorpion in silver right in the middle of the band. Watch it baby, I sting.

Lord and Lady Moana stopped to chat, offered me a slug of rum and a cigarette. She said she'd heard we had quite a party last week. So I told them a little bit about my view of that party and it was good to talk to someone about it who understood exactly what I meant. "Forget these stupid young guys," she said, "party with us next month."

Yes, I am a man of the Sixties. My kind of people. And although none of us will live to see its fruition, our "revolution" was a success. I can't help but see my way of waiting out whatever I have left of this life as being closer to the ideals of that revolution than the paths of some of its "heros", but to each his own.

784

Damn. Damn. Damn. How can I be so dense sometimes ... a person could think I never met Lucy and her diamonds. The answer is so clear, staring me in the face, how the hell did it take me almost a week to see it? And especially after coming so close in the last Tale: I cannot say it is foolish of him to put more value on the money than our friendship, then turn around and do the same thing myself.

"That's okay, S******. Forget about it. Friendship is more important than money."

Problem solved.

And although it was possibly a useful tactic in impressing Angelo with the importance of repayment, it was downright stupid of me to let myself be convinced. I'm surprised some reader didn't tell me to wake up and smell the coffee. That forty of the loan was earmarked for someone else had absolutely nothing to do with Angelo. That forty should have been repaid from the Fabled Pension Check to begin with.

Sigh.

Well, at least seeing the answer set me free. Now all I need is to see Angelo and do him the same favour.

I'm going to be in trouble the next time one of those ordinary days the Steppenwolf hated comes around, especially after such a run of extraordinary ones. And the penultimate Thursday of Spring 2001 gets a special prize. I woke early, looked down at Pedro sleeping again beside my bench, and went off to wash and shave. Then on a bus to Waikiki where I got two cans of chilled cappucino and sat at table drinking the first one. To campus for a couple of hours, writing, reading, playing Seventh Circle where Gabriella made level 70. Back to the mall just before noon, starting to make the rounds for snipes.

Mikey V., long-time bartender at Gordon Biersch.

A pitcher of Budweiser, a pack of Marboros, a couple of dollars cash. "I haven't forgotten all those tips," he said with a grin. Sweetheart! And true, too. For almost two years I went to GB every weekday, since my office was just across the street, and yes, as always, my tips were generous.

But that's the main lesson for this week, my children. Always be as kind and generous as you can afford to be. What goes around comes around, as C-Two likes to say. But don't do it for that reason, do it because it is the proper, wise thing to do, way to live. There's the immediate reward of feeling good about making someone happy and there's a very very good chance an even bigger reward will come your way, but that's not the reason to do it.

[step off soapbox]

What a delightful few hours sitting on one of those comfy armchairs at the Mai Tai Bar, drinking, smoking and having a real conversation with one of the sweetest, most goodhearted men it has been my privilege to know. (I say "real conversation" because I've been spending so much time talking to people, unable to use more than about a fifty word vocabulary.)

A young man arrived to provide music, had a very pleasant voice even if his choice of songs left something to be desired, being too heavy on the mainland-pop-influenced Hawaiian for my taste. Just after Mikey left, though, some young local guys asked the singer to do "I Kona" and he did a fine job of it. Then he sang John Cruz's wonderful "Island Style". He flubbed the words of two lines. First time I said "what?!" to myself, and when he came to the repeat of those lines, he flubbed them again. So when he finished, I walked over and said, "I hope John doesn't sue you for getting the words wrong." He laughed and asked me what they should be, asked me to repeat it twice so he was sure he had it right. Go grandma's house on the weekend, work yard. If we don't go, grandma's gotta work hard. He thanked me, asked if I'd like to hear anything. I said "Hi'ilawe". "I might get some of those words wrong, too," he said. "It's okay, my Hawaiian isn't that good anyway." Fun.

Back to the park. Inri came along, asked if I'd seen anyone with a black blanket. Someone had stolen his from its hiding place in a tree. He went on his way. Pedro arrived. He said he had two dollars, went to the mall and bought a Mickey's, returned to share it. Pedro could certainly teach the Bad Boys some things about proper manners. Phonetically, Cebuano for "thank you" is "salaamahd". "You're welcome" is wayyyyy too complex for me. A word a day, please. (Although I wish I could find at least a phrasebook.)

I told Pedro about Inri's stolen blanket. It seemed to be just the neutral topic needed to bring up the subject of their quarrel. And indeed, not long afterwards Inri came walking by on his way to the mall. Pedro got up to follow him, tried to talk to him but Inri was playing hard to get. Naughty fellow, they could easily have made up right then and there.

Then one of the most horrible things I have ever seen. This proves just what a charmed life I have led. Compared to, let us say, plodding through a Vietnamese jungle and seeing my best friend's brains blown out by Charlie's rifle, this was nothing at all. But it was NATURE. I seethed. I thought, "I spit on God, I spit on Mother Nature." A pigeon had a stroke or something, fell on its side, then flopped onto its belly with both wings outstretched like a religious painting of an ascending dove. A group of males strutted over to investigate and started lining up for the old "in-out", as they said in Clockwork Orange. A dying pigeon being gangbanged?! Where is NATURE's sense in that? I thought they copulated to reproduce, had no idea they have orgies just for the hell of it and with a dying bird at that. Yeeeeeukhhhhhh.

I jumped up, shouted at the horny bastids and scared them away, picked up the dying bird and put it under my table, sat there wishing it would die quickly. Pedro returned, wanted me to wring its neck. Not a chance. But he went off for a nap and I needed to do a snipes run, so I put the pigeon in a plastic bag and tied it securely. Just call me Devorkian.

What a thoroughly nasty experience.

I had stopped by the State Library on my (circuitous) way from campus to the mall and a reverse of the usual spiel, "you saw the movie, now read the book." Alex Garland's The Beach. I went to the mall, bought a Mickey's and returned to the park to read until benchtime.

In the morning, I read some of the Tales from this time last year. Then, of course, it was just the pension check and foodstamps, no Crazy Money. Angelo was the "star" at the time, since the Sleeptalker was away, and after the first week I was flat broke for the rest of the month. The Mongoose was competing for quarters. The more things change, the more they stay the same? The Mongoose now, though, has become utterly obsessed. He has apparently lost his fancy bicycle so hunts on foot, stays near the supermarket entrance for hours on end, literally runs when he thinks there is a chance for a quarter (and is wrong more often than not). And after many months out of the game, the Whore is back at it, too! I don't mind him, but the Mongoose really gets on my nerves. So when I was making a snipes run and found an abandoned stroller, I deliberately returned it the long way around, just for the pleasure of rolling it past the Mongoose. Naughty me.

A reader asked several questions and made some most interesting observations, but I'll just deal with one of them in this Tale: I wondered about the foodstamps situation, whether you were trying -more or less conciously- to test something or someone (you ? Rocky ?).

No, no. Definitely not. As I said, trusting one another with the plastic card (and the necessary secret password number) is a sign of brotherhood. Rossini, Angelo and Rocky do it often, depending on who has credit on the card and who is willing to make the shopping run. I have given mine to Rossini so he could buy Angelo's beloved fish, trusted Rossini even though the first time I did it there was more than a hundred cash on the card, too. In his case, I feel that if Rossini were likely to violate my trust, the sooner I find out, the better. But it's not going to happen, he is truly an honourable man. As for Rocky, that will be the last time he is given access to my card, and it's better I found out when I did and at so little cost. But no, it was not a test. That thought didn't occur to me at all.

Indeed, even aside from the immediate relief the solution to the Angelo problem brought, as I told Kory K when I stopped up to see him in the morning, it will eventually save me hundreds of dollars. I find that, however, quite insignificant compared to waking up and seeing what the correct answer is.

The Proper Man is not a dish.

785

On the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true ...

KUMU-AM 1500 set me up with that one and then WHAM, knocked me right over by revving up Barbra Streisand. "Oh my man, I love him so ..." Damn. So there I was laughing, tears rolling down my cheeks. The Snorer walks over and says, "are you okay, Albert?" "I'm fine. It's the Sleeptalker's birthday."

"Wow. Man, you need a hit." Uh-huh, over the head with a two-by-four. But that wasn't the kind of hit he meant and he very kindly filled my pipe for me, the first time I've had a whole bowl to myself.

I had begun the celebration by going to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul to light a candle, intending to donate a penny for each year. The "candles" are enclosed in colored glass domes and are "lit" by pressing a button on top!!! I was horrified, gave my twenty-six cents and punched the button on a three-day "candle" (even though the Price List said those were one dollar). So much for the mystery and magic of the Roman Catholic Church.

To campus and Seventh Circle. After a certain level you have the ability to create your own title, i.e. "Reting the Ancient Ranger". I set up a parade of ALL my characters, beginning with Gabriella. "Gabriella wishes [the Sleeptalker] a happy birthday." Quit after a few minutes, bring in the next one with the same message, ending with Reting. The second-in-command boss thought that was hilarious and several old-timers were playing, all of them asking me to pass on their greetings to the Sleeptalker.

I'd found a 24oz bottle of Steinlager in the mall, tucked it away in my backpack. So when I left campus and returned to the park, I grabbed a cup of ice and enjoyed the beer with KUMU. And then the pipe. On my way back from the second round with it, I stopped to say hello to Lord and Lady Moana. Several people were with them and the inevitable doobie was passed around, very good stuff as usual. A young fellow came walking over, carrying a pair of surfer shorts. "Too fucking small," he grumbled. Lady Moana said, "you need to try things on before you steal them." Ha! Never mind rofl, that was rogl, substituting ground for floor. "What size are they?" "34." "Give them to Uncle, he can wear them. I'll give you a hit for it," said Lady M. So Uncle has some new surfer shorts, black with a flowery band on the side of each leg.

Then, rather improbably, I went to the laundromat. Helen R had kindly provided the quarters for the purpose. I am embarrassed to admit that my trousers had not been washed since I bought them, over a month ago. The advantage of wearing black. I was fairly zonked, sat reading The Beach while the clothes tumbled.

Time for Waikiki. Harold Kama was to be at Hula's, starting at six. Hula's is the most venerable gay bar in town, used to be an absolutely wonderful place under a huge banyan tree. That site is to be another one of those so-much-needed concrete and glass mini-malls [sigh deeply], so Hula's is now on the second floor of a hotel near the beach, with an open wall facing the park (and the statue of Gandhi, which is, as they say, kinda weird).

No Harold. I said to two older guys sitting at the bar, I thought Harold was going to be here. Yes, they had driven in from Hawaii Kai "just to hear that yodel". But Jack, the owner, had announced that Harold was delayed getting here from Hilo, would start at seven. "Why don't you sit down here, sweetheart?" one of them asked. Erk. I said thanks, but I think I'll walk by the ocean for awhile, will be back.

I walked over to Saint Augustine's thinking maybe I could light a real candle. Nope, the place was locked up tight.

Back to Hula's. A rather cute young man was singing, but not Harold. I sat at the bar. Jack walked by and I asked him what was up with Harold. He had called again and said he couldn't get on a plane. Jack said he was tempted to call the airlines and check the alibi, laughed and said, "oh well, that's Harold." Considering that Jack was the person who gave Harold his first break in Waikiki, that it was at the old Hula's where Harold was discovered by Willie K, and that this was his first Waikiki gig in over a year ... well, you know, I think I give up. That fellow is never going to have a serious career as a musician unless he gets his act together a hell of a lot better than he has thus far.

A rather large black man named Rodney came over and chatted me up, tried to get me to go upstairs to his room. I said I wanted to listen to the singer. Whew, Helen R arrived and rescued me, although I suspect I had a hand in it, too, when I said to Rodney, "well, aren't you going to buy me a beer?"

The singer was asking for requests. I asked for "Waimanalo Blues" but he didn't know it, something else? "Hi'ilawe". Cool. And then he did John's "Island Style". Deja vu from the Mai Tai Bar.

This was the first time I've been with one of my householder friends when under the batu influence and frankly, Helen is a better batu buddy than any of the Bad Boys. She thought I was drunk, asked "is that your first beer?" Uh-huh and not even half finished yet. But I was very hyper and utterly happy, happier than I've been in a long, long time.

Eventually she couldn't stand the idea of the Jack-in-the-Box downstairs, too tempting a prospect, so we went down there and I ate three of their stuffed jalapenos, the only thing I had to eat all day. Batu equals zero appetite.

Helen left for home. I went over and had another hit on the pipe. Batu pipes share one thing with hashish pipes. Long after they seem to be empty, it is still possible to fire them up again. Then to Duke's. First time this year.

Two young guys from Illinois, here for a mortgage bankers meeting, arrived, took the stools next to me. One of them was so damned cute and such a sweetie. After awhile a young lady came rushing over, asked us to talk to her as if we were all together so she could shake some dude who was hitting on her. Later I wondered if that wasn't bullshit and she was just trying to get my sweetie. Damned if she didn't succeed, too. Oh well.

I'd had two shots of 1800 and another beer at Hula's, had no great desire to drink more, so for the first time ever, I drank only one beer at Duke's. Empty stomach, head full of batu, and that tequila, though, had me staggering when I finally left just before midnight.

Happy, happy birthday, dear Sleeptalker. I wish you'd been at the party.

786

"Hey, you look five years younger!" My dear Rossini, may I kiss your feet as a token of my gratitude?" Naw, I just thought it, didn't say it. Flirting with Rossini is a totally different thing than it is with the other Bad Boys, has to be done in a much more subtle way. Japanese.

He puzzled over it for a bit. No, not the short haircut. "Ah, the teeth!" "Yeh, smoked so much batu my teeth grew back in." Heh. No. I've gone back to wearing the plastic ones.

Sometimes I wish I'd picked a better nickname for Rossini. If I had a global search-and-replace facility, I'd order it to replace all instances of "Rossini" with "Tanioka". The cast is growing so fast these days, I've started using real names anyway. I have a hard enough time remembering those, much less doubling the task with the two-name method.

I was delighted and much surprised to see him late Sunday afternoon. I was still recovering from an even greater surprise which I described on a local mail-list:

-----

Subject: Follow that white rabbit ...

Truth can indeed be stranger than fiction and this proof of it ranks very high on my all-time list.

I asked the Waianae Boys what the best radio station was for requests and dedications. After considerable debate they finally agreed on two. I don't even remember which, but I think Krater was one.

Why was I asking, they wanted to know. When I told them, one pulled out his treasured cellphone, called information to get the numbers, then called the stations. My third and fourth use of a cellphone (the very first was to Helen). I made my request. One young lady asked me to repeat the dedication to make sure she had it right.

I didn't think about it further. Even if one of them had played the request I'd be unlikely to hear it since my radio stays locked on KUMU-AM 1500. But during their mercifully infrequent commercial breaks, I sometimes spin the dial to see what else is happening.

I had made it easy on them, asked just that they play my request "sometime on the weekend". Early Sunday afternoon, the commercials came on KUMU, I looked around, tuned in near the end of an Elton John record and stopped to listen. Song finishes.

"This is a special dedication for Prince [Sleeptalker]. Happy birthday from the Panther."

Wherever you go, whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you


-----

Since it had been Rossini's cellphone, his appearing was perfect. He asked if I wanted to share a pipe. I said I'd love to but I was flat broke. "No matter." So off we went to his favorite supplier since he thought he'd get better quality there than from the park sellers. It certainly was quality, too. Three hits off that thing and I was an even happier man (granted, Rossini did encourage me to take big ones).

I asked Rossini to call Angelo so I could talk to him. He said Angelo was on his way in to town, but he tried anyway, and Little Brother said Angelo wasn't there. I felt pretty sure he wouldn't be coming to the park, but Rossini stayed around for awhile waiting for Angelo to show up. Finally he said he had to go since he was working early on Monday and that he'd see me next weekend. So I asked him to relay the message to Angelo about the money. "You're serious?" he asked. Yes, quite definitely serious. "You're a good man." (One more round of kissing those toes?) Nope, just said "Thanks, [Rossini], so are you."

Of course, there were still several hits in the pipe so I didn't get much sleep. I've thought a lot about it, figured the urge to get naked was mostly inspired by being with the Bad Boys, not the batu. Wrong. In the early acid days I felt that way, too, hated the touch of clothes on my body, as if it were a hideously artificial thing to be doing. Same with the batu. Fortunately, the Island Sanctuary has some really dark areas. So there I was, kicking back naked under the stars. You can see anyone approaching from a considerable distance there, so no worries. But a young man had evidently been behind some trees when I scanned the area and so I'd missed him and he greatly surprised me when he came walking by from behind me. Didn't miss a beat, just asked "how you doing?" and went on his way checking the trashcans. Cool. Excuse me fellow, could I hire you as a tutor for Angelo and Rocky?

I set aside one of the prime directives on Monday and went looking for the Sleeptalker. I didn't find him but did enjoy my first experience of spending most of a day in Chinatown. It's actually very pleasant along the Nuuanu Stream, a fine place to sit and enjoy a beer, which I did. And then another first, I went to lunch at the River of Life mission. Much nicer than the IHS shelter, and better food. They offer free lunch, Monday through Friday, with the option to have a shower afterwards and get any needed clothing from the donation bin. Nice people, very nice. If they offered night-time shelter, I'd definitely try it.

But no Sleeptalker. (Rossini and Angelo had told me he is often there.)

I've been drinking very little recently, but I guess Dame Fortune thought I was overdoing it or something. As I was making the clean-up rounds at the mall on Monday night, I found a very large bottle of vodka, half-full, thrown in a trashbin. People are weird. I've been carrying a litre water bottle and it was almost full when I transferred the vodka. I've given away most of it. Nothing like offering a shot of vodka and a cigarette as an approach. And I decided on Sunday that it was time to make contact with ALL of the Park regulars, or at least try to.

I even went so far as to tell the Mongoose, "I'm retiring for the night. It's all yours. Good luck." He looked utterly shocked. Heh.

The Old Vodka Drinker is from Guam, has been here twenty-one years and wants to return to Guam to die. I was talking to him (for the first time) and another old fellow who spends a lot of time in the park reading. Lord Moana stomped over and said he was mad at me. Why?! "You told my lady I am a nice guy." Well, you are. "You don't know the other side of me," he growled and walked off. My companions laughed, said that was the first time they'd ever seen someone pissed-off because they'd been called a nice guy. Quite so. But Lord and Lady M were on one of their rampages, were still screaming at each other when I headed off to the night bench.

Rocky had come strutting along earlier. I needed one more quarter for a beer which I wanted much more than the vodka, so I asked if he had a quarter. He gave me a dollar! He asked if Angelo had paid me yet, so I told him about the message I'd sent with Rossini. "You mean it?!" Uh-huh. He was surprised Rossini and I had spent the evening alone together. Shrug. And when I told him about the radio surprise, he laughed and said, "If [the Sleeptalker] heard it, he probably shit himself."

I got the beer, returned to the park. Pedro came over to say hello, then settled down nearby for a nap. A young man I've not seen before arrived, sat on the bench beside me. I offered him vodka and a cigarette. His name is Fred and he's very very cute ... and very very crazy. After a second shot of vodka, he asked if he could kiss me. No problem, my friend, no problem at all. That was followed by two much lengthier ones. I was out of tobacco so said I had to make a trip through the mall. He was going to stretch out and rest while I was away.

I made the rounds of the ashtrays, sat down on a planter ledge outside the supermarket for a smoke break. A young man nearby said "your friend just got busted." What friend?! Rocky was the only one I knew was in the mall but his personal code excludes "shopping" (even if not ripping off friends, especially old gay ones). "The one you were kissing in the park." Oooops. I didn't think anyone was looking.

Poor Fred. Poor silly, crazy, sweet Fred.

787

Henceforth Rossini will be known as Tanioka. I gave him the nickname Rossini because at the time he was quite flambouyant in speech with lots of melodramatic flourishes, and because he does oddly somewhat resemble portraits of the composer. But it was not a complimentary nickname, as most of them are, and things have changed too much. I very much resented him in the beginning because he encouraged the Sleeptalker in the use of the batu. Needless to say, that attitude on my part has gone with the icy wind, although I'd still be more than happy if he didn't involve the Sleeptalker. So, I'll follow my impulse and change his name.

And the second "preface" rather naturally follows from the first. Many readers are expressing alarm and concern over this stuff called batu and my increasing enjoyment of it. During that afternoon with Mikey V, we talked about it and he put his finger on exactly the right word: mellow. After an initial phase of hyperactivity, the experience settles into some hours of just feeling deliciously mellow. And further experimentation has clued me in on the hangover problem. It's a bit like tequila. If you have two shots of the stuff in an evening, not likely there will be much, if any, hangover next morning. But if you spend the whole night drinking a bottle, you're gonna feel like shit next day. Same with the batu.

But I understand and appreciate the readers' comments on the subject. I especially understand them because, as I just said, I was dead-set against the stuff originally. That was stupid of me because I've had more than forty years of experience with things that propaganda told me lies about.

I remember how terrified we were the first time we took LSD, all those yarns about people jumping out of windows thinking they could fly, etc. etc. Well, maybe some people did, but that wasn't the fault of the drug. I've been having this discussion with an old hippie friend who, surprisingly, is a bit concerned about the batu. We grow old, we grow old. (No offense, NB).

Yes, there were LSD casualties. I knew some personally, even to my lasting regret was responsible for one of them since I introduced the man to the stuff. And yes, there are certainly ice/batu casualties. Mackey Feary comes instantly to mind, may God rest his soul.

But I do not blame the drug for any of those casualties. I didn't blame the drug in my own brush with casualty-hood. PCP ("angel dust") wasn't to blame. I was, for 'losing it'. I don't blame the drug at all, but I will never take it again because it's the only one I know, aside from morphine, which I truly can't handle.

I am not worried anymore in the least about the dangers of using batu. I would very much prefer not to get heavily addicted to it, for both financial reasons and because I'm at a point where I would like to get rid of things I constantly crave rather than add more to the list. But I do intend to continue the once-a-month party routine and indulge lightly at other times. I'm still finding my limit, that point where it goes beyond "two tequilas", but I feel confident I can eventually reach the point where I can enjoy batu without flirting with danger, just as I did with LSD, mescaline, peyote, heroin and cocaine.

I'm fully aware that this will not reassure some readers, but I know their concern is as Pedro said on Wednesday when I grumbled about his disapproval, "it's because I care about you."

And that's a very sweet thing for any man to hear.

788



-----

To: Mme de Crécy
Subject: Back in the "studio" again

You will be getting a postcard. I'd much appreciate it if you would scan the message side and send it to me as a JPG. Then put the card in the Dada News folio (just a "good luck" symbolic gesture).

It is the beginning of "Homage to Ray", the first art-related project (to avoid the term 'art work') I've undertaken since 1988.

I perfectly understand if you look at it and say, yikes, old Albert has finally flipped his lid. But before you lock onto that thought, you might check out Ray Johnson and the "Correspondence School" from the sixties. :)

I anticipate it taking a hundred cards to complete. There's no way to estimate how long it will take ... could be as much as a year ... because that depends on availability of collaborators and the right "set and setting". I certainly wouldn't ask for more scans unless it's a particularly significant one. I'll explain the "rules" that are being used if they turn out to be a permanent part of the work's creation.

-----

Where to begin? It was the Caterpillar, was it not, who said it was always best to begin at the beginning. Perhaps so, but in this case I'll let the best be the beginning.

I had eaten almost nothing on Saturday and had not slept at all. So on Sunday morning I was feeling very hungry and decided to have breakfast at the IHS [Institute for Human Services], the only source of free food on Sundays. I took the bus, joined the line of men waiting, thought we looked not at all unlike photographs of Thirties soup kitchen queues.

As I neared the door and could see inside, there he was. The Sleeptalker. He had a most amusing and touching wave of reactions clearly readable, must have ranged the entire gamut from dread to delight. I detoured to pass his table, wished him a late happy birthday and passed on the greetings from Seventh Circle and went on to get my food. Fortunately there was no vacant place at his table so I didn't have to debate the wisdom of sitting there, instead took a place across the room, oddly enough soon joined by the Mongoose.

I didn't see him when I left but had only walked a short distance when I heard the Sleeptalker calling me. "What are you up to?" I told him I was going to church. He asked if he could go with me, he'd never been to a Catholic mass. So we walked together through Chinatown to one of the oldest churches on the island, Our Lady of Peace. It was High Mass, with some fine music. The church and the service was closer to the Roman Catholic religion as I once knew it than any I've seen in years. If it had been in Latin, it would have been magical.

The church was packed full and we stood at the back. The Sleeptalker was much amused by the "peace be with you" exchange and so was I. It has always been a case of turning to the person on either side of you and making the gesture, but there people did it in all directions and several older ladies walked over to include the Sleeptalker and me.

Then, when it came to taking communion, the Sleeptalker asked, "what are they doing?" Going up to get the bread, I said. "Aren't you going?" So I explained the little matter of making confession first, a minor detail I haven't done in over 25 years, so no "bread" for me.

Even so, the Sleeptalker was fascinated by the entire thing, thanked me for letting him join me and we later agreed when parting that Church had been the best part of our day together.

He looks absolutely magnificent. Three months without alcohol, batu or pakalolo. I was grateful he still smokes cigarettes, although he has it down to about one every two hours, because as I told him, if he doesn't do it, he won't see me doing it in front of him. He explained that he had been trying to avoid all of us because he didn't yet feel strong enough to say no if his old friends urged him to join in. So he has been living at the IHS (none of the others knew he is staying there) as a registered client again. That way, if any of the others showed up as a "drop-in" to sleep, he'd be on a different floor.

He urged me to go easy on the batu and to stay away from the monthly parties but seems totally free of the unpleasant attitude some people get when they give up a "vice" and then become vehement critics of those still indulging. I admire and respect him more for that than I can tell you.

We took the bus to campus and played Seventh Circle for hours even though it was a relatively dull day with only a few of the old-timers playing. People show up almost every morning at IHS looking for men to do day labor jobs and the Sleeptalker has been working almost every day, but takes Sundays off. He is continuing his progress through the Bible and truly astounded me with his excellent recall of names and details, stuff I haven't read in a very long time and only vaguely remember. He created two new characters in the game with Old Testament names and later told me the stories for both.

Late afternoon he said he had to go, was supposed to meet some fellow who wanted to sell his CD player and the Sleeptalker had been saving his money to buy it. (As it turned out, I should have sold him mine, or even given to him, but that's for the second part of this Tale).

So we took the bus, shook hands when I got off at the mall, having already discussed my plans for the following day, made before seeing him.

Which included registering as a resident at IHS.

788a

On Wednesday, I asked Mme de Crécy when it would be convenient for me to stop by because I wanted to get some things from my stash box. I had already decided I was going to try staying at IHS, just to see what it was like and to have a break from the park crowd. One of the advantages of registering at IHS is the availability of a locker for $15/month, so I particularly wanted a Nepalese bag I had stashed since the backpack could stay in the locker.

Since I also planned to get the CD player she had kindly given me during the hospital stay, I asked Kory K if he had the technical gear to transfer a cassette tape to CD. He doesn't, but he gave me my first experience of the Napster-type phenomenon. I picked more than twenty of my all-time favorites, ranging from Fanny Brice's "My Man" (first version) to Richard Marx's "I Will Be Right Here Waiting for You". Kory labeled the CD "Panther's Tunes" but it could as easily have been called "The Sleeptalker Collection".

I got so involved in the delight of all those choices that I was late getting to Court. I wanted to be there when Fred was released. Too late for the actual session, I waited where guys go to pick up their stuff when released. I saw two young men I know, asked if a fellow named Fred had been with them. Yes, but alas Fred will be spending about thirty days in the county jail.

Back to the mall, getting a lunchtime bottle of Mickey's and over to the park. The Cebuano Brothers have been joined by Reynard, a twenty-two year old, handsome man from Pohnpei. His English is much better than theirs and I enjoyed him especially when Pedro went to have his usual siesta and I talked to Reynard about life on Pohnpei. He had been much pleased when I initially asked where he was from. He said, "Micronesia". But where in Micronesia? And happily, it was one of those many possibilities which I actually had heard of. I suspect he probably gets a totally blank look when he says Pohnpei to most people.

Mme de Crécy had told me she'd be in the park for a swim or a walk, she'd look for me and I could ride home with her to get my stuff. So after a snipes run through the mall, I settled alone at my usual solo table. Rocky soon joined me. Did I have any batu left? Probably a few hits in the pipe, I said, but I couldn't have it then because "my lawyer friend" was coming and I didn't want to be all zonked. He obviously didn't believe me, thought I was just making an excuse. So I was delighted when Mme de Crécy arrived and came walking over to the table. And it was admittedly also quite delightful to see such extreme opposites meet, although I was careful to keep the meeting very brief.

As I've said, I've often had these stash boxes and I'd forgotten just how much fun it can be to look through one after a year or more has passed. So it was with this one, especially the photo collection. I tried on all the "aloha shirts" I had, since one plan I have been pondering is becoming a regular at Hula's on Saturday nights and I thought one of those might be amusing attire. Not so, they're all too damned short and I don't want to tuck them into pants. One of them would work, but only with plain shorts. Oh well.

So I stayed longer than had been intended and she kindly shared some yummy chilled white wine. I had forgotten I had a CD there of the Chuckwagon Gang, country hymns from the 30s and 40s. So when I got to the park and had a hit from the pipe, I was soon strolling along singing away with the music and settled on my bench for a few hours sleep. Pedro and Reynard arrived at about midnight and I was somewhat irked that they woke me up, moved over to a picnic table some distance away, leaving the bench to them.

After a brief trip to campus on Thursday morning, I returned to the mall and ran into Mondo. He astounded me by giving me the five dollars he owed me. I told him I had thought he'd never even remember it. And he bought beer which we shared in the park and caught up on news of the other Boys whom he hadn't seen for weeks. Then he said we should get some pakalolo and go to his place. Oddly, none of the sellers were in the park at the time, so we went to Chinatown and, at his urging, I added the five he'd given me to the purchase fund.

He lives in Kaimuki in a small, older two-floor apartment building with a "penthouse" on top where his grandmother lives. Now his original yarn had been, years ago, that he inherited rental property from his grandmother. A fantasy, I am sure, since the lady is very much alive on the top floor and he has seven brothers and sisters so can hardly be sure the building will be his even when she does depart. Oh well, I was soon to understand very clearly what Rocky and the Sleeptalker have always insisted: Mondo is indeed the craziest of us all. But in a thoroughly charming way.

We had gotten another bottle of Mickey's on the way to his place, so kicked back and smoked excellent weed and shared the bottle. The "apartment" is actually just a room, about ten feet square. It is without any question the most slovenly place I've seen in my long life. The floor is littered with clothes about two feet deep in places. There is a small washbasin in one corner, but for toilet and shower there is one shared by four such rooms. My first task was to forbid myself to do any cleaning at all despite having a strong urge to get up and fold clothes, put them on a large shelf over his bed. I was afraid that would be seen as a sign of disapproval, though, so refrained.

It was the first extended time alone with Mondo I've had, the first in a private place, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. He asked me to stay the night (there is one twin bed and another twin-sized mattress on the floor). His television is broken but he kept the radio going non-stop for the fifty or so hours I was there.

He slept very late the next morning and I enjoyed just sitting there watching him sleep, trying to decide what I liked best, his armpits, his chest or his adorable feet. This was, of course, interspersed with commands to myself to behave myself.

When he woke up we returned to the park for a lunchtime beer and then he wanted to get more pakalolo but was broke. Me, too. So we made it into a game to see who could score the most in the mall. He beat me, bummed three dollars off people at the bus stops. I only managed five quarters. Then Tanioka arrived, gave me two dollars and one to Mondo. He was tired after a day of work, had just come in for batu shopping and was on his way home, said he'd see us on Saturday.

This time the Snorer was there and he told his lady to roll us a generous one since we were all long-time buddies. Back to Kaimuki, getting a Colt this time, and another evening of totally weird conversation but again thoroughly enjoyable. And it was after that extraordinarily strong smoke that the project "Homage to Ray" was launched, with Mondo as my first collaborator.

I hadn't slept all that well the first night there so by midnight was feeling ready for collapse. Mondo, though, was restless and even said at one point that he was feeling "horny". I volunteered my assistance but he just gave his gentle little laugh. I think he came very close to accepting but eventually went off for a very long shower where I assume he took care of the problem himself. He still didn't settle down, though, even went out for a brief walk.

So when I woke at my usual early time on Saturday morning, I left a note saying I was going to UH and would see him in the park later since I knew he'd sleep until at least noon. Tanioka was the first to arrive, carrying a twelve-pack of Bud, but Angelo and Little Brother soon joined us, along with a blonde woman who called herself Bubbles and turned out to be a good friend of Lady Moana.

Tanioka had told me he hadn't said anything about the money to Angelo in case I changed my mind. So the first thing I did was take Angelo aside. It was funny, because he clearly expected me to chew him out. His big brown eyes got even bigger and he said, "you mean it?" when I told him to forget about it. Yep, I meant it. And thought to myself, but don't expect to knock on this bank's door again even if you are about to get beaten to a pulp.

At one point they left their stuff with me and went off somewhere, I assume to buy batu and smoke it. Most unlike Tanioka. Oh well. I had called the Cherub to tell him we'd be partying and he arrived. He said he'd been hitting the crack and booze hard and couldn't stay, but offered to buy twenty dollars of food on my card and give me the cash. So I asked Pedro to watch the stuff and went with the Cherub to the mall. Just looking at him is solid evidence that crack is not a drug I want to know any better. On my way back, I met Lady Moana, asked her if she had any batu. No, but she knew where to get it, of course. Then we went into a "family restroom" and shared a few rounds of the pipe.

She had to walk over to Waikiki to see her son, asked me to look after Lord Moana's backpack which she had been lugging around. When she left, Pedro gave me another of his anti-batu speeches. Shrug. The others returned. (Mondo never showed up.) Yep, they had been on the pipe all right, because Little Brother was constantly verging on the edge of being offensive. Shrug again. They brought another twelve-pack, so the party went on. Lady Moana returned, much screeching and hugging between the two ladies who hadn't seen each other in some time. And much listening to rants from Lady M about Lord M, since their fight had been raging for three days.

