‘People, too damn many of ‘em’ he was thinking, turning the corner and at the same time straining to see through and over the hundreds who coagulated the wide concourse. Hesitating in his walk, he kept to the edges of the crowd, and dwelled on a small group of kids who were gathered around a bench. The muffled giggles and high pitched squeals enhanced their strutting, preening and prancing, evidence that the young still held their youth in high regard.
One stood out. A slight young man topped with dark long hair over soft, angelic features. His right knee shredded with tendrils of string in disarray, and just above a red bandana was wrapped and knotted tight. A mark of who he was. The man winced, knowing they would meet again, sooner than both would like.
But not now. Now there was another and he turned his attention back to navigating the crowd and noted his own reflection in a store window. Turning away, he let his eyes wander, positioning his gaze to float amid the crowd and the countless vendors that populated the center of the mall concourse. Still moving slowly, he knew they were here. In fact, in all his years, he had only been mistaken once, and that was long ago and another story.
A corner of his lip turned up softly when he found them setting on a wood slatted bench. A passing surge of the crowd obliterated his view for a moment and then subsided. ‘Only need one today,’ and he made a conscience decision to take his time. He had the time.
“Wanna go get a coffee?” one asked
“No, had too much already, feeling like I’m gonna be peeing all damn day with my balder the way it is an’ all.”
“What, you’re going to end up like ol’ Voss and piss your pants all the time?”
“That ain’t what I said.”
The first man chuckled, letting his eyes dance in the reflection of a private joke.
The friend noted the look and with a finger splotched with age, nudged his black rimmed glasses up his nose where they would fail to stay. He was irritated this morning. Not at anything in particular, then again, maybe at everything. He thought it was somewhat funny, in an absurd sense, his agitation. Absurd because he knew there was nothing at the moment to be ticked about, but he was, and because of that, he actually was making an effort to control it. Controlling his agitation seemed to get harder as the morning along.
“Look at that, Alf,” was partnered with a gentle elbow jabbed against his, “Good God almighty,”
“Aw, wipe that spittle of a smile of your face Pete, she’s just a little girl.” And Alf’s disgust was evident in the tone, aimed more at his aches and pains than Pete’s.
“Little girl my ass, she’s at least 45, maybe even near 50.”
“No damn difference cuz you couldn’t get it up if ya wanted to, could ya? When’s the last time Pete? With Aggie?”
Pete’s breath fell away. Letting the woman fade away into the moving crowd of color and chaos. Pausing for just the briefest of moments, he then reached into his back pocket and pulled a hanky to wipe his brow.
“What the hell you have to say that for?”
Alf didn’t have an answer and shifted his body uncomfortably, just a bit away. Unsure why he had mentioned Aggie, her name bought memories abounding in his mind. Memories of a life lived, his life, her life, together, the good and the bad. Seventy years of too much heartbreak and he tossed those aside thinking of the good. “Dunno Pete, Guess I’m sorry.” And it seemed to both men, the sentiment was more of an exasperated sigh than an actual apology.
“Look at all these people, Pete,” Alf found he needed to pause, to gather thoughts, “how many of ‘em are going to end up like us, two old friggin’ codgers with nothing to do but set on a bench and watch everybody else. Kinda seems stupid, don’t it? I mean don’t it bother you that we got nothing better to do, like we lived all our lives to end up here.” And he found himself staring at Pete, knowing there’d be no answer. Pulling his own hanky, he coughed and covered his mouth, expelling a fair amount of phlegm into the material which he then folded over onto itself and placed back into his own pocket.
“Got too damn much of this crap in my chest that just won’t go away.” Alf was saying, clearing his throat as he noticed that Pete had slide closer to him on the bench. “What the fu..” Alf intentionally halted his curse as he noticed a man had sat on the opposite end of his bench, making for a crowded threesome. Wrapping his hand around his cane which had been immobile between his legs, Alf tapped it’s rubber tip on the glossy Terrazzo floor, leaned over to Pete, and whispered in his ear, “Why don’t you tell our friend to go away.”
