Corner Delivery

May 31, 2012

[ Free Me From This Bond: Chapter 12 ]

You may recall in Chapter 2 (“Moby’s Dick“) that I planned to present My Arwyn with a gift, by standing around Castro and 18th till he (hopefully) passes by. Seeing as I don’t know his current home address, nor obviously does he care to say. He is not an easy man to befriend, despite his fondness towards yours truly.

When a friend (or foe, I suppose) whose current residence is unbeknownst to you, but does live in or frequents the Castro, this would be a logical spot to wait for him to show up. For this particular intersection is quite dense with pedestrians streaming to and fro. Another good choice would be Market & Castro, right around the entrance to the underground rail service (MUNI Metro)…otherwise known as “Harvey Milk Plaza”.

Two days after our surprise meetup at Moby’s, the gift is ready. It is early afternoon as I saunter down Noe Street on the way to 18th, cloth bag (sporting the disabled veterans logo) full of goodies dangling from my left forearm. But before I even reach 17th, I think I spy Arwyn from across the street (or someone who very much looks like him at least in height and hair). He’s wearing a red jacket and medium-brown pants. I am nearsighted and, without glasses* cannot make out the face before a UPS truck rumbles by to block any further view.

* Medicaid coverage ceased providing glasses and eye care some years back, along with dental and psychiatric…which explains–at least in part–why I’m such a hopeless wreck these days. Being born in a basilisk hatchery doesn’t help, either. My Guardian Dragon was there with me right from conception, and let me tell you: it was crowded in that womb. Arwyn’s tobacco habit sure made the place so filled with throat-retching fumes, after nine months I just couldn’t take it any more, and popped outta there like a greased piglet (though with wings, tail and scaly armor)! So Arwyn lost his pinochle partner; I didn’t care. Second-hand smoke is still smoke, and I was coughing up lungfulls!

Dodging traffic, I scurry across the road, keeping my sight aimed at the spot I saw him moments ago, right beside a silver-gray VW Jetta. Nothing. I then glance up Noe, then 17th: for what other direction could he have gone in such a short time without running into me? Still, whether or not that man was actually Arwyn, he is nowhere to be found.

Okay, I think, I’ll just mosey on up to 18th and Castro, and hope my luck in finding him pans out.


Bank of America

Several minutes later, I reach the historic intersection, and decide to hang out on the southeast corner, by Bank of America. No more than one minute passes when–thar she blows!–I spot Arwyn marching down Castro, same side and across. He quickly turns corner, to play some pool at The Mix? Desperate to catch up to him, I dash against the flashing red hand signal; horns honk.

“Arwyn!” I call. “Arwyn!” He stops to face me, looking a bit haggard. No doubt he hasn’t had his first brew of the day. Or coffee.

He honors me with a gentle grin; ocean wind fluffs those curly waves of unkempt ruddy-brown hair which (now that he’s approaching 50) are sprinkled with a dash of salt here and there. There are now dark gaps where bright teeth once shone (the mark of a seasoned warrior). Still: a radiant smile.

Arwyn once had a smile so glorious, it would knock your garters off full blast! I’d gladly sacrifice all my remaining nine rotting teeth to win back that wondrous grin. But this is why I call him a seasoned warrior: he gave up his dental insurance (and entire career in fact) for a most noble cause. A cause which has to do with sparing me from a hideous fate of terror and dark sorrow. But worst of all, a fate in which My Darling Dragon no longer exists.

“Here’s my latest gift,” I proudly declare while catching lung’s breath. I raise my colorful sack of presents to the level of his stomach (don’t forget, he’s 6-foot-4). And continue:

“Would it be a burden for you to accept it now? I can try another day.” I announce with heroically stoic poise, and lower the veterans bag to belly-button height. This, despite an overwhelming urge to throw myself into his gangly embrace…which craving has never left me since we first met, and touched, and talked, and kissed, way way back in 2000-and-6.

I am Boadicea‘s Great Soldier first, before I am a lover. Arwyn is our platoon sergeant, so to speak. I could never bring him shame; it’s just not in my heart…nor in The Mount Olympus Soldier’s Field Manual.

Arwyn shrugs: “Now’s as good as any, I suppose.” And accepts my latest tokens of friendship with an extended hand. I look up: those dragon-gold eyes sparkle. He seems amused. (He always seems amused…at least, whenever I’m present.)

