December 14, 2018

The Last Days Of Grandfather


He was a tough old bird as they say; an immigrant in the late 1910’s or so...he came over here with his wife to avoid whatever unpleasantness was coming in Russia after the revolution...he worked as a security guard in a steel mill and didn’t take any guff from anyone...he boxed a little bit...he learned English and did all right for himself...after he learned enough, he drove a taxi...he saved up his money and bought a nice house...nothing fancy mind you, but nice with a big lot where he and his second wife put in a big garden...he had a ‘55 or ‘56 blue Ford parked in the garage (I wish I had that car now)...once in awhile, he’d take us to the grocery store and on the way home, we’d get some ice cream...however, even tough old birds get their wings clipped eventually and they have to stop flying...and now he was spending his last days at home in a bed...he didn’t want to die in no hospital...he didn’t want some doctor or nurse leaning over him, so he made us take him to his house...hell, even though I was young, that made sense to me...he lived across the street from a big cemetery which I imagine made it pretty convenient when the time came...I always got the creeps going over to his house when I was small, especially when the sun set and all you saw were the ghostly outlines of the monuments...when it got dark outside, I imagined that the cemetery was full of spooks just waiting for us to go outside when we were leaving so they could haunt us...I admired him more when I got older...his idea of medicine was; a cold?...take a shot of whiskey...a broken arm?...a shot of whiskey...a toothache?...a shot of whiskey, maybe two...there wasn’t nothing that couldn’t be cured by a shot of the good stuff...so you can bet that on his dying day he requested a shot of whiskey as he lay on his deathbed...the doctor wouldn’t have approved but he wasn’t around and I think the adults were afraid if they said no, he was gonna get up and kick their asses even in his condition...as he lay there, his breaths getting more labored with each one he took, one of his kids, who actually was an adult now, put a small radio by him...on it, was playing his beloved classical music...he always had that music on at his house...I think I saw him make a half-smile as he laid there in his final moments...I overheard people saying that they kept hoping they’d play Rachmaninov, or Rimsky-Korsakov, or some other Russian composers’ songs...but when he died, he was listening to Chopin, although it might have been Beethoven or somebody else for all I know, and I thought that’s not a bad way to go out at all...our own ship, the Titanic is sinking now and we all know how that’s going to end...the Carpathia isn’t coming to save us...in time anyway...we don’t have any lifeboats to climb into, no brave officers to rescue us at the last moment...we’re going to dip under the cold water-our bow will sink and our stern will rise-we’ll keep climbing up the stern but there’s nowhere we can go but down...one or more of our funnels will snap off and quickly we’ll be under the mass of dark icy waters resting on the bottom of our pine box...and it is dark down there, I mean pitch black and permanent and unlike the Titanic, we’ll be forgotten about soon—or we’ll just become a distant memory or a faceless name from some dusty book of recollections stored in some dark attic with cobwebs...passed down to the generations that follow us but don’t follow us in the sense that they forge their own paths...that kind of sucks when you realize the ramifications of it, or the non-ramifications of it as the case may be, but it’s the truth...an ugly to look at truth that gets in your face and grabs you and as the man on TV used to say “That’s the way it is”...

