Breakfast Special, #28, “Fair Trade Creed Reads,” pt. 1 ~ Les Mis

Fair Trade Creed Reads

Sarge stood with his back against the Ranoli’s living room wall watching the television special news report about the extended state of emergency declared for Falls and the surrounding areas. It was standing room only in the second floor apartment and the volume had been turned up high for those who were unable to see the images on the screen. The aerial videos of roofs that had collapsed under the weight of accumulated snow were the best recruitment tool for the roof clearing crews that they could have wanted. Esther had passed out volunteer sign-up sheets and a number of the younger men and teenagers, including several girls, who hadn’t put in any roof shovelling time were adding their names to the lists. The smell of cinnamon bread baking in the Ranoli’s little oven wafted through the air adding a touch of comfort contrasting sharply with the tensions created by the news report. The single piece of positive information was that, at the moment, no further winter snow storms appeared to be forthcoming in the next twenty-four hours.

The fact that there was a single main road open for traffic through Falls was little comfort to the Flats neighborhood which was too far away from it to benefit anyone, including the stranded parents of the children still in Rosa’s care. The phone had been in use nearly constantly with calls to and from parents still unable to reach their children. Rosa’s ability to maintain a positive, healthy atmosphere day after day for twenty-five children, Ricardo, and herself under the current conditions continued to amaze Sarge. It also strengthened his resolve to get not only the materials needed for the foundation support from Kozy, but to get Kozy himself to assess first hand what was needed for creating some solid long-term stability.

All in all, the dangers created by the weather included, Sarge was feeling pretty damn good. He’d already decided that nothing was going to get in his way of maintaining this positive state of affairs even after the physical environment of Falls returned to its usual state. Certain aspects of his life had finally taken a turn for the better.  For a long time he’d wanted a serious relationship with a woman, one that did not begin and end in bed and go nowhere in between. With Lily he saw that was a real possibility.  If he played his cards right, and if he was really lucky, she just might give him a solid chance. If she gave it to him, the last thing he wanted to do was to make her regret even thinking of giving it. Knowing full well that he’d never before dealt with a woman remotely like Lily, nor for that matter, Rosa, Esther, JJ and several others he’d recently met in the Flats, Sarge felt a need to find out as much as he could about her as soon as possible or he might miss some important signpost along the way and screw everything up via plain and simple ignorance.  If there’d been an instruction book for dealing with all things Lily, he’d have read and committed it to memory.

Hoping that his recent conversation with Anton regarding the job offer in M-  would get him some traction with the man, Sarge decided to see what serious information regarding Lily, he might be willing to share. Considering the unexpected wild card of Anton’s future employment at Irish Lace, Sarge knew it was just a matter of time before the other man would learn some things about him that he might not much care for and probably would not hesitate to share with Lily. Sarge knew he would do so if their roles were reversed. At the moment, Anton had no idea what intel was coming his way, unless his bones were already whispering about it. Sarge’s own intuition told him that might very well be the case. After all, very bad things often come in very big packages. As far as he could see, his only recourse was to gain as much insight regarding the woman’s mind in order to figure out how to best come  clean with her without having telling the truth blow up in his face. Women had sent him packing often enough for considerably less serious offences than being honest. Sarge O’Mara had set his sights on going with Lily where he’d never been before with any woman and he was painfully aware that he had no idea how to actually play this particular field and very little time in which to learn.  He knew he needed help and the Neighborhood Watch-Maker, Anton  DeWitt was the obvious choice among male sources for all things intel concerning the object of his steadily growing affections which were already in uncharted waters as far as Sarge’s realm of experience went. Still, he was willingly swimming into the deeper end of the emotional ocean without hesitation.

Once the cinnamon bread was cooling and everyone, except another elderly couple who’d stayed to visit, had cleared out of the Ranoli’s home, Sarge went downstairs to the first floor in search of Anton. Finding him would be the easy part. All that required was taking a few extra steps into the immaculately clean stark white kitchen where the man sat on a table chair, out of sight, but still well within hearing range of the people busy in the info hub and other  “sun rise” rooms; legs sprawled out, one hand on a yet to be opened book cover, his other rubbing the back of his neck, with an expression on his handsome features that was closed tighter then the lid on fifty-gallon drum of diesel gas. Getting the currently tightly wrapped Anton to read some Lily creed would require making a serious effort to get past whatever was putting a strain on his mind. Even in the comparatively short amount of time he’d spent in the Flats, Sarge was well aware of just how much time and energy Anton put into mediating all sorts of private and public disputes in the neighborhood.  He also knew better than to make inquiries regarding this apparently never-ending stream of mediations as they often entailed private issues and required confidentiality. He decided the first step was to get Anton’s mind off whatever seemed to be trying to give him an ulcer or two.

Noticing the thick paperback book under Anton’s hand, Sarge put it to use. “Hey Anton. What’s that you’re reading?”

“Take a load off, Big Man. Relax some after that nasty tv news.” Anton’s long fingers spun the book on the table towards Sarge. “This here is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.”

“Reading that is not exactly giving yourself a break from the dark side of life.”

“You read this, Big Man?” When Sarge nodded as he sat down, Anton shook his head. “There’s some serious moral shit stirring in this ink, you read me?”

“Yes, there is, Anton. I do read you.” Sarge recognized the expression appear on Anton’s face which signified he was now processing this new piece of information and leaving behind what had been troubling him.  He decided to freely give Anton more to process. “Reading that book changed my perspective on the code my dad tried to beat into me. See, he doesn’t much appreciate most of my more, shall we say, antagonistic questions.  I knew early on that he and I were not living mentally on the same page, and, unless one of us changed drastically, we never would. After reading Les Mis, I knew I didn’t want anything more to do with my dad’s code and that I needed to follow my own; keeping in mind that there would be consequences all along the way.”

Anton considered this intel while his fingers slowly twirled the book on the table. “I get the feelin’ no love lost between you and your father, Big Man.”

“Indeed, there is not. You read right.” Sarge watched the book moving under Anton’s fingers while considering how far to take the sharing.  His goal urged him to open up further.  He looked away from the book cover and caught Anton’s black eyes watching him with a restrained cold hard intensity.  Sarge leaned back and rocked his chair on its back legs. “Love is not a word I would use in any context with the man. My old man, there is no polite way to say this, he is one evil, low down, manipulative bastard if there ever was one. In his mind, his ends always justify his means. I have yet to discover anything he will not do in order to get his way with people. I am not proud to be his son. As far as I’m concerned, he and my brain-dead brothers can go f’ themselves until doomsday comes and then some.”

“That’s damn cold heart talk, Big Man. Damn cold.” Anton’s fingers ceased spinning the book and rubbed the cover thoughtfully. “How all you say play with your mother? She still in the wearing his name game or she move on?”

Sarge looked up at the ceiling and shook his head and laughed.  “Oooo, Anton, I truly hate to say it. But I am having some serious doubts regarding my mother. Up until recently, I thought she and I were square. Thought she had my back like I had hers, especially when it came to my dad. But now, I am not sure about that and a whole lot of other things. Before this monster snow hit, I made a couple of plays to test a theory I do not like even having walking around in my own head. Whatever moves my mother makes after she gets what I put in the mail will tell me just about everything I need to know about some serious dark shit that’s been flowing my way for a very long time.”

It was not lost upon Anton’s sensibilities that this was the most amount of personal information, Sarge had divulged.  Although they’d talked at length about books, various issues in the Flats, “sun rise” and other subjects, until this point in time, Sarge had said very little about his personal circumstances, though he’d never dodged a direct question from anyone.  Despite the negative tone of both the man’s voice and his words, something of which he’d had an over-full plate of today from others, Anton decided to encourage him to keep talking   “Big Man you stirring my curiosity pot big time. Got to ask what you slip in the box slot that have so much pull. Even my bones are dying for this play you made.”

After shifting his chair so that his back was now to the kitchen entrance allowing him to look out the kitchen door’s window, Sarge wondered if he was doing the right thing by going down this particular conversation road considering his goal was to learn more about Lily rather than to discuss his family issues.  Unexpectedly he saw quite clearly how the two fit together and he said, “Anton, this sort of shit your bones may not want to know.  I don’t want to know it. But I have to deal with it before it messes up my head so bad that I blow any chance I might ever have with Lily.”

Anton  picked up Les Mis and gestured with it as he spoke. “Why you think this shit mess with what’s brewing between you and Lily? You think she too weak to deal with it? If so, you better take a step back so you see how strong she be, Big Man. You got no idea what ugly shit Lily deal with in her time.”

“I read you, Anton. I know Lily does things in her own way and in her own time.” He glanced over his shoulder toward the voices in the hallway.  “Ever since she let slip a little intel about her home and her brother, Peter, I have been racking up the questions. But I know better than to push her buttons by asking them. She might pay a visit to my head with her Old Reliable Jack Hammer if I do.” Sarge noticed a change come over Anton but had no sure idea what exactly had brought it about. “Anton, tell me how to read you, because right now I have no clue. Should I duck and run for cover?”

