The FINAL Final Chapter (part 5)

[BRINDLEKIN TALES – Book 3: Chapter 18e]

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Subject: The Adventure of the Skanky Halvah
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 6, 2021 2:42 PM

The Palestinian corner shop ran out of that yummy halvah from Syria over a month ago. They tried to get more, but that supplier is no longer viable. (Maybe a scud missile or a drone attack from Israel, Russia or America wiped them out; who knows what’s going on halfway across the world in the REAL bible belt? All I know is: that was damn good halvah.)

Well, they finally found another brand, that one of the clerks promised would be “just as good.” But it’s not…it tastes waxy and fake; I couldn’t eat more than a few bites before I gagged. When I first saw it on the shelf, I noticed the cheap looking label and the drab, white hue of the contents, but ignored my first impression and purchased it anyway (just $5.99…a dollar less and twice the amount than the Syrian product…this one’s from Lebanon). Problem is:

That particular clerk seems to be the patriarch of the family, and he’s VERY proud of his corner-shop enterprise. He’s also annoyingly LOUD with his compliments to customers, as if he actually hates them. Like when I say “thank you,” he responds in a thunderous tone: “NO, THANK *YOU*!!!” His strident voice is like a strong gust of wind that’ll knock you down if you don’t grab onto something. He’s a large fellow, too, built like a gorilla…whose robust demeanor makes me think maybe there’s a Palestinian type mafia in the city.

So I hesitate to return, as I KNOW he’ll proclaim with much bluster: “WE HAVE MORE HALVAH NOW, I’M SURE YOU’LL LIKE IT!”

I’ve asked him twice over a few weeks, when the halvah will show up again, as it’s quite delicious. He finally told me several days back that it will arrive tomorrow, and be just as tasty as the previous lot. “Thank you, I can hardly wait!” I replied.

“NO, THANK *YOU*!!”

The day I purchased it he wasn’t there; his son was. But can you imagine now, how he’ll react if I tell him that brand is lousy? In fact, I’ve never tasted such awful halvah before, in my life!

This is a sticky wicket, don’t you think? I’d LIKE to continue to shop there, as it is truly convenient: only a block away and they take food stamps. I COULD show up and not mention the halvah, but I doubt HE won’t bring it up. And THEN what? Should I tell him I already bought a tub, and it IS delicious, just to avoid possible enmity on his part? Or will he be reasonable enough to appreciate my frank appraisal? Because in all honesty, Wattson, he should reMOVE that crap from the shelves posthaste…it’s THAT foul!

– Zeke K-Holmes

P.S.: I trust he doesn’t read my blog. Or anyone else in the “family.” I should have never told him I wrote about the Palestinian pandemic mask tête-à-tête with his handsome son, and given him my Brindlekin card. They could be pounding on my door any moment after I publish this piece!


Re: The Adventure of the Skanky Halvah
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 6, 2021 5:59 PM

> Was the good stuff on display when they had it?

Of course. It was on the shelves, like everything else; that’s how I discovered it. Where else would it be?

> If they get more, could you just saunter (or mosey, or maybe even amble) in and see if it’s there?

I doubt they’ll get more of that Syrian halvah…that would be unusual. My favorite halvah is rose flavored, though I’ve only had it once, and that was decades ago. I COULD order quality halvah online, but it’s pricey ($7.80 for 4 ounces):

https://halvah-heaven.myshopify.com/collections/all

They have rose and maple flavor, and other delightful blends!

I just did some searching online to discover Samiramis Imports in San Francisco, that sells halvah in various flavors for just $9/pound. On 24th & Mission, a half hour walk from here. Go to this page and search for “halva:”

https://www.samiramisimports.com/shop?page=3

No rose flavor, though. But they DO take food stamps!

> Big Daddy sounds a little crazy!

That’s why I called him “patriarchal.” I smell something gangsterish about him. Family-run shops are not always just that. Scads of criminal activity go on in cities that we know nothing about…what we read in the news is but the tip of the iceberg.

> I know what you mean about halvah. When it’s good, it’s divine! That delicate crunch when you bite into it…then the flavor blooms and spreads.

I’ve actually never had bad tasting halvah before. Even the popular Joyvah brand is good. This one was really yuck.