Pete answered with a stare he understood as ‘shut up and don’t embarrass us’. He understood the stare as he had seen it countless times over the years, and in fact had used it often himself. Alf floated out a ‘wimp’ under his breath.
“Excuse me, am I bothering the two of you?” the man asked, leaning just ever so slightly forward, and tilting his head told the two men.
Alf too leaned forward, balancing his weight on his old cane, and rolled his tongue, through a fair amount of phlegm, against the inside of his cheek, held it there for a minute, contemplating, than spat out, “Well, matter of fact, you are!”. Glancing at Pete, Alf’s aggravation ticked up a bit when he saw his friends sigh and roll his eyes, and then added, “We were discussing sumthing, sumthing private.”
Pete glanced sideways toward Alf, who relished in his embarrassment, and started to utter, “We weren’t talking ’bout nothing”, when the man interrupted.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” and then leaned back against the open slats of the bench.
Alf watched, thinking he had made his point when the man rested his back instead of moving, and noticed a smile, a smart alec ass smile cross his face.
“Shi…” Alf hissed, not caring who heard when Pete interrupted his curse with a “lets go get some coffee.” as Alf shook his head from side to side in disgust at the mans intrusion.
“Don’t want no damn coffee.” came full on the back of irritability.
“Too much coffees not good for you.” the stranger said as he loosened his smart ass smile yet stared straight ahead watching a hundred pairs of legs carrying their masters to and fro, back and forth, all going someplace. “Did you know that, Pete?
Seeing an opening for a portion of cordiality, Pete hoped for a parcel of an apology for Alf’s abrasiveness. He had formed the first word on his lips when it hit him, struck him broadside that the stranger used his name and it showed on the quizzical look which formed on his features.
The man looked ahead, still watching, when he abruptly and silently swung his head over his left shoulder, to stare directly at Pete.
“Don’t be so taken aback, Peter. I know most every ones name.” His breath was soft and cool as it fell against the Peters cragged and dry face, “In fact, I’d be hard pressed to remember a name I’ve ever forgotten.”was heard with a chuckle as Pete turned to look towards Alf, who had remained silent while twirling the crook of his cane between forefinger and thumb of one hand.
Now he squinted in new found curiosity and stared at the intruder, studying him and then with his cup filled filled of question ans attack, asked simply, “You going to a funeral, Mister?”
The sounds of a thousand footsteps slapped against hard polished floor and voices drifted in murmurs towards the high ceiling where the sun outlined the grids of a large skylight which those thousand pairs of feet walked over and through with never a thought to disturb their form.
“No funeral, not today Alfred.” His dark pupils dancing in a bright ocean of white served to bait Alf’s growing attention, holding it briefly, before Alf asked his next question, “How’s Aggie doing?”
Pete winced in the stupidity of his friends question, wondering what in the world possessed him to ask such a question such as that.
“Alfred…” was a sigh of expression on the mans part, “I don’t have the time to concern myself with how every one is doing. Too much work to do, you know.”
Pete arced an eyebrow as he turned to Alf who remained concentrating on the stranger.
“Somebody tell me what the two of you are are talking about, please?”
Alf was reluctant to turn his thoughts from the man, not daring, not trusting to take his eyes away, but he did so, haltingly, slowly glancing over toward Pete as he spoke. “He’s here for one of us Pete, or maybe both of us…”
“What the hell are you mumbling…” Pete stuttered but couldn’t finish as Alf cut him short. “Don’t be so god damn assisine, Pete. Look cross the walk to our reflections in the glass. You see him setting on the bench with us in that friggin’ glass? See ya self, dont’cha, see me dont’cha, but ya don’t see him, do ya?”
“Oh for the love of mercy Alf, your minds finally gone, twisted ’round and fell out your big ears. You stop to think the mans dressed in black and might not reflect in the glass like we are?”
Pete had spoke with an air of his own irritability and yet even as he had done so, stole a cursory glance at the window.
