Just Another Day in Paradise

[Brindlekin Tales – Book 7: Chapter 11]

Subject: Response to my attorney re. dental care
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 7, 2023 at 8:52 PM


Well thanks much for looking into this, Ms. Elvensborn. I actually have the Medi-Cal handbook and finally checked out the denture part. Denti-Cal must’ve added that recently, glad to see that. The list of dentists for the SF Bay Area does not show anyone in the city, just Berkeley and Oakland and further out. That would be a problem since I don’t own a car, and after each surgery I wouldn’t want to take public transit, and can’t afford a taxi, and don’t have a friend with a car. Anyway, there is still my hesitation to go through with it, due to probably long term painful bouts before it’s all over. I was planning to look into it soon as certain new and difficult issues get resolved in my life, which I’ll post to you in a day or two, as they concern the building manager and may be important for you to know about. But until these two matters clear up, I can’t afford to put another challenge on my plate.

Thanks again.

– Ezekiel


Subject: Just another day in Paradise…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 8, 2023 at 12:34 PM

…as the following video showing a disturbed vagrant squirming in paroxysms on the sidewalk so perfectly illustrates:

Right below my window I often wake up to one lost soul or another. My annoyance, however, comes not from his disturbing presence and noise, but from our society’s failure to care for our less fortunate and troubled citizens. Leaving them to struggle on these mean streets with no real human contact of worth.

At any rate, my attorney responded this morning with a closing sentence on the topic of Denti-Cal services: “That makes sense! Take care.”

So, uh, I saw Victor, our maintenance man, twice…once yesterday lugging stuff through the building’s rear door, and once just a few minutes ago chatting with someone out front. Both times I thought to approach him to ask about Paolo’s failure to show up Monday, but both times I decided why bother. It’s not my duty to keep either one on their toes, so lack of pest treatment goes on record, assuming neither gets back to me anytime soon. I’m wondering if the gossipy building manager told them not to speak with me due to an ongoing lawsuit? Which is ridiculous ’cause that should NOT include the usual residential duties.

Updates on our building manager’s (most likely) deathbed demise, along with the bedbug issue, will be posted to my attorney later today. Plus, in a day or two I’ll finally get around to sending her my idea for a settlement in hopes of nipping this stupid scenario in the bud, so that it won’t drag on for another two-and-a-half years!

Deek has not yet returned since his late-night “missing pot” fiasco, but I expect he will, either later today or tomorrow, to collect that $80. No one unhoused camps out by the old ATM depot anymore, except Deek from time to time…which draws other vagrants to him like a magnet. So he now sticks out like a sore thumb when he does, as does yours truly when he steps away for awhile and leaves me with the pooches.

I imagine it’s difficult for him to wean off of his old pattern of visiting here, even sleeping overnight, but it will eventually come to an end. Especially if any cop comes by to tell him to leave. So now I wonder how we will keep in touch as the next chapter unfolds, for I would sorely miss seeing My Beloved Brindlekin!

Meanwhile, I just sent Marshall my latest tale for narration this Friday night. What a pleasure! Hope your day is going well, Wattson.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Subject: I woke up around 3:30 AM…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 9, 2023 at 1:34 PM

…because I heard some (surprisingly mellow, definitely not gangsta) rap music outside, not too loud, but noisy enough to wake up THIS light-sleeper pilgrim. It may or may not have been Deek, as so many vagrants play the same kinda music. But I got up anyway to peek out the window and, sure enough, it was Deek with pups and granny cart…accompanied by another fellow with his own cart of a different type. They were coming from the direction of Castro Street and continued beyond my building, towards Noe Street where they then turned left.

“Hmm,” I thought, “is he gonna camp out behind my building and wait till sunrise to pick up his Thursday allowance?” (Which is today, so THAT’S impressive: he managed to hold off requesting any advance payment beyond the $20 I gave him on Sunday.)

