Archive for August 1, 2014

Mike Yankoski

“Sometimes it’s easy to walk by because we know we can’t change someone’s whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.”
Mike Yankoski



1 August 2014

The park was sunny after two days of rain. The grass was damp, so Mariah handed me a foam cushion to sit on.

I asked her, “Have you heard any news of Joy?”

“I’m going to the hospital this afternoon to see her. I hear that she’s feeling down. She didn’t want a phone or a TV. I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t want a TV. It would help her to pass the time.”

“Is it the fibromyalgia that’s causing her the problems?”

“No, it’s atrophy. She doesn’t move around enough. If you don’t use it you lose it.  The other day she couldn’t stand at all. She’s going to have to go through physiotherapy and learn everything all over again, just like last time.”

I said, “I tried to contact her, but I could only get through to the nursing station. I left a message for her saying that the bank wouldn’t accept any third-party checks. They said the only thing they could do would be to deposit it to her account.”

“She doesn’t have an account, that’s the problem. Jake figured some way around it.

“He was also showing me how to use my phone. I don’t know the first thing about these.”

“I don’t either.”

I shook hands with Hippo, “I haven’t seen you for ages. How is everything going?”

“You know, same old…”

I asked, “Are you still having trouble with the crackheads at your building?”

“Yeah, they think that I have a telephone and that I’m ratting on them. I don’t have a telephone and I don’t rat on anybody. some guy yelled in my window, ‘I’m going to kill you!’ I said, ‘Bring it on.’ I got lots of iron bars in my place. If he wants to take his chances, I’m willing. I know they’re all nuts. I don’t pay much attention anymore.”

Little Jake said to me, “I guess I fucked up yesterday. I can’t remember what I did, but everyone was pissed off with me.”

Wolf called to me, “Dennis, there’s one thing I want to tell you.” I moved my cushion closer so I could hear better. “I got a new book by Jack Higgins. When I say new I don’t mean new from the store, but new to me.  I checked inside the — what do you call the paper that’s around a hardcover book?”

“The jacket?”

“Yeah, that’s the word I was looking for, the  jacket. Anyway, this book was published in 2012 so the things he’s writing about are recent. Most of the books I’ve read by him took place during the Cold War, but here he has references to Afghanistan and Iraq. The print is large, I like that. It’s called A Devil Is Waiting. Have you read that?”

“No, I’ve read lots of his earlier books. The only title I can remember is The Eagle has Landed. I liked that.”

Shaggy started barking next to my ear. I noticed that my foot was on her leash, so I moved it.

Wolf yelled, “Shaggy, pick a place, any place,  and lie down.”

Mariah said, “Wolf, don’t talk to her like that.”

“Mariah, I only have one command for her and it’s not even a command.”

I said, “It’s more of a choice.”

Wolf said, “If I was to offer her a biscuit and tell her to roll over, or to shake a paw, do you think she’d do it? It’s not going to happen. Think of it in her terms, If someone offered you a biscuit, would you roll over? Why would people want a dog to roll over, what good is that?

“I guess you heard about the commotion, the fisticuffs yesterday?”

I said, “Jake told me that he’d fucked up, but he didn’t know what he did.”

“He wanted to fight with Jacques, with me, if you’d been here he’d probably would have wanted to fight with your too. He was greased. Jacques picked him up by the collar and the seat of the pants and threw him across the lawn. That settled him down. You know how easy-going Jacques is. He’s a gentle giant.

“Me, I just want to come down here, drink a beer with my friends, enjoy their company. I don’t come here to be attacked.

“Dennis, do you have some donuts for me?”

“Sure Wolf.” I handed him a card from the coffee and donut shop. I asked, “Is this for Saturday or Sunday donuts?”

He grinned and said, “I don’t know, it may be for Monday donuts. I hate to ask you this, but I’ve got an appointment this afternoon. Could you spare me some bus tickets?”

“Sure, Wolf.”
“Thanks, man. I really appreciate this. I wouldn’t have asked unless I really needed them. I ordered some crack and the crack didn’t come. I know I don’t have to tell you this, but I want to be honest. It’s just my way.”

Jacques said to me, “Dennis, did you see my new mug. I got it for two dollars. It holds three beer and some tomato juice, maybe even more. Maybe I could get a whole six-pack in there.”

Mariah said, “It looks like it would hold two quarts. That’s my guess, anyway.”

Deaf Donald yelled to Jacques. “They got George. If you wanted to buy some cigarettes, you’re out of luck.”

Jacques yelled back, “What do I care? I’ve got four cartons already. I don’t need cigarettes.”

Wolf laughed and said to me, “Did you hear Jacques? He has four cartons of cigarettes. He doesn’t even smoke.”

It was time for me to say good bye. I shook hands all around.  As I was leaving everyone shouted, “Have a good weekend. We’ll see you next week sometime.”

I waved back.





1 August 2014

“Good morning, Chuck, how’s your day going so far?” The cap he was wearing read, ‘I’m Not Old, I’m Vintage

“It’s slow, there’s hardly anybody around.”

I replied, “I heard on the news that, with Monday being a holiday, a lot of people would be taking today off. Imagine, them mentioning that on the news. It must be a slow news day as well.”