“Let me tell ya something else then, you idiot. Last thing Aggie saw was a man dressed in black calling her name. I heard her say it, said he was standing just side her bed, holding her hand. You Gonna hold my hand Mister?”
“Alfred, I wouldn’t hold your hand if I had to pull you along with me, even if you were kicking and screaming.”
Pete stared at the man, unsure of what to say much less of what to believe. “Is what Alf’s saying, true?” was all that came cross his mind, and as he spoke, his words were soft, gentle.
The man started ahead, through the world which walked past him him and answered Pete’s question with a nod that was nothing more than a bounce of his head.
“Because it’ the ways things work. Not my idea Peter.”
“So who ya here for, me?” Alfs words were sharp, “Cuz if ya are, I ain’t ready to go just yet.”
“I understand that Alf, but just for my own curiosity, if I were here for you, what would you do?”
In a single strong beat of his heart, Alf grasped his cane, bringing it up, off the floor and then laid it back down with a loud ‘thack’, which reverberated and caused the walkers to glance their way in a nervous fashions.
“That’s what I’d do first, rap ya ‘cross your head a good one and then mebbe do it ‘gin just for the hell of it.”
“I believe you would old man and I dread the day we meet again,” then switching his focus, “and how about you Peter.”
He had listened to the two of them as he stared at his own shoes. Bringing his eyes up to Alf, Pete ran an old hand thru sparse white tuffs of hair which still sprouted like over grown weeds.
“It’s me he wants, Alf.”
Alf heard the weakness in his friends voice, the surrender which was already there and answered it the best way he could.
“Don’t have to go with him, you know that, don’t you?”
“Peter does have to come with me, Alfred, it is his time.”
Peter’s left arm tweaked with what he thought to be a muscle cramp but knew better as he raised a palm to massage his shoulder.
“This isn’t going to hurt, is it?”
“Just a bit Peter, only at first.”
“Wait a minute here,” Alf was frustrated, “You can’t be going just like that and leave me here.”
Peters cramp worked its way up the length of his arm, spreading out over his chest, gripping his heart, and he winced out the next words in pain, and trying to ignore the pain.
“I’m sorry about everything Alf, I mean Aggie and all.”
Alfs eyes had grown red, puffy as he watched this man whom he had known since childhood place an open palm against is chest and close his eyes.
“Ain’t nuthin’ to worry about Pete. It was long ago an’ nothing but a part of livin…’, wasn’t it? He asked of a man that was no longer there.
“Pete” came as a low shrilled cry as his friend took his last breath while Alf wrapped his arm around his shoulders.
Pete hurried to catch up to the man who threatened to disappear into the crowd. Matching his step, he glanced over his shoulder where he caught Alf with his head hung low, his cane lying on the floor and he heard him crying as they turned the corner.
Everywhere I look, I’m reading how great the economy is, unemployment is low, business is booming, and the economic figures look fantastic, with the GDP at 4.1%. From where I set, I’m scratching my head because none of that has trickled down my way. I got a bump of about 20 bucks on my paycheck with Trumps Tax cuts, but all that is, is an extra case of cheap beer. What I do see is prices starting to tick up, my health insurance premiums ain’t going down, and everybody still wants what little I have. Hell, I’d take a 4% raise, that makes sense. I’d even settle for a 2% jump in my paycheck, but it ain’t never going to happen in this economy because people like money in the form of profit, and they’re going to keep it.
between the parents who held their kids captiveand our Government. Both don’t give a shit about those whose welfare they are entrusted with, don’tcare about anything ‘cept what empowers them, both have an ideology of ‘my way or the highway’.
As a liberal, it’s easy to blame Trump, but this crap goes back a long way. The art of compromise, doing the peoples work, died way back when, and you and I, just point our fingers at our friends who have opposing views. Trump is the symptom of the disease, the disease is apathy on our part, corruption on theirs.
