Breakfast Special, #40, “All That Funky”

 

 

All That Funky

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Ahmed Essa

*

Little George nudged Anton with his elbow to alert him to Sarge’s appearance in the hallway leading to the building’s utility room. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t Mr. Tardy Hardy himself.” Little George teased Sarge as he came to a halt in the doorway and stood looking around the room.

“How are you, Little George? Anton, sorry to hold up the wiring show today.” Sarge entered the room and went to where he’d found the jerry-rigged wiring mess on a previous visit.

Anton smirked as he replaced the water hose for the washing machine. “No problem, Sarge. No lack here for crew work. You get that chill out of your bones from playing in the Ling’s basement lake yesterday?”

Sarge pulled out the section of plywood serving as a temporary covering for the wiring, set it aside and turned to Anton and Little George. “My feet are a damn sight happier than they were yesterday. Lily gave me something she calls ‘bear grease’ to put on them. She said it’ll help keep the damp cold from setting in. I don’t know what it really is, but it’s definitely agreeing with my feet. Oh hey, I brought some cookies.” Sarge took a brown paper lunch bag out of his coat pocket and handed it to Little George.

“Lily has bear grease?” Little George opened the bag and took out a coconut cookie and offered the bag to Anton who did not hesitate to help himself.

Sarge shrugged. “That’s what she called this stuff. You want some for your feet, Little George?”

Little George took a bite of his cookie and shook his head. “Not right now. Thanks Sarge. Good cookies. If I didn’t know better I’d say they came direct from Mrs. Ling.”

“In a way they did, seeing as Lily and I made them from Mrs. Ling’s recipe. Go ahead, eat those. We can make all we want now.” Sarge grinned and went to another part of the electricity repair project down the hall leaving Anton and Little George standing with the bag of cookies between them.

Little George moved to look down the hallway as Sarge went up the stairs to the room on the floor above them. He looked at Anton. “How did he get that recipe from Mrs. Ling?”

“How you think? He fixed that water mess in her basement. How else?” said Anton.

Little George shook his head. “We all fixed some mess in that basement at some point in the last year. Mrs. Ling didn’t turn over no coconut cookies to any of us. You don’t think he . . ..” Little George shrugged suggestively instead of speaking.

Anton stared at Little George unnerved by the fact that he was even going so far as to suggest what he was. “No. You lost your mind or what, Little George? How you even get that idea in your head-gear?”

Little George held up a cookie. “This recipe intel is not something a woman gives up for nothing, Anton.”

“Sarge working a blown fuse-box plus a flood by himself is not nothing. And you know it. Loretta been giving you some strange ideas again, Little George?”

Little George carefully set the bag of cookies out of harm’s way on top of the washing machine and resumed his caulking task. “Anton, you have no idea what it’s like living with Loretta.  It’s a package deal with her sisters. They are always together at one of their places or another. You know, you’ve seen them all at my place.”

“Uh ha. What’s that got to do with your weird Mrs. Ling and Sarge cookie action idea?”

Little George laughed. “Anton, you do understand that if Sarge took it into his head to start giving the time of day to women besides Lily, there’d be a whole lot more crazy shit going on with the women and men folk in the neighborhood, don’t you? You got to know that, DeWitt, considering all the work you been doing during this snow-in trying to keep people leveled out.”

“Sarge got no such agenda, Little George.” Anton considered the truth of Little  George’s notion and silently thanked Sarge for not being inclined to play the lady field as he easily could.

“Not saying he does, Anton. Big Man ain’t the problem. It’s the women who are the problem. You got it nice and quiet all settled with Esther who is about as sane a woman as they come. She don’t go in for the sort of talk I hear coming from Loretta and her sisters. Last night something set them off but good. It got so I couldn’t stand to hear no more.  I went over to Stinky Pete’s for a couple hours to get relief.”

“I read that. You got a point, Little George. You went to Pete’s for relief? Anton don’t think he wants to hear what sent you there.”

“You don’t. I don’t want to repeat any of it. I don’t want Lily getting wind of any of it either. She gets enough grief for her learning curves already. She doesn’t need any more from my women folk. I don’t know exactly what it is about Sarge that gets them all worked up, but they do get worked up. We all know he don’t do nothing to get them going. They get going all on their own. Maybe it’s one of those fairmoan things. I don’t know for sure. But I do know being around that sort of woman talk about men gets under your skin. You know what I mean. That’s where that Ling and cookie and action idea come from. I know that’s a dumbass thing to think. Sarge ain’t ever been anything but genuine nice and polite to women folk, and us too for that matter.  It’s just . . well, I got two ears full of Loretta and sisters company man-talk that put a bunch of us working our jaws about a Playboy centerfold to shame.  If you don’t believe it, come on over for a chat sometime when Loretta holding court at our place.” Little George looked over the handsome man working with him. “Now that I mention it, that sounds like a damn good idea. Yes it does. You being right there in the flesh get their minds off Sarge and on you instead.”

“What? Like you goin’ to enjoy that somehow?” Anton stopped working and stared at the big man beside him. “That about as bad as what started this conversation track.”

“Look at you.” Little George grinned. “All puffed up and in-dig-nant about being a diversionary tactic. DeWitt, I’ve been giving you some shit for fun. Chill out.”

“You been messing with me this whole time?”

“Only since the part about you coming over while Loretta having the after supper chat-fest. We both know no way Esther allow that game plan see any action.” He laughed loudly at the bewildered disbelief on Anton’s face. “What’s wrong? You don’t care for that little payback prank?” Whistling happily, Little George ignored the other man and focused on his task. Without looking at Anton he said, “This suggestion box is willing to entertain other candidates worthy of ar-dent feminine attention.”

