Monday, April 30, 2012

chapter 9 And the west wind blew; Or; Well for heavens sake why didn’t you just ask?

I sat cross legged on the floor, my coat in my lap, needle and thread in my hand. Letting my mind wander as I sewed beads onto the coat.  Yellow bead, yellow bead, yellow bead, white bead.
“That bitch is worth fifty thousand dollars.”  At the time I had dismissed the words as foolish piffle, but now I felt it time to reevaluate that premise.  The siege had been going on for so long now and the addition of the cameras and listening devices, this was no small matter.  There was defiantly money involved here and organization.  Fifty thousand.
I thought briefly that I was trapped in one of those sadistic reality shows.  I can see the little marketing geek jumping all over an idea like this.
“You see chief we just pick some schmuck at random out of the phone book and pay a bunch of wanna be Soprano’s bit actors to try and kill the target.  I tell ya chief the ratings will go through the roof.
I rejected the idea only because admitted whores only get to show up in reality TV in Cops.
Yellow bead, yellow bead, I let my fingers do their work and let my mind wander.
I rummage through my mental file cabinet pulling out the files marked odd.  Looking for a pattern in the puzzle.  When exactly did everything go so horribly horribly wrong?  What impossibly improbable sequence of events has resulted in this bizarre moment in my life?
Odd file; A few months before all heck broke lose the San Francisco Bay Guardian a free weekly newspaper in town had a long article about gang involvement with massage parlors in the city.   Accompanying the article was a picture of my apartment window right next to the Empire Massage sign.
Odd file; Not long after one of my neighbors had a nasty death.  I came home late one rainy night to find the fire department, cops and emts all around my building.  Never a good thing.  One of my neighbors had apparently leapt to his death.  He was found on top of the buildings Garbage container inside the inner court of the building.  A broken doll lying atop discarded pizza boxes and shattered glass.  It was ruled a suicide.
There were a couple of things about his death that struck me as off at the time.  Mind you I didn’t go all Mrs. Marple over it, but still.  He didn’t leave a suicide note, well nothing odd about that, most suicides don’t bother with such nice detail.  Why that is so I can’t imagine, if one is going to stalk off and leave the party in such a dramatic way you would think you would put some thought into your exit lines.    What struck me as off was the manner and location of his death.
Jumping to your death.  Why jump off a five story tall building when we have a perfectly good bridge for that sort of thing?  Most suicides are solitary affairs, in our culture any way.  Like a wounded animal they crawl off into the solitary shadows to die.  Jumpers, however are the exception.  Jumpers are suicides with a flare for the dramatic and they want an audience for their big scene.  He didn’t ‘jump’ off the street side of the building where he would have been seen.  He ‘jumped’ to his death to the inner court of the building, a place always in the shadows, a place no one but the garbage man ever goes into.
The part that really struck me as off was the fact that he landed on top of the buildings garbage container.  The top of the garbage container was a good 12 or 15 foot off the ground.
All jumpers look down first.  Bungee jumpers, parachutists, suicides, they all look before they leap.  Why would a suicide leap from the building from the one spot least likely to be immediately fatal?  Jumpers think, SPLAT, lights out, they don’t think, ‘ writhing in agony atop a pile of rotting garbage yeh that’s the ticket. ‘
Odd file;  The empty building next door.  Emptiness, it’s not a quality you notice at first.  It is a growing sense of, wrongness, a sense of something, missing.  The two buildings were close together cheek to jowl, you can step from one roof top to the next with no disturbing daylight between your shoes.
I passed this building everyday and didn’t give it any thought, but over time  this sense of something missing begins nagging at me.
The building was empty, not abandoned, not ill kept, just empty.  It was empty when I moved into my apartment.  It was still empty.  San Francisco has some of the highest rents and lowest vacancy rates of any city in the world and here sits an empty apartment building in the center of the city.  Who leaves a cash cow unmilked?  For four years?
Halloween night a couple of months before my neighbor had his unfortunate encounter with gravity, he and some of his friends from the CIA (cook school not spy school) were having a party up on the roof.  A gathering of aspiring chiefs want to share their beer and brownies, sure I’m in.
Young men + beer= mischief. 
They wanted to go exploring.
The two buildings were cheek by jowl.
And wouldn’t you know the empty buildings roof top door was unlocked?
Abandoned is the element of things left behind.  Empty is a thing waiting to be filled.
The building was empty.  Every room was perfect, new carpet, shinny new sinks, no dust.  Four years at least four years empty, shinny sinks, no dust.  I left after a few minutes.  A haunted house I can handle but this was just creepy.
About a week after my neighbors death some workmen arrived to the empty building and took out all the brand new carpeting I had seen in those empty rooms, in big ragged rolls.
Odd file;  The cars now involved in my siege had arrived in the neighborhood right about the same time as the work men removed the carpeting next door.   Parking in the alley with their get smart codes of honking horns.
Bead by bead the pattern on my coat grew under my hands.  I moved the puzzle pieces around in my mind.
Odd file;  The succession of decidedly unusual short term tenants in the apartment above me.
Odd file;  The fact that so many of the apartments in my building were now vacant.  This in a time when any vacancy is filled before the ink on the paper advertising the fact dries.