Adolph Hitler believed in the Master Race, a belief founded in Joseph Arthur De Gobineau’s philosophy that distinct races who mixed, degenerated their cultures. Like Hitler, Donald Trump believes in the superiority of his genes. If environment plays any part in one’s belief, look no further than Donald Trump’s father. While there’s no valid evidence that Fred Trump was an active, and participating member of the Klu Klux Klan, he was arrested during a KKK rally, and Woody Guthrie was specific in his lyrics about old man Trump and his racial prejudice.
If a man’s actions are different than his words, the default is always to look to his actions to define ones’ character. In 1989, when 5 Black and Latino kids were charged with the brutal rape of a white woman, Donald Trump took out full page advertisements in leading New York papers, calling for their execution. Those five young adults were later to be found innocent, and to this day, Trump defends his actions, without apology.
Jumping to the recent past, in June of 2016, Trump claimed Mexico was sending us their ‘rapists’.
At face value, two incidents separated by twenty some years don’t make a person an outright racist. I’ve said, and done stupid things over the course of my lifetime to understand that. I have however, walked stupid actions back, and apologized as needed. I’ve tried to correct my wrongful assumptions.
Adding fuel to Racism charges is the fact that both he and his father were accused of racial discrimination as early as 1973, resulting in a settlement without admission of guilt. To continually make racial statements without apology, such as “they don’t look like Indians to me”, implying an American judge is biased due to his Mexican Heritage, along with attacking a gold star family, is fodder for defining the man’s character.
Trumps character is one based in abuse, of humiliation, divisiveness, and revenge and I can’t help but believe he takes great pride and pleasure in his character. Whether he is humiliating a disabled reporter, abusing a woman for her looks, implying he has the right to grope women, or simply seeking revenge toward one who disagrees with his own thoughts, nothing in his core character is unifying.
Indeed, in the last 24 hours, Trump has attacked the NFL, criticizing its owners for not disciplining their black players who kneel instead of stand during our anthem. It’s his personal opinion, but added to the thread of his character, I’m getting the drift.
Trump came full circle travelling from his Charlottesville comments to his NFL comments, in that his Charlottesville comments essentially claiming some white nationalists were good people and today, calling black NFL protestors sons of bitches.
All of this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Consider when Trump complemented those who assaulted a black protester during a campaign rally in Alabama. Perhaps we should let sink in, Trumps off the cuff remark that ‘Laziness is a trait of black people’, or his failure to outright condemn the white nationalists’ movement.
I watched the movie ‘Mother’ last night, an allegorical script about a mans need for adoration, and Trump came to mind. He’ll burn the world down around him to get that adoration from the few supporters he has left, that’s Trump. Fostering division to the delight of his base, encouraging hate to the gleeful screams of his fans, that’s Trump.
Finally, let’s not forget who Trump surrounded himself with in the early days of his administration. Bannon, Miller, Gorka, white nationalists! You are who you associate with. You are who your behavior dictates. Trump, Racist!
Back in the day, I’d walk into the Velvet, the DutchRoom, Blue Ox or Lakeside, and on any given summer night I’d order a house whiskey and water. I was poor, a kid, but I liked my Whiskey. House Whiskey was cheap, rotgut whiskey.
Damn, now there was some good times!
As I got older, my finances improved and I started experimenting with better whiskeys, CC, Jack, Southern Comfort. One particular night, an old geezer, about my age now, slides onto the empty bar stool next to me, and says, ‘Ya know young man, a good whiskey is smooth, meant for shots, not to be mixed with H2O or some sweet water-piss, that’s how a man drinks’.
Now I don’t like to think when I drink, that’s why I drink. But I thought about this, and I thought, ‘you know, the old fuck might be right. Diluting the natural flavor of whiskey might be the wrong way to go’, so I did a shot, and I’ve never looked back. To this day, if I drink hard liquor, and I do, it’s always by the shot. And it’s usually only Tequila, btw!
