Our Opinions of Ourselves

9 March 2015

Unless you are a psychopath, you have a finely tuned sense of guilt.  And worthlessness.  Or perhaps, more worthlessness than guilt.  It’s an individual thing.

Well, whatever it is, it troubles us.  For example, we have flash memories of ignoble acts performed long ago and we wince — for hours, maybe days, we cannot purge it from our minds.  At three o`clock in the morning, we awake troubled by a sense of failure; we haven’t provided as well as we would have liked.  You know, bigger house, better schools for the kids, inability to retire to a long life of carefree ease.  We can’t ever hope to meet the pecuniary success of a brother-in law and we feel small and wretched.

But many years ago, while attending a soiree, the guru said something I was able to take home with me.  It is this: Think hard on every good deed you have done, every instance where you have gratuitously helped someone, every time you stood up for decency — and write them all down.  And after you do, show the list to someone close to you and let them look it over but make no commentaries.  “This is your list,” she said, “and it’s your opportunity to crow about yourself . . . To puff out your chest and pat yourself on the back.  We need to have good opinions of ourselves.”

She went on to tell us that we should keep the list close, confine it to one or two close friends because they won’t pick at it.  Others may try to let the air out of the balloon, simply because that’s the kind of people they are.  Also, if your list is a good one, it will shame other people and they’ll become resentful, and perhaps act out.

Anyway, it’s time for me to do this list again.  And precisely because you are as far away from me as you can get, I’m going to share it with you.  I am immunized from catcalls and calumnies.

So here, in no particular order, here are the ones I can recall today.

I befriended a wan, sickly classmate who seemed depressed and withdrawn.  I was the only kid who paid any attention to Lester.  One morning, the teacher told us Lester died the previous night of a long illness.

One of my clients told me he wanted to get into [financial] consulting work and asked me for some help.  I gave him that help.  The last time I saw him, his consultancy had shot to the moon and he was moving on to a greener pasture in California.

I stopped at a wreck on I-80 in Wyoming and helped extract a severely injured man from a crushed camper.  A cop told me I’d probably saved his life.

A close friend ran up some bills he was unable to pay.  I squared the accounts.

I helped a friend deal with, and resolve, a bad job situation.

Jo and I took in a homeless Viet Nam vet.  I met him on a job site. He and I had hit it off so in invited him home.  He stayed with us for six weeks.

I inspired the wife of a prominent churchmen get a PhD in the language department at the UofW.

I’ve stopped at more traffic wrecks than I can count, helping the injured and terrified people until help arrived.

For many years, on Thanksgiving day, Jo and I would drive around looking for cops who had to work and gave each a Whitman’s Sampler.

On a transcontinental flight home, a steward asked me to sit with two young girls who’d never been on an airplane before.  I sat with them, chatting and playing games from New York to Seattle.

I got Jo her programming career.

In truck stops, I was always a soft touch for the tramps.  Today, and when I’m flush, I hand tens or twenties to the poor bastards standing at the feet of freeway off-ramps.

For twenty years I was a volunteer Guardian ad Litem in the courts here about.  I saved the lives of at least two kids and the sanity of a third.

Until his death, I used to visit, and help care for, my invalided friend from seventh grade.

I got my sister-in-law out of a parasitic relationship the almost killed her.

A young girl who lived behind us was getting, and had been getting, bullied.  While she watched, I Christianized the two mutts who tormented her and they never bothered her again.

In my new career driving a small bus for a senior center, I befriend the old, the sick, the isolated and the forgotten.  Sure, it’s just for the few minutes a trip takes, but I’ve been told it’s appreciated.

I’ve taken in Kitty, Moe, Zeke, Peeper, Sweetie, Toots, Snuggles, Buddy and Sweetpea.  Most were strays and some were about to be given the needle.

There, I feel a bit better.



7 February 2015

Yes, I saw the video.  In case you may be in sympathy with ISIS (or apathetic), you should watch it too.  The link is below.


It is clear, there is no enormity to which these creatures will not stoop.  They — ISIS — have the morals and principles of an insect, and they should be treated as insects: Extermination, complete and total.  No prisoners, no surrender, extermination by whatever means are needed.


About the characters in Titanic

1 January 2015

Last night Jo and I watched ‘Titanic’ for the umpteenth time.  Jack and his lady-love were portrayed as way-cool pretty people, which is at odds with the reality of a stoop laborer early in the 20th Century — as well as his lady-love, a cosseted whelp.

Jack, to start off, would have reeked of B.O., having bathed oh, maybe, six months before.  His clothes, however, would be even worse, having never been laundered — in the finest of Wisconsin traditions.  Of course they would be rife with body lice.  Jack’s shaggy mop of hair would, naturally, be infested with head lice.