Bead by bead the pattern on my coat grew under my hands.  I moved the puzzle pieces around in my mind.
Then snap the pieces fell into place and my stomach clenched around a fist of ice.  Like the moment when you see the mac truck barreling down at you going a hundred miles an hour and the only thought going through your head is: (“Shit, this is really going to suck.”)
And then I laughed.
Clutching my coat rocking with laughter.
It was drugs, of course, in a big way, and Boccie was in it, in it, right up to his sharks toothed grin.  The kicker, it wasn’t about me.  It was my apartment they were after.  Just like they say in real estate, Location, Location, Location.
The apartment above me the one below me and mine shared one thing, all three apartments were the ones that had windows facing out onto O’Farrell street and were the ones that inside the building faced the only stairwell and elevator in the building.  With those apartments, one would know everyone who entered or left the building.
I thought about the building next door, could that be where they are either storing and or manufacturing their drugs?  Distribute through the Massage Palor but keep the main supplies off sight.  If the cops searched the Massage pallor all they would find would be small quantities they could blame on the whores working the place.  
The fifty thousand wasn’t for my death so much as simply to scare me enough to move out of my apartment.  An old folk tale came to my mind.
The tale of the sun and the west wind.
Once upon a time in the misty days when the world was young the sun and the west wind got into a pissing match over which of them had more influence over the actions of men.
Just then quite coincidently a young man appears walking on the road below the arguing sun and west wind.  He is walking with the loose limbed carefree stride of a youth not quite totally misspent.  His long duster coat open and flapping free about his knees.
The sun proposes a contest.  Which ever of us can get the man below to remove his coat is the winner.  The wind accepted the challenge and took the first go.
The wind blew upon the young man, the man buttoned up his coat.  The wind blew harder, the man belted his coat.  The wind blew upon the man til the wind was quite purple with the effort.  The man gripped his coat tight in both hands and leaned into the stubborn wind.
Then the sun took his turn and he shone bright and warm down upon the man. 
I guess we all know who went to the celestial bar with bragging rights that night.
I don’t think Boccie read many fairy tales growing up.
I set aside the coat and went to the kitchen for some tea.  I sat myself comfortably into my gold leafed wicker chair and looked up at the ceiling.  Time to have a little talk.
“All righty then.” I began  “First off, Mr. Boccie, you’ve been a very bad landlord and I am decidedly not happy.”  I lift my teacup to the ceiling with a wry smile and continued.
“You are involved in the drug business.  The building next door the massage pallor, you, I don’t need to know all the details to see the picture.  All this noise and foolishness,” I gesture to the window.  “You all want my apartment.”
“First point, I do not care about your business.  Hell I like drugs.  If I had known a drup warehouse was right next door all I would have done was become a customer.  Would have been soo convenient.
“Second point, you want my apartment, well for heaven’s sake why didn’t you just ask?.  I mean really now I am not an unreasonable woman and I would think that my , , profession would tell you that I really no qualms over being bought off.  If you had come to me and simply offered me a different apartment at the same rent in another or your buildings and a bit of money for moving costs.  I would have gone, simple as that  No muss no fuss no questions.”
But nooo.. You all  decided to get all up in my grill.”
“While I have no trouble with you ‘little’ drug business.  I don’t like bullies. Mr. Boccie you have been a bad landlord and that is going to cost you.  You hired the nit wit gang to harass me, to frighten me into running away from My apartment.  That is just down right rude.”
“So here’s the deal.  You offered them fifty grand to get me out of my apartment.  As investments go I think you will have to admit that you really are not getting your monies worth.   In fact things have gone from bad to worse.  Your victim hasn’t run away and has now figured out a lot of things I am sure you would rather she had not.  So cut your losses.  Pay me the money you offered the nit wit gang and I will go.  No muss, no fuss, no questions.  I will turn my back on you, this apartment and even California.  All your problems here solved.”
“Now honestly I don’t expect you to do this.  I have found that once a person starts a foolish course of action their ego insists they keep going no matter how foolish.  Some part of you convinced that you can prove folly wise by dedication.”
“But I do like to give people a chance to make a better choice.  Consider  carefully, continue down a path that hasn’t worked and has in fact resulted in the exact opposite of your desires, or be reasonable and make a deal”
“Of course you think to your self that you have the men, the money, the guns, terrible to give into a mere woman, and a whore at that.  I’m sure you find that a bit galling.”
“Still, you think I’ve been an annoying pain in the ass so far?”
I smile around the lip of my tea cup.
“Well I’m going to bed.  You all think it over.”
I rinsed the cup ot in the sink and went to bed. Drifting off to sleep to a lullaby of death threats.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Chapter 8


I drank my coffee and read my newspaper in blessed peace.  For the first time in two weeks my irritating little fan club was silent.  The morning continued quiet so I thought it would be a good time to take a quick trip out to get supplies. 
I locked the deadbolt and the lock on the door handle as I was making out my mental shopping list.  Paint, some super glue, beads,  some cleaning supplies hmm and monofilament fishing line I think.
Twenty minutes to walk to Pearl art and craft store, twenty minutes back, five minutes to get what I needed, fifteen to wait for someone to man the cash register (Pearl hires art students so it takes awhile to get anything useful done).  I would be home in an hour.
