Sunday 6 May 2012

OK, so I've been really slack...

About writing this blog.
The last thing I remember I was working on the ATS and trying to get back in shape.
Completed the test and did enough to pass, we'll see what everything else has to say.

Started working with a nutrition coach, Sherri Kruger of Newtrition 911 and that has worked out to be a really great partnership. I've lost 20lbs and gained so much perspective and insight.

Since I haven't heard back from the testing I've started a new workout and thats coming along well.
If you're trying to lose weight or otherwise improve your life I urge you contact Sherri at:

I was a doubter, but I'm a believer now.

Also I've been busy with the Welland Historical Museum board. The museum reopens on May 15!
Looking forward to being there!

The rest of my time is spent volunteering with the red cross as a driver!

So, I'm keeping busy but I should still find time to put words on the page.


Monday 20 February 2012


I've decided to apply for a Special Constable position here in Niagara and to do so I need to complete the Applicant Testing Service Test.
I looked at the Physical portion and it doesn't look too bad.
30 pushups. Check.
75 curls (at a 50BPM rate), maybe...
Stage 9 on a Shuttle run, or "Beep" Test. sigh. I hate running. Started on a treadmill today with a bit of a wonkey knee (slipped and fell the other day) walk/ran 1600 m and then did 25 min on a bike for "real cardio".
My legs gave out way before my lungs.

We'll see how it goes. If you still want to read LOT just let me know. I'll post more of it!
Wish me luck!

Monday 6 February 2012

tired of the smack

Let me get this off my chest.

I hate the NY Giants.

There was never such a horseshoe up your ass franchise as the G-men.

They run their clective mouth and never get called on it. Put a sock in it. You put the rock on the ground TWICE and it bounced your way. Wes Welker drops a pass that he should have caught. In fact there was a whole lot of patriots not catching the ball going on.

As for this smack that Eli Manning owns Tom Brady? Please.
Eli is a great quarterback. An elite quarterback. He is a quarterback that has receivers make UNBELIEVABLE CATCHES for him. They don't call that one that was on Tyree's helmet "THE THROW". Manninham catching that ball at the sideline like that, and trust me there wasn't anyone around who wanted that to not be a catch more than me, was spectacular.
It only makes Welker, and Hernandez (who just took his eye off the ball and started to turn) and Branch, Branch dropping it 3 times look that much worse.

For those who said Brady is done and his legacy is tarnished i say if it weren't for Welker, Gronkowski and Brady the Patriots wouldn't even be there.
Their secondary was built from gun tape and chicken wire. Anyone else remember them losing to the BILLS for crying out loud?

G-men. Have some dignity. It was a close game, You played hard and pulled it out.

Enough said.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

more of "The Core"