“Are you crazy? Everyone knows how funky things are with you and Loretta. No man want that action with her sisters. No way.”

Little George kept his eyes on his work. “Funky it may be. But all that funky has an upside. You don’t think I put up with all that nonsense for nothing, do you, Anton? Hmm?” He took a cookie from the bag, put the whole thing in his mouth and made a face.

 

Music Theme: What’s my secret fantasy desire? My hope? My fond wish? Animate Art with Music! What else is worth living for?

Oh yes, my secret (not so much now) desire is to be an artiste de animation deluxe! Oh yes, let’s play with colorful fantasy desires complete with soundtracks of secrets, hopes and wishes galore. I wish I could ride a motorbike.  I also wish to be fluent in French. Honestly, I do. Now check these delights out. Ahhh, all for the art of animation. Sigh. Complete with cats. Light, fluffy and hopefully not at all stuffy. Unfortunately for one a bit too stuffy. What else are bad friends for except getting us into tight spots?  Slice some melon and leave aside being forlorn. It’s I-want-to-be-an-animator blogcasa night– or day. Here are some of my favorite delights. Oh it’s not all sweetness and spices. Not every dolly is nice-s. Do note, there’s food fun a-plenty. Mmm, Eve and her apples….mmm, yes. If only I had a geek brain.

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O I so Wish! Ironic Fantasy fun!

Parigot

MadArtistPublishing·

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Hopes! 

A Ninja Love Story

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Desires! Mythic Fantasy.

Mytho Logique

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Secret, Desire, Fantasy

A Fox Tale

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Comic Fantasy –and Desire, as in yeah, watermelon would be delicious right now. Seeds, the things from which wishes grow. 

Larva -Watermelon

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Fantasy! Desire! Secret–oops! Who wants milk?

Mau

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Secrets! and ???
Alma
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Desires! 
Love Recipe
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Hopes, Desires, Wishes, Secrets, Fantasies all in one! Food for the soul. 
Butterfly Dragon
*
Well, it’s been a rather long show, folks. I do hope you’ve all enjoyed the film-fest.  That’s the thing about secrets, once they start spilling, it’s tough to stop the flow. Hmm. So now you know. What????? Oh secrets, yes. They’re everywhere.  Take care.
~~
Bear is spilling some Dreams http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/music-themes-secrets-hopes-wishes-and-fantasies/#comment-10633

Willow

Deborah

D.S. Nelson

Johnny, guys, so predictable. 🙂    http://johnnyojanpera.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/secrets-hope-wishes-and-fantasies/

Breakfast Special, #31, “Mrs. Ling’s Office Supply Salvage Service at Your Disposal”

“Mrs. Ling’s Office Supply Salvage Service at Your Disposal”

*

*

DeeDee Ling was having another bonanza night regarding the treasures she was finding in nearly each and every office desk trash can on her floor this cleaning shift. This was her third red-letter trash find work shift this week. Usually the pickings were this good just maybe twice a month when payday rolled around for half the office workers. The neon green plastic recycle bag on her cart was overflowing with an abundance of reuseable office supplies running the gamut from several sheets of expensive high quality photography paper to a quarter full box of mini staples to the opened but full box of letter sized envelopes discarded, according to the writing on the box, since it could not be returned for a box of the desired envelopes because it was now a discontinued item.

DeeDee figured this was the universe’s way of repaying her for doing Rosa a good turn by letting her use the office machine she’d salvaged from the trash in order to make copies of the pages of a little grey book. Her own little home office supply shelves had been in serious need of replenishing on the day Rosa had come round asking about what her machine could do. Every work shift since Rosa’s visit had bought all sorts of excellent goodies DeeDee’s way. Her home office shelves were not only fully restocked with items salvaged from the office building’s trash bins, but there was overflow as well, an heretofore unknown state of affairs in her little workroom.

To insure more of this good fortune, DeeDee was giving serious consideration to the notion that it might be a good idea to inform Rosa that she was quite willing to provide any typing or other office service, including the use of the very versatile machine, for Rosa at no charge whenever she had need of it.  Finding not one, but two nearly full postage stamp dispensers, in the trash cans of two different offices, clinched the free deals for Rosa idea. Discovering unused stamps in the trash was as good as finding money straight up in DeeDee Ling’s mind. Two nearly full rolls inside two dispensers, one whose plastic casing had cracked in such a manner that prevented easy dispensing and removal of the roll, and the other one perfectly sound, giving DeeDee reason to think that it might simply have been the causality of some mindless autopilot desk cleaning, sealed the deal for her decision to provide Rosa with unlimited services and supplies. After all, there were nearly two hundred dollars in postage stamps sitting snug and neatly rolled inside a couple of cheap plastic holders. If this treasure find wasn’t a direct result of kindly sharing salvaged resources with neighborhood friends, then DeeDee Ling didn’t know what was.

*

*

Little did DeeDee know that this line of reasoning was not only going to bring her considerably more good fortune in diverse and unexpected forms, but would also provide her with a great deal of personal entertainment and vindication while doing Rosa a favor. She would have the means to create what she deemed an appropriate vehichle for exacting more than a tad of personal revenge for a certain sort of rampant bigotry expressed via questionable humor running amok amongst the people who occupied the offices from nine to five pm daily Monday through Friday. While it was clear to Mrs. Ling that not everyone on the fifth floor found the crass stereotypical Asian cartoons and jokes amusing, she deduced from the prominent display for sharing and commentary in many offices that the majority of the employees were indeed heartily amused at the expense of her own cultural heritage. Her offended sensibilities would soon prompt her to quite willingly join Rosa in a little spontaneous brainstorming session involving more than the trash can resources at her fingertips five nights a week: copy machines, bulk postage mail codes, access to the outgoing mail depository, typewriters, and a few other handy office gadgets that were no worse for the wear after a little night shift break time employment.