She got very mad at me at one point. It seems Lord M "goes both ways" and Lady M thought I had gotten it off with him! I assured her I hadn't even considered it, wouldn't have thought Lord M would do anything but punch me in the face if I'd tried ... or perhaps just laughed at me. She didn't believe me. Oh well, I was going to leave, got up to head to the mall. She quickly switched direction, asked for another hit on the pipe. Oh brother. They ALL started begging for the damned pipe, especially Little Brother.

Dame Fortune rescued me. The sprinklers came on. In the resulting scurry by everyone getting themselves and possessions out of the downpour, I melted away, went to a remote area I rarely visit and enjoyed a couple of hits from the pipe myself. To hell with it, you going to be rude enough to walk off and not share with me, then you going to be pretty dumb to expect me to share when you get back.

I decided then I would not attend the July Follies.

And that brings us back to Tale788, and after ...

Early evening, Pedro asked me to share beers with him, so we got two bottles and went to the bedtime bench. We had just finished the beer when it started to rain, so he was going to sleep in the shower house. I went to my picnic table and settled under my tarp, unconcerned about the light rain. When I woke in the morning, I was surprised to see the two side pockets of my backpack unzipped. Some light-fingered person (and I think I know who it is) had grabbed both my CD player and my radio-cassette player. Oddly, they left the headphones from each. I was very, very happy I had switched the CDs and hadn't lost the treasured one from Kory, didn't mind losing the Madonna tape which the Sleeptalker had been listening to earlier.

Now I have to decide what it will be, the major purchase for July: a CD player or a cellphone? It certainly won't be a hotel bill.

789

Ah, domestic bliss ... or honey, I'm home.

Where were you?!
At the mall.
You're drunk!
I had one beer. I don't get drunk on one beer. And besides, I told you I wasn't going to do shit in front of you. I didn't say I wasn't going to do it.
[big grin]
What did you do with my shirt?
I folded it and put it in my basket.
Thanks, you're a sweetheart.
[feigned look of disgust]


Earlier we had been sharing Tales of Mondo, or should they be called Mondo's Fantasies, and laughing over the wildest of them. I told the Sleeptalker I'd gotten a new one at the mall. Mondo was sitting beside an ashtray, gazing into the outer space which seems to fill his head. There was a big snipe in the ashtray, so I picked it up, put it in my box. "You got a snipe?" he asked, not having even noticed my retrieval or the snipe which had been sitting there right beside him.

I was thinking during my predawn walk on Tuesday that the perfect punishment for suicide would be to sit the poor soul down and make him look at a film of scenes which would have happened had he lived out his allotted time. If I had jumped off that balcony three weeks ago, the film of the last Sunday and Monday of June would be sufficient punishment for me. I'd be weeping and wailing.

Getting a new chance with the Sleeptalker is one of the greatest blessings I've known in my life. It's way out of Dame Fortune's domain, strictly Lord Karma's.

I stayed on campus longer than planned on Monday morning, realized that by the time I got to IHS they would be busy serving lunch. So I returned to the mall, did a snipes run, found three quarters, and then went to IHS, told the desk clerk I wanted to register as a resident.

He said someone would see me in about half an hour, to sit outside and they would call me over the paging system. The Sleeptalker walked up. There had been no work offers that morning. Well, it turned out to be about two hours before I gave up and asked at the desk if they could tell me about how much longer it would be. The original person hadn't made a note of it and had gone off duty. So I got a profuse apology ("no matter, can't say I had anything urgent to do anyway") and became an official resident at the Institute of Human Services, aka The Black Hole of Honolulu.

Cainer had said about the day that all would be well if I just relaxed, a thought which certainly came to mind during that long wait. Then I said to myself, sheez, what an idiot. Here you are sitting with the Sleeptalker and enjoying both his company and his conversation, what more could you ask for!

Nothing.

On the evening of that fateful dance with the Sleeptalker which preceded our three-month separation, the Cherub gave me an unusual little radio, German-made. I gave it to the Sleeptalker. He was sitting on the bench outside IHS listening to it when some guy asked to look at it and the Sleeptalker said he'd sell it for two dollars [!]. Naturally, the offer was accepted, and several fellows sitting nearby told the Sleeptalker he was nuts, should have asked at least five or ten. I agreed, but didn't say so, because I saw it as a symbolic gesture, removing the last bit of evidence of that strange night.

His excuse was that he really needed to wash clothes and the two dollars was for laundry. One of the benefits of residency there is "storage": two plastic baskets which are put into a locked room. It opens for an hour four times during the day when the baskets can be retrieved and re-deposited. (It is far more convenient to have a personal locker, but that, as I noted in the last Tale, costs fifteen dollars a month.) So when the storage room opened, the Sleeptalker got his baskets, dumped all the clothes in the washer, along with a shirt of mine. Then he went to have a shower and I behaved myself, resisted the temptation to join him. All in good time, my pretties, all in good time.

I said I'd walk down to the Dole cinema complex, see if there were any snipes, since the two of us had almost exhausted my supply (and there certainly are not any to be found at IHS). Not many at Dole, either, and the bus to the mall happened to arrive just at that time, so I hopped on it, intending to make a quick trip there and be back before the laundry was finished.

But I changed my mind, decided it would be wiser to stay there, continue my very deliberate effort to take it slowly with the Sleeptalker. I was rewarded by finding a dollar bill in the parking lot, putting the budget into the one Mickey's range. I bought the beer and went over to the park, watched the sunset, and pondered what was for me the highlight of the day.

It was indeed a high honour to introduce the Sleeptalker to the venerable and beloved I Ching. After watching me consult regarding residence at IHS, he asked if I would do it for him. No, I said, but if you throw the coins, I will get the message for you. That was the message I spent my sunset time paraphrasing so he might better understand it, since the original is one of those rather awkward translations where the original Chinese is most difficult to understand and the translator added words in parentheses as an attempt to help.

My own effort came out as:

A man whose butt
has been beaten.

His life is slow and
difficult.

If he would act
like a sheep being led,
there would be no need
for repenting.

But if he hears these words,
he will not believe them.


Like I said, a high honour.

790

Only in one case did I deliberately ask for a "sign", but when I am bombarded with them in a very short period of time, there's hardly any way to ignore them.

Bringing the I Ching back into my life, it was inevitable that I would consult it on the batu question. I do not regard the I Ching as in any way "mystic" or "occult", but as a very sophisticated tool for examining the contents of one's own muddled consciousness, both surface and hidden. Critics say it is ambiguous and certainly it sometimes is, but I think that's just an accurate reflection of the mind's state. It certainly wasn't ambiguous on this question, saying "he invites the approach of injury" and "nothing that would further".

And although I have very much appreciated the concern and warnings from many readers, especially those which spoke from the pain of watching loved ones fall victim to the drug, there is no doubt at all that the Sleeptalker's gentle warning had considerably more impact. It came from a man who took it to the edge and, alas, remains in great danger of doing just that despite the current reprieve.

The IHS rules state that anyone in possession of "drug paraphenelia" is subject to permanent termination of all services. Moreover, you sign an agreement that you consent to a search of your possessions if they have reasonable cause to think you might have such objects. They have enough experience, I am sure, to spot me on ice, even if I wasn't huffing and puffing like a locomotive.

Then came the voices. Auwe! It's one thing to listen to someone talk about the "voices", quite another to actually experience them. I keep hearing people calling my name, stop to look around and see who it is. When I was sitting with the Sleeptalker waiting for my "induction" into IHS, it happened three times. The first time I actually went to the desk. They hadn't called me. When it happened again, I asked the Sleeptalker if he'd heard anyone calling me. Nope. Erk.

But the deciding factor was thinking how I'd feel if I were sitting with someone talking, all the while knowing he had the pipe and the white stuff in his bag. That did it.

I got rid of the pipe.

It wasn't an easy thing to do.

I am not saying anything much about living at IHS until the period of first impressions passes, but my initial reaction is that it represents the most significant increase in lifestyle since I began this homeless trip.

It was funny, though. I had long thought the greatest advantage of IHS would be the locker. I don't get that until Monday, but I do have two plastic milk cartons in the storeroom. So I stashed the backpack, loaded the little Nepalese bag with my reading glasses, book, etc., and spent the afternoon and evening in the mall and park. I repeatedly wished for the backpack, and especially laughed when I picked up the Nepalese bag after sitting for awhile, slung its strap over my shoulder and my other arm automatically moved to grab the nonexistent second strap as if I were donning my usual backpack. Just call me Pavlov. But nowhere to stash my beer, not to mention the perfect lightweight beach towel I found and had to carry in a plastic bag until I got "home".

I had been irked by the imitation leather covering of the sleeping mats at IHS, decided the acquisition of a sheet or beach towel was very high on my shopping list ... and Dame Fortune was, as usual, eavesdropping.

Meanwhile, I know the man in some ways even better than I know myself, so I fully expected him to "test the waters". I didn't expect the rascal to do it so damned soon.

After finding myself on Monday morning with almost no snipes left and walking through the predawn streets hoping for shreds of tobacco, I decided that was it, I was absolutely not going to go back to the hacienda routine. I would arrive there at night with an ample supply of snipes for myself after plodding the mall to get them and the Sleeptalker and Mondo would smoke all or most of them. Nope, I told myself, if I have cigarettes, I will share. If I just have snipes, forget it, get your own.

It had taken ages to get the eight quarters I needed for a sunset Mickey's, but finally the last one turned up, I got the bottle and headed to the park. I'd finished about half of it, was reading a rather uninteresting trial yarn when Rocky strutted up. "[The Sleeptalker] wants a snipe," he said.

"Well, tell him the ashtrays are just across the street."
"But he's here! You don't wanna see him?!"
"I've seen him every day since Sunday, even went to church with him."
"No! Truth?! You did?!"

Heh. I guess the Sleeptalker hadn't even told him. "So come and join us anyway," he said. I was so caught offguard, I walked over to their table, almost sat down, then remembered I had the cup of beer in my hand. I stopped myself, said to the Sleeptalker (who finally emerged from his headphones to listen, after ignoring me when I walked up) that I owed him an apology. I had insisted that "neither a borrower nor a lender be" was from the Bible, and he had said it definitely wasn't. He was right. Shakespeare, as I discovered from Bartlett's the next morning. And I gave him the message from the I Ching in my version, written on back of a card for a free coffee from Straub Clinic. Then I said I had to go.

"Where you going?" asked Rocky.
"Home."
"Where's home?!"

Odd. I had said to the Sleeptalker that I wasn't sure if I should tell Angelo I was staying at IHS. "He already knows," the Sleeptalker said. Apparently Angelo had called to speak to RedEye. The Sleeptalker had taken the call to get whatever message was to be relayed, and during the conversation, told Angelo I was moving there. I wonder why he didn't tell Rocky?

And the test? Sitting on the bench by the Sleeptalker was a brown-bagged bottle of beer. No, even in a moment of backsliding, I am not going to drink in front of him.

And I'm not going to scold him either. But I might well, and did, say a little prayer for him.

791

I understand completely why the Boys hate the place and I am sure the overwhelming majority of my readers would take one look and shudder. But the fact is, I really really like IHS. No one could be more surprised than I.

It is a plain but attractive concrete block building, two floors. A long rectangle with a chunk missing in the lower left corner where there is a small open courtyard with two trees and benches. The ground floor has the reception area and administrative offices at the courtyard end, a very large open space and a kitchen at the other end. During the day, that open area is filled with tables and chairs which are available for use except during the cleaning hour. After dinner, the tables and chairs are put away and a big stack of mats are available for sleeping. There, as upstairs, the procedure is to grab a mat, pick a spot, leave something to "mark" it as your territory (although that isn't absolutely necessary, it avoids confusion), and then hang out in the courtyard if you want to smoke or even go for a stroll outside.

The iron grill gate to the courtyard is locked at ten o'clock. Without a "late pass" you're out in the cold if you miss the curfew. Kory K asked what happens if you miss a night. No, it doesn't work like that. You can stay or not, as you like, just as you can skip meals whenever you like. The only obligation is to pay the $15/month locker fee, if you want one.

Upstairs is one huge room spanning the area below plus the kitchen area. At one end is the shower room, with five showers, and the storeroom where the baskets are kept locked except during the daily four open hours. There are several smaller sleeping areas over the offices and a narrow balcony-like area where some people also sleep.

The ceiling is quite high and the overhead fans not all that efficient, but there are several enormous fans whirring away. When I was a very young child I grew so used to the sound of a whirring fan that, when we moved to Utah and the fan was no longer needed, I had a difficult time getting to sleep. So while the Sleeptalker hates the fans, I love them. And their whirring makes a perfect mask over the other sounds.

I simply couldn't believe it the first night. Fifty or sixty men in a huge room ... and it is the quietest sanctuary I have yet found.

Little wonder the Boys used to party at the hacienda. They wouldn't have been allowed that nonsense at IHS. Even in the daytime some of the louder talking residents are told via the paging system to "hold it down". At night, it is utterly quiet.

There are large-screen television sets on both floors. I don't know what time they are turned on, haven't been there that early, but they go off after the ten o'clock news and fifteen minutes later, it's lights out.

So far, I've taken advantage of the 4:15 afternoon "open hour" to access my storage basket and have a shower. It's the least crowded time. And I am out of there very early in the morning to avoid the crush when the six o'clock wake-up call comes.

I'm so used to waking during the night and having a smoke, I've walked down to the courtyard at least once during the night, but that's the only "inconvenience" of the place so far as I am concerned.

I am delighted that, out of about 100-120 men, there is only one I find physically attractive ... aside, of course, from the Sleeptalker. It is very much like prison in that way. Better to refrain completely from looking at any desirable stranger and if you do glance at them, keep any thought of sex out of your head. Not that there would be much chance of actually doing it there ... even the toilet stalls have no doors.

As for the Sleeptalker, I've rarely seen him except in the courtyard. Right now, though, I suspect he is out in Makaha with Rocky. I also suspect it is his first step off the path he was trying to tread and that gives me great sadness for him, but it's his life and his choice.

I had a talk with the main administrator in Seventh Circle, explained what has been going on with the Sleeptalker and how he came to forget the password for his highest character. So she kindly set a new password for it. I went to IHS for lunch to see if he was there so I could tell him what I know will be very happy news for him, but he wasn't there, nor did I see him at breakfast on Thursday. Yes, probably with Rocky. Sigh.

My habit is to walk slowly through Chinatown and downtown in the predawn hours, getting to the mall as the sun is rising. On Thursday I decided to return for breakfast (via bus), which turned out to be a fortuitous decision since the man from the Homeless Veterans group was there. He signed me up for all the VA benefits I am eligible for which includes psychiatric care. So I'll see if their man is more compatible than the one I'm now going to. I had to laugh when he said they had day programs which included chat groups, told him I have somehow managed to establish plenty of those on my own. And I declined the notion of a two-week stay in a rehab center, said I would certainly opt for it, though, if I found myself running into too much difficulty with the batu.

And speaking of that, Dame Fortune tried to freak me on Thursday morning by putting a little plastic bag in my path. Uh-huh. Enough batu for at least five or six hits. Somebody must've cried when they discovered that loss. I'm glad I got rid of that pipe, else I would have been hitting it as the sun rose.

All day Wednesday I kept running into Pedro in the mall. I've promised to go with him to the passport office to arrange replacing his lost one. I know all the procedure for losing a passport in a foreign country (where the replacement is made the same day), but have no idea what happens when you lose your passport in this country. (His mother was born here, so he has an American passport).

Pedro says he is going to move to IHS, too. I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not. The majority of the people there are loners. Friendly, exchange a few words now and then, but most of them are quiet and keep to themselves. There seems to be much less of the buddy team system there than out on the street. I like that. But on the other hand, Pedro is such a nice fellow and the friendship totally free of lust so it would probably be a pleasure to have him there ... just as long as he doesn't bring Reynard along. Well, at least not until after I get my locker.

Sitting in the park with my sunset brew, I was thinking about the "Homage to Ray" and damned if I didn't come up with the concept for a second work. What next, start visiting the galleries and meeting dealers? HA!

792

That naughty Dame! As I mentioned, there was only one of my fellow monks who inspired thoughts of lust (that has now increased to two). So there I am, strolling into the shower room to brush my teeth before bedtime and he's standing there. Naked. Just emerged from the shower. He has a most excellent chance of surpassing the Sleeptalker on the lust scale. Sweet, indeed.

Then I spot number two in the crowd awaiting breakfast the next morning. I'd be willing to bet a fiver he's a Waianae lad. I very discreetly glanced at him now and then. Every time he was looking right at me. Hmmmm. So I get inside, sit down with my (dreadful) breakfast ... and he walks over and sits beside me.

Monks. Yes, it occurred to me as I settled down on my mat that IHS is not at all unlike a monastery. A group of monks dedicated to a life of poverty. It's a very poor monastery and well over-crowded, but even so ...

A very sweet thing happened in Seventh Circle. The administrator who had agreed to fix the Sleeptalker's problem with his forgotten password invited me to her "chamber" for a chat. She had seen the Sleeptalker in the game (after I had left on Wednesday) and gave him the news. She said he seemed very happy about it but apologized, said he was so stoned someone else was having to type for him. [Deep deep sigh, and try not to think hateful things about Rocky].

She said she'd thought about it and wanted to help, so she offered to create a new Clan, with the Sleeptalker as leader. Guilds are for "peaceful" players, Clans for "pkillers", players who fight each other as well as computer-generated critters. That has long been the Sleeptalker's number one dream in the game. She couldn't have picked a better idea, and I was deeply touched that she cared enough to offer it.

If the Sleeptalker falls over the edge, it will certainly not be because no one cares about him.

The sunset hour seems to be my work in the studio of the mind time these days and once again I began by further thoughts on the "Homage to Ray". I realize readers, seeing only the first brick in the wall, must be scratching their heads in puzzlement. Try thinking of it as the fairly large work it will be, twenty postcards across, five down, and viewing it from a distance so the individual elements of each card no longer matter. As a visual image, it might ... might ... be somewhat Pollock-like, definitely might invoke memories of Cy Twombly. That's the exoteric aspect of the work, more approachable than the esoteric.

The cards which are created when physically present with the collaborator will be done by passing the card back and forth until one player can no longer think of a response. Number One stopped when I was totally awed by Mondo's last marks and threw in the towel. He went right to the esoteric heart of the image, one which I know would cause a former fan of my work to immediately leave the gallery as it also caused her to request being dropped from the Dada News distribution list. Hysterical woman.

No, I do not understand Mondo's marks. Yet.

Other cards will be done by starting the image, then sending it to someone to add to and post. Certainly Michael Katz, Edward Meneely, and Harley Newman will be invited to play. And I considered involving a few heavyweights who were once friends. The problem with that is, if they did agree to play and altered the card in any way, the work would suddenly be worth thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars. So I'd have to donate the finished work to some place in order to avoid the notion that I was asking them to play for my own profit. Such a weird thing, the "Art World".

The second contemplated work, "Homage to Velasquez", was joined by an even more ambitious idea and even by a fourth although with that one just the format occurred to me, not yet the content.

It is bizarre. I haven't experienced this kind of thought process in a long, long time.

Of course, one reader has already jumped in with worries that I've gone manic and whatever will happen when I crash. If I hadn't already had the silly thought myself, I'd be annoyed. So what, you prefer I stay depressed and unhappy, feel more comfortable with the known territory? But no, the thought occurred to me also, although I don't really think this is true manic territory. Been there, done that, this is just, as the I Ching would say, Enthusiasm.

792a

Oh God, I feel so sorry for the man, I wish so much I could help him and I understand exactly how he must feel. But confronted with the enormous power of the combined Bad Boys, at least he had the sense to call the support group, the people who have better knowledge of how to help than I. And they came to the mall and took him away. May the gods shower blessings upon them.

And Dame Fortune, allow me to kiss your feet. I was grumbling a bit at you when the Fabled Pension Check did not arrive on Friday, but believe me, on Saturday morning I am most grateful it did not. The Sleeptalker may have had the guts to escape, but I wouldn't have and I'd be flat broke right now.

Yes, a High Summit meeting. Rocky, Mondo, the Sleeptalker, Tanioka, Angelo. By the end of the evening I was trying to persuade myself NEVER to have anything whatever to do with them again.

Angelo is no longer being traded on the Panther Exchange.

"I'd buy you a beer," he said, "but I'm a bit short of funds." Sipping on his forty-ounce Budweiser, pulling out a new box of Kools. Oh baby, that really did it. Mahalo nui loa.

Still wobbling on the borderline is Mondo. It was something of a shock to me to realize I was wrong. That long-ago fantasy question, which would I choose for a night in a Waikiki hotel ... the Sleeptalker or Mondo. I was wrong. It would be Mondo. But what a mystifying friendship it is.

... and the painted ponies go up and down ...

Could we possibly slow this carousel down just a little bit?

793

It is rather odd that in this State, where enthusiasm for being a part of the United States of America is by no means unanimous, people make more fuss over the Fourth of July than anywhere else I have lived, including Washington, D.C. By sunset on the third, people were arriving at the beach park and setting up for the next day's massive picnics, laying claim to their turf. If the police had enforced the absurd new law against sleeping in parks, they could have written hundreds of tickets. It was so noisy I went much further down the park than usual, slept by the canal under a tree. Come and get me, popos ... couldn't have had a better case of discrimination. They didn't.

By lunchtime on the Fourth, there were thousands of people in the park, hundreds in the mall. Last year the Bad Boys all rather miraculously managed to find each other. This year it was just the opposite. Everyone but Angelo was there (and he may have been, too) but no one connected.

Except for me and the Sleeptalker.

Okay, I give up. I simply have no idea what is happening with him, but he has obviously fled the support group again. I first spotted him without him seeing me and ... erk! Pedro and I have fun sitting and people watching, rating them from one to ten. Well, this is the first time in the almost four years I have known the Sleeptalker when he has fallen to a seven. His head is shaved. Awful. If a motive was to make himself less attractive to gay guys, he succeeded admirably.

Later, I bought a beer, was sitting in the Orchid Walk reading when he came along with two fellows I've not seen before. They were all fairly obviously drunk. I waved to the Sleeptalker and he stopped to chat. I congratulated him on getting his Seventh Circle character back and on his future Clan. He asked me to help him write the descriptions and I, of course, said I'd be happy to. (He has to write the room descriptions for the Clan Hall).

They went on their way and I strolled through the mall again collecting snipes and quarters. I stopped by the CenterStage where entertainment had been going on all day and the radio station running the show had set up a Wheel of Fortune kind of game. If you had a receipt from a mall shop, you got a chance to play. Panther's debut on Ala Moana CenterStage. I won a CD, Sean Nauauo's newest. I don't like his reggae flavored Hawaiian style, so tucked it away to give to the Sleeptalker.

Meanwhile, I saw Rocky strutting past but he didn't see me. Then Pedro found me, said he had seen Tanioka.

So I went back to the park and made the rounds through the ever-growing mob again. And there, once again, was the Sleeptalker. I gave him the CD and he didn't even say thank you. Oh well. But he did ask me to sit and hang out for awhile. I told him I'd heard Tanioka was there and I was trying to find him. He jumped up and said he'd go along and look, too. But he had gotten even more drunk (they had "hards", he said) and was verging on being thoroughly unpleasant. I had smoked a little pakalolo before taking that walk and had no intention of wasting the high in less than enjoyable company. And he kept the headphones on, but growled several times, "get the fuck out here, motherfucker". Whether it was aimed at me or not, I don't know, but I decided I'd had enough. Once he got a little distance ahead of me, I ducked into a shop. Didn't see him again until later at IHS when he was so totally conked out I couldn't rouse him to get my shirt which he still has.

On Sunday evening, Rocky, Angelo and a newcomer, Ronald (from Waianae) were in the mall. I was walking around with Pedro, as I had been all day, and we stopped to say hello but then went on our way. They came over to the park later. Ronald is a sweetie, a most welcome addition to the Bad Boys. But with the other two it was a steady gimme, gimme, gimme. I said to Rocky, "There's a new slogan for July. Ask not what Albert can do for you, ask what you can do for Albert." He laughed, but Angelo stayed in the sullen, grouchy mood he was in all evening. Shrug.

Meanwhile, threaded through all these comings and goings has been reading. Larry King is quoted as saying it is probably the funniest novel he's ever read. Strike the 'probably' and I agree completely. I saw the film twice and very much like the cafe, but the book is an absolute treasure. Winston Groom's Forrest Gump. I've never laughed aloud so many times with a book as with this one. Cried once, too.

Another recent phrase which could lose the 'probably': I wrote to Mme de Crécy that "Pedro is probably the first real friend I've made amongst the nomads". Yeh, dump the probably.

794

In mid-June, Kory K asked me what I planned to do with the July Crazy Money. Well, as I said not long ago it's futile to seriously ponder such a question but I did, as usual, enjoy some of the fantasies based on it. The reality, of course, isn't too much like any of them.

I left IHS at about four o'clock in the morning for my walk through the quiet streets of downtown Honolulu. Much to my surprise and delight, that Full Moon had a big chunk out of it. A partial eclipse, the first I've seen in a very long time.

I withdrew two hundred dollars from a machine downtown, spent the first few dollars of foodstamps buying coffee at 7-Eleven and continued on to the mall. Then to campus, since my first goal was making sure the Banker got his forty this time. He wasn't at work yet, so I tucked two twenties away behind the photo of Harold Kama, spent a little time online, and returned to the mall.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be is undoubtedly good common sense, but there are certainly worthy exceptions, although even when "lending", I am resolved to consider it "giving". Be grateful if it is given back, disregard it if not. Pedro had a court date the following morning for his sleeping-in-the-park ticket, but he didn't get his paycheck until that afternoon and had been fretting about it. I told him to stop worrying, I'd give him the money on Thursday and we could go to the Court and pay the fine so he wouldn't even have to appear before the judge. Since the bus fare has now increased to $1.50 per ride, he would have needed three dollars for the trip as well as $25 for the fine. But he planned to buy a bus pass (now $27/month) as soon as he got his pay, so why waste three dollars on that trip? I financed the entire operation.

Amusing. One has to go through a metal detector even to get to the office where fines can be paid.

That accomplished, we walked over to a nearby Catholic bookstore and I bought the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition. If the Sleeptalker wants it, it's his. And I'll go back next month and get my own copy since from the time I've already spent with it, it seems a highly admirable translation with exceptionally perceptive notation. I had, before leaving the mall, already spent thirty dollars on an elegant, utterly simple sterling silver cross. Never before has so much of the Crazy Money been spent on religion-associated objects.

But there was one more item on that list and I got it when we returned to the mall. To go with the Sony radio/cassette player I bought was a tape of the Chuckwagon Gang, a replacement for the stolen CD of them. Alas, this is the group as it existed in the 50s or 60s, whereas the CD was of the original members in the 30s. Oh well, still some fine, fine songs.

Then I treated Pedro to lunch at McD's, although we did it take-out since I wanted a beer to go with mine. (He doesn't drink at all on days he works). Over to the park to enjoy that and repay the second loan outstanding. On the third, the Snorer had called me over and said he'd gotten some truly excellent pakalolo and if I wanted one of the little bags, I could have it and pay him on the fifth. It was thirty for what would ordinarily be a twenty dollar bag, but lordy, lordy, lordy, he didn't lie. Extraordinary weed. Since Pedro had had that day off, I shared one smoke with him. He soon went to lay in the shade under a tree and didn't re-surface for six hours! And I was soaring. After that, I decided to treat it like hashish and mix a little with tobacco. Proof of how strong the stuff is, there was still some left four days later.

That was my major "sin" purchase for this month's Crazy Money. No batu on the menu, certainly no Follies. But by later on the first day of the largesse, it was time to return to the machine for more green paper. Sigh.

I bid farewell to Pedro, headed back to campus where the remaining obligation was taken care of. Then it was off to Waikiki to hear Aunty Genoa and her friends make as-always-magical music. If I really want to establish a habit of spending one night a week in a Waikiki bar, it shouldn't be Hula's but the Lobby Bar, methinks.

But in a few days time, it will be only nine months until Social Security. Now that's when we'll start talking about making infrequent luxuries into habits.

795

It will come as no news to readers of the Tales but sometimes I need a reminder. And there's no better reminder than spending a sober day with him.

I love the Sleeptalker.

Friday was a two-appointment day, one at IHS at 10am and the other with the psychologist at 1pm. I got to IHS, walked up to the receptionist to let her know I was there and just as I reached the window, the paging system called the Sleeptalker's name and told him to report to reception. Cute, Dame Fortune, very cute.

"You're after him," said the receptionist. Tell me about it.

When he came out, I told him I hoped he hadn't gotten the caseworker irked and he laughed, said no, it had gone smoothly. "What happened to you on the Fourth?" I said when someone is repeatedly telling me to "get the fuck out of here, motherfucker", I figure it's time to leave. No, no, he hadn't been talking to me, was just "singing along" with the CD he was listening to.

He has a night job in a warehouse, starts at seven and ends whenever all the stuff has been loaded or unloaded from the trucks. He wasn't getting paid until the following Wednesday, though, and since he lost his bus pass a few weeks ago, he has quite a trek from IHS to work and back, said he was so tired the night before he had just slept at a bus stop.

I got the Bible out of my backpack and handed it to him. "If you want this, it's yours." I have never seen him so happy. You'd think I had handed him a million dollars or something. Utterly delighted ... and delightful. He shook my hand and thanked me several times, immediately began exploring the book. The receptionist paged me and the Sleeptalker said he'd wait for me.

The man who interviewed me may or may not end up as my actual caseworker. The director of IHS reviews each new entry and decides who to assign as caseworker. I'd be quite happy if that fellow got me, much enjoyed our chat. Won't know until sometime next week.

When I got back outside, I asked the Sleeptalker if he had any plans. If not, we would go to the Transit Center and get a replacement bus pass for him. "I won't have the money until next week," he said. "No matter, let's go." Another big grin of gratitude on his sweet face, more than worth the six dollar replacement fee.

The system has three express buses ... A,B,C ... and I thought they all went via the transit center. I soon found out different, when the C bus we were on made one final stop in town and then hit the freeway, didn't stop again until we were about 25 miles down the road. Yikes. I told the Sleeptalker we'd just have to get on the bus back so I wouldn't miss my doctor appointment and that then we'd try again for the transit center.

He talked on the way back about how he gets fed up with all the "chit-chat" of life, the routine "how are you", "you're looking good", etc. etc. I mentioned it to the psychologist and he said he thinks Americans are the most dependent on that kind of chatter to oil the gears of socializing, and that he has frequently seen trouble between married couples where one is American and the other Asian, since the Asian spouse is less likely to indulge in "chit-chat".

It was the best session I've had yet with that doctor even though we agreed that some of the current problems (if they are "problems") are things that "cognitive therapy" really can't cope with. The voices, for instance. He sees the voices and the tendency to burst into tears as certain signs of a manic swing, bi-polarity. And I join Tanioka in the elite group of Bad Boys who have permission to call the head-doctors at any time, day or night, no appointment needed. I was amused but at the same time wondered if I am really that close to the edge???

Back on the bus again with the Sleeptalker, this time actually making it to the transit center. On the way back he asked if I'd mind getting him a burger at Jack since he hadn't eaten all day. I suggested we go to the 7-Eleven instead, use foodstamps. Happy boy again. In the store he looked shocked, asked, "you're drinking that?!" when he saw I'd picked up two bottles of Starbucks coffee. "Yes. If you weren't working and wanted a beer, I'd buy you one, but not on a working day." And I wasn't going to drink if he wasn't.

Lunch on the grass in the park, more conversation, and then he once again took out the Bible, read the opening verses of Genesis to me, through the "seven days". I asked him to read the 23rd Psalm since I was curious to see how they had translated it. Splendid folks, they kept the first line without change. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. No maketh me to lie down, though, not surprisingly. I shall definitely get myself a copy. Actually, the Sleeptalker told me to get it on Monday, but pakalolo will probably win the battle over the last twenty in my pocket.

"What do you think about people who never think of God, live lifes of lust and sin?" I said I felt sure we live one life after another and so people who waste a life like that are missing the chance for a much better one next time. And even if the Christian model is right, there's just one life followed by heaven or hell, then it seems to me those people are much to be pitied since they are giving up the chance of heaven. I thought, of course, "we people", not "those people", but he has enough guilt without me bolstering it.

He reluctantly got up to leave just before six-thirty. I walked over to the bus stop with him and he thanked me again for all I'd done for him, gave me the touched-closed-fist "handshake". Yes, I do indeed love that man.

I started to walk to the store to get a beer, which by then I was quite eager to have, and ran into Tanioka.

to be continued ...

796

While there is considerable doubt in my mind about my current "condition" truly being manic, there is none whatever when it comes to Tanioka. He has swung out and up further than I've ever seen him. It's actually very amusing, or would be if I didn't know from experience just what happens eventually after such a fling.

The "Voices" have almost taken him over completely. They told him to quit his job, so he did. They have him totally confused about what to do and what not to do, but he is at least for the moment abstaining from batu and pakalolo, and the doctor has put him on a more potent drug. It has a very long name starting with chlor-, ending with -zine, but it isn't one I've heard of. Doesn't appear to be doing much good, either.

Incredibly enough, Tanioka is still in a stew over that damned legendary Vegas trip, and once again I heard the entire story about the mysterious disappearance of Jason. The versions of this story, and particularly that element, range from Tanioka and the Sleeptalker murdering Jason and burying him in the desert to the more plausible possibility that Jason simply got on a bus or hitchhiked home, since he lives in L.A. Whatever, Jason has still not been heard from.

The Voices told Tanioka to go home, so he left about a quarter bottle of Mickey's and got up to leave. I told him to please tell me if there was anything, anything at all, I could do to help, that if he didn't find me in the park or mall and wanted to see me, leave a phone message at IHS. He thanked me, said just talking with me was a help.

He arrived in the park again on Saturday evening, this time with Plato and Rocky. Angelo was mad at us, Tanioka said. Why? Because we both refused to do the hotel trip this month and Rocky couldn't afford it. "Well, like my grandma said, he's got the same shoes to get glad in."

