Life is a Sack o’ Shoes

[Brindlekin Tales – Book 7: Chapter 12]

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Subject: Coincidentally I, too, had a water problem…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 11, 2023 at 4:59 PM

…around the same time as yours, though much less difficult to resolve. In fact, I just came up with a solution that took but a few minutes to accomplish.


My radiator valve has been leaking for almost two years now, and I successfully resolved it by tilting the valve downward and placing a plastic tub beneath it. I only needed to empty the tub every morning during cold snaps. But since the deluge during the holiday season the radiator’s been active nonstop, all day and all night. And for some reason I began finding a small-but-growing pool of water beneath the tub, that is: on the floor itself. Which, if not resolved, could result in water dripping through to the lobby entry below.

I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden, some of the leakage was outside the tub, since the valve was aimed directly at it. So for the past few months I’ve been laying down a full edition of the Bay Area Reporter twice each day to absorb the spillage. Though still perplexed why this was happening when for many months prior, the floor always remained dry. But this morning I finally caught on by taking some time to observe the valve, to see that it was spitting out droplets in a wider range than previously…thus spraying at some points beyond the tub’s perimeter.

Once I understood, I figured I need to attach some kind of tube that would confine the spray to a narrow range. First I imagined creating a cylinder made of flexible, thin plastic joined at both long edges, hung with a cord of some sort with one end tied to the valve, and the other end directed at the tub. So I wondered what material I had at hand that would suffice.


“Eureka!” I thought. “A plastic half-gallon milk jug!”

So I rushed out to the green trash bin on the back porch to retrieve such a jug I had discarded last night. I used a strong pair of clippers purchased from Walgreens almost ten years ago, designed precisely for cutting through tough plastic, like the bubble wrap containing small items that you see hanging on hooks above or beside the shelves. See pic 1.

I then cut through a corner of the jug’s bottom to create a flap that, since the plastic snaps firmly back into place, I only had to slide the open part over the valve. No muss, no fuss, no need to use cord, rubber bands or whatever to hold it there.

Pic 2 shows the radiator valve before the adjustment, and pic 3 shows it after. Better still: whenever I need to empty the tub I no longer have to place a smaller receptacle beneath the valve to keep the floor dry. For all I need do now is screw the milk jug’s cap back on until I return with the tub a few moments later. If it were legally permissible to climb up to the roof (which it hasn’t been for twelve years now, since Ablahblah Realty installed a cell tower up there), I’d do just that and bellow to all the Castro:


– Zeke K-Holmes

Re: Coincidentally I, too, had a water problem…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 11, 2023 at 9:48 PM

> It’s fun to rig crude but effective fixes like that!

Third world ingenuity when you’re at the bottom of the capitalist heap, one step above homelessness. I miss those frozen cherries…plucked at the peak of ripeness, dark dark red, plump and sweet, better than anything fresh! Same for those blueberries. I was waiting eagerly to place the first chunk of frozen mango on my tongue (also just $3.99 a pound!) but alas they never arrived.

> I double-dog-dare you to do it!

I misspoke, they’re not wifi antennas, they’re cell phone towers. I’d fry if i stepped onto that roof…and trip an alarm in the process. Karlsen’s keeping the EMTs busy enough as it is. Listening to Memo of the Weird’s latest podcast right now, while enjoying Zeke’s homemade veggie stew loaded with peas and topped with two handfuls of shredded mozzarella, a few splashes of Crystal hot sauce and garlic powder to bring all the flavor out.

I think I’m insane, Wattson. Have a lovely night, sweet dreams and all that rot.

– Zeke K-Holmes

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Subject: Morning Stopover (Yesterday)
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 13, 2023 at 12:17 PM

Got me outta bed around 7:15 AM. Not complaining ’cause I serve the doggies first, and showing irritation is childish in contrast to what living on the streets entails. But he fell sound asleep shortly after he arrived, and remained there for three hours or thereabout. Pic 1 was shot around 7:30, pic 2 an hour later. But he DID ask for “a few dollah,” so I gave him a Jackson which he immediately pocketed. So for his upcoming payday he’ll receive eighty instead of the full one hundred.

BTW after he settled into his tiny cabin I decided to give him a hundred every Thursday, instead of splitting it into two parts. This is based on his claim he’s living “at the other end of the city,” and of course I wouldn’t want him to trudge here TWICE each week just to collect da moolah. IOW I am not about to insist he’s staying a mere four blocks away ’cause a reliable source told me so.

Deek just wanted a new chip with his music on it, but since he dozed off with one of his two speakers playing I took the second one upstairs for a recharge. After all, it was just sitting on the sidewalk close to him, and anyone walking by could easily take off with it.

I also brought down a bowl of water and a large sheet of cardboard for the pups, and later fed them. Towards the end of his visit I returned the second speaker, then back hovel I went. I didn’t see when they departed, but peered out the window around 11 AM and they were gone…including cardboard, water and food bowls.

