Monday, April 2, 2012

Cup Of Coffee

I once knew a guy that was saved
by a cup of coffee
and I don't mean it brought him to Jesus
or started him an account at the bank
but it did pull him out of a burning building
at least a metaphorical one
that raged silently beneath his rib cage
and ate savagely away at his soul
and so it went
that he told me his tale
one windswept night
in the Mojave desert
when we rode around the darkness
in search of dead men's souls
two dudes and a gurney
not swift enough to find employment
anywhere else except
a funeral home.

He said, "Shawn ..."

and I said, "... what now?"

and he retorted (quite sharply mind you), "Now look here!
Relationships are like those cheap ass promotional items
you get from the Time Warner Cable Company!
Fun and shiny and cool and novel at first. But once you take em' out
of the package and play with em' for a few hours ... well, they just seem to fall apart."

My reply to that was, "You shouldn't take em' out of the package."

and he exclaimed, "your damn straight! Admire relationships from a far!"

so I said, "Amen to that!" and cracked the window of the first call van
and lit a smoke.

I idled up to the stop light at
the corner of Avalon and the 5800 block of Hwy. 62

"I have had suicidal thoughts all weekend."

I looked over at him, "Did you love the wrong woman again, brother?"

and he said, "Why ... yes, yes I did!"

"That's not good."

"Your telling me!"

The light turned green and I made a right
he continued, "Yesterday, I came home and went to the mail box.
I looked at the ground as I walked. I couldn't look up. Haven't been
able to do that for two weeks."

I nodded sympathetically.

"In the mail box was a letter from GEICO.
You know, that auto insurance company. Had that cute little gecko on it and the words ...

"Oh, yeah. Did you open it?"

"Hell no! I put it in the garbage can. Then I walked
to my front door and noticed a bunch of roofing nails on the ground.
Damn pigeons tearing up the roof again! Bird shit every where.
So I got to thinking about all the dead bodies with their dead eyes
that stare only upwards
and my pretty gal that left me high and dry.
Went back to shack up with her ex old man.
Carrying that thing in her belly
that I once thought was beautiful! But now just seems ill and gruesome!"

"Jesus man! Get a grip on yourself. We'll be at the hospital soon," I replied with uneasy apprehension.

"So I got a bottle of whiskey out of the cabinet, a length of rope, a shot glass, some pills, pack of razor blades, my revolver, buck knife, a box of bullets, a Mexican bible, and some antifreeze."

I flicked my cigarette butt out of the window, "Jesus man! Were you expecting company?!"

He stared straight ahead at the dark, desert road and quietly spoke,
"I walked in a circle around the table, where I placed all these things. Around and around I went.
Until I must have circled 30 or 40 times!"


"I decided to make a cup of coffee."

"Then what?"

"I felt better," he said.

"Better then what?!" I exclaimed.

"Nothing I guess."

I pulled the van into the hospital parking lot
drove around back to the morgue
he didn't say anything else the rest of the time
as we took the body off ice
and loaded it casually into our van.

Jim quit and moved shortly there after
not sure with the girl, or the baby, or both
perhaps just by himself
but I walked around my kitchen table several times
this evening
when the sick orange moon hung low
in the lonely desert sky
like the flaming epicenter of an empty noose
ready for a naked neck
and my Time Warner Promotional Gift
had been out of the box
for a few hours
and now looked man handled, beat up and broken
so I stopped circling when I got tired
and decided to just
make myself
a cup of coffee.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Friday night. Not drunk enough to be text messaging "dick pics" randomly out into the universe but inebriated to the point of dangerous sentimentality and desperate nostalgia. A few burials took place this week. We put Mr. Anderson down at Inglewood Park Cemetery. An old negro gentleman sat stoic on the cemetery casket cart and stared out at the universe with a cold indifference that could chill a new born baby. His lazy bull frog features radiated a frightening calm and gave nothing away. The stone face of a top notch poker player. The family wanted to stick around to witness the lowering. The old negro was the cemetery liaison. He had the walkie-talkie and the power. I walked back and forth between him and the wife as others lingered around the grave site. His frog lips would just croak, "no pay, no see." That was it.