His skin would have been filthy and covered with angry eruptions.

Jack’s teeth would have been carious, stained with nicotine and at least three would have gone missing.  Add-in bleeding gums and his breath could have stripped paint.

Below the belt, Jack had problems too.  In those days, most men were not circumcised (a barbaric, stone-aged practice if ever there were one) and this, coupled with Jack’s aversion to bathing, would have left him with a good teaspoon of foul-smelling smegma gracing the head of his pecker.  If ever he were to skin that thing back, the stink would have cleared a large room.

Jack’s underwear (if he wore any) would have been sodden and caked with dirt, duck butter, pee stains, pecker tracks and skid marks — they could have almost walked by themselves.  And where was toilet paper during all this?  Well, lady-love probably had some in her steamer trunk but Jack?

Of course Jack, being of Irish descent, would have had rickets, thanks to a very poor diet and his legs would have been bowed like a chicken’s wishbone.  This would have not enhanced his attractiveness.

But would all this have been enough to make the lady-love turn away?  Probably not, for she herself would have hardly been in better condition.  Razor blades were of poor quality and dangerous (recall Sweeney Todd) so her armpits, legs and nether-places would be as hairy as a St.Bernard.

Of course the tight bodice and voluminous skirts wouldn’t let air reach those places so the sweat would have clung to the hair and … well you can imagine the smell.  Her hairy airless crotch, swaddled in those airless bloomers, skirts and whatnot, would have captured old menstrual blood, shit stains, pee marks and kuze.  Were she to fluff those skirts, the stink would have been intolerable.  It would have been right out of the Infernal Pit.  Her unshorn arm pits were hardly any better.  Of course her teeth (and breath) would have been no better than Jack’s.

To ice the cake, lady-love would have plastered her face with harsh chemicals they called ‘cosmetics’ which made her face as rough as sandpaper and as tough as parchment.  These ‘cosmetics’ would have laid on her face like coatings of lard; they would have worked their way into her pores and turned black.  These blackheads would have been so large and discolored they wold have looked like freckles.

What a pair.




The REAL Christmas Story

28 November 2014

Re-published, by popular demand

Don’t you wonder how the Christmas story would be told today?  Gone would be the stilted and droning prose of yore and in its place, a new, hip vernacular. It might go something like this.

Way back when, The Man wanted to screw-over everyone by laying a 1040 on them.  Part of the deal was everyone had to hoof it back to Granny’s place so some hump could put the bite on them.  Two such folks were Joe and his young squeeze, Mary.  Mary had a bun in the oven and it wasn’t Joe’s, so the trip was going to be a profound drag.

Well, when they got to town, Mary was ready to hatch so they tried to find a flop. No such luck; with folks pouring into town, getting a room there in Bethlehem was like trying to get a room in Green Bay during the Superbowl.

After knocking on every door in town, some old fart running the local rent-a-barn soaked them good for a spot where they could snore with the horses. Problem was, Mary was about to hatch.  She dropped the kid, wrapped him in a blanket and put him in a horse trough.  Then she and Joe hit the hay.

While all this was going on, some guys were hanging out in a field, looking after some sheep. They were laying around noshing, talking trash and looking at the stars when a strange looking dude started floating around in the sky.  “Whoa! I told ya you put too much poppy in that pipe!” said one.

“Dudes!  Chill!” said the floating guy, “Don’t get your drawers in a bunch, OK?  I’m not here to sweat you.  In fact, I’ve got some news for you: If you beat it over to Bethlehem, like right now, you’re going to find this little kid sleeping in a horse trough.  Now this kid puts out some real righteous vibes.  Kind of like a guru — but he’s cool, man; he’ll never mess with anyone’s wives or kids, and he won’t make anyone drink the Kool-Aid, either.  So,” said the glowing guy, “I strongly recommend you guys to go pay a visit — and bring some nice stuff with you too.  OK?”  With that, a bunch more glowing guys showed up and they all began to whoop and holler, jump around and dance.  They they split.

The sheep-watchers sat there looking at each other.  “Uh, um.  Did anyone see what I think I saw?” asked one. “You mean the guys in the sky?” asked another, pointing up.  “Yup,” said a third. ” OK, then we ain’t nuts,” said the first.

“Well I gotta tell you, they freaked me out in a major way.  I don’t want to get sideways with guys that come and  go while floating up in the sky, so how about we drift on out and go see this kid?”

“Good idea, man,” said the second guy. “In fact, I’m gonna stop off at the gob shop and see what they got that might smell nice.”

With that, they were off.

