TRAFFICKING IN ABSOLUTes
TRAFFICKING IN ABSOLUTes
BY Michele Dutcher/Lathom/Zollman/True
TRAFFICKING IN ABSOLUTes*
By Michele Dutcher
*The documentation of a woman’s absolute refusal to grow up and act right.
Snail mail copies available
Five bucks flat U.S.
TRAFFICKING IN ABSOLUTES INDEX
Cold Weather Love 3-7
Bumbling Bucky’s Snow Story 7-8
Dan’s Bar and Grill 9-10
A Bar Family Christmas 10-14
Dressing Like a Girl 14-16
Phone Call/ Geo Storm 17
Soup’s Elf Hat 18-19
Elephant House 25-30
My Life As a Bachelor 31-32
Lunar Eclipse 33-37
Wolf and the Moon 37-38
Swarming Lesbians 38-40
Bach, Beethoven, and Amadeus 41-42
Laura’s Karaoke Story 43-45
A Storm Along the Outer Banks 45
Thanksgiving Clean-up 46
Future Echo 49-58
Copyright November 2003 Any resemblance to people or animals real or imagined is only in your mind.
COLD WEATHER LOVE
Down here among the bottom dwellers, men have no reservations about finding women better than themselves to live with.
At first glance a person might think this pairing up would happen in Spring when all the world is abloom with love. However, among street level men, it's far more likely to occur in the Fall, just as the temperatures start to dip into the 20s. That's because bottom dwelling men are like rats. When the air gets a little nippy, rats want to move indoors, to sit out the winter in comparative comfort. The same can be said of the men down here who know instinctively how to earn an inside living space by saying nice things to females and cutting back on all the jive talk. "You're looking mighty fine, baby," could translate into a warm bed and three hot meals a day, if whispered into the right lady's ear. Or, at the least, it might get him shared body heat on those coldest winter nights when ice blankets the windows facing north and you have to leave the faucets running so the pipes don't freeze. So it isn't by accident that bottom dwelling men take another look at the women around them in mid-October. They have three million years of evolution pushing them forward.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to dissuade two people getting together and sharing expenses. Love is a beautiful thing. I'm not even opposed to Holy Matrimony - as in "Holy Matrimony, Batman, what a mess this is." I'm a big believer in marriage, having been married four times myself. It's just that the first thing I look for when I enter a sanctuary are those bright, friendly EXIT signs marking the way out. Marriage is definitely the way to go if two people want to obtain property and/or procreate.
Of course, there are some people who should never bear offspring, and as proof I would like to offer up Kole's bar and grill. Kole's use to stand in the middle of the block at 3rd and Jefferson, where the new Marriot is going up. The women there were just as ugly as the men. Rumor had it the owners paid ugly women with bad wigs to sit there and encourage the men to drink more. No one actually saw money trade hands, but I've heard the same story from a number of sources. After midnight, you could find the others there: one-armed guys and midgets, for example. It was like a drunken circus or a bad rerun of Jerry Springer. Of course you had your terminal junkies, your dime store alcoholics, and hookers who were 10-karot crazy. There was always someone selling shaving cream or razors or earrings or a CD Walkman - anything someone could steal and unload fast. At some point the bartender would flush these vendors out of the bar, but on a busy night, these guys might get to bother people for ten minutes. That was usually long enough to finance a dime bag.
In all fairness to Koles, however, the bar had only three neighboring businesses: Tiffany's; Girls, Girls, Girls; and Blue Movies (voted the college age crowd's most popular adult store in 2001). Me and a guy were in Tiffany's once about four in the afternoon, drinking three dollar beers and watching the show. There was this woman at the end of the bar wearing a red silk evening gown with her huge breasts almost falling out. She saw us looking at her and this Anna Nickole lookalike said, "It's 36.50 for a couch dance." I practically burst out laughing. I figured maybe she was worth more than the usual 10 or 15 bucks, but why 36.50? Was the extra $6.50 for taxes or something? Honestly, it's hard to justify 36.50 for a lap dance when you can get a nice side dish for $20.
When I was first single in Old Louisville I decided to hang out at the Town Café near 4th and Oak. I'd sit and drink my berry wine cooler and I felt quite safe from guys who'd try to pick me up, the Town Café being a gay bar. There weren't a lot of dikes, either, so I figured it was cool. But as I sat at the bar these hustlers would come up to me and plead their case that they weren't really gay, they were just hustling these old guys for money or beer. These hustlers started buying me drinks to prove they were really straight. Looks like that would have made the homosexuals angry, but it just worked them up into a frenzy. That's because the hustlers would become a challenge, so these hustlers were really making a killing just by flirting with me.
The drag shows at the Town Café were three dollars at the door. It was 70s disco music turned up loud and strip shows with guys in drag. I'd sit there with the guys and I had a ball. I liked all the glitz and the garish music. I like WWF wrestling in the same way.
You gotta love Old Louisville because it's got it all: gays, hustlers, freaks, ghosts, straights, diversity of races, and everybody is crammed into a space of a dozen blocks. Our hood is made up of the original mansions built by the millionaires who didn't want to live right by the river before the turn of the last century. Saint James Court was the first Louisville suburb. These houses were built for millionaire's families when they had ten kids apiece. Stone, brick, stained glass windows, fireplaces, hardwood floors and oak staircases. It's all the stuff left behind by the rich before they swept further out in their Caddys and their BMWs. Just like rats swarm into boxes left behind by people, we bottom dwellers have spilt up these relics into apartments and we live there for cheap.
Old Louisville proper runs from Saint Catherine's on the north, south to Hill Street. And from Brook Street on the east to 7th Street on the West. We're the 3rd largest collection of Victorian homes in the United States, and I want you to know exactly where we are, in case you decide to come visit. You can tell God too, in case He decides to come looking for the rest of us.
Bumbling Bucky’s Snow Story
I was living with this boy (mental age reference) a couple of years ago at an efficiency apartment in the carriage house of the Cardinal Apartments at 3rd and Kentucky. Bucky was so wild at first that I still don’t know how we stuck together at all. Maybe the fact that it was December and there was snow on the ground helped.
So Bucky comes home one frosty night at 2 a.m., tore up from the floor up, and wanting funds to go out again. Of course my response was, “No and Hell No”.
Bucky gets absolutely livid and I have no idea what he’s going to do next. He goes over to a small box and he gets money out and throws it at me saying he was keeping the money for Christmas but he doesn’t need any fucking money that I gave him. I like this. I like men throwing money at me. He takes off his watch and tosses it onto the bed. “I don’t need anything that you ever gave me,” he says as he continues to strip down, discarding his shirt and shoes, his socks and jeans. So he tells me, as he’s standing there in this boxers in front of the gas heater, “If you don’t tell me you love me right now, I’m going to take off my underwear and run away and you’ll never see me again.”
I’m always sober when people around me say stupid stuff like this, which is why I couldn’t help laughing.
“You think this is funny? Well, I’m going to count to three and if you don’t tell me you love me by the time I get to three I’m going to run away for real.” He throws his boxers at me, counts, “One, two…” When he gets to “three” I take two steps to the door, open it, and Bucky runs outside, naked as a jaybird, into the snow and the blackness of a December A.M. Then slowly Bucky turns to me and says, “Something got turned around here. Can I come back inside?”
Whenever men get me really mad, I picture Bucky standing in the snow, holding his family jewels, alone and shivering in the dark, asking quietly to come back inside. Scenes like that help keep things in perspective.
Dan’s Bar and Grill
Dan’s bar sits about dead center of Old Louisville and is more of an Irish pub than a pick-up bar.
Leo’s Bar Guide says:
A small neighborhood place in the Old Louisville area and is among the friendliest bars around. Excellent jukebox – Morphine, Sinatra, Al Green. Two pool tables and two dart boards. With 10 being “Bring a toothbrush and fresh undies”, Dan’s fated a 4 – Go for the food, stay for the food.