Confederate statues, like diluted liquor, ain’t right! However, it’s a mans choice to drink how he sees fit, and likely so, it’s a communities choice to build, or remove those things which they see fit. Up here in the great Northland, we don’t build statues to those who were oppressive, to those who wanted to destroy this Nation, and then remake America in the spiting image of the South. So in my book, a Confederate statue is just like rotgut and water, not only offensive, it masks the reality of what that statue really represents to an awful lot of good people.
Christ, am I ever going to get a break from this imbecilic bully? Are any of us ever going to find our sanity again?
I’m tired of the 24/7 next level bullshit. Did I say next level? Hell, he’s skipped the next dozen rungs of the ladder and taken it to never before seen heights. Yea, we can point our fingers at the media, but the medias just taking his bullshit and fertilizing the America soil. I’m tired of it! I’m tired of Trump, and I just wish he’d go away, someplace where fire bakes brimstone.
Getting up in the morning, coffee in hand, reading the news is like standing in a shitstorm, mouth hung open, facing the wind. There’s no other way to say it.
For eight years I listened as Republicans fertilized our soil, spreading lie after lie about Obama. That was palpable, but I could deal with it, I knew what was going on. I guess in a way, they laid the foundation for Trump, and their refusal to recognize that adds to my Trumpfatigitis, cuz I know they could do something about it, but won’t, and it ain’t because they’re tired of slinging shit. Personally, I think Republicans are liking the show, revealing in it. They’re used to it, they spent so much time in the pigpen, it’s all they know. Shit!
I really don’t know if I can take another 7.5 years of this. That’s a lifetime, ‘specially for a geezer like me. Being old accounts for a lot of aches and pains, and I’ve rode a wild bike down the road of life, but I don’t deserve this shitstorm, nobody in this Nation does. Hell, nobody ever in existence does. Trump has taken my old mans pain and just beat me down, to the point where I’m like living in an alternate reality, where nothing is real. Living in a Salvador Dali world would be a blessing compared to this.
I don’t relish waking up every morning for the next seven plus years, and getting a mouthfull of shit. I got other things to do. Grandbabies in Hungary, an elderly mother, summertime firepits, tequila, YouTube videos, a little website. Christ, I skype with my son, it’s about Trump. I visit my mom, it’s about Trump. I set around my firepit with Friends, it’s about Trump. I do a vlog, and Trump has to show up. I drink tequila by the shotglass because of Trump. Shot after shot till I’m finally wandering about a Dali landscape, rejoicing in my escape.
And then I wake up to the shitstorm. Mouth agape, foul taste, and I’m just so fucking numb from it all. I’s only 9am, and I do a shot. And another. Now I’m ready for this alternative Universe.
I’d also bet what years I got left in this world, that I’m not fucking alone.
And don’t forget to stop by my website, robpaxton.me
There’s no easy way out!
C’mon take a little trip with me, walk hand in hand through the storm. Might as well,
your house is burning in the rain.
Will you figure it out? It’s what happens when I write and listen to music.