In return, one of the boys in Rosa’s care drew a cartoon in line with DeeDee’s thinking regarding the base nature of bigots everywhere. DeeDee supplied the cutting satiric caption herself after receiving Miguel’s more than adequate artistic interpretation of her desired images.  Another sort of payload arrived on the day the fusebox in her building blew thereby alerting everyone to the presence of over a foot of icy cold water in the basement. Not only had the very tall white man Rosa sent to deal with the blown fusebox fixed that longstanding problem, but he’d put the leaking water pipes to rights and then managed to get the water draining out of the basement using several garden hoses Mr. Ling borrowed from the neighbors. All he requested in return for his time and labor was the recipe for her favorite cookie. Mrs. Ling made him a copy in under ten seconds then taped it to the Tupperware container stuffed full of her very own special Szechuan Shrimp Lo Mein which he accepted with a surprised smile and a rather becoming streak of blush on his cheeks. Mrs. Ling did not waste any time debating about sharing the information that the services of a new gringo handyman in the neighborhood could be had for a very modest trade fee of shrimp and a recipe song.

TheDinerMusicLibrary

~~~

Breakfast Special #32 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/breakfast-special-32-hidden-talents-2/

Breakfast Special, twelfth helping, “Equations”, #12

Equations

After they’d dealt with the leftovers, Rosa cleared the children out of the kitchen then brought two of the folding chairs to the table, placing her own where she had a clear view of the children in the other rooms. “Sit, Lily.” Rosa patted the other chair. “Come. We use English. I need to use or forget todo, everything.” Lily pulled her chair next to Rosa and for a time they sat in comfortable silence watching the playing children. “This big man. He the one from the egg bar  last week?”

“Same one. Si.”

Rosa sighed and resisted speaking in Spanish. “You feel safe down there with him? Ricardo check generator late and he see you come home in taxi car with this man. He act right with you?”

“Yes Rosa. He’s been behaving himself. I haven’t had a problem with him.” Lily absently twirled her braid as she watched the children playing in the next room.

“I don’t want to put my nose in your business. You are a grown woman. Maybe he a good man. Maybe he a bad man. I don’t know. What I know is you are a small woman. He is a muy big man. You and me see what he do with the pipes and wood. Use only his hands. Ricardo no can do like that. You understand? If he want, he take easy. Little Lily like bug.”

Lily turned and rested her forehead on her friend’s shoulder. “Yes, I understand. I’ll be careful.” Why am I not feeling any need to be careful? Hmm? Solve that equation for me, Rosa.

~

Ricardo and Sarge were still sitting at the small table seriously intent on the paper between them on which one or the other wrote with a pencil in turn when Rosa began organizing the children’s sleeping arrangements for the night. While Lily set out blankets, pillows and sleeping bags, Rosa supervised the children lined up to use the bathroom and kitchen sink for washing up. Noticing that the children were no longer playing nearby or under the table as they’d been, Sarge looked around then saw the older ones helping Lily arrange things in the spacious front room without any furniture in it. “Ricardo, what’s with all the kids here? They can’t all be yours or Rosa’s. There’s just too many for that. I’ve heard of folks with large families, but this many is huge.”

Ricardo set down the pencil and scratched his neck. “Just two are mine. Rosa has three. Rosa watches the others while their parents work. Parents pay her what they can afford or with things instead of money. Sometimes they drive Rosa places.” Ricardo gestured at the walls.”Some help do the painting. It all works out pretty good usually. People who work in M—and outside of Falls haven’t been able to get home with this hard snow. So Rosa keeps their children here with us, this way they’re not home by themselves. It gets a little crazy at times like this, but I don’t mind. It’s kind of fun actually. Always laughing, playing. I come home from work and relax just watching them do whatever. Better than having a tv.” Leaning back in his chair, Ricardo watched Sarge who was watching the goings on in the far room. “How about you, Sarge? You got family? Sisters? Brothers?”

Sarge nodded and held up a hand. “Five younger brothers. Oh yeah, I have family, Ricardo; parents, sisters-in-laws, nieces and nephews out the wazoo. Your sister Rosa, hell man, she could give lessons in child crowd control like none other. In the time I’ve been here she hasn’t raised her voice or a hand to any of these kids. Not once. There’s like what, I think I counted twenty-five of them. She is one impressive lady. My sister-in-law Irene can’t keep three kids in line from the house to the car without having a meltdown. My brother is no help to her at all. Truth be told, Francis only makes things worse when he helps. The others are the same way. Frankly, I do not understand any of their constant kid chaos considering how we were raised. Not that I would raise any kid of mine like that. No way. But my brothers don’t seem to have any idea of what they’re doing with their kids. From what I’ve seen there’s not much of any ‘with’ at all. Maybe that’s the problem right there.”

“Families are a tricky business.”

“You sure got that right, Ricardo.” He adjusted his feet so that Marianna, the little girl whose laughter Kozy thought was the squealing of a pig, and was now inspecting the tread pattern on the thick soles of his boots, could get a better look.

~

After Rosa’s concerned chat, Lily found herself wondering why she was anything but nervous or worried about being alone with Sarge for another night or quite possibly several more as the ongoing snowstorm apparently had no intention of moving east any time soon. Something about how they’d ‘squared things’ before venturing to the second floor for dinner had squashed any of the usual concerns a young woman in such a situation ought to have had. The more attention she paid to her home people vibes, or as Anton would have put it, the more she listened to her bones’ whisperings, the more she was glad that telling Sarge to find his way home was entirely out of the question. There was no getting around that reality that the weather conditions had worsened throughout the day to the point where everything in the Falls and M- had been shut down. Not even the commuter buses between Falls and M- were running. Anyone with a vehicle capable of moving through the snow packed streets had literally nowhere to go if they could even get going. Ricardo had barely managed to make it home late last night due to the white-out conditions on the main highway from M-.