I was annoyed I hadn't yet bought postcards because that would have been a splendid opportunity to continue the "Homage to Ray". Work with available materials [bow in Rauschenberg's direction] ... so I had them write or draw things on my backpack, adding to the collection I'd already started. Plato wrote Yoda's bit of wisdom: fear is the path to the dark side. I can't decipher what Reynard wrote (he had by then joined us). The next day when I asked Mondo to add to it, he wrote just yes. [!]

Earlier Pedro had given me sixty dollars and I invested one of those twenties in another little bag of pakalolo, had smoked some shortly before the lads arrived and would have liked another but refrained since Tanioka isn't indulging. But when the Voices told him to leave again and Plato went with him, I got out the rolling papers, shared with Rocky and Reynard.

Rocky is angry with the Sleeptalker. He said the Sleeptalker was "outrageous" in Makaha, trying to woo away Rocky's sugar daddy. I can believe it. I told Rocky he had been dumb to take the Sleeptalker there to begin with, that I cannot imagine any gay man who would not fall for him (and his Professor did, of course). So Rocky plans to sulk and stay away for a month. Errrr, I don't think that's very wise strategy but didn't say so.

I made the trip to campus early on Sunday morning, went online for awhile and then walked over to the small, modern (and too bare) chapel for Mass, grumbled at myself for not having taken the bus downtown to Our Lady of Peace. I did stop in there later when headed to Chinatown with Mondo, lit a candle for Tanioka. There is a fine statue of Mary in an alcove chapel with toes that have been worn down by years of people touching them.

When I returned to the mall, I went to Radio Shack to see if they had a little gizmo that would let me hook up two headphones to the Walkman. Naturally, they did ... when does Radio Shack ever fail with little bits and pieces like that? When that thief ran off with my CD player he oddly left the headphones behind, so I had two pair, was pleased to be able to make use of both. Pedro was pleased, too, and we lay on the grass in the park and listened to music for several hours.

Mondo arrived, sat with us, talked in his usual incoherent manner about heaven knows what. By then my pakalolo bag was empty but okay, he easily talked me into getting more. There went that Bible. Pedro just wanted to stay in the park and enjoy his day off by being lazy, so Mondo and I went to Chinatown since The Man wasn't in the park just then. Shopping successfully completed, we took the bus to his place, stopping in Foodland for goodies first.

I knew I was in for a weird evening when we got inside and he told me the man who had been standing in front of the building was the one who murdered Mondo's mother. Yeh, sure, and I'm the Dalai Lama.

797

And I seem to find the happiness I seek,
When we're in together sleeping feet to feet ...


[Apologies to Mister Porter]. It was inevitable that, sooner or later, the Sleeptalker and I would end up sleeping near each other at IHS. But it was his doing, not mine. I had arrived at about nine-thirty, was feeling quite tired and fell asleep even before the tv and lights went off. Later I woke, got up to make a bathroom trip and when I returned to my spot, decided I'd walk down and have a smoke. "You got a cigarette?" asked the familiar voice. Yikes, the body at my feet belonged to the Sleeptalker and I hadn't even noticed.

"Only snipes," I said, forgetting my resolve not to revive the old hacienda routine. So we walked down to the courtyard together. He was wearing only shorts. First question when we sat down was had I seen the Boss Lady in Seventh. Yes, I'd talked with her that morning. No, she hadn't said anything about the Sleeptalker. What's to say? He has to come up with the Clan descriptions. Until then, or until he at least begins work on them, nothing is going to happen. I'll be happy to help polish them, but it's his project, I ain't gonna do it for him.

I told him about Tanioka. "He's losing his mind," said the Sleeptalker with what I fear may be all-too-much accuracy.

After a couple of snipes, I said "back to sleep" and got up to leave. He followed. Later I woke again, couldn't get back to sleep so had a hot shower to see if it would help. No warm milk available at IHS at two o'clock in the morning ... and all too many distractions. But looking down at the Sleeptalker, I regretted not having taken photographs of him when he was in his prime. "Over the hill" is of course far too strong a term but there's no doubt about it, he just isn't the wonderful faun-like young man he was when I first met him. Never mind the shaved head, if he doesn't start actively working on his body, his physical allure is going to steadily decrease, probably faster than he will expect. Theoretically that should make him happy, since gay men won't be lusting after him as much. I somehow doubt he'll be all that pleased.

He has such charisma that any gay man who actually gets to know him will succumb, I'm sure, but I think the days when it happens just from looks alone are numbered.

Part of the difficulty with sleeping was no doubt a result of having no sunset brew. Two quarters short. Sigh. Yep, the Crazy Money lasted five days this month. A little better than last month, but I had been aiming for at least ten days. Since sixty of it had already been spent before it arrived, I'm still fairly pleased with the effort and just wish I had accomplished a few more of the things on the planned list before it went up in pakalolo smoke. Especially the State ID card which has been at the top of the list for years now. And more postcards, pens and glue. Sigh again.

One exasperating thing about all these young and not-so-young men is that they all decide they want to do something and want your assistance and they want to do it that moment, no matter what you are doing or plan to do. Irks the hell out of me. Was I ever so self-centered and arrogant? (Don't answer that question). I growled at Pedro on Monday when he pulled the act, wanting me to go with him to IHS to register. I was listening to the radio, enjoying the last pakalolo cylinder (or half of it, the other half saved for the next day), laying on the grass looking at the clouds drift by. "NO!" I said, "I'm not going down there right this minute." He went away and I didn't see him for the rest of the day, don't know if he went to IHS or not.

I grumbled about Ravel's Couperin piece but ye gawds, then they went world-class BORING with Elgar's Second Symphony. I managed to listen to the whole thing but when they followed that with Randall Thompson's Second Symphony, I bailed out, went back to tape. Those must be the most tiresome Second Symphonies in existence, although Shostakovich's might match them.

A reader asked if the "internal jukebox" was still around. Oh yes, I'm sure it will always be. But it hasn't had as much of a chance to sound off since I got the new radio/tape player because I've spent a lot of time listening to it, have gone through one set of batteries already.

After numerous listenings, I am convinced Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" is one of the true masterworks of my generation, perhaps THE masterwork. But there surely is some junk philosophy in it.

The reader also asked if the "voices" are still there. Yep. An old friend chided me, asked why I had ignored him. "What?!" "I called you and you just ignored me." Ah .... one of the "voices" was a real voice. But I've gotten so used to hearing people call "Albert", I just ignore it.

798

In yet another addition to the list of bizarre things that have happened to me in my life, the fellow who stole my CD and tape players confessed on Tuesday evening. Ah, but he didn't know he was confessing to the very person he had robbed! It's very dark where I had been sleeping and I was enshrouded in the tarp, so "Dewey" didn't know who it was. But he told me, after two 40s of Red Dog and half a joint, that he has been doing very well in the park between about 2:30 and 3 in the morning, listed some of the stuff he has managed to acquire in the past couple of weeks (including my sound gear).

Dewey is in his early forties, has two children who have just entered the 20-something crowd. I've talked to him now and then in the mall but haven't spent that much time with him. But when I ran into him on Tuesday, he said he was stressed out, wanted to talk, even offered me a beer to spend some time with him. One beer became two. He and the mother of his children aren't married but have lived together almost 25 years. They've recently split up. He wants a reconciliation and keeps bugging her, so she finally went to Court that morning and the judge handed down the maximum restraining order ... three years! Dewey must have really been making a pest of himself.

We were sitting in his van, a very nice vehicle which must also make a comfy home, "golden oldies" on the radio. As a gesture of gratitude for the beer, I brought out the remaining half of the pakalolo and lit it up. He got zonked, said he rarely smokes the weed these days although he does the glass pipe (and I suspect the batu has played a major role in the problems with his lady). Talking with him was a major exercise in balance, made worse by what seems like an overall problem in that area this week. Cainer has been sending out warnings every day to slow down, relax, take it easy, be patient, etc. etc. Methinks he knows what he is talking about.

I enjoyed the talk, though, and the beer of course, but I wasn't all that unhappy when it came time to say, sorry, I've got to look for snipes and head on home.

Dewey gets SSI but his main income is from panhandling, as he calls it. I don't agree, but didn't say so. As I wrote once, I see garbage pickers as panhandlers, like the classic panhandlers who sweated over their gold pans to find the crumbs left by the big guys. What Dewey does is not even begging, really, it's a con game. He asks people for money to get food, says they more often than not give him at least a dollar. On a good day he makes about fifty dollars.

He's also the one who is pushing the free Sears baby strollers into the return corrals to get the fifty cents. I must tell the Whore we were wrong, it isn't the Mongoose doing that after all. But I won't tell him it's Dewey, since he made me promise not to tell anyone.

A strange evening.

When I got to IHS the woman who seems to be in a perpetual state of grouchiness growled at me, said my name wasn't on her list. "Well," I said, pulling out the IHS ID card, "this is your ID card, is it not?" She had to say yes. And wow, a mat was available. The night before I'd just slept on my beach towel on the floor since all mats had been taken. No big deal, a concrete floor is no harder than a concrete picnic table. When I get a locker, though, I'm going to buy one of those mats people use under sleeping bags. Then I can dispense altogether with the IHS-provided mats. Alas, no locker until August since the fifteen I'd put aside for that goal went up in smoke.

For the first time there, I slept right through the night without waking, was very surprised when I got up to make a bathroom trip, looked at my watch and saw 4:30. I walked through downtown, picked up some mail and took a bus to the mall, bought chilled coffee with foodstamps, and collected snipes. Then back to IHS for breakfast and to check for any messages. The Sleeptalker was sitting in the courtyard, had already eaten breakfast. He has a wretched cough which suggests having indulged in something or other, but ignored me when I finally said, "what have you been smoking?!"

He's getting more and more twisted over the Seventh Circle project, silly fellow. I suggested that he just get a pen and some paper, start writing down ideas for the Clan hall. That would at least give us something to work on together. I came up with a fairly decent idea, I think, but am not saying anything about it to him. I can always use that in another part of the game, since I've now been invited to start writing areas for it. First I have to learn the basics ... the code to create links between "rooms", etc. Well, why not, I did enjoy dabbling with that during the last London interlude.

On Monday I found a baseball cap. When I told Dewey about falling short two quarters for my sunset brew, he said "you got a cap, don't you ... just hold it out." I doubt I'd get many contributions if I held out a Ralph Lauren cap with the big POLO label inside.

799

An email yesterday suggests I may have given the wrong impression. Believe me, gentle readers, IHS well deserves its "Black Hole of Honolulu" nickname. From what I have heard and read, there is only one facility on this island which is worse. The state prison is better, the county jail is much better, only the State Mental Hospital is worse ... and that place is so notoriously awful the Feds are putting pressure on the State to do something about it. Any man in his right mind would recoil in horror at the living conditions at IHS. That, of course, is a vital clue to why I can say I like the place.

It serves my purpose(s) well. Believe me, I cannot myself fathom how some men hang around there all day. If I could, I'd enter minutes before the ten pm curfew, leave well before dawn, and never go near the place otherwise except perhaps for the cheap laundry facilities. But because it is so absurdly crowded, I have to go earlier. Never mind getting a mat, just getting space on the floor requires an earlier arrival. But if I have that, and most happily a space near one of the whirring fans and preferably not with a grotesquely overweight mostly naked body inches away from me on the next mat (as on Tuesday night), then I am content. There are plenty of naked men to be seen, even if ninety percent of them I'd just as soon see in an all-concealing spacesuit, and I even have an old admirer who enjoys watching me take my post-midnight shower. (When I say "old", I mean old). Heaven knows why he enjoys watching me (although I understand why he also reportedly enjoys watching the Sleeptalker), but to each his own. And the hot water is plentiful.

That's about it for the positives of the place. The negatives would make for much too long and tedious a Tale.

Enough about IHS, but don't anyone think it's an even halfway decent place to stay.

In those early 60s years in NYC, I was working in the studio almost every day. There were two things which inevitably brought on a crisis of confidence. The worst was having only one large canvas to work on. I quickly learned never to tackle a canvas if that was the last one I had available. Better to work on paper until more canvas was acquired, since the pressure of having just the one more often than not led to a total mess. And since I was at that time working in the Pollock-Frankenthaler mode of paint on raw canvas, it wasn't even possible to paint over the mess and try again.

The second was being given some expensive materials. That usually inspired and challenged Edward. It just made me nervous. Helen Frankenthaler once gave us a roll of canvas she didn't need. It probably cost ten times more than what we usually had available. Everything I did with it was a disaster. I finally gave up and told Ed to take the rest. Bob Indiana gave us some costly, fine paper. Same results.

On a far lower economic scale (although perhaps relatively about the same, given the monthly income), the same problem exists with the postcards. So far I am only pleased with #3. Pleased enough with that one to consider withdrawing it from "Ray" and leaving it as a standalone "Portrait of Somerset". We'll see. Anyway, slap Panther up against the head! The light finally came on and I realized that only "Ray" has to be on postcards and actually sent through the mail. The others can be on plain index cards! Duhhhhh.

And the cheaper, the better, since the paper will sooner begin to yellow and give the works an antique patina. Never mind they'll eventually crumble to bits. Who cares? Golda Lewis once invited Bob Rauschenberg and me for drinks because she wanted to consult Bob on how to "restore" an early black oil paint on newspaper piece of his. "Restore?" asked Bob. "I always thought they'd eventually just disintegrate." Admirable attitude for an artist, rather less satisfactory for an investor.

Meanwhile, Wednesday's unhappy event was a visit to the psychiatrist. Psychiatry ... BAH HUMBUG.

Feeling too unhappy? Take a pill. Feeling too happy? Take a pill. Heaven forbid you should actually feel some extreme emotion. Why don't they just dump heroin in the fucking water supply?

And these days, it's always pills that take two weeks before any effect is felt and have to be taken every day. I said I was beginning to think it's a conspiracy by the drug companies. (The dude wouldn't recognize an attempt at a joke if it bit him on the butt.) "All drugs are like that," he said. I only just managed not to say "bullshit!", instead said, "Rubbish. You feel the effect from Valium within half an hour and you only have to take it when you feel the need for one."

But then I had to resist the impulse to say BULLSHIT! quite a few times during our half hour, perhaps most of all when he suggested watching television was a worthwhile addition to life. I said I thought it was the biggest narcotic of our society. That's a pretty good example of how close our thinking is. And he said the noble cannibas sativa plant contains nicotine. Hmmmmm ... I don't think so, but it's not worth checking the literature.

To use his own flimflam terminology, the man is totally anal about alcohol. All the problems were caused by too much alcohol. Now all the problems are caused by reducing alcohol intake. Even the voices!

BAH HUMBUG.

Well, perhaps if I resumed taking the Paxil. "NO! I will never willingly take that drug again!" Well, perhaps Lithium. Bullsh ... ooops, hey, if the crap didn't work twenty-five years ago, it's not likely to now. Okay, another possibility, but first he had to call to check on the lab results from my visit to the M.D. Nope, that one was out because my liver functions are "elevated". I would have thought after all the Valium and booze my liver has processed in my long life, the damned things would have been sky-high, not just elevated. Shrug. Well, then, let's try Neurotonin.

I haven't bothered to get the prescription filled yet.

800

"I seem to constantly underestimate the man," I wrote to a reader referring, of course, to the Sleeptalker. The reply: "You do, you know. (I'm joking, but not completely - maybe very pretty princesses have problems too, and tend to have their brains underestimated...)"

Thinking about it on Friday evening, I see this as the Third Phase of my friendship with the Sleeptalker. Phase One ended on the "I can't believe it happened, I was all drunk and everything" morning. Phase Two had that stormy ending on the night when we both stepped out further than either of us wanted, and was followed by a three month intermission.

There are very definitely some difficult adjustment problems as we move into Phase Three, not an easy dance for me or, I suspect, for him. But I am optimistic about it and think we may be approaching the best times yet in our bizarre but wonderful friendship.

I had lunch with Ryan on Thursday at one of the few genuine Indian restaurants in this town. The service was a bit wacky; if I had ordered curry, we probably would have kept the food they first brought us. But no, I went for sag paneer and there was not a trace of spinach on my plate. They had given us another table's order, and the chef/owner (?) apologized for the mistake, saw that we got what we had ordered. Delicious food, but even better company. It is always a great pleasure to chat with Ryan, made more so by our mutual interest in online journals and journalists.

Then I got an itch to leave after we had finished, attributed it to the usual desire for a post-eating cigarette. Ryan asked if I wanted a ride and I said no even though it didn't make much sense. It did when I walked over a block and got on a bus. The Sleeptalker was sitting in the back seat. Dame Fortune rocks!

So began a three-day intensive encounter session, I suppose one could call it. The centerpiece was the Sleeptalker's Seventh Circle project. I had steadily refused to do anything about it until he had written down a draft of his ideas. It has to be his. Well, he astonished me with a most excellent Clan Hall blueprint. All I had to do was get him to correct a few minor things. He started several room descriptions with "you enter a room". No, no, you don't see that until you are already in the room, so it had to be changed to "you have entered a room". And there were some minor grammatical/spelling corrections. Otherwise it was splendid.

Except for one room. Now this is headquarters for a gang of murderers and I simply could not see a "portrait of Our Lord" hanging in it. And most especially not in a room which includes a fountain of blood! I told him Catholics would freak, the Boss Lady would probably not agree to use it, and a picture of Jesus simply doesn't belong in a murderers' den. Heated discussion which ended when he asked for a snipe, even though I knew he had two full boxes of them! I said, "I'm just not playing this snipe game anymore." He got mad and said some rude things. I walked off and left him sitting there, got on a bus and went home to IHS.

Well, of course the squabble was because of the clan room and not snipes, the second time we've had a major quarrel because of that damned, beloved game. I thought about it before sleeping and decided I'd return to IHS for breakfast the next day, eat humble pie, and apologize to him. I did, walking over to him and offering to shake his hand, saying I was sorry, I had been very tired and hadn't done a very good job of explaining what I meant about the blood fountain room. Apology accepted and the second day together began.

I told him I had to go to Straub Clinic to get my prescription filled (deja vu ... to the Chelsea drugstore to get my prescription filled comes up on the internal jukebox), so I would meet him afterwards at UH. More work on the draft, and then over to see Kory K who kindly printed out copies for both of us of a manual for creating areas for SMAUG-type MUDs.

To the mall for snipe hunting. But when we got there, a cart was waiting to be returned and the Sleeptalker ran into a rather handsome fellow I've not seen before who was looking to buy some pakalolo. I told the Sleeptalker where to look for The Man in the park, and said they should go ahead, I'd look for snipes and join them later.

By the time I'd filled a box (and picked up a dollar from carts) it was time to head home, though, so I didn't see the Sleeptalker again until the next morning. I walked into the computer lab and he was already there, playing the game. He was utterly silent and unresponsive, didn't even acknowledge it when I saw I had an email from the Boss Lady telling me she had reserved the name for his Clan (The Kolohe Clan). For non-local readers, I'll explain that kolohe is Hawaiian for "crazy". Not insane crazy, but loony crazy. Perfect name for his Clan and I was much amused that he came up with it.

I read email, responded to some, checked Cainer's outlook for the new week and went out to smoke. The Sleeptalker joined me.

It was in many ways the most wonderful time I've ever spent with him.

800a

from the Sleeptalker's Notebook:

This is what I want to do

1) get a storage
2) tent
3) a gas stove
4) cushions or pillows
5) candles

my version:

1) keep the friends who matter
2) be more sensible with the Crazy Money
3) stop smoking tobacco
4) [later] [because I'm not sure]
5) find something to believe in

That's not really accurate, my number four should be number one and, yes, I am sure. It's what I want most in the world, but I don't think I can allow myself to have it even if it is offered.

The Sleeptalker's notebook is extraordinary, contains some of the best Art Brut I've ever seen, and this evaluation comes from a man who saw much of Ossorio's notable collection. I do intend to offer to buy that notebook eventually.

On Saturday I had, as usual, left IHS at about four-thirty. Snipes were dismally scarce at the mall so I went to Waikiki, scavenged through the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and then enjoyed strolling along the beach, watching the early beach boys arrive and set up their concession stands. As I passed Saint Augustine's I saw it was exactly the time Mass would begin, so I attended.

[As I briefly explained to Mme de Crécy on Sunday evening, wearing the cross, going to church, reading the Bible, etc., is at this point pretending to be a believer. Let us see if acting the role, and doing it most sincerely, leads to more than a shadowplay. Certainly wearing the cross makes a considerable difference in how people react to me, something I want to write more about eventually.]

The Sleeptalker, as I said, was in the computer lab when I arrived on campus. Eventually he said he wanted to continue work on the Clan Hall draft, even though he was "totally wasted", so we went to a secluded table at the (closed) Paradise Palms and spent the rest of the day there. I made two trips downhill for beer and food, but he stayed on his bench almost continuously, only now and then getting up and stretching, walking around a bit.

He had several bottles of beer in his bag, some pakalolo, and some cash.
"What did you have to do to get the pakalolo?" I asked.
Pow! "Don't call me a slut!"
"Who said anything about slut? I just wondered if you had to go to Chinatown or was The Man in the park?" (Now that wasn't absolutely the truth, okay).
"Oh," he said, "well, anyway I don't like you calling me a slut."
"But I'm just teasing, and you call me a whore all the time, remember, and I always say I'm not a whore because I give it away."
"Let's stop it."
"Both ways?"
"Yes."
"It's a deal"

We shook hands.

Sometime later he asked if he could listen to my radio since he didn't have his CD player with him. When I got it out of my bag, he asked what tape was in it. "Bob Dylan," I said, and softly quoted the lines:

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
Oh, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love


A sweet hint of a smile in return, making it the most touching love scene I've yet played with the Sleeptalker, never mind sex.

He offered me a beer and was amusingly shocked when I declined and said it was too early for me. It was at that point 43 hours since I had last had alcohol, a deliberate abstinence, at least partly a penance, since I blamed alcohol for having played a major role in that squabble we'd had. Later, when it seemed clear the session was going to be a smooth one, I accepted the offer.

He remained very quiet and jumpy, though, looked as if he was feeling thoroughly miserable. I asked again what was the matter, said perhaps it would help if he talked about it. "My life is fucked-up," he said, but wouldn't tell me why he thought that. I was, in the meantime, feeling guilty myself for partaking of his beer and pakalolo, knowing full well how he had gotten it. And heaven forbid, I felt a nip of jealousy! No way, no how, am I having that.

I told him I considered jealousy as the worst enemy I've had in my life, equal to Shimmergloom and Lady Githyanki (two of the toughest critters in Seventh Circle). He said his was "immoral sex".

So, yes, I was experiencing directly that "post-coital angst" that I've only glimpsed before, and usually as a more delayed reaction. What pain the poor man suffers for something which isn't even "immoral" as I see it. But there's no way to convince him of that, so I could only suggest that he either stop doing it altogether ... or ... find some way to feel less guilty about it. I confess I am at a loss with this one, don't really know how to help him. I shall ask the psychologist's advice when I next go there.

We did manage to almost complete the Clan Hall project. He yielded. No "portrait of Our Lord", but he stood firm on some other things which pleased me. Another hour or two of work should finish it up, but eventually we were both too stoned to continue (more from pakalolo than beer, since I discovered a nice big bud had fallen to the bottom of my rolling tobacco bag!).

At sunset we left for the mall, did a snipes run and went on to IHS.

As Jerome Kern wrote in my favorite of his songs, "Hand in Hand":

I have but one heart to give
But that heart is true
I who have one life to live
Give that life to you


801

Out of the blue, as they say, the Sleeptalker suggested, "you should go to Saint Andrew's." So after a brief time on campus Sunday morning, I did just that. Saint Andrew's is an Episcopal cathedral, a classic and quite beautiful building, inside and out, complete with bell tower and magnificent organ.

So far as I can remember, it was the first time I have been to an Episcopal service and I was very much impressed by it right from the start. I loved the procession at the beginning and ending, especially the elaborate umbrella. The service is very close to the Catholic Mass with only the Agnus Dei an omission I regretted. Their version of the Lord's Prayer is slightly different (no 'trespass') and has the 'glory, etc.' tacked on the end. I said it the Catholic way.

I had the book from Saint Augustine's which includes all the information for each Mass until the end of July, so noted that both the Catholics and the Episcopalians used the Parable of the Good Samaritan as the centerpiece of the worship on that Sunday. The priest (if that's what Episcopalians call them) gave a very Father Greeley type sermon which I much enjoyed. Don't ask who is my neighbor, since everyone is, but ask, "won't you be my neighbor" ... everyone laughed when he did it in fine Mister Rogers style. And he told a story about a wealthy parishioner who complained when a group of poor and homeless people were invited to the church, said she couldn't stand to look at them. I told him as I left that I had enjoyed the sermon, patted my backpack and said, "it was partly about me". He laughed and shook my hand.

The first hymn was based on Beethoven's Freude, freude so I had no difficulty in singing along, but some of the other hymns struck me as overly sophisticated and complex. I would have much preferred some more basic tunes, as in the Baptist hymnal. Those songs I enjoy both hearing and singing.

I had to hurry to the Ward cinema complex after the service to meet Helen for a film. I'd wanted to see "Kiss of the Dragon" but the timing was off since she had to be at the Manoa Valley Theatre by three o'clock. So we saw "Final Fantasy". Jonathan and I both loved those games, played through the fifth one. The film, so far as I could see, had almost nothing to do with the games. But it surely did fool me. I thought throughout that the human characters were real actors, wooden indeed, but real. Not so, the entire thing is computer-generated animation! Wow. But it's an awful movie. At one point, I fell asleep. Helen nudged me awake, said later I was snoring. Erk. But the dream I was having was much better than the boring film and I was much relieved when the damned thing finally ended.

We grabbed sandwiches at the 7-Eleven and Helen hurried on her way. I walked through the mall and ran into Pedro. At last! For two days I had been asking everyone if they'd seen him, was beginning to worry that something had happened to him. He was much pleased that I'd been asking for him and we had a pleasant, but brief, chat sitting on a bench in the Orchid Walk.

It had to be brief, since Helen had given me a ticket for the play at MVT. "The Complete History of America [Abridged]" was, I think, the title. (I threw the programme away and am too lazy to check the Weekly). I hated it. One line summed it up for me, a character protesting that the jokes were funny in 1850. Perhaps they were, but this is 2001. At the intermission I debated it and decided to get a beer and forget the rest of the dreary play.

The Safeway at Manoa Marketplace is asking $5.97 for a bottle of Mickey's!! That's a new record for retail robbery. And why on earth would anyone fall for it when almost next door is the drugstore selling it for the usual price of $1.99?

Helen, who had been an usher, and Mme de Crécy who also worked backstage on the play emerged and we went off to Angelo Pietro for a scrumptious dinner. I was scolded several times for talking too much. Sigh. These people just don't understand how it is when you spend ninety percent of your time communicating with people necessarily using a very limited vocabulary and unable to talk about many things that interest you sufficiently to want to share. Nonetheless, if a complaint can be made that I talk too much, then it also means I am being boring, because if someone is sufficiently interesting, there would be no question of talking too much.

I must learn to be more quiet.

Mme de Crécy kindly gave me a ride to IHS (although I insisted she let me out some distance away, not wanting to get out of an expensive car within view of my fellow monks). I grabbed a mat, luckily found a decent spot and was soon joined by a dreamboat. Yikes, the guy is cute, and his body is an almost identical match to the Sleeptalker's ... when he was 22! Yikes, again.

As if it wasn't enough for him to be on his mat a few inches from mine, he stripped down to nothing but camouflage fatigue shorts. Gentle readers, this is NOT the way to get a good night's sleep, but who the hell needs sleep when there's an angel to look at.

And not just look at. I drifted into sleep, woke up when I felt something touch my hand. It was his! In our sleep, our hands had fallen so close (I think by "accident" ... certainly wasn't intentional on my side) they were touching.

But that's not all. Around one o'clock I woke, yet again, and went down to have a smoke. The Sleeptalker and another guy arrived at the gate. "Aren't you going to let us in?" asked the Sleeptalker. "I can't, you know the rules." But I called the night security guard who did let them in since the other fellow had a late pass. (I think they let the Sleeptalker get away with anything short of murder in that place.) As they walked past I said, "nothing personal" and the Sleeptalker turned around and gave me a big grin.

And he settled on the floor about nine feet away from me.

802

After spending Monday morning on campus, I returned to the mall at noon. If, a year ago, anyone had told me I'd be hunting quarters for art supplies, I would have thought it a most splendid joke. But that, in fact, is just what I did. The Mongoose was absent all day, so not only did I find quarters for a pack of 50 index cards, I also found enough for a bottle of Mickey's.

I was still two short of the goal when I sat on a planter ledge outside the supermarket for a smoke break. The Sleeptalker came out of the store with a bag which looked like a 40oz bottle of beer. He saw me and walked over, sat beside me. He looked utterly wasted, trashed. He said he was "very tired" and I suggested that he go over to the park and take a nap since it was such a pleasant afternoon. Suggestion ignored. "Do you want this tee shirt?" he asked about the blue one he was wearing. "No, I want the white one."

I had tried to get him to accept a $20 IOU for a white tee shirt he has. The I Ching strongly suggested that I should wear white, and what better way than to have something white that had been worn by the Sleeptalker?

There were some very interesting new developments in Seventh Circle, some of which removed the objections I had to the recently installed revised code. I told the Sleeptalker about them but he was so steeped in what appeared to be feeling sorry for himself that I don't think any of it registered.

I can only assume he had yet again fallen victim to "immoral sex".

"Can I borrow your Walkman?" he asked. "No." "Why not?" "Because I want to use it." Now there's a certain sign we're in Phase Three. As was getting up and saying I had to continue my hunting, and going on my way.

The "Love Song to the Sleeptalker" in 800a is sincere, but those early days when I could not possibly have said "no" to him about anything are no more. And I didn't see him again all day or at IHS in the evening.

And I had been using the Walkman almost continously all day. I've no idea why it took me so long to realize it, but Dylan's "Cold Iron Bound" must be about batu. I begin to hear voices and there's no one around ... and I could swear he says "cold ice bound" at least once. Well, no surprise if the man tried the stuff, no surprise at all.

Speaking of voices, they followed me into church on Sunday. Now that would have been a sure sign in former times that they are not evil entities but Anne Rice tells us even vampires can enter churches with impunity these days so who can be sure. I suspect that has more to do with weakened spirituality in churches than increased tolerance in evil entities. Whatever, they did call "Albert" in church and I ignored them.

BUT ... one of them suggested what I should do on a postcard. Now that's a development I don't care for. I don't mind at all an unexpected idea surfacing quietly in my mind, but I don't want to hear some disembodied voice AUDIBLY suggesting it. I ignored it.

I wish I could ask the Dutchman again, "I wonder if I'm going crazy?" (If so, I'm not really complaining, at least not yet.)

I waited until sunset to enjoy the brew in the park, and since I had fifty "canvases" to play with, could comfortably doodle on two of them. As it happened, I liked both of them, put them aside for the first postcard "game" with Pedro.

At last I sat down with the bus schedule and figured out when I should wisely get myself to the bus stop. 7:45 was the answer. I could wait until 8:20 but only at the risk of not finding a mat or, worse, one of the better sleeping spots. And yes, the 7:45 proved to be the best option. Plenty of mats still available and a good spot, away from the toilet door (the absolute pits), the office door (not so bad, but still less quiet), and not in the corner where the fans don't stir the air.

My neighbors were not particularly interesting but after the night with Camouflage Shorts, I needed a less inspiring night anyway, so no complaints. I didn't see CS at all, but it's so dark in that place, he might have been there. It is most peculiar that I can fall asleep while the lights and television are still on and people are talking and moving about, but when I wake in the early hours (1:30-2), I want a cigarette and then have some difficulty going back to sleep even though it's dark and quiet. I'd like to break that habit.

There was a light drizzle in the morning but I had a strong feeling there might be mail in the box, so made the damp walk to check it out. There was.

And that needs a Tale all by itself.

803

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall ...

Well, we all know how that story ended. Fortunately, in this case the Queens' [Hospital] men (and one woman) were more successful than all the King's men and horses, so the ending was not so dire. But more about that later in this Tale.

I think the thing about a guru appearing needs to be made more generic. When something is needed, it appears. In this case it was a vote of confidence. It has long been my intention to surpass Scheherazade by one tale and then write THE END, but once again I was considering ending them now ... or at least taking an extended break. But not just a melon, a whole melon patch fell from heaven on Monday, the most substantial vote of confidence I've received in the almost four years of writing these things.

An email letting me know the melons had fallen arrived after I left campus. But leaving IHS in the usual predawn hours on Tuesday, I had a very strong feeling I'd find mail in the box. It was lightly drizzling and I told myself I really had gone crazy, walking through the damp, dark streets because of a hunch. But no, intuition rocks as much as Dame Fortune sometimes.

Three large, heavy envelopes were waiting. Arches is a name known to all serious artists, a French maker of very fine paper indeed, and it was a little packet of ten postcards from that maker which first jolted me. As I told the donor, it immediately brought to mind what I recently said about Frankenthaler and the expensive canvas. I'm very glad it wasn't just one card.

The Complete Tales of the Past and the first three years of these things were there in handsomely printed (even illustrated), bound volumes. If those years weighed on my conscience as heavily as they did in my backpack, I'd be in deep doo-doo.

If I had a conscience
I'd probably blow my top
What would I do with it anyway
Maybe take it to a pawn shop


[Bow to Mister Zimmerman].

Reading the Tales in this splendid edition is a TOTALLY different experience than reading them on a computer screen. I am amazed by just how much difference it makes. The reader who long ago said "this is your masterpiece" was closer on the mark than I realized. No masterpiece, but certainly the Tales and the Dada News are the two things I have created in this life with which I am most pleased.

As I said on the Tales "title page", me ke aloha pumehana, Maryse.

Now about Humpty ... well, supposedly there is no interaction between Neurontin and alcohol. I am not so sure about that. One thing I must do is get a small ziplock bag and put my daily three capsules in it each morning, because I have a difficult time remembering how many I have taken. I am pretty sure I took four on Tuesday, maybe even five. I also, for the first time in over a month, had two bottles of Colt in immediate succession. It is not unusual to have one at lunchtime and another at sunset, but two in a row has become a rarity. And I had very little to eat (the desire to lose ten pounds is strong).

