They Call Me Red



24 September 2013

This morning, on the bus, I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft. It’s fascinating, so fascinating that I missed my transfer point and had to backtrack to get downtown.

The first thing Joy said to me was, “You’re late!”

“I know,” I said, “I missed my bus stop. I was reading a book by Stephen King. He had a serious vehicle-pedestrian accident in 1999. He was nearly killed.”

“He’s really creepy.  I saw him interviewed one time;  no  wonder he writes such creepy stories.”

“How was your day, yesterday. Did you go to Jacques’ for dinner?”

“I went over there but he was making something with salmon. I just can’t eat fish. I don’t mind crab and lobster. Mariah often buys live lobsters. When I was over there one time, she’d put them on the floor. Her cat, Precious was playing with them. They had the locks on their claws so they weren’t dangerous, but they still kept coming after her. I laughed to see them waving their claws around and not being able to do anything with them.

“After I left Jacques, I went to Luciano’s to get groceries. I got a pack of twelve chicken thighs; you know, the part above the drumstick. I also got pork chops, onions — Jacques had given me some potatoes, so I really pigged out.

“I’m going someplace with him, so I don’t know if I’ll be at the park.  Maybe I will — we’ll see. The other guys should be up there.”

As I arrived at the park Joy was on the telephone to Hippo, “What do you mean, you can’t get out of your apartment! Strap some knives to your hands and go after them! You phoned the cops? They didn’t come! How about your landlord? Yeah, I’ll head up there on my way back.

“That was Hippo. Some crackheads in his building are pissed off with him. They say he was responsible for some guy getting evicted. He says he doesn’t even know the guy. I wish he’d grow some balls. He wants me to go over and do his dirty work for him.”

“Hi Mariah, how’s it going with the spirits in your house?”

“They’re still there. I feel them passing every so often, but they don’t bother me.  They’re not knocking things down like they were before. If they get bad, I’ll have to do another cleansing. I need to find more eagle feathers.”

I asked, “Where do you get them?”

“I find them in the wild, that’s the only way.”

“Then you have them blessed? Is that what happens?”

“Yeah, I have them blessed.”

Joy said, “The spirits in my place are driving me nuts. I don’t mind Biddy knocking in the closet. In fact, sometimes when I’m watching TV, I’ll notice the  image of a man sitting on the other end of the sofa.”

I asked, “So, he’s watching TV with you?”

“Yeah, he’s watching TV with me. One time I had one of those paranormal programs on, called “Haunting”. He really started banging in the closet then, so I don’t watch that any more.

“It’s not him that freaks me out, it’s the little girl. She looks to be about six years old and wears old-fashioned clothes, you know, with lots of layers of underthings.”

“You mean  crinolines?”

“Yeah, that’s what they’re called. She wears a long dress and has her hair in some kind of a bun at the back. She’s got the pale, spooky blue eyes. She’d be pretty if she didn’t always have that scowl on her face. This morning she moved my kitchen table about a foot. I tripped over it going out the door. I could have been killed.”

Mariah said, “Joy doesn’t know how to talk to them.”

“What, like I should make friends with them?”

“No, but the way you talk to them is too prissy;  please, thank you and shit like that. You have to be firm, assertive, or else they’ll just laugh at you. They won’t take you seriously. You have to show them that you’re the boss, then they’ll leave you alone, go somewhere else. I think that Buddy guy has been in my place, but not the little girl.

“It’s not the spirits I’m worried about, it’s Charlie. I told you he had TTP. He got out of hospital at six this morning. He’s been having chest pains and they kept him in to do some scans. He said they filled him up with so much stuff that his pee is flourescent.”

I said, “That will make it easier for him to hit the toilet. When it’s dark he won’t even need to turn the light on.”

“He needs something to help his aim. He’s also full of dilaudid.”

“That must be fun for him!”

“Yeah, for him it’s okay; for everybody around him it’s a damned nuisance. I want to start drinking again, just to smack him upside the head.  He can get real ornery.

“The scar tissue has broken down where he had the operation, but now it’s moved to the right. That’s what’s causing him the pain.”

Joy said, “Here comes Buck and Dillinger, only Dillinger is going the other way. When Mariah and I saw that dog for the first time we thought it was a dingo. We both said, ‘Dingo Ate My Baby’ .”

I asked, “What does that mean?”

“It’s from a movie with Meryl Streep, called A Cry in the Dark. It’s based on a true story in Australia where a dingo (wild Australian dog) ate/carried away her baby while they were camping. I think the woman actually killed her baby then left it out in the desert where she thought the dingos would eat it, but they didn’t.

“Did you see the bag of clothes I got this morning; a  big garbage bag behind my box?”


“Anyway, I went through them. I gave most of them to Jacques. Most of them were really worn, nearly threadbare. I kept a sweater by ‘Roots’. There were a couple of pairs of  women’s training pants.”

“Did you keep those?”

“No, there was no elastic at the bottom and they were too girly. Jacques will wear them. He’s the one making a fashion statement. Look at him, lime green shirt, orange pants with khaki shorts over top. He doesn’t care what he wears.”

Hippo stopped by. I said, “Hi Hippo, did they let you leave the building?”

“Yeah, I just made a run for it. I don’t even know what it’s all about. First they said it was about a guy that got evicted. There was a girl evicted but not a guy. Then they changed their story. In any case I didn’t have anything to do with it. I don’t even know the people in my building. I know some names and recognize some faces. I can’t put the two together.”

Joy said, “I knew a coolie that lived upstairs. I knocked four of her front teeth out.

“Hippo, do you have my mail?”

“Yeah, here it is.”

“This one here says ‘return to sender’. It’s one I sent to Jake. I hope it’s the one with the fifty dollar money order. Yes! we’re getting drunk tonight.


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($2.99 Download) ($.299 Download) ($.99 Download) ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red: ($.99 Download)


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