I was taken aback; accustomed as I am to Sisyphean struggles and a slow, tortuous path (like walking upstream in a runnel of sorghum) that is usually my fate whenever I want to speak with him, buy him a drink, or even just view My Celtic Lad from a discrete distance. (Oh, yeah: or bring him a gift, as in this present scenario.) They are rare moments, and more precious, I guess, because of that.

So you can imagine how startled I am, at such immediate success this time around. I look up at his noble Manx face, and tilt my head in birdlike quandary.

“Well, that was quick,” I remark. To which he quakes his shoulders in a body-language guffaw. My satchel of love-tokens hangs firmly from his clenched fingers. Joy sweeps through my exhausted soul, at the sight.

“Say, Arwyn,” I remark. “I thought I saw you a short while ago on Noe Street. But a truck drove by, and when it left, you weren’t there any more!” I feign dramatic, as in a Vaudeville skit: “I looked left, I looked right. I looked north, I looked south. But no Arwyn!” I then stretch out my arms as if to embrace the entire sky: “No Arwyn anywhere!”

He remains silent, but gazes down at me with affection (and perhaps a touch of waggery; he does chortle a bit). So I finish: “Guess that wasn’t you then, eh?”

We stand some moments, smiles washing back and forth like the ebb and flow of ocean foam along a sandy beach. Then Arwyn cranes his neck sideways to peer into the bag dangling from the end of one, long arm. With raised eyebrows, an expression of doubt lingers across his forehead. Like maybe I might have stashed a venomous snake in there, for all the difficulties he’s put me through. Ha, ha.

I chuckle. “You will like what’s in there.”

Then I realize it’s time to go, though of course I want to remain right there by his glorious side. “Well then, My Brave Dragon, you have a wonderful day.”

“You too now, Zeke,” he replies, then turns to enter the Mix.

“Oh, I certainly will!” I holler back through the traffic rattle, as my steps already draw me home to my humble SRO. (How could I not have a spectacular day? After all, today I saw Arwyn and–better yet–brought him another sweet gift straight from My Little Dragonly Soul.)

Realization suddenly springs on me, like a bear trap…so I turn back. “Wait a minute Arwyn, that was you on Noe Street,” I exclaim. He pauses in the doorway.

“Yes, that certainly was you!” I look him over from dragon snout to dragon tail (as he patiently puffs out a whiff of that chill, ocean fog). “You’re wearing the same clothes: red jacket and brown pants.”

Arwyn cryptically shrugs those fine, skinny shoulders and disappears into the Mix.

So, the little reptile was there. He noticed me and must’ve crouched behind a car, so I’d miss him. But why?” I think this through. Then it hits me:

Oh, I see now. He wanted to receive my gift at 18th & Castro, just like I told him at Moby Dick’s. Accepting it on Noe Street would’ve made our Real Life Fairytale a tad less magical.

How’d I ever get so lucky?

It’s in the cards!

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Howard’s Calendar

May 22, 2012

You may recall, Dear Reader, that I featured Howard’s Cafe in my latest novel, “Free Me From This Bond“. But did you know they also made a calendar, featuring Jesse Balmer‘s insanely hilarious cartoon sketches…as well as birthdays and factoids of their most loyal patrons?

I didn’t, thus was delightfully flabbergasted to discover this latest Howard’s Masterly Triumph of Goodwill! Annie (one of the waitresses there; and the sweetest person you could ever hope to meet) presented me with their last remaining copy, as a gift for my online praise of this most excellent Inner Sunset eatery. Designed and assembled by the loving hands of several customers and employees, this unique calendar comprises 29 pages of Howard frivolity to keep a big smile on your face each and every day of 2012.

According to Annie, the calendar was created in the old-school style of pure hard copy: not a single digital image or character to be found. I decided then, it would be awfully nice to share this calendar with the world via my blog, as well as preserve it for posterity long after the original templates have grown yellow and crumbly over time.

My apologies for the amateurish results, but my scanner is broke (as I am likewise, quasi-starving author that I be), so I had to resort to digital camera snapshots. Of course, you will need to click on each image, to get a better view. Enjoy your journey through 2012, with Howard’s Artistic Angels at the helm!


