Friday, October 28, 2005

Thermos Man

A recent event where a fellow blogger related his getting looted by one F'd up Ted, reminded me of a weirdo that hangs out occasionally in front of my place of work: Thermos Man. Thermos Man is schizophrenic. I'm sorry about that, but I have to wonder about his handlers. When I say "handlers" I mean whoever is making sure that he's fed, clothed, cleaned up, and gives him money. He doesn't look like the feral sort that you usually see roaming the local "JESUS SAVES" mission. He looks taken care of and has a bus pass. From what I can tell, he roams a large area--riding the bus all day.

One of his favorite stops is right across the street from a courthouse. He likes to sit, smoking and holding court with his thermos. When I say "holding court" I mean screams at it, makes up with it, accuses it again of something, then screams some more. I usually can't make out anything that makes much sense. It's hard to decipher his unusual blend of English and echolalia. But one time he made perfect sense, and it's chilled me to the bone ever since.

Thermos Man sat on the steps of an office complex. I was watching him from an open window. He flips open the lid to a packet of cigarettes and starts to talk to the ones that remain, "I killed your wife and kids the other day, and now I'm gonna kill you!" He took out the cigarette and lit it up, took a puff, blew out, then let out a stifled laugh of satisfaction. "I smoked you dead, sir. Now, I'm gonna get your brother!"

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Ghost of Abraham Lincoln

Spending time getting intimate with a little porcelain and disinfectant is something that I figure that most of us normal people have to do on a regular basis. Our homes, our toilets: we clean them/we know them. What goes in as well as when, and to forget it when it goes/comes out. Cleaning other people's business has given me some rather interesting topics for a possible coffee table book, fingers crossed. I could expound on fecal matters, but that's too crass, base, even for a seasoned mop jockey like me. Oh, what the hey!

I promised you a ghost story and now I'm talking about poo? Bear with me, you'll get to have your cake and eat it...probably not a good analogy here. First, we will talk of matter, then of spirit!

I can sling a johnny mop like it's nobody's business. Snaking is not breaking me either. A plunger thrown asunder by no one other than my brother...hell I'm just riffing now! The point is, I'm the shit when it comes to it. I've seen much, if not all, that can go wrong in a stall. But, there is one thing that has vexed me so...a mysterious phantom lurks within the thunderbox! He is the ghost of Abraham Lincoln!

My first encounter occurred while working as a school administration custodian. While cleaning the offices and toilets for the stuffed shirts, I witnessed many things that one would expect from school children and not principals, planners, and superintendents. So, I have concluded that such unexpected things are not actually the product of these most respected individuals, but that of mischievous spirits, sort of like Family Circus tyke, little Billy's "Not Me".

"Wowee, wow, wow!" The sight that I beheld when I swung the stall door open revealed a python coiled, ready to attack. No toilet paper in the bowl to obscure this trophy. A work of art. My eyes watered in appreciation of what it must of took to give life to such a mighty creation. They mostly watered, though, because I must've just missed the artist himself. Art stinks, by the way, especially when preceded by an "F". What excellence, I thought. Here is someone who thinks so highly of what they have done, that they have skipped formal hygienic procedures to leave in full view a man-size stink slinky.

I thought that I was only treated to a one-time performance piece, but others followed. They were the same size and consistency of the first one . Lab tests confirmed that it was not of human origin. Okay, I lied there, but you should've seen these things! I even went in a bathroom, cleaned it, came out of the bathroom, returned to the bathroom within minutes, knowing of no other people to be present, and then finding the phenomenon had occurred again. I was past suspicion now; I knew that I was dealing with a pooltergeist.

I used my powers of deduction, and what cunning God gave me, to figure out who was behind these "gifts". Poo>logs>>log cabin>Lincoln Logs>Abraham Lincoln grew up in a log cabin>Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth while enjoying some theater, Lincoln was holding it in until the play was over, yet never had the satisfaction of relieving himself properly. Conclusion: the Ghost of Abraham Lincoln has constant need to rid its bowels of the most compacted, unbroken chain of a dump that it was deprived of having on that fateful night.

