Thursday, March 17, 2016

Just checking

Is this thing even on?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mel's Diner

Irina had collapsed in the only comfortable chair I owned within seconds of entering my condo. I was beginning to wonder if the woman had bones.

She and I had sat for a bit in the ballroom after Matt and his two monkeys had left. She sat quietly, looking at her face in one of those compact mirrors. I, on the other hand, was not quiet at all. I cursed Matt, his goons, his parents, his pets and his siblings. After about five minutes of this, I sat down, rubbed my face, and muttered one last expletive. Then I stood up, patted my pockets for my keys and walked out. I was in the parking garage before I noticed she was behind me.
He grunted a bit and kept walking.

"Hey", the denim man said, "I ain't got any more gas than what's in it."


You're what?

"Two hundred and six." "That's bullshit." He closed the folder and tilted my kitchen chair back on its hindmost legs. I winced for the chair. He must have been three fifteen, three twenty and that chair wasn't the newest thing in my house. I opened my mouth but decided not to say anything. "Look," he said, "I'm a professional. I see shit like this," he pointed at my check stubs, "and I have to report it. It's against the law. And honestly? It pisses me the hell off. Does Your mother know this is how you support yourself? That you're a scam artist? When your sister asked me to help you and told me you were an entrepreneur, I expected something fishy. I didn't expect this. " I blinked. That made me angry. "Scam artist? It's a four hundred dollar check! I paid into social security for almost seventy years! If I was going to rip somebody off I could do a hell of a lot better than a four hundred dollar check! Look at the damn paperwork, everything you need is in there. I just need it sorted out so I can do my taxes... again... for the hundredth time. And for the record, Mary is not my sister, she's my great, great, great, great, granddaughter. Look at the damn paperwork already! "You're delusional. This is not funny and you need help." "I'm serious. I'm not crazy and yes, I do need help. Help with my taxes, help with my investments. Pretend I'm a normal retired guy who gets a Social Security check and has some extra income. Mary's father used to do this for me. I can't make heads or tails of this anymore. You're part of the family now. You were going to find out sooner or later anyway, so please... help out." He leaned forward and put the chair back on all four legs. I was happy for the chair, it went well with the table. He opened the folder and shuffled the first couple of pages, loose leaf sheets Katherine's husband had put in there in the seventies. He took a breath, "OK then. I'll play.", he cleared his throat and looked me in the eye, " What are you supposed to be, a vampire? Some kind of immortal being? Is some guy with a sword going to come and chop off your head?" I ground me teeth and held my temper. "No. I'm not immortal. I'm not supernatural. I'm not even special. It's a genetic abnormality. There's hundreds of people just like me around the world, there's at least ten of us left in the US. My great-grandmother is still alive, down in Phoenix. She's married to a guy, I swear, looks your age. It's disgusting, really..." "Wait. Stop right there. I don't want to hear about your grandmother, OK? You tell me your story, I'll pretend to believe you. You think you have a disease?" "Not a disease. More like an hereditary trait." "Genetic immortality..." "It's not immortality, but yeah, it's genetic. A guy in France did a study a couple of years ago... Passes down through the female. If I had had a sister, she might have passed it down. I can't. People like me don't have lots of kids. "According to that guy in France, people like me can all trace their maternal family tree back to a couple of families in southern Turkey. There's stories of people living to be seven, hell, eight hundred years old out there, but these days most of us don't live much past three. Accidents. Anger. People like me live a long time, but we can die, and do all the time. Many of us commit suicide. I had no idea I was like this until I was close to thirty years old. My childhood was normal. I just never got sick. But most people I knew as a kid didn't get sick. If they got sick, they died. If I knew you at twenty, you hadn't been sick yet. I really didn't realize I was different than other people until I was close to thirty. My friends were looking older, but I wasn't. At twenty-six I looked twenty. At thirty, I still looked twenty. At forty, I still looked twenty. I still looked twenty at my wife's funeral. It was at my son's funeral I finally started looking like an adult and I was over a hundred years old by that time. "And people thought you were a freak, right? You had to fake your death and steal a new identity to leave your fortune to? I've seen this movie, Tom." "Read the file, jackass. Movies are full of it. There's no reason to fake your death. Just go on living, day in, day out. You become a fixture, no one notices that you don't change, and no one would say anything if they did. Who the hell is going to believe that the guy in the house next door is two hundred years old? "Not me." "I don't really care if you do or don't, just do my damn taxes. The part about getting rich is bullshit too. I spent most of my first hundred and fifty years poor as dirt. Living hand to mouth. If I had known what people today would pay for a table or chair or gun from back then I would have saved something, anything, but the truth is, I had to use the things I had and they wore out. "I was born in 1805 on a farm just south of Philadelphia. My mother was only twenty and died having me. By the time I was old enough to start remembering things, my father had moved us out west, and we spent a couple years moving from town to town down the Ohio River. I was married in 1845 and had one son, Paul, that same year. Paul spent most of his life in the Navy, he signed up during the war, and died in 1911. His son, Michael, I didn't know real well. He died in 1925, but I got close with his son, Thomas. Thomas went west and married a peach of a girl in California. They had twins, Jonathan and Mary. Jonathan was killed in the Pacific in 1944, Thomas never really recovered from that and died early in 1945. His daughter Mary moved back here for work and I followed. She died in 1991. That was Mary Kay's grandmother. Kay was born here in 1951, married he husband Steve in '69 and Mary Kay was born in '71.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I sat in the chair and looked at him, he seemed to like when I looked at him. He talked faster when I looked at him. He said, "Look Tom. I'm never going to ask you where you got it, I don't care. This isn't a personal thing." And I thought, "Wow. I'm in a gangster movie. Tough guys, henchmen, locked room and all." He said, "Are you going to make a fuss?" A fuss.