Anton made a point of listening to the voices from the hall and other rooms for a moment. He leaned towards, Sarge and whispered. “Lily dropped Peter on you?”

Sarge shook his head. “Just his name and that he would never grow up. I figure that means he’s dead. Am I right?”

Anton nodded. He sat up straight and thought about how Lily had been behaving since Sarge and the snow had appeared in the Flats. He tuned himself to his bones for a few moments while making no effort to conceal the hard looking over he was giving the man watching him warily in case he’d just pushed a seriously wrong button in his quest for information. Sarge wasn’t the first man to come to him trying to find his way in regard to his friend, but he was the first whose Anton’s intuition and logic both encouraged him to help understand the young woman.  “He dead alright. But there ain’t nothin right’ about it.” He stood up and took his parka from the hook on the wall next to the kitchen back door and waved his arm at Sarge. “Get your coat.”

Sarge wasted no time in retrieving his long wool coat from a hook in the hallway.  Still feeling over-warm from the time upstairs spent watching the news with two dozen other people, he was reluctant to put it on unless it was necessary to do so. “Where we headed, Anton? Basement or outside?”

“Put your damn funky coat on.”  Anton waited for Sarge to comply then tossed a flashlight to him and pointed at the door behind him.  “We goin’ up on the roof for what Esther call a serious heart to heart. This shit ain’t for most ears. Now get your ass movin’ up those stairs.”  Sarge made no argument about this choice of venue as he opened the door, flipped on the flashlight and lead the way up the chilly inside stairwell to the roof.


Breakfast Special, #28, Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 1, Les Mis:


Breakfast Special, #28, Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 2, Stealth:


Breakfast Special #28,  Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 3, Two Guys On a Roof:


Breakfast Special, #24, “Seeking and What Do Ye Find”

Seeking and What Do Ye Find

Keeping a close lid on himself, even though he’d reached his internal boiling point the previous night when he was certain Kozy had picked up his phone only to hang up immediately without saying a word five times in a row, Dylan stood waiting in the kitchen for his daughters-in-law to clear all the grandchildren to the upstairs rooms. He wanted no distraction of any kind during the first family meeting finally possible via semi-cleared roads in M- and a break in the extreme weather conditions. Not until Nora assured him that everything and everyone was in order, did Dylan walk into the living room where his sons, sans one, and their wives ceased talking among themselves when he stood in the center of the room. He nodded at Nora where she sat on her usual chair a little outside the group with her pad of paper and pen. After making direct eye contact with each of the ten people seated around the spacious room, he spoke in a calm, low-key tone which gave barely any hint of just how tightly stretched were his nerves.

“Okay we all know it’s now almost three weeks since any of us have seen Sarge or talked to him on the phone. In the usual scheme of things this would not be any cause for concern. We all know he can sulk and dish the silent treatment for a solid month when he gets pissy. But, considering the ongoing extreme weather conditions and the resulting havoc, of which we all are very well aware of, I do not care for the fact that he has not made contact with me, Nora, or any of you.” Dylan paused for effect and with a faint hope that someone in the room might contradict the fact by volunteering information that Sarge had left a phone message elsewhere. No one said a word and he resumed his speech. “Nearly twelve feet of snow has hit Falls. That’s twice as much as M- and we all know what that’s been like. After a curtsey drive-by from the Falls PD at three seventeen am this morning, which was no easy thing to get under the circumstances, they and I are damn sure Sarge is not in that construction site he calls home.” At this point he nearly launched into a rant regarding the lack of simple phone curtsey one would expect even from the likes of Walter Kozy all things weather considered. Nora’s knowing stare dissuaded him from such venting which would have set off all the usual arguing about how to deal with the man’s continued presence in their missing son’s life.

Dylan tightened the lid on his temper and pushed his anger with Kozy aside. “Bottom line, I want to know where in hell my eldest son is and, why, if he’s not lying on a cold hard slab in some morgue, or under a snowdrift, he has not called to say he’s still among the living. We tried to file a missing person report this morning over the phone. Per the ongoing chaotic state of affairs in Falls, I suspect that’s not going to get any traction any time soon. Therefore, we need to track him down any way possible. Certain business decisions need to be made soon, as all of you are well aware. If something serious has happened to Sarge, we need to know and make adjustments accordingly.” He looked around at the nods and expressions of assent from his sons and their wives. “I said my piece. Let’s get to it. Who knows what so far? Let’s start with Denise and go around the room in order.” Dylan stepped out of the middle of the room to lean his back against the doorway leading to the stairs. He gestured with one hand for the buxom, dark-haired Denise to start any time she was ready.

Denise glanced at her husband, Patrick, then shyly looked around at everyone else as she delivered her report on the task she’d been given over the phone earlier in the week. “Suzy, the nurse who works at St. Sym’s hospital, finally called this morning. She’s been living at St. Sym’s all week.  She ran a full patient ID check and did a bed check of the John Doe in ICU. He’s not Sarge. She’s been talking to the EMTs and they haven’t seen anyone who fits his description. She also put the word out in the ER that if anyone even remotely fitting his description shows up there that they should notify her first thing. That’s it for me.” She turned her baby blue eyes to Mark signaling the change of attention to him.

Mark, knowing how uncomfortable Denise was about being the center of attention even among family gave her a reassuring smile and rubbed her knees fully aware that his brother Patrick did not appreciate his efforts. Locking his hands behind his head, Mark stretched out his long legs and leaned back in his chair. “After getting the usual run around, I finally got a hold of that tight-lipped Oscar in the freight office. Obviously the docks are still shut down. But the Swede did tell me that Sarge worked a hard double last time he was on the docks. He came in Thursday for the graveyard shift and then stayed to work another full eight hours right after that on Friday. Old Oscakee says he hasn’t seen or heard from Sarge since he clocked out. But that goes for everyone since they closed the docks that Saturday morning so it doesn’t mean much.” He caught Nora’s pen waving for his attention and leaned forward to make eye contact with her. “Yeah, Mom?”

“Did Oscar say why Sargent pulled that hard double?” Pen pressed against her lips, Nora waited,  hoping for some useful tidbit of information.

Mark shook his head: “I did indeed ask the Swede if he knew, but he just said that Sarge wanted Friday night free. Obviously. Oscar claims he doesn’t know what plans he had. Anyone hear from the ladies if he had a hot date?” Mark looked around the room for any responses to his request. When there were none, he shrugged and playfully punched Benj’s wife Sharon in the shoulder. “Tag, you’re it, foxy lady.”

“You’re shameless, Mark. I don’t know how Molly puts up with your constant flirting.” Sharon shook her head of brassy brown locks at him.

“Hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do to keep his groove on.” He smiled at Molly who was grinning at him from the other side of the room.

Sharon sighed and pushed Mark’s hand off her knee. “As for the ladies, not a peep out of any of them yet as far as Sarge goes. No calls. No unexpected visits. Zilch. Not a whiff of him. The phone chain is still moving along though. Kim and Lisa called just to let me know it reached them. But neither of them have seen or heard from Sarge in over a year as best they can figure; which, in a sense, is very good because it means he’s staying away from them. I guarantee that if he’d even randomly wandered to someone else’s door to get out of the storms and holed up with them, I’d have heard about it by now.”

Dylan rapped his knuckles on the wall he was still leaning against to draw Sharon’s attention. “He hasn’t made any more phone calls to either of them?”

Sharon vigorously shook her head of brassy brown locks. “Noooo. They both swear he’s been silent on that count. No one else has reported any others since he pulled that stunt.” To show she was finished, she simply turned and looked at James who looked as if he wanted to ask her something but declined to do so.

James sat leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “So far I’m dead in the water with his poker jokers. No Sarge at anyone’s tables in nearly a year. About the same amount of time MIA as Lisa and Kim reported. I’m wondering if there’s some connection between his lack of card play and the lack of lady play. It’s not just the games he’s not been coming around for either. He’s not hanging with any of them for beers and shooting the breeze. A couple of guys have called in his direction, but Sarge hasn’t done more than pick the phone up for a fast hi-and-go-fuck-yourself-I-have-to-run chat. To me, he’s looking pretty consistent on all counts with his anti-social bullshit.”

“I can’t say you haven’t got a point, James.” Nora looked around the room. “No cards and no girls for about the same amount of time. I can’t believe we didn’t pick up on this sooner. But let’s keep going. Benj, it’s your turn.”

Benj looked directly at Dylan and no one else as he spoke.  “I’ve been seriously trying to raise Stanley on the horn, but so far no luck. His line is still out of service. I’ve tried calling around to his buds, but either hit the same no phone service problem or they don’t live close enough to  him for direct contact. I figure my best bet is to run him down in person as soon as there’s a road to Falls open to traffic. If nothing else, I will do what I can to get close enough to walk to the tavern and leave a note there asking him to call you, me or anyone of us. I’m all set with Mickey to take the truck ASAP even if there’s no delivery anywhere in Falls.” Not until Dylan nodded his acceptance of Benj’s plans did he break eye contact with his father.