He left his space spotless, though not difficult to achieve since his only baggage was a stuffed backpack attached to a small dolly. He did not return later that day or night, but around 4 AM this morning I was awakened by the hound’s barking about a block distant, perhaps somewhere along Noe Street. I got up to peer outside my window, but couldn’t see them anywhere, then checked the hallway window facing 16th Street, but they weren’t there either.

I wondered if he planned to camp out nearby, then call up to my window after sunrise. But that did not happen, even though the mutts barked once again about ten minutes after I first heard them, with their master hollering: “LUCKY, STOP IT! LUCKY!” The rest of the night remained quiet.

So it looks like the pooches were outside for TWO chilly nights in a row! But I can’t be sure about that since I don’t know what kind of arrangement the shelter allows. Maybe he was there half the night, but this is only conjecture.

I stepped out a few times while they were resting below my window. The dogs did not have their sweaters on, but since they had spilled out of the backpack I placed the garments over their furry forms…though it wasn’t long before they flung the woolly raiment off to enjoy the sunlight. Each time I exited the gate, as well as returned, I spent a minute petting Flaco who always rose her head when she sensed me nearby, her eyes half open in drowsiness while she glowed with joy at my presence.

As I scritched her chin, neck and behind the ears, she raised her head in loving welcome, then lowered it soon as I stood up and departed. Her brother, OTOH, remained tightly curled up, so I let him be. When I fed them some time later I took that opportunity to scritch his belly and give him sweet hugs while Deek remained obliviously soporific.

So: another friendly meetup, glad to say. I like Deek better when he’s sleeping.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Re: Morning Stopover (Yesterday)
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 14, 2023 at 8:32 AM

> He has shelter, but he’s sleeping outside??? God DANG, he’s a stubborn cuss.

The shelter is new and unfamiliar, plus it’s not like he has the cabin all to himself, there are other cabins there…everyone’s under watch and must abide by certain rules. I’m certain that is a challenge for him. Besides, there is the familiarity of camping out by my building where he gets to see me. So he continues to sleep outside, though not as often.

> I can feel the warmth and weight of those angels just looking at the pic.

Little darlin’s! I’m sure they’d prefer to be inside on a cozy bed, but they are incredibly loyal and never complain.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Subject: Five AI generated dachshund themed images.
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 14, 2023 at 3:29 PM

Using Craiyon’s “DALL-E mini” engine, which works on text based instructions. It’s free to use. Each filename echos the text instruction. It generates nine images per round, which takes just one minute each; click on an image for a larger version. All results you create can be easily downloaded, and you have full permission to use them without any legal stipulations. Some results are quite weird…others, astonishing.






Re: Five AI generated dachshund themed images.
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 14, 2023 at 9:28 PM

> We’re teetering on the brink of the Brave New World!

See pic.

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Texting w/Wattson: 2/15/22

Subject: A Most Wonderful Valentine’s Day Meetup (Tuesday)!
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 16, 2023 at 3:25 PM

I was worried about the dogs in this cold snap, supposed to go down to near freezing the next two or three nights. Thus so very pleased to see the pooches had their sweaters on when Deek showed up. He requested the $80 now, instead of two days later, his next payday. I told him okay, so long as he can handle waiting a full nine days for his next allotment.

“My mother died on Valentine’s Day,” he pointed out, as if he needed to say that at all to persuade me. Whether true or not only the Hounds of Tindalos know.

Asked me to watch the pups “for a half hour or so.” I said okay, knowing he could be gone much longer. Once he departed I tethered the pups to his granny cart, then rushed inside to procure two large sheets of cardboard and a couple of heat treated sleeping bags that I keep sealed upstairs in a 39-gallon trash bag. The doggies quietly sat there, awaiting my return two minutes later.

Flaco immediately plopped down on her back and wiggled with delight upon the fluffy substance. Her brother did not, but politely allowed his sister her fun. Or maybe he didn’t think he had enough room to join in. It used to be the reverse, that is: Lucky would be the one to plop down and squirm while Flaco just sat there. But what I find interesting about her newish behavior, is it seems to have come out of competing for my attention by mimicking her sibling. Thus I wonder if her playful joy arises more from gaining my attention than for the sheer rapture of it all. Either way, both pups are happy for the comfort, and once I threw down the second sleeping bag Lucky got into it just like Flaco.

An elderly gentleman ambling by stopped me at the front gate on my way back hovel to prepare their meal:

“Are those your dogs?” he queried.

“No, I’m watching them for a homeless friend,” I replied.

“Well, don’t let anyone steal them!” he warned me as he leaned on a walking stick with a slight wobble.

“Don’t worry, I won’t,” I explained. “I’ll be right back outside with their dinner, but thanks for your concern.”

Shortly after they ate I ran back hovel to fetch them some jerky treats. Which they enjoyed immensely of course, and once all was gobbled up Flaco sniffed about, hoping to find more, even if just crumbs. Shoving her schnoz into a fold of the blanket, then my flannel shirt and finally, my lap. Having discovered zilch, she looked up at me in hopeful appeal.

“Sorry, Flaco, all out!” I told her while caressing her ears and pulling a corner of the sleeping bag over her…upon which she settled down into an unidentifiable lump right beside her brother already concealed.

That large, friendly black dude, Sean, appeared some twenty minutes after the dogs had settled in.