That combination, I think, was the culprit. I was sitting on a planter ledge in the mall after having finished the second beer, waiting until it was time to get the 7:45 bus to IHS. The next thing I knew, I was sprawled on the floor gazing into the eyes of an adorably cute medic, eyes that touched me even more because of the look of concern in them. There were two men and one woman and instead of the usual "where am I" or "what happened", the first thing I said was to the woman: "isn't he cute?" She laughed, and agreed.

It must have taken some while for the ambulance to arrive, so I guess I was unconscious for much longer than it seemed. Blood was pouring down my face until they staunched it with a pressure pad which was eventually replaced by an enormous Bandaid. My blood pressure was "slightly high", the young woman informed me. I assured her it always is. And no, I didn't feel any need to be taken to the hospital. Although it looks awful, there is really just a very large scrape on my left forehead, not a genuine cut or gash. I guess I'll end up with a scar there to match the one on the right side which I got from playing Humpty the last time.

By the time all that drama was finished, it was too late to get to IHS. As many people are noting and complaining about, it has been most unusually cool at night for this time of the year, and the wind was gusting. So for the first time I slept inside a shower house, along with a quite pleasant fellow who woke when I arrived and asked if I'd fallen or gotten beat up, a question I was to hear many times the next day, especially at IHS.

I went to IHS on Wednesday morning, not so much to eat breakfast (the food is truly awful there most of the time) but to see if there was a message about my caseworker. No message yet. The wheels of IHS grind slowly. But there was the Sleeptalker, wearing CAMOUFLAGE FATIGUES!

I've no idea why I find those things so fascinating. I never wore them myself in the Army, just the dull plain green fatiques. I don't think I could wear the camouflage version myself, but in that game of rating people from 1 to 10, camouflage fatigues automatically add at least 2 to the score. And on the Sleeptalker?! (In the distance, you hear a Panther sigh deeply).

We took the bus to campus and played Seventh Circle all morning. During smoke breaks, we talked about this and that but he continues to dodge some of the things we really should talk about (or at least that's the way I see it). In the game there are certain pieces of equipment referred to as "pops", items that only sometimes appear when you kill a critter (and usually the toughest critters), Rumor has it that one item (which I still don't have) appears once in fifty times, another (which I do have) once in twenty times. The Sleeptalker badly wants that one I do have but I wouldn't give it to him. I told him "in the old days" I would have suggested a way he could get them. He looked puzzled for a moment, then understood and said "shuddup" with a big grin.

"Oh, I want it," I said, "but I don't want you to do anything you'll feel guilty about."

And that's the truth, my friends, that's the truth.

(In the distance, you hear a Panther sigh deeply again).

803a

During one break, I told the Sleeptalker about CS, the young fellow wearing camouflage fatigue shorts, and our hands touching. "He doesn't look like you did," I said, "but he has the same body you had at 22." And later I added, "you're still cute now, but you were really cute then." He chuckled and repeated what I'd said. I told him I wished I had taken some photographs of him then and he said his sister had, but then one time when she got very mad at him, she tore them all up.

We took a break, caught the bus to the Convention Center to visit the cheap tobacco source and to get food and beer from 7-Eleven, then returned to campus and had lunch in the secluded grove. He grumbled at one point when I made some comment about a cute student walking past. "You may have turned into a saint," I said (with only the slightest hint of a sneer), "but I haven't." He brought up the subject of that special gear again, said he couldn't "prostitute his body" for it because later he'd be so disgusted remembering how he'd gotten it, he'd throw it away. I didn't note that he never threw away any of those swords he earned that way.

Then he told me he would be ready the next day to type the final draft of his Clan Hall and send it to the Boss Lady. Once again, I offered to type it for him, but he refused, said he was afraid it would lead to another quarrel and he doesn't want to quarrel with me ever again. (Fat chance.) I suspect he has added some stuff he thinks I won't like, but maybe it's just his renewed enthusiasm with the game and his possessiveness about the Clan. Whatever, I said, okay, I withdraw.

I got the Arches postcard packet out and wrote/drew one to Felix, asked the Sleeptalker to say hello to him and he made some amusing additions. I was tempted to keep the card but dropped it in the postbox.

He wanted to go on playing. I'd had enough for the day, said I was going to the park and would see him later. Another sure sign it's Phase Three, me going off and leaving him. He took it well, said he'd see me later in the park.

And I was sitting there reading the early Tales when he did indeed arrive. The Krishna truck was still there, later than usual, so we walked over and got plates of food. Not very good food, either, but better than IHS. At one point he said something about it being "unholy food" and I assured him it certainly was not, that God has many names and believing in Krishna is believing in God. He asked what Krishna looked like and I told him there was a picture on the side of the truck, so he walked over to look at it. I'm much surprised he made no comment about Krishna being blue in that picture.

After eating he started to grumble (having his CD headphones on all the time, as he had during much of the day) about being bored. I told him I thought he was sitting there feeling sorry for himself and he has been doing it for several days now. He denied it but gave no answer when I asked, "if it's not feeling sorry for yourself, what do you call it?" Eventually he got up to leave, saying again it was just too boring sitting in the park.

I got myself a sunset beer and went back to reading the Tales. I must have been in bad shape at the time of Tale 031 because there are two typos in it. Or there were.

When I got to IHS several people asked about the Bandaid (they had given me an extra one, so I replaced the old one in the morning, kept it on until it was time to settle down for the night). Joe Guam had asked about it in the park, too, said, "you still look good even with the bandage." Sweetheart! He also told us a story about diving off the pier in Waikiki when he was younger, missing the wave and hitting bottom, later getting 34 stitches to sew up the wound. Ouch. The Sleeptalker gets very impatient with Joe, who tells a story at glacial speed, but I think he's a sweet old man and what better have I got to do with my time than listen to his stories?

Ah, the perks of life at IHS. There was a box of small bottles ... lotions, hair conditioner, body soap, etc. from the Hilton, the Royal Hawaiian and other local hotels. All the shampoo had been grabbed already but I got some "ginseng body lotion" and some Vaseline Intensive Care lotion from the Hilton.

To add to the Neosporin antiseptic cream I'd bought for the Humpty head.

804

The reader who so abundantly provided the "vote" wrote: And why you need a vote of confidence I really wonder. How do you say in English "very, very surprised" ?

Astonished is a good option, one I have used in the past couple of days as I read the Tales in printed form. In his insightful book, The Summing Up, Somerset Maugham writes: Notwithstanding his pretension and his susceptible vanity the author when he compares his work with what he intended it to be is never free from misgiving. And ... At the back of his mind is the suspicion that it is not good at all, and the praise of the public, even if he is inclined to doubt its value, is a heaven-sent reassurance.

That pretty well sums it up.

Maugham is brutal in evaluating the work of his life, and doesn't hesitate to say when something was weak or failed altogether. On the other hand, he isn't falsely modest and recognizes when he accomplished something of genuine value (as he certainly did more often than he thought, as I see it). And reading this book from Maugham's latter days also gives me the courage to say the Tales are a great deal better than I thought they were. I didn't know that, though, until encountering them in this handsomely printed edition.

What if they fell into my hand in a one volume book? Would I do a Dylan and stop writing altogether? (The early Tales remind me it has been four years since he released that masterwork Time Out of Mind). And that, too, reminds me that when I wrote about it recently, I referred to it as "Not Dark Yet". That's far and away the most significant track of the collection, but I intended to refer to it as a whole when saying it was one of the masterpieces of my generation. I hope it doesn't turn out to have been so damned good the man can't produce another.

Compared to recent times, Thursday was a relatively uneventful day. I had to tell the Humpty Dumpty story again several times when meeting people who exclaimed at the scabs and asked what happened, including The Man's lady and the Gypsy Boy. I had taken off the bandage before sleeping and it looked sufficiently healed to leave it off the next morning. But it was too tender to hide with the Lauren baseball cap, so I was open to questioning ... and a few stares.

You know, I think another reason an occasional "vote of confidence" is so welcome and, as Maugham says, reassuring is the fact that I am amongst what can certainly be called the niggers of society. I wrote once before about this, about how little things add up, day after day, to make a person feel unloved, unwanted, worthless and a burden to more "upstanding" society. Of course, there is the reverse (and how it helps!), the kind folks who smile, or leave their leftovers neatly wrapped on a planter ledge, or even hand you money. There are more of those when wearing the cross.

At the recent lunch with Ryan, I said I was sometimes tempted to open a Tale with, "okay folks, you've had a free ride for almost four years now, time to show a little tangible support." Ryan said to go for it, many people are, and he was sure I'd get some tips in my begging bowl. Yeh, probably, but I can't really do it that way, anymore than I can stand outside McD's and ask people for food money. Hell, I can't even ask people for a cigarette. Sigh.

But perhaps when we reach Tale 1002 and I write THE END, I'll go on writing. Just make people pay for it. (Maybe I'm joking, maybe I'm not.)

When I get that locker at IHS, my Thursday evening routine will be to arrive at the usual time, stake out my spot with a mat and towel, stuff everything into the locker, and disappear until five minutes to ten. I just CANNOT endure many evenings of "professional" "wrestling", much less listening to men cheering and jeering, knowing they are taking it seriously. They think it's real! Incredible.

Equally incredible, I actually dozed off for a bit during the bedlam, but was awakened by one black man who got so carried away by one match he would have woken the dead. Hmmm, in that case he was needed at the Beach Park on Friday morning where one of the nomads did actually leave this plane of existence. Happily, it was not one of my "gang".

I saw the ambulance and police in the park as I was waiting for a bus back to IHS, didn't learn until I got there what had happened. The breakfast was, as usual, only just bearable but I went mainly for the coffee anyway, since my foodstamps totally bit the dust on Thursday. Damned early to run out of them. Two, three, four or five cannot eat as cheaply as one.

The Sleeptalker was sitting in the courtyard, in shorts this time instead of camouflage. He was most happy, since his Crazy Money started again and he got a partial allowance for this month. And at this very moment I am sitting in the Keller lab and he is at Hamilton Library typing the final draft of his Seventh Circle Clan Hall. I figured that after making sure he was into Yahoo okay and working on it, better for me to leave the area.

A reader asked: I've been wondering if you are intentionally picking at the scab to come to some final denouement of your relationship with him, or is it usually unconcious?

And I replied:

Oh no, not at all, not at all. I am trying to slowly work toward a place where we can talk openly ... and honestly ... about this hang-up he has with letting people have his body for this or that reward. Until he can honestly face it, I don't see how he can make any real progress toward self-knowledge.

As for us, we are friends now and I hope we always shall be. There are plenty of fish in the sea for other things.

805

We were walking on campus and passed a high wall made of roughly-hewn stones. "When I was about eight," the Sleeptalker said in a touchingly plaintive tone, "I would feel all lost and everything, didn't know what to do. My Mama would tell me to get out of the house. So I'd sit on the ground by a wall like that and I'd say this is my place, and I'd sit there all day." I wanted to cry.

From Tale 800: That's not really accurate, my number four should be number one and, yes, I am sure. It's what I want most in the world, but I don't think I can allow myself to have it even if it is offered.

As Dylan says in his epic Highlands song: you're way wrong.

If a young man stands before me, pulls down the front of his shorts to display what he has to offer and asks, without conditions or rationalizations, "will you suck my dick?", the odds are damned certain that I'll say yes. If the young man is the Sleeptalker, I could as easily walk on water or fly to the moon as I could say no.

I didn't think I could love the man more than I did already. Reprise Mister Dylan.

When I was writing the response to the reader quoted in the last Tale, the Sleeptalker noticed that I'd written his name (in an unquoted paragraph) and kept looking over at my screen. He was still in Yahoo email, working on his Clan draft, so I forwarded the mail to him. After he sent his draft, he read my mail, grinned but made no comment. It did have an effect, though, because later he openly talked about having sex with men, sometimes for money or other rewards, sometimes just because "they're older and more intelligent than me." Sigh. It's very sad indeed that he feels his mind isn't enough, but has to give his body. (It wouldn't be quite as sad if he didn't feel so damned guilty about it afterwards.)

He didn't go far enough, didn't admit that he sometimes does it just because he wants it, but I certainly wasn't going to push, was more than pleased that he'd opened up as much as he had.

We played the game for awhile and then left for the park. He had lied about his Crazy Money. Once again, I wonder why almost all of these guys lie about things that just don't matter. What actually had happened was that he missed an appointment with the doctor, didn't re-schedule it, so was suspended for one month before he can re-apply. He thought this month was the suspension and was much surprised when he discovered the Crazy Money and foodstamps had been on his card since the first of the month. Making up for lost time, he spent it all in three days, two of which I witnessed.

We bought beer and sat in the park. He was fretting because The Man wasn't there but I told him The Man would definitely be along by mid-afternoon. So he was. The Sleeptalker ordered pakalolo and batu. I shook my head no to The Man about the batu, but the bugger ignored me, went off on his bicycle to pick up the goods. Later, when I was alone with The Man I told him I really wished he would stop selling the crap to the Sleeptalker, just say he couldn't get it or something. "He gets so crazy on that stuff," I said. "Just listen to him and don't say anything" was his advice.

I joined in smoking the pakalolo but not the batu, again stressed that this is a "green month" only for me. As expected, the Sleeptalker started getting weird and angry. I excused myself for a snipes run. Before I departed, though, The Man's lady rolled a fatter than usual joint, handed it to me and said, "this is for just you two". I tucked it away in my backpack. After my snipes run, I sat under a tree alone to finish the second beer. The Sleeptalker came over and demanded the joint, accused me of trying to steal it, etc. Rephrase Willie Nelson: it's just the batu talking. I was stoned enough I had trouble finding the damned thing, forgot where I had put it. He ranted the whole time I was searching for it, grabbed it from me when I did, and walked off. Shrug.

Earlier we had finished the nine-card "Jesus Saves" work which I had started with Paulo, so I caught the bus downtown and dropped it off for scanning.

An aside: I spent a lot of time thinking about it on the weekend and decided the honolulu exhibition was all wrong. Everything needs to be shrunk so the single-card works fit on the screen and the multiple ones fit left-and-right. The way it was, actual size, places the emphasis on the content. It's the image that should first catch the attention. As a reader wrote: Yesterday I was meeting friends at the Beaubourg center - the Musee Georges Pompidou, one of our museums of modern and contemporary art - and the Center was exhibiting a drawing by Cy Twombly that they had just bought. First one I ever saw, but I was glad to see who and what you meant. You were right, of course.

When I returned to the park I again sat alone on the grass but was soon joined by the Sleeptalker who had done a turnaround and apologized for having been so rowdy. And asked the above-mentioned question. Of course, I said yes.

The ninth time was the best time.

805a

I misquoted Dylan, now corrected. It is "way wrong", not "dead wrong". Quoting myself more accurately, I recently said "astonished is a good option" for expressing great surprise. And it is also a perfect definition of my feelings about the aftermath of the ninth intimate encounter with the Sleeptalker.

He remained sweetly congenial afterwards, suggested we sleep on the beach instead of going to IHS. Earlier we ran into Lord and Lady Moana in the mall. They were all excited, delighted to see the Sleeptalker. "He used to live with us under a bridge," said Lady Moana, "when he was just a kid." They were obviously surprised (perhaps even astonished) that I was with him. So the Sleeptalker walked over to their encampment in the park and borrowed a blanket. I had my beach towel which I carry just in case I don't make the IHS curfew, and we found some abandoned grass mats so had a comfortable nest for the night. The weather gods cooperated, keeping it warm and dry, and the popo's didn't bother us either.

I don't really have to tell you how much I enjoyed once again the wonderful feeling of sleeping close to him, do I?

The next day he not only had to cope with his usual 'post-coital angst', he had the wretched batu hangover on his back as well. My respect for him went up several notches.

We took the bus to campus after having coffee at McD's. He was quiet but not at all sullen, was I think several times praying silently, even crossed himself a couple of times. I emulated him, silently said an Our Father and began a decade of Hail Mary's as we walked across campus from the bus stop, was interrupted when he commented on one of the Hawaiian trees and how much he had liked as a child watching them grow from seed.

The computer network was down, so he said we should go to the nearby 'net cafe' which has a special rate of five dollars per hour on weekends. I sat and watched him play Seventh Circle and, here's that word again, was astonished to learn some things about the game I've not before known. It is great fun to watch him play and to share his excitement over his triumphs and his chagrin over defeats, a most entertaining hour.

Then he took me to lunch at a Japanese curry restaurant despite my protests that I didn't want him spending his money on me.

After lunch we looked around in Jelly's Music Shop and he bought another Bob Marley CD. I wanted several times to take his picture (again) with a disposable camera he got the day before, but each time he refused. I think there were at least three good shots on the roll already, though, and look forward greatly to getting my hands on them. He took one of me in front of the 'University of Hawai'i at Manoa' wall at the administration building when we returned to campus to see if the network was back up. It wasn't.

So back on the bus to the mall and park. Pedro joined us for awhile, the first time they've met, and watched as we worked on some cards for what will probably be a 'portrait' of the Sleeptalker, although I'm not sure yet.

I finally managed to get the Sleeptalker to say a little about this rehab place which has adopted him. Apparently it is run by a fundamentalist Christian group, Pentecostals who speak in tongues and believe that drug addiction, etc., can be healed by prayer alone. Cold Turkey time. He said they warned him if he didn't stop running away they wouldn't let him return. I made my first, gentle, uncomplimentary remark by suggesting that I doubted Jesus would have taken such a stand, otherwise kept quiet about my misgivings.

But in the late afternoon I think he'd had enough of the struggle which he obviously, and (again) with astonishing success, was making. "I've got to go home," he said. "You call it home?!" He smiled and said "yes", got up to leave. I called out a thanks, and he turned back and waved.

I thought he'd probably stay there until the first of September since he won't have any income in August. Way wrong again. He was at IHS on Tuesday night.

The sweetest memory from this treasured time with him, aside from that touching story of sitting by a stone wall, is from that morning on campus when he was walking, as he often does, a few steps ahead of me. When I am close to and facing him, or walking beside him, I'm totally unaware that he is five inches shorter than I. But watching him from behind, I notice it, not to mention his wonderfully broad shoulders and his delightful walk.

And I love him.

806

I sat for awhile after the Sleeptalker left, still feeling on the proverbial cloud nine, then had to make a snipes run through the mall. Outside McD's, I ran into Tanioka and Angelo. Yes, Angelo. He was back to his usual utterly charming self (even if the cynical side of me wondered if it was just because the time approaches when an Ice Follies might be possible).

Tanioka offered to buy a round of beer, an offer which was repeated two more times during the rest of the afternoon and evening. Angelo and I accepted, of course, each time, although I put the third bottle into my backpack after taking a few sips from it, saved it for the next day. Even so, I was too drunk to go to IHS, ended up spending another night in the park.

Tanioka had gone back to his job, said he decided to just ignore the Voices. I told him that was my method, to ignore them even if they sometimes did seem to have a good idea. Then I realized ... we need that 'a-word' yet again ... not once during the entire time with the Sleeptalker did I hear the Voices!

The job only has one more week to go, with a slim possibility of a second week, and he said he didn't think he'd be asked to join another project because the "quality" of his work just wasn't that good. Whether that's a boss's evaluation or his own, I'm not sure. All these fellows have such low opinions of themselves, more often than not totally unjustified.

I showed them the two volumes of printed Tales I am carrying. Tanioka read enough to ask about the Tourist/Pilgrim/Survivor/Underworld device from the early Tales and said that sounded very much like him, too.

I made the beer runs, Tanioka made one for Angelo's beloved raw fish, but otherwise we just sat and talked for much of the evening before they headed home and I staggered to the bench, grateful it was yet again a warm, dry night.

Sunday morning I again went to the ten o'clock service at Saint Andrew's Cathedral and again very much enjoyed it. The Gospel for this week was the incident with Mary and Martha. I have to admit I don't really understand the position Jesus took. If the complaining woman had also just sat and listened and done nothing, who would have fixed the food which they must have eaten, looked after the necessary chores, etc.? Okay, she probably shouldn't have complained, but the way he handled it seems somehow unkind to me. (And okay, I'm probably missing the point.)

I went to campus briefly afterwards. The network was still down at the computer lab but the library (which had been closed on Saturday) was open and its network functioning so I could check email and write 805. The rest of the day, as much of Monday, was spent wandering around the mall or sitting in the park, and both nights were spent at IHS.

Not meaning to complain, but Dame Fortune, could you possibly limit the nights you put young angels on mats next to me? Two nights a week would be, I think, quite a nice balance. I really do need to get a bit of sleep.

Amidst all the joy of this time was also the totally joyless, neverending dance with bureaucracy. Monday's mail had no less than three letters from my social worker. One informed me that the Crazy Money would be discontinued on August first. Say what?! The Doc authorized six more months last April. Now even if the count started with April (which it shouldn't since that was already authorized), six months would include September! So I went to the office, gently told the lady I thought she'd made a mistake. She got irate, took the stand that I was accusing her of deliberately "shorting" me. I stayed calm, said I would appeal. I also reminded her I had left a message on her answering machine telling her of the appointment with the Qualifying Doc the following morning. It seemed fairly clear she had not made a note of it and had forgotten it. Sigh.

And I have to see this awful woman again on August 3rd for the "eligibility review" for foodstamps. Sigh again.

The interview with the Qualifying Doc, all ten minutes of it, was a greater success. He asked only three questions: how is your therapy progressing, what medication are you taking, and .... "this money is a help?"

Anyone who would answer no to that one is not crazy, they are INSANE.

Six more months of Crazy Money authorized.

807

After that brief, but highly appreciated, interview with the Qualifying Doc on Tuesday morning, I went to the mall for a quick snipes run before joining Helen R. at the new Ward cinema complex. I am not a fan of "karate movies" ordinarily. So far as I can recall, "Kiss of the Dragon" is the first one I have seen in a theatre, although I have seen some of Bruce Lee's films on television. But this one was exceptional, I think, despite the usual suspend-your-belief-entirely interludes. Luc Besson is a film-maker I much admire, my main reason for wanting to see the film, but Jet Li was clearly responsible for much of the film's style and success. I want to see more of his work.

Helen and I had originally considered a "movie marathon" since she had the day off work, but she had other things to do, so after a little shopping expedition at the mall and a pleasant lunch at Arby's, she went on her way. I bought a Mickey's and went to the park, amazingly enough was left alone to enjoy it to the bottom of the bottle. It is so rare these days that someone doesn't come along to chat, no matter where I sit in the park. (I am not complaining.)

As I was preparing for "bed" at IHS, the Sleeptalker walked in. I waved him over, told him I'd heard from the Boss Lady that she had completed the installation of his Guild Hall and that he is now the official leader of the Kolohe Clan. He was much excited by the news, lamented not having a bus pass and asked, "can you help out?" Oh, dear boy, how I wish I could have, but the fact was, I had less than a dollar in my pocket. I told him I'd be happy to help once my check arrived, but just couldn't do anything before then, especially since I'd promised the Banker I would not call on his services this month except in a dire emergency. The Sleeptalker then asked if I had any spare AA batteries and again I had to say no, that I was concerned the weakened ones in my Walkman weren't going to survive until money arrives. He went on his way. I'm not sure where he slept.

And I haven't seen him since. He didn't appear at IHS the following night. He told me he'd gotten a storage locker (fulfilling one of his "five wants") and that he planned to remove everything from IHS and not stay there anymore, but sleep in the park. Whether he did that or went "home" to the Pentecostalists or even (a definite possibility) called Rocky's sugar daddy for assistance, I don't know. All I feel certain about is that he'll return ... and that's enough.

Reviewing my version of those "five wants" and putting the truthfully phrased one in its proper place at number one, I see:

1) drink the nectar of the gods that only the Sleeptalker can provide
2) keep the friends who matter
3) be more sensible with the Crazy Money
4) stop smoking tobacco
5) find something to believe in

Number one has been accomplished and will no doubt happen again. Number two is probably a silly worry because chances are, I couldn't lose them even if I tried.

Since Wednesday was almost a beer-free day, I set myself pondering number three. I say "almost" because there was about half a bottle of Heineken abandoned at a pay-phone in the early morning and I drank it. As it happened, the quarter hunt was dismal and the rest of the day was lacking alcohol. So I told myself that perhaps I should try a plan: buy some small envelopes, label each with a budget item. One envelope would be "Beer" and I'd put sixty dollars in it. That would ensure one 40oz bottle per day (the seven cents for tax would easily turn up in found coins, as would the extra two dollars for 31-day months). Even the anti-alcohol freak, the psychiatrist, agrees that one 40oz bottle per day is not excessive.

Okay, then one envelope for "Necessities", another for "Art Supplies", etc. etc. And whatever was left over would be play money. Maybe I'll try it.

The Fabled Pension Check is exempt from the scheme. When I discovered I was going to get that life-long reward for my five years of playing office drone, I vowed to spend it all in bars. That vow was, of course, made when I was assuming I'd get another job until SocSec arrives, but even so, I've not done too badly in keeping it. And it stays "play money". After all, I have to repay Tanioka's generosity, even if it means treating that miser Angelo. Hmmm, maybe I'll just give Tanioka twenty bucks instead, let him spend it the way he wants to, on himself or the two of them?

How to spend an evening alone in the park with a bottle of Mickey's ...

I decided, too though, that "Somerset" isn't finished. Maugham deserves more than that, so it will become a multi-card work eventually. I've so much enjoyed reading his The Summing Up, have read a chapter or two a day, often repeating a chapter immediately after completing it because his thinking and the very stylish way he expresses it is such a pleasure.

Wednesday was an ordinary day, but not one of those even Steppenwolf would have resented. A little break from the exceptional is sometimes most welcome, and the break continued through the night since my "mat-mates" were not at all interesting visually. Thank you, Dame Fortune, I needed the sleep.

I saw Jason (the "Ferret") in the mall earlier. "Long time no see!" I said. He has been paying a "small rent" to sleep on a friend's balcony. Alas, that arrangement will end soon, certainly by Christmas, so we talked about the current situation for nomadic sleeping. Although he certainly doesn't look the part, Jason is an old hippy like me and we enjoyed reminding each other of the days when we bought the magic weed in one-ounce bags instead of these teensy $20 ones, dropped acid, and all that. He has been here a long time, remembers when IHS was a much smaller place in a different Chinatown location. For awhile he took to the mountains, but said even there he would return from an expedition to get supplies and find someone had been through his tent, taken anything of value. I warned him about the two nomads-who-rob-nomads who are making a damned nuisance of themselves in the only safe-from-popo's area of the park and we sighed together over such a disgusting breach of brotherhood. But he shudders over the prospect of staying at IHS.

I can't blame him for that. I wish I could take a photo there one night so my readers could see what it's like. The closest image I can suggest is the scene in "Gone With the Wind" after the Battle of Atlanta, when Scarlett makes her way through all the wounded and dead spread out in a large open area. Take a detail from that which includes only (only???) about fifty or sixty bodies, and you have IHS at night.

Yes, I can understand why anyone would shudder. I do myself, a bit. But like I said, it does have certain compensations for me it wouldn't have for most men, gay or straight. Even so, I continue to spend just as little time there as possible.

An aside about the visit to the Qualifying Doc and the flap with the Social Worker: when I start getting SocSec (always with the "if I survive that long" qualification), I'm going to write something about it all, probably submit it to the Honolulu Weekly. It will include some things it just wouldn't be prudent to write here at this time.

808

You're way wrong.

I guess that has to be the motto for every time I try to guess what the Sleeptalker is doing or plans to do. I'm so often 'way wrong' I really should give up even trying. And once again, I do think this whole thing has moved out of Dame Fortune's hands into Lord Karma's. Sometimes the "improbable coincidence" is just too mind-boggling to attribute it to those three ladies and their spinning.

As usual, I left IHS in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, having awakened around three-thirty. A jaunt through the mall for snipes, finding two quarters and a few pennies as well, and then to McD's for senior coffee. I had enough quarters in hand for a brew. Spending the two on coffee would leave me one quarter short, but that didn't seem enough of a problem to worry about. As it turned out, no matter anyway.

Then I went to campus for a brief check of email, wrote 807, and took the bus back downtown to get my Neurontin prescription re-filled. As always, they gave me a voucher for a free coffee from their cafe to enjoy while waiting. I went and sat on a planter ledge in front of the Clinic so I could smoke with the coffee.

The Sleeptalker came walking along.

See what I mean? The timing was indeed mind-boggling.

He is sleeping in a warehouse near IHS, technically trespassing but he said "people have been sleeping there for years". Why it is better than IHS, I don't know, but assume one reason is because it's less crowded. But then he has always preferred anywhere which is "off-limits".

He was on his way to the University. From IHS to campus is a walk of at least ten miles. No greater love can a man have had for a computer game. Even smokers only had to be willing to walk a mile for a Camel. I told him I had to pick up some mail and would join him on campus later, and did.

During our first break from the game, he sighed over the prospect of the long walk back. I said, "you're the only person in the world I would do this for," and handed him my beer money for bus fare. The look on his face was sufficient reward and I couldn't have enjoyed the beer anyway knowing I was drinking it while he was trudging back downtown. Two days without beer weren't fatal.

We played all day, with several delightful breaks. During one, we were talking about our parents and how it was as children. I told him one story I've not written here, and am not likely to. He well topped it, though. His mother must be a very strange woman indeed. He said she used to stand him and his older brother, the Fugitive, naked side-by-side and judge which of them had the bigger penis. One day during such an exercise, the Sleeptalker got an erection and she told him he was cheating. The Fugitive always won, when the Sleeptalker didn't "cheat". Sheez.

I call his older brother "the Fugitive" since he's still number one on the police station's wanted poster. Since he has fled to the mainland, I think they are wasting their time printing that thing each month.

We made one snipes hunt together but when he was getting hungry I told him I know how he hates rummaging in trash for food, that he should go back to the game and I'd do the hunt. I liked that look of gratified relief I got then, too.

But best of all, during a longer break, I got out the volume of Tales I had collected from the mailbox earlier, tales which include the first encounters with the Sleeptalker. I showed him the first entry, and he wanted to see more. He read them all with a huge grin, even laughed aloud at one passage describing his flirtatious antics. "This was a long time ago," he said. Yes, my friend, indeed it was. Almost four years, in fact.

Historic ... one of the Bad Boys reading what has been written about him in the Tales. Tanioka was the first of them to read the Tales, but he only read passages which didn't include him. And I failed to mention another historic event, the meeting between Mme de Crécy and the Sleeptalker which happened in the early morning last weekend. We had just finished using the showers when she came walking toward the shower house. I stopped to talk to her and show her the printed edition of the Tales, while the Sleeptalker lingered at some distance and ignored my gesture to him to join us (which got a scoff from Mme de Crécy as well). But when we walked over to part, I called out an introduction. Mme de Crécy said, "I've heard a lot about you." Uh-huh, and he's heard a lot about her, including the fact that she has steadfastly refused to even meet him, Southern graciousness be damned.

History in the making. Chuckle.

During another break, at a spot the Sleeptalker has dubbed "Kolohe Circle", he stood up with his back toward me and stretched. "Don't flex your cute butt at me," I said. "Don't talk about stuff like that." "Bullshit, you know you like being admired. That's why you hang out with us old gay guys because you know we'll say nice things about the way you look." I love that sheepish, you're right on target but I won't admit it, grin.

At six, I said I had to leave so I'd have time for a snipes round at the mall before catching the 7:45 to IHS. He planned to go to dinner at River of Life, since it starts at 7:30, and asked if I wanted to join him. I thought it best to follow my plan, so declined, and we agreed to either see each other next day at IHS breakfast (since I had to go there to check on whether I'd yet been assigned a caseworker) or else at UH, since he planned to walk up there again. Meanwhile, I was making an effort to come up with the money to replace his bus pass.

If I try that envelope scheme, I must SEAL a twenty in an envelope and write on the front "unseal ONLY in case of emergency". Or for someone you love.

809

How good it would be to have an inexhaustible supply of patience. Alas, not even the gods (or at least some of them) are blessed with such a thing. I am sure I have more of the stuff when it comes to the Sleeptalker than with anyone else, now or in the past, but even that ran out on Friday evening.

"Oh for God's sake, grow up!"

Ouch. I know I'd hate it if someone said that to me (and they could, fully justified, say it even at this late stage in my long life). But I said it.

"I'm not a prostitute," he protested, although no one had accused him of being one, or I hadn't anyway. "No, you are a rent boy," I said.

Ouch again. But in vino veritas, or in this case, malt liquor.

He wasn't at IHS for breakfast. I still had no word about my caseworker being assigned so followed the advice of the kindly lady who is at the reception desk on weekday mornings and left a note reminding the staff I am still waiting. The food was just awful. "Tater tots", an almost petrified sausage patty, two very stale bread rolls, a slightly more edible albeit stale pastry with pseudo-chocolate topping and the usual horrendous coffee, barely drinkable.

Seventh Circle was great fun, both the Boss and the Boss Lady being in together, a rare event of late. I explained to the Boss that the Sleeptalker had tried to induct my warrior into the Kolohe Clan but couldn't, since the warrior is a much higher level. So the Boss Lady, overhearing the conversation, inducted me. I left a note on the Clan noticeboard thanking the Sleeptalker for letting me join his Clan.

She told me they were going to move all Guilds, Orders and Clans out of Darkhaven, the main town, because they were running out of room numbers and needed the space. So if I wanted any changes in the Rangers Guild, I was to send her an email (which I later did). She also explained that she was making the changes in the order she was able to contact the leaders and reminded me that the Sleeptalker's Clan was an exception. I once again thanked her for the attempt to help him.