When they got to Bethlehem, they asked around.  Some old bag pointed them to the horse barn down the street.  “Try that place,” she said.  “There a kid in there what’s been bawling it’s head off the last two nights.  Can’t get a wink of sleep,” with that, she slammed the door.  Going into the barn, our three boys caught sight of Joe wrinkling his nose as he washed out a filthy diaper.  “Yo, Joe,” said the first with a cheery voice, “We came to see the little dude.  Where is he?”  Without looking up, Joe pointed to his left where a supernal effulgence came from said horse trough.

“Gotta be him,” nodded the second as they scuttled over with their presents.  Peering into the trough, the three then looked from one to the other and in one voice said, “Cute little bugger, ain’t he?”

Outside the barn, in the darkest of night, a small star had gone nova and lit the place up like the night light on McGruder’s Smoke Shop.

Eight days later, they bobbed the kid’s dick and the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, that’s better, don’t you think?  


Bill, the Spitter

16 September 2014

As I’m telling stories about my family and friends, I simply couldn’t omit the story of Bill, the spitter.  Bill was a relative, sorry to say, as were (are?) the other principals.  This story is true.  You will think it preposterous, and yes it is.  But it is true nevertheless.  Oh, and it’s naughty.  Very naughty.  When thinking about it, even I blush. 

Trouble had been brewing in paradise for quite some time. Shirley and Glenn had gotten off to a good start in their marriage, but it being the late 1940s, effective birth control did not yet exist. The only things available were rubbers, diaphragms, Vatican roulette, and coitus interruptus (a.k.a pulling out before you cum). Shirley didn’t want some doctor digging around in her snatch to fit a diaphragm and Glenn couldn’t abide rubbers and, too often, blew his load before he could remember to withdraw. Consequences? Children. Lots of them. Five, all tolled. And all born inside ten years.

Now foetuses, in case you don’t realize it, are parasites. Whatever nutriments a foetus needs, it sucks from the substance of its host, leaving dear old mom much worse for wear. And so they did to Shirley: With each pregnancy, just as the old bromide states, Shirley lost a tooth. Sometimes more than one. Her bones, depleted of calcium by the things growing in her belly, softened and bent; where once she had the gams of a hoofer, she soon had the bowed limbs of a cowboy. Her ankles fattened too. Of course her once-pert breasts sagged like paper sacks full of soup while her 6-pack tummy now looked to be in a state of perpetual mid-term pregnancy. When the fifth child was conceived, her hair started to thin, falling out in dismaying clumps.

Glenn, of course, suffered no such ill effects from parenthood. On the contrary, with a few years under his belt of worrying about the mortgage and his fickle employer, he got some gray at the temples and small laugh lines graced the corners of his clear, blue eyes. Glenn couldn’t help but notice the disparity between him and his wife and he chaffed at the thought of being forever chained to a hag. Glenn soon decided to sample a little stray stuff and see if a new life might not be desirable.

As Glenn was blessed with a knee-knocker, he decided to use it as an attractantant, so he switched from briefs to boxers the better to show it off. The ploy worked splendidly: A few days later he had to see the boss and, as he came down the long hallway, his member was flopping around freely inside his trousers. The boss’ secretary, the matronly Wanda Swoose, couldn’t help but notice the turmoil in Glenn’s pant leg as, with his every step, Glenn’s monstrous unit slapped and bounced off his thigh.

Wanda invited him home to her place for an after-work drink. She beat him to her place by a good twenty minutes; long enough to get out of her unflattering business clothes and sweaty, smelly drawers, wash up, and done some filmy silk panties and bra. She also dressed in a clingy angora sweater and tight jeans that sat low on her hips. The final touch was a pair of stiletto heels with no hose.  The jeans were high enough to reveal her bare ankles.  If all this didn’t get the message across, nothing would.

Though she was pushing fifty, Wanda could be quite the dish when she wanted to be. She turned and admired her Jane Russell figure in the dresser mirror. Wanda thought she’d have to come up with a nickname for her new lover – something fitting that thing in his pants. A smile came to her face as she knew what it would be: Old Snake in the Pants. She was ready.

Glenn discovered that Wanda was a biter. When he was on top, she bit him. When they did doggie style, she bit the pillow – bit it so hard, in fact, that she tore a hole in it and all the feathers came out. She drained Glenn’s lizard but good.  Refreshed, Glenn left Wanda’s place before the ten o`clock news came on and headed for home.

Realizing that, yes, he could get all the ass he wanted, Glenn joined a gym and buffed up. He soon began casting glances at other women and even bedded some. Before his youngest daughter was six months old, Glenn took a mistress. She was everything Shirley used to be: Fresh, young, and as tight as a drum. And she screamed when she came; a nice bonus. One afternoon, after getting fucked and sucked by this vision of Heaven, Glenn left her tidy condo and drove home to behold his life: A smelly house, two dogs who shat in the garage, a yard full of weeds and broken toys, a brood of squalling kids and (gad!) a wife who looked like she had the life sucked out of her — which she had.