So I went down the hallway towards my now-deceased quasi-fascist neighbor’s apartment and looked out the window adjacent to it. Yep, they were out there but across 16th street and milling about, as if figuring where to park for the night. The hallway’s ceiling lights were on of course, and Deek could easily spot me if I weren’t careful, since there is an unobstructed view between that window and where they stopped. But only a few minutes had passed before his companion departed up Market Street while Deek disappeared around the corner of Noe.

Having no more reason to hang in the hallway I relieved myself in the communal loo then returned to bed. And pondered:

“It would actually be nice if I could give him his money now, rather than his trudging back from wherever and summoning me from my slumber just when the sun comes up. Maybe I should rush outside right now and track him down.”

But common sense kicked in and I drifted back to Dreamburg while my backup smartphone whispered another freakish tale into my left ear. You guessed it, Wattson:

Less than ten minutes later I awoke to another round of (unexpectedly soothing) rap music floating through my open window. So once more I got up and peeked through a slit between curtain’s edge and the window frame to see Deek had parked his cart and mutts a few doors down while bent over rummaging through the blue trash bin. He suddenly straightened up and proceeded towards canines and cart, and I backed away from the window so he wouldn’t spot me. Assuming he had already started moving again towards Castro Street I took another peek. He was looking straight up at me! So I withdrew again, hoping it was a fluke and he only saw the window, and not me as well. But as luck would have it, he called up:

“I see you there! Can I pick up my allowance now?”

I sighed and drew back the curtain to poke my head out and nod “Okay!”

As I turned away to collect the buckazoids secured in a Chase envelope he called to me a second time:

“And more dog food, please!”

So I returned to the window to gesture with hands and head: “Yes, I can do that too, just give me a minute.”

He was waiting right at the gate when I came downstairs, weighty sack of doggy vittles in one hand, envelope in the other. Wee hounds and cart were further up the block, so no puppy greetings were in the cards at that time. He took the requested items, thanked me kindly and vanished into the night’s dark veil. I was actually relieved to give him that allowance: it was as if he sensed my desire to do so (in spite of the late hour) and made it happen. If this is yet another bodhisattva “clue,” here is my conjecture:

Deek knew I was going through a bout of angst due to the building manager’s drawn out demise, the failed bedbug treatment and the Amazon food stamp ripoff…as well as his OWN outrageous screeching over the “missing pot” nonsense two nights ago. Not that I ever mentioned these things to him, but that a spiritual guardian has access to one’s worries whenever necessary. His showing up in such a calm state of mind certainly did the trick towards soothing my OWN jangled nerves.

So THAT’S why he aroused me outta bed by passing beneath my window not once but twice, making sure to do so in a gentle manner both times, with a more placid genre of rap to stir me awake. And his calling up to my window was not so much a holler as a lower volume. Since the chill night air does a fine job of amplifying sounds anyway.

I had a good sleep otherwise, and did not get up until the ripe morning hour of 8:30 AM…and Deek did not have to return to my building just to pick up da moolah. Win/win for both of us. Just wish Flaco & Lucky had their sweaters on; what the fuck’s wrong with him? I think he does it just to annoy me…but that is SO wrong, because it’s at the expense of two, loving little quadrupeds. At least they weren’t shivering, far as I could see.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Re: Just off the phone….
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 9, 2023 at 2:35 PM

> …with Darly. My hands twitch with the desire to throttle her.

I understand that desire quite well, though YOUR situation is far more nerve-racking than mine.

> She’d called yesterday asking for a ride into town. I hadn’t been able to respond to her call, because we were embroiled in the water pump crisis.

What did she need a ride into town for…get her hair done, or something else equally trivial?

> So I called her this morning to tell her why, and she launches into her insane paranoia, says she needs to get out of here (she’s penniless), I “made” her stay here after Van died, that I’m doing “nothing” about getting Van’s and my old work republished. All balderdash, of course.