As soon as I uncovered the mystery, I found that I was being followed by this ghost. Once, the ghost followed me into a Barnes and Noble. I went to use the toilet, and there I beheld his masterwork: a brick the size of a hero roll (not a lie). I tried to flush it with all my might, but the mighty beast would not be taken down. It would just sway as if being rocked to sleep. This particular artifact was witness by three other persons: two Barnes and Noble patrons, and my older brother. All were in awe. One of the men turned to the rest of us and asked, "Have you guys ever crapped a foot before? Well, I'm guessing that's gotta be about a size fourteen!"

I feel somewhat gyped, though. I never had a "Sixth Sense" moment, where I got to resolve the ghost's problem and then saw them off into the light. If I had anything to say to Abraham Lincoln, I'd say thanks for putting an end to slavery and all comes out in the end.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


During my fast food days, I worked with several burn outs. One guy in particular stood out. He was good in debate, got good grades in school, but it seemed that his copious use of acid and pot were starting to take its toll on him about his junior year in high school. I, of course, won't use his real name, so let's call him "Bernie".

Bernie's favorite place to get high was down at the rail road tracks and under an overpass. He liked to lay down between the two rail lines and smoke a joint. He said it was pretty scary, but it really tripped him out when trains would come flying through. I don't think that this is a good idea, even if you're sober. Anyway, the thing that made this guy funny was his fixation on words that he thought sounded funny--while he was still buzzed.

Bernie had to do weekend breakfast dishes once in a while. I'd go back there to chew the fat with him and see what he was thinking that day. On one particular day, I went back there to drop off a few things and Bernie was back there folded over into the sink. I asked, "what's up, man?" He had his eyes closed, but I couldn't hardly see them because his thick prescription glasses had fogged up. Bernie didn't reply, so I got a little concerned and asked him if he was okay. He rose up out of the sink and had dipped his face into the soap suds just enough to have a little foam covering his face. The only thing that Bernie said to me, rather shouted, was "CORN!!!" I was totally mystified by that. Bernie just laughed maniacally. I just backed away. It was funny though. Later that day I approached Bernie and asked him why he shouted corn at me. He just repeated "CORN...AHH, HA, HA, HA!!!" I knew he had reached that point then, where there's no real point of return, but at least someone else's downward spiral can offer the rest of us a little comic relief.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Opening shift at a fast food joint: one employee says to the shift manager, "Hey, (*****), your hair covers up your lobotomy scars really well!" The manager gets a concerned and confused look on her face then turns to the rest of us and asks, whining, "What's wrong with my hair?"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Trip in the Way-Back Machine: Paying a Visit to "Drunk D"

Today I saw a maroon '68 Ford F-250 Custom Cab. That alone gets me excited. I don't know if it had a 390 Effie in it, but I could imagine it in my head: dual side exhausts blowing through a set of Cherry Bombs, popping out an extinct fuel of high octane and lead. The suck of the Holley can be heard when mashing the throttle. Fuel tank sloshing right behind the seat; no concern for safety at all. Those Fords had the horizontal gauges and thin dashboard that just make every thing feel so big. Tractor feel shifting, with what seems like eye-level throws, and a suicide knob to make up for the lack of power steering. To top it all off, you have an old AM transistor radio blowing that wiry buzz of news and old tunes into your ears.

I shared a paper route when I was twelve with my best friend at the time. It was a big weekly route, so we usually had his dad drive us around while we threw papers. I didn't like the days that his dad drove their Datsun station wagon. It was too cramped and the top hatch would sometimes swing down and smack you on the head. The best was when we used their old 1970 F-250 Ford truck. It was similar to the one that I described above: it was maroon as well, but given the year it probably had a 351 Cleveland, and it was a juice tranny. Juicers are easier to drive, but where's the fun in easy?

I got one side of the truck bed, sitting on the wheel arch, hucking either side-arm, over-hand, or over the back when I felt like showing off. Having virtually no obstructions, we could stop in the middle of a cul-de-sac and throw a star pattern, covering bases in an instant. The best and worst was when my friend's big brother "Big D" drove us. This depended if he was drunk or not. His drink of choice was a malt liquor with a wide mouth bottle called a Mickey. While that might of been his drink of choice, it usually was whatever wouldn't make him blind or sterile and that was readily available.

When Big D was sober, he was cool and friendly. When he was drunk, he was funny, but insane. Big D would let us listen to "evil" music which would've been Judas Priest--before he went all mid-80's waver dude on us. Big D would also let us stand upright behind the cab. We would line up a bunch of papers on top of the cab and launch them hard into the oncoming driveways. The only thing that kept us from falling off the side was holding to the side of the open slider window. Drunk D tried to kill us.