“Hello, Sean,” I said as he towered over me like an Easter Island totem, his body odor wafting into my nostrils, unwelcome but not TOO offensively pungent.

“Where’s Deek?” he queried.

“Oh he took off to run some errands,” I explained. “So I’m watching the dogs, but he should be back in a half hour or so.”

Instead of departing immediately after hearing that, he lingered some moments, during which time my nose paid the price for his proximity. But he took off shortly, after which I breathed a sigh of relief to enjoy the clean, chill air once again.

To my gratification Deek returned after forty minutes…and made absolutely NO fuss over the sleeping bags. Since I had already removed their emptied bowls to wash and reuse for another time I told him they ate well, so he wouldn’t think I forgot to feed them. I also told him I have a new sleeping bag upstairs straight from the factory and still sealed in a thick plastic wrap:

“So the dogs will have something fluffy to enjoy where you’re sheltered.”

“No thanks, I don’t need it,” he flicked away my offer like you would a mosquito.

“Well, it’ll be here if you ever change your mind,” I assured him without so much as a single inflection of disappointment (which I sorely felt, Wattson, though figured it wise to keep that to myself).

Sean soon returned and joined him for the evening, chatting about whatever while Deek spent a few minutes filling a small baggie with his usually janky shake from a brown paper sack. Though perhaps it was the quality bud he purchases from time to time…I was just too far to see the exact contents from my window. About an hour later Deek called me down to watch the doggies again for “just five minutes, we’re going to Safeway.” Well, I obliged him even though it takes at LEAST ten minutes just to walk there one way. So it was around forty-five minutes later when they returned, and that was fine with me. But soon as they showed up, Sean looked down at yours truly seated with the mutts, frowned and declared:

“Where’s my bagga weed?”

That’s ALL I need, I thought, another pointless clash disrupting a peaceful scenario in which I was doing Deek a favor. I didn’t even KNOW there was some ganja lying around, else I’d’ve made sure to keep it hidden. Fortunately, Deek promptly nipped Sean’s disruption in the bud (pun intended):

“No, it’s right here, Sean,” he said and pointed at the granny cart.

Since the issue was resolved in a nanosecond I saw no point in saying something like “Why didn’t you tell me, Deek, I would’ve made sure no one would steal it!” Instead, I just stood up and returned hovel, leaving them to further enjoy each other’s company. Though I DID register a new cogitation regarding Sean:

“He may be friendly for the most part, but be on your guard…he has his moments.”

Now, allow me to rewind back to those forty-five minutes they were off on their Safeway jaunt, to describe the happenings around me during that window of time:

While seated alongside the curb (back propped against the chunky obelisk of a parking meter) and tending the pooches, cars came and went to park several minutes or so in the spot right beside me, to pick up comestibles from Super Duper or the taqueria a few doors down…or perhaps to purchase paraphernalia, tobacco or something ELSE from the Hohokum smoke shop and gift emporium. (Deek told me they keep an illegal supply of pot stashed somewhere in their attic, reserved for special customers. Illegal because they don’t have a license for that. There may be other drugs involved, as well.)

This frequent parking alongside my campout means headlamps glaring upon yours truly many times an hour, like a spotlight announcing “Here I am!” to everyone passing by…over and over and over again. Terribly annoying, and I lowered my head each time, to keep the searing brightness off my face.

There was also a blue trash bin close by, such that the pups and myself were situated between bin and parking meter with a five-foot clearance. Now, with the granny cart placed alongside the meter it made for a somewhat protective, unobtrusive little area to set down the cardboard and sleeping bags. In other words I didn’t feel QUITE so out-in-the-open, even though I was.

During this time some silly drama played out right in front of the gate, where pooches and myself were parked a mere twelve feet away. Started with a cop at the gate who was trying to enter by pressing some code on the intercom, but to no avail. So I stood up, approached him and said:

“I live there, I can let you in.”

With that, he thanked me as I turned the key whereby he entered, but remained at the gate to keep it ajar until another officer arrived and Karlsen finally emerged. “Oh, so it’s all about Karlsen again,” I thought while seated once more by the snoozing quadrupeds. “THAT figures.”

I couldn’t hear much of what the cops said to Karlsen, or his replies, but I did hear one peace keeper ask:

“Do you have any other sharp objects on you I should know about before I check your pockets?”

I think Karlsen said “No, just this one,” which turned out to be a folding four-incher. Don’t know WHY the SFPD showed up unless Karlsen called about another medical emergency, although no vehicle marked 911 showed up this time around. I also heard one cop asking if he’s suicidal, if he needs to talk with a counselor, then stated:

“Well, here’s what we can do for you right now,” then ticked off a list of options, none of which reached THIS piqued pilgrim’s piously perked ears.

This went on for almost the entire time Deek and Sean were away, much to my chagrin, including fear of a copper asking why I’m sitting there and suggesting I move on. But they didn’t, thank Glob…however, Karlsen’s standing right before the gate all this time instead of moving a few feet away WAS yet another example of just what a crude dumbfuk he is! At least his oily comrade Scooter wasn’t around to poison the mix further. Eventually, the fuzz asked him:

“Would you like us to drive you to the hospital, or have us call an ambulance?”

