Breakfast Special, #35, “Lily Muses”

“Lily Muses”

Lily stood at the gas stove waiting for the water to boil for tea. Outside the kitchen window the sky was grey but cloud and snow free as it had been for the last two days. Listening to the local radio report that several main transportation routes were now open and nearly a third of the mainline buses were running somewhat regularly through and in Falls, she wondered how long it would be before Sarge took his leave of her and the Flats and returned to his home in the freight district.  Sooner or later there’d be trucks arriving at the freight docks and, as she understood his description of the location, his place on the second floor of a converted warehouse was only a five-minute walk from work. The college was reopening in three days for daytime classes. Her own regular daily schedule would soon resume. Life in Falls was on the verge of returning to its usual urban ebb and flow after several weeks of extreme weather conditions and a number of events involving fatalities as a result. Lily was not looking forward to a return to the usual scheme of things in Falls, the Flats or most especially in her private life. Having never been other than completely candid with herself, she didn’t have any problems figuring out why. The reason was as direct and unpretentious as the man she didn’t want disappearing from her apartment and daily life. When Sarge departed for his home in the freight district, there would be no more dancing at all hours of the day and night; no more off the cuff conversations about books and personal mysteries; no more Funny Man spreading around home people land scents everywhere he went because he liked them; and a host of all the other no mores of things that were currently a direct result of his presence in her personal space; including the fact that there would be no more human heater quietly warming up the space between the down quilt and flannel cotton sheets night after night, a something which made her home people vibes happily hum with contentment.

Being well attuned to her inner self, Lily knew her emotions concerning Sarge had come a long way from unexpectedly enjoying his company at the theatre and hoping he’d feel the same enough to want to meet again.  She’d taken a giant leap forward simply as a result of his behavior regarding the taxi cab and everything up to and including sharing her down quilt. Sarge presuming nothing and making no demands upon her person had gone a long way with her from the start. Living in close quarters for the last few weeks a relationship had developed to a degree between them that Lily knew from past experiences under normal circumstance would have required at least six months of concentrated effort on her part to build. She was also painfully aware of the reasons for the failures of her previous serious relationships, even if they didn’t all quite make sense to her. Personal incompatibilities were one thing, cultural incompatibilities were another and double standard gender behavior expectations yet another; all, with a few unpleasant surprise of other sorts, had quite effectively motivated her to call a halt to engaging in any relationship for nearly two years until she got a firmer handle on the cultural mentalities at play in what for her was a very serious hunt for a suitable life partner. In her own culture she’d have been settled with a mate years ago. With good health and a little luck, she’d have been a mother at least twice by her current age. She’d known this entire field of the life game had changed for her prior to even arriving in Falls. Awareness of the change had been a large factor in agreeing to travel this path into unknown geographical and cultural landscapes. Quite simply, there was no one of a suitable age remaining for a life partner even by sheer default. Her choices had seemed clear enough at the time: remain with her rapidly dwindling cultural group until they all passed on or venture into another world and take her chances making a life for herself with the option of finding someone suitable to share it with.  She’d chosen this adventure after playing with the numbers of probability in her head for several days. Afterwards she’d simply said to Priest and Gran that she thought it would be fun looking for a needle in a haystack, even though she had no idea whatsoever what a haystack really was. But she was well acquainted with several bone and metal needles and thought that finding one ought to be easy enough even in a very messy place with some patience and persistence. Since then she’d learned about real haystacks, a few things about men, and women, in this culture and a great deal about herself while keeping her senses on red alert for what had become a very elusive needle indeed.

*

*

Though she’d not admitted or discussed with Rosa or Esther, her two closest friends, anything regarding her still evolving emotions concerning the man keeping her company in her apartment, and very little regarding her personal views of him, she’d been keeping up a steady discourse with herself and her home people vibes all along. A few times she’d given serious consideration to discussing Sarge with Anton, but she’d decided against that knowing full well just close he was with Esther and that the only way to keep him from sharing something with his wife was to either not tell him the information at all, or to have it be something he considered so negative that he’d not want to share it of his own accord in order to not upset Esther unless it was absolutely necessary to do so. In addition, there was the matter of his current notions of proper masculine behavior that had inadvertently created issues for her with other men while trying to be helpful. Though in hindsight, those issues had probably kept her from wasting more time and effort on the wrong men.

Lily sighed, glanced at the repair request list and poked her home people vibes into stirring.  Gran, I’m way past liking his smile. I’m to the point of knowing I’ll miss not seeing it when he’s not around. For starters, I feel good knowing he’s coming back here after he goes off to fix something for someone in the Flats and that he’ll be here when I come back from doing something of my own. I’m not sure exactly how he’d deal with caribou, but he’s good at keeping the water, heat and electricity running here. That counts for a lot in this crazy place. He gets along with Rosa’s kids, even Marianna. You know what a terror she can be. He likes being around them. I don’t have to explain to you why that’s a big relief. I sure wish I’d asked Priest a lot more questions about guys from where he came from. But, Priest being Priest that might not have been much use where I am now. This one though, I can almost talk with him like I could talk with Priest. He’s curious and smart in ways Priest would understand better than you because of the books. There’s not much point in talking about having fun with him, we both know having fun with these guys doesn’t always mean what we think it does. So far though, he hasn’t tried to push me in a corner because of it. Not once. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about that yet though. 

There’s something about him though that gets women’s attention. It’s something like the attraction John has as a musician.  With Sarge though, it’s something else. Obviously, because he’s not a musician, at least not as far as I know. But there’s something I can’t put into words yet. No, it’s not like me being attracted to him. If it was, I’d understand it already.  Esther has noticed it too. It makes her watch him with her hard eyes when there’s a potluck and lots of people around. I think she’s waiting for him to do something. Whatever it is, he hasn’t done it yet. I know she’d tell me right off if he had. It’s as if she’s holding her breath. She likes him. I know she does by the way she talks with him. That’s a good sign. Esther doesn’t like everyone. She’ll be very polite to people she doesn’t like and they’ll never know she doesn’t like them unless she says so to their face. I’m sure she’s not doing that with Sarge. I’ve tried to get her to talk about it, but her eyes go hard then and she shakes her head and won’t say what’s on her mind. Rosa just says it’s not what the women do to try to get his attention that’s important, it’s what he’s not doing in return that matters. As long as he’s “not chasing the tails” as she says, there’s not a problem. My best guess at this point is that this has to do with their notions about sex in some way. That might be my ideas and theirs about that little book influencing my thoughts though.

 Rosa and I have gone through the copy she made of it a couple more times. Now I know the handwriting isn’t his. Anton says the book isn’t Sarge’s and I believe him. Anton knows lying would hurt me more than whatever the truth is about why he has that book with all those women’s names and numbers in it. Oh yeah, he and Anton seem to be becoming good friends. That’s a first. I mean they actually spend time together talking about books and ideas even when they’re not working on someone’s house or doing something else with the rest of the Watch guys. We’ve had a couple of good conversations as a group with Esther joining in too. Priest would consider this a good sign, I think.

  I should tell you, Gran, that not too many people manage to get past what Anton calls his “ghost life” in order to feel really comfortable with him.  I think that’s because they can sense he is dangerous if he’s provoked and they don’t want to take a chance on provoking him. Sarge isn’t afraid of Anton. I can see Anton likes that he isn’t. Hmm. Yes, it’s clear to me that Sarge isn’t afraid because he is a dangerous man too. It’s like them each being dangerous cancels out either of them being scared of the other. It’s odd thinking of Sarge as being dangerous though.  He never behaves in ways that bring it to my attention or anyone else’s for that matter. When he’s with the Watch guys he doesn’t act threatening or intimidating like many of the street guys do. He doesn’t seem to have anything to prove in that way. Maybe it’s because he’s already proved it with other men and the others know this somehow? I wonder if they can smell it? Can I smell it? Hmm. Yes, I think I do, Gran. Oh, I understand what you mean. I can be dangerous too. Yes, I can. It’s like this, Gran, Sarge reminds me of a polar bear who knows exactly how big and strong he is and that he won’t ever go hungry because he’s hunted seals so many times he’s got absolute confidence in his ability to get one whenever he wants to eat. I know, I know, men and bears are not the same creatures. Like I said, I sure wish I’d grilled Priest about guys.

    Where does that put things? That’s exactly what I’m wondering.  I don’t want him to go, but I don’t know if he wants to stay.  I mean, I don’t know if he’d want to stay for the same reasons I don’t want him to leave. For all I know for sure, he’s just into fixing things, like Ricardo. He never says no to anyone who asks for his help. Lily stared at the list. You’re right I’ve got to say more than simply drop vague hints in order to find out what he’s thinking.  Let’s take a look at this list of his and see what comes to mind. Feel free to help out.