The lady needs to freakin’ chill out, her behavior is abominable. And I’d tell her that myself. Maybe have a witness with me, like your psychiatrist friend. In fact, at this point you may need such an ally to witness her behavior for legal reasons, if nothing else. Maybe he can prescribe her some calming medication. I also advise you to record her conversations with you, from now on…or at least take notes. Erwyn or someone else can also be a witness. Does she have any friends besides you, who visit her? I’m guessing not.

> I tell her I can’t talk about this stuff now, that I need to concentrate on getting the water going again (and getting an estimate to get the fallen tree off the garage roof, and scraping up $$ for surgery for Surely to get a growth removed from his belly skin, though I don’t mention any of these).

Surely is more deserving of your care than SHE is, at this point. Just my opinion from a helpless distance.

> But she persists. I tell her I don’t want to argue; she says we’re not arguing; I say, very sharply: “You’re starting a complicated conversation when I’m under horrendous pressure with a household emergency.” She hangs up on me. I’m quivering with fury. I’ve literally kept her alive and kept a roof over her head (often using my own money) since Van died (and before that, too), and she lays this lunatic bullshit on me.

If at all possible, you need to make it VERY clear to her that SHE is the one being unreasonable, to say the least. Snap some sense into her. Explain to her the convoluted logistics of getting Van’s (and your) old work republished. If she doesn’t care to listen, but drowns you out, then you’ll need to take whatever actions are necessary to protect yourself, legally, financially and emotionally. No two ways about it.

> Like you, I’m a hostage.

Right. This is like the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished,” only on steroids.

> I can’t just walk away; the shack she lives in belongs to good friends of mine. I talked them into renting to Van and Darly, a couple of years before Van died, opened my fat yap and “guaranteed” the rent would be paid. Van had a job (though with spotty inadequate pay), none of us foresaw that he would die.

There’s gotta be SOME way through this, though it doesn’t seem like that right now.

> If she were to default on the rent, things would blow up in my face instantly.

So she’s paying SOME of the rent herself? At any rate, maybe you should consider visiting with some social service about the situation, and maybe they’ll assign her a guardian to check in on her every day. Sounds like she’s too unfit to care for herself and needs to be moved to a nursing home. I know you’d feel terrible taking such action, but I’d say that’s better than her winding up homeless. Or YOU becoming flat broke and ending up on the streets too…you have Erwyn and your furry companions that are worth light years more than saving Darly’s life at this point.

> Further, if she were to be kicked out, there is no one except me with the means to gather her and her stuff off the street (a few doors down from me). And then: where would I take her? There are no answers. What I would face if any of that were to happen would be MUCH worse than maintaining her where she is.

Frighteningly horrific! May the Fates show mercy, and VERY soon.

– Zeke

Re: Just off the phone….
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 9, 2023 at 7:47 PM

> She needed firewood, which she buys by the boutique bundle (I told you she’s mad), because she had a “bad experience” with some past large-volume wood delivery. The only heat she has is the wood stove, else an electric heater, which runs up the landlords’ (my friends’) electric bill.

Only one person, how small is the stove? Perhaps you could chop the wood yourself if you have enough felled branches on your land. What about the tree that’s fallen on your garage? Possible to pull it down yourself and chop it up? Bring her a week’s supply every seven days, charge her half what she pays for the boutique bundle. Here are some DIY videos on removing a fallen tree from a roof.

I’m guessing the above suggestion is not viable, so maybe you should post your need for chopped wood on the announcement list. But only if the cost is less than the boutique wood, and you could charge Darly the full amount.

Regarding the electric heater: is it energy efficient? You might replace it with one that is better. See this article.

I would go for the “Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater,” $142, VERY safe to use and is highly rated on Amazon, and by other reviewers across the web. Very quiet, on wheels, with the “eco” setting.

And what about purchasing a used or refurbished solar panel by someone living in your area? One that would be powerful enough to run a 1,500 watt heater? And a storage battery that would last all night (again, used or refurbished.)