I knew they would ‘take steps’ if they heard that we intended to play the kind of music Danny had opened our eyes to. When I mean take steps, I mean the kind like the wide receiver hears when the quarterback tosses the ball a bit too high and the receiver makes the unconscious decision to protect his ribs instead of catching the ball, the foot fall of impending doom. Dad’s music tastes didn’t stray very far beyond nineteen seventy five, a little Bob Seger, a little J. Geils. Freeze frame, was the death knoll for my Dad’s interest in music, the top forty dirge of a great blues band. I bought him “Live blow your face out” one Christmas. Twenty years later it’s like ‘Angel is a centerfold’ is the only song the band ever played.
Of course, Danny was back at the Core the very next weekend. He even asked why I hadn’t phoned Shannon. I saw the little red chevette drive by a few times. I figured it had to run low on gas some day. Time is on my side, yes it is.
We talked in earnest about the singing problem. Danny said flat out that Kurt wouldn’t cut it and I had to agree. He had a decent voice, nothing to write home about, but had a memory like a sieve.
He had even greater doubts about Howard. We had all listened to Howard mumble, often under his breath, when he couldn’t find the right key or when one of us had caused the problem. Howard couldn’t even talk, could we really believe he could sing?
So I stood in the kitchen leaning on a mop that I was supposed to be pushing listening to the pop and crackle of my mom’s a.m. radio. CKLW pumping out yesterdays hits from hi atop the avocado green fridge. Fleetwood Mac was playing, Stevie Nicks singing something unintelligible between melodic slurs and a.m. crackle.
A grinchish smile split my face. I had an idea. I had a wonderful, awful idea. Now just to make it work, which as a rule is the worst part. After all, how many really good ideas have gone into the circular file because everyone was too chicken shit to try it, instead of some half ass idea that had been done in a half ass way once or twice before?
I click through Danny’s phone number, plastering a smile on my face, like Mr. Fowler, the business teacher always says, “when you’re doing business do business with a smile on your face.”
“Hey Danny, I’ve got a great idea,” cringing I think of every pitch man with a stupid idea that has said that same phrase. “Why don’t we ask Shona Maggio to sing in the band?”
Crypt like silence.
Stevie Nicks mumbles her way through another six bars.
“Can she sing?” he asks, as though it really matters. She could stand there like Josey’s extra pussy cat, thumping a tambourine and smile, and I think she would cause a sensation. The best part is that somewhere in my recollection I think she used to sing in the Church choir at Holy Name. Hey, maybe she can sing.
“Tell ya what,” Danny says, “You ask her to audition and we’ll see what we think.”
It would give me an excuse to call her. My stomach began to twitch at the very thought of it.
Stevie Nicks had given way to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
“Okay, deal. I’ll give her a call.”
“You get right on that Ed. See ya.”
“Even the losers get lucky sometimes...” Tom encouraged me through the hiss of the cheap cream coloured radio.
Shona’s number, or a close approximation to it, was easy to come buy. Her father, Vincent Maggio, sold real estate and must’ve been fairly good at it, because somewhere he’d picked up the nickname “the closer”. Closer, loser, interesting how similar those two words are. It was as though all he had to do was go out and throw nine strikes.
Just keep making good pitches.
He sponsored a little league team every year. He’d get his picture taken with them. He had a warm endearing smile full of brilliance and earnestness and soft Mocha brown eyes. Shona had inherited both, her eyes likes chocolates for the soul. Win or lose he’d put the picture on a few billboards in town, especially the one on University near the hospital.
“Put the Closer on YOUR team.” with the phone number in red letters bigger than me.
I dialed the first five numbers before my stomach corkscrewed and I hung up.
After a deep breath I got all seven.
“Vincent Maggio’s office,” a young sounding feminine assistant replied.
“Um.... excuse me, but I’d like to speak to Shona Maggio... his daughter...Um”
It had never occurred to me that his was an office number.
“Who is this?” she asked.
Frozen like a deer about to dip his lip in a stream hearing the snap of a twig.
Or was that a gun cocking?
I remember when Kevin Myers got his bell rung running into the goal post without his helmet on during a pick up game. He hit it so hard that he couldn’t remember his name. It was like that, sort of; a concussion of the heart.
“Ed, ...Ed Larsen, from school.”
God, I sound like a right basket case.
“Oh, Hi Ed. Can I call you right back? I’m not supposed to use Dad’s phone, okay?”
“Um, sure.”
“Uh, Ed. What’s your number?”
I recite, with some hesitation my phone number.
“Okay. Bye.”
I tried not to watch the phone, my mother’s pot watching theory being put to a cross platform test. Time slowed to near glacial proportions. Seconds stretched to their limits then the big red hand that seemed to move so smoothly before lurched to the next little hash mark.
From a health consideration it was probably a good thing that she was going to call me back, or at least said she was. My heart was thumping so hard that I though it might put a hole right through the skin.
It sunk in as I watched the kitchen phone not ring, that she had recognized my name. As I willed the phone to ring again I could be flushed with that small encouragement. The thought of her knowing me, without a lengthy explanation of who and what I was, set my heart through the forty meter hurdles. The track meet in my chest started again at the sound of the phone ringing like a starters pistol. I false started lingering towards the phone, but stopping short. I relaxed then determined that I would pick it up on the fourth ring.
On the second ring I picked it up.
“Hey, is Kevin there?”
It was Dane.
NO! She was trying to call right now. At this very instance she is dialing the numbers, her white, French polished nails dancing over the numbers. As I listened to Dane and his lame request for my brother so they could no doubt drone on incessantly about some car engine, I could only think, in sheer horror, that Shona was even now getting a busy signal.
If I had divulged that I was waiting on a call Dane could care less and probably take more time just to be a dick. Which he was, God rest his soul. If I hung up he’d only call back.
I did the only thing I could. It was the only reasonable response under such extraordinary circumstances.
I lied.
“Nope, he’s down at the garage I think. Bye.”
The phone did not ring.
On the Avocado green fridge is a to do list, held by a magnet shaped like a little smiley face sun. A black and yellow Valium like grin, placid and peaceful stares back at me. On the list of things were: buy eggs, hem pants. I wanted very badly to write:
Kill Dane.
Dane must die.
The phone rings. Runners sprint from the blocks, their feet like the beat of my heart.
“Hello, Ed?”
“Oh, Hi Shona.”
Silence, awkward and long.
“So, Ed. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“Well, see, there’s this band that I’m in and we need a singer. I remember that you sang back in church. Would you like to come over on Saturday and maybe sing with us?”
“I don’t know,” she hesitates.
“Look, I live on Cameron ave near University. We’ll be jamming from about one O’clock. If you want come on over, that would be cool. “
“Okay, I’ll think about it. Thanks Ed.”
“See you Saturday, I guess...”
“Bye Ed.”
Friday I made parole, the core incident was thirteen days behind me and I was a new man, turned over a new leaf. Honest Warden. With my impending release, the day already had some festiveness to it. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. Visions of Shona danced in my head. It was like Christmas Eve, without ever having to wrap one lousy present or eat any of Aunt Louise’s fruit cake.
I tried in vain to remind myself that it was only a maybe, a possibility, an opportunity perhaps, but no certainty. A Christmas eve where you think of all the naughty shit you’ve pulled over the last year and think on the lump of coal that might be waiting on ya.
I woke up at seven thirty, something I hadn’t done on purpose since I was eight years old, eating Cheerios with Kevin and watching Scooby Doo in our super hero P. J.’s. He was spidey and I was Batman. We would get up early and eat cereal and cookies liking the run of the house while Mom and Dad slept. Sometimes we would take a look a the newsprint schedule on the side of the fridge and try and figure out when Dad would take us to see the tiger’s play again. All my friends were Blue Jay fans, around my house that would be branded heresy.
If I had to pick a best year, 1984 would have to be up there. My Dad walked around on clouds that whole summer. His Tiger’s, always stressing the possessive, started 35 -5 best first forty in major league history.
The batting order was dubbed the lumber company. They just smelled like victory. He promised to take Kevin and me to a game. Kevin wanted to see the Whitesox or the Blue Jays. I wanted to see the Cleveland Indians.
We sat arguing through the entire mystery, Fred and Velma piecing it all together as we flicked cheerio’s at one another. Dad, unshaven and bleary eyed shushed us just as the villain exclaimed “if it hadn’t been for those damn kids.”
“Damn kids alright...” Dad agreed.
We were all in the garage early Saturday, Danny strumming and screwing around with the amps and Kurt leaning in to see what he was doing. Howard was sitting around plunking out a few riffs. He was trying really hard to wrap his pudgy fingers around a particularly long and winding solo. It was tying his fingers in knots.
I was pretty much useless, distracted as I was hoping that she would show, keeping a keen eye on the slit of light at the bottom of the garage door, hoping beyond hope to see her ankles.
It was just a maybe. I tried to remind myself. Soften the blow with a little fluffing of the pillow. I listened to Howard pound out the notes the riff slowly unknotting itself into a primal baseline beat. He began to grin again. It seemed that anything was possible, just not very likely.
I saw a pair of white nikes, a red swoosh, waiting turning and coming back. Everyone wore Nikes, but they weren’t Kevin’s big size eleven clod hoppers. These were tiny, delicate feet, soft of step.
They could only be hers.
Then a blinding light filled the garage, silhouetting her form, disguising her identity. Pupils dilating, chords dying against the rattle of door chains, distortion heralds her entrance.
Danny and Kurt tried to be unsurprised, nonchalant , turning their backs to the amp eye brows raised.
Howard, just sort of leered in lip hanging silence.
“Hi Shona,” I stammered, “I wasn’t sure if you’d show.”
She just smiled that ten thousand dollar, orthodontic enhanced measured in Megawatts smile. “What did you want me to sing?”
I shot Danny a glance.
“I don’t know is there something we both know?” he asked.
“Well, What do you think Danny?” I asked.
She gave him one of those electric smiles. He shifted his head slightly, and you could almost hear the dynamic shifting with it, the slide of his hair to one side like the deck chairs sliding across the deck of the Titanic. The glare from his eyes was iceberg cold.
“Let’s take a smoke break,” he said and since he was the only one who smoked, he walked out.
I followed, leaving Kurt and Howard to fend for themselves. She was a thorn between two buds, though they might never bloom like a couple of shrinking violets. I followed Danny and although the situation was becoming a bit thorny I thought Danny was being a prick.
“What the fuck, Danny?” I said.
“What the fuck yourself! I didn’t really think you’d ask her!”
“Shit, man. I told you I would.”
“Ya, well, you said you’d call Shannon too. She’s been calling me and asking for your number.” He sighed and lit a smoke. He drew and deep breath and I thought the smoke might come out his ears.
“Well, I don’t know what the fuck to do with her,” he said flicking the ashes on to the concrete. “If we dump her they’ll crucify us at school. I know I’m not supposed to give a shit but guess what.... I thought this would get them off my back y’know. What if she can’t sing!? Did you ever think of that? Or were you just thinking with Biggus Dickus?”
“But what if she can, huh? She could be the answer. Kurt can’t sing. Howard can’t sing. Fuck, I have a hard enough time playing the drums let alone trying to sing at the same time. I’m telling ya... she could be it!”
“Well, I’m telling you one thing. She fucking better be, cause now we’re stuck with her. Rain or Shine.”
We were the only ones outside, Danny puffing on his smoke slow boiling and I trying to settle him down. Then we heard an “attention K-mart shoppers” feed back squelch as either Kurt or Howard, most likely Kurt, pulled down the hand held mike.
She began to sing, kind of hesitant at first, a capella.
“You were meant for me and I..... was meant for you.”
Her voice filled my heart so that for a moment I thought that maybe Jewel was right and that she was meant for me. Her voice was like satin, smooth and cool, vibrating through us partially distorted on the cheap ass speakers that Kurt was still trying to completely figure out. Her voice sounded like the truth, which in the end is all that a lie can aspire to be, but when she sung to us, “I was meant for you...” It was the worst kind of lie, the kind that you believe in because you want it so much to be the truth. The kind that even when the shake the ugly truth in your face you still just don’t want to let this go, just from the beauty of it.
Kurt joined in about fifteen bars later and Danny turned to me, the twisted metal wires bent around where teeth should be in what could only be converted into a shit eating grin.
“Lot, you are a fucking genius...” he said then flung his butt into the concrete in front of his fathers garage doors, then went back inside.
I listened to her sing just a little bit longer then turned my face to the November sun and gave what my Dad liked to call the Alan Shepard Jr. prayer.
“Lord, please don’t let me fuck this up.”