  Typically when I leave the house I am gone for some hours, shopping, a bit of lunch, some afternoon bar hopping, so those seeing me leave will have the expectation that I will be gone for some time.
 I cant help but feel that this quiet is only a temporary reprieve.
 My trip out isn’t so much to replenish my supplies as to test to see if I’m perhaps over reacting to a bit of noise, or if there is something a tad more serious going on.  Give people a vulnerability an opening and see if anyone goes for it. It's a good way to test your enemy's intentions and capabilities.
I give Queeny’s  nervous court a jaunty wave and head out walking quickly.  Pearl art store is on Market street straight down Tyler street, I don’t see anyone following me, but unless someone were being like totally inspector Clouseau about it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t notice if someone were following me or not.
Shopping done I head home.  I wave at Queeny’s court as a reach my building.  They don’t seem happy to see me.  I unlock the buildings door and pause in the lobby before calling the elevator.
“Oh shit she’s here.” I hear a man’s voice trying to whisper floating down to me from the stairwell.  I hear a sound like tools being shoved into a bag and foot steps heading up.  A door opens, from the cold metal snick sound it was the door to the roof.  The door closes.
I take the elevator up to my floor, stepping out cautiously .  The hall way is empty.  I go to my door, hmm, scratches around my deadbolt and its unlocked.  The second lock I have on my door apparently they didn’t have time to get to.  Jezz, they had the better part of an hour and they couldn’t pick two simple locks?   And I would have had lookouts posted with a cell phone to alert the burglars of my return.  Stupid and sloppy, but why where they trying to break into my apartment in the first place? 
I go inside and lock the door behind me.  I set my, ‘groceries’ down.  Ok then time to upgrade home security.  I go to my closet and get a length of 2x4 I had tucked away as a useful thing for something someday .  I braced the 2x4 against the door and wedged it against the facing wall.  Primitive but effective, even if they picked the locks they wouldn’t be able to open the door. 
I sat on my bed thinking.  ‘Shit she’s here’, footsteps, the door.  Two men,  the speaker, white I think, he didn’t speak with the same accent as the members of queeny’s court who are all African American.  They went up to the roof, but not down.  My apartment faced the stairwell and the elevator, if anyone went up or down I would know of it.  If the door to the roof opened I would hear it, that cold snick sound, I would hear it. 
The roof, the only other way down was by the fire escape that went right by my window.  The roof.  I thought of the empty building next door.  The building next door, you can get to it from the roof of my building.  The two buildings so close together you can step from one roof top to the other.  They went up but not down. 
Curiousier and curiousier said Alice.
The day continued quiet.  At sunset John returned.  I was beading my coat listening to him yell at Queeny and her court for their dereliction of their duty to be a pain in my ass. They weren’t all that interested in continuing since I apparently had a flame thrower that they hadn’t been warned about.
“Are you Fucking kidding me?” He screamed at them “That bitch is worth fifty thousand bucks.”
And the big cartoon question mark popped into existence above my head.
TV, dvd player, stereo.  Fifty thousand?  I’m worth fifty thousand? Something wasnt adding up here, the stereo wasnt even a BOSE.   Did they think I was one of those odd eccentrics who lived like paupers with gold bars stuffed under their bed?  Is that why they tried to break into my apartment ? to steal my secrete stash of gold?
For a moment I considered the idea that someone was offering to pay fifty thousand to actually kill me.  And dismissed the  idea as more nuts then the idea of me with gold bars under my bed.   truly nuts.  Sure I’m an annoying person but I couldn’t think of anyone I had pissed off enough to shell out that kind of cash.
I figured that ‘John’ was spinning a whopper to the crew to get them motivated.  Still worrisome, people get stupid for a lot less than that.  I sighed and put away my bead work.
Before I went to bed I took some pieces of ply wood I had in my closet and tacked them up, covering the window that the fire escape went past, and over the two bay windows that faced out over the street.   Fifty thousand is a lot of motivation and a rifle with a decent scope isn’t that big of an investment. 
I went to bed.
Car horns and people screaming up at me, in Spanish.  I understand just enough Spanish to know that nothing they were shouting up at me was at all nice.
There were three cars involved in a bizarre little parade.  Spaced about three car lengths apart they circled the block and every time they passed my building they began laying on their horns and screaming rude things up at me.  That they were screaming in Spanish struck me as a bit off.  The population of the tenderloin is African American and Asian.
“What? Their importing assholes from the mission now?”
I was beginning to feel like the last defender of the Alamo.  Considering how well that worked out for the Alamo, it wasn’t a good feeling.
I recognized the cars.
The sounds of the city are not random noise.  There is a pattern to it.  Like the beat of your heart or the breath in your lungs.  Car, buses, taxi’s, people come people going, I know the rhythm.  I noticed the cars a couple of months before the ruckus. 
The honking of a car horn, what sound could be more normal more common than the sound of a car horn in the city?  Commonly, normally a car horn is used to impart one of two basic messages; either I’m here get your ass in gear or fuck you asshole.  There is also the watch out but it is always watch out asshole so I put that in the same category as fuck you asshole.
A car parked in the alley beeps three times, a car driving by honks three times in answer.
The car in the alley pulls out and drives off. 