These are just ideas off the top of my head…and they could all be dumb in the long run, I just don’t know.

> Erwyn loathes her. I have to keep them segregated. I do make “contemporaneous notes” when she goes off like that, plus I have a good memory for dialogue.

Audio or video recorded documentation, plus a witness or two are preferable when it comes to possible legal complications. Being insane (or hysterical), she is not beyond reporting false accusations about you to others, including the police. But you already have a solid witness in Erwyn, so that’s good. And, I presume, in the kind people who rented that shack to her.

> I badly want to write her a letter and leave it on her door, but my FUCKING printer has died. Inanimate objects conspiring.

You could put a copy of your letter on an SD card or flash drive and take it to a printout service. It would cost very little…maybe your local library can do it.

> On the other hand, she’s truly crazy, and I feel so fucking sorry for her, completely alone in the world. I’m scared of crazy people–not physically, but scared of the sheer power of their unreason. Shakes me badly.

It does me, too. However, since you are committed to preserving her life, it’s best to apply My Bodhisattva Premise. (Which is really not an original theory on my part, just a modern-day wording of what the Buddha and other wise people have taught):

– Remind yourself that fear should always be flushed out of your system ASAP. Fear is NEVER a healthy emotion to harbor, no matter the initial impact. Do not entertain thoughts of worst case scenarios…have a muffin, pet your familiars, read one of my saucy tales to Erwyn (ha ha, just kidding on THAT one).

– Accept this as a CHALLENGE to be a better person, figure out how to make this conflict a win/win solution. Have faith that a happy outcome shall emerge out of this, no matter how impossible that seems. Meditate a few minutes every day on simply spreading goodwill, imagine Darly smiling and at peace, thanks to your steady friendship (though not from the confines of a coffin, I hope). See this challenge as a strengthening of your mettle, an opportunity rather than a tragedy. Just as I do with crazy Deek…and it’s working rather well if I say so myself: three steps forward, one step backward.

– Sit down and have a calm, patient talk with her…regarding whatever unkind accusations she’s made about you. Maybe draw up a list so you won’t forget anything. Let her know you miss Van, too, but prolonged grief is self-destructive, and Van wouldn’t want that for her, he’d want her to forge on and have a good life. Build on the love he gave her. Bring her some flowers when you next visit.

– Maybe one of the more progressive religious groups in your area offers free wellness checks to the elderly, and companionship once or twice a week.

– Sometimes you HAVE no choice but to be abrupt and firm towards her. But first think through whether or not your fuel is anger or compassion. If it’s anger, don’t do it. Take a deep breath, have another muffin (but don’t get fat over this). And HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR through it all, no matter how crudely she treats you.

– I have a sneaking suspicion that you already KNOW (and will abide by) all of the above suggestions, and just wanted a shoulder to lean on, and to vent. For as you reminded me more than once, at times I was at wit’s end over Deek: he’s an abused soul and needs extra patience and kindness. Though it sure can be fuckin’ DIFFICULT to hang in there, eh, Wattson? And finally:


– Zeke K-Homes

Re: Just off the phone….
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 9, 2023 at 11:03 PM

> We got the branches off the tree ourselves, but the trunk fell at just such an angle (only damaging a corner of the building, not bad at all), and sticking up really high, that it’ll now take a pro with special equipment to get the rest of it down.


> Insurance will pay, but we were hoping to do it all ourselves and keep the moolah. There will be $$ left over anyway, which I’ll use to pay for Surely’s surgery.


> There will be lots of wood from the branches, a lot of which were dead and dry, and I plan to give a lot of it to Dana.

Well THAT’S a help.

> Unless she finds some reason to reject it…

‘Cause it’s not “boutique” enough, no doubt.

> These are good ideas. I’m gonna check out the heaters. My friends, her landlords, will probably be willing to spring for an energy-efficient heater rather than the dollar bill-burner she has now.