Karlsen said they could drive him there, okay by him.

“Unfortunately,” said one of the badges, “I’ll have to handcuff you while you’re in the patrol car. Can you handle that?”

Karlsen said he could, so they bound his wrists in shiny steel bracelets that reflected the storefront lights in a flash across my eyes, escorted him into the back seat (separated from the driver by a Plexiglas shield, mind you), and off they went to their pseudo-arrestee’s home away from home…and dare I say, good doctor: much to my undying relief! For some OTHER shit was going on around me during this front-gate folly.

Some middle-aged, lanky queer fellow had locked his bike to the curved rack right in front of me…don’t know why he didn’t opt instead for the second rack several feet further up. For he was RIGHT IN MY FACE, and also blocked the spot Deek had set down a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola along with a large cup still half filled with ice and beverage.

When he stepped back out of Super Duper with a steaming bag of goodies, he unlocked his bike while griping about the broken glass and other debris alongside the curb. He scornfully addressed me, asking why is all that crap here? At first I felt prompted to tell him it’s not mine, I’m not homeless but watching over a houseless friend’s dogs. Instead I answered:

“Why are you talking to me about this…are you angry at me, do you think I did that?”

“Uh, no,” he replied, “but you ARE here.”

Then I realized this is NOT a homeless issue, but has more to do with with the spoiled housed, so I explained to him:

“It’s all the drunk bar hoppers and clubbers who hang out along this block. They start fights sometimes and piss alongside the parked cars, too.”

“But it’s Tuesday night, not the weekend,” he noted, then added with a hand scratch of his gray-stubbled chin: “Oh, right, it’s Valentine’s Day. Everyone’s celebrating.”

He then swung a leg over his bicycle and departed with this final shot: “It’s just NOT acceptable.”

“Oh, I agree one hundred percent, but it’s been going on for years,” I replied as he took off into the frigid dark void where he belongs.

Several minutes later a vagrant suddenly appeared at the blue trash bin right in front of me, gave me a friendly hello, then began to rummage through it. He was young, tall and handsome, so he wasn’t a bother at all (as would be some ragtag stinky counterpart), though I’d’ve preferred to be left in peace with the canines nonetheless. However, he began to tilt the bin towards him in order to reach deeper, which threatened to knock over that 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola and the large cup, both of which were pressed against the bin.

“Whoa!” I cautioned the fellow while pointing at the endangered items. “Don’t knock ’em over!”

He looked at me, didn’t grok what I was talking about and said “Huh?” while the bin remained tilted and the soda still at risk.

At the very moment I bent forward, about to procure the bottle and cup for their safety, Deek and Sean reappeared. Deek saw exactly what was going on, so placed a hand on the scavenger and said: “See the soda down there? You almost knocked it over!”

“Oh, I see…sorry!” he replied with a smile of apology as he arighted the trash bin with no harm done, then took off to seek other bins for treasure.

Just when things were beginning to get chaotic around me–seeing as Karlsen and cops remained nearby until halfway through the trash-bin diver incident–I was MOST relieved that Deek had returned in time to vanquish this strange spell of ongoing disruption when all I wanted was some friendly alone-time with the brindlekin. (Through it all, the pooches remained in cozy slumber between the comforters, glad to report.)

“I’ll be leaving in a few minutes,” Deek stated, “so you can bring down the speaker and smartphone.”

Upon returning with the electronics he declared: “Where’s the sleeping bag?”

“Oh, thought you said you didn’t want it,” I replied, though happy to hear that request. “I’ll get it right now.”

And so I did, tossed it into his cart and said: “This is for the doggies’ comfort when you’re back at home base.”

He said thank you, not realizing I’ve been rattling around in my head for days, just the right phrase to use for his shelter that would warm his heart instead of striking a cynical chord. Terms like “back home,” “back at the shelter” or even “back at your room” or “back at your cabin” doesn’t cut the mustard in my estimation. The first two phrases strike me as sterile, while the last two declare an assumption that he either now lives in a room or a tiny house…which he refuses to reveal to me, thus I don’t want to come off like I know better. And “back at your homestead” strikes me as a tad too bubbly, and he’ll see right through it.

Knowing how important one’s words are when persuading a long-term transient to partake of housing by a social service–WHO IS ALSO BIPOLAR–I had to come up with just the right phrase for his new digs. (Although “new digs” I find acceptable as well, just not the perfect pitch for what I intended.) So I finally came up with “home base.” And it seemed to strike the right chord indeed, as he grinned when I said that, and replied “Thank you.”

I then wished him a good night and returned hovel. Yet he did NOT leave shortly thereafter, but remained parked in his spot for another good hour and a half. Which I found annoying but did NOT obsess over it, since it’s been a SPLENDIFOROUS meetup thus far, and the hounds were well sheltered. Turned out two more vagrants joined him during this time, for which Deek lingered on to enjoy the company. Besides which they remained quiet, and Deek’s music was barely audible from my windows. Before I returned upstairs he offered to hand back the sleeping bags I laid down for Lucky & Flaco.