A new car parks in the alley.
It waits.
It honks twice.
A car driving by honks twice in response.
The car in the alley pulls out and drives off.
A new car parks in the alley.
It waits.
It is a pattern that is repeated often. Day after day.  The same three cars.  The same three cars that are now circling my building and honking their horns at me.
Being under siege, isn’t as interesting as one might think.  It goes on and on and I occupied my time with my beading.  The coat was coming along really well.  I ate, I slept, I drank tea, I watched movies (I have an extensive collection), I read books and I wait.  Sooner or later they will get bored with this.  Sooner or later these yo yos will figure out that idiot ‘John’ hasn’t got 50 anything let alone fifty thousand.  They would most likely beat him to death when they finally figure out that they had been had. I was quite looking forward to watching that.
A week goes by, I got quite a bit done on my coat.  The crack heads screamed under my windows, the cars   circled the block honking and screaming every time they passed my building.
Couple of times that week someone tried to job the lock.  They weren’t very good at it, or maybe they weren’t trying to be subtle.
The sound of power tools coming from the upstairs apartment.  I groan and roll out of bed.  I was doing really well at ignoring the constant clamor coming from outside but power tools are hard to ignore.  Why always midnight I grouse and fix myself a cup of tea.
I sat sipping my tea listening as someone upstairs drilled into their floor, my ceiling.
The apartment upstairs was currently vacant.  As were most of the apartments in the building, now that I thought about it.  Upstairs only one apartment was currently occupied by a young woman who is a niece of Mr. Ripinder of the copy shop.   She moved in about four months ago.  And on my floor, other than me there was only one tenant, a beefy young man who told me he was a cook and who once offered to pick my lock for me when I miss placed my keys for about five minutes.  I’m not a suspicious person by nature,  but , hmmm.
The apartment directly above me has had a series of odd tenants, who never stayed for long, a week or two mostly.
There were the unpleasant Mongolians.   One night I was woken to the sounds of a woman screaming that she had been raped by the Mongolians in the apartment upstairs.  She screamed rape, she screamed for help. I heard her running up the stairs, I heard the cold snick sound of the roof door being opened.  She disappeared.  I complained to Boccie, the Mongolians moved out.
There was the elder Yemenis man in full robes.  He was the father of the owner of  the coffee shop on the corner of O’Farrell and Larken.  He didn’t speak a word of English and I met him because of his lack of understanding of indoor plumbing.  He had to call his son to explain why a crazed American woman with wet hair was screaming at him.
There was the Alaskan Airlines steward and his new Chinese bride.   They stayed a couple of months.
The last I swear looked exactly like a gangster from some movie from the 50’s.  He was a square shaped man from head to toe, in a double breasted suite and smoking a stogie.  He had introduced himself to me as a retired district attorney from some city near by I cant rember.  He gave me his card.  Told me he was trying to track a man stalking the woman in new York who owned the apartment. 
(Yeh right, what ever,)
I threw the card away.  He stayed two weeks.
There was the asian gang banger.  He was about 5’ 8’’ a  wightlifters body and a bald head with the letters VIN tattooed across his forehead I assumed that the tattoo had to be some sort of gang thing.  You don’t have something like that plastered on your skull to show off your arty aesthetics. I figured  he had some connection with the Empire Massage.  He stayed a couple of weeks.
The drilling upstairs stops and I hear something being snaked into my ceiling and laughter.
I have my suspicions, but not wanting to give in to paranoia and there was nothing I could do about it any so I want back to bed.  The next day was the same as the others except for a couple of things.  There were people in the upstairs apartment, coming and going with heavy feet.  The other difference was the people outside were now commenting on my every move.
“Going to the kitchen for more tea?”
I was.  There was no way to see into my apartment from the street, especially with my street fronting windows were now blocked off with plywood.  I looked up at my ceiling and thought of the drilling.  Hmm.
That night I decided to test the matter.  You want to know if men are watching? Nothing easier.
I drew a bath.  Lots of bubbles.  I put on some  music, Mozart, a little night music. I lite a few candles lowered the lights and…
I had a cat once who loved nothing more then to tease the German Shepard next door.  She knew exactly how long the dogs chain was, to the inch.  She would saunter over to his yard tail high in the air and she would sit, just outside the reach of his chain.  And bath herself.  She took her time at it, lifting her leg high in the air licking her fur clean with long extravagant strokes, smiling her cat smile at the dog barking and howling at the end of his chain.  You can lean a lot from cats.
There was no doubt.  They were watching.  The detailed descriptions of my body, right down to the cute little mole on my ass,  were at least complimentary.  Much to the displeasure of a couple of women in the group, shrieking at their ‘boyfriends?’ to “Quit watching her.”
I quite enjoyed that.   Though I did wonder at the thought process behind bringing ones girl friend out on a job like this. 
 “Hey instead of going out to dinner and seeing a movie lets go to a group murder party.”
Maybe I am just too old fashioned in my thinking.

I always wanted to go to a rave. They looked like such fun. But I was never cool enough to go to that sort of party. The Gods do enjoy their little jokes.
Ok they were watching.  Were they also listening?  It seemed logical that they would be, still might as well be sure.  I toweled off and threw on a robe.