VAMC Interviews

May 21, 2012

[ Free Me From This Bond: Chapter 6 ]

Pensive Reader: It’s important at this point to note Randolph Taylor’s selfless act of fasting for 40 days in 1984, that Vietnam Veterans be represented at San Francisco’s Democratic National Convention of the same year. I would also like to point out that our then-mayor Dianne Feinstein, refused to support his noble fast, declaring it an act of self violence. Sadly, while the Democratic Party seemed to finally acquiesce to Randolph’s wish, they betrayed him at the last moment, and banned him or any other Nam Vet from speaking on the floor. This cruel outcome was largely responsible for Randolph feeling so disheartened, that he attempted suicide less than a year later.To view a news article about his fast, click here.

Okay peepulz, here is a snapshot of all 22 pages of my illegal interviews of Nam Vet patients at the VAMC Hospital in Washington D.C., way way back in 1985. If you haven’t read the previous chapter (“Latest Gift“) please do so now. This will save me from having to repeat myself in this article. Once you read Chapter 5, you’ll have a good grasp on what these interviews are all about.

Don’t know what took me so long to release ’em after Mr. Hinckle’s failure to follow through! Anywayz, here goes…you will definitely need to click on each page in order to enlarge the image and be able to actually read the contents:


Latest Gift

May 20, 2012

[ Free Me From This Bond: Chapter 5 ]

Allow me to show you the latest gift I will soon present to My Beloved Arwyn (click on any image for a larger view):

Folder contains episodes from my latest novel (“Free Me From This Bond“): chapters 3 (Sweet Sue), 9 (Dragon Fire in the Hole) and 8 (Dragon Prophecy), plus addenda 3 (Tom Keske) and 4 (Arwyn in the Buff). Left out three other completed chapters because they are not pertinent to my bless-ed relationship with my Darling Guardian Dragon Arwyn Miles…and I am running low on printer ink, which is rather expensive. I am presently typing Chapter 13 (The Phone Call) which may or may not be added to this folder, depending on how soon I can deliver this gift to My Sweetheart, and whether or not there’s enough ink left in my printer.

Photo #3 shows my newest chapters in the left pocket; and in the right is a political comic book about America’s War Machine, and why it is so destructive to its citizens, and to our troubled world at large. Really, it’s intended as a gift of appreciation to Randolph Louis Taylor, and not to Arwyn Miles. For reasons which should be obvious to you, Sweet Reader, if you’ve been following my tales since Chapter 1 (Free Me From This Bond). The small white envelope contains a business card that promotes my latest novel. Click here to view it.

[ Tepid Reader: Photo 4 has come up missing, can’t find it anywhere, sorry! ]

Photo #4 is addressed to Randolph instead of Arwyn, for I know their spirits are intertwined, and that Lover #1 (Randolph) has brought Lover #2 (Arwyn), to heal my bleeding heart of great sorrow for the love of a suffering Vietnam Veteran (#1).

Don’t know if you can see this, but in photo #4, in fine-point pen I added (in the lower middle-right): “Thank you for bringing me to him.”

This is in reference to my other Great Love Randolph (for bringing Arwyn to me). But it also acknowledges a near-future prophecy, where Arwyn will bring me back to My Beloved Randolph (who suddenly disappeared from my life since 1992) through whatever magical dimension that is his power, which I call Dragon Sorcery. I really can’t speak enough praise, at what a noble and dear dragon, is My Darling Arwyn. Suffice it to say: “He is Infinitely Belov-ed by Yours Truly.”

FYI: If you still need to learn about my excellent association with Randolph Taylor, go here:

The Somalian Affair http://www.gay-bible.org/somalia/

Why it’s called “The Somalian Affair” will become evident, after a little perusal of that Dragon-Divinely Inspired Page.

Or, for a briefer account, this poem:

September’s Passage http://gay-bible.org/truetales/6_septemb.htm

Photo’s #5-6 are just the reverse side. A skull-theme bandana binds the folder. Those painted feathers BTW, were found in a curb on Noe Street, while walking home. Discarded, no doubt, after a fun day by one of numerous revelers, at San Francisco’s annual Bay to Breakers run. Wait-a-minute. Oh jeez, silly me. I almost forgot to mention the other items I’ve included in this folder. And which are very, very special (click on any image for a larger view):

On the left side are the original handwritten letters I composed in 1985, while visiting My Randolph after he shot himself, and where he was (hopefully) recuperating. There was no certain conclusion that his hospital bed at the VAMC in Washington, D.C. would not also become his death bed. Those letters were interviews I held with various other patients there, who were also Nam Vets and–after returning back from that conflict–became (like Randolph) anti-war activists.

What I did was illegal (carrying a concealed tape recorder into the building), and could have landed me in prison. Each night upon returning to my hotel room, I’d play the recordings back, and handwrite all the details. The next morning, I’d make a photocopy of this journal, and mail these duplicates to Warren Hinckle, a news reporter back in S.F., who agreed to receive my daily reports. This way, if I got caught, Warren would have at least some vital info that could blow this scandal wide open.

John H., you remember all this I’m sure…you were still residing in the same apartment building as myself…in fact, I had just moved in there two years earlier. You recall how I had no money to fly out there, until that miracle happened. My first computer ever (a Compaq “luggable”, 28 lbs.!) was stolen by those two rapscallions, who I let live with me for a week before they could move into a new rental. I was so upset, never dreaming I’d collect on my insurance. So I forgot all about it. Then, Randolph shoots himself!

A potent dream where angels instructed me to fly out to D.C., or he’ll die, made me worry how I’d ever get the moolah to do just that. “Don’t worry,” these angels affirmed, “the money will come to you at the right time.” Well, lo and behold, the insurance payment that I forgot all about did show up two months later: $2,850! More than enough to jet out to D.C., rent a budget hotel room, eat out, buy Randolph some gifts, and more.

And you remember how I trusted curly golden-haired Brian Stevens to stay in my SRO and keep things tidy. No guests whatsoever, especially not that byatch Kelly? Boy, did he make a mess of things! (Or really, I should say “she“.)

Sadly, Mr. Hinckle did nothing with my papers; in fact he never communicated with me ever again, despite my several phone calls to him when I got back. As far as I know, he is still sitting on these documents, or more likely, just tossed them into the trash.

Those letters are testimonials citing medical abuse and neglect by hospital staff, towards those soldiers who spoke out against our occupation of Vietnam. One such patient who suffered seizures, was locked away and ignored…until he finally died the next day. I believe they also intended the same fate for Randolph. Fortunately, I discovered his whereabouts thanks to the help of a local priest (Father Young, Church of the Most Holy Redeemer here in the Castro)…who had contacts back east. Ministers, priests, rabbis and the like can visit places otherwise verboten to your average citizen.

Once I blew the whistle by publicizing Randolph’s location and begging folks to send him letters and cards of concern, love and support; the hospital knew the jig was up, and they were forced to take good care of him. (How did I expose their skulduggery? By sending my grievous appeal as a letter to the editor to every major newspaper in each of our fifty states.)

On the right side of the open folder, are displayed three cards, all written to Randolph, but never really mailed. I did this sometimes, just to soothe my aching soul for lack of him. The topmost card shows a dog gazing down at a feline. Open this card to find:

This quote is an exact copy from one of Randolph’s earliest letters to me (while recuperating from that self-inflicted bullet wound)…right down to the little sketch of a cat’s head.

The bottommost card depicts two polar bears, youngster riding the back of an adult. Open this card to see:

Below my handwritten praise, you’ll find a photo of yet another card, depicting barnyard animals gathered around the manger of baby Jesus. It is a Christmas card of course, and the very last writing of any sort that Randolph sent to me. For a long time, I had it glued to a red background, and kept it hung on the wall right over my bed’s pillow. Inside, the card read: “May the sweet spirit of Christmas be with you all year long”. And signed, simply: “Randy”.

No return address, but the postal stamp indicated it was mailed from here, in San Francisco! I called the local VAMC and other hospitals, to see if I could track him down. Alas, no luck. I wept. For the umpteenth time since that dear man shot himself, I wept.

Finally, the central card depicts a luminous painting entitled: “The Knight of the Holy Grail” by Frederick Judd Waugh. My quest for Randolph’s Redemption is indeed, My Very Own Personal Holy Grail. Open the card to read:

So there you have it: my recent gift (or gifts, actually) to Beloved Arwyn. I entrust him with these papers, and those three undelivered cards. Why? Because I know in my heart, that Arwyn’s gift is to deliver me back unto Randolph…in some way which is unfathomable at this time, and is obviously no less than a Major Miracle. Randolph will receive my VAMC documents, and these cards…and thus my Great Odyssey come full circle.

Only now, not with just One Great Love in my life, but two!

I challenge anyone to defy my claim that I am the luckiest and happiest man in the entire cosmos (not just planet earth). Should you be such a one, I warn you right now: your mission is futile!


Laurel’s Dream

May 8, 2012

Laurel Norris’s gift/paraphernalia/kitchen/apparel/board games/puppets/dolls/cards/toys/body care/everything-else shop in the Inner Sunset, San Francisco. 1377 Ninth Avenue (between Irving Street and Judah Avenue). “Great Stuff” will close some time around February 2013. So hurry on up and check out this absolutely unique and fantabulous store of fairytale ambience!

Don’t know why I never dropped into this store until quite recently (late bloomer that I am). But so glad that I finally did! Until this excellent lady closes shop early next year, this will be my only one-stop gift shop and glorious-knicknack emporium. In just two days, Laurel will hold her very last annual bargain day: 25% off any store item, including those currently on sale at a reduced price.

Ms. Norris explained to me why she holds this annual sale each May 11 (which is also her birthday). She is so grateful to be running her very own little shop of delight, instead of working in some office downtown. “That is one thing I’m superstitious about,” she remarked. “Someone could walk into my store with an open umbrella, and it would not bother me one bit. But I must hold my annual 25%-off sales, as my thanks to the universe.”

She first opened her eclectically eccentric variety gift shop in Sacramento, back in 1984…and moved it here to San Francisco approximately ten years ago. Thus is her dream fulfilled: to run her own darling shop in our City by the Golden Gate. I am so glad I finally bothered to walk into her most excellent fantasy emporium (albeit at the end of her business run with less than a year remaining). For “Great Stuff” is truly a delightful milieu in which to dwell, and find that perfect gift you know will delight your beloved recipient.

It will be a sad day in San Francisco, when Laurel closes her shop for good. Sadly, there will be no sales day on May 11 2013, or any year thereafter. In my haste to post these videos and pictures before The Final Sale, I neglected to ask what her plans are, once she shuts down this wondrous shop. Perhaps, Laurel, you would enjoy placing a comment below, to tell us what they are! And thanks so much for allowing me to feature “Great Stuff” on my humble web log.


Six walkthrough videos and seventy-six photos:

[ Video 1 ] [ Video 2 ] [ Video 3 ] [ Video 4 ] [ Video 5 ] [ Video 6 ]


Click on any picture below, for a larger view:


Cheerz, Muthuh Fukkuhh

May 6, 2012

[ Free Me From This Bond: Chapter 4 ]

This is back in 2007, before my tragic downfall and memory loss (and consequent breakup with Larkin, albeit unintended but necessary). The month was January. I was standing just outside the entrance, with the leather curtain between myself and Hades (otherwise known as “The Hole in the Wall Saloon”). Having my usual friendly debate with steadfast and proud atheist (whose name I forget, but let’s call him) Alvin. Unbeknownst to me, Larkin is on the other side of the curtain, listening in.

Forgot what our conversation was about (possibly Leon Trotsky; who knows), but I bring up the topic of Larkin (which I often do, much to Alvin’s and everyone else’s chagrin):

“I hear that Larkin’s a nasty drunk. Is that true?”

Before Alvin can say a word, out pops Larkin from between the black, heavy drapes:

“WHAT? ME, A NASTY DRUNK? WHO EVER GAVE YOU THAT IDEA?” he exclaims in dramatic prose, towering over me like a giant about to crush my bones into dust.

“Whoa nelly, calm down now,” I respond in partial laughter, and press a flat hand against his darling belly (he’s so trim!). “It was only something I heard. I’m sure it was just gossip. A lot of that goes on around here.”

“OH, WELL THAT’S OKAY I GUESS,” retorts Larkin who lights up a Marlboro while standing between myself and the Atheist Wonder. It’s suddenly rather cramped in this narrow entrance to Satan’s Lair. Alvin decides to step back inside where barkeep Gary awaits, along with his bar stool and a fresh shot of Maker’s.

“I’ll leave you two love birds alone,” he remarks before vanishing back down The Hole.

Larkin steps further outside, to sit on the fire hydrant and enjoy his smoke. I remain in the doorway savoring the moment, and the chill fog that blankets South of Market. We both gaze at each other while Larkin puffs away. He is the Master of Silent Intercourse. Though almost twenty feet apart, I feel like he embraces me with the dearest affection I’ve ever felt from anyone else’s physical hug. (So you can imagine how exceedingly delightful his actual embrace can be!)

Several minutes later in this beatific spell, I decide to pay My Sweetness a compliment:

“Larkin my dragon, I want you to know that, thanks to your watching over me here at The Hole, to make sure no one harasses or injures me…I do not need anyone to protect me when I’m elsewhere. Because I care so much about your friendship, I make damn sure I don’t get into any messes, so I’ll remain all in one piece for your sake.”

He suddenly jumps up from the hydrant: “WHAT? YOU SAYING YOU DON’T NEED ME ANY MORE? MY PROTECTION ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH?”

And with that, he tosses the still-lit ciggie into the curb, and storms right by me and back into the saloon.

Obviously he misunderstands my intent, I think, or maybe I used my words poorly.

So I rush after him to apologize and sort things out. Larkin is sitting on his designated bar stool (right at the front end towards the doorway and before it makes a 90-degree turn to accomodate two more stools). His ruddy-mopped head is lowered in disappointment, over a bottle of Budweiser.

“Sweetheart!” I exclaim. “That’s not what I meant at all. Of course I need your protection and kindness. I always will! You are very dear to me, that will never change.”

He mumbles over the brewsky: “Well that’s not how you sounded to me. Leave me be, I don’t wanna talk right now.”

“But…” I interject.

“LEAVE me alone, I said!”

I touch his shoulder, but he pushes my hand away.

I am so disoriented and hurt by this unexpected response, I decide to march on home to think things through. As I watch the gray sky dim into sunset through my grimy window, I surmise that I absolutely must clear up what seems to me, a gross misunderstanding and rejection of my great affections for this Wonderful Specimen of Gaelic Manhood.

So in a hurried pace, I trot nine long blocks back up Market (then Eighth) Street, and into The Hole, and to My Beloved. By the time I arrive, it is nightfall. Along the way, I purchase a gift of $40 worth of marijuana, in hopes this will soothe his jangled nerves. (Mine are already too jangled to discern that the bag of pot I just purchased is nothing but a mix of stale oregano and dried dandelion leaves plucked from a vacant city lot.)

There’s my Larkin at his usual bar stool, chatting up what appears to be a Vietnamese or Thai twink. So I approach them and address My Better Third (Randolph being the Second):

“‘Scuse my intrusion but I really need to talk with you, Larkin.”

“Fuk off,” demands the SE Asian twink who, no doubt, feels quite full of himself at this moment, considering the undivided attention showered on him by My Bodacious Hunk of a Dragon. Larkin must be desperate for someone to buy him drinks, I silently observe.

Ready to bust out in peals of hilarity, I apologize to the rice-poof: “Sorry, I will only take a minute, then you’ll have this gutter-tripe gigolo back in your arms again.”

Larkin stands up and pulls me a few feet away from the bar stool. “Okay, what’s going on, Gene?”

I stare up at those dark, smoldering orange-red eyes, and his fiery crown of auburn hair. (Talk about Ireland’s Greatest Glory! Were his visage impressed upon the Blarney Stone, everyone in the world would give up their life savings to travel across the globe on their hands and knees, dressed in rough, scratchy, blood-letting horse-hair burlap, just for a single kiss!)

“Larkin,” I begin, “I am so sorry to upset you, but I think you misunderstood me. I was paying you a compliment. Maybe I chose my words wrong, I don’t know. But the last thing I ever want to do, is cause you any grief or anger!”

My Dragon says nary a word, but keeps looking down upon my trembly soul, with a pensive finger to his chin. So I continue:

“What I meant to say was: how much I appreciate your kind company and protection whenever we’re together.” Then I choose my remaining words most carefully:

“And that when we aren’t together, I’ll make damn sure to stay out of trouble, to cause you as little worry as possible.”

I then extend my right hand to offer the entire baggie of ersatz marijuana which (most fortunately) he pushes back into my chest.

“Apology accepted?” I beg.

“Hmm. Alright.” He replies. Then adds just before returning to his free-drink twink link:

“Just don’t do it again.” (I notice a wry slip of a grin on his darling mug. What’s up with that?)

Well, now that I’m back at The Hole, I figure, I may as well toke up back here, and enjoy the night, the music, the alcohol and, of course, Larkin’s antics. Then it hits me:

I’VE BEEN PUNKED!!!

Larkin never was upset; he’s just having a bit of mischief at This Little Dragon’s expense! Now that I have it all figured out, what next?

In a few minutes, the twink disappears back into the woodwork, and I take up the vacant seat beside Larkin. (That puts me to his left, BTW.) Set my vodka tonic down close to his coke and whiskey, and watch My Darling Trickster carom a green-stripe billiard ball into a corner pocket. Coyly, I polish his barstool seat with a clean napkin before he returns to await his next round at the table.

“That’s better,” he remarks, upon seeing me wipe a patch of debris from his chair.

Now seated, he notices the proximity of my well-drink to his; so with a deft hand propels my glass down the bar top like the expert barkeep he will never be. Not a slow wit myself, I halt the drink with my outstretched left hand. Smooth moves on both our parts!

I want so badly to enfold him in my arms, bless him with infinite kisses. Instead, I say:

“Asshole!”

To which he abruptly replies:

“Muthuh fukkuh!”

Another patron standing close by grins beatifically: he witnessed our little skit from start to finish.

————

Now, jump ahead five-plus years. Remember that we’ve hardly associated most of those years (or at least it seems that way, due to my memory loss), until just several weeks ago. Remember Chapter 2, where we are back together again after so very long, talking even, at Moby Dick? And I buy him a drink.

Larkin raises his glass and clinks it against mine. “Cheers asshole,” he declares.

Of course, ditzy little space cadet that I am, I think I heard him say: “You’re an asshole.”

Not that I’m offended by that remark, but those are the words I thought he spoke. So I reply with a shrug:

“Well, I don’t think I’m an asshole, but whatever.”

To which he quickly responds: “I said cheers asshole.”

“Oh, yeah,” I chuckle. Then clink my glass right back at him: “Cheers asshole”.

Isn’t till later that night, long after I’m departed from Moby Dick, that I realize the reference he intended. He had reversed the two expletives (from that “twinky” evening over five years ago) to this present time, where he said “Cheers asshole”…and I was supposed to reply: “Cheers muthuh fukkuh.”

That’s My Belov-ed: Sharpest Dragon in the Pack!

Larkin: I can’t wait till the next time I buy you a drink! Make it soon, please. Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please. Muthuh fukkuh.


THAT’S MY SEAT!

Just how funny is this guy I call My Guardian Dragon? Well, I just gave a good example of his mischievous wit in the tale above, where he faked being upset at this love-struck dummy. Now, here’s another example that I can only describe as “Classic Larkin”:

It’s a blustery, sunshiny day in March of 2007, when I step into Hole in the Wall after my power walk along Frisco’s South Beach promenade. As I enter (and my eyes slowly adapt to the gloomy interior), I can’t help but notice a man barely three feet tall without legs or arms, perched on the bar’s end stool. Thalidomide baby, I figure. He is decked out like a leather daddy, motorcyle cap, chaps and all. His drink is clasped securely in a metallic claw that extends from a short, steel armature.

What a courageous soul, I note. Self confidence like nobody’s business! I further muse: Were I in that compromised shell of a body, doubtful I’d have the guts to parade in leather and be just one of the boys. Mazel tov to you, brave fellow. Mazel tov.

Still early afternoon. Patrons are sparse and bartender Gary dotes on his large, ridiculously friendly black lab stretched out on the oakwood floor: long pink tongue draped over a jowl, paws up in a desperate plea for belly rubs. Gary interrupts playtime in order to serve me my usual cup o’java and a glass of tap. Friendly banter ensues between us for several minutes before he returns to his beloved pup, and myself to a bench along the wall, in a dark corner. AC/DC’s Highway to Hell is booming from the overamped speakers, as I sip the robust mud and drift into heavy-metal coma.

Appropriate to the song’s theme (backdrop to the tiny drama about to play out), Larkin’s tall, gaunt figure bursts through the black leather curtains like a giant offended and seeking his prey. Dragonly smoke fumes out his expanded nostrils from a Marlboro just tossed into the gutter. He glares at the limbless leather-dwarf and declares:

“That’s MY seat!”

In a flash he rushes up to the hapless target who remains in calm poise, imbibing his rum and coke…and peremptorily lifts Thalydomide Daddy from his present seat and sets him on the one right beside. The victim of Larkin’s outrageous antic retains his calm as if nothing untoward has just happened, and continues to sip his drink.

OMFG, that’s hilarious, I think. And almost tumble off the bench, poop my pants, and spurt coffee from my nose. All at the same time.