After winking at Benj, Connie tossed her blonde curls and smiled at everyone. “Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting priests on the phone even when you’re looking for a missing person. But after much haggling with the nuns and lay women running interference for them as usual, I’ve spoken personally with all the priests in M- even the ones at St. Paul’s, including that louse, Father Joseph. Get a load of this, none of them has recently seen Sarge at any mass, Sunday, Saturday, morning or evening. Actually, believe it or not, not a single one of them has set eyes on his mug for over a year. Another thing, he ain’t been to confession either. So, if he’s keeping on the straight and narrow, I don’t know where he’s been doing it–yet. I’ve got calls out to folks in Falls in case he’s been stepping in for Sunday rituals in that neck of the woods. But as of this morning, no one has called to say they’ve seen him even before the snow hit. Put this with the rest of his no-show action, and folks, I think we’ve got a very serious Sarge issue here.”

“Issue or not, we’ve got to find him first of all. Thanks for taking that job, Connie. I know that wasn’t easy going.” Nora smiled at her daughter-in-law who basked in her approval for a few moments before nudging Patrick to speak in turn.

Patrick ran his fingers through his wavy brown hair as he began. “No news on the police scanners of any use. Ricky hasn’t caught anything out of the Fire Department or the PD that might even remotely involve Sarge. Which, in a way, is good news; at least he hasn’t been head banging any walls. But, if he had, then we could draw a bead on him for a place and time. I’ve left word with every PD incoming desk to call here or my number if anything about Sarge comes their way. I made it very clear that as far as we’re concerned, he’s a missing person and that’s the only reason we’re reaching out for some extra eyes on the ground. All in all it went pretty well. At this point we’re doing the same thing that a lot of other people are doing regarding relatives who’ve been out of contact for too long and the officers I spoke with understood that.”

Dylan nodded and said, “Those Dago town cops agree to co-operate too, Patrick?”.

“Oh hell, Dad, who knows for sure? Saying they’ll keep an eye out for Sarge is the most I got from that part of town. I figured that was damned good all things considered. Ever since that weird nasty street war of theirs that everyone denies ever happening a couple of years back, those Dagoes on all sides blow smoke cover for Sarge like he’s one of their f’n own by birth. When you think about it, if he’s decided to have a pissy fit and drop out of sight because of the shave Mom gave him, then Dago town is at the very top of the list of places where he could disappear right under our noses. As a matter of fact, Molly and I were discussing that possibility earlier. Right, Molly?”

Molly nodded, “Oh yes we were indeed. I think this is something we should seriously hash out after we finish this go round. Irene is waiting so patiently.”

Irene sighed and looked from Dylan to Nora and then at everyone else.. “You sure got that right, Molly. I have been very patient indeed. Oh have I ever. If being patient regarding Sarge was profitable, I’d be rich as Roosevelt and then some.” She waved a hand as if to clear the air. “But let’s save that for later too. Anyway, Debbie kindly called to say she remembered Sarge asking if she knew anything about a play with a fox. She saw an ad in the paper about it being rescheduled because of the weather. But she was sure he didn’t say he was going to see it or anything else. Probably just more of the same bullshit he was pulling on her anyway. Otherwise, considering his long list of no shows at any family gatherings, well, I did not see any point in  bothering anyone since before the start of this loser streak of his with the girls.” Irene paused, took a breath and then made no effort to hide her frustration when she continued her report. “In point of fact, according to my best reckoning, Sarge may have stepped out with the last few ladies, but I suspect he hasn’t been between the sheets with any one of them in at least a year. Maybe longer. Don’t look at me like that, Patrick. Everyone here knows he’s been off the lady game for quite some time now. I’m just stating the facts as I’m seeing them.” Noting that even Nora and Dylan were keeping their thoughts to themselves, Irene leaned back in her chair satisfied at finally having gotten everyone on the same page as herself. She slid her eyes towards Frances and nodded to convey that she had no more to say at the moment.

Keeping his eyes on his slim blonde wife for several long moments while considering the reasons for her frustration, Francis hesitated before speaking. “I’m still working my way through the yellow pages for the all the bookstores in Falls and M- both. Those people are in their own little worlds. I figured it was worth expanding the range of this fishing expedition in case Sarge holed up some place new when the weather hit. No joy so far though. Only the guy who answered the phone at Maniac Max’s, has seen him recently. That was the day after Nora’s birthday. So Sarge made a pit stop there before catching the bus back to Falls. All the guy on the phone would tell me is that Sarge bought a book. I got the feeling it might not have been Max on the phone. Whoever it was, they wouldn’t say anything else.  I left messages on the machines for the public libraries in Falls and M-. They’re still closed for now. Same for the college library in Falls and the uni one in M-. I will follow-up as soon as their doors are open for business again. He can kick his smoking habit, but he’s too hardcore a book junkie to not feed his reading need for long. Eventually he’ll have to put in an appearance somewhere for a fix. That’s assuming he is able to walk and talk under his own power.”

“I get the feeling you’re holding something back, big boy. Shall I do my thing or wait?” said Molly.

Francis shook his head. “I’m good for now, Molly. Floor is all yours, darlin’.”

Molly stretched her arms overhead briefly then looked from Dylan to Nora before speaking.   “Okay, aside from Big Bob’s in Falls, Sarge has not been making the chow rounds anywhere we’ve got eyes and ears in-house. He’s been a no-show everywhere in M- long since before the snow. Bob’s and Stan are all Benj’s so I let that be for him to handle. As for the bigger picture,” Molly made a point of staring at Dylan for a few seconds, “there’s that real dive in Dago town he grabs pies at fairly often. But talking to those folks goes nowhere. Unless you’re ordering pizza, they forget any English they ever knew.  It’s like they all just got off the boat and unless someone puts a gun to their heads to force them to learn English, there’s no way in hell they’re going speak anything but their mother tongue. To be honest, I don’t think even then would those Dagoes say so much as hello in English. They’re so full of national pride that you’ve got to walk between Italian flags just to get in the place. The walls are covered with snapshots and magazine photos of everything from the Vatican to Sicily. So, sorry, but I found no joy there beyond the damn pizza I carried out for the kids.  He’s been spotted catching a meal here and there, but with no routine that I can make heads or tails of. Other than Big Bob’s he is not a regularly scheduled customer anywhere anymore.” She crossed her legs and rubbed her shoulders against the back of her chair. “Sarge not keeping to his meal routine is not good for us keeping track of him.

Molly tossed her hair and looked straight at Dylan.  “Before we open this up for discussion, there’s something I think needs to be said outright. I know you don’t like hearing us even whisper about it, Dylan, but let’s face it, Sarge has taken full advantage of your personal feud with Tony and all his Dago buddies. In turn, Tony and friends, for whatever their reasons, seem to get off on keeping Sarge off track and out of sight whenever he takes a notion to become the invisible man as far as we’re concerned. Sure it’s one way of Tony needling you just for old time’s sake. But the fact of the matter, pure and simple, is that Sarge being able to go AWOL whenever he pleases has created a serious business problem. Him not knowing this makes no difference to our bottom line. It’s time that either we bring him into the loop and he gets with the program or we cut him loose and be done with all this bullshit and move on.”

Dylan walked across the room and stood a few feet away from Molly. “Whom do you suggest to take his place for the long haul, Molly?” He looked at Mark. “Is this a power play of yours? Is it, Mark? Seeing him shake his head, Dylan nodded. “Now you listen and listen good, Miss Molly. Leave the business of dealing with Sarge out of the loop to me and Nora.” He stepped closer to her. “Don’t even think about enlightening him in order to bring him into the fold. You may think that would make everyone’s life a lot easier. But Molly, if there’s one thing I know about my eldest son, it’s this:  if he knew the loop, he’d make life a total bitch for each and everyone one of us just because he could. So don’t get any bright ideas about forming a better working relationship with Sarge by dealing with him on the up and up.  That’s not possible with him.”

“Then what are we going to do about him?” Refusing to be intimidated, Molly glared at her father-in-law.

Dylan moved in close and leaned down to put his hands on the arms of Molly’s chair. “The ‘we’ you’re referring to will do absolutely nothing. The only ‘we’ that will address the problem is me and Nora. I suggest you have a little chat with Mark about that on your own time.” Dylan stood up and looked at Mark. “If anyone else is operating under the delusion that putting Sarge in the loop in order to save time and energy is a good idea, well, consider that notion kicked in the ass and straight out the door right now.”

Looking at each face in turn, Nora took note that except for the painfully shy Denise, her daughters-in-law were doing their level best to keep their eyes on Dylan as he returned to the edge of the living room. While Molly was clearly subdued she was obviously seething. Mark appeared none too pleased with his wife. Her other sons seemed to be in concert as usual and yet there was something Nora couldn’t quite put her finger on regarding the group at large. She narrowed in on Irene and Molly and decided some serious one on one quality time with each was in order. Taking matters into her own hands, Nora stood up. “Molly, Irene, with me now.” Without a backward glance, Nora strode off to the kitchen. The two younger women followed her, careful to not exchange a word or glance between themselves.

It was not lost upon Dylan that all five of his sons’ eyes were on the close weave burgundy carpet as the three women exited the room. “What’s not on the agenda that needs discussing right now? Out with it anyone.” He watched the five men exchange glances and shrugs until Patrick spoke on behalf of the group.