December 12, 2018

I'm The Captain


I’ve had a lot of jobs in my time and none of them were anything I was ever proud of or that I’d admit to...oh yeah, I load boxes all day in a warehouse...no thanks...I’ve had a lot of blue collar jobs, bluer than most...workin’ for the man every night and day for a few dollars to scratch out a life on...but there is one thing I would like to admit to...I’d like to be a fishing boat charter captain...that just sounds badass to use the vernacular of the day...everyone’s a badass, everything’s badass...blah, blah, blah...badass, badass...but I’d like to captain a boat, maybe run one out of Key West or Sarasota...now that would be badass if I say so myself and I do...or anywhere else where the water stretches out and gives rise to the dream that men have dreamed for thousands of years...the sea makes you feel alive...Jacques Cousteau said that ‘The sea once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”...and I can believe that...once your out on the sea, you don’t want to be back on the land...at least not for long...I wouldn’t take any crap from anybody either...it would be my boat, my rules...just take people out to the best spots and let them do their thing for the day, and no I’m not helping you bait your fishing rod...in between trips I’d be banging on my typewriter in some oceanside bungalow with a thatched hut with a window that I could see the full moon shining over the ocean...just glowing and looking like a giant flashlight that somebody was holding up in the sky and looking down at me...and then slowly drifting across the darkness...listening to the big old palm trees shhhhhhh and whisssssshhhh in the tropical winds...of course I’d be writing a great epic...ok, in reality my laptop...some story about the sea or the men who sail it...Hemingway-esque I’m sure...and even it wasn’t, it would be cool to go through the motions of it...what a lifestyle that would be...now I’ve been on a few boats in my time, nothing particularly large, I mean except for a couple of cruises I’ve taken to the Bahamas and Grand Cayman and one to Mexico...but those don’t really count...never was a captain though...it would be nice to be the boss, calling the shots...that’s right, I call the shots...reassuring people that we’ll avoid the swells from an oncoming hurricane and get back into port ok...now there’s a lot of people who just want to go out to do some drinking and the fishing is incidental...that’s ok...some out there just to drink and live the good life, for an afternoon anyway...and some out there hanging over the side of the boat...that’s what happened to a bunch of my friends once...they paid good money to go on a fishing charter and then would up drunk or sick or both...I could of told them that was going to happen...fortunately, I took a pass on that ‘adventure’...I’m sure a lot of people would be a pain in the ass because that’s what most people are...if they got too bothersome I’d  be tempted have them walk the plank and give the sharks their lunch...but boats that size don’t come with planks...too bad...or maybe keelhaul them...I’d just like to tell some nosy ass person “I’m a fishing boat captain” when they asked me how I made my living and then tell them to weigh anchor...that of course would be after I watched them curl up with envy like a frightened opossum when I told them I was a Captain...then I’d tell ‘em to avast and shove off...I dream of being out on the boat all day tasting the salt in the air and then coming home and drinking some copious amounts of rum...and working on my book...yeah, a job on the seas and a novelist ...it’s something to daydream about.

December 10, 2018

KGB In The Alley

He was my best friend growing up...we spent a lot of time together playing, or he just wanted to be where I was...if I was laying down, he’d lay down by my bed, if I went in the basement to listen to music, he’d come down the stairs and lay on a rug...that dog chased me around the brown shingle house we had again and again for years, and wherever I hid from him, he still found me...he had boundless energy...I’d hide behind the evergreens, beneath the big evergreens we had in the front of our house...there was just enough space to crawl between them when I was a kid...sometimes I’d lay there when I was smaller and pretend I was with the KGB and had people walking on the sidewalk, or maybe a neighbor across the street who was working in their front yard under surveillance, but they never did anything illegal or exciting...if they did, they would have been picked up by a black sedan and taken away forever...it was a great spot...you couldn’t be seen...so I’d hide there too, but he’d find me anyway...I’d hide behind the neighbors white fence that was supposed to be part of their garden, but they never planted anything, unless they planted weeds or seeds of weeds because that’s all that there ever was in it...the bitter old lady who lived next door would yell out of the window at me sometimes to get off of the grass...I decided that when I owned a house, I wouldn’t be one of those kind of neighbors...I used to hide behind the old brown and rusty trash barrel in the alley my dad used sometimes to burn leaves, it used to be an old oil barrel I think that he brought home from work...behind the large crabapple tree we had or maybe even up in the tree, behind the pair of pear trees that our neighbor across the alley had, maple trees that screamed gold and red during autumn, behind big bushes we used to separate our back yard from the grass alley that ran behind our property...the alley wasn’t like a city alley that was full of rocks and where people drove to get in their garage...it was always kind of spooky to see a car driving slowly down the alley because almost no one ever did...it had to be a stranger in the neighborhood...what were they driving down the alley for?...maybe they WERE with the KGB and they WERE looking for someone...I used to hide behind the garage, in the garage, mostly from my dog, but sometimes from the KGB...it didn’t matter if I did because my dog would always find me...I’m glad he wasn’t with the KGB...sometimes it took him a little while but he never gave up...then, he got older and it took him a little longer but he still found me...gradually, he couldn’t run much anymore and I didn’t want him straining himself, so we stopped playing hide and seek...I hated to give that up...then one day a few years later, it was my turn to find him, he wasn’t lying under the coffee table, he wasn’t up on the couch with his head laying on his favorite pillow...I finally found him...dead on the basement rug...death spares no one, not even noble dogs...he’s buried in a pet cemetery...some people might think that’s silly, but I don’t...he was a member of the family and I didn’t want him to be incinerated with bodies of unknown animals...I’ve even gone to visit his grave site even though I’ve moved a thousand miles away...it’s out in the country and there’s other dogs and cats, and even a horse buried there...they still keep it up after all these years...it looks better than a lot of human cemeteries...a dog adds so much to your life, and being home without a dog just seems so...empty...people grow old too, but dogs have a much shorter lifespan...that’s why I try to take the dogs I have now to the park, or at least play with them in the backyard I have now as much as I can...you can hide from a lot of things, but like the KGB, death always finds you.