Rosa had reminded her that there was the option of giving Sarge a sleeping bag and sending him to the empty room with the generator at the front of the house for the night. But for some reason just thinking about that option made Lily very uneasy even though she now had no doubt he’d make no argument about complying if she sent him in that direction. During the course of the evening spent upstairs she watched  him good-naturedly go along with the ongoing usual flow of all things Rosa, Ricardo, their children and all their young guests. The children playing underfoot didn’t seem to bother him, not even Marianna, Ricardo’s six year old daughter, who explored and thoroughly investigated him just as she did everything that found its way into her domain, he made no complaints about the unfamiliar foods, nor did he comment on the lack of the usual household furniture such as couches, dining tables, chairs above the folding chair grade, a television and all the rest of the standard accessories.  He seemed to have easily caught on that the main living areas were in a regular state of flux depending on what the current situation required for accommodating the extra twenty children. Rosa had her action plans, Ricardo had no intention of interfering with any part of the program, and the children were willingly going along with the whole show, especially those old enough to know their only option was exile to home alone, if they could even get there.  Here with Rosa and Ricardo there was company for play, plenty of simple good food, heat and an endless supply of reassuring hugs.  Sarge appeared to be just as content with the entire state of things as the children. Knowing full well that Rosa had simply given voice to the usual concerns anyone would have about any man who was still mainly an  unknown quantity, Lily opted for sticking to her usual Saturday night routine and as long as things remained mellow and easy-going leaving the new wrinkle of sharing her down quilt in place.

All Lily had to do when it was time to take their leave was nod and gesture with her hands. Sarge read her cue, stood and shook hands with Ricardo.  He called a thank you to the busy Rosa for the meal and followed Lily out and down the stairs.  Upon reaching the first floor hallway they went to stare out the front door window at the still falling snow continuing to mount up in the space where the street ought to have been. Not a single truck or car of those parked along both sides of was visible anywhere. “The last time I saw so much snow was when I was a kid. I don’t remember if the cold and wind were this bad. But I do remember it being so deep we couldn’t even go out to play in it. It was something like a foot over our heads.  How about you? Ever seen this much snow before, Lily?”

“Not deep like this with such high drifts. At home the wind would drive the snow constantly so it didn’t pile up and collect like this here. But the cold, I have experienced it before.”

“Where is home?”

“Now it’s here. It doesn’t exist anymore.”

Looking down at the top of her head as she spoke, Sarge sensed a subject better left alone and refrained from asking another question. Turning away from the window, Lily sighed. “I ought to get caught up with some work while I can. I don’t mean to be rude or unsociable. Just need to keep on top of things. Keep my mind in the groove.”

“No problem. I want to finish The Devil is an Ass, that Jonson play I started reading when Anton was here. You do what you need to do. I’m quite content to read.”

“Okay, sounds like we’ve got a workable game plan. All we need is something hot to drink and we’re set.  How does a pot of cinnamon tea sound to you? There’s green and some herbal too if you prefer. And coffee, of course.”

“Cinnamon sounds perfect. Should go well with Rosa’s spices.”

“Good. I guess we’re set.”

Nearly three hours later Lily had caught up on all current assignments and worked two weeks ahead on the syllabus for Calculus. Deciding coffee and some bread and butter were needed before she commenced on doing another week of math problems, she left her study spot on the couch and went to the kitchen. There she discovered that Sarge, he’d finished reading the Jonson play some time back, had brought a diverse selection of books to the table along with physics and geometry books through which he was intently searching. Coming up beside his chair, nearly silent in her bare feet, she tried to get some sense of what he was after. “What are you looking for?”

The unexpected sound of her voice startled the man. “Had no idea you were there. Damn.” He caught his breath then pulled from under the books the piece of paper he and Ricardo had been working on earlier. “Making sure the idea Ricardo and I came up with will work correctly for reinforcing those old wooden foundation joists in the basement. I think I’ve got all the angles worked out. Now I’m just wondering about the pressure part for these areas with the xs.”

Lily took the piece of paper from him and sat down at the table. After studying the diagram of the basement, the notes written by both men, then Sarge’s calculations on the other side of the paper, she looked at him then spoke very gently. “Doing even half of this is pretty expensive. Rosa and Ricardo don’t have the money for anything like this, Sarge. It looks like it should work. But there’s no way they can pay for the materials. Labor would be no problem. Most of the parents of Rosa’s kids would be more than willing to help. And with the Watch there’d be plenty of muscle. But the cost…” She frowned when he smiled at her and shook his head.

“Lily don’t look so worried. Actually there’s only one obstacle to doing this right now—the damn snow.” He gestured at the falling snow outside the kitchen window.

She watched the snow for a few moments then pulled her attention back to their conversation. “I don’t understand. You can’t be thinking of paying for this yourself.”