So, the pups are back with me. Their appetite is also back. Deek wanted Thursday’s allowance toDAY…three days in advance! I told him this is getting out of hand, but in one ear and out the other. Told him he ALWAYS has the perfect excuse. He said something about a girlfriend moving to another part of the city (so she’s drifting out of his life), how the weather is lousy today, and other nonsense. Sob story city, life in the concrete jungle, singin’ the blues, jonesin’ for the next rush. Then I joked: “Oh, you’re a meth addict, I forgot. Silly me.”

He said he’s doing a LOT to better his life, he’s not just some druggie looking for a fix, if that’s what I think. I told him no, that’s not what I think, he’s doing great, and thanks for the doggies’ company again. So I ran back upstairs to fetch $40, handed him the filthy lucre, then grabbed the pups’ leashes and off we went. Of course they were crazy-happy to visit once more, scrabbling and yelping at the gate as I fumbled with the key, and they’re now blissfully snoozing atop the plush cot.

Halvah nice evening, good physician!

– Zeke K-Holmes


Subject: The Adventure of the Padded Swivel Armchair
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 9, 2021 2:35 PM

This was two nights ago. It was late, just after 1 AM, and the dogs were sound asleep. Or so I thought. I was watching a lighthearted movie (The Mitchells vs. the Machines), while the pups were tucked away in bed. But then I saw, to my surprise, Flaco sitting on the floor just to my right, looking up at me and wagging her curly tail. I keep my room dimly lit at night, and I was captivated by the action playing out on the LCD display…so of course I didn’t see her emerge from beneath the blankets and jump down. Lucky, OTOH, remained totally zonked out at the foot of the cot, oblivious to anything but his dreams. His little snores were barely audible, as he lay on his back with paws bent and belly exposed. How long she’d been sitting there, I had no idea. But I doubt it was more than a minute or two.

This was nonetheless unusual, as she never just sits on the floor, but either goes for the water bowl, or noshes from the dog food dish (if there’s anything remaining), or paces back and forth when she needs to poop, or scurries right into the cardboard box where she scratches away like crazy before plopping down to rest.

Flaco made no noise or touched me with her paw, to get my attention. She simply watched me with quiet poise until I noticed. “Does she need to go out again?” I thought while smiling down at her. Though that was unlikely, as she and Lucky relieved themselves less than an hour ago. Not having any idea WHAT she was up to, I left my comfy swivel chair to sit beside her and give some hugs. Whereupon she immediately leapt into the chair, curled up on the seat and looked back at me with a sweet, happy “thank you” face! Her eyes sparkled.

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That’s all she wanted…to hop into that chair! Only in the past two weeks has Flaco shown ANY interest in my padded armchair. The first time, she just suddenly jumped onto it when my back was turned. Another time, while lying on the cot late at night, she stuck out a paw to give it a turn so the seat would face her, then scrambled on!

Well, it was late enough anyway, for THIS drowsy pilgrim to click “pause” on the show, and join the dogs in blissful slumber. Before climbing under the covers, I rolled the chair to the head of the cot, that I may reach out and pet her awhile. She seemed to love watching over me as I closed my eyes with one hand on her shoulders. An hour or so later, she awakened me as I lay on my back…she plunked herself right atop my chest, and was gazing into my eyes. She’s a spooky little Ninja, but in a most endearing way! As I gently caressed her sausage-y form, she licked my face clean…taking all of five, studied minutes to accomplish that, including a thorough washing of both ears.

Don’t know WHEN she returned to the chair, but when I awoke at sunrise there she was, curled up and sound asleep. Guess I need to get a second chair for myself, at this point. It will be a folding, metal one that can easily be stashed away and not take up much room when in use.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Subject: The Adventure of the Discombobulated Milk Run
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 10, 2021 2:26 PM

So I stepped out for some milk last night, around 10:30 PM. As I turned the corner on my way to Rosenberg’s, I noticed Flaco & Lucky a half block up Market Street, lashed to a shopping cart piled with whatever, but no owner! I stood there at the corner, debating whether or not I should approach, and see what’s up. Just at the moment I decided not to, and turned away, Deek suddenly was in my face and queried, “Have you seen a black jacket?”

I told him no, then he squawked about how it had a hundred dollars in it and he needs to track it down. With that (and before I had a chance to respond), off he went up Noe Street to disappear into the dark. After purchasing a half gallon of two percent, I decided to visit the pups if their master were still elsewhere. As I neared I saw he wasn’t there, and the doggies began to bark in eager tones to call me over. So I sat myself down whence they crowded onto my lap for warmth and cuddles. It was a very chill night (upper 40s), and I had already suggested he let them stay with me, earlier that evening. “No, they’ll be fine,” he curtly replied. As I pet them, I saw they were NOT shivering, thank Hera…though they clearly sought my warmth.

Deek returned barely a minute later. He said hello, then went right to rummaging through his shopping cart, including a hardside polypro suitcase about the size of two breadboxes, which he laid on the ground and opened. Lucky instantly climbed onto it and began to fluff up the meager square of cloth stored therein among random items made of plastic and metal. Not much comfort for a little doggy, but he gave it his best shot!

“Who opened that suitcase?” boomed Deek.

“YOU did,” I replied while watching Lucky continue his futile attempts to turn the textile into a nest. By then, two other vagrants had magically appeared by the cart, one young and clean shaven, the other old and bearded with a hefty walking stick to lean on. Don’t know why they showed up right at that moment, but the older one started asking questions about the dogs that miffed me no end:

“Is she fixed, or can she have puppies?”

“No she’s not, but the male is,” Deek answered while going through some items in a search for his lost bills, I presume. Though I question the veracity of his claim of “losing” a hundred smackaroonies in the first place…he’s a conniving drama queen half the time.

The grizzled transient then emoted how sad he’s neutered, how did that happen, and wouldn’t it be nice to make the female pregnant with another dog, anyway. I really wanted to punch him out and tell him to shut the hell up. But I bit my lip and ignored him while bent over to pet the mutts. I decided then not to leave until those two idiots departed first…I just didn’t like their demeanor, so my protect-the-pups instinct kicked in. Deek then looked down at Lucky and hollered, “HEY, GET OUTTA THERE!” But the brindlekin paid him no mind and continued to spin around and disturb the contents, none of which were of value, anyway.

“Don’t yell at him, Deek!” I admonished, while reaching out to Lucky with comforting strokes. “He’s doing nothing wrong.”

The gnarly old cretin then interjected: “The dog’s disobedient!”

“No, that’s not what’s going on,” I replied in an even tone, in spite of my anger. “He just wants a comfy spot to sit on, instead of the cold concrete. He’s a lovely, sweet little pup…they both are. Screaming at them is just mean.”

The two vagrants then stared quizically at Deek, as if to say: “Who is this guy? Why’s he talking to you like that?” To which Deek summarily explained, “He’s my uncle, it’s okay.” Well, Wattson, good thing he said that, as I KNOW how to defend myself in short order, I know WHERE to kick to immediately disable an attacker, AND I carry pepper spray. Everyone assumes I can’t fight, but one clown learned the hard way I CAN…but that was years ago.

Then I witnessed the reason for those two transients showing up: Deek handed them each a line of crystal, and off they scattered. Upon completing the transaction he turned to me and told me to get the fuck out of his face. I told him I’m not IN his face, and that his hollering at Lucky is shameful.

“I’m in a bad mood right now,” he scowled. “I’m REALLY pissed, I just lost a hunner dollah. It happened fast, I was high and the jacket disappeared.”

“That’s NO excuse to be angry at your dogs, Deek,” I countered. He shrieked some more in response as he began to push the cart towards my building: “Get outta my face, bitch, get outta my face!”

I followed him from ten feet behind as he crossed Noe street, then turned left to cross Market, bellowing “Shame! Shame on you!” as he did so. “It’s very cold tonight, you better keep those doggies warm!”

He continued spewing expletives as he diminished south towards 17th Street, with the tethered pooches doing their best to keep up, their little paws clicking at a rapid pace while gazing up at him with sweet regard. I then returned hovel to place the milk in my fridge and watch another video. But I was still restless minutes later, so decided to step out again for some air, and a brisk walk to temper my temper. Wouldn’t ya know it, Wattson, but here comes Deek again, back across Market Street and marching in my direction! Pups, cart and all.

“We keep bumping into each other tonight!” I blurted in a friendly manner as they drew near. Deek parked himself by the bus stop, so I decided to sit down on the other side of the cart, where the dogs were leashed. They scrambled onto my lap before I could completely settle down with legs stretched out to provide enough room to raise them from the cold, hard sidewalk. But I managed with some difficulty to accommodate them both, once my butt was set firmly on the ground, and my back against a tree. Long story short:

Again, I advised Deek to never yell in front of the dogs, it hurts them…and besides, no one EVER has an excuse to scream and rant in anger, and start harassing friends who care. Naturally, he exploded and screeched some more, told me to shut up, and if I don’t he’ll yell even louder, and keep it up, and I’ll get evicted. Please note he wasn’t THAT loud, so did show SOME self control. He also threatened to keep the dogs away from me forever, he has a girlfriend with a backyard and the dogs love it, so he might have them stay there for now on. I accused him of intentionally returning just so he COULD scream and rant by my building…that he’s being mean to both myself and the mutts, and he’s full of crap.

I also suggested (once more) he leave the pups with me tonight, as it’s awfully cold outside, and he’s in a bad mood…and when he is, I’m concerned how this affects Lucky & Flaco. Sadly, he turned me down for the second time that evening. To which I responded, after eyeballing the contents of his cart: “I see you have a thick jacket and some blankies to keep them warm, so that’s good.” He finally regained his composure (if that’s what you want to call it), and I offered him Sunday’s allowance right then and there. He said, “Really? After all my screeching?” I replied yes of course, my pleasure. So I ran upstairs to fetch the cash, after which we spoke awhile longer, this time in peace. Then off they went, and I returned hovel. He DID give me a kind thank-you before departing. And to think, before this unexpected, unwarranted and uncouthly foolish drama went down:

All I did was step outside to purchase milk!

Oh, yeah: next bedbug treatment this Wednesday. Meanwhile, I have some electrical tape wrapped about the end of a broomstick, sticky side out, to pick off any bugs I spot on the wall. The bullshit never ends! Only the dogs keep me going.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Texting with Wattson: 12/7/21-12/12/21

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Subject: This is Worrisome
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 12, 2021 2:40 PM

Two cold nights in a row, and it’s been raining nonstop since well before dusk…and Deek has yet to bring the pups over, for shelter and warmth. His petty nature could spell their death.


Re: This is Worrisome
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 12, 2021 3:36 PM

> I was wondering about that. Damn!!!!!

I made it clear to him several times in the past few weeks (including two nights ago when he threw another temper tantrum), that if it’s cold outside and they start to shiver, and he has no way to keep them warm, bring them over immediately…I don’t care how late it is, I consider it an emergency. Infuriating and heartbreaking he’s not following up. I anticipated he WOULD drop them off last night when the rain began…but nope. I’m STILL hoping he shows up soon.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Re: This is Worrisome
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 12, 2021 6:27 PM

> Dreadful. Keep me posted. It was BITTER cold here, and rainy and windy; I hate to think of the pups out there in that.

I’d like to report they’re back with me now, safe and sound…but that’s just not the case.


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Subject: I just found this lovely comforter…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 13, 2021 3:31 PM

…right when I stepped out of the laundromat with my own fresh laundry. No one around to claim it, and it was already pretty clean, though left in a pile two doors up, with some other discarded items that were of no use to anyone. So I went right back inside the laundromat and washed and dried it…just too delightful a coverlet to resist, what with those vibrant rainbow stripes and fluffy innards! I will probably present it to Deek once he shows up, or when he’s ready to collect the pups again, after their next visit. Or just keep it; I’ll play it by ear. Seeing as anything I give him is lost within a day or two, including any jackets or blanket for the doggies…so what’s the point?

I bumped into Boulevard Joe, on my return to the laundromat before I found that comforter. He was going there, too, to dry out his own, rather dense bedding. Which wasn’t particularly wet, because he and several others camped out beneath the overhang of the local library roof. Where there used to be grass and flowers, but are now just small, jagged, man-made boulders embedded into a concrete surface dappled with smooth, round stones. Imagine trying to sleep on that…squeezing yourself between boulders in an awkward pose, with (hopefully) sufficient padding upon the stones!

We had our usual, friendly badinage…nothing vital to report, except I DID express my worries about Deek not bringing the pooches over during this latest squall. He always has before, and these little dogs shouldn’t be subjected to such harsh weather, especially when their guardian does little to protect them. Joe said nothing in return, just listened and nodded his head. So I guess he didn’t see Deek in the past few days, or he would’ve said something.

It’s not like we hanged out or anything, as Joe left shortly after he packed a dryer with his bed stuff. But I did walk by him twice on my back-and-forth treks between hovel and laundromat…the second time encountering a homeless person I haven’t seen for years: Legion. He didn’t recognize me at first, and I didn’t recall who he was at all, until after I resumed my walk, with that newfound comforter in a duffel bag heft over one shoulder. It was a brief hello, glad to see you after all this time, and so on. Guess our paths will cross again sometime soon, and we’ll chew the fat for sure. He’s a nice enough guy, certainly not one to avoid…and it may benefit me to have one more ally out there in the asphalt realm.

It’s now just after 3 PM and still no Deek and brindlekin. But if I’ve learned ANYthing through this, my Hero’s Journey, it’s NOT to drown myself in worry, but even more: be of good cheer no matter what, put smiles on other peoples’ faces, for they may be going through something even worse. Especially if they’re unhoused.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Re: I just found this lovely comforter…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 13, 2021 8:19 PM

> That comforter’s a beauty!

It was meant to happen…a gift from Artemis, who loves Canis familiaris, and anyone who loves them, too.

> I’m glad you have the attitude that you do. I sure as hell don’t.

Oh, I don’t think so. You would show the SAME forbearance and compassion as I do, towards someone with bipolar affliction, were you involved with their sweet little doggies. Just as you’ve been incredibly kind and patient to your mother, and other long-suffering good people in your life. You can’t fool ME, Wattson!

> I’m pissed at Deek for letting you twist in the wind like this; he KNOWS what those pups mean to you. If he doesn’t show up for his next allowance, then we can assume he’s had some sort of change of fortune, for good or for ill.

Now with a touch of hindsight, it is OBVIOUS to me, that this was just another bodhisaatva challenge. Look how everything fell into place: Boulevard Joe (and my telling him my concern for the pups), then the rainbow comforter, then my conclusion in my previous email, that anger is not the way, but shedding worry and being of good cheer no matter what, is the answer. And then, and ONLY then, does Deek finally show up…and he was SPECTACULAR:

I came running down ASAP as soon as he called up to my window. He looked superb: clean and well dressed in warm clothing. The dogs looked great, too, and THEY WERE DRY AND HAPPY, not shivering in the least. Well, almost dry…they WERE a tad wet because he uncovered them to rush across the street and to the ATM alcove below my window.

He quickly explained how he couldn’t bring them over last night, as he was stuck in a distant part of the city, and had to remain there in order to keep Flaco & Lucky safe, dry and warm. And I believe him, because they’d otherwise be DRENCHED, but they were not. I didn’t even have to dry them off once they got upstairs, because their burrowing under the blankets took care of that in a jiff. IOW: minimally wet.

Deek was of good cheer; in fact, he looked robust. He DID ask for his Thursday allowance in advance…which I knew he would, so had already slipped the bills in my pocket before stepping out. But first, I gave him a hard time about it:

“Are you kidding, Deek, it’s only Monday!” I exclaimed with feigned exasperation.

“But payday’s Wednesday, just two days from now,” he cajoled.

“No, it’s THURSDAY,” I corrected him. “I’ve just been letting you get your allowance a day ahead.”

He then rattled on why it’s no big deal to hand over the moolah now, why he deserves it, blah blah blah…I don’t know, I didn’t really pay attention, but right in the middle of his petition, I yanked out the envelope.

“Oh, you already had it on you,” he noted with an amused grin.

“Of course, Deek,” I barked back, “I KNOW you!”

He gave me (another) new Bluetooth speaker to charge; this one on the larger size, but easy to port upstairs. Along with that, he handed me a fairly nice headset, and his present smartphone that he’s managed to hold onto for almost two weeks now. That’s a record!

“Can you put Christmas music on it?” he queried.

I rolled my eyes, wondering why on earth this gansta rap junkie wanted something so sappy. He explained further:

“Not that stupid stuff like reindeers running over old ladies…just the regular, traditional songs.”

I don’t think he realizes that “traditional” goes deep into ’40s and ’50s territory, as well as the ’70s. ’80s and ’90s, and none of it is rap. But I said okay.

So here we are, good doctor: looks like Deek took damned good care of the pooches…and I believe he wanted to show me that…prove to me he can do it, that I never need worry. As well as a kind of apology for his fucked up behavior a few nights back. But I don’t even thinks it’s that.

I am convinced it was all another bodhisaatva script played out for my benefit…all planned that way, to crescendo into seeing Joe Boulevard, stumbling upon the rainbow comforter, and Deek’s excellent demeanor, with Flaco & Lucky healthy and in good spirit.

It was a real treat to watch them dash up the stairs with boundless delight, then dig themselves beneath the bedding before I even stepped inside. Group hugs, joy and friendship lit up the room, as I curled up alongside, so happy they’re back in my arms. I then got up to give them some chicken-applesauce snacks, which they so enjoyed…as I did, too, watching their little jaws chew on their nummies and make wee smacking sounds.

A little while later I set down their meals, and they went right to it, licked the bowls mirror clean! Now they’ve hidden themselves once more, beneath the rainbow coverlet. You can’t even tell they’re here, they’re so quiet…deep in doggy dreamland. Impossible to discern which lumps are air pockets, and which two are the mutts, unless you prod with a hand to discover a snout, a paw, a floppy ear or a tail! Or maybe a surprise lick of the tongue.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Texting with Wattson: 12/13/21 – 12/18/21

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Re: Well This Sucks (cont’d from smartphone message)
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 17, 2021 11:30 PM

> So you were out of your place and walking around, thinking the treatment was proceeding, when you were notified that Paolo was in a car crash and wouldn’t be showing up?? And now you have to keep things ready so that they can give you same-day notice to get out??

No, they just need to reschedule. AFAIC the sooner the better, so I told Kevin I’d only need a day’s notice. The longer they take to schedule, the more items I’ll need to unseal and use, until I’m back at square 1 and will have to take EVERYTHING back to the laundromat for heat treatment. And I don’t really have the money to do that…or the temper.

I just find it strange that the exterminator never bothered to text back to me. I suspect Kevin of developing senility, and I just happen to be the lucky one to suffer his BS. I could be wrong about all this, but something’s going on that’s not kosher.

– Zeke K-Holmes


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Subject: Coffee Spills & Other Ills
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 18, 2021 11:26 AM

Just stepped out to Rosenberg’s right at 7:30 to discover their gate still closed and locked. This happened once before, about three weeks back…but they opened shortly after 8. Hopefully, they will be ready for business just as quick, as I love to start my morning with a fresh cup of java and a little friendly badinage.

Meanwhile, the pups are warm and tucked in, not quite ready for their morning ablutions. I wish I had NOT told Kevin that I’ll only need a day’s notice for the rescheduled bedbug treatment. But that was before Deek brought the doggies by. If they schedule it for two or three days later, and the mutts are still here, I’ll have to say okay, not knowing whether Deek will return in time to retrieve them. For if the weather remains so cold, he may just not bother. Which is what I’d prefer anyway…it’s just this rescheduling is a monkey wrench in the works.

Because I DON’T want to tell the manager I can’t, since the pups are here until this cold snap ends. Maybe I’ll come up with some other excuse, should I find myself in such a difficult bind. Such as another sciatica attack…which I can easily fake by breaking out the walking stick.

[pause]

So I just returned from getting a SECOND cup o’ mud from Rosenberg’s, ’cause the FIRST one suddenly leaked from the bottom ALL OVER MY DESK AND ONTO THE KEYBOARD! Fortunately, the keyboard was not damaged, as the spill only dripped onto the flat, touchpad end. It’s days like these I feel like my life is the story of Sad Sack.

When I stepped out that second time, I noticed a homeless person wrapped in rags and asleep beside the wall of my building. I took a closer look and saw it was Deek! Upon my return with the java, I ran back downstairs to take a pic of him, which I attached to this missive. (Apparently, the rainbow coverlet is already gone. He got a new haircut, though, tinted with purple atop…money he should’ve spent on doggy jackets.) This explains why, as we returned hovel, the pups were tugging on the leash to get close to him, though I assumed they were just curious–maybe smelled food on the person–and coaxed them back inside.

Later I realized he was camped out there all night, I just didn’t pay attention. He was there the FIRST time I exited to purchase coffee…but I didn’t notice because his face was blocked by two OTHER street people schmoozing with him, including Filipino Jay who broadly smiled at me and said hi. I didn’t stop, because I didn’t want the dogs to start barking right below my neighbors’ windows…and neither Flaco nor Lucky seemed to be aware that their master was close by.

FINALLY, I now get to talk about our meetup Wednesday afternoon:

I parted with my newfound rainbow comforter that day, seeing as the night would be icy cold, and he wasn’t about to have the doggies stay for a FOURTH evening in a row. Kismet brought me that coverlet at just the right time, Wattson!

Deek played Mr. Crabby for some minutes: “I’ll throw that blanket away if I find any bugs in it!” I told him don’t be ridiculous, it’s large enough to keep all three of you warm, and I just washed and dried it two days ago; if there are any bugs, they’re harmless, and I’ve seen him many times pluck unwashed blankets and coats from the trash.

I then motioned as if to snatch up the bedding: “Okay, I’ll just take it back.” To which he promptly pleaded, “No! No! I’ll take it!” I could tell, though, he was bitching for fun, loves to see my hackles up.

He was actually in a very good mood, and within a few minutes after giving him the comforter he placed it on the sidewalk, and the pooches immediately made it their nest. I then departed for the laundromat, where I had to pick up those two adult sleeping bags waiting for me after an hour in the dryer, on the hottest setting.

Deek had requested advance payment for this Sunday, even though it was only Wednesday. I said okay, but remember once you run out of your month’s full allotment, you’ll have to wait maybe as long as eight days before your payments resume. I can NOT afford to dip into the next month for an advance…in fact, I couldn’t do that even if I wanted, because I’d have less than ten dollars to my name, until my next Social Security deposit on the third. He said he’s fine with that, but we’ll see.

So Wednesday’s meetup was superb and, as I said previously, I’m proud of Deek for bringing them back to me last night, that they be sheltered from the biting, chill dampness.

Oh, yeah, I had quite a scare six days ago. I had gone downstairs with the pups and, just as we got to the door, a resident was about to step in. So I crouched down and held them by the collar, expecting him to open the gate and let us through, first. But no, he barged right on in, not giving me a chance to pull the mutts back as they barked with gusto. He said “sorry” as he stepped into the lobby, but then Lucky escaped my clutches and snatched onto his pant cuff for a split second before I could pull him away.

The young fellow then pulled up his pant leg to see whether or not he was bitten…nothing but unbroken white skin showed. I quickly rushed them outside, concerned he might run to the manager and complain. I felt sick with worry all that day, pondering the scenario of how I’d deal with it. Fortunately, nothing seems to have come of it, and I wish the idiot had the good sense NOT to force himself in the middle of two dogs he’s never seen before. Anyone else would open the gate and step aside for us to exit.

My new food stamp card showed up almost a week ago, and I was delighted it arrived so soon after I called their office for a replacement. But upon reading the enclosed notice I learned that my PIN will arrive in a separate envelope. So I’ve been spending more of my own money on food, than expected… because I’m still waiting on the PIN. If it doesn’t show up in two weeks, I’m supposed to call them. No matter how I plan things, December has ALWAYS been my toughest month when it comes to finances. Laundry expenses to prep for treatment have hit my wallet hard this month. As I decided to not just run all sleeping bags through the dryers, but wash them, as well.

I don’t celebrate Exmass, so no money wasted on that. Yet, even when I decide to be extra frugal in December, unexpected costs pop up to ruin what holiday spirit I MIGHT have had. So now my bank account has been stripped, my room has been stripped, and the dogs have no throw rugs or even newspaper to cover the dirty, softwood floor. They don’t even have a cardboard box to slip into when they’d like, because I tore up the one I had, in preparation for the exterminator’s arrival. I should lay down fresh newspaper in a moment, it’s the least I could do for the nonce.