“No, so long as you’re still here I don’t want to leave them without comfort,” I replied. “Just let me know when you’re REALLY about to leave, and I’ll take care of it.”

And I’m glad he agreed to that, seeing as he remained outside for some time longer, and the dogs continued to rest in fluffy warmth. When the moment finally came for me to collect the sleeping bags, I stepped outside again to stuff them back into a trash bag while Deek started packing up.

“Here, can you take this, too?” he asked, pointing at a large, black bag stuffed with lumpy items of some sort. “They’re shoes and sneakers I collected, and the shelter won’t let me bring ’em inside. I’ll have to do it pair by pair.”

I said sure, and lugged them back hovel. Here’s a pic of the sack, now stashed in my cooking corner:

Click here for a larger view.

I don’t THINK he plans to store a pile of footwear in his tiny cabin, but will spiff up two or three pairs at a time for resale. And maybe keep some for himself. But the good thing that came out of this is clear evidence he IS maintaining his situation at the shelter…for which reason I will GLADLY store a large bag of old shoes in my room as long as he’d like.

They must be doing SOMEthing right, there at 33 Gough Street, to keep one such difficult street dawg indoors by his own volition!

So I saw them off around 11:30 PM and once they got moving I discarded the cardboard sheets and cleaned up the scant debris left behind. Then returned to my humble but cozy room to rest in a job well done (on BOTH our parts) and fell swiftly a-slumber in the middle of watching episode 2 of “The Last of Us.”

– Zeke K-Holmes

Subject: Yesterday I gave him “two hunner dollah!”
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 17, 2023 at 8:50 PM

Before I get to that, Wattson, allow me to point out that My Cajun Prankster showed up barely one minute AFTER I finally completed my previous missive: another labor of love which, as you know, is what good writing is all about. I finally got down to penning it yesterday morning and didn’t finish until around 3:30 PM. So his arrival shortly thereafter gives yet aNOTHER clue as to his bodhisattva nature…in that he sensed I preferred NOT to be bothered until I gave birth to my latest offspring. And, towards the end of this email, I will reveal an ADDITIONAL clue as to his nature that sprung from yesterday’s meetup…this time in spades, like a sudden bolt of lightning overloading my circuits. So you’re in for a treat. Just bear with me, your patience SHALL be rewarded!

Soon as I stepped out he immediately began his appeal while I crouched down to adore my furry angels:

“I’m asking you for a REALLY big favor this time,” he declared, no doubt knowing I knew it was yet another request for a lump sum. So I just let him rattle on as I continued showering the pups with affection.

“There’s a Bluetooth speaker I’d like to buy today,” he continued, “because the offer only stands for another hour and a half. I need two hunner dollah and I promise not to ask you for any more money for the rest of the month.”

I then stood up and said “Okay, but I’m worried about you suffering over lack of money for so many days.”

“No, I’m fine with that,” he assured me with a wave of his hand. “I have new arrangements to see me through.”

I figured he meant what the shelter provides, such as free meals…and the lower expenses that come from no longer losing and breaking his electronics so often, now that he can keep them safely stored from bad weather, breakage and theft. And perhaps he has other “arrangements” in his scope, such as reselling those shoes I have stashed for him, and new customers for his pot sales.

I told him wait a moment while I go back upstairs for my wallet.

“Let me walk to the bank with you,” he replied. “Then I’ll go right from there to purchase it.” Besides the hounds he had a bicycle with him, so that made sense to me.

When I rushed back upstairs I took a moment to peruse his payment status for this month, then hurried back outside with wallet in hand and explained he has only one-fifty left for the month, so this is gonna dip into his March allowance by fifty dollars.

“So no asking me for five bucks here, twenty bucks there, before next month arrives,” I warned.

“Fine,” he replied, then quickly grabbed his present speaker from a bag hanging from the bike’s handlebars, along with two smartphones stashed in a pocket:

“Oh, take these upstairs, don’t bother to plug ’em in, just hurry up!”

“Now why didn’t you do that a moment ago, when I went back upstairs for my wallet?” I griped, then reopened the gate, returned hovel to dump them on my cot, and stepped back outside. Upon which he resumed our conversation, assuring me he wouldn’t try to wheedle me out of extra cash, that he now has a place to protect the $200 speaker, so it’s a good investment…he might not need another for quite some time.

“Yes I know, congratulations,” I replied as we began our stroll to the Chase branch just two blocks distant, pooches happily prancing along ’cause thrilled for the company of their Uncle Zeke.

When we crossed Noe, Lucky suddenly got underfoot upon which Deek yanked the leash aside and yelled: “STOP THAT, LUCKY!”

“DON’T yell at him, Deek!” I snapped. “He’s just trying to keep up and follow your lead, he can’t help how the leash swings. Just be kind, pet him and say something like hold on there little fellow, let me fix the leash.”

He mumbled I don’t know what as we plodded on. Once we neared our destination, Deek paused to say:

“You can watch the dogs while I go off to make my purchase. I’ll be back in a half hour, take ’em to the park, let ’em run around!”