Sarge laughed a little. “No one has to pay cash for anything. Do you remember what I said about living in a converted warehouse?”

“Yeah, you said something about that last night.” Lily laid the paper on the table and lightly rubbed her fingertips across it.

“Bear with me for a bit, okay.” Sarge got comfortable in his chair.  “Well, Kozy, the guy who owns the building, hasn’t trashed any of the building materials since we started renovating the place. Kozy has been collecting salvage metals from similar buildings everywhere in something like a hundred mile driving range for years. He uses just a small amount of it for his art and a little more for renovations. But he’s a bit compulsive so he’s collected probably a ton or two more than he’ll ever use.  He knows this. He also knows the city is none too thrilled with his stockpile. He also knows via his good buddy who works in the codes office,  that it’s not a matter of if the city is going to fine him for what they consider an unpermitted garbage dump site, but of when they decide to declare war with the crazy Russian artist. Kozy has no interest in wasting his time or money fighting with the city. The city knows damn well that there is no garbage being dumped anywhere and that it is perfectly legal for those materials to be where they are in the freight district.”

Lily pulled up her feet onto the seat of her chair and leaned her chin on knees as she listened.  “So why would they fine him if it’s all legal? Is someone trying to settle a personal score?

Sarge snapped his fingers. “Bingo. Yeah, it’s a vendetta. It’s a weird complicated story that goes all the way back to Mother Russia. So Kozy has decided that the easiest way to put an end to this mess is to cut it off before things wind up again. Bottom line is that he wants to get rid of his current stockpile and then start another with new salvage. All that metal needs a new home. Why shouldn’t some of it find one in Rosa’s basement? Don’t look at me like that. I’m not joking around here.”

Skeptical written all over her face, Lily’s fingers drummed on drawn up shins. “But why would this Kozy give away the metal for free when he can sell it?”

“Because Kozy has all the money he needs and probably will ever need.” Sarge leaned forward as he spoke about his friend. “He doesn’t care about making money. He cares about his art. He cares about good ideas. He cares about good people.” He reached across the table and tapped his fingernails on the diagram. “This is a very good idea. Rosa is a very good person. That’s why Kozy will give Rosa all the rebar needed for free.”

Lily dropped her feet to the floor and stared at the young man. Very softly, wondering what else she might coax out of him regarding his motivation, she said, “You just met her today. You barely know her. Your Kozy has not even met Rosa.”

“Yeah.” He shrugged and leaned back in his chair. “But what I learned from watching Rosa tonight with all those kids, that’s more than enough for me to try to work this out. Besides she just doesn’t have enough muscle to be her own plumber in that basement. Furthermore, Kozy loves a challenge and this is a fun one for a guy like him.”

Lily sat straight in her chair, picked up the diagram again. She scanned both sides and looked at the man watching her. “I suppose there’s no harm in tossing the idea at your friend Kozy. Just please don’t say anything to Rosa about him helping until you find out if he actually wants to. I hope he does. Something definitely needs to be done before the basement turns into an indoor swimming pool.” It was plain to see that her willingness to entertain the notion that his friend just might help out a complete stranger, pleased Sarge as he grinned and lowered his suddenly shy eyes. Wanting to put some hope in his plan and yet hesitant based on past experiences with other supposed helping hands, Lily wondered if Sarge could really make this happen. She almost started to explain her skepticism then decided not to taint the conversation with recounting bad memories.  Remembering what had brought her into the kitchen she said, “I’m going to make some coffee. You want some?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a cup.” He looked at her from under his mop of hair. “How about I toast some rye bread to go with it?”

“Toast sounds really good, please.” Lily set about preparing the coffee while glancing at him already slicing bread thin enough to fit into the toaster. “A warm buttery snack should keep me going for a little while longer.”

Remembering watching her eat her toast at Big Bob’s, Sarge fought down an urge to laugh as he tested his bread slices in the toaster slots. He managed to contain himself by imagining Kozy meeting Rosa for the first time. In a few minutes toasted rye bread slathered in butter and fresh rich coffee occupied their attention until Lily wandered back to her books and Sarge to his. Each was keenly aware of the other’s presence even when out of sight.

~

Later, upon reaching the point where the need for sleep was impossible to ignore any longer, Lily stacked her books on the table behind the red velvet couch then shuffled her way into the kitchen. Seeing that Sarge had moved on to reading Bartholomew Fayre she leaned against the doorway. “Hey Mr. Night Owl, me Lily has to sleep now.” She gave a little wave when he looked away from the book to her. “I can leave the light on if you need it. I’ll just get all the way under the quilt so it doesn’t bother me.”

“I’ll be okay in the dark. Get some sleep. I’ll try to be quiet.”

“Okay.” Lily started on her way then turned back. “You always stay up this late, Sarge?”

“I work a lot of graveyard shifts so I’m used to it.”

“Hey, I don’t even know what kind of work you do.”

“Just throwing freight on the docks. It’s nothing fancy, but it pays well. Quiet. The night guys are easier to get along with than the day shifters. That’s a bonus in itself. So now you know. You better get to bed. You’re slipping away pretty fast just standing there, Lily.”

“Yeah, I feel it. Well, now I know. Night, Sarge.”

“Night, Lily.” Sarge watched her sleepily sway her way into the bedroom. Certain from the look of her that she’d be dead asleep inside of a minute, he decided to finish the scene he was reading then slide under the down quilt himself. He had plenty on his mind to think about until he’d fall asleep and he was enjoying the idea of doing it knowing she was curled up under the quilt nearby soothingly breathing soft and low in her sleep.