Tuesday 31 January 2012

the Core

the Core

It’s all Kevin’s fault as I think I mentioned before. Those of you with siblings are likely already acquainted with that phrase and it’s myriad of applications. This time, however, it really is his fault.
Kevin grew up with a true blue love for all things fast. He loved Speed and anything that could generate it. When he skated it was with his hair on fire, a reckless abandon throwing his body forward and caution to the four winds and get the fuck out of my way as the sharp blades slit the ice. When he drove there was no second gear and those numbers on the square white signs, well those are just a suggestion, a guideline.
As like attracts like, he attracted fast women too. The highlights in their hair was like racing stripes, blonder on blond, their full red lips soft and dark like a red leather interior. He used that theorem he developed and tested on little Paula Stevens when she started to fill out, the binary ones and zeros arbitration, in which he always seemed to be number one and we all were zeros.
He honed his natural ability at ‘handling’ women, watching how they corner, knowing just when to give them a little gas to maintain control, and when to hit the brakes without skidding into a corner. Their was only two things stopping him from his natural vocation of strip club D.J.
His voice and his unyielding desire to be watching the world run past him as fast as it possibly could.
The voice wasn’t really that big a problem. He had been scamming or stealing upwards of half a pack of cigarettes a week since he was fifteen. Canadian cigarettes, American cigarettes, shit from the Indian reserve, some strange looking roll your owns, he didn’t care he smoked them all. He would smoke out behind Dad’s garage. He’d ride his bike to the park and flop it down so he could smoke as he watched the river float by far too slowly for his liking. He’d steal them from Dad, who wasn’t supposed to have any and he’d steal them from Gran. He’d scam them every where.
When Mom finally found Dad’s stash of Export A’s, Dad blamed it on Kevin. Kevin and Dad went out behind the garage at home. Dad laid into him and you could hear Kevin screaming and crying. Mom blanched, she almost ran out to stop it, it got so loud.
Kevin ran up to his room and slammed the door shut when they came in. I didn’t see him until the next day.
He didn’t tell me until I was almost twenty that he and Dad had a couple of smokes and Dad strapped the shit out of the far corner of the building and he howled as loud as he could. He was supposed to go to the grave with that little x-file.
His voice was hoarse and gravelly, just perfect for a lounge lizard D.J. reminding you to tip your waitress but don’t put your hand on her ass.
The other was a breakneck encounter with physics at its deepest darkest root.
The weird part is Kevin always secretly liked Math, the sicko, listening while pretending to be too cool for it all. He liked the solidness of it, the absolutes. Vagaries and half truths were more my speed, he wanted the ‘real deal’. He wanted an answer that was a real answer not two more questions.
Sometimes that’s the problem with the cold hard equation, no give to it. Here is the physics problem Kevin wasn’t completely able to solve.
1. If Dane and Kevin have consumed 12x 10 oz. Bottles of beer at .05 percent alcohol plus 1x 26 oz. of Rye, aged 12 years, at .40 percent alcohol and are driving in a 1989 Dodge Dart at 120 m.p.h. and meet with loose gravel, a near frictionless surface and the vehicle rotates on it’s y axis 3,600 degrees and comes into collision with an electrical pole of 40 feet height and 7 foot diameter, If all these things are true than how come Dane dies on impact and Kevin survives with scars on his legs face back and heart.
Show all work for full credit.
Dane’s funeral was on a gusty cool September afternoon, the threat of the rain clouds like knuckles of fists in the sky. The wind kicked up dirt like tires spinning on pavement. They buried him in a black suit, the only one I’d ever seen him wear. I’m sure his mother was saving it for job interviews although I had my suspicions that bail hearings were more likely in its future. Or had been, it was a rather terminal vocation it had found, partnered with a white shirt with a thin grey pinstripe and a navy tie. He looked conditionally good, considering the condition his face must’ve been found in kissing goodbye to the splinters of a hydro pole.
Kevin wore a brown suit jacket and white shirt, borrowing a grey tie from Dad. He wore track pants over broken legs, the pants covered by a brown blanket on his wheelchair. His oxygen tank was unadorned. I wore the navy suit I had gotten the year before, the sleeves already to short, long before any wear on the cuffs or elbows.
Kevin wasn’t too bad at the Dixon’s funeral home, I think a lot of it was that he couldn’t see much of anything. It was tough talking to Dane’s parents, they were hanging by a thread themselves. Dad wasn’t much help. He couldn’t stop thinking of how that could so easily have been him crying in the corner, in stead of hovering near his broken but living son.
The Reverend talked about Dane’s unfulfilled promise and how that promise now fell upon the rest of use to complete like an oath. We mumbled in prayer, prayer for Dane’s soul, secretly thanking God that Kevin was spared.
The police had found the eightball key chain that Dane would carry his Dart keys on. A little magic eightball that Kevin would flip upside down every once in a while, “answer unclear ask again later,” it would say.
I rolled him up to the edge of the coffin, he still couldn’t quite look in. At first, he went to place the keys in the coffin but his hand lingered at the rail. Then he pulled and looked at the eightball one more time, “our sources say no” and he held onto the keys.
“Are you sure Kev?” I asked.
He motioned me close and I took the oxygen mask off so he could whisper in my ear, “It’s probably what I should have done in the first place.”
Why, I wanted to ask. So we could be burying you? You were both drunk far beyond the legal limit. Do you think you’d be luckier?
He just put the mask back over his mouth and sucked down a couple of long gulps.
Now he’s married with two kids and a minivan. He drinks tea and coaches little league. He takes Heather to ballet lessons. Somewhere deep down inside behind all the middle class suburban lining I know that speed demon still lurks. Just ask his son....
Dane skates with his fathers reckless disregard, five years old and moving them fast, elbows up and chasing the puck like a greyhounds bunny.
The accident ended forever Kevin’s flirtation with fast cars. He still liked to take them apart to see where they hid all that speed but he walks with a cane and a handicap permit looks a little odd on a yellow mustang. Only fast women remained, but without his hot car and good looks marred by a switchblade sadness and the scars of a date with a pole, he capitalized on a decent voice and an above average collection of music. With a little perseverance he got a job at a run down rum joint called Seductions, the strippers as worn and in need of replacement as the carpet and the maraca sounding tweeters in the sound system, with police records as spotty as the beer glasses. No thanks, I’ll drink it straight from the bottle.
Like most places it is absolutely verboten to date heir D.J. mein slutz. Given this iron fisted rule, one of the few that seem to stick, and the fact that he treats them all like shit, all the girls are desperately in love with him.
          Or at the very least feign it, trying to by a dollars worth of leverage with the only credit they have.
He knows the score, he can read the balance sheet better than most of them. He recognizes the lie, the I’ll  love just you baby, just you and only you, just keep giving me money. Like a tarnished vending machine of love and lies, you just keep sliding the money in until the lights come on and the sign says sold out.
He loves the fact that these greedy little bitches have to give him money, because to them love is money and it is all they truly love. They know just how miserable he can make their lives. Make them money or lose them money and their only recourse is running his scams or a trip to Marvin to fix it all.
Marvin is the owner. Check that, Marvin says he’s the owner, but I’ll bet if you check that everything, right down to the change in the tip jar, belongs to his ever loving wife Rita. Her’s is the real name on the papers.
Rita, Kevin once told me, used to be a ‘feature’ back when features could make some cash without having to do table dances and other shit. I’ve met Rita a few times. I say met because she feigns forgetfulness every year at the Christmas party (well, both years), but I’m not buying the dumb blonde act she’s got on special for a dollar ninety nine with a coupon. She’s as cuddly as a slide rule or an amortization table. When it comes to cosmetic surgery she’s had pretty much the entire reader board, right down to the smiles... free. At this point I can’t really tell how old she is, somewhere between thirty five and sixty. There is only so many times you can patch a tire, Y’know what I mean? If she still has any factory parts they ain’t under warranty, and to hear Marvin whisper it, the entire drive train is pretty much shot.
I hear when she bought the place it was called ‘Uncle Sam’s’. I guess it was named after  the guy who married your mother’s sister and tries to slip his hand up your mom’s skirt when Dad’s getting another beer because drunk is the only way he can take your Aunt and the scumbag she married. He’s the kind that’s been starting to look a little too long at his niece’s nice new boobs.
The first thing she did was run all the old party girls out, the dope smokers and dick strokers that would fuck old Uncle Sam’s dog for enough money for their next line of whatever toxin they force fed their veins. Then she got rid of the old girls, the ones that didn’t know enough to hang’em up, although most of it was hanging already, the women just not willing to admit it.
To some she offered waitress jobs. That’s were Mindy comes in. She became Kevin’s thug. When he needs to tune one of the girls back into the frequency she is the one who twists the knobs. Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but a lot of these girls are from right around Uranus (Mostly the Eastern bloc girls, they are always trouble) and they tend to lose the signal fairly easy. Mindy is a girl you just don’t fuck with and it’s been a long time since anyone wanted to. Even when she was a dancer, she wasn’t really a looker but her hard body and big tits distracted you and she had a genuine enthusiasm for her job. The tits got bigger and saggy, the nipples about to roll down under, and all those free beers finally caught up with her. She had a kid and she started to eat. She might have eaten the kid, we’re not really sure and no one wants to ask.
