Sunday, October 30, 2016

345. Fright

“Oh, you frightened me!”

“That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

“What kind of mask is that? And no, I’m not taking you ‘trick-or-treating.”

“It’s called ‘The Orange Man.’ It’s a new one this year. Frightening huh? And why ain't you taking me to scare people?”

“Because you’re an alien. That’s scary enough already.”

C.W. had taken the form he uses on many festive occasions, that of Little Ricky, the troublesome ten-year-old. I had to admit that he looked cute. I looked him over. “What’s that on your shirt?”

“I customized it myself,” he said. “It says ‘Grab or Treat’ Neat huh?”

I frowned. “The answer is still no.”


“Because I said so.”


“Remember what happened last year?”

“Why … I mean what?”

“Ask our neighbor. Her daughter still runs and hides under the bed when someone knocks on the door.”

“What?” he said. “I didn’t even wear a costume last year. I went as myself.”

“I think that was the problem,” I said.

“Jeesh. Your species sorely lacks a sense of humor.”

“I think we are all beginning to realize that,” I said. “And the answer is still no. But you are free to ask my wife to take you.”

“I already did.”

“What did she say?”

“I don’t know. I ducked and ran in here before I heard her say anything, but I expect you don’t want to know, what she said that is.”

“It’s a silly tradition anyway,” I said. “And, unlike yours, the costumes are not scary anymore. What evil spirit would think that a young princess, or a ballet dancer, or Spider-Man, was one of them?”

“Oh,” he said, “I think big business has gotten into the act, he said. It’s not ‘All-hallows-eve’ anymore. It’s more like ‘All-profits-ease.’ Did you know,” he said, “that your people spend six billion dollars annually on Halloween?”

“Is this conversation going somewhere? I’m really busy.”

“Doing what?”

“Give me a moment and I’ll think of something.”

“Just take me to Perry’s house. He’ll give me a treat.”

“He’ll invite you in to listen to his music.”

“That old big-band stuff?”

“It surely won’t be ‘Stinky Colin and the Gut Tracks.’ Is that still your favorite band?”

“I like The Gut Tracks,” he said. “They’re, like, awesome. Have you heard their new one, ‘I want to grab you like a steam shovel grabs a tunnel of coal.’ Neat.” He paused to savor the thought. “Now will you take me or not?”


“Why not?”

I thought. “Because the church doesn’t like it.”

“What church?”

“Oh, some church I read about said it was a pagan festival and any kid that dressed up like ghost, or monster, or alien and destroyed property would go to Hell.”

“Since when did you care what a church thought? And,” he said. “we don’t destroy property.”

That snapped my head around. “Oh? Would you like to ride over and take a look at Mr. McGee’s barn?”
Scary is as scary does, I say. - C.W.
“It just has the word ‘Brick’ painted on it.”

Yes, that’s what is says now. That’s not what it said originally.”

“Toady Carmichael did that.”

“That’s not what he says. And should we continue to Mrs. Patterson’s chicken house?”

He fidgeted. “There’s no chicken house on Mrs. Patterson’s place.”

“No,” I said. “Not now.”

“We were just carrying on a tradition established by your species. Harmless fun.”

“My wife has a photograph of an undergarment strapped around an oak tree,” I said. “Want to ask her to defined ‘harmless?’”

He began to look around, rather nervously I thought. The blond wig-hair fell across his orange face. He squirmed. “Just locker-room stuff," he said. He glanced toward the kitchen and squirmed again.

“You didn’t,” I said. “Tell me you didn’t.”

At this moment, a pot flew through the living room door and crashed against a wall. A voice shrieked, “Where is he?”

“Come on,” he said. “That woman is in a nasty mood. Let’s get out of here and let her cool off. Then we’ll come back and make this place great again.”

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

344. Confusion

C.W. is caught in a loop. He’s settled on one shape for a while. He’s sticking with “The Galilean.” Seems it suits his fancy and irritates the Fallloonian Elders at the same time.

I did get him to modify the robe. He shortened it into a loose fitting white 1960s era pullover with linen trousers and sandals. He gets a few stares but so far we haven’t been arrested. So, I took him for a walk one day last week so we could talk. He looked fairly normal until he pulled a Chicago Cubs hat from a drawer and screwed it down over this long hair.

“What?” he said when I looked at him and shook my head. “Look pal,” he said. “I, for one, can sure tell you that miracles can do happen. Don’t start in with me. Remember what I did those stupid pigs?”