Resolving to not spend his life with a unbecoming woman whose involvement with sex was now limited to spreading her legs and falling asleep, Glenn took himself to the law offices of Phartsmell, Brownlick & Ickyfinger where he retained the services of Mustafa ish-Kabibble, and filed for divorce.

When she got the summons, Shirley was both furious and cut to the quick. She vowed to stick it to Glenn but good: “He’s not going to throw me on the dung heap and get away with it”, she raged to her cousin, Lenore. “I’ll take the miserable bastard for everything he’s got. He’ll pay my mortgage, my gas, my car payments . . . Everything! He can go live in his stinking car”.

In Family Court, Shirley seemed to be getting her wish; the judge was about to slap Glenn with child support and alimony so steep that Glenn would be reduced to virtual bondage. Feeling he had nothing to lose, Glenn rose to confront the judge, despite ish-Kabibble’s frantic tugging on Glenn’s sleeve. Glenn told hizhoner that the money he’d have left would force him to live under a bridge in a refrigerator crate. “Look, Judge”, Glenn bleated, “after I pay the mortgage, the utilities and all the bills, all that’s left for me is nineteen dollars and seventy-five cents a week. How can I find a place to live, put food on my table and gas in my car on that?”

The judge was irritated at Glenn’s outburst, but after examining the spreadsheet Glenn handed the bailiff, the judge agreed that Glenn at least needed an apartment with hot and cold running water and food. With that, the judge reduced Glenn’s obligations, forcing Shirley and the kids to sell the house and move.

Helped by her father, Shirley took herself and the children to a grimy garden apartment on the edge of a cemetery near downtown. It had but one bedroom which they all shared. When Shirley was ready to bring men friends home for the night, she hung a bed sheet between her creaking old queen size and the children’s section.

It was a grim and hard-scrabble life. One night, after the kids were abed, Shirley unscrewed a bottle of Mad Dog and got plastered. Looking at the fresh hole in her last good pair of hose, she began to sob. Finally spent, she went out into the cold night air, took a deep breath and swore a silent vow. “I need a man and by Christ, I’m gonna get one! I’m gonna snag the first one I can find that earns more than minimum wage, and marry his ass.” It was a rash vow, for it foreswore discernment. Based on the sole criterion of money, the Law of Unintended Consequences could bite Shirley in the ass. And it did.

Not long after she dedicated herself to the quest for a new husband, the apartment’s toilet stopped up: “Mom!” screeched one of the girls, “There’s poo on the floor.” The landlord, an accommodating old soul, promised a plumber that afternoon.

Shirley had a job at a coffin factory where she sewed faux silk liners into the boxes. Being a low-skill job, it didn’t pay squat so missing work to wait around for the plumber would really put a squeeze on her finances. But what choice did she have? Her boss was understanding and gave her the time off.

Shirley was dozing in her rocker, watching the soaps, when a knock came to the door. The plumber, no doubt. Arising and shuffling to the door, Shirley threw the dead-bolt and opened the door.

“Sweet Bleeding Jesus!” thought Shirley as she drew in a sharp breath, for standing before her was one of the homeliest human beings she’d ever seen. There, clothed in blue bib overalls and heavy work boots with a dirty baseball cap on his head, stood Bill the Spitter.

“Hi, my name’s Bill and I’m here to unclog your toilet,” said the huge fat man as he extended his hand and gave a thin smile. “May I come in?” The man’s face was clay-gray and looked as if it had been stepped on with a golf shoe. Sprouting from its center, like an eye from a potato, was a large, lumpy and formless nose.

A couple of quick blinks to clear the shock and Shirley stammered “Um … oh, yeah … sure,” and swung the door aside.

When Bill displayed a grin, Shirley noticed that three of his teeth were broken and black while another had a green rind along the gum line. His thin dark hair was combed back and held in place by grease.

Showing her visitor to the bathroom, Shirley gestured silently to the toilet. Plunger in hand, the fat man glided past her, careful to avoid the few small turds laying about. Raising the lid, Bill saw the toilet was overflowing with brown water, floating hunks, and several wads of T.P. Bill began walking around the toilet and looking at it the way a chicken looks at an ear of corn, deciding where to peck. Suddenly, Bill stopped and jammed in his plunger. Giving three mighty pumps, his fat tossing and swimming with every thrust, Bill endeavored to push the blockage out into the sewer line. Turgid water went spraying everywhere.