I looked around the room. It was gold. Gold carpet, furniture, fixtures. He was wearing a blue suit. A nice one too. It flattered him. It would have looked nicer if he was wearing a tie. I wasn't wearing a tie either, but then I wasn't wearing a suit either. I had on a navy blazer, charcoal pants, a blue button-down shirt and cordovan loafers. I was comfortable. Which was nice, since I had just lost three-quarters of a million dollars on the outcome of a football game played by a bunch of kids who forgot they were supposed to be in the tank. Or maybe they never were in the tank, I don't know. Point is, this asshole, my friend Matt, told me they were in the tank, lied, and now had all my money. And when I say all my money, I mean all the money I took from my business. And when I say my business, I mean the clothing business my ex-wife's family owns. So it was nice that my socks weren't too tight and my shirt collar wasn't cutting into my neck and my blazer was cut well enough so that I could move my arms. The chair I was sitting in was also comfortable in, I assume, a hotel ballroom furniture way. I didn't really notice.

What I did notice was that three out of the four other people in the room were not sitting comfortably in hotel provided arm chairs. Two were flanking the door, arms crossed, like bouncers at a nightclub, one was pacing in front of me, talking incessantly about why I was going to give him my money and why he was OK with taking it. The fourth person in the room was draped over one of the chairs like a raincoat, in fact, that's what she looked like. A nice beige Burberry coat, expensive, classy, but functional. Beauty but built with purpose intended. She looked bored out of her skull.

"Tom listen." Matt said. I listened. "I want you to know that I really do like you. I'm not bullshitting. I think of you as a friend." I snorted a bit, "Matt," I said, "Four hours ago I would have said you were the best friend a guy ever had. Right now, I'm just not feeling it." I took a deep breath, "You know what kind of position you've put me in? Wait. Yes, you do. You do because I told you what would happen if I lost this money. You said I'd double it...triple it...hell, I'd never have to worry about money again. You lied to me Matt, and now I'm pretty much screwed." Matt blanched. "You're not screwed. You're far from screwed. Look. I know you. You'll come out alright."

"How exactly am I going to come out alright?"

"I know you will. I can tell. In fact, I'll bet you a thousand bucks that you'll be back here in six months, loaded with cash. I'll buy you a drink and we'll have some laughs. Trust me Tom, In case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty good with the odds."

"So I was a sure thing."

"You were a mark Tom, yeah. It's my job to find 'em and take their money. Usually that's it. But you're different Tom, we got along. We're a lot alike..."

"Alike? You're a con man, a gangster... You've got henchmen for Christ's sake!" I waved my arm at the doors, "I sell suits."

"You take risks, you're a gambler, just like me."

"I bet on football, I play cards for nickels in a buddy's garage."

"I have an envelope in my pocket says that's bullshit. You lost money, don't lose your self respect. I know where you got this money, remember. You made a bet once that paid off, remember how that felt? Tom. Look at Irina. Did you ever wonder where I met a girl like that? Doesn't speak a word of English? I won her in a poker game Tom. I bet. I won. You lost this time, you'll maybe win next time."

"I'm not the kind of guy who wins Russian models in poker games Matt."

"You are now. She's your consolation prize. Way to go." He turned and snapped his fingers, "Irina! You're with him." he pointed at me. Her eyes barely registered me, but her eyebrows raised a bit, then fell back. "She'll help you over the hump...or not." He said, "Point is, I tried. Now you take care Tom. I'm sure I'll see you around." He turned and started walking to the doors. Irina rustled a bit when he passed her, but he stopped, shook his head and jerked his thumb at me, then kept walking. At the doors he stopped again, turned and said, "Now stop being such a baby." His buddies pulled open the doors and followed him out as he walked through. They closed without a sound. The Russian woman's head turned almost imperceptibly towards me, her right eyebrow raised expectantly.