I shrugged and we took off from our condo on the east side and walked toward the tall buildings. Two blocks later, we met a young woman walking a small, but well-groomed young poodle. C.W. stopped, tipped his Cubs hat and said, “Afternoon ma’am. Taking Tiger out for his afternoon walk?”

She pulled the lease tight, and crossed the street at a right angle to us. Halfway across, she stopped, looked back, then hurried on.

“I like to greet my people,” he said. “They do love me so.”

I said nothing and we walked on. Our conversation had drifted to drone warfare. “I told them,” he said, “that the peace makers were blessed as far as I was concerned. What the hell part of that do they not understand?” He stopped, turned to me and asked for a quarter. I handed him one. He walked to the curb and inserted it into and expired meter. “Like the candidate says,” he said as he returned. “Do it to them like you’d want them to do it to you.”

“Uh ...,” I said, but he interrupted.

“I’m thirsty, let’s stop in for a cold one.”

We were in front of a local pub and diner with a loyal clientele and a nice view of the busy streets outside. We went in a took a seat. A nice young person of indeterminate gender immediately came to take our order. “Do you have Gitztusmilinga beer?” C.W. asked.

“Never heard it,” the server said.

“Oh my child,” C.W. said, “You are so deprived. It’s a favorite where I come from.”

“I can’t help that,” the server said. “We have Bud, Bud Light, Mil …”

“Just bring me a glass of water,” he said. “I’ll make my own drink.” Seeing no response, he added, “That’s supposed to be a joke.”

“Miller Light, Dos Equis, Mich …”

“Just bring us a couple of Stellas,” I said. The sever looked relieved and scurried off.

When the beers arrived, he took a long drink, lowered the mug to the table, and said, “I’m pissed off about this divorce thing,” he said.

“I’m not sure,” I said, “that you’re supposed to be using that sort of language.” I stopped. “What divorce thing?”
Hell, next thing you know, they'll be talking about
how much I love rich people. - C.W.

“Didn’t I tell them it was a sin?”

“Very plainly,” I said. “I agree, but …”

“Stick your ‘but’ where the sun doesn’t shine,” he said. “I told them it was a sin and now they say it’s being taken out of the discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning.”

“You mean taken out of context.”

“That’s what I said. Don’t change the subject.” He took a long drink and signaled to the server to be preparing another. “I told them divorces really got on my nerves and these … these … these … what was it I called them last time we discussed it? Holy-rotators?”

“Evangelicals,” I said.

“Exactly,” he said. “The ones who claim to talk directly to me. The server sat another beer in front of him, took the empty away, and hurried back to the bar. “Now ain’t that a joke?”

I was having a good time playing along. “So you don’t talk to them?”

“Hell no,” he said, slamming his mug on table so hard that a bit of beer spilled out. He wiped it with a finger and licked the finger. “I wouldn’t talk to them if they knew where Scarlett Johansson lived.” He took a drink. “There’s someone else who talks to them. I’ll tell you about him someday.” He paused took a breath and lowered his voice. “Anyway,” he said, “I understand that these … these … these … what did you call them?”


“Yeah, evangilistas. I understand they intend to vote for a man who has had two divorces. That’s crap if you ask me.”

I shrugged.

“Ain’t that a bit,” he said, “like a Cubs fan rooting for some team in, oh, I don't know ... Ohio?”

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

343. Literature

I couldn’t believe my ears, but there it was, unmistakable. C.W. was singing again. Not only singing, he had one of my guitars and was pounding away in near-rhythm. What the…?

I stepped through the door and stared. It was C.W. in what is his current favorite form, the Galilean. He didn’t see me at first so I watched as he wailed,

“I was lost, my life was murky,
You come along, lookin’ cute and perky,
I snatched a grab and you just melted,
Like Joan of Arc, so I knew you felt it,
Love, love, like a sweet rain fallin’”

I must have gasped, for he stopped and looked up. “Hey Big Dope, what’s up?” Then he appeared to have an inspiration and started singing again.

“You walked in and I was singing,
Words of praise, your ears was ringing,
So I sang loud and the world stopped turning,
Paris fell, and Rome was burning,
Love, love like a kitten purrin,’”

He stopped. “What do you think?”

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. I think maybe I nodded but I’m not sure.

“Don’t talk to me about great literature,” he said. He gathered his white robe beneath him and reached for a pitcher of, I learned later, frozen margaritas. He filled a glass and sipped. Then he seemed to notice me again. He nodded toward the pitcher. “Want one?”