But it was no use; the bowl didn’t empty. Shaking his head, Bill said, “Well, looks like I gotta get the snake.” He tipped his hat and went out to his truck.

Shirley pulled at her nose as she watched Bill walk into the parking lot. “I didn’t see a ring,” she mused as the big man horsed the motorized snake from back of the truck. When he returned, Shirley put on her best smile and said, “I’ll bet your wife has to do an awful lot of laundry.”

Smiling as he fed the snake’s business end down the toilet bowl, Bill said, “Oh, no my dear lady, I’m not married. Never had time, taking care of my bedridden mother.” Then, wiping dirty water from his brow, Bill added, “But she passed away three months ago, so . . .” He shrugged his shoulders.

“He doesn’t smell,” Shirley considered. “In fact, I think he uses Old Spice. That’s good.”

Before Bill left, he and Shirley had established a bond and within two weeks, the two had begun courting.

When the older girls saw Bill for the first time, all they could say was “Ewww!”

Stabbing a forefinger into her daughters’ chests, Shirley barked, “Look, you two, I’m not winning any more beauty prizes, OK? And since your loving father kicked me to the curb, I’ve only gotten worse. But I’m a hell of a lot better than what Bill’s been used to. He thinks I’m some hot shit and neither you or me’s going to do anything to bust that bubble. Understand?” The kids saw her point and made no further remarks.

It soon became obvious that Bill wanted to get laid and Shirley was all at sea. How could she not make invidious comparisons between Glenn and Bill? The former so handsome; the latter so bulbous? And then there’s the matter of Glenn’s schlong: Shirley knew that, with Glenn, she’d had a man unique among men. Could lightning strike twice? Could Bill be well hung too? “Well, I guess we’ll find out tonight,” she mused as she pinched her cheeks to make them blush, for Bill was coming by; he was taking Shirley out to Shaky’s for pizza and beer. Anticipating she’d be bedding her swain that night, Shirley had rearranged the bedroom, pushing her bed back into the far corner and securing the aforementioned sheet to the ceiling with several more thumb tacks.

As Bill’s truck turned into the parking lot, Shirley gave the kids a stern admonition: “I don’t care what time it is, but when you hear that truck pulling up, you get your little selves into bed and be quiet – and you stay there until morning. Clear?” All five heads nodded in assent.

On the way home, his head light from the beer, Bill let loose his passions. Pulling Shirley close to him, he draped his right arm over her shoulder and began to gently fondle her breast. Shirley had to admit, it sure felt good. Before long, she found herself getting wet in the drawers. She put her tongue in Bill’s ear and the big man began to breath heavily.

Once back at Shirley’s apartment, the couple let themselves in, walked quietly to the bedroom and went behind the sheet. The night was spent in carnal embraces satisfying to both. In fact, Shirley discovered that while Bill’s member may have been diminutive, it was ferocious. By instinct, the big man knew what he was doing with it and thanks to his splendid technique, Shirley discovered something she never knew: She was multi-orgasmic.

In the morning light, the happy couple got dressed, pulled the sheet aside and greeted the five kids. (Nothing like being above board and out in the open, is there?)

Feeling that he now had Shirley where he wanted her, i.e., besotted and blinded by love and lust and, therefore, willing to overlook his grosser side, Bill did something he’d put off too long: He spit. While he, Shirley and the five kids were breakfasting on Eggos and Mrs. Butterwoth’s, Bill paused. Making a deep snore-like sound, he sucked all the snot out of his sinuses and back into his throat. Then, making a sound deep in the glottal area – “Kahwwwheerh” – Bill brought up the morning’s load of phlegm. Mingling phlegm and snot, he held the wad of gook at the back of his tongue, and resumed speaking. He sounded like he had a mouth full of ball bearings.

While talking, he leaned to the left, reached back to his right rear pocket and withdrew a handkerchief. It was filthy gray and stiff with dried expectera and boogers. Bill took the handkerchief and, threading it through his hands, looked for a fresh spot. Unable to find one, Bill cracked it open and searched the interior. Ah ha! There’s one. Sticking out his tongue, which he’d rolled into a chute, Bill drew in a deep breath, aimed the tongue at the selected spot, and *ptooo*, spat. Bingo! Right on target. Bill looked at the gobbet and was satisfied. Closing the filthy hankie, he returned it to his pocket and resumed his conversation.

The oldest girl, D’Arcy, bolted from the table. Jill, the second oldest, sat transfixed. The two boys look at each other with wide eyes. The youngest girl, just three-and-a-half, hadn’t really noticed.

As for Shirley, she said nothing. “Well,” she thought, “I’ve seen my dad do that . . .” Her mental calculus completed, Shirley had decided that the spitting, while disturbing to watch, was not a deal-killer and that, given time, she could become used to it. What a wonderful thing is rationalization.