“Don’t get pissed, Dad. We all know that when Sarge does what’s wanted, it’s all cherry. That’s not an issue. No one really wants him in the loop, primarily because Sarge is Sarge.  Problem is that the guy who’s been standing in for him the last six months or so, well, I’ll put it this way, he’s got some bad habits. Messy bad habits.” Patrick stared at Dylan and waited for a response.

“He’s getting the job done, isn’t he?”

Patrick nodded. “Yeah, but, he’s just not good for business in the long run.”

“You don’t like this guy, then find your goddamned brother and do whatever it takes to get him back on our track. Send him on a little vacation with the hottest little bitch you can find to Hawaii or Tahiti if you think that’ll do the trick. I don’t care. If you want a change in the line-up then make it happen. I did my part. I found the best deal on the market to bridge the gap.”

The brothers looked at each other and then all at Dylan as if on cue. Again Patrick spoke for them. “’Whatever it takes.’ So be it. Now please go pull Mom off of Irene and Molly.”

Dylan waved a finger indicating no.


Breakfast Special #25



On a whim
I gifted my daughter
a little black fedora
which she adored
~~~still does.

when she first wore it
friends quietly inquired:

“So, then, um, you’ve decided to do the ninja assassin thing, huh?”

“Oh yeah. Pays much better than soccer goalie for the same insane head skill set.”

Her dark humor, I thought
~~until she paid off my mortgage without a word.

Note: Thanks to bearspawprint for introducing me to Apocalyptica’s music.

Breakfast Special, #20, “Identity Crisis”

Identity Crisis

While Sarge was carefully searching through the salvaged panes of window glass for the size closest to those needed for replacing some broken windows in a house up the street, Anton was busy collecting items for caulking the windows while keeping an eye out for the glass cutting tool he’d seen earlier in a box of donated tools. “Got it. Sarge. I knew this sweet thing was here somewhere.” He walked the glass cutter over to the makeshift work-table of a piece of plywood resting on two wooden horses and set it down next to the metal straight edge yard-measure then resumed his search for another can of caulking.

Sarge took note of Anton’s find and kept searching through the glass until he found two panes which would only require cutting only one end to serve his purpose. Taking them to the plywood table, he set one up at a time and went to work measuring and cutting each pane.

Having fulfilled his own search mission with two extra cans of caulk, Anton stood watching the other man, ready to lend a hand if need be. “Oh yeah, that sharp toy is a joy, is it not, Big Man?”

Keeping his eyes on the task at hand, Sarge nodded. “It certainly is, Anton. Cuts like it’s about brand new. It’s real sweet.” Finished with one pane, Sarge took up the other one. “Anton, you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

Anton shrugged. “Ask what you want, Big Man. Making no promises to satisfy curiosity. But no problem with you asking, whatever the question be.”

Sarge neatly cut the second pane of glass and compared it to the first. Satisfied with the pair, he nodded his readiness for them to leave the basement and return to the house they were working on. “Just wondering what exactly is your relationship with Esther. You two seem pretty tight from what I’ve seen. But I’m not quite sure what type of tight it is. I’m just trying to read things right, nothing else. Curious how you two hooked up.”

Anton handed Sarge his gloves and then zipped up his parka as he replied with no small degree of pride in his voice. “Esther and me, we married. Goin’ on five years come June. Saw her lookin’ like Nefertiti waiting at a bus stop. You know who I mean?”

“Yes, I do, Anton. I noticed that resemblance straight away. Makes me wonder just where Esther’s people originally come from.” Sarge smiled while recalling his own startled reaction upon seeing Esther for the first time when she’d opened the bright yellow door the morning he’d come in search of Anton.

Anton adjusted his hold on the box as they made their way up the stairs. “Well, I first saw Esther one day after I already had put another life behind me. Just her look put a hook in me. I figure I got to get next to that woman or die trying. She put me through some serious hoop jumping just to get the time of day out of her. I mean literally. I didn’t know what I was doin’ wrong cuz I never had no woman turn me down as many times as she did. She damn near gave me an identity crisis.”

The two men laughed at the notion of any insecurity regarding Anton’s self confidence and self-esteem. Closing the basement door behind him, Sarge looked at Anton in surprise. “No way!”

“Oh, hell yeah, way. Big time.” Anton nodded while they walked side by side towards the front door. “Then one day I’m sitting at the bus stop waiting for my route to come along. Putting the wait time to enjoyable use; just reading my book. Next thing I know, she sit down right next to me. I’m thinking I got to pull a sweet move quick or she be gone fast as usual. My mind is working overtime heat in a split second. She puts the brakes on my game plan with, ‘What you readin’ there, Anton? That don’t look like no comic book to me.’ I’m about to die on the spot cuz before that all she ever say to me is one word, and that be NO! I’m so shook up I have to look at the book cover to remember what book I’m half way through readin’. I manage to say, ‘This here be Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.’ Somehow that broke something loose for both of us and we got to talking serious. We been together ever since. Hooking up with Esther helped keep me motivated to keep that other life far behind me. Now it’s just a ghost I don’t even care to see.”

“Okay, that certainly explains a few things as to why you both seem to be in sync and on the same wavelength most of the time. Five years together, that’s sweet, Anton. Indeed it is.” Sarge reached out, opened and held the door for both of them to pass through.

Anton stole a quick speculative look at Sarge as they stepped onto the porch. The two men paused for a few moments before venturing back to the house where Ricardo and several other men were currently working on other repairs. “Now we trade questions. Fair enough? Same thing, asking is cherry. No pressure to reply.”

“Fair trade. Yeah, I’m game. Go for it. Ask.” Sarge cradled the window panes in their makeshift cardboard sleeve in his arms while awaiting Anton’s query.

Keeping his tone light, Anton turned towards where the street was buried under a good six feet of packed snow upon which more was now lightly descending. “You ever tight with some woman? Hitched up one way or another? Just curious cause you didn’t drop any dimes earlier when the rest of us were reading some past and present woman creeds.”

Sarge laughed out loud and shook his head. “Most definitely not. I do not have such a way with the ladies. Oh no. Not for lack of trying. Just, I don’t know, I just have no luck in that direction.”

Anton frowned as he considered this intel. “Fair enough. Had me wondering is all. Thought maybe you been burned crisp or such and just didn’t care to discuss the matter.”

Sarge thought about the ways in which he definitely felt ‘burned crisp’, but as they had nothing to do with Anton’s question he refrained from sharing. “Yeah, well, you got to get close to someone to get burned, don’t you, Anton? Me, I’ve got some serious mad skills when it comes to turning the ladies off long before ever getting to the sort of close that burns you ever even gets an f’n wick lite. I’m an f’n natural at saying the wrong things at the right times for being shown the exit permanently. You follow?”

“I read.” Anton considered this information as Sarge stepped off the porch and onto the boards for the walkway. Following with the box of caulk and small hand tools held against his chest, he watched the coatless taller man walking lightly over the boards ahead of him. Between his murmuring bones, his observations of Sarge’s interactions with various women in the Flats and what Esther had shared about the few short conversations she’d had with the man carrying the window panes, Anton was having a rough time reconciling what Sarge had said with his own first hand intel. He began an internal discussion with his bones in earnest as to why Sarge thought he had a way with saying the wrong things to women when Anton’s ears had already heard enough just today alone to convince him the exact opposite was true. Even Esther, Rosa and JJ who had been on the lookout from the start for red warning lights regarding Sarge on Lily’s behalf, had shared intel that matched his own. What kind of women had the man been hooking up with that he claimed such a knack for keeping them at a cold heart distance?


Breakfast Special #21

Breakfast Special, #19, “One Two Handed to Another”

One Two Handed to Another

Evening fell hard, cold and dark with no respite from the constant descent of snow outside the kitchen window next to which Sarge had taken up residence contentedly reading while Lily worked individually with several of the older children in Rosa’s care on the second floor. His presence in the book room even when totally engrossed in Eastward Ho had proven too much of a distraction for most of the children because he was still a mainly unknown entity. Their shyness had been conveyed to him via Lily’s repeated soft encouragings to them after just a few awkward silences. Despite enjoying stretching out full length on the floor rugs along the bookshelves while reading, he quietly moved into the kitchen of his own accord. As Lily’s kitchen was considerably more comfortable than his own stark counterpart in the freight district, Sarge had no complaints about putting himself out of sight and out of the attention of the children working on improving their English language and math skills throughout the afternoon. Occassionly he listened in on the lessons floating in from the red couch facing the windows and wondered about the origins of several of the children, but refrained from satisfying his curiosity during their sessions.

An extended space of quiet and silence gradually drew his attention enough for him to set aside the book of Jonson’s plays to take a look into the other room. Discovering it empty but the door to the room that served as a closet and storage space, open and muted sounds of rummaging coming from it, Sarge followed the noises. Standing in the hall watching Lily moving about clothing, boxes and storage bags evidently in search of some item, he spoke without warning, “Searching for hidden treasure?” At the unexpected sound of his voice, Lily whirled about in surprise sending several boxes falling to the floor. “Oops, didn’t realize you were so intent on your mission.”