By noon it had been almost seventy hours since I had poured beer into myself. It hadn't much bothered me, but suddenly I was hit with the most intense craving for the stuff. I fought it off for a couple of hours, then yielded, went to Kory K with my begging bowl. He kindly filled it with funds for one 40oz bottle. While there, I called the information line for TheBus, asked if the transit center was open on Saturday. It wasn't. I had broken my rule against asking people for money (Kory has always been an exception, poor fellow), arranged to get enough to replace the Sleeptalker's lost bus pass, but couldn't get it until Saturday morning. That didn't seem much of a problem, since the libraries are closed on Saturday anyway and the little computer lab closes at 4:30, hardly worth the Sleeptalker's effort of walking to campus.

Back at the lab, still no sign of him. So I walked downhill, bought a Colt, and returned to enjoy it in the secluded grove with the second volume of the printed Tales. A brief time on-line, then a snipes hunt, and I decided I'd leave for the mall. But passing the lab, I looked in and saw the Sleeptalker sitting there.

I went in, told him I wanted to leave soon and asked if he'd come outside for a few minutes so I could talk to him. No joy, he was busy with his latest feud in the game. I said I'd have a smoke. He offered me a cigarette from an almost-full pack! "If you can buy cigarettes, you can get your bus pass," I said. "Don't snap at me, I've had an awful day." I declined the offered cigarette and went outside to smoke a snipe. He didn't join me, so I went back in, said I was leaving, that the bus center was closed on the weekend and I'd see him on Monday. No reply.

There was a bus waiting at the bus stop but as often happens, it was ahead of schedule and the driver was taking a smoke break. So I sat and smoked another of my dwindling snipes supply. The Sleeptalker arrived, sat down, asked if I'd go downhill and buy two bottles of Colt because he wanted to talk to me. I probably should have told him to save his money, but I didn't. Refusing such a request is as difficult as refusing his offer of sex, I just can't do it even when I feel it would be the wiser option.

So we sat in the secluded grove and talked. I told him what the situation was in Seventh Circle, suggested he would be wise to postpone requests for changes in the Clan until the Boss Lady finishes the rather heavy-duty task of moving them all. No, his adjustments are too important. Shrug, let them work it out.

His story of what had made the day "awful" came out in bits and pieces, many of which were contradictory, and the main clue about what really happened came from the hacking cough he always gets the day after smoking that damned batu. Finally, after an even more unwise second trip downhill for beer, I think I got enough pieces to figure out the truth.

Remember, the day before he had been so hungry I had scoured campus looking for abandoned leftovers, and he was heading to River of Life to eat dinner when we parted. But he had foodstamps still! And he sold those for cash, bought the batu and beer, got busted for drinking. The agreement with IHS which one has to sign to become a registered client states that anyone caught drinking in the vicinity of IHS is subject to suspension of services until a certain amount of "community service" is done. How they found out about the bust, I don't know, nor do I know how he found out he had an appointment there to discuss it, but whatever, he is suspended and has to work it off.

His attitude about the whole thing is adolescent, to put it mildly.

The conversation got more and more surreal. I was relieved when he said he was going back to play the game, declined to join, saying I'd had too much to drink to play, reminded him that Leaders have a certain obligation to be "responsible" players. Naturally, he didn't want to hear that.

I fell asleep, and was grateful he eventually returned and woke me up. It was far too late to go to IHS, the bus from campus was no longer running, so I said I was going to walk downhill, get a bus to the beach park and sleep there. For some reason this annoyed him and he stomped off. But once again he found me, waiting for a bus. The conversation then was even more absurd and I stomped off. Well, gently stomped off.

End of yet another day in the lives of the Panther and the Sleeptalker.

Sigh deeply.

810

The Sleeptalker's Sunday Lament, which will become part of "Jesus Saves II":

Batu, batu, why do I fall in love with you? Hmph. I know it's not you ... It's my friends its my friends. The only way to get them is to get you. So why do I do the things I do?

The park was very crowded. I was sitting at some distance from a large Korean picnic, on the grass in the shade of a tree, when the Sleeptalker walked up. I had just finished a bottle of Mickey's, asked him if he'd like one. He said yes, so I walked over to the mall to get two bottles. When I got back he said he was feeling "miserable", his life was a mess, etc. etc.

I told him I had been truly shocked by his routine of letting me search for food and fret over helping him with the bus pass while he was holding back foodstamps to sell for batu. That's when he added his lament to a card on which I had already pasted a little picture of the Virgin Mary (probably Lourdes but possibly Fatima) which I'd found in the mall earlier.

"Where did you sleep last night?" he asked later. "IHS. Where did you sleep?" "With some dude." Pity about that agreement not to call him a slut anymore. He does seem to be going at it rather heavily in recent weeks, ready to drop his pants for anyone who waves the batu pipe at him, even though he knows he is going to suffer that dual hangover the next day. Well, nobody can help him with this dilemma but himself, I fear.

But I did give him a little lecture on the dangers of AIDS. If palmistry has any truth to it, no need to worry. He has the most solid, uninterrupted life-line I have ever seen, extending right down into his wrist. I don't believe in it enough, still worry about him and would be shattered if he ends up with that wretched plague. Do it if you want to, I said, but be careful, don't get so stoned or drunk you let someone fuck you without a condom.

"Don't pander to me," the Sleeptalker growled. I had to confess I wasn't really sure of the word's meaning. "Look it up in the dictionary." So of course, the first thing I did when I got to campus on Monday morning was just that.

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English Pandare Pandarus, from Latin Pandarus
1 a : a go-between in love intrigues b : PIMP
2 : someone who caters to or exploits the weaknesses of others

[!!!]

How on earth did he acquire that addition to his vocabulary?

After finishing the beer, he got up and walked off without saying a word.

That interlude easily qualifies as the most depressing event of July's last weekend. After a brief time on campus Saturday morning I went downtown, had the fun of seeing the "command center" for production of the Star-Bulletin's web edition. That's what I call a definite case of "monitor envy" ... such beautiful, big screens. Then I went to the park for a lunchtime brew before meeting Helen R. at Ward16 to see "Planet of the Apes". Yeukh, what a crashing bore of a movie. She had to nudge me awake again and I had a most difficult time not slipping back into dreamland throughout the dreadful thing. Well, it was visually handsome, true, but otherwise the only enjoyable moment was the audience reaction when the human hero kissed the female ape. Now that was funny.

I stayed at that end of the park after the film since it was almost time to get the bus "home". I had the same mat-mate I've had before, a very tall man in his thirties, not particularly handsome but not ugly either, and for the first time I looked over at him when I woke on Sunday morning and said, "lawsy me, that man is hung even more than Rocky". Standing tall, standing tall. Remind me to stay out of the shower with him.

The weather looked a little uncertain on Sunday morning so I decided not to make the trip to campus, just dawdled around until it was time to catch the bus downtown to Saint Andrew's. I wanted to get there early so I could continue reading the "historic documents" at the back of the Book of Common Prayer. I was very much surprised by some of the statements. They don't believe in transubstantiation. I never have either, so that doesn't bother me. They don't believe in Purgatory, indulgences, and all that, but I'm not sure they are right about "relics" having no value. In any case, there's nothing in their statement of beliefs that seriously bothers me except the usual short-sighted Christian attitude that one can be "saved" only by belief in Jesus. Nope, that just cannot be true.

The priest, who had officiated during my first visit there, again mentioned the homeless in his sermon and I once again thanked him for including us in his remarks when I left. He's a very handsome man with a warmly firm handshake and I do enjoy listening to him.

The Gospel included the "seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be opened" passage! Jesus Saves. Synchronicity. I hear you knocking but you cain't come in ... knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door.

Back at the park I got that brew I was finishing when the Sleeptalker arrived. A cute young Filipino fellow on a bicycle rode up to where I was sitting, asked if I knew Pedro. Yes. Had I seen him? "No," I said, "it's his day off so maybe he's at his cousin's." "I am his cousin, and I'm going to kick his ass." Oh. Wonder what Pedro did, or didn't? That amusing encounter was topped when the lad who steals surfer shorts came over, a handsome new pair in his hand, and said, "I did it again, they're too small, you want them?" Sure. Black with abstract hibiscus flowers in gray. I looked later, saw them in Sears, almost forty dollars worth. Silly fellow.

But after that time with the Sleeptalker I was feeling rather down in spirits, did a quick snipes hunt and went to IHS. Someone had already taken the spot next to my well-hung mat-mate, but that was okay, I really wasn't in the mood to think about sex ... or beer ... or drugs ... or anything.

811

After greeting him publicly in the game, I said privately to the Sleeptalker, "you know what you wrote about friends yesterday was total bullshit."

"i know," he replied, the lower case giving it a plaintive tone even though it was just words on a computer screen.

Give that lad a pat on the back. It's okay to think, speak ... even write ... total bullshit just as long as you realize you've done it. And the sooner the better.

Leaving IHS in the wee hours as usual, I felt too weary for the long walk to the mall despite the memory of the early Tales I'd been reading. Amazing how much beer I found abandoned along that path each morning. Naw, I waited for a bus. The Whore astounded me by offering to buy me coffee at McD's. I thanked him, said I'd found quarters for it the evening before, not so much because I had the funds but more because I figured accepting would mean sitting and listening to him while drinking it. We've had amusing, but brief, chats frequently of late, but at that early hour, I'm in no mood for conversation.

It's very funny. The False Prophet is in high dudgeon. Whenever I enter the computer lab, he gets up and leaves. If I go to Hamilton and he's there, he also leaves, even though we're sitting some distance from each other! On Saturday morning, I asked Virginia, "are you on speaking terms with the bearded guy?" No, he wasn't. "Oh well, I just wanted to let him know I'm gone for the day so he could relax and enjoy himself." Virginia laughed and said, "he doesn't like me either", and we agreed it was most peculiar since we spent so many nights sleeping in close proximity in the old cloisters days. Shrug.

And on Monday morning, the False Prophet again got up and left when I entered the computer lab. They are apparently about to upgrade the place, have removed all but four of the computers which is a nuisance. Fortunately, the new Hamilton annex has quite a few Netscape-equipped, newer computers, so I frequently relocate there once it opens (and the F.P. gets up and leaves).

I stayed on campus until early afternoon, was sitting in a secluded spot finishing the second volume of the printed Tales when Jason the Ferret came along. We talked for awhile again about the "good old days" and our wanderings on the Mainland. He did it with a backpack and walking or hitchhiking. Except for that insane walk across New Jersey, my method was always the thirty-day passes on the Greyhound or Trailways. I like Jason a lot, for the first time had the thought that we should perhaps pool resources and get a place together. Since there's no sexual attraction at all, it might work out very well. File in the "think about that in the future" drawer.

Finishing that volume, I went over to Kory K's office to add it to the collection stashed on one of his bookcases. I said I was taking a little break, would read someone else instead of myself for awhile. He asked what I was up to, and I said I was going to the State Library, jokingly adding that I hoped I'd find something more interesting than me to read. Hmmm, not sure if it was a joke after all because the collection of freebies was pretty dismal. Dozens and dozens of potboiler "romances". So I picked A Separate Peace by John Knowles, which I've read at least twice before, and Ken Follet's The Man from St. Petersburg, began the Knowles book which this time around does seem to be much ado about nothing. Stylish ado, though.

I had finished Maugham's wonderful book with my morning coffee, but plan to begin reading it again, taking the same path of a chapter or two a day.

I checked the mailbox. No joy, no Fabled Pension Check. So back to the mall and the Quarter Hunt. Yeukh. Two hours, two quarters and one penny. Dame Fortune intervened, though, with a little help from Helen R. I was standing outside the supermarket gazing fondly at the wonderful Travis when I spotted Helen in line at the cashier. Silly Helen picked the wrong line, but with her usual generosity made the by-then totally unexpected sunset brew possible. I tell you, that one 40oz bottle each evening does a LOT to make IHS more bearable.

Before that, I'd seen Mondo sitting on a planter ledge, stopped to talk to him. He was wearing plastic hospital bracelets. What happened? "I lost it," he said, no further explanation, and showed me his hands. The palms were almost totally covered with scabs. Ouch. It wasn't until sometime later I realized he must have been talking about his beloved skateboard.

While sitting in the park enjoying the brew and Knowles, The Man and his lady walked by. He stopped to show me his new treasure, a sweet little glass pipe, much smaller than the usual model. He offered me a hit on it. I declined, reminded him it is a "green month". He laughed and said, oh well, tomorrow's the last day of it. Hmmmm, maybe I should relocate my off-campus headquarters to Kapiolani Park in Waikiki in August?

It was at the State Library that I'd had the exchange with the Sleeptalker. I told him I was there, asked where he was. "Phoenix School," he replied. Never heard of it, wondered how he came to be playing Seventh Circle from there. When I got to IHS, I was much pleased to see my favorite spot was vacant, the tall, well-equipped man on one side and one of the big floor fans on the other. Hurrying to grab it, I almost failed to notice. The Sleeptalker was three mats away from me. Suspended??? Oh, who knows ....

812

I can't complain if the Sleeptalker turns into a crashing bore if I provided the booze, can I? Hmmm, modify that sentence: insert legitimately or reasonably before complain. I did anyway, but only after leaving him. The man said "I love you" so many times, before and after getting drunk, that it's beyond churlish to complain at all.

Strange thing is, it's probably true. Like the song says, it "don't come easy", but I'm sure that's so for both of us, maybe even more not-easy for him than it is for me.

The Fabled Pension Check arrived on Tuesday. I collected it, jumped back on a bus from downtown to Waikiki. The check cashing place had (with no advance notice) closed shop, vanished, leaving a sign behind telling where the other offices are. So back on a bus, through downtown again, to Kalihi. Cash in hand, yet again on a bus to the mall. Art supplies, a camera, a sandwich and a beer. To the park, with not much time left before sunset. As it had all day, sunshine instantly changed to drenching rain. I gave up and went to IHS.

"You got a cigarette?" the Sleeptalker asked when I walked in. Yes, I told him, let me grab my spot first. Lucky again, in between the tall man and the fan, the Sleeptalker about five mats away. We went down to the courtyard and smoked. I told him to meet me at breakfast time the next morning and we'd get his bus pass.

When I returned to IHS after my usual trip to the mall for senior coffee, he was sitting outside. I went to check for messages. Still nothing for me, but I saw his name on a slip as the lady was leafing through them, told her he was sitting outside so she gave it to me to deliver. The rascal didn't tell me the note was for an appointment with his caseworker at eleven. He also didn't tell me the suspension had been lifted on condition that he worked an hour each day on an afternoon clean-up job. Both I learned after it was too late for him to make either.

After the long ride to get the bus pass and the even longer ride from there to UH, we played the game for a couple of hours. I had already started taking photos of him, most happy to get him while he still had that wonderful dozey early-morning look on his face. We took a smoke break, he asked for telephone change. When I begged the beer money from Kory K, I promised him a pack of cigarettes which I bought in Chinatown earlier, so I said we'd go to Kory's office, the Sleeptalker could use the phone and I'd deliver the smokes. His call to IHS explaining why he couldn't make the appointment was so lame the caseworker must have thrown up his hands and said, "I give up!"

Got what should be a fine photo of the Sleeptalker and Kory together, too.

That reminds me. A reader asked awhile ago if I noticed much difference in style between the earliest Tales and the more recent ones. I didn't ... until reading the early ones this time. I dropped the "I" on sentences much more in the early ones, too often methinks. As in the above paragraph. Hmmmmm.

Back to the game until lunchtime. I went downhill for beer and a large bag of potato chips. I wasn't hungry, he already had food in his bag which I'd bought for him earlier. We went to the little pagoda outside the Korean Studies Building, a place where we used to sit fairly often. More photos, of us both. I even managed to get him to take off his shirt for one of them.

A few more hours in the game and then I suggested going to Manoa Garden, silly man that I am. He didn't have his ID with him, so we shared a Green Monster ... and another one. Yep, I am a silly man, but I was having fun and so was he, at least until he veered into his religious freak act. Damn, what a hypocrite the man can be. But then it's mostly him using me as a mirror. All the things he rants about in me are things he hates in himself.

Including his sexual desires ...

He added some things to the cards I'd begun as part of "Jesus Saves II". A shame he didn't write down some of the things he said in reaction, much more amusing than the religious rambles he did write. Eventually he asked what time it was, I told him, and he moaned, said he'd get suspended from IHS again since he missed the clean-up task. Grrrrr.

He wanted to return to the game. I declined, saying I was too drunk to play, so he went off on his own but soon returned and we took a bus to the mall. Sunset time, so I bought one beer for us to share. A few more photos and then he called a halt to it. I was much surprised he'd been so patient about it all day, obediently tucked the camera in my backpack.

The ranting grew tiresome. I said it was time to call it a day and moved to a table some distance away. He soon followed me and continued. I told him "bye, bye" and made a dash to the bus stop.

Nope, it don't come easy. But it's worth it, which is most fortunate since there certainly isn't any choice.

813

That wonderful force called synchronicity did give me a big grin on Friday when I passed the Varsity twin-moviehouse and saw the marquee. On one side, "Sexy Beast" and on the other, "The Closet". Go ahead, put the story of my love life on public view, see if I care.

And damn, damn, damn, if I didn't get attacked on Thursday by a ferocious reprise of lust. Oh yes, for Him, again. So when I went to my August appointment with the august psychologist I talked of almost nothing but the Sleeptalker. He said he thought I could be a "great help" to him, suggested especially trying to gently nudge him toward concentration on the Gospels. I have been trying, but perhaps I need to try harder ... and get him a copy of just the four Gospels, nothing else. There must be such a thing available.

It wouldn't be a bad idea for me, either. Drop the plan of buying the whole Bible, and just get the Gospels.

Friday was a mess of a day. Thursday had been, too, at least where the Sleeptalker was concerned, although it had begun on a high note when the Cherub finally re-appeared! That was indeed a long sabbatical, and I was delighted when he walked into the computer lab, looking for me. We sat outside and talked awhile. I got out the camera and took his picture which turned out to be the last one on the roll. He looked awful, red and bleary eyes, unshaved stubble, dirty hands. What had he been doing during his long absence? Working and drinking. From the sound and look of it, perhaps more of the latter than the former.

The Sleeptalker didn't appear until mid-afternoon, was in a very strange mood. When I went out to take a smoke break he also left the lab, but sat on a different bench, the refreshment kiosk blocking my view of him! I debated just getting up and walking away, but instead went over, told him the Cherub had been there and very much liked the way the Sleeptalker writes (a comment made after perusing the cards for "Jesus Saves II"). Then I walked off, went downhill to get myself a beer.

When I returned, the Sleeptalker was sitting in the secluded grove. I sat on the bench beside him. He had a pack of cigarettes, didn't offer me one. He pulled out some bills from his pocket, including a five, and put them back in again. [???] I teased him about how he'd gotten them, he was miffed and left for the bus. If I hadn't been so awash in unexpected desire for him, I think I might have gotten angry. And that would have been very, very rare. Disappointment, frustration, annoyance, etc. etc., but anger happily has been almost absent from our long, strange friendship ... at least from my side.

When I got to IHS he was already there, busily chatting with a rather cute young fellow on the mat next to him. I grabbed my favorite spot by the fan, got ready to stuff my earplugs in to block the usual Thursday night wrestling mayhem. Much to my surprise, the Sleeptalker walked over and chatted for a bit. Maybe he had realized he'd irked me? Whatever reason, that unusual gesture was a blessing, let me fall asleep without having unpleasant thoughts about him.

I dreamed we were walking together down the King's Road in London. When I told him the next day, he said he sometimes dreams of being in London, too, although his only knowledge of the city is from television and films.

Talk about a befuddled day ... Friday the third of August 2001 gets a special prize. I forgot it was Friday! It wasn't until The Man and his lady walked past my table in the park and mentioned it that I woke up and said, yikes, I missed the appointment with my social worker. I had realized when I settled down to sleep the night before that my tee shirt really needed a wash badly, reeked of sweat and smoke. So I went directly from senior coffee to the beach shower and washed shorts and two tee shirts and myself, then sat in the sun until they dried. An old fellow walked by, greeted me and asked if I wanted some beer. Silly question. He gave me half a 40oz bottle of Miller Lite. Near-beer, I call it, but okay for a mid-morning liquid snack.

I was grateful The Man had awakened me in time for the afternoon appointment with the Doc, left immediately and went to the welfare office, explained my befuddlement and was slightly astonished when my caseworker gave me an appointment on Monday. It's just a formality, anyway, the annual review of my eligibility for foodstamps, which we both know is valid. I was relieved to hear she'd also received the six-month extension of the Crazy Money authorization.

So that went better than expected and the chat with the psychologist was both pleasant and interesting. Still, the inner balance seemed all wrong, and remained so throughout the day. Those Fool Moon's eyes?

The Sleeptalker was in the lab when I finally got to campus. He has a dreadful head cold, was sneezing, coughing and sniffling, maybe part of the reason he had behaved so oddly the day before. We stayed until it was time to head to the park and smoke the little packet The Man had given me earlier, on credit. Kind of him, but of course also very good business, this thing of giving me a nickle or dime bag a few days before Crazy Money. He knows I will look for him to pay for it and that I'll have money in my pocket so he can undoubtedly sell me more. Sigh.

It was a decent smoke and the Sleeptalker first accused me of "tripping out", then said he was "tripping out." That interlude was quite amusing, enough so that I told him about the renewed attack of lust and he was quite sweet about it while not, of course, offering the obvious, albeit temporary, solution. I asked him how he'd managed to get back on the books at IHS after having been suspended yet again. He hadn't, he had just walked in and slept there. Didn't work on Friday night. I was still getting myself settled when I saw the Sleeptalker being escorted to "the cage" when the storage baskets are kept. As he and his escort then walked past my mat, the Sleeptalker said he was suspended and couldn't stay. I felt sorry for him, especially with that nasty cold, but there wasn't anything I could do about it ... and it was entirely his fault for not sticking with the agreed clean-up detail, not to mention drinking beer near IHS to begin with.

It did provide the ultimate final touch to a Friday I was most happy to see the end of, as I plugged my ears and draped a black tee shirt over my eyes, happily drifted into sleep almost immediately.

"I hate to wake up," the Sleeptalker said earlier. "Dreams are so much nicer than being awake." I have no problem sympathizing with him.

814

Why anyone would be dumb enough to want a "cure" for manic swing, I don't know, but there is one which works far more effectively than any chemical: ye olde common cold in the head. Oh yes, naturally I acquired one from the Sleeptalker. Fortunately mine seems to be a much milder pestilence than his and, as always happens with summer colds here, it seems to be quickly moving on. Still depressing, though.

Saturday was dreadful as are most fourths of the month when I'd prefer just to sleep until the Crazy Money arrives.

This must be the season of looking ugly. The Sleeptalker got the sides of his head clipped close again (luckily not until the day after the photography sessions). And when he and Mondo arrived on campus Saturday mid-day, I was horrified to see that Mondo has had almost all his hair removed, too. Yeukh. Why do they want to look like Army recruits? Just as well that roll of film was finished since I certainly wouldn't want a photo of Mondo looking that ugly.

They claimed to be broke. Silly fellows should remember what a small town this is. Later The Man told me they had been looking for him to buy some greenery. Oh well, didn't matter since I was broke, really. They talked awhile and then both went into the computer lab. With only the four computers (and the libraries closed), there wasn't much reason for me to hang around, so I smoked a couple of snipes and then went in, told them I was going on my way, would be in the park later. I reminded the Sleeptalker that he was welcome to join me for church on Sunday morning and repeated my offer of lunch afterwards if he didn't make it to church.

"You got a snipe?" Mondo asked. "There are ashtrays all over campus," I said, and left.

It took almost three hours to get enough quarters for a bottle of Colt. Why on earth do you bother, I asked myself several times. I don't know the answer. Pedro told me on Sunday that he'd seen Tanioka, but I didn't, enjoyed the hard-earned beer and went to IHS. That spot between the fan and the tall man is becoming my habitual refuge.

Sunday morning. Crazy Money Day. If I hadn't been going to church, I probably would have had a beer with the sunrise. Instead, I sat on the beach for awhile, spotted Mme de Crécy going in for her morning swim and waited to say hello once she emerged. I would have jumped in the ocean, too, but didn't want to go through the shower and wait for shorts to dry routine.

Off to church, Saint Andrew's again. The choir had been on vacation during July. I wondered if it would make it easier to grasp some of those complex hymns, but it didn't and I really don't like their attempt to match English to Gregorian chant ... a dreadful way to "say" the Lord's Prayer. Otherwise, it was a fine service and my favorite priest was again giving the sermon (they haven't yielded to the Catholic change to "homily"). The main theme was Greed, especially amusing because I had given The Man the five dollars I owed him and the bugger said "I thought it was a dime bag I gave you." Yeh, sure, he did. I can clearly recall his lady saying, "that's a good nickel bag." Oh well, not gonna argue since he gets such high quality merchandise, but it is irksome the way everyone in this town tries to grab an extra buck (or five).

Directly from church to the 7-Eleven and the cheap tobacco shop, then to the park to kick back and enjoy, even more so after acquiring a bigger bag from The Man. Pedro arrived, the first time I'd seen him in over a week. I told him about seeing his cousin. It wasn't his cousin at all, it was his nephew. And he was looking to kick Pedro's ass because he wanted to borrow money from uncle to buy the batu and couldn't find him.

No sign of the Sleeptalker by early afternoon, so I took Pedro to lunch at Bubba Gump's. I think we had a great time but I honestly don't remember. I think it's time for me to end my long friendship with Jose Cuervo.

When I somehow got to IHS, it was obvious I had the Sleeptalker's cold. I stood in the hot shower for quite some time, just letting the water pound my back and neck, enjoying a handsome young black fellow who was doing the same.

I sniffled my way to campus on Monday morning, could only stay briefly since I had the appointment with the social worker at ten. She was unusually friendly but made no reference to what I am certain was her mistake in calculating the last six month extension. I had debated it, decided against pursuing it. That confounded Qualifying Doc must be having cash flow problems ... he only extended it for three months instead of the usual six, so I'll have to see him again in November. Grrrrr.

Then I stopped by the Straub pharmacy to pick up the refill of my Neurontin but there had been some mix-up. The Doc had called in the refill but "it was rejected for some reason". The young lady said they would try to get it sorted out and I could call later. I said I'd stop back on Tuesday since if it still wasn't there, I'd have to see the Doc anyway. Grrrrr.

Sniffle, sniffle to the State Library. Ah, a little better luck there, since they had Father Greeley's God Game and a Susan Howatch novel which is also new to me.

Back to the mall for the usual "responsible" shopping expedition of the month. A new battery razor since the old one died, batteries, new slippers, more index cards, earplugs, gook to keep the plastic teeth in .... and the photographs.

Instant treasures.

815

I figured, when this new spate of "creativity" began, that it would take a couple of months before the ball really started rolling. Before, that is, some tentative efforts and revisiting past avenues would let the flow begin, if there was still anything left to flow. But yep, old man Goethe was right, time has broken into a gallop, things happen more quickly.

At last! Finally got rid of "Jesus Saves II". I would have preferred to let the Sleeptalker have one more go at it, even though I was afraid he'd wipe out some of what he had originally done. But as has been his long-standing habit, he vanished at payday time. Folks who say he is "taking advantage" of me (and I heard that again on Wednesday from someone who should know better) conveniently forget his payday-time behavior.

They also keep the blinders on so firmly that they either can't see or don't want to admit that if there is any "advantage" being taken, it's definitely a two-way street.

Anyway, I made one more small addition and jumped on a bus, delivered "Jesus Saves II" and two photographic 'works' for scanning. I didn't dare keep it any longer ... and a new work, as yet untitled, was already underway, looking good, looking good. Now I'm temporarily without my favorite of the Sleeptalker images because I glued the second print of it to a card and mailed it to Felix.

I spent an unusual amount of time on the bus Wednesday, including that trip downtown and back to the mall, although I didn't go to campus at all and was thus off-line, by choice. The longest trip was made twice. Either my memory served me wrong or the store has changed its hours, because I thought the discount clothing store opened at eight. Nope, nine. So not wanting to hang around for an hour, I took the bus back into town and to the pharmacy. Better luck there. The Doc had called in a totally new prescription rather than just a refill and I was much surprised when the cashier handed me a large tub of Neurontin, ninety 300mg capsules, refillable twice.

Then back to the store again. I bought one Mossimo teeshirt because it was only two dollars and I wanted the lower-case alphabet which adorns its front. I'll wear it until it gets dirty and then cut it up for future cards. And I got a gray polo-style shirt for church-going because it looks a little less casual than a teeshirt. There was a very handsome cotton-and-linen long sleeved shirt I wanted but didn't buy because the last thing I need is anything extra in my backpack (and I have about given up on ever getting that locker at IHS). A cheap new beach towel, though, was given space in the packed bag, needed to replace the filthy one I finally abandoned after Tuesday night in the park.

Uh-huh, got too stoned and drunk that evening to make it to IHS, slept on a picnic table unbothered by nomad thieves or the popo's.

Of all the Boys, Rocky is by far the most different when on his own than with one or more of the others. And it was a pleasure to run into him, alone, in the mall just before sunset. Yes, I'd buy him a beer. Yes, I still had some pakalolo. Yes, he was a happy camper, as they say, and we sat together in the park for several hours. His sugar daddy is planning to move soon, weary of the long daily trip from Makaha to Manoa. Can't blame him for that. Rocky, though, is unhappy about it, doesn't want to live closer to town. I would have expected it to be the other way around, but maybe he feels more secure with him and his benefactor isolated out there in "the country"? And heaven knows, the lad is absurdly insecure about almost everything despite his strutting bravado. That, of course, is only revealed when we're alone together.

Lord Moana once again stopped by the table and asked for beer money, as he had the night before. Okay, I gave it to him, but when he tried again on Wednesday I said no. Not for the first time, I've wondered in the past couple of days if Angelo doesn't have the right idea. Hide away in Waikiki and enjoy the good life for a few days until the money is gone, spare oneself the constant parade of freeloaders who flock like flies to dogshit (I am not including Rocky in that parade).

During the relatively rare moments I've had alone this week, I've much enjoyed Greeley's God Game. It's quite unlike anything else I've read of his but then it's also quite unlike anyone else's novels, too. As always with the Good Father Andrew, the smart-assed little side comments are more amusing than the main yarn. There must be much growling and gnashing of teeth in the Vatican every time a new book by him is announced.

"Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" asked Crazy Annie on Tuesday. "In my head, but not in my heart," I said.

-----

The Good Father Greeley quotes himself: As Blackie Ryan once remarked, "'They all lived happily ever after' means they only have three serious fights a week and refuse to talk to one another only one day a week."

-----

815a

The Sleeptalker returned on Thursday, strolled into the computer lab. I was in the game, told people he had arrived and that we'd both be back soon. We went to have a smoke break. He was in a very peculiar mood and talking in a totally strange voice. I said, "you've been hanging out with someone new and are talking like him." Such a parrot, that man.

I showed him the photos I still had. He was most surprised by the one of him at the computer because he'd been so engrossed in the game (note the clenched jaw when it appears) he hadn't realized I took the photo. We both laughed about the one of the Cherub. "He looks TOTALLY wasted," the Sleeptalker observed, accurately. Very funny, then, when about five minutes later the Cherub walked up. He was on campus to sort out some problems with his tuition payment for the new year and we talked for a little while. Then I did a Forrest Gump and said, "I got to pee," walked over to the nearest toilet. When I got back the Cherub had gone on his way after kindly giving the Sleeptalker eleven dollars "beer money".

We went to Hamilton Library and played the game for awhile but the Sleeptalker was so hyper he wouldn't stay quiet, kept giggling or exclaiming. If someone sitting next to him did that, he'd be irate. Oh well, I took a smoke break and returned to the lab, played from there.

Eventually he asked where I was and walked down to join me. By then I was ready for a beer and some lunch, so we walked downhill to the supermarket. I bought a Colt and lunch for us both, he bought two cans of Budweiser, and we returned to the secluded grove.

Then he went all weird ... on ONE can of Bud?! I assume it was the batu clicking back in a little from the day before, since he'd clearly been at the pipe again. "No more photos," he said, "and I ain't playing with your fucking cards either."

Deja vu ... Gods and Monsters. Okay, no problem. Rant on, rant on.

"Well then, just stay out of my life," I said.

Again, no problem. If he'd do it.

I left him sitting in the grove.

816

Such a psychic hangover after one of those stormy sessions with the Sleeptalker, far worse than any brought on by what the good Father Greeley calls 'too much of the drink taken'.

After I left him I went to another quiet place on campus where I didn't think he'd find me and sat for awhile reviewing what had happened. One thing I had seriously considered buying this month was a mini-cassette recorder, the type used primarily for dictation. I would have liked a tape of our conversation although I probably would have thrown it away after one listen, not wanting to hear it even once, much less again and again. Not wanting to, but still very curious because I'm not sure how what had been an amusing conversation turned so sour. It's as if he suddenly had to compensate for all the good times we've had together recently, a throwback to the pattern which dominated 'Phase Two' of our strange friendship.

But even with it all fresh in my mind, I couldn't find the exact place where it had switched tracks. So I returned to the computer lab, wrote 815a and was about to logoff when he walked in. "Back in the house," he said, and walked out again, ignoring me when I said I was leaving and he could have that terminal.

I took a break, then went back for one more check of email, looked in on Seventh Circle and he was there, evidently playing from the library. He started ranting there, too. Another player asked me what was wrong with him. When I said he was drunk, the player was surprised, thought the Sleeptalker was too young to drink! Not in calendar years, my friend, I thought but didn't say it. "Never mind," I did say to him publicly, "I still love you despite your tantrums," and logged off, left campus.

The 'hangover' from it all didn't hit until Friday morning, though. I woke up feeling utterly disgruntled, rather depressed, and generally fed up with life. It's probably not really true, but the aftermath from a squabble with him seems so much worse than the afterglow from a good time seems wonderful. I was annoyed with myself for having told him to stay out of my life because I've long been determined I would not join what seems like everyone he's ever known, family included, who eventually told him that. And I didn't mean it. But I was serious; I could adjust to that with greater ease than riding this roller coaster with him. Or I think I could.