The water boiled. Lily spooned loose orange blossom tea into the teapot then filled it with the water.  While it steeped she walked over to the fridge and read the list of home repair requests that Sarge had prioritized as his own from the main list over in the Info Hub.  Based on what she’d learned about how he worked on his own, she calculated that there was a good solid week’s worth of work on this list alone with plenty more on the main list. She stood tapping her fingers on the paper and wondering how he intended to do all this work and return to his full-time job at the docks at about the same time.  Is he planning on not doing anything else but working constantly with a few hours sleep thrown in whenever possible between night shifts on the freight docks and day shifts making house repairs in the Flats? Why on earth would he do that? Or, maybe he isn’t planning on leaving as completely as I thought he would? Maybe he plans on sticking around at least long enough to work his way through the list? As if on cue, the apartment door opened and Sarge came through it with a wave and a very happy to find her at home smile greeting before sitting down and removing his boots out of her sight. “Hi, Lily.”

~~~

Breakfast Special #1 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/breakfast-special/

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Breakfast Special #36 ->  https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/breakfast-special-36-szechuan-shrimp-lo-mein/

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Breakfast Special, #30, “Good Wifey Drops A Dot”

“Good Wifey Drops a Dot”

Dylan moved from room to room on the second floor taking an inventory of his grandchildren while they played after having their dinner before the adults sat down for their evening meal. If Nora had asked him what was on his mind, he’d have simply shrugged and taken himself downstairs without a word. He knew it didn’t make any sense, but it felt like, if he kept at it, he’d find Sarge among them, glaring up at him. Nor did he need a head doctor to tell him that his present desire to have his family all gathered under one roof was a direct result of his ongoing inability to find his eldest son and that his compulsion to literally keep the others close at hand reflected a deep fear of losing track of them as well. Hearing the stove timer ring signaling readiness for dinner he went downstairs.

As he took his seat he noticed that Nora was passing the serving platters even though Denise, Patrick’s wife, was not in her place. Catching Nora’s eye. he shrugged his question about her tolerating this break in her way of conducting dinner service. Nora nodded towards the kitchen. Denise was on the phone nodding along as she listened. Hoping she was getting a lead on Sarge, Dylan accepted the breach of meal protocol which usually demanded that everyone be seated before anything being served.  Finally Denise took her place.

“Sorry about that, Nora. But I just couldn’t get Suzy to let me off the phone or get a word in edgeways to tell her I’d call her back after dinner. She just wouldn’t stop talking once she got started.”

“Don’t worry about it, Denise.  It would have been rude to just hang up on her especially when she’s keeping an eye out for Sargent at St. Syms,” said Nora with a reassuring little smile.

“That’s how I figured it too. “

Unable to restrain himself any longer, Dylan spoke rougher than he intended. “So did she have any news worth sharing?”

Denise slumped a little in her chair. “Just that she did check with her friend at the temporary morgue set up at the high school.  That’s where they’ve been taking the bodies of the people being dug out of their homes and such. As she put it, there was no man there tall enough to be Sarge.”

“Oh that’s a relief,” said Nora as she chose a roll for herself and glanced at her husband.

“Is that all? What she did keep you on the phone for long then?” demanded Dylan.

Denise decided to bite the bullet and be done with it. “I made the mistake of getting her started talking about the National Guard being there at the hospital. Before I knew it, she got going good and strong about how things got even crazier than they already were the other day when some woman got into a fight with the Guards at the hospital.”

“Oh yeah?” Not ready to let Denise off the hook just yet, Dylan kept her from even looking at the food on the table by keeping her attention focused on himself. “So what was that about?”

An uncomfortable look settled on Denise’s face. “Are you sure you want to hear about that, Dyl? It’s a long story that has nothing to do with finding Sarge.”

Dylan nodded, partly out of boredom and partly to put Denise through another hoop as payback for not finding a polite way off the phone and calling Suzy back after dinner. “Why not? Dinner just started. Sounds like some off the cuff entertainment for the rest of us. So come on, what kept your ear glued to that phone for the past hour? Hmm? Share and share alike, Denise.”

Denise looked worriedly at Patrick who nodded for her to comply with Dylan no matter what the content of the story. He’d step up and run interference for her if his father didn’t like hearing what she had to say.  She toyed with her fork for a few seconds.  “Well, you asked for it. Just say when you’ve heard enough and I’ll stop talking.”

Dylan smiled and shook his head. “You haven’t started yet.” He passed the butter to Irene.

Denise pushed down her own discomfort regarding having to relate Suzy’s story which had taken up the bulk of the time she had spent on the phone with her. “Like I said earlier, a few days ago this woman came into St.Syms to pick up a ton of drugs for people from the Flats. Suzy said the nurses knew all about her coming for all this medication ahead of time because the doctors had been getting all sorts of calls from people who wouldn’t get their medication unless she came and got it for them.  Last thing anyone needed after that nursing home disaster was another bunch of diabetic shock emergencies or worse, so the doctors agreed to give the meds to this woman as long as she had written authority from all the people the prescriptions were for. That way they’d have a record of what went out the door with her. Anyway, she comes in and loads up some backpack with all this stuff. Suzy and another nurse check all the names and papers. Everything matches up. But when the woman tries to leave the hospital and go back to the Flats then the Guards say they can’t let her go there because there’s no road for them to drive her back.

That’s when things got crazy. This woman starts in on them being a bunch of idiots since she knew damn well-,” Denise looked around at everyone else at the table eating their food and listening to her talk.  “I’m toning this way down from what Suzy said. Anyway. She knew damn well that they’d watched her come down that damn hill to St. Syms wearing snowshoes and that’s how she was going back up that damn hill. She didn’t want any goddamn truck ride from them. She wouldn’t take it even if there was an open road.

Well, these three Guards weren’t going to take that kind of attitude from her and pretty soon they were all swearing up a storm and getting in each other’s faces.  The shit really hit the fan when one of the Guards called her a fucking squaw. Excuse me. But there’s just no way around that one. When that Guard said that, Suzy said the whole place went quiet for about a full minute. She could hear the clock on the wall at the triage desk ticking. Now the lobby and waiting room were full of people waiting to be seen. All sorts of folks were in there watching this woman go at it with these three armed Guards. Suzy said, after it all went quiet then suddenly everyone in there blew up at the Guards. She said there were old folks, some black guys, a bunch of white women with kids, even a couple of biker guys. They all tore into the Guards like there was no tomorrow until they had the Guards backed up to the entrance doors. Suzy said it was like a standoff for a time. Then one of the orderlies, some older big black guy, got between the people and the guards and yelled, ‘Lily goes where Lily wants to go. Either you let her out that door or you will have to deal with me and everyone else here. What are you going to do? Shoot us all? Well, then you better get to shootin’, assholes, because I’m going to open that door for Lily if it’s the last thing I ever do.”

About this time some priest from St. Teresa’s shows up and gets into the mix. He manages to get everyone calmed down somehow. Which Suzy says is no small feat because this Father Timothy can barely talk straight himself. All of a sudden the priest just walks out the door with this Lily and the Guards don’t try to stop either one of them. Suzy had a whole lot more to say about it. That’s what I’ve been listening to from her for the past hour.”

Patrick stared at his wife, shot a glance at Benj then asked, “Did Suzy say anything about what this Lily looked like?”

Denise shrugged. “All Suzy said was that she had snowshoes that looked really old. They weren’t like the ones the sports guys use. They were made out of some kind of wood. Oh, and she was wearing a Hudson Bay Blanket coat.”

Benj sat back in his chair and looked at his brother Patrick who looked back at him. Together they turned to look at Dylan. “You want to tell him or should I, Patrick?”

Dylan frowned. “Tell me what?”

“You can do the honors, Benj. I just put two and two together and I am not liking what I’m thinking.” He caught Denise’s eye and nodded to indicate his approval for her forbearance in dealing with his father.

“Alright already. Tell me what?” Dylan set down his fork and knife and leaned back in his chair with his hands resting on the table.

“Well, you know when we said Stan handed us a load of crap the other morning. I’m beginning to think maybe it wasn’t all bullshit after hearing this Suzy story. He did say that Sarge and a Lily who wears a Hudson Bay coat were both chowing down at the same time at Bob’s about a week before the snow hit. Now Stan made no claim for Sarge actually being hooked up with this crazy broad. What he did say was that Sarge hot footed it out of Bob’s right after she left and in her general direction. That’s all he had on Sarge and her. But you would not believe what he told us about this Lily. Patrick and I weren’t buying a word of it. But now I’m thinking that if this broad is crazy enough to get into it with three National Guards carrying guns, maybe she is crazy enough to get into it with Father Richard about Father John and some other priests. I’m thinking maybe Stan told us some truth while making it sound like shit.”

Staring at some invisible point on the table, Dylan slowly nodded. “Funny thing about all this is that I thought Sarge was handing Nora and me a load of bullshit too when he used this Lily character to get out of here the day after Nora’s birthday dinner. Maybe if we run this Lily down, maybe, just maybe she knows something about Sarge. Or maybe not. She does not sound like a dish he would eat. But it might be worth taking a serious shot at her. Just in case. What else did Stan say about her?”

Patrick laughed. “Said she eats like a pig”

Benj shook his head. “No. He said she eats like a starving pig.”

Patrick, “There’s a difference between how a pig and a starving pig eat?”

“Yeah, there is, jackass, the starving pig is way more hungry than a pig that ain’t starving. If it’s starving enough it gets crazy and eats anything and everything it can, even its piglets.”

“I stand corrected then.”

“Keeping all this in perspective, Stan did say that Sarge was checking this Lily out. And, she was checking him out. So maybe there is a whole lot Stan don’t know about after they both left Bob’s.

Dylan rubbed his forehead. “Could be. You mentioned Father Richard. What’s that all about? Maybe he can give us a lead on this Lily—if, as you say, Stan was telling some truth.”

Patrick looked at Nora then at Dylan. “You sure you want to hear this?”

“Would I ask if I didn’t, Patrick?”

“No. But, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to like it.”

“You don’t want to get in deep shit for telling me what I don’t like. I get it. Okay. Fair enough. With everyone here as my witness, I swear not to dump on the bearer of bad news—whatever it may be. Okay?”

Nora, “Dyl, I’m going to make you keep to what you just said. If you don’t, you’re going to be sleeping alone for a month. Are we clear?”

“Perfectly, Nora. Okay let it rip already.”

**

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Breakfast Special #31  https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/breakfast-special-31-mrs-lings-office-supply-salvage-service-at-your-disposal/

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Ziyi Zhang – train station fight from The Grandmasters   upload by  bgblindninja

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Eric Burdon – The Animals – “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” upload by TangerineSequel

Breakfast Special, #29, “Treats and Tricks”

“Treats and Tricks”

Esther poured the hot golden tea into their cups. The older children in the next room were occupied with the large books containing high gloss photos of wild animals that Lily had brought upstairs with her. The younger children were down for a nap in the darkened front room area. Rosa sniffed the applesauce spice bread she had sliced up, tasted a piece and  nodded. “Muy bueno. This batch best one yet.”

“Esther, did you get it?”

“Oh I got it alright. I’m becoming a regular pick pocket queen. It’s almost too damn easy lifting things from that man’s coat even when he’s in it. Maybe it’s a sign he got nothing to hide. Or he don’t care who find what. I don’t know which yet.” Esther glanced warily at the children nearby then quickly handed the little grey book to Rosa. “I don’t get why Anton won’t say anything about it except that it’s not Sarge’s. If it’s not Big Man’s book then what’s the problem, so I’m thinking.” Esther dipped her slice of bread into her tea and ate while she and Lily watched Rosa explore the book’s contents.

After a few minutes of intense study, Rosa waved the little book at Esther and Lily. “This a pimp book. That what this is.” Setting it down on the table she took another bite of bread.

“How you know that for sure, huh, Rosa? What in there tell you that?” Esther looked at Lily who was frowning as she looked at the book over her cup of tea.

Rosa opened the book with the fingers of one hand while keeping it flat on the little table. “See the marks for the names. Like code. One mark for cost. One mark for what do. One mark for something else. I don’t remember todo. But I see this kind book before Juan die. Juan amigo steal from pimp. Make him pay mucho dinero get back. Risky business Juan say when pimp book got legs. You know what I mean. When it open for others see how he work his women.” Rosa shook her head in frustration with speaking only English.

*

*

“I read what you’re getting’ at, Rosa. I read loud and clear. Pimp man got all his prime real estate in his book. That intel he don’t want shared with anyone.”

“Anton told you to tell me this is not Sarge’s book. Okay. Why does he have it at all then?” Lily looked at Rosa. “I think maybe Juan’s friend was blackmailing the pimp he stole the book from. Maybe selling it back to him a little at a time?”

“Si. Yes. That’s the word, Lily. Black mail. Very risky.”

“Dangerous way to raise the rent.  Those folks are not people anyone want to piss off unless you willing to take a lot of major heat.” Esther sipped her tea. “Now I know why Anton don’t want to talk about what he figure after he see book with his own eyes. Pimp work is some evil nasty shit. He know I ain’t gonna like hearing that tune.”

Lily rubbed the edge of her cup against her chin. “What is Sarge doing with a pimp book?” She looked at Rosa then at Esther. “Sarge seem like a pimp to either of you? I’ve never met a pimp. I don’t know how you would know if a man is one or not.”

“Pimp a sly nasty piece of man work, Lily. Some got plenty of sweet talk to get a woman in their nest. Some just use their fists to make women mind. Some use drugs to keep a woman on their line. They all about control. Mind, body, soul. They eat it all. Keep a woman in a box tight. Women good for just one thing—sex. That’s how they raise their rent and the rest. Now your Sarge like that? I don’t think so, ladyfriend. Do you? He been actin’ different when we all out of sight? He been a mean boy? Hmm? He sweet talk you into doin’ what you got no interest in doin? That bread he been baking got something extra in it we don’t know about?  If so, then you better kick his ass to the curb right fast.”

Lily looked from Esther to Rosa then shook her head sending her loose hair waving down her back like a fish tail. “Nope. I have no reason to kick Sarge’s ass to the curb, fast or slow based on that intel. What else can you lay on the table?”

“Esther got it all. Si. Maybe Sarge do risky business. Maybe that why he got pimp book. He play hard ball game. But I kick my ass, if Sarge be a pimp. That take a special kind of man. He not that kind. He a funny man, sometimes little loco, but that not the same. No way, Rosa say. He don’t got that look in his eyes.”

Lily picked up the book and flipped through the pages. “Sarge said he throws freight for a living. I know that pays well because some guys from school do it part-time whenever they can for extra cash.  So I don’t think Sarge needs to blackmail some pimp for money.”

Esther leaned forward and put her elbows on the table as she drank her tea. “Why Sarge throw freight when he got all these mad serious skills with electricity, plumbing and such, that he been putting to work since he been hanging in your space? All that pay a hell of a lot more than even throwing freight.” She exchanged looks with Rosa as they both waited for an answer from the woman whose black eyes were slowly narrowing to thin slits as she stared into the open space of the rooms beyond.

“Sarge throws freight because he can make money working and stay out of his father’s reach. Rosa, where’s that big fat white pages phone book?”

“Wait. I think I know where Ricardo put it.”

“What you want more addresses for, Lily? Ain’t we got enough of them right there?”

Lily tapped her fingers on a page. “These are the names of women who work for the pimp, right?”

“Yeah, and?”

“Well, where is the address for the pimp? Where does he live? Doesn’t a pimp need a phone to do this business like any other business?”

“I see where you at. But, there’s no pimp name in that book that I can tell. We don’t know who the pimp be. Now, Sarge knows the pimp’s name. Got to, I think. You want that name for sure. You ask Sarge. He tell you if he dare.”

Lily took the white pages from Rosa then leaned back in her chair to put the phone book on her lap while starting to look through it. “I think he already has, Esther.”

“Oh yeah? Why do you say that?”

Lily looked up from the phone book. “What kind of man beats his son for telling the truth? Would that kind of man be the right kind to be a pimp?”

Rosa and Esther looked at Lily and stared. “Could be. Could be not. Depends on what that truth be.  But that could be a place to start looking.”

“Lily, be careful. Family be tricky business like Ricardo say.”

“That’s a funny thing to say, Rosa.”

“What is? I not laughing. Esther not laughing. How that funny, Lily?”

“I think it’s funny because prostitutes turn tricks for a living. You used the word tricky with family and business. Now my mind finds that ‘funny’. Not like, ha, ha funny. To me it’s more like, now that’s an interesting combination of English words because it makes me think all sorts of things.  I am freely associating random ideas in order to make connections I might not see any other way.”

Esther laughed. “Damn Lily. You got way too much goin’ on in your head when you talk like that.  But I think I read.”

“The universe operates in strange and wonderful ways, Esther. Let your mind play and you never know what you might see.” Lily found the page she wanted in the phone book, put her hand on it then looked from Esther to Rosa and smiled. “That’s one reason why I gave Sarge just a little chance when he followed me from Big Bob’s to ask for a date.  I saw the book he was reading while we were inside at the counter. Priest and I read it for fun and for the ideas in it. I figured if this big man is reading that book, maybe this is a sign I should not just give him a total brush off. So I gave him a chance to meet me at the Orpheum when I was already going to see Volpone with the ticket from Jake. When he showed up I figured that’s another sign. See? What are the odds of that happening?’

Esther shook her head and laughed a little. “You said that was just one reason why. What others were there? ”

Lily started searching through the names on a specific page. She replied without looking up, “My Gran would put it another way, but Anton’s way works just about as well. My bones started humming a certain way as soon as he sat down next to me. That does not happen very often as you both know. So that was another sign. Every little thing added up when we were outside looking at each other with the snow falling.  Oh my my, what have I found here.”

Rosa leaned to get a look at the page Lily was reading. “What you find?”

“O’Mara home and business addresses. Let’s see what’s in the yellow pages.”

Esther went and took the yellow phone book out from under the boy who had been sitting on it. “Okay what business we looking for in the yellow?”

“Try ‘construction business’ for a start, Esther. Let’s use Sarge’s skills for clues. Look for anything with O’Mara.”

“Now this kind of funny, Rosa see fine. Man use one thing to hide another thing. Play shell game. Tell you what. You two read books here with ninos. Rosa take a walk with pimp book. Get me some air.”

“Okay, Rosa. Why you takin’ the pimp book with you? You plan’ set up some red light work on the corner?”

“I got idea. You see. Adios amigas.”

Thirty-five minutes later, Rosa returned looking so very pleased with herself that Esther swore she was surrounded by a halo like that of the image of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe a street artist known only by his tag “got2” had painted on the side of a building.  “Hola amigas. Que tal?”

“What’s up yourself, Rosa? What are you so bright and shining about?”

Rosa walked very daintily and primly to the small table and laid the pimp book down on it. “No more pocket picking, Esther.” Rosa hugged a large envelope to her chest and smiled at Lily and Esther. Rosa giggled as she waved the envelope in the air. “We got our very own pimp libro.” She opened the envelope and showed them photocopies of every page from the little grey book. “Mrs. Ling found machine in trash at office building where she clean nights. She figure; there so many like it there that no one care if she bring broken machine home. So she did.  Mr. Ling fixed it. One thing machine do is make copies.”

Lily was laughing and clapping her appreciation of Rosa’s “idea” while Esther was looking at Rosa with new-found admiration. “Rosa, you never cease to amaze me. What else you got tucked up behind your mind sleeves? Hmm?”

While she said, “Nothing much,” her sweet little smirk said otherwise. “Your turn. What you do while Rosa play with Ling machine? Any luck with yellow book?”

Esther shook her head. “Not really.” She shot a warning glance at Lily to not laugh. “We got kids their cookies and tea. Now they all making pictures, writin’ notes and such for their moms and pops. We dead ended in yellow pages.”

Rosa’s face fell. “How can be? No O’Mara shell game?” She looked around at the children busy with their fresh number two pencils and paper torn from the Big Chief tablet. “Okay. No problem. We go another way.” She looked expectantly at Esther and Lily who were fighting hard to keep straight faces and failing. “OOOO you two she devils. What you got?”

Lily snickered. “Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Check this out, Rosa.” Lily opened the yellow pages to a full-page ad for  ‘O’Mara Construction and Consulting Services Available twenty-four hours, seven days a week. No job too big or too small. Our business is pleasing you.”

Rosa moved her chair to sit right next to Lily. “Dios mio! Jack Pot!”

“Wait until you see the rest. Esther has got some serious show and tell for you.”

“Come on already, Esther. Show and tell me!”

~~~

Breakfast Special #30 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/breakfast-special-30-good-wifey-drops-a-dot/

~~

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Breakfast Special, #28, “Fair Trade Creed Reads,” pt. 3 ~ Just Two Guys On A Roof

Sarge shook his head. “Anton, I honestly do not know. This is not the sort of thing any man lays out for a woman he cares about. It’s not a question of forgive and forget. It’s more like: how can you be so damned stupid for so damn long that you may as well be deaf, dumb and blind and then some.”

“My bones are hummin’ that you owe me fair intel trade. Now pay up or you eat a lot of snow when you hit bottom after flyin’ off this here roof.”

“Anton, slim jim that you are, I do believe you would find a way to do what no other man has done yet and throw my shit kicking ass off this roof. Give me a minute to think how to start.” Sarge watched the clouds while quietly inhaling and exhaling until he was fairly certain he had the nerve to say what he needed to say. “What I mailed to my mother were photocopies of a book I found. This f’n little book belongs to my dad. I found it when I was taking care of some electrical problem that my mother asked me to fix at my parents’ home.  I was not looking for the damned thing. Hell, I didn’t even know it existed. But I know it’s his alright because everything in it is in his handwriting. You know how some guys brag about their little black books?

“I read.”

“Well, my dad has a little grey book. That it’s grey is not the only difference between it and a little black book.”

“So he got some side action going. Lots of men do.  Don’t mean they don’t love their main women.”

“Anton, if only, if only that were the long and short of it. You ever see a black book with so many names and contact intel in it that extra pages have been added for the overflow? What kind of man has a black book like that? I can think of only one kind. It hurts so bad just thinking it that I can’t even say the word. I know you read me here.”

“I get that. But what this book got to do with you? That’s his dark shit.”

“Yeah, well, I have slept with a lot of women in that book.”

“What you mean by a lot?”

“Nowhere near even a quarter of the names in it. But that’s still a lot. Honestly, I don’t know, Anton.  I can’t make an accurate count because for a few years farther back, up until about five years ago, I was so out of my head swimming blind in booze, fighting like a lunatic and screwing constantly twenty-four seven that there may as well be a black hole in my mind when it comes to any clear memory of just about anything or anyone from that time in my life. What I know is that there is not a single woman whose name and face I do remember, who is not in that book. Bottom line, every woman I’ve ever had any sort of relationship with, her name is written in that little grey book. What further f’s up my head is that I liked a lot of them enough to try to get some traction with them for something more than fun between the sheets. Now I think I know why I couldn’t get anything real going with any of them. I wasn’t supposed to.  He, my dad, set it up so that I couldn’t. Here I’ve been thinking for years that I’m a complete ass when it comes to women, when all along I had no chance in hell with any of them from the get go.”

“Except for sex?”

“Yeah, except for sex big time. What really makes my skin crawl is that I never picked up any of these women on any street corners, dives or even high-toned red spots. Every single one of them I met at my parents’ home or at one of my brothers’ homes or their friends’. Now my brothers are all married, as are most of their friends. Keep that in mind. Personally, I wouldn’t have anything to do with any of their wives, even if I was paid to play with them. All along they’re telling me they’re bringing home potential baby breeders so I’ll straighten up and fly right like the rest of them. This is some deep serious irony, Anton. Because if the little grey book is what I truly think it is, then nothing is further from the truth. I cannot wrap my head entirely around this game play. There is just no end-zone in sight from my perspective. I mean, what is the point of all this shit? Is it all just to fuck with my mind?”

Anton slightly turned to look at Sarge in the moonlight. “You really don’t know, do you, Big Man?” Catching the distraught expression on Sarge’s face, an expression that Anton would not have seen if he hadn’t been quick to look, Anton decided to not fill in the blank with the most obvious answer just yet.

“Shit no. Not for certain. None of it makes sense to me. But the main thing eating me at this point is: what does my mother know about it all? Has she been in on it from the start? Has she just turned a blind eye to everything because she enjoys a decent lifestyle she never had while growing up? Could she possibly be as clueless as I was for a long time? I don’t know. My folks don’t flash any cash around in any way. House has some serious room space, but it’s no showcase. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it.”

“I read that if she be in on the game, that do some serious bad action on your head. That so?”

”Definitely, Anton, most definitely. I figure the ball is in Nora’s court when she gets those photocopies of the grey book in the mail. I went that route because she handles everything that comes through the slot. Mail hits the floor right next to his shoes and my dad does not pick it up. That’s Nora’s turf and he has never once messed with it. At least not that I’ve ever seen. So it’s just a matter of time before the U.S. Postal service delivers my book payload. What’s going to blow after that is beyond me. What I do know is that my dad will soon be very well aware that I’m onto his let’s- fuck-with-Sarge’s-mind-game. The only reason the shit has not hit the fan yet is down to Mother Nature’s deluxe snow delivery package deal.  This may sound weird to you, but I am damn grateful for every f’n inch that has fallen and basically nailed my ass to being here in the Flats with Lily and everyone else I’ve met. Otherwise, hell, I don’t know, but I have a feeling I might not be breathing right now if everything had been in the normal groove of things. That might sound paranoid, but I think I can make a claim for paranoia with a more solid foundation than most of these buildings in the Flats have.”

When Sarge fell silent, Anton considered, then reconsidered telling him what he thought the end zone of the mind fuck game entailed. He decided to refrain from speaking that creed for the time being after contemplating what effect that piece of enlightenment might have on Sarge’s state of mind. It would only be prudent to speak such truth with plenty of backup ready and waiting in case things got out of hand. While they continued sitting in companionable chilly silence on the rooftop, Anton focused on recalling everything Esther had told him about the little grey address book she’d discovered in the hidden inner pocket of Sarge’s coat during her fishing expedition for useful intel about the man when he’d first landed in Lily’s pad.  More solid intel was required before doing something as rash as telling the man sitting beside him what his bones were muttering about in regard to everything Sarge had told him so far. Deciding he needed a good look at the little grey book in order to confirm or deny if it was indeed what Sarge clearly hated it being what he thought it was, he nudged him with his elbow.  “Any chance you got some wrong ideas about your dad’s book?  Any luck Anton see this book stirring up all this turmoil? ”

“You of a mind to offer a second opinion, Anton? Is that it?”

“F’ yeah. Why not?  What, you never read a book or person wrong and not know it until you talk it out with someone else? Hmm?”

In reply Sarge dug around inside his coat then tossed a small book at the other man’s gloved hands. “Look all you want. If you can come up with another purpose for that damn thing, I would truly like to hear it, amigo. Oh yes, I would.” He turned on the flashlight they’d brought along to light the way up the stairs and focused it on the book as Anton took off his gloves to handle the thin pages easier.

For several minutes Anton worked his way through the grey book randomly selecting pages with entries written in black, blue and every so often red ink.  “What these numbers? Some kind of  code?”

Sarge looked at the numbers Anton pointed at for several names. “I have no clue. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to them as far as I can figure out. Maybe Lily could find some order in them, but I sure as hell don’t want to ask her to do that. Not when I have no good answers to any questions she might ask.”

Anton nodded as he turned to another page. “I read you on that Lily score, Sarge. Oh yeah. My bones getting a weird vibe off this here ink all by itself.  Damn, these addresses all over M.  Plus major representation in a lot of those little towns all outside M-  on those old business highways. What in hell is going on with that intel?” He continued thumbing through the pages checking just the city locations. “Lot of places here. Wonder what we see if we put them on a map.”

“I did that using enough of them to notice that they’re all over the place in all directions. One other thing I noticed is that the addresses and phone numbers for the women I’ve met do not match the contact information I have for any of them. A lot of them have addresses in that book outside of M-. I know damn well I never visited anyone anywhere else except at houses and apartments in M-.”

“You sure about that? Some of these right on the edge of M-.”

“Damn right I’m sure.  The only buses I ever caught to make my way anywhere and back home were  M- ones. Then, after I started living in the freight district about five years back, the other line to make the connection with Falls. I never made any bus trips out to any of those other cities or little towns.  I definitely didn’t rent any cars to drive out either. So that’s another thing getting under my skin. Nothing matches up. I figure that means a lot of lies all around from the women and my family regarding them.”

“You ever get a feeling something was out of joint after you seeing these women for a time?”

“Ah hell, Anton, most I ever saw of any of them was three, four different times max. That’s  counting the first time I met them.”

Keeping his hand on a page to save his place, Anton partly closed the book as he looked at Sarge.  “What you sayin’, these a bunch of one nighters with some encores? That what you sayin’, Sarge?”

“More like mostly two timers when it comes down to it. Don’t look so surprised, Anton.  It’s like I told you before, I have no traction when it comes to getting serious with women. Certainly not any of those ladies. Every now and then I’d think I’d gotten lucky when I managed three hookups with the same woman.  But soon after that third go round, it was like I’d run into a brick wall and there was no fourth round on any docket. Not even once.”

“You play the game with different women at the same time?”

Sarge shook his head. “No, just one woman at a time. I’d meet someone new, things would dead-end and after a while I’d meet another woman at a family dinner or some other get together. I never had more than one in play at any time. If you can even call that being ‘in play’ at all.” He turned the flashlight off since Anton wasn’t reading the book. “Anton, I never spent so much time one on one with a woman in my whole life as I have with Lily and goddamnit, I like it.”

“What you like, Sarge? Spending a heap of time with a woman or spending a heap of time with Lily?”

“I’m damn sure it’s Lily. That may sound strange because I don’t have others to compare with. But I’ve been feeling damn good around Lily ever since I sat down next to her for breakfast in that f’n tavern.  It wasn’t like we hit it off and got all cozy right then and there.  It’s not that kind of ‘good’. It’s the kind of ‘so damn good’ that got me following her out of there to try talking to her again out on the street that morning.”

Hearing the rising stress in the other man’s voice, Anton took care with his own tone and words when he spoke next. “Easy there, Big Man. Anton didn’t mean to rile you with the question. Just trying to get what’s clear in your own head, that’s all.  No secret to anyone how you feel about Lily. Everyone can see that on your face any time she around. Heck, she don’t even have to be around. Somebody just got to say, ‘Lily’ and it like flipping a light switch on the way you glow.”

“Is it really that obvious, Anton?”

“Hell yeah, you crazy mo fo’, it is that damn obvious. There ain’t a damn thing wrong with it either. Hell no. It’s a little different cuz must guys hide all that heartbeat stuff best they can. Got to protect themselves. Come right down to it, maybe they’d all be better off if they weren’t working so hard hiding how they feeling. But you, you like some big happy puppy all full of happy heartbeat shit like none other. ”

“Christ, sounds like I’ve been entertaining the hell out of people.”

Anton laughed a little and shoved his shoulder against  Sarge’s. “Oh yeah, but in a good way, Sarge. In a damn good way.  Nobody holding it against you.  Except, probably a few guys who been trying to get back into Lily’s good graces ain’t too happy about seeing you all happy. Cuz that mean Lily’s good graces all occupied, so to speak. But fuck them. They had their chances and blew ‘em.”

Sarge tugged on the string around his neck and yanked out the sachet attached to it. After taking a few strong whiffs of the scent he leaned back against the bricks. “I guess that means it’s obvious to her too.”

Catching the scent of pine on the light wind, Anton inhaled.  “She sure not blind, Big Man. Thing is, how she be seeing it. Be one thing if she looking at you like other women in the Flats be looking at you, and oh yeah, they be looking hard, Sarge. I got that on good authority.  You only see Lily, so you not seeing who else be keeping eyes on you and her and looking for a way between if there be one.  That another show all by itself.  But if she looking at you that way, then most like you can depend on a lot more one on one time with Lily.   Other thing though, when it comes to Lily, she could be looking at you a whole other way. If she be looking at you with her home people eyes, then hell, who knows for sure how she be seeing you except her and her bones.” Anton reached over and lightly tugged on the sachet string. He tapped on Sarge’s shoulder.  “Is this Lily’s home people smells I’m sniffing, Sarge?”

“Yeah, what of it?  Calms me down. I like it.” As if daring the other man to make any negative commentary regarding the fact that he was wearing a small bag of fragrant plant material on a string around his neck, Sarge lifted the sachet to his nose and inhaled its scents. “Smells like a forest to me.”

“I read that.” Anton leaned back against the brick wall and considered this information while realizing just how tense both of them had become during the course of their conversation. He worked on relaxing himself and for a time the sound of the wind swirling crisp snowflakes across the flat open roof took center stage. His voice was low and quiet but full of curiosity when he spoke again. “That little bag come from Lily direct, Big Man?”

“Of course. What, do you think I swiped it from her shower?”

Anton laughed. “Noooo. But it sure do smell like her bathroom.”

“It should because we put the same things in this bag. The others are all different. We made several blends from what she has stashed in her box.” He shifted his hips and dug into his pants pocket. “Here take a whiff of this one. This has more of a floral scent to it.” Sarge handed it to Anton who obliged him by sniffing the sachet. “These two are the ones I’ve been using today. I like them both, but the forest one seems to relax me quicker.

*

*

Might have something to do with the pine needles. I’m not sure. But it does take the edge off the tension pretty damn quick.”

“How many you got?”

“Seven. You ever try any aromatherapy?”

“Not like that. Esther got some candles I like better than others.  She lights that purple lavender one and I mellow out for the night in no time flat. So I got some idea of where you coming from.”

“Alright, you got Esther’s lavender scented candle and I’m working Lily’s home people scents. We’re square then.” Sarge inhaled and exhaled hard and long. “Yeah, just us two guys sitting on a rooftop at night talking about what chills us out. It’s all good. You read? ”

“I read. We be square for sure, Sarge.”  He tapped his fingers on the little book and caught another whiff on the cold air of the forest scent from the sachet Sarge was slowly swinging back and forth.  “As for Lily looking at you with her home people eyes, hell, maybe her nose got some say in the matter too. Cuz it sure smelling like home people land right here. Mmm..  Could be she working on getting you smelling right on that man woman pheromone level.” He made several loud sniffing noises. “Then again, could be this already a done deal. You two been rolling in the clover?”

“Very funny, Anton. Very funny.  This puppy has no problem with the pheromone gig whatsoever.  But the only deal she and I have going right now is a fair trade: my pancakes for her sachets. The rugs are all that’s getting rolled and that’s for dance time.”

Anton picked up the flashlight, turned it on and it shone skyward between them in order to get enough light to see Sarge’s face without blinding him. “Say what?”

“What?”

“Don’t start your literal word shit game, Sarge. Rewind.”

“Okay. What part do you want me to repeat, Anton?”

“Last part. Say again.”

“About rolling up the rugs for dancing?”

“Hmm. That the part. What that about?”

“About?”

“Sarge! Yeah, I know you can’t resist that word action, but keep with the main program here.”

“Easy, Anton.  That was a real question I was asking as in, what about the rugs or the dancing you want to know? Which is it?”

“Fuck the rugs! The foot action, Big Man. What’s with the foot action, the dancing?”

“Fun, that’s what’s with the foot action, Anton.  We’re just dancing for some fun.  You know, we clear the rugs out of the way, put some records on and get our swing on. That’s all that’s about. It’s no big thing.”  He looked at Anton staring at him hard.  “Hey, I’ve danced with enough women to know better than to ever think they want anything more than some fun on the floor and that’s all. Anybody who enjoys some dance action learns that fast or you mess up chances with good dance partners.  Having a good time on the dance floor doesn’t mean you’re getting any other traction off it.  Enough with the sky-beam already.” Sarge pushed the flashlight switch to off.  “Messes up the night light out here.” He gestured up at the moon and stars.

Anton looked up at the night sky and nodded. “I read that.”

*

*

Two nights later, Anton understood what Sarge had said about his dark shit not being the sort of thing a man wants to share with his woman. Anton did not want to discuss any of his own thoughts concerning the book with his dearly beloved Esther. He did meet her eyes directly when she questioned him, but steadfastly refused to utter a single word in response. Eventually, after consulting with his muttering bones, he asked her to very discreetly tell Lily that the grey book definitely did not belong to Sarge. And that was all he was going to say about it, even if she kicked him out of bed to the carpet for a month.

~~~

Breakfast Special #29  https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/breakfast-special-29-treats-and-tricks/

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

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-1-les-mis/

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

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-2-stealth/

 

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Forest Elves  ~  Cry of the Forest

Published on Jan  7, 2013

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As stars look down, they hear the sound
Of silent screams, from fallen dreams

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Breakfast Special, #28, “Fair Trade Creed Reads,” pt. 2 ~ Stealth

Once they found a place up on flat part of the roof that allowed a view of the moon and kept the wind’s sharp bite off them, Anton and Sarge hunkered down shoulder to shoulder with their backs to the brick chimney. Sarge waited in silence before Anton started talking in earnest. “You ready for me to read some serious Lily creed, Big Man? You got any doubt, say so right now. Cuz where we goin’ ain’t no return ticket.  Later you got to lay this intel in a deep quiet spot until Lily drop it on you herself. Can you do?”

“Yeah, Anton, I can do that.”

“One more thing, I expect fair true value creed trade. Don’t dish me no shit. I had a full plate of that today already, and then some more. Even my ghost got a too full belly of bullshit. You fair warned now. ”

“I can do on both counts, Anton.” Sarge nodded as he turned up his coat collar.  “If you want, I’ll lay my trade out first so you can decide if you think you’re getting a fair deal or not. If nothing else, you’ll know what I’m trying to figure out how to get straight with Lily without making a big mess of it. If that’s even possible.  For all I know, I’m deluding myself on that score.”

Anton worked his parka hood into place in order to create as much warm air space around his head and face as possible. “I got trust. My bones say you ain’t playing bait and switch. I worked up a load of steam today needs release this way I blow off some first. Help get my ears clear for your intel. We got a good spot here for ear work, so I’m gonna get to it. Later, when she share with you, Lily wrap it her way, but info still the same. I’ll try to drop my chimes, make Lily story easy for your ears. You set?”

Sarge leaned slightly forward and sideways in order to better hear Anton without asking him to raise his voice. “Yeah, I’m good. Don’t sweat your chimes. If I lose your tune, I’ll call a time-out. Read at will.”

Anton stretched his arms out and rested them on his knees. He took a deep breath and blew it out slow and easy watching its cloud of warm air dance in the cold before dissipating. “Alright, Anton read hard now:  Lily’s people hardly had any truck with any city folk ever. They got eyes and ears on them, but they keep their space wide away. Got no use for what they see city folk do. They do their life dance same as always, best they can. Then Stealth drop a bomb smack down on them. They don’t get no red alert. But Lily’s Gran, her bones were talking to her loud and clear before it drop. She had no idea what was coming. Still she knew some bad shit on the way. See Lily’s Gran had a loud and clear two-way Ma Bell intel phone line running between her and her bones. Her bones send their own red alert and she was on it. She was waiting with eyes and ears wide open for anything. Gran the only reason Lily, Peter and herself not blown to little pieces by Stealth. Gran felt Stealth  coming and went to see what she could so as to warn the others. When she see that black Stealth high up in the sky, she know right off what her bones been talking about right there.

*

*

*

*

She try to do her warning thing, but Stealth fly too fast for Gran when she make a run. Lily and Peter were hanging with her when bomb blew everyone else apart. Lily figures they plain damn lucky they not in pieces too. From what Lily say, Anton  think they be in about best place on that land they could have been when all science intel read its creed.”

Anton took a deep breath and stared at how the clouds were playing around the moon.  He felt the bigger man next to him waiting patiently, the body heat coming off Sarge warming the space between them.  “After bomb do it thing, it just Gran, Lily and Peter doing their thing until Air Force come back trying to figure out what went wrong with Stealth cuz they got their own intel. Air-Force take a shit-storm pounding from Gran. She don’t hold back even though her English need serious work. Some Air Force Man work enough guilt to try to make something right. Air Force haul Gran, Lily and Peter to Anchorage. Set them up. Not much, but enough. Gran got mad serious survival skills and she work them overtime cuz of Lily and Peter. Otherwise she just go back to where she came from and finish her life dance there. But  she know that not quite right for Lily and Peter, so Gran do her best to read this new landscape. She do real damn good too. She old, but she rock solid love motivated. She figure out fast that top line for kids be  school.  She follow new creed hard. For a time things go fine. They all miss home places, but work best they can with all these new people, new life-way creed.”

Things go along okay until Gran’s bones start sounding an alarm she don’t know how to read. That a first for her. Thing is, Lily’s bones start trying to talk too. She and Gran figure out something not right with Peter. But they got no sure clues cuz he trying to be a man and keep them safe. Peter about twelve, a few months more by Lily’s reckoning. She be about a spring younger than him.” Anton went quiet while rubbing his gloved hands against each other and  thinking about the next part of Lily’s creed. He glanced at Sarge sitting with his legs drawn up to his chest, arms wrapped around his shins, and chin resting on his knees.

“One day at school, this a church school that supposed to be top line where they living. One day at school, Lily’s bones start yelling at her. She don’t know what’s up, but she know she got to find Peter.  So she turn on her home skills so she can track him down at school. When she find him, she know nothing is right even though she don’t rightly understand what she sees.”  He hesitated and shot a quick look at Sarge.  In the course of their conversations he’d picked up intel regarding the man’s Catholic upbringing which caused him to briefly wonder how the next part of Lily’s creed would go down with him.  Seeing that he was still in solid listening mode, looking straight ahead while slightly leaning sideways towards him, Anton resumed speaking.

“But she knows these two priests are putting a serious hurt on Peter in this back room next to the garage. Lily sees what’s going on, but they so intent on Peter they don’t see her. She work up a damn big load of steam in the time it take her to go into the garage and grab the fist tool that looks like it do some damage. Turn out that be a tire iron. She take that iron back into that room and she lay it on them two priests like she the devil herself before they even know who’s hitting them where no man don’t want to be hit ever. After they laid out cold, she and Peter high-tail it out of there direct to Gran. They don’t hit their foot brakes for anyone or anything between school and home.

When Gran gets this low down creed, then she know why she couldn’t read her bones about Peter. Her people don’t have much history with this sort of shit. Gran ain’t about to let these priests off the hook. She does them like she did  Air Force. Only one problem—they got no guilt. No remorse, no sorry. They stonewall her. Gran figures she take this mess to Air Force. Now some Air Force Man, he get his back up too. Gran figures this all gonna get sorted now. And it might have. But neither Gran nor the Air Force Man count on how wrong these priests be or how fast they move. They like Stealth. By the time Gran sees them coming it’s too late. Another priest comes around and makes a big sorry play on Peter. He get him just enough out of reach for just long enough, so that by the time Gran and Lily find him, Peter swinging from his own belt around his neck. Then Gran don’t stop for nothing cuz her bones are screaming so loud she know she got no time to waste. She got to get Lily far out of their reach. She get her home skills and new city skills working hard together. In no time flat, she and Lily are out of Anchorage and out where Gran can hear and see everything and anything that might come after them from any direction. Gran keep it that way for a long time.”

*

*

Gran knows there are still a few other people like her and Lily, so she decides to make some hookups until she find a safe place to settle, cuz she know her time running out and she don’t want to leave Lily all on her own. They make their moves checking out folks and moving further up north as they go along the coast and in land. Finally they get to a little place where Gran and the people there know each other on sight. All seems good until Gran eyes a white man these folks call ‘Priest.’ He got no other name. Gran is not liking this at all. But she notice a strange thing: her bones are not yelling red alert. She stash Lily out of sight with folks she know are right, then Gran go to get a look at this Priest up close and personal. When they face to face, Gran’s bones start singing and dancing like they ain’t done in a long time. She know this man from another time. She know they been together somehow. Maybe they been bears together. Maybe they been wolves together. Maybe they been seals in the sea together. It don’t matter which. It just matter that it be true and he be a good man in this life no matter what they call him. Priest, his bones dancing and singing too. He know same things Gran know with just they looking at each other with no words.  Gran now knows this the place and people to settle with and do things right for Lily.

Turns out, Priest was one of those Jesuit types. He got a head full of hard-core mind skills and hell more. When Church sends him to Alaska, he do what they call ‘Going Native’ in no time flat. Church tells him to haul his ass back home. Priest tells Church to go burn in their own hell. Priest never going back there or anywhere, but where he damn well wants to go.

Priest and Gran make a plan to do what their bones tell them is right for Lily. Gran keep on teaching her all her home people skills. Priest goes to work on her head skills. He knows just what she needs to eat the oyster he say the world should be for everyone. Lily takes it all in like none other. She don’t fight either one of them cuz all this making her bones dance and sing too.

Meanwhile Priest, he start working on checking his reach. He got some years on him from another life before Church get hooks in him deep. He find out he got more pull than he thought. Time come when Priest and Gran know they got to get Lily on her own floe cuz neither got a lot of time left. Priest put a light sweet touch on people he know from time before Church. They come through. Next thing Lily knows, she knocking the shit out of every test they throw at her head skills. Priest’s people learn the score about Lily. Everybody put their heads and bones together until their bones sing about Falls. Only thing left is for Lily to get to Falls. Then a funny thing happen. Out of nowhere comes Air Force Man who got his back up about Peter. He thrilled to find Gran and Lily safe and sound cuz he worried a long time after Anchorage PD find Peter. But they never find Gran and Lily. Air Force Man scared same thing happen to Lily and Gran. Man pulls his own strings. Next thing Lily know, she learning the landscape in Falls and everywhere around and between the little college here and the big Uni in M- and way beyond.

Priest, his people, and Air Force Man worked up some money so Lily beholding to no one while she knocking the shit out of school. It don’t mean she rich, but it enough that it last as long and far as she care to stretch it.  Stretching it is how she hooked up living with us all in the Flats. She say when she meet Esther, Rosa and JJ, her bones sing and dance so much she don’t give a damn what people tell her about living in the Flats. She know that’s where she need to be cuz they all good people. They all heart strong women like Lily and her Gran.

The folks in the Flats got strong wind of Lily when some of the kids she was helping with their head skills let on to her what Father John was doing. This time she knew how to read what her bones were telling her. The way she went after Father John she may as well have had a tire iron in her hand and beat him with it. She got in so tight with Father Richard so fast that it made folks who in-the-know heads spin. She don’t hold it against him none that Church smacked him down when he tried to do the right things. Lily knows Church creed damn well. She also knows there more than one way to skin and gut a seal as she say. She gave folks in the Flats ideas about how to shut down St. Luke’s and Father John and send a message to the Church that tied Father Richard up in knots. Some parents liked her ideas and gave them legs to run with.

Now you know why no Neighborhood Watch snow crew go anywhere near St. Luke’s or Father John. They say if Church love Father John so much then they can keep him. We don’t want him. We are going to pick our own priest and our own Church from now on. Screw your parish boundary lines. Ever since they found Father Timothy, he be the only priest they deal with. Father Timothy be a damn good man. He make everyone’s bones sing and dance. He not perfect, but he always does the best he can. That’s all anyone can ask of another human being. Most important to parents, he love their children like children ought to be loved. He do all he can for them and everyone do all they can for Father Timothy. It took Lily going after Father John to get folks and Father Timothy hooked up right and tight. Now, Sarge, you still think this dark shit of yours more than Lily can deal?”

~~~

FYI:  Top Bomber B-52

**

~~

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

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-1-les-mis/

~~

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

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-2-stealth/

~~

Breakfast Special #28,  Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 3,  Just Two Guys On a Roof:  https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-3-just-two-guys-on-a-roof/

~~~~~~~~~~

~~~music uploaded to YouTube by Niels Ovlla Dunfjell

Sámi artist Berit Margrethe Oskal singing/yoiking “Eamifámut” (English: “Ancient Forces”).

Music video by Niels Ovllá Dunfjell.

Lyrics (Sami):
Eamifámut, eaminiegut
Ealli jurdda, ealli doaivva
Eat mii vuollán,
eat mii goarrán

Lyrics (English):
Ancient forces, ancient dreams
Living thoughts, living hopes
We will not surrender,
we will not disappear

All rights reserved © & ℗ 2010 MÁTKI RECORDS
Order all her music her: http://www.beritoskal.com

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:

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-1-les-mis/

~~

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

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-2-stealth/

~~

Breakfast Special #28,  Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 3, Two Guys On a Roof:  https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-3-just-two-guys-on-a-roof/

~~

Won’t Leave

Should I bother with any preamble or not? Whatever for? Ever have an image, a thought, a random notion get caught in your mental loop and refuse to whirl off as it ought in time? If so then you’ll understand why I’m writing this in an effort to clear my brainspace of a ‘story’ embedded in the “Lost Vikings” of Greenland segment that I posted earlier in the week.  I’m beginning to feel just a tad haunted by the fact that these people actually burnt a man at the stake for seducing a woman.  Think about that for a moment. A man and woman decide to engage in some sexual activity and he gets burned at the stake by his fellow-men. According to the rest of the information in the segment, the woman “did not last long” after that murder.  I gather she too died–but of what? By her own hand? After much sorrow and abuse by her fellow women and men? Could it have been from a broken heart?  Was she married to some man whom she didn’t care for and who made her pay for her sexual indiscretion? I don’t think there’s a way of knowing any of the answers.

Yet, there is the fact that a man was burned alive.  According to the written record of hundreds of years ago he “seduced” a woman. It doesn’t say he raped a woman. He s e d u c e d a woman.  Who murders anyone for having sexual relations? Well, the global news is full of all sorts of told and untold stories of people killed for adultery and women suffering honor killings for being raped.  All of these involve violence connected with sex in some way. In the Viking story the violence seems to come from some other part of the human thought system. Is it just condemnation? If so, how many other men and/or women would have been burned alive for seducing someone? If you think my mind is wandering into more sinister byways, you’re correct.  What was really going on in that community at that point in time? When murder is justified by claiming sexual wrongdoing I begin to wonder about motives.  Everyone wants motives, except our justice system which doesn’ want moral or ethical motives coming into court for people like Tim DeChristopher and Bradley/Chelsea Manning.

I’m wondering about this woman who didn’t live much longer after her seducer was roasted alive. Did she watch him burn? Can you imagine watching another human burning alive? Close your eyes and imagine that if you can: sounds, smells, sights.

Perhaps another word might be in order here–love. What happens when love comes into play? There’s no mention of “love” in the segment or the historical account. Were these just two lusty adults? Were they lovers?

Do we get jealous lovers? A triangle? A quadrangle? Forbidden relationships? Why?

Or is that taking it all too far?

What can kill a person without leaving a physical mark upon them?

What happens to a woman who watches a man die a horrible death because she and he had sexual relations —  by choice and consent? Or vice versa–a man watching a woman he cares for die in such a horrific manner.

I’m thinking there were some very angry men doing the staking and torching. Perhaps some women too.

Some men in the right positions to get away with murder via their own record keeping.

Maybe this is all completely off the mark of reality.

Still–their story, complete with all the unknowables, is keeping me company. It just won’t leave.

*

 

Breakfast Special, #27, “Lily’s Coat”

Lily’s Coat

“Well, I’ll be damned. Hells’ bells! We’re not open for ten minutes and look who comes through Big Bob’s new door. Good to see you, Benj. You too, Patrick. How’s Nora? Your Dad? Everything good with the clan?” Stanley set up three cups of coffee, one for himself and the two men who were the first to come inside and currently the only people in Big Bob’s.

“Hey Stanley. You’re looking good.” Benj kicked the snow and rock salt from his shoes as he held the door open for Patrick doing the same behind him before crossing the threshold.

“What can we do for you two fine young fine men? Whatever you want. It’s on the house considering you’re the first folks back in here.” Stanley waved a hand indicating that the bar was empty of customers except for the two O’Mara brothers.

“Just a couple of coffees and sweet rolls,” said Patrick. He took a bar stool next to Benj and began toying with the salt and pepper shakers.

“Oh come on, you two can do better than that. You got a stomach bug or what? Huh?” Stanley poured steaming coffee into the cups.

“Nora stuffed us before we headed for Falls. Preventive breakfast I call it. In case we get stuck in a snow-bank along the way, at least we’ll be stuck with full stomachs.” Benj knocked shoulders with Patrick next to him as they laughed.

Stanley set two sweet rolls on plates for them. “That’s Nora alright. So what brings you two to our National Guard Disaster area?  Don’t you dare say it’s because you enjoy the scenery on the ride here. That would be a whole lot of snow-shit anyone can see anywhere.”

His fingers dancing around the rim of his coffee cup, Benj said, “Actually we came in thinking we might meet up with Sarge.”

“Well, he has not been here this morning. He usually comes around every so often after a shift for the breakfast special and a sweet roll. With the docks still closed, I wouldn’t expect him though.” Stanley nodded at the window view of the shoulder-high mounds of snow all along the street with only one lane cleared for traffic. “If Reggie Dawson hadn’t taken it into his head to clear the street that much on his own, I wouldn’t be open either.”

Patrick followed the direction of Stanley’s glance and nodded in understanding. “When was Sarge last in for a special?”

Stanley sipped his coffee. “Let’s see. Pretty sure it was the Friday of the week before the snow really became a bitch. Yep. It was. I remember now. He sat there right at the end. Came in at the end of us getting slammed. Had his usual over-easys.”

“He seem okay to you then?” Benj dipped his sweet roll into his coffee.

“Oh hell yeah. Right as rain. Had a book as usual. Gave me a little lip for fun.”

“You ain’t seen him since then?” said Patrick.

“No.” Stanley shook his head. “Last I saw of Sarge he was high-tailing it out the door in hot pursuit of Lily. Have no idea if he caught up with her, but he sure put a leg on after she left.”

Benj and Patrick looked at each other, then at Stanley. Patrick leaned over his coffee expectantly. “How long has Sarge been seeing this Lily?”

Stanley shrugged his shoulders. “Never saw them together before that Friday. All I can say is that he sat down next to her. They gave each other a little grief. She ate like a starving pig as usual. He ate. She left. He grabbed his sweet roll and left right after. What more can I tell you?”

Benj grinned. “So what do you know about this Lily? Besides she eats like a pig.”

Stanley shook his head. “Oh that Lily, she’s something else, Benj.”

“What? She like some hot to trot firecracker?”

“Hot to trot firecracker? Lily? Hell no, Patrick. Atomic bomb is more like it.”

Mistaking Stanley’s line of thinking, Benj and Patrick laughed with glee. “So she’s like, what, stacked to the max?”

“How’s her ass action? She got a cute little wiggle in her walk?” Patrick shook his sweet roll to illustrate this notion.

Stanley laughed. “I hate to disappoint you guys, but you got it all wrong.”

“Awww Stanley. You’re such a tease,” said Patrick before eating half his sweet roll.

“You’re just yanking our chains with the atomic bombshell bit?” Patrick slumped dejectedly on his stool for a few moments.

“No. I’m not. I meant it. Only not like you two are thinking.”

Patrick punched Benj in the shoulder while keeping eye contact with the barkeeper. “Okay. Okay. So how did you mean it, Stanley?”

“Wait a minute.” Stanley glanced at the door and out the window. “I don’t want to start something I can’t finish. Let me lock the door. Fifteen minutes more of being closed won’t hurt anyone.”

“What the hell, Stanley?” Benj swirled on the bar stool while watching Stanley lock the entrance door. “You got FBI secrets to share or what?”

Returning to his place behind the bar, Stanley got comfortable on a stool, topped off everyone’s coffee, then looked from Benj to Patrick. “Remember when the shit hit the fan big time at St. Luke’s Church in the Flats a couple of years back?”

“You mean all that about Father John being a pedophile?”

“That’s it, Benj. That’s what I’m thinking of.”

“Oh I remember that. That was one storm that just wouldn’t blow over. So what’s this Lily got to do with that?”

“So—Lily started that shit-storm and kept it blowing for as long as it did.”

“I don’t recall reading about any Lily in the papers.” Patrick shook his head as he wiped his hands on a napkin. “I think I’d remember if Father Joseph had said anything about a Lily during Sunday Mass when he talked about St.Luke’s and Father John.”

“That’s because Holy Mother Church didn’t want it getting out who was really calling the shots in the Flats. Church didn’t want anyone finding out about what Lily knew any more than necessary. Lily knew a hell of a lot about what Father John did, when, where, who and how many times. Last thing the Church wanted was some reporter getting in deep with Lily. And they sure as hell didn’t want their own giving anyone any ideas about chatting her up. The parents were another thing. The Holy Fathers couldn’t care less about how they were carrying on. They just came across as clowns in the papers and on television because of how they looked and talked. Church could deal with the parents. Or so it thought at the time.” Stanley drank his coffee and waited for a response from either of the two men.

“But this Lily could have just gone to the papers herself. Why didn’t she?”

Stanley grimaced. “Lily wasn’t interested in getting press. What she wanted was Father John out of the Flats and out of the priesthood. She wanted him listed as a sex offender with the police and that was just for starters. She wanted him prosecuted to the full extent of the law. On top of that she had other priest fish to fry. And they weren’t in Falls. Now the only reason I know this is because my cousin Pauline manages Father Richard’s office in M-. She’s been there for two decades. She types up all the top line letters herself to keep things quiet and contained. According to Pauline, Lily and Father Richard had a meeting in person, right there in Father Richard’s office for about an entire day.  Right after that, Father Richard got busy and put some serious hurt on a priest in Minnesota, another one in Texas, and one in Washington State. Pauline doesn’t know what happened after that because only those letters went out. Nothing came in reply. Nothing in writing anyway. Everything else Father Richard did was either on the phone or face to face behind closed doors.”

Patrick hunched his shoulders and leaned over his coffee. “You’re saying he didn’t want any records or a paper trail.”

“Exactly.”  Stanley topped off his own cup of coffee and then Benj and Patrick’s. “But that didn’t put an end to what was going on in the Flats. When Father Richard’s hands were tied by higher-ups in regard to Father John, it was Lily who organized those folks to drive Father John out of business and basically shut down St. Luke’s on their own. The Sunday donations stopped. The tithes stopped coming in. The people stopped coming to mass. There were even carpools for getting people who wanted mass over to St. Teresa’s or any other church. Till this day, if anyone wants to go to confession they go to St. Teresa’s. Baby needs a christening; it’s done at St. Teresa’s. Someone needs last rites; they get the priest from St. Teresa’s to the Flats for them.  All of that is still going on. There may be a priest in residence at St. Luke’s, but only God Almighty hears him say mass. That church is a tomb.”

“Ahh ha. And this Lily is behind all that?” Benj exchanged looks and shrugs with Patrick before they both turned doubtful eyes back on the older man.

“Obviously none of that would have happened if people hadn’t paid attention to her. But she’s the one who light their fuses. No doubt about it.” He watched the two brothers smirk while remaining good-naturedly attentive to him. Deciding to take advantage of their interest and the lack of anyone walking or driving down the one lane street, Stanley warmed further to his subject. “As if that wasn’t enough, after those people got a taste of what they could do, they started doing other things. They formed what they call the Neighborhood Watch out there. It’s got ex-gang bangers, retired cops, blue-collar guys, white-collar guys, blacks, whites, Hispanics, Indians, Asians, the whole nine yards. You name it, if it lives in the Flats; they got it in the Watch. Falls PD may ignore 911 calls from the Flats, but the Watch doesn’t.”

Benj stretched his arms and locked his hands behind his head. “How you know all this, Stanley? Is there a Flats newsletter going around or some such?”

“How do I know all this?” Stanley’s eyebrows arched high as he met Benj’s eyes. “I know all this because my sister’s daughter, Joyce, she’s a nurse at St.Syms, lives in the Flats. Joyce bought a house god awful cheap there some time back because she wanted something close to work. As Joyce tells it, Lily pulled all those people together when she went after Father John for those kids he was messing around with. She really put the hurt on St. Luke’s when she got up at some community meeting and made some speech about if people still wanted to go to church and listen to some priest tell them how to live their lives after what Father John had done to their children, then they needed to go find a good man, because that’s what makes a good priest. So some people started visiting the other churches to check out the priests.”

Patrick laughed. “That’s funny, Stanley. Sounds like she sent them shopping for a better deal.”

Pointing his cup at Patrick, Stanley nodded. “That’s about what it boiled down to, Patrick. Now, lots of folks had been dishing some priest at St. Teresa’s ever since he arrived because he stuttered so much. They didn’t like listening to him trying to talk right. You know how that goes, especially with the old timers who want everything just perfect. They figured the Church had given them a lemon priest. Some of the Flats people go to St. Teresa’s to check out this priest anyway. When they show up out of nowhere to have a little chat, he stops what he’s doing and gives them his undivided attention until they’re good and ready to say bye-bye. Those folks didn’t give a damn about his stuttering. They just wanted a priest who flew right and played by the rules. They wanted a good man.  Joyce said that when the people from the Flats showed up at St. Teresa’s for Sunday Mass for the first time it was like a people bomb had exploded. Church was packed from the first pew to the last and out the doors. Guess which priest was saying Mass that Sunday. After checking out all their options in Falls and M- and everywhere in between, they chose the lemon priest. Now every time the lemon priest says Sunday Mass, St. Teresa’s is stuffed to the gills. That priest doesn’t even have a chance to ask for help. Roof needs patching. It’s done. Window needs fixing. It’s done. His funny little scooter needs a repair. It’s done. St. Teresa’s food pantry needs filling. It’s filled. Why? Because when the people from the Flats call him, he answers without any bullshit.  And he doesn’t mess with their kids.” Stanley drank the rest of his coffee.   “Ever see a picture of an atomic bomb exploding?”

“With the mushroom cloud and all spreading out.” Benj illustrated with his hands. “Oh yeah.”

“Same thing with Lily.” The barkeeper spun his empty cup in its saucer. “When she delivers a payload there’s a big bang, mushroom cloud goes up and down. Ripples just keep on spreading out wider and wider.”

Scratching his head, Patrick sat up straight and frowned at his brother and Stanley. “This does not sound like a woman who’d be up Sarge’s alley.”

“Anything but. Way too labor intensive.”

“You fellas are probably right. You’re his brothers.” Seeing a certain sort of opportunity in the situation, Stanley decided to make the most of it. “But if you saw how they were checking each other out here at the counter, both of them being sly about it, you might be singing a different tune.”

Not at all buying Stanley’s line, Patrick said, “If Sarge was giving this Lily the once over, then she must have something to grab his eyes. What does she look like anyway, Stan?”

Benj backed up his older brother. “Come on Stan. Give us something besides a yarn about the freak show in the Flats.”

“Alright already. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you two are a couple of Peter Pan Pests today. Tell you what. Next time you see a Hudson Bay Blanket coat hoofing it in Falls, that’s Lily. “

“You got to be kidding. Oh Stan. I don’t know about Patrick, but you’re killing me with your bullshit. I’m thinking I’m going to take you up on that freebie breakfast just to make up for doing you the favor of listening to all this shit.”

“I’m serious. You want to know what Lily looks like and if she might trip Sarge’s trap, then go find the Hudson Bay Blanket coat. You do know what one of those looks like, don’t you?”

“What do you take us for? A couple of morons? We know what a Hudson Bay coat looks like. She can’t have the only one in Falls.”

“True. But she’s the only person I’ve seen in the last, what four or five years wearing one all winter long. If I see the coat on the street, I think, ‘there goes Lily.’ What do you know, every time I drive past that coat and see a face, it is Lily. Never yet have I been wrong about who is wearing that coat here in Falls. Not once. Okay. Now, let’s fire up the grill and have us all some eggs because I don’t think anyone else is coming through that new door until some more folks are dug out.”

Patrick and Benj banged their palms on the bar-counter in agreement. “Hell yeah, fill us up for the return trip with sunny-siders and some burnt pig, Stanley.”

After Patrick and Benj departed, Big Bob’s grill man, Murray, came out from behind the grill blind. Joining Stan in another cup of coffee at the empty counter he pulled apart a cinnamon roll and ate it piece by piece. “Stan, are you sure that was a good idea, telling those two about Lily and her coat? They might do that and give her grief she don’t need. ”

“Ah they’re harmless as far Lily is concerned. They won’t lay rough hands on a woman. A man, now that’s an entirely different story. They’ll fight any guy dumb enough to swing a dick in their direction. They don’t care who or how big in any sense of the word.  I think Sarge has given them the slip again and they’re trying to pick up his trail anyway they can. Telling them to look for Lily when who they really want to find is Sarge, is like sending them on a wild goose chase. If they’re looking for her coat, then they’re not looking for Sarge. And in my book, them not finding Sarge for as long as possible is a damn good thing all by itself.”

“No argument on that score from me. Why they don’t just let Sarge do his own thing is beyond me.”

“It’s all about control, Murray. All about control. I’ve known Dylan and Nora for years. They always held their boys pretty damn tight when they were just kids. Now they hold the boys and their families tight too. Seems like they all want it that way. Except for Sarge who has been fighting that tight hold ever since he was a little kid. Unlike his brothers, Sarge was born with a mind of his own. That’s why Sarge and crazy Kozy get along so well.”

“Stan was that legit what you told them about Lily and Father Richard or were you just blowin’ smoke up their asses?

“Oh it’s legit all right. I could tell by the looks on their faces they weren’t buying one word of it even though I was telling them the gospel truth according to Pauline. I figure, hey, truth is stranger than fiction. My conscience is clear. I didn’t lie to them. They think I did though. So they won’t be wasting any time sharing that story. They forgot it before they even went out our new door.” Stanley looked at Murray. “Probably best you forget it too.”

Murray popped the last of the cinnamon roll into his mouth. “What? You say something Stanley?”

~~

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

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-1-les-mis/

~~

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

https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-2-stealth/

~~

Breakfast Special #28,  Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 3, Two Guys On a Roof:  https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/breakfast-special-28-fair-trade-creed-reads-pt-3-just-two-guys-on-a-roof/

Breakfast Special, #26, “Fishing Lines and Irish Lace”

Fishing Lines and Irish Lace

Anton set aside his book and waited while Sarge adjusted the racks and closed the oven door on the two baking pans of banana bread he’d arrived with a few minutes ago.  He and Esther had already placed new bets with Mr. Ranoli on how long, how many ovens and how far along the street the bread baking spree, now in the middle of its third day of spilling out of Lily’s apartment might extend. Whenever Sarge wasn’t out clearing snow off rooftops with Anton and the rest of the Watch snow crew, he and Lily went to town mixing up breads then farming them out for baking in any available empty oven someone was willing to open for them. According to Ricardo, Rosa had skewed the betting odds of when all this bread making action would have to end due to a lack of ingredient resources by giving the pair free and easy access to her flour reserves stored in one of the large freezers in the front room. And she wasn’t the only one funneling baking supplies into Lily’s kitchen. The first batch of loaves had tasted pretty good and the second batch better. Now anyone who had an odd bag of yeast on a cabinet shelf or nuts, fruit, flour, sugar, anything else suitable for tossing into a mixing bowl was dropping it off and volunteering their oven.

Sarge set the stove’s oven timer, then grinned at Anton. “All set. Now what did you want to ask me?”

“I see you got a serious game plan going with the loaves. I don’t want to mess it. But, hey, how about you take a load off for a few tic tocs?”

“No problem. The game plan is in no rush, Anton.” Sarge sat down at the kitchen table hoping to set the clearly nervous Anton at ease. “You’re looking a little tight, Anton.  What’s winding you up?”

Anton listened to the voices in the hallway for a time then leaned towards Sarge and lowered his voice.  “Here’s what I’m stressing. Got a call back from this place in M-  where I dropped an app for a place on their kitchen line a while back. Main Cook Man says if I’m still fishing for a place on a line, to come round soon as the road open again. No sweat when, cuz he know the score in Falls. Just fill him in when feet can travel. That’s all sweet as far as I can read.”

“Sounds good so far. So what’s got you stressed?”

“It lay like this, Sarge. I worked a lot of kitchens in my time. But I never worked any kitchen line this high up before. Main Cook Man say he call me back cuz that boxed cod I plated up for him was best he ever put a fork to. I made it taste like fresh wild caught. See, I got my ways with the swimmers. I did this job pitch cause the funds so damn sweet. Cover travel and everything and still plenty cash to stash. No more need for Esther to do two part-times.  Hours reg too. Big sweet that. Most times I catch a job line in a place with folks I know. But not this place. I got no intel to fill me in. No eyes, no ears. No one ever done  more than hit the bar in this place for a treat. Now, I don’t mean no offence here, I just reading the book as it is. But, you being you, with roots in M-, maybe you know this place some. You read?”

“I get it. No offence taken. You want to know what you’re walking into up front.”

Anton relaxed and nodded vigorously. “Exactly.”

“Okay. What’s the name of this place?”

“Irish Lace on Lincoln Street. Sweet dining area up front.  Major kick-ass bar. Some tables in back. Live piano nights.”

Sarge nodded. “I know the place.” He looked at Anton. “You want it straight up, right?”

“Oh yeah, Big Man. Lay it on me.”

“Up front, I hope you know me well enough by now to know I mean no offence. Like you said, I’m just reading the book as it is. I’m trying to make sure I don’t put your back up. I like you, Anton. I don’t want any trouble for giving you what you’ve asked for.  You read me?

“I do. No blowback coming for sharing intel best can do. ”

“Good.” Sarge brushed some flour out of his hair then did his own check of the people in the hallway. Satisfied that they still had some privacy for their conversation but wishing for more, he gestured for Anton to lean in closer to him.  “If you’re working the kitchen, then stay in the kitchen. Not because you’re black.  Just because the kitchen is Mack’s turf.  He rules his turf. Kitchen staff are his people. If you were working the bar, you’d stay at the bar. That’s Charlies’s turf. He rules his turf. Bartenders are his people. Same goes for the tables and Tony. Everyone runs their own turf.  Unless you’re told to visit the bar to help out, you stay away from the bar. Otherwise you run the risk of setting off a turf war between three guys who have trouble implementing the concept of mutually beneficial peaceful coexistence.  Good so far?”

“I read. The dudes got territory issues. Go on.”

“Yeah, that’s one way to put it.” Sarge hesitated then dove in again.  “Here’s what I don’t know how to say any way that will sound nice and polite. So focus on the message not how it’s packaged. Intentions are all good on my part.  Okay?”

“We’re good. Let it flow.”

“All right then. The first time we met, Lily asked you to tell me all about the news for your speech practice. When you did that, you didn’t use any slang or your usual lingo. At Irish Lace,  it would be in your best interests to try to talk like that as much as possible while working. If they can’t understand you when the kitchen gets slammed, it’s going to piss them off. You don’t want that kind of trouble. I’m not kidding. Mack gets pissed and the knives start flying. He doesn’t like anything messing up his lines. ”

“I read. Talk their talk. Walk their walk. Anything else?”

“You don’t have turn yourself inside out for these guys.  They don’t expect that.  It’s just a matter of effective communication that’s all. Mack offered you the shot because he likes your cooking. With him and the people he takes on it’s all about the cooking. All they care about is what you do in that kitchen. You play nice with them and they will play nice with you.”

Anton laughed a little.  “Hell, you make it sound like a damn kids’ sandbox.”

“Yeah, well that’s pretty much what it is when you get down to it, Anton.” Sarge looked down at his hands for a few moments. “Now this is an entirely other matter you need to be aware of especially if you and Mack decide to commit to a long-term relationship. If there’s ever a fight when you’re working, do not under any circumstances get involved. Do not try to intervene. Do not make a play for a piece of the action. No matter what is going down or who you see fighting, stay the hell out of it. Do not call the cops. Keep your head down and out of the line of fire. Do whatever Mack tells you to do.  He watches out for his people. You follow his creed to the letter if there’s a fight. Have I made myself clear, Anton?”

“Oh yeah, Big Man. Oh yeah. No problem. I got no interest in kicking sand at anyone else.  Got plenty of intervention action right here in the Flats to suit me.  More than I care for. Ain’t about to tangle with others’ issues. Anything else?”

Sarge thought for a moment then said, “Oh yeah. Sarah, the owner, she’s a handsy type, but she doesn’t mean anything by it. She just touches everything and everyone. If you watch her with the customers you’ll see her do it non-stop. She can’t stop herself.  I think it’s some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder. You probably noticed that Mack has a lot of fly-swatters in the kitchen. They’re not there for swatting flies. They’re there to keep Sarah’s hands off the food.  I’m not joking. When I said she touches everything I meant it.  When Sarah reaches for the food you’re working with, you whack her hand just like everyone else does.  Don’t hold back. She won’t hold it against you. She knows she’s got a problem.”

Thinking Sarge really was yanking his chain, Anton grinned. “Don’t hold back with the fly swatter. I can do that. Thanks, Sarge.”

Sarge stood up. “No problem.  Good luck with Mack. You keep his lines sweet, he’ll treat you right. One more thing, Mack doesn’t care if you’re black or white or green. Keep that in mind if he gives you some flack when he gets stressed. He’s got a limited vocabulary. Now, I’ve got some dough to pound down. I’ll wander back in to check the bread around ring time.  If you think of anything else you want to know about Irish Lace just ask.”

“Will not hesitate. Hey, you got a compulsive disorder with all this bread you and Lily been making?”

 

~~

Breakfast Special #27 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/breakfast-special-27-lilys-coat/

Breakfast Special, #25, “What Are Bubbles For?”

What Are Bubbles For?

Lily spent the morning with Esther and JJ going door to door checking on the neighborhood elderly, sick and several individuals who tended towards isolating themselves for one reason or another.  Afterwards they inventoried “sun rise’s”  main food pantry staple supplies and winter clothing shares. While they were making up some specific need boxes a group of very bored teenagers unexpectedly arrived and volunteered to do the much-needed basic inventory and organizing of the various home repair materials that had been supplemented by the salvage assault on the abandoned house.  The group thus freed up a good part of the day for the three women.

The unexpected task relief left Esther, JJ and Lily somewhat at loose ends when they discovered that they’d done all they could in the current day’s equation. For a few minutes they debated going downstairs and helping out the teenage boys and girls sorting out the salvage mess.  JJ squashed that notion by pointing out this was the first time about half the  group had come forward to do anything and that their adult presence would probably upset the fairly positive cooperative dynamics currently in motion judging from the snatches of conversation they could hear coming up from the basement stairs.  “I think it’s time we took a break and let them figure out how to do things. Let’s face it, the worst they can do is break the window glass down there. The rest is pretty indestructible.  I want to finish reading the last hundred pages of The Mists of Avalon. It’s sitting on my kitchen table calling me. I don’t know about you two, but I’m going to accept this little gift of time and energy.  Adios, lady-friends! You know my number in case of an emergency.” With that said,  JJ hauled on her winter coat and made tracks across the boards  to her home further up the street.

Esther stared at the yellow door as it closed on JJ. She blinked at Lily.  “I want a bath. Yes I do. All to myself.  Right here in the middle of the day with a few Katie Webster tunes to sing along with while I do some serious lavender soaking.  Oh yes.  Bathtub calling  Esther direct. That’s where I’m going, Lily. I suggest you do the same.” She hugged Lily and took off in the direction of the two rooms and bath set aside for her and Anton’s privacy.

Left to her own devices in the middle of the hallway, Lily shrugged, pulled on her coat and returned home.  For a moment she considered venturing to the second floor to see if Rosa needed a hand. The absence of sound coming from above signifying naps for the younger children and quiet time for the older ones impressed itself upon her. When the children were being quiet, Rosa was having a respite of her own. Lily headed into her apartment which seemed oddly still without any activity in progress. Sarge was out with Ricardo, Anton, and some other people doing indoor home repairs. She was far beyond caught up with her course work and she’d indulged in a long soak in the tub last night. It was strange feeling at a loss in her own place until she took a notion to put on Swingin’ Easy and just flop on the red velvet couch and listen to Sarah Vauhan while watching the dark clouds lumbering across the grey sky outside the windows. This turned out to be such an agreeable arrangement that she moved the record player and the box of lps to the table behind the couch so she had even less effort to put forth while doing her best to do absolutely nothing.

Lily drifted along with the clouds and music for the better part of the afternoon. For a time she even dozed off until the record player arm reached the end of the record and pulled her back to the present moment.  Stretched out on the couch with her feet up on the backside she had just begun a new toe dance when there was a knock on the door.  Without taking her eyes off her feet, she called out, “It’s open. Come on in.” She heard the door open and felt a swish of cold air from the hallway.

“Umm, hey, I don’t think I should do that just yet, Lily. “

Preoccupied with her little toe game, Lily didn’t bother rising up from the couch. “Suit yourself, Sarge.” As an afterthought she added, “Do you know what that funny smell is?”

“Umm, no.” Sarge stood in the open doorway waiting for her to look in his general direction. When she didn’t he coughed and cleared his throat. “Hey, ahhh, Lily, would you mind doing me a little favor?” He watched her left foot chase her right across the top back of the couch.

“Such as?”

“Sorry, but I just have to ask. What the heck are your feet doing?”

Lily ‘s feet and toes immediately stopped all motion. “Ahh, just a little dance exercise coordination game.” Her feet disappeared from the back of the couch. She lay on her back looking up at the ceiling.  “So, um, hey, how about coming inside and closing the door on the cold air and that smell.”

“Yeah, um about that. Do you have something like, I don’t know, maybe a couple of plastic trash bags or something like that handy?

“In the box under the kitchen sink, help yourself to whatever you need.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea just yet. Would you mind getting me one or two depending on the size?”

“Why? Did you break your legs or something?”

“Or something more or less covers it, me.”

Curious, Lily slowly rose up off the seat cushions and looked to where Sarge was standing in the doorway.  “Why do you look like some sort of slimy claymation toy that just got put through a garbage disposal, Sarge?” She wrinkled her nose. “Ahhh yeah, unless my nose deceives me, you are the smell.”

“Funny you should say that, Lily. About the garbage disposal that is. Yeah, um, I didn’t go through it so much as it came back at me.” He looked at his shirt and pants. “Most of it is out in the snow, but as you can smell, it’s taken a liking to my clothes. I don’t think I ought to change in there. If you’d get a bag for the pants and shirt to set in until I figure out what to clean them with, that would be good. I could just leave the bag out here in the hall and then hightail it directly into the shower.” He watched her get off the couch and come warily towards him.

Lily looked him up and down and shook her head. “Shower?  No way.”

“Ahhh, okay. I get it. You don’t want this stuff messing with your old drains. But I know I can keep that from happening with one of those little strainers you use for skimming scum off the top of the soup.”

Tentatively she poked at the sticky gunk on his arm then on his cheek. “That’s a good idea, Sarge. A strainer would work pretty well. I’ve got a couple of smaller ones that might fit in the drain. But, um, I think you’re going to need some serious soaking time in the tub.” She gestured for him to bend down so she could touch his hair. Upon doing so she withdrew her fingers and grimaced at the goo sticking between them. “Okay. Trash bag coming right up.” She went to the kitchen and came back with a large black plastic bag. “Here you go. Okay, I’m going to start filling the tub.” She started towards the bathroom and turned around when Sarge protested.

“Just a shower. It’ll be quicker.”

“Yeah, um, Sarge, I don’t think quicker is going to get that sticky muck out of your hair or off your skin. You need a bath.”

“A bath? Huh? No. Lily, wait.”  Hearing the sound of water running in the bathroom he shook his head then began removing his clothes and stuffing them into the trash bag. By the time Lily returned he was down to his socks and underwear. “Well at least the socks and boots aren’t soaked in this muck.” He looked at Lily. “There’s nothing on my feet so we’re good on that account. What do you think?” He looked at his arms and legs where he could now feel the gooey residue hardening on his skin in the cold air.

Lily just waved him inside in reply and shut the door behind him. “Get in the tub already.” With both hands she shooed him towards the bathroom making sure he didn’t take a detour along the way.

When he baulked at getting into the tub she mistook his resistance to her presence in the bathroom. “Oh get over it, Sarge. Off with the boxers. You haven’t got anything I haven’t seen before. Come on, get in the tub. Let’s see if some lemon juice cuts through that goo. If it doesn’t we’ll try some vinegar and baking soda next.”

He looked at Lily then at the tub and frowned. “Yeah, ahh, you know I’ve never done a bath before.” He reached down and swirled the rising hot water with his right hand. “Um. This seems a lot like getting into a pot of boiling water on the stove. You know how they cook lobsters live? How about we just do the shower and see how well it works? Ok?”

“Oh come on and get in there already. Do you see me standing here with a bowl of melted butter just waiting for you to turn bright red so I know you’re done cooking and ready to eat?”

Sarge stood up and looked at her and around the bathroom. “If it was breakfast time I wouldn’t put it past you.” He tried to back away from the bathtub. “What’s with all those bubbles? Where’d those come from? Lemon juice doesn’t do that in water.”

“You’re serious? You’ve really never had a bath before? Not even as a kid?”

“Not even as a kid. I’ve been in a pool though. That’s sort of the same thing. This is a lot smaller. And it’s hotter. This is more like the sink I threw my brother Mark into the last time we fought.” Sarge shook his head as he looked at the large, deep old bathtub. “I know it’s just water.  Oh hell. First time for everything, I guess.” With one hand on the rim of the antique tube he carefully put in one foot then the other.  Very carefully he lowered himself into the tub while tensely frowning. “I think the hot water is making the smell worse.”

“Why am I not surprised at that.  What the hell was down that garbage disposal drain pipe anyway?”

Sarge flicked his fingertips at the bubbles floating on the top of the water. “I don’t know. Never smelled anything quite like that before. But there’s like five older kids in that house.  They’re in that stage just before they become teenagers. They might have mixed up something weird just for the heck of it and put it down the drain to see what would happen. Maybe a science experiment from school or something like that.”

“Maybe they were trying to make one of those volcanos. Kids get a kick out of making them explode.”

“Oh yeah? Well this one blew big time in the disposal. I’m not the only thing that smells worse than a dead squirrel in the street on a hot day. That entire kitchen is major nose kill zone now.” He sniffed his hands. “Come to think of it, that is just about what this smells like. Those little buggers are not going to like the payback coming their way. Oh yeah. I’ve got plans for them.”

Lily sniffed his hair. “Dunk your head and let’s try the lemon juice.”

“What?! You mean like put my whole head underwater? No way! ”

Lily looked at him and nodded. “Yeah, like put your whole head in the water. You do it in the shower all the time. What’s the big problem?”

“No, I beg to differ. It’s not the same thing at all!  You’re telling me to give myself a damn swirly.”

“A what? You mean like sticking your head in the toilet bowl and flushing it?”

“Exactly that!”

Lily leaned sideways and flushed the toilet.  “There! You’ve got surround sound to get you in the mood. Now shut your mouth and hold your breath and get your whole head wet!” Seeing him starting to build up steam to resist this notion, she put both hands on the top of his head and pushed just enough to get him sliding downward on his own. Once he was under the water she quickly scrubbed his scalp with her fingers then let him up. “There now you’ve had a Lily swirly and you’re still breathing. And stinking.”

Sarge sputtered and shook his head. “Ooo you’re in a pushy mood, aren’t you, Lily?”

“No, I’m in a I-don’t-like-this-stinky-smell-mood, Sarge.” He watched her warily as she poured lemon juice concentrate from a bottle into a plastic cup, showed it to him then tossed it into his hair. Getting the distinct feeling he wasn’t about to submit to another dunking, she used the cup to pour more water into his hair.  Lily stared at then tested a gooey mass with her fingertips. She poured some lemon juice straight out of the bottle onto his head. “O yeah. Now we’re getting somewhere. It’s your lucky day, Sarge. Whatever this smelly shit is, the lemon juice is cutting it pretty good. First we kill the goo then we’ll deal with the smell if the lemon doesn’t do it in. Hang on. The end is in sight.” She went to work on his hair with gusto. “See, nice bathtub. Right?  Nothing to worry about. It’s not like this is a Roman bath with a fire under it to warm the water.  There’s just the hot water heater over there in the corner doing its thing.  Relax. Enjoy yourself.” She caught sight of the jar of her favorite blend of dried flowers. Taking hold of it with one hand she thrust it at him. “Here, play with this while I chase the gunk.”

Sarge took the jar, opened it and sprinkled some on his arm. “Definitely helps with the smell but it’s not doing much in goo removal department.” He eyed the quart sized open bottle of lemon juice on the floor. Letting his hand drop down, he quickly picked it up and poured half of it over his arm and into the tub without Lily being aware of what he was doing while she extracted a sticky mass from the top of his head.  “Traction.  Oh yeah.” He surprised her by suddenly immersing his head again and swishing it back and forth underwater briefly before coming up for air again.  “Okay, that’s enough of that for bath number one.” He wiped the water off his face with both hands and took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Leaning back on her heels, Lily let him relax. “Why didn’t you have baths as a kid?”

“Would you let six boys who constantly fight with each other anywhere near a tub of water like this? The word ‘drown’ comes immediately to my mind.  Need I say more?”

“I’m getting a certain picture.” She looked at him and shook her head. “Didn’t you ever get along? You all had to give it a rest sometime, right?”

“No. We did not and still do not. I don’t think we can either. We seem to set off some sort negative chain reaction in each other. Or at least I do with them and vice versa.”   Sarge lifted a handful of bubbles to look at them closely.  “Hey, these are kind of neat with the way they catch the light.” He looked at Lily and with total sincerity asked, “Are they supposed to do anything?”

She nodded, leaned forward and blew them off his hand and into his face.

 

~~~

Breakfast Special #26 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/breakfast-special-26-fishing-lines-and-irish-lace/

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