"Well," I said, "I hope you don't eat much."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Boss

The Boss wasn't old when he got to town. He was a grown-up though, no mistaking. Long but chiseled features, and rail thin with skin like beef jerky, he had prematurely gray hair, thinning a bit at the sides and back cut close enough to stay in place under a hat, but long enough it didn't stick up. Gray eyes too, when you saw them through his thick-framed tortoise shell reading glasses, otherwise all you saw under his bushy eyebrows were the dark lines of his famed gunfighter's squint. There was a story that once, about a year after he came to town, he was called for jury duty. He showed up on time and spent a good two hours that morning on a folding chair, glasses on, working on a book of crossword puzzles placed on the seat of the chair beside him. He may have been a little too wrapped up in the puzzle because he didn't hear his number called the first time, or the second, but he did hear the lawyer practically shout his full Christian name from the front of the room. Concentration broken, with one hand The Boss removed his glasses, folded them up and placed them in his shirt pocket, and with the other hand he dog eared his page and shut the book, all while turning to look straight at that "loudmouth sumbitch" exactly the same way he would look at anything else, from two dogs fucking to the President of the United States. A full three seconds later The Boss hears the two words he waited all morning for, "you're dismissed" without a single question asked by the visibly shaken young lawyer. Yes, the power of that look was legendary, but what no one knew was that that terrifying tough-guy glare would disappear as soon as The Boss walked through the front door to his house and put on the bifocals he left on the tall wooden stool by the door on his way out every morning. Reading glasses were OK, bifocals were for old women and dentists.

The Boss had a uniform he stuck to. Twill pants in dark green, blue or brown, black steel-toed shoes and a black belt, topped by a short-sleeved white shirt, no matter what the weather. He also had a short, fat, brown necktie looped over the inside doorknob of his office for special occasions. At home, the white shirt, work shoes and twill pants came off and the flannel, boots and jeans went on after a quick shower and before anyone was allowed to say a word to him. This was the only rule he had that was never broken, bent or stretched. Once, a salesman was ringing the doorbell just as The Boss pulled his company Buick into the driveway. As the man rushed out to meet him, ranting on and on about some new vacuum cleaner, cleaning product or political issue, it didn't matter. The Boss blew past him, keyed open the the front door and slammed it shut on the man's fingers with devastating force without saying a word while trooping up the stairs and into the shower. Work was work and home wasn't home until the stink of work was washed off.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tom thought

it was damn lucky he was awake and dressed when she called him. If he hadn't been, he wouldn't have checked his messages for hours. It's just not polite to make really important, personal calls to someone's mobile phone, was Tom's considered opinion. Especially if it was outside of work hours. If someone had something important to say, they should call your house. Where you lived. Who the hell knew who you were with or where you were when they called you on a mobile phone? You could be on the toilet or in a bar or, God forbid, driving somewhere. Even without having to deal with bad news over the phone, he was in a bit of an embarrassing situation.

For one thing he was sick. To be more precise, the incredibly strong smell of some kind of dried flower potpourri used, no doubt, to try and cover the equally strong smell of urine from an as-yet invisible cat was doing nothing at all to help with his massive hangover. For another thing, he wasn't at home or anywhere near it, as he had moved out of the adjoining townhouse the previous morning. Everything he owned was neatly arraigned into nine cardboard boxes; an expensive garment bag and three well worn pieces of wheeled carry-on luggage. These, in turn, were stuffed into every inch of free space in his large but tastefully foreign car. Topping off the list was the embarrassing fact that the townhouse he was standing in belonged to the woman who, over the past seven months, had signed off on his time and expenses. It was to her that he had announced his defection from the project and the firm they both worked for and it was from her that he had received his eviction notice from corporate housing. And that was part of the reason that during his farewell dinner at the local semi-upscale, American casual, chain restaurant, he had bought all of the drinks. The second reason was that he needed a place to stay, she lived alone, liked him, and she wasn't a bad looking lady. Simply put, he knew he could seal the deal and get out with what he thought would be a small amount of smug self-satisfaction.

All of that changed when his sister-in-law made that call.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Have to post something...

OK, this is the blog where the embarrassing stuff will go. All my artistic pretension, lame stories and scratch pad stuff will go here.

Here's the deal, sometimes I'll spend some time typing up something that I think is fun and when I get ready to post it on my regular site I think...oh crap this is humiliating...and if you've ever been on my regular blog you'll know that that's really saying something. So this is where I'm going to put all of that stuff instead of deleting it or saving it as a draft forever. I might post the same thing over and over as I edit it, but don't worry, I probably won't. Edit that is...hell, I probably won't spell check.

Also, comments will be open and anyone who wants to put me down or call me a jerk is free to do so, although constructive criticism would be nice.

So that's that. No "have to post something today" bullshit over here. Buh-by