I have a rather odd collection of music.  I tend to buy cd’s not so much because I know I will like it or ever heard of the band or what ever.  I buy things that make me go Hu?  If I have no idea what something is or what it will sound like my eyes light up.  So I have a collection of things that would make any normal person cringe.
I go through my collection and find just the thing.  Sound Chambers, by Mary Archer, ahh yes.  This woman went into cathedrals with her sound equipment and recorded an experiment.  She would bounce a high electronic tone off one wall and another off another wall and record it.  When you play it you hear the first tone, then the second tone in your other ear then in the middle of your head the two sounds collide and a third tone chimes inside your head. 
I had a friend who once had trouble with squirrels in the walls of his house.  I gave him this cd and told him to play it loud next to the walls where the squirrels were.  He did and in a minute he ran out of the house terrified as the squirrels were screaming and beating their little heads against the walls.  Ever since that day he has had a fear of squirrels, convinced that they are plotting bloody vengeance.
Just the thing.
I take Mozart off the stereo and put in Sound Chambers.  I crank the volume, pause a moment, then hit play.
I hear screaming.
I go to the one window I haven’t blocked off because it is away from the fire escape and it has the Empire Massage sign blocking any view into my apartment.  I look down to the street and wow just like in the movies, two men come barreling out of a white van parked near to my building.  They were tearing head phones off their heads and shrieking just like the squirrels.
I take up my bead work.  Time to do some serious thinking

Saturday, April 28, 2012

chapter 7 and this was such a nice quiet neighborhood

Chapter 7


One night some time after midnight I am woken up by a god awful hallabaloo coming from the street below my windows.  I am normally pretty good at ignoring city noises, O’Farrell is a busy street the traffic never sleeps on O’Farrell street, buses, cabs, people going to the theaters to hotels going shopping, just going, people.  My building is right in what I call the tidal delta zone.  The place where the worlds of the tourist  hotels, the shopping the theaters and restaurants, meet and mix with the tenderloin world of the broken, the used and the forgotten.  My apartment looks out over it all.  I would sit at my windows working on some beading project and watch the endlessly entertaining theater of the streets.  So I am used to the sounds of the streets and find the sounds of the city breathing actually comfort my sleep.  But even so hearing people screaming out my name with death threats attached kinda got my attention
I pull open my window and lean out looking down to the street below.
Queeny and her crack head court were down below my window, screaming up death threats, to me.
Queeny is a needle thin African American woman who could be an aged thirty or a preserved sixty.  Her court is an ever changing collection of the hopelessly lost.  Her tribe occupies the sidewalk in front of the Christian science church half a block from my building.  The sidewalk there is wide and open, catching the warming sun for most of the day and there is an alley between the church building and the building next to mine perfect for  the clandestine deals necessary for survival on the streets.  Every now and then I toss the tribe a few bucks for coffee or crack, what ever gets you through the day. 
I leaned out the window a bit to get a better look at the commotion.  Spotting me Queeny screams up at me shaking her boney first.
“Ya you, you bitch, we going ta KILL you!”
“Really?  Have I done something in particular to piss you off?”
They all shook their fists at me and screamed up a chorus of murder.  This is the first time in my life I have been serenaded and I must say I imagined such an event in my life quite differently.
I shrug my shoulders and close the window.  What ever drugs their on, will no doubt wear off in a day or two.  I thought and vowed that I would never again buy those idiots another cup of coffee.  I go back to sleep, fading the calls for my death into the steady back ground of the street.  I slept.
5am I woke as I did every morning except that this morning the crack heads were still under my window screaming up the endless creative means of my demise they could come up with.   I pull on my torn jeans a clean enough t shirt and my doc martins and head out the door.
Once I was out on the sidewalk  Queeny and her court fall silent, watching me with weary eyes.  I smile and wave at them and skip across the street to paradise doughnuts for my breakfast.
“Long time no see.”  Hussen greets me as he does every morning.  Hussen has the whitest teeth I have ever seen outside of a tooth paste add. 
I pour myself a cup of coffee and grab a doughnut, hmm boston cream.  I say my good morning to Hussan and to Alan who is there as he is every morning puttering about fixing the coffee.
 Alan is the sort of man you could see teaching Irish poetry in some exclusive boys school.  He sixtyish with a neatly trimmed beard and hawkish nose.  He tries very hard to project roguish charm.  He runs errands of an unspecified sorts for paradise doughnuts and for the quick copy store that is owned by an Indian gentleman named Mr. Repinder.  Alan is also a small time loan shark loaning 10 for 15 kinda thing.  Alan and I are friends, with in boundaries.  That is we go out to lunch from time to time,  and take little trips out and about to places in San Fran and the bay area.  I don’t talk about his busness, he doesn’t talk about mine.  He enjoys having someone to tell stories about the old days to, I enjoy listening to stories so it all works out fine.
I get a newspaper and a pack of camels pay for my breakfast and skip back across the street.  I smile and wave as I pass the court.  They give me the squint eye.  As soon as I got back inside my apartment they began yowling up at my windows again. ( Oh for heavens sake.)
They seemed quite determined to continue their annoyance of my peace so I shrugged my shoulders, put on a movie and turned to my bead work.  I had just started on a large project, a large denim coat that I was beading with designs from the beetles movie the yellow submarine.