You can pick up a girl at Dan’s but most of the ladies are in a relationship. No one gets married ever. Okay, Confederate Bud did, but he didn’t marry one of us. He went outside our circle of friends and married someone he had just known for two weeks. Maybe once you get past 32 that’s the only way to get married, fast and blind.
Here’s the secret: everyone at a bar is broken. If you know them long enough and well enough there will be something that takes them askew and makes them unacceptable as a marriage partner. The fly in the ointment will be the size of an ostrich. I fit into that category without a doubt. God help any man who would seriously take me on, because I know too much. I know that men don’t change, for instance. If you meet him at a bar, you’ll be looking for him there the rest of your life. If he’s “between jobs”, he’ll be mooching off you till you drive him away with a gun. And no man at a bar can ever get it up on a regular basis. Period. End of story.
A Bar Family Christmas
Shrinks will tell you there are better ways than alcohol to deal with family holiday get-togethers. Better maybe, but not faster. Two shots of Tequila (no training wheels necessary) with beer back-up is the best way to go when time is of the essence. Mercifully, evolution has provided me with a low tolerance for alcohol resulting in the ability to be ready for any family gathering within fifteen minutes of entering a tavern. Just pick mom up at Woody’s half an hour after I get off work, pour me into the back of the car, drive 45 minutes into the backwoods of Southern Indiana, and wake me when we get to Aunt Pat’s farm. If my children pretend not to notice my 50 proof fragrance, I’ll pretend not to notice the heavy smell of Cannabis as I climb into the back. If the smell is too strong, however, I may have to insist on partaking of the local flavor myself. That’s what the holidays are all about: communicating, respecting each other, understanding and following certain guidelines. If you don’t want mom smoking up your stash, let the car air out before picking me up, especially during the last week in December. Simple guidelines, simple rules, simple ideas so unlike the avalanche of rules at my extended family’s holiday gatherings.
No drinking! No Cursing! No gambling! No smoking (anything!) – unless you want to stand outside in the dark in sub-freezing temperatures while eighty six non-smokers watch from the security of home, hearth, and light. No taking young men on my knee and bouncing them affectionately. They added that rule to my personal list last year after a particularly nasty incident. Let me say, in my defense, that the yummy fellow in question wasn’t even part of the family yet.
The best part of surviving four hours of a traditional family hell on Christmas Eve is being able to be with members of my bar family on Christmas Day. If I've stepped on any toes pocessed by blood relatives, my bar family will just laugh about it and invite Jose Quervo to join our discussion of traditional family values. Jack Daniels, Jose Quervo, and Jim Beam have rules of behavior which are much less challenging.
1. If roused from a deep slumber, try to stay awake until the policemen buy their coffee and leave the bar.
2. Try to stay on top of the bar stool, which can be a difficult task if you’re balancing on one of those backless, heartless, monsters.
3. If you’re a lady (or at least female) try to keep 75 cents in your purse as evidence that you’re not just mooching drinks off men.
At any neighborhood bar, you’ll have a definite family structure. Ask anyone at Woodys who “mama” is and they’ll point immediately to Helen or Marsha. These are women that bottom dwellers can go to when in need of motherly advice. Along the same lines, young men know they can come to me when in need of an extra ten dollars so they can continue to drink. Sit on “Auntie” Michele’s lap and you’ll be well on your way to your next pitcher of Amber Bock. As an aside, only those men 30 and under need apply. As far as the minimum age is concerned, I always say – “Old enough to drink is old enough to…” well, you see my point.
Our bar family has it’s fair share of odd uncles. Swing a rubber chicken over your head at our bar and you’ll hit five of them at a whack. Odd uncles are men who visit their daughters at college so they can meet their kid’s roommates. (You know who you are Steve K.) These are the middle-aged (or more) men who drool over each and every college lovely that comes through the door. In a biological family and odd uncle might fill his pockets with candy. In a bar family an odd uncle might fill his wallet with twenties and zig zag topps rolling papers.
The title “daddy”, of course, belongs to the bar owner. We all chip in at Christmas to get daddy something unexpected. If we take care of him at Christmas, he’ll take care of us throughout the year. One hand washes the other.
We have our naughty sisters; women we think should do something with their lives besides dating the local patrons and living La Vida Loca. We refer to these wild women as “bartenders” when they’re sitting beside us and as “god” when they’re on the other side of the counter. These women control how much alcohol a patron will consume over the course of an evening, ergo, how good a time we’ll have.
During the Christmas season I’ll try to pass out …er...I’ll try to pass out Christmas cards. Last year I conjured some up myself on my computer – which I’ve nicknamed “Thurman” as in: “What the fuck did you do with that e-mail, Thurman, you stupid three-balled waste of metal.” My Christmas cards had a jolly picture of Santa on the front cover with the cheery lines underneath: “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He’s watching all the time! STALKER SANTA!” I even enclosed white envelopes in most of them upon which I had written, “I’ll bet you never thought you’d see this again…Here’s the twenty bucks I owe you.” I went so far as to put money inside some of the envelopes, in the spirit of the season.
As that special day gets closer and closer, I’m beginning to wear my favorite Christmas time sweatshirt as a reminder to us all of the karma we’re all collecting. The message on the front, printed in large, friendly letters, says simply:
Have a merry freaking Christmas May you get what you deserve! May god bless us everyone, whatever your idea of god may be.
Dressing Like a Girl
I was thinking this afternoon about my 2nd husband, David, who is a transvestite. He wouldn’t mind me telling you that because he has legally changed his name to Kathleen and travels around his hometown in blouses, skirts, and high heels. I’ve often thought that if he can stand to be in pantyhose for eight hours a day, then he’s more of a woman than I’ll ever be. Sometimes, however, I enjoy dressing up like a woman. I think it has to do with my moon time and where I am in my cycle. It’s like sex. Six hours before Mother Nature comes to call, I can be found tracking down my lover for an afternoon rendezvous. I’m glad when I can put on stockings and a dress and go out walking without people pointing at me behind my back, the way they point at Kathleen, bless his sweet heart.
In celebration of that fact, I went out this afternoon dressed up like a female. I wanted to explore again the way the hem of my ivory colored lace dress floated around my upper calves. I wanted to feel my Double-D breasts being tightly bound by the bodice of my black silk slip. I reveled in wearing black spandex panty-loons, finished off nicely with elastic black lace gripping my upper thighs.
As I walked towards the U of L campus, I heard the familiar “swish, swish” of the inside of my thighs caressing each other. I passed little college boys as I walked and exchanged quick glances, down and away. I noticed my red toenails peaking out from the leather straps of my mid-heeled sandals.
I made it to the playground just past the small campus shopping center. I got there by walking up 3rd Streets and watching the towering tree’s shadows race up my legs, up my dress and across my full, tanned boobs. Now I was in the sunshine by the swingset, in the open field surrounding the play area. I stopped for a moment to place my Pepsi on a wooden picnic table. I felt my fingertips close around the metal chains of the swing and I slid my bottom into a plastic sling seat. I was too shy at first to push myself very high. There were three men nearby who briefly stopped working on a ditch. They watched me as I leaned back for a moment, pumping my legs and allowing the hem of my dress to run up past my knees. The hem fell again on the downswing. As I slowed, the men returned to their work but I noticed a young man waiting at the bus stop who didn’t look away. He was carrying a black backpack and wore a red T-shirt with tan Kaki shorts.
For his entertainment as well as my own, I leaned back into the air and began to pump and fall, pump and fall, pump and fall. I had his full attention by now as I swung higher and higher, my barred calves stabbing the mid-afternoon sunlight. With each ascent, my bobbed red hair flowed over my face and then retreated. My fingertips clutched the chains as I allowed my body to go limp, slowing my descent. I stopped the swing and slid out of the plastic strap. I noticed the small beads of sweat that danced on my collarbone.