"I know a place where a royal flush never beat a pair."

Then, there was every liquor known to man poured down my throat until my heart was in cardiac arrest and I fumbled text messages to every one and their mom, during a severely broken and uncompromising  3 a.m. Including my ex old lady in San Francisco. I complained that I couldn't go through "another one" like that. Didn't have the right stuff. The true grit. You get the girl of your dreams and then you realize that you didn't. Powerful truths to try and handle with a head full of whiskey and a gut twisted with hot sake and beer. My ex thinks I am an idiot. Seems the general consensus by all. I am okay with being an idiot. I am just not alright with losing this latest one. Not to on board with all the deception and lies either.

"My head is spinning round
my heart is in my shoes
I went and set the Thames on fire
now I must come back down
she's laughing in her sleeve, boys
I can feel it in my bones."

By morning my heart was dead and buried. I felt the cold dead eyes of the Negro cemetery attendant. His frog lips moved in the back of my head, "No pay ... no see." I paid my brother. I paid more then my share. I whispered it over and over to myself. The scam was set in the bear trap. And the joke was on me. I would never see her again.

The next day, Death Ray and I took our hangovers to the used bookstore on Hwy. 62. The dust on the old jackets was comforting. Lost phrases and neglected knowledge was spread ankle deep in the place. Books upon glorious books. I picked up Steinbeck's Travels With Charlie and held it up to Death Ray, "This one will change your life, man! Not sure if your ready for it ... game changer!"

Death Ray laughed. The lady at the counter scribbling notes looked at me like I was insane as I picked up the pocket Aquinas and said the same thing, adding, "Aquinas is not something you can read straight through. It's more of a random passage turner. But you will pull mad ass if chicks see you thumbing the pages of the good Saint!"

When we got to the register Death Ray and I did the whole comedy routine again with a box set of the great American classics, illustrated and abridged. The ones for the kids. Death Ray was picking it up for his four year old son. The lady at the counter was letting him swap out a few of the novels and customize the set. I launched into a long discussion about Jack London's White Fang as he attempted to trade it out for Treasure Island.

"White Fang is a game changer! Changed my life. I became a man after reading White Fang. I don't know man ... it was 7th grade and I considered buying a parka and a bus ticket to Anchorage."

We went back and forth between Moby Dick and Jungle Book. The lady behind the counter finally got into the whole thing. It's alright to laugh at serious works of literature and appreciate them at the same time. When she attempted to do the same thing regarding here 13 year old nephew jumping from White Fang to The Sea-Wolf and not being able to bridge the divide we hurriedly paid and left. Leave the stand-up to the professionals sweet-heart. We left her standing among her graveyard of books. Burials all around. 

"And they all pretend they're Orphans
and their memory's like a train
you can see it getting smaller as it pulls away ..."

Later, when I was at home, I spoke with another friend on the phone. He is dating a smokin' hottie with cars, money, houses, and everything in between. A divorcee back on the make. Says she is not looking for a relationship. Friends with benefits for now. Relationships don't work, according to her. I heard it said once that relationships work until they don't. In everything in life their is a beginning and an end. People are so stuck on the ending part. It has to end a certain way. People will suffer through misery because they only care about how it ends. They have that perfect ideal in their head and they will die for it. Ride it out to the bitter end! Their brains can't fathom anything else but how it looks in the end. 

Myself, I care more about all the stuff in-between. We all know the ending is out their lurking in the shadows. Waiting. Don't miss out on all the moments along the way. That's the good stuff. The only stuff. Leave the end to the gravediggers.  

Where there are tombs sometimes there are resurrections. I think Nietzsche said that. Next time I am going to date a sword shallower form the circus. Or maybe a snake charmer. Somebody interesting. A real game changer. Somebody that will change my life ... like the John Steinbeck novel,  Travels With Charley. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Yrs Truly,