Lily caught her breath and threw up her hands. “You know how you put something in a good, safe place so you won’t lose it and then you forget where you stashed it?”

“Yeah. More often than I care to admit actually. Is this something fresh eyes might spot or do you think it’s just not in any of the possible places?”

Scratching her head and looking around at the mess she’d made of the closet storage room, she said, “Well, it’s not in the outer hall closet under the stairs, so it’s got to be here somewhere. I’m thinking it’s rolled off under or between things.” She turned to him and held up her hands about two feet apart. “Round tube about this length and about four inches diameter. It’s black, which isn’t helping matters any in here, as you can see.”

Sarge scanned the room and saw nothing fitting that description. He also realized that considering how densely packed the room was with clothing and various storage containers, such a potentially mobile shape could indeed roll hither and yon easily. “We could start emptying the room and see if that helps searching.” He looked at Lily and she looked at him and then suddenly she was firing boxes at him from the middle of the room so fast he could hardly drop one in the hall in time to catch the next. He took note that she was evidently very ambidextrous and willing to make the most of it. About a fourth of the room’s contents had found their way out of the room and Lily had worked up to such a speed that she actually threw the item sought to Sarge before realizing she’d done so. When he caught it one-handed and blocked the following box instead of catching it, only then did she catch sight of the black tube in his left hand.

Unable to resist a sudden notion to cut and run, Sarge waved the tube at her then moved out of her reach and into the main room for a few dashes around the red couch and table. His sense of humor put an end to the chase when Lily took to the couch then the table in an effort to cut him off. Seeing her poised on the table amidst the piles of books, he stopped in his tracks and tossed her the tube before doubling over in breathless laughing.

Lily jumped down to the floor and tapped him on the head with the tube. “Sweet grabs, Sarge. You play catcher for your school baseball team? Hmm? Just having you stand behind home plate would have done a mind job on the other team coming up to bat. Never mind trying to steal their way home.” Seeing him shake his head in reply as he straightened up, she undid the top of the tube. “That’s a shame. What did you play? Football?”

“Ahh, no such luck.” Not wanting to encourage discussion of himself in this area Sarge took a book from the table and tossed it towards her. She caught it easily in her free left hand. “You’ve got some sweet two-handed action going there, Lily.”

She laughed and threw the book back at him. Sarge caught it with his right hand and smiled. “As do you, Sarge. Ambi meets ambi, hmm. What are the odds? Come on, what’s your game?”

Wanting to get her off this line of inquiry, Sarge nodded at the tube. “What’s in it?”

His question put a halt to Lily’s fingers working the contents out of the tube. Laying her palm against the opening, she grinned. “Solid trade time, Sarge. Want to see what’s in the tubey. First you pay the info toll.”

“Oh yeah?”


“Well, if that’s the way you’re gonna be about it. Shoot. What do you want to know?”

Lily stepped backwards a few feet and made a point of very slowly looking him over. “No baseball. No bone-banging football. So what sport did you play? Hmm? I can’t see any high school coach catching sight of you wandering the halls and not finding a hole to fill with you somehow, someway, Sarge.“

He looked at her and shook his head. “High school sports? Huh? Are you serious, Lily?”

She nodded vigorously. “If I have learned one thing about the males of the species in this culture, it’s that they all have some sport they either love or love to hate because of time spent in their high school or college years doing it or wanting to do it but failing to make the team. It’s a very telling thing about a guy. So, I figure it’s a good piece of solid info to get hold of.“ She twirled the black tube enticingly.

“I have to admit you’ve got a valid point.” Sarge looked down at the backs of his hands then at Lily. “You sure you want to know my sport of choice? What I really excel at like none other? Really sure, Lily?”

“Yes, Sarge. Lily really really wants to know.”

Sarge pushed his hair off his face with both hands while making direct eye contact with her. “Okay.” He rubbed the side of his nose then extended his hands out for her perusal. “Those aren’t scars from manual labor. Can you guess what sport those come from? Hmm?”

Lily eyed the marks on his hands and fingers, then looked at him. “Wrestling?”

Sarge let out a loud laugh. “Not bad, Lily. Not a bad guess at all. Actually that’s pretty damn close in some ways.“ He dropped his hands to his sides. “If there was a high school sport for bare knuckle brawling I’d be the top dog hands down in any high school or college division in at least the tri-state area. Yeah, I’m that good—or that bad–at it; depending on your perspective regarding such physical exploits.” He waited while she absorbed this information.

She surprised him by suddenly taking hold of his right hand and running her thumb over the scars on his knuckles. “Guess we’d better keep you away from the bears. Just in case you decide you need a real challenge.” She let go of his hand and went to work extracting the tube’s contents. Pulling out a thick rolled piece of paper, she dropped the tube to the floor. After pushing the books out of her way she spread out a topographical map on the table. “This is a map of most of my home people’s territory range. Almost all those good smelling things in the wooden box come from a place on this map or somewhere close by.”

Sarge moved up close to the table to look down at the map she held out flat between her hands at each end. “I’ll be damned. Most everything in your box comes from Alaska. Now that’s very cool, Lily. Very cool indeed.” He laid a hand on the bottom edge trying to recurl itself. “Great map too. What’s mileage per inch?”

Cocking her head to one side in order to see his expression, she said, “One hundred miles.”

He whistled softly. “That’s a lot of land to call home.”

“Hmm. I guess it is.” Lily looked out the windows where the lamp light inside shone on the snow outside highlighting the contrast between it and the dark sky. “What do you think, should I put it up on that wall by the door? Hmm?”

Sarge looked to the empty wall space she was referring to. “Most definitely.” Then he looked at her. “Unless it’s going to set off boom booms! in Lily’s mind fields.”

She shrugged. “Only one way to find out.” With some tape and push pins they had the map staked to the wall in a few minutes.

“Looks good there with the light playing with the lines. Like a piece of modern art in its own way.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” Lily smiled as her home people vibes began humming happily.



Breakfast Special #20

Breakfast Special, #18, “Fore Play”

Fore Play

Coming in from his latest trek up to the roof top where’d he’d ventured for the dual purpose of getting a visual of the snowbound surrounding area and clearing any remaining debris from the chimney top after a large mass of dead leaves and tree bark had landed in the fireplace grate early that morning, Dylan O’Mara listened to Nora talking on the phone while removing his boots and hanging up his coat. Seeing him sit down at the table, Nora hung up the phone and brought him a large mug of hot chocolate. Cupping the mug with chilled hands he tried to read his wife’s expression. “Any word from Sarge yet?”

Nora shook her head after sipping from her own mug. “He hasn’t called. But I did manage to finally get that wing-nut Kozy to answer his phone. Said he talked to Sargent on Saturday and that he’s fine.”

“On Saturday?  That’s nearly a week ago. You mean to tell me that those two charley horses living in the same building haven’t talked to each other even once since? Did that Russkie say why Sarge hasn’t picked up at his end?” Dylan leaned back in his chair and looked at the phone on the kitchen wall. “Dammit, Nora, if Kozy’s phone is working then so is Sarge’s. What’s the deal?”

Not appreciating his tone, Nora glared at Dylan and pointed a warning finger at him.  “Hey, don’t dump your frustration on me, Dyl. I don’t like this silent treatment from Sargent any more than you do. ”

“Sorry, Nora. I swear he does this no call shit because he knows it bugs the hell out of me. And you too, I know. Christ, look at my hands.” Dylan held out his hands flat over the table to show Nora how he was trembling.

Nora reached over and took his large right hand in hers for few moments. “You’re letting him get to you, Dyl. Don’t let him.” She let go of his hand and shook her head. “Don’t let him beat you up this way.”

“You’re right. But it’s easier said than done, Nora. Why can’t Sarge just fall in line with the rest of the boys? Forget I said that. I’m not up for that discussion.” Dylan twirled his mug carefully between his hands then looked up at Nora. “Wait a minute. Did Kozy talk to him at home or on the phone? I bet that wise-ass isn’t picking up his phone because he isn’t there.”

“Where is he then? Where would he call Kozy from? Or Kozy call him at? Hmm? ”

“What else did Kozy say? Anything, Nora?”

She thought hard about what Kozy had said to her earlier. “There was something he went on about.  I couldn’t quite make it out because of all the static on the line. I kept asking him to repeat what he was saying.”

When she didn’t say anything more, Dylan gently knocked his mug against hers. “So? You gonna wait for a month of Sundays to tell me or what?”

“I’m trying to get it straight. Hold on. Let me think.” Nora looked at the window and saw only the snow that had drifted outside to cover three-quarters of it. “I can’t get the words in the right order. You know how it is talking with Kozy. He mixes things up in weird ways.”

“Yeah, I know what you’re talking about. He does that just to mess with your mind. I can play with words too. What were they, Nora?”

His wife looked at him and raised her left eyebrow. “Squealing, girl, pigs, slaughterhouse, indoors, little.  How’s that work for you, Dyl?”

Dylan scratched his head. “Pigs squeal in slaughterhouses. Girl, could be little girl. Like a little girl indoors, maybe inside a slaughterhouse with squealing pigs.”

“Oh, you don’t say. Now tell me, Mr. Smart Guy I-Can-Play-with-Words-Too, just what the hell any of that has to do with our Sargent?”