Mindy will give a well placed shot or two, or three if she was looking for a reason to smack the bitch and the girl will either tow the line or go running to Marvin. In either case Kevin just remembers to play some C.C.R. between sets and reminds the patrons to tip their lovely waitress. I see a bad moon rising.
Now, if they go running to Marvin it will generally involve sexual favours of one sort or another with Marvin, a tall, reedy, smell to much of Pierre Cardin kind of slime ball, or maybe one of his even seedier friends, or some combination of the above. He was probably handsome back in 1973, which is approximately the circa of his hair cut but the cut of his chin is slowly being absorbed by his absolute lack of a work ethic. Or any other kind of ethic if truth be told. Rita owns him like she owns the buffet table he often stands next to or the cold beer he drinks, so it’s really no loss to her, like putting your beer in the downstairs fridge instead of the one in the kitchen. She owns his dick too, but since she never uses it anymore she might as well let someone else use it, lest if fall into disrepair. When you shake hands with Marvin, which I personally try to avoid, you count your fingers to see if you got them all back.
Frankly, I’d rather take the bitch slap from Mindy, all things considered.
If it was a tryst with one of Marvin’s homely home boys then in will end up on a super VHS with a copy for Kevin so the next time she starts doing whatever it was that caught her the cuff in the head, Kevin can show her and make any one of a number of various threats. Sometimes he threatens to put it on the VCR and let the patrons watch, but half the time that would be like running an ad for them. Most of the time though he threatens to drop it off with the police so she can get busted for soliciting.
If she does Marvin, which there is never any video evidence of, he threatens to tell Rita. That would put a quick end to her career as a stripper unless she moves far, far away. Rita owns four of these places and she has a ‘gentleman’s arrangement’ with the other owners regarding renegade strippers. She can move on to more rewarding work as a massage parlour dick puller or corner crab carrier.
But she’ll always have the loving memory of Marvin’s greasy hands all over her, and the magic of his company.
Mindy always looked kinda of familiar and I’ve tried a few times to discretely enquire about her. You have to be careful though if she catches your scent she’s like a big old bloodhound, and not only in looks. It’s a game of fox and hounds, or hound as it where, but you have to keep in mind that when the game ends the hounds usually tear the fox to shreds. She’s also an Olympic caliber party vulture, and since she’ the one managing peoples alcohol consumption that gives her plenty of opportunities. The real trick for her is to manage to keep him drunk enough that he finds her attractive, (no mean feat) and yet not so drunk that he can’t get wood or passes out all together. She can generally gauge the later by his reaction to the peelers, who, once the money is all syphoned from him discard him like the spent husk of wallet he is. After all, they don’t want to fuck him, just fuck him over.
If he can still keep at least the semblance of a hard on and is playing grab as with her by closing time is fate is pretty muched sealed. The only thing that can possible save him is a bit of alcohol poisoning, or maybe if he starts to barf. The whole thing kinda makes me feel like puking too, and it doesn’t seem like that bad an alternative to waking up with Mary Jane Rottencrotch with her bowling ball weight brain bucket crushing your chest and her farmers mitt hand on your dick.
Where do you think you’re going from there?
My own lack of alcohol tolerance precludes me from her dark designs. I would pass out long before I drank enough beer to find her remotely attractive.
In response she has often told me “I’m more woman than you can handle.”
Ya, jumbo size.
She has dropped hints in the past about Danny and her doing the horizontal rhumba. Danny was never the most discriminating of dates. I think he was always surprised that he was going on one. To think he went into that cold sober, kinda sends a chill down my spine that might just start to churn the chili in the pit of my stomach.
Maybe she was one of those Goth girls all pasty white and black clothes. I know black is a slimming colour but I think there is a definite limit to what you can ask black to do for you. But maybe in the right light and with a bone white make up job and maybe a ring through her lip she could have been one of those chicks that hung out at the Core.
I’m certain that the old Coronation Hotel had once been a semi-respectable rummy and gin mill, with all the associated losers and hangers on you might find killing their liver on a two in the afternoon Tuesday, the haze from Rothman’s and Marlboro’s thicker than the fog on Riverside drive at five a.m. They probably had their dart team that drank too much while they played, not that it impacted on their ability. Maybe a pool team too, that took full advantage of the ever so gentle Walkerville tilt to the worn green felt, and the cushions that were deader than old Henry what’s is name, the one who sat in the corner under the picture of the queen and who would tell anyone who would listen for more than ten ounces at a swill about streets of Dieppe and the hospitality of Stalag 19. The one who sat there once in 1945 and never really got up again until the redwings won another Stanley cup after old Gordie Howe retired, the ale and the cigarette’s finally finishing the job that the German Luger started so long ago.
Then Sid Vicious sang God save the Queen.
The run down hard luck time of the Coronation hotel and the punk sound of rancid guitar and corrosive lyric seemed almost a simile. They gutted the bulk of it, the dart board at the dump and pool table sliding all the way down to Walkerville finally, hanging out at some legion hall there. Only Henry what’s is name’s old Essex Scottish mug behind the bar and the picture of her majesty remained.
Danny, his desire to be in a punk band stuck in his head like the can of hair spray stuck to it to mold his floppy, limp hair into a spike, convinced us to join him on one of his trips to “the Core”.
He told us that he was canceling band practice that night, and we were supposed to come out to his house in “clothes we’d wear to fix cars in.” I think he had in mind dirty black jeans and black T-shirts, some running shoes or work boots. Me being the literalist I am, wore royal blue coveralls my Dad bought for me, complete down to the”Ed” nametag, red letters on white, embroidered on the left breast side above the pocket.
I thought Danny would piss himself the way he was laughing.
“Fuck it,” he said giggling as his cousin Tammy picked us up in her little Pontiac Acadian to go ‘to the movies’.
I watched Danny’s father with his head stuck beneath the hood of that old Packard. I didn’t think he was buying the whole movie thing, not with a coupon and a get one free. My Dad assumed we were working on the Packard too. I was expected to give a detailed report when I got home.
Cousin Tammy was a blonde farm girl dyed sable, with big hands like worn leather straps and forearms worthy of a Popeye anchor.
Her skin was so Maybelline pale as to be mistaken for twelve hours dead, and she smelled of hair spray and knock off Chanel.  Her black combat boots, Mark III pattern, and long black hose leading to a skirt that could have been mistaken for a belt. I think the black shirt must’ve been left over from her grade five gym class.
Things had changed an awful lot from grade five. She had the kinda chest that you had to rest on the desk every once in a while just so you could lug it around all day. There was a certain bovine aspect to her, in the largeness of her hips and the swing of her udders, she didn’t look like much but she fit like a glove into the core crowd.
The median age would have been maybe seventeen, maybe a bit more, depending on who you let do the math. Fashionably black, expressing their individuality and their rebellion against the codification of the media culture by dressing in conformity black. The black light of the bar lit every speck of lint on them into a galaxy in black cotton. Nebula of heavenly and not so heavenly bodies intermingling, expanding outward from the big bang thunder of guitar strums and visceral lyrics conveyed through vibration.
My ears rang for five solid days.
We stood on the periphery as the nebula swayed. I received a few black hole stares for my white t-shirt that glowed like a summer moon.
I went to the bar and ordered Tallboys, somehow it seemed appropriate, and rested my elbows on the scratched bar.
You can only gain an appreciation for how big a dump some place is after gaining some perspective. Maybe it’s just me but generally speaking the more regal sounding the name of a bar the bigger, fly ridden hole in the wall it is. Coronation seems to fit the bill fairly well.
That night however, our thoughts were like any teenage boys, dirtier than the shot glasses behind the bar.
When I turned away from the bar, beer cans in hand and a pair of black haired pale skinned twins stood in front of me, the Vampirella on the right playing with the loop through her lip with the tip of her tongue. She motioned me closer and I leaned in so close I could smell the sweat, herb and perfume concoction that blossomed from her pores. Her eyes were as green as a spring leaf, though the plucking of her eyebrows where like a scythe.
Thirty years ago when Danny’s mom was still pretty, Vampirella, would have been wearing a tie dye top and bell bottom jeans and she would have been just as seductive.
“Can you buy me a beer?” she said. “I’m only eighteen.”
I gave her the beer in my right hand, and replied, “Me too.”
She smiled a conspiratorial grin, a tiny rebellion we could share.
I would have liked to talk but the thunder of the bass rained through the parade of words and she stuck a long graceful hand into the lop of the arms of my coveralls that I had wrapped around my waist.
My wishful thinking boner caught me off guard, the blood all rushing away from my brain and all and suddenly without forethought I was on the dance floor, a big lumbering glow in the dark gorilla. I’ve never been much of a dancer, my feet are just to slow. With most guys it’s an inability to know where to put there hands, and I’ll confess that I’ve no real insight into that eternal quandary, but for me the real problem is slow feet.
I just tried to keep her in front of me, let her take the lead. I was probably about a foot and a bit taller than her. For the most part I got a really good overhead shot of the blond roots at the base of her night sky hair and the freckle that would occasionally peek from beneath the edge of the cup of her black lace bra.
