Archive for July 2, 2014




 2 July 2014

“Good morning, Chuck. How was your weekend?”

“It was good. I went to that wedding I told you about. At the last minute I got a call from my ex brother-in-law, it turned out that he was going and offered me a ride. He was right to get away from my sister, but he’s married another one even worse. I had to listen to her the whole time I was in the car. The woman never shuts up. Anyway, I got to see my nieces and the rest of the family. That won’t happen again for a long while.”

Chuck’s cell phone rang. I heard him say, “So, you can’t get away. That’s too bad. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“That’s the rest of my day ruined. I was going to take my lady friend out to lunch, but her boss didn’t come in to work today and she has to stay in the office. She can’t even go for a break.”

I said, “I’m running late, Chuck, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Chuck asked, “Are you going to work hard, or hardly work?”

I said, “Probably a little of both. Bye.”

The sky was overcast, thunder showers predicted, the crew at the park was somber. I shook hands with Little Chester, Jacques and Wolf. I started to pat Shaggy, but she was growling. Wolf handed me some treats to give her,  to improve her mood, then he handed me a newspaper to sit on.

Jacques said, “I guess you wouldn’t have heard the sad news, but Shakes, he died on Sunday at Little Jake’s place.  He had a heart attack. Jake phoned the police and the ambulance. They tried to shock him with those paddles, but he didn’t revive. That’s too bad, we all knew him for a long time. Who will be next, I wonder?”

I said, “Little Jake must be taking it hard. He was really upset when Weasel died.”

Wolf said, “Yeah, we both found him sprawled on the bed. Another one’s gone. Big Chester, the fat, toothless fuck, was worried about the jean jacket that he left at Jake’s place. Who gives a fuck about a jacket, the size of a tent, when somebody’s died. Everyone’s upset. What can you do?

Little Chester made a comment. Wolf said to him, “Can’t you see I’m having a conversation here. Shut the fuck up, so I can keep my train of thought going. The chipmunks are going around in my head, but I have to listen to keep things straight.

“It’s not that we didn’t all see it coming. Nobody can drink five bottles of sherry a day without it doing real damage to their system. He knew he was sick. We just didn’t expect it so soon.

“I’d been drinking for seven days straight, but as soon as I heard the news I stopped drinking. I went two days without a drink, in respect for Shakes. I know, it sounds crazy, most people get drunk when they hear of a death in the family. I did just the opposite. I had to be sober today for Jake. He’s a very caring, emotional person — you know that.  I didn’t know if he’d be able to hold it together, what with Shakes dying in his place.”

Little Jake came by. Wolf took him aside to express his condolences. We all shook Jake’s hand. Nobody said anything.

Jake said, “Let’s get this party started. That’s what Shakes would have wanted us to do. Has anybody got a drink? Jacques handed him a Plastic drinking bottle a quarter full of sherry. Jake asked< “Is that all you got? I don’t want to take anybody’s last swallow.”

Jacques said, “Don’t worry, I got another bottle.”

Wolf said to Jake, “I was supposed to tell you that Mary’s daughter — what’s her name?  Anne?  That’s right, Anne, brought a bottle of J.D., Shake’s favorite, so we could give him a farewell toast. There were only three of us, Jacques, me and Anne. We thought you’d be here, but you weren’t so we slit it three ways instead of four. I just wanted you to know that she was thinking about you.”

Jake said, “That’s thoughtful of her. I didn’t sleep well last night so I got up late, otherwise I would have been here. We’re going to party on the bridge. I hope the cops don’t come by.”

Jacques said, “We haven’t seen them for a long time.”

Two outreach workers came by to pay their respects. They were trying to contact Shakes’ daughters Betty and Fran. They asked, “Does anybody know their phone numbers?”

Wolf said, “Phone numbers, we didn’t even know his last name. Who would have thought it was Jake Baker? All these decades we only knew him as Shakes.”

Jacques said, “I have some of his numbers on my phone, Shakes 1, Shakes 2, and Shakes 3. I don’t know who they are for. One is probably for a phone that Shakes lost a while ago. Can you read these?”

The worker took down the numbers and asked Jake, “How about the rest of his belongings? His wallet, his hat?”

Jake said, “The police took all the papers out of his wallet. I have his hat to give to Betty.”

The worker said, “We’ll try to contact her and Fran. Did he have any other family in town? Betty can give us all that information. We’re very sorry for your loss. Shakes was very well liked by a lot of people.” They then walked away.

Jacques said, “I want to show you the new, handy thing I got. He pulled out a key strap with an electronic fob on the end. This is to get into my apartment. If I lose it they said I have to pay thirty-five dollars for the next one.”

Wolf said, “They gave me one of those. I only have to pay twenty-five for a replacement.”

“Twenty-five, thirty-five, I don’t know.

“I fell asleep at 1:30 and didn’t wake up until 9:00 or 10:00 when the fireworks started. I couldn’t see them, but I heard everything.”

Wolf said, “Shaggy nearly went crazy because of all the noise. Some of our neighbors had the street blocked off, so they could light their own firecrackers. I guess they figured that, since it was Canada Day, it was their patriotic duty to make lots of noise. Shaggy wasn’t just upset, she went nuts. The only place she could get any peace was in the bathroom with the light turned off.

“Anyway,” Dennis, “I want to show you the book that one of my ladies gave me. Tell me what you think.” He handed me a book. It was the story of two brothers. The wife of one is murdered and the other brother disappears at the same time. Most of the story takes place ten years later when the second brother reappears.

“This looks interesting, Wolf. It has all the things you like, a murder, police investigation, the works. It’s on the New York Times best seller list. You’re going to enjoy it.”

It was time for me to go, so I shook hands all around and said, “I’ll probably see you all tomorrow, depending on the weather.”

In unison, they said, “Bye, Dennis. See you tomorrow.”