I stepped away, fading into the safety of the trees, grabbing my drink off the table before heading home. The boy across the street watched me closely as I left, but I wasn’t about to spoil with reality whatever fantasies were swirling around in his pretty young…head.
Truth #36 Love gets even with us all.
Postulate: If it means anything to you,
You still mean everything to me.
PHONE CALL Sunday morning 3:14 A.M.
ME: Sal, dude, what’s up? Are you okay?
SAL: I just set my hair on fire, bro.
ME: Sal, I’m a girl, I’m not a bro, but are you okay?
SAL: Yeah. I think I got it all put out, bro. I was trying to light a Camel when all of a sudden, there’s this burning smell.
ME: Where are you?
SAL: I’m at 1st and Ormsby, a block from home, bro.
ME: Well, what can I do to help, Sal?
SAL: I just wanted to tell someone that I set my hair on fire.
ME: I’m going back to sleep now. Go home Sal.
SAL: Okay, bro, good night.
I finally get my Geo-Storm fixed and I pull into the parking lot at Silvercrest. Herb is leaving in his car and he hollers something at me. I can’t hear what he’s saying at first, so I go over to his car.
HERB: “Whose car you done stole, Michele? Whose car you done stole?”
ME: “If it ain’t your car I stole, what do you care, Herb?”
HERB: “I don’t care, Michele. I just wondered. I don’t think nobody cares about a little red Geo, anyways. Somebody prob-bly HAPPY you done stole it. They prob-bly HAPPY.”
ME: “I know you’re right, Herb. I know you’re right.”
Post Script: It’s difficult to be an atheist and own a Geo Storm. When I get into it first thing in the morning I find myself saying, “Please God, just let it start.” And if it starts, I can’t help but exhale, “Thank you, God. Thank you, God.”
SOUP'S ELF HAT
So Injun Billy and Jay and Chevy and I are all playing pool on a chilly Spring evening, just after Soup and Billy moved into an apartment on 1st Street. Chevy looks at Soup and notices that Soup's knitted cap looks like a Kiebler Elf's hat and he says so. Everyone looks at Soup and it really does look like an elf's hat so we all point and laugh, and even Soup laughs. Everyone is just so tore up from the floor up because we've been shooting pool for five hours and shooting Quervo ta-kill-ya.
"Well, who wants to see my Elfin Magic?" volunteers Soup.
"You can keep your Elfin Magic to yourself please," I say with pretended distain.
"And we don't want to see your cookies or wafers either, if you please," Chevy chimes in through a bourbon and coke haze.
Soup crosses his arms and says, "Don't make me pull out my Magic Wand!"
Chevy retorts, "Don't make me call out the hobbits and the gnomes!"
I look Soup over head to toe. "You're awfully BIG for an ELF aren't you?"
"Why, Michele," says Soup. "How many elves have you been with?" Funny, funny, funny.
Soup takes his elf hat off and looks at it. "I think it shrunk because I washed it too many times."
I wade right in: "Oh, is that what happened to your thing too?"
"Michele," he says getting a little mad, "You're dead meat!"
"Well, Soup, that's also what I've heard about your thing!"
Like I said at the beginning, Soup and Injun Billy are buying everyone drinks because we helped them move, so here is Soup's bar tab.
DAN'S BAR AND GRILL
HOME OF THE PRIMO BAMBINO
33 GIN & TONIC 66.00 SUBTOTAL 106.25
15 CAN BEER 26.25 TAX 1 . 36
2 DRAFT 2.00 TOTAL 106.61
1 HAM SAND 2.50 CASH 106.61
2 CHEAP CIGS 6.50 ORDER 3 May 28,2002
FRIENDSHIP BLACK POWDER MEET
What I want to tell you about is Friendship, Indiana, this tiny town in the hills of Indiana where they host a black powder shoot twice a year. They have this gigantic flea market that accompanies the shoot, because this gathering originally occurred so mountain men and Native Americans could trade pelts. There are still lots of dead animal pelts hanging everywhere, with or without heads attached.
So me and some of my best guys get up to Madison, Indiana, no problemo, and we head north towards Versailles expecting to see a sign for the shoot. We end up in Versailles proper, where I insist upon going into a Marathon station and asking for directions. This cashier takes one look at me and says, “You’re looking for Friendship, aren’t you?” I respectfully hang my head and nod. She starts in with, “You go down to the State Patrol office on the left, turn left again right past the big elm tree on your right, go on down past three barns and then it gets kinda difficult.” I thank her and figure we’ll ask someone else, once we get a little closer. That’s the thing about Friendship: noone is suppose to know it’s there because it’s a playground for the bikers and the drop outs, for people like me and my lost boys. The town has a population of maybe two hundred the rest of the year, but for two weeks each year, the size swells to 10,000.
Tony the hair guy is in the back seat and, as Window Scott is driving, he keeps saying, “I was up here 10 years ago and there’s a farmhouse with giraffes out front at the crossroads right before we get into downtown Friendship” (as if there’s a suburban Friendship). Window Scott keeps saying he doesn’t need to ask for directions because he just gets his bearings from the Sun. I ask him how’s that possible when the Sun is directly overhead, but he just ignores me and keeps driving. I’m following a map I got off the Web which shows Friendship in the middle of Versailles State Park – WRONG! People really don’t want you to know about this place because it’s already big enough. There’s the whole ‘last settler’ sort of attitude going on. That’s why I’m telling you about it, face to face.
After asking two total strangers for directions at my insistence, we finally get there and it’s great weather and lots of primitive costumes and mucho shopping. We decide to spend the night in the valley. Tony coughs up the 40 bucks to join the musket loader’s association and we grab a campsite in the primitive area. And then we go shopping. We walk through the 20 foot tall tee-pees and the log cabins. We see people dressed in their primitive costumes, eat in this homestyle restaurant, and watch people shooting muskets till dusk. I say “we” but I mean Tony the Hair Guy and I. Window Scott says he wants to take a nap, which leads me to believe I really do need two men: a daytime man and a nighttime man.
When night falls I sit by the river and watch the fish jumping. I watch people across the stream walking up and down the road. I see a horse drawn wagon plodding along, filled with two dozen tourists and guided by two swinging oil lamps. Beyond the bridge the local teenagers are begging to get into trouble while the show is in town. Downstream, two young couples are skinny dipping, occasionally grabbing their cutoffs from a flat rock before getting out of the water to retrieve a beer. There’s a sound in the brush behind me and Window Scott comes out of the shrubbery and sits down on a stump. “Why don’t we head up to the bar in town, Kat? I’m feeling well rested after my nap.”
“Great idea,” says I, shaking off my dream-state and putting on my shoes. As soon as we enter the only bar in town, the Friendship Tavern, Karaoke hits us square in the face. “Karaoke follows you around like a bad smell,” I tell Scott as he cringes. The best looking guy in the place is telling the ugliest woman in the place, “I’ve been of Crank for almost two weeks now.” A reassuring pick-up line to be sure.
Men are shooting pool on the only pool table in the place, so I put my quarters up and sit back down to wait beside Scott. One couple walks into the place to get a twelve pack to go, and while her mate goes to the bathroom, she blows the Crank Man a quiet little kiss. Same stuff, different State. I like The Tavern, though – it’s just homespun friendly. My quarters come up and I’m shooting against this guy Andy who’s beating every man in sight. His daddy owns this bar, so he’s been shooting on this table since he could stand on a chair and hold a stick. It gets down pretty quick to the eight ball and I put it in, but I scratch at the same time. I look over at Andy and he’s white as a ghost. Having a woman almost beat him is way too close for comfort. I put my quarters up again and shoot a couple of games, but I’m not real intense on winning. I’m just passing the time between midnight and dawn. Scott and I walk back to the tent and Tony is still snoring. I gather my feathered comforters around me and try to close my eyes.