I reached to her and pulled her chin up and tried to lock her eyes to mine.
The green of her eye a whisper of spring in a cold and wintery world. In her face I saw the warmth of spring sunshine, all living things turning towards it instinctively. In her casual smile, natural and imperfect, like the unsymmetrical blooms of flower.
I can say with some certainty that she made things grow.
I leaned in to whisper in her ear, I couldn’t resist touching the top of it with the tip of my nose.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
Through the peal of the storm of music that vibrated through us, I thought she said ‘Autumn’ and I laughed.
She was the exact opposite of autumn.
When I laughed her eyes glowed gold in the black light. The music and the movement seemed to heat me at some molecular level, as though the room spinning around us was like the inside of a microwave, boiling us from the core of our being.
I wonder what had drew her to me, a lumbering Frankenstein stomping forest fires in sun white shirt and coveralls, a flame burning in a night sky of black nebula.  Maybe it was my body,  hard as stone, long before the rock slide in my twenties after my knee.
Maybe it was that I was different.
That’s when I noticed them. The crowd of young men that were clustering behind one, a skin head bearing a clenched fist and brooding glare. Of course I didn’t know then what I know now about fighting. Especially when a crowd shows up in front of you with ill intent. I was about twice the size of any one of them and I had Kurt and Howard at my back. Where Danny had got to was anyone’s guess.
Usually in these situations it’s not the one in front of you running his yap, trying to find some courage that is the real problem. In my experience, you’ll find the true source of trouble off to the right or left, usually with his shoulder behind someone else, with a wicked smirk on his face. He’s the one pushing his drunken buddy out for a slaughter. He’s more interested in seeing a fight that he can embellish, or maybe flat out make up his part in later. When I’m faced with this situation now, I just take a quick glance with weight shifted and arms at the ready, down the second row for the guy with the smirk on his face.
When you put a finger on his chest with a “What the fuck do you find so funny?” the crowd will generally turn on itself. After all he’s interested in seeing a fight not in being in one.
Of course, I had no idea about this sort of thing then. I just put my hands up and said, “Bring it.”
Then Danny slid between us and said, “Hey, he’s with me.”
It was like the parting of the Red Sea.
Some of the ones on the periphery asked him about a band called Deadbolt, if they were getting back together. Some of them wanted him to play, but he just shook his head. He introduced as his new band and we just kept our mouths shut. By the time the crowd had melted away a few of them had brought Danny cans of Bud, which he turned over to us.
The girls name was Sharon and when I tried to introduce her and Danny she flung herself around him, much to his delight. A few cracks appeared in his cynic stoicism, he even split a smile.
“I guess you’ve already met,” I said to him.
“Oh, Yaa,” he responded, then melted back into the inky black haze.
After a few more hours of stomping with Sharon and drinking cans of bud lights turned on. 01:00 hours. I think I told Dad I’d be back around eleven, maybe eleven thirty if I had to help clean up. My only fleeting hope was that he might think I was staying over at the Nordstrom’s, working on the Packard.
No Dice. Kevin, hoping to horn in and get his hands dirty on those nice, shiny snap-on tools and rusty Packard told Dad that the shop was locked up and no one was around. But I was still clinging to fleeting hopes at that point, fatherly, female and all points in between. We seemed to have collected a few clingers of our own, a few n’er do wells and hangers on that were clustered around Danny. Sharon slipped her hand in my back pocket, which is pretty much where she had me at that point.
Danny was the only one sober drove Sharon’s car to drop us all off from our ‘field trip’. It didn’t seem to bother Danny that he was unliscenced, and with Sharon’s face stuck to mine nothing seemed to bother me at all. I was flying high but the first warning lights of the impending crash came at Kurt’s.  The lights were on and both his parent’s clad in robes awaited his untimely arrival. Other than school and football practices it was the last I’d see of Kurt for three solid weeks.
Howard’s fate was much kinder. I guess he had an older brother that had already worn this groove into his parents. At least Tim was good for something. He staggered at the lamp less back door playing pin the keyhole you jackass before all your fumbling wakes up your folks.
I didn’t see much of the trip out to Danny’s what with my face stuck to Sharon’s and all. She had decided to leave me until last.
We cuddled together in her little red chevette just beyond the edge of my driveway. When it was finally time to go, our kissing and grabbing going a little beyond standard first date decorum, she told me to turn around. On my back she wrote in deep red lipstick on white t-shirt:
682 3222
Not Sharon! What a dick I felt like stealing second base on a girl whose name I didn’t know.
Just one more tongue swirling kiss, then I was off to meet my fate.
“When are you gonna call Ed?”
“Oh, when I’m finished being grounded, probably when I’m fifty...”
I got out and watched the red lights draw into a single point then turn a corner and vanished.
I walked the short distance to my driveway and saw my father, Larry, fully clothed on the front lawn. He was dressed in a down jacket and was swinging his black Louisville slugger from side to side, like the first couple of swings in the on deck circle with the doughnut off. He said it focused him, calmed him down.
It wasn’t doing much for me.
At my age Larry Larsen’s life was sewn together with the red stitches of a baseball.
He was giving me that death stare, that in a jam three-two pitch look. If I could I would’ve called time and stepped out of the box. Get my head in the game and maybe look forlornly at the dugout hoping the hook would come.
“Edgar, you are in some deep, deep shit my son. You scared your mother half to death.”
He was still swinging the bat, no longer looking at me but looking back about twenty years to maybe a Toledo Sunday afternoon.  At his feet, about where home plate would be, was my jacket. I watched the bat twitching in his hand. Even though I was shivering, I decided not to test my luck just yet.
Another swing, flat and level; a nice solid base hit rap into the left field gap. Then he dropped the head of the bat down onto my coat.
“Edgar, I’m waking you up in three hours and fifteen minutes and you’re going to come down to the garage with me. I plan to run your ass ragged. If you puke, you’re going to clean it up and I don’t plan on backing off until I see a kidney flopping around on the floor and I’m gonna make you clean it up too. I sure hope you had a good time with Shannon yesterday ‘cause I got a feeling you’re gonna have a real bad day.”
He flipped the jacket to me on the end of the bat.
“Now get your ass to bed.”
Larry Larsen bought a garage with the money he his dream left him with when it got off the bus somewhere between Durham North Carolina and Toledo, Ohio.
His arm just went dead. The lightning bolt in his arm just ran out of juice and the light that lit the lamp to his future went black. He lied to himself, knuckle balling for a season with the Mud Hens. His moment, was early August 1965, up with the Tigers. He was pitching in relief in a runaway against the Brewers. He faced two batters, Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew, Allison grounding out six three and Killer swinging late on a two-two change up.
Then he took his knuckle ball on the road and the strike zone eluded him. He walked himself right back to Toledo, then Jamestown, then hometown. His one major league check bought him some of a garage and my grandfather Hiram, bought the rest.
Washed up at twenty two and only fifteen thousand days to think about it. That and about a million oil changes later and here we are, two boys, two pumps a wife and a house.
Kevin and I are about an even split of Dad’s personality. Kevin got the left brain part, the lobe that will make you toy with a carburetor until it sounds just right. The pieces that made him want to reach down and make a better pitch, the chess game of hitter and batter.
I am the half with the death stare, the part running the fingers along the laces wondering just how close I can come to batter without hitting him. I’d rather hit you than walk you. I got the parts that over rev the engine, wishing I was someplace else.
Generally speaking I got the destructive parts; the parts that wanted to be anywhere in the whole wide world rather than here.
I think sometimes Dad feels the same way. One day, after some customer hung over his shoulder and kibitzed second guessing every part of his lube oil and filter, he said to me:
“Ed, I wish I’d gotten hit by the bus instead of riding it back to Toledo.” Then he smiled his jaw wrenching another notch, “Well, better go finish fuck nuts lube.”
Of course I didn’t understand it, sick as a dog like I was.
When I got home that night I must’ve looked like I got hit by that bus. I tried calling Shannon. Lipstick, Kevin told me, is difficult to get out of a bright white shirt.  A shirt made brighter and whiter by the amount of bleach Mom used trying to get the phone number out and not more than a few under her breath cuss words thrown in as a little laundry pre-soak.
Some of the numbers were still there, hell, they probably still are. Unfortunately, there were a few that might have been a three or a five or an eight and a fifty/ fifty on a seven or a one.
I tried a few combinations, lock picking her phone number as I folded laundry. Mom just sort of scowled, she didn’t think she’d like the kind of girl that would ruin a perfectly white shirt. Some how I thought Shannon wasn’t necessarily the kind of girl you brought home to meet Mom.
I got tired of talking to strangers, folded the Shannon concert jersey and put it in the bottom of the t-shirt drawer.
I got three weeks straight, weekends included of go to the garage after school or football practice. Sort of like hard labour, running around pumping gas, cleaning windshields cleaning the shitters and doing the dips. It wasn’t all bad, people need gas and you saw a few friends and talked to a few faces, some nice some not so nice. Of course, except for scheduled shifts, this was all penalty time, that is to say donated. Gratis. Volun-told.