“Dammit!” I replied. “Just wish you told me before we left, these collars are too easy for them to slip out of and I have a pair of special ones back home to prevent that. So I’ll just walk ’em around instead of going to the park. We’ll be fine.”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t think about that,” he said while mounting his bike in preparation to depart, as I entered the small lobby to withdraw eight Jacksons.

A minute later I stepped back out and handed him a Chase envelope containing the precious smackeroonies.

“Count ’em out, please,” I declared.

“No that’s alright I trust you,” he replied, eager to take off and collect his prize.

“It’s not a question of trust, Deek,” I explained. “It’s a sign of respect between friends whenever money is exchanged, to assure no mischief is intended, or a mistake made. But never mind, you go now and I’ll watch the pups.”

And so he did, but looked back just before turning a corner to see I was already playing with the hounds who leapt upon the low, brick divider, Flaco to raise her fore-paws upon my torso and give kisses, her brother to mimic savagely chewing on my coat like the little conqueror he is. Their master smiled from a distance, said “Have fun!” and disappeared.

I then guided my brindlekin back towards my building, seeing as I had no poop bags, treats, or those Martingale collars to make for a more pleasant walk. Along the way I procured two small paper bags from a resident’s trash bin in case either dog had to dump a “gift” before I returned hovel. As it turned out Lucky took a hearty poop just seconds later. As we continued our stroll hovel-ward, to my delight he began attacking my heels, gnawing on them and sometimes grabbing my pant cuff with his sharp-toothed tiny jaws, thus sabotaging my ability to place one foot ahead of the other with ease.

“Oh he’s got me, he’s eatin’ me up!” I’d exclaim with each laborious attempt to drag the targeted foot forward, one slow step after another, accompanied by sweet little doggy grunts of victory. Flaco would have none of it, but kept pressing forward with ears pinned back in serious intent to sniff at any olfactory signal along the way. Until, that is, her brother surrendered my beleaguered foot and began to play-attack his sister, as if to say:

“So you think you’ve escaped my mischief? Think again!”

I hurried them back to Hotel California North as best I could, hoping to avoid any distraction that would make them bark and escape their collars. Though I did NOT deny them their pleasure in pausing frequently to sniff about and pee, along with Lucky ecstatically scratching his side back and forth against the rough surface of a brick wall, and Flaco jumping upon one concrete stump after another along Noe Street, her way of asking for a treat. Of course I wouldn’t HAVE any nummy to offer until AFTER I returned hovel, so each time she hopped onto a stump I just pet her kindly and said, “I’m sorry Flaco, be patient!”

Relieved to finally arrive at my building without mishap, I tethered the quadrupeds to a sign post, told them I’ll be back in a minute then rushed upstairs to procure my small backpack which already contained the Martingale collars, poop bags and jerky treats. So kind and patient they awaited my return; I was immensely happy to finally commence some beautiful alone time with my furry elves! Instead of taking them to a park I let them run about on hilly Beaver Street that intersected Noe one block up, and was almost always vacant of pedestrians for its entire length. And should someone appear–like stepping out of a car or a garage or front door–it’s easy to catch up to the pups and grasp their leashes before any chaos might occur. Which chaos (I might add) is always provoked by a high strung biped lookin’ fer trouble anyway, or perhaps, a neurotic canine made that way by an abusive owner.

They loved chasing each other, sniffing about and sometimes pausing beside me and looking up as if to say “Can we haz a treat now?” I’d tell them no, not now, but in a few minutes. By the way I never have to worry about them running off the curb and onto the asphalt …nonetheless I keep my eye on them at all times. And why shouldn’t I anyway, they’re always a delight to gaze upon!

After that we strolled up Noe Street, first to visit Anastasia, that friendly greeter at the pot dispensary. (With whom I’ve shared a bit of my eviction fiasco over helping a homeless friend’s dogos, if I didn’t already tell you.) She loves the mutts and was SO glad to finally see them again. Both pooches stood up to rest their fore-paws upon her legs and accept her loving caresses.

“Oh I’m happy to see you, too!” she declared while leaning towards them from her chair, scritching and petting them as brother and sister gazed back at her in warm adoration.

“They never forget a kindness done to them,” I remarked as I held the leashes slack. Before departing, I also told her:

“Getting my friend and the pups housed is a great success story, Now I have to work on the troubles in my building. Considering the massive antagonism by the manager and a couple other residents, most people in my situation would be fuming mad. But I always seek a win/win outcome when conflict arises and, in light of the negative energy directed my way for many months, turning it around into something positive should culminate in a stupendous victory with happy faces all around!” Then I added with a touch of humor:

“Except for the ones who die, of course.”

She cracked up over THAT bon mot and wished me a lovely evening. So off we went further up Noe Street to park ourselves in front of Morey’s corner shop. He never stepped out–which would’ve been nice but c’est la vie–I still had a lovely time seated on a concrete stump and feeding them those treats they craved the moment I stepped back out of my building. For their noses sensed they were in the backpack. You really can’t hide ANYthing from a dog, good physician, thanks to their olfactory prowess!