The Clash, Genesis, ELO, Bon Jove, Scorpion, Paul Mcartney, Queen, the Stones, Creedance, Skynard, Supertramp, BTO, The Who, Steppenwolf, Blue Oyster Cult, War, Fleetwood Mac, Fogerty, Zevon, Petty
C’mon, grab your rubbers, toss on your rain slick, and follow me as I slog through the storm. You might as well because there’s really no security setting around your warm, dry abode. You need to come with, get wet, live a little. After all, who are you? Wouldn’t you like to know! Aww, now it’s thundering and we’re late for the light show, c’mon, get with it, you’re late. Late I say. You were born to be wild, to run with the wolfs, to surf the solar winds and you still haven’t got you galoshes on, what’s up with that, natures child? Awww man, you’re never gonna see the morning, see the light and I can’t let that ride, my friend. I love ya too much for that so I’m going to do something I should have done a long time ago. I get it you’re content with getting up and taking the 8.15 to the city, taking care of business but man, that can’t be all that fulfilling, there’s more to life than being productive. Why, because I can, cuz that’s what I do, and when I’m done you’re going to be taking the long way home, old man. All I asked is that you spend a few minutes with an old friend and weather a little storm, and live a little. Your choice was not to do so and I’m fine with that but every choice has consequences and you are not going to like what I offer up. So, before I leave tomorrow, I promise you’ll be remembering me and you might want to be looking for a hotel somewhere out California way. And the thing is, really, the thing is, after I burn you house down and wake you up, we’ll be better friends, you’ll be much happier. I don’t expect you to trust me on that because you wouldn’t even trust me enough to walk through the storm. Now I know you can change your face, change you name, thinking it’ll all be the same, you just won’t be able to hide, will ya cowboy? I’m not buying that ‘you’ll be true’ crap any more, cuz you just leave me blue and ya know I love you, love the way you walk, love the way ya talk. It’s all funky shit babe, funky music, but that don’t change the show because I still have to rewrite the play, from start to finish. Yea, crazy business, walking in central park under the moonlight, but you have to do it every once in a while for no other reason than to remember who you were is responsible for who you are. Yea, didn’t know that did you? That’s why you’ve got blood on your face, why you’re a disgrace and that’s why you’re going to get rocked, ya got too damn big for your britches, and yep, it has everything to do with love, know what I mean? Don’t even start that fight cuz you know I’m a power load, totally t an t, babe, and if you insist, here I am, like a hurricane, ever see fire in a wind? Think I’m going to let you live while I wither and die, it better matter to ya, cuz I do my damn job well and that’s to open your eyes to the possibility that there’s more than what you can even imagine. Sorry that ya thought all was going all right, that I’m telling you now black is white and white is black and that you can leave but I won’t let you go. Just so you know, evil woman, you have no one else to blame so get your face on the very next train, I hear you crying, scared and all alone, and you don’t have long…, So should I say or should I go? Yep, I get that you want your freedom, but thunder only happens when it’s raining babe so here I go again and there’s a bad moon a rising, so I hope ya got it all together, because you’re in for nasty weather, like a frigging chinese werewolf reading a menu in the rain, a-hoooooooooooo… Sorry babe, gotta stand my ground, can’t back down, there ain’t no way out.
There’s no easy way out!
We the people.
Not, We the white, the Christian, the Democrat or Republican.
Not We, the rich. We the men, the educated.
Not We, the natural born citizens.
Simply We the People!
We the people of the United States.
There may be many interpretations of our Constitution, but there is one indomitable fact that can not be disputed, or interpreted differently. We are a nation of people! No matter your social status, your religion, your sexual preference, skin color, cultural heritage, or belief set, you are due the same rights as your neighbor, as every other American citizen.
Any intentional act of our Government to deny one American citizen the rights, that another citizen possesses, is traitorous to our way of life, to our founding fathers, to our Constitution. Any intentional act to court disharmony among the American people, to divide the American people, is Traitorous.
Our founding fathers created a Government of people, by the people, for all the people. A new, fragile concept in the annuals of humanity. A grand experiment that many have sought to subvert, for their own profit, their own ego, their own greed. The American people have stood the trials of such men, of petty men who believe their power, their beliefs, outweigh the concept of a Government of, by, and for the people. The American people have stood against foreign governments seeking to destroy us, and from own own, seeking to impose their will upon us.
We are not a perfect nation. We have treated many, less than others, even less then human, and there are those Americans who find no fault in doing so. That belief, blinds the New Colossus, bringing Liberty to her knees, and is nothing less than a perversion of our Constitution. A perversion used to justify that one has rights, and another does not.
Our Government is not sold to the highest bidder, the rich, the powerful.
Our Government is a nation of people. Not Democrats or Republicans.
We are a nation of people.
Not a righteous people, not a god inspired people, not a religious people, not even a well educated people, or even an exceptional people. We are a flawed people. Out of many, we are one. One striving to find something better for all, a place for all to call home, with equal protection, with equal rights, for all people.
We strive to move forward, we try to be better. Sometimes we fail, and the world laughs.
But it is to America the world has come to watch, for in our Constitution, there is something for all humanity.
We the people.