Monday 30 January 2012


If you ever get the chance go see Dave Bidini and the Bidiniband. First of all, the guy is a class act and in my not so humble opinion well on his way to Canadian Rock Icon status. He always puts on a great show. I always look forward to seeing him. If you can't wait go buy some of his thoughtful prose like Baseballisimo, or Tropic of Hockey, or the CBC Reads Heavy weight, On a cold road. Truly some great reads.

Oh and did I mention the drummer, Mr. Don Kerr.
That guy can play. I've never really banged the drum. I may have tooted my own horn once in a while, but I've never seen anyone do what that guy can do with drums, or maraca handles, or tamborine thingies.

I remember watching, and I was sober because I was working the door, booze and money don't mix for me, Don on the drums. At first I thought it was some kind of schtick. The cymbal pops off and he catches it before it falls to the floor. He drums with his left hand. He puts the cymbal back on the stand and drums with his left hand. He reaches down into his box of tricks, pulls out some silver duct tape, the all canadian fix it and tears off a piece with his mouth and drums with his left hand. He repairs the cymbal while drumming with his left hand!
I've seen a lot of drummers. I've seen Neil Peart. I've seen Dennis Elliot. I've seen Gil Moore.
I've never seen anyone like Don Kerr.
Give that guy two sticks and a rock and he'll bang out a rock opera.

Go to to find out. But just go.

Thursday 26 January 2012

next bit

This is kind of why I was concerned about this.
It's a bit depressing when no one is reading it...