All over the Old Mill Campground there are men who are whooping and hollering. They’ll start out with an Indian call down by the river and half a dozen men will wave it forward, north towards town. I’m glad the men in the campsite east of us took off at dusk to find trouble in Versailles. Maybe I can get a few winks. I listen for my friend’s Billy’s war hoop, but no one sounds like him. If he had made it up here with the rest of my Lost Boys, I’m sure I would recognize his holler.
Suddenly it’s 6:14 in the morning and it’s cold dude! The dew has fallen and the river mist is hanging in the air about two feet off the wet grass. We’re in a tent in a valley and the sun is still hiding behind the hilltops. Then I remember that the diner starts serving breakfast at 6:30 A.M. So I walk into the chow cabin and the only women there are behind the counter. Its like three dozen male customers out front, and me. Why doesn’t this surprise me? I’m a fifty-year-old woman living the life of a middle-aged tomboy. By the time I eat and get back to the campsite, Tony is up and I crawl inside the tent and crash for two hours.
When I wake up a second time, Window Scott and Tony the Hair Guy and I head to the Flea Market again. I’m looking at some Harley shirts when I notice that Tony is talking with an Indian – no, it’s Billy from Old Louisville! He and Chevy and Jay, three of my best Lost Boys, drove up last night from Bardstown hoping they’d see us.
We spend the rest of the day buying raw leather for projects, and beads for Billy’s armbands and cheap sunglasses. Billy and Chevy target practice with a crossbow and we watch the black powder shooters till it’s time for me and Scott to head back. We could ask someone which way to go, but Scott doesn’t need to ask for directions because he gets his directions from the Sun. We end up halfway to Cincinnati before I find the Ohio River and we follow it downstream to Louisville. Scott and I make a pact to never tell anyone how lost we got, so if anyone asks, you didn’t hear it from me.
I can't say if it's true among the lower animals but among human beings a person who is weak or wounded or alone is most likely to die in late autumn. It's as if the soul instinctively knows it can't make it through the harshest part of winter when ice covers the windows facing North. So a spirit will merely separate itself from it's body and walk away in late October or early November so as not to inconvenience the family with a snowy funeral. So one of these days when you hear that I passed away in late autumn, you have my permission to smile quietly to yourself and say, "Of course she did. Of course she did."
It should come as no surprise then, that my father passed away one week before Halloween a decade or more ago, and I was glad when he did. The cancer had been eating away on his flesh for almost two years, which was a direct reflection of how strong a man he was physically and emotionally. My father had been raised on a 100 acre farm in Central Indiana during the 1940s. He was the ninth of eleven children, the 7th of nine powerful boys. So it was odd to see his body break off chunk by chunk under the hammer of the disease. It was even stranger to watch his spirit soften during the six months preceding his death.
"Michele," he said to me as we sat at the kitchen table in the big house in April, "Michele, I believe these chemotherapy drugs are making me more feminine”. He laid his weakened hand upon mine for a moment and I allowed it to rest there until he pulled it away. We sat there, not facing each other, but rather side by side with the remnants of supper still pushed into a heap on the grey tabletop.
"I've never been one to cry, but I've found myself breaking down into tears at the drop of a hat recently."
"It's just the drugs, dad, like you said…" I told him, swatting away his words like a bothersome housefly.
He drew himself up in his aluminum chair, then he sank back down and looked towards the plates piled in the center of the table. "For whatever reason, I've been thinking back on the way I treated you when you were growing up. Especially that whole 'Gary' thing when you were a teenager." I'm sure he felt me stiffen up. My mind fell back to that afternoon when that Gary thing happened.
I was 15 at the time and my older brother was 16. Cliffie was a star on the gymnastics team, specializing in the parallel bars because of his impressive upper body strength. I would often get off study hall late and find the bus home pulling away. I was the brainy one: "daddy's little genius" my father would tell me before adding, "Too bad education is wasted on a woman." So it was a typical afternoon when I ended up in the gym watching Cliffie, calling my dad to ask him to pick me up when he got a chance.
As I was just sitting around with my head buried in a book, Gary came over and we started talking. I knew that Gary was black, but it was hard to think of him that way. Gary was very articulate, coming from an upper middle classed family. Gary was one of Cliffie's friends. I was surprised when he told me he'd spot for me if I wanted to tumble.
"Could I jump on the trampoline?" I asked him.
"Sure, I don't see why not," said Gary who went and asked the coach if it would be Okay.
"Just hitch her up to the harness to be sure she doesn't hurt herself'", said Coach Weiss. We did as instructed and I was enjoying myself in no time.
"Try a back flip, Michele," shouted Gary. "I know you've got some of that athletic Zollman blood in you."
"I don't know," I shouted between bounces, "I'm pretty clumsy."
Gary shouted up to me, "Just see it happening in your mind, Michele. Time it with your bounce and just let your body take over."
One bounce, two bounces, I saw my body doing a back flip in my mind, three bounces, and I released my body, turning effortlessly in the air.
"That was great Michele!" I heard the coach shout. "Do it again," he said, rushing over to the trampoline. I did it again, surprising even myself. Then I was ready to get down.
Gary and I were happily chattering away when my father appeared at the door of the gym. There was something angry in the way he stepped across the room towards us. "Get your books, Michele. We're leaving."
Dad's anger got more intense in the car as he talked angrily about my missing the bus again. "You're going to get yours when we get home," he threatened.
He didn't even take time to park the car under the carport, pulling out front and demanding that I "Get in the house! Go to your room and wait for me!"
I was sitting on the bed when he exploded through the door and began to take off his black leather belt. I knew what that meant. I still wasn't sure why he was so angry, but I knew he was going to beat me, probably 10 whacks as usual.
"Take your pants down, Michele," he demanded.
"Dad, I'm on my period," I informed him.
"It doesn't matter. Take your pants down. You're going to remember this beating."
I did as directed, sinking into the bed as he began to beat me full force.
"No girl of mine is going to talk to a nigger!" he shouted as he hit me two times, three, four, five…"
I was sure he was going for ten this time. At ten he would stop, I told myself. I could make it to ten without crying, I knew I could. "Seven, eight, nine," I could hear him counting, the leather strap slamming off my flesh. "Ten!" he shouted, turning me over so he could see the tears on my face. "Why you little demon, you're not crying." He became even more enraged. "This time I’m beating you until you cry or until I kill you. One way or the other. It's your choice."
"You'll never see me cry, old man!" I shouted back as he turned me onto the bed again. Around whack 14 or 15 I gave in. The pain was too great. I simply couldn't help it.
"Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty!" he said, whipping me with each word. He turned me to face him. "That's right, little Miss never show an emotion. Now you're crying. Now you're not so big."
He started to exit the room, and I slipped off the bed and fell to the floor. I noticed the blood all over the bed linens. I thought at first it was from the beating, but then I remembered it was just my moon time. My father started to put his belt back through the loops on his polyester pants. "I don't ever want to see you talkin' to a nigger ever again. And change these sheets before your mother gets home.”
Suddenly, my mind was back at the kitchen table. "Michele," says my dad, touching my hand again with crumbling flesh, "I want you to forgive me for the way I treated you. Forgive me," he asks again, quietly.
And from somewhere within my soul I feel the release from all those years of anger as I let go of the pain and the anguish. "I do forgive you," I tell him. "I can't forget, but I do forgive." I look into his sad eyes and tell him honesty, "Thanks for giving me the chance to forgive you."
"I love you, my little genius," he tells me, hugging me.
"I love you too, dad. I love you too."
There’s an elephant in the kitchen
And he’s standing on the birthday cake
And nobody sees it but me
Because I’m the fucking one who's nuts.
MY LIFE AS A BACHELOR
I’ve never been a female’s female (opposite of a man’s man) and I’ve been living by myself for so many years now that I’ve learned a few tricks on how to survive as a bachelor. For instance:
Put dirty dishes in the refrigerator during the summer so the mold won’t grow on them as quickly. I tried putting them in the oven, but then I forgot one time before baking something. It’s just not a good idea.
Any dirty dishes accidentally left out longer than one week can be given to high school children for use in Science experiments. If no children are available, burying pots are okay, if the garbage man refuses to take them. I had to bury a waffle iron once in a backyard in Atlanta, Georgia.
It’s okay to spend all your money in the first two days after receiving your paycheck, as long as your rent is paid and you’ve gotten laid as a result of the expenditure.
If you only have enough money for food OR beer, choose beer because drinking will kill your appetite anyway. If you only have enough money for toilet paper OR beer, buy beer at a bar because you can always borrow six sheets of TP before heading home. Actually, it isn’t “borrowing” because the pub probably won’t want them back.
Don’t think of yourself as divorced, rather announce yourself as “between marriages”. This usually gets a laugh and is probably true because statistically 50% of marriages end in divorce BUT 80% of divorces end in marriage.
If you must have a plant, choose a Philodendron (like the vine thing). They are really hard to kill, even with a chainsaw.
UPDATE! November 2003!
Somebody stop me before I clean again!!!
For some ungodly and unforeseen reason, I’ve been cleaning (yes, shutter) cleaning my apartment. And not just Michele clean, but HELEN clean. To my shame as a bachelor...(ette) I got down on my hands and knees Saturday night (which is only okay in front of some fine young man) and I scrubbed my white carpet with cleanser. Please tell no one else, this is for your eyes only. And on my day off, on Wednesday, I defrosted (Gasp) my fridge, cleaning it from freezer to veggie bin with Lysol.
If I’m found cleaning my oven, those of you with sounder minds have my permission to bind my hands (which is also okay in front of some fine young man) and throw me into a true filthy bachelor pad for two days, where I will hopefully come to my senses. Curse you Martha Stewart! Stop the Madness! Somebody stop me before I clean again!
The poet says:
God has slowly spread a red scarf across the Moon tonight.
The scientist says:
The shadow of the Earth will be visible across the refraction of the Moon tonight.
Here at the ground zero of our failed romance, I drive from one circle of friends to the next, keeping the milky red moon in sight. At the Granville, a wedding party stands in the street and points into the stars. The bride is adorned in virginal white with shoulders bared, and hem glancing off the concrete.
The groom says: “Cool”, not knowing or caring that bloody eclipses were a sign of impending disaster among ancient cultures.
A friend and I are supposed to meet up at the Tavern, but she doesn’t show or call. Perhaps it’s for the best as my funds are running low. Here at ground zero, funds tend to run low quite often.
I stand in the parking lot across from Woody’s for a few minutes. I lean against the door of my Geo Storm in the cold, November night air and watch a red dragon slowly devour the last bite of a catatonic full Moon. I reach into my Royal Crown bag for cigarettes and a light, and draw out a book of matches embossed for a marriage that lasted only two weeks. The matchbook is an ivory color with two red interlocking hearts and two red names on the front. I open the cover, rip out a black match, strike it on the rough strip on the back, light my Wave 100s, and drop the matchbook back into the depths of my bag.
A girl friend of mine is sitting inside of Woody’s with her current suitor.
My girlfriend says to me:
“Let’s make a $10.00 bet on who will get married again first. If I get married first, you pay me $10.00. If you get married again first, I’ll pay you $10.00.” Her boyfriend goes up to the bar to get another Miller Lite. I reach inside my wallet and pull out two fives and hand them to her. She erupts into a cackle of a laugh and tells me I don’t understand what she’s talking about.
We all go over to the Tavern at 4th and Gaulbert at the height of the lunar eclipse. People are singing Karaoke. One young lady there had a vicious one-night affair with an employee of the bar. She revels in a new boyfriend’s lavish attentions. When his name is called to sing, her new boyfriend takes the microphone and gets down of one knee in front of the rejected woman.
The Karaoke boyfriend says:
“I know we’ve only known each other for a month, Kim, but will you marry me, Kim, and make me the happiest man in the world?”
The Karaoke woman says:
“Yes, I will.”
She looks towards the employee who spurned her, but he doesn’t notice. He’s busy flirting with a new opportunity, buying the new opportunity one gin and tonic after another.
I step outside to catch my breath. The full moon is beginning to glowingly reappear from beneath the bloody sheath. It looks like the fresh growth sliver of a fingernail that got smashed in a car door. I wonder when fresh pieces of my new soul will begin to reappear from the shattered shards left on these concrete floors.
The woman abandoned at ground zero says:
“I’d better go home. There’s too much wedding talk around.”
The permanent bachelor sitting at the bar says, “Make it home safely.”
“I just want to make it home single,” I laugh emptily, while putting on my coat.
“Well don’t have an accident on the way home,” says the permanent bachelor, “because there’s too many chances to meet someone special if that happens.” The bachelor begins to count on his fingers: “There’d be the guy in the other car; there’d be the cop; plus any witnesses that were standing around. It’s much too dangerous to have an accident on a night like tonight.”
“You’re right,” I tell him. “I’m leaving my car parked by the Granville and just walking the three blocks home.” I head out the door of the Tavern with my dignity in hand.
By the time I approach the dark windows of my carriage house, the moon is full again with its laughing face looking down on me. I go up the staircase, unlock my door and pull the string to turn on the light. I absentmindedly push the power button on the radio and a woman’s voice falls out into the empty room.
The female singer tells me:
I will go down with this ship.
I won’t hold my hands up and surrender.
There will be no white flag upon my mast.
I’m in love, forever will be.
I will go down with this ship.
The Wolf and the Moon
One morning I was lying in bed half asleep and I asked the Elders why I must continue to love someone who seemed to be so lost so much of the time.
The Elders told me: "We will teach a story to your heart, not to your mind, but to your heart. And the Elders said:
Once there was a wolf who fell in love with the moon. He would watch her rise each night, high into the air. He loved her but he could not reach her. After a while, he believed he would never touch her, not knowing that every night her moonbeams caressed his body and gave light to his path.
He found her once, lying naked in a lake and drank deeply from her radiance, but still he was not satisfied. So the wolf climbed to the top of the highest mountain in his world. He sat until she was directly overhead and then he leaped into the night sky and kissed her. And the moon loved the wolf and the wolf loved the moon.
When the wolf kissed the moon, he stole a piece of her soul, and the only way to get that part back is to reunite with the wolf. At times, the wolf gets angry because he is earthbound, and all he can do is yap at the moon when he loses his way, and howl at the moon when he gets lonely. At times, the moon gets frustrated because she is bound to the sky, she has no hands or feet to push or prod the wolf and all she can do is lend her light to his path. But only together, reunited, can the wolf and the moon enter into the Elder's Circle. Only together shall they be made whole again."
How Big Dog William Saved Me From
Sunday night I was trying to explain it all to Shy Stan at the Tavern. Heather has started doing the Karaoke up there on the weekends and she told Cook Kris that I hated her because all she has to do is snap her fingers and Chevy will rush to her house to fuck her. And then Shy Stan asked me how things were going down at Dan’s. And that’s when I realized it could get confusing if you’ve been away for a while. So I thought I’d set it all down in writing before I forget.
Like I’ve told you before, it kind of all starts in with Chevy. I was fucking Bucky at first, and then I started fucking Chevy. Chevy fucked Florence twice and dumped her and then Bucky moved in with Florence for four months. So Chevy and I kept fucking each other and Chevy started fucking Phyllis too. Now Phyllis is a professional lesbian but she fell in love with Chevy while she was still living with Rob. Rob got angry and bought a gun and said he was going to shoot Chevy when he found out that Phyllis and Chevy were still kicking it. Rob said he wanted to fuck me to get even with Phyllis and Chevy, but I’m pretty quiet sexually, and I’d rather not fuck someone just for spite – although I thought about it.
So Phyllis moved Rob out of her life because Rob couldn’t understand why Phyllis was in love with Chevy when she’s supposed to be a hard core lesbian to begin with. Then Phyllis moved in these two lesbians, one of whom is named Jenny. Now, Chevy has fucked Jenny and Phyllis and this other little lesbian named Suzy, in a heap. I suppose that’s like every man’s total fantasy. I fuck one man at a time, thank you very little. I’m not into heaps or females. All of the above brings us to what happened Wednesday night and what I was trying to explain to Shy Stan on Sunday.
Jenny, who is living with Phyllis who is fucking Chevy, has decided she wants to fuck me – or whatever lesbians do. Maybe it’s not fucking; I don’t know what you would call it. But I told Jenny that I’m 50 fucking years old and if I were going to go butch I would have done it like 30 years ago and I’m just not a lesbian, that’s all. But Jenny wants me and Phyllis and the little one and Chevy to all do it in a pile. The thing that interests me is that Phyllis has started a coven. What all these women are waiting for, really, is a warlock. The good thing is that Chevy doesn’t realize what supernatural abilities he has. The good thing is that Chevy stays drunk constantly and, given enough time, will just circumvent this opportunity to form a witch’s coven.
But what I wanted to tell you was that Wednesday night at Dan’s, when the lesbians started swarming around me, Big Dog William allowed me to hug on him and then he took my hand and led me outside when it was time for me to go home. By doing that, all the swarming lesbians understood that I really am straight, just like an arrow.
I was trying to explain it all to Shy Stan Sunday night, but he got confused. I can understand why now, seeing it in black and white. It’s like they say: You can’t know the players without a program.
Bach, Beethoven, and Amadeus
Tuesday night I’m up at the Mag Bar looking at the little boys, drinking bottles of Bud while shooting pool by myself. I’m wearing my lady’s trotting derby, a black Harley shirt, heavy make-up, and I start thinking: “Do I really have to have anything in common with these boys just to blow one of them.” You’re right; it’s obvious that I’ve been drinking too much, so I just go home. WRONG! You should know me better than that. I get another beer and I think I hear the music from the box on the wall saying, “BLOW! I just want to blow his mind. BLOW! I just want to blow his world apart. BLOW! I just want to blow him away. BLOW! I just want to BLOW HIM!” I know I’m drunk by now, so I just go home. Not a chance. I figure I’m tanked up enough to head on down to Dan’s.
Roger is bartending, so his nephew is there discussing music history. He says his favorite composer is Beethoven because he is so solid in his musical concepts. I tell him I think Beethoven is a pompous BLOWhard, and the better composer is Amadeus, or at least Bach – who tends to be mathematical in his compositions. Lawrence, the International Guy, is pretending to follow the conversation in a good-natured way, when thank heavens I remember there is a whole CD of classical music on the Jukebox! So I play three selections, one from each of the three composers so the whole bar has the opportunity to make their own judgments at two in the morning.
My selections are not as well received as I would have hoped and Roger says he’ll kill me if I ever play classical music on his shift again. Someone says he shouldn’t kill me, just maybe hurt me, but Roger says there won’t be any pain involved, just instant death.
Roger says, “It’s obvious you have too much disposable income.”
I ask him, “Is disposable income what a person spends on paper plates and plastic forks?” The statement is chuckled at by the crowd but not well received by the bartender. So I put on my lady’s trotting derby and head home. Yep, this time for real. Ah, what fools these mortals be.
The Angry Karaoke Guy (and Laura) OR
Karaoke Down and Dirty
I get off work at 10 P.M. Sunday night and head up to THE T for Karaoke. When I walk in I notice Shy Stan, Laura, and Chevy are sitting at the far end of the bar. I’ve been kind of irritated at Chevy, but that’s a whole nother story.
What I want to tell you about is Laura and the angry Karaoke Guy. You see, Laura is singing, and then Chevy sings, and then some extras give it a shot, and then Chevy sings again, and then Laura gets up and sings a second time. Laura ends her song and walks over to Gay Howard, the guy who hosts the open mike, and she says something to him. Out of nowhere, Gay Howard explodes and pushes Laura backward into the pool table. I’m in shock. I’ve never seen such an unimaginable, stupid display of force in front of so many witnesses – except in a professional WWF capacity. Chevy and Shy Stan are closer to the front of the bar and my mind is screaming, “Do the Fuck something!” My brain is screaming so loudly, in fact, that it takes me 15 seconds to realize that nothing is coming out of my mouth. By that time, Gay Howard honestly has his hand on Laura’s throat and he’s screaming, “You can’t talk to me like I’m a child you drunken bitch!”
Everyone is on his or her feet by now and Chevy grabs Howard and pulls him off Laura who rises from the floor and proceeds to try to knock Gay Howard’s block off. Now I’ve used the ‘hit the other guy while his arms are being held behind his back’ technique myself. That was with my second husband – no third – husband, Ralph, but that’s a whole nother story. What I really want to tell you is that somebody jumps Laura and drags her backwards. The two combaters separate and they’re still calling each other names when I go outside to wait for them to exit THE T. Our group does just that and Chevy, Laura, Shy Stan, and I walk over to the Granville for drinks.
Laura starts this game where you begin at the top of the alphabet and drink your way down. She starts it off with Absolut vodka, then Bacardi rum, and then Laura figures ‘C’ should be Cahoots – which is a bar on Bardstown Road. I’m not sure about going all the way out there to drink. I like to stay crawl home close. And Chevy, yes – the professional drinker that we all know and love says, “Well what’s the point of getting drunk and staying out all night just to party?” Why don’t I have a tape recorder going at moments like this? Laura bursts out laughing and says, “Who are you really, and what have you done with Chevy.”
I inject, “Your basement is being searched for alien pods as we speak.”
It’s like when Chevy said, “I can’t drink another beer,” but that was after he and some friends found an open beer tap on a Budweiser truck after the Chowwagon had closed down following Thunder Over Louisville. 50 beers and 16 hours later, Chevy “couldn’t drink another beer”, but that’s a whole nother story and what I really wanted to say was:
Laura gets steamed because none of us want to go running all over town, hog wild and pig crazy, at 1 A.M. on a May Monday morning. Laura storms out the door and I follow her and we end up at Teddy Bears drinking Fuzzy Navels at 2:15 in the morning. Teddy Bears is a hole in the wall gay bar and the best thing is the artwork on the walls. It’s got six life-sized drawings of studs in various degrees of undress, hanging (pun intended) in the main room. I have to agree with the decorator because I like to look at well-muscled men myself. Ah, Teddy Bears, where the men are men and the women are too … except for me and Laura at 2 A.M. after the Sunday Night Fights.
We end up back at the Tavern eventually, and close the place down at 4 A.M.
Karaoke, big bosomed women, A – Z drinking games, flying fists, Chevy, Shy Stan, and six huge drawings of studs in jock straps. Now that’s entertainment.
I Went to a Fight and Karaoke Broke Out!
A STORM ALONG THE OUTER BANKS
Will you cast me off so easily, setting my soul adrift,
Not knowing or not caring if I’m thrown on frozen cliffs?
I fear I'm drowning in these waves, I'm buried in these swells
While you rest soundly knowing that I loved you deep and well.
Will you pass me by so easily and order drinks for two?
I look and see another where there once was me and you.
Sail on, my lovely ferryman, smile deeply in her eyes,
Noone cares in dark December if another blossom dies.
In spite of my directions to my cat to “clean up this mess and do the dishes,” the Thanksgiving dishes were still just lying about my apartment gathering dust. I even threatened my cat – named California but referred to only as ‘Cat’ – with eviction into the Real World. “Cat” I would say to my feline companion as I headed to work each day…“Cat, these dishes from Thanksgiving had better be done by the time I get home or out you’ll go into the snow and dark, never to return. There will be no free ride out in those ugly streets and alleys!” She would proceed to promise me to do her best. “Meow” she’d tell me earnestly, reassuring me into a quiet complacency as I went off into the cold, cruel work-a-day world. But each night when I returned, nothing had changed.