~~~

Breakfast Special, #13,  The Most Important Meal of the Day  https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/breakfast-special-13-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day/

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Video Note:

 Upload and music added by  wolfiecanmeow

footage from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFz5FI…  [silent version]
song: beautiful girl – william fitzsimmons

Breakfast Special, eleventh helping, “Connecting”, #11

Connecting

True to his word, Sarge didn’t waste any time in the shower. It took him longer to shave the itching stubble from his face with the little pink women’s plastic shaver he found in an open package, than it did to wash the basement dust and dirt off his feet and arms. After a childhood with Nora he cleaned up after himself automatically. While finishing dressing in the bedroom, he listened carefully to Lily’s voice and that of a young man in the other room. By the time he’d finished straightening the quilt he’d heard enough of the conversation to know not to interrupt them when he returned to the room of red velvet and books.

When he walked past the table couch combination, Lily handed him the transistor radio without looking up from the open book the elegantly handsome, ebony skinned man sitting next to her on the couch was reading from a hardback book carefully sounding out words. Sarge remained politely quiet as he searched the shelves for the copy of Ben Jonson’s plays he’d noticed during his first exploration of books. Upon finding it, he took himself into the kitchen where he discovered a pot of coffee on the stove and a short note propped against the salt and pepper shakers telling him to eat whatever he wanted. She’d be busy with Anton until 5:30 pm.

For the moment, Sarge settled for a slice of the rye bread with butter and a cup of coffee. At 4:45 the only news reported was all related to the severe weather conditions wrecking havoc with everything from roads to power lines in several counties. When the weather update ended, he shut off the radio and concluded that it sounded as if he might be stuck in Lily’s apartment for longer than he’d speculated upon before hearing the state things himself. Realizing there was nothing he could do about the ongoing snowstorm he decided to make the best of the situation and simply settled in with a new play to read. Within minutes he was unaware of anything other the world the words on the page were creating in his mind.

Forty minutes later it was only when Lily lightly tapped him on the shoulder that he realized she and Anton had come into the kitchen. “Hey Lily.”

“Sarge this is my good friend, Anton. Anton, this Sarge.”

Immediately Sarge stood up and extended a hand to the man eyeing him intently. “Hello Anton.”

“Hey Sarge.” Anton lightly took hold of Sarge’s hand, nodded, let his hand fall away.

Lily poured coffee into two cups and handed one to Anton where he stood next to the stove. “Please tell Sarge about the weather news you saw earlier on Mr. and Mrs. Ranoli’s television.”

Anton took a long drink of his coffee then launched into a thorough recounting of the content of the emergency weather news broadcast, including his understandings of the weather maps and his own opinions regarding the people crazy enough to try driving on roads even the snowplows were having trouble with due to white-out conditions. When he finished talking, Lily smiled at him. “That was great, Anton.”

“I pronounced everything correctly?” His expression dared her to be less than truthful about his verbal performance.

“Everything.” Lily turned to Sarge. “Did you understand everything Anton said?”

“Absolutely every word,  Anton. Thanks for the news. That was considerably more than I caught on the radio. Have you been outside?”

“Just to walk here from across the street that is presently not a street. It’s a snow mountain. Wind is damn mean out there, man. It’s got a wicked cut like none other.” Anton drank the rest of his coffee and set the empty cup in the sink. “I have got to get back home. Esther and me are doing up fried fish and taters, I mean potatoes, with the Ranolis for supper. Thank you for the coffee, Lily.”

“You’re welcome, Anton. Give Esther a hug from me.”

A brilliant smile light up Anton’s angular face. “Oh I do that for sure, Lily.”

“I’ll walk with you to the front door, if you don’t mind, Anton. I want to get a look at the snow mountain.”  Sarge glanced at Lily as she refilled her cup. It was quite clear to him that via Anton’s speech practice effort she’d made certain they both had the same information regarding the extreme weather conditions.

“Why would I mind? Just come on along, man.” Anton gestured for Sarge to follow him. As they went exited Lily’s rooms, Anton grabbed his coat from a hook on the door and put it on. Once in the hallway he slid his stocking feet into a pair of insulated rubber boots. They walked in silence down the hall while taking each other’s measure in the way common to street fighters and bar brawlers whenever they encounter their kin urban warriors. Without Lily’s presence to run interference each man subtly inventoried the other’s energy vibes, confidence quotient, and potential fight character and filed all the information for future reference.

When they reached the front door, Anton turned to Sarge and spoke quietly using language he wouldn’t use in Lily or Esther’s presence. “Look here, Sarge, this door is one mo’ f’er to get shut right on a nice day. You know if it’s f’d up if the bolts don’t slide in right. You read me?” When Sarge nodded that he understood, Anton continued his instructions. “When I go out, I’m gonna yank this f’n knob harder than usual cause of the wind doing its mean thing. Now you one big f’r so we both know you got some serious f’n weight to throw at it from this side so don’t hold nothing back. Otherwise we both gonna be fighting this mean bitch more than you or me care for. We good?”

“Yeah, we’re good.” Just standing next to the front entrance, Sarge could feel that the temperature outside was at least a good ten degrees colder than it had been when he’d arrived last night.

“Let’s do this.” Anton took hold of the door knob then looked hard at Sarge again. “One more thing, Sarge.”

“I’m listening, Anton.” Curious what was coming next, Sarge met Anton’s direct gaze head on.

