Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moving Along Slowly Through A Drizzle-Gray Sunday With An Emaciated Bear Killer




I can't write a book commensurate with Shakespeare, but I can write a book by me. 
---Sir Walter Raleigh

by James Jarvis
from Tales of An Urban Nomad
Creepy cooked a pancake breakfast for me this morning then skipped off to Candyland (the 99 Cent Store). One of our Motel Marquis inmates was filling the motel courtyard with the bittersweet sound of his lone coronet playing, giving the courtyard a bluesy, Jackson Square feel until motel manager Don put an end to that shit.

"You let them play the blues, next thing ya know, they'll be wantin' ta crank up that damned Rap on their boomboxes," Don explained when I protested. "I checked to see when his rent is due. Think I'll just tell him to move along when he tries ta pay it."

We're all paying a price for Rap music, I think.

With nothing else to do this gray, drizzly Sunday morning, I walked over to the Arco for coffee and cigarettes. I sat on an ash can in front of the store sipping my coffee and smoking my cigarettes, vacantly staring at the gas customers doing their zombie consumer pump to cashier to pump shuffles.

I had a Johnny Cash song doing a reverb in my skull when Kenny, the Canadian wino on SSI who drinks beer all day behind the Arco dumpster, mistook the vacancy in my eyes for The Wino Buzz and came over to share the Sunday morning reverie he assumed I was having. He talked. I watched the gas zombies.

Kenny, now an alcohol-emaciated, petite little scruffy 90 pounder, had killed a black bear once. Brown bears're too dangerous. Some stand nine feet tall. The Indians tanned his black bear skin with their teeth. He knew some Indians like me, he said. He'd run in to a few 'Sees The Stars' before, but never met any 'Iron Weeds'.

"I seen you fillin' them propane tanks," Kenny told me. "I used ta do that when I wuza Arco manager in Ohiee. Strangest propane tank I ever filled was one a them big hot air balloons. I seen the guy coming down outta the sky in one one day. He jus landed that thing in the Arco driveway, hopped out and asked fer propane like he's a regular camper 'r sumpthin. Weirdest thing I ever saw."

Kenny's face had lit up with that memory. He seemed lost in the memory a moment, reliving the glory days of gas station cashierery, then a shadow ran across his face behind his eyes and he was back at the Crenshaw Arco, a little man in charge of nothing, barely tolerated on the sidewalk outside the store, a man told regularly by the police and store proprietors to "move along".
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