They continued all that day and night.  Working in shifts.  I was impressed.  I never would thought that that crew was capable of such well organized behavior or of being capable of holding a single thought or plan of action for such a long stretch of time.
Day two, repeat day one. A week.  I was no less confused about the cause of this nonsense but was seriously impressed with their sticktiuvness.
You would think that that many people making that much noise at literally all hours of the day and night would attract some attention, but apparently not in my neighborhood.  Now of course you wonder why didn’t I immediately call the police?  For what exactly? Making noise?   And of course when the cops show up they won’t be making nose, will they?  Hell the cops won’t even see them, as like cockroaches when the light snaps on, they would disappear into the shadows.
I continued with my beading, ordered the occasional pizza.  I kept the window open a bit and looked out every now and then, trying to puzzle out the cause for all this ruckus.  I noticed a man hanging out with the crack head crew.  He seemed to be the one directing the crew.
I knew him, calls himself John. Very original.  He was tall blond and muscle bound and very very sure of his attractiveness to women.  It is one of the true wonder of the world that the men most sure of themselves are so often the ones with the least reason to be.  He had shown up in the neighborhood about two weeks before the ruckus started.
He had been just standing there on the street corner.  When I passed on by he started trying to chat me up.  Trying to do everything in his power to attract my attention, if there had been a puddle in the street he would have thrown his jacket on it for me to step on. 
Unfortunatly for him, I pretty much considered him a puddle I was trying to avoid steping in.
One day I went out to the dinner just up the ally from my place for a bit of breakfast.  He invited himself to join me.  I couldn’t bring myself to object.  It was like having my very own performing monkey amusing me at breakfast.
Ohhh and how he did go, telling me all about his numerous girl friends his prowess is bed his size,
“Jezz dude, I’m on my first cup of coffee here.”
He continued on, going on and on about my hotness. 
Yawning widly.  Sipping at my coffee.  (I havent finished my first cup of coffee yet, I refuse to believe that I am currently anyone's hottness.)
He wants me to take him home with me.
“What ever for?  “
So he can have sex with me.
Well direct enough.  I laugh.
“Why would I do that?”
Because he wants it.
“Really?  So I should have sex with you, just because you want it?”
He looks at me so convinced of his attractiveness that my agreement is a forgone conclusion.
I laugh so hard I have to push the plate out of the way.  My head down on the table, pounding the table with my fists.
He frowns and with out another word stalks off from the table and out the door. My wild peals of laughter following him.
Looking out my window watching him talking to the crack heads, I figured that the blow to his ego was more then he could handle gracefully and this foolishness with the crack head crew was his little way of acting out.  Well sooner or later he’ll get over it and the crack heads will find another game.
The end of the second week, I am becoming annoyed. ( Fun is fun but really this has gone on quite long enough.)  From under the kitchen sink I take out my can of raid.  ‘Kill roaches from 10 feet away’ nice.  I put on my torn jeans a clean enough t shirt and my doc martins and the yellow submarine coat I am still working on.  In one pocket I stuff the can of raid in the other a bic lighter and I head out the door.
Out on the side walk I stand across the alley from the crowd of crack heads.  I take out the can of raid and the lighter. I smile and point the can.  It works better than I expected.  A fifteen foot jet of flames lights up the predawn darkness.  I catch the shocked startled looks on the faces of Queeny and her court, frozen for a moment like in the flash of a camera.
I put the can and the lighter back in my pockets and smile at their frozen faces.
“You all may bay at the moon if you wish.
“But,,,,quit,,,,Fucking with Me.”
I smile pleasantly and skip across the street to paradise doughnuts.

Friday, April 27, 2012

chapter 6 the catch 22 solution


About a week later I am asked if I wish to return to my old apartment building to pick through the remains of my life.  I politely declined.  Too much like stepping on my own grave thank you very much.  I gave them a list of things they could bring if they wished to go to the trouble.  My big yellow tackle box of art supplies, my paintings,my cd’s and movie collection and a suitcase of clothes.’  The suite case I had packed before the fire, and I had put it, and those other odds and ends stacked in the hall way.  I had an idea that some of it would be catching up with me sooner or later.
I was most pleased to get my tackle box, ahh crayons and water color pens just what a mad woman needs to pass the time.The staff was pleased with my paints and collages, always good to have an artistic mad person in the house, gives the place a touch of class.  Not feeling the muse I just spent my time scribbling doodles on paper.  Hardly seemed worth the praise the staff heaped on me for scribbling.  But if they wanted to pat me on the head, I wasn’t going to argue.
The whole art thing came about thusly.  It was my thirty third birthday, which I thought a fine time to do the take stock of life thing.  Where am I now? What have I accomplished sort of thing.  Looking back I found that the only thing I had really accomplished in life was to fuck things up and piss people off.
  Holy shit, I’m an artist.
Imagine my surprise.  At the time I didn’t even own a box of crayons.
A doctor interrupts my doodling to ask if I would mind it if he brought in some interns to interview me.
I didn’t mind.  Here I am all bored and they give me a room full of baby doctors to play with.  Why I bet their just as cute as puppies.