> I can email it to the print shop in Fort Bragg, whom I’ve used before in this situation. It’s just that if my printer were working, I’d have banged out a letter to her while the incident was still simmering in my brain, and would have “served” her with it today.


> Not possible, what with running around fixing the water pump. Which we did, by the way!!


> That’s exactly what I’ve been doing since poor Van died.

I figured so.

> Will keep it up resolutely.

You really have no other choice if you want to remain aligned with your conscience.

>> “(though not from the confines of a coffin, I hope).”
> Laughed out loud at that!!!

Le diable me l’a fait faire.

> Oh, man, how I wish I could get her interested in that. I did try–there’s a bunch of hippie lefty “Christians” in Albion who really, really try to be Christly and compassionate. They were bringing her fresh vegetables from their garden, and invited her to come to one of their “services.” These are not rightie fundy types, but really sweet good people. I told her they don’t require belief or conversion or baptism or any of that baloney, that she should accept their invitation just for the fellowship and human contact, but she said she thought they were too “cult-like.” An excuse to reject them, probably because I suggested them. Thats what she does: if I suggest something, she accuses me of trying to “make” her do something.

Well THAT’S disappointing. However, she might be right about “cult-like,” as somewhere along the line they’ll probably be pushing Jebus big time. Though maybe not. I could get along with those type very well. As for her accusation of you trying to “make” her do something…isn’t that exactly what a real friend does when someone they care about is seriously troubled? What’s wrong with that, you’re trying to get her motivated, a little prodding is called for.

I’m sure you’ve looked into the Senior Center events and stuff like that, and it didn’t go anywhere with her, either. What does she do to pass the time…read, watch TV, listen to music? How about the Internet? She could play bridge online with others…or whatever other games that people share, including on Zoom. Does she know about Marco’s radio show, she just might enjoy it especially if she’s an insomniac.

Maybe you could get her a sheep and a spinning wheel…that would keep her busy.

> Fershlugginer!


– Zeke K-Holmes

Texting w/Wattson: 2/9/22-2/10/22

Re: Just off the phone….
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 9, 2023 at 4:13 PM

> Add to her craziness the fact that she’s a total Luddite. Does not have a computer, do email, or go online. And she also doesn’t drive (though she once did). So her isolation is pretty complete. She does have TV (thanks to the landlord installing a satellite system), and she’s actually a good reader.

I was afraid of that, which lack of Internet savvy is a detriment towards her well-being for any number of reasons. As well as an increased burden on others in her life.

>> “Maybe you could get her a sheep and a spinning wheel…that would keep her busy.”
> Now you’re talkin’!

Ha ha. I said that precisely because I suspected she’s a Luddite. I’m sure she totally resists basic lessons on navigating the web; she doesn’t even have a smartphone, does she? It would be GREAT if somehow, some way, she took an introductory class about the Internet (with a Chromebook), offered for seniors by a church, school or some other community service. But I guess that’s not gonna happen. If she DID acquire a Chromebook she could visit online book lover sites and forums from the comfort of her home.

Maybe you could tempt her by showing her sites for bookworms, such as Goodreads…with forums where people share their interest in this or that novel, author, etc. There’s live chatting these days, too.

She could visit the Mendocino County Library online. Then there’s Amazon’s Kindle Book, which also lets you browse the web should Darly decide to share her reading interests with other members. Plenty of FREE books to enjoy, and tons of low-cost ones to suit anyone’s favorite genre.

There’s also Gutenberg Press and a slew of OTHER excellent sites for book lovers that would cost her NOTHING but her time and interest. Then there’s good ol’ Youtube with many narrated authors, not to mention Audiobooks. In sum:

That lady’s a tough nut to crack.

Well, now I’m off to purchase a loaf of Alvarado Street sprouted wheat raisin bread at Golden Produce on Church Street, since my Amazon Fresh EBT adventure came to a crashing halt. That’ll teach ME to stop acting all haughty and stuff like I WEREN’T a low income peon! $150 minimum grocery order just to avoid delivery fee, my ass!