“It’s obvious, Nora. What’s your problem? He’s indoors in a slaughterhouse with squealing little pigs and a girl. Or squealing pigs and a little girl. Or in a little slaughterhouse with pigs and a girl. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that he’s ‘indoors’.”

“How do you figure that, Dyl?”

Dylan smiled. “Easy. That’s the only word that’s normal. You can’t play around with it.”

“Oh yeah? Huh. What about ‘girl’? How is that not a normal word, as you put it? Hmm?”

“I am not going there with you, Nora. No way.”


Breakfast Special, #19, “One Two Handed to Another”

Breakfast Special, #17, Never Hook a Gift Fish In the Gills

Never Hook a Gift Fish in the Gills

Morning came and with it the smell of a forest woodland Sarge had never walked through, yet which his nose identified as definitely not the city park. Noticing that Lily had already exited her down burrow and the room, he wandered into the bathroom where the smell was strongest. He didn’t identify its main source until he looked in the shower and discovered a fine mesh bag securely tied over the water sprayer. Closer investigation revealed the bag contained an assortment of leaves, formerly dried flowers, pine needles and other plant matter he was unable to identify.  Enjoying the scent emanating from the moist collection, he decided to take a shower.  He left the bag in place for the water to run through it, hoping there were plenty more good smells left inside.

After shutting the water off, he stood inhaling the scented steaming air in the bathroom. Feeling like much more than his skin had been cleaned and refreshed he dressed, then went to see if Lily was waiting for him to stuff her with another round of pancakes or if she’d already finished her morning feeding frenzy.

When he stepped into the kitchen she grinned at him. “Water just hit full boil. How many poached eggs can you eat?”

Sarge shrugged. “At least three. Yeah, definitely three with toast should do me just fine. Morning to you too.” She winked her greeting.

“Okay, I’ll toss in an extra in case one breaks. If you don’t eat it, I will.” She proceeded to start cracking eggs into a bowl and sliding them into the pot of rapidly boiling water. “Gunpowder tea is in the pot. The peaches are canned but they’re chilled and yummy. Drop your bread for toasting at will. Now it looks about time to start chasing these eggies.”

By the time he was buttering two slices of toasted rye bread, four poached eggs were cuddling together in a shallow bowl. “Maybe you should just eat the fourth egg or at least set it aside because I’m going to put a lot of Rosa’s red sauce on the others.”

Lily sipped her tea. “No problem, Sarge.  I ate mine with Rosa’s sauce too. If the fourth one is too much for you, it’ll be fine keeping warm there until you’ve had enough. I’ve always got room for poached eggs.”

“I have no doubt.” Sarge showered red sauce over the eggs, broke the first one and spooned part of it onto a slice of toast. After swallowing his first mouthful, he sighed. “Ah, hell, it’s been a long time since I’ve had poached eggs. They’re definitely the best hands down. Thanks Lily. I wouldn’t count on getting the fourth one, if I were you.”

“I’m not worried. There are four more eggs still in the carton. If I, or you, want more, we can do at least another half round each. There is another cartoon.” Hiding her smile behind her cup, she watched him take his time enjoying every bite of egg, sauce, toast and an occasional peach slice in between.  She noticed that the smells from the bathroom had done more than simply follow him into the kitchen. His unruly mop of hair seemed to have soaked up the scents like a sponge so much so that with his every movement a fresh wave rippled from him into the surrounding air. This morning, Lily was content to let the past merge into the present as the memories associated with the woodland scents were some of the happiest of her childhood. Pulling up her feet onto her chair so she could rest her cup on her knees, she thoughtfully considered her idea of a very good smelling young man happily eating a bowl of poached eggs.

Lily tried to view him as Esther had spoken about him as a piece of fine-looking man candy. While she understood quite well what Esther, JJ, and Rosa meant by that phrase, she was having the same trouble with it that she had with various other concepts which had not been part of her early cultural learning, especially those in regard to people. So while Sarge took his time enjoying his breakfast, Lily sat quietly wondering if her Gran and mother would have considered Sarge attractive or a suitable mate by their cultural measures of men. While his hair was short by their standards, at least it was thick. His height and build were both beyond the usual range for her people. Both would have challenged a snowshoe artist to get the right dimensions and tensions for an appropriate pair of shoes for him. But all things considered regarding her memory of that person, Lily had no doubt the challenge would have been met more than adequately. The hazel eyes would have attracted Gran’s attention as an anomaly.  Yet, the symmetry and balance of his facial features were not exactly distinctive enough to have brought an appreciative comment forth from Gran who had never hesitated to share her opinions of the opposite gender in any regard. Lily was fairly certain the openness conveyed by his smile could have gotten him some traction into Gran’s good graces and probably her mother’s too.  But her mother would have placed a much higher value on his physical strength and skills, rather than his looks considering the context of their world. She also knew from childhood memories that effective problem solving on the fly trumped physical strength in her mother’s personal value system. What he’d done in Rosa’s basement by himself would have gotten him high marks in that regard .The basement plan he’d worked up with Ricardo tossed a few more fish points in his bucket. As for his board action which had started off the walkway on the snow, well, Lily was certain even her father and Priest would have appreciated that notion.  As far as Lily could tell from his reading and their shared enjoyment of Volpone his other forms of intellectual grey matter appeared viable and in good working order.

Hence, creative intelligence and apparent good nature were what would have actually gotten him any truly serious traction as a potential suitor as far as Gran was concerned, especially after their time in Anchorage. Of that much Lily was certain. Gran had always appreciated and enjoyed coming up with new ways to solve the old and new problems of daily living. She’d also made it very clear to her granddaughter that the last thing to look for in a mate was physical attractiveness. While that could be a pleasing enough thing in itself, it did not ensure a steady supply of food nor offer a woman any protection and help in the face of any natural or man-made crisis. Nor did a so-called handsome face insure an equally appealing personality to match. The two definitely did not go hand in had. In short, masculine eye candy was basically good for only one thing, a good laugh. If that was all a man had to offer then, according to Gran, and Priest too, Lily ought not to be doing anything with him except enjoying the scenery while swiftly passing by on her way to finding someone with considerably more to offer in regard to finding someone for sharing her life. This was one reason she hadn’t mentioned Sarge’s looks to her friends even though she had known such information was of high interest to them. Lily could practically hear Gran telling her to look beyond the packaging for whatever else the man had to offer in this strange world of which she thought she finally had gained a fairly solid understanding.  Oh sure you like that smile, Lily. Yep, it’s a good one, but what he got in survival skill set? How he match up with a good caribou man? Or a fine seal hunter? A dependable fisherman? What he got to offer that’s real in that world you living in, Lily? How would he be here? Would he even come here if I and Priest were still mushing?

After refilling her and Sarge’s cups with more tea, Lily ate another peach slice. Savoring its flavor she considered Sarge in relation to other men whose company she’d shared.  It hadn’t been easy finding enjoyable male companionship in what she considered a very literal urban jungle complete with all sorts of unpredictable human predators up and down the human food chain. She was far too well aware of her cultural heritage’s influence on her daily life and the high value she placed upon it to disappear into someone else’s cultural context like a ghost. She’d met young men who had offered her a choice to do just that, plus a variety of others. Only a very few had  tried to meet her on her own terms which included venturing into the world of her happy early formative years via her rich memories. None of them had ever considered taking a shower with her home people land scents or even entertained the notion of letting such thoroughly soak into their hair. Some had appreciated the scents on her person and in her living spaces. But until now no other man had taken them on himself.  At the moment Lily was enjoying the effects this was having on her. She certainly wasn’t quite ready to let Sarge, or anyone else for that matter, in on her little secret. Not until she knew if it had been a fluke because she’d left the mesh bag on the shower head out of habit or if he’d deliberately chosen to imbue himself with the smell of some of her very favorite things because he found them appealing all on his own.

Sarge easily managed to eat all four poached eggs, doing so in about fives times the length of time it had taken Lily to ravenously consume her meal of them before he’d even thought of venturing into the waking world. He savored every bite and then cleaned the bowl with a untoasted slice of rye bread. As he relished the dregs he leaned back in his chair slack limbed with contentment. “Ahhh Lily, between your wonderful poached eggs and all the good shower smells, I feel like a brand new man. Is there any way I could get you to part with some of that stuff for a little packet to carry around for a whiff when I get stressed? A while back I read some things about aromatherapy. I tried to find something I liked, but nothing ever quite did the trick for me. Your shower bag definitely has the right stuff. I’m willing to make a fair trade for a regular supply. What do you say? Hmm?”

When Lily began giggling in a manner that implied she knew something he didn’t and wasn’t about to share with him, Sarge decided not to even bother asking her what was so funny. Thinking perhaps he’d wandered into some sort of private joke of hers, he wasn’t going to pursue his request further.