If any human being had such a prodigious schnozzola they’d be a superhero of some sort. Imagine what you could DO with it! (No, please help me here ’cause I can’t really come up with anything myself, other than being the world’s most outstanding detective, but I’m sure it would be earthshaking. Certainly something to woof home about.)

So we three enjoyed each other’s company as you can easily envision, but around forty minutes after Deek rode off to wherever, I figured it’s best to return to my building, else he might be standing around, worrying why I’m not there yet. But you guessed it, Wattson: he wasn’t there! By then it was twilight and the street lamps were shining bright, and I wondered what to do next…I certainly couldn’t wander off far in any direction, as their master might show up at any moment! Or not…and THAT was the crux of the problem.

What choice did I have but hang with the pups nearby, across either Noe or Market Street where I could sit on some steps or a garden ledge from where I could spot his approach. So every ten minutes or so we moved from one corner or the other. The pups were most obliging because, well, that’s the way they ALWAYS are. The evening was quickly turning dark and cold and, by the time an hour and a half had passed, I decided to place some cardboard and a sleeping bag out front like I’ve done so many times before, then feed them.

Once again I tethered the pups to a sign post, told them I’ll be right back and brought down those items. No sooner had I done that than Deek showed up, at last! He had his new speaker with him: tall and fat like the one he got from his homeless Viking friend, Hjelmar, in early January. And which he carelessly destroyed within two weeks, from outdoor exposure through the deluge and his own recklessness banging it around and even DROPPING it from his cart and onto the sidewalk.

Of course the speaker was booming fairly loud  and I had to holler: “I just set up the dogs’ blankets a minute ago!”

He was smiling at his Brobdingnagian device as he dialed it down to a low volume and asked: “Are my speaker and phones charged up yet?”

“Uh, no,” I replied. “You told me not to plug ’em in, just take care of the doggies. After you were gone for so long I only decided just moments ago to park them here. I can go upstairs now and take care of that. Would you like me to feed the dogs now, too?”

“You coulda done that earlier,” he foolishly remarked.

“But you said you’d be back in a half hour, so that doesn’t make sense!” I retorted. “I was out here with the dogs all this time until a minute ago. I’m not a mind reader.”

“Yeah, yeah, good point,” he agreed. “Sure, plug in my electronics and put music on the second phone, then feed ’em. And here, bring this upstairs and charge it, too.”

Of course he meant the Bluetooth monster. At least this one had wheels and weighed about ten pounds less then Hjelmar’s speaker, but I had hoped I was OVER lugging cumbersome items up and down the stairs now that Deek HAS a place of his own, with an electrical outlet! Oh what a foolish pilgrim I am.

I checked out the new phone to see what adjustments to make for maximum security, then popped off the back and inserted a 32 gig chip with all his music already on it. Unfortunately, the device insisted on formatting it first before I could use it, so all those mp3’s had vanished! Seeing as he said he wanted everything back in an hour I had no time to copy all his rap songs over again, which would take around one hour and forty minutes. I only had time to copy a bit more than HALF his collection, so decided just to transfer directly onto the builtin storage, which had 10 gigs free. Which would give him well over 2,000 songs anyway, so he wouldn’t really notice the diff.

One strange thing I observed once I installed a music player app, was that it included the phone’s android sound files along with all his rap pieces. That never happened before, so I’m wondering if this particular brand of phones used mp3 files for its Android sounds, instead of some other format. I never thought of this before (that Android sounds usually are not mp3’s…I’ll have to look into it.)

“Never mind,” I thought, “He’ll just have to skip around them from the drop-down list, no biggie…I just don’t have time to make a correction. He’s not a baby, he can deal with it.” And since he picked by album or folder rather than singles, I didn’t really see a problem.

So, once I had set up that phone to copy those 2,000-plus songs, and made sure all other devices were charging, I logged into Youtube and listened to the PBS Newshour while scrolling through my subscription updates and downloading those scary videos I wanted to watch later…as well as marking shorter pieces (mostly news commentary clips) for the “watch later” list. And I realized it’s a good thing I decided to bed down the dogs outside just before he arrived. Seeing as he was gonna hang out there for awhile anyway, though I didn’t see that coming.

Sure enough, an hour later he called up to my window and told me to bring everything down. Which I did in two parts: first the two smartphones and smaller speaker, then the Bluetooth giant. When I handed him the former, he queried:

“Why didn’t you bring down the big speaker first?”

“What difference would that make?” I retorted, to which he replied with a simple shrug of the shoulders. He just likes to complain (I thought, then returned hovel to bring the monster downstairs, almost as much a pain in the keister as Hjelmar’s speaker.)

Soon as I opened the gate and wheeled the speaker to his spot, he started to gripe about “strange music” appearing in the music app.

“What do you mean by strange,” I replied.

“I pick one of ’em and it makes a short beep or whistle with an empty list of other choices,” he explained.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Deek,” I replied. “I tested the app, all your music is there and works just fine. Here, give me your phone and I’ll take a look.”

“No!” he squawked. “I’ve already turned it off!”

But I persisted: “Well, just turn it on again and let me check it out!”