– Zeke K-Holmes

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Subject: No raisin bread today, dammit!
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 10, 2023 at 8:01 PM

That’s it, Cosmos, rub it in my face: shut down my low-price access to frozen cherries and berries via Amazon Fresh, along with multigrain muffins and raisin bread…then vanquish my only local source of whole grain raisin bread from the shelves! I get it, I’m just a lowly serf who got too big for his britches and needed to be bitch-slapped down a notch.

But at least I finally got reimbursed for my last grocery delivery (see pic). Though in a convoluted manner that is not right. When I first reported the problem I simply clicked on the unhappy face, which took me to a page of options from which I had to pick the one that suited my particular demise, which was: “Did not deliver.” But a week had passed without any response, so this early afternoon I logged into my Amazon account and selected “refund request,” whereby I had to click on every single friggin’ item in that ONE delivery, accompanied by a brief explanation for each one, which was the same:

“Failed to deliver this item, even though they said it was delivered. But I could not find the item at my door, anywhere else in the building, or right outside. I don’t think the delivery truck even arrived, as I was watching out my window.”

To my utter astonishment less than an hour later they approved of the refund. But in their email the reason they gave for the refund was: “Shipping address is undeliverable.” Well, Wattson, that certainly isn’t true, since my previous two orders were DROPPED OFF RIGHT BY MY DOOR, INSIDE THE FUKKIN BUILDING!

Regardless, my Amazon Fresh honeymoon is over since my EBT amount drops down to $23 per month starting in March. And since their delivery fee is soon to jump astronomically, I can’t even afford to purchase my favorite items using my Chase debit card. So it’s back to Trader Joe’s I go, though fortunately I don’t have to take two buses to get there since a new one opened up a few years ago right on Market & 4th.

Don’t know if they carry frozen cherries etc., and their website excludes many items they DO carry. For example I know they sell their own brand of multigrain raisin bread, but it’s not listed in their online store. So I’ll just have to check it out in person. Golden Produce on Church Street charges $8.79 for 10 ounces of frozen cherries or blueberries, whereas Amazon Fresh has ’em for just $3.99/lb.! Keeping my fingers crossed that Trader Joe’s sells them for under $5/lb.

No frozen fruit at the local corner stores, but the Palestinian one does sell two-pound bags of frozen peas for $6.99 each. I love frozen peas, they’re so tasty with plump gushy bites that pop in my mouth. Great addition to my veggie stew! I could even eat a large bowl of these peas with nothing more than shredded mozzarella or some other cheese mixed in…which I sometimes do. Add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar for a taste-bud kick.

Interesting I now have a lot of time freed up since Deek is sheltered, to shop for groceries the old school way…what with the TIMING of reduction in food stamps and Amazon Fresh’s new delivery fees.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Also interesting:

If not for the pups’ eviction from my building, closing off the ATM alcove, the Castro sweep of the homeless, and that horrid string of atmospheric rivers dumping tons of rain on the city…Deek may never have been motivated to seek real shelter.

Re: No raisin bread today, dammit!
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 10, 2023 at 9:47 PM

> I’m pleasantly surprised that he hasn’t found some way to sabotage the new arrangement…

That’s why it took those four drastic changes, one piling atop another, to finally move his scrawny ass. I don’t think he’ll drop the shelter, as he has free electricity for his devices, a place to stay warm and dry on cold, rainy nights or days. Free food, too. Not to mention getting him on SSI and a longer term abode. There are other advantages, too, but in a nutshell:

The pluses outweigh the minuses. He’s getting old, I’m sure bad weather gets to him more these days, and he’s probably grateful for his tiny cabin…after feeling how fukkin NICE a dry warm shelter and a cozy bed can be! Though he’ll never admit it.

> Bummer about the food delivery. Still, you have MANY more options in the city than we do up here.