I lumber on over to the V.I.P. room area, it’s nothing more than cubicles a corporation would be embarrassed to put even the most menial of flunkies in, the clop thud of my black boots suddenly hushed by crushed, worn grey carpet and the rhythm of the Violent Femmes crackling through the speakers.
I hate having to bust them but it’s part of my job. Some of the girls are bitching that girls are turning trick back here, which is bad for business for some of them but worse yet they won’t clean up after themselves. Generally they are fairly good and policing each other, but the standards have fallen ditch low, so you never really know who is doing what to who. When I first started coming to these places if you touched the girls you’d lose an arm, now it’s fairly common practice. You have to blame it on the lap dances. Back before the plummet of moral standards there was a minimum safe distance, now they’re all grinding to the oldies. Usually on the oldies, so to speak. It must be hard to go back to $5 table dances after they put a few $20's in your pocket, or where ever you store your cash. Once that minimum distance is breeched it’s hard to go back. Next thing you know it’s like... well, if he’s wearing a condom technically he ain’t even touching her.
I take a glance into the first booth as the band ponders the musical question “Why can’t I get just one fuck?” and it doesn’t appear that the client has quite come up with the solution either. He’s getting the standard fake tit nipple lick and combo ass rub. Throw in an order of fries and it would be practically the blue plate special around here, though it would be more aptly named the blue ball special. Tia, whose real name is Tina, is shooting me the evil ‘mind your own business’ glance off the mirrors.
I just shrug her off.
Danny force fed us the Femmes for weeks. We were still struggling with the fact that none of us could sing.
Kurt was the first to give it a shot, it was all violence and speed shouting really, Motorhead and Violent femmes mixed and flattened slightly. He was trying too hard, eyes bulging and head sweating, we’d get about a third of the way through and he’d forget the words and pull up dead stop. We kept hoping that he could get a grip on it but the words would jumble and crossword in his head. We even tried it without the music, just say the words, then sing it.
Plug in the amp and unplug his brain. Thirty bars in... dead stop.
Danny wasn’t much help either. He’d try and sing and the pitch and volume would be okay and then his teeth would start to slip and it sounded like he was singing with a bag of marbles in his mouth. Occasionally when we experimented with Danny singing he would turn and look at me and watching his gums flat and his totally messed up teeth loosen and swim around in his yap, well, frankly, it was just sort of gross.
We started looking at Howard who said as though he had broken out with a bizarre case of the mumbles that he’d give it a try.
Not particularly encouraging.
They knew better it seemed then to even bother asking me. I thought I had all I could handle trying to keep my feet and hands moving at different rates and with some modicum of independence. I think they knew it too.
So we got about two thirds of the way through Howard mumbling “Head Like a hole” when the garage door opens and a blast of light shines through God were hunting cock roaches. The heavy metal clamour fades to a stop.
It was my older brother Kevin, shorter than me for about the last year and still carrying the chip on his shoulder like Jesus dragged around the cross. It has only been since Mom passed away that he has really stopped being such a prick about everything. He was the one who dragged me into my first strip bar, the shove that sent my little red wagon down the slippery slope.
As we blink at each other the final vibrations starting to be soaked up by the plywood planks Keith makes an announcement, in the most eloquent means at his disposal.
“Hey, Ed. You and your geek friends have to fuck off. I gotter fix my new wheels.”
I thought about questioning it, perhaps involving Dad. You know, the bottom card in every ‘little’ brothers deck. Kind of the third and ten of the baby brother play book, left sweep to Dad on two... break. I don’t think Dad loved Kevin more than me, though I thought so at the time. They just had an easier relationship, a mutuality of pistons and gears wrapped in axle grease, that I could never muster much interest in.
When Dad fixed stuff Kevin helped out. I just held the tools.
I go to pack things up when Kurt chimes in, “Hey, why don’t we jam at your place Danny?”
It didn’t seem unreasonable, though a blue cloud descended over Danny, bluer than the cigarette rings.
“Hey, it be less shit for you to lug is all,” Kurt said.
Danny shrugged and answered, “Sure, what the fuck...”
“Do you need to call your folks?” Howard asked.
“Naw,” he said as a sort of spit between a gap of wires and bent teeth.
You could see it in Howard’s eyes, as though some error message was flashing. Does not compute/ Doesn’t have to call parents/ Does not compute. Howard’s parent would make him call from between classes if they could. He couldn’t listen to the tape of Nine Inch Nails that Danny had given him, inside his house. It would be like throwing himself off the roof. So he waited to get new head phones. Even though his parent’s had been married in the age of Aquarius I don’t there musical tastes strayed very far beyond 1972.
Kevin rolled the Chevelle into the garage, where it stayed until after my first year at Albany. The great white elephant, Kevin hoped to ride around in it that summer. I don’t think it moved under it’s own power from the garage, although I do recall it leaving marks on the ceiling from when it blew it’s pistons.
The problem really was that Kevin knows about fifty percent of what he says and about twenty five percent of what he thinks he knows. All in all as blow hard jack asses go, he ain’t all bad.
He even helped us pack up Dad’s van for the drive out to the Nordstrom’s. A big white chevy Econo-line built for neither speed or comfort, usually filled with sundry tools and parts that Dad would alternately curse for having lost or blame us for taking, never quite explaining why I might want whatever obscure tool he had lost.
It was a fairly long trip from somber autumn streets with fading white lines and black tar patches onto winding country lanes chocked with summers bronze offerings to the god of winter. Danny provided all the requested rights and lefts until we found ourselves on a long straight lane lined by white wooden fence and a flickering glance at the green fields beyond.
“Hey Danny,” Howard asked, “If you live way out here how come you go to Collegiate instead of MacGregor?”
“You’ll see.”
White washed fence gave way to tall iron wrought poles, spear points with a cross work of metal between them. Fleur de Lis scraping a silver grey sky. The last left came beneath a gate of iron grill work. We left behind the crushed gravel road that kicked up the dust and stones that clicked at the side of the van drove onto a driveway that was a smooth ribbon of unblemished midnight beneath the dancing shade of oaks that wait in parade ground attention, right dressing to the large field stone home at the end. We follow the drive to the right, to a long flat metal covered shop about twice the size of my home. Danny hopped out and disappeared for a moment then the garage door rose portcullis, the clamour of metal chains revealing an old car without hood headlights or grill. Kevin squinted at it, trying to imagine the remainder of the pieces of the puzzle.
“I think that’s an old 56 Packard,” Keith said with a little uncertainty about his automotive pathology.
Danny grabbed the toms and led us around the corner into an old storage room that had been converted to a lounge of sorts. Although 10w30 still hung in the air, like the smell of cheap perfume stale beer and cigarettes does at a bar, It was cosy in it’s way. Brown fake wood chipboard paneling like the kind you’d find in any basement and indoor/outdoor green worn thin near the baseboard gave it a dark aspect but it had more than one outlet and was definitely a step up from Dad’s garage.