I knew that there was trouble when they came to pick me up. I could smell that sick, sweet smell of alcohol blasting me in the face when he said, "Get back there short f--k!" He could say shit like that as if he was the friendliest guy in the world. It was hurtful, but at the same time you felt like he was allowing you to at least hang out with him, so that made it cool. However, this time he seemed past lightly buzzed and his profane remark was more belligerent than usual.

Getting to the route was making me sick. Drunk D kept swerving and stopping real hard. When we started our route, we had a hard time hitting our marks because of the speeds Drunk D was hitting. Every now and again, Drunk D would deliberately slam the brakes so that we would fly into the front of the bed. We could tell that he thought the whole thing was so damn funny. He was cursing and laughing at us practically the whole time. The real "moment" of this day occurred when we hit a steep decline that was cross-cut by a couple of roads.

Drunk D wasn't slowing down at all. As we picked up speed, I could feel my testes rising up into my diaphram. I was pretty sure that he was going to blow the first stop sign, so I dove into the pile of papers. My friend was kneeling, holding onto the front of the bed trying to shout "STOP" into the cab. When we hit the first cross-cut, the truck's suspension bottomed out, then it recoiled and launched upward. This double action catapulted both of us in the bed up into the air. There was a moment where I viewed my friend hovering in mid-air with folded up papers surrounding him like weightless drops of water in a space capsule. I felt a strange mixed-up feeling of euphoric doom.

I landed hard on my tailbone; my friend hit the passenger-side wheel arch with a meaty thud. Both of us started shouting and crying, trying to get Drunk D to stop. He wouldn't respond. I could see in the rear view mirror a reflection of a hollow-green smirk, his eyes glassed over. He kept accelerating, heading for the next cross-cut. My friend and I hunkered down flat to a pile of papers, hoping to make with a better re-entry this time around. Fully expecting to have another trip skywards, we weren't prepared for his next trick.

Drunk D threw a curve ball at us, instead of going straight, he made a fast left, though this was through a yield sign this time. The truck bed slid, but not smoothly. It skipped and bounced violently sideways. The papers and the two paperboys collected in a dense pile to the right side of the bed. After, this fun-go-round, we had enough, and jumped out of the bed when Drunk D finally stopped down the road. The rest of the day was us trying to run away from Drunk D. Drunk D finally caught us, and promised to buy us a pizza and drive nice, if we got back in the truck. We agreed and finished our route. When a sobering-up D dropped me off, he opened the cab door and spewed out watery sick right on my curb. I quit that paper route that day, leaving it all to my friend. I had enough of that.

Big D later would struggle with substance abuse and die a gruesome death from his friend's Nova. His funeral was an open casket. It shouldn't have been, though. His last gasp occurred while being thrown from a car doing 90 MPH off of an embankment. Apparently being too high to make sense of oncoming car lights, the driver swerved right across the opposing lane and through the guardrail, jumping off a steep bank. Big D ended up head first into a tree, splitting him from the crown to his spine. So, given this, it's easy to see that he weren't very pretty: and all the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. They tried to, at least.

When I came to his casket, there were polaroids of his wife and his baby boy stuffed into his folded in catapillar-like fingers. I looked at his face and noticed something wrong; it was a twisted smirk almost like the one he had on his face while going down that hill. I even expected to hear his laugh and a few profanities fly out of his stitched-shut gob. But, he was just deader than hell. It sucked everything out of my friend. We stopped hanging out after that. It might seem corny to you, but it's strange to me how seeing an old Ford pickup can bring back all of that time and those memories to mind again.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Another episode of Harold and Maude:

I was painting a large school building with a few guys. One of the guys was slopping paint all over the place, including himself. He wouldn't wear coveralls, gloves, or anything. His shirt started getting pretty messed up. He started to pull off his shirt, but we protested. We didn't want to see his sweaty 40-year-old man boobs; plus he's covered in back hair--more like fur. I asked him why he had to take his shirt off . He replied with a dead serious stare, "Because, I'm hardcore!" I countered with a simple "Oh, yeah?" He gave me a sickening grin, shaking his head, then responded, "I like to get down and dirty!"

Later that day, his mom dropped by to deliver his lunch. It gets worse, his mom chews him out for ruining his clothes, then proceeds to pull up his sagging pants. Folks, this is hardcore!