“Treat Lily sweet or you, me and the whole damn Watch gonna dance f’n wicked hard. You read me?” The fact that Anton made no effort to make any show of his ability to indeed dance wickedly hard underscored both his firm intention and willingness to do so according to Sarge’s understanding of their mutual common ground concerning masculine dynamics.

Relishing this new experience as probably only he could, no one had ever before warned him to treat any woman right or there’d be consequences, Sarge grinned. “I read you perfectly. Anton, I got nothing but sweet on my mind when it comes to Lily.”

“That’s what I needed to hear, man. Now let’s do this door.” Anton yanked the door open then quickly took hold of the outer doorknob with his free hand while Sarge grabbed the inner knob. As soon as Anton cleared the doorway to the porch outside, Sarge slammed his shoulder against the door forcing it to close with a loud wallop that shook the wall.

When the dead bolts slid into place without trouble, Sarge laughed then stopped when he looked out the door’s small window and saw that Anton had quite correctly called the street a snow mountain. He watched the slim man fight his way through the snow and against the wind streaking over the drifts hiding every car and truck parked on the street currently buried under several feet of snow. Noticing how long it was taking Anton to get to the buildings on the other side, Sarge waited until he finally disappeared from sight behind a bright yellow door  before  turning  to walk slowly back to Lily’s apartment. Taking into consideration the state of things right outside the house’s front door, what he’d heard on the radio and Anton’s review of the televised news, he knew he needed to promptly discuss his possible prolonged presence with Lily.

Stepping back into the warm apartment, Sarge stood looking at the woman at the windows watching the wind drive the snow. Her loose black hair falling like a smooth thick wide ribbon down the length and width of her back drew and held his attention like no other woman’s hair ever had before.  Sensing his presence, Lily turned towards him. “Did Anton get back okay?”

“Yeah. It didn’t look easy though. Hey, Lily, I know this isn’t exactly an ideal situation with the weather being what it is and me being here in your space like this. And considering what I told you last night it might seem like I don’t know how to respect other people’s boundaries. But I am aware of them and if I screw up just let me know right away. I’ll do my best to stay on the correct side of the line. Okay?”

“Okay Sarge. I’ll let you know right away. Just so you know, it wouldn’t have made any difference if you had awoken early this morning.” She gestured towards the view the windows offered of the snow drifts outside. “It was already too bad out there for you to have left then either. This probably doesn’t seem like a lot of space, but there’s enough for both of us to be fairly comfortable with the situation as long as we communicate. So please let me know if I cross any of your lines. Fair enough?”

“Plenty fair enough, Lily. I generally don’t have a problem communicating. It’s usually the opposite that creates problems, in that I say too much or what I shouldn’t.” Sarge gestured towards the wall of books. “You’ve got plenty of books right there to keep me occupied and out of your way. I’d be reading if I was at home. I’ll just do the same here. Unless there’s another problem with the pipes or something else that needs fixing. Just let me know. I don’t mind working on such things at all.”

“Careful or you’ll wind up with a long list of things to fix and no time to read.” Lily smiled then hesitated. “Can we talk about what you told me last night?”

“Yeah. I’m not sure what else to say about it though.” Uncomfortable as the subject was, he made and maintained eye contact while waiting for her to say whatever was on her mind.

“Well, what I want to say is that from my perspective, it’s not you who doesn’t respect boundaries. It’s them. Your parents.”

Unable to refrain from giving voice to what had prompted him to raise the subject of boundaries he sheepishly said, “Except when I throw women into taxis.”

Lily shook her head and moved a few steps towards him without realizing she was doing so. “All things considered, Sarge, the whole throwing me into the taxi thing is not even in the same universe. That was you exercising some serious common sense as best you could at the time, and me just, well, being me.”

Keeping his eyes on her Sarge ran his left hand through his hair a few times as he considered what she’d said. “Just you being you means; what, Lily? You knew how bad it was last night and how far you had to walk to get home. Do I really strike you as the kind of guy who expects a woman he’s asked out on a date to pay for a ride home afterwards?  Or who’d get himself a taxi home and leave her to walk home alone at night especially in weather like that?”

“No. Not really. Certainly not now you don’t, Sarge.” She looked away from him and stared out the windows when she said, “But a lot of guys, most guys, expect something, certain things, in return, especially when it’s not exactly a cheap taxi ride home. Last night, at the time, I wasn’t sure if you were that kind or not. I just didn’t want to be in a position of owing you something.” She forced herself to look him in the face as she finished speaking.

When his hand started to reach for his hair again, Sarge caught himself and resisted the nervous action. Once he had that under control he focused on keeping his voice calm and quiet. “Is that why you invited me in, Lily? Because you felt like you owed me something?”

Surprise instantly appeared on Lily’s face. She shook her head in adamant denial and gestured with her hands as she replied. “No! God, no Sarge. I invited you in because we had a good time at the play, at least I know I did.  After the hauling and throwing, when you didn’t start grabbing or feeling me up, I definitely appreciated it. I realize that probably didn’t come across when I kept at you about the beard. I’m sorry. I was working through being really embarrassed. When you said what you did about the razor and your mother, I felt like a total shit for pushing you to say it there in the taxi. Then I realized you were probably as tired as I was and as hungry. I had a fresh pot of soup waiting. It was awful outside.  You looked absolutely miserable. It just felt wrong to send off you alone like that. So I took a chance and let you in.” She offered a nervous small smile as she attempted to lighten the tone of the exchange saying, “That turned out to be a really good move because, well, now, for one thing, because you’re like Hard Core Plumber Guy the water pipe downstairs isn’t leaking anymore. You have no idea how many times Rosa and I have wrenched that joint seal.”