Right, many more options to catch covid or whatever other deadly virus comes down the pike (and they surely will), since getting to most of these stores involves riding crowded public transit. So that cuts out many options for me if I can’t get to them via light rail and no transfer nonsense. Especially since hardly anyone wears a mask anymore, and the MUNI sign on the front only says these days: “Masks advised.”

> It’s either the Safeway or the pricey little grocery store here in Mendocino. Safeway ain’t bad, but it’s swarming with covid…

As I’m sure does Trader Joe’s, for which reason I’ll shop during their least busy times. Amazon grocery delivery is the safest option, but they hate me ’cause I’m poor and want me to die. Fuck ’em. Next safest option are these corner ma-and-pa shops. LEAST safe are supermarkets including TJ’s. Maybe I’ll skip it. I’m really not ready to put my life in strangers’ hands. But if I live long enough I may have no choice in the matter. I don’t even wanna think about it. Shame on me for gambling away my IRA and chasing after hot little street urchins in Cancún last winter, by that big Catholic church with iguanas basking on the steps.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Subject: Deek dropped by for awhile last night…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 10, 2023 at 12:23 PM

…asked me to charge a speaker and bring the pups some food and water.

“Just a little food, they ate earlier,” he said.

The dogs were NOT wearing the sweaters I gave him last week, but another pair arrived yesterday and the nights are still cold, so I asked if he’d like me to put the new ones on. I expected him to turn down the offer with his usual mockery, but to my surprise he simply said “Sure.”

So after feeding them I brought down a large cardboard sheet for the pups to rest on, along with those sweaters. No objections from their master though I forewent breaking out a sleeping bag this time around. He wasn’t alone, but had the company of another indigent who’s been showing up with Deek in recent weeks, now and then. Nice fellow, well mannered and clean: tall, lanky, muddy blond hair and maybe in his mid-thirties. He was seated against the plywood in a gray sleeping bag waist high.

While I was pulling one sweater on Lucky and guiding his forelegs through the holes, his sister attempted to scramble upon Deek’s lap. But he gently pushed her away ’cause occupied lighting his meth pipe and sharing it with Jordy (not his real name). I set Lucky on my lap, then drew her to me with one arm. Soon as I put a sweater on her she turned towards Deek again and gave a few peremptory barks at him, as if to say:

“C’mon, put down that pipe, I wanna curl up on your lap NOW. Uncle Zeke is occupied!”

With that, her master smiled and let her climb aboard while he held the bubble inhaler in a raised position and away from her nostrils. I was impressed and pleased by his kind regard for Flaco, unlike previous times when he displayed a short temper and would shove her away and yell.

Around two-and-a-half hours later I returned downstairs with the speaker, told him it’s after midnight and I’m going to bed now. He said alright, and would I bring him two trash bags, three Ziploc sandwich baggies and a disposable razor. As I turned away to retrieve the items, Jordy piped up:

“Can ya bring me a trash bag, too?”

I briefly glanced at Deek with a slightly annoyed expression ’cause I’ve often told him not to request things in front of other homeless people. Since they’ll start perceiving me as a Santa Claus, and I just can’t afford to be supplying others like I do for him…whether bags, tea, razors and so on and, Glob forbid, money. But I said okay, I’ll be right back. When I returned outside I wanted to give the hounds one last petting. Lucky was curled up on his lap, but his sister was nowhere to be seen! I looked up and down the street, thinking maybe she stepped away to relieve herself, but nope, I did not spot her anywhere.

“Where’s Flaco?” I asked, and Deek looked about as well, confused for a moment, then pointed at Jordy:

“She’s right there!”

Turned out that the checkered gray sweater, in the dark of night, blends in perfectly with Jordy’s slate-hued sleeping bag. Flaco was sleeping contentedly upon his legs.

“Oh, nice!” I exclaimed. For I was pleased they both had a lap to rest upon, and that it seems Deek’s new companion is a benevolent asset for the dogs and their keeper.