If laughter truly is the best medicine, then Larkin is The Mother Of All Physicians.


BLACK MAGIC BILLIARDS

[ Okay, this passage has little to do with Larkin, but I figure inserting it here is more appropriate than placing it anywhere else. ]

One evening early in 2007, I play a round of pool at The Hole with a regular named Jared. I’m not a very good or experienced pool player, though Larkin had given me some tips on how to improve my skills in that department. Upon my third round, the cue ball is situated in such a position that all my balls are impossible to make a pocket. All my opponent’s balls block such an outcome.

Jared BTW is a rather handsome lad of about 35. With a blond crew cut and full, pouting lips…not to mention light gray eyes, a robust chest and thighs and calves to die for.

Now, I could choose to just tap the cue ball with a light touch, hopefully to position it so that Jared won’t be able to gain a pocket in his next round. Instead–seeing as any winning shot for my side is not even remotely feasible–I decide to declare a ludicrously hopeless shot that even the most professional pool player could not achieve. (I’m stripes BTW.) So I declare to Jared:

“I’m gonna strike the 9 ball, where it will carom off the far bank, then smack the 11 ball which will ricochet off the right bank and hit the 14 ball. Which will then strike the near-end bank, bounce off the left bank, and drop into the far-right corner pocket.” I indicate with my cue stick, the exact trajectory.

Realizing just how absurd is my declaration, Jared decides to take a whiz in the urinal while I make my unlikely shot. Expecting a failed result, I then line up the stick and smack the cue ball. Lo and behold, here is how it all came down:

The 9 ball caroms off the far bank, strikes the 11 ball with an impressive “thock,” which ball bounces off the right bank, and knocks the 14. Which ball hits the near-end bank, zings off the left bank, then waddles into the far-right corner pocket. IOW:

My totally impossible maneuver succeeded!

Though to my chagrin, Jared never witnessed it. A moment later he returns to the table (with bladder cleared), figuring I forfeited, and prepares to make his next shot. I abruptly extend a hand to halt his move and declare:

“Whoa buddy, I made the shot! I go again. If you’re in doubt, just ask Devon.”

As it turns out, Devon seated at the close end of the bar was the only one to witness My Astounding Feat. He is a good looking 52, with dark brown eyes framed in square glasses, a trim David-Niven moustache and dense shocks of wavy black hair.

“Wow, you’re a really good pool player!” declares Devon as he takes another gulp from a bottle of Anchor Steam.

I then lay my cue stick on the table and approach him: “So you saw that shot, didja?”

“Sure did,” he replies. “Did you sell your soul to the devil or what?”

“Ha ha,” I retort, “I’m certainly not a good pool player. I guess the angels are on my side. Or devils, as you say.”

Then I commence a second shot…also equally impossible due to the layout of my opponent’s balls, though differently arranged. And once more I make a ridiculous claim:

“Okay, now I’m gonna hit the 11 ball, strike it against the right bank where it will spin off the 15 ball. Which ball will carom off the far-end bank, strike the near-end bank, then whack the 12 ball. Which will hit the left bank and drop into the near-right corner pocket.”

Again, I never dreamed of pulling this off, but think: what have I got to lose? So here’s what happens next:

I make a powerful lunge of the cue stick, which causes my right wrist to be flayed against a jagged piece of metal protruding from the pool table’s frame. And start to bleed profusely. Yet the balls I indicated with the cue stick all respond once more, exactly as I declared!

Infuriatingly, Jared had again turned away, this time to order a second drink. So once more he does not witness My Miraculous Bank Shot. Yet I notice Devon’s surprise at my continued good fortune. So I walk up to him, raise my bloody wrist to his face, and declare:

There’s your blood price!” and guffaw profusely: “Mwa-ha-ha-ha!” He raises his shoulders and chortles.

Barkeep Gary provides me with a half-shot of vodka and a bandaid, that I may cleanse my wound in the urinal. He confides:

“We need to hammer down that loose metal strip. You’re not the first to be cut up by a cockeyed cue shot.”

I don’t think Jared believes I succeeded in either shot. But that’s just how things go sometimes: when you achieve a great goal, often there’s no one around to witness. But if you’re lucky, there’s at least one.

Though sometimes your sole witness doesn’t even remember. Especially if several years pass before you ask him to vouch for the miracle.

Thank you, Larkin, for those pool tips!


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