Sarge laughed. “It definitely is not leaking now. At least it’s not for the time being.”  Appreciating her honesty and willingness to get right to what mattered most he made a conscious effort to do so in kind. “For the record, I certainly have pissed off quite a lot of women in my time. No doubt about it. Actually one could say I have a certain flare for pissing women off.  But I swear to God, Lily, it has never, not once ever, been for grabbing them or demanding sex they didn’t want or expecting any sort of payback for anything. Nor do I make a habit of forcing women into taxis. That was a one time deal. At least I hope it was. Last night it was just too damn cold to stand out there arguing about the cost of a taxi when I knew I had it covered even if it was all way to M- and back. I simply took the most expedient route of action on the spur of the moment. I swear I didn’t mean to strong-arm you just for the hell of it. I’d never do that, Lily.  I just wanted to get you home safe and sound. That’s all. So, have we got that much squared?”

Lily nodded as she pushed her long hair behind her ears. “Yes. I think we do.” Momentarily she considered pointing out the differences between the taxi scenario and that involving his beard then thought the better of it. Moving forward seemed the best way to go. “So, well, Rosa invited us up for dinner. It’s nothing fancy. Just the usual: beans, rice, tamales, and a real killer red sauce. You game for that?”

“I am forever game for a killer red sauce.” His hand momentarily got the better of him and proceeded to smooth his hair away from his face several times before he put a stop to it.

“Okay.” Feeling like she’d just asked him out on their second date, Lily resisted the temptation to needle him about his taste for hot sauce. “Well, I think it’s about time we go upstairs and catch some of whatever is on the table.”

“One thing first.” Sarge looked around the room. “Can I use your phone to make a quick call? I don’t want my friend Kozy getting any crazy ideas about me being lost in a snow drift. He really is crazy enough to go out looking for me, if I don’t let him know I’m okay.”

“Of course you can use the phone. It’s upstairs.” She slipped on a pair of well-worn brown flats and gestured for him to follow suit with his boots.

Lily went out the door with Sarge following her up the stairs to the second floor and into a world of flying tortillas, soft chatter in several languages, and gently flowing small mobs of curious children amusing themselves with whatever was at hand. As he stood in Rosa’s bright orange kitchen waiting for Kozy to answer his phone, Sarge took in the bundles of dried chilis, herbs and flowers hanging from the ceiling in clusters out of the sun’s reach. “Hey Kozy. Yeah, I’m indoors. Everything good at your end? What? No. I am not in a slaughterhouse. No one is killing any pigs here. It’s a little girl laughing. Yeah, I’m sure. I’m looking right at her. Well I was. She’s out of sight now. I think she’s under the table.” Sarge bent his knees and looked under the kitchen table for the little girl who’d answered him in rapid fire Spanish at the door to the basement steps earlier. “Yeah, she’s playing under the table. No, she doesn’t have a pig with her. Quit with the pigs already, Kozy.  I’m pretty damn sure I’d know a pig if I saw one. Okay. No, just the let the tape run out. Wait. You didn’t cut up those really long rebar rods yet, did you? Good. Yeah, I have an idea what to do with them. Yeah, I figured they’d be under a lot of snow by now. All of them probably. I’ll find out. What? I’m not sure. Hold on, I’ll ask her.” Sarge bent down and waved at the girl under the table. “Cuantos anos, nina? She’s six. Yeah, well that’s how many fingers she’s holding up. I’ll see if she’ll come to the phone. Give me a sec. Venga aqui, por favor.” Sarge waited while the girl rolled out from under the table. When she came over to him he handed the phone to her. She listened intently to the voice on the other end then bursting into hysterical laughter she ran off into the next room. Sarge picked the phone up. “Yeah. Stay indoors yourself. Bye, Kozy.”

Sarge hung up the phone and walked into what presently served as a very informal dining room where the lilac colored walls were profusely decorated with children’s drawings on paper and directly on one the wall. He quickly realized that Rosa had an eat-your-food-in-this-room-only rule since no child left the room with any food.  They sat with their plates and cups on rectangles of former carpet samples on the floor in small groups in an orderly fashion along the walls  A round table was full of large platters offering not just tamales, tacos, beans, tortillas, and rice but entrees Sarge had never seen before. A green bowl half filled with a dark red sauce sat in the very center with a little ladle. A heavily muscled middle-aged man gave him a plate, introduced himself as Rosa’s brother, Ricardo and then led him around the table quietly informing him about the unfamiliar foods like the goat stew.  After filling their plates, the two men joined Rosa and Lily sitting on metal folding chairs at a small card table next to the windows. “I see you found the sauce,” said Lily when he set down his plate.

“I certainly have.” Sarge dipped a tortilla into the sauce, tasted it and grinned. “Rosa, Rosa where has your sauce been all my life?”

“You like? Not too hot?” Rosa’s eyes shone with pleasure as Sarge took another bite and shook his head.

“No, it’s not too hot. It’s perfect. It’s got some great kick and a backup touch of sweetness. Muy bien.”

As they ate, the conversation quickly turned to the situation with the pipes. As soon as Sarge and Ricardo had finished eating and cleaned their plates they disappeared to the basement together with several curious children trailing along with them.

~~~~

Breakfast Special, twelfth helping,  “Equations” —>> https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/breakfast-special-twelfth-helping-equations/

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