In late Spring, Shirley brought Bill out to her folks’ mansion at the lake. It was the Memorial Day weekend and a picnic was planned. The introductions went well, though Shirley’s folks generously described Bill as “a bit rough around the edges.” Everyone was enjoying themselves until it came time for Bill to spit. Witnessing this Brava performance, the table fell silent; the only things to be heard were the yellow jackets buzzing around the punch bowl and the rustling of Bill’s snot rag as he refolded it and put it back in his pocket. Gazes were averted. Napkins were held close to mouths. People excused themselves and went for walks.

On the 4th of July, the family was treated to more spitting, plus a new revolting display. Shirley’s folks had suffered a downed tree in a June thunderstorm and, after offering to help clean up the mess, Bill took off his shirt. For an undershirt, Bill wore a tank-top that was the same nasty gray as his kerchiefs, but with enormous sweat stains gracing the arm-holes. Black, bristle-like hairs spangled with salt crystals protruded from Bill’s armpits. The undergarment wasn’t large enough to tuck deeply into the fat man’s pants, so after he’d worked the bucksaw for a few strokes, it pulled loose revealing a roll of sallow flesh covered with livid stretch marks like the tread on a tire.

Though Shirley’s father had gently wondered if this crude fat man was really Mister Right, Shirley replied that Bill was an OK guy and that everyone had his or her faults. “Besides,” she said, “he’s a lot nicer to me then Glenn ever was.” Well, how can a father argue with that?

And so Bill and Shirley moved ahead in their relationship, finally tying the knot eighteen months later.

Bill, Shirley and the five kids seemed to settle into a comfortable though downscale life. Bill tried his hand at a number of things, including selling hearing aids, all with little or no success. Poverty loomed. Then, as luck would have it, Bill landed a government grant to study computer programming. It turned out he was quite good at it and after graduating, Bill got a swell job at a startup on the north end.

However, Bill’s spitting soon became an issue at work. After hearing numerous complaints, especially from the women, Bill’s new boss made him put a cuspidor next to his desk. Observing that programmers, the good ones, anyway, are a quirky bunch and should be given a lot of latitude, he told the VP of Sales, “They never meet the public, so I don’t give a crap if they sit in their cubicles with their dicks sticking out of their pants. As far as Bill goes, as long as he cuts clean code and meets deadline, he can spit his head off.” Soon, Bill was making enough money to where Shirley got off ADC. Not long after, they bought a home in Coon Rapids and really began to enjoy life.

Then one day, it all turned to shit.

In the years Bill and Shirley were hooked up, the five kids had grown. D`Arcy, the oldest one, had ripened into an especially tasty morsel. She had a lush, Sophia Loren kind of body and a round, cherub-like face topped by a head full of long, blond hair. This fetching child/woman combination, melded with her husky, bedroom voice, was too much for Bill to ignore.

One Thursday morning, Bill had the day off after pulling an all-nighter, trying to de-bug some guy’s code. Arising, Bill found a note on the fridge: Shirley had taken the car and gone to Target to check on some of the specials advertised in that morning’s fish wrapper. After rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Bill wandered about the house, scratching his arm pits. His peregrinations took him by the bedroom door of the sleeping girls, D`Arcy and her younger sister, Jill. The door was slightly ajar.

Giving in to his prurient curiosity, Bill pushed the door open a bit further and peeked in. Jill, the eleven-year-old, slept with the sheet pulled up over her head. However, it being summer, D`Arcy slept uncovered and was wearing naught but the most gossamer of nighties, which, Bill couldn’t help but notice, was hitched up to her waist and her position on the bed gave Bill a clear and unobstructed view of D`Arcy’s delightful nether places. Bill stood transfixed: “I didn’t need to see that,” the fat man said to himself as he continued staring.

Men confronted with such visions often go through the most contorted rationalizations to convince themselves that . . . Well, Bill convinced himself that the teenaged girl slumbering before him was actually showing her bootty because she wanted to fuck, and to fuck him, especially: “She’s been hot for me for years.” A hard-on was showing in Bill’s jammies. He pushed the door open farther and tip-toed in, dropping his pajamas on the way.

D`Arcy always slept on her tummy with her left hand covering her face and her right arm stretched along her frame, palm up. Coming up from sleep, D`Arcy felt a weight settle onto the bed behind her, then felt something like a warm frankfurter laid in her open hand. She was awake instantly. As she pulled her hand away, a soft voice whispered in her ear, “It’s OK, sweetheart, it won’t hurt you.” The breath was rank.