I just looked out the window to see that Deek has moved himself to the bus stop, where he’s prostrate on a sheet of cardboard and soaking up the sun’s rays (weak as they are today). He’s been parking himself by my building much more often these days…which is fine with me since he’s not making a ruckus anymore when he’s right outside. Though I kinda wish he wouldn’t, because then residents see him crashed out with the same dogs they see ME with. And this could cause me grief, in light of SOME folks’ antagonism towards the homeless. And my having two street dogs stay with me once or twice a week, on average. But Deek is too stubborn to hear me out, and comply by camping for the night elsewhere. At any rate:

These are truly O. Henry tales, my adventures with Deek and the pups, this latest chapter being my second Exmass parable! Guess I’m getting what I wished for, as an author.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Click here for a larger view.

Subject: Deek Asleep by the Bus Stop
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 18, 2021 12:30 PM

I just took this shot…he obviously needs his rest, so I didn’t bother to wake him up. Nor did I bring the pups down to join him, as they’d probably be barking up a storm now and then, as his protectors. Besides, it’s cold outside and they wouldn’t have much comfort there on the sidewalk. And I’d rather not have my building’s residents see the doggies right there, totally exposed. It happens anyway, but it’s better to minimize the frequency of such a disturbing scenario. Leave well enough alone, eh, good physician?

All of Deek’s latest possessions seem to be gone with the wind. He’s very resourceful, however, and quickly recoups his losses. I don’t see how he does it; his resilience is astounding. Still, I’d rather have Flaco & Lucky stay with me another night, due to this lingering cold front…if he allows it. I have no idea WHEN he’ll finally awaken, and call up to my window.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Re: Deek Asleep by the Bus Stop
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 18, 2021 2:55 PM

> I see that the pizza box he was using as a sort of wind/privacy screen in the earlier pic has moved. God almighty, to be sleeping on the cold hard dirty pavement in full view of the world…and yes, let him sleep as long as he needs to.

He has no qualms about sleeping/camping wherever, does NOT feel ANY shame or resentment being seen this way. Which is the best attitude to have, IMO, if you MUST live on the streets. This, however, tends to unnerve certain folks who are housed, and is why I’d prefer he park his ass elsewhere. But that is not to be, so I am forced to deal with it as best as possible.

Were THIS perplexed pilgrim homeless, I’d certainly handle it quite differently. For one, I would never APPEAR to be a vagrant. Though with the horrendous condition of my teeth, and being seen often, sitting on the concrete keeping the pups company (while Deek runs off to purchase a sandwich or whatever) some people think I AM unhoused. Worse yet, it always happens in FRONT of my building, ’cause that’s the only spot where Deek and I hook up. There goes the property value, plummeting like a stone thanks to little ol’ moi!

As I’m typing this, I’m watching Lucky fluff up the bedding into a tent so he can snuggle inside, in full comfort and warmth. Only the tip of his curly tail sticks out. Flaco, OTOH, is presently stretched athwart the cot, with her darling little head drooped partly over the side, Yoda ears pinned all the way back.

> It’s extremely fucking cold up here, too. Dressed Surely last night in new fleece doggy PJ’s underneath his regular doggy jacket. He sleeps at night in a cozy bed of quilts on a closed-in porch, with the door to the house open so he gets warmth from the wood stove. That plus the extra layers keep him warm and toasty. He doesn’t have much of a coat, and he’s almost 11 years old now, so I make sure he’s snug on these frigid nights. Right now he’s basking in a pool of sunlight in the doorway. As is The Kitten, aka HRH Princess Butterball, who has an extra-thick coat of deluxe fur. Peaceable kingdom, for now.

Sounds like heaven to me, but WHAT, NO PIC OF SURELY IN HIS PAJAMAS? Sometimes you are a cruel tease, Oh Osmium Empress!

– Zeke K-Holmes

P.S.: Deek’s still outside by the bus stop, zonked out, and it’s now almost 3 PM. I soon will need to take the doggies for another walk…guess I’ll have them run all the way to the corner, in hopes they won’t spot him. I don’t want to wake him up to hear him say, “Leave the dogs with me.” Then return to sleep while they bark up a hurricane, forced to rest on cold stone.


Subject: My Convo w/Kevin
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: December 18, 2021 7:15 PM

I think I forgot to send this off to you:

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