So off I went back upstairs and laid down on my cot to watch some spooky videos and drift into slumber. But several minutes later Deek called up again: “Yo!”

With some chagrin I put my slide sandals back on and peered out the window: “What now?”

“Can ya bring me a black marker?” he replied. (He uses a marker to decorate his sneakers, a jacket, backpack, speaker, etc. Calls it “nigga rigging,” which I just hate.)

When I presented him with the requested item, he said: “I don’t need anything else, have a good night now.”

“I hope so, I need my sleep,” I retorted. “God bless and have a good night yourself.”

I think they remained seated along the ATM plywood for another half hour or so, but since he kept the speaker off I couldn’t tell exactly WHEN they left. But when the rumbling cacophony of a garbage truck woke me up around 4 AM I decided to look out the window. Deek and company were no longer camped below, nor anywhere else within sight. So I breathed a contented sigh and returned to the warm comfort of my cot, and Slumber Valley.

It was a very GOOD meetup, all in all, however he DID give me SOME grief at the beginning, mumbling about that “missing pot” and other nonsense as I sat beside the brindlekin to pet them and put their sweaters on. I simply ignored him as I knew he was just playing a game with me, trying to get my hackles up. A bit later, when I came back downstairs for one reason or another, he told me he can stay at the tiny cabin village for up to eighteen months! During which time they’ll help him get on SSI and find him a more permanent housing situation.

“Unbelievable,” he remarked. “No one in my family or anyone else I knew back in Loo-zee-anna ever accepted government handouts and just hanged around in their homes like bums! They worked, and worked hard, got married and raised children! I ALWAYS had a job back there.”

“No, YOU’RE unbelievable,” I replied (tempted to point out the horror of bringing a child into this world only to lead a life of suffering because born into poverty, but I sensibly abstained). “That’s NOT what’s going on, they are helping people get off the streets, give ’em a leg up, with ample time to de-stress and find their way in life. They’re doing it the right way, Deek. Count your blessings.”

Of course I realized he was just putting on another show for my benefit, trying once more to anger me. So I took it all in stride, glad that, nonetheless, he was continuing to keep a roof over his head and going through the process offered him, which is much more humane than cruel.

BTW I forgot to mention that when he gave me the mini food processor with a missing spindle last Tuesday, he also gifted me with something I truly appreciate: a Swiss Army knife. Pristine condition. See pic 1.

“Thanks!” I said as he dropped it into my palm. “I’ll keep it in my backpack.”

“You never know when you’ll need it,” he beamed with satisfaction.

End of my latest Deek report, but now THIS:

Click here for a larger view.

While composing this missive a fire truck pulled up to my building. What should I see outside but Karlsen being tended to by emergency response workers…again. See pic 2. But instead of cautiously escorting him from the building he was waiting outside with his butt resting against the circular bicycle rack. A few minutes after the medics checked him out an ambulance showed up to cart him away. Something similar happened just a few evenings ago, only it was the police standing around him, asking if he was alright while he was, once again, leaning upon that bicycle rack with a ghastly pale visage.

Don’t know if he went off to the hospital that time since I had better things to do and returned to my work station. But it looks like he’s sucking a lot of attention from our local emergency services, a habit that must have started long before he moved into the building several years back. One of these days he’s gonna overplay his hand and never return from the hospital. And I hope that’s very soon, since it will also mean an end to Scooter’s presence in Hotel California North. Who I believe now has a key to the front gate as well as Karlsen’s apartment.

Imagine that! Our building manager is nowhere around these days, probably on his death bed: the perfect opportunity for a vagrant to claim residency here without anyone the least bit suspect if he’s dressed decently and behaves himself. Except for yours truly of course…plus Victor, our maintenance fellow. I wonder what HE thinks about that! In conclusion:

You just can’t make this stuff up, Wattson!

– Zeke K-Holmes

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