D`Arcy screamed and leapt from the bed. Jill, hearing this, awoke, looked over toward her sister and beheld Bill, laying buck-naked on D`Arcy’s bed and Jill began screaming too.

His trance of self-deception broken, Bill’s unit went flaccid. He suddenly perceived things as they actually were: He was an ugly old fat man laying nude on his step-daughter’s bed after trying to force his attentions on her. “Oh, Christ!” he thought, “what the fuck did I just do.” With that, Bill jumped from the bed, stammered an apology, swept his pj`s from the floor, and left.

The girls were still screaming.

Bill dressed hurriedly and fled the house. He was in deep shit and knew it. Oh, he could deny it and maybe even get away with it but what he’d done was like putting a drop of piss in a gallon of milk; there was no way of ever getting it back out.

Walking around the neighborhood, Bill decided he’d lay the blame on D`Arcy – if she blew the whistle, he’d say she was an evil little succubus, out for revenge. Bill would say that he grounded her for sassing him and she promised to get even, and now she was. Settled on his Plan-A, Bill headed back home to see if he could rectify the situation – maybe give the little bitch some extra coin to keep her yap shut.

It was not to be: While Bill was out walking the neighborhood, D`Arcy had called her father, Glenn. In the years since the divorce, Glenn had been less than attentive to his children and this had been bothering him of late. In fact, Glenn had been harboring suspicions of Bill’s intentions ever since he caught him leering at D`Arcy when he came by for a scheduled visit a year or so back. On hearing D`Arcy’s sordid revelation, Glenn blew his stack. “You kids lock the doors,” he said heatedly. “And stay inside. I’ll be right over to get you.”

Going to his closet, Glenn took down a long canvas zipper bag, opened it, and withdrew a double-barreled 10-gauge goose gun. Fumbling in a drawer, he found the ammo, a box of magnum load 00-buckshot. With shaking hand, he broke open the breech, loaded both barrels, and snapped it closed. Stuffing a few more rounds into his pocket for good measure, Glenn grabbed his keys and sprinted to his car. Shotgun beside him, Glenn drove with purpose to Bill and Shirley’s house like Sterling Moss on crack.

Meanwhile, the fat man had returned. On finding the doors locked, he began calling out to the kids with apologies, threats, promises and more threats. While he was in the middle of pleading his good intentions, Glenn’s red GTO flew into the driveway; Glenn locked up the brakes, threw it into “Park,” and before the car could stop, had opened the door and was out. Bill turned at the commotion to see Glenn leaping from the car.

In his haste, Glenn had forgotten to zip his fly and now his enormous pecker lolled out and was wagging to-and-fro. Bill was so stunned at the eye-popping sight of Glenn’s thingus that he was frozen in awe for two, maybe three critical seconds when he could have otherwise run away.

Glenn retrieved the shotgun from the passenger’s seat and raised it to his shoulder and screamed, “You goddamned fat piece of shit, try to fuck my daughter, will you?” And squeezed off the first round, the round from the barrel with the open choke. The spray of buckshot went square into Bill’s belly and cloud of blood, skin, flab and guts went flying everywhere leaving only the spine and some associated muscle.  Bill, for the first time in his life, had a wasp-wasted appearance.

Not yet satisfied with the destruction, Glenn let the second round loose. Coming from the barrel with the full choke, the shot stayed together in a tight pattern and tore out Bill’s spine. With its support gone, the top half of the fat man’s body fell off to the side at a cockeyed angle and hit the ground. The bottom half – the ass and legs – then crumpled and that was that. The Medical Examiner figured Bill was dead before he hit the ground.

Bill the Spitter would spit no more.

Glenn went on trial for 1st degree manslaughter, among other things. However, the prosecutor made the mistake of painting Bill as an upstanding member of the community. With the door now open to impeach Bill’s credibility, the defense showed the jury a photo of Bill taken out at the lake the day Bill helped clean up after the storm; it showed a repulsive fat man with bad teeth, dirty hair and covered in sweat. Having seen that bit of evidence, the jury only convicted Glenn of discharging a firearm in the city limits, acquitting him on all other counts. Glenn paid a fifty-dollar fine, collected his kids, and went home.

On a snowy day that December, one of Bill’s co-workers brought Bill’s spittoon out to the cemetery where Shirley had laid Bill to rest, and left it on Bill’s grave as a memorial.




On A Cold Winter’s Afternoon

15 June 2014

In Richfield, winters are in their own way, as bad as summer.  The sky is as gray as ashes and the dying land is littered with brown leaves as dry as dust.  The plants and trees are brittle skeletons that dance in the bitter winds.  As the days grown ever darker, a dankness sets in.  First comes the cold rain, then the sleet.   The gloom is palpable.

Sales of alcoholic beverages go through the roof.