Kevin hustled down with the high hat and then hustled right backup to get a closer look at the rusted skeleton from fifties Detroit. I guess he wanted to continue his pathology with a little examination.
“Hey Danny,” Kevin said, with a little more respect than before, “is that a 56 Packard up on the hoist?”
Danny just shrugged. “Could be, It’s more of my Dad’s thing. Cars are just about getting from point A to point B, but my Dad gets pretty wrapped up in them.”
Heretic. Kevin tries to burn Danny at the stake with the glare from his squint.
“Maybe some time he’ll let you see the steamer.”
“The what?”
“It’s a steam driven car, an old Stanley Steamer. It’s kinda neat,” although Danny blanches at the word neat, he continues. “It takes about twenty minutes to start and tops out at about twenty miles an hour, but still, no pollution and no noise. Like I said maybe he’ll let you see it.”
“Hey Kev, isn’t Dad expecting the van back?”
Alright I couldn’t resist sticking it to him. I could tell that he was dying to take look around the shop, his jaw hanging open just slightly at the old wreck on the hoist and the parts and tools on the wall. Kevin is a dyed in the wool, genetic motor head, all he can think about is carburetors and crankshafts. A lot of guys see wheels as a means to chicks but for Kevin wheels were an end unto themselves.
“Maybe you should get home with it.” His response was a screw you little brother look that every little brother has grown quite accustomed to, but in the end I’d take the small victory. Even if I wasn’t little anymore.
It didn’t take long for Danny’s mother to appear, poke her head in unheard over the riffs and racket. As I age I find I look at women differently, at the time it was June Cleaver curiosity about her boy and his little friends. Working in this place I can imagine in my third eye the way they’ll look in twenty years. Extrapolate the damage from tanning beds and smoke filled rooms, lack of rest and too much partying and they don’t look half as good as Mrs. Nordstrom. Danny’s mom, plump, round and greying must’ve looked pretty good twenty years ago.
She didn’t stay long, Danny turned his back and let his hair hang in his eyes, feigning not seeing her, throwing an extra loud Coda and twenty bars into the song.
She just smiled and asked us if we’d like anything to drink, “perhaps a snack ?”
To a bunch of teenage boys weighing in at over two hundred pounds a snack is easily a forgone conclusion. Just bring the food on, we collectively thought with a polite “Yes, please,” response by me and an evil glare from Danny. She returned in about ten minutes with a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of cookies.
We broke for a bit, munching ginger snaps and guzzling lemonade, except for Danny. He seemed to want to push us a little harder after the cookies and while he and Kurt were working on some fumble fingered chord changes I volunteered to take the pitcher back to the kitchen.
I don’t think Danny was really listening.
Just in case you should ever invite me over to your house I should warn you that I’m an incorrigible snoop, unrepentant and unreformed. No knows this and but when I was fourteen I B & E’d some homes, mostly basement apartments or offices. It was before the great pituitary dash my body made the year later. It’s pretty hard to sneak through windows when you are over 6 feet tall.  I never stole anything, never moved anything, in truth I only E’d, never had the desire to B. I didn’t want anything I just was curious, just wanted to look around. Even though some people were home once I never got caught.
It would be fair to say that I took a somewhat circuitous route that evening. I strolled down long light yellow hallways with oak trimmed baseboards beneath white plaster ceilings that I knew didn’t lead anywhere near the kitchen.
The house was a bit too warm, as though they hadn’t somehow calculated the last few rays of the fall sunshine through the windows. As I look back on it, I think that I have only seen one home that was as conspicuously wealthy as the Nordstrom’s and that is the home of Marvin and Rita, the couple who own the bar and two more just like it in other communities that would just as soon not have them.
The difference seemed to be, and I’m just guessing here, that the Nordstrom’s somehow just seemed more matter of factly about the relative opulence of their environment. Rita wanted you to see the cut of the curtains or the marble on the floor. She would have ‘Minnie Pearled’ the whole house, leaving price tags on things if it wouldn’t somehow seemed just too much like one of those trendy boutiques that are just two weeks from going broke. It would grate against even Rita’s remarkable sense for tacky, which she had a fairly large capacity for.
The Nordstom’s didn’t buy things for the label or the price, they just sort of wondered why would you buy anything else? They bought it because of the inherent quality. It wasn’t about having it seen, it wasn’t even about having it. It seemed that they had these beautiful things because of the unique nature of their quality.
I walked into some sort of parlour and became self conscious that I was still wearing my shoes. The carpet was so soft and blue I almost reached down to touch it, wondering if it would crest like a wave beneath my hand. There was a large, glass door fire place, field stone and brick topped by a mantle with wood so dark it seemed to be soaked in blood. Above it hung a family portrait, in a solid, ungilded ebony frame.
Danny looked to be about four years younger with a full set of teeth, wearing a peach shirt, sable tie and blazer the same colour as his fathers. His Mother sat in front, with a fair bit less grey in her long hair, bound by a lemon ribbon. On her shoulder was a young woman’s hand, thin and bony a light blue birth stone ring set above a prominent knuckle. The girl was about sixteen or so, it was hard to tell the stage of puberty from the frailness of her frame. Her reddish hair hung to her shoulders the tips of it brushing her collar bone. She forced a quorum of a smile onto pale, frosted lips, it looked as thought the debate of her mood was still undecided. Her eyes were blue like tears.
She was beautiful in a delicate haunting way, like an iris waiting to bend under the weight of the bloom.
Behind her wearing the same navy blazer was a broad, hard looking man. His hair was already greying and his eyes were the same tear blue, although on him they seemed to have more of an ice quality to them.
Thought he room seemed stuffy and uncomfortable, like someone holding their breath, there was no real warmth in it to speak of. The carpet was her accomplice, the same that I had mercilessly trampled beneath my cloddish hooves, softened her footsteps until she spoke.
“That doesn’t belong in here,” she pointed at the pitcher, but I had the sense that it could have meant me as well.
“Sorry Mrs. Nordstrom. I just got turned around,” I lied. Pushing my luck a little further I asked, “Danny’s sister, is she at college?”
“No, she got sick and died about two years ago. Two years last April.”
“Sorry. Uh... would you like me to take these to the kitchen for you?”
“No, I’ll take it from here. .. Ed? Right?”
“Yes Ma’am, Ed. Well...” I stutter, handing her the platter, “thanks for the cookies and everything.”
“The garage is down the hall back that way,” she said turning away towards the kitchen.
They were packing it in by the time I got back to the garage.
“So, what’s the scoop Danny? Are we practicing out here now or do we move everything back to my place?”
“I had Kurt and Howard leave everything pretty much set up. Where’d you go?”
“I went into the house to take back the platter.”
Three bars of rest then an F sharp.
“I saw the picture of you and your sister over the mantle. Sorry man, I didn’t know.” I suddenly felt a lot closer to Kevin.
“Ya, she committed suicide,” he shrugged, looking down at the fret board and plucking D seventh. “I asked Kurt and Howard if they wanted to go to this place I know where some bands play. Y’know, just to check things out. If you wanna come that’d be cool.”
“Thanks man.”
A distorted C sharp, F and a quick drop to D minor was Danny’s only response.