“You can bet that there’s no work being done by the government today. They’ll use any excuse they can to get out of work.

“Remember, I told you I wanted to buy a cheap watch? Metro had told me about a place, but I forgot where he said, so I asked him again yesterday. I went to the place and, wouldn’t you know it, there was a sign on the door, ‘on vacation for two weeks’. I went further up the street to where I used to get watches, but the brands, like Timex, that used to cost ten bucks were priced at fifty. The same watches, just higher prices. Then I saw this dingy store across the street. I went over, the door was locked. You had to ring the doorbell for service. A woman answered and I told her what I wanted. She said that she didn’t think they had anything like that. Then she said to me, ‘You look a lot like my ex.’ I said, “If your name is Kathleen, I’ve got a serious memory problem. She said, ‘No, my name is Elizabeth. Wait a minute, I may have something for you.’ She went to the back of the store, rummaged around a bit, then came back with a watch. She said, ‘It’s a bit scuffed, but it might be what you’re looking for.’ I said, ‘Scuffed is alright. It’s the price I’m worried about.’ She said, ‘For you, ten bucks.” I asked, ‘Ten even?’ ‘Yeah, ten even.’ So I got this watch.” He raised the sleeve of his jacket and showed me.

 “It says Bill Blass on the face. Does that mean anything?”

I said, “I’ve heard the name. He’s an international fashion designer. You’ve got a designer watch.”

“So do you think this might be worth something?”

“I don’t know anything about fashion or watch prices, but I know it’s a good brand.”

(I checked on Amazon, prices were listed between$600 to $1900. They offered them for 80% off.)

Chuck said, “I mentioned my ex-wife. One night, both of us were asleep in bed. I was having a nightmare. I put both arms under my wife, lifted her, turned her around and threw her towards the end of the bed. She weighed two hundred pounds. There’s no way I could have done that when I was awake.”

I said, “I understand now why she’s your ex.”

“No, she knew I didn’t do it on purpose. She was bruised though, from hitting the dresser. I’d never hurt her while I was awake. Where did I get the strength to do that? It’s crazy what can happen in dreams.

“I’m not one of those environmental fascists, but I try to live my life in a considerate manner. I sort my recyclables, we have a bin for bottles and cans, one for paper and the green bin for food items to be composted. I don’t do it for myself, but I want to leave the earth a better place for my grand kids. I took my garbage out this morning and put everything where it was supposed to go and I hear bags coming down the chute, glass breaking, tins banging, food spilling out.”

I said, “I know, Lemar,  who drives one of the big yellow garbage trucks. Joy knows him as well. He’s told us about dumping a bin and having slime run down his neck.”

Some people don’t give a shit, or else they’re trying to make a statement, ‘I don’t have to put up with these bullshit rules. I’ll do whatever I want. I’m important.’ With people like that, our grand kids won’t have a place to live.”

I said, “There is more awareness now. I remember when I was a kid, Saturday morning was for beer bottle collecting in the ditches beside the highway. We’d each have a gunny sack and in a couple of hours it would be full. One of our parents would drive us to the bottle exchange and even at to cents a bottle we’d make quite a bit.”

“Chuck said, “There are still people doing that. I see them riding bikes carrying big, clear garbage bags full of cans, and anything that they can exchange for money.

“Do you remember Art Linkletter and his TV program Kids Say the Darndest Things. Most of the things were really funny, but sometimes, if you thought about it they were sad. One time they did a word association test. If they said needle, then the word associated would be thread. They said cup and you’d expect that the kids would say saucer, but the ones from the poorer neighborhoods didn’t know what a saucer was. They didn’t use them in their homes, because it wasn’t necessary. It would have been considered a luxury.  Another time they asked about what advice their mothers gave them. One kid said, ‘My mom said when I go to the bathroom in a rich persons house the white roll is what you use to wipe yourself.’ Can you imagine, a kid not knowing what toilet paper was? I wonder what they would have used.”

I said, “I grew up on the prairies where farmers used out houses. What they used instead of toilet paper was the Sears catalog.

One question I remember Art Linkletter asking a kid was, ‘What does your daddy do when he first gets home from work?’ The kid said, ‘First he pisses in the sink, then he gives Mommy a hug and a kiss.’ “

Chuck said, “Another one was, ‘What does your daddy do to earn money?’ One kid said, ‘My daddy works from home. People knock on our back door, daddy opens a small sliding panel, they hand him money, he hands them bags of white powder.’ “

Chuck started coughing.

I asked, “Chuck, are you alright?”

“Yeah, if that woman over there in the short skirt would go home with me, I’d show you how alright I am.”

A woman stopped and put some change in Chuck’s outstretched cap.”

“Thank you ma,am.

I said, “I heard about a big accident on the freeway, a truck jack-knifed. My wife was an hour late getting to work.”

“Yeah, it was near my place. I saw it on the news, then went over to the scene. It didn’t look too serious at first, but as I got closer I could see that the truck  hit a construction barrier, causing damage, downing hydro lines and leaving a fuel spill.”

I gave Chuck a pat on the shoulder and said, “Have a good weekend. I’ll see you next week.”

“Bye, Dennis, I hope we hear soon about Joy.”