Monday, January 30, 2006

Relax, baby. I'm a chicken.

Forgive me, gentle readers, for the long dry spell. Houseguests and flu claimed my attention.

A sunny day in the Haight. A boy stands on the sidewalk, open book in hand, offering to read poetry.

"Read you a poem, sir? No charge.
Free poetry, ma'am?"

New generation hippie chicks in prairie skirts:

"Which brings it back to feminism, and really, doesn't everything, in the end?"

Mr. Billy and I are indulging in crepes when a man struts slowly past the window. He is wearing a short, frilly white dress, the skirt all lace and ruffles, puffy sleeves. Skinny bare legs, athletic shoes. He's scrawny-necked, adam's apple prominent over the scoop neck. He's thrusting his head forward and back with enough sharp force to shake his hair into his eyes.

He's carrying a sign:

"Relax, baby
I'm a chicken"

Later, we see him returning on the other side of the street, breaking from his chicken imitation long enough to check his watch.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Buy my sweet car

Buy my sweet car
Click for larger picture

With attractions like this in beautiful Guerneville, who wants to write?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Billy sequestered

No new posts this weekend - I'm off for a writing weekend with some fellow monkeys. My plan is to knock out the final draft of my novel. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Visible man

Thanks for the topic, monkeyman.

When Arturo was born, there were articles in the newspaper, photos, even T.V., everyone knew who he was, he was on people's minds for about ten minutes, and then the two-headed kitten was born, they moved on. But he grew up, people sucking in their breath when he passed, his teacher in grade school turned white when she saw him, sitting at his desk, just like all the other kids but not. Jack and Sheldon in the playground, watching the school lunch turned to slurry, round flap of meat, mashed potatoes, green gravy all broken down and moving through his intestines, Art holding up his shirt, nothing if not educational.

People get used to anything, Art got used to living after all the doctors stopped shaking their heads and saying he shouldn't be alive, and the world got used to Art, it helped to live in a smallish town, Art couldn't disappear in a city like other people, always the curious want to stare, kids gotta touch, gotta ask Does it hurt, it's endless with strangers, people were used to him here, knew him as much as anyone does, people think because they can see inside you they really see inside you, but Art had his hidden places, just like anyone else.

Just like anyone else, Just like anyone else, Art carried it in his brain while he did his rounds, Why didn't you find a job doing something where people are happy to see you? his mom wanted to know, but even she didn't know, even here, nobody was happy to see him, he reminded them they were just meat, slimy grinding machines at work all the time, he couldn't serve ice cream, nobody would buy, let alone eat with him standing there, blood pulsing through the vessels in his neck, muscles bunching up in his jaw, puts most people off their food. No, this was fine, Art in his little cart, people knew him, could see him coming without having to look at him, hostility covered up in jokes, this was fine, everyone knew where he stood.

Art stopped beside Judge Morton's car, checking the meter, the Judge flapping down the steps in his robe, hiking it up to get at the change in his pocket, "Just stop thinking what you're thinking, Art, I've got a minute left, don't even think about it, I can see right through you."

How many times had he heard that, thought Art, flipping his book closed.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Woe unto them

click to see larger image
The retard pen arrived at last from friend of the moment, jkirlin.

Since I've nothing like the photo skills of jk or prairie girl, I thought I'd fancy it up with a little context.
Click for larger image
There was also an added bonus with the pen...

Click to see larger image






...a mysterious silver coin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Leftovers

We drive around to the back of the building, where we've been directed, up the ramp marked "ambulance only," out of the hammering rain and under a canopy at the back door.

A pudgy white man in heavy glasses is holding the door open for us. He introduces himself in a quiet voice, shaking our hands. His manner is respectful, human. I think he has worked here a long time.

He leads us down a hallway. White linoleum, fluorescent lights, cheap government furnishings. There are other people working here, walking around, talking, but their voices are low; not the commercial hush of a mortuary, just a notch quieter than most offices. I pass an open door. A man is eating his lunch. Beside him, on a table, is a figure, partially covered. A bare foot shows, its naked sole facing me, a manila tag hanging from the toe. I try to read what it says, but we're moving on.

He asks us to wait. To my right, raincoats are hanging from a rack, a broad stripe of high-visibility orange running across the chest and arms.

Our guide appears with five suitcases. Or, two matching suitcases, two backpacks, an overnight bag. This is what they took with them, on their trip here to San Francisco. Two young women I didn't know. One of them was the niece of a friend. The other was her partner, her lover. They were in their twenties. They packed their matching suitcases - they look new, and expensive - and they came to San Francisco to commit suicide. This is all I know about them.

What do you pack for a suicide?

Mr. Billy is asked to step through the door to my left. I wait for him with the bags. I can see him, through the window in the door. He is talking to a woman through another window, at a counter. The woman is standing on my side of the door. If I lean forward, I can see her around the corner, standing behind the counter. If I stand up straight, I can watch Mr. Billy, signing papers.

She hands him items, one at a time. She states what each item is. Necklace. Wallet. Ring. Comb. Mr. Billy has to initial for each item as he receives it.

I stare at the suitcases. I put my hands in my pockets so I don't open them up, rifle through them, touch each item, each piece of clothing, move the fabric between my fingers, listen for it to tell me more of the story.

What did they pack for their last few days on earth, for their suicide vacation?

Loaded down with their bags and suitcases, we find our way out. In the room I passed earlier, the man eating lunch is gone, but the bare foot is still there. Just outside the door, two men are moving a gurney into a van. On the gurney is a large bag. It looks well-made, designed to stop leaks, to hold together what's inside as it disintegrates. Inside the bag is a body. I can see where the head is, where the feet.

We load the bags into the trunk, and drive home.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Billy has the flu

After a Nyquil-assisted nap, maybe I'll blog. Or maybe I'll have another nap.

In the meantime, enjoy my quote of the day:

"There's no room for personal feelings in Science, Judith!"