“No, it’s too late for that,” he whined.

“Oh you’re being silly, Deek,” I retorted. “You just like to complain.” He didn’t say anything then, and it dawned on me what he’s talking about:

“I think those are the android sounds that came with the phone. And the music app sees them as just more songs because they must be in mp3 format.”

“Oh, so you knew what the problem was all along!” he quipped in resentment.

“No I’m just guessing,” I explained. “I saw them when I tested the app, but didn’t have time to fix it. Just fukkin skip them, there’s only a few, and you have thousands of songs you can play instead.” Again, he remained silent, so I embellished with a string of choice words:

“The only problem I see is you like to complain, you LOVE to be someone’s headache!”

I glimpsed a wry grin on his Cajun mug, but it quickly vanished. Seeing as he was about to depart, I began cleaning up after him (just a few discarded items), but he stopped me and said, pointing at the bicycle:

“Here, you’ll need to stash if for me. I can only bring one or the other to the shelter.” (Meaning either the jumbo speaker or the bike.)

“Really, are you serious?” It was my turn to squawk, I guess.

“Yes I am,” was his brief response.

“But I already have too much clutter of yours in my room!” I complained.

“Just my bag of shoes, right?” he replied.

“No, there’s also two speakers I’m still holding for you.”

“Really? Which ones?” he asked in genuine surprise. So I explained with some exasperation:

“About two months ago you gave me two speakers, one after another in a week’s time. Said something’s broken in each and could I store ’em until you get a friend who knows hoe to fix them.”

He didn’t answer back, and it struck me there’s no reason for anger, he’s doing a great job adapting to his tiny cabin and the rules they set down.

“Never mind,” I said. “It’s okay, I understand. I’ll bring it upstairs, no pressure, and you three troublemakers have an excellent night. God bless you all.”

With that he thanked me for everything I do and apologized for all the trouble he’s given me over the months and years. Then he said something else that astonished the bejesus outta me:

“I don’t mean anything when I turn nasty on you, Zeke! It’s just that I’m bipolar, schizophrenic and screwed up a bunch of other ways including PTSD, anxiety disorder, dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity…I’m fighting a whole SQUADRON of monsters inside me! So if I ever attack and try to choke you, please realize I don’t mean any of it!”

I chuckled at that and declared with no small confidence: “Won’t ever happen, Deek. I’m sure I can defend myself and you wouldn’t even get so far as to lay a finger on me. But hopefully you won’t have to learn the hard way.” Then I complimented him:

“As you conquer all your inner demons you’ll become a truly strong and righteous person in the process. What were once burdens you’ll have turned into blessings, and I’m proud to see how far you’ve come along! Your life will become something amazing.” His response, Wattson? This (hold onto your brown Coachman’s bowler hat):

“Well, I know one thing for sure about my inner demons. They told me I’m HERE in San Francisco to watch over you!”

“Ha,” I quipped. “Those aren’t demons, those are angels…though I’m sure one or two of ’em are mischievous enough to appear as demons now and then! And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if God sent you here to watch over me, though you certainly have a strange way of doing that. Nonetheless you’ve made me into a better man for all the difficult challenges you keep tossing my way! So yeah, I’m impressed.”

And with that, he wished me a lovely night and took off as I lumbered up the stairs with the bicycle, and set it tilted upright against the wall in my cooking corner beside the sack of shoes. Remember that tacky “Hot or Not?” site where people score each other based on looks? Welp, here’s a variation thereof I just conjured up:

[Insert attached pic here.]

Shaman or not? You decide:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

(Pick a number on a scale of
1 to 10, with 1 being “abso-
lutely yes” and 10 “of course
not, how absurd.”)

Re: Yesterday I gave him “two hunner dollah!”
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 17, 2023 at 9:56 PM

> A wild ride!! That last pronouncement from him–that his inner demons told him he’s there to watch over you–was a doozy!!

He just affirmed to me, in his own deceptively brilliant way, that he’s a lot more intelligent than he lets on. And he knows I’ve suspected that for quite awhile. I think also he was hinting in a comical fashion that he’s preparing to make himself unquestionably eligible for SSI due to his passel of mental disabilities. Oh how I wish I had a new pair of spyglasses! But even if I could afford it (and they weren’t so cheaply made to break in a month), I know I wouldn’t get away with it this time around.

> Great portrait, too. He looks fairly shaman-esque there;

That’s why I picked it…plus the Buddha medallion he’s wearing. It’s a frame from my video, “Deek & the Buddha Necklace,” dated April 12, 2021. 4.5 minutes:

> on the basis of that pic, I’d give him an 8.

That’s just two slots away from 10, which is: “of course not, how absurd.” Are you sure you didn’t mean to pick a number from the opposite end, like a 3? ‘Cause in many scales like these, 10 usually means “absolutely yes.” But in this case I followed the “Hot or Not” scheme, which makes 1 the highest score and 10 the worst.

Yeah, I like that wry smile on his face, he appears really happy. Looks like he’s getting back there these days: a more joyful energy. Hope it’s not just the temporary endorphin rush of a new speaker.


– Zeke K-Holmes

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