The previous year, Ma have become a volunteer; she was helping pimp the upcoming Tyrone Guthrie Theater.  A worthy undertaking that got her out of the house and away from me a good part of the week.  She’d hop the bus up on Portland Avenue and head to an office somewhere on Hennepin Avenue where she worked a phone bank, calling all the local swells and hitting them up for money.  Because money was involved, Ma took to the work like a glutton takes to food.  On this cold winter’s afternoon, she was down at the office, ten miles and a two hour bus ride away from me.  I had the house to myself.

What to do, what to do?

I went to the desk in my bedroom at took a stab at the chemistry book and its page of homework.  Deadly dull.  Like a shot of Novocain in the brain.  I soon cast it aside.  Back in the living room, I turned on the TV; only thing on was Howdy Doody.  Crap.

I sat on the couch trying to think of some way to kill the hours until Ma returned and we could engage in another battle over my sloth and indolence.  “Listen, Buster,” she’d growl, “All you do is flunk your courses and sit around like an old woman.  You’ll never amount to anything.  Your poor father works like a dog to provide for you and all the thanks he gets are your failures.  You’ll be a drag on society.  Honestly.”  Other times she browbeat me about the salutary effects of Tang, the ghastly drink of the Astronauts:  “If you drank more Tang, you might become like them and not the wastrel you are.  Honestly.”

I sat alone in the silence looking out the front window at the dreary world.  I had all this free time and couldn’t think of a thing to do.

Ah, but wait!  An idea began to form.

Against the living room’s far wall sat the Hi-Fi.  Dad picked it up the previous summer and Ma, with her pretensions to art, had a acquired a whole stack of albums; mostly  long-plays, but some 78’s as well.  One of the 78’s was Ravel’s ‘Bolero”.  It was Ma’s favorite.  Well now.

What if I taped a darning needle to the front of the phonograph’s tone arm?  What if I taped a half-dollar on top of the tone arm?  What if I put “Bolero” on the turntable, powered up the Hi-Fi and when the turntable reached 79 RPM, I carefully set the darning needle-cum-tone arm down into the lead groove?  YESSSSS!

As the turntable spun, the darning needle plowed out great curls of the record’s material.  The record was ruined for good and all.  I blew off all the chunks and curls, removed the darning needle and half-dollar, returned the tone arm to its resting place and carefully placed the disk back in its jacket and returned the album to its place in the stack.  Bingo!

It took about a week before Ma decided to listen to the sweet, burgeoning strains of “Bolero” but when she did, out came naught but squawks, squeals, hoots and crunches  “What happened to my record?” she bellowed.  “It’s ruined,” she all but wept.  Her face turning red with fury, Ma turned to me: “It was you, wasn’t it?” she hissed.  “I knew it,” she spat, “I knew it.  I can never have anything I want but that you ruin it!”  Ma was jerking and lurching around the living room so I decided it was time to get out of the house.  Bundled up against the elements, I headed for Dave’s place where we played Monopoly until dinner was called and his mom shooed me home.

As I came in the door, I heard Ma giving Dad a screed of particulars about her delinquent son, ungrateful lout that I was.

“Jesus Christ, Peach*” said Dad, “Don’t blow a gasket.  I’ll pick up another copy tomorrow.”

We ate dinner in awkward silence.  Another blow had been struck for freedom and right-thinking.


*PS: Peach was Ma’s life-long appellation.  She explained to my friend, Paul, that Grandma Hazel gave it to her because, as Ma put it, “I have skin like a peach.”  I couldn’t resist; “Yeah, Paul, that’s because it’s yellow, fuzzy and full of pits.”  


Beans, Beans and More Beans

15 June 2014



Got a new car.  New to me anyway.  Fun.  Nice car.  The only thing it doesn’t have is the “Uconnect” cellphone device, and rear seat heaters (though it does send hot/cold air into the rear seat via conduits built into the console).  The Uconnect thing is an option, but the fellow who first bought the car didn’t —  what — want the potential intrusiveness of a cellphone?  No, I don’t think he knew it wasn’t a standard part of the SatNav,-CD, jukebox-disk library-AM/FM/Serius residing in the center of the dashboard.

As to why the Uconnect phone feature wasn’t simply included as standard equipment had to do with, I believe, a curmudgeonly bean-counter in Product Management.  He was probably old and felt this kind of feature was too Philistine.  So he drew a line through the feature as standard so the poor buyer had to specifically request it.  And if the buyer, Philistine that he was, forgot to ask for the phone feature, he didn’t get it.  But this is a small thing, for one can purchase a bluetooth thing that hangs on the sun visor like a radar detector and which accomplishes the same end.

Anyway, I’m having fun.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers