"I'd leave you if you were paralyzed,"
she said after telling me about a distant
cousin who'd grown bitter due to her
decision to stay with her husband
who'd been crippled in a car accident a few
weeks before his thirtieth birthday.
"She has to do everything for him.
They can't even make love anymore."

Funny. She was always so naively innocent
except for in that moment. Marriage never
came up between us, let alone divorce.
My response didn't seem to matter much.

"Yeah. I guess I'd want you to."
The words felt easier to say then
than they are to think about now.
Should I have seen the maelstrom forming?
The bourbon. The razors. The dropping out of school.
But that's another story that I'm tired of telling...

Back to that paraplegic matter.
It was one of those conversations
you have in passing
that sticks out in your mind
years later
because the person fell
out of character
and the topic seems more severe with age.
What is love? Staying or leaving?
Preserving the love you've had
by knowing when to go
or sticking in the ring until the last bell tolls?

Ben got it right: it's watching someone die.
Any fraud could turn their eyes.


After chasing her around the room
a few times I finally managed to
trap her in the bed. Whoever assumes
that all rabbits are cuddly little critters
who love human attention is terribly mistaken.
My two-year-old dwarf wants nothing to
do with me and very little to do with anyone else.
The hand that feeds is her favorite to bite;
but at least she does her nails while she's at it.

Let me clarify. Most pet rabbits need to
have their claws clipped from time to time.
If they grow too long they can snap off
during the whole hippity-hop routine
(one of the few stereotypes which is true).
I've had five over the course of my life
and all of them have let me trim their nails.
My current furry friend, however, will
have no part in that endeavour. She won't let me
pick her up, let alone try to cut something off of her.
I didn't want to see her suffer should on of them
break off so I took her to the pet store a year ago
to have the people there have a go at it. One girl
held the bunny down while the other tried (and failed)
to cut her nails. All in all it was a failure and I
still paid the lousy ten bucks.

Then a few weeks ago I decided to make an appointment
with a local vet that had been recommended to me.
It'd cost more than that Hamilton, but would be worth
it if it meant that the rabbit's paws would be protected
from any painful injuries. The day of the appointment came
and I was forced to cancel. Something else came up
that required my immediate attention. Since then I'd been
putting off rescheduling due to my lack of funds
other than the weekly unemployment check
and feeling rather guilty over it.

Tonight, after catching her on my bed
I noticed that she'd taken matters into her own hands.
No longer did her nails protrude from the fur on her paws.
I took a closer look and saw small toothmarks
where she'd bitten them off, essentially giving herself
a manicure since her broke owner wasn't going to foot the bill soon.
I kissed her head in appreciation. She clenched her eyes in disapproval.
The females in my life adapt and overcome my many shortcomings.
I wish they didn't have to, but they do. I hope to pay it back someday.
Don't be fooled by my bellyaching. I'm a lucky man.

Texas toothpick

Woke up with a wicked head
throbbing with Saturday's rum.
I'd won at cards, or had I?
A dagger stuck into the floorboards
next to my bed revealed the blunt attempt
at a mnemonic device I'd made before passing out.
I must've wanted to remember something in the haze
of the morning after and pulled the boot knife
I keep tucked between my mattress and boxspring
to stab into the worn-down grain. It came to me then:
a laughable idea, another attempt to right a wrong
by fumbling further into irreversible oblivion. She'd need
a helping hand from a guy like me like a hole in the head.
And what they said was wrong: I didn't drive her to do it
or to let it be done to her I should say. There's still
accountability, regardless of the weather. I yanked
the black blade from its solid vertical stance and
jabbed it back between the sheets all the while wishing
I had the brass to sink the steel where it really belonged.
Give me a song and I'll sing it. I can't seem to hold this tune.


The Fretboard

In offering
to teach
a friend
a few chords
I thought
of my last
unsold guitar:
the acoustic
my dad bought
me for my twentieth
It sits in
my closet
untouched in its
like a sheathed sword
an untold tale
a love that
should've been
but won't.

The songs
the lines
the lives
I could've written
supercede the
ones I've forced.
Sometimes there's
more power
in the potential
to create
than in
the creation

You can't fall short
of what
may have been;
there's beauty
in that promise.
It's why Red left
his harmonica

Currently reading:
"American Primitive" by Mary Oliver


A cop buddy told me once
about a late-night street racer
down on the Island that
the Suffolk County boys
couldn't catch speeding.
They'd be sipping cold coffee
half asleep in their cruisers
on a dark country road
when all of a sudden
something would zip by
through the night
detected only by their radar.
For months they couldn't
make a case of it
until one day the mysterious
Night Rider clipped a deer
and mangled the front end
of his sports car.
When an officer passed by
and found the third-of-a-million-dollar
vehicle immobilized on the side
of the road the pieces began
to fall into place. The driver
failed to hide the night vision goggles
sitting on the passenger seat
of his ride. Up until that night
it boggled the department
how a person could drive at
top speed without his headlights on
but the cat fell out of the bag
or should I say the deer?
It seemed a waste of speed
to not unleash the engine
to its full potential
but the courts failed
to agree. They promoted the patrolman
and impounded the remains
of the Night Rider's car.
The highway department scraped
the deer off the asphalt
and that was the end of an era.
I bought my cop friend a beer
and tried to conjure a whopper
capable of topping his.
I didn't.


George, Martin. George.

I was four or five
and still stumbling around.
He took me fishing
once or twice a week
and I'd lift the catfish
out of our bucket
to show the city kids
at the south end
of Bear Mountain's Hessian Lake
never once being stung
by their poisonous whiskers.
A mantle oversaw me then.

Then one day we graduated
to the mighty Hudson
and for forty-five minutes
he played a giant fish
at West Point's North Dock.
At first he thought it was
a striped bass
but the way the pole bent
and the strength of the beast
led him to believe later on
that it was a six-foot sturgeon
source of precious caviar.
For almost an hour
that sunny Sunday afternoon
he fought against the monster
with both hands
as both eyes were glued
to his young son
playing near the edge
of the dock twenty feet away.
The story goes that he cut the line
intentionally since he couldn't bear
the thought of his child falling into
the river any longer
but I'm not sure if that's
how it happened.
The benefit of the doubt
comes heavily into play.

Behind the trash
can in my room
there's a twenty-three-year-old
photograph that's laid
there crumpled by a drunken rage
for three-quarters
of a year now
and though several folks
have offered to do it
for me I still can't
throw him out yet.
I suppose I owe him that.
He was a better father than his own
but still lost to the cycle.


Beggar's Tale: Confessions of a Rainy-Day Alchemist

2 teachers, a speech therapist
a handful of flustered artists
and a shit-luck alcoholic
walk into a bar...
What do they have in common?
Yeah, that's right-- a starry-eyed
plumber who carries a .40 cal
tucked into his waistband
and wears his heart
up his ass.

But we've wrestled with Death
all night and won. We've tossed back
lions' bones from the mouth of the pit
smirking and laughing and gasping for breath
and we're still not satisfied, you and I.

It's another bluegrass nightmare
in a world too fond of fiddles.
It's a second chance at not wanting
second chances.

I came because I knew you'd be here
and thanked God for the key change.

The Almighty Text Message

A quick glimpse askance
at my second-hand nightstand
while crashing to the bed
reveals an ancient question posed
by those with too much time:
Which is mightier?:
the Glock semi-auto
or the green highlighter
sitting next to it?

Before succumbing to a
nap I know I shouldn't take
I roll over to turn the table's
third occupant on Silent
and come to my conclusion:

It's neither.


An Ode to Susan Mitchell

Fell upon some photos
not entirely by accident
and saw the tell-tale signs:
bruised legs, bad ink, cans
of cheap beer displayed proudly
like badges of courage too stubborn to hide.
She'd been half-way across our great nation
with some greasy white trash half-wit
possibly in a traveling carnival.
There was a time when it seemed
she'd someday surpass her sister's beauty--
now that's out of the question, not that
I ever would've admitted to it had it happened.
And when I made the mistake of
falling upon that other dagger...

We're given one life: somehow
it's both too much and not enough.
There are things for which
you can never apologize. It'd be
unfair to appear again; you bear
it alone and wonder. A checkered floor.
It was always a checkered floor.
Don't fall any further west.
Don't let that scarf unravel.
I'd give that gold back if I could.
I never deserved it anyway.

The closest thing to living.

"So why do you stay?"
they ask me
"Like two cats
with tails tethered together
flung over a line
to tear each other to shreds
in the name of..."
but by then
I cut them off.

"No, not that word,"
I correct them.
"That's far too pragmatic."

"Then what is it?"
they ask, wishing for
a dictionary.

"Do you know
that feeling you get
when you're driving at night
on the left side of
a two-lane highway
and you come up behind
another vehicle at
twenty over the speed limit
and they immediately move
aside for you because they're
assuming you must be a cop
since you're going that fast
and when they realize you're not
and misjudged your headlights
they get back in the left lane
but its too late since
you've passed them already
and are almost out of site?"


"Then nevermind."


It's only skin.

Last night as I rode down a street near my mother's that I'd driven hundreds of times a funny image came to my mind's eye: myself, age eleven, and my best friend at the time gathering water-damaged sheets of paper in the grass next to the shoulder. Our bikes had been tossed aside without hesitation, once-prized possessions now reduced to second-rate scraps of metal and rubber. "This one's in good shape!" Brian called to me, stuffing the crumpled magazine into his coat. "Her head's missing on the page I found, but that doesn't matter," I may have replied. Cars were passing by us on that busy route, possibly our mothers, so we had to act fast to round up our quarry. "Come on, let's get out of her, Bri," a characteristically nervous pre-pubescent version of myself pleaded once the risk outweighed the reward. We rode our bikes back to whichever fort we currently had in the woods behind our development to examine our new-found booty.

Pornographic magazines were sinful treasures to be cherished growing up in the pre-internet explosion of the mid-90s. They held some answer to a question we weren't quite sure how to ask yet. Sure, we'd seen the naked female form before, but never like this. A full-frontal shot in a late-night movie on a pay channel sent us into a confused state of quasi-innocent bliss. A little bush was all it took. What lied underneath that puff of slightly darker hair, however, was still a mystery; sometimes one that I wish I'd never solved. This is where the likes of Hustler, Esquire and numerous periodicals with grotesquely explicit names came into play. Just what was going on behind closed doors that grown-ups seemed so ashamed of, exactly?

Our mothers may have still bought our clothing, but that made us no saints. We wanted to know what all the fuss was about and would go to extraordinary means to accomplish this goal. Sometimes that meant raiding the secret stash of an older brother that could have single-handedly thrashed both of us at the same time without breaking a sweat. "Sean's not home. I know where he keeps them," Brian would say. Then, depending on Sean's latest hiding spot, we'd raid a sock drawer, lift a mattress, or overturn some large flat rock in the woods down by the railroad tracks. "Here, check this one out," my partner in crime would say, handing me a folded nudie mag that he'd just peeled from a shopping bag used to keep out whatever moisture the rock failed to protect it from. "The blonde on page 42 looks like that student teacher in Mrs. Pringle's class." At that point page 42 couldn't come fast enough as my thumbs flipped frantically to unstick the soggy pages. There she was, in all her glory. No longer would we need to resort to undressing her with our eyes. We knew what Mrs. Pringle's hot little helper looked like in the buff, and that she had some other male fans interested in sharpening their pencils as well. Did people ever do that to our moms? They must've, at some point, otherwise we wouldn't be here. At times the revelation was a bit too much to handle. Even now at age twenty-five it's rather unsettling.

Once we were done perusing the stash we'd return the magazines to their temporary resting places as if they'd never been touched. Kids are just as sneaky as adults, they often leave things a certain way to know if they've been handled by someone else. It wouldn't be a crime brought to the attention of Brian's mother for obvious reasons. Sean would seek his own justice in the form of our pummeling; well, Brian's, but Brian would be sure to include me in the sentence with a simple "It was his idea!" since pain, like misery, loves company. In retrospect, it may have been a terrible idea touching those soiled pages at all, regardless of the danger. Sean was a few years older than us and may have discovered the true purpose of pornography. Just what exactly was he doing with the door locked all the time? I'll leave it at that for the sake of this one's light-hearted nature. Perhaps I've already said too much.

Just as wars are fought over and debts are paid with money, the sacred porno books were used as a form of crude currency. If a friend made you mad to the point of irreconcilability there was one place you could hit him where it'd truly hurt. Stealing, exposing, or (gasp) defiling ones collection was a blow dealt only to those with whom there was absolutely no chance of any future peaceful relations. Likewise, a truce could often come about through the gracious presentation of a valued piece. Then, of course, there was the amiable trade brought on by sheer boredom with ones own array of two-dimensional naked women. Think of it as a less traditional wampum, minus the ceremonial smoking of the peace pipe. Brian found the latter later on in life. I too found one, though in an unexpected place that led to further questions, spurred another mystery, fueled another fire; but we'll leave that alone for a later date.

And Brian, if you're out there, I'm sure you've learned the same thing about the three-dimensional variety: most of them are better as someone else's problem.


A laid-off Desk Potato rescued by Civic Duty.

The summons came
in the mail yesterday
seemingly a curse at first
but now that the expected agitation
has run its natural course
and fizzled out
I've come to believe
that next week's Jury Duty
may be a blessing in disguise:
at least it'll force me
to put pants on every day.

Embracing the Rag.

Fill Glass half-way with Ice.

1 part Vodka over Ice.

2 parts Tomato Juice
2 Tbspn Horseradish
3 dashes Hot Sauce
1 dash Worcestshire Sauce
1 squirt Lemon Juice
Salt + Pepper to taste.

Shake vigorously, garnish with Celery or Lemon.

It won't get you where you want to be, but my God is it delicious...Just don't tell your friends.


Some has-been made a fool
of himself on the blaring TV
as the five of us sipped hard
for our own respective reasons.

A lull evoked a question:

"Would you ever get
a meaningless tattoo?"

"Most of mine
don't mean much anymore."

Some has-been made a fool of himself
and begged for that sweet castration.


Blood in His plumbing.

Haiti had a
on the Richter
its worst in two
hundred years.
It's another
of our angry

God who loves

to kick those
who are dark
and down.


Stooltop, pre-Happy Hour

"They used to add
saltpeter to
prisoners' food
to kill their libidos."

"Get outta here."

"It's true. Now they
use turkey
to make them tired.
Trouble is it does
the same thing
to the guards."

"Well let me tell you
why I worry
about what they say
happens once they eat
the wedding cake."

"The end of an era."

"Use it or lose it."

"Or both."

"Do you know what
the praying mantis
does afterwards?"

"At least it's honest."

"At least it's quick."

"Donna, get him another one."

"Thanks, Andy."

"You need it more than I do."

"Should I send the postcard here
or to your house?"

"Whichever she feels best."

"Then neither."

Writers and the women who've loved them.

There's a black-and-white
photograph in the first few pages
of my Robinson Jeffers book.
He's sitting in a wooden chair
wearing a checkered suit
and loosened white collar
reciting lines to his equally withered wife
as she transcribes his poetry.
He went blind at the end, the poor old hawk.

And the same with my first friend Fyodor.
Good ol' Dos lost his vision, too
but he had a hot young vixen
one third of his age
to write his last lines down.
That final masterpiece of his
never made it to the publisher.
The experts say it was supposed to be
the sequel to "Brothers K", but
I'd like to think that it was something
pornographic, something mildly obscene
just to get that little honey's panties
in a frenzy. That beard didn't reek
of vodka alone when they put
Dostoyevsky in the ground.

Sorry, Robbie.
The Russky's got you beat.
But hey, if it's any consolation
I'm lucky if my old lady
even let's me use the damn typer
since the clickety-clack conflicts
with her beauty sleep.
She's a keeper, though. I swear it.
I'll just need a room to write in
when it's time to buy a house.

Game. Set. Match.
And if she were here
I'd be sleeping on the couch.


The local bookstore's closing and I'm not at all surprised.

So your drinkin' pal didn't come
through tonight
oh well
there's a full bar downstairs
why not crack a bottle
on your own?
because you remember
the last time you lost
yourself in a sea of
Puerto Rican rum
on a waxed hardwood floor
only to arrive at the same
conclusion as always:
you're still just a phase
that a lot of people went through
no shark that swims among the school
no gift from God to cunnilingus.

How's that for a second helping
of the sobering truth?
If you look closely enough
you can see where
they sank their teeth in
I hope that you still like
who you are.

The pink pearls-- they have ruined you.

A pipewrench in the cogs of Democracy.

The apprenticeship committee seems to think they have a free supply of slave labor at hand. Us plumbers in training may be eager to lend our services for a valiant cause, but most of the assignments we've received through the years have been of question. There always seems to be some underhanded deal behind the scenes, some personal gain for an unkown string-puller somewhere, some hidden agenda that the likes of us "lower than whale shit" peons aren't to question. This year's "community service" was no different.

They told us we'd be running a phone bank for a local politician whose name we've all seen plastered throughout the county for years. His incumbent status made our efforts feel futile; this guy's been entrenched in his office like a tick between the rolls of fat on a dog's neck for years. In no way did he need our help. That was not the worst part of the task set before us, however. Once again it was the age-old story of the ends not justifying the means. "Phone bank", you see, is a pretty little euphemism for "glorified telemarketers who call during dinner hours". Nobody likes receiving those calls in the evening while trying to enjoy a meal or unwind on a recliner after a long day's work. In fact, if some stranger were to harass me via telephone in the name of some politician I'd probably be even less likely to vote for him. That's why I didn't feel so bad about dialing my own number over and over again on the provided touch-tone phone and pretending the recite the speech the political organizers had handed out to us. "Hello, my name is (blank) and I'm calling on behalf of (so-and-so) to ask you to come out and vote on November Fourth..." Sometimes I'd mix it up by cutting the lines short and shaking my head, a forced frown on my face. It was more convincing if I acted like people hung up on me once in awhile.

When the Higher Ups weren't looking I'd sit back in the cushioned swivel chairs of the campaign headquarters and peruse the list of names and numbers. There were pages upon pages of county residents, I couldn't believe the effort involved. It made me wonder how the information was gathered. Another third-party records salesman perhaps? I recognized some last names common to the region and wondered if they were of any relation to the people I knew. A Pungello from Washingtonville, a Barber from Middletown, a long list of Roses. Then there was a girl I used to know in the Biblical sense from time to time post-party during my drunken rabble-rouser days. Funnily enough, her number was one of the few not listed next to its corresponding name. I took it as a sign not to bother calling her toll-free to catch up and apologize for the blunders of youth. She was one of the few who was older than me anyway, and therefore inherently wiser. I'm sure she's since forgiven me; at least that's what I tell myself.

Naturally there were the funny names. I can't remember all but one of them, thankfully the best one. I'm assuming the man was of Indian descent, maybe Pakistani. The most logical explanation for the poor choice in surname would be a foreign origin. I hoped for his sake that he immigrated here after completing high school in his own country of birth. If not, I'm sure he suffered a world of pain in the form of locker room mockery. "Hey there, Ramdass. Feeling a little sore this morning?" I highlighted his name on my list and passed it along to the other apprentices. A violent chuckle usually came after reading the man's name, or sometimes just a sympathetic snort. By the time the sheet of paper got back to me it had been adorned with an accompanying cartoon devoted to the irony of Mr. Ramdass's name. I'll leave that illustration to your imagination, though; I opt for the written word to express myself. Everyone works best in his own particular medium.

Oddly enough, I think I was the only one of my apprental brethren to refuse to actually call anyone. It's not that I have a problem with authority, it's that I don't believe in advocating for a political campaign that I know very little about simply because my union has told me to do so. As far as I know that politician won his silly election regardless. And me? I got to miss a night of plumbing class, washed three slices of free pizza down with half a liter of equally free Coke, and got these five paragraphs out of the deal. Milk 'em for what you can, brothers.

A Penny-Pincher's Gift

I found it in the foyer closet at my mother's house two weeks ago and already it's a bust. At first I was excited: a normal black zip-up hoodie that my father must've given me ten years ago. He had an obsession with giving me coats, jackets, and sweatshirts-- always at least two sizes too big. This long forgotten one, however, fit perfectly when I tried it on. "Oh, that looks good on you," my mother said as I checked for fit. Thankfully, the small logo on the chest was gray and tasteful; most of the stuff my father bought was bright, gaudy, and of brands more becoming of a downtown drug dealer's wardrobe. A modest piece like this one was a rare find. After three years of silence between us it seemed a sub-par delayed parting gift, but one that would be accepted.

As the weekly nightmares about him suggest, however, Charlie always wins.

The Better Half and I were getting ready to leave her mother's house after an impromptu dinner get-together. I went to the bedroom where our jackets had been tossed and donned my new black hoodie. After washing my hands in the bathroom I took a moment to inspect the garment in the mirror above the sink. That's when it dawned on me: I'd been had. I heard him laughing the last laugh.

"What's wrong with this picture?" I asked my girlfriend and her mother, spreading the front of the sweatshirt out for them by pulling on the elastic band along the bottom.

"Nothing. Why?"

"Look at the gray patches," I said with an admittedly defeated smirk.

"The ones on the shoulders?"

"No, near the pockets."


There was a small gray triangle under the left pocket, but none under the right. My old man loved to shop at the local clothing store outlets. This must've been one of the factory rejects that he pulled triumphantly from the bargain bin. It fit his modus operandi perfectly. Even in death he wins. He's still breathing, but a man who denies his son's existence may as well be underground, at least to that son.

"Really, it's not noticeable," they tried to console me.

"Maybe not, but it's fitting," I replied before explaining the painfully comic backstory of why it made such sense.

Sure, I'll still wear it. But damn, Dad...for a few weeks I thought you may have done something right for a change.

Currently reading:
"The Early Stories: 1953-1975" by John Updike.


You never forget your last.

I'd only planned on stopping by for a few minutes-- just long enough to drop off her plastic food containers and have some face time with my stepfather. They'd found spots on his tongue that day at the dentist's office. My arrival would show my support. The small unsaids go a long way. Most people don't realize that.

"Alright, ma. I gotta run." I'd considered leaving the truck running as an excuse, but decided not to dig that deep for a ticket home. "Kristen's waiting for me." Not entirely a lie, though she was quite fast asleep in my bed.

"Give me a hug. Thanks for coming by." She squeezed the backs of my arms. The look in her eye seemed to say "I'm the only one who still touches these who remembers them before they were covered in tattoos." Hell, even I don't sometimes.

"He'll be OK. It's probably nothing."

"Yeah. I know you say you don't Believe anymore, but..."

"I will."

It's hard to deny a woman a prayer, even for a lost soul. His father died of throat cancer. They say it's in the blood.

"You wanna run upstairs and say Hello to your grandmother before you go?"

Truthfully, I'd been avoiding it. The old lady was already tucked in at the late hour of six in the evening and her Alzheimer's caused us to have the same conversation every time we met. It was usually about food and my need to eat it while visiting. A Puerto Rican mother's primary concern is feeding her family, even when she's too old and senile to be trusted with the gas stove.

"I would, but I really gotta get going..."

She gave me a look while saying she understood, the two of them contradicting each other. I closed the front door gingerly behind me before coming to my senses. One never knows how many Hellos one has left when it comes to a person of ninety. I turned around and went back inside.

"I couldn't leave."

"Come on, I'll go upstairs with you," my mother said. "She'll be so happy to see you." That look in her eye recognized the son she'd raised regardless of the scars, self-inflicted or otherwise.

"Look who I have here, mom," my mother said as my grandma rolled over in bed to greet us. Her gown was soft and fuzzy like something you'd see in a hospital nursery. Life comes full-circle.

"Oh, my love!" she exclaimed in Spanish. "How good it is to see you. I was thinking of you today. Have you been staying safe at home?"

My mother and I looked at one another accusingly. This must be where the paranoid gene came from.

"Yes. Always." I bit my lip at the absurdity.

"Good, good. And how is your mother doing?" my grandma asked.

My mother, her daughter, glanced sideways at me. "Sad, isn't it?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said through a still mouth like a disheartened ventriloquist.

"Mom, this is my son. I'm his mother. Remember?"

"What? Really? But I raised him when he was little."

"Yes, you took care of him often, but he's mine."

The three of us laughed uncomfortably. It's hard to watch and harder to ignore the unraveling of a once-sharp mind.

"He has to get going now. His girlfriend is at home making dinner."

"Yes, he should go eat," my grandmother said with the severity of a subpoenaed minister.

"Goodbye, grandma. I love you."

"I love you, too," she said with a dentured smile.

My mother turned her bedroom light off before closing the door. The blue glow of the television shone under the door as we stood in the hallway for our debriefing.

"It was only a little lie to get you outta there. I know she's really sleeping."

"Thanks, mom." I said as I jostled down the stairs to leave. "I'll see you next week."

We say that with an unjustified confidence. One has to believe in something.



It's been almost four months since I've worked. Probably should've read more by now; don't have much to show for my time creatively, either. That's the nature of these things, though. Something about a daily routine helps ensure that things get done. In this lazy laid off mode of mine I get around to things when I please or blow them off entirely. Not much seems to matter when you're living on the State's dime. In one of my feeble attempts at changing the pace I skimmed some old notes I had jotted down over the summer when I was renovating the heat system at North Junior High. It's a story my laborer buddy told on coffee break one morning. Must've stuck with me, but never found its way to the surface. Here's what I remember:

There was a female worker on a road crew somewhere in town. She was your typical lady laborer: lean, mean, and far from pretty. Her body was hard and sinewy, yet feminine enough in the right places, but something about her face threw off the whole package. I'm not sure if the proportions were wrong or there was some gross abnormality, but whatever it was it excluded her from a modeling career. From what I gather she's not one you'd tell your friends about the next day. All of that changed in an odd stroke of luck.

Some ditzy broad was driving through the construction area while applying make-up one day. Her distracted state caused her to veer off to the left where our poor little flag girl was standing. Sure enough the blonde's side-view mirror whacked the laborer square in the face, breaking bones and tearing flesh. The driver sped off before anyone could get a license plate number. Fortunately, her boyfriend must've come from equally brilliant stock. He showed up on the job later on that day asking for money for the damaged side-view mirror. The guys dropped their shovels and rakes to respond accordingly. When the cops showed up half an hour later an ambulance was called. No incident report was filed. Justice had been done.

But this isn't a tale of revenge. It's more the Happy Ending sort. With the money from the lawsuit our lucky little laborette was able to get plastic surgery, both reconstructive and cosmetic. Once the doc liften his scalpel for the final time and pulled the last stitch tight she was a regular bombshell. The guys on the job barely recognized her and lonely men passing by in their cars were more than willing to obey her traffic commands. I'm not sure if that mirror ever got fixed, but its owners boyfriend did finally regain use of his limbs after a few months of physical therapy. I didn't say everyone won; someone always has to lose in a truly happy ending.

Now send me back to work, Bobby. I need more yarns like these.


Read the classifieds instead.

For those of you (the dwindling germs...gems)
who've asked
where I've been (licking wounds that haven't come yet)
as of late:

There's a time (it comes, like spring, it comes)
I've learned
when I shouldn't do this:
when I might
be fool enough (don't laugh)
for the truth.

Sing it a capella, friend. (used loosely, of course)
I'm sure that you still can.