I still couldn’t find my voice, so I just shook my head. “My second batch,” he said. “I heard that songwriters must get stoned.” He stopped, “Hey,” he said, grabbing pen and scribbling like a maniac. “Songwriters must get stoned … no, lonely people must get stoned … no, crazy people must get stone … no, poets and prophets must … oh Me... who the hell must get stoned? Oh well. I’ll think of it later.” He put the pen aside and sipped his drink. “Must be one too many mornings,” he said, then stopped and grabbed the pen again. “… and a thousand steps, no, drinks, no, smiles, no, something something something … a thousand somethings behind.” He resumed his drinking.

I found my voice at last. “Would you mind telling me what you are doing?”

“Just hanging out on Desolation Street,” he said. “Street, road, trail, Desolation Something.” He forgot me again and started writing.

“Doing what?”

“Gonna be a poet,” he said. “A singing poet. Maybe be one of them laurellets some day.”

“So you mean laureates?”

“Ain’t that what I just said? Geez. You walk into the room, with your uh, hmmm … briefcase, yeah, briefcase … in your hand.” He froze and grabbed the pen. “Wait one,” he said as he began to scribble.

“Have you gone mad?”

“They say all us poets are mad,” he said. “And you know you have to have a news man to know which way the vote goes.” He stopped and looked up. He nodded and smiled. “Listen to this.” He started to sing.

“I met you in the cornfield, right around Christmas time,
I liked the way you jiggled, so I thought I might drop a dime,
You ran off and left me, for a holy-roller preacher man,
Then I knew that I would find you, sittin’ in a witness stand.”

He looked a me and smiled. “What do you think?”
It can't be hard. It looks so easy
when this man does it. - C.W.

“I think maybe you mixed your metaphors.”

“My whatafors?”

“Never mind,” I said. “Are you going to be a while?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Ain’t you going to stay and listen?”

“I’d rather shoot myself,” I said.

For a moment he looked hurt. Then he smiled, cocked his head to one side, looked down and started writing.

“Yonder stands old Big Dope with his gun … no … yonder stands your landlord with … no … yonder stands your best friend … no … mentor … no … brother … cousin … hus …”

I quietly slipped away. Later I walked by the door and heard him still at it. “Stuck inside of Pittsburgh …no … stuck inside of Dallas … no … stuck inside of Cleveland … Tucson … no … oh crap!”

This time I didn’t stop. They were announcing the Nobel Prize winners and I wanted to see if there were any surprises. Probably not, but who could tell?

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

342. Realities

“Hey,” I said, “wake up.”


“Wake up. It’s almost noon.”

C.W. was asleep in my favorite chair in the shape of Wrangler Bill. He wore dark clothing and had a broad-brimmed Stetson hat in his lap. Imagine a cross between “The Gambler” and a carnival barker. He had been snoring with loud grunts when I walked in. Now he opened one eye in partial wakefulness. “Screw you,” he said.

“You’re going to think screw you if my wife catches you tossing cookies to her dogs again. She said she counted ten separate piles of crumbs on the kitchen floor.”

He opened the other eye. “Mrs. Big Dope’s problem,” he said, “is that she is still stuck in a reality-based world that doesn’t exist anymore.”

I stepped closer to him. “Now where did you learn that phrase?”

“On TV,” said. “Ask Sean Hannity. Sean Hannity knows. Sean Hannity, Sean Ha…”

He drifted off to sleep again. His hat slid off his lap and onto the floor. I picked it up and swatted him the face with it. “Wake up,” I said. “She’s coming back soon. Do you have that ten dollars you borrowed from her?”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It’ll trickle down.”

“It will what?”

“It will trickle down to her,” he said. “Or at least it would if there were no taxes.”

“No what?”

“Taxes. If we didn’t have to, well …,” he stopped or a moment, “if you didn’t have to pay taxes, the ten dollars would be back in her hand in days.”

“Where did you hear such an idea?”

“At the Libertarians’ Club meeting I attended last night.”

“You told her you would pay her back today.”

“I never said that.”

“You said that. I heard you.”

“I never said that.”

“We both heard you say it.”

“I never said that.”

“I think she will agree with me.”

“Sure she will,” he said. “You’re both liberals … all bound up and constrained by facts.”

“The fact is,” I said, “she will make you regret it if you don’t pay her back.”

“I have a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.,” he said.

“A what?” Then I thought. “Do you mean you have a plan?”