“So Sarge, um, just what are you willing to trade for some of my personal blends? Hmm? I already have some little cotton bags for sachets. What are you offering in trade? More pancakes? Some work on Rosa’s shifting foundation? How about a foot massage or two? Hunting down Karen’s cat wherever it’s hiding in this house? Hmm? Come on, what do you have in mind? What are you willing to place on the fair trade table?” LIly rapped on the tabletop with a teaspoon.

Sarge slowly leaned forward as he realized she was serious even though she had the oddest shit eating grin on her face that he’d ever seen. Considering how she’d devoured his pancakes the previous morning he decided to pursue that route of trade and see where it got him.  “How many pancakes do you have in mind, Lily? Would you want them delivered all at once or spread out over a period of time?”

“Even I can only eat so many pancakes at once. Common sense dictates that fresh cakes should be spread out over time. I’ve tried freezing big batches and while they’re not bad reheated, they’re just not the same as fresh off the heat.” She sipped her tea and smiled at him. “Perhaps you’d like to get a whiff of the rest of my collection first? Hmm?”

Sarge raised his eyebrows. “You have a ‘collection’ of good smelling things? I have choices?”

Lilly grinned and nodded energetically. “Oh yes, Sarge, you definitely have choices when it comes to Lily’s personal scents.” She set down her cup and beckoned him with one hooked finger to follow her into the book room. “Have some velvet and I’ll be right back.”

Completely caught up in his curiosity and hoping  Lily really did have more of the sorts of scents that were doing wonderful things for his state of being, Sarge laid claim to one end of the red couch and watched her disappear into the small room that served as her walk-in closet. A few moments later she came out carrying a large wooden box and wearing a wicked pleased smile on her face. She set the box between them on the couch. With a little flourish she opened it revealing dozens of small tightly capped glass jars filled with an assortment of dried plants, bark, flowers, roots, grasses, seeds, pine cones, leaves, twigs and even tiny pebbles. “Feel free to sniff to your nose’s content. Find what you like the most. Take your time. We’ll talk more about pancakes later. How about another cup of tea? “

He picked up a jar of petals and nodded. “More tea sounds good. Thank you, Lily.” Twisting off the cap he sniffed once and then again and smiled as he spoke to the jars’ contents. “I have no clue what you are, but I like the way you smell.”

Returning with a fresh cup of gunpowder tea for each of them, Lily nodded ever so slightly in response to the internal gentle voice whispering that the young man had gone straight to the very best bait in the box and had thoroughly hooked himself. She had absolutely no intention of even slightly tugging on the line at all, even if it was thoroughly down into his gullet all on its own. There was no reason to rush or tug when they were already snowbound and more flakes were on the way. It was not lost upon her that she too was caught via being the one at the other end of line.  She didn’t see or sense any reason to complain about this unexpected development. Under the circumstances she figured things ought resolve themselves fairly quickly one way or another.  The way relationship matters between herself and other eligible males had gone the past few years, Lily was all for not wasting time on what didn’t matter and focusing on what did matter to her.

They spent the entire morning exploring the contents of Lily’s wooden box, drinking gunpowder tea and eventually filling several small sachet bags with different mixtures of the things most agreeable to Sarge’s nose. For Lily it was a healthy merging of different locales, times and people. From the start it was clear that Sarge was seriously intent on finding scents that would help him relax physically and mentally.. He explained to her how he already had made effective use of several breathing techniques in conjunction with mindfulness and awareness of his reactions to a variety of stress triggers. Lily listened closely, but did not probe what she  understood as his efforts to deal with unspecified things he couldn’t change but encountered frequently in general, a great many of which seemed to have direct connections to family affairs.

Realizing the man was in earnest regarding dealing with such things on multiple levels piqued Lily’s interest further, yet she did no more than listen to whatever he was willing to share. There was no reason to push or rush him to talk until he was ready.  A momentary glance at the windows confirmed that the density of the falling snowflakes was increasing. There was no need for any further verbal pressure assaults like the one in the back seat of the taxi. The process of getting to know one another was well underway.  From Lily’s perspective, Sarge was showing potential for far more than being The Man With A Plan To Fix Rosa’s House.

After they’d mixed together several different blends for sachet bags he could either wear on a soft cotton string around his neck or carry in a pocket then the pancake trade was discussed.  The few remaining from the previous day’s breakfast were polished off during a midday meal composed of leftovers which also included the remains of the chicken soup. Being in agreement that more soup was indeed in order, they commenced making another large pot of it without noticing that a hearty blizzard was well underway outside. Once the soup was left to breathe on the stove,  there were children to tutor and books to read. They gently slipped into a fine mellow flow after the busy intensity of the previous days.


Breakfast Special, #18, “Fore Play”

Katyn Forest Knows, O Yes, She Does

 Katyn Forest Knows, O Yes, She Does

 one bullet each

390 one night

did the trees weep

shudder, cringe, flinch

year rings holding knowledge

still men hold close in secret keeps


250 single bullets

shot after shot methodically delivered

nothing random night to night

light no chance plays

did the night birds sing

warnings prayers

mourning dawns

250 trigger pulls

no sharing, one per each uniform head

no trip wires

no mines

hand held small gun

execution after identification

leading minds need dying

250 uniformed

Poles of whom thou shall not speak

1940 in Katyn Forest 22,000 lying

know you no you know

NKVD drains brains blood

counting seventy years denying

genocide claims no one owns


Katyn Forest knows all

o yes she does

listen close


dying roots embraced


Wikipedia page for 2007 film

Katyn is available with English subtitles via that company with the little red envelopes.

With English subtitles:

In Polish:


From Wikipedia

According to a report from 19 November 1939, the NKVD had about 40,000 Polish POWs: about 8,000–8,500 officers and warrant officers, 6,000–6,500 police officers and 25,000 soldiers and NCOs who were still being held as POWs.[1][13][22] In December, a wave of arrests took into custody some Polish officers who were not yet imprisoned, Ivan Serov reported to Lavrentiy Beria on 3 December that “in all, 1,057 former officers of the Polish Army had been arrested”.[10] The 25,000 soldiers and non-commissioned officers were assigned to forced labors (road construction, heavy metallurgy).[10]

Once at the camps, from October 1939 to February 1940, the Poles were subjected to lengthy interrogations and constant political agitation by NKVD officers such as Vasily Zarubin. The prisoners assumed that they would be released soon, but the interviews were in effect a selection process to determine who would live and who would die.[23][24] According to NKVD reports, if the prisoners could not be induced to adopt a pro-Soviet attitude, they were declared “hardened and uncompromising enemies of Soviet authority”.[23]

On 5 March 1940, pursuant to a note to Joseph Stalin from Beria, four members of the Soviet Politburo – Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, and Anastas Mikoyan – signed an order to execute 25,700 Polish “nationalists and counterrevolutionaries” kept at camps and prisons in occupied western Ukraine and Belarus.[25][c] The reason for the massacre, according to historian Gerhard Weinberg, was that Stalin wanted to deprive a potential future Polish military of a large portion of its talent:

“It has been suggested that the motive for this terrible step [the Katyn massacre] was to reassure the Germans as to the reality of Soviet anti-Polish policy. This explanation is completely unconvincing in view of the care with which the Soviet regime kept the massacre secret from the very German government it was supposed to impress…. A more likely explanation is that… [the massacre] should be seen as looking forward to a future in which there might again be a Poland on the Soviet Union’s western border. Since he intended to keep the eastern portion of the country in any case, Stalin could be certain that any revived Poland would be unfriendly. Under those circumstances, depriving it of a large proportion of its military and technical elite would make it weaker”.[26]

In addition, Soviets realized that the prisoners constituted a large body of trained and motivated Poles who would not accept a Fourth Partition of Poland.[1]

Kaytn En Castellano

Breakfast Special, #16, “Alternate Realities”

Alternate Realities

Lily stood in her dark apartment looking out at the snow in the small backyard between the alley and house glistening in the moonlight. The quiet felt good after nearly constant social interaction all day and late into the night. The impromptu potluck that had started out as a simple way for people to gather for an easy meal had gradually evolved into a full-blown social event. For several hectic hours there’d been a nearly constant flow of food, music, news and talk on the first floor of JJ’s home. Then, thankfully later than the weather advisory report had estimated, snow began falling in earnest and people gradually returned to their homes. The makeshift walkway made of boards, cardboard, plywood and house siding was now being stacked onto the porches in order to keep it from disappearing under the new snow.

Yesterday she’d tired herself out mentally with studying and working ahead on her coursework. Today had been unexpectedly satisfying concerning the never-ending neighborhood assistance work. It had worn her out physically and mentally by the time they’d put JJ’s home back to rights after the potluck. Throughout the evening she and Sarge had met up several times, but only in passing as she moved from one task to another: washing and rewashing plates, checking in with the crews, updating information about current needs, passing out boxes of food, clothing, baby items and children’s toys.  While she’d been changing out the food dishes at the potluck she had noticed that he and Anton appeared to be keeping company together in the way of men and wondered what to make of it. Whenever she’d observed him during the course of the evening it seemed he was always in paying attention mode as if he was literally reading the people around him like people did books on tape. She’d been grateful that he hadn’t come pestering her for attention when there had been so much to do.