I wasn't surprised when he didn't arrive on campus, figured he would sulk for a few days ... or weeks. I didn't feel like writing or doing much of anything, so just piddled around checking links on my older web pages and looking around the Web at this and that. When I finally played the game for a little while, it was in turmoil because of a new area that has been added. For a brief time, Reting was able to explore the place and promptly decided it was not very interesting and all the critters there far tougher than they should be. But then the Boss decided to limit the area to players below level 80-something which caused an uproar. I didn't care, but agreed it was pretty stupid since even my 100-level character had a difficult time staying alive in the place. The fuss did nothing to alleviate my lousy mood, so I quit and went downhill for lunch and beer, spent most of the afternoon alone in the secluded grove.

When I did return to the mall and park I was still in a rotten mood, helped a little by a second bottle of Mickey's, but not much. And I was feeling thoroughly irked by all the people begging for this or that. Spare change, cigarettes, blah blah ... I got mad enough to just say NO to anyone who asked, felt like putting up a sign saying "I have NOTHING for you, leave me alone!"

To put an apt finishing touch on a lousy Friday, the man on the mat next to me at IHS later (one I hadn't seen before) either pissed on the floor or spilled some water and the security dude who spotted it thought I had done it. I said I had been sound asleep, had no idea where the wetness had come from, and obviously if I'd pissed myself my shorts and towel would be wet. He had to agree. I moved to another spot.

The fewer days I have like that in the rest of this life, the better.

817

Okay, I admit it. I am totally baffled by Mondo, just don't understand the man at all. I saw him at the mall, late afternoon on Sunday, and he asked me to spend the night at his place. We stopped in a supermarket on the way for food and beer, then sat talking and listening to the neverending radio which he oddly had tuned to a rather soppy love songs station. Unlike the last time I stayed when I urged him to remove the heavy shoes he wears, I kept quiet about it but he did take them off and eventually removed the white socks, too.

I've always loved his feet. Still do, and even more after he let me massage them. Then we had what was the sweetest, most intimate time I've spent with a man in a very long time. The Sleeptalker doesn't like his upper body being touched, won't put up with anything more than a brief pat. But Mondo let me massage his back and chest, just chuckled when I gave his cute bellybutton a bit of tongue and didn't protest when I put my hand on his jeans and felt the at-least-partly aroused object of desire. BUT ... he won't take off his pants and stopped me when I started to unbutton them. "It's not the right time and place," he said, and also said something I didn't understand about the Sleeptalker, giving me the impression he thought I was just using him as a substitute. That could be mistaken (like so much Mondo says it just didn't make sense), but if he did think that, he was very, very wrong. Oh well, it was a sweet time indeed and highly unexpected, but I do wish I knew what the real reason is he went that far but no further.

After the Friday that came from hell, the weekend couldn't have gotten worse but it didn't get much better. Saturday was essentially a bore, relieved only by Susan Howatch's entertaining Sins of the Fathers and a couple of beers, with an uneventful night at IHS.

I stopped in briefly at the computer lab early on Sunday morning but soon a massive operation began moving things out of an adjoining office so it was too distracting to do anything online. The libraries were closed all weekend. The scans for "Jesus Saves II" and the photos of the Sleeptalker were in my mailbox but I couldn't do anything with them except write the html and wait till the next morning to see how close I'd come to getting it the way I wanted. Then I sat in the secluded grove and listened to the radio.

No, I didn't go to church, just wasn't in the right frame of mind. But I did listen to a Christian station which had a bizarre dramatic "re-creation" of a conversation between Luke and some Jewish authority figure which supposedly took place after the death of Jesus when Luke was researching material for his Gospel. Much of the conversation dealt with John the Baptist whom the Jewish fellow had originally considered the Messiah (as evidently had others, until John quashed the idea).

I had one cylinder of the magic weed left, amazingly enough, so had that as my Sunday "sacrament". Yummy. At last my mood brightened a bit, and I left for the beach park, getting a bottle of Mickey's on the way. I didn't use that envelope budgeting method I considered but I did leave more cash than usual on the plastic card this time as a way to stretch the beer fund. I'd better leave more next month, because it's going to fall very short of the mark, I fear, but at least it isn't all gone yet.

The next nine-card work is still untitled but maybe I'll use the dubious Latin title for this section of the Tales. I did a little more work on it and finished a triptych which will be called "Waikiki".

And then stepped through the looking glass into the very very strange World of Mondo.

818

"What are you doing, sitting here all alone?" Just drinking a beer, working on some pictures, I said, and showed Mondo the first card of "Waikiki".
"That doesn't look like me."

That don't look a thing like me.
Oh yes, kind Miss, it most certainly does.
You must be joking.
I wish I wuz.


But unlike Dylan and the Highlands waitress, the drawing didn't look a thing like Mondo since the "model" was a dancer at the Polynesian Cultural Center, considerably more beefy than Mondo (albeit no more handsome).

It was a delightful case of wish fulfillment. Although I hadn't fallen asleep until after one in the morning, I still woke at my usual time before five, dozed for about an hour, then sat and smoked a couple of cigarettes and enjoyed watching Mondo sleep. He was snuggled up with a crumpled brown blanket and I would have been very happy to be in its place. Although he'd said he had to get up in the morning, I thought it would probably be some time before that happened, so I left and went to campus.

But I was indeed wishing I could talk to him, was eager to find out what his reaction would be to our extraordinary time together. It isn't unusual to encounter Mondo in the mall, but it certainly was a rare thing for him to look for me in the park.

I told him I had very much enjoyed our time together, that no one had gotten me that horny in a very long time (knowing he'd get the implied compliment that he was better at it than the Sleeptalker). And I said it reminded me of my school days when girlfriends would put up with heavy petting but wouldn't "go all the way". He laughed, said there was a story he wouldn't tell.

Then he complained that Sharon (whoever she may be) told everyone The Secret, had even told the Sleeptalker. And after a little more rambling on the subject, he said, "I'm a virgin."

Well, of all the stories he has told me about his life that may actually be the truth. It wouldn't surprise me at all. It would be interesting to know just why that is, whether it's a matter of choice, but he was clearly not ready to say any more than that, so I didn't push it. If it is true, then I don't want to be the one to deprive him of his status, but I'll be more than happy to enjoy repeats of the heavy petting session. Yes, much more than happy.

He said we should get some beer and go to his place to drink, but I don't think he really meant it. I agreed, though, said we'd have to go to 7-Eleven for the beer since I only had cash-on-card for it. But instead he started walking to the mall. I followed, then stopped to say hello to Joe Guam who was on a snipes hunt. Mondo walked on, but waited for me to catch up, was standing outside a mall shop which sells beer. Again I said we'd have to go to 7-Eleven. "Well, go buy the beer then," he said. I did, but only got one bottle since I didn't expect him to return to the park. I was right. I was also a little relieved since I wasn't really eager to spend the afternoon in his grubby room.

Another time ...

Paulo walked over and offered to share a smoke, so I followed him to his "encampment". Wow, such strong stuff. He said he was going to take a nap. I asked if he'd cook a steak for us later and he agreed. He spends much of his time cooking and from the samples I've had, I suspect he'd be quite a success as a chef given the right opportunity.

I wandered the mall in a happy daze enjoying the sights, especially since one of those Japanese training ships is in port. Then I bought a large slab of beef and some chunks of "Pacific salmon" in case Paulo preferred his usual fish. When I returned to the park, he was sitting with two other guys. One is Ricky, forty-four he told me later, a fellow who looks like Central Casting sent someone over for the role of a dude who has spent his life kicking around the South Pacific, has seen it all and experienced it all and somehow ended up looking quite handsome and in continual good humor. I like him very much while not having any physical yearnings, unlike the other one who was there. I didn't find out his name, a local Japanese man probably in his early 30s and with a very, very sexy body. I tried not to stare. Too much.

They decided to have the fish raw, so Paulo prepared a dipping sauce and they sliced the salmon, dipped and ate it while the steak grilled on a little barbecue. I was surprised Paulo managed to get a decent enough fire from dry leafs and twigs, but he did and it was delicious when done. Ricky wanted a glass of beer from my bottle and when I hesitated (since it was my final one of the day), Paulo said he'd give me "some buds" if I'd give Ricky the beer. A more than decent offer, and Paulo was quite generous with the greenery. He also rolled another one which we shared. The Japanese fellow took two drags and went to lay on the grass, was soon asleep (or passed out). I thanked them for the good time and headed to the mall for a snipes hunt before leaving for IHS.

The younger member of the former Airport Couple (estranged again at the moment) had the spot where the Tall Man usually sleeps so I settled down beside him, the fan on the other side.

And dreamed of Mondo. Dark, sexy, handsome Mondo.

819

As I told the psychiatrist during our Wednesday morning session, I find it very difficult to evaluate these "mind drugs". What is the effect of the drug and what is just the natural way things would have gone anyway? I noted that Neurontin had seemed helpful in leashing the manic swing so it stopped reeling quite as far out of control as it had been, but again, that might simply be it had reached its (expected) maximum and was on the way to the dreaded other side of things. I said I didn't think Neurontin was as effective in dealing with that side. But was that right? Usually after such a high manic episode it veers back to the suicidal and it hasn't gone that far this time, just into what I half-jokingly told him was "normal". Like yeukh, what the hell is the point of all this and why continue it, but not seriously considering putting a stop to it.

After all, there is Mondo. And now that I know the rules for the game, I want to play again!

In any event, we are throwing another ingredient into the chemical stewpot my brain has become: Remeron [r] SolTab [tm], aka mirtazapine, one tablet to be taken daily at bedtime unless I've (luckily) managed to get drunk, in which case I should skip it. No, I said, I haven't been really drunk in a long time. Later I wondered, but what about that memory blank after the lunch at Bubba Gump's? Synchronicity made a play again and I ran into Pedro at the mall, the first time I've seen him since that lunch. When I told him I simply didn't remember what happened he was surprised, said I hadn't seemed drunk at all to him. And in the "old days", no doubt about it, two shots of Cuervo Gold and two small glasses of pisswater (aka Budweiser) would have been just an appetizer. So, no, I agree with Pedro's assessment, I wasn't actually drunk. The memory blank was either a particular effect of tequila or its combination with Neurontin, never mind the scientific opinion that there is no interaction. Pedro couldn't help, said he had left immediately after the lunch, had gone to his cousin's and passed out for the rest of the day. So I still have no idea what I did between parting with him and somehow getting to IHS.

The psychiatrist asked for the web location of the Tales, primarily because he wanted to see the pictures. I wonder what he'll make of them? I think it takes someone with substantial experience of the narrow back alleys of contemporary "art" to see them as anything but the product of madness (not to say all the works from those alleys aren't just that).

And the severe slump on Tuesday was amusingly relieved when I suddenly knew what the title must be for the newest nine-card work. "August Rhythm", of course. [wave to Jackson]

I think that one is finished but am still not sure, shall have one more look at it when I get around to inhaling that greenery Paulo gave me. And speaking of the "old days", there certainly have been many times when such greenery would not have survived in my possession for more than an hour ...

In Sins of the Fathers, Howatch quotes two of my favorite lines from T.S. Eliot:

What might have been and what has been
Point to one end which is always present.


Yes, I must get myself a copy of Four Quartets.

While one big question in my mind is wondering how long the Sleeptalker will sulk, I have to admit Mondo has taken over the spotlight so far as the Boys are concerned. Like I said, knowing the rules, I'm sure I can play the game better and enjoy it more myself, as well as giving him more pleasure. The first time, I was too concentrated on getting to where I thought the game was leading ... into his pants. If that's against the rules, no problem. Okay, I know, some people will undoubtedly think I'm fooling myself and that playing such a game is "wrong" for all kinds of reasons (including psychiatric), but I think I know what I'm doing even if, I agree, I'm not at all certain about his motives. Never mind, if we both enjoy the game, why shouldn't we play it? And will he want to play it again?

With the Sleeptalker, I think the basic problem with that clash is that I don't approve of the way he is living his life right now. It's absolutely none of my business and I am utterly wrong to have that opinion in my mind. But although I did, of course, take extreme care not to actually say anything to reveal it, I'm sure he caught every subtle slip I made unintentionally. I really need to say less when with him. Shuddup and listen, you fool. Sheez, even The Man has enough sense to know that and to give me that advice.

Oh well, the Sleeptalker will return.

Taking the new drug at bedtime doesn't give much of an opportunity to evaluate what it's doing, so the only clue I have to its effect is that I slept until the unprecedented (at IHS) time of 5:30. One of the drug's "side effects" is somnolence, and one of its benefits is supposed to be in the area of "sleep disturbance". Hmmmm. Well, it didn't stop me from waking up just after midnight and wanting a cigarette (which I had), followed by a lovely hot shower. But I did return to sleep almost immediately, so I'd say the drug's initial effect appears quite positive.

My poor brain, meantime, must be wondering WHAT NEXT? Me, too.

820

You're way wrong ...

Yep, Mondo's power to turn me on just doesn't compare to the Sleeptalker's, I must admit. The Sleeptalker's shorts were too big and kept slipping down. So I got out my needle and thread and put some stitches in, reducing the waist by about an inch. I did it while he was wearing them, with the front unfastened to give more leeway. And my hands touching his body, even through his red-and-white striped boxer shorts, was wonderful, better than Mondo's bare back, chest and feet. At least at that moment, it had more power, a sweet Monday morning moment.

And yep, he came back. Actually, he returned on Saturday, joining the biggest hacienda reunion in a very long time, especially since the Iceman (aka Rossini2) finally got out of prison. I had gone to the University but everything was closed, so I continued on to the State Library, finally got myself a library card, and checked email, put up the note on the Tale title page about this being a very limited online week, and went to the mall. I was just in time to connect with Tanioka, Angelo and Plato. I used my plastic to buy food in exchange for beer and we went to the park. The Sleeptalker soon joined us. He looked a wreck, a red swollen eye and a huge, scabbed scrape on his knee. A fight, I assume, although no details were mentioned. I immediately got up as he approached, apologized for having said whatever it was I said to cause our quarrel and offered to shake his hand. Apology accepted.

Later I returned to the mall to get more beer and Rocky was there, so we walked back to the park together. Tanioka and Angelo went to visit Border's bookstore (supposedly, although I think the main object of the expedition was to puff on the glass pipe) and returned with the Iceman. The party continued until sunset, with a number of trips to the mall for food and brew and quite a few to the showerhouse for the glass pipe. Plato and I played the "card game" which resulted in the triptych, "Hymn to Batu". I was extremely careful with the Sleeptalker, avoided gazing at him and said little to him aside from things about the game.

And it was a delightful day.

When I woke on Sunday morning at IHS, I wondered why my backpack pillow was so hard. Ahhh, an almost full bottle of Mickey's in there. (Yes, two bottles appear to be my limit these days.) Never mind Satan getting behind me, I didn't make it to church.

A day in the park. I did a little nod to Stein with a one-card work called "Alas", with some photographic help from Helen R., continued reading Crichton's amusing Timeline, made a few changes to "August Rhythm" and decided to hold it for the rest of the month. I chatted briefly with Pedro and did a snipes round through the mall with him, buying a second beer. Then I sprawled on my beachtowel in the shade of some trees and napped for several hours.

Off then for a final snipes hunt and as I was going up an escalator, Mondo was on the other side, going down. I turned around and followed him. He was hungry. I wasn't, since I'd found an abandoned box from California Pizza Kitchen with half a pepperoni pizza in it, soon consumed. But I took him to the supermarket and used my dwindling foodstamps to get him more food than he should have asked for. The truth is, all these Boys heavily lean to the greedy side, but then who can blame them?

Plato came along. We talked for awhile but I had to leave for that last sensible bus to IHS, especially since Mondo didn't offer an invitation to stay at his place. I'm not sure whether I would have accepted anyway, I was really tired, ready to take my nightly Remeron tablet and sink into sleep.

The actual effect of that stuff supposedly won't appear for another week, but certainly its "side effect" of sleepiness is a pleasure. It's also the only medicinal pill I've ever experienced which has such a sweet taste it can be eaten like candy, never mind any liquid to help it sink into the cauldron of dispersal.

Up at 5:30 on Monday morning, on a bus to the 7-Eleven to buy two cans of coffee. And as I was sitting at the mall sipping on the first one, the Sleeptalker walked by.

Another Day in the Life, without photographic documentation this time. But the Tale no doubt shall be written ...

820a

"It's just like real life," complained the Sleeptalker about Seventh Circle. "You have to give up your ding-a-ling to make people like you."

I'm not quite sure how that applies in the game, but the meaning is clear enough otherwise. But is that the way he really feels, or is it just another rationalization for the fact that he likes giving up his "ding-a-ling"? Don't ask me, ask him. Just don't tell him I suggested it.

It would be so good to spend a day with him again when he isn't suffering batu hangover. It hasn't been that long, I know (can see from the Tales even if my mind begins to think it was eons ago). But for sure, Monday wasn't that day. He was wallowing in it. "I suck," he moaned. Never mind the implications, that wasn't what he meant. Maybe. I reminded him of Saturday and the gathering, reminded him (yet again) that all those present are his friends, care for him, and have stuck with him for many years, come hell or high water (and I suspect we've all experienced a bit of both in the ever-complex dance with the Sleeptalker). More than a bit, in my case, but then my case is more difficult, ain't it?

That damned, beautiful needle-and-thread interlude lingered too heavily in the mind throughout the day and evening, making it all too clear just what makes my case "more difficult". Four years! Sheez, the fire should have died down to a few glowing embers by now.

Somebody throw a bucket of water on me.

821

Meanwhile, we must ask, is anyone stoned in your world? Someone is acting very dopey today. Cainer's remarks about Tuesday were right on target. And the "someone" was, of course, The Sleeptalker. And on Wednesday, Cainer wrote: I was merely trying to draw attention to a decision making process that is now taking place in your life. This process is so weird and inconsistent that it seems to have been created under the influence of drugs. It may be worth asking now, what (or who) is having such a dangerously intoxicating influence? Same answer.

And the dance did have moments on Tuesday which were as volatile as any I've yet had with him.

Even though he had asked me to stay with him in the park on Monday night, he wandered off at some point. When he didn't return, I walked out to my one-time favorite spot and fell asleep, grateful it was dry and warm enough for my beach towel to be sufficient protection. But it appears they have been steadily working on the sprinklers in that area of the park and, alas, have fixed one which sprays directly across that table. So in the wee hours of the morning, I moved inside one of the shower houses. Fortunately, no one else was there and I continued my sleep until the early morning walkers woke me. And that was without Remeron's aid, because I'd had enough to drink during the long session with the Sleeptalker. Maybe not enough to really qualify as "drunk", but close.

Walking toward the mall, I saw the Sleeptalker asleep in an area which is usually plagued by police patrols. He woke as I approached, said he'd had to move, too, because of sprinklers. He didn't want to go to the University, so I left him to continue sleeping, bought coffee and took the bus to campus. The facilities at the one open library are very limited but I managed to grab a terminal for a couple of hours, finally being driven away by a young lady loudly popping her chewing gum. That has to qualify for the top ten list of most annoying sounds, along with dentist drills and those wretched blowers which scatter leaves from one spot to another.

Then I returned to the mall, bought a lunchtime beer and went to the park, sat on the grass in the shade and got out Timeline which was reaching its conclusion. The Sleeptalker found me. He had half a burger and some fries which he didn't want. He had borrowed money from The Man, not a very wise move when he has no idea when he'll be able to repay it, but at least The Man is very fond of the Sleeptalker and we aren't likely to see a repeat of the Angelo drama.

He complained about how boring it was to be alone. That quote from Somerset Maugham in the second card of "Jesus Saves II" is so accurate an assessment of the way most young Urban Nomads feel about privacy. The Sleeptalker rambled on about the game, increasingly mixing his monologue between stuff about the game and immediately switching to (the far more important) problems of real life, then back to the game again, and back, and back ..... When I finished my beer, he offered to buy another round and his monologue became almost as bizarre as Mondo's. I say monologue because I diligently limited my comments, increasingly so as he got more and more agitated. He apologized for being "an asshole" on Monday, but actually was being more of one on Tuesday. I hadn't thought him that bad on Monday, just rather boring. Of course, the pleasure of his physical presence more than counterbalanced the boring flow of moans. On Tuesday, though, it just became too angry and aggressive. I gave up by sunset, said I had to do a snipes run and was then going to IHS since the weather looked too uncertain. (It didn't, really, I was just using it as an excuse to escape without offending him.)

And during my snipes hunt I ran into one of my admirers from some time ago. I am utterly bewildered by the man, but was happy to see him. He seemed even happier to see me. As the Sleeptalker said, "it's a sin but I don't mind, you give good head." I can drop the "sin" part, but the rest surely applies, and as usual, I told myself later, yet again, "I just never expected things like that to happen at this age."

My usual place next to the Tall Man was vacant at IHS and when I woke later, I saw the other side of me had been taken by a younger man, not especially attractive but with a fine body. Good thing I'd swallowed my Remeron tablet. Even with that very close distraction, there was no trouble sinking back into sleep. But ye gawds, what bizarre dreams! Worst was a puppy who had explosive diarrhea, splattering everything with each attack. And in the midst of one effort to clean up the mess, I broke my glasses and couldn't continue, just sat down and said, "oh mama, can this really be the end."

822

One day last week as we were walking across campus, the Sleeptalker liked a young lady coming toward us, said she made him think of a "cute puppy". I reminded him I used that term about him in his first appearance in the Tales (165), which he recently read. But it took the more objective position of a reader to suggest the link to my bizarre dream about the splattering puppy since it didn't occur to me at all. [?!]

-----

and you *are* giving up.

Close, my friend, very close. But of course he knows it, too, so tries to intersperse his (also known) crap with telling me he knows it, and that he "loves" me. I mentioned Spike Jones to him, even if it jarred no memory chord. You always hurt the one you love ....

Can this really be the end? More to the point, how long
do you want to continue cleaning up after him?


It's difficult to give up on anything one has "invested" four years in, even more difficult when it's a young man who needs all the help he can get.

I don't know. I just don't know.

-----

And that's the truth.

Kory K was spending the day at home on Wednesday, ending his brief holiday most of which was spent in Hilo. So I stopped down to see him, enjoyed watching Jet Li in Fist of Legend. Although it didn't come close to being as good a film as Kiss of the Dragon, it is indeed a pleasure to watch Jet Li (even if the American-dubbed soundtrack was often atrocious). And a little bottle of sake, from organic rice (naturally, since it came from California) was appropriate refreshment. The library had been quite crowded, as it was all during this interim week, so I didn't bother returning to campus. Instead, I stopped in the cheap bookstore and was delighted to find Winston Groom's first novel, Better Times Than These on the fifty-cent table.

Off to the park with that and a bottle of Colt, followed by a second at sunset. Along came the Sleeptalker, who growled "stop showing everyone my fucking pictures" and walked on. Sigh. He had asked me to tell the Boss Lady in Seventh Circle about the pictures, should have known that telling one or two people would soon escalate. Apparently it had, but it wasn't my doing. I'd only stopped in the game briefly that morning and hadn't mentioned his pictures at all.

He must have realized that later because he arrived on campus early Thursday morning as I was waiting for the library to open. He apologized for having behaved so badly during the past few days, agreed it was likely word would quickly spread about the photographs being on the web. When we joined the rush to grab one of the few available terminals, he got one which doesn't allow telnet (or so we thought) so I let him have mine, went to the secluded grove and returned to Better Times Than These. He joined me after a couple of hours and we went downhill to get beer, returned to the grove and talked.

It would no doubt be very useful for our friendship if I could persuade myself to give up all thought of ever having sexual contact with him again. It might, indeed, be the only solution at this point. But he doesn't make such a step very easy, always eventually bringing the conversation back to his body. It is cockteasing in a way, but I think it's much more a case of his own insecurity, of feeling he has to keep me interested on that level or I might abandon him altogether. In any case, the conversation stayed calm and often amusing even after the beer was added to the mix, but I felt he was having to make an effort to keep it that way. I told him earlier how much I hated the "hangover" from an argument with him and maybe that helped prevent yet another one from developing.

He went back to the game and I lay down on the bench, napped until he returned and woke me. After a brief chat he got up to leave, turned on his way to the bus stop and held out his arms, palms up ... meaning what? I'm not sure.

I'm not sure of so much, when it concerns the Sleeptalker and our dance together.

823

Friday morning on campus, much of it online, and I then didn't touch a computer until Monday morning. If I'd had the five dollars to spare, I probably would've gone to a net cafe on Sunday, but didn't really miss it that much. And I could have gone to the State Library on Saturday but when I was walking toward it after picking up some mail, I saw Tanioka and Rossini2.

Okay, there is confusion. Rossini2 is not the Iceman, as I discovered later in the day when, once again, the subject of the infamous Vegas Trip arose. The Iceman was the one who arranged that whole thing, but Rossini2 had nothing to do with it. Sorry if you are getting confused, gentle readers, you aren't the only ones. To add to the confusion, I am renaming Rossini2 "Okinawa".

After an afternoon alternating between roaming the mall and sitting in the park reading Groom's excellent novel, I spent Friday evening with Rocky. I had enough money for one bottle of Colt and he was short only eight cents for his own bottle, so I supplied that and we sat in the park talking. Some of the conversation was almost an exact repeat of the one with the Sleeptalker. How can these guys have spent so many years together and endured (if that's the right word) so much crap from each other and not feel more secure about the bond of friendship which so obviously exists? I don't know. And with Rocky, as with the Sleeptalker (I hope to a lesser degree), he thinks the only reason I like him is because I want his body. Sigh. Sigh, especially because it isn't really important to me whether I get into Rocky's pants or not. I have the feeling, though, I shall end up having his body, possibly more to reassure him that its worth wanting than because I do want it ... if that makes sense (and it may not).

But despite my feelings of inadequacy as a "therapist", it was mostly a very amusing evening and I left for IHS feeling grateful for the blessing of knowing Rocky ... and them all.

That was reinforced by a delightful day with Tanioka and Okinawa. They had been together on Friday evening for dinner and a film. The dinner included oysters and Okinawa developed a nasty case of hives as a result. Odd he could get to his mid-twenties without knowing he's allergic to shellfish, but so it was, and they'd gone to Queens Hospital where the doctor had given him a prescription for Benadryl. So we took the bus to the mall, visited the drugstore and then a nearby bank where Tanioka withdrew more of the savings from his now-over job. As expected, he's going through that largesse at a fairly rapid speed, but at least he's taking a break from the glass pipe.

Okinawa was in the county prison for eight months and is now on parole so he is understandably nervous about doing anything to violate the rules of the parole. He's a very funny young man and I much enjoyed his anecdotes about his time in "Oh-Triple-C" and look forward to hearing more of them. As with Tanioka, there is no sexual attraction (not to say I wouldn't provide the service if requested to do so), and that does make things much easier despite the fact that I have almost nothing in common with either of them.

Tanioka wanted to go "home" to get some different clothes. His stepfather inherited the house Tanioka's mother owned and Tanioka is allowed to keep things there but cannot stay overnight. I agreed to go along for the trip and consequently saw a part of this island I'd never before visited. Aiea Heights is one of those finger-like foothills which are covered in houses. I wrote once about the view from a distance, how during the daytime it looks so tacky to see all those buildings at the foot of the mountains, but at night the lights give it quite a different, almost magical, appearance. So it was indeed interesting to actually venture into one of those areas for the first time. Okinawa and I stayed in the yard, had great fun playing with three young cats (one of them a calico kitten) while Tanioka showered and retrieved the clothes he wanted (including one shirt for Okinawa).

The view of Pearl Harbor from there is spectacular, the first time I've noted how close they have positioned the U.S.S. Missouri to the Arizona Memorial.

Back then on the bus for the long ride into downtown Honolulu where we were treated by Tanioka to McD's burgers for lunch and then to beer. After considerable debate about where it was safe to drink, we ended up outside a courthouse! Oh well, the place is deserted on the weekends, so I suppose it was a wiser choice than Restaurant Row where the security guards are dedicated to stamping out bring-your-own-bottle types, no doubt because the outside bar there wants people to pay their (inflated) prices. On the way for a second round, we stopped in the "Hell's Kitchen Tattoo and Piercing Parlor", my first visit ever to a tattoo place (almost as incredible as Okinawa not knowing he's allergic to shellfish). I enjoyed looking at the books of available designs although I did consider the photos of pierced-and-studded penises quite repellent, never mind my usual interest in that particular part of human anatomy. The lads thought my reaction highly amusing, of course. Neither found a design they wanted to add to their existing collections, though, so we went for the second round of beer and returned to the courthouse.

Okinawa has a friend at a moviehouse who will let him (and companions) in free, so they decided to see a film. I declined the invitation, said I needed to head to the mall for a snipes hunt and get myself to IHS. (They are staying at various places downtown, varying it until they get kicked out, determined not to resort to IHS at least until winter weather arrives.)

After that amusing Saturday, Sunday was something of a bore and my mood kept swinging back and forth so drastically I was muttering about these damned mind drugs ... "hey, aren't you supposed to stop this shit?" Maybe they are, but they didn't. The Quarter Hunt has become almost useless. So many of the supermarket carts are out of action since they've adopted a new design and most of the damned things have keys on chains that are long enough to allow "dishonest" folks to retrieve the quarter without returning them to a corral. Those then stay self-emptied until the supermarket collects them, and the whole mall is littered with quarter-less carts. And the baby stroller supplier has adopted a new design too, alas without the high poles which made them so easy to spot in a crowded parking lot. The Mongoose has apparently given up, and I can't blame him. I did see him whizzing around at closing time, so maybe that's his new method. It could work well during the week since I depart so early for IHS, but he lucked out on Sunday. I had already made the final sweep. He didn't miss much, though, since I only collected five quarters.

Saturday had ended with the surprisingly rare (all things considered) experience of settling down to sleep feeling rather hungry. A lesson in better management of foodstamps? Maybe, not that it will work, any more than a beer-drought at the end of each month teaches me better cash management. Sigh. Helen R. came to the rescue with brunch at McD's on Sunday morning so the "great August famine" didn't last long ... and besides, you still want to lose a little weight, don't you (I told myself). Of course, it might be a quicker method, giving up the Colt instead of food, but as they say, let's don't go there.

And Sunday ended with the quite novel experience of sitting with Rocky while he drank a beer and I didn't. He had enough money for one can of Budweiser but didn't have his ID with him, so I did the shopping, appreciated his apology for not being able to treat me and declined his offer to share the one can. He's such a sweet guy.

But then, they all are.

824

Another thing I wondered about : will it not be a problem for the Sleeptalker, if people go on your site to see his pictures and read what you have written about him ? Wouldn't he mind ?

That explosion, if and when it comes, would compare to the outburst over the pictures as an atom bomb compares to a firecracker, I suspect. But the man can't say he wasn't warned, again and again. He can, of course, claim it's all fiction. I discussed in an early Tale just why I chose the word "tale". One dictionary definition says "3a: a usually imaginative narrative of an event". And quoting myself, "all the players existed in a different reality, as many realities as there were players, and all would tell this Tale in such different ways, the reader might think the players never knew each other and that none of it ever happened." So that door is open to him.

But there is also the possibility that he just doesn't care. After reading six or seven of the earliest entries about him, he asked to see no more, has never queried what I said about more intimate moments or exhibited any curiosity about it. I'd be just the opposite, wanting to see every word, checking every day after I'd been with the writer, to see what had been said. I suspect most people would be like that, but then when we suppose what "most people" would do or think, how often are we right? Can we really have any idea?

Rocky asked on Sunday evening if I'd seen the Sleeptalker. I said no, not since Thursday. "You miss him already?" "No, not yet." "But you will?" Yes, of course. But the Sleeptalker, probably not in a conscious, calculated manner, seems to instinctively know when it's time to withdraw and wait until, indeed, he is being "missed". Perhaps his timing was a little hasty this time, but I was still pleased to see him when he and Angelo walked up to the bus stop on Tuesday morning. I was waiting for the bus to campus, the Sleeptalker was also campus-bound, but Angelo didn't join us when the bus arrived. And as I write, the Sleeptalker is sitting at the terminal next to me, already busy in Seventh Circle.

Cainer said about this last week of August: DO you want to take the road to happiness - or do you want to take the road OF happiness? If you feel unclear, this week, about the choices that lie in front of you, simply apply that little test. One of your options leads to some mythical future occasion when you MAY get something that you cannot have just yet. The other offers you joy, sweetness, safety and comfort... here, now, as we speak. So, er... which do you want?

I thought about that often during the last Monday of the month. Apt words, especially for the penniless days before the arrival of the Fabled Pension Check when the mood is so often one of just wanting to sleep until there is money in pocket again, no matter how well I know that it doesn't really make that much difference. And the weather was also thought-provoking. How different my life would have been if we had more days like Monday. Kona wind weather. Hot, miserably steamy and humid, and the "wind" a slight breeze barely stirring a feather. Everyone was complaining about it. People stood in the entrance to one of the stores where a downblast curtain of cold air protects the air-conditioned interior. "This is the bomb," said one young local man, "it's fucking HOT out there." Indeed it was. If the weather here were more often like that, I certainly would not have remained here, would have used the rest of that air ticket I had to San Diego ... and the past twelve years would undoubtedly have been a very different life.

The melting weather did make the Quarter Hunt more successful, though. I guess people just couldn't be bothered to make the extra effort to return carts, and who could blame them. Starting the day with five quarters and a few pennies in pocket, I spent two for coffee, but still had the eight needed for a bottle of Mickey's by early afternoon. I waited, continued the hunt, was delighted when a Japanese tourist left a heavy plate lunch box on the bench at the tourist bus-stop. Evidently he had decided to sample local cuisine and didn't at all like it. The box was loaded with lau lau, my favorite, along with the inevitable rice and macaroni salad. I had no need to visit the Krishna truck later.

By late afternoon, I had scored five more quarters, took a break, went to have a cold shower in the park and washed my sweaty tee shirt. My shower companions were all complaining about the weather and, as one said, it was definitely a time when the COLD water in that place was more than welcome. Walking around later in a damp tee shirt felt good, too, and I was still doing it when I went to the store for my beer.

I had finished the much-admired Winston Groom book, went on to one by P.D. James, The Skull Beneath the Skin. Brave of her to tackle such a classic whodunit set-up, a small group of people in an isolated place, all with means and motive for murder, and she, not surprisingly, pulls it off with great style. So I enjoyed continuing that with my beer and watching the sun set, then returned to the mall and found enough quarters for a second bottle!