Perhaps she had done the best she could, since her little paws could barely hold the dishcloth. I even found her once licking a plate, which she may have ascertained was her only way of completing the task assigned. After this past Monday, however, she refused to even do that, partly because of the mold, I assume. I did learn from this experience that mold grows fastest and deepest on gravy left in a gravy boat, as opposed to vegetables left in a bowl or meat left on a platter. For the chemical reasons why this should be so, you’d have to ask someone with a scientific background. I have no such analytical background, preferring to think of myself as an artist and author. If someone wants a picture of mold, however, I can paint one or verbally describe it in unerring detail.
So as the three-week anniversary of our nuclear family’s Thanksgiving feast came and went, I picked up a Brillo pad, deciding to give the job a whack myself. After cleaning my son’s aluminum pan, I called him up proudly. “I still have your pot at my house,” I reminded him.
“Pot?” he echoed. “I’ll be right over.” I could hear him beginning to eagerly throw on his coat. I considered this joyous reaction to information about a metal container.
“No, no,” I calmed him. “I have cleaned the pan that contained the mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.”
“Oh, okay mom,” he responded much more appropriately. I still haven’t tackled the 1940s blue enamel turkey -roasting pan, of course. I figure I won’t be needing that until next Thanksgiving anyways.
Every section of town probably has its freaks and our landmark freak is named Janice. She is just as much a part of Old Louisville as the fountain in Saint James Court. On sunny days she’ll be sitting between the Old Louisville Bed and Breakfast and the second to the last house just north of Magnolia Street. I shouldn’t even have to describe her because when you see her, you’ll know her. Whoopie Goldberg use to have this comedy routine about a twelve-year-old girl who got a long blonde wig for Christmas and pretended she had beautiful long blonde hair. Janice’s wig goes all the way down to her skinny little butt. She’ll sit on the sidewalk and shake her head from side to side to keep her long blonde hair out of her eyes. I don’t put much stock in nut checks, but she’s got my vote to continue to get one. I don’t even mind if they take her check directly out of my taxes.
The crowd at the bar argue about whether she’s a guy or a girl, but I know she’s a girl because she fucked the guy who use to live in the apartment below me. The lease was in his wife’s name and his wife took this trip to Florida for two weeks to visit her sister or whatever.
So it’s like 10 P.M. and I’m sitting watching the news when I hear this little voice squeaking, “Stan, Stan, are you home Stan?” I go to the window and in the moonlight I can see it’s Janice hiding in back of some bushes in my courtyard. I can see her really well because I’m up above the shrubbery looking down. What a hoot. She calls out a little louder, “Psst Stan! Can I come in?” Then she looks up and sees me watching her. “Is Stan home?” she asks me.
“I don’t know,” says I, and I should be polite and go back to watching TV but you know how I am. Janice gets out from behind the shrubs, goes onto his patio, jumps onto his walkway and taps on Stan’s door.
You see, that’s the difference between men and women: ME will fuck anything and WOMEN will fall in love with anything.
I forget whom I was talking with later on, but they said Stan had done the wrong thing to fuck with Janice. A man in the neighborhood had fucked Janice for five bucks and Janice started following him around and calling him at work. You don’t pay a hooker for sex, you really pay a hooker to go away after sex. But Janice wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t wait to see Stan’s wife find out and see them finally break up, but the week after his wife got back from Florida, they packed up in the middle of the night and just blew away.
I heard Janice talking to her welfare worker once, out on the sidewalk. Janice was telling her how much better she was doing now. Kind of makes one wonder where she started from.
P.S. There’s a Freudian slip left in the above document because my daughter read it and thought it was hilarious.
Man’s airy voice: Okay, Katrina, where are you now?
Woman answering: I’m on Third Street in Old Louisville. I’m walking south towards the Granville.
Same man’s voice: Look around you. What do you see? Is this the time where you want to be?
Woman: It’s dark outside. I can see the neon beer signs in the windows. Yes, this is it.
The great thing about Thursday nights at the Granville was the 2 for 1 drink special for ladies. Not that the price mattered all that much to Katie, but it did matter to the college girls who swarmed the place once a week. It followed directly that wherever there was 100 young college girls, there would be 100 young college boys. Beautiful young, college boys. That was what brought Katie back to the Granville week after week…well, that and Oxygen.
It was still early, so Katie grabbed a seat at the bar just to the left of the beer taps. When the boys showed up they’d be reaching around her to get their drinks, leaving their fresh cologne scents lingering in the air for a moment or two after they withdrew their firm young bodies. Katie was 45 and motioned to the bartendress to bring her a rum and coke, tall please. She paid for it with a crisp $20 bill, since Thursday was serendipitously payday. When Oxygen showed up, he’d just run a tab and put it on his Visa when he was ready to run on to the Tavern or Woody's or the Back Door.
Katie spotted Margarette, one of four people over forty among the 150 college kids. Margarette was a Grand Dame to the students. She was well liked, so - one by one - three dozen cheerleaders and frat boys approached her, gave her a hug and exchanged polite chatter about who was dating who. When a seat became available beside Margarette, Katie slid onto a stool next to her.
“How’s life on campus?” Katie asked.
“The University Club job is going okay. They’ve had me bartending twice in the past week. You know me, Katie. I’m more of a cook than a bartender.” Margarette looked worried. Her gray hair was pulled back tightly into a harsh bun and her brown face balled up into a pout. “I don’t know how to make all the fancy drinks these big shots ask for…”
“I know, sweetheart, but you’ll learn,” interrupted Katie, putting a hand on her friend’s arm.
“And I need me at least two more tux shirts, the kind with the wing tip collars so I can wear a bowtie with them.”
Katie just nodded and smiled. Margarette loved to fume and fuss. It would be impossible to slow her down for a while, after her getting on a roll. Katie checked out the room with quick glances. The joint was jumping now with cheerleaders and football players bantering for top dog spots in their small social cogs. As the year progressed, there would be more blacks coming in with basketball gearing up in mid-October. Right now, however, Margarette was one of only half a dozen dark faces in the sea of white. Margarette was Cherokee and Caucasian mixed.
“You’re looking for your friend, aren’t you,” said Margarette, her face breaking through into a smile.
“No, no,” rushed Katie. “I was just thinking that it’s a good night. There’s lots of kids, they’re choosing great music on the box, the boys and all so yummy…”
“You might not be looking for your friend, but he’s been staring a hole through you for about five minutes.” Margarette nodded to her right and smiled. “He’s by the computer game,” she said, trying not to be too obvious.
Then Katie saw him. She had code named Ken “Oxygen” because she had decided her life depended upon seeing him a couple of nights a week. At 45, Katie knew that life could go on with him in her environment but she would not want it too. After their spat in October, Katie had tried to leave him behind but it wasn’t possible. The only time she was content was when she was in the same room with him. Even if they didn’t speak, even if she was talking to some other man, Katie’s existence depended upon Oxygen.
“Let’s invite him over,” said Margarette suddenly. “It’s silly for the two of you to keep up this game.”
“No, Margarette. Don’t do anything. I won’t let him hurt me again. I won’t give him the satisfaction. What if he just sits there, refusing to talk to me? No, Margarette, just let sleeping dogs lie. I’m okay by myself, really.”
Margarette placed her heels onto the lowest wrung of the bar stool and lifted herself slightly to gain height over the kids. She raised two fingers and quickly motioned for Ken to join them. Oxygen instantly grabbed his bourbon and Coke and started weaving his way through the crowd surrounding the elbow of the bar.
“Why’d you do that?” insisted Katie.
“It’s time the two of you hashed this out,” shushed her friend.
As Ken got closer, Katie instinctively began to memorize every detail of his appearance. He was a full foot taller than the girls he was sifting through. He had honey brown hair and a close-cropped beard. His hair was long and wavy, and he tied it back with a strand of leather just below the nape of his neck. In short, he was as beautiful as she remembered him. He wore a golf pullover with thick horizontal stripes, which was so popular among young men his age. He was just 32, no 33.