Only when Sarge finally came through the apartment door, having finished stacking the boards on the porch after refusing to allow her to help him, did she think about turning on a light. He sat down on the red rug to remove his boots as she flipped the light switch. “Hey, leave it off if you want. There’s plenty of light coming in from the windows.”

“You sure you don’t mind?” She hoped he wasn’t just being polite as she did not really did not want to leave on the artificial light which entirely changed the room’s atmosphere and its connection to the world outside the windows.

“I’m sure. It feels good in here after all the people and music. Smells nice too, sort of like the pine trees in the park but way better.”

Lily quickly turned off the lights. “Hey, Little George sent over some pants and a couple of shirts that might fight you close enough for a change of clothes. Loose is better than tight, right? That is if you don’t mind wearing someone else’s clothes.”

Sarge laughed a little while unlacing his boots. “I have five brothers. While growing up there was nothing but someone else’s clothes. From the looks of Little George, my belt should keep things decent. Mine definitely need at least a rinsing out after today. It’s very considerate of Little George to share his threads.”  Boots off and on the mat, he remained seated on the rug as he looked up at her. “How are you?”

“Me? Oh I’m okay. It’s been a busy day.”

“And night.” It had not escaped Sarge’s notice that Lily had been perpetually in motion the entire evening. Only briefly had he wondered if she was avoiding him. Observing Esther, JJ and several other women and men also constantly putting forth the same efforts to keep the food tables and the first floor rooms generally in order, passing out cardboard boxes with items to meet specific individual needs, talking with and taking notes from nearly everyone who put in an appearance, he quickly realized she was doing what she normally did on such occasions. He looked past her to the windows where he could see that the snow was falling harder and thicker now. “Has Mother Nature gone loco or what? ”

Lily perched on the couch’s arm. “It would be easier to put up with if there was at least some sunshine. The constant grey sky day in and day out is depressing. Five brothers. That’s a lot of ‘guy’ under one roof. Any sisters?”

Sarge shook his head, rose from the floor and went to the windows. “No sisters. How about you?”

“Just one brother.” Now bitterly regretting having brought up the subject of siblings in an effort to learn something more about him, Lily searched for a way of immediately dropping of it. Just thinking about her brother Peter threatened to push her beyond exhaustion to a crying jag she didn’t want to have. Trying hard to suppress a sudden surge of memories, she struggled to remain in the present. Clenching her hands, she worked on refocusing her mind by watching Sarge leaning against the radiators to look upward at the night sky.

“Ever feel like you’ve been grabbed by aliens and dropped into an alternate universe, Lily?” said Sarge.

“Every goddamned day.”  Having spoken aloud without intending to, Lily covered her mouth with both hands to stop herself from saying anything else.

Hearing the anger in her words and the strain in her voice, Sarge turned around.  “Hey, Lily. What’s wrong?” Even though he’d never before seen the frantic expression he now saw on her face, Sarge knew it wasn’t a portent of good things to come. When he carefully moved towards her, she shook her head, hands still over her mouth, meanwhile sliding off the couch arm onto the cushions.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that.” Lily said quickly as Sarge sat down near her on the couch. She took a deep breath, held it then slowly exhaled. “I’m okay. Just too much snow. “



“Yeah, too much snow. Do you want me to go get Rosa?” Unsure of himself and what to do, Sarge sat very still watching Lily trying to regain her composure.

“No, don’t do that. Don’t bother Rosa. She doesn’t need anything else to do. It’s just been a very very long day.” Thinking she had herself under control, she pushed her hair behind her ears and tried to smile at him. “Just nerves.”

“Nerves? Am I making you nervous? Uncomfortable? I don’t mean to if I am. I could go over to Anton’s place and crash there if that would help. Just say the word.”

Lily shook her head vigorously. “It’s not you. Really it’s not.” She rubbed her forehead hard while deciding how much she wanted to say. “Actually, now this may sound strange. But I mean it actually it helps with you being here.” She wiped away a sudden tear. “I just need, I need to not think about the snow. Okay? You being here has kept me from thinking about snow too much. This isn’t making any sense to you, is it?”

“Not much. Yet. Keep going. Why shouldn’t you think about the snow?” Sarge glanced out the window at the new falling snow.

“It reminds me of home. Especially now with all of it making everything look like not here, but like there. Like I remember it.” She took another deep breath and let it go. “Remember it is all I can do. I can’t go back . . . can’t go back home because it doesn’t exist anymore. Not the way it was anyway. Here definitely feels like another world. Yeah, it’s exactly like I’ve been grabbed by aliens and dropped in another universe. ”

“I understand that. It’s how I’ve been feeling the last couple of days. But in a good way.”

“I bet. A crazy woman feeds you soup, and after that everything goes topsy turvy.”

“Hey, I ate that soup totally of my own volition.” Sarge hesitated. “Where is, was, home, Lily?”

“Where?” She laughed a little. “Nowhere. It was in the middle of absolutely nowhere; in Alaska, near the Canadian border.”

“Do you mean like in the wilderness? No city? No town?”

She nodded. “No city. No town. Nothing to find on a map. Just some people living together like they had for a very long time.”

“What happened?”

Lily stared out the windows. She thought about going through the contents of Sarge’s coat pockets with Esther and why she’d given into doing that. She looked back at the man patiently waiting for her to talk or not. “A Stealth Bomber happened. Didn’t know what it was at the time. Not until quite a long time afterwards. But that’s what it was. Three of them flew overhead. One had a technical malfunction and dropped a bomb. Right there in the middle of absolutely nowhere a bomb falls on a village so tiny no one ever put it on any map. What are the odds of that? Tell me, what are the odds?” She snapped her fingers. “Just like that thirty-three people are gone. With all the rest of nowhere for a bomb to fall on by accident, one fell right there. Is that crazy or what?”

“That’s definitely in the insane not probable odds category.” Sarge decided against asking any of the questions that were quickly coming to mind. Though she’d relaxed considerably while talking, now in the dark room with only the light of the moon reflected off the snow delineating her face, her raw grief was starkly evident. He followed her gaze out the window for a moment as he considered his next move. Deciding being practical offered the best route of action, he stood up and moved to block her view of the windows. Offering her both his hands he spoke to her in the tone he used with his brothers’ children. “Come on. It’s way past your bedtime, Missy. There’s a down quilt with your name on it waiting.” When she tentatively put one hand and then the other in his, Sarge gently pulled her to her feet. “That’s it. Up we go. Since you’ve been such a good girl today, I’ll tell you a bedtime story.”

“Oh really? Do I get to pick which one?” Lily let go of his hands as they turned together towards the bedroom.

“Sure. Which one would you like to hear? The Three Pigs? Red Riding Hood? Peter Pan?” When he uttered the last, Lily gasped, then, as her knees buckled, grabbed hold of his shirt to keep from falling to the floor. Sarge reacted by catching her around her waist with one arm. Feeling her struggle to regain her feet and fail to do so, he adjusted his stance, slipped his other arm under her legs and lifted her up.”Okay, well so much for that.idea. You have definitely played way too hard today, little Missy.”

One hand clutching the back of his shirt, Lily pushed lightly against his chest. “I’m okay. You can put me down. Just need some sleep.”

Instead of putting her back on her feet, Sarge decided to carry her into the bedroom. “First you need to reach the bed then comes the sleeping. Here we go. Okay, toss or drop? Which do you prefer?”

“Huh? I have no idea what you mean. Just put me down already.”

“’Just down’ sounds like a drop to me” With that, Sarge leaned a little over the bed and let her fall out of his arms onto it. Feeling along the wall in the dark until he found the switch he turned on the small wall light. She stared up at him.

Lily whispered, “Sarge, Peter will never grow up.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the point of Never Never Land. Some people never grow up, no matter what their age.”

Lying in the middle of the bed where he had dropped her, Lily shook her head slowly from side to side. “Not them. I mean, my brother, Peter.”

Sarge carefully sat down on the bed next to her. “Oh the shit that comes out of my mouth at the wrong times. What are the odds, Lily? What are the odds?”

“Oh I’m too damn tired to work that problem in my head right now. Can I get back to you with the answer in the morning?”

“Better yet, how about drawing me a map?”

“A map of what?”

Sarge tapped lightly on her forehead. “Of all the minefields in there so I stop making things go Boom boom!”

Lilly laughed softly. “You’re funny, Sarge.”

“If you say so, I must be.” He watched her try to keep her eyes open then give up and fall deep into a hard sleep.


Breakfast Special, #17, Never Hook a Gift Fish In the Gills

Sexy Sunday~late on Monday~ Ray Wilson~who else?

Time for a great guy voice with a sexy edge and some song ‘substance’.  Some things old, some things new, something in between. I’ve gone for variety here, folks, just to provide a small ear taste.  Poets, heads up–this is not pop mushy mush. If you’ve heard “Calling All Stations” then you you’ve heard Ray Wilson. If not, well, have a listen to other songs.


Ray Wilson, 20 Years and More









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