“That’s what I said.”

“Your Galactic Universal Translator needs adjusting again.”

“My GUT is fine,” said. “I have the best GUT in the country. Everyone admires my GUT.”

“But what kind of plan do you have to pay your debts?”
Using this man for validity would
 be like using 
 Bernie Madoff for
 financial advice if you ask me. - C.W.

“A great plan,” he said. “It will be the greatest plan you ever saw.”

“That’s what you told me when you promised to clean your room and didn’t.”

“I never said that.”

“I’ll tell you what.” I said.


“My wife has plans to deal with people, and that includes you, who don’t operate in a fact-based world.”

“I have a plan to deal with Mrs. Big Dope,” he said. “And it is a great plan.”

“Really? What’s the plan?”

“The same one I use to deal with all women.”

“And that is?”

“I just look them in the eye and grab their …”

“Shut up,” I said. “Stop. Not another word.”

“Hand,” he said, “then I tell them to trust me. It works every time.”

“You disgust me,” I said and turned away. The back door opened and I heard a female voice.’’

“Do you have the money you owe me?” it said.

“Yes I do,” C.W. yelled toward the voice. “I gave it to Big Dope to give to you.”

I swirled around, but he had vanished.

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

341. Fear and Awe

Well, who should walk in this morning as I having my first cup of coffee. Yep, it was Shorty George, middle-school kid, one of C.W.’s favorite shapes. This morning, he was wearing an Arkansas Razorback tee-shirt, a Chicago Cubs baseball hat, and what appeared to be a pair of decades-old basketball sneakers with a faint ‘NC’ visible on them. Sort of a walking advertisement for broken dreams.

Shorty George is not the sharpest pin in the cushion, but what he lacks in acumen, he makes up for in adorableness. It’s usually a pleasure to see him.

“Hey George,” I said. “What’s up?”

He took on a look of uncharacteristic solemnity. “There’s a monster in the woods, and he wants to come live with us.”

“A monster?” It took a few seconds for this to register. “What kind of monster?” With children struggling to understand the world, it’s a good idea to humor their thought processes.

“He kills people,” he said, “and eats them.”

“My goodness,” I said. “Aren’t you afraid?”

“Oh no,” he said. “He doesn’t eat little white boys.”


“No, just the black ones, and other ones of color.”


“And girls,” he said. “He eats girls, but that doesn’t bother me.”


“No, as long as he won’t eat me, I think he would make a nice pet.”

“And what does my wife think?”

“I can’t repeat what Mrs. Big Dope said. You remember that talk we had about using dirty words?”

“I remember it very well,” I said. “But why would you want a monster for a pet?”

“I like the way he growls and stomps the ground ... it’s, like, awesome. It scares people that I hate. And I’m, like, wanting to be his friend so I can scare people too.”

“I’ve asked you to forgo ‘awesome’ and not to insert ‘like’ into every sentence,” I said.

“What does ‘forgo’ mean?”

I sighed. “Never mind. Does your monster scare my wife?”

“Oh no,” he said. “He wandered up close one day. When she went out, he growled a challenge and stamped the ground so hard it made the trash can fall over.”

“What happened then?”

“She grabbed a broom and started toward him.”


“He started making this gurgling sound, then he turned, ran, hid in the woods, and wouldn’t come out for three days.”

“What makes you think he wouldn’t change his mind and start eating little white boys?”

“Oh, there are so many others for him to eat first. There’s the blacks, the kids of color, there’s some lame kids who can’t run from him, and there’s lots and lots of girls … besides …”

“Besides what?”

“Once I got him here, I could train him to do other things than eat people. Nice things. I could train him to eat dog food and play the piano.”
Only those who have never read
 history believe they can control
a monster in the woods. - C.W.

“You’re sure?”

“Oh, yes sir. I could handle him. Can I? Can I? The other boys want me to.”

“What about my wife?”

“Oh,” he said. “I can handle Mrs. Big Dope.”

“You can?”

“Oh yes. I know stuff on her that she wouldn’t want you to know. I can keep her under control.”


“Have you ever wondered what happened to that harmonica you loved to play so much?”

I thought. “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t know about keeping her under control. She’s sort of the female human version of the country of Afghanistan as far as exerting control over her.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, lots of people have tried,” I said. "None have succeeded."

“What’s a ‘aftercanistand’”?

“Never mind.” I said. “I think you better study up on monsters before you take this on.”

“But, I don’t like to study.”

We left it at that.

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