And oh my weren’t they just, five of them, so eager,trying so hard to look all serious and learned.  Three men, two women all in their crisp intern lab coats, clip boards up and pens ready.
“Do you know why you’r here?” The head doctor asks me.
“Here in the hospital or here in this room ?”
“Here in the hospital and here talking with us.” He smiles.  He likes clever patients.
“Ahh well I would say that I am here in the hospital because of a difference of opinion.”   I smile. “I would say that I am here because my former landlord Richard J Boccie is involved in the illegal drug business in a fairly large way and that I have gotten in his way so he has taken a contract out on my life.  (if that really is the correct term, I don’t know maybe the people in the mob call it a hostile take over).  And I am here because it is better than being killed.
“You on the other hand would say that I am a paranoid delusional nut burger who has been driven over the edge by certain unfortunate lifestyle choices and has, poor dear, become a danger to self and others. 
“Hence the difference of opinion.
“I’m here talking with you all because I’m a fairly amusing nut burger and you thought it would be a nice change of pace for your students from the depressing run of mumblers and droolers they normally have to examine. 
I smile, They laugh.
“Well let’s begin shall we?” I adjust my glasses
First question from the well groomed young man on the left. “Did you really set the fire in your apartment?”
“Yes, yes I did.”
“Umm, why did you set your apartment on fire?”  This from the woman in the middle in carefully bland makeup.
“The short answer is because my landlord was trying to kill me.  The slightly longer answer is because it would send me here.”
“You wanted to come here? Why?”  They all lean forward in their seats.  This was as answer they were not expecting.  Which is odd I think, after all haven’t they gone into massive amounts of debts and years of schooling to get here?  All I had to do was start one little fire.
“I call it the catch 22 solution.”  I tell them.
“The situation I am dealing with, whether you believe it or not, and I take it as a give that you don’t.  Boccie wants me dead.  He is offering a hundred thousand dollars to see me dead.  As ego flattering as that is in a twisted sort of way. It is a bit of a problem.  I cant get anyone like the police to believe me about this, and I cant be sure that simply leaving San Francisco would be enough to insure my continued breathing.  There is no such thing as anonymity anymore, anywhere I go I will leave a trace that can be found by anyone with even a modicum of computer skills.
Since I cant get anyone to believe me, well disbelief has its uses.
“First, being in a locked mental ward, I figured that it puts me out of reach of Boccie’s hired guns.  They arnt all that cleaver and perhaps with me out of the picture it will give them a chance to calm the fuck down.
Second, one of the reasons Boccie wants me dead, other then the fact that there is just something about me that really pisses him off, is he is afraid that I just may get someone to believe me.  Well now that I am officially a nut case my credibility is completely shot.  Thus removing one of  Boccie’s major motivations for wanting me dead.
Third, being now officially a paranoid delusional nut burger I have some small protection from being killed once I move on out of the system.  So long as I’m alive I’m just a delusional nut who thinks her former landlord is trying to kill her.  If however I end up dead in some no doubt messy fashion  people might just begin to wonder if my paranoia might not be entirely mad.”
While I admit it’s not an ideal solution, it’s the best I could come up with under the circumstances And it does appeal to my sense of humor.
“Why do you think your landlord is trying to kill you.?”
“That is a long story.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

chapter 5 I never could get the hang of thursdays

Chapter 5

 I was taken to Saint Frances Hospital
I mumbled out the basics, name former address, insurance none and babbled incoherently about a fire.  That done I retired from further active participation with the world around me.
The nurses took my temp blood pressure, timed my heart beat.  It was decided I was dehydrated and I was put on an iv.  Dehydrated was I figured a nice way for the nurses to say I was drunk.  After not too long a time a doctor came looked at me for a moment and he left.  A nurse returned waving a set of papers. 
The nurse informs me that there is nothing wrong with me and the doctor had signed my discharge papers.  I could go.
I lay there meditating.
She flutters the discharge papers in front of my closed eyes.  “The doctor has discharged you, you can go.”
I continued my meditation.
She shoved the examination bed upon which I lay, snapping the papers franticly in front of my closed eyes.
I lay there meditating.
They decided to leave me alone for a bit.  Hoping I would gain enough sense to sign the discharge paperwork and get out of the way.
A nurse comes into the room, pretending to be putting away medical supplies.  She is slamming cupboard doors open and closed like an angry house wife.
I feel bad for her I really do.  There she is a busy woman with way to much to do and real sick people to care for and there was this perfectly healthy person laying there like a big old lump.  How very irritating.  I want to explain the situation to her, but it would take too long and she wouldn’t believe me anyway.  So I lay there meditating, waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn.
About an hour later a nurse returns and say they have decided to transfer me to the San Francisco General the Psyc ward.
I open one eye and say, “That would be fine, thank you.” I return to my mediation.
First stop, the three day hold.  It’s a big room with uncomfortable reclining seat/beds  I am given a tasteless turkey sandwich, and a sipping box of juice, (hmm, juice).  I haven’t eaten in a couple of days, the sandwich goes down well.
The three day hold is mostly for allowing druggies and drunks to sober up enough to be not too great a nuisance to society at large upon being released.  I eat my sandwich and listening to the mutterings and snoring of my fellow patients I pull up my thin blanket and sleep.