One of the girls touched his arm and smiled as he squeezed past. Ken smiled down at her, said something quickly, and then excused himself. He lifted his glass while sliding to his left before breaking into a clearing in the crowd. As Oxygen came to within five steps from her, Katie noticed he was wearing loose cut jeans and black army boots.
“How are you ladies tonight?” he said as he dropped anchor between Margarette and Katie.
“Why we’re just peachy, Ken,” smiled Margarette. “Katie and I were just talking about you, hoping you’d show up tonight.”
“I’m flattered,” said Oxygen, breaking into a smile himself. “Both of you are looking 425 degrees tonight…hot as a biscuit.”
Katie’s girlfriend giggled. “You always know exactly what to say, Ken. You are such a dear man.”
Ken turned his gaze upon Katie, his features softening along with his voice. “What’s the story, morning glory?”
Katie responded turning towards him without looking up, “What’s the word, the hummingbird?” It was a greeting they had exchanged a dozen times during happier days.
“ I was hoping I’d see you here, Katie. I just wanted to…”
Margarette hopped off her seat. “I’m headed to the ladies room, Ken. Would you watch my stuff while I’m gone?”
“Be glad to, my lady,” replied Oxygen sliding onto the vacated barstool. He kept his dark Croatian eyes glued on Katie, who turned to face the bar.
Katie turned over in her mind all the unkind things they had said to each other three months ago. Katie reached into the small pile of bills lying in front of her and waved a five at the barmaid. Dee-Dee put down a glass she was cleaning, approached Katie, and placed both hands on the bar in front of her. “Katrina,” she commanded, “It’s time to come back to me.” Katie was a little taken aback.
She turned to see Margarette returning to her seat. “Katrina,” demanded Margarette, “It’s time to come back to me.” Katie began to remember.
The cheerleader to Katie’s left took time to say to her, “Katrina, it’s time to come back to me.” Now Katie remembered completely. She closed her eyes tightly and nodded twice.
When Katie opened her eyes she was in a small, dimly lit room. Doctor Jack was smiling down at her while removing her headset. “Did you enjoy your session this morning, Mrs. Pullman?” asked the doctor, untangling a lock of gray hair from a wire.
“I enjoyed it very much, thank you,” Katie answered, leaning forward in the chair. She noticed the age spots on her wrists as she placed her hands in her lap and swung her feet over the side of the chair. She wondered if her ankles were beginning to swell again.
"I just need to ask you two questions," smiled the doctor. "Who is the president of the United States?"
"They're always the same dull questions," protested Katie. The doctor crossed his arms and peered down at her. "Okay, okay. Vivian Kunz is the President AND the year is 2043."
"Exactly right," said the doctor softly. "You know we have to ask you those questions by law. It's a kind of throw back to the beginning of the program, I know. It's been decades since someone actually had a problem coming out of a memory travel session."
"I understand, Jack. It's for my own protection." Katie smiled at her old friend.
“Your husband is waiting outside. He said something about having brunch with friends.”
“Thank you, Doctor, I almost forgot.”
“Lights up full please,” said Doctor Jack and the cozy room filled with light. He waved his hand in the air and an opaque holographic schedule appeared in front of him. “Will Mr. Pullman be Traveling with you next week?” he inquired.
“I’ll make sure he does,” said Katie, heading towards a part of the wall that immediately evaporated, allowing her to exit.
“We’ll see both of you next Thursday then.”
Katie was halfway out of the room by now, throwing a “Thank you, Doctor Jack” over her shoulder as she stepped into the hall.
As promised, her husband was waiting patiently outside. His gray hair was now closely cropped around the ears, a little too short for her tastes. His Croatian eyes were as deep and clear as always. His stance was a bit more tilted, but he still towered over her.
“What’s the story, morning glory,” he asked.
“What’s the word, humming bird,” she echoed, snuggling in for a quick kiss. He put his left arm up and she tucked in beside him, rubbing the small love handles surrounding his waist.
“Where did you go today,” he asked her as they began to walk.
“I visited that winter after we had our fight, that winter before I knew that you loved me too.”
“It was before I knew that I loved you. Sometimes it takes a kick in the head to bring a guy around.” They were walking towards the outside now, making their way down to the pool.
“Out of all the times you could go to, why would you want to visit there, Katie? We were both so unhappy.”
“I don’t know, my little love bug. I just wish I could tell the me trapped back then that everything would work out just fine. All it took was time and patience…and you.”
Ken was waving to their friends now, as they walked towards the art deco diner. “Maybe things had to happen as they did so we would appreciate each other,” he said. “And I do appreciate you, my little biscuit.”
“Oh, Oxygen, you always say the right thing,” said Katie, releasing herself from his embrace as she began to shake hands with Caroline and Susan.
As Margarette reclaimed her seat, Ken moved away. He had lost his courage, at least for the night. “Did the two of you have a chance to talk, Katie?”
“Not really. He scares me. I’m too afraid that he’ll hurt my feelings again. But a strange thing did happen, Margarette. I got this strong impression like everything will be okay for Ken and me. It wasn’t so much in words as it was just a burst of hope.”
Margarette patted her friend’s hand. “I know the two of you will do just fine. All it takes is patience, the right guy…and a little time.”
BOOKLETS BY MICHELE DUTCHER
REPORTS FROM THE UNDERBELLY.....60 PAGES......$5.00 American
Sugar Mams, Kole's, the Woman Who Wants to Kill Me, Full Moon Sunday
MEN - AS IF I HAVE A CLUE....out of print, don't even ask.............
Understanding men, 3rd Street Ghosts, Driving With Dougie, Friendship IN
TRAFFICKING IN ABSOLUTes* ..........60 PAGES....$5.00 American
Cold Weather Love, Soup's Elf Hat, Application to Become Michele's 5th Ex-husband
CHEAP BEER, Loud Music, Young Men.....60 Pages....$5.00 or $123.53 Canadian
The Money Man, Flash or Cash at Woody's, Wolf & Moon, Barfly Barbie
OVERHERD......60 Pages.....$5.00 American or One MILLLLEON Canadian
The Chief's Big Balls, Bigfoot UFOs and Opera Nick, Miss Margo & Summer Shorts
A LITTLE STRANGE, ON THE SIDE...........$5.00 U.S. or $5.00 Canadian
Science Fiction short stories Time Sphere, How to build a flying saucer
Rough draft of A FISHERMAN’S GUIDE TO BOTTOM DWELLERS. 398 pages. Available for one million dollars or six hours of REALLY great sex.
email@example.com copyright November 2003
APPLICATION TO BECOME MICHELE'S 5TH EX-HUSBAND
_______________ _______________ 0 Jr 0 Sr 0 The Third
Last name First name
Car: __________________ _______________ ____________
Model Make Year
Savings Account #______________ Balance $___________.00
Checking Account # ____________ Balance $___________.00
Still in THE WILL 0 Yes 0 No 0 No, but will try harder
Prenuptual agreement required 0 Yes 0 No 0 Here, baby, just take all my money.
Length of quivering member __ inches __ feet (If measured in feet, please see Michele for immediate personal interview)
Sexual orientation:0 Straight 0 Bi 0 Tri (...anything once) 0 Curious (yellow) 0 I forget 0 Sheep 0 Plush Toys
__ Rent house __ Own home __ Sponging off girlfriend
0 Wife's maiden name (careful now, trick question) _________
Job title: __________________ Hours per week: ______________
# of years with firm ____________ 0 Own the firm
Please mark any of the following statements that apply:
__ "I'll pay you $5,000 to shag me to death." Cash in advance, no checks.
__ "If you marry me, I won't be mad when you divorce me".
__ "I'm a SNAG - Sensitive New Age Guy
Afterthoughts: Educational degrees ______________ I.Q. ___