But no, that would have made me too late for that last sensible bus to the shelter, so I kept the quarters in my pocket and thought, despite the hideous weather and lack of Bad Boys company, it had all in all been a "take the road OF happiness" day.

824a

"I feel like a scared little kid inside," said the Sleeptalker.

825

Tale 824a is all there is to be said about Tuesday, August 28th, 2001, the quintessence of an hours long conversation which easily qualifies as one of the most extraordinary and touching I've experienced.

By mid-afternoon on Wednesday I had begun to recover after waking at the unusually late time of minutes before six and feeling drained. I wonder how psychiatrists manage to avoid burn-out? I went to campus but didn't stay very long. The main Hamilton Library building has long been notorious for its frigid air-conditioning, inspiring cartoons about polar bears exiting the premises. When the new Annex building was announced, it was claimed that it would have a more temperate climate. Not so, alas. But the alternative, Sinclair Library, where the ground floor is not artificially cooled, is no pleasure in these hot end-of-summer days, either.

So I made the trip to the State Library, inspected the freebie collection and grabbed Intensity by Dean Koontz along with another book. There are very few computers there, a sign-in system making it possible to reserve one hour per day, but as usual there was no open slot without waiting around for quite some time, so I left and returned to the mall. I was feeling unusually hungry, then remembered I'd eaten very little on Tuesday. But there was nothing edible to be found. I was almost ready to give up and see what I could get with the $1.30 foodstamps remaining when I spotted a large bag from McD's left on a planter ledge. How very odd. Why would someone buy Big Mac and Quarter Pounder With Cheese meals and abandon the burger and fries, take only the drinks? No idea, but it certainly solved the hunger problem for the rest of the day.

On to the problem of thirst, then. By late afternoon I was beginning to give up on that, too, prepared to endure an alcohol-free day. Dame Fortune had other ideas, bless her, and there was the quite unprecedented bonanza of three quarters at once from carts left in the return corral. That left only one quarter to be found and it quickly was. Over to the park, then, with my bottle of Mickey's.

The Koontz book is aptly titled. Shudder.

Returning to the mall for a final snipes run, I wondered if I could possibly be lucky enough to find two more quarters for the next morning's coffee. Yes, I could. Just as I was passing a baby-stroller corral, a young Japanese couple rolled up a stroller, pushed it in and walked away, ignoring the clink-clink of those two coins.

Dame Fortune is indeed a wonderful friend. So is the Sleeptalker.

826

Two more volumes in the printed version of the Collected Tales arrived on Thursday. It was funny to be sitting in the park holding one of them, look up and see Rocky approaching, especially since I'd just been reading about him. He was with a very large hunk, a brown superman. Both of them had their shirts off and Rocky was doing an exaggerated version of his infamous Waianae Strut but still looked like a little squirt walking beside that beefcake. He greeted me as they passed but didn't stop. Just as well, I wouldn't have been able to keep myself from staring at his companion.

I'd given up on the seemingly hopeless Quarter Hunt, had grabbed an abandoned large cup of Coke at the bus stop and took it to the park. Joe Guam stopped on his way to the mall, asked if the cup was beer. When I told him it was just Coke, he laughed and said, "that's not good for your health" and spiked it with a generous splash of vodka. So much for being reconciled to an alcohol-free day (again). And when I returned to the mall for a snipes run, I saw Mondo and Plato sitting on a planter ledge outside the ABC Store. They were openly drinking Budweiser, not even concealing the cans in a paper bag. Yikes! Plato handed me a can. I thanked him and put it in my backpack, said I'd have it in the park later because I didn't feel comfortable drinking in the mall (nor, although I didn't say so, would I have been comfortable sitting with them while they were being so blatant about it).

I went on with my snipes hunt, jokingly telling Mondo he should do the same. I had been much surprised to see him sitting outside IHS on Wednesday evening and, as always, the first thing he'd said was, "You got a snipe?" I don't know why he'd been there, whether he'd slept downstairs, and I didn't get any explanation out of him, as usual.

When I finished making one round of the mall, I returned to where they'd been sitting and the Sleeptalker was with them, jumped up to give me a high five and asked me to buy beer for him since he didn't have his ID and for some reason he wanted a big can of Japanese beer. He gave me the money for that and a bottle of Colt for me. Needless to say, I didn't ask where he'd gotten the money. He and I went to the park to drink but couldn't persuade Mondo and Plato to go with us. They soon followed, though, having been spotted by a security guard and made to empty the open cans they were holding.

Mondo was already fairly drunk and was being unusually flirtatious, very sweet indeed and highly amusing. He even got up at one point to take a piss against a nearby tree and turned toward us so we could see. The Sleeptalker gave wolf whistles. I just looked, no whistles needed to show my keen interest.

The Sleeptalker was in a good mood, too. I told him I had very much enjoyed our conversation on Tuesday, that I had left only because I felt like I was going into an overload state. He complained a little later when I was gazing at him too intently but it was more of a teasing protest than a real one. And my gazing wasn't lustful, I was thinking instead of how I'd eventually come to see the Sleeptalker if I stick with my current resolve, which is to have no sexual contact with him again. It will take some getting used to.

When he finished his beer he jumped up and said, "I've got to go to Kakaako" and walked off. Strange. Mondo and Plato lingered for awhile and then they, too, went on their way.

Since the package with the printed Tales also included another batch of Arches postcards, I doodled on a couple from the first packet, amused again by the memory that evokes of expensive canvas. And then I returned to the Tales until it was time for the bus to IHS. Although I sometimes miss the "old days" when the Bad Boys were so often also my sleeping companions, reading the Tales from a year ago does make me realize just how much of a blessing the peace and quiet of nights at IHS is. I was reminded again on Friday morning when, much to my surprise, the Sleeptalker, Angelo and Tanioka arrived on campus. The Sleeptalker had returned to campus Thursday, ran into the Cherub who bought him more more beer and shared some weed, then gave him a ride to Restaurant Row. Evidently they are sleeping most of the time at the old GovSanc (which formed a major part of the Tales I had been reading) and it sounds like they had a good old-fashioned Social Horror Club time of it while I was happily sound asleep at IHS.

They asked me to join them at the movies, planning to again take advantage of that fellow who lets them in free, but I declined and they went off to the bus stop.

Sometimes this does seem like a very, very small town.

827

The Sleeptalker complained because I'd only put the photographs as a link on his personal webpage, hadn't included "Jesus Saves" one and two. I quickly altered it and he spent more time than heretofore looking at our collaboration. "That's a cool idea," he said, "we should do more of them."

I reminded him he'd said he didn't want to play with the "fucking cards" again. "I was all drunk," he said, "I didn't mean it."

No "art critic" could have provided a more treasured compliment.

I was sitting in the former Orchid Walk on Saturday morning, now the Philodendrum Walk since they gave up on the no-doubt more expensive orchids and filled the baskets with cheap greenery. Drinking my re-fill cup of senior coffee. The Sleeptalker arrived, sat down on the bench with me, complained because a Sheriff's man had kicked him out of GovSanc the night before. Once again, I encouraged him to fix his situation at IHS and, again, reminded him that winter is coming. I'd had at least achieved success with getting him to re-apply for foodstamps and Crazy Money (as you can see in Readers Write #3), but he's being stubborn about IHS.

The Fabled Pension Check had arrived on Friday, I'd gone to cash it (along with an English "cheque", about which I can say no more, and will have to wait for weeks to get the proceeds therefrom). First for the cheap Filipino cigarettes and a bottle of Colt, of course. And another bottle. And then I looked at my watch, after having possibly dozed a bit, said erk, got to get to IHS and did. Not sufficiently drunk to refrain from the nightly Remeron pill, but close.

So I had money in pocket when the Sleeptalker arrived on Saturday and we went to campus together, played Seventh Circle, of course. My lowlife thief, Quixote, was inducted into the Sleeptalker's clan and promptly got killed several times. Well, it's my first experience in the game playing a character who can attack (and, alas, be attacked by) other players, and the Sleeptalker was quite gentle about my failures.

Far more importantly than that (really very silly) game, I realized later, only about twenty-nine years late, that I should have done the same thing with the Dutchman I am now doing with the Sleeptalker. No more sex, dude, that's behind us.

What a delightful difference it makes!

828

I've never before experienced such an extended roller coaster of the mind. Even LSD trips ended after, at the most, about twelve hours. This one has been going on for days. The mood is up and down like a yo-yo. Even on Saturday of the traditional End of Summer Holiday Weekend, a day which was an especially satisfying one with the Sleeptalker, a major dip suddenly and unexpectedly appeared. And for no better reason than feeling appalled by T.S. Eliot!

I left the Sleeptalker, went downhill for another round of beer and told him to play on for about half an hour, then join me in the secluded grove. On the first trip downhill, with him along, we stopped in the bookshop. They didn't have Four Quartets but I did buy a small volume which includes Prufrock and The Wasteland. The Sleeptalker said he wanted to read Mein Kampf. [!] I didn't check to see if the shop had a copy.

So while waiting for the Sleeptalker to join me in the grove, I was reading The Wasteland and Eliot's "footnotes" for it so thoroughly irked me, my mood went from comfortably happy to miserable. Ridiculous! Absurd! Well, so I told myself; it didn't help much. But then that roller coaster car started to climb uphill again when the Sleeptalker joined me.

We stayed on campus until late afternoon, either sitting in the grove talking or in the game, and then went to the mall. He was by then fairly drunk but decided he needed to get "higher", wanted some magic weed. Fortunately, The Man wasn't around. Eventually the Sleeptalker just wandered off without saying goodbye or anything, a return to past routine. That was okay, just another sign that our friendship has regained many of those "past routines", most of them more than welcome. I was especially amused by how flirtatious he was all day, as if my saying no more sex made it possible for him to comfortably flirt.

I saw Rocky, told him the Sleeptalker was wandering drunkenly around, declined to buy Rocky a beer and went off to get my own. Sunset alone in the park, that roller coaster on a long stable curve, the beauty of the surroundings and the sky and the warm memories of the day. What glorious weather we did have for that big last summer holiday, with just a tiny hint of chill in the early morning letting us know that it may be two weeks to the Equinox, but summer is ending. That's okay. All in all, it has been a very special summer.

The campus libraries didn't open until noon on Sunday, so I stayed in the secluded grove, happy with an early bottle of Colt and Father Greeley's Irish Eyes which I'd also bought during that visit to the bookshop. Nuala Anne remains one of my favorite heroines of fiction and is always delightful company even if the plot in this one seemed a bit stretched, especially by Greeley's own standards. I was surprised the Sleeptalker didn't appear, since Monday was going to be an offline day, and without him being along, I didn't spend much time in the game. Nuala Anne is much more amusing than Seventh Circle and I was content to linger on campus until time for a sunset brew in the park. Joe Guam stopped for a chat on the way to his own favored bedtime brew, Mickey's Ice.

I'd had word that mail had arrived from Felix, so went to collect it after having my morning coffee on Monday. If it's strange that the same cast of characters has featured in my life these past four years, it's even more strange that Felix still has some of our shared cast from forty years ago in his life and, as always, his little letter was a treasure. I walked over to a nearby shop for a bottle of Colt (yes, okay, I started early on each day of the holiday weekend) and as I was returning to the bus stop I heard someone calling me.

Not those invisible voices this time, but Tanioka. So I walked back, joined him, Angelo and Okinawa for breakfast. They were all in a subdued mood, maybe in a post-batu state, and after eating they departed for some friend's place where they could do laundry. Angelo said they'd look for me later in the park, but I didn't expect to see them and didn't. That, too, was okay, but there was another strong dip in the ride. Indeed, it seems that every time I see Angelo recently, the encounter is followed by a slump in spirits or mood. The same thing had happened after their brief visit to campus on Friday.

I finished Irish Eyes, worked some more on "September Song" (another nine-card opus) and started, perhaps completed, the triptych "Labor Day". A sunset brew with James Herbert's Others ended the holiday. A strange novel for a strange time. Synchronicity?

829

With Bob Dylan's new CD due next week, it was time to replace my stolen machine. So that was the second objective on Crazy Money Day, the first being to repay the thirty of it which was already in hock. Both missions accomplished before a noon appointment with the psychologist.

I told him about the crazy roller coaster ride of the mind, said it was tempting to stop taking these drugs to see what would happen, but agreed I'd also have to at least give up alcohol as well if I was to get a glimpse of life unaided (unhindered?). He had a word with the psychiatrist after our chat and I was told to increase the neurontin intake to 1500mgs daily. Hmmmm ...

Yes, I'd said, my "relationship" was in a somewhat improved state, after he'd asked. Well, at least I think it is, haven't seen the rascal in four days. I told the doc about swearing off sex with the Sleeptalker, added that it was somewhat tempting to give up sex altogether. Wouldn't it make life easier at this point? Maybe even, wouldn't it always have made life easier, but no, there are too many sweet memories to really accept that extreme.

He was amused, I think, by the example of how fragile (volatile?) my mental state is, that ridiculous slump caused by Eliot's pretentious footnotes. Despite my grumbles at old T.S., I did nevertheless change the title of the newest three-card work to "Wasteland" instead of "Labor Day" and worked a little more on it later on Wednesday, noticing I had missed one reference to hands in that epic. (You'll see what I mean eventually.)

Rauschenberg's splendid "work with available materials" needs an addition for an artist working from a backpack and in the beach park. Work with available materials and under available conditions. Doing collage in gusting tradewinds is sometimes quite a challenge. I did succumb to a temptation I've had several times. It's often amusing when I cut something to add to a collage and find I like the other side of the snippet more than what I had intended to use, and several such "accidents" made their way into "Wasteland". My copy of the poem is now almost in shreds.

Before heading to the park for that working session, I stopped in the Cheapo Records branch which used to be more attractively called Hungry Ear to see if they had any used Dylan CDs. None, but they did have a Rolling Stones CD I'd never heard, "Stripped", from a surprisingly good 1995 Amsterdam gig. Then I said to hell with it, returned to the mall and bought the 2-CD "Dylan in Budokan" set from 1978. That should keep me musically happy until Tuesday.

Hurry up please it's time.

830

"Why are you drinking beer so early?" asked the Sleeptalker.
"Because I wanted to."
"You alcoholic! I should beat you down."
Then he begged for a drag from my cigarette.
"You tobaccoholic! I should beat you down."

-----

[----] stooped so low as to say:
: ...even if it's a PC!!!
Wow, the Great Mac in the Sky ain't gonna be happy about that!

-----

"Do you consider yourself an alcoholic?" asked the Ferret.
"Yes."

-----

the first cut is the deepest
mister stevens told us.
the tenth time was the sweetest
the panther tells you.

-----

Most of my readers will be familiar with the Internet device called the "mail-list". I could easily call it the device that came from hell, since it has caused so many difficulties in my life. I ran one myself for awhile called wmi-l [wmi=what me insane?] and terminated it after I had, in a fit of temporary insanity, dumped someone off it. That incident taught me I should not "host" a mail-list. Then, some years ago, in a fit of both temporary insanity and non-temporary jealousy, I got into trouble on another mail-list and promptly unsubscribed. Now it has happened again. This time I am puzzled. I admit, the above quoted email is a rather lame joke based on the legendary "feud" between Mac and PC users, but I just don't understand why it so offended the person referred to. Not a clue.

It did, though, and as a consequence I have no fixed address, as they say, anymore. Well, that sent me into quite a tailspin and I went looking for a post office box. No luck, nothing but waiting lists everywhere for one of the things. Fuck it, I'll use IHS. [later: changed my mind.]

Life has its funny little ups and downs, downs and ups ...

I thought the Sleeptalker was joking, just reverting to his former flirtatious mode. He wasn't. If I had arrived at my decision with the idea that it was the perfect ploy to get his body again, I'm sure it wouldn't have worked. He would have sensed the trap. But I was sincere. And that apparently made it an Everest to be conquered.

Took him three days (and ye gawds, how difficult it was to stand firm on Thursday when he pulled out all the stops), but he did it.

I am sometimes not quite such a lucky man, but other times, I am a very lucky man indeed.

831

The September Follies, minus the ice, were the best yet.

It began on Thursday. I was having an early lunch, sitting in the secluded grove with my sandwich and forty zones of malt liquor, surrounded by my friends the zebra doves who had been enjoying the (generous) bits of bread I was surrendering from the 7-Eleven's new "subs". The Sleeptalker arrived.

It ended on the following Monday, when I had to endure his post-coital angst. I'd already had mine and hadn't enjoyed it at all, despite the splendid moments which caused it.

I met the Dalai Lama.
Not the noble gentleman who now has that title.
This one was much older.
From the past, or have I been right in wondering, sometimes?
Who knows ... he wondered, too, if 'Kundun' was accurate,
and he asked Reting.

The Dalai Lama inclined his head toward me.
I met his inclination and our foreheads touched.

I have never experienced before what happened then,
Not on lysergic acid, mescal, or whatever from poppies,
or these things contemporary chemists brew.

Of course, it was only a dream.

Only.

And the Sleeptalker is mad at me.
But he has the same shoes ... or slippers ...

832

"From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,"


And from the tale of the Pied Piper apparently comes the caution, if you want to dance you got to pay the piper. The price of the piper, for dancing with the Sleeptalker, is enduring his tantrums. I know. I'm supposed to just sit quietly and let him use me as a verbal punching bag. He is probably even bewildered why I inevitably take it personally. My patience was quickly exhausted, though, and I walked off without saying a word, left him ranting in the secluded grove. I sat alone, finished the beer I'd been drinking, and listened to the Stones. "Angie, Angie, you can't say we never tried ..."

I was surprised when, several hours later, the Sleeptalker walked into Hamilton Library, looked at me with that strange expression he often gets after realizing he's gone too far, but said nothing. It was late. I told him in the game that I had to leave, would see him again when he'd gotten over being mad at me. "Okay," he replied.

The next morning, sitting outside McD's with my coffee, I was pondering how it is that the unexpected often seems to cause such distress but too much of a settled routine eventually becomes in a different way equally distressing. Days in the same pattern, over and over, with nothing but a night at IHS at the end of them. Then the Whore walked over and asked if I'd heard the news. "They've taken out the World Trade Towers," he said. I thought he must be exaggerating. He wasn't, of course. That kind of unexpected is beyond distressing.

What is there to do but stumble on with the ordinary?

And there is always plenty of that in life. The postal crisis blew all ideas of better budget management out of the water, since it was cheaper (and more sensible) to pay for the address by the annual quarter than monthly. Even the twenty tucked away for the Dylan opus went for that. I had, just to show I'm as crazy or crazier than the Sleeptalker, even considered just letting it all go ... fabled pension check, crazy money, the works. Have no postal address at all. I even considered giving up online life, too, just vanishing into the woodwork. Oh well, I don't have that much courage. Yet. And I've waited four years for Dylan, what's two more weeks or so?

Physical nuisances, too, always plenty of those. The increased dosage of neurontin leaves me feeling quite doped-up, which is okay, but I don't see that it or that nice-for-sleeping pill, remeron, really do all that much. Or did my sailing through the Sleeptalker tantrum with comparative ease suggest those chemicals are doing something? They do nothing for the main physical problem now, except perhaps dulling the pain a little. Once again the calluses have built up on the feet and the left one suddenly started shedding too large amounts of skin all at once. I've been putting an antibiotic ointment on it to, I hope, avoid infection, but it doesn't seem to be healing and may prompt yet another visit to the doc, the medical one.

The United States is attacked harder than it has been in its history and I worry about my foot.

And, too, there is that other matter, what I increasingly see as the most important part of my life (if disregarding historic events and sex with the Sleeptalker):

Could you tell a bit more on how you're working ? For example, do you add the postcards in chronological order, or do you put them in the way that you like best ? And how do you decide what will be in one work or in another ? Do you put together what you have made in one day, or with one person ? Or is it another reason that guides you ?

I bought a supply of sealable plastic bags and each work is given its own bag. It begins with a card which I am not at first sure about, whether it will be solo, a triptych or a nine-card group. That choice usually comes very quickly and if I decide it's to be a nine, then I count out the blank cards and start a new bag. The order rarely gets shifted as the blanks get filled. "Jesus Saves I" is the only one where the order is actually not what I intended, but I accepted the mix-up with the scan as a better arrangement. No accidents. The new system, where each card is an individual file, would allow me to alter the order myself, but there hasn't been any temptation to do that. So, yes, they are in chronological order although that may well change with future works. No accidents, no rules.

There are three works in progress right now. "September Song" (9) was actually begun in the last days of August and will probably be added to further (the Sleeptalker recently contributed to those). I think "Wasteland" (3) is finished. "Oahu Requiem" (9) was started on the weekend. It is a good example of how a work begins with a drawing, an idea, on the first card and seems naturally to inspire more, eventually to demand nine. And of course, what I see, what I'm reading, music I'm listening to, even scraps of paper I find often influence the content and flow from one card to the next.

The exceptions are works like "Hymn to Batu", created more as a game, where the cards are passed back and forth until a player decides he has nothing else to add to it. I'd like to do more of those, especially with Mondo or Plato. The Sleeptalker seems to find it easier to work with a card where there is already something for him to react to.

And that often mystifying young man turned up in the secluded grove on Infamous Tuesday Morning, having little notion of what had happened. I explained the highlights, tried to expound on the meaning of Jihad, and as absurdly as always, thoroughly enjoyed looking at his camouflage fatigue pants while agreeing with him that it is far too hot here right now for anything but shorts.

But at least the Jihadeers spared us the symbolic act of an attack on Pearl Harbor.

832a

Maybe it's just a basic part of human nature but what I know for certain is, I most dislike in another person that which I most dislike in myself. And it also seems to be very much a part of the Sleeptalker's personality. So we provide negative mirrors to each other. Through a glass darkly.

And it's that, I think, which is the main reason why pleasant times together so often end in shouting matches, whether physically shouting or simply doing it in the mind. So it was on Black Tuesday. I spent most of the day in the secluded grove, drinking beer and listening to the radio. Once again I was reminded of the day JFK was killed, sitting for hours doing nothing but watch television. I was tempted to go to Campus Center and watch, but the radio reports were bad enough. I didn't really want to see them playing horrible images over and over again, as they were sure to do. I know it must be very difficult for the media to deal with such things but NPR, despite the overall quality of its programming, eventually irked me. Playing snippets of sad music, asking people to telephone and then broadcasting the conversations, repeating much of the President's speech immediately after he'd finished ... it did nothing to make it easier to cope with the Sleeptalker when he'd return from sessions in the game.

I do believe he is one of the most egocentric men I've ever met. [Excuse me, I need to throw a blanket over that mirror I see before me.]

Or it may indeed be easier to stay away from the mirror altogether.

833

"Excuse me, sir," asked the young woman. "Are you homeless?"
"Yes."
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "Can you spare some change?"
[!!!]
I declined, suggested she was asking the wrong people.

In August, the Crazy Money lasted until the eighteenth, a respectable distance. Alas, in September the last of that largesse bit the dust on the thirteenth. The Follies were worth it, but I do have to ask myself if this is really the best use of resources.

I had intended to write more details during that time but since the Sleeptalker was with me through most of it the account was sketchier than it might otherwise have been. It isn't easy writing a Tale when one of the main characters is sitting in a chair next to you. Two episodes worth mentioning, though: a particularly delightful one was the morning when I met the Sleeptalker early at the mall. I was finishing my second cup of coffee (the "complimentary re-fill") when he arrived. We walked together to the supermarket where he used his foodstamps to get his own coffee. His plan was to visit his storage locker to get clean clothes and then go to Waikiki to shower. They all occasionally use the military hotel's facilities there, a place I've yet to visit. I needed to stop by the hospital pharmacy for a neurontin re-fill and the State Library for something to read, so we agreed we'd meet later at the University. At the library I was pleased to find Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence which I hadn't read in many years, and that elegant, often very funny novel provided interlude entertainment throughout the September Follies. Mondo was sitting on the steps of the library when I arrived, asked me to join him in smoking the magic weed. It was especially amusing for me that he picked a place on the lawn of the Palace. Somehow I didn't think any royal ghosts lurking in that Victorian pile would have objected.

The second especially enjoyable episode was the evening when the Sleeptalker and I returned to the beach park bearing bags from the supermarket, thick steaks and several tubs of various raw seafood. We met Rocky during the shopping trip and the three of us roused Paulo to play chef again. A fine picnic indeed.

And now it's "the party's over" time. I went to campus briefly on Wednesday morning but left earlier than necessary for a late morning appointment with the psychiatrist. I thought it was time to avoid the Sleeptalker for awhile, so I didn't return to campus even though I would have enjoyed spending a little more time in the game. Instead I spent the rest of the day in a different area of the park, much of the time listening to the radio. The aftermath of Black Tuesday becomes more and more surreal, perhaps even more than the events which triggered it. But I also enjoyed a treasure I'd found earlier on the fifty-cent cart of the bookshop, Winston Groom's Gone the Sun.

"I didn't know you were gay," the psychiatrist said. "You didn't ask," I replied. Odd that a man trained in that discipline didn't know when any young street boy seems to instantly get the clue. As usual, our chat centered on the chemical stew he is feeding me and the conclusion reached was to continue the present mix for at least another month. He'd like to exchange the neurontin for something else but is reluctant to prescribe that unless I gave up the alcohol. I told him I had reached the conclusion that the only way to do that would be to stop drinking alcohol completely since I seem to be a "classic alcoholic" (or is that "cliche", instead of "classic"), the kind who cannot manage to have one drink without going on to another ... and another ... He agreed that was probably the case.

On Thursday I again went to campus early, probably would have stayed longer but the outside link to the rest of the world went down. The timing was most unfortunate. I was mounting a major assault on one of the new areas recently added to the game, using my three highest characters (in succession ... "dual-logging" is firmly against the rules). But I got three of them into the area and was going in one after another bashing away at the very tough critters in there. Baggins, alas, died. This would have been no great problem with the others standing by to assist him. The connection going down, though, means Baggins lost everything. It will be quite a task getting him re-equipped. Such are the joys of MUD playing ...

So again it was a day spent with the radio and reading. Much to my surprise, I found two dollars in quarters just by being in the right place at the right time. The ailing foot makes any deliberate hunting out of the question, so I was more happy than I ordinarily would have been with Dame Fortune's assistance and the knowledge at the end of the day that I already had Friday's beer money in pocket, resisting the temptation to have a second one on Thursday.

One beer a day (if lucky with quarters), ashtray leftovers ... the price of a delightful Follies. I am not complaining.

834

As I was walking past the suburban bus stop at the mall, Angelo called me. I hadn't noticed him sitting there. He evidently hadn't listened to local news broadcasts, had made the trip into town for the street party which normally inaugurates the annual Aloha Week festivities. It had, of course, been cancelled. He grumbled. I said it would have looked pretty ridiculous to see images on television of people partying in the streets of Honolulu on a day which had been designated a day of prayer and remembrance. For him, it was just a nuisance. "I'm bored," he said, added that he was going back to Waianae and planned to stay there all weekend.

An echo of the final encounters with the Sleeptalker on Black Tuesday.

Jeremy Pippin wrote about it in the campus newspaper Wednesday morning, and I hope he will not object to my quoting part of that article:

By 9 a.m. yesterday I was sitting in my World History class, listening to the professor, who had graciously set the class time aside for a discussion of what was, at the time, still happening.

I happened to glance at those around me. It was a mistake, because what I saw will make me sick for several days.

The girl in front of me was doing the Ka Leo crossword puzzle.

The image disturbed me greatly. Here we were, discussing events that will shape our nation's immediate future body count estimated in the thousands had little to no interest in what was going on.

Upon further inspection, I realized that the guy next to her was listening to his headphones.

I experienced the same level of apathy all day. For every person who seemed truly affected by what was happening in New York and Washington, D.C. there seemed to be five who went about as if nothing had happened. Some even had the appalling tastelessness to crack jokes about it.


Indeed. On one trip downhill for provisions, the Old Guitar Player wanted to tell me and the Sleeptalker a joke, undoubtedly about the events of the morning. "It's not a day for jokes," I said, and kept walking.

I thought maybe it was just because I'd lived in New York City for so many years, was staggered by the knowledge that the familiar skyline of Manhattan had been so drastically altered. In a way, that had more impact on me than the horrifying death count. And saddened, shocked by the radio reports on Tuesday, I told the Sleeptalker, "maybe your way is best." Perhaps it is. I was still grateful Friday's street party and the annual Floral Parade on Saturday were cancelled, that the professional sports organizations had the good taste to cancel the weekend's schedule. I was grateful to be spared the company of people who have been able to utterly ignore Black Tuesday's events, too.

After a brief visit to campus Friday morning, I stayed in the beach park for the rest of the day, much of it listening to the radio. Again I suppose because I also lived in London for so many years, I was especially touched by the Queen ordering the service at St. Paul's Cathedral to begin with the "Star Spangled Banner" and the brief excerpt NPR played of it. They should have let it continue, but it's a minor complaint because, all in all, NPR has done a superb job all week. I am not especially fond of what seems to be a spreading device on radio, speaking with telephone callers on air, but certainly calls from those who were eye witnesses had great impact. And NPR has aired some very meaningful interviews with knowledgeable people. One on Saturday morning with an Islamic writer should be replayed widely since it shed much light on the character of Osama bin Laden who, even if not directly involved, certainly provided the spiritual guidance leading to the events of Tuesday. That should be "spiritual misguidance", as I see it, but it is important to understand there are thousands, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands, of human beings who would disagree.

What a piece of work is man.

835

Hard times, hard times. I speak, of course, of my own little microcosm although heaven knows it applies otherwise as well. I had planned to see the medical doc on Monday if the foot was no better. But it got steadily more painful on Saturday. I consulted the I Ching which rumbled ominously about "walking in danger". Okay, message received. I went to the emergency room at the hospital since the branch facility is closed on weekends. Yes, the foot was infected. A tetanus shot (ouch), swabs of the area (double ouch) and some huge red capsules of Cephalexin to be taken four times daily. The side pocket of my backpack is now full up with pill bottles.

A painfully infected foot at that time of the month when the Quarter Hunt and snipe hunting provide the major comforts of life is not appreciated (he says to Dame Fortune), but given the macrocosmic situation, one can hardly complain about the microcosmic.

To add a little insult, though ... my wardrobe at the moment consists (or did) of two pairs of surfer shorts, boxer undershorts, a tee shirt and a polo shirt. I washed one pair of the surfer shorts in the shower, draped them on a picnic table bench to dry. I walked back into the shower house briefly and when I returned, someone had stolen the shorts! Extraordinary, especially since they were rather crudely patched where their procurer had removed the store's security tag. There is something decidedly uncomfortable about walking around, knowing the only clothing for the bottom half of the body is the shorts one is wearing. Of course, many of the urban nomads exist in that state all the time, but for me, a visit to the discount clothing store goes to the top of the future shopping list.

To counterbalance the negative swing of things, Dame Fortune did put sufficient quarters in my path for a sunset brew and sent along a most unusual man for company. He looked to be in his early thirties, quite handsome, with a fine body which he kindly displayed by removing his shirt. He was sipping on little jars of sake, opened the conversation by asking me if I knew where the Krishna people were. I told him, explained it was some distance away and told him how to get there after he said he had a bus pass. Why was he interested? He thought they might help him to stop drinking so much. I suggested the Sand Island rehab center might be more effective (and is open to all who seek help). He gave me a couple of cigarettes, then asked if I wanted a beer. Is the Pope Catholic? He pulled a bottle of Japanese beer out of his small bag and gave it to me, then asked a lot of questions about IHS which he'd never visited, even for food. Eventually he asked if I knew when the last bus to Salt Lake left. Why? Because he lives there! How peculiar. He had seemed to be a homeless person, or I had just assumed he was, despite the fact that he obviously had money. When he got up to leave, I ran my hand across his admirable chest and he didn't protest. I won't mind at all if he makes a second visit to my world but also won't be surprised if I never seen him again.

Early on an extremely gloomy, cloudy Sunday morning, I spotted Mme de Crécy at the beach and we chatted for awhile. I gave her "Wasteland" and "Oahu Requiem" for scanning. (Remember, the "Requiem" was begun and named before Black Tuesday and has no connection to the events of that historically dreadful day.) So there shall be some new pictures in the exhibition soon.

As we were walking, I found a penny. I told her I always regard that as an omen, a signal that it will be a lucky day. I had my doubts, however, about Sunday. Only fifty cents in pocket toward a daily beer and the foot still too uncomfortable for much exploration. The signal was right, though. I found a crumpled dollar bill on the sidewalk in the mall. How fortunate to have walked down that path at just the right time. I should, of course, have waited until sunset for the brew but the remaining needed quarters came too soon, so it was a mid-afternoon treat instead and then, despite Remeron, I had a little trouble falling asleep once I got to IHS. Seeing Mondo there shirtless didn't help, either. He smiled and waved from across the room but I didn't see whether he was sleeping upstairs or downstairs, didn't see him anywhere in the morning when I left.

So aside from that brief glimpse of handsome Mondo and the almost equally brief chat with Angelo on Friday morning, it was a weekend without the Bad Boys. I had been wondering if I should declare October a month without them, hide away somewhere off our usual paths. But the weekend verified what I already strongly suspected: I would miss them.

836

One must remember, of course, that Dame Fortune is in control of both extremes of that thing called Fate and all points in between. She has smiled on me often during these four years of being Homeless in Honolulu. For that matter, she has smiled often on the United States of America in recent times. I suppose neither of us has any reason to complain if she now bestows some frowns.

And although even as a child I positively loathed the Pollyanna books, thought her a very silly girl indeed, it's easily possible to see how things could have been far worse and look instead at things like she would have. My postal crisis could have come at a time when I simply didn't have the cash to obtain an alternative instead of just depleting the reserves. I could be living in a place where an infected foot would not have had medical resources available to deal with it. And it was a matter of only a few hours to set up free alternatives to online life, even if the price of the piper in that case is annoying automatic "signatures" on email and those equally irksome little advertising boxes on Geocities, the temporary home of the Tales.

Yes, it could have been much worse.

Even so, I'm not enough of a Pollyanna to avoid looking upon September 2001 as the Month That Came From Hell, and I suspect a great many people would agree with me.

My own little problems are so irrelevant it does indeed seem like whining if I complain, so I'm not (honest!), but it would have been more kind if some people hadn't made things even worse. Such as this, from the Seventh Circle noticeboard:

Mon Sep 17 17:12:57 2001
To: All
Well this is my note to tell all you guys that
I will not be around so much to play mud anymore
for awhile at least, because my auntie wants me to get a job and stuff :)
well i need to work anyway because im sick of hanging around bumbs
i will be able to play whenever i get to find the chance but
i need to take care of myself and buisness to.

so the very best of luck to you all
untill we meet again ...


[signed by the Sleeptalker, of course]

A reader said she hoped no one in the game would take it personally. Probably only one, I said.

Meanwhile, on with the so-called necessary things of life, like eating, drinking, sleeping. No drinking on Wednesday, alas (well, not of anything very interesting anyway). The infection in the foot is subsiding but it is still quite painful and doesn't seem to be healing, so doing more than essential walking is unwise. I hocked twenty dollars worth of future income on Monday, but that was gone in two days. No, not all on beer, either. Along with the troublesome foot, the right ear is misbehaving, going into "plugged-up" mode much of the time. It was a problem which plagued me in the months after the hospital. It began while still in there and they gave me an antihistamine to solve it. I thought then that all it might need was a good cleaning, but they ignored that suggestion. So I bought one of those "earwax removal kits". Maybe I should've bought antihistamine instead, but really, do I need yet another pill bottle in my life???

[The temptation to throw ALL those bottles away has been strong now and then this week, but I must admit the antibiotic appears to be working away effectively against the infection, albeit somewhat slowly.]

I've deliberately hidden out when not on campus, avoiding all encounters with the Bad Boys and other regulars at the mall and beach park. I read Pearl Buck's Death in the Castle, quite unlike her more profound works but lightly entertaining. And I found a copy of Julian May's Jack the Bodiless which is fascinating science-fiction (even if its title suggests a bloodsoaked thriller). I've neglected that genre recently, except for Card and Clarke. Yarns about the distant future are just too far removed from relevance to so-called "reality", but right now a little escape from that condition is certainly not unwelcome and this is an elegant one.

A benefactor appeared who promises to make possible a return of the Tales to their original home at LavaNet. In the meantime, they will appear here at Geocities along with, alas, the obligatory pop-up boxes.

It could have been worse.

837

"You're my Peggy Guggenheim."
"I wish!" she said.
"Me, too," I echoed. But in this little microcosm she is indeed much closer to being my Peggy Guggenheim than I am to being her Jackson Pollock.

There have been many instances recorded in these Tales which rate as incredible "coincidences", but I think the one of the penultimate Thursday of September gets top prize. Not long ago I received an email from an address unknown to me, someone who had been reading the Tales for a long time. It came from Hotmail, so there was no way of knowing the geographical location of the writer. The name also gave no positive clue as to whether the writer was male or female and I, incorrectly, assumed male.

What I didn't know until Thursday was that I'd met the writer quite a few times in the past years, that it was indeed a "she" and one who had been repeatedly kind to me, even helping to inspire the segment of the Tales denoted as the kindness of strangers.

Sometimes months would go by without seeing her, but every time I did, she would give me money ... at times only a couple of dollars, but as much as a twenty. It was puzzling (both to me and the Bad Boys who heard the story), but no doubt about it, it was also a blessing and often those meetings seemed to happen just when they were most needed.

Then I had an offer from the writer to provide continued Internet access via LavaNet, a far more valued option than the freebie paths of Yahoo and Geocities. What happened was that InterpacNet discontinued direct telnet access. The "ssh" option wasn't available via the public access terminals at the University. So I had to call upon Kory K's assistance in order to put the link to Geocities on the nahenahe.net Tales site, but there was no question of being able to directly continue the Tales there.

Now for the justifiably-labelled "remarkable coincidence":

I was plodding through the mall, despite the complaints from the still-ailing foot. After two days of (limited) hunting, I was still one quarter short of that by then much desired forty zones of malt liquor. Then I woke up. Technically, the Crazy Money is still not exhausted! There's sixty-seven cents of it left on the card. So I belatedly realized I could go to 7-Eleven, have them charge fifty cents cash from the card, and pay the rest from my hard-won coins. I was just about to do that when I ran into my Peggy Guggenheim. And in her hand she was carrying an envelope addressed to LavaNet, an envelope containg a check in payment for my account there!

She had suspected for some time who I was, had connected the crazy old man she'd been kind to for so long to the writer of these Tales. I, of course, had not a clue about the connection.

Pardon the language, but that is fuckin' amazing.

I delighted in the amazement as I emptied that much-desired bottle with the sunset and then ran for cover when the rain started, did a brief hunt for snipes and got on the bus to IHS, still feeling somewhat stunned. And oh how much easier it was to fall asleep once I got to the Black Hole ... the combination of a bottle of Colt and Remeron is indeed a blessing.

As is having such a generous benefactor.

My appointment with the (medical) doc was early on Friday morning. The foot is apparently still infected so I am on the antibiotics for another ten days and will see the doc again on Crazy Money Morning. Is seeing a doc on "payday" becoming a tradition? I asked for and was given a pneumonia shot (ouch again) and was pleased to see from the info sheet given me that it's good for five years. And my ears were "irrigated". Some pretty gross stuff was removed from them, one chunk so large the doc did it instead of the nurses, and they exclaimed when he showed it to them. Decades in the making, that sculpture!

Now I can hear TOO well, perhaps.

Just to make absolutely certain I am not joining the ignore-it-all crowd, Dame Fortune arranged to have the morning newspaper on a bench in the Philo Walk. And I, of course, followed my traditional pattern of picking up any reading material which falls in my path. Mister Bush has some fine speech writers.

838

"I'm not a true alcoholic Lucille found that out years ago don't you know the liquor's a safetyvalve for a supersensitiveegocentriccowardly personality?" My favorite line from Julian May's very elegant novel. (She uses the device of running words together when one of the characters get over-excited in a telepathic conversation.) I'm happy it is the first volume of a trilogy and am eager to read the others. But there are altogether nine books set in this splendidly imagined universe of hers, a promise of many hours of happy reading ahead.

In less happy reading, the Sleeptalker struck again:

Subject: Friends
Fri Sep 21

dear Quixote,

We've been friends for a while now
i dont know what gets on each others nerves but to continue to be a member of it
be a little more friendly guy towards me
i know you have a bad drinking habbit so the next time you drink
i dont want to say anything to you or to me
to get you kicked out of the clan

i really have no beef with you exept for your bad mouthing
i really want you to stay even if you know nothing about being a pkiller

and i dont know i i still keep you
maybe its because you try your best.
just keep doing good and level to where
you are a help and not a pain


Julian May's novel did indeed provide much better reading than the dear Sleeptalker's rants on the Seventh Circle noticeboard, but it's of course impossible to ignore the Sleeptalker, difficult not to be depressed and/or hurt by this lengthy tantrum and to spend more time than I probably should be figuring out his real motives. And feeling sorry for him.

I think the reader recently quoted in Readers Write is correct in suggesting the Sleeptalker's rants about a group or type of people are not personally directed at me, even if I am clearly a member of that group. But this of course is a direct personal arrow and the tactic of posting publicly in the game is a new one.

I had taken a break on Friday from all the computer work and switched to play mode for awhile, looked in on the game. The Sleeptalker was playing, presumably from Sinclair Library since he wasn't at Hamilton. He said nothing at all to me, but was evidently busy writing and posting the above. This one has gotten more reaction from other players than did his previous post, mainly because of the "be nice to me or you can't be in my clan" routine. I considered simply retiring my player Quixote, along with a number of other possible reactions, but decided to just keep quiet about it and let Quixote take a vacation. It might not be a bad idea for all of my players to do likewise but I do enjoy the game and have to admit to being irked at the idea that the Sleeptalker might have the power to deprive me of playing. So one part of me is saying "screw him, I'll do what I like" and another is wanting to just drop the whole thing, the game and him, while yet another is, as I said, feeling sorry for him.

In any case, it hardened my resolve to make some changes in my lifestyle when October arrives. That mood wasn't changed on Sunday morning when I was sitting in the secluded grove talking to the Cherub and the Sleeptalker arrived. I returned his handshake but otherwise ignored him and continued to concentrate on the Cherub's amusing, although unfortunate, account of his recent attendance at a family (mother's side) gathering. He got so drunk there and misbehaved so badly, they called the police and he was locked up for one night! I asked him if he was subsconsciously trying to get disinherited and got a sheepish grin in reply. Silly fellow. He quit his job, using as an excuse the fact that his previous boss left and he didn't like the woman who took over. So he's concentrating on school, is flat broke and can't expect any aid this soon after his misbehavior since his father heard about it (of course) and soundly scolded him. The life of a drunk.

I'm afraid my own life isn't a drunk one at all these days although I did, much to my surprise, find enough quarters on the Equinox to supplement the pennies left on the Crazy Money card, financing forty zones of Colt. Yummmmm. Autumn arrived cloaked in a beautiful, sunny day and I should have spent more time outside enjoying it since Sunday was another one of gray, gloomy clouds and occasional light drizzle. The foot improved noticeably although it still complains if I do too much walking without taking frequent breaks. And as always, these "wide range" antibiotics leave me feeling like my insides are a bombed wasteland.

All in all, I'd say this is a time of stumbling around, not a mode of existence I particularly enjoy.

839

The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer and sweat
Of men half-clothed, or less
Wheezing, coughing, stretching
Lining up in underwear or naked
Waiting for a shower

The morning comes to consciousness
A dream remembered
Of many forgotten
A man, a woman, a cat unknown
Ejaculating man in torrents
Upon the floor, upon the cat
Indignant feline leaping up
Running, hiding beneath a chair
Wetting a cloth to help
To help the cat in its washing

The morning comes to consciousness
Wondering, what day is this
And does it matter?


respectful nod to Mister Eliot


840

From the newspaper, a copy of which was yet again laid in my path and which I yet again dutifully read:

"They teach us the Holy Quran, and Maulana Samiul Haq says jihad is right and correct," said Abdul Bar, a 16-year-old Afghan student who studies the Quran all day.
Asked if he was worried about a possible war, Abdul Bar shook his head.
"I'm not afraid," he said, "I'm ready. Yes, I'm really ready."


"Would you fight in Afghanistan?" the Cherub asked the Sleeptalker.
"Duh. What you talking about, man?" was the unspoken mental response. The Cherub sensed it as well as I did, said he would not, he would go into hiding first.

It was a meeting with what I see as two extremes of the current time. The young man who is well-informed, yet utterly cynical and has reached a decision that he will not surrender his life in the cause, the other young man a supreme example of those who manage somehow to totally ignore it.

As I told the Sleeptalker on September 11th, "your way may be best".

Meanwhile, I am grateful no reader said to me about the situation with the Sleeptalker, "you're taking it way too seriously." I know that. I did appreciate the remarks from an always perceptive reader which I have added to the third Readers Write, observations I agree with completely. The Sleeptalker's chronological age may be 26, but it is absolutely necessary to understand his real age is at least ten years younger.

But my patience is not infinite and I believe it is in his own best interest, too, if I stop letting him get away with his tantrums, stop agreeing to his method of pretending it never happened, continuing with business (or friendship) as usual. When we left the secluded grove on Sunday, the Cherub and the Sleeptalker headed to Sinclair Library. The Cherub had some films to watch for his "History of the Cinema" class, the Sleeptalker was of course heading for Seventh Circle. (I told the Cherub his must be one of the most interesting options on campus.)

I wrote not long ago about the Sleeptalker's apparent intuitive knack of knowing how long to stay away until I started missing him. It has gone astray this time. I think he knew it, expressed it in the grove when he muttered to himself, "what am I doing at UH?" But he tried again. I went to Hamilton Library, worked on my web stuff for awhile, took a break, and then returned to the library, entered the game. The Sleeptalker wasn't there. But he arrived a little later, said nothing for awhile, and then asked for a special sword he knew I had. Amusing, isn't it, how often a "special sword" is involved? [Who said Freud is irrelevant?]

I told him that sword had been lost in the recent infamous episode in which my poor Warrior, Baggins, lost everything. No comment from the Sleeptalker.

A little later he told me he had drunk a beer but still had half left. Now, what was that? He had already bragged about having four dollars, even pulled the paper out of his pocket and counted it, while the Cherub and I were commiserating over our state of pennilessness. Was the Sleeptalker waving a half-bottle of beer at me as an invitation? Was it more bragging? I don't know. I said nothing, soon left the game and the campus, returned to the mall.

There had been no "magic penny" in the morning. Okay, call me silly and superstitious, but it seems always to be the case. If I find even one penny in a morning, more coins are very apt to follow. No pennies, no joy. So it was on Sunday, the second brew-less day of September. Yet one more reason to reinforce the idea that it is indeed the September That Came From Hell.

I had no intention of aggravating the touchy foot with lengthy explorations, so just resigned myself to the situation, went to IHS a little later than I should have. Ugh. Stuck in a spot with bodies on all sides, the first time I have been so doomed. I must remember, in the last week of the month, one must get to the shelter earlier.

Monday morning. Sunshine again. I had nothing to read with my morning coffee, so pulled out the little volume of T.S. Eliot's poems and read his Preludes several times. Thus, Tale 839. The first two lines are his, although I added "and sweat" to the second.

Then a rather handsome, quite sexy man looked deeply into my eyes, his hand provocatively brushing my forehead ... and said ...

No, not a nice steamy sex scene (which has, alas, been missing from these Tales for too long.)

Alas indeed, he said "cataracts".

I added yet another doctor to my abundant collection, an eye doctor this time. I need stronger reading glasses, which poor man's insurance in this State happily will provide, but there are also "mild cataracts" in both eyes which account for my feeling in recent months that my distance vision has been growing weaker. He also told me there would be a decrease in color perception. As I was leaving, I mentioned that I had been studying with some sense of horror the pictures of before-and-after cataracted eyes in the waiting room, so "cataract" was not a nice word to hear. "But yours are mild" he stressed, "and we'll see you next year."

Okay.

Kory K kindly gave me a pair of glasses which block ultraviolet rays. Happily, they are "mirrored" so when wearing them I can stare abundantly at any obscure object of desire without being noticed.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

840a

Two after-thoughts:

I revised 838. Sitting in the mall on Sunday evening thinking about it, I had an inward grin. Damn, I'd forgotten the Tales jinx. If I say in a Tale I will not do something, I invariably do it. So I zapped one phrase from 838.

And about "Oahu Requiem" ... it is the least successful "translation" into computer images thus far. Or at least I think that is the case. It seems to me much better in its real state. I was, of course, aiming at a more minimalist work and looking at the actual cards, they had reached the stage of completion. Looking at it as a computer image, I am less sure.

An interesting puzzle. Do I work to make the images successful on the computer, or do I work with paper, knowing any "reproduction" is less likely to capture my intent?

I'll go with paper.

841

Sunday gray and gloomy. Monday and Tuesday bright and sunny. Wednesday gray and wet. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, no magic penny in the early morning, although one did turn up at about eleven o'clock Tuesday morning, perhaps an omen of the two quarters found later? Early Wednesday morning, a dime! So it may be wet outside but must surely be a lucky day (it's not yet nine o'clock, so we'll see).

Aldous Huxley is a writer I much admire and I am deeply grateful for his books. But I have never liked Brave New World and I see I still don't. It was on the fifty-cent cart at the bookshop so I thought I'd give it one more try. No, it's a rather silly book and in the Forward to this edition, written more than a decade later, Aldous seems to agree with me. Certainly some of the ideas in the Forward for improving the book could have succeeded, but I understand his reason for not revising it. I won't read it again.

I usually don't much like the last week of the month, either, and September 2001 is no exception. IHS is so crowded, everyone having exhausted their money and having nothing better to do than plop their bodies on floor mats and watch television from about 7:30 to 10:30. And they have the volume turned so high that you can feel the vibrations in your body, even if the earplugs help protect the ears. I really don't think Remeron is doing much but I'm happy, at least, to have its assistance in falling asleep despite the light and noise and more often than not utterly banal rubbish spewing forth from that demonic picture machine.

I'd written that much, then looked in on Seventh Circle to see who was playing. No Sleeptalker, who hasn't appeared since Sunday. Then the university network went down, just as Gabriella had started a fight. Gulp. I left Hamilton, surprised to see sunshine, went to the Bookstore to see if they had the "Student Planner" for this semester. They didn't. On to Sinclair Library. Network back up again, Gabriella had survived despite getting dumped (a fight continues even if you lose connection, one of the perils of Internet MUDs). I noticed on Ryan's collection of links to journals one I hadn't seen before: Wilbur Wong. It's visually challenging, but I was amused to discover he works at the Keller Hall helpdesk. Maybe he'll let us know when all those new Macs they have put there are up and running, although it obviously is going to be a stand-up facility, intended no doubt for quick checks of email, equally obviously not intended for Seventh Circle enthusiasts. UH does need more public-access terminals than they have now.

Since the competition for terminals was heavy, I left campus, thinking perhaps I'd return later in the day. I had counted my coin collection after finding that early dime, thought I needed only one quarter for a lunchtime brew. It took so long to find that quarter I was beginning to wonder if the "Coin Oracle" had failed. Then I counted the coins again, discovered I'd made an error and was still seven cents short. Back to the hunt. The Ferret was sitting outside the supermarket. At last, a chance to use the "brother can you spare a dime?" line with someone who is old enough to get the reference. He gave me a quarter and some pennies! So off to the park I went to enjoy the mid-day shade with the green bottle and Shirley MacLaine's Dancing in the Light, a thoroughly enjoyable book.

I kept my nails long because if I didn't, I unconsciously picked at my cuticles, sometimes even until they bled. Someone had told me once that I did that because I was attempting to peel away the outer layers of myself in a desperate unconscious attempt to reach the core of myself. Pop psychology, maybe, but probably some truth to it. That immediately brought to mind the Sleeptalker and his habit of chewing away at the skin around his fingernails. And he came to mind once again with: When, oh when, I thought, will I ever learn to be mature enough not to allow the problems of others to become an even bigger problem for me? Uh-huh, a very good question indeed.

Pedro walked over to my table, the first I've seen him in a long time. He has cancelled plans for the trip home to the Philippines. His cousin is asking for an increase in the money Pedro pays to use the cousin's sofa for a bed, so Pedro says he will be staying at IHS instead. His saying that reminded me, at the end of November quite a few local residents will lose their welfare money due to the new automatic cut-off (Crazy Money is not affected). With that and with winter approaching, they may have to get bunk beds at IHS.

He went off to the mall in quest of snipes. I took the bus to check my mailbox. Aha, that morning dime was right. A little melon had fallen from heaven.

842

"You know and I know it's better if we don't get drunk together," I told the Sleeptalker, resisting his suggestion that we should have another round of 40's. But if there had been any intention to resist earlier, it would have totally melted after he gave me one of the warmest, most affectionate hugs in my experience. What he didn't know was that Shirley MacLaine had already laid the foundation. Her account of the tempestuous time she had with her Russian friend was most helpful to me in the way it related to my own similar friendship with the Sleeptalker.

No, we don't have the enormous cultural gap she had as an American with a Russian, but I think it's almost as great. The Sleeptalker is a local boy and I think he has always existed with the same immunity to events on the world stage as he does in these troubled times when it seems almost impossible any man can do so. We meet in so many ways as complete aliens would. Even sharing the same native language (more or less) does little to bridge the differences which are the inevitable result of having such different backgrounds and the age difference certainly adds to the difficulties, as do the various substances we both enjoy from time to time. Yes, it is better if we don't get drunk together, definitely better to avoid each other when the glass pipe is filled. But our delightful time together at sunset on Thursday, aided by one 40-ounce bottle each, is proof that we can interact and enjoy that interaction. And imbedded in "September" is a significant phrase, I think: "pakalolo is the answer".

I was very happy to hear that he is working out his problems with IHS, has one more clean-up detail to do before being fully reinstated. We agreed that we both hate the place, but with winter coming and no other options immediately available, it is wise to keep it as a sanctuary. We talked about it, along with the usual chat about the game and the other Boys. Earlier I had been combining Tales into larger groups, preparing for the larger combining which will take place when the Fourth Year ends on the seventh. I stopped to read bits of them and so was amused when the Sleeptalker said he much preferred Angelo when he was homeless. Yes, I feel that way, too. Angelo's surprisingly long stay with his sister has almost turned him into a Householder (and yes, the "cultural gap" between Nomads and Householders is indeed a wide one). Reading about earlier times with Angelo and comparing how he was then to how he has been in recent months, it seems almost like two entirely different men.

I'd been on campus for several hours on Thursday morning, then went to the State Library. There was nothing very interesting in the freebie collection, so I looked to see what they had by Julian May. Heavy though the hardcover edition is, I used my new library card for the first time and happily put Diamond Mask in my backpack, the second volume of her Galactic Milieu trilogy. While downtown I dropped off "September" for scanning (having decided several days ago to drop "Song" from the title). For the first time since work began on the Honolulu Exhibition there is nothing currently in work, although one of the first things I bought with that "melon" was a new tube of Duco Cement and I have the idea for the first card of the next nine-card work.

When Felix and I were so diligently working on the Dada News, we discovered that Duco Cement is one of the best options for working with collage. What we didn't realize for some time is that we were unknowingly turning ourselves into glue sniffers! That was especially true for me since I was working in a much smaller enclosed space. It's difficult to know what played the biggest role in the creation of those pages, the superb marijuana and occasional LSD we consumed or the undeliberate glue sniffing. The trade winds will eliminate any chance of glue fumes playing a part these days.

I wouldn't complain in the least if the other influences on the Dada News were more frequent now, though. Or if there are more hours with the Sleeptalker as happy as those on Thursday.

843

I must tread carefully here if I am to keep my resolution to remain silent about much of what is happening on the world stage and especially in this country. The Sleeptalker, after his lengthy silence on the subject, finally finished his internal pondering and asked, during our sunset time together on Friday, "why do they hate us so much?"

He had been playing the game in the morning from Sinclair while I was at Hamilton. Then he joined me in the secluded grove and I shared my bottle of Colt with him. The conversation then was lighter, mostly about the game, and I was much amused at his reaction when I said Bob Dylan's new CD was top on my October shopping list. "He still sings? But he's old." Indeed, my son, he is. "Is he still handsome?" Hmmm, much as I admire Dylan, I have never considered him handsome and said so. Then I mentioned that James Taylor was coming in October. "Who's that?"

Did I mention cultural gaps?

He had his final punishment duty at IHS in the afternoon, I wanted to check my mailbox although I didn't expect to see anything in it. No magic penny in the morning. So he went back to play the game for a little while longer and I left campus, saying I'd be in the park at sunset if he wanted to join me, but I didn't know if I'd have money for beer. The Coin Oracle was right, as usual. An empty mailbox. I went back to the mall and the Quarter Hunt, since I needed five if I was to buy even one beer. It wasn't very successful, and the snipes hunt wasn't much better. Then I saw Pedro who gave me three dollars! What goes around comes around. So I bought a bottle of Colt and went to the park. The Sleeptalker soon joined me, said he'd seen Pedro who had told him there would be drink in the park.

And so what did I say to his question? Well, I explained more about Islam than I'd told him in our previous conversation which touched on it. And as I'd also said to Mme de Crécy recently, I said I thought the answer to that question and, more importantly, finding the proper way to correct the situation is the main lesson of September 11th. I told him that killing Ossama bin Laden and turning him into a Martyred Hero, probably even to many a Saint, would really solve nothing. (I am keenly aware this is a minority view.)

The conversation drifted to religion in general and there, of course, we have what is probably the biggest gap, chasm even, between me and the Sleeptalker. His bizarre personal version of fundamentalism yields not an inch to science or logic. I no doubt make it even worse because of my faulty memory, at one point confusing the stories of Noah being discovered drunkenly naked by his sons to Onan spilling his seed. It is probably one subject the Sleeptalker and I should just avoid discussing

And another good reason for avoiding it is its inevitable straying into talk about sex.

Gap, chasm? We are talking Grand Canyon here.

But it was, despite being lively to the point of almost-heated, a most interesting debate which continued through a second beer and ended, gracefully, by him, jumping up and shaking my hand, saying he'd see me the next day. In fact, I saw him about an hour later. He was sitting in the courtyard at IHS talking with some people I don't know. He had just finished rolling a cigarette so I leaned over to light it for him, got one of his best grins in return, patted him on the shoulder and went upstairs to sleep.

On Thursday night, Maria Callas was in my dreams. On Friday, it was Bob Dylan. Cool dreams. Cool guy, my friend the Sleeptalker.

844

October arrived with an unusual day, dreary gray and wet in the morning but changing to clear skies and sunshine by mid-day. It also brought a most unwelcome gift, a head cold. Not the flimsy summer variety which so quickly comes and goes, but a real Blue Meanie. I took advantage of the surprising change in weather, stayed on the beach most of the afternoon soaking up sun and splashing in the ocean, a pattern which was repeated on the second day of the new month.

Of course, I expect this to be a "sickly" winter. How can it be otherwise, sleeping in close proximity to fifty or so men, touching railings they have spread their germs on, etc. etc. (not to mention the usual hazard of sharing keyboards with hundreds of students at the university). Maybe this early affliction will start to build some immunity? The Pollyanna approach again.

The Coin Oracle is not infallible. There was no magic penny on Saturday morning but the mailbox held good fortune. Thus, the September Follies (late) or the October Follies (early). Not quite as exotic as its predecessors, at least so far as refreshments are concerned, but good fun nonetheless. I had checked my mailbox, was waiting for a bus to the check-cashing place, when the Sleeptalker got off a bus, having spotted me. He was on his way to campus. At first he thought of tagging along with me, but when a bus didn't arrive for awhile, I encouraged him to continue on to campus and play the game (which he was clearly itching to do), told him I would join him as soon as I'd cashed the check.

By early afternoon I'd had enough of computer life, suggested he either stay and play while I went downhill to get beer, or else we'd go to Magoo's. This is a beer-and-pizza place with outdoor tables along the sidewalk, popular with the students as much for its cheap beer as its very good (although not so cheap) pizzas. The promise of a pitcher of beer won out over the game. After we shared one pitcher of Budweiser, I bought another, shifting to Murphy's Stout for myself. Since it seemed likely we'd settle in for the afternoon, I gave the Sleeptalker change to telephone the Cherub and invite him to join us. Just before he arrived, I ordered a pizza and another round of beer. The Sleeptalker asked for jukebox money which I gave him, then spent another dollar to pick some music myself, and it was a jolly party. After sufficient beer, the Cherub began to say some quite profound things, especially about "being still". An odd place to have such a discussion, surrounded by the sounds of televised football, assorted songs on the jukebox, and just overhead another television with CNN playing silently.

As sunset approached, I decided the wisest thing to do was to gracefully exit.

Sunday also featured the company of the Sleeptalker and the Cherub, this time in the secluded grove. I spent little time in the game, was more interested in the third volume of Julian May's Milieu trilogy which I'd bought that morning. But the Sleeptalker took frequent breaks, joined me in a trip downhill to get beer and food, and the Cherub came along later. By the time I headed off to IHS, the Fabled Pension Check was history. It was a fine finale to a hideous month.

So a new one is here and I sniffle my way through the last days of the Fourth Year. I am amazed and not a little appalled by the American ability to commercialize anything and this time the main reason for eagerly wishing for the Crazy Money is the freedom it will give me to escape the mall.

845

Thinking more about the lengthy session with the Sleeptalker and the Cherub at Magoo's, one thing that especially amused me was my attempt to discover more boundaries, so to speak, of the cultural gap between me and these young men. I asked what film had first impressed them as a child. For the Sleeptalker, it was "Star Wars". [sigh] The Cherub surprised me by saying "Wizard of Oz", but I assume that was from television. I probably would have had that as a choice, too, had I seen it as a child. As it is, I think my answer has to be Disney's "Bambi". That one has pretty much banned venison as a menu option for the rest of my life. Even on the rare occasions I have eaten it, I felt guilty.

Another development with the Sleeptalker I've failed to report. After his two-month suspension from the Crazy Money system, his social worker arranged an appointment with a Qualifying Doc. The Sleeptalker missed it! So this time he is suspended for three months, will get nothing but food stamps until January. I can only assume his subconscious mind is telling him he's better off without the Crazy Money. And it may be right.

Meanwhile ... I went to the State Library early in the week, seeking something to idle away the time between finishing May's splendid epic and the arrival of the Crazy Money. I wasn't keen on lugging around another heavy hardcover tome, but did have a look at their fiction collection. It's truly a pitiful one, unless a great many things which should be there and weren't are out in circulation. One could check the computerized catalogue, of course, but I'm old-fashioned, still enjoy just walking amongst the shelves and seeing if anything commands my attention. Even in such a poor collection, some things did, but they were all too heavy to consider.

The freebie collection was, as it has been in recent months, even less interesting but I did stash two things in my backpack. Unlike the subject of her book's own writing, Nicole Hoyt's Danielle Steel seems clearly a book which was written for the money. Although she apparently had no assistance from Steel or her close friends, there's little excuse for such lazy research work. More than half the book is flimsy plot summaries of Steel's novels and lengthy quotes from reviews, almost all from "Publisher's Weekly". Snippets from San Francisco's newspaper society columnists and detailed descriptions of what Steel wore at public events, especially of the jewelry, take up another big chunk of the book. Since I knew nothing about Steel's life, it was interesting, just for the bare bones details, but otherwise the book is a pretty lame excuse for a biography.

The other selection is a real eye-opener, though. Richard Herman must have been totally stunned on the morning of September 11th. His 1998 Against All Enemies opens with a very successful terrorist bombing of a tall building in San Francisco. Calling his arch villain "Osmana Khalid" is undoubtedly no accident. Alas, his vision of what comes next includes an attempted attack on a biological warfare laboratory in Sudan, in which an American Stealth Bomber is shot down and the pilots captured. That our real-life "enemy" is likely to attack again seems certain and that they will use an entirely different method also seems likely. The current emphasis on air travel security may be irrelevant. If men are willing to commit suicide using commercial airliners as missiles, there are surely some who will be eager to become infected with some deadly virus which can be easily transmitted to others in our centers of population. In Herman's case, it is the dreaded Ebola virus which plays a central role. I have a suspicion Herman's fictional ending will be happier than the real one may be.

This wretched cold-in-the-head has dominated my own life, but by Thursday morning it had reached the coughing stage which will probably continue for at least a couple of weeks. These confounded colds always turn the bronchitis from chronic to temporarily acute. Happily, the weather has allowed me to continue my main therapy: sunshine. I've just had to be a little careful about overdosing, always reminding myself that a man carrying a backpack does NOT want sunburned shoulders.

My only contact with the usual social circle has been with Joe Guam and the only way I can avoid him, if I'm in the mood to do so, is to stay out of the mall and the end of the beach park which includes his territory. He's a nice fellow but I do get a little annoyed with his daily requests for cigarettes or snipes, especially since he sits there all day with nothing to do and could easily make a few rounds of the mall to collect his own tobacco.

As I told Kory K, perhaps I should change my pattern in October, keeping the usual early morning visits to campus, but spending the afternoons in Waikiki. Of course, it probably wouldn't be long before I had as large a collection of people in Kapiolani Park there as I do at Ala Moana, but it's an interesting possibility.

846

Very early on Crazy Money Friday I had an appointment with the medical doc, a follow-up for the foot infection. Foot healed but the same little crack-in-callus that had opened the door to the staph bug in the left foot had developed in the right. The doc gave me some more potent antibiotic cream and made the first in his list of "prescriptions": wear shoes. Number two: stop smoking. Number three: cut alcohol consumption by half. I added a fourth one: stay away from doctors.

Then to the clinic to pick up the new reading glasses. I like the more powerful lenses but the frames feel uncomfortably flimsy compared to the ones from the drugstore so I think the new ones will stay tucked away in the backpack as insurance against the inevitable loss or breaking of the old ones.

Then quickly to campus to re-pay the forty of the Crazy Money which had, as usual, been hocked. Next on the list, a trip to the music store. I had browsed in Border's on Thursday afternoon, so knew they were offering the new Dylan recording for a dollar cheaper. I told the manager-type person at "Cheapo Music" about Border's better price. Not only did he charge me the lower price for the new CD, he gave me a copy of the special four-track CD which one supposedly only gets when buying two Dylan recordings. Four live tracks, including "Highlands". My mind wouldn't stop reacting as I listened to it, "hey, you got the words wrong", then grinning inwardly, reminding myself that this was the Man Himself singing, if he wanted to change some words, who's to say anything against it. There's a wonderful version of "To Make You Feel My Love", too, plus the song which bizarrely got him the Academy Award.

I'm not yet ready to write about Love and Theft, but I spent much of the day listening to it.

A "flu shot" was added to my supposed arsenal against winter sickliness during the early visit to the doc. I suppose the idea is that you get a relatively mild case of influenza to build resistance? That's what happened to me, anyway, and I felt physically awful for most of the weekend. Added to that, especially on Sunday, was a mood I thoroughly dislike, just feeling downright cross and disgruntled, wishing everyone would leave me alone and feeling irked by all the pests and morons who inflict themselves on others without even realizing they're doing it. I did make the journey out to the discount clothing store, bought long pants and a long-sleeved lightweight cotton flannel shirt (made in Kuwait!), and did all the "responsible" shopping for toothpaste and batteries and such.

I also bought Father Greeley's Patience of a Saint which is the first of his books which bored me, perhaps as much because of my overall mood than any fault of his. Saul Bellow's More Die of Heartbreak, though, provided at least a few smiles. I was more or less uninterested in food or even beer, gave most of my Saturday sunset brew to Joe Guam.

The advantage, of course, to the basically unpleasant and unenjoyed Crazy Money Weekend is the rather rare feeling on the Monday morning afterwards. Wow, I didn't spend very much money.

Big deal.

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the collected tales