Day two I get pudding with my lunch,( hmmm, pudding.)
Then the interview.  A very bored man begins asking me the standard questions, medications allergies, blah, blah, blah,
“Why are you here?”  He asks me.
“Well, I set fire to my apartment because my landlord is trying to kill me.”  I said.
He looks up from the form on his desk and blinks at me, twice.
“Excuse me, I’ll be right back.”  And he scurries from the room.
He returns with a nervous shuffling of forms.  You see I am now a problem for which a solution must be found.  A danger to self and others.  Now honestly society doesn’t really give a tinkers damn about the danger to self and very little about danger to others ahh but endanger property?  Now that’s something that needs attention.  They can’t just sober me up and send me on my merry way, just imagine the law suits if they released an admitted fire bug and she, one out sets another property to blaze.
I’m sent upstairs to the hospitals official pscy. Ward.  This is intended to be a two to three week holding pen for the inconveniently unstable.  Quite a few teenagers here.
Another interview, he’s a tired looking man in a suite that needs pressing.  It’s a dull beige room, behind him silk plants that look wilted.
He sits, forms in front of him, pen in hand.  Ahh yes let the games begin.
“Do you hear voices?”
I have been asked this many times and they always seem so disappointed when I say no.
“The year?”
“Who is president?”
“George Bush”  (And they call me mad)
“The day.”
I pause thinking.  I haven’t seen a newspaper in a while and it’s been a busy few days, counting back in my head, and then it comes to me.  In my best English accent.  “Thursday, it must be Thursday, never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
“Oh? Why is that?” He looks up pen pausing.
I laugh.  “oh never mind, classical reference.” (The Hitchers guide to the galaxy)
He looks confused but decides to forge ahead.
“Could you count backward from a hundred by 7s?”
“Hu?, now what exactly does my mathematical ability have to do with my sanity?” I ask. “I mean the mathematically gifted among us have always been more than a bit twitchy on the sanity scale.”
“It’s just a question I have to ask.”  He says looking down at the form on the table.
“Really?” I shrug. “Poor you.  Well as the designated mad person in the room I am under no such obligation.  How about we do prime numbers?  Hmm lets see backward from a hundred  97,89,83,79,73,71,67,61,59,53,47,43,41,37,29,23,19,17,13,11,7,5,3,2
Or, I know how about a nice Fibonacci sequence,  Hmmm backward from a hundred,  89,55,34,21,13,8,5,3,2,1,1.
“Ahh, what’s a Fibonacci sequence?”
“It’s the mathematical proportions of a spiral.”  I smile and flutter my eyelashes at him.  Always good to have a few clever things tucked away in your memory.
The preliminaries done with he brings out the big guns.  A deck of cards. I groan inwardly and slink down in my chair.  Roche cards.
“These are called Roche ink blot cards.” He explains to me.  “Just look at them and say the first word that pops into your head.”
Bullshit is the first word that pops into my head but I don’t say it.
The idea here is that the images one sees in the ink blot will give the interviewer an insight into the interviewees state of mind.  Only one small problem with that idea,  There are no symbols that carry a universal meaning.
A persons internal symbology is unique to each individual to their history, their back ground, their experience.  The Roch test?  The meanings of the symbols are all set forth by a very uniform group of people, highly educated upper-class white males from a western background.  They are so arrogant that they blithely assume the whole world sees things the same way as they do.  Or at the very least should.
 If one were to look at a card and see a sail boat, to the interviewer such a symbol might mean peacefulness, pleasure, calm.  To a person wo say traps lobster for a living, such a thing might represent for him irritation (as at rich over fed tourists getting in the way of their business). To a person raised in a desert or to one who had almost drowned. Even symbols that are universally recognized such as a Christian cross, would it mean the same to a Jew? A Muslim to one who had been molested by a priest?
Ahh well, let him have his fun.  Eene Meany Chilly Beany the id is about to speak.  He turns the cards over, I barely glance at them.  Giving him answers I read in books.  Sailing boat two ballet dancers, a dove, violets ect.   He turns one over I instantly recognize.
“Ohh, that’s the bat.” I laugh and wave my hand at it.
“Why do you say it’s a bat?”  He looks up, his pen pausing, he thinks he’s hit on something significant here.
“Because, that particular ink blot was used as a prop in one of the Bat man movies.  The female lead in the movie, playing a criminal psychologist, had this ink blot as an enloarged framed print on her wall.  In walks Bat Man in his daily disguise as Bruce Wayne.  He looks at the picture and says. ‘Ohh a bat.”  She says, ‘ohh now why do you say it’s a bat?’
“Now if you ask me if I think I’m Bat man I shall be really annoyed.”
He looks slightly put out, but decides not to comment and he continues with the cards.  I’m not even bothering to look at them any more.
A falling pot of petunias, a confused looking whale.  He doesn’t ask why the whale is confused which is for the best he wouldn’t have understood the answer.
We reach the end of his cards and he takes a moment to tabulate the results.
“Well Doc, how’d I do?
“Well, it shows that you are mild to moderately depressed.”
Give me a set of tarot cards and I could do a cold reading of considerably more depth and accuracy.
Being officially diagnosed as somewhat depressed, I was promptly put on